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The Darkness Within
There was light coming in through a series of cracks above her head. She moved slowly, letting the Quickening deal with the pounding behind her eyes. She wasn't wearing her BDUs any more. She remembered the shirt being ripped from her body. For some reason the pants had been taken as well. Probably so covered with blood they would have stood up by themselves. She was wearing a cotton top and pants - ill-fitting and not very comfortable.
She stood up and looked around. She was in a small room, one wall of which consisted of wooden bars. She looked up. The ceiling was wood; rotted wood it seemed. And there was only sky above it, from what she could see. She glanced at the bars, with the crossbeams that held them together. If those beams would support her weight, there was the chance that she could break through that wood. It was probably the only chance she was going to have to escape.
Grabbing the bars and holding tightly, she climbed up onto the crossbeam. She stood slowly, trying to hang onto the bars with one hand, and using the other to push at the rotted board just over her head. She shoved, pounded it with her fist, and shoved again. With a creak and a groan, the board gave way. Her heart pounding in her chest, she glanced around, trying to ascertain that no one had heard the noise. She had to lean a bit farther away from the bars to reach the next board. Again she had to pound against it with her fist. It took more effort, and considerably longer, but at last it broke, and fell into the cell. She was sure that there was enough room to climb through, if she could just be certain that the board she needed to cling to wouldn't splinter before she was up and out.
She stretched, terrified for one fleeting moment that she was going to fall before her fingers closed over the rough edge of the board. She took a deep breath, and pulled her feet from the crossbeam. She hung there for a minute, then she slowly pulled herself through the opening she had created.
When she was free, she ran into the jungle that surrounded the ruins. The fact that she had no radio, her transmitter for the beaming device was in the collar of her shirt…wherever it was…no GDO, no way of knowing if there was even a Stargate on this planet flashed through her brain as she dodged limbs and vines, moving as quickly and quietly as she could.
Her mind played back the events of the past…hours? Or had several days passed? She wasn't sure. All she knew was that Nergal had managed to find and capture her. Why was he on this planet, anyway? Better question, which planet was it?
When she found a river, she dove in, not stopping to consider the dangers that might be lurking beneath the calm, still surface of the water. Her mind was racing faster than her feet when she pulled herself onto the muddy bank on the opposite side and began to run again. She had no way home, no way to contact the Persephone…Daniel! Surely by now…'Daniel? Please, My Heart, be there! Daniel?'
She dropped to the ground, gasping for breath. Her heart was breaking. What if…what if that really had been Daniel? She had just doomed him to eternity as Nergal's slave! Not that it looked like he minded, screwing those women…the brunette had looked like Sha're, the little redhead reminded her of Ishtar…and the blonde…who did that blonde look like…the nurse in the infirmary! Yep, he was having a grand old time, wasn't he? She shook her head. He had been infected with a nanovirus. He wasn't in control of what he was doing. The tattoo. What had happened to the tattoo? Fire…something about the Fire…he had climaxed…not possible because of the Fire…unless the nanovirus countered it…no, she didn't think that was possible …when she had been infected, she still felt the Fire when Daniel touched her. That had not been her Husband!
No way home. She had absolutely no way home. She was stuck here. Forever, unless she was lucky enough to find a Stargate and could figure out a way to get a message through. 'Daniel, why won't you answer me?' She pulled her knees up against her chest and gave into her tears. "Love you, Daniel Jackson, wherever you are."
"Already she suspects," the Second said gleefully.
"Yes. But she does not yet understand what is happening. Until she does, the test will continue," the First replied.
"What if she doesn't understand in time?" the Third asked.
The First frowned. "She will die."
The Second and the Third exchanged worried glances.
A A A A A A
Once again the hospital bed had clean, fresh sheets on it. Daniel had lovingly, carefully cleaned the blood from her back as soon as the Quickening had healed her. There were no scars, the sweet, fragrant skin was as soft and beautiful as ever. He rubbed her back gently, his hands refusing to leave her body until his mind was certain that she was all right.
