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The Blonde, the Redhead and the Archaeologist(s)
It wasn't easy to walk away. To leave Sam laying there on that cold floor...dead. At least...Casey took a deep breath. At least she was free now. Free from the horrors of having a snake wrapped around her spinal column, controlling every movement, every thought.
Annika cast a glance over her shoulder. She wanted to do something...anything...to give Sam a better...what...send off? She shivered. Tried not to think about how long Sam might have been living like that, with a Goa'uld in total control, forced to hide in her own mind. She shivered again. This was a really bad reality. Obviously things had gone wrong for the Tau'ri at some point.
The sound of more approaching Jaffa had the women hiding once again, pulling staff weapons close. How damned many did the bitch have? Casey thought grumpily. "She must have brought every Jaffa she has," she huffed out loud.
"At the very least," Annika whispered.
The Jaffa were escorting a group of slaves. It wasn't possible to tell whether the group; beaten, filthy, under nourished, were being taken to their tasks, or back to slave quarters for what little rest they were able to get.
"Oh god!" Casey moaned.
Annika bit back her gasp.
Jack was thin, almost to the point of being emaciated. His hair was white, and scars ran the length of his legs, exposed by the tatters of the pants he wore. His brown eyes were focused ahead of him as he stumbled along with the others.
She fought back tears. Sam taken as a host. Jack was a slave. Where was Teal'c?
The redhead gave a quiet little sniff. "Makes you wonder if they have Teal'c, too, doesn't it?" she asked softly.
"Yeah. Considering what we've seen so far, she's probably made a drag queen out of him!"
Annika gasped, bit back a chuckle. "Drag queen?"
"Hey, you saw how the bitch was dressed!"
A thought that had been poking at the back of Annika's head finally gained enough momentum to come flying to the forefront of her thoughts. "Think we should find out who she is?"
Casey pondered the idea. "It might not be a bad idea. If she's Egyptian, and judging from the decor, I'd say she is, you know our guys will have some idea about her."
"Which in turn might give us an idea of what went wrong," Annika said softly.
"We'll see what we can find...in the engine room," Casey replied, her voice just as soft. "Let's go."
Two more corridors, four turns, and they were at last at their destination. Annika pressed the symbol on the wall that activated the door mechanism. She stepped into the room and looked around.
Five Jaffa were moving about, two looked to be on guard, while the other three appeared to be checking out the ship's systems.
"Hi, boys," Annika said, smiling seductively.
Casey giggled. If Annika's Daniel had any idea what his wife was doing, no doubt he'd pitch as big a bitch as her Daniel always did when she flirted with Jaffa in order to gain the upper hand.
The redhead let her empty hand trail over her arm, across her breast, to her hip. She most certainly had their attention. "We're going to take you out now, because we really need to make sure this ship crashes." Images of Jack flashed through her mind. It would be a kindness, she insisted, reminding herself that not taking this ship out could mean dying in this reality.
"Tell them that the day of reckoning has arrived," Casey said, carefully enunciating each Goa'uld word for Annika to repeat.
One of the Jaffa reached out with his staff weapon, waved it through Annika, his eyes going wide, the color draining from his face. All five of the men began to back away, trying desperately to find a way past the ghost and the weapon that floated beside her, and through the open door behind her. One of the Jaffa dropped his weapon, his eyes never leaving Annika as he bent to pick it up, stumbling over his own feet as he did so. He went to his knees, his companion, who had been on his heels, his own eyes fixed on the apparition, somersaulting over the kneeling man.
Casey laughed out loud. "I always thought Jaffa were so tough and mean. They're a lot of superstitious cowards!"
Annika giggled. "Should we let them go?"
The seriousness of the situation settled back on her. "When this ship goes down, they're going to die. It would almost be kinder to take them out now," she said softly.
Annika nodded her agreement. Was amazed that Casey had taken down three of them by the time she had taken down two. "Teal'c must have taught you how to do that," she said.
"Yep." She cleared her throat. Her thoughts kept going to Jack. If he was still...there... his mind unbroken, there wasn't a doubt in her mind that he could take this ha'tak and make good use of it. "Let's get those crystals taken care of."
The redhead hesitated. "What about Jack?"
"If I thought for a minute that we could get this ship under his control, I'd bust him out of those holding cells. We-" she broke off as her voice caught. "Annika, we're running out of time. Those archaeologists down there are going to die, painfully, and soon, if we don't get out of here. And if we don't take this ship down, that Goa'uld bitch is going to head back to that temple. And catch them...us...and I really, really want to get home to my babies."
