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A Vacation of Sorts
By the time they reached the third and final destination of the round robin wedding, Mulder could hold out no longer. With Scully in tow he approached the two couples who held all the answers.
"Jack, where are those papers?"
The colonel pulled them from the inside of his jacket. "You really like to cut it fine, don’t you?"
"What do you mean?" Scully asked scribbling her name on the dotted line.
"We may not have too much time," Daniel explained. "Okay, quick summary. The ‘Glowbug’ is a Goa’uld, an alien life form that takes over a human host body. This particular Goa’uld is called Bes and he’s building a harem. Right now he’s got his sights on getting Annika and Scully and once he’s got them he’ll leave by way of his space ship."
"Wait, how do you know what he will do?" Mulder demanded.
"I’m psychic," Annika butted in. "I had a vision."
"Psychic?" Scully was skeptical.
"We don’t have the time to prove any of this at the moment," Sam nodded towards the entrance. "I’ll take up position."
"Mulder, you’ll have to put aside your motto of ‘trust no one’ and trust us." Annika was studying the patrons of the club, looking for the dark aura that Scarecrow described.
The two agents exchanged glances. "Okay."
Daniel launched into a very brief history lesson regarding the Stargate and the threat of the Goa’uld.
"So you don’t know anything about a government conspiracy to colonize the planet with alien-human hybrids?" Mulder asked, trying to adjust to the concept that there was a whole other set of aliens battling for the conquest of Earth.
"Nope." Jack kept his eye on the crowd, looking for anyone acting suspiciously. "Just trying to stop the buggers from enslaving and/or destroying Earth."
"How about the project dubbed ‘Purity Control’?" Scully was having difficulty accepting the science fiction tale. It was one thing to accept that aliens were ‘visiting’ Earth; it was a totally different kettle of fish to find out these people stepped through the event horizon of an artificial wormhole to explore planets on the other side of the known universe.
"Never heard of it."
"Dana, why don’t you come with me?" Annika suggested. "We’re working on setting a trap, but we need to distance ourselves from the others."
The woman nodded. "Can we detour to the bathroom before you give me anymore explanations?" Scully hoped that a splash of cold water would help clear her head. This whole new ‘reality’ was a lot to take in.
"Sure," the psychic agreed. "I could do with a bit of refreshing myself." She gave Daniel a quick kiss. "When we come out, we’ll wander around the bar area."
The women left the men to their discussion of different alien encounters.
"The rebel force that have sewn their eyes and mouths shut to stop infection of the black oil?" Mulder was searching for a link between what he knew and what they knew.
"By black oil, I take it you don’t mean Texas Tea?"
Mulder shook his head. "No, it’s alien in nature, kind of possesses whoever it infects."
Jack rolled his eyes. "Swell, that’s all we need. Goa’uld in liquid form."
"What about alien bounty hunters with toxic green blood, who you kill by stabbing them in the back of neck?"
"Green blood?" Jack exchanged a questioning look with Daniel.
The archaeologist shook the negative. "I don’t think he means Aris Boch, his blood wasn’t toxic."
"Wish his mouth was sewn shut though," the colonel muttered.
Mulder was about to ask another question but Jack stopped him. "I can only deal with one set of aliens at a time. I vote that it be our aliens for the moment considering the current circumstances. Sam’s the one with the head for the finer details. If you join her I’m sure that she’ll be able to fill you in. You two can swap stories."
The man’s eyes lit up. "Great. You realize that this is totally fascinating?"
Jack hid a smirk. "Yeah, and you don’t even know the half of it."
A A A
When Annika emerged from the bathroom the back of her neck prickled. Uh oh. She saw Scully leaning against the wall, a glazed expression on her face. Not a good sign… She spun on her heel, trying to locate Daniel and the others, only to have a man block her path.
"Hello, My Beloved."
Oh shit! Annika reeled back trying to stay out of range of his toxic breath, but it was too late. Before she felt even a flash of panic, her sight began to blur. It was like watching the world through a sheet of plastic. Faces that were clear one moment became distorted the next.
…Daniel…have to let Daniel know… She tried to focus on their bond however with her mind already sluggish, control slipped from her grasp. If she couldn’t contact him mentally than she had to find him physically …Come on, Annika, just lift your foot, it’s not hard… Her legs refused to budge. Bes’s breath cocooned her mind, driving all thoughts of escape away.
…Daniel, have to get to…Daniel?…Who was that?…Where was she?…Was this man Daniel?…
"Come, My Beloved. It’s time to leave." The man reached for her arm and started leading her to the back entrance.
…What a horrifying…no, lovely endearment…Oh look, Dana’s coming with us, isn’t that nice?…Where are we going?…Shouldn’t we tell someone this man wants to take us away?…no matter… this man was evil, no, sweet…he calls me My Beloved…that was wrong…it should be My Angel…
Annika felt a tug below her heart ….What’s that?… Clumsily her mind followed the invisible link and stumbled when it collided with someone across the room. She had a split second of lucidity …My Angel…Daniel…have to get to Daniel…
Bes’s warm breath tickled her cheek. "Just head towards the ocean, My Beloved."
