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In Your Own Backyard
The spot where they chose to make their camp was no different than any of the other landscape they had seen during the day. Larger tents had been packed for this trip, the extra room needed for the children who were along for the adventure. Daniel had managed to rig a 'partition'…using an extra blanket…that would allow him and his wife a bit of privacy. When he'd mentioned this fact to Jack, the older man had demanded to see what he had done, and proceeded to do the same thing in the tent he shared with his wife and daughters. Duncan had then heard about the blanket, and had investigated so that he and Tessa would have privacy as well. Teal'c said nothing, but his dark eyes were laughing at all of them.
There were enough low bushes that a fire was possible. The men cut down one of the bushes that was crowded next to another one, most of the branches seemed dead. The thick branches were chopped into pieces, and piled into a shallow pit that had the women had carefully dug. Nicholas had been delighted to be able to dig and not get into trouble for it, using his small red shovel, which Casey had packed for him, to toss sand over his shoulder with abandon.
The foil wrapped MRE entrée packets were nestled down among the coals to warm, coffee was almost ready, and the water for Teal'c's tea was hot. Dinner was eaten with a heaping helping of laughter and light conversation. Casey had brought along the ingredients for s'mores, making their first night out a celebration of sorts.
When the remains of their meals had been cleared away, and children were put into their pajamas, Daniel told a story about an ancient Egyptian pharaoh named Ramses, his children cuddled in his lap. Before he was completely finished, eyes were drooping, yawns escaping no matter the effort put forth to control them.
Casey unzipped the small sleeping bags. Emily had camped with them before, and remembered the routine. She snuggled down, waited for the zipper to enclose her in the warmth of the cloth. Nicholas wanted to play with the zipper until Daniel firmly told him to leave it in place. Foreheads were kissed, wishes for sweet dreams given, and the adults slipped back out to gather around the fire again.
Daniel was lying on his side, his head on Casey's thigh. He sighed contentedly as she ran her fingers through his hair. "It just doesn't get any better than this," he said softly.
"I hear that," Jack agreed. He was lying on his back, his head in Sam's lap. Duncan sat with his arm around Tessa's hips. Carly was content to lean against Teal'c's strong frame. "We've needed this."
"Yes, we have," Casey agreed softly.
Sam nodded. "We went on a mission a week after you and Teal'c were returned to us. And it hasn't let up since!"
Silence fell over the group, warm and comfortable, the snapping of the wood in the fire the only sounds to be heard.
"So who takes first watch?" Daniel asked.
Jack sat up, wandered over to his pack, dug around, came back with four toothpicks. He pulled an ink pen from one of his pockets, carefully marked each one. "Two hour watches each," he said quietly.
Sam drew for her and Jack, they had second watch. Duncan and Tessa pulled first watch, Teal'c and Carly third, and Daniel and Casey had the last watch of the night. Exchanging quiet pleasantries, the couples drifted to their tents.
Casey checked on her babies before slipping to the other side of the tent. Both were sleeping soundly. She pulled off her clothes. Her jacket went on top of her pack, followed by her jeans. She had pulled them on clean that morning, she decided that she could wear them another day. The bra went on top, and clad in her bikinis and tee shirt, she slipped into the sleeping bag.
Daniel pulled her close. He was wearing nothing but his boxers. "Case?"
"I want to taste you," he said softly, his hand already moving over her breasts. He smiled when she sat up and pulled the tee shirt off over her head. He was on his side by the time she had settled back down onto the sleeping bag. "I love you," he whispered.
"I love you," she whispered in return.
Quietly, gently, they orally pleasured one another, their gasps and soft moans of completion muffled against each other's body; cleaning up carefully with the Wet Ones that Casey always carried. Sleep came easily as they lay in one another's arms.
A A A A A A
The morning air was cooler than what they were accustomed to. The hot, instant oatmeal was appreciated for the warmth it provided. Camp was taken down, the ATVs loaded once again, and the group set off.
She wasn't sure whether it was just habit, or the fact that the day before had been too…perfect...that had Casey reaching out, searching around her family and friends once again. Yesterday she had felt absolutely nothing. She expected to find nothing more than 'white noise' once again. Frowned when she 'heard' a slight hum. 'Daniel?'
'I need to do a search.'
He could feel her unease. She must have 'reached out', as she called it, something that she didn't feel his presence was needed for. If she had found something, she would want to do a full search. "Jack, we need to stop," he said quietly into the transmitter beside his lips.
"Got it." All of the adults heard the short, quiet exchange. Every one of the SG-1 members knew exactly what was going on.
Casey didn't even get off of the ATV. She reached for him, felt him approach, met him in that sunny meadow.
"Yesterday there was nothing, just the usual 'white noise' I always hear. Today…there's a hum," she replied, a worried frown on her face.
"If there's anything wrong, we can have the kids on the Phoenix in seconds," he assured her. "The crew will get them home safely."
She nodded. "Hold me," she whispered. She wrapped her arms around his strong, broad shoulders, clung to him, took the comfort offered by his embrace.