The young woman understood that what Casey said was true. Her head most certainly wanted to get the job done and get home. Her heart however...She could sense that Casey was agonizing just as much over the decision. "You've had to do this before, haven't you?"
"We've never left our people behind," Casey said softly. "We just...we weren't always able to bring them home alive."
The pain in the soft voice tugged at her heart. She couldn't imagine doing what Casey had endured during her years of fighting against the Goa'uld. "Let's take this ship out," she whispered.
"You take that side, I'll take this one," Casey said, moving toward the right.
Annika watched the staff weapon move, then one of the columns slid open when Casey's fingers activated the switches. With a sigh, she turned to the left. The sharp sound of glass breaking filled the air.
"Do you need to know, too?"
The young woman smiled. "Yes, I do."
"Okay, give me a few seconds. Don't stop until all of those crystals are useless pieces."
"I promise." No matter how much I might want to jump right into that nice, safe support pillar, she thought.
A A A A A A
Casey raced up and out of the ship. Closed her eyes...concentrated...Wow...they were closer to Earth than she realized. The thought that Abydos had been the closest planet with a Stargate escaped her as she zipped toward the planet that had been her home...well, had been her home in her own reality. He wasn't anywhere near the mountain. In fact...there weren't many people thereat all...certainly none of the labs were there...the rooms were still nothing more than empty storage. Then maybe he hadn't...she moved closer to Chicago. Located the Oriental Institute. There! He was there! Giving a lecture. He looked so young! His hair was long, his eyes flashed with excitement as he explained how the Rosetta Stone had allowed 'modern man' to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphs, giving them the chance to learn about their ancient past.
She would never know what made her do it. She walked to the front of the classroom. His glasses were sliding down his nose. She gently pushed them up, brushed his hair from his eyes. "Believe in what your eyes tell you," she whispered in his ear. Didn't have a clue about that either. She shivered. Somehow she had the feeling she had just been used as a messenger. Damned Ascended! They could bend the rules when it suited them!
The young professor stopped mid-sentence. Had felt his glasses slid up on the bridge of his nose, and a soft caress. It was the whisper that made him shiver. He glanced around, his heart pounding against his ribs. He knew that he had stumbled onto something! The first thing he was going to do was call...what was her name? Langford. Catherine Langford. He had a feeling she would understand what he had discovered.
Time to get back. She sped back to the Goa'uld ship that orbited the small, desert planet.
A A A A A A
As Annika’s hand grabbed crystal after crystal, the image of dull brown eyes flashed across her vision. A nagging feeling of guilt wouldn’t leave her. Casey’s reasoning had been logical. They didn’t have much time and they were all as good as dead if the Goa’uld managed to land the ship. A few seconds ago Annika had been willing to defer to the more experienced woman; however now that she was alone…Damn you, Jack. Why did you have to look so dejected…so beaten? She threw the crystals with more force than was necessary. She could accept that not everyone could be saved. But this wasn’t everyone. This was Jack. If this Jack was anything like her Jack, he would bend, buthe wouldn’t break…not totally. There would be a thread of hope in that skeletal body, he just needed to be given a chance.
Cautiously she called out to Casey, checking to see if she’d returned from her search for this reality’s Daniel. There was no reply from the blonde. Annika had made a vow all those months ago to do whatever she could to help SG-1. This wasn’t her Jack, but he was close enough that she was compelled to try. It would only take a few seconds. For a moment she considered waiting for Casey, then decided not to. She couldn’t take the risk that the blonde Immortal would veto the idea.
She closed her eyes and focused on the hauntingly gaunt face of the colonel. When she opened them, she found herself outside a prison hold. The passageway was clear of Jaffa. The havoc caused by the women’s spring cleaning of the engine room had called them away from their usual posts. The transparent shield showed the slaves crowded together with barely enough room to sit down. Annika caught sight of a pair of filthy, ripped BDUs stretched out, the body hidden off to the side against the wall.
While she began typing in the sequence she knew to deactivate the force field, she tried to catch his attention. "Jack," she hissed.
"Jack." Annika raised her voice, thinking the man hadn’t heard her.
Still no response.
He must have heard her. Had he been a slave so long that he didn’t even recognize his own name anymore? If he was so severely conditioned from his incarceration then she needed a trigger to over ride it, something from his past. In a voice that would make any drill sergeant proud she bellowed, "Colonel Jack O’Neill, ATTEN-HUT!"
