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The Price of Peace
Casey was sitting in the mess hall, drinking a cup of coffee. Sam was keeping the computers that had been found in Siberia, she wanted to continue searching the hard drives for any information that might help them. Daniel had requested several reference books from his office in the mountain, which were sent up to him when the Stargate was beamed down to the base on Gamma. He had also asked for several mission reports. He was working in the office set up for him on the Prometheus. Jack and Teal'c were busy talking with Duncan, General's Hammond and Monroe, and Bra'tac. She sighed, looked at the empty chairs at 'their' table. It was times like this that she felt left out. She could help Daniel, but sometimes he worked better…faster…alone than with her assistance. If he wanted…needed…her help, he would ask for it.
"May I join you?" a voice asked her.
She looked up at the smiling face of Colonel Thompson. "Please. I’m feeling a little bit…lonely. It seems that everyone has a job to do but me."
He grinned. "I'd say that you've already done your fair share."
She smiled. She liked this man. He was average looking, brown hair, hazel eyes. But he had a great smile, and he was friendly. "Thanks. You have quite a few new crew members since the last time I was on the Prometheus."
"Most of the crew wanted to fly on the Persephone. They had the seniority, so President MacLeod allowed them to transfer. I have a good group of people," he said. His pride in those who worked for him was apparent in his words, and his eyes.
"Yes, you do," she agreed.
"Mrs. Jackson-" he started.
"Please, call me Casey," she said, smiling at him.
A smile like that could make a man do things he never thought possible, Thompson thought briefly. "Thank you...Casey. I…I was wondering if I might impose on you?"
"Sure. What can I do for you?"
"Well, I was wondering…my wife is having a hard time adjusting to life on Gamma. The kids love it, a different planet and all that. But Gayle, she's not handling it so well. I was wondering if you had any ideas on how I could help her…adapt…to living in Hope," he said.
Casey frowned. "Is she a member of the Spouses Club?" The military had always provided clubs and organizations for the spouses of military members, to gather together and offer support and assistance to one another. These groups were invaluable in helping families adjust to new locations, and deal with the day-to-day stress and the frequent separations that came with life in the military.
The man nodded. "She's gone to a couple of the meetings, she liked the other ladies well enough, but she just…she didn’t get a lot of visits with her family, but I think she feels that being thirty-two light years away from them is…wrong."
"I think I understand. I'll tell you what…I'll talk to Sam. We'll take her to lunch, and see if we can't cheer her up a bit, and help her see that she's not totally isolated from her family."
He was shocked. He had never expected, nor intended, that Casey Jackson and Samantha Carter-O'Neill to actually visit with his wife! "That's really generous of you, Casey, but please, I know you're busy…"
Casey put her hand on the colonel's arm. "When the better part of you isn't happy, you're not happy. I understand that, believe me. Some people adjust better to living on a different plant than others. Sometimes they just need someone to remind them that the distance isn't as far as it seems."
"Thank you. I really appreciate your help," he said sincerely.
"Any time, Colonel Thompson."
"If I can call you Casey, you can call me Randy," he grinned.
She smiled. "Okay, Randy." She glanced up. Daniel was walking toward her, a slight frown on his face. She bit back her giggle as she pulled her hand back. "So, Randy, how do you like Hope?"
"It's a nice town. It's certainly growing fast, and I have to admit that I never expected to see so many familiar stores."
"It's almost growing too fast," she sighed. "But, like my mother says, that's the way of things, and becoming independent of other planets is what it's all about. Alpha and Beta are like extensions of Gamma, and we'd like to see the SGC Colonies remain as free of outside interference or influence as possible." She looked at Daniel as he sat down beside her. "Hi, Sweetheart."
"Hello," he said, looking at the colonel.
"Randy was just telling me that his wife Gayle isn't adjusting to life on Gamma as well as he had hoped. I'm going to talk to Sam, and we'll take her to lunch, maybe find out what her worries and fears are," she said. "Hopefully we can get her to see what a great place Hope is."
