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Love's Gentle Touch

Chapter 7

The Hunter settled into orbit above Nergal's home planet, directly above his impressive compound. They were somewhat worried to find half a dozen al'kesh ships also in orbit. A transmission hidden in 'white noise' was sent to the Phoenix. The Prometheus would be called, and the two ships would wait, using their new cloaking capabilities to stay hidden, until and if they were needed.

Sam had programmed one of the transportation devices to take Teal'c to a relatively empty area of the palace. They scanned the area for a few minutes, determined that the corridor was empty, and the Jaffa beamed down. He would work his way to the throne room, taking out as many Jaffa as quietly as possible.

Twenty minutes later Daniel signaled that he and Jack were ready to bring their 'prisoners' down, and collect their reward. The four members of SG-1 ringed down, just outside of the massive palace. The two women had their hands bound behind them, electronic slave collars around their necks.

A dozen Jaffa, and a man wearing crimson robes over his armor, the golden crest of the First Prime on his forehead, were there to greet them. Jack and Daniel were immediately disarmed, and the controls for the collars taken from them.

Casey was immediately on edge. She reached out, felt only that uneasiness that had plagued her since the planning process of this mission had started.

"I am Klare. I am the First Prime of the mighty god Nergal," the man said.

"I'm Daniel, and this is my friend Jack," Daniel said, nodding at the man beside him.

Jack looked around carefully. There were Jaffa positioned every twenty feet around the perimeter of the compound. There were several dozen more on the flat roof of the three-story structure. "Like friggin' Fort Knox," he whispered.

Klare looked at the man, then at Daniel.

"He says the palace is impressive," Daniel said.

The crimson caped man smiled. "Yes it is. This way. Lord Nergal will speak to you directly. It is a great honor that he has chosen to bestow upon you."

'Any bad feelings, babe?'

'No, just lots of…uncomfortable ones.'

The men followed Klare. Sam and Casey had been surrounded by the Jaffa, and were following behind their husbands. Casey glanced at the Jaffa beside her. He had looked at her, twice, something in his eyes…Her own eyes went wide when she realized he was making the hand signal for Free Jaffa. Her heart leapt in her throat. She contemplated telling Daniel, decided to wait until she had more information. It could be a trap, she thought.

The throne room into which they were taken was enormous. It was larger than the burial room under Geb's palace. At least one hundred feet square, and a full three stories tall. It was surrounded by balconies on three sides, and there appeared to be a large number of people gathered on each level, looking down on the proceedings below them.

The throne was situated near the back wall. Sitting there, in light linen trousers and a soft blue silk shirt, was Nergal. Even sitting down it was easy to see that he was tall, and well built.

Casey nearly gasped out loud. The photographs taken of the man had been grainy, and though it had been clear enough that he was a handsome man, she wasn't prepared for the sheer animal magnetism that he possessed. His black hair was short, and it looked as if he had just recently run his fingers through it. He had a full, but thin moustache, and what she always called a 'scruffy' beard. His dark eyes missed nothing.

Nergal raised a hand. Casey and Sam were shoved forward, then forced to their knees on the step directly in front of him.

Goddess, he even smelled good, Casey thought with a moan. She dared to glance at Sam, saw that her friend was just as affected by this man as she was.

Daniel was frowning. He'd seen the look on Casey's face when she had seen the Goa'uld. He didn't like it. He didn't like it at all! She was finding that damn snake attractive!

"You are the Lady Xena?" he asked Sam.

Sam glanced at Casey...the question in her eyes more about any possible 'feelings' rather than any need for advice. Her young friend nodded slightly. 

Nergal didn’t miss the by-play. He smiled. It seemed that the Lady wasn't as much in charge as others believed.

"I am."

Having already made a discovery, Nergal turned his full attention on Casey. She stared back at him, her green eyes never wavering. "You are Gabrielle."

"That's what they keep telling me," she retorted. Damn! Every time she got nervous, the smartass just seemed to slip right out!

Nergal smiled. 

If he had been handsome before, he was devastating when he smiled! She shivered imperceptibly.

He could see that her slender body was trembling just the slightest bit. Her leather clothes hid nothing from his probing gaze. "You do not fear me?"

"No. Should I?"

'Be careful, Casey.'

'I'm trying, sweetheart.'