The response ingrained into the military officer since day one of his career had the man’s body jumping to attention before his mind could comprehend the action, his hand shooting upwards in an automatic salute. There was a flicker of interest in his eyes when he saw the ghostly apparition. "Am I dead? Are you an angel?"
Annika’s heart nearly broke at the relief in his voice at the idea of dying.
"No, you’re not dead." She forced herself to make her voice sound light. "But I have been called an angel a few times." The panel beeped warningly. Clearly the codes were different for each ship. She stifled a sigh of frustration. Didn’t have time to play code-breaker. She slipped her hand beyond the casing, searching for the connecting wires . Gave them a firm yank and the energy barrier sparked, then disappeared. She gave the colonel’s shoulder a squeeze. "A message from Casper and Space Monkey; get your ass to the escape pods. You’ve got about three minutes before the ship crashes."
Those brown eyes were suddenly filled with determination. Jack was back. His gaze swept over his fellow prisoners, most of who barely acknowledged the strangeness of seeing a ‘ghost’. Annika knew what he was thinking and she tightened her grip and hauledhim into the hall. "For once in your life, think only of yourself. Run, Jack."
He staggered against the far wall, then with a final backward glance at her, he started to sprint away. Annika caught his lopsided grin, before blinking to the engine room. She was resuming her crystal smashing when she sensed Casey coming back. She fought down a stab of guilt which she quickly suppressed. She would not feel guilty. She’d done what she had to do and would face any consequences of her actions. If Jack didn’t make it to the escape pods in time, he would at least die free. His last thoughts would be as Jack O’Neill, not a nameless slave.
Back on the planet, Daniel felt the switch of emotions through their bond. Before he could ask what had happened, the woman in his arms lifted a finger to his lips. Her head tilted up, giving a barely perceptible shake, her eyes darting to the couple sitting opposite. He gave a single nod to show he understood. Annika would explain it later.
A A A A A A
"He's teaching. In Chicago," Casey said softly, as soon as she walked back into the room.
Annika hoped that Casey would attribute her slight start to her sudden return rather than any 'hidden' emotions. She didn't enjoy deceiving her friend, but she didn't know her well enough to know how she would react to her impetuous act. "Then he never joined the Stargate Program."
"At least not yet," Casey replied.
"Do you think..." Annika paused. Everyone in the SGC acknowledged the fact that without Daniel, there wouldn't have been a Stargate Program.
"I think it took longer for them to figure out how to use the Stargate. And I think that the first group to go through the 'gate wound up somewhere other than Abydos. And it didn't go well," Casey theorized."I also think that he'll still be the one to locate the Abydonian Cartouche. It's possible that because they didn't have the benefit of Daniel's expertise, the first team sent through never figured out how to get back to Earth."
Annika nodded. "That would explain a few things."
The blonde was silent for a few moments and Annika could almost hear her frowning in her direction.Waves of...guilt...were pouring off of the young woman who stood on the other side of the room. "Annika, what did you do?"
Dammit, working with another psychic had its disadvantages. "I helped a friend," she said, softly defiant, straightening her back, waiting for the rebuke she felt was coming.
Annika cut her off, defending her actions. "I won’t apologize. I know I’m still pretty naïve and new to this whole Stargate universe, but I can’t change who I am. We already killed Sam in this reality. I understand that there was no other way to save her. But Jack didn't have a snake in him. I couldn’t kill him too, not without giving him at least a fighting chance."
"Annika…" Casey wanted to tell the woman that she understood, however she couldn’t get a word in edgewise.
"I know that time is of the essence, that if this entropic cascade thing hits it’ll kill our Daniels. I’m aware of the risks, probably more so than you, in a way. The bond Daniel and I share is a life bond. If he dies I die…"
"Literally?" That quiet declaration distracted Casey for a moment.
Annika nodded, but continued on with her defensive speech. "It took no longer than you finding the Daniel of this time. And you can’t tell me that Daniel wouldn’t have done the same thing. At least my Daniel would have-"
"Now wait just a minute," Casey felt an immediate rush of anger at the redhead’s implication that her Daniel wouldn’t have tried to help. He was The Chosen for chrissakes! It was part of the job description to help innocents and if that ‘innocent’ happened to be someone Daniel cared for, nothing would stop him from trying. Hell, it tore him apart when he couldn’t save everyone. "Daniel would have been the first one to mount a rescue if he had been here! I would have done it too but I couldn’t work out how to do it quickly! Jack is one of my best friends. I’ve known him longer than you've been alive, cupcake. I watched him die once, before he and Sam and Daniel and Teal'c became Immortal. Don’t you dare imply that I didn’t want to save him!"