"That's…uh…nice," Daniel said noncommittally. 'Randy?'
'That's his name. I asked him to call me Casey.'
'No you don't. Or you wouldn't be looking at me like that.'
"Well, I'll let you finish your coffee in peace. Thanks again, Casey," the colonel said, standing and nodding at the two of them.
"You're welcome, Randy." She glanced at her coffee cup, then at Daniel. There was something wrong, or he wouldn't be acting so…pissy. "I'm going to get some more. Do you want some?"
"Yeah, I do. Thanks, babe," he said. He put his elbow on the table, rested his chin in his hand, the fingers of the other hand massaging his nose.
She smiled, stood to her feet and dropped a kiss on the top of his head before she moved away from him. She poured more coffee for herself, adding cream and sugar, then filled a large mug, carried them both to the table. "So, what's wrong?"
Daniel took a sip of coffee before answering. "I was just hoping that I could find more than I have."
"Daniel, if the information isn't there, it's not there. You probably know more about Ptah than anyone else that I can think of. You can extrapolate more information from tidbits and clues than any other archaeologist out there, and you're always right."
"Not always," he mumbled, pleased at her assessment of his abilities.
He grinned. "You're good for my ego, babe."
She leaned against him. "I just state the obvious, Daniel."
He kissed her cheek. "You're just a tad prejudiced in my favor."
"Nope. I know the truth about you, mister. You're an amazing man, My Heart. With an incredible, beautiful, amazing mind. Not to mention those beautiful eyes, and that sexy smile, and all the rest of your…assets."
His heart and soul were soaring. He looked into green eyes that told him she believed fully every word she was saying. "What you can do to me, woman," he said softly.
She smiled, kissed his shoulder. "You do as much to me, My Heart."
Sam entered the mess hall, poured herself a cup of coffee and joined them. "Well, I can't find any more on those hard drives that's going to help us. We're going to need all the intel you can get us, Case," she said, settling herself in the chair.
"I'll do my best," the young blonde promised.
When Teal'c and Jack entered the room, Casey grinned. "I think we're all psychically connected or something. Whenever one of us gets the craving for a cup of coffee, the rest do too!"
Jack laughed when he heard what she said. "Just comes from working together for so long."
"Sort of like being married, without the sex," Sam joked.
Casey hoped that her eyes, and her cheeks, didn't give her away. The dream she had been afraid of had happened. She had dreamed of making love to Jack and Teal'c. Only Daniel and Sam were in the room with them…giving her instructions on what she should be doing. She shuddered slightly.
Daniel took a swallow of coffee, bit back his grin. He had heard her moaning one night, went into her dream, only to find her between his two best friends, a look of total bewilderment on her face, and his dream self and Sam giving her pointers. He'd had to get up and go into the bathroom to laugh. She had never mentioned it, but he could tell by the look in her eyes that the memory of that dream had flashed through her memory. "Yeah, I hear that people who don't have the Fire have less and less sex as time goes by."
Jack snorted. "This team has sex. And plenty of it."
She tried not to laugh, but couldn't hold it back. "That just sounds so wrong!"
"Hey, four team members are screwing each other, sort of, and Teal'c is a newlywed. So there is plenty of action happening on…er…for this team," Jack said.
By now the rest of the team were laughing heartily. "How do you sort of screw?" Sam demanded between gasps for breath.
"Is that anything like sort of being pregnant?" Casey asked. "I don't know about you and Sam, Jack, but Daniel and I have never 'sort of screwed'. We've completely screwed! We've screwed each other's brains out!"
Sam put her arm on the table, rested her head on top of it, her slender shoulders shaking as she laughed. "Yeah, unless I've been screwing an alternate universe Jack, we've never 'sort of screwed' either!" she declared, her voice a bit muffled.
Daniel wiped the tears from his eyes. "Be fair. What Jack meant was that we're only screwing the people we're supposed to be screwing."
