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When the men of the two clans jumped to their feet, heading for the three men of SG-1, Casey and Sam had attempted to make an escape. The women of the clans, however, blocked their path, leaving them two choices, remain where they were, or run back into the 'room' where they had spent nearly ten hours. They chose the room. Both women grabbed their clothes and pulled them on, Casey opting to forgo the boots. She grabbed her P90, ran back into the main part of the cavern, and opened fire, aiming at the rocky ceiling.
Instantly the people of the clans were on their faces. Inagrid stared wide-eyed and open-mouthed at the young woman.
Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c, a little worse for the wear, grinned at her. "Never piss off the skinny blonde," Jack said.
Casey stared daggers at the old woman. "Daniel, tell this woman that we are going to get our things, and we're going to leave. And if they give us any trouble, I'll put holes in them. Just like this." She aimed at one of the animal skins that was stretched tightly on a frame made of saplings. When she took her finger from the trigger, there wasn't much left but strips.
"My Wife says that we're going to gather our belongings, and we're going to leave this place. If you try to stop us, she'll do to these men what she did to that skin." He wished he could stop grinning. But she was just so damned cute when she was pissed off like this!
Inagrid's shoulders slumped in defeat. "Then it is true. The Children of the Great Spirit Mother are doomed to die."
"Why do you say that?" Daniel asked, a frown on his handsome face.
"The people you see before you are all that are left of the Children. Illness has plagued us for many winters. Too many of these people are closely related. Marriages between their children result in babies that are too ill, too…deformed, to live. Only the arrival of the Daughters of the Great Spirit Mother could protect us," the old woman replied wearily.
Daniel hurriedly translated.
"Oy," Jack muttered. "Okay, can anybody think of a group that would either be willing to move here, or take these folks in?"
"What about Pallas and his group?" Daniel asked. "They didn't have more than a handful of people themselves."
"It's worth a try," Jack said, nodding. He glanced at Casey, noticed that she had her head cocked slightly. "Incoming."
"Case?" Daniel asked softly.
"There's…someone…well, I think it's a 'someone', here," she whispered.
Five pairs of eyes began to examine every shadow, every crevice in the rock wall. Daniel stepped toward the fire. "Hello? We mean no harm. We're travelers, explorers. It was never our intention that these people be hurt, or even frightened by our presence. They mistook our wives for the prophesied Daughters of the Great Spirit Mother. We only wish to leave in peace."
A woman with jet-black hair, and eyes the color of onyx, stepped from the shadows, near the skin that was covered with symbols. She was wearing a robe of deep blue, and a long animal skin fur cape covered her shoulders. "How do you know that these women are not my daughters?" the woman asked, her voice deep and melodic.
Daniel smiled. "I suppose that in a philosophical sort of way, they are."
"I would gladly claim them as my own, if they are willing to stay. I can offer - peace - for you and your friends," the woman said.
"I don't understand," Daniel admitted.
"If these women will remain, add their blood to that which flows through my Children, I can…take away…memories of them. You would not remember them, and thus not miss them when you leave."
"Why can't we stay as well?" Daniel countered.
The woman seemed to consider this option for a moment. "I do not believe that would be wise. You would not be willing to share your wife. She must mate with at least three men in order to offer new blood."
He nearly laughed out loud. Yeah, like that would happen! "You're right. I wouldn't be willing to share her. And as for the offer of forgetting her, I don't think it would work. We have two children waiting at home for us."
The onyx eyes lit up. "Then she can bear children! Please, you must let her stay. I can at least ease the burden of her loss, and you would have her children to remember her by!"
It was apparent that the woman was desperate. "I am Immortal. My wife is Immortal. Unless she has injections that will counter part of her Quickening, she'll never conceive a child," Daniel replied.
The woman looked up, as if listening to someone. Gave a sad smile, then nodded. She looked at Daniel and sighed. "It is not meant to be. You are free to leave."
"Look, we were discussing how to help your people. There is another group, their numbers are even smaller. Perhaps they would be willing to take your people in. They live in a milder environment," Daniel said. "Let us contact these people, and offer this proposal to them."
Again the woman looked up. This time her smile was wide. "You would do this for my Children?"