Annika faltered. "You mean you wouldn’t have tried to stop me?"
"Stop you? Of course I friggin’ wouldn’t have. I would have damned well been right by your side!"
"Oh." The young psychic flushed in embarrassment and shame. "Um…have I mentioned that my mouth gets me into a lot of trouble in my reality?"
There were a few tense seconds and then Annika heard Casey’s reluctant giggle. "No. But it wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve put my foot in mine a few times myself. My temper gets me into trouble on a regular basis." Casey realized that Annika hadn’t meant any offence, that her desperation to help Jack had been her sole motivating force.
A A A A A A
Daniel felt the sudden mood change pulse through Casey. She was angry. No, pissed off. Pissed off and offended, not a good combination. He cast a glance at his double and wife. Both were tense and kept their eyes averted. Daniel was almost absently rubbing a soothing hand up and down Annika’s arm. Uh oh. That could only mean that their wives were mad at each other. Inwardly he winced. He knew Casey’s temper, and considering how similar the women were, he’d say Annika was just as much a spitfire as his wife. Two women who could manipulate solid objects at will. He was very glad that this duel was happening onboard the Goa’uld ship and not in the temple. He wasn’t sure the structure would withstand the assault. He shot a covert look at the redhead’s forehead, remembering Daniel’s playful warning. Nope, the star hadn’t changed. Can’t be too serious then. As suddenly as it had arrived, the anger vanished, to be replaced with reluctant amusement.
Both Daniels relaxed and shared a weak grin. Whatever it was, the women had sorted it out.
A A A A A A
Casey broke a few more crystals, turned toward the control console. "We need to make this thing a useless pile of junk."
The two women fired on the console, continued to fire until flames were dancing along the surface.
"I think maybe we should go now," Annika said, when the ship began to lurch beneath them.
"I think you're right," Casey agreed.
The weapons clattered to the floor as the women moved up and away from the ship. Already the pyramid shaped craft was moving closer to the planet, trapped in the gravitational pull. She had never been good at geometry. But from the looks of things, that ship was going down a long way from the temple. And that was a very good thing.
Annika skimmed through the atmosphere, taking the scenic route as much for her own enjoyment as to make doubly sure the ship maintained its current crash path. Well, there was another reason too. She scanned the sky, looking for any sign of a cigar shaped pod, being ejected from the shuddering ship. A pod that hopefully carried one skinny (but free) colonel.
"Do you think he made it?" Casey was keeping pace beside her.
Annika sighed. "I only gave him the opportunity. Told him to save his own butt."
"Isn’t that a ‘do as I say, not as I do’ comment?" Casey smiled.
Annika grinned. "Yep." Then she sobered. "It was Jack. I had to." It was a simple statement, no further explanation was necessary.
"I know." Casey agreed. "But that’s a nice tightrope you’re walking."
"Haven’t fallen off yet." She quipped, descending through the walls of the temple.
A A A A A A
The four stood up, their bodies in need of stretching after the time spent on the cold marble floor. Casey had wrapped her arms around Daniel, leaned into his embrace as he held her tightly. No need to look to know that Annika and her Daniel were holding one another as well. When they returned home, she would have to tell him about Sam, and Jack. And the fact that this reality was twenty some years behind their own timeline.
The air was split by the sound of one of the sensors. Then another, and finally a third. From the tone, they were the ones set the farthest out.
"For shit’s sake! Now what?" Annika grumped.
"Situation normal," Casey sighed.
"Meaning?" Annika asked.
"Things are going to hell, as usual," the young blonde replied.
CDaniel grinned. "If things aren't going to hell, it makes me nervous. Come on, let's see what's going on."
The men were slightly startled, but neither were surprised when the two women grabbed their P-90's and were the first out the door, hell bent to stop whoever was approaching. Time was running out for all of them, and the two women had just spent a harrowing thirty minutes on a Goa'uld ship, taking it down. They were in no mood to put up with more trouble now!