"I'm here, Case."
With a nod, she closed her eyes. She remained wrapped around him, even as she took them higher. Casey could feel the burning strength of his Fire as he slowly opened himself to her, allowed her to draw from that amazing power. She carefully examined the cliff face that Daniel had told her about. Sam had shown her the images right after breakfast. She had excitedly pointed out the markings. Daniel had smiled, and then told her that he hadn't looked closely enough to see them. She was certain that her teammates knew he was lying. Daniel never missed anything like that. She was also just as certain that they would never admit to anyone what they suspected. He was right. They were Cardorian markings. Her breath caught in her throat. It was a warning!
Daniel was 'looking' as well, having learned how to do so when he was with her. He felt his heart begin to pound. "Oh, hell."
"Yeah,'" she said softly. "So now what?"
"Let's take a closer look. See if there's a reason to be concerned."
She nodded, moved them closer. Discovered a dozen caves and caverns in a nearby cliff. She couldn't see any tangible evidence of occupation. Nor were there any ruins that were easily seen. Daniel pointed to three areas that he suspected might have something buried beneath the sand. There was nothing around any of the lakes that they could detect. She went back to the first, closest cliff. Examined the markings. "It's a warning, but there aren't any specifics. Just a generic 'stay away'," she sighed.
"Maybe there had been an illness. Something that the Cardorians didn't want spreading. Maybe it's just a very large 'no trespassing' sign," Daniel replied.
"Maybe," she said. "So now what?"
"Do you sense anything dangerous?"
She reached out, searched, listened. Just that damned hum. Usually when she 'heard' that, it was due to some sort of nearby technology. She told Daniel this, waited while he frowned at the cliff.
"Say the word, we all ring up here and now," he said softly, even though he was intrigued, anxious to know what they might possibly find.
"There isn't anything there, at least, not right now," she replied. She was as excited about this find as he was, perhaps more so, since it was going to technically be her first 'find'. She pulled her lip between her teeth. Her babies were more important than any dig. Still, there was no definite threat. The Phoenix was in orbit above them, and as Daniel had said, within seconds her babies could be safely on their way back to Gamma. She pushed away the nagging thought that in just seconds things could go to hell. "Let's keep going. If anything changes, I'll know it," she said.
He nodded. "I want you to do a search every two hours. We need to stop that often for water and a rest anyway," he said.
They 'returned' to the meadow, held each other tightly for a few seconds. He kissed her gently, then moved slowly away, leaving her alone with her thoughts once again.
Jack was pacing near his ATV. Hurried towards her when he saw that her eyes were open. "Well?"
"Nothing." She glanced at Daniel. "Nothing specific. Just a hum."
The older man frowned. "Anything we should be concerned about?"
Daniel shook his head. "We searched the area. I located what might be possible ruin sites, but other than that-"
"The marks on that cliff wall are a warning," Casey interjected. "But it's…general…it literally says 'stay away'. No reasons given."
"A giant 'no trespassing' sign?" Sam questioned.
She had to smile that her best friend had come to the same conclusion as her husband. "So it would seem. It could even be something meant to hold the Goa'uld at bay," she theorized.
"Yeah, like a sign is going to do that," Jack snorted.
"If the Goa'uld thought that these people had some sort of a weapon-" Daniel started. Humming. Machinery, or at least some sort of technology! She always heard a hum when something like that was nearby!
Jack grinned. "Well, let's see if we have our own Goa'uld deterrent right here on Gamma!"
"Is it safe to go on?" Tessa asked nervously. She had pulled Richie into her arms, the boy was pushing against her, eager to get down and run and play with his friends.
"It's safe," Casey replied softly, hoping that she wasn't lying to her best friend. Her own babies would be at risk if she were wrong. "I'll keep doing searches, just to make sure. The Phoenix is overhead, if need be, they can have the kids out of here in seconds."
"That's right, Tessa," Daniel said. "There isn't anything alive where we're going. There might be a bit of machinery, that's all."
Not one of the SG-1 members would say out loud that alien machinery was always a potential danger. If they did find something, Tessa, Carly, and the kids would be sent up to the Phoenix immediately, and returned to Hope.
Jack stared into the distance, then glanced at the archaeologist at his side. "If there's a weapon there, we need to know about it," he said softly.
"I agree," Daniel replied. "It could be a simple power source."
"Which we could utilize," Sam said. Her teammates agreed quietly.
"If nothing else, this could give us an idea of Gamma's history," Casey pointed out. "That could give us an idea of which Goa'uld would be the most interested in reclaiming us."
"Okay, so we go on. Sam, contact Colonel Bailey. Tell her to monitor all communications," Jack instructed quietly. "Tell her that she needs to be ready to ring out the kids and two women at a second's notice."
Sam nodded, moved off and quietly contacted the ship that orbited above them.
The CO of the team approached Duncan and Tessa. "If you need…want to leave, that's okay. I can have Kerry get you back to Hope in just a matter of minutes."
