The Night Sun Part 7
By: Stacy L.
Jack O'Neill anxiously checked the time. Teal'c had been gone almost an hour. The Jaffa had appeared in Anubis' throne room and had freed both Jack and Daniel leading them to this building. He had left them over an hour ago to help Sam and Za'tar. What was going on? Jack hoped that Teal'c had not been discovered and, likewise, captured by Anubis or Osiris. If Teal'c were captured then he’d have to get Sam and Teal'c both out. Damn it! He heard coughing suddenly erupting from behind him and ran over to his friend. There were jackal guards in the area and he didn't want to be discovered, so he immediately placed his hand securely over Daniel's mouth in order to silence his coughs. Daniel must've felt the touch because he jumped violently awake, jerking upwards and screaming into Jack's hand now clamped tightly over his mouth.
Daniel grabbed for the hand trying to yank it off of his mouth and struggled as he felt himself being pulled backwards against someone. The person's right arm snaked around him successfully pinning his arms to his body. Daniel tried to fight but was too weak. He mentally cursed his weakened state and his broken ribs as they constricted painfully as he labored to breathe while coughing and nearly panicking. He thought he was going to hyperventilate and felt both arms now holding him tense further. He mentally ordered himself to calm down before he lost all breath. Panicking was making him wheeze and breathe even harder, which was driving his lungs to expand and constrict more rapidly pushing against his badly damaged rib cage so hard that he feared his ribs were digging into his lungs and would break further. As Daniel focused on calming himself, while still in the violent throes of coughs, he faintly realized that someone was speaking to him in hushed gentle tones. The voice sounded strained and worried; he knew that voice. He made himself mentally focus on that voice hoping that, in doing so, he could regain control of his rapid shaky breathing and his surmounting panic. He concentrated hard on that voice, recognizing it, and tried to ignore the severe anguish presently tearing throughout his body and mind. The pain in his head was so extreme he thought for sure he'd pass out again shortly. He also could feel his resistance faltering extremely rapidly. He could still feel someone's right arm gripped around his body, pinning his arms to his sides and a hand clamped over his mouth tightly. He felt his panic threatening to come back again but heard the voice speaking his name in a hushed whisper. He listened, "Daniel...Daniel, please listen to me. It's Jack, Daniel. It's Jack. I can't remove my hands yet. I’m so sorry. Your coughs will only draw the guards back this way. I can't remove my hand, not yet. Please understand Daniel...Daniel..."
Jack released a deep breath and a heavy sigh as he realized that Daniel stilled in his arms, no longer fighting, no longer having the energy to fight him. He had only meant to keep Daniel silent, to keep his coughs silent. Anubis' guards had been in the vicinity when Daniel had started coughing. He didn't think. He only reacted and ended up panicking his friend instead. He had realized his mistake as soon as Daniel started fighting and resisting him. He did the only thing he could think of and pulled his friend against him holding him firmly, desperate to keep him quiet so as not to reveal their present location. The guards were so close that any noise would draw them, including Daniel's violent coughs. He had done the only thing he could think of to silence his friend so they wouldn't be found. He never expected his friend to react so quickly and struggle so much to get free. Even for his present condition Daniel was a strong fighter. Damn, he never would've expected Daniel to be able to fight so much being as weak as he is. Daniel's violent struggles both surprised him and scared the hell out of him. He had immediately thought of the broken ribs and all the other injuries he couldn't see on his friend's body and how the struggling could do more damage then good. He immediately began talking to Daniel in a low whisper so the sound of his voice wouldn't draw those guards. He knew he had to calm Daniel down. He was a little surprised when Daniel had stilled in his arms. He found himself wondering if it was because he heard Jack or because he simply didn't have the strength to continue the battle. Either way Jack was extremely glad he stilled and continued talking to Daniel to reach him and calm him.
