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It's Hard to Say Goodbye
Daniel activated the controls for the elevator, and the doors slid open. The team stepped inside, and Casey shivered violently.
Jack glanced at her. "How bad?"
She shook her head. "I can't tell. Somebody is starting to block me."
"Shit!" The gray-haired general knew that their best hope of escape was knowing where the enemy was at, and how many, and the best way to get that information was Casey's gift.
The team lined up, P90s ready and waiting to be fired as soon as the doors opened. They were expecting trouble, but seeing the Jaffa standing there, staff weapons aimed at them, was still a bit of a shock. Gunfire rang out, downing the armored men before they had time to react.
"General, what's going on?" a voice asked in their ears, as the members of SGI-3 began to run toward the temple, firing on the Jaffa who were also responding to the sound of weapons.
"Trouble! Get to that gate and make sure we have a clear shot up to that ridge," Jack yelled, firing his weapon at a group of approaching Jaffa.
Running through the corridor lined with the statues that had once been living, breathing women, the team managed to get all the way to the front of the temple before a group of at least thirty priests and priestess' blocked their escape route.
Jack took only seconds to analyze the situation. Armed or not, those people were the enemy. He continued to fire as he ran, taking down six of them in the first volley. Sam and Teal'c were running beside him, firing as well.
Daniel hesitated…shooting unarmed people had never been something he could do. He had no idea how many of them were serving Dagon willingly, and how many longed for escape. Those thoughts always made it difficult to view everyone who stood in his way as an enemy.
Casey was running beside him, her fingers on the trigger of her gun, but not firing for fear of hitting one of the three friends in front of her. She staggered, stopped, dropped to her knees when a sharp pain forced its way through her skull.
"Casey!" Daniel stopped, ran back the few steps needed to be at his wife's side. "What's wrong?"
"Don't know," she managed to gasp, one hand already pressed tightly against the side of her head.
He turned his blue eyes toward the group of men and women who were standing in their way. They were all staring intently at the woman who was still on her knees. In an instant he realized that they were the ones responsible for hurting Her. With a cry of sheer rage, he lifted his P90 and began to fire, taking them down like so many rag dolls. They crumpled to the floor as the hail of bullets ripped through their bodies. His anger not satiated, he lifted his hand and sent a ball of blue flames into a man just emerging from behind green drapes, one who by his dress appeared to be the head priest.
The man stared down at his chest, and the gaping hole that had appeared there, watched as the blood oozed from around the cauterized edges of the wound, cried out from the sudden rush of pain."You are…" he dropped to his knees. "You are a true god," he gasped, just before he fell face first into death.
"Not hardly," Daniel hissed. He wrapped his arm around Casey's waist. "We gotta go, come on!"
Clinging to him with one hand, her P90 in the other, firing blindly at whatever happened to be in the way of her low aim, Casey managed to run with him down the steps of the temple.
Jack and Teal'c, having realized that their teammates weren't behind them, had slowed down; had then witnessed Daniel's rage. They were offering cover fire, allowing the couple to get past them before closing in behind them, firing at the Jaffa that were now starting to follow.
The members of SGI-3 stood up and opened fire as SG-1 grew close, stopping several Jaffa from getting near enough to the team to physically catch them. Packs were grabbed as the teams made their way to the gate of the compound. Which was closing.
Teal'c grabbed a Jaffa who had made the mistake of getting within arm's length, shoved his elbow into the man's face, and jerked the staff weapon from his hand. He began to fire at the gate, blowing the wood and metal door into pieces.
Adjusting night vision goggles as they continued to run, the teams raced for the incline, and the ridge that would afford them a defensible place to hide.
Casey stumbled again, unable to climb the steep grade. She dropped to her knees, panting from exertion. "I can't! Go, I'll be okay. I'll stay low," she gasped between breaths.
"Like hell! Come on, on your feet!" Daniel ordered, trying to pull her up.
She cried out again, pressed her hand once more to her aching head, as the pain began to increase. "I can't!" she cried. "It hurts!"
"Daniel, get up here!" Jack's voice echoed in their ears.
"She's hurt! She can't make it!" Daniel replied. He glanced around desperately. There was an opening at the end of the gully. "Go on, we'll catch up with you!" He tugged on Casey's arm. "Come on, Angel. We'll go this way," he said softly.
She struggled, managed to get to her feet. She felt Daniel pull her arm over his shoulders, his hand holding hers firmly, his other arm going around her waist, just below the pack that she carried. Leaning heavily on her husband, she let him guide her toward that rocky opening.
