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Fire of the Gods
"…(Those) bright burning eyes
reflect a soul of a warrior
born from the fire of ancient gods…"
"Salvation By Fire"
lyrics by P.Ahonen & J.Kyro
Aaron Desala stepped through the Stargate, and looked around him. Two suns lit the amber sky of the arid planet, one a dim red dwarf that hovered on the horizon, the other a white-hot giant above them. Each of the team members immediately applied extra sunscreen to their exposed skin, Casey handed the tube of cream to him after she had squeezed an ample amount onto her hand, which she then applied to the back of Daniel's neck. Daniel tied a do-rag over his head, while Jack, Sam, and Casey adjusted their ball caps. All of them, including the tall Jaffa, put dark sunglasses over their eyes. Jack handed him a ball cap and sunglasses. He donned them, then watched as Lieutenant Colonel Carter and his daughter did something with the MALP, just before sending it back through the Stargate. Daniel was reading from his notes, comparing UAV images with what was spread out before him. General O'Neill and Teal'c were scanning the area warily, both professional warriors tense, their eyes taking in every rock, every blade of brown, dry grass, examining every shadow.
According to the stone tablet that Daniel had found in the temple on P8Y 517, this was the Lost City. It was far from impressive. In fact, it was downright depressive. There was nothing but ruins as far as the eye could see, rubble that at one time had been a great city, but now was nothing more than heaps of stone worn down by wind and time. Aaron tried once again to pull forth memories about this city, about the weapon for which they sought. But the information had been carefully, completely erased from his mind when he and Erin had decided…demanded, to return to corporeal form and remain that way, to finally meet the daughter that they had so long been denied. They had returned to the Immortality that all Ancients had once enjoyed, even before their Ascension. They had returned without the memories, the knowledge, of the Ancients. Daniel's memory held more knowledge of the Ancients, garnered during his time with the Ascended, than his own did, at this point in time. The young archaeologist just wasn't able to fully access it, not yet, and certainly not at will, although the information had definitely helped him no less than a dozen times in translating artifacts and tablets.
Daniel looked up from his notes, visually located what could only in the loosest terms be considered a building. It was here that he hoped to find something, a clue at least, about the weapon that the Ancient's had built, one powerful enough to defeat the Goa'uld. ATVs would never make it over the jumble of rocks, bricks and broken sandstone blocks that littered the ground. Which meant that this trek would be done on foot. It would take at least two hours to hike to the center of the city, where the building stood alone, surrounded by crumbled ruins. Longer if their pace was slower than expected.
"Well, Danny, are we gonna find that weapon here?" Jack asked, walking to where the younger man stood, examining his notes.
"I have no idea, Jack," Daniel replied. "I doubt we'll find much of anything here, there isn't enough left to find." He glanced over his shoulder. Sam and Casey were holding their P90s casually, waiting for him or Jack to lead the way.
"Well, we're here, let's take a look anyway," Jack said, disappointment written on his face. Just once he'd like them to find a nice big, honkin' gun that would totally turn this war with the Goa'uld in favor of humans…permanently. "Teal'c, buddy, you have point. Daniel, with me on the six. Aaron, stay with the ladies."
Sam and Casey moved toward Aaron. The older man was looking around with open excitement, in spite of the disappointing condition of the city. "So, bringing back any childhood memories?" Casey asked, her green eyes dancing.
Aaron grinned. "Daniel is correct. You are a smartass."
Daniel and Jack snickered behind them. She rolled her eyes.
The Ancient's smile faded, he shook his head. "I wish I could remember something, anything, about this city. But the Council was very thorough when it came to removing specific memories and knowledge of the Ancients."
"Bummer. Well, at least they left your…skills…intact," Casey replied.
"They did, indeed," Aaron said. He was aware that his daughter's…skills…were far more powerful than any abilities he, or Erin, had. And in spite of the Council of the Ancients, he and his wife still possessed impressive abilities. But between her and his son-in-law, who just happened to be The Chosen, they were far more powerful than they were aware, more powerful than even the Beings who had selected Daniel for the position were aware. He might not be among the Ascended Ancients, but there were still those whom he considered friends, who thought of him likewise, and kept him up-to-date on what was happening among the 'higher' levels. The Beings of the Committee were astounded, and fascinated that the mere human they had chosen as Champion for the lower levels of existence was as powerful as he was. Aaron suspected that they were a bit apprehensive as well. At the astounding rate that his power, his strength was growing, there was the very real possibility that one day he would be able to challenge Them, and walk away the victor.
