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A Vacation of Sorts
When Annika regained consciousness, she became aware of the tight grip beneath her heart and knew Daniel was maintaining a constant hold on their bond to track them. Why didn’t we do that from the start? One part of her demanded in disgust. The logical, practical side of her mind reminded her that both Daniel and she were still exploring the strength and wonder of their bond. As far as using their bond as a tool on a mission they clearly had some kinks to work out. She made a silent vow. Next time, I’m going to make my grip like superglue.
She took a moment to read Daniel’s emotions. His fierce determination was mixed with a touch of guilt, wrapped in a cloak of worry and fear. She sent a wave of love back to him reassuring him that she was okay. His response was immediate and Annika let the warmth of his love engulf her. Right, now that Daniel is taken care of, time to assess my own predicament and find that magic rabbit...
It was only then that she noticed two things simultaneously. The first was how cold the metal floor was against her back. The second was the throbbing ache down the side of her face. With a groan she struggled to sit up, only to have gentle hands keep her down.
"Don’t try to move just yet." Scully’s voice was soft. "I don’t think anything is broken, but you probably have a concussion."
Opening her eyes, she saw Dana’s pale face leaning over her.
"How many fingers am I holding up?" Scully tried to keep the tremor from her tone. It was obvious that the FBI agent was scared out of her wits and Annika admired the way she was holding herself together.
Annika focused on Scully’s hand. "Two."
"How do you feel?" This time her voice was steady.
"Like I got hit with a two by four." She gingerly touched her cheek, wincing at the swollen lump that was her cheekbone. "At least he didn’t break the skin."
"Are you feeling dizzy? Nauseous?"
"Dizzy, no. Nauseous…" She glanced around the room. "A little. But I think that’s due to the situation rather than a concussion."
Scully gave a weak smile helping Annika sit up. "I know what you mean."
"How long was I out?"
"About an hour."
"Any sign of the other women?" Annika slowly got to her feet. After making sure her legs would support her, she began exploring the room. It looked like an exact replica of a cargo bay in the teltak the Tok’ra had lent the SGC. She remembered Sam explaining that most Goa’uld ships had the same basic layout and Jack’s quip that the snakehead’s had no imagination. There were no windows and no obvious doors, just gold sheeting with thousands of glyphs covering every inch of the walls. Well, she thought studying the pattern, what they lack in imagination they make up for in gaudiness.
"No. They just threw us in here and left."
"They?" Annika was running her hands over the glyphs, searching for the door control panel.
"It’s a bit fuzzy, but as soon as we boarded the ship…" She shook her head in disbelief. "That sounds weird, Mulder would be so proud…two…‘guards’ I guess you’d call them, took us and locked us up here."
"Bes has Jaffa?" Annika asked surprised. At Scully’s confused look she grimaced. "Sorry. Tall guys, tattooed foreheads, funky amour."
"That’s unexpected. Wonder where he’s been keeping them all these years?" Annika located the panel and using the heel of her shoe pried the casing off. "Dammit!" Her frustrated sigh echoed off the walls. Okay, so the rabbit is being a bit elusive… Sam had shown her the basics of how to pick a Goa’uld lock as part of her training. Fat lot of good that will do me now. The mechanism was completely smashed. It seemed Bes had had the foresight to eliminate that avenue of escape. Well, it had been a long shot anyway. She looked closer at the destroyed device. Something wasn’t right. Her fingers brushed over a cracked white stone. Curiouser and curiouser, first Jaffa and now this. "This isn’t Goa’uld. It looks like Asgard technology."
Scully peered over her shoulder. The jumbled mess of crystals and stones meant nothing to her.
"Do you still feel the urge to fawn at Bes’ feet?"
"No. Thank God." Scully frowned, "I still can’t work out how he drugged us."
"It’s his breath. A type of pheromone cocktail." Giving the control panel up as a lost cause, Annika sat down leaning her back against the wall.