Casey nearly squealed with laughter. "That sounds even worse! Like we have two lists of people, those to screw, and those not to screw!"
Sam was slapping the table with her hand. "The screw-ees, and the screw-less."
This time Casey did squeal. "We're the screw-ers, right?"
Jack watched his team as they continued to laugh hysterically. "You all know perfectly well what I meant!" He was chuckling himself.
"I am relieved that I am left out all of this screwing," Teal'c said, his dark eyes dancing as he tried valiantly not to grin. "I do not believe Carlotta would approve."
Casey and Sam were nearly incoherent at this point. "It wasn't that damned funny," Jack muttered.
Daniel managed to take a sip of his coffee. "I guess it just hit them harder than it did us."
"Yeah, we got nailed with the screwing thing," Casey said, gulping for air. Her words sent Sam into another fit of laughter.
"They're the nail-ers, we're the nail-ees!" Sam managed to say. Casey was squeaking as she laughed.
Jack looked at his two best friends. "It wasn't that funny!" he repeated.
"Apparently it was to them," Daniel said, chuckling as he watched his wife.
The two women managed to calm themselves, giggling every few seconds for several more minutes.
"Oh, god, that was funny," Casey sighed.
Sam nodded. "We needed that."
Jack shook his head. "Must have missed something," he grumbled.
Casey took a deep breath. "Okay, now that we're done screwing around…"
Sam giggled. The men exchanged looks, and grins.
"Okay. That was…interesting," Jack said.
"Kinda screwy if you ask me," Casey said. This brought forth another round of giggles from Sam. "You realize that if we ever use that word again, we're screwed."
Sam almost spit her coffee across the table. "Our team is totally screwed up."
Casey burst into giggles. "Or down, depending…" she said, looking at Sam. The two women began to laugh uncontrollably again.
Jack was shaking his head. "I don't get it."
"Screwed over?" Daniel asked with a wide grin, sending the women into another fit of giggles.
"SG-1 to the bridge," came over the speakers. Still giggling, the women jumped to their feet and headed for the door.
"I still don't get it," Jack muttered.
"I have a feeling that they've been strung a little tighter than we have," Daniel said quietly. "They needed to unwind just a bit. Needed to have something to laugh about."
"Guess so," the older man replied. They entered the bridge. "What's up?"
"We've received word that Bra'tac is waiting for us, sent the coordinates for a rendezvous point. He says it's urgent that we not approach R3X 114. He said he'll explain when we meet up," Colonel Thompson replied.
Jack nodded. "Okay, sounds as if our suspicions were correct. There are ships parked there."
Daniel was sucking on his lower lip, something he did when he was frustrated. "I haven't been able to find anything current on Ptah. So we haven't 'visited' any of his current holdings."
"Don't worry, Danny. You've found enough to give us an idea of what we're facing. Let's just talk to Bra'tac and see what he has to say," Jack said.
A A A A A A
The Prometheus came to a halt beside the pyramid shaped Hak'tyl. Bra'tac ringed aboard with three of his most trusted warriors. "There are two al'kesh, and one cargo ship in orbit above this planet that you visited," he said, as soon as greetings had been exchanged.
"Were you able to run any scans?" Jack asked.
The old man shook his head. "We found the site that Casey Jackson had indicated we should search for. There is a dampening field above it. However, I believe that we located another tunnel not far from where this mine is located. It is possible that we can use this to move in from behind them, without them being aware of our presence."
"Okay, we'll go down, take a look around," Jack said. He turned to Casey. "Okay, Case, tell me what you see."
Bra'tac didn’t miss the fact that her fingers shook slightly as she reached for her husband's hand. Teal'c had told him what she had suffered. She was a brave warrior, to go through what she had, and still be willing, and able, to fight. She would have made an excellent Jaffa.
