Colonel Jack O'Neill arrived at the mountain from his home and headed straight to the Embarkation room. Daniel was leaving with SG6 to determine whether or not Planet P4X2753 was worth excavating for possible Goa'uld artifacts so he had decided to skip their team night the evening before.
He hated that. He absolutely hated that his best friend Daniel was headed off world without the rest of SG1 again. But there simply weren’t enough properly trained Archaeologists at the SGC. They were hard to find and then even harder to convince them to join an organization that they couldn't publish their finds from. It just plain, old sucked big time.
By the time Jack arrived at the Gateroom, the eight member team was already geared up and standing ready. He dropped his briefcase and jacket at the hallway door and entered, walking casually up to Daniel's side.
Jack made a show of helping his team member adjust his pack. It was the large one that included a small tent and full survival gear. As he tugged on straps and helped settle the sixty-pound weight comfortably on his friend's shoulders, he spoke to him in a low voice. "Now, be careful, for crying out loud. I want you home safe by this weekend. You disappointed Teal’c last night. You know how he loves your rare steak. He says you’re the only one who can cook it right.”
Major Guess, the other team chief, shook his head at the little scenario and called out to O'Neill. "Don't worry Colonel, we'll get him home safe again or die trying."
"See that you do," O'Neill raised his voice in a loud growl. "It's taken me years to get him properly trained and housebroken."
"Jack. I'm not a puppy." Daniel protested with a grin.
"Worse, you're a scientist . . . and everyone knows how hard you all are to train."
Daniel only looked at him with his patented `I'm being patient with Jack O'Neill' expression and sighed.
Jack slapped his best friend on the back causing him to take a step forward. "Have a good time digging in the dirt, Daniel."
"I will. You stay out of trouble."
"Said the pot to the kettle."
On cue, the Stargate kawooshed its energy tidal wave at them and Daniel had to go. Jack stood there and watched as Major Guess led his team through the wormhole. He sighed and turned to head to his office and the reports that awaited him.
Daniel had been off world with the other team for three days. SG6 had been quiet, too quiet for Jack’s nerves. He had a bad feeling. O’Neill headed for the General's office to request an update on them. As he tapped on Hammond’s door, the older man was hanging up the phone. "Colonel, good I was just trying to call you."
"You must have been on the way here all ready. SG6 is now officially late for their third check in. I assume you want to lead the Search and Rescue team."
Jack could see from the General's face that he was not happy. Come to think of it...he wasn't either. "Yes, Sir. SG1 can be ready in thirty minutes."
"Good. I'm also sending SG5 with you for back up." That said, Hammond looked at his second in command. "Did you need something else, Colonel?"
"Nope, this was it. ”
"Good, I'll have Major Harper and his team meet you in the gate room in thirty."
Jack nodded. "Good, they're a good team.” He looked up at Hammond as he picked up the phone and dialed his second in command's extension. When she answered, he was terse. “SG6 is missing. I'll hit the armory for our weapons, Carter. You go find Teal'c." She answered him affirmatively and hung up. He looked grimly at the General. "I want to go in ready for anything."
"Careful is my middle name, Sir."
Hammond waved him out of the room. O'Neill turned on his heel and left. George looked after his subordinate and shook his head. "I thought it was trouble."
Twenty eight minutes later, SG1 and SG5, the Marine Recon team were geared up and standing in the gate room looking expectantly at the Stargate. O'Neill was still in the observation room waiting for the telemetry from the MALP that would go first. He looked down on the floor to Carter and Teal'c both of whom nodded to indicate their readiness. The Marine Major Harper waved to signal his team of four was also loaded for bear and ready to go. They were almost as disparate a team as SG1. The Major was a big, strongly built man graying at the temples. His team consisted of Sergeant Robinson an older, burly man almost as big as Teal'c; a tall, slender man Corporal Ferris; and a small, lean Private named Stone.
Everything was in place. The Stargate kawooshed and the MALP began its trundle up the long metal ramp. Jack hated this part, but knew that it was the safest way to proceed into an unknown situation.
A minute passed and finally they started getting pictures. Jack's heart came up into his throat.