Daniel glanced at the ceiling of the cavern, had the feeling that the woman he was speaking to was merely the 'voice' for the Great Spirit Mother, whoever she really was. "Yes, we would do so gladly."
The dark haired woman turned to Casey. She walked toward the young blonde, put her hand against the soft, smooth cheek. With a smile, she lowered her hand to that flat belly. "It is a shame you will not bear children for us," she said softly. She turned back toward Daniel. "Go, and speak with these people. If they consent, I will assist in moving the Children."
Daniel nodded. "We'll be back in no more than twenty four hours."
"This is agreeable." The woman turned and vanished into the shadows.
Inagrid, who had fallen to her face when the woman appeared, looked up cautiously. She had listened to every word spoken. "I will explain to the Children what is happening," she said softly. "Go, with the protection and blessing of the Great Spirit Mother."
"Yo, Danny, want to let us in on it?" Jack said impatiently.
The young archaeologist told the team what had been said, including what the woman had said to Casey.
"Okay, campers, let's move out. We have some wheelin' and dealin' to do," Jack said.
Sam and Casey finished dressing, packs were gathered, and their winter gear was donned, all while the Children watched, wide-eyed as Inagrid explained quietly what was happening. The six young men, now wearing simple loincloths, looked absolutely devastated. Daniel couldn't help but feel sorry for them.
Scope lights were attached to P90's, and the team set out. They hadn't gone far when a low, rumbling growl made their blood run cold.
"I take it that this was the reason for the rifle," Jack said softly, swinging the weapon from his shoulder, checking that it was loaded and the safety off. Flashlights were slowly taken from packs, and the team began to scan the area around them.
"Holy Hannah!" Sam exclaimed, as her light reflected the twin orbs of a massive cat.
"Better shoot now, Jack," Casey said softly.
The older man took aim, and just as the giant feline began to pounce toward Sam's position, he fired. Three times. The cat was dead before it hit the ground. His heart was pounding against his ribs. "Are you okay, baby?" his voice betraying his concern.
"I'm fine," Sam replied, although she was shaking.
"Let's go, campers. I've had about all of this place I can take."
The remainder of the trip to the 'gate was thankfully uneventful.
A A A A A A
Duncan listened carefully as Daniel explained what had happened, and the need to return to P7R 801, where Pallas and his people had been settled. "I'll send the MALP through first thing in the morning. For now, go get some rest. And when you go back to R5X 395, think you could find out about the naquadah?" the Highlander teased.
"We'll think about it, Mac," Casey replied. "Unless we go hunting for woolly mammoths, or some other such thing."
The team chuckled around her.
"Don't let this Daughter of the Great Spirit Mother thing go to your head," Duncan said in a warning tone, keeping his eyes on the folder in front of him.
"Hey, does that like make me a goddess twice?" Casey asked.
"Smartass," the Scot muttered. He glanced over at Daniel. "Is she this annoying at home?"
Daniel grinned. "Sometimes even worse," he replied, ducked the punch that Casey had aimed for his shoulder.
A A A A A A
Casey scrubbed the paint and clay from her body, Sam doing the same beside her. "You know, it was kind of neat to be offered three hunks like that," she said softly.
Sam glanced at her. "Yes, it was. A couple of those guys were really cute."
"And…um…well built. Not as good as Daniel, but…nice," Casey giggled.
"I wonder if Pallas and his people will be willing to take them in? The…uh…Children, are so far behind in so many ways," Sam mused.
"Good question. But I think it would be easier for the Children to learn new ways than for a group to be thrust back into the Stone Age. And Pallas and his people weren't much more advanced than the Children."
"It would certainly be an advantage for both groups," the tall blonde said.
Casey frowned. "Did Duncan ever find a place for those girls from Dagon's harem?"
"I don't think so, I think Brenna has them staying on Methos' 'home' planet. Why?"
The young blonde looked at her friend. "Because the best way to get a group going is to have more women than men."
"And it would give the girls some sort of a home," Sam added, nodding slowly. "The whole language thing is going to be a problem."
"Daniel will think of something, I'm sure," Casey replied, her faith in her husband completely unshakeable.
"Without a doubt," Sam smiled. She had faith in her friend as well.
A A A A A A
"So how are these two groups of people going to talk to each other?" Jack asked, letting the hot water run over his back.
