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SG-1 had barely enough time to report on their mission before Duncan was sending them through the 'gate to P7X 399. SG-6 had reported that Westland, the Immortal seer there, had 'felt' the Immortal Hunters. They were on the move, and they were on the way to the planet where the Prima Immortals were hiding. Thor had yet to arrive. All were hoping that the little gray alien would do so quickly.
When the team entered the cave, SG-6 and the Prima Immortals were preparing for battle. Jack and Teal'c dropped the crate that contained extra ammunition. "Duncan said we're looking at a fight."
"Seems that way, general," Major Parker said. "Westland sensed them about two hours ago. They should be here any time. We're not sure how they're going to attack. Kaitlyn seems to think that troops will be put on the planet, and then they'll set up a siege around these caves."
Jack nodded. "Supplies?"
"Enough for all of us for about a three days. Duncan is recalling the Marine teams from their missions. He said he'd send them through as soon as they 'gated home," Parker replied.
"Okay. We have a generator, looks like we have a heater…what's that thing?" Jack asked, pointing to a small cylinder.
"It's a dampening field," Sam told him. "So how did these 'hunters' find them?"
Brenna shook her head. "I'm not sure. From what I understand, Westland couldn't protect them all the time, he had to rest. I'd say that at some point when he was unable to continue the protection, the Immortal Hunters were able to detect them."
"We need to know how they're doing that. I'd like to get a few of their people, see what we can learn from interrogation," Jack said. He looked around. "Okay people, let's get ready to give a nice SGC welcome to these assholes."
The teams grinned, and went to work. Casey, Tony, Texas, and Trenton slipped out to the stream and laid three lines of claymores. The plan was to allow the enemy to cross the stream, then set off the explosives behind them. This would hopefully take out a good deal of the supplies that the Immortal Hunters would undoubtedly bring along.
A A A A A A
"Cave, now!" Casey whispered, just as the last of the mines were being buried.
"Go, Case. We'll cover you," Tony ordered.
She nodded, began running toward the narrow path that led to the cave that might be home for the next few days. She made it halfway up before she heard the sound of gunfire from P90's. "Tony! Texas! Trent! You guys get your asses up here!" she called out. She began to fire into the trees, aiming high so as not to hit her teammates. The three men appeared in the clearing below her, pursued by men who were obviously soldiers. She aimed her P90 at the newly arrived enemy, taking down two before Daniel's barked order for her to get into the cave filled her mind.
Return fire from the safety of the cave drove the pursuers back into the tree line. Jack watched through his binoculars. "Wish we'd have had more time to make that clearing bigger. It would have left less room for them to maneuver close to us."
"I agree," Major Parker said. "But we only got word that they were coming a couple of hours ago. We've been busy trying to set up a perimeter just around the cave."
"Yeah, I hear that," Jack acknowledged. "Well, we have night vision goggles. That should give us an advantage. Trenton, I'm putting you on first watch. Anything that moves out there, shoot it."
"Yes, sir," the young man replied. He grabbed the M82A1 Special Applications scoped rifle from the crate of weapons, and laid down in the cave opening. He made himself comfortable, then watched through the scope.
The Prima Immortals watched, wide-eyed, as the people from Gamma prepared to do battle with their enemy. "That you would take on our enemy as your own touches us deeply," Kaitlyn said to Daniel.
"Your enemy is the enemy of all Immortals," he replied.
"You are…kin," Daniel said, smiling. "When we learned about you, and what you were facing, every Immortal on Gamma was ready to protect you. We take care of…family."
Kaitlyn's face was lit up by her smile. "It has been a long time since we have felt such kinship," she said softly.
"You'll like it on Gamma," Daniel predicted.
Casey cocked her head to the side. "I think they're bringing more in," she said softly. "I don't know if they're aware of our presence. But they seem to think this will be the…end…the last stand of the Immortals. The bigger the battle, the more…impressed…the people on Prima will be."
Jack nodded. "Okay, we're sitting good for now. All we have to do is keep them from getting up here." He scowled for a minute. "When it gets dark, I want snipers in the two caves above us. They might try to overrun us, that will slow them down."
The men of SG-6 nodded.
Sam was working on a plan to convert the dampening field to a sort of force field that would offer more protection for the caves. Since the Immortal Hunters were on the planet, it seemed senseless to continue to try to hide.
Casey sat down beside Daniel, leaned her head against his shoulder. "I wonder if Mom and Dad took the kids to the lake today," she said softly.
"I don't know, Angel. We'll take them as soon as we get back."
She nodded. "Sometimes I really miss those quiet days, when you worked in your office, and I took care of my babies."
"I know." He kissed the top of her head. "Say the word, Angel. That's all you have to do."
She smiled, leaned up and pressed her lips to his neck. "You're The Chosen."
"I'll be more than happy to resign the position."
