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Open Arms

Chapter 6

Casey groaned, and sat up. Well, she thought, at least I’m not on Osiris’ ship any longer. Don’t know where the hell I am, but that’s a good start. She looked up, gasped slightly to see that the night sky was filled not only with stars, but three planets that seemed to hover just above her.

She stood up, and brushed herself off. Her clothes were worse for the wear, her cotton shirt torn in several places; blood saturated it and darkened her jeans. "Methos?" she whispered, trying to see in the darkness. She took a few steps to her right. "Methos?"

She shivered, the night air cool against her skin. She wrapped her arms tightly around her slender frame. First things first. She needed someplace safe to spend the night. Then she needed to find shelter, food and water; and not necessarily in that order. There was enough light to see a copse of trees not far from where she stood. She made her way slowly towards them, making sure the ground beneath her feet was steady before taking the next step. It was slow going, but it prevented her from falling into any type of pit or trap or hole that could be waiting. When she finally reached the trees, she sat down with her back against one of the wide trunks, and waited for morning. It didn’t take her long to doze off.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

When the sun came over the horizon, Casey was already awake, and more than ready to move. She found what appeared to be a path in the tall grass, and began to follow it. She smiled when her mind flashed back on another such path. She had been with Sam and Teal'c and Daniel. Her heart lurched inside her. Tears began to fall down her cheeks. "I love you, Daniel Jackson," she whispered. She reached up to touch the pendant that she wore, realized that she had left it on the base when she had hurriedly changed to street clothes to go home, just long enough…She shook her head. Daniel was fine. He was looking for her. He would find her.

There was no sign of Methos anywhere. She wasn’t sure what had happened, but she suspected that Oma had intervened. Again. Wonder how long before she’ll be tossed out, too, Casey thought. She’s been helping us a lot lately, and the rules say no getting involved. That’s what had caused Daniel to become "un-Ascended".

It was mid-morning, and her stomach was beginning to complain to her. When was the last time she had eaten? If she wasn’t mistaken, she had been gone for several days. Perhaps longer. She and Methos had been conscious for at least the past three days. They hadn’t touched the food on Framone’s ship, and Osiris certainly wasn’t concerned about their physical needs. She began to look around, hoping to find something.

The grass she walked through was tall, it made a quiet hissing sound as it moved in the gentle breeze. The sky was a pale blue, the sun was high and warm, and under different circumstances, Casey would have found the planet to be a lovely place.

She smelled them before she saw them. It was a strong, rank odor. They looked like pigs. Well, if you didn’t count the fact that they were an odd shade of…green? No, more like a brownish green. Not attractive, she decided. She began to circumvent the gathered animals. So far, they hadn’t noticed her, and she intended to keep it that way.

She tried to watch them and where she was going, biting back a giggle as two of the little ones tried to see above the grass they moved through. Suddenly the adults lifted their porcine faces to the sky, their wide, moist nostrils flaring as they sniffed the wind. With grunts of displeasure, they began to move as quickly as their round bodies would let them.

Not good, Casey thought. She felt the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand up, and she slowly turned around. Behind her, what looked like the biggest black cat she had ever seen moved towards her, its long body close to the ground. The face was longer, narrower than felines on Earth, her mind noted, although this animal was most certainly related to a Terran panther. She began to move slowly, trying to determine if the cat was after her or the foul-smelling beasts that were still running through the grass.

That huge head had swung her way, the yellow eyes taking her in…

Shit!

She heard a low rumble from the beast. Great. Thanks Oma! You got me away from Osiris, now I get to be lunch for this…thing!  

Before the cat could spring, Casey turned and began running. She was in good physical condition, but days without food and water had weakened her, and even as she ran, she was aware of the fact that she could never outrun this creature. Tears began to stream down her cheeks. When first strike of the paw came, it knocked her to the ground, the open slashes on her back deep and painful. She screamed as she fell to the ground. She struggled to her feet as the cat-like creature moved in for the kill. She managed to roll to her side, get to her feet, and run a few more steps before she felt it land on her, its weight knocking the breath out of her, and snapping her back. Her head connected with a stone, the pain sudden and sharp. What a hell of a way to die, she thought briefly, as she gave in to the darkness and closed her eyes.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

"I can smell them, they are here," the young man said, motioning to his hunting companion. "Several, I think." 

The other man nodded. "It is a good day to hunt, Ehestu Yano."

They heard the sound of running; someone was running towards them. They knew two things for fact: there were no other tribes in existence, not any longer, only The People lived here. And they were the only two this far from camp on this day.

A scream broke the silence around them. The two men looked at each other, their dark eyes wide, their senses on alert. That was the scream of a woman! They knew that none of the women from the camp were here. All men of The People were taught from a young age the value of women. They were the closest to the Great Spirit, for they brought forth life from their bodies. They were to be honored, and protected, cared for and cherished. The hard work that they did was never to be taken for granted. Instinct born from years of teaching brought the two young men their feet.