"Hmmm." Scully absently joined her, thinking back to the autopsied women. "Maybe we can reduce the effects the next time he tries it." She rummaged around in her purse.
"I’m surprised they let you keep that."
"Yours is over in the corner. They didn’t search us either," Scully shrugged. "I still have my gun. It doesn’t make sense."
Perplexed Annika ran through her mind everything she knew about the Goa’uld. Daniel’s comment in the briefing room kept echoing in her ears. What other use is there for a woman? "Actually it makes perfect sense, because Bes doesn’t consider us a threat. To a Goa’uld women are used for pleasure, nothing more. Women’s lib is a concept that would never occur to him." She let her surprise show when Scully found what she was looking for. It was a tissue. "So what’s your idea? I don’t think I can hold my breath until the cavalry arrives."
"Not quite what I had in mind." Scully gave a taut smile as she began ripping the Kleenex into little pieces. "The dead women all had inflamed vomeronasal organs. It’s located three inches deep in the nasal cavity and is responsible for detecting pheromones. Everything we breathe in through our nose passes through it. If we can block our nasal passages, it’ll reduce the amount of the toxin we inhale. Breathing through our mouths mostly bypasses the nasal cavity. We can’t do anything about absorbing it through our skin, but at least we won’t get a full dose."
Annika took the scraps of tissue, rolled them into balls and stuck them up her nose. Scully did the same. When they checked their improvised handiwork to make sure no tell tale signs were hanging out, Annika caught a case of the giggles. "This is so not how I wanted tonight to end."
Scully found the young woman’s mirth contagious. "Tell me about it. Some vacation this turned out to be."
"Oh, yeah," Annika sniggered. "No vacation is complete without being kidnapped by an evil alien."
"I must have missed that in the brochure." Scully’s brittle giggle turned into a genuine round of laughter.
When they eventually managed to control themselves, Scully found the knot of fear that had been clutching her insides was not quite as big. "Thanks, Annika. I needed that."
She smiled warmly at her friend. "It’s something Daniel taught me. Something along the lines of laughter is the best medicine."
Scully returned the smile. "It’s scientifically proven."
The psychic studied the FBI agent. She knew what had to be done. This kind of situation was tailor made for Annika’s unique abilities. However she was worried about Scully. She seemed, if not relaxed (that was asking too much,) then less tense, but looks could be deceiving. Hesitantly she asked, "Will you be okay if I leave you for a little while?"
Scully was amused. "Found an escape hatch only big enough for one?"
"Kind of. There are a few oddities about this ship and I need to find out what other surprises Bes has in store."
"You mean oddities other than alien abduction?"
Annika nodded. "Well, it’s a first for me, but I understand it happens quite often at the SGC. I need to scout the ship and relay the recon to my teammates."
Scully waited patiently for an explanation on how Annika would achieve this miracle.
"Besides being psychic, I have the ability to astral travel."
The natural skepticism in Scully emerged for a second until she shoved it away. Considering she was on a space ship and flying across the galaxy, she decided to keep an open mind. "You can leave your body just like that?" She snapped her fingers.
"I have to meditate first, but yes. It’s a recent off shoot from my gift."
There was reluctance in her voice and Scully realized that it was concern for effectively leaving her alone to deal with whatever came through the door. "I’ll be fine. If the ‘Jaffa’," she stumbled over the new term, "come in, I’ll say you haven’t regained consciousness yet. That’s if they understand English?"
Annika nodded. "Don’t know why, but most do."
The younger woman still hesitated and Scully firmly reassured her. "If you can do this, then do it. Don’t worry about me."
"Okay." Annika lay down, making herself as comfortable as possible. "Any message you want me to pass on to Mulder?"
For a moment she looked torn. Despite Annika’s confidence that they would be rescued, Scully knew there was a very real possibility that they wouldn’t survive.
Annika saw her internal struggle and said quietly, "I can make sure that only Mulder hears what you tell me."