A A A
Daniel absently watched Mulder stride over to Sam. "He’s like a kid in a candy shop." He scanned the club for Annika, trying to check in with her through their bond. She’d gone to the bathroom but should have been out by now. Even though he knew that Bes’s MO was to make his move when his victims were alone, he hated having her out of his sight. Her unusually awkward response made him frown. Is she drunk? "Jack, have you noticed how much Annika has had to drink?"
The colonel shrugged, "Maybe two beers. Last I saw she’d moved on to coffee."
"That’s what I thought." So why does she feel drunk? "OH, FUCK!" Daniel sprang to his feet, desperately searching for her. Not drunk…drugged. "He’s got her."
Jack immediately began scoping for Sam across the room. "Carter!" he called out to her but his voice was lost in the thumping music. Sticking two fingers in his mouth he gave two sharp whistles to catch her attention.
Recognizing her superior’s signal Sam’s head shot up from her conversation with Mulder. In a glance she took in Daniel’s stricken face and quickly regrouped with her team.
Mulder sensing the urgency was close behind.
"Carter, have you felt any sign of a Goa’uld presence?"
"No. He wasn’t in the north corner. You?"
Jack shook his head. "Nope, east side is clear. That eliminates half the room. Daniel, can you feel where Annika is?"
Daniel took a calming breath, struggling to keep his head. Panicking would only hinder their efforts to catch up to Bes and rescue Annika. The Goa’uld already had too much of a lead. It didn’t help that the mind control drug was filtering through their bond. "It’s vague. I know she’s moving away, not very fast. They’re probably on foot, running."
"I don’t know! It’s all jumbled. She’s drugged. It’s making her disorientated so I’m disorientated. There are too many distractions in here." Daniel swayed on his feet and Jack grabbed his arm to steady him.
"Alright, let’s get him outside."
Mulder helped support the archaeologist, while Sam practically barged her way through the crowd creating a path. "What’s the matter with him?"
"Annika and Daniel are connected to each other," Jack explained, dodging a dancing woman. "I don’t pretend to know how, but what one feels, the other feels."
When they staggered into the night air, Mulder released Daniel and began to head back into the club. "I’ve got to find Scully."
Jack’s quiet voice had him stopping in his tracks. "Dana was with Annika. In all likelihood she’s been taken too."
"But I’ve got to know for sure." The first bolt of fear coursed through him.
"Annika knew this was going to happen." Sam was keeping one eye on Daniel, who had his eyes closed and was taking deep breaths, trying to get a fix on the direction of their bond. "She tried to warn Dana at lunch."
Mulder recalled the woman telling Scully to keep her gun with her tonight. "But she could be wrong. Even the best psychics aren’t always right." He was desperately clinging to the chance that Scully was still safe inside.
"This one is!" Jack snapped. "You can waste your time going back in there on a fruitless hope. We’re leaving right now to get this bastard."
Daniel hadn’t been paying attention to the conversation, but at that moment he managed to lock on to the location of his soul mate. Without thinking he sprinted off across the parking lot, pulling the zat’ from beneath his jacket.
"Trust Daniel to take me literally." Jack couldn’t help the wisecrack as he ran after his friend. "Sam, let’s go. Mulder, make your choice."
After a brief moment of indecision Mulder followed the others into the darkness.
Jack battled to catch up, noting that the younger man was probably a lot fitter than he was. "Daniel, remember we can’t use these," he gestured to his own zat’, "in a public place."
Daniel didn’t break his stride. "I will if I have to."
"And if you miss and hit an innocent bystander?"
"I won’t miss."
"Jackson, you’ve got to treat this like any other mission." Jack put on his best commanding officer tone, trying to shift Daniel’s perspective away from his heart to the original game plan of capturing the Goa’uld.
"I am, Jack." Despite the gut wrenching fear he was barely keeping at bay, Daniel flashed the colonel a smile.
Reluctantly Jack grinned back. How can I argue with that? Jumping in feet first was typical Daniel behavior.
"I have my emotions under control. Mostly," he assured the colonel. "But this plan is time specific, if we’re late Bes will be gone in a second. How much harder will it be to catch him in his ship?"
"He’s got a point, sir," Sam piped up from behind.
"Carter, nice of you to join us." Jack glanced at the major, admiring the fact that somehow she was able to run in that dress and not break an ankle in those shoes.
Mulder managed to keep up. He was in good shape but it was only adrenaline that let him maintain the brutal pace. He was amazed at the banter bouncing between the trio and they hadn’t even broken out in a real sweat yet. Do they take anything seriously?