They could hear the Jaffa behind them. The Tau'ri had the advantage of being able to see in the dark with their goggles. The Jaffa had torches, but could see only what was lit near them. Gunfire began to ring out behind them, the rest of the team and SGI-3 were battling the patrols that were climbing up after them.
Another deep gorge cut them off from the backside of the ridge. Daniel continued to lead her farther into the forest, hoping that the dense undergrowth would slow the Jaffa down somewhat. He had glanced at her once, didn't have to see them to know that her eyes were wide with fear, and he could see on her face the effects of the pain she was suffering.
Sounds of crashing reverberated behind them. From the amount of noise, he figured that at least two patrols were following them. Slowing down wasn't an option, but they needed to stop making such a discernable trail. His eyes moving around them, he spotted what looked like a path. He led her through the brush for several yards, then carefully backed up to the path. A quick look at the brush satisfied him that the Jaffa would continue to follow the trail he had laid, hopefully long enough for them to get sufficiently far enough away to lose them.
Running on the path was much easier, and they were able to make better time than they had trying to fight the brush that flourished between the trees. The thought that the path might lead to more trouble flashed through his mind. They could leave it at any time, his brain assured him. This was just a way to put more ground between them and the Jaffa that followed.
"Please…rest…" she gasped, sliding to her knees. She felt as if her chest was about to explode, her heart pumping madly, her breath coming in such hard, short gasps that each lung full was painful.
His lungs burned as he tried to pull in more oxygen, his side was aching from exertion. He lowered her carefully to the ground, dropped down beside her. "What happened?" he managed to ask, his breath coming a bit easier.
She shook her head, regretted the movement immediately. "I don't know. Pain, excruciating pain," she replied. She was still gasping, not quite as hard as she had been. She had both hands on her head now.
He frowned. "Let me see, Angel," he said, taking one hand gently, lacing his fingers with hers. He moved slowly toward her, not willing to add to or intensify her discomfort. What the hell was that? Like a filament, a glowing strand seemed to be attached to her. He held her tightly in that meadow, watched as the string seemed to move around her, binding her. No way in hell, he thought angrily. He reached out with both hands, grabbed the string and jerked it, effectively splitting it into two pieces. Both ends seemed to stiffen for just a few seconds, darkened, then fluttered to the ground. He would never know that at that moment, in the temple from which they had just fled, a woman screamed in pain, and then fell into a coma from which she would never awaken, her mind lost between the woman she had been ordered to block, and her own body.
Casey sagged a bit, lowered her head to the ground. "Oh, god, what a headache," she murmured.
"Are you all right?" He pulled her towards him, watched as she pressed her cheek against his thigh. He caressed her forehead tenderly.
"I think so." The pain was gone, but the dull ache left behind still hurt. Her Quickening would deal with it soon enough.
"We have to move, Case. They're right behind us."
"I know." She wearily pulled herself to her feet. "Do you have any idea where we're going?"
"Not a clue. Just as long as it's away from here," he replied, standing up slowly, just as weary.
She gave him a smile. "Works for me."
He took her hand, and led her into the night.
A A A A A A
The explosion rocked the ground beneath them, tossing them to the ground. The teams scrambled to regain their footing, weapons ready to continue the barrage of death. The Jaffa trying to climb the side of the ridge were knocked down as well, many of them so stunned that they laid still for several long minutes.
The temple seemed to fall into pieces, sinking into the crater that was all that remained of the secret laboratories in the bunker beneath it. Fires began to burn out of control, and screams could be heard, piercing the night air around them. Those who had been inside the temple were now trapped there, escape no longer an option as flames began to shoot toward the sky. None of those who served Dagon survived. The nearby tents that had housed the Jaffa went up like so much tinder, the flames hot and bright, then faded to nothing, leaving smoldering embers in their wake. The gliders went up next, having been put on timers. The entire area was engulfed in red-gold fire. The Jaffa who protected the compound were either dead, or in the woods chasing after the intruders who had wrought the destruction.
Jack glanced around. Where the hell were Daniel and Casey? Danny had said something about Casey being hurt, and that they would catch up. "Daniel? Daniel, come in," he said softly into the transmitter beside his mouth. "Come on, Daniel, answer me," he said, his voice full of aggravation…and concern.
Sam and Teal'c continued to scan the gully below them. "Where's Daniel? And Casey?" Sam asked, looking around her.
