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Shadows of the Heart
By the time Daniel and Casey and the small band of refugees arrived at the 'gate, Duncan had already sent a list of addresses. Sam sent the MALP to the first address, used the portable communication console that Texas had set up. The UAV went next, and the people behind her watched with awe as the images came back to them. The first planet seemed to be suffering a drought as well. Sam set the automatic dial-up program, and five minutes later the MALP and the UAV returned.
The first time the people saw the 'gate open, several of them cried out, and started to run back toward what was left of their village. A few calm words from Daniel, explaining that there was nothing to fear, and they slowly returned to rejoin those still standing near the steps.
Pallas looked at Daniel. He said he wasn't a god, that the people with him were not gods, but to do the things that they were doing…it was mind boggling. What if they truly were gods, and were testing his small band of survivors? He quietly turned to Heron, the oldest of the group.
The old man had been watching the strangers, his heart pounding in his chest…a combination of fear and excitement. He jumped slightly when Pallas put a huge hand on his shoulder. He looked up into troubled eyes. "You are worried that we are making a mistake?" he asked softly.
Pallas started shake his head, sighed, then nodded. "What if these are gods, and they test us? What if they seek to know our strength? Our honor? What strength, what honor is there in running?"
"You said it yourself, my son. We have no food. No water. It would take at least three days to dig deep enough to find water, perhaps longer. Without food and water, we would be too weak to dig. Where will we find food? We have already hunted until very few kouneli are left. They are skinny and weak themselves, and offer little meat. If these are gods, then they have chosen to save us," the old man said.
The tall man nodded his dark head. "I still worry that we might inadvertently offend them."
Heron smiled a toothless smile. "They do not appear to be easily offended. Do not worry so, Pallas. The decision has been made, and even now these people…or gods…toil to save us. Would it not offend them if we changed our minds after all that they have done?"
With a smile, Pallas nodded. "You always tell me what I need to hear. Even when it has already been running through my head."
"A wise leader seeks the council of the elders of his village. You have always been a wise leader, Pallas," Heron replied. He turned his attention back to the marvelous moving pictures that filled that small box.
Daniel had overheard the conversation. He had to admit, the way they had arrived in the village…what was left of the village, would seem…god-like…to a group of people just barely surviving. The equipment they were using must seem…magical. He was sure that once they were settled, they would understand that SG-1, and all the teams that would no doubt be working with them, were just as human as they were.
A A A A A A
The second planet that they investigated via the MALP seemed to be much more promising. Daniel read through the mission report associated with the planet. The mention of large, predatory type animals made this planet a risk. These refugees had no means of protecting themselves, and as much as the people of the SGC wanted to help them, they couldn't remain with the people long-term. The third planet seemed to be in the throes of a sudden ice age,
Daniel was starting to get nervous. It had been over an hour, and they still hadn't found a suitable planet. Casey had set about feeding the people who huddled in the mud at the foot of the steps that led to the Stargate. She showed them how to open the MRE's, gave them each a bottle of water, her smile and gentle manner doing more to ease their fears than anything he could have said. He watched her for a moment - the love, the pride that welled up inside him made him feel as if his chest was about to burst open.
Casey glanced over her shoulder when she felt the weight of his gaze on her. She winked at him, shivered appreciatively when he flashed that shy smile at her. When she turned back to the people she was trying to comfort, the woman named Leda smiled at her, looked at Daniel, and then winked at her. Casey grinned and nodded. Sometimes, words weren't necessary, she thought.
"We have a winner," Sam announced. "Temperatures seem to be moderate, mission reports indicate that the 'gate is located at near the equator of the planet. I don't know what the weather would be like farther away, but this will give them the best start we can offer. Lots of vegetation and small animals. Mostly rodent type. A few larger mammals were photographed, although none of the investigating team actually saw them. Looks like a fairly wide river near the 'gate itself."
Daniel watched with her as the UAV did an aerial recon. He agreed. It looked good. He turned to Pallas. "We've found a planet that will suit your needs. Are you ready to go?"
Pallas felt as if his legs were suddenly made of lead. "We are ready," he replied, praying that his voice wouldn't betray the sudden fear that flooded him.
Jack had Marine 2 go through first, just to be safe. Better to have a team there, prepared for any emergency, as to get innocent, terrified civilians into a situation that could turn ugly in seconds. The MALP was still transmitting images, and the people watched, their jaws hanging open, as they saw the men who had been standing with them only seconds ago, moving around in the window on the small box.
"How did they get in there?" Heron asked, his eyes wide with wonder.
Daniel chuckled. "They aren't in there. We're just seeing images of where they are. Come on, we'll join them." He started up the steps. When he realized that Pallas and his people weren't following, he turned around to see what the problem was. The people were looking from the images to the 'gate and back again, and now there was a bit of fear in their eyes. Shit! It could take awhile to get them through if they were afraid.
