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A Vacation of Sorts
When Annika materialized back in the fleeing ship, it was to find Scully just as she’d left her, sitting anxiously by her sleeping body.
"Hey, Dana, I’m back."
The FBI agent gave a relieved smile. "How’d it go?"
"SG-1 with Mulder, are in hot pursuit. They should…" Annika’s voice broke off at the unmistakable clunk of steel boots. Quickly she zipped to the top corner, sneaking a look into the hallway.
Two Jaffa had stopped outside their cell. One stood guard while the other keyed in the combination to open the door. Memorizing the sequence she silently hovered in the shadows.
"You will both come with us." The first Jaffa stepped into the room and motioned for Scully to rise.
The woman remained seated, shielding Annika. "She hasn’t regained consciousness yet."
The Jaffa jerked her to her feet before aiming a vicious kick at Annika’s prostate form.
In the corner, the vision that was Annika winced, even though she hadn’t felt a thing. Oh, yeah, that’ll be a whopping bruise by morning.
"Hey, leave her alone." Scully struggled against the iron grip. "She’s not faking."
The Jaffa ignored her and again his boot lashed out.
Great! Now I’ll have a matching set!
When there was no response from Annika, he dragged Scully into the hall, satisfied that the other prisoner was indeed unconscious. Scully continued to fight against her captors, protesting loudly, as the second Jaffa latched onto her other arm heading towards the elevator.
Annika was battling with an internal struggle of her own. Jack’s order echoed in her mind while Scully’s pleas rang in her ears. Indecision held her motionless until she had a wild flash of ingenuity. A loophole of her own… Technically her ‘body’ was perfectly safe in the locked cell, and in her current state she was impervious to injury. Annika could obey a direct order and help her friend.
She zoomed through the wall, focusing on the Jaffa who’d treated her like a football. Instinct kicked in. You are so going down! Gathering speed she pictured herself as a battering ram. A second later she barreled into the back of the Jaffa’s legs.
Caught totally unprepared for such an attack he let go of his prisoner trying to regain his balance.
Annika gave him another shove and sent him skidding down the passageway like a demented skier out of control, his staff weapon flailing in his windmilling arm.
She turned her attention to the other Jaffa.
He had frozen in shock at the transparent image of Annika, and Scully took the opportunity to wrench free. The movement jarred him out of his stupor and his training took over. In one fluid move he lowered his staff and fired.
Reflex make Annika shut her eyes as the fire bolt shot through her midriff. Expecting to hear the blast impact the wall, her eyes sprang open when there was only a muffled thud and the smell of burnt flesh assaulted her nose.
Her mouth dropped open at the sight of the Jaffa swaying on his feet, clutching his stomach, a smoking, gaping hole where his symbiote pouch used to be. With eyes filled with bewilderment, he uttered a low groan before his legs gave way and collapsed to the floor dead.
She frantically looked for Scully and spotted her crouched against the wall, her face mirroring her own disbelief.
"You okay?" Annika floated towards her friend. "What happened?"
Scully pointed beyond her ghostly image. "The other Jaffa…"
Whoops, forgot about him… Annika spun around ready to once again tackle the man. Only to find the warrior flat on his back, staff weapon recharging and a smoldering wound decorating his chest.
She gave an amazed chuckle as comprehension dawned. Both Jaffa had fired their weapons at the same time but they had been standing opposite each other, with only Annika’s non-corporeal form between them. The deadly blasts had passed straight through her and the Jaffa had killed each other with friendly fire. Well, that’s two down, only eighteen to go…
There was a high pitch keening coming from beneath the folds of the Jaffa’s chain mail. Annika cautiously peeled the amour away to reveal the infant symbiote struggling to escape from the dead Jaffa’s pouch. Hell no! No way you’re gonna find another incubator! She snatched up the squealing larvae and deftly twisted it until she heard the crunch of bones breaking. When it hung limply between her fingers Annika dropped the repulsive creature to the floor.
Scully curiously examined the milky white worm. "Is that a Goa’uld?" Her nose crinkled in distaste.
Annika nodded, having the sudden urge to disinfect her hands. "In its infant state. It takes a few decades for it to grow into maturity."
"So what now?" She shifted her attention to the dead bodies that still had tendrils of smoke wafting from the cauterized wounds.
"I’m open to suggestions. I’m kinda flying by the seat of my pants." Annika shrugged. "My only concern was to stop them delivering you to Bes."