Annika happened to glance at Daniel when he stepped out of the inner chamber. He smiled at her and then for a second it seemed he’d moved forward and back so fast his body blurred. The sparkle left his eyes and before he could utter a word it happened again, only this time it didn’t stop. His body started violently shaking, like a hologram stuck in a micro second feedback loop. And then the pain hit. Through their bond Annika felt like she was being ripped in two as the assault of Daniel’s body instantaneously careened into hers. Being shaken like a rag doll Annika cried out, her legs collapsing beneath her. From far away she heard Casey say, "Entropic cas…" and then the voice was drowned out by the chattering of her teeth in her skull. H…ha…have…to h…help…Da…Daniel. Can’t d…do it like th…this…With howl she pushed her astral self out and unfocused eyes watched the ghostly image of herself tumble out and start convulsing. Drawing in a haggard lung full of air she lifted her face and locked onto the horror of both Daniels seizing and convulsing. Fear gripped her heart in a vice at the warped jerking, the entropic cascade failure a cruel puppeteer that in a few more seconds would cause death to its ‘puppets’. She tried to get to her feet. All she could manage was to get her knees under her. Though most of Daniel’s excruciation was being buffered by her quaking astral self, enough seeped through to weaken and disorientate her physical body.
The two men were on the ground, their bodies convulsing, writhing in pain. She reached out, determined to take at least some of the pain, couldn't move past the block that he had erected around his mind. She had no idea if the block was intentional or not. Her heart was in her throat, pounding, the knowledge that they had mere seconds to save them a silent scream in her head. She glanced at the temple. Safety. There was safety...the inner chamber! Somehow that inner chamber was...protected...there must be a force field of some type around it. She knew nothing about quantum physics, or the intricacies of alternate realities. That was Sam's forte. All she knew at this moment was that Daniel was dying, and that inner chamber was the only way to save him.
Annika's astral self was morbidly mimicking the men, while her solid twin was looking around in a daze, unsure what to do, terror and pain etched on the lovely features of her face.
"Get them back into the chamber!"
Casey’s panicked tone penetrated Annika’s ears. She watched the blonde trying to get a grip on the man she loved, but her hands swept through his arm when his body destabilized at the molecular level before solidifying again.
"We have to get them back into the inner chamber! It will protect them!"
Annika reacted instinctively, not questioning how her companion knew safety lay within. A trembling hand lashed out and she focused her will, propelling both men backwards into the stone room. Immediately that god awful pain cut off and she let herself fall face down to the floor, her feet just out of the door, in the sand.
Casey was torn between needing to check that Daniel was okay and helping Annika, who was lying awfully still a few meters away. There was movement within the inner chamber and she heaved a sigh of relief. Movement was good, it meant that the Daniels had gotten back into the protective walls of the temple in time. She hurried over to the woman who had saved her soul mate’s life. The transparent version of the woman vanished. Was that a good or bad sign? she wondered worriedly. Casey saw Daniel leaning against the wall, still trying to catch his breath. "Daniel?"
He could hear the panic in her voice. "I'm okay, Angel."
"Positive. Lucky for us Annika has that telekinetic power, huh?" His eyes flickered to the redhead. She looked as bad as he felt. Was it the effort of using her abilities that had drained her so? No, he dimly recalled hearing her cry out in pain as the ECF had hit him and his counterpart, and her astral embodiment had emerged convulsing and shimmering. Somehow she had been experiencing what her husband had been going through.
"Damned lucky," Casey agreed, her attention divided between her husband and her friend sucking in shallow gasps. "You're sure?"
He couldn't help but smile. Sent his love, gently caressed her, felt the warmth of her love flood his senses.
ADaniel, more than a little dazed, lay gasping for breath, letting his body recover. Annika had thrown them into the chamber with such force that both men had found themselves leaning against the ancient device. Gods, he’d never felt such agony before…not even the radiation that melted his body could compare…There was a weak fluttering beneath his heart. Annika! She would have experienced every friggin’ moment! He staggered to his feet, searching for her. His heart leapt to his throat when he saw her splayed out. "Annika!" He lurched towards her only to have a hand latch onto his arm.
"You can’t go back out there." The other man’s voice was hoarse.
ADaniel didn’t hear him, all he could focus on was the uneven rise and fall of His Angel’s chest as she sucked in gulps of air. He struggled to free himself.
CDaniel was surprised at the strength of the man he was trying to restrain. The Quickening had already worked its magic to heal his own body, but he knew his double had no such advantage. From behind he wrapped his other arm around the man’s chest, holding him against his own torso, trying to alter his center of gravity in his favor. Despite his efforts he found himself being dragged to the doorway. He wracked his mind for a way to get through to the desperate man. What would make him stop from trying to get to Casey in a similar situation? The hazy image of Annika convulsing gave him his 'ammunition'. "Dammit, you’ll kill Annika if you go out there. Look at her! Do you think she could take a second hit?"
It had the desired effect, the fight drained out of him and blue eyes identical to his own twisted towards him, reflecting a mixture of frustration and gratitude.