Casey looked at Leda and smiled, and offered her hand.
The woman took the soft, light-skinned hand, a deep breath, and hesitantly let the slender woman lead her closer to that circle of shimmering water. Something in her heart told her that this woman with the expressive green eyes would not allow harm to come to her.
"It's all right. It will be all over in seconds," Casey said softly, even though she knew the woman couldn't understand her. With a gentle tug, she led Leda through the 'gate, biting her lip to keep from laughing when the woman took another deep breath, as if she were going under water.
Leave it to Casey to get things going, Daniel thought, grinning broadly. Not one of the men would dare to hesitate now, not when a woman had already walked through.
Pallas was staring at the monitor. He could see his wife, and the woman who belonged to Dan'yel. Both were smiling, and Leda was looking around with obvious excitement on her face. He looked up at the light haired man. He swallowed, then strode through the 'gate.
Once their leader had stepped through, the rest followed, though some moved more slowly than others. The sleds, piled high with supplies, were sent through; and then the rest of SG-1 and SG-6 joined them.
A A A A A A
He had never before experienced such a thing. For several seconds he was absolutely terrified, certain that he was going to die in the icy cold, where lights seemed to flash all around him. Then he was walking, stumbling actually, down steps much different than those he had walked up, standing in lush green grass. Pallas looked around in awe. Never had he seen so much green! Flowers offered a variety of other colors as well. The sky above him was a deep blue, so sharp it hurt to look at it for very long.
"Pallas! Come! Look! Water that flows on top of the ground!" one of the younger men called excitedly.
The dark haired man stared at the water that flowed by. There was so much of it! He turned to look at Daniel. "Is it safe?"
"To drink? I'm sure it is. If not, it can be boiled to purify it for drinking. It will be safe enough for bathing and washing your clothing and blankets," Daniel replied.
"Bathe? In that? We will be carried away!" Pallas said, his eyes wide.
He couldn't help but laugh. "Feel like a swim, Angel?"
Casey looked over at him. "As a matter of fact, after all the time on that muggy, hot planet, I do!" She shrugged her pack off of her back, unclipped her P90 and put it beside the bag, tossed the vest on top of that, and then sat down to take off her boots and socks.
Daniel was doing the same thing. "Ready?" he asked, once his feet were bare, and his pant legs rolled up to his knees.
She nodded. "Yep." She stepped closer to the edge of the river, stuck her toes in. "Oh, that's cold!"
Daniel checked the temperature with his own toes. "Oh, yeah. That's cold all right."
When she looked over her shoulder, realized that every one of the refugees were watching her, she took a deep breath, and stepped in. She couldn't hold back the squeal of surprise as the water swirled around her feet.
Pallas laughed out loud at the look in those beautiful green eyes. He sat down on the grass and pulled off his worn boots. "Blessed Gods this is cold!" he roared when he walked into the water.
Snickers and chuckles turned into full-blown belly laughs. Leda joined her husband, and even old Heron decided to see what it was like to stand in water that moved so quickly. "I have never felt such cold water!" he exclaimed.
Daniel had waded back to the bank to grab the camcorder, and was busy recording the villagers as they frolicked in the water. He kept an eye on the progress of the Marines and SG-6 in unloading the sleds. It would be better to show the people how to pitch the tents for themselves, so that if they decided to move, they would know what to do.
Casey watched the excitement in the faces of the people they had just saved. This was a good day. And there were too damned few of them. Her feet were starting to get numb, so she made her way back to the edge of the river. Sam was taking soil and water samples. Several had already been taken by the team that had done the recon here, but it was a habit, and there was the possibility that they might discover something had changed in the year since the last team had been here.
When the sun had reached its zenith, Pallas led his people to where Daniel stood waiting. With the help of SG-6 and the Marines, he taught them how to erect, tear down, and re-erect the tents. The camping equipment was explained to them, and the women oohed and ahhed over the cooking utensils.
Pallas was delighted to find plenty of saplings to use for bows and arrows, and several of the men started working on them as soon as a fire was built in the center of the circled tents. He turned to Daniel. "I do not know how to thank you for saving us. You have brought us to paradeisos."
After seeing where these people had lived, Daniel could well understand that they would see this as a paradise. "Knowing that your people like it here, and will be happy here, is thanks enough," he said with a smile.
It seemed that as soon as the camp was set up, the people set immediately to the business of finding those things that they needed, or felt that they needed. Heron was busy carving an icon of the village god from a large section of wood taken from a nearby fallen tree.
After watching for a few minutes, to determine exactly what he was doing, Daniel sat down beside the old man. "You're making the village theos?"
Heron nodded. "Cronus."