The scientist in Scully begged for a closer look. "Thanks for that, by the way," she said vaguely, lightly tracing the tattoo on the Jaffa’s forehead and then prodded the cross shaped opening of the pouch in his belly. "No wonder this has been kept top secret. It would mess with the average Joe’s head."
Scully’s comment nudged a plan into Annika’s mind, but the FBI agent beat her to the chase.
"If you were a Goa’uld, what would you think if you found two of your loyal Jaffa dead on your supposedly secure ship?"
The psychic grinned mischievously. "Either that there are some unexpected guests roaming the decks or that maybe not all of my ‘loyal’ Jaffa are so loyal."
Scully’s eyes almost glowed with eagerness. "Let’s mess with this Goa’uld’s head."
"Seems only fair we return the favor, considering he screwed with ours," Annika agreed with a straight face. "Help me move this one so it looks like they were hit from the same direction."
They each picked up a booted leg and dragged the Jaffa in line with his comrade.
It never occurred to Scully to question how a non-corporeal being could physically knock a person over or lift anything. She assumed it was a natural part of Annika’s ability. And it didn’t register with psychic herself that she was no longer having the trouble that plagued her during practice sessions in telekinesis.
"Those staffs are neat as far as projectile weapons are concerned. Handy for our purposes." Scully dropped the heavy boot, then tucked the slimy symbiote back into its ‘nest’.
Annika eyed the wound. What was neat about that?
"No blood splatter to contradict our arranged evidence," Scully explained, catching her confused look.
They headed back down the corridor, mutually agreeing that they would eliminate themselves as ‘suspects’ if they were tightly sealed up in their cell when the bodies were discovered. Annika showed Scully the combination to open the door and they locked themselves in.
Annika settled her spirit back into her body and after a few minutes her eyes flickered open and she sat up. Scully had one ear pressed against the door, trying to catch the first sound of movement outside.
"Anything yet?" Annika stretched her limbs to get the circulation going.
"Well, it won’t be long," she predicted, gingerly examining her side where the Jaffa had kicked her. "The Goa’uld are not known for their patience."
Sure enough a short time later the clatter of boots could be heard through the wall. There were surprised exclamations and a deep voice barked out an order. Thumping boots again, but this time they were rushing towards their cell.
The two women scooted to the far wall, taking up casual poses.
When the door opened it was clear the Jaffa was startled to find the women still imprisoned. He’d obviously concluded that they had somehow overpowered the guards and absconded into the bowels of the ship. He’d been ordered to double check the cell only as a formality before starting a deck-by-deck search.
"What’s going on?" Scully asked with wide eyes. "We heard sounds of a fire fight."
"Someone doing a runner?" Annika’s face was positively angelic.
"Escape is impossible," he growled, regaining his composure.
Annika flicked a hand towards the mangled control panel. "Came to the same conclusion ourselves."
"So who fired the weapon?" Scully innocently enquired. "An unexpected stowaway?"
The Jaffa’s eyes narrowed for a moment, then hardened. "It is not your concern." Abruptly he spun on his heel and marched out.
"Oooh, don’t tell me you have a shol’va in your happy family." The psychic’s concern was blatantly false. "You know there’s always one bad apple in every batch."
The Jaffa refused to acknowledge her snide comment but as the door once again locked them in, they saw the seed of doubt had been planted.
Annika gave Scully the thumbs up. "Well, we bought some time. Hopefully Bes will be too busy searching the ship to bother with us or the other women."
Scully heard the waver in her voice when she mentioned the abductees. "You saw them?"
She nodded, then proceeded to tell her about everything she’d discovered on her scouting trip, only excluding Jack’s directive.
Outside their cell they could hear the Jaffa searching the surrounding rooms and then there was silence.
And more silence.
Then just to make things interesting…more silence.
Time was crawling by, and with nothing to do but wait Annika was getting edgy. She started pacing the floor. Even though her mind told her she should conserve her energy, her feet refused to listen. "I hate this," she muttered, changing her pattern from left to right to a full circuit. "I’m not good at doing nothing."
Scully, who’d positioned herself in the center, was watching her lap the room. "Me either. If only we could see something besides these four walls."
"Yeah, would it have killed you to add a window or two?" Annika yelled at the ceiling to Bes three floors up.
The agent gave a snort of laughter. "Pity you can’t stay awake and astral travel at the same time. You could ask him personally."
They had both agreed the ‘still knocked out’ ruse wouldn’t work a second time.
To Scully’s surprise, Annika stopped short then let loose an impressive string of curses. "Something I said?"
