* * * * * *
The ground gave way under Syla's foot as she walked too close to the edge of the sparkling cliff.
Her heart caught in her throat and she was only able to squeak a bit before screaming with all her might as she headed to the ground, turning every which way.
Her eyes were covered with her flying hair and she had no idea how long until she hit the ground.
Air exploded out of her lungs as she hit...a scaly back and then felt something grip her pack and lift her off the other dragon.
She soared through the air, only getting glimpses of her surroundings while promising to shave her head as soon as she was down so she could see.
She began to wonder whether they had saved her just so they could eat her or something, but there wasn't really anything she could do about it yet.
The dragon changed direction and her hair was blown straight back.
She gasped painfully as the sparkling vista spread before her.
They'd had no idea this was here.
Spirals that looked as if they were made of clear glass rose higher than the mountain tops, reflecting the light brightly in all directions and as the dragon headed toward one of these, she realized they weren't pointed or as small as they appeared to be from the air.
They were flat on top, providing a perfect landing area as they drew closer.
Her hair flew back in her face as the dragon began lazy circles preparing to land.
Wind speed died down and she instinctively tucked her knees as close to her chest as she could to avoid jarring herself as the dragon touched down.
Her eyes had closed, bracing for impact, but she was gently lowered until she felt a pebbled surface beneath her backside.
She relaxed and as she unfolded, the dragon released her before wrapping its wings around her...moving them swiftly against her clothing.
Syla's eyes widened as she realized the dragon was warming her by causing friction and it was working.
She hadn't realized how cold she'd become until the warmth began swirling around her.
Her teeth stopped chattering and she stopped shivering as the dragon laid himself around her to keep her warm.
She realized it was the same dragon that had sniffed her before and smiled.
Part of her mind remained wary of becoming a meal or an amusing toy, but the rest was alive with wondering thoughts.
Were they sentient or had they just accepted the team as friendlies and were acting on instinct?
She pulled out her radio, clicking it on smoothly.
"I repeat...Mason where are you...report in now..."
"Mason here. You'll never believe what just happened."
"Where are you??"
"Not sure, actually. I fell and that blue-yellow dragon lifted me up after another dragon broke my fall. He brought me...somewhere. It's gorgeous."
"I guess that means you can't give us directions."
"Umm...no sir. I don't see anything that would indicate what direction we came from."
"Great. Well I'll let Gen. Hammond know we need a UAV out here looking for you and hope no malfunctions make it hit a dragon or something."
"Do you believe you're in danger?"
"Just the opposite, sir."
"I might take a short nap, sir."
"I think I bruised a couple ribs and rest will help."
Syla heard the Major sigh, obviously not happy with the situation.
"If you think it's safe."
"Thank you, sir."
"We'll get you home, Dr."
"Yes, sir. Thank you."
She put her radio back in her pocket, securing it and then snuggled next to the surprisingly soft underbelly of the dragon.
She could feel it trembling with each breath the dragon took and she smiled again.
For some inexplicable reason, she felt safe.
She wondered and wondered about the dragon until finally she was so warm her eyes shut and she slept.
* * * * * *
Martouf and Garshaw stepped onto the ramp, accompanied by a young woman George hadn't met before.
Garshaw stepped forward, extended her hands in greeting.
"Thank you for allowing us to visit your world once again. We bring good news."
George smiled at her before greeting Martouf and then looking enquiringly at the woman.
Martouf smiled back as he answered both of George's unspoken questions.
"Jacob will be joining us later, at which time Garshaw will return to take his place. This is Qesir, one of our stronger Tok'ra. She needs a new host as we described to you earlier."
George remembered the conversation and nodded.
"Welcome. I'll let the President know you've arrived and we'll take you to see the two candidates."
The woman stepped forward, taking the General's hand.
Her soft echo filled the room.
"I thank you for making this effort. I am aware of how repugnant the thought of being a host is to your people and with good reason. I assure you, my new host will be willing or I will die."
George's eyebrows furrowed a bit and he wondered if he shouldn't have gone ahead and motioned them to the infirmary before talking to them.
"I don't understand."
The symbiote's personality blazed brightly within the woman even though there was no glow.
"This host must be set free. If none from your world will join me, I will die in order to free this host permanently. I refuse to keep her prisoner a moment longer."
George nodded lightly, not wanting to think on that possibility just yet.
"If you'll follow me, Dr. Warner will examine you and make sure everything's okay."