As the camera panned around the clearing on the other side of the wormhole, they could see a large number of human bodies lying in the tall, yellow grass. Some of them were wearing SGC uniforms. There was some kind of movement, possibly animals going through the area. Jack looked at General Hammond. His boss nodded his permission. "Go on son, bring them back home."
O'Neill nodded, turned and ran out of the control room, pounding down the metal stairs. "WEAPONS READY! WE'RE GOING IN HOT!"
As he reached the floor, the teams looked at him for information. "There are bodies on the other side. Our people. We go in now!"
Major Harper looked at his team. "Marines, lock and load, move it!" The seven ran through the worm hole together.
As they exited the other side, the smell of death hit them in the face. SG5 had been comprised of the normal four members, and adding in the extra specialists including Daniel, had made it eight. There were five mangled bodies in shredded SGC uniforms. There were several more humanoid carcasses in view wearing abbreviated loincloths and vests. A pack of hyena-like canines were moving through the area feeding at will.
O'Neill looked out in horror over the scene in front of him and began firing his P-90. He laced the ground around the dog like creatures not really caring if he hit any or not. He just wanted them to leave. The Marines had no such qualms and put the twelve or fifteen scavengers out of their misery in a few seconds. Then they headed in to check for survivors and ID the bodies.
Jack went to the first one. Major William Guess was laying face up in the grass, dead eyes staring up at the sky. If he had been alive when the hyenas found them, he hadn't lasted long. Jack closed the dead man's eyes and pulled the dog tags out of the dead man's shirt. He unclipped the short chain with its one tag and slipped it into his pocket. He could see the Marines doing the same for the other bodies. Jack looked around to the others. "Who's missing?"
Harper, Carter and two Marines had checked the other bodes with Teal'c and another young troop watched for unfriendlies.
Carter answered him. "Daniel's not here, Colonel. He and two others are missing."
"Who are the others?"
"Sergeant Jimmy Prendergast," Harper answered him. "And Doctor Sheila Novak."
The Marine private, a small dark man, had gone farther away from the gate visually searching the outlying area. He turned and called to his leader. "Major! There's tracks here."
Teal'c hurriedly loped over to the area and dropped on one knee. "There is evidence of a number of people traveling this way." He looked up at the Private. "You have skill."
The younger man nodded, accepting the praise silently.
O'Neill and Harper had joined them. "Can you follow the track?" The Major asked.
Stone looked up at his leader. "Yep." Teal’c nodded in agreement.
O'Neill pointed with his weapon. "Let’s go."
With Teal'c and the smaller Marine in the lead, they followed the trail into the brush. Teal’c and the other tracker traveled at double time pace and constantly cast side to side for more sign. After about three miles, Teal'c broke off to an area on the side of the trail. There they found Doctor Sheila Novak's body. She had initially been wounded in the leg and had bled profusely until she had obviously not been able to go any farther. Her throat had been cut and she had been abandoned to the scavengers. Stone gently removed her dogtag. Jack closed his eyes willing himself not to see his best friend when he looked at the corpse.
Harper had gone to his Corporal; the tall slender man named Ferris, and put a hand on the man's elbow. He whispered some words to him. Stone took the dogtag to his team mate and gave it to him. The young man turned and took a few steps away from his friends. There had obviously been something between him and the Doctor.
Robinson came over to O’Neill. “Just so you know, Sir. Mike, Corporal Ferris, and Sheila were…well, he just bought her a ring. He was gonna give it to her when they got back from this mission.”
Jack was shocked. He looked over at Harper and Ferris with new understanding. “Just so you know.” Robinson repeated.
“Thank you Sergeant. I’ll keep that in mind.”
The Private who had found the sign earlier had gone back to point again. He indicated the ground with his weapon's barrel. "They went this way. Eight maybe nine and two more being force-marched." He shook his head. "Sheila couldn't walk any more so they left her."
O'Neill looked at Harper. The Major nodded grimly, they were ready to go.
They traveled quickly for several more hours, following the signs. O'Neill finally called a halt at dusk. "We need to rest and eat, then we go on."
The two teams gathered together to rest. Teal'c took a power bar then stood up alert and expectant. He would guard his comrades as they replenished their energy. His symbiote would sustain him for many more miles.
Harper and his grieving man sat a little bit away from the group speaking softly between themselves. O'Neill and Carter sat side by side. The older sergeant and the smaller Marine had remained with them.