Annika lost in her tirade of self-derision, didn’t hear her. "…Shit! I am an idiot…Why didn’t I think of that?…How, how, HOW could I forget? I did it the first damned time I astral traveled…"
"Ah…Annika? Did what?" Scully had to raise her voice to be heard over another round of expletives.
The younger woman visibly tried to calm herself, though her self-disgust was still apparent. "I can split my astral form in two." She quickly recounted the episodes to the other woman.
"Sounds like you do it subconsciously."
"Yes, and only when I’m emotionally high." Annika frowned recalling her earlier self-examination. "We could have a problem."
Scully openly gaped at her. "What are you talking about? I’m an emotional pressure cooker right now, how can you not be?"
Her response was an embarrassed shrug. "I don’t know. I am angry, and repulsed and worried and even morbidly excited, but it’s nowhere near the level I was experiencing when I ‘split’." She resumed her pacing, trying to figure out a way around her lack of emotion. Even the carefully cultivated bundle she had tucked away wouldn’t be enough.
She focused on the her first astral experience, dismissing the Bon Jovi concert, (there was no way she could invoke the deliriously happy rush from that night.) Annika had been on the phone, almost blind with anger at not being able to contact General Hammond and panicked with fear for Daniel’s safety. She pictured the memory frame by frame like a movie editor until the instant when she’d yelled into the receiver, ‘Pick up the damn phone.’ It was that emotional combo that she needed right now. A whisper of an idea skirted her mind as she recalled her friend’s ‘pressure cooker’ comment. "Dana, be honest, just what exactly are you feeling right now?"
Scully hesitated before answering. "Angry at being abducted," Again, she added silently. "Frustrated, I hate not being in control. A little exhilarated, not because of out there," she gestured to the hallway with the dead Jaffa. "But because of what’s happening between Mulder and I. Worried that I’ll never see him again…" Her voice trailed off.
The red head’s shoulders slumped and she reluctantly nodded. "I’m so scared I can hardly breathe."
Annika gave her hand a comforting squeeze. She could see how much the normally strong woman hated that admission. "Can I borrow all that for a while?"
Her head snapped up. "Borrow it? You can keep it!" As an after thought she added, "Except for the exhilaration, I’d like that back."
The psychic couldn’t help grinning at the fire in the FBI agent’s tone. She may be frightened, but she wouldn’t let her fear consume her, she was fighting it all the way. Closing her eyes she concentrated on that split second before she’d appeared in the SGC briefing room, then gently touched her fingers to the other woman’s forehead. She siphoned Scully’s mix of emotions, absorbing them into herself, while uttering the phrase that started the whole astral experience. "Pick up the damn phone. Pick Up The Damn Phone. PICK UP…"
A A A
"…THE DAMN PHONE!"
"Jesus H Christ!" General Hammond nearly tipped out of his seat when Annika’s translucent figure suddenly appeared a few inches in front of him. He should have been used to her unexpected visits by now, but dammit, why did she have to pick on him?
Quickly he withdrew his hand that had been in the process of reaching for a report, from Annika’s belly as the vision opened one eye then scanned the room. She gave a start when her gaze landed on the general.
"Oh…uh…Hi, sir." Her other eye snapped wide. "Hey, I did it." She spoke off to his side and he surmised that she was talking to whoever was with her physical body. "Not quite where I wanted to be but…"
Hammond cleared his throat to remind her of his presence.
"Sorry, General." She turned her attention back to the SGC commander. "Didn’t mean to interrupt."
"Quite alright. We were just finishing up anyway."
Annika cringed. "We?"
The general nodded, a small smile playing on his lips.
Very slowly she turned to see who else had witnessed her entrance and a playful wolf whistle echoed in her ears. Annika didn’t need to look at her body to know that her astral self had maintained her previously under clad wardrobe. She heaved a sigh of relief to see only one other person.
"Nice outfit." Janet grinned from her seat at the briefing table.
"It’s a long story." Annika smiled back at her friend.
"One we’d both like to hear."
"Of course, sir. But could it wait until we’re all back at the SGC?" Annika hovered anxiously. "I kinda need to get back…"
Before the general could answer Sergeant Siler hurried into the room carrying some sort of gadget, followed by Major Ferretti dressed in combat gear. Both men’s jaws dropped open at the sight of the ghostly image dressed like a Victoria’s Secret model.
"Hi, guys." Annika waggled her fingers at the stunned officers, even as she felt her face heat up. Gods, she was never going to live this down. "Er…General?"