Daniel barely suppressed a shudder. "Cronus is your god?"
"He is the god of all," Heron replied calmly.
"Yeah, well…" Daniel weighed the benefits of telling these people that their 'god' had been a power-crazed, egomaniacal Goa'uld. They were too primitive to understand. Believing in a god, even Cronus, could do them no harm, especially since the Goa'uld himself wouldn't be showing up.
The old man looked over at the man sitting beside him. "You know of Cronus?"
"Yes, I do," Daniel replied.
With a satisfied nod, Heron returned his attention to his work.
Daniel looked around. Sam and Casey had already done a bit of 'measuring', and clothes had been sent through. More clothes than these people had ever owned at one time. Pallas and Leda were dividing up food and water and cooking utensils and blankets and sleeping bags. Each family even received their own small gardening tools: rakes, shovels, hoes; as well as fishing poles and line. There were even a few hammers, a couple of small handsaws, half a dozen small axes, and a few boxes of nails. Small bags of soap, shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brushes - items that these people had never seen before - were examined and treated as rare and priceless gifts. He couldn't help but wonder if they would actually use any of the toiletries, although he had carefully described what each was for.
Families were moving into tents, and starting their own fires in front of their new homes. All of them felt as if they had become wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. Pallas had been afraid of the lanterns, and insisted that they had their own ways of making candles. Daniel hadn't argued, and the lanterns, generators and other 'technology' were loaded back onto a sled and sent back to the SGC.
A A A A A A
Jack wandered over, his hands resting casually on his P90. "So, Danny, how long do you think we should stay with these folks?"
"I don't know. I guess we should spend the night. See how they feel about things in the morning," the young archaeologist replied.
With a nod, Jack walked to where Teal'c and Sam waited. They began to set up their own camp with the other teams. The general sent SG-6 and Marine 2 on a recon, wanting to know just exactly what lay beyond the small meadow and the nearby woods.
By nightfall, Pallas and his people seemed to have settled into their new home. The men were planning to build more permanent shelters, looking at Daniel and the others with worried eyes. "We do not wish to offend, Dan'yel, but a wall made of bark is much more secure than those of these tents," Pallas said apologetically.
"Pallas, this is your home. You and your people can do whatever you want. Build houses. Plant gardens and crops, hunt, fish," Daniel told the anxious chieftain.
"We will return to the ways of our people, nearly lost to us because of the drought. The seeds you have supplied will be most useful for our first crops," Pallas said.
Daniel smiled. "I'm glad we could help. Do you wish for us to stay…until you're settled?"
Nervous glances were exchanged, and Pallas cleared his throat.
"I would like to return to my home, I have a son and daughter, and I miss them very much. My Wife is very anxious to go home, to return to her children, she'd like to leave tomorrow," Daniel said quickly, having the feeling that as grateful as these people were, they were still convinced that he and SG-1 were gods. And living with gods around could be damned uncomfortable.
The smile Pallas gave him was one of relief. "We would be ungrateful if we were to keep you from your children after all you have done for us."
He nodded. "Then it's settled. Tomorrow, my friends and I will return to our home. We'll send someone to check on you, from time to time, to make sure that all is well."
The dark haired man nodded. "Your people will always be welcome here," Pallas said solemnly.
"I would like to learn about your people, hear your stories, if you're willing to tell me," Daniel said, pulling his notebook from a pocket in his pants.
Pallas smiled, and began to answer the questions that seemed to pour out of the younger man.
A A A A A A
Casey was watching the women. As soon as clean clothes had come through the 'gate, the people, especially the women, changed into the new garments. The old clothes were carefully washed and laid out to dry. Now they were ripping the worn material into narrow strips. When each woman had a pile of strips beside her, they began to weave what looked like dream catchers. Soon she was able to recognize individual letters in the squares of ropes the women created. She frowned as she watched Leda. She was certain that she could see Daniel's name, in Greek, in the twists and knots. Something told her that SG-1, SG-6, and Marine 2 were about to become great historical figures for these people. She could only hope that they were never treated or worshiped as gods. That thought triggered another…making her wonder how many gods of mythology who weren't Goa'uld had been travelers or explorers, who intended to do nothing more than help a group of indigenous locals survive. That was a question that would probably never be answered.
She looked up and smiled when Daniel approached. "Hey, handsome."
"Hey, gorgeous. Ready to call it a night?"
"I am tired, now that you mention it," she said, her eyes sparkling in the light of the nearby fire.
"I thought you might be," he smiled, winked at her. He held out his hand, helped her to her feet, and led her to their tent. They made a quick trip to the river to wash up, shivering from the cold water.
The teams had chosen to camp just a bit apart from the people they had saved. Which seemed to suit everyone.