The Colonel looked over at the swarthy youngster. "You've got a lot of tracking skill, Private."
"Thank you, Sir."
"Yeah, Stone here is an honest to God Apache Injun. He comes in real handy." Sergeant Robinson nodded at the smaller man with a grin.
"I used to have to hunt on the Reservation to help with food. My Grandfather taught me."
Jack nodded. "One of my survival instructors was Indian, but I don't remember what tribe any more."
"Was he small like me?"
"Probably a Lakota or Cheyenne."
"Stone isn't an Indian name is it?" Carter commented curiously.
"That's not my complete name. My Indian name translates as Bloody Rock." He smiled at her, showing teeth. "I'd trap rabbits as a kid. I didn't have a knife, so I'd kill them with a flint blade. Grandpa named me that. I liked it so I kept it." He shrugged. "The Marines didn't care."
Robinson grinned at him, "Oh, we care. We like it a lot."
O'Neill nodded again. He liked it too.
Harper came over and sat down by O’Neill. The Corporal stayed a little behind, looking out into the brush.
"Is he okay?" O'Neill asked the Marine Major.
"Oh, yeah. Ferris'll do." Harper replied. "Just don't ask him to take any prisoners. He'd put a down payment on an engagement ring last week for Sheila."
Jack nodded "Don't worry. I hadn't planned on it." he looked around. "We ready to go?"
The Major nodded. "We're good and ready."
Picking up their packs and weapons the combined team started double- timing it down the trail again. Even though it was close to dark, Jack had no concerns that they'd lose the trail with Stone and Teal'c leading the way. And as luck was seeming to run in their direction, there were three full moons to help in the search.
Jack didn't want to think about Daniel or the other scientist being held by the savages who had killed five people, or the ones who callously slashed a woman's throat because she couldn't run anymore. He didn't want to look at the grieving Corporal right behind him. He sure didn't want to think about what Ferris was feeling knowing his lover; his future had been torn away from him suddenly and for no apparent reason. He had too much experience in that department.
As the night grew dark, the terrain became rougher, taking his mind off of his friend's possible fate. He had to concentrate on carefully placing his feet on the loose shale rocks so that he didn't fall and injure himself. It would make noise and slow them down. And they couldn't afford go slow.
How many times, how many trails, how many planets had he and Daniel, Sam and Teal'c run through. How many lost hours, spent rounds, and injuries had they experienced. He had a flashback of a similar trip, looking for a Daniel captured and held by a Unas. They'd almost been too late that time.
Then, just at daybreak, as they reached the top of a rocky promontory, Teal'c and Stone halted then dropped, hiding themselves from view. Jack scrambled up the remaining few feet to catch up with them and their field of vision.
He pulled out his small pair of field glasses and looked down into what appeared to be a small camp. There were primitive dwellings gathered in a fairly large circle area. A river ran down below their vantage point. There were already a number of women and children along its bank, apparently butchering out a large animal and doing some washing chores.
Teal'c met his eyes then pointed silently toward an area that seemed to be in a communal center. There, they could see two figures hanging from poles. They were obviously not of the same race at the rest of the people, both being much lighter than the natives. He adjusted his binoculars to the new direction. There was Daniel and a man O'Neill knew vaguely as Pendergast, the Captain assigned to SG6. One of the reasons that the soldier had been chosen for the SGC was his linguistic ability. He had spoken five languages when he'd been accepted. Jack knew also that Novak had been proficient in at least that many if not more.
So, was that the reason they'd been taken because of their language skills or was it only that they had survived the initial firefight? At any rate it was not a positive outcome for the remaining hostages. Daniel and Pendergast had been stripped naked and were both strung up on square racks made of wood. They were being mostly ignored now, but visible evidence suggested that they had been beaten and tortured. Now, they were both hanging limply in their bonds. It was impossible to tell if they were unconscious or only resting.
Jack brought Harper up next to him. The Major nodded when Jack pointed to the prisoners. "We have four choices." Jack whispered to the junior officer. "We go in shooting, we pick off some of them with sniper fire, we walk in peaceable trying to bluff our way to the hostages, or we wait until tonight for a covert rescue."