The team moved silently for some time, each of them lost in their own thoughts, all of them carefully watching their surroundings. Sam continued to scan for any forms of energy or radiation. "I'm getting something," she said quietly.
"Where?" Daniel asked, hurrying to look over her shoulder at the read-out for the handheld scanner.
"Seems to be coming from…" She looked up. "From there." She pointed at the 'building' that was still at least three miles away.
"If you're picking up energy readings this far away, it's got to be something big, right?" Jack asked. Maybe there was a big honkin' gun here after all!
"Not necessarily. There are no other energy sources, nothing to 'interfere' with it," Sam replied. "A simple generator could put off this much."
Casey shifted from one foot to the other. That feeling of apprehension began to wash over her. "We need to be very, very careful," she said softly.
Jack jerked slightly, looked over at her. "How bad?"
"I'm not sure…not bad…just…we need to be careful," she repeated.
The general nodded. "Any poking and we go home."
She smiled. "One poke, and I'll tell you, I promise. Right now I just feel…nervous."
The fact she had felt nervous on P8Y 517, and the trouble they had encountered, had them all uneasy. Sam suspected that the dampening field that had been put around the 'control center', in the library basement, had been the reason she hadn't sensed the 'Caretakers' right away. Which meant that there could be another dampening field, or something similar, preventing her from being able to sense 'details' about what they were walking into. Hands tightened the slightest bit around weapons, fingers caressed triggers.
Teal'c continued to lead the way as they climbed over boulder-sized blocks of sandstone, broken pillars, pieces of granite used for only the gods knew what. Progress was slow, in many places the rubble was so thick that they couldn't see the dusty ground. Many of the blocks were unstable; they reached out to steady one another as they moved slowly over the precarious path.
Daniel lifted his canteen to his lips, took a drink. 'Take a drink, Angel. It's hot and we're all sweating a lot. I don't want you dehydrated.'
'You're sure bossy lately.'
He smiled. He could 'hear' the smile in her words. 'Just because I love you.'
'Love you too, Stud Muffin.'
He watched as she took a deep swallow of water, took her cap off long enough to wipe her forehead with the back of her hand, then readjusted it over her blonde head.
"We need to find somewhere with shade to rest," Jack announced. The sun was nearly at its zenith, and the heat was oppressive. "T, tell me you can find some shade for us."
"There seems to be an adequate amount there, O'Neill," the Jaffa replied, sweat trickling down his face. He pointed to the remains of what must have been a very large building.
Wearily the team trudged to where part of a wall was still mostly upright. They all dropped to the hard packed ground. The heat was affecting each of them, and they knew it. It would be dangerous to attempt to go further
Jack looked up at the sun that beat down on them. "We can't go on in this heat. We'll have to wait until the sun goes down. Let's get some sleep, campers, we're gonna be working all night. Teal'c, you have first watch, wake me in an hour."
Aaron watched as each of the team members made themselves comfortable. It was too warm to cuddle. Yet the team appeared to do just that. Teal'c, eyes ever watchful, was sitting in the middle. Casey put her head on one of his massive shoulders, Sam put her head on the other. Daniel had stretched out and had his head in Casey's lap, and Jack had slouched down and had his head against Sam's shoulder. He smiled as he recalled seeing them sleeping in the white room, in the house he had created so that he and Erin could finally meet their daughter. Connected at the heart. That was how Oma described them. Hearts so entwined that it was impossible to tell where one ended and the next began.
Amazing that they could all drop off to sleep so easily. A result, he was sure, of having learned to sleep when they could. Many of their mission reports told of days when they were deprived of sleep as they battled a Goa'uld. That they could drop off without a second thought for their safety, spoke highly of their faith in one another. No matter who had watch, the others were completely secure in that faith. He realized that Teal'c was watching him. With a smile, he leaned back against the hard rock behind him, and closed his eyes.
Bipeds. Humanoid. Species…Homo sapiens sapiens, at least, according to their own system of categorization, that from the information in the mind of the light-haired male. Much information in this mind. Two females. Four males. Odd mixture, that. Breeding would be more efficient if the ratio of females to males was larger. Move closer…weapons…sigh…The more advanced a species, the deadlier their weapons. There was something…different…about three of them…the older male, the one not carrying a weapon…quite old. And impressive mental capabilities as well. The female with the long, light-colored hair seems to possess even stronger mental abilities. As did the light-haired male who was now resting his head on her legs, the one whose mind contained so much information…no time to examine it all…Those two seem…connected. Very strong indeed. The others…no such abilities, although intelligence in each is above normal. The older male, the unarmed one sitting apart - something…familiar…about his mind…
Teal'c looked around. He was certain that they were being watched. "Casey Jackson," he said softly.