She giggled. "Just who do you submit that resignation to?"
He chuckled. "Good point." He shifted, put his arm around her, pulled her close. "I suppose I could give it to the Triad, let them take it for me."
"Could you really? I mean, deep in your heart of hearts, could you walk away from your Destiny?"
He frowned. Didn't want to look that deeply into his soul, afraid of what he would find. There was a sense of pride being The Chosen, a sense that he was able to do more than he had while he had been Ascended. A sense that he really was making a difference. "I could always try," he said finally. "If you want me to retire, Casey, then I will."
She shook her head. "No, My Heart. I don't want you to retire. But a vacation would be nice."
He kissed her forehead. "I'll see what I can do."
Kaitlyn and Grace were handing out MREs. The occupants of the cave sat quietly as they ate, waiting for the battle they knew was coming.
A A A A A A
The wait wasn't long. As soon as the sun was out of sight, leaving shadows and darkness in its wake, the Immortal Hunters began to move toward the cliff. Trenton was carefully picking them off.
"They're coming faster, sir," he reported, still firing.
Texas, Tony, and Major Parker grabbed M24 sniper rifles, put on night vision goggles and eased onto the ledge, moving up to the caves above. Sam, Daniel, Teal'c, and Casey had their P90's, and were also putting on night vision goggles. Jack looked through the binoculars.
"Sam, you and T take the left. Daniel, you and Casey on the right. I'm going to join Trenton here in the middle. Major, you and the boys pick 'em off from as far back in those woods as you can," Jack ordered.
"Roger that, general," Parker's voice said over the radio.
"We're all going to start firing on my mark," Jack said. He settled himself. "Fire!"
The cave echoed with the sound of gunfire. Those trying to approach the caves were stunned. They had been aware of one weapon. They were not prepared to face the number that rained death down upon them with frightening accuracy. The uniformed soldiers were dropping quickly, the leaders floundering in the face of the unexpected opposition.
"Cease fire!" Jack yelled, when it was obvious that the enemy was retreating. "Let 'em get their dead and wounded. If they keep moving this way, take 'em out," he instructed.
"They seemed…confused," Sam said.
"Yeah, they did. Didn't expect a fight, I guess," Jack replied. "Case, tell me something."
She closed her eyes, caressed Daniel gently as he took hold of her. She moved out over the trees, dropped down to watch, and listen. She didn't understand the language, but she could tell that the leader in charge of the entire operation was agitated. She moved forward slowly, carefully touched his mind. It took several seconds before she could make sense of what she was 'seeing'.
He was angry. The Immortals caught at the trading outpost had been executed almost as soon as they had been arrested, interrogated for less than an hour. The Guard had learned that there were only six Immortals remaining. How could those six, who had no weapons, other than bows and arrows according to their now dead brethren, now be holding off his army? And just what type of weapons were those? Never had he seen such a thing! Never had he seen wounds like those his soldiers suffered, died from.
Casey pulled back slowly, carefully. "The leader is totally pissed off. He's definitely confused. The Immortals that left here for supplies were captured, interrogated and executed, all within a couple of hours. So they know there are only six Immortals here. Well, six from Prima," she added, grinning broadly. "He's never encountered weapons like ours either, that's thrown him for a loop."
Westland moved forward to lay beside Casey. He smiled at her, took her hand, and then closed his eyes. She felt him… waiting…for her. Daniel continued to hold her, she caressed him again before following Westland back into the camp of the Immortal Hunters.
She carefully led Westland toward the leader, then took him 'inside' the man's mind. The Prima Immortal was shocked, tried at first to pull away from her. She held him gently, caressed his fear away. Let him look at the information that she didn't understand. When she sensed that he was finished, she led him back to the safety of the cave.
The dark haired man looked at her, wide-eyed, then began to talk to Kaitlyn, nearly stumbling over his words as he rushed to tell her what he had seen, and experienced.
Kaitlyn, and the other Prima Immortals, looked at Casey with awe, and a bit of fear, in their eyes. "Westland says that you are able to see inside the mind of another! That you took him into the mind of a Guard Commander!"
Daniel translated softly.
"I can only see into the mind of an enemy, in order to find information valuable to our cause," Casey replied. "I took Westland because that's what I thought he wanted."
Kaitlyn waited for the translation, then began to laugh. "He was going to try and hide us from them, and hoped that your ability would help him. We thought that perhaps if we… disappeared…from their scanners, they would think we had escaped again."
Casey giggled when Daniel finished. "Well, we have information now, I think." She looked at Westland. The man's dark eyes were looking at her with such awe and admiration that she blushed.
Daniel was able to find out what the Prima Immortal seer had found. "Seems that he's sending word back to Prima that the last six Immortals have been located, and will be executed upon capture. He's not willing to let his superiors know that he's run into a bit of trouble. He's telling his men to set up for another attack."