Casey closed her eyes, carefully approached the tunnel. There was an entire camp set up. There were at least fifty Jaffa that she could see. And nearly one hundred humans. She didn't see Kinsey/Ptah, but she could sense that he was near. She searched for the tunnel that Bra'tac had mentioned. There! It was hidden from the camp by several rocky outcroppings. With luck, they could ring down and be into the tunnel before anyone saw them. She went into the tunnel, just a short way. She could sense no danger. She reported this to her CO.
"It is safe to assume that the humans are being forced to work in the mine," Teal'c said. "This is the way of the Goa'uld, the presence of a squad of Jaffa would indicate that they are there to ensure that the slaves work."
"I'm wondering where they got the slaves from," Daniel said. "I'm sure if there had been a number of people taken from 'The Place of the Old Ones', we would have heard about it."
Jack shook his head. "Maybe not. They weren't the most…up front…kind of people. It's hard telling where they got the slave labor. We'll see if we can't get them out of there. Okay, let's get a plan together."
Two hours later, using their cloaks to protect them, the Hak'tyl and the Prometheus cautiously approached the planet. There was only one al'kesh in sight, and the cargo ship was directly above the camp. Casey could no longer sense Kinsey/Ptah. He had left in the time it had taken them to arrive.
SG-1, Bra'tac, and six Jaffa ringed down to the area just in front of the second tunnel. They hurried inside, hoping that they had not been detected. Casey reached toward the camp. Everything seemed calm and orderly. There were no alarms being raised.
"I don't think they saw us," she reported.
"Good," Jack said. "Okay, let's see what we can find out. Stay alert, people."
Using night vision goggles, so that their lights wouldn't give them away, the teams began to move through the rocky passage. An hour later they came upon a dead end.
"They're on the other side," Casey said, her eyes closed, Daniel's fingers locked tightly around her own. "There isn't anyone there right now, they tunnel during the night, sleep during the day in order to take advantage of the heat of the sun. It's warmer in the caverns during the night. So if we want to break through, now is the time to do it. There aren't any guards, because they're confident that no one knows that they're here."
Jack, Daniel, Bra'tac, Teal'c and two of the Jaffa examined the rocks that covered the opening. "I suggest we see how many of these rocks we can move by hand before we use any type of explosives," Jack said.
"I agree, O'Neill," Teal'c said. "It is possible that any explosions will be heard, and will alert Ptah's forces to our presence."
"I also agree," Bra'tac said. "We will move these rocks."
Working together, the men were able to open a space large enough to crawl through. They came out into a cavern the size of two large rooms. Daniel smiled when he noted that there were two Jaffa within grabbing distance of his wife at all times, and usually one of them was Teal'c. Word of her capture, her torture, and all the other things she had endured had made its way through the SGC Colonies and the Shakka. That she was a favorite was not in question. She was admired, and loved, by all those who knew her.
She shivered. The cavern was cold. They could see where the miners had been working. Sam informed them that there was an extremely rich vein of naquadah in the mountain around them. There were several other caverns that were being mined as well. That feeling suddenly washed over her. "Uh, we need to go. Now!" she whispered.
The team and the Jaffa hurried back through the opening they had created. Two large stones were put back in place, leaving enough room that Jack, Daniel, Teal'c and Bra'tac could see what was happening.
The clinking of Jaffa armor filled the cavern, and echoed in the tunnel where the Tau'ri and the Shakka stood watching, listening. Several of the armored men appeared, followed by about a dozen men and women. The humans appeared to be tired, and their eyes reflected their hopelessness.
Jack gave the signal, and the teams quietly made their way back to the tunnel opening. They ringed up to the Prometheus.
Now that they knew that they could get through the tunnel, a plan would be devised to use it to sneak the human prisoners through it, and ringed up to the ship. The trick would be getting rid of the Jaffa who stood guard. Bra'tac suggested that he and his Jaffa ring down, and replace as many of the guards as possible. They would signal, SG-1 would ring down, and begin the rescue. Jack agreed that it was the best option they had.