She opened her eyes. "Hmm?"
"Casey Jackson, are you awake?"
The tone of Teal'c's voice brought her fully to her senses. "I am now."
"Do not move. Close your eyes. But search around us. I believe we are being observed."
She reached for Daniel's hand. 'Hold me, Beloved.' She smiled when she felt him move closer, hold her tightly. She reached out, looked…listened. There! Something there…it 'felt' her presence …hovered for just a few seconds…gone! "Yep, something… or someone definitely out there. Whatever …whoever it was, is gone now," she said softly. "Should we tell Jack?"
"When he awakens. There is nothing we can do at this time, and if the…being…has left, we are not in danger at present," Teal'c replied.
"Okay. Wake me again if you think it comes back. I'll try to sneak up on it the next time," Casey said softly.
"Very well. Go back to sleep."
Aaron reached out. Felt nothing. But Casey was able to reach farther, her sight much more sensitive than his own, or Erin's. He frowned. Who…or what…could live on a planet like this, with no discernable supplies of food or water? Or was there a being out there who required neither?
A A A A A A
The bright white sun was taking on a golden glow as it moved closer to the horizon. The red dwarf had been out of sight for nearly an hour now. Jack wasn't happy to learn that someone …or something…had been watching them. Damn it, he'd had enough of that shit on the last mission! Casey said that whoever…whatever it was, it had the ability to move quickly. Much more quickly than they could. She sensed no danger. She hadn't sensed danger from those 'Caretakers', either, well, not until just before they turned dangerous. And Sam did say that the electrical dampening field probably interfered with her 'sight'.
After eating cold MREs and drinking enough water to keep them from suffering from dehydration, Teal'c once again took point. Daniel and Jack kept a careful watch around them as they followed. Casey and Sam continued to flank Aaron, their own eyes moving, taking in everything around them.
Although the air was cooler as the sun drifted closer to setting, it was still no easier to walk over…climb over the ruins that covered the area like a blanket. They all moved slowly. Immortality might mean that any broken bones or sprained muscles would heal quickly, but it would still take time for that healing to occur. Better to remain vigilant, and just avoid injuries altogether.
"It's out there again," Casey announced. She had tried again to move closer, to 'see' who or what was watching them. But every time she came near, it…disappeared. Not like a cloaking device of any kind, more like it just took off and 'ran' away.
Jack looked around. "Okay, if it wanted to hurt us, it would have attacked while we were resting. Case, does it know that you know about it?"
"I'm sure it does. It keeps…running…every time I get close."
The general sighed, climbed over yet another pillar, or what was left of it. "I'm not crazy about the idea that it can see us but we can't see it. Nothing we can do about that right now."
"The energy readings are getting stronger," Sam reported. "Whatever is in that building is putting off more energy now than it was before."
"Are you sure that's not just because we're closer?" Daniel asked.
"It's possible, I suppose. But the readings only jumped higher in the past five minutes. We haven't gotten that much closer," the scientist replied.
Aaron looked at his son-in-law. He had his suspicions on why the energy readings were rising. But he would keep his counsel for now. Until he was certain, the knowledge would only worry the young man, and frighten his daughter.
They were looking for It. The male, the one with the cloth tied on his head, he was… special. Could he be The One? There was little power left now, but what there was would be enough to stop those who were even now on their way to try to possess the Fire of the Gods; if The One were to utilize the weapon. So long to have waited. The end so close now. Weary. Very weary. Yes, rest would be welcome.
It was nearly midnight by the time the team stumbled into the remains of the small building. Just as the ruins outside had been disappointing, Daniel was disheartened to find no sign of runes, or hieroglyphs, or cuneiform, not even any sort of simple decoration for that matter. He was certain that anything that had once been on the ruins had been sandblasted away, for as the sun set, the wind began to blow. It was howling outside of the building now, sending eerie moans and cries into the room.
They all looked around, their flashlights illuminating the darkness around them. In the center of the room was a podium. Sam and Daniel carefully brushed away the sand that had built up, and exposed a control panel. It was dark, showed no sign of power at all. Sam pried the top off, discovered crystal circuitry. Her flashlight showed that all of the crystals were undamaged. That did not, however, mean that they would work.
Daniel reached down to touch one of the crystals. With a hum, it began to glow, and the light moved from one to the next, until all of the colorful crystals were lit, and the control panel activated.