Daniel frowned. "I don't know," he admitted. "I'm sure that Rachel could pick up the language of the…um…Children, fairly quickly. And I know that there has to be someone familiar with ancient Greek. Send them along as translators, and it could work."
"Let's hope it does," Jack said. "I hate the thought of those folks just dying out. I'd still like to know just how they managed to get there."
"She said an illness had plagued them. But…I got the feeling there was something else. I took film of all the 'writing' and pictographs I could see," Daniel said. "I should be able to find something there. I have a feeling that Inagrid, as Shaman, knows a bit more than she's telling."
"Wouldn't hurt to talk to her," Jack agreed.
A A A A A A
On the drive home, Casey had shared her suggestion with Daniel, who pointed out that the girls from Dagon's harem would have to be taught the simplest of tasks. She countered with the women from Seleconne's harem, and the men from Drucilla Seleconne's pleasure house, and how the two groups had learned quickly, and had breathed new life into the Pangeria colony. He had asked for her thoughts about dealing with the language barrier, and she had agreed that at least two translators would be needed. And then just as quickly informed him that he would not be one of them. His response had been to smile and lift her fingers to his lips. He had seen the nervous glances she had thrown in that dark haired young woman's direction. Knew what she feared. Sighed mentally, wishing that she would accept that he loved her; and no other woman, not even one who reminded him of Sha're, could ever take him away from her.
"Stop!" Casey snapped, just before Daniel pulled into the driveway of the gray brick and clapboard house that she loved so dearly. The vehicle had barely stopped moving before she yanked her seatbelt loose, threw open the door and jumped to the sidewalk. She stomped to the flowerbeds that lined the foundation of the house on either side of the wide front porch.
Daniel groaned. She was pissed off. He'd better talk to…what the hell was the old battleaxe's name?… before she did! He pulled the Blazer to the sidewalk and parked it. Two new houses had been built in just the past three months. And the people who had moved into them were managers for the Collier Manufacturing Company, which had just opened a second facility on the east side of Hope. One of the couples seemed friendly enough. The other…he shook his head. To call them arrogant was an understatement. And that couple had two small poodles that wandered the neighborhood at will. He was getting tired of cleaning dog crap out of the yard; they had been forced to limit the kids to playing in the back yard because of it. Now…he shook his head again, started walking toward the house where those damned dogs belonged.
Casey had knelt down in front of what had once been a lovely grouping of irises and daffodils. They were ruined, dug up and torn apart. She counted seven places where those damned dogs had been digging. She looked up, saw that Daniel was already on his way. She pulled herself to her feet, brushed her knees off, and ran to join him.
He looked down at her when she slipped her hand into his. "Let me do the talking," he said quietly.
She nodded. Understood that as angry as she was right now, she was at risk of losing her temper completely, and saying something that would only exacerbate the problem. But she wanted Milton and Harriet Johnson to know that she and Daniel stood together.
"Do you remember their names?" Daniel asked, just before he rang the doorbell. Nodded when Casey softly reminded him.
Harriet Johnson was in her early sixties. She wore her husband's title of senior vice president with great pride, her pomposity making her a pariah among the other manager's wives. That she was spurned at the club meetings and company gatherings only served to make her angrier than she already was. She stared coldly at the couple standing on her doorstep. She knew exactly who they were. That they were…famous…was enough reason to dislike them. That they were Immortal was a good enough reason to loathe them. Look at her! Slender and beautiful, and she would never change!
"Hi," Daniel said, smiling with all the charm he possessed. "We have a little problem that we need to discuss." Again, his mind added wearily.
"And that would be?" The woman's voice as cool.
The look on the woman's face let him know that diplomacy would be lost on her. "Your dogs. They're tearing up my wife's flowerbeds. They're leaving messes in my front yard to the point that my children can't even play there. I'm asking you to keep your dogs in your own yard," he said bluntly.
"Pepper and Ajax would never do something like that. They're perfectly well behaved. And certainly much quieter than those children of yours!"
"If you wanted a quiet neighborhood," Casey said, her voice low, "you shouldn't have chosen one where families reside. There's a very nice retirement community that would be perfect for you."
Harriet looked the young woman up and down. "I have every right to live where I choose!"