Exhausted, physically and emotionally, he finally took Sam and Jack's advice. He stretched out beside her, holding her closely. He whispered his love in her ear, held her hand and tried yet again to get past the block that separated him from her sweet touch.
Something…important…was happening. He could sense it. He didn't have Casey's gift of sight. But maybe, just maybe if he tried hard enough, he could reach her. He closed his eyes, concentrated on her, focused his full attention on her, on reaching her. He gasped for breath, pulled her more tightly against him. "I'm not giving up, Angel. Don't you give up, either. You can do this, Casey. I know you can," he whispered. He kissed her cheek, then slowly drifted into troubled sleep.
Dr. Montigue checked in on them. He smiled at the two forms that slept peacefully, for the time being, in the bed. There were days that he wished he knew a bit of witchcraft. Times like this seemed to call for the occult, the spiritual, the mystical, the… unusual. He made sure that the monitors were still connected to Casey's slender frame, not easy to do with her husband holding her so close.
Erin closed her eyes and reached out. She could sense the link. If she could only find it and break it! Wait…there were others …watching…waiting. She frowned slightly. Think, Casey, think! Please, Daughter, pay attention, she thought silently. As every mother does when her child was hurt or injured, she stood silent vigil.
A A A A A A
She was so tired! If only she could rest for a minute, just a minute. Something in the back of her mind continued to poke at her. Annoyed, she tried to push the feeling away. She leaned against a tall palm tree, looked up, squinted at the bright sunlight that filled the sky above her. There was something…familiar…about this place…With a shake of her head, she started walking. There was nothing else she could do.
If only she could find a 'gate! She had an idea for getting through the iris…well, it would work only if the people on the other side were paying attention. And she would need a large supply of small rocks or stones. Stones would probably be better, they would make a louder thump. Now, according to what Sam had told her, however fast an object went into the 'gate, that's how fast it came out. That would be important for what she wanted…needed to do. Of course, all of this depended on finding a 'gate!
She was thirsty. She was a bit hungry as well. She needed to find water, a place that would offer shelter…and then she'd have to think about food. So damned tired! And why did she have such a freaking headache? It was only getting worse, and it didn't seem that her Quickening was doing anything to alleviate it. It had been a long time…years, in fact, since she had suffered a headache for longer than a few minutes.
Fighting her way through the thick, lush undergrowth of the tropical forest, she kept moving. Not sure where she was going. Only sure that she dared not stop. Pushing yet more vegetation from her path, she felt the prickle of being watched. She froze, then slowly lowered her body to the ground. She looked around carefully, unable to see anything other than leaves and tree trunks and vines and bushes heavy with foliage and flowers.
She stared at the flowers. Strange that as many as there were, and as large as they were, the air held no trace of their perfume. It was only now that she realized how…silent…it was around her. Not even the sound of the leaves moving against one another in the slight breeze that she felt could be heard.
There it was again! She was being watched! Her heart began to pound against her ribs. If it was Nergal, or his Jaffa, she would be tortured mercilessly for trying…almost succeeding…to escape. She closed her eyes as images of Daniel and those women danced in her brain. She had no desire to witness any of that again, either. It was not Daniel, her heart reminded her. It was not her Daniel! The question of who it was remained at the edge of her mind, hidden in the gray mist of her weariness as she moved forward once again.
When the jungle suddenly ended, Casey fell onto warm, white sand. She stared out at an ocean, the water a clear blue-green, which washed gently, silently onto the shore. Just as places in the tropical forest behind her had felt familiar, so did this beach. She crouched beside the bushes that marked the edge of the jungle. To go out onto that beach would expose her completely to whoever…whatever…was watching her. She looked around. It seemed that she could follow the beach, and remain partially hidden from view, for awhile at least. Which way to go? Left or right? She closed her eyes, reached out hesitantly, terrified that she would run into Nergal. She felt nothing. She heaved a sigh. She hadn't felt anything when she had searched before, and that bastard had been standing right behind her!