The doctor on board the Prometheus was notified that with luck, around one hundred prisoners would be arriving, although there might be casualties. One of the cargo holds was being transformed into an emergency shelter.
A A A A A A
They waited impatiently for the signal. Finally, after three hours, Bra'tac notified them that twenty Jaffa had been replaced. Not quite half. It would have to be enough. The team ringed down, and ran through the tunnel to the opening they had created earlier. The stones were very carefully removed.
"Okay, babe, we need you to try and keep these people calm," Daniel said softly. "I'm right here. I'm not going to let you go."
She nodded, and reached out. Jack, Teal'c and Sam waited for the signal. When it was given, they crawled into the cavern. The Jaffa opened their helmets, and told the prisoners to remain quiet.
Casey could feel the fear, the hope, the excitement that began to wash over the people on the other side of the rock wall. She gently touched each mind, offering comfort, reassurance.
The Jaffa instructed the prisoners to follow the newly arrived, heavily armed people. They did. Sam lead the first group through, took them to the tunnel opening and had them ringed aboard the Prometheus.
The second group was also easily led to safety and freedom. So far they had rescued forty people. Now the hard part began. The Shakka went into the camp, demanded more workers. The Jaffa there began to argue.
"It's about to hit the fan," Casey whispered.
Teal'c and Bra'tac had been quietly moving among the prisoners, telling them to seek shelter in the mine. At first the humans were too frightened to do more than stare at these two Jaffa. But when fighting broke out behind them, in the camp of the Jaffa, they began to run, screaming, into the cavern. Several Shakka followed them, led them to the area where safety could be found. Confused, at first the people refused to crawl through the opening.
Casey crawled through and pushed her hood back. "It's all right. Forty others have already been taken to safety. Please, follow me. We don't have much time!"
She grabbed a man by the hand, literally jerked him to the side of the cavern where the hole was, and pushed him through. The Shakka began to push the people toward her. When they heard no screams of terror, the prisoners started to move willingly.
'Casey, get back here, now!' Daniel demanded. He was terrified that something would happen to separate them, that she would be taken captive. The only thing that would calm him was to have her standing at his side.
She crawled back into the tunnel. "Missed me, huh?"
He grinned, kissed the tip of her nose. "Yep."
The al'kesh orbiting above the planet had not yet responded to the chaos that now ensued in the mining camp. The Shakka were winning the day, the Jaffa had been too surprised, and with the enemy wearing their own armor, they were confused as well.
"Wrap it up, people, that ship is starting to move down to check things out," Jack shouted, having received a message from Colonel Thompson.
Bra'tac sounded the alarm, and the Shakka ran into the cavern. As soon as the last one was through the hole, he used his staff weapon to reseal the tunnel closed.
Jack and Teal'c had placed charges near the mine opening. They were on a timer. Sam monitored for the explosion. "I'd say that the mine has been sealed, for now," she said, a smile on her face.
"Now this is what I call a good day," Jack announced, grinning. "Okay, let's head home."
Bra'tac and the Jaffa on the Hak'tyl were celebrating - fifteen of Ptah's Jaffa had happily joined them. With thanks of appreciation, the Prometheus headed for Gamma, and the Hak'tyl returned to the Shakka home planet.
A A A A A A
Duncan read the reports, then looked up that the faces of the people at the conference table. "Nice work, team. You might like to know that there was quite a shake up at the EDA. New elections will be held next month. Who knows, those people might actually accomplish something."
"We still have to find Kinsey…er…Ptah," Jack said. "By now he knows about the missing 'gate, and I'm sure he's hearing about the little prison break at the mine. He's going to know that we had something to do with both."
"I know, that's going to be our priority," Duncan replied.
"All of the prisoners were Russian, and they included the team that had gone through the 'gate to make contact with the people of R3X 114. It seems that Kinsey double-crossed them," Sam reported.
