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They hadn't gone far when Casey led them toward the stream that continued to wind its way down the mountain. "We're going to have to cross it," she said.
It was too wide to jump across, and Jack didn't want them to have to wade through it - the middle appeared to be deep enough that it would go over the tops of their boots. Wet feet in the bitter cold was not an acceptable condition.
The team wandered the bank of the stream for almost half a mile before they found a log that spanned the waterway. It hadn't been a large tree, so traversing it wasn't easy. They did it one at a time, to prevent the log from shifting or collapsing under too much weight. Eventually they were all on the opposite side.
Casey pointed toward a tall cliff. "There," she said softly.
"Can you feel them?" Jack asked. He took his binoculars and looked in the direction she had indicated. He thought he could make out several 'black spots' that might possibly be the caves. There seemed to be paths that led to three of them.
"No, but we might not be close enough. The buzz doesn't kick in unless you're in close proximity," she replied.
"Okay, let us know the second you feel it," the CO commanded. She nodded her understanding. "Okay, kids, let's go."
Once again Teal'c was in the lead. Daniel had his arm around Casey's shoulders, her arm was around his waist. Sam and Jack were walking the same way. Not more than fifteen minutes later Casey dropped her arm, her hand reaching for the P90 that hung around her neck.
"Case?" Daniel asked softly
"Buzz," she whispered. "Close…two…no…three of them."
They were all alert now, holding their weapons ready.
"Case, see if you can reach whoever it was you got through to last night," Jack said quietly.
She waited until Daniel was holding firmly to her. She reached out…slowly…gently…once again filling her mind with thoughts of Gamma and Immortals and safety. She waited, thought that she could feel a 'presence'. "They know we're here. I think they know we're coming in peace-" she stopped suddenly, whirled to look into the woods to their right. "Hello?" she called.
The team tensed around her, moved to stand behind her. Daniel stood just slightly in front of his wife.
Two men and a woman, all with dark hair and eyes, stepped out from behind large trees. Dressed in ragged clothes, their thin coats dirty and offering little in the way of warmth against the cold, they were armed with large bows, and arrows that had very sharp, very jagged looking tips on them. They gave a cursory glance at Jack, Sam, Teal'c and Daniel. Their gazes focused on the slender blonde with the deep green eyes.
"Who are you?" the woman asked, her eyes narrowed with suspicion.
Casey glanced up at Daniel. He frowned and shook his head. "Um…I don't suppose you speak Goa'uld?" she asked softly.
The three looked at one another, then back at her, shaking their heads.
"Now this is just annoying," Jack muttered.
"Who are you?" one of the men asked. It was a different language than what the woman had used.
Daniel frowned, but made a motion to the man to keep talking.
"Who are you, where are you from?" the man asked. When he saw that the dark-blonde haired man was still frowning, he repeated his question.
"It's familiar, I just can't seem to get a handle on it," Daniel sighed.
"Try one of the ancient languages," Casey suggested.
He smiled. "Good idea. We're peaceful explorers, Immortal like you. We've come to offer you sanctuary on our world," he said, using the most ancient form of Sumerian he knew.
The man who had spoken frowned now. Shook his head.
"This is ridiculous," Casey whispered. She pulled her knife from the sheath on her leg. The three strangers tensed, and aimed those very deadly looking arrows at them, until she put both hands up in the air. She cut her hand, held it out so that they could see the Quickening healing her, then handed the knife to Daniel. He did the same, handed the knife to Teal'c, who handed it to Jack, who handed it to Sam. When they had proven themselves to be Immortal, the three relaxed visibly.
Casey took her knife from Sam, wiped it off against the dirt, then carefully began to draw in the hard packed earth. The two men and the woman approached, crouched down beside her. She drew stick figures, indicated that they were Immortal, by pointing to each of them, and then her teammates. The first man, the speaker nodded. She drew more stick figures, and indicated that they were not Immortal. She then showed the mortals killing the Immortals. She pointed to her eyes, then her temple. The man nodded.
He pointed to the caves, then to his eyes and temple. She already knew that they had a seer. She nodded her understanding.
Casey continued to draw in the dirt, showed how the Immortals of Gamma had been affected by the disease the 'Immortal Killers' had created. She pointed to the three who watched her, then at the caves. She then drew a representation of a Stargate, and motioned that all of them should go through it.
The man nodded again, although he was frowning slightly, stood to his feet, then gestured that they should follow him. The team fell in behind the three, all of them still on guard. The cliff, and the caves that tunneled into it, were closer than they'd realized.
They were led up a narrow incline, toward the lowest of what looked like a dozen caves in the cliff face. Inside were three other people, one woman, two men. They jumped to their feet, grabbing at bows and arrows similar to what their comrades carried when the strangers entered the cave with three of their own.
The team stood by as the three who had brought them inside answered what sounded like very angry questions. The man who had been the spokesman conversed quickly, raising his voice above the others, gesticulating with his hands. He looked at the woman who had been waiting in the cave, a petite little thing with hair as black as midnight, said something to her, at which she began to stubbornly shake her head. His two companions began to speak to her as well, the tone of their voices cajoling. Finally, glaring at the three of them, she approached the waiting visitors.
Her eyes flashed with anger, and her voice was filled with disdain when she spoke.
Daniel frowned, and shook his head. "I do not understand your words."
She shook her dark head, her anger fading as she struggled to find a way to communicate with these…visitors. "Do you understand this language?"
The young archaeologist smiled. "Yes. It's been some time since I have spoken Phoenician, I pray that you will forgive any mistakes I might make."
The woman actually laughed. "I do not know the name that you use, but I will forgive your mistakes if you forgive mine!"