He released his hold. "Casey will help her," he said softly.
They watched anxiously from the entrance as the blonde helped Annika to her feet. Their sight was locked on the women who held their hearts, however in their periphery vision they saw a figure dash across the outside entrance behind them...obviously the reason the motion detectors had gone off in the first place. The movement that caught their attention might mean a threat to the women still rising to their feet, and they watched carefully. Though still a good distance from the outer chamber that glimpse was all the men needed to recognize who it was. A person they had once intimately known every inch of, and had never thought to see again. They exchanged quick glances, yet neither said a word, returning their attention to their life partners.
Annika sensed an odd jumble of emotions from Daniel as, a little wobbly, she stood up. Mostly there was overwhelming concern but there were two kinds of happiness. One directed at herself that she was okay, the other was only there for a fleeting moment. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a woman skitter across the dunes. Dammit to hell, why was she even surprised? Everyone else seemed to be popping up in this reality, why not her too? Had Casey seen her? Annika knew the blonde’s fears and at the moment she didn’t think it wise to throw this curve ball at her. She pushed the image away, hoping the seer wouldn’t pick up on the incident, then searched for a distraction. Drawing a shaky breath, the redhead’s gaze locked onto her soul mate and couldn’t miss seeing the guilt that tinged his features, knew it was because of what their bond had done. At the same time she could feel the worry emanating from Casey’s hands. Perfect distraction! "Stop that. Both of you. I'm fine. We just won’t try that again if you don’t mind."
Annika gently tugged herself free from the psychic’s helping hands, primarily to stop Casey from having a psychic flash but also to show both her lover and friend that she was quite capable of moving under her own steam. They hovered fretfully. "If you two mother hens are quite finished, we have other issues to deal with," she grumped, striding towards the inner chamber. She gave Daniel a fierce hug. "Daniel Jackson, if you ever scare me like that again I’ll kick your ass clear across the galaxy."
He returned the embrace just as tightly, letting his relief and love flow into her. If Annika was being a smartass then she really was alright. There was a gentle tickling in his solar plexus and she flashed him a smile.
"That goes for you too, Stud Muffin." Casey was also confirming the well-being of her Daniel with a hug, her hands moving over his shoulders and chest with almost frenzied need. "Now, you two are gonna have to stay here while Annika and I convince whoever wants to crash our party to go on their merry way."
Neither man was happy with the prospect, but they knew there was no other choice.
CDaniel knew well enough that Casey was feeling damned protective, and threatened. She was not in a mood to be diplomatic. If whoever was out there pissed her off, there would be no stopping her, she'd chase them across the freaking desert! Only the gods knew what she would do if...when...she realized just who that 'whoever' was. "Okay, but just chase them off, no crazy stunts. A few rounds with the P-90 should be enough to scare them away."
Casey pouted at her husband. "Sheesh, you’re no fun."
"What would constitute a crazy stunt?" Annika tilted her head innocently at the older man.
"Just so we know not to do it," the immortal woman chimed in, her green eyes sparkling.
Two sets of blue eyes rolled heavenward. CDaniel heaved a pained sigh. "You keep your ass where I can see it."
"Just my ass, or do you need to see all of me?" Casey retorted.
"Don't get smart with me, woman," CDaniel replied. Although his cheek was twitching, and a telltale curve of his lips appeared.
ADaniel chuckled as he gave Annika another hug before bending down to pick up his P-90. "You should have known that request would fall on deaf ears."
The archaeologist grumbled good naturedly in agreement. "We’ll provide cover fire for you if they make it into the outer chamber." No one had to say out loud that if the thieves made it that far, keeping them out of the inner chamber would prove to be damned near impossible. Their best hope was to keep the group as far away from the temple pyramid as possible. He planted a light kiss on his wife’s lips. "Go get ’em, Tiger."
With playful salutes the two women headed outside. Keeping low to the ground they snuck out across the sand, taking cover behind a dune. They peeked over the top of the rise, assessing the interlopers' positions and doing a quick head count.
Well, how about that, Casey thought. Only about fifty of them. Dressed in clothes that were more rags than...gee...those robes looked like the one Daniel had from his time on Abydos. And...oh, fuck! No! Her heart began to tremble. If Daniel saw her...he couldn't leave the inner chamber of that temple, he knew that. But would he call out to her? Would he ask her to come to him? If he did, would she go to him? Who the hell was she kidding? No doubt the woman would take one look at those blue eyes and that gorgeous face and that hot body and she'd be in there in a flash. Annika had known. She could feel it. The redhead had seen who was approaching, and hadn't said a damned word! She glanced at her companion.