"Yes, you do," Daniel agreed. "You also have the responsibility of being a good neighbor."
Sudden, loud yelling caused the three people on the porch to turn and look. Maddy Adams, who lived across the street from the Jackson's, was on her way up the street. And she did not look happy!
"I told you what would happen if you didn't keep those damned dogs of yours in your own yard, Mrs. Johnson," Maddy said, as soon as she was close enough. "There are leash laws in Hope, and they are strictly enforced. Animal Control officers are on their way now to pick them up!" The woman spun around, her red hair whipping around her shoulders. She stopped, turned back, looked up at Casey. "I chased them off, Casey, but I didn't see them in time to stop them from doing so much damage."
Casey smiled. "Thanks, Maddy." She stepped down onto the sidewalk. "What did they do in your yard?"
"Same thing. I had chased them out of my yard, then they went over to yours. I was so upset at what they had done to my herb garden that I didn't even notice at first," the middle-aged woman replied. "I just found a place where they've dug up all of my tulip bulbs. It looks like they ate some of them!"
"How bad is your herb garden?"
"Totally destroyed," Maddy spat, glaring at the woman who now stood, her arms folded defiantly in front of them.
"I will not allow my babies to be taken from me," Harriet Johnson huffed.
Daniel shook his head. "Mrs. Johnson, I've called and made three complaints about the dogs, after talking to your husband twice about them. Maddy has called. The Murphy's have called. Animal Control has too many complaints against the dogs to just ignore them."
"Mrs. Peterson said that the brown one snapped at Amber two days ago, right there in her own yard!" Maddy reported.
Both Jackson's spun to look at Harriet. "The O'Neill's live in the next block," Daniel said, although technically, that 'next block' was only four houses away. "That proves that the dogs are wandering the neighborhood. As my wife pointed out, this is a family neighborhood, and there are nearly a dozen children, small children, who live here. If the dogs are snapping at the kids, they're a danger."
Casey looked up at the woman, noted the angry jut of her jaw. "Let me tell you something," she hissed. "If those dogs ever snap at my babies, I'll toss their dead carcasses onto your porch!" She turned on her heel and stomped back down the sidewalk. Maddy followed.
Daniel shook his head, looked up to see the woman standing open mouthed, staring at the two retreating women. "More than likely Mrs. Peterson made a complaint as well. I'm sorry, Mrs. Johnson, but this situation could have been avoided if you had only kept them in your own fenced back yard."
"They can't keep my dogs," she said coldly.
"Lady, if one of those dogs tried to bite Amber O'Neill, it won't be coming back here. I can guarantee that. Casey is right, maybe you should look into getting a house in Rolling Hills. It's an area of older people, you won't be bothered by the noise of children, and your dogs won't be a risk to them." Daniel shoved his hands into his pockets, and turned away.
"I think that Time Magazine, and the New York Post would be most interested to know how the great SG-1 treats their neighbors," Harriet called after him.
Daniel turned around. "I have the email addresses and telephone numbers of several reporters for each of those publications. I'll make sure that you get a copy of the list," he replied.
Harriet shivered slightly. Milton had warned her about making enemies among their new neighbors. They had moved several times in Houston because of clashes with those who lived around them. It seemed that another move was in her future. She pressed her lips together, hurried into the house. Hoping that Milton hadn't been serious when he had said he would send her to live with her mother in Cleveland if she caused any trouble in Hope.
Daniel walked into the house. Emily and Nicholas ran to greet him. "Hey, Princess," he said, kneeling down to hug his daughter. He held out his other arm for his son, who ran straight into his embrace. He kissed both blonde heads. "How's my boy?"
"Mommy 'set," Nicholas said.
He grinned. "Yes, she is."
"Why, Daddy?" Emily asked. She didn't like it if Mommy or Daddy were upset.
"Because those poodles dug up the flowers out front," Daniel replied.
"I don't like the poodles," Emily said, shivering slightly.
Alarm bells went off in his head. "Why, Princess?"
"They bark at me when I get on the school bus. When I comes home, they show their teeth at me and make mean sounds," the little girl replied. "Meemaw tries to make them go home, but they make mean sounds at her too!"
Daniel stood up, went into the kitchen where his wife and mother-in-law were talking. "Erin, why didn't you tell me those damned dogs were growling at Emily?"