"I don't know," Jack replied. "I heard him say something about her being hurt, and that they'd meet up with us."
Teal'c was using his binoculars in conjunction with the night vision goggles. "I believe that Daniel Jackson and Casey Jackson may have headed into the woods at the end of the gully," he said quietly. "I witnessed several Jaffa running in that direction."
"I wonder what's wrong," Sam said, worrying her lower lip with her teeth, a frown on her face.
"Something happened in the temple," Jack said. "Daniel was practically carrying her when we got out of there."
The older man shook his head. "I don't think so. She had a hand to her head."
"Daniel Jackson killed a priest with the Fire he possesses," Teal'c informed them calmly. "I believe that something, or someone, may have been attempting to harm Casey Jackson mentally."
That would make sense, Jack thought, nodding slowly. Mess with Casey, and you took your life into your hands. Daniel has no patience, nor mercy, for anyone who dares to touch or hurt his wife. "Sam, see if you can raise them."
His wife nodded. "Daniel? Casey? Can you hear me?" She shook her head. "These radios have a working radius of ten miles. There is no way that they could be that far away from us."
"What about hills between them and us?" Jack asked.
Sam tugged at her lip with her teeth. "That could cause some interference," she admitted.
"Okay, look, there are still Jaffa out there, and they're after Casey and Daniel. We have to go get them," Jack said. He turned to Becca. "Take 3 and go back to the Persephone. See if you can contact the Jacksons, let them know we're coming behind them. If you can get a fix on them, let us know."
Before any more could be said, the Jaffa on the hillside began to move again, determined to defend the honor of their god. It took less than ten minutes for the SG teams on top of the ridge to halt the foray permanently.
When the way seemed clear of any Jaffa who might try to stop them, Jack led Sam and Teal'c toward the clearing that Daniel had taken Casey through nearly half an hour earlier. Becca took SGI-3 back to the Persephone, and alerted Colonel Bradshaw to the events that had occurred. Scans were immediately started to locate all five of the SG-1 members. However, that scan was interrupted when two al'kesh ships suddenly appeared above the burning ruins of the compound. Knowing that to allow any Jaffa to ring down to the planet would put the missing team in danger, the veteran colonel opted to attack, staying cloaked and moving after each volley of missiles and torpedoes. He hoped to keep the ships more interested in what was happening around them than on the planet below them.
A A A A A A
Colonel Kerry Bailey was pacing the bridge of the Phoenix II. They had remained cloaked, which turned out to be a very good thing. Two al'kesh ships had shown up minutes after the Phoenix had dropped out of hyperdrive, and were just hanging in space. Apparently waiting for the same thing she was, to intercept those escape pods. Nervous that the cloak couldn't hide all of the energy signals that the ship put out, in spite of assurances from the techs, she had ordered all non-essential systems shut down. She had given a quick warning to keep noise to an absolute minimum.
The pods should be in visual range any minute now. They had been in sensor range since arrival. There was no way of knowing which four pods held the team members of SG-6. The only choice was to bring all of them on board. No doubt they would be freeing a few people from Goa'uld slavery today. That was always a good thing, she mused.
"Pods in sight, Colonel," her weapons officer reported.
"Good, let's move in and start bringing them-"
Bright flashes of light from the al'kesh silenced her.
"They're destroying the pods!" the communications officer whispered.
"Oh, fuck me," Kerry moaned under her breath. "Get us between those pods and those ships! Open fire, we have to stop them!"
The crew scrambled to obey, the Phoenix moving to prevent the Al'kesh from being able to destroy the pods.
"I'm picking up signs of debris," the weapons officer said softly. Everyone on the bridge knew that there was a chance that the destroyed pods had held members of SG-6.
Only one al'kesh deemed it necessary to deal with the intruder, and fired on the Phoenix. The ship shuddered, but held steady on course. Shields took a brutal beating as the Goa'uld ship continued to fire. Kerry Bailey had her orders. And she'd be goddamned if she was going to let some snakehead interfere.
"Arm the nukes," she said quietly. She looked at the young man who sat at the weapons console. He had proven to be a valuable asset to her, his knowledge and insight beneficial. She trusted his judgment as well. "Any thoughts, Kevin?"
"Ma'am, if we fire off nukes, it could damage those pods," the weapons officer told her.
"Then we'll just have to move fast to get them into the cargo bay, won't we? Those damned snakes are going to destroy them all if we don't stop them! Arm the nukes!"