She gave a grateful smile. "Tell him that working with him, being with him, has been the best six years of my life. Even if things go wrong here, I don’t regret one minute of our time together… especially last night." A wicked gleam lit up her eyes. "Tell him that he was right and I was wrong and if he wants to hear that from me personally then he’d better get his butt into gear and catch up to us."
With a grin Annika closed her eyes and concentrated on regulating her breathing. It didn’t take long for her heart rate to slow and muscles relax. As she exhaled she pushed her mind out of her body, just like when practicing at the SGC. The room blurred for the briefest of seconds, then refocused with a clarity she didn’t possess with her physical eyes. She took a moment to orientate herself taking long leaps across the cell and hovering a few feet off the floor.
Scully sat back on her heels. "Wow." She waved a hand through the apparition and then immediately pressed two fingers to the neck of Annika’s body, giving a sigh of relief when she felt a strong steady pulse.
"So how does medical science explain this?" Annika couldn’t help teasing when she saw the stunned expression on the doctor’s face.
"Ah, you’ll have to let me get back to you on that." She waved another hand through Annika’s ‘legs’. "That’s amazing."
"Isn’t it?" Annika flitted parallel with the ceiling. "And so far my astral form is undetectable to all ship sensors, both Goa’uld and Asgard."
"Won’t that be a problem?" Scully pointed to Annika’s dress. The flowing skirt cascaded down like a transparent veil, following the laws of gravity despite not being ‘real’.
"Well, that’s something we’ve never thought of." Annika tried to mentally alter what she was wearing into something more appropriate, but the evening dress refused to change. "I’ve always worn jeans or BDUs whenever I’ve done this." She tried again with the same results. "Oh, this is ridiculous," she groused, experimenting by threading the skirt through and around her legs. "I can defy the laws of physics, but my clothing can’t." She tied the ends around her waist. "There, that should hold…" Her voice drifted off as the knot slid undone, the slinky material too slippery to remain tied up. "Oh, for shit’s sake! I’m a mental apparition of my own damned making, logically I should be able to control this sort of thing!"
Scully couldn’t help herself. She cracked up at the ludicrousness of the entire situation. "I’m sorry," she gasped in between hoots of laughter. "If you could only see yourself…"
Annika gave an irritated flick towards her sleeping body. "I can."
The comment caused another fit of guffaws.
"Oh, you can laugh, but how am I supposed to be sneaky with this billowing out like Hamlet’s ghost?" Annika refused to let the bubble of mirth pop inside of her. It wasn’t funny! Really, it wasn’t!
Taking a deep breath, Scully tried to focus on a solution to the unexpected snag. "What are you wearing underneath? Can you take the dress off?"
Annika considered the question. She’d never actually had to remove anything from her astral body before and had no idea if it would work. She reached for the clasp around her neck that in the ‘real’ world held the halter dress up. "Only one way to find out."
Both women held their breath.
With a quiet whisper the dress slid from her transparent body and landed on the floor.
"Why doesn’t it fall straight through?" Annika wondered absently.
"You’re asking me?" Scully was also studying the heap of ghostly material. "You’d better put it in the corner. I’d have a hard time explaining that to anyone."
"Good thinking." She swooped down and pushed the garment into the darkest corner of the room.
"Well, now I know what you were planning tonight."
Annika discovered her astral self could blush. The removal of the dress had revealed a black silk, lightly boned corselet, complete with matching bikinis and suspender stockings. "Boy am I glad I chose that dress. The other one I brought was too low cut for any kind of bra." She floated over to the wall. "Alright, I’m off." She began to slide through the gold paneling only to pause halfway. "Oh, when I come back to my body it may take me a while to wake up. Don’t panic, it’s normal."
Scully gave a snort of laughter. "Normal? What’s that anymore?" She waved the ghostly image away. "Go float around." Watching Annika disappear through the wall, she gave her head a shake. I can’t believe I just said that.
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