Erin looked contrite. "I'm sorry, Daniel. I called Animal Control and lodged a complaint each time it happened. I didn't think there was anything else that could be done," she replied. "There has been so much going on for you, that I just didn't want to add to your burdens.
He glanced at Casey. Her eyes were blazing. "Erin, anytime something like this happens, I…we…want to know," he said gently. "No matter what we're dealing with at the SGC. Was this a daily occurrence?"
The older version of Casey shook her head. "Only if they happened to be in the yard."
Casey looked up at Daniel. "Those poodles are obviously not accustomed to children. Daniel, they're dangerous!"
He nodded, walked over and picked up the phone, opened the kitchen drawer, searching for the phone book. When he found it, he looked up the number he needed, dialed carefully. "Yes, hello. This is Doctor Daniel Jackson. I need to talk to whoever is in charge there, please…Yes, I'll hold." He glanced up at his wife. Noted the look of love that had replaced the fire in those beautiful green eyes. He winked at her. "Yes, hello. I'm Doctor Daniel Jackson, to whom am I speaking please? Mr. Rathburn. Yes, well, I believe you've received numerous complaints about two poodles wandering loose in the Orchard Grove community? I know that there has been at least one report of those dogs, or at least the brown poodle, snapping at a child in her own yard, Amber O'Neill. I'd like to report that both dogs have been behaving aggressively, growling and baring their teeth at my daughter when she gets on or off of the school bus…Yes, it's quite annoying. Today my wife and I returned from work to find that the flowers in front of the house have been dug up by these dogs…yes, the neighbor across the street saw them and chased them off, after they had done considerable damage to her own gardens…Mr. Rathburn, there are at least a dozen small children in this neighborhood. The dogs seem to wander at will through the entire community, and each of these children are at risk…I believe that would be for the best…yes, thank you. You too, Mr. Rathburn…Goodbye."
Casey walked over and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Well?"
"He said that they had just taken a call from Maddy Adams, and she was livid. And that he had already approved having the dogs picked up when the call came in from Mrs. Peterson. Evidently a couple of Animal Control officers came out that day, but no one was at home at the Johnson's, and they couldn't locate the dogs. He said that he's sending a team out, and they won't leave here without those poodles."
"Good. I just hope this experience won't make Emily afraid of dogs," she said softly.
"I don’t think it will," Erin said. "She adores Wilbur."
Casey grinned. "Well, it's hard not to like Wilbur."
Daniel chuckled. Wilbur was a big Golden Retriever, and dumber than a box of rocks. But he was the friendliest dog he had ever met. Jake Murlow had often complained that the dog would show thieves to the silver and money if they took the time to scratch his belly. The dog would lay on the ground, surrounded by children who became over-exuberant in their excitement, never flinching from little hands that tugged at his fur, or his ears, or even his snout, that big yellow tail wagging furiously.
"Daniel, I heard what Mrs. Johnson said to you," Casey said. "You realize that she's just spiteful enough to do that, especially when her dogs are picked up."
"Let her," he shrugged. "And when they call to get our side of the story, I'll be sure to give them a list of all the other neighbors who have complained about those dogs."
"Talk to Alan Brady," Casey said, smiling. "He likes us!"
He smiled. Unlike the two women who had interviewed them the last time that Time Magazine wanted to do a story about SG-1. The reporter and the photographer had been blunt in their disapproval of all things military, and had been cool to the point of rudeness to Casey and Sam. Jack had read the article, and told them that it was nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the SGC, Gamma, and Hope in general, and SG-1 in particular. Duncan had learned, through sources who reported to Methos, that the magazine had been inundated with angry responses to the article. The editor had printed an apology to the teams of the SGC. Another article had been written the following week, proclaiming him to be the 'Renaissance Man of SGC'. It had been quite obvious, apparently, that the notes that of the reporters who had been on Gamma had been used for the second piece. He didn't know personally, because he hadn't read either article. "Maybe I'll do that," he replied.
"Well, I'm going to go home," Erin said. She stopped beside Daniel, put her hand on his arm. "I'll be sure to tell you if anything happens that you should know about," she said softly.
Daniel leaned forward and hugged the woman. "I know."