"Armed and ready, ma'am."
"Target the ship that's still firing on the pods. And please tell me they haven't destroyed any more."
They watched the naquadah-headed nuke missile twist its way toward the al'kesh. Two bursts of light were evidence that both ships were trying to destroy the approaching warhead.
"Ma'am, of thirty signals we were tracking, I count nineteen remaining," the com tech said quietly.
The nuke struck the al'kesh, hitting it amidships, destroying it completely. Riding out the resulting energy wave knocked their shields down to forty three percent. And destroyed five more of the escape pods.
The second al'kesh backed away slowly, still firing on the vessel that was between it and the pods.
"Get them on board, now!" Kerry ordered. Each pod had to be pinpointed in the darkness of space, 'painted' by the locator beacons, and then ringed aboard. It would take at least forty-five minutes to get them all. And there was still one al'kesh left to fight.
The sudden arrival of an ha'tak had the colonel moaning. Until it began to fire on the al'kesh. She grinned broadly when Master Bra'tac's smiling face appeared on the communication panel.
"We had word that you might need help," the old Jaffa warrior smiled.
"You heard right. If you can keep that bastard busy, I'll pick up those pods," Kerry said.
"As you wish." The Jaffa Ai'emain moved closer to the al'kesh, putting itself between the Goa'uld ship and the Phoenix.
"Gotta love having allies like that," she murmured to herself. She had met several free Jaffa, and found them to be delightful, and so damned eager to show off their newfound freedom. There were exceptions, of course, but for the most part, the Shakka were a nation of very happy people. And the Jaffa were always ready and willing to fight against the Goa'uld, those parasitical creatures who had enslaved them for centuries. If it happened to aid their new allies, the Tau'ri, well, so much the better.
She started pacing again, having already dispatched the SF security teams to the cargo bay. The pods would be opened one at a time, and the occupant dealt with. The report from the Persephone was that the majority were women. Probably from that asshole's harem, she thought angrily. With luck, those women would be catching a ride home on the Jaffa Ai'emain. Returning to the families they had been taken from. The three scientists would be taken to Alpha, it seemed that Methos had a very nice set-up there for dealing with prisoners. She had no idea why he didn't work from Gamma, but that was none of her business, and certainly of no concern now. The people they were most anxious to find, however, were the four members of SG-6. She watched out the window as the al'kesh continued to make a token fight against the much larger ha'tak. She needed to stay on the bridge, things could change in seconds, and decisions might have to be made. Even though she longed to go down to the cargo bay and find out if her mission had been a success.
When the Jaffa Ai'emain destroyed the remaining al'kesh, Master Bra'tac announced that he would travel on to Gamma, and see what assistance could be rendered there. Accepting Colonel Bailey's thanks, the former Goa'uld ship moved away, then disappeared into hyperspace.
A A A A A A
One hour later the report came up to her. She dropped down into the captain's chair. Well, fuck me, she thought. Nobody was going to be happy about this. She gave orders concerning the fourteen survivors, then told the com tech to open communications between the ship and Gamma. While she waited, she steeled herself against the onslaught of emotions.
"MacLeod here, go ahead Colonel," a voice said briskly.
"President MacLeod, we encountered two al'kesh ships on site," she reported, willing her voice to remain calm, neutral, professional. "One ship engaged us, the other began to fire on the escape pods as they came into range."
"Sweet Mary, Mother of God," the President of Gamma hissed. "Go on."
"The Goa'uld were able to destroy eleven pods before I could get the Phoenix between their ship and the pods. We…I…ordered that ship destroyed. I…a nuke was the best…the only way to achieve this. Out of thirty pods, fourteen were recovered."
"I’m sorry, sir. The members of SG-6 were not among them." She gave the report as calmly as possible. Even though she felt like screaming.
The silence on the bridge was deafening.
The clearing of a throat broke that uncomfortable emptiness. "I see. Thank you, Colonel Bailey. Were the three scientists among the survivors?"
"No, sir. Fourteen women…girls, actually. The doctor says the oldest is about nineteen. The youngest is twelve. From what we know so far, they were part of Dagon's harem."
"Bring them here, Colonel. We'll see to it that they get home."
The words nearly broke her resolve not to cry in front of the crew. Her lips trembled slightly. "Thank you, sir," she whispered hoarsely. Good job my ass, she ranted silently. Sixteen people died out there, including SG-6! No, it had not been a good fucking job! It hadn't been a good job at all!
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