Annika felt Casey's glance. Studiously ignored it.
When they ducked back down behind the shelter of the dune, Casey’s green eyes flashed. "So were you going to clue me in on...this?" Her hand flapped in the direction of the approaching desert people.
Annika gave an uncomfortable shrug. No need for the blonde to explain what ‘this’ was. Daniel’s ‘dead’ wife had been easily identifiable as she skulked beside her brother. "I was waiting for the right time to slip it into conversation."
"And just precisely when would that have been? When she waltzed into the temple?" And Daniel saw her, and they reached for each other, and...she cut off the hurtful thought.
Annika gave an exaggerated sigh then pointedly looked at her watch. "Three, two, one…Casey, one of the thieves is Sha’re," she said with a totally straight face and dead pan voice.
Casey’s lips twitched. It was difficult to stay irritated at the redhead when she made comments like that; in fact, it would be damned hypocritical. How many times had she made the same type of smartass comments? "You have been hanging around Jack way too much."
"So I’ve been told," she grinned. Her eyes flickered towards the nomads. "How are we gonna play this?"
"I really don't want to kill anyone," Casey replied, her voice going soft. No doubt those 'thieves' were simply trying to survive...looking for anything of value to pay for food, and considering they were in a desert, water as well.
"I agree," Annika nodded. She was still dealing with the knowledge that innocent slaves had died on the ship that had crashed not even an hour ago. Granted, death for them was most probably a blessing...but still...they were completely innocent, and had been killed in the attempt...successful hopefully...to take out a Goa'uld. Jack’s face flashed before her eyes. Wish I knew if he got away…
"Okay, let's fire over their heads. See if it deters them at all." Casey flipped the safety on her P-90. "On the count of three."
The young redhead nodded again. Took a deep breath. Could count on one hand the number of times she'd had to use her weapon.
"One...two...three!" Casey was up on her knees, firing just over the heads of the advancing group. She was barely aware of the fact that Annika's weapon was sending out its own warning. It was impossible not to gasp out loud when Sha're's brown eyes locked with her own.
"Casey?" Annika asked, her voice barely heard over the sound of the weapons.
She lowered the muzzle, stared at the woman."Leave, just go from this place," Casey said softly, or so she thought.
The redhead looked over at the blonde. She recognized the fact that Casey had said something in Goa'uld. "What did you just say?"
"What did you just say to her?"
Her cheeks blushing, Casey raised her weapon once more. "I told her to leave," she snapped.
Annika blanched slightly. "Sorry," she mumbled.
Casey shook her head. "No, I'm sorry," she sighed. "It's just...she's here...and he's here..."
"No, your Daniel is here. My Daniel is here. Hers is still in Chicago. If they were meant to be together at all," Annika replied.
The thought struck a chord. "You think that maybe he wasn't supposed to be with her, at all?"
Slender shoulders moved up and down. "You're his Destiny. I know for a fact that my Daniel is mine."
"Thanks," she murmured. Casey turned her attention to the thieves. The unexpected, and completely alien weapons had deterred them...at least, temporarily. It seemed that Sha're, and the young man with her was Skaara, she was certain of it, were having a bit of a powwow with their associates. "Annika, if I tell you what to say, your astral self can repeat it, right?"
"Yeah, why?" The young woman frowned for a minute, and then began to grin. "You're just mean."
"I am not! I'm...I'm resourceful!" Casey replied adamantly, although the thought of scaring the bejeezus out of Sha're brought a twisted bit of pleasure. And she so wasn't going to even examine that thought!
"Who's been hanging around Jack too much?" the redhead asked.
Casey just grinned in return. "Whenever you're ready." She glanced over her shoulder, could see two familiar faces watching from inside the temple. "Daniel, keep a close eye on our flanks."
"What are you up to?"
"Trying to get these people to leave. I don't want this to get violent."
He closed his eyes. Sha're. Oh, maybe the woman out there wasn't his Sha're. But she was still Sha're. He didn't want to see her die...again. And for damned sure didn't want Casey to be the one to kill her! "Got it." He glanced at his double. "We need to keep an eye out for flankers."
ADaniel nodded. "What are they doing?" He frowned when he watched his lover's astral self materialize and without hesitation disappear into the sand dune.
"Trying to avoid bloodshed." He knew that Daniel understood by the slight flinch in his shoulders.