"What did you do?" Sam asked, amazement in her blue eyes.
"I just touched it," he mumbled, not looking at her.
"Way to go, Danny," Jack teased.
Sam was still looking at her friend. His cheeks were flushed; he was embarrassed. "Thanks," she said softly, remembering just how special Daniel was. And how his 'gift' sometimes bothered him. "Now we'll see what we can find out." Her light blonde head bent close to his dark blonde one, the two scientists of the team began to sort through the information in the computer.
"Wait, go back," Daniel said, not certain what it was that had caught his eye, only sure that something had.
Sam went back through the pages they had already viewed.
"There, right, there! Stop," he said quietly. He grabbed his notebook from his backpack. "Okay…more about the Pure of Heart, and that…well, this could be bad news."
"What?" Jack demanded. He was standing in front of the podium now, Teal'c and Casey flanking him. Aaron stood slightly behind Sam and Daniel, content to just watch.
"Well, according to this, there's limited power in the weapon. It can only be used a certain number of times before it's…well…dead," Daniel said.
"Any idea of how much power is left?" The CO wanted to know.
"If this is any indication, there's barely enough left to bring it online," Sam sighed, pointing to a small screen with what appeared to be a system read-out.
Jack ran a hand over his face. "Well, get the C-4 ready. We're not going to take any chances that the Goa'uld could get their hands on this and find a way to recharge it. We can't recharge it, can we?" he asked his wife.
She shook her head. "I have no clue how it works, it could take days…even weeks before I understood enough to even attempt to charge it."
Casey cocked her head sideways. "Don't give up yet," she said softly, looking directly at her husband.
A A A A A A
"My Lord, the others are waiting," the lo'taur said quietly.
The slightly built Oriental man stood to his feet. "Come. The time is at hand." He walked with the gait of a man of great age. The sarcophagus no longer healed all of the aches. Soon he would be forced to take a new host. It had been centuries since he had last done so. At his age, to do so was dangerous, especially if the personality of the host was strong. He sighed. He would have to visit the dungeons. Perhaps there was a slave who was fit enough, handsome enough, but whose spirit had been broken.
The room was torch-lit, one flame burning on the wall behind each of the chairs that sat in a circle in the center of the room. Each wide chair was intricately carved, and covered with gold. Thick satin cushions made sure that those who sat in them would be comfortable. The occupants of those chairs stared at one another with thinly veiled hostility.
When the Oriental man entered the room, a large man with dark skin stood to his feet. "Lord Yu, why have you summoned us here in this manner?"
He waited until he had settled himself in his chair, and had been given a glass of wine before he spoke. "Because I have decided to allow each of you to participate in what will be the end of our troubles. We will destroy the Tau'ri and their cursed SGC, put down the Jaffa rebellion, the Tok'ra insurgence, and ensure our rule for all time."
A lovely woman with dark hair and eyes smiled. "And just how do you propose to do all of this?"
"With the weapon of the Ancients."
Murmurs and glances of surprise were exchanged. "How did you manage to find it?" Another woman, her head covered with a silk turban, asked.
"It is amazing what one can learn, when the price is right," Yu responded. "When three humans were captured on a deserted planet, they were more than willing to tell me what they knew." His anger still burned to learn that the Tau'ri had been on the planet only days earlier. To have been so close to being able to capture them! According to his now dead prisoners, the Tau'ri had taken all of the sacred scrolls from the Temple of the Six Goddesses with them. However, the references to the Lost City had been found in another building, among machines the Tau'ri had considered of no use to them. The humans that his Jaffa had captured insisted that the Tau'ri had been unaware of their presence, although, one of the men admitted, it had been difficult to remain hidden. From the description that the men gave, the Tau'ri had been from the SGC…specifically that bothersome group from Gamma. And the difficulty in hiding had been because of the SG-1 seer. Yu had plans to capture that little blonde witch, and put her talents to use for himself.
The dark haired woman smiled coldly. "I doubt that it was that simple."
Yu gave them a terrifying smile. "When he is watching his own intestines being pulled from his body, a man will tell his tormentor anything for the promise of time in a sarcophagus."
"Then we must go and get this weapon!" the dark skinned man declared.
The Oriental man smiled again. There was no warmth in the action. "I will send the coordinates to each of your ships. We will take it together. We will use it together. Then we will destroy the weapon, so that none may turn it upon the others. And then we will each return to our own sector of space." Yu looked around the room. Every head nodded in agreement.
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