"We'll see that they get home," Duncan assured her. "Okay, Case, tell me what you hear."
She smiled, reached for Daniel's hand. He squeezed her fingers reassuringly. "I don't hear much…there's some… confusion. They know that the Prometheus was near Earth, but they can't be sure the ship was involved with 'stealing' the 'gate. Kinsey…well, Ptah, I think it's him, is furious, he knows that his little scheme has been uncovered." She frowned, reached a bit farther. "I'm not sure, but I think all of the NID operatives, agents, whatever, with Kinsey, are Goa'uld now. There was a…purging… of the organization as soon as Ptah took over. Anyone not willing to serve him…was killed. I don't know how many managed to escape, but I can…'feel'…that a few did."
"So we could be looking at two separate NID factions…one under Ptah's control, and the other operating under someone else's guidance. That's just peachy," Jack groused.
"Job security, remember," Casey grinned.
"If they hold true to form, they're going to continue to fight the Goa'uld," Sam said. "It's a sure bet that Ptah just made the war personal for them."
Duncan nodded. "I'll talk to Methos, have his spy network see what they can find out."
Casey giggled. "Has anyone else wondered just how Methos managed to set up such a large, intricate spy network, and so quickly?"
Duncan grinned. "I've known the Old Man long enough to know that I'd rather just leave sleeping dogs lie."
She giggled more. "I'm glad he's on our side!"
The Highlander laughed with her. "I am, as well. For years, Methos protected only Methos. To see him working as hard as he does to protect Gamma, Alpha and Beta does my heart good."
"He rejoined the human race," Casey said softly. "I guess he really does understand that the price of peace is our personal involvement."
"Aye, he does." Duncan looked around the table. "Okay, I'll give you tomorrow down. We have more MALP images that have given us a few more missions for this week."
"One of these days, I'm going to hide those damned things…just for a day or two," Casey muttered.
Daniel grinned. Gamma had four MALPs which worked continuously, checking each 'gate address, determining which planets were safe for teams to visit. "Maybe for a week, we could all use a vacation."
"Make it two weeks," Jack said, grinning as well. "That would give us at least three weeks at that island resort on Langara."
"Oh, yeah, I like that idea," Casey said enthusiastically. "Three weeks on that beautiful white beach, warm water, good food, room service-"
"Paparazzi," Daniel added.
She frowned. "I'll just let T handle those people for me," she said. "You'd beat them up for me, wouldn't you, Teal'c?"
"I would indeed. After they took a few new pictures for posters," the large man agreed.
Everyone in the room laughed at the look of shock on Casey's face. "Oh, T, sometimes you disappoint me. If I find out that you have posters of me, I'm going to tell Carly!"
Daniel, Sam, Jack and Duncan exchanged looks. Nearly every locker in the men's locker room boasted at least one poster of Casey Jackson. Now four lockers in the women's locker rooms were also decorated with photos of the beautiful Immortal, which belonged to young women who worked hard to emulate her. She was still blissfully unaware of this, and Daniel intended to see that it remained that way. Although he had just printed out and added three more pictures of her to his own locker. He hoped that there was never a reason for her to be in the men's locker room. The poster of her in that sexy little white and blue bikini, holding on to her straw Stetson, adorned the outside of his locker.
Teal'c was grinning at his young friend. "I do not. But you should be flattered that these photographers find you to be such an enticing model, Casey Jackson."
She rolled her eyes. "Surely there are other women, beautiful women, that they could take pictures of. Like Sam. She is a truly beautiful woman!"
Sam blushed and smiled. "Thanks, Casey. But, uh…you have the model look, not me."
"Right," Casey murmured.
"Okay, if you all are through fantasizing about this vacation of yours, head on home and get some rest. I'll see you all on Thursday," Duncan said with a grin, officially ending the meeting.
The team made their way to the elevator. A day off sounded very good. They were going to need it. Things were about to get very…interesting…for SGC Gamma.
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