"Got it." Like his companion, his thoughts were on Sha're as well. He loved Annika with everything that he was. But he couldn't deny the love he had once felt for the Abydonian woman. Nor would Annika expect that of him. He gave a slight tug on the bond that thrilled him so. Couldn't help but grin when he felt that tug returned.
The men who stood in a tight circle around the dark haired woman fell to their knees when they watched the spirit of a woman with hair the color of the evening sky emerge from the sand hill and glide toward them. Sha're knelt as well, but her movements were calculated, not fear-induced.
Casey took a deep breath."This is hallowed ground, protected by the gods of the Ancients," she said slowly, enunciating with care. She could hear Annika's ghost repeating each word and phrase. "You will die if you stay here. Leave now."
Annika's astral self watched Sha're's eyes. Something told her that the warning meant diddly squat to her. Even coming from a ghost. If Sha're had seen her...her body that is, she might be suspecting that this was some sort of a trick. Her body would have blocked their view of her astral self but chances were pretty high that this group had been watching as the two archaeologists suffered the seizures, and Casey's frantic attempts to help them, and her. Which sparked an idea.
"Casey?" Annika asked.
She jumped slightly, her eyes had been trained on the astral projection of the woman beside her. "Yeah?"
"How do I tell them that they'll suffer the same fate as those men if they come any closer?"
The blonde giggled."What you witnessed will be your fate as well, if you do not leave," she replied slowly.
The astral Annika repeated the phrases. Well now, that seemed to have Sha're's attention! Casey had noticed the reaction as well, she was already giving her the next phrase."You have been warned. Rain from hell will be your reward if you approach."
Calmly, the redhead turned. She heard the movement, turned around to find Sha're on her feet, trying to thrust one hell of a wicked looking knife into her astral body. Now that was just dirty pool! A lesson in manners was most definitely called for. With a flick of her wrist, Sha're went flying backwards, landing in an unceremonious heap, on her ass.
Wide-eyed, the men began to back away, their gazes locked on this spirit who could throw their leader with such ease.
Sha're began to mumble.
"What's she saying?" Annika asked.
"Haven't got a clue. Daniel won't teach me Abydonian," Casey replied. Then grinned. "He begs in Abydonian, and he doesn't want me knowing exactly what he's saying."
Violet eyes went wide, and then the redhead began to giggle. "When this is over, I want details!"
"So, say this," Casey instructed, a grin her only reply to the request,"Your insolence will not be tolerated. This is your final warning."
Astral Annika repeated the words.
"If they don't leave, we have to open fire," Casey said. "And we'll have no choice but to mean it."
The pain that flickered over the delicate features of the young woman's face let Annika know just how difficult it would be for the Immortal to do so.
A A A A A A
"Leave, Sha're," CDaniel mumbled. He knew that if Casey was forced to kill the woman, she would obsess over it for only god knew how long, and would blame herself, and convince herself that he was blaming her as well. Shit! Seeing Sha're like this was bound to have repercussions once the danger was past and the adrenaline rush was over.
"She's too stubborn," ADaniel said softly.
"Let's hope for once she'll do what she should, and not what she wants," CDaniel replied.
A A A A A A
Once again the men were behind the young woman. She was back on her feet, her eyes blazing.
"I can fight her," Annika whispered. "It will save the others, and maybe I won't be forced to..." she couldn't finish the sentence...couldn't even complete the thought.
Casey nodded. "Do it, before she has them convinced that this is just a trick. She's seen us, she knows something is going on. We have to prove to her that we mean business, and that it's in her best self-interest to leave."
Annika's astral self approached the dark haired woman. Another flick of her wrist, and the woman sailed backwards, again landing on her ass. Before she could rise to her feet, Annika tossed her again. And then again. Each time, sending the woman farther away from the dune where her corporeal self and Casey waited.
The fifth time, Annika slapped the young woman. Watched the dark hand fly to her mouth, pull fingers away to examine the blood. No clue what she said, but it seemed that at last Sha're was getting the message.
When the last of the group of thieves disappeared over the farthest dune, Annika melded back with her body.
"They won't stay gone for long," Casey sighed.
"They looked scared," Annika replied.
"Sha're wasn't. She was pissed. And she doesn't know how to get around our little... trick...not yet. But as soon as she thinks she's figured out a way, they'll be back."
"Maybe we'll all be gone by then," Annika suggested.
"We can only hope. Let's check the sensors, and then get back in there."
The two women rose slowly. It had been one hell of a day so far. And time was still ticking. Neither woman had any doubt that soon they would be unable to leave the inner chamber as well. And when that happened, they would be trapped, in more ways than one.
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