Nergal's smile widened. "I am the most feared god in the universe!"

Casey shrugged casually. "Sorry, never heard of you before those…bastards…caught us."

"Ah, yes. I understand that you and the Lady have committed a variety of crimes. Theft, bribery, murder."

"Prove it. Any of it. Without proof, it's all hear-say."

Nergal actually laughed. "You are delightful, Gabrielle." He turned to Klare. "Release them. Pay the bounty hunters and send them away."

Jack and Daniel exchanged a worried glance. The plan had been to come in here, kill Nergal, and beam out. They had known that their weapons would be taken, but they had hoped that the small but deadly Beretta 84's hidden in their boots would do the job. They had assumed that they would be taken closer to Nergal.

Shit! Jack thought. Best laid plans shot to hell! Ten minutes and they were already flying by the seat of their pants!

Daniel was just as upset. He didn't like the interest that Nergal was paying his wife. He sure as hell didn’t like that fact that she seemed to find him…interesting.  'Angel?'

'I don't think I like the way he's looking at me!'

He almost sighed with relief. 'I don't like it either. Just play along for now.'

'Don't have much of a choice, do we?'


Klare motioned to a Jaffa, he released the shackles from wrists of the women, and took the collars from their necks. They were allowed to move back to the bottom of the steps that led up to the throne. Both women swallowed sighs of relief. The First Prime walked to where Jack and Daniel stood, handed them a small pouch. "You will find your reward to be ample. You will now leave this sector. And you will not return."

Shit! Jack thought again. This entire mission had just gone FUBAR. As soon as he and Daniel were back on the Hunter, they would have to try and beam Sam and Casey back on board. As long as they stayed dressed, it wouldn't be a problem, the capes had more of Thor's location beacons attached to the collars. Teal'c could be notified by radio and brought back as well. Ten minutes tops. As long as Casey and Sam kept their capes on!


A  A  A  A  A  A


'Angel?' She could feel his worry. She sensed that he was a little bit jealous as well.

'I don't think I like the way he's looking at me!' The looks that the Goa'uld gave her were too much like those she had seen on Ba'al's face during that feast.

'I don't like it either. Just play along for now.'

She smiled when she felt his relief. 'Don't have much of a choice, do we?'


She dared to reach out to him for just a moment, took comfort in his gentle caress.




"Gabrielle?" Nergal said, a frown crossing his handsome face.

"I'm sorry, I was…" she blushed, when she realized that while she had been talking to Daniel, she had been staring at Nergal's chest.

The Goa'uld smiled again. "I asked if you, and Lady Xena of course, wished to join me for the midday meal?"

Casey glanced nervously at Sam, was able to take a furtive glance over her shoulder. Jack and Daniel were being led away, back through the huge doors they had entered only minutes earlier.

Sam gave a subtle shrug.

"Sure, why not," Casey finally said.

Nergal had watched her, again, missing nothing. "Did those bounty hunters mistreat you? I can have them killed, if you wish."

She jerked at the words. Oh, god…have to stay cool! Don't give him a reason to grab them or stop them from getting to the ship! If they can get to the ship, they can beam us out, she thought desperately. "They didn't hurt us. They're not worth your effort. Eventually, we'll find them and…even the score," she said softly.

"As you wish." He stood, walked down the steps to where the two women stood. He smiled at Sam. "As much as you wish others to believe it, you are not fully in charge, are you?"

Sam gasped slightly, gave Casey a wide-eyed glance.

Casey pulled herself to her full height. "Lady Xena is my mistress. She is indeed in control. She doesn't bother herself to speak to anyone not worthy of her attention. She seeks, and values my council."

Nergal threw his head back and laughed. "You are a loyal companion, Gabrielle. But it is your council that the Lady follows. I would say that that puts all control into your hands." He reached out and took her hand, lifted it to his lips. "Such soft, slender hands, to hold so much power."

She didn't know what to do. Would it anger him if she pulled away? Would he think that she would fall gladly into his arms if she didn't? Why the hell hadn't they thought to wear those damned rings?

He watched her green eyes. She was trying to decide what to do. He jerked her roughly, pulled her close to him, put his arm around her shoulders. His smile disappeared, and his eyes took on a look of pure predatory heat. "Let me help you decide, Gabrielle. Fight me, and your mistress will suffer in ways you can't even imagine."