"Do they like it here?" Sam asked, looking up from where she sat by the fire, leaning against Jack's shoulder.
"Yep. Anxious to see us leave, too," Daniel said with a grin. "They're not thoroughly convinced we're not 'gods', and having gods around all the time can be stressful."
Jack snorted. "I'll bet. That's okay, if they're safe and happy, we can go home. We'll send somebody through every couple of months to check on them."
Daniel nodded. "I told Pallas we'd do that. He seemed okay with it."
"Okay, campers, let's set up watch rotation," Jack said, just before a yawn overtook him.
Daniel and Casey had drawn first watch, along with Haberman and Franklin. He grinned when she pulled a deck of cards from her pocket. Watching her bluff her way through a poker game with the two Marines would have to make up for not being able to make love…at least…not for awhile. He looked at the hand she had dealt him. Almost laughed out loud. Full house. Jacks over Queens. Yep, it could almost make up for not making love!
A A A A A A
The first light of the sun over the mountains in the distance found The Anthropoi, The People, stirring to wakefulness, stoking fires, fetching water, washing up, tending to basic needs. They all glanced at the camp of the gods, for none among them would be convinced that the strangers who had arrived through the Chappa'ai, and then brought them to this paradise, gave them such gifts, could be anything other than gods.
Pallas watched as Casey slipped from the tent she shared with her husband, and washed quickly in the icy water of the river. He smiled when Dan'yel joined her, kissed her tenderly, unaware that anyone was near and watching. He frowned at that thought. It would not do to allow the gods to catch him watching them as if they were common villagers. He hurried back to the newly formed village, and to his own tent.
Leda looked up when her husband re-entered the tent. "Good morning, Husband."
He leaned down to kiss her. "Good morning, Wife."
"You look troubled," she said, winding a colorful scarf around her head. She had no way of knowing that the scarf had been among the clothes because Casey and Sam had conferred with Daniel on the culture of the people they were helping, and had learned enough to supply them with more than just standard issue BDUs to wear. Bolts of colorful cloth had been included in the boxes of clothes, all donated by Hope citizens during semi-annual clothing drives held on the base.
He smiled. She knew him too well, at times. "I just fear offending the gods who honor us with their presence."
"And you're anxious for them to leave," Leda grinned.
"Yes," he admitted easily.
"Gods or not, they saved our lives. For that they deserve our gratitude. And our hospitality."
"Such as we can offer," he reminded her.
"What we have, they have supplied," she countered.
"True. Come, let us see what this day will bring," he said, holding out his hand. He hugged her briefly before leading her into the early morning light.
A A A A A A
The SG teams were already breaking camp, getting ready to return to Gamma. The large ziplock bag of instant oatmeal packets was emptied in short order, and a bit of bargaining went on as two Marines and Tony grabbed for the same packet at once. While the three men were haggling over the packet, Casey reached into the bag and grabbed it, giggled, and scampered across camp to Daniel's side.
"You little thief!" Tony said, grinning broadly
"Me? Thief? Hey, mister, I brought this oatmeal! Don't you forget it!" she replied, tearing the packet open and carefully adding hot water.
Daniel slipped it from her hand, sank his spoon into it and stirred it, then took a bite. "And we all appreciate it," he said.
She looked at him, wide eyed, her mouth hanging open. "You're eating my oatmeal!"
"Correction, Angel. I'm eating my oatmeal," he said, grinning at her.
The hoots of laughter from Tony and the other men caused the villagers to look over, most of them smiling at the sound.
Shaking her head, and making a mental note to start hiding her favorite flavors of oatmeal in her pack, Casey divvied up the remaining packets between Tony, the two Marines, and herself.
Daniel finished eating, joined Casey at the river to brush his teeth. She kissed him, then handed over her hairbrush and a tie. Obviously there would be no lasting repercussions pertaining to his appropriation of her oatmeal. He allowed himself a few minutes to just run his fingers through her silky hair before he began to braid it. Shivered at the memory of how it felt as it covered his legs and belly when she'd sucked him off the night before, right after she had settled that sweet pussy over his face, allowing him to get his much needed 'fix' of her sweet honey.
"Daniel?" She was looking over her shoulder at him.
He looked down at her. "What?"
She giggled. "I don't know where you were, but it must have been nice, judging from the smile on your face."
He grinned and kissed the side of her head, finished her braid. "Oh, yeah," was all he would say. "Now, what did I miss?"
"I just wanted to know if you were going to stand here all day or not." She turned around and looked up at him. "I love you," she whispered, tracing his whisker-stubbled jaw with her fingers.
He caught her hand, pressed it to his cheek. "I love you," he whispered in return.
"Hey, you two, let's say our goodbyes and go home," Jack called to them.
Smiling at each other, they walked hand in hand to join the rest of team.
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