The Major nodded his comprehension. "If we go in shooting, we risk them being hit." He picked up. "Sniper fire risks are the same but with retaliation to the victims possible; if we go in nice we may not even get to them and tonight may be too late."
"I know how I vote." Corporal Ferris growled.
"Then it's a good thing this isn't a democracy." Jack commented dryly with a warning look.
Harper shook his head at his man. "At ease, Marine."
"Sir, they've already killed six people!”
"At ease!” O’Neill snarled at the younger men. “There are two other people down there to rescue and we're gonna try our damnedest to keep them alive." O'Neill answered, making his decision. "Okay, here's how we play it. Sergeant, you and Teal'c are the two biggest guys, you come with me. The rest of you, you're our snipers, deploy to the highest ground you can find along this ridge with good vision of the camp and the hostages. We three will go in low and slow and try to take a hostage or two. Then we'll try and find a peaceful way to extract our people. If it doesn't work out, you'll know when to take action."
"Sir, you don't speak their language." Carter interjected, "How will you communicate?"
"Warriors do not have to say words to communicate, Majorcarter." Teal'c answered her. "We will make them understand."
O'Neill looked to Harper and Carter. "Nothing precipitous, but keep an eye on me." The two Majors nodded.
Slipping off their packs, O’Neill and his two men got to their feet and slowly made their way covertly down the hillside to the valley's floor. As they made their way through the trees, O'Neill could hear the sound of women's voices from the river bank. He signaled to both Teal'c and Robinson to circle around in opposite directions while he took the most direct route towards the center of the village.
As he approached the river, Jack could see an older woman squatting on the bank of the river with her back toward him. She was involved in washing cooking pots and did not hear him coming up behind her.
O'Neill pulled his combat knife out of its sheath and slipped up to her back. She must have finally heard something and she turned quickly to come face to face with what must have appeared to be certain death. He reached out and grasped her wrist, pulling her forward and twisting it to force her around with her back to him. Jack stepped up close behind her and showed her the dark blued blade of his knife holding it where she could easily see it. He then put it to her throat with only the tip in contact with her carotid artery. He leaned down and whispered. "You get it, lady. You do what I say and we'll both live to see tonight. Okay?"
The woman obviously got his gist, as she nodded carefully, avoiding the sharp point.
"Good, all we want is our people back." He pointed towards the village with his blade then brought it back to its resting place at her neck. She nodded and stepped off into the water, Jack still holding her close against him.
As he and his hostage cleared the trees, O'Neill caught glimpses of his two men. Robinson was carrying a small boy against his chest in one hand and his knife in his other. The boy looked petrified and was staying very still. Teal'c had grabbed an adolescent girl and had her at arms length with a firm hold on her leather shirt. He carried his staff horizontally by his side. The three of them joined together at the beginning of the huts' circle. Jack looked at his two men and strode boldly into the village, holding their captives firmly and each one wearing their battle faces.
An adolescent boy carrying a bundle of firewood was the first to see them. He stared for a second, dropped his burden and ran for the center of the village, shouting loudly in his own language. Jack's prisoner raised her head and said something out loud to him. He didn't understand her words, he hoped they were positive . . . as in she was positive that things would work out for the best.
A crowd of villagers began to gather along the edge of the path they were following. Their expressions ran from fear for their people to anger at their breaching of the village's security. The trio kept pushing into the small town through the primitive huts and work areas out sides along the path until they reached the barren inner circle of the town's gathering place.
As they arrived at their destination, Jack looked with dismay at the two prisoners. Both men had been stripped and obviously beaten. They were bound to narrow wooden tree like frames in a parody of crucifixion, their arms outstretched and legs lashed together. They were slumping in their bonds with no support making their breathing difficult, but they were at least still breathing.
As they stood there, Jack thought he could see movement from Daniel. His teammate’s heads was bent; chin resting on his chest, the light hair dirty and with a black stain of blood. He pushed his captive forward to stand several feet in front of the framework. He called out in a loud voice. "Daniel, can you hear me?"
The suffering man reacted to the voice of his commander. Daniel's head came up to look toward the source. "Jack?" His voice was cracked, no doubt from lack of water.
"Danny, it's me. Can you understand me?"
"Jack. Yah, kay." Daniel sounded confused.
"Daniel, what happened?"