Bows ready, arrows in place, they ran to where the sound came from. A giant wesa had a woman by the shoulder, and was dragging her. Two arrows whistled through the air. The wesa dropped, dead before it hit the ground, the arrows having pierced one eye, imbedded in the brain.

Ehestu Yano looked at the young woman. Never had he seen a human with such light colored hair. Her skin, where it was not broken and bleeding, was fair, like the floating flowers in the river. He grimaced as he examined her. She was dead. She had gashes on her back, teeth marks on her shoulder, and a large gash on the side of her head. Even in death, she was beautiful. He picked her up.

"What are you doing?"

"Ottsvstu Owui, we must take her to Itu Godado. He will help her Spirit find it’s way to the Peaceful Hunting Ground."

The other man nodded. He fixed an arrow into his bow, ready should another wesa be nearby.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Sounds. Movement nearby. Breathe! Need to breathe! Her back arched, and with a gasp, Casey opened her eyes. Damn, that hurts! She remained still, waiting as the Quickening began to heal her broken body.

The old man who watched her fell back against the side of the teepee, his heart pounding against his chest. He had been preparing the sacred colors to anoint the body of this strange, pale-skinned woman. Already he had cleaned the blood from her slender body. More slender than any of the women of The People. Now he watched as the wounds which had ended her life…disappeared; leaving unblemished pale skin in their place. He could hear the popping of bones, unaware that her broken spine was being mended. He looked into her eyes. They were the color of the leaves on the trees. So, he thought, gathering his wits. The legends are true.

Casey tried to focus her thoughts. Nothing around her looked familiar. Okay, my girl, take another deep breath, and try to do something simple. Like…remember your name. She cast about in her mind. Nothing. Zip. Nada. She felt tears well up in her eyes.

She looked at the old man who stared at her. His long white hair was held back by an intricately designed headband. He was wearing something around his bony hips, but nothing else. "Where am I? Better yet, who am I?"

The old man took note of the tears, the near panic in the soft voice. "Nihu sosgu gonuyagu hoyonu," he said slowly, his voice gentle. ["You are in no danger here."]

Casey shook her head. His words meant nothing to her. She drew back, fear in her eyes, when he reached out to touch her. It was at that moment that she realized she was naked. She pulled her legs up, crossed her arms over her chest, tried to cover herself.

The old man patted her shoulder, then called out; barking orders, it sounded like to her.

A woman, her black hair streaked with silver, entered the teepee several minutes later, a bundle of skins in her hand. She stared at the white woman, the woman who Ehestu Yano had carried into the camp an hour ago, obviously dead. Her eyes darted to the old man. He nodded, and she held the bundle towards the woman, who still lay trying to cover herself.

"Ogueo eyeu osonedoui. Olusdilvdu ogueo," he said, nodding toward their naked guest. ["This woman was badly wounded. Help her."]

"Ogueo nosgu gonuyagu?"["This woman is not a danger?"]

"Tlo. Ogueo Eni-qeo," was the calm reply. ["No. This woman is of the Great Spirit."]

The woman looked at the pale younger woman, her eyes going wide. She grimaced when she saw the fear, and the panic, in those odd green eyes. She reached out her hand, and gently touched Casey’s knee. "Oyo wulu olusdilvduni-hu," she said, using the same tone of voice she did with all frightened children. She unwrapped the bundle, and shook out a tunic, leggings and boots, exactly like what she, herself was wearing. ["I will help you."]

Casey allowed the woman to dress her, feeling significantly better not being naked among strangers. The woman smiled at her, then left the teepee. The old man then offered her a bowl, something lay in the bottom. She stared at it, then glanced up at him. He tore a bit of the meat apart, and put it into his mouth. Stomach growling, she took the bowl and began to eat. When she had finished, she held the bowl out to him.

"Dau eyesu? Nihu tsodelu suwo," the old man smiled. He filled her bowl again, watched her eat. Her eyes no longer held panic and terror. Now they were filled with curiosity. Strange that he could tell what she was thinking, feeling, by looking into those eyes. ["Still hungry? You want more,"]

When she had finished eating, Casey looked around her. There were furs piled toward the back of the teepee, and several baskets were lined up along one side. She leaned forward to look out of the opening.

"Nihu onosgetu onigo gonvgau," the old man said, smiling at her. ["You may go out,"]

She smiled back, then looked outside again. When the old man stood to his feet, she did the same.

By now the entire camp knew about Casey and her "Great Spirit" status. They were gathered around the teepee, trying to catch a glimpse of her. When she came out, they all gasped. She was taller than any of the other women, the hair that reached nearly to her waist was the color of the sun, and her eyes were the color of new grass in spring.

Ehestu Yano felt his breath catch in his throat. Never had he seen such a woman. Unlike the women of The People, her face was a soft oval, her features were delicate, her nose narrow, her lips full and pink. His heart began to pound in his chest. Surely, since he had been the one to bring her here, Itu Godado would see that he should be the one to be mated to her. Oh, how he wanted this woman!


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