Martouf stepped forward.
"May I see my mate afterwards?"
George hesitated and knew he'd waited a second too long when Martouf's eyes sharpened.
"Is something wrong with Jolinar?"
"Not...something we can discuss here. Let's get you examined and then we'll talk."
George saw the stubborn set of Martouf's mouth, but Garshaw took Martouf's hand and with one last look at the General, he turned to follow Garshaw.
George suppressed a sigh of relief, knowing the next while would be tense.
He led the silent trio to the infirmary, loathe to say anything until they were done.
* * * * * *
Bill Cliston put down the phone with an annoyed sigh.
George was having a really rough time there and he hated having to put his friend through this.
The door to the Oval Office opened, a young man sticking his head in.
"Mr. President, your ride is here."
Bill nodded, listening to the plan Kaden was outlining.
Hagar still hadn't reported in and Kaden was beginning to fear for his son.
He was the best chance they had of finding Neris through O'Neill's memories.
They were still pursuing their other options, but O'Neill was the last known human to actually have contact with her.
*What if the Kaetarens have resurfaced?*
*If so then we'll deal with them the way we dealt with the Asgard. Maybourne is slowly wearing out his usefulness. We need to finish the experiments before he goes too far and tips his hand.*
*George wishes you to meet the Tok'ra again.*
*I'm aware of why we can't...in case they can sense us. It was hard enough getting that reporter taken care of when he decided to meet O'Neill himself instead of just printing the story like he was supposed to.*
*It worked to our advantage...if we had not had him killed, we would've met O'Neill and Carter...she would've sensed us. Our plans would have been...set back.*
*They're good people.*
*They're in the way. That is unacceptable.*
Bill sighed again and picked up his briefcase and coat before joining his staff on the other side of the door.
*Why are Goa'uld able to sense each other?*
*I do not know. If we can find a way to use Maybourne's team to get a couple Goa'uld for study, we may be able to find out what masks us from each other.*
*Maybe you're just not the same species.*
*Perhaps. We need live Goa'uld to experiment on before we'll know more.*
*I'm not sure about this campaign.*
*It will work. It always does.*
*So much suspicion...*
*But nothing will be proven until it's too late. We have done this before. Relax.*
Bill swept the latest personal investigations into the various "mysterious" deaths surrounding his political career from his mind and concentrated on perfecting the speech in his head.
Kaden heeled a few minor bruises, well used to his host's methods of convincing the public that he was sincere.
* * * * * *
Cassie picked up a penny from the ground and put it in her pocket.
Teal'c handed her another he'd found and then walked past her to the Voyager, sliding into the backseat again, but keeping an eye on the Airman in the front seat.
He nodded at DanielJackson when he saw the younger man's silent inquiry and returned to his vigil when DanielJackson turned back around, his arms resting on the steering wheel.
Jack sat on the curb, waiting for Janet to get out of the bathroom.
Cassie handed him a bag of turkey jerky, taking a couple pieces out for herself.
He looked up at the darkening sky.
Cassie sat as close to him as she could without actually being on him.
"Mom says it's going to rain and that she's going to drive through it."
Jack grimaced, not usually minding when others drive, but hating the distrust that his eyes caused in his...doctor and whatever else she was to him as well as the rest of his team.
At least the Tok'ra-type thing they had going on was a somewhat known entity.
**You almost done?**
**Janet found that chocolate milk Daniel was wanting so we're buying it and then we'll be out.**
**How are you feeling?**
**Headache and burning, but nothing much else.**
The first drops of water fell on his nose, dripping down to his hands.
Cassie curled up to him and all thoughts of getting out of the rain left his mind as he looked down at her smile.
His heart tightened at the unconditional trust in her eyes and he swore she would never doubt his love for her.
Jack pulled her up and Cassie looked at him oddly as the rain began falling steadily...within seconds, both were soaked completely through.
**Janet's going to kill you.**
**She'll have to come out here and get me first.**
Cassie blinked through the increasing wetness as Jack grinned, taking up his stance and as soon as she'd placed her small hand in his, they began slowly waltzing in the rain.
Cassie laughed delightedly as he spun her around, mixing up the moves to catch her off guard.
They hadn't danced in a very long time and her eyes twinkled as brightly as his glittered as they glided through the warm rain.
* * * * * *
Bre looked around, confused.
She was on a flat slab...of something hard...possibly rock.
Small grey aliens looked back at her, silent and assessing.