"Don know. Don unnersand . . .” He shook his head, as if trying to clear it.
The woman whose arm Jack held looked from one man to the other. She said something in her language, and then tugged to get loose. O'Neill twisted her arm, stilling her movements. She grunted in pain. "Danny, we're here to get you out . . . just hang on okay. We'll have you down in a minute."
O'Neill stepped back, pushing the woman forward without loosening his grip on her. He called out in his command voice. "HEY! WHERE'S THE HEAD GUY AROUND HERE? I WANT TO TALK TO SOMEONE IN CHARGE!"
At his loud voice, the murmuring of the crowd stopped. Silence reigned in the small area. "COME ON OUT, I KNOW YOU'RE HERE SOMEWHERE, OR ONE OF YOUR PEOPLE HERE GETS IT!"
Finally, he lifted his blade up to the woman's throat again, pushing the point painfully into her skin. "Tell your boss to come out here, or I'll start with you. Get it?" He put enough pressure on the tender area to draw blood. "Call him! NOW!"
The woman jerked in his arms as he pushed the point into the skin. Then, she stood still in his grasp, head up facing the two tortured men. Finally, she called out in her own language. After a little wait, Jack insisted using the knife a second time. The woman tugged away from him again and he jabbed the knife into her vulnerable flesh eliciting a gasp of pain this time. He felt the warm blood trickle down the knife blade onto his hand.
"O'Neill." Teal'c spoke quietly, "To your left."
The crowd parted from in front of a comparatively large hut. A tall, important looking man came out of his hut. Two others, apparently warriors closely followed him. The three were almost at tall as O'Neill, the chief only an inch shy of the Colonel's six foot two. They were wearing leather clouts, body paint and their long hair rolled into long dread locks and beads. From a distance they had resembled American Indians but up close they looked more like Watusi or some other African tribe.
Jack turned bodily to face his adversary. Their eyes met over the distance between them, and then O'Neill spoke in a clear voice. "I want my people down off these things now." He pointed with his knife toward Daniel and Pendergast.
The chief said something to the woman. She answered, shaking her head.
Jack put his blade back to her throat. "Old woman, you'd better be real careful what you say to your boss."
She glared at him.
Jack pulled her up tighter against him, then shouted. "CARTER!"
Her voice echoed down from the hillside. "SIR!"
Moments later a bullet plowed into the center post at the roof of the chief's house. The natives all jumped, immediately starting uproar of discussion.
"SHOOT SOMETHING ELSE! CLOSER IN!"
"YES, SIR!" The lintel of the chief's hut exploded in splinters directly behind the three leaders.
"TURN THE GIRL LOOSE AND AIM YOUR STAFF WEAPON AT HER!"
The Jaffa pushed the teenager forward onto the ground. From the crowd, a woman's voice screamed.
"Jack! No! Don hurt anone!" It was Daniel, still lashed to the rack. "Jack!"
"Shut up, Daniel" Jack ground at him. "I'm trying to rescue you!" He looked at the big warrior. "Can you . . . ?"
Teal'c swung the staff around to a carved totem type pole standing next to the hut. When he fired his weapon, it exploded into flames.
One of the lesser chiefs put himself between his leader and the three alien warriors. The third man stepped away from his fellows and headed toward the two captives. The girl got up onto her feet and ran into the crowd. That gave them one less hostage. "Tell them he'd better be cutting them loose or that's the end of our talk." He said to the woman.
The woman spoke to the head man again. The tall native said something to the lesser leader who headed toward the captives. The man continued on to where Daniel was hanging. He glanced back at his leader, who looked at the three strangers and their remaining two hostages.
Robinson had put the boy down and was holding him by his hair. He had his knife firmly against the youngster's throat. The man headed for Daniel paused to look back at his leader. Robinson twisted his hand in the boy's hair, causing him to cry out from the pain. The chief nodded to his warrior.
When O'Neill saw that the man was going to cut Daniel down, he nodded toward Teal'c. "Can you carry Daniel if he needs it?"
