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Love's Gentle Touch
After getting a few hours of sleep, Jack contacted Methos, and received the information they needed for contacting Nergal. Daniel sent a message, stating that he and his associates had captured Lady Xena and her companion Gabrielle. A message was returned, instructing them to bring the prisoners to the palace of the System Lord Nergal, to collect their reward.
"Yeah, like that would really happen," Jack muttered. "We'll hand them over and then they'll kill us. He gets the women and keeps his money!"
"So what's the plan?" Daniel asked.
"I'm working on it," Jack replied. "This was all your idea, you think of something!"
"He doesn't know anything about SG-1, right?" Casey asked.
"As far as we know," Sam replied. "I'm sure there are questions as to who took out Geb."
The younger blonde Immortal nodded. "I'm sure there are. You realize that with this…mission…SG-1 will be pissing off an entirely new set Goa'uld System Lords. We rescued Tony from Ashnan, killed Geb, now we're getting ready to take on Nergal…" she shook her head.
"So, we're pretty much in the same boat here as in we've been elsewhere," Jack finished, a grin on his face.
"Looks like," Sam smiled.
Casey closed her eyes as that feeling came over her. "Maybe we should just head home," she said softly. "I don't think we're ready to face Nergal just yet."
Jack and Daniel exchanged a glance. "Okay, let's head back to home territory then," Jack said after a few minutes.
"Anything specific, babe?" Daniel asked gently.
"No…details. Just really…bad…feelings. When we do face this guy, it's not going to be easy," she replied.
"Okay," Jack said. "We'll find out if Methos has any new intel we can use, figure out what good old Tieel gave us in the way of information, and then we'll go after this guy."
Casey forced a smile when Daniel put his arm around her shoulders. No matter when they faced Nergal, they were in for the fight of their lives. She could feel it.
A A A A A A
Daniel and Sam had spent the entire day going over the information that they had taken from Tieel's computer. There was, it seemed, a pleasure house like the one owned by Drucilla Seleconne. From what they could tell, it was not as large, had fewer men. He shivered when he thought about what might have happened to him had Casey not come after him. He knew that Jack would be just as interested in freeing these men as he was. No doubt the slaves would find a home on Pangeria. That thought brought another unwelcome one to his mind, which he pushed firmly away. He refused to even think about that man. His…brother.
Methos managed to supply a partial map of Nergal's palace. As Jack said, it was better than nothing at all. What they had was enough to let them know that his palace was huge. And laid out like a maze.
The team looked at the partial blueprint that they had created. "This guy is one twisted bastard," Jack said. He pointed to the rooms that were known to be used for torture. "He has these laid out in a straight line, they all open to each other."
"So he can move from one to the other without ever having to open a door to any corridor," Sam said. "Keeps the victim from seeing anything other than another room of horrors."
"Which would quickly break their minds," Casey added, a shudder moving over her body.
"I thought Anubis was bad!"
"The intel we have says that Nergal is a 'hands on' type of guy. He likes to inflict pain as much as he likes to watch it," Jack said. "One thing is for sure, if we get caught, and he finds out we're Immortal, we're going to be dying over and over and over again. Which means we don't get caught. I hate like hell to give an order like this, but if it comes down to one of us, or an Innocent…"
"We have to save ourselves," Casey finished softly. "An Innocent can only die once. That is blessing…a small one, but a blessing none the less. If that happens, I say we take out the Innocent if at all possible, just to spare them any of Nergal's…attention."
Jack nodded. "Agreed."
"The Hunter sent another message to Nergal's front man," Daniel said. "Told them we had been in a fight with another bounty hunter, and that our engines were down. We still have an invitation to arrive as soon as possible, as long as the two prisoners are unharmed."
"Well, I don't think we're going to get any more intel than this," Sam said, looking again at the blue print. "I think we should get this done."
The CO of the team looked pointedly at Casey. "Say the word, Case, and we stay here."
She nodded, then closed her eyes. The immediate danger seemed to have passed…but the nagging fear that they were heading into danger, and a situation they might not be able to handle, continued to haunt her. "I don't think we're ever going to have a 'good' chance at taking this guy out. We just have to be very careful. We know that he likes viruses and nanobots. Whatever happens, we can't let him capture us."
"Okay. So how are we going to do this? Suggestions, boys and girls," Jack said, looking around at the faces of his teammates, his friends.
"I say we take Sam and Casey in, and try and take him out right there and then," Daniel said.
"Direct, head on attack. Okay. Teal'c, any input?"
"I believe we should attempt to discern how many Jaffa Nergal keeps in his throne room before we attempt to 'collect' our reward. We should also memorize at least two paths that will lead us from his court back to the Stargate, or a place where we can ring up to the G.S.S. Hunter."
Jack nodded. "Any suggestions as to how we can do this?"
Teal'c raised his eyebrow. "If I ring down to the compound alone, I can take on the persona of one of the Jaffa. This would enable me to move freely enough to find gather the information needed."