Jack nodded. "Okay, we surprised him. That's good. He's not sure what he's up against. That's good. He's going to attack again, that's expected. We'll see what he thinks when we whip his ass in the second round." Jack let Major Parker know what was happening, and told him to open fire at the first sight of the enemy in the clearing just below the caves.
Fifteen minutes later, gunfire was ringing out again. Casey was firing as well, watching the approaching enemy through her night vision goggles. There was something…odd…about them. The second battle lasted no longer than the first. She pushed her goggles up and looked at Daniel. "Did you notice anything…um…different…about those guys?"
Daniel pushed his goggles out of the way. "Like what?"
"They're all the same," Sam said quietly.
"Yeah, exactly the same," Casey said, shivering slightly.
Jack and Daniel exchanged a look. "Find out," Jack said softly.
"Kaitlyn, why do all of those soldiers out there look identical?" Daniel asked.
She frowned, then shrugged. "They are soldiers, what should they look like?"
"No," Daniel said, shaking his head. "Their faces, they all look alike."
Her frown deepened. "Again, I ask what soldiers should look like, other than what you see? Should they look like the rest of the people?"
"What are they, clones?"
"No, they are all created individually, from the 'recipe' for soldiers. They are created for their strength, patience, ability to follow orders, learn and adapt quickly-" she broke off at the look on Daniel's face. "Are your soldiers not the same?"
Daniel shook his head, then quickly translated.
"Holy Hannah!" Jack exclaimed. "You mean to tell me that they create soldiers?"
"Daniel, I do not understand your…surprise," Kaitlyn said.
"Kaitlyn, the men with us, as well as Jack and Teal'c and Sam, they're all soldiers. The men who will be joining us soon are all soldiers," Daniel said quietly.
The woman physically backed up from his words. "How…why…are they forced to do this?"
Daniel smiled. "Some places have what we call a 'draft', where the people are compelled to serve their country for a certain period of time. Our armies are all volunteer. Men and women who want to help defend us, want to help fight against the Goa'uld, join willingly."
The Prima Immortals were as shocked to learn of the Tau'ri armies as the Tau'ri were to learn of theirs.
"Daniel, ask Kaitlyn just exactly why, and when, the people on Prima began to kill the Immortals," Casey said, pulling her lip between her teeth.
With a nod, the young archaeologist asked the questions.
Kaitlyn looked at her fellow Immortals, then back at Daniel. "Immortals have always lived on Prima. We were there when the first mortals came through the Chappa'ai, so primitive that they didn't know how to farm, or build shelters, barely knew how to tan hides. So we…taught them. As years went by, we continued to learn about them, continued to learn other things as well, teaching each new generation all that we knew. Their minds…mortal minds…are amazing. They can grasp new ideas so quickly, come up with solutions to problems in such…unique ways. As I said, we continued to learn, using their ideas, their breakthroughs to continue with our own. Every generation brought us more knowledge…" she broke off, shook her head. "We were their gods, they…worshipped…us for centuries. Until the scientists began to map the human genome. Then they understood that our genes had been…manipulated, that was why we were Immortal. Several of the Immortals thought that it was possible to alter the genetic structure and create more Immortals. Unfortunately, it didn't happen. In fact, those that we experimented on…volunteers, I assure you…well, they…suffered. When it was learned by the general populace that the experiments were failures, the people, led by those who had always believed that Immortals were devils, ideas planted by those jealous of our Immortality, decided that it was intentional. By this time, we had already been manipulating genes to create 'drones'…simple workers…and then the more sophisticated soldiers. Anyway, because we could do this, but not create Immortals, it had to be on purpose, or so the people were led to believe. We were rounded up, and many of us died several times before we were brought to trial. The one thing that we kept to ourselves, never allowing any of the mortals to know, was how to kill us. It was quite by accident that the first Immortal was killed in front of mortals. Marek had every intention of living, I know he thought he would revive fast enough to escape when he jumped through that window. However, he stumbled, and part of the glass fell, and decapitated him. His Quickening went into the nearest Immortal. We had never seen…or experienced…anything like it. Marek and Jonquain, the man he entered, struggled to control the body. But Marek was dead, as far as the mortals were concerned. Once they understood that we could be…killed, it became apparent that they were going to kill us all. There were those among the mortals who believed in our innocence, and they helped us escape. I'm sure at the cost of their own lives. Nearly forty Immortals were beheaded, in public, with none of us nearby, we were already safely away from Prima by then. I don't know what happened to the Quickening, where the power, the essence that was each person." She heaved a sigh.
Daniel translated, watched Casey carefully, knowing that she was sensing something. "Talk to me, babe," he said quietly.
Casey looked at Kaitlyn, then the others. "They're telling the truth, as they see it, anyway. There has to be more to the story."
"Maybe the 'worshipped them as gods' part?" Jack suggested.