Casey hugged her mother. "See you tomorrow, Mom."
"I'll be here," the woman replied with a smile. She waved, then disappeared around the corner into the entry, and out the front door.
"She really didn't mean anything by not telling us," Casey said softly.
"I know. I just want her to understand that even if there isn't anything we can do, we need to know when something happens to the kids," he said. He pulled her into his embrace. "So what's for dinner?"
Casey wrapped her arms around his neck. "Gee, as Daughter of the Great Spirit Mother, I don't think I should have to cook at all!"
"Yeah? Well, I'm the Husband of the Daughter of the Great Spirit Mother, and The Chosen, and I'm hungry!"
She giggled. "Just had to work that in there, didn't you?"
"Hey, whatever gets me dinner!" he grinned.
After planting a soft kiss on his lips, she pulled away and turned towards the freezer. She had just opened the door when Emily ran into the house, her eyes wide. "Mommy! Daddy! I hear Amber crying!"
"Stay here," Daniel said, already on his feet and heading for the front door.
Casey nodded, pulled a worried Emily into her arms.
A A A A A A
Daniel raced up the street, could see Teal'c running toward the O'Neill house as well. The sound of a single gunshot filled the air.
Jack stood in the yard, between his screaming daughter, and his wife, who was trying to comfort her, and the now dead brown poodle.
"What happened?" Daniel gasped.
"Damned thing bit her!" Jack said sharply.
He looked around his friend to where Sam knelt by the still crying little girl. "Did it break the skin?"
Sam looked up, tears in her eyes, and nodded. "It's bad, Daniel," she said, her voice breaking.
Daniel hurried over. Bit back a curse. It appeared that the dog had bitten the little arm several times, and from the placement of the bites, he could tell that Amber had had her arm up, trying to protect herself. The wounds were bleeding profusely. "Better get her to the ER," he said softly. "Is Evvie inside?"
"Okay, I'll go get her, she can eat dinner with us," Daniel said.
"We'll have to have the dog tested for rabies," Jack said.
"I just talked to Mr. Rathburn at Animal Control. There are two officers on their way."
"A bit late for that, isn't it?" Jack snapped. He ran his hand over his head, shook it slightly. "Sorry, Danny."
"It's okay, Jack. You have every right to be pissed. Make sure that the Johnsons get the bill for the ER visit," Daniel replied.
Jack nodded. He glanced up as several of the neighbors approached.
"I saw it, Jack, I just couldn't get out of the house fast enough," one of the men said, a frown on his face as he watched Sam trying to comfort her daughter.
"Thanks, Larry," Jack said quietly.
Everyone looked up when the white and blue van pulled to a stop in front of the house. The two uniformed officers took in the situation at a glance. "I take it that this is the dog that snapped at the little girl before?" the man asked.
"It is," Jack replied.
"Was she teasing it, or bothering it in anyway?" the woman asked.
"Lady, my daughter was playing in her own yard when this dog attacked her!" Jack spat.
Larry stepped forward. "I saw the whole thing from my window. I was just telling Jack I couldn't get out of the house fast enough to stop that damned thing from attacking. Little Amber was sitting there playing with her toys. The dog came trotting up the street, saw her, and began barking. Amber jumped up and was running for the front porch when the dog ran toward her, and started lunging at her, barking and growling. It bit her several times, while she tried to get away."
The male officer was nodding, writing everything down.
"This dog growled and barked at my daughter when she got on or off of the school bus," Daniel added.
The female officer nodded as well, the opened the back of the van. She carefully picked up the dead dog.
"It had hold of my daughter's arm when I came out here," Jack said quietly.
"I understand," the woman said softly. "There are several complaints on file, including one where this dog snapped at your daughter."
"Do you know where the other dog is?" the man asked.
"Not a clue. They usually run around together, so it's probably around here somewhere," Jack replied.
"We'll find it," the man said.
Evvie was standing on the front porch, her eyes wide. Sam hugged her, and explained what was happening. The little girl clung to Daniel's neck as he carried her back toward his own home. As he headed up the front walk, he glanced over at the Johnson house. Harriet Johnson was standing on her front porch, hands over her mouth, tears running down her face. He shook his head, and went inside. Sometimes it was easier to deal with aliens!
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