"Of course, O'Neill." The big man went to his team mate's side. The native pulled a knife and looked at the Jaffa warrior nervously. Teal'c returned his glance and nodded. Under the Jaffa's watchful eye, the man sliced the binding from Daniel's legs. Then, he reached to cut the rope that bound the younger man's outstretched arms to the framework. He slipped the blade under the rope but because of his awkward positioning, the sharp edge accidentally cut the already abraded forearm. Teal'c growled at the man who pulled back quickly from the threatening Jaffa. He motioned for the man to continue but stepped closer. Finally, the native managed to loose the rope from both of Daniel's arms. Jackson collapsed onto Teal'c, who wrapped an arm around his friend, easily supporting his weight.
"Robinson, can you get Pendergast?" O'Neill asked the Marine.
"I'll have to let the kid go, Colonel." The Sergeant warned him.
"It's okay; I'm keeping the woman with us until we get to the Stargate."
O'Neill indicated the other hostage with his knife blade. The warrior looked toward his chief. "Hey," Jack said harshly, drawing the man's attention back to him. "I'm the one in charge here. Get him down. Now!"
The warrior went over to Pendergast and began to cut him down. Robinson jerked his juvenile hostage's hair again and dragged him over to where the injured man was hanging suspended. He very carefully moved his survival knife to the other man's bloody torso and scraped some blood off an uninjured area of the soldier. Robinson then took the blade with the coagulated blood on it and wiped it on the boy's belly, leaving a dark red mark across the unblemished skin. The child began to cry. Robinson then released his hair and pushed him toward the crowd. As he ran toward his people a woman stepped out to grab him and pull him into the safety of her arms.
The Sergeant then turned to help the injured man down from the frame.
Suddenly a man broke from the edge of the crowd and charged toward O'Neill and the woman. When he was no more than five feet away from his intended target, another shot rang out from the hillside. The attacker fell at the Colonel's feet, writhing on the ground from a wounded leg. The woman jerked in O'Neill's arms. He twisted her arm hard. "Stop it!" He commanded, wishing he could communicate with her.
By this time Robinson had hold of Pendergast who was in a semiconscious state and unresponsive to the Marine Sergeant's concerned voice.
Teal'c was pulling Daniel along with the younger man's arms across his shoulder. They came close to O'Neill's position. "Jck, don kill anyone, plez."
"I'm trying not to, but they may not leave us much choice. Can you talk to them?"
Daniel raised his head and took a deep breath, "Sorda."
"Tell them to let us leave and we'll go peaceably. No more stupid stunts from heroes." Jack watched Daniel's face as his thought processes started to kick in.
"Kay." The linguist took another deep breath, coughed and started to talk loudly. He started into another round of coughing.
"Danny, I've got a hostage here. Tell her to tell the chief."
He looked at Jack and then saw the woman he held a prisoner in his arms. He started to talk in a soft voice to her. She looked at him in surprise, and then began to repeat his words to the headman. After what must have been a preamble, Daniel looked at Jack. "What do you want me to say?"
"Tell him, all we want are you two. We're leaving. The woman will go to the Stargate with us for insurance. If anything happens she'll die and a whole lot more of his people will die too. Let us go and no one else dies."
Daniel repeated what Jack said to the woman. She, in turn, passed the word onto the headman. The man stared at him in surprise, then spoke back
"What's he saying Danny?"
"He wants to know why he should believe you."
"For crying out loud, because if he doesn't, I'm gonna turn my team loose on his village. He does NOT want that to happen. Ferris wants blood for Novak, and the rest of us are pissed off. If we don't get out of here soon, I won't be in such a good mood."
Unannounced another bullet spanged off the post of the hut behind the chief. Jack pressed the woman. "Tell him again."
She nodded and repeated her words without further prompting from the injured Daniel. The chief looked at Jack then waved his hand. They were leaving now.
Robinson took Jack at his word and bent to sling the semiconscious Pendergast over his shoulder in a fireman's carry. Teal'c shifted his hand down to Daniel's hip and practically picked the smaller man up vertically. Jack knew that they couldn't travel far that way but the fireman's would be rougher on Daniel physically. They could adjust when they rejoined their group.
As they turned to leave the village, Jack heard the sound of footsteps behind them, a cry of voices and then a lone rifle shot echoed down from the hillside. He spun around to see a warrior lying on the ground dead with a hole in his chest. He had obviously been attempting to attack them. The rest of the village was still grouped together, fearfully watching their exit. No one else attempted to follow, at least not within view.