"Take care of yourself." Hammond nodded towards her giving his permission for her to leave.
"Will do." She cast a sly look at the men who seemed torn between averting their gaze and admiring the view. "Close your mouths, you’re catching flies." With a mischievous grin she winked out.
For a moment there was silence from the four military officers.
"Ah, sir, does Annika do that often?" Ferretti’s voice was a little hoarse.
"Often enough, Major. I’m starting to get used to it." The general eyed the two men. "I trust that you will use your discretion regarding her appearance."
"Of course, General." Ferretti was affronted. "Annika’s premonition stopped my team from walking into an ambush. I wouldn’t do anything to offend her."
The sergeant quickly gave his own assurance. He’d seen the bruises on that medic spy she’d thrown across the room and almost choked with the power of her mind. There was absolutely no way he was going to risk her wrath.
The tech desk jockey and battle worn soldier exchanged glances. They would both however, congratulate Doctor Jackson on his choice of woman.
"Good." The general, satisfied the incident wouldn’t end up the latest topic on the base grapevine, turned his attention to the matter at hand. "Now, what did you want to see me about?"
The two officers snapped to attention and launched into their respective reports, while Doctor Frasier gathered up her folder and hurried back to the infirmary.
Hammond listened with only half an ear, his mind thinking about his flagship team. He sent up a silent prayer that SG-1’s luck would extend to its newest member.
A A A
Mulder was having a little difficulty. It wasn’t that he was flying through space in a…what was that term?…teltak. It wasn’t that the large black man piloting the teltak was technically an alien. Nor was it that they were at this very moment approaching the docking bay of an…Asgard…yes, that was what Daniel called it… Asgard mothership and that he was about to see with his own eyes a living ‘little gray’, who also happened to be the Supreme Commander of the Asgard fleet… It was all just so frigging exciting! He was surrounded by real live alien everything, right down to the weapons SG-1 kept at their waists.
And that was the problem. He was where he always wanted to be, it was what he’d been searching for, for most of his life and yet Scully was in grave danger. How could he be so happy when the woman he loved had been kidnapped by yet another alien who could scramble her brains on a whim? Guilt gnawed at him.
"Mulder, do you have spare clips for your gun?"
Daniel’s quiet question at his shoulder made him jump.
"Er…yeah. Two full magazines." He tapped his pocket.
"Do you want anything else?" The archaeologist gestured to the assortment of weapons lined up against the far wall. "A zat’? A P-90?"
"I think I’ll stick to what I know." Mulder didn’t want to worry about how to use a new weapon, alien or Earth made, when they finally made their move.
Daniel recognized the torment in the FBI man’s eyes. He’d seen that same look haunting himself in the mirror for years. Out of all the members of SG-1, only Daniel was uniquely qualified to help Mulder through this situation. He cleared his throat, unsure of how to begin. "You know, when I first joined the SGC every time I stepped through the Stargate I was wracked with guilt. You see, my wife was infested by a Goa’uld, and I made it my personal mission to find her. It was why I demanded…well, begged really… to be part of SG-1. It was my only goal."
"Did you find her?"
Daniel heard the desperate plea in his voice to give an affirmative answer. "Yes, we did. But it took two and half years." He figured that at the current time Mulder didn’t need to know that Teal’c had had to kill Sha’re; didn’t need to hear that if Bes switched hosts again, this time into Scully, they may be forced to kill her too. That train of thought was panicking Daniel enough as it was, because it naturally led to the question, what if Bes jumped into Annika? Pushing that scenario away he continued, "Anyway, part of that guilt was because every time I went off-world, it was so exhilarating and amazing… to be exploring other planets, meeting alien races, experiencing different cultures…I felt that it was a betrayal to Sha’re to have any sort of enjoyment because she was effectively living in hell."
Mulder shifted slightly, wanting to break eye contact but the man’s steady gaze wouldn’t let him go.
"Even now with Annika being where she is, despite the gut wrenching concern I have of what’s happening to her, I’m still excited about zipping through the galaxy in an honest to goodness spaceship. After seven years it still doesn’t get old whatever the circumstances. From what I understand, this…" he waved his hand indicating the teltak. "Is your life goal. I don’t think Dana would mind if you’re feeling exhilarated right now."
For a moment Mulder was silent, considering the young man’s words. Eventually he nodded giving a grateful smile. "It is pretty amazing."
"This is nothing," Daniel grinned, seeing the guilty tinge mostly fade away from the man’s face. "Wait until you meet Thor."
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