Duncan glanced at his wife. "It's up to you, Sweetheart."
The French woman studied Casey. If she thought there was any real danger, she would already be making arrangements for Emily and Nicholas to be taken home. "Let's go on," she said softly. Part of her cheered herself for her courage, her willingness to allow her husband and son to continue with the vacation they were both enjoying immensely. Another part screamed that she should grab Richie and run as quickly and as far away from the situation as possible. She chose to ignore that part. For now.
A A A A A A
Stops at lunchtime and later in the afternoon gave Casey time to search again. All she felt…all she heard…all that she could find, was that damned annoying hum. It wasn't getting any louder. In fact, it hadn't changed at all. Sam questioned her, asking whether the presence of minerals such as naquadah ever caused the same reaction. Casey honestly couldn't respond, she had never taken the time to take note of any such happenings. The blonde colonel began to theorize that perhaps a large deposit of Orrinite, with it's odd molecular structure and properties, was causing the hum that Casey was reporting. The young seer could only hope that her best friend was correct.
A A A A A A
Camp was set up as it had been the night before. The help from the kids was more of a hindrance, often as not, but none of the adults complained. The humming that Casey had 'heard' all day continued to plague her. She took comfort from the fact that it didn't seem to be growing any stronger. Whether or not that would change as they drew closer to Six Lakes remained to be seen.
The fire was crackling cheerfully, MREs nestled down among the coals to warm. Casey led Emily away from camp so that she and the little girl could tend to nature calls. Sam, Evvie, and Amber were nearby, doing the same thing. Hands were cleaned with Wet Ones.
Daniel had taken Nicholas out on the other side of camp for the same reason. Held his son while he did what he needed to do, then cleaned him with the Wet Ones from the baggie beside him. Thank goodness for Casey and her cleanliness fetish, he thought, as he covered the hole he and his son had used.
He watched his children eat their meal, watched as Casey carefully cut the enchilada into pieces for Nicholas, held the bottle of water for Emily. He couldn't help but note that Nicholas really did look like him. And that Emily's eyes were exactly like his own. His daughter looked so much like her mother that it was often spooky, but her eyes…those were definitely like his. Part of him. Part of her. Children that they had created together. Like his parents before him, his children were accompanying him on a dig. Like his father, he was married to a woman who was an archaeologist in her own right. Who worked side-by-side with him. How totally awesome was that? Can you see, Dad? he wondered. Mom, do you see your grandchildren?
She looked over at him, smiled; her heart speeding up at the shy smile lifted his lips, the look of love that filled his eyes. She had written more in her journal, about the journey so far. Her questions about Daniel's seemingly sudden need to keep secrets from the people who were their friends, their family. Her speculations about what they would discover when they finally reached the area near Six Lakes where he was certain they would find ruins of some sort. Her excitement over those prospective finds. How long ago had the Cardorians lived on Gamma? Where had they gone, and why? What did that warning mean? And what the hell was making that damned humming noise?
The Jacksons had pulled first watch. Casey was making another pot of coffee as Daniel walked the perimeter of the camp. So far they had seen nothing, not even another glimpse of the small animals that had been discovered on their first day out. But habit, and experience, kept the team on full alert.
Daniel settled behind her, pulled her back to lean against his chest. "So, any more ideas on the Cardorians?"
"Not really," she replied softly. She snuggled back against him. "What about you…any theories on what that warning might be, why they found it necessary to carve it into a cliff face?"
"The only thing that makes sense in my mind is that they wanted to warn people away from their settlement before anyone was too close. Which is highly suggestive of some sort of disease," he responded.
"Do you think it will be safe for us to go there?"
"I doubt that there's anything left that could hurt us. From all of the satellite photos we have of the area, anything that was there is long gone," he reassured her. "We know that the Cardorians seemed to have disappeared about a thousand years ago."
"Between eight hundred and a thousand years ago," she said absently.
He grinned against her hair. "I stand corrected. Anyway, it's long enough ago that I can't think of anything that could be hanging around."
"It's possible that the warning is for something else entirely," she said softly.
"Yes, it is," he agreed.
She sighed. "Guess we'll know more when we get there."
"Two more days, Angel," he said, smiling again. Her excitement fueled his own. And his was already a considerable amount.
"Think you can make it?" she teased.
"Ha ha. Smartass. Yeah, I can make it. Can you?"
"I hope so," she admitted with a smile. "This is, after all, the first dig where I’m the expert. Which totally weirds me out. You will be in charge, right? I mean, I have no clue what to do!"
"Casey Renee, that's not true. You’ve been on dozens of digs with me! You know exactly what to do!"
"If we do make a big find, we'll have to get a team in right away who can stay and do the job right," she sighed.
"I know," he said.
"Wish it could be us."
"Me, too, Angel."
They stared into the fire. They had four days to make any discoveries that were waiting to be made. After that, they would be heading back to Hope. And back to battle against Penatil.
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