Duncan walked into the room. He held up a box of small devices. He grinned broadly. "Thor just sent us a Christmas package. These are transportation devices. All we have to do is put one on each ship, and then anybody who has one of these can beam directly to the ship."
"Yes!" Jack said, pulling his fists back to his sides in one fluid movement. "At last we get a freaking break!"
"Can we beam down to specific coordinates?" Sam asked, turning one of the devices over in her hand.
"According to Thor we can. If you can figure out how to program it," Duncan replied.
Sam was already prying one of the small handheld, teardrop-shaped devices open. "I think I have it," she grinned.
Jack looked around. "Okay kids, this changes everything. We 'deliver' Sam and Casey, kill the bastard, and beam out!"
"Sounds almost too easy," Daniel said, frowning.
"I know, Space Monkey. But we're the good guys. We can do things like this," Jack grinned. "Casey? Does this make a difference?"
Casey closed her eyes. Reached out, searched. "Not really. It makes our chances of getting out alive better, but that's all."
The older man frowned. "Well, hell!"
"If we keep putting this off, we only allow Nergal to continue spreading, allow him to get stronger," Duncan said softly.
"There never will be a perfect time to take him out," Daniel agreed. "We have to do it now, before our chances take a nosedive."
For the next hour the team memorized the corridors and rooms that they knew about. They would leave the first thing in the morning. By late afternoon, they would be facing Nergal for the first, and hopefully last time.
A A A A A A
Daniel held Emily's hand, Nicholas sat in the seat of the grocery cart, jabbering at his attentive mother. She smiled and talked to him, sending him into throes of delight. They had barely started shopping when Emily announced that she needed to potty. With a smile, Casey handed her grocery list to her husband, and took her daughter to the ladies' restroom.
"Mommy, you stay home 'morrow," Emily said while she sat on the toilet.
"Baby, I'd love to stay home, but Daddy and I have a job to do. We have to protect the Innocents," Casey replied.
The little girl shook her blonde head. "You stay home, an' we go to the park 'morrow."
Casey frowned. Emily had been unhappy to learn that they would be leaving again only days after returning from their last mission. "Emily, Mommy and Daddy would like to stay home with you. We love you and Nicholas very much. But what we do is very important. I know it's hard for you to understand, Baby, but someday you will."
Emily frowned. "Stay home, Mommy! Daddy work in his messy room!"
She had to smile at her daughter's accurate description of Daniel's den. For almost ten months they had done just that; he'd worked from his den, she'd taken care of her family. Obviously Emily wasn't pleased with the changes in her life. "Baby, when we get back from this mission, we'll do that for awhile, I promise. Daddy will work in his messy room, and I'll stay home with you." She lifted the child so that she could wash her hands.
"Stay home 'morrow!"
Casey lifted Emily into her arms, looked into blue eyes so much like Daniel's. "After this mission, Emily, we'll stay home for awhile. I promise."
Daniel noticed the frown on her face immediately. "Babe? What's wrong?" Emily was tugging on his hand, he lifted her into his arms.
"We'll talk about it when we get home," she said softly. She looked in the cart. There were already a half dozen items there that were not on the list. She smiled and shook her head.
A A A A A A
She was sitting cross-legged on the bed, brushing her hair when Daniel turned off the bathroom light, came in and stretched out beside her.
"Okay, Angel. What's wrong? You've been preoccupied all evening."
"Emily begged me to stay home tomorrow. She wants you to work in your 'messy room'. She wants the security she had when we weren't going on missions."
Daniel smiled. "Messy room, huh? Guess it is, isn't it? Okay, Case, we need to talk about this. Do you want to retire from the SGC…just for awhile?"
"I don't know! It would be so much easier if I could say, 'yes, let's retire until the babies are older, or grown, or whatever', or 'no, I don't want to retire'. I feel so torn! Part of me wants that safe, quiet life back, part of me wants to be out there getting rid of every damned Goa'uld that exists!"
"I have to admit, I wouldn't mind retiring. There's so much to be done at the Center, translating that could help in the war against those parasitic bastards."
"Sweetheart, say the word, and we'll retire as soon as this mission is over," Casey said. She reached out and caressed his jaw. "I'll do whatever you want."
"I know you will, Case. But will you be happy?"
"I don't think I could have been happier during those months when we were off the duty roster. We had a schedule …you picked up work on Mondays, took it back on Fridays. You were here every day, except for Monday and Friday mornings. I didn't have to worry that you were being tortured, or imprisoned, or slee…or anything else," she said softly.
He knew exactly what she had started to say. She didn't have to worry about him sleeping with another woman when he was home with her. "Maybe we should think about this, then. We have to go on this mission. But when we get home, we should seriously consider whether or not to retire. It doesn't have to be forever. Just until the kids are older."
She nodded. "Okay," she whispered.
"C'mere. Let me love you, Angel," he said softly. He reached up and turned out the light, pulled her close.
She went to his arms, sought and found the comfort she needed in his touch.
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