Daniel chuckled. "It's a deal. I’m Daniel Jackson. This is my wife Casey; our leader, Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter; and our good friend Teal'c."
"He is…different than us?" she asked, staring at the dark skinned man.
"He is Jaffa. Human, just like us, but his people have been enslaved by the Goa'uld for centuries. We are helping his people fight for their freedom," Daniel replied.
"Jaffa? Goa'uld? We do not know these words, these…people," Kaitlyn said.
Daniel translated. Frowns flickered over the faces of the team. How could these Immortals not know about the Goa'uld? They were the enemy that the Ancients had created the Immortals to defend against! "The Goa'uld are the enemy of all humans," he said.
She nodded. "I am Kaitlyn. Those who led you here are Roberre, Tillman, and Grace," she said, pointing to them as she said their names. "Those behind me are Westland, and Damon."
Daniel glanced at Casey. She had sensed at least a dozen Immortals. "Are there others here with you?"
Kaitlyn's blue eyes filled with tears. "Two weeks ago seven of our number went through the Chappa'ai to seek food, blankets, clothing. They were due back a week ago. We have not heard from them. We fear they are dead."
"Case, can you feel them?" Daniel asked softly.
Casey closed her eyes, waited for him to 'join' her. She reached out slowly, tentatively. She searched carefully, then pulled back. "No, I don't feel them. It doesn't mean they're not out there, though," she said, her voice soft.
Kaitlyn had watched carefully. "Your wife is a seer."
Daniel smiled. "Yes, she is."
"Then she is the one that Westland felt last night, and earlier today."
The archaeologist nodded. "Yes."
"You came through the Chappa'ai?"
"Yes, we did. We live on a planet called Gamma. It is the home of all the Immortals that had been put on our home planet, called Earth. We live there because Earth is no longer safe for us."
"There are many of you?"
"Three hundred and thirty-five."
The woman gasped. "So many! When we were all together on Prima, there were only one hundred of us!"
"There were probably several thousand on Earth at one time," Daniel replied. "But one of the First Race of Immortals went mad, and created a 'game' which pitted Immortals against one another. Three hundred and thirty-one were all that remained by the time we stopped the 'game'."
"And the other four?"
He smiled again. "Jack, Samantha, Teal'c, and myself were not born…er…created …Immortal. We were granted Immortality by beings known as the Ascended."
Kaitlyn nodded her understanding. "That explains why we cannot 'feel' you."
"Something that my Wife complains about," Daniel said with at grin. The woman laughed, and turned to translate to her friends. The cave echoed with laughter.
Casey's eyes narrowed as the Immortals looked at her and laughed. "All right, what did you say?"
"I just told them that you complain because I don't have the 'buzz'," he told her innocently. Jack snorted, then chuckled.
She shook her head. "I haven't complained about that in several years!"
Daniel grinned, put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her against his chest. "I know, Angel."
"Explain to these folks that we'd like them to return to Gamma with us," Jack said.
"We would like for you to return to Gamma with us. You would be welcomed there, safe there," Daniel said. "You…you're family…kin…to the Immortals there."
Kaitlyn turned to the others, told them what their visitor had said. They all looked at him, then shook their heads sadly. "We appreciate the offer, but if we were to go with you, we would not survive. We would die," she said softly.
"I don't understand - what makes you think that?" Daniel asked. "The Immortals on Gamma are just like you, created by Ancients in a laboratory…a nursery. How…or why…would you believe that you would die?"
Kaitlyn shook her head. "We were created by the Ancients, yes. In a laboratory, yes. Or so we believe. But we are…different."
Daniel frowned. "How?"
"We cannot leave our solar system. If we do, we will die. We didn't understand this until several of our number had left. Two made it back before they succumbed. They told us that as soon as they walked through the Chappa'ai, that they began to feel ill. Their Quickening did not heal them. They had hoped that returning to the moons of Prima would heal them…alas, it did not," Kaitlyn explained.
"So Prima is near here?"
"How do you stay hidden from the Primians?"
"Westland hides us."
With a frown, Daniel turned to the team and told them what Kaitlyn had said.
"Dr. Williams and Dr. Montigue were able to change the Immortal's DNA at the molecular level, with Thor's help," Sam said. "What if we had Thor come here, and change the DNA of these people?" she suggested.
"It might work," Daniel agreed. He turned to Kaitlyn, told her about the illness that very nearly destroyed all of the Immortals of Gamma, how they believed that the virus had been planted there solely to kill Immortals, and how the virus had been defeated. Hope flared in six pairs of eyes.
"Okay, so we just need to get hold of Thor," Jack said.
Westland spoke softly. Kaitlyn nodded. "We do not wish to be rude, but Westland cannot continue to hide all of us. He is getting weaker even now. If you were to return to your home, and contact this Asgard, then you could bring him to us."
Jack shifted nervously at the translation. "If we're close to this Prima, we're at risk too, right?"
"And it's at least a day's walk back to the 'gate."
Again the younger man nodded.
"I hate being at risk that long," Jack finished.
"Maybe there's a shorter route to the 'gate," Casey said softly.
Daniel turned to Kaitlyn. "We need to get back through the 'gate…er…Chappa'ai quickly. We came down the steep path to the left of the steps. Is there a quicker way to go?"
Kaitlyn nodded. "Yes. Come, I will draw a map for you."
Ten minutes later, with a map carefully drawn on a scrap of linen, SG-1 bid farewell to the Immortals of Prima, with a promise to return with Thor, as quickly as possible. Daniel also promised that a team from Gamma would bring food, blankets and warm clothing just as soon as possible. The six Immortals thanked him, and walked part way up the path with the team. By nightfall SG-1 was standing on the top of the mountain, dialing Gamma. All five of them heaved a sigh of relief as they walked down the ramp.
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