She sucked in a deep breath, terrified and excited at the same time.
"You're Asgard, right?"
One stepped closer and she noticed the gemstone embedded in his forehead.
"We were...now we are nothing. Your race will be the same."
Bre gulped as three of the five Greys chittered to each other.
"How did you get in here?"
"We have always been here."
The hostility in the room was making adrenaline push her mind a bit off kilter.
She struggled to memorize everything, realizing they were in a storage room...possibly the same one on level 16.
She remembered the different videos of the Asgard the Tok'ra had supplied for research purposes and continued noticing small differences in these...Greys.
"Why do you look so different?"
The Grey nearest her reared back, his small, misshapen mouth pursed as the gem in his forehead began to glow.
Small drops of red blood dripped from the corner of his eye until the gem resumed its dull dormancy.
The grey caught the blood on his hand...lifting the liquid to his mouth.
Bre tried to see if he had a tongue or not, but all she knew was that there was something very wrong with this Asgard.
She hadn't seen anything that showed what color their blood was on video, but was surprised that they would have grey skin with red blood.
When his hand came away from his mouth, the liquid was gone from it and he leaned forward.
"We have learned to preserve our food. You will remain conscious in order to provide us proper sustenance for a longer time."
Bre focused on his mouth and then his words penetrated.
Bre screamed as loud as she could.
The Asgard made no move to stop her, merely cocking his head a bit...curious.
After many minutes, her repeated screams abated...bringing forth no response from the Asgard or SGC personnel.
She shivered in a deep terror as the realization that she was at the mercy of these aliens penetrated her soul.
She wished and wished and wished, over and over, that someone....anyone would miss her and come looking for her.
One of the Greys came forward, a second set of arms sewed in place underneath the primary set.
Her eyes widened as the arms just draped against his leg.
They were human arms...a child's set by the looks of it.
Her stomach flipped in disgust and she tried not to panic as restraints were locked around her arms.
Her mind screamed at her to move, that until the restraints were locked, she could still get up and get out, but her legs wouldn't move...her arms stayed still...and as the gem-stoned Grey moved closer, she opened her mouth to scream again.
The sound cracked on a sob of fear and she tried to close her eyes so that maybe she could pass out, but they refused to close and she was forced to watch as different machines were set up around her and small tubes were laid on her arms.
She tried to struggle but her body either wasn't receiving the signals or else she was somehow paralyzed.
Bile rose in her throat and her nose began to run, the liquid trickling down her chin unheeded.
She welcomed the tears as they blurred her vision.
She felt small pricks into her arms, but couldn't even flinch from the pain.
"She is the correct blood type?"
"Yes. The Shifter host confirmed she was compatible."
Bre's mind whirred, trying to connect pieces of information together.
Then a kaleidoscope of colors spun through her eyes as ripping pain radiated from her leg.
She couldn't think coherently, lost in a nauseating whirlwind of horrific sensations she'd never known existed.
* * * * * *
Daniel smiled from his seat in the Voyager.
Jolinar was resting while Janet and Amber were inside, using the ladies' room.
She'd take back over when they could get back on the road.
To his credit, Jack didn't say anything about the unscheduled stop even though Janet was obviously waiting for a comment of some kind.
Daniel's eyes glinted with merriment as Jack and Cassandra twirled in the rain.
He looked in the windows of the gas station they'd pulled into and saw Amber and Janet standing behind them, watching the pair as they laughed.
The women probably weren't too keen on getting out in the rain and he saw Janet shake her head in response to a question from Amber.
He was glad they seemed to be getting along so much better.
She probably brought out Janet's mothering instincts the same way Cassie did because of her vulnerability.
He wondered whether she would stay as connected to them once they had found a way to remove the link between her and Jack.
*Are they not through yet?*
*It's raining and they're not wanting to come out and get wet.*
*They are weak. It is simply water.*
*We get sick if we get wet and then stay in the wet clothes.*
*So change them once they are in the vehicle.*
*Umm...as hard as it's raining, they'd probably have to take off everything.*
*Then do so.*
Daniel rested his forehead on the steering wheel, trying not to grin at the thought of him telling Sam, Amber, or Janet to strip.
*Jolinar, you can tell them when they get here. I refuse to have anything to do with the question or their reaction.*
Daniel just grinned.
He didn't know if she'd do it or not, but he sure wasn't going to be the one in control when/if she did.
* * * * * *