Casey gasped, looked at Sam with wide, haunted eyes. Sam was looking as if she had just been struck. "Whatever you wish," she said softly. "Just please don't harm my mistress."

Nergal nodded, the smile returned to his face. "Very good. Come, let us eat." He held out an arm for Sam, his other still tight around Casey's shoulders.

Sam put a shaking hand on the silk covered arm, and walked beside the Goa'uld and her best friend toward a door to the side of the room.

The dining hall that they entered was every bit as extravagant as the rest of the palace appeared to be. Nergal was seated at the head of a long table. Casey was seated to his right, Sam to his left. Klare sat beside Casey, and a woman with long, dark hair and deep blue eyes sat next to Sam. The woman cast worried glances at the two women, then at the man sitting at the head of the table. At least a dozen people, all dressed in linen and silk sat at the table, watching their lord and master.

Casey could feel the woman's fear, her worry. This woman loved Nergal, she thought, or at least loved the security he offered her. She tried to stop the trembling that had overtaken her body. 'Daniel?'

'Right here, babe.'

'Get us the hell out of here!' Her heart was pounding against her ribs. She was scared, and more than ready to call this mission a scrub.

'We're working on it. He has a dampening field of some sort. It's making it hard to get a good fix on your location.'

'Use the Fire, my heart! You can do this! Use the Fire to guide you to us.'

Nergal watched. She was…distracted…again. He reached out and grabbed her wrist. "I do not know what you are doing. But know this, any attempts at escape are futile."

Casey jumped, pulled her arm from his grasp. She'd had more than enough! "You may think you're all that and a bag of chips too, but if you ever touch me like that again, I'll cut your balls off!"

Nergal studied her for a moment, watched the flames of anger that danced in her eyes. He laughed loudly. "Do you see! Here is a woman who is not afraid of me! Strong enough to stand toe to toe with me!"

"If he says he's going to make me his Consort, I'm going to scream," Casey mumbled, just loud enough for Sam to hear it.

Sam couldn’t help it, she giggled.

Nergal looked at the two women. "Tell me what you said."

Casey stared into his dark eyes. "I said I think you're an arrogant ass."

Before she had time to move away, his hand closed around her throat. "I find you beautiful, and tantalizing, and entertaining. But do not think for one second I will suffer insolence!"

She closed her hands around his wrist. But rather than fight him, she relaxed against him, pushed her throat against the palm of his hand. Her fingers began to caress his wrist. "Kill me. I don't care," she managed to gasp.

He loosened his grip, moved his hand from her throat to caress her cheek. "Training you will be most enjoyable."

'Daniel? Now would be really good!'





'Right here, babe.'

'Get us the hell out of here!' He could feel her fear. His heart was pounding, worrying about what was happening.

'We're working on it. He has a dampening field of some sort. It's making it hard to get a good fix on your location.' He and Jack were working together, trying frantically to get a lock on their wives.

'Use the Fire, my heart! You can do this! Use the Fire to guide you to us.'

The Fire. Okay, how? This wasn't like using the power to blow something up. He couldn't 'feel' her strong enough to pull her onto the ship, besides, she was too far away, he was certain of it. If he could just get the transporter to lock…He shook his head. The best he could do would be to try and manually beam them aboard. He watched the sensor array. There! They were in that area. He closed his eyes, reached out to feel the transmission from the tiny transmitters in their capes.

'Daniel? Now would be really good!'

With a prayer on his lips, he activated the transporter.


A  A  A  A  A  A


Nergal had turned his attention to Sam. "As long as she pleases me, you will live. When I tire of her, you will take her place, and her life will be in your hands."

"You are one cold bastard!" Sam hissed.

The Goa'uld smiled. "Think what you will. It-" he broke off when the two women disappeared in a beam of bright white light. "No! Find them! Bring them to me! They will suffer for their insolence!"


A  A  A  A  A  A


Casey and Sam fell to the floor, having been seated in the dining room. Daniel located Teal'c, and managed to beam him on board as well. "Get us out of here, now!" he ordered the Jaffa who stood watching.

Casey ran to the weapons console, Sam to the communications display.

"Arm everything, Case, I think we're going to need it," Jack said calmly.