There was a clawing under his heart and Daniel knew that Annika was trying to fight the effects of the drug oozing through her system. Immediately he sent a wash of love through their bond, telling her that they were in pursuit. The emotion trickled back to him. Seconds later pain so intense it almost blinded Daniel, exploded from his cheek. Clutching his face, his knees buckled and only the quick reflexes of his teammates saved him from collapsing in a heap.
"What happened?" Jack watched the worry and fear drain from his friend’s face to be replaced by a hardened anger.
"Somehow Annika’s fighting him. Bes just backhanded her, with what felt like the ribbon device. She’s out cold." Daniel’s voice was low but no one missed the menace in his tone. "Jack, I don’t care what the President wants. That snake is not going to survive."
"You got my vote," Jack agreed. "The only good Goa’uld is a dead Goa’uld."
Once again concentrating on the bond, Daniel resumed running down the deserted street, directing them towards the beach. The others raced to catch up.
"Look!" Sam gasped as they rounded the corner.
Against the night blackened beach a bright square of light emerged showing the inside of an alkesh. The silhouettes of three people could be clearly seen. One had the unmistakable arrogance of a Goa’uld, despite the fact that he was dragging Annika’s limp form behind him. The third figure was Scully who tugged uselessly against the iron grip of Bes’s other hand. The moment they entered the ship, the doors glided shut and the cloaking device worked its magic, making the doorway disappear.
Despite knowing they’d arrived too late, Daniel pelted across the road and onto the sand, trying in vain to reach the ship before it launched into orbit. Helplessly he felt his connection with Annika lift into the air, hover for a moment and then streak away towards the stars. "They’re gone."
"We’ll get her back." Sam laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.
Daniel barely felt the touch; it was like all his nerve endings had shut down, allowing his body to focus solely on the bond that was growing tauter with every breath. "I know we will, Sam. I trust her visions, it’s what Bes will do to her before we do that is ripping me apart."
"So what now?" Mulder asked, trying to keep his own knot of fear for Scully hidden.
Jack was already reaching for his phone. "Now the chase begins." He hit the speed dial.
"Sir, Elvis has left the building, taking two extra groupies with him."
In spite of the tension gripping him, Mulder’s lips twitched at the coded phrase letting the general know Bes had escaped with hostages.
"Understood. The taxi’s standing by, ready whenever you are."
"Roger that, we’ll check in when en route." The colonel broke the connection. "Let’s go, kids." He began leading the way back to the hotel. It took a moment to realize that Daniel wasn’t with them. "Daniel?"
The archaeologist was staring blindly into the sky, one hand pressed against his stomach. He did a quick turn on the spot away from his teammates. "They’ve changed direction. Heading that way." He pointed to a small cluster of stars.
"Good to know distance doesn’t matter from your end as well." He tugged his friend into a trot. "Let’s go, Teal’c’s waiting."
As they approached the hotel, they slowed to a walk. "Sam, you and Mulder go to the reception desk, get information on nearby camping grounds. Make a point of mentioning that we all will be leaving before sun up to explore the rainforests for a few days."
"Still maintaining your cover?" Mulder was surprised.
The colonel nodded. "The last thing we need is for the locals to report us missing. We’ll meet you on the roof."
They separated in the lobby, leaving Sam pestering the night clerk with camping questions. Jack and Daniel rode the elevator in silence.
Jack studied his friend and saw an all to familiar look in his eyes. "Stop it, Daniel."
"Stop what?" He wouldn’t meet the colonel’s gaze.
"Beating yourself up. It’s not your fault."
"Once again I wasn’t able to stop a Goa’uld from taking the woman I love." The buried pain over Sha’re surfaced. "And this time I practically offered her up on a plate."
"Daniel, if anyone is to blame, it’s me." Jack’s voice was soft. "I’m the senior officer. It was my plan. You’re all my responsibility."
Hearing Jack’s tone, Daniel pushed aside his own torment. Automatically he jumped in trying to alleviate the colonel’s guilt, not comprehending the significance of his words. "You couldn’t follow them into the bathroom. We needed Sam to be look out at the club’s other entrance. Even Annika thought she’d have enough time to warn us through our bond." He caught the satisfied smirk on the older man’s face.
"Right back at ya’."
With a reluctant grin Daniel realized he’d walked straight into Jack’s logic trap. "When did you become skilled at word chess?"
"I have a best friend who’s a linguist." Jack clapped him on the back. "Now let’s go and kick some Goa’uld ass."
They quickly located the extra zat’ and headed back to the lift. After a moment of consideration Jack gathered up the reports on the women and handed them to Daniel. Then he tucked Sam’s laptop under his arm, effectively removing all evidence of the SGC in case their camping story wasn’t believed.
Jack studied the weapons with a troubled look.
Daniel didn’t have to be a mind reader to know what he was thinking. He said quietly, "We were never close enough to him to use them. Guns wouldn’t have helped either, not with how crowded the club was."
"I know. Doesn’t help any though."
They shared a sad smile, splitting the blame neither could help but feel.
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