The trip to the Stargate was nerve racking. Stone had taken point, Carter and Ferris their flanks with Harper on their six. There was no time to see to their wounded. Jack wanted more than anything to stop and check on the two injured men but he had his hands full with his captive and they needed to finish their trip as fast as possible. Teal'c continued to support his comrade until the younger man collapsed completely from his wounds. Then he merely handed his staff weapon off to Carter and carried him like a child in his arms. Robinson continued to carry Pendergast. Ferris recovered his fiancée’s body along the way and was bringing her in hard faced. Jack had no real knowledge of who had fired the killing shot at their attempted attacker, but he knew instinctively who it had been. Jack hoped Ferris felt better for it.
Upon arriving back at the Gate, all the bodies were gone. O'Neill knew that Hammond had sent a team through to bring them home. Carter hit the DHD and as the wormhole settled into its normal configuration, O'Neill released the woman. She ran a few steps from him then turned to watch them leave.
O'Neill sent his team on through the Gate, the last to leave as was his habit. As he mounted the pedestal, he saw a group of warriors arrive to collect her. She stood her ground at his look, watching him to the last.
As Jack reemerged into the sounds and sights of the SGC, he caught a glimpse of the two gurneys bearing Daniel and Pendergast to the infirmary. The third table, bearing the body of Sheila Novak, was headed in the opposite direction to the morgue at a much more subdued pace. O'Neill could only sigh his empathy for the bereaved man. Ferris didn't need a relative stranger's words for his grief. It would take the support of his team mates. Harper was already leading his man out, away from prying eyes, with Robinson and Stone in close proximity. He would offer his condolences at a later time.
He looked up to see General Hammond watching their arrival. He waved for Jack to come up to the observation deck on the second floor.
As O'Neill arrived, Hammond led him back through the briefing room and into his private office. He indicated the chair. Jack sat down. "What happened?"
"To the first team? I don't know. Daniel wasn't really communicative when we pulled him down off the crucifix."
Hammond only frowned and shook his head. "How about your mission?"
"We extracted the two survivors with a minimum of force. Only one native was killed, one was wounded and several were intimidated." He shrugged. "I wasn't leaving any of our people there. It was the quickest and safest way."
"I knew that when I sent you in, and I'm pleased that you managed it in a relatively bloodless fashion."
"Relatively." Jack agreed emotionlessly.
"How are the survivors?"
"Daniel said a few words before he finally collapsed, Pendergast didn't regain consciousness." He shrugged. "Now it's up to the Medical Staff."
"I'll let you go yourself, Jack. Thanks. You did a good job, son." Hammond nodded.
"Sir, Corporal Ferris needs counseling. He and Doctor Novak were engaged."
The General sighed. "Thanks for that information. I'll follow up on it."
Several hours later found him cleared, cleaned up and sitting at Daniel's bedside. The younger man had been in and out of consciousness since their return and he was now sleeping peacefully with the help of Doctor Fraiser's medical magic.
Pendergast was across the aisle. Doctor Balinsky of SG13 was with him. The two archaeology/anthropology teams had been tight. It made sense for one of them to be there for their coworker. It was going to be hard on the man being the only survivor of his own group. He knew. He'd been there himself.
Daniel shrugged and murmured in his sleep. Jack leaned forward and spoke to him. "Daniel? Danny, you awake?"
The blue eyes opened, but the frown lines between them remained. His lips formed Jack's name but without sound.
"Hey, you with me here?"
The eyes blinked.
"Let me go get the Doc, okay? Then we'll see about some ice or something."
They blinked again. Jack smiled and got up but was stopped by the grip on his hand. He didn't dislodge the grip, just reached for the call button clipped onto the sheet.
Within moments, a nurse came to check on them. She immediately went to get Janet Fraiser.
The petite physician came in with a smile on her face. "Well, hello, sleeping beauty." She greeted her patient. "Are you ready to wake up now?"
"J'net?" He struggled to talk for the first time.
"Yes, Daniel, you're back in the clinic with your faithful Air Force companion beside you. How do you feel?"