"Arming everything, aye-aye," Casey replied. "Missiles ready. All batteries show green. Waiting order to fire."

The ship shuddered around them as three al'kesh ships moved to intercept them.

"Get the Phoenix and Prometheus here, now!" Jack ordered. "We aren't going to last long if they don't get here pronto!" As if to illustrate his point, the ship rocked around them again. "Casey, fire at will!"

"Firing at will!" She sent a round of missiles toward the ships that were chasing them. Several of the missiles missed their intended targets. Others hit, but didn't do as much damage as she had hoped. She had the rear guns firing constantly, to at least keep their pursuers off their tail as much as possible.

The Hunter was moving on a standard evasion pattern. The al'kesh were already copying their moves.

"We have got to do better than this, kids," Jack said through gritted teeth when the ship was hit yet again.

Daniel stepped up to the helm. He relaxed, and let the Fire flow through him, allowed his mind to move his fingers over the controls. The commanders on the pursuing ships began to miss when the freighter in front of them moved suddenly away from them, avoiding each blast.

The Hunter was hit two more times, rendering the navigation system useless. Warning alarms were sounding everywhere. Several electrical fires were burning, cables swung free from broken attachments. Another hit, and the engines were down.

"Tell me that one of those ships is close enough to ring us off of this thing," Jack said to Sam.

"Five minutes," Sam replied.

"Okay, campers, we have to hang on for five minutes."

Daniel looked out at one of the approaching ships. He lifted his hand, began to call up the Fire. He felt Casey slip her hand over his. She looked up at him, smiled, then sent him the Fire that flowed through her slender body. He smiled down at her, then concentrated. A stream of blue energy flew from his fingertips and impacted on the approaching ship. He continued to send the power into the ship, until it exploded. The other al'kesh slowed, not willing to suffer the same fate. When the first targeted ship was gone, he turned his attention to the next one. It exploded as well. The third ship began to withdraw.

"Way to go, Danny!" Jack grinned.

The young man smiled, then sagged against the console. Casey's arm went around his waist, she helped to support him while he caught his breath.

The communication screen came to life. Methos grinned at them. "Looks like your ship broke. Need a lift?"

"Damned straight we do!" Jack said. "Let's get to the rings and get off of this tub before those guys come back with more of their friends."

It took less that fifteen minutes for the G.S.S. Hunter to be abandoned. Sam had started an upload of all information from the computer to the Phoenix. As soon as the transmission ended, Methos gave the order, and the ship was destroyed.


A  A  A  A  A  A


The team sat in the mess hall, drinking coffee, waiting for their sandwiches to be finished. They were quiet, still dealing with what had happened.

Casey reached out and took Daniel's hand. "I never said thank you for getting us out of there," she said softly.

Sam looked over, smiled at him. "Yes, thank you."

His cheeks reddened slightly. "You're welcome."

"I was so afraid. That bastard is one sick, twisted SOB," Casey said. She shuddered. "We have to take him out. We have to."

"We will, Case, I promise," Jack said solemnly. "Daniel, I don’t know exactly what it is that you have, but I'm damned glad you're on our side!"

Daniel smiled. "Thanks, Jack."

One of the Marines brought a tray of sandwiches to the table. "Here you go folks. And welcome back."

"Thanks," Jack said, grabbing a sandwich and taking a bite.

Teal'c ate a sandwich, reached for another one. "The plans that we have of the palace are not entirely accurate," he said.

"What did you find, T?" Jack asked.

The large Jaffa smiled. "I found a room, I believe Daniel Jackson would call it a library. I was able to search it for some time, waiting for the corridor to clear of Jaffa. I found what I believe to be a more accurate representation." He pulled a scroll from inside his jacket.

Sam and Daniel excitedly moved cups and plates to the side to make room to unroll the paper. Teal'c had found a floor plan for the palace, and it had detailed drawings of each level.

Casey stood up and hugged the huge man. "This means the mission wasn't a total loss!"

"Way to go, Teal'c!" Daniel said, a grin on his face.

"Now this is what I'm talking about," Jack grinned.

"We can use these to make a computer model," Sam said excitedly. "Next time we go in, we'll go where we want, and we'll get that bastard!"

The team raised their coffee cups in salute. They hadn't won the day, but they hadn't given up the battle.

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