"Kaitlyn, why did the people worship you? Why did they believe you were gods?" Daniel asked.
"If one of us became wounded during a hunt, or during the building of a house, or whatever reason, they were witness to us healing. As they grew old and died, and their children grew old and died, and we remained as we had been, they knew that we were…Immortal. And only gods are Immortal, are they not?" Kaitlyn said with a smile.
"Who told them that only gods are Immortal?" Daniel demanded quietly.
The Prima Immortals shifted nervously. "I suppose we…allowed…the mortals to believe this."
"Do you know the reason Immortals were created?"
"To protect mortals. As much as they can be protected, that is," was the casual reply.
Casey had her lip between her teeth again. "How long? How many centuries are we talking about?"
Daniel asked the question. Received an answer. "She says not quite eight hundred years."
"Pretty fast to be doing gene manipulation, isn't it? Considering that they wouldn't have had a clue about medicine, no need for it, until the mortals arrived. How did they learn about medicine, and the human body? I realize that a lot of the knowledge we take for granted today was learned in a very brutal fashion. But I'm thinking these people were a little…enthusiastic…about learning," Casey said.
Sam nodded. "Even if they were able to continue the work…basically without breaks, it still took mortal breakthroughs to push them forward. Which means their way of thinking, their thought processes, were already stagnant. It wasn't their Immortality that stunted their thinking, it was that they were alone, cut off, for so long," the colonel theorized.
"So with each new breakthrough, the Immortals experimented until the next breakthrough," Casey said.
Daniel turned back to Kaitlyn. "How many thousands of Innocents died for the knowledge that you have?"
The raven-haired woman blanched, refused to meet his eyes. "We understood the necessity of continuing with each group of experiments. Being Immortal prevented us from developing a crippling sense of attachment," she said quietly. It was clear by the expression on her face, and those of her companions, that they didn't believe they had done anything wrong or immoral.
Jack groaned when he heard the translation. "Tell me we're not fighting on the wrong side," he told Daniel.
"You don't honestly believe that the knowledge we have now was obtained through simple observation, do you?" Sam asked quietly. "There were many scientists and doctors throughout history who made the gaining of knowledge more important than any moral objections that might be raised. And it wasn't just happening in the dark ages, either. The Manhattan Project was one of the largest experiments ever conducted to determine the effects of radiation on the human body. And that's just one of the government experiments that we know about. What about all the 'studies' that use volunteers, usually prisoners, to find out how certain chemical combinations affect humans?"
Daniel turned to Kaitlyn and translated what Sam had said.
The black haired woman nodded. "Do not think that we were unaffected when those we worked with died, especially those who volunteered. Even the prisoners were mourned, yes, we used prisoners as well. But we did not let our emotions…cripple us…prevent us from continuing our research. I do not regret finding the cures to so many of the diseases that plagued the mortals. If a few a few thousand died so that hundreds of thousands, and in some cases millions could live, then was it not worth the sacrifice?"
Casey nodded her head as Daniel translated. "They really were working to benefit the mortals around them, I can sense that. They felt…responsible…almost like…parents…towards the mortals of Prima. I don't think they took that responsibility lightly."
When Daniel told Kaitlyn what Casey had said, she smiled at the slender blonde. "We were created to protect them. We did so as best we could, using whatever methods we deemed necessary."
"So, then, basically, the people on Prima got pissed off because you couldn't make them Immortal?" Jack asked through Daniel.
Kaitlyn nodded. "Yes."
"I have a question," Jack said. "If it was eight hundred years ago that really primitive mortals were taken to Prima, where did those primitive people come from, and who sent them there?"
When the question was translated, a frown creased Kaitlyn's face. "Those are two questions we have never had the answers to. One day the Chappa'ai came to life, a group of primitive humans walked through, and that's all there was to the event. We could see that they were terrified, and it took time to be able to communicate with them, but…we never knew where they came from, or who sent them through the Chappa'ai."
"Why didn't you ever use the Stargate…uh…Chappa'ai?" Daniel asked.
"We were living in paradise. What need had we to leave?" was the simple answer.
"What about Goa'uld?" Teal'c asked. "Why is it that they do not know that Immortals were created to protect mortals from the Goa'uld?"
Casey shivered. "First Race of Immortals," she whispered. "I think these Immortals were an…experiment."
Daniel moaned. "Don't tell me Framone did this."
She shook her blonde head. "Framone didn't act alone, not at first. I don't know who helped him. Remember, he killed all of the First Race, with the exceptions of Oma, and Unlinkil."
"That we know of," Jack interjected.
The team exchanged glances. They were fighting on the right side…although the Immortals from Prima were far from being hapless innocents.
"General, movement on the left," Major Parker's voice said quietly from their radios.
The team resumed their positions. "Roger that, Parker," Jack said.
The third battle was about to begin.
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