"Okay, we'll try some ice chips for now." She smiled sweetly at him as she laid her hand on his forehead and then reached for the wrist of his free hand to feel for his pulse rate. "I'll have some sent in for you." She pulled her flashlight out and checked for pupil dilation. She then went to the bottom of the bed and flicked the bare soles of his feet for sensation. He jerked slightly as her nails tickled him.
She smiled with approval of his reactions. "Very good, Doctor Jackson. I'd say you did it again." She reached over and picked up the clipboard, writing his results down. "But I really wish you'd quit. You keep upsetting the nurses."
O'Neill looked at her quizzically. "How can he be upsetting the nurses? He's only been here one day and he's been asleep most of that."
"They start to argue over who gets to give him the sponge bath and who gets to shave him. I myself don't understand it, but . . . well, girls will be girls." She glanced at her watch. "I'll check back with you in a little bit and have them bring you some ice for now."
Jack looked down at the pale bruised face of his friend. "I'll see if I can spring you tonight."
Daniel looked up at him, "Shower."
"I doubt it."
The patient looked around the almost empty wardroom. "Where’s everybody else?"
Jack had been dreading this part. "Danny, there was no one else, only you and Pendergast survived."
The younger man looked at him stunned. "Everbody?"
He leaned down closer. "Yeah, everybody."
"Sorry, Danny. We found her on the trail."
He closed his eyes, moisture seeping from under the lashes. "So young."
Jack squeezed his friend’s hand that he held. He understood.
"Wanna go ome." Daniel never sounded so much like a child who wanted to be held. Death always held a special sorrow for him. Another person gone, someone else he cared about never to return. Jack knew that feeling well too. It was part of the friendship that they shared.
"Not tonight, my friend," he murmured softly, "You have a headache."
Daniel shifted slightly sideways, inclining toward Jack. "Wanna go ome." He insisted.
"I'll ask, but no promises. Doc Fraiser probably won't let you go, but I'll ask next time I see her."
Jack went around the corner to Fraiser’s office and tapped on her open door.
“Colonel, can I help you?”
“Doc, Daniel wants to get out of here.”
“Daniel needs to rest, recover and eat good food. What can he do at your place better than here?”
Jack came in and leaned over her desk, she raised her head to meet his gaze. “There’s the part about good food, and the part about resting. You know you can’t rest in here, nurses poking and prodding and taking blood all the time. And as for the food, frankly Doc, you’re a terrible cook.”
She sighed put down her pen and shook her head. “Colonel,”
“Tonight he stays, tomorrow he can go.”
“No. Now go.”
He turned around to see General Hammond standing in the doorway. “Doctor Fraiser, don’t you have need of the hospital beds in case we have any other problems?”
“Beds are always at a premium down here, you know that sir.”
“Colonel O’Neill, do you think that Doctor Jackson could stay the weekend with you to free up some beds for Doctor Fraiser?
She looked back and forth between the two men and finally nodded.
"Uh," Jack O'Neill appeared speechless for the first time that George Hammond could remember.
"So Doctor, Colonel you'll have to excuse me. I'm a very busy man."
"Uh, yes, Sir. No, thank you, Sir." Hammond turned around and started to leave the office.
"Just be back Monday with Doctor Jackson so he can file his report on what had gone so obviously wrong so it doesn’t ever happen again."
Jack escorted him to the clinic's exit. "Yeah, uh, yes Sir. Uh . . . I do appreciate your running interference with the Doc, but why?"
The General turned around. “Colonel, remember I too have spent time in military hospitals and I too like and respect Doctor Jackson. I know he will rest better, eat better and probably talk to you about what happened better at your home than being kept in here.”
Jack looked at the older man and saw the small smile on the older man’s face.
“Take good care of our boy, Jack. We need him.”
“We sure do, General.”
"Don't let the door hit you in the ass, Jack."
"Ah, yes Sir. Thank you, Sir." As the General left, George heard him mumble. "No wonder my hair is grey."
As the door shut behind him, George shook his head and mumbled. "No wonder I don't have any."
|Genres:||Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Friendship, Smarm, Team|
|Warnings:||Adult Themes, Language|
|Summary:||Daniel goes off with another team and of course things always happen. Remember Doctor Jackson, no good deed goes unpunished.|
Thanks to my Alpha/Betas Sallye,Amy and Deb. This is actually a Gen Version of Notes. So if it seems familiar, it is.