That thought tugged at her mind. Why hadn't she felt him? Had she…lost…her ability to 'see'? Was that why she couldn't reach Daniel? She pulled her lower lip between her teeth. There was something about this place…
When the tiny hairs on the back of her neck began to stand on end, she knew that she had to move on. Not really thinking now, she began to move toward her left, staying low, trying to keep in the shadows as much as possible. Her mind was focused now on where she was going, on remaining as small a target as possible, on being as difficult to see as possible. That annoying little something was poking at the back of her mind again. She pushed it away. She had to concentrate on what she was doing. Stealth wasn't possible if your mind was wandering.
She wasn't sure how long she had been moving, carefully making her way up the beach, staying hidden the best that she could. She knew that she was moving slowly. Another glance at the sky told her it that not much time had passed, the sun was still almost directly overhead.
The jungle took a sudden turn to the left, while the beach continued straight on her right, widening to what appeared to be at least a mile. Her lip between her teeth, she stared at the expanse of sand. She could see where it eventually curved back to the left, a large dune the size of a low hill concealing whatever lay beyond. She glanced at the profusion of plant life around her. It wasn't an easy decision. If she continued to follow the forest, would it lead her back in a circle, back toward Nergal? That thought had her shuddering violently. She tried to gauge the distance to where the beach curved out of sight. She never had been very good at that. It could be a mile. Could be a few hundred feet. Could she run fast enough to get around that bend before whoever it was watching her, following, could reach her? The sound of a branch snapping behind her had her head whipping around to examine the area nearby. Well, that certainly changed things, didn't it? She took a deep breath. Here goes nothing, she thought, almost desperately. She took off at a dead run, her legs pumping, arms flying, trying to cover that suddenly huge expanse of beach as quickly as possible. Why did it seem that the curve she had seen was so much farther away? She didn't dare look behind her. She really didn't want to know if Nergal and his Jaffa were back there. Finally! She followed the bend that the beach took. Stopped in her tracks, her side aching, her chest heaving as she gasped for breath. And stared at a Stargate. About damned time something went right!
She immediately began to search for stones. She wanted them to be as close to baseball size as possible. The beach was clean, white, soft sand. Surely there were rocks somewhere! She ventured out into the water. It was warm, soothing…she was almost tempted to swim out and just relax for a few minutes. No…no time. Have to keep moving. She waded along the shore, searching, her eyes moving back and forth…there! They weren't quite as big as she wanted, but there were plenty of the small colorful stones.
She gathered them in handfuls, carried them to the bottom step and piled them up. After five trips, she decided that she had enough for what she wanted…needed to do. She would send her signal twice, and hope that on the third time the iris was open. If not…well, it would be a very short trip.
She dialed Gamma, the glyph for the planet she was standing on flashing over and over in her head. She only hoped that it was right. When the event horizon opened, she quickly began throwing the rocks. Dash-dash-dash …dot-dot-dot…dash-dash -dash. She let the 'gate close. She counted to ninety in her head. Redialed. Dash-dash-dash…dot-dot-dot…dash-dash-dash. She watched it close again. Maybe one more time, then she'd go through. Dial. Dash-dash-dash…dot-dot-dot…dash-dash -dash. Close. Please, Duncan, please get the message! Her fingers trembled as she dialed for the final time. With a deep breath, a quick prayer, and her fingers crossed, she closed her eyes walked through the 'gate.
She opened her eyes. Duncan was staring up at her. "Duncan? Oh, god, it worked!" She raced down the ramp and hugged the tall Highlander. "Daniel? Is Daniel here?"
"Oh, god Case! Where have you been?"
"Duncan, where is Daniel?" She didn't miss the look of pain, and…anger? in his eyes.
"Let's get you checked out and cleaned up. Then we'll talk," he said softly.
Her heart plummeting, she knew that whatever he had to tell her, she wasn't going to want to hear it.
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