Daniel recognized the voice. It was Jack. Thank God! He had panicked when he was grabbed. He had been off guard and brought rapidly awake by the sudden pressure against his mouth. It had scared him to death because he had no idea what was going on. He had awaken immediately after that hand covered his mouth and couldn't think as the brutal coughs stole his breath. He had at first thought the hand was suffocating him because he sure as hell couldn't breathe. He had to force himself to relax and felt the strength go out of himself. When he stilled he heard the voice of his friend. A voice he recognized and the voice served as a balm to his already frayed nerves. He then realized the reason he struggled to breathe was not because of the hand over his mouth. It was because of the coughs shaking his body, gripping it and causing more damage then good. To make matters worse, the coughs not only stole his breath but ignited the stabbing agony in his rib cage. The pain was so severe in his chest that he nearly passed out. Then to add to the rib cage, his head was still throbbing and pounding extremely hard. He could hear his heart beating, pulsating in his ears, which only increased the constant pressure he already had in his head. That damned shock device's aftereffects were almost as bad as the electrical shock the damned thing discharged. Some how he had heard and recognized Jack's voice. Jack was telling him to relax, that he had no choice he had to keep Daniel quiet because there were guards in the immediate vicinity. He was telling him over and over to relax and calling his name in a whisper telling Daniel he was the one holding him and urging him to relax. As soon as he realized who now held him he did start to relax. He felt his coughs subside and stop. Thank God. Those coughing fits were horrible. He heard Jack asking if he was all right so he shook his head yes. Jack again asked him almost as if to assure himself that Daniel was fine. Daniel shook his head yes again groaning as pain reverberated throughout his mind at the simple movement. He clenched his eyes tightly shut praying that pressure in his head would soon ease, but he knew from past exposures to that damned shock device that the pain would stay with him for several more days. Damn it! He felt Jack's grip across his body ease up and Jack slowly moved his hand as if he was afraid that Daniel would either cough violently again or scream. Daniel managed to choke out, "I'm okay Jack..."
He swore he heard Jack sighing out loud in relief as he spoke those words. Jack released him then turned Daniel to face him. He said, "I'm sorry Daniel. I'm so sorry. I never wanted..."
Jack had half expected Daniel to scream when he had started to release him, so he had asked his question a second time making sure that Daniel had shaken his head yes. When he was sure he slowly eased up on him still fearing that Daniel might scream when Daniel said that he was okay. Thank God for that! When Daniel had struggled earlier Jack's fear had increased. He was afraid for Daniel, afraid the man wouldn't regain control of his breathing… He was afraid Daniel's struggles would cause more harm to himself. When Daniel had ceased his struggles Jack had thought his prayers had been answered and, at that particular moment, he hadn't cared if it was weakness or Daniel recognizing who held him that caused Daniel to end his struggles. He was just glad Daniel had stopped. He looked at his friend now and could see the fever in him, the exhausted ness and the pain. His friend's eyes had been constantly overlaid with pain ever since he had found Daniel and had been locked in the cell with him. Jack couldn't even begin to imagine what all Osiris, or his First Prime, did to his friend to cause that pain to be a constant in Daniel's striking blue eyes. Jack knew Daniel was in extreme pain right now. Jotham, the supposed Tok'ra spy, had told him what Daniel had been exposed to earlier in the day and the aftereffects of that exposure. Jotham had said that the aftereffects were a combination of making a person extremely weak and leaving them with a severe migraine. Jack had a feeling that Daniel still had that severe migraine and from what Jotham had said he would have it for several days. He glanced up when he saw Daniel falter and immediately reached out to steady him. Daniel muttered, "Jack...I'm going to pass out again..."
Jack no sooner got Daniel's name past his lips when his friend's eyes rolled back in his head until Jack could only see the white's of his eyes then his eyelids slipped shut and his body crumpled. Jack's reflexes were quick as he managed to catch Daniel before he fell to the floor. Damn it! Daniel was so weak and in so much pain! What little strength he had the fever stole, greedily sucking at the reserves of strength Daniel would need to continue on. He had no choice he had to get Daniel off of this planet and soon. He would have to go on ahead without Teal'c and Sam. He had to get Daniel to the rings. If he didn't Daniel might not make it. He had a radio when he had first found Daniel but Kelsham confiscated it leaving Jack with no way to contact Jacob. Should he chance getting Daniel to the Stargate? No. It was too risky. Jacob told them beforehand just how heavily guarded Anubis kept it. He shifted Daniel in his arms noticing how light Daniel felt. He had lost some weight, weight that he needed. Jack found that due to the weight loss he could handle the heavy burden of his friend. Lifting Daniel now while he was unconscious would be like lifting dead weight, but Jack really didn't have much of a choice. He would have to find cover that would conceal him and Daniel from the guards while out in that forest. He had to move soon. If he stayed here much longer this close to Sekhem their chances of being recaptured would increase by the minutes. He had to get Daniel out of there. If they were recaptured Kelsham would depart on the morrow with Daniel as his captive and take Daniel some where no one would ever be able to find him again. They had to move. Jack eased Daniel into his arms. He would be able to carry his friend a bit since he had lost some weight, but the longer he held Daniel the quicker he weakened and the heavier Daniel would become. He had to get going. He couldn't wait on Teal'c much longer. He would get Daniel to Jacob who would get him help then go back for the rest of his team. He had no other choice if Daniel was going to make it off of this planet and away from Osiris.
His mind made up, Jack shifted Daniel in his arms placing his left arm under Daniel's bent knees and using his right arm to brace Daniel's shoulders. Daniel's head rolled gently towards Jack and rested against Jack's chest. Good, he'd rather have Daniel's head resting against him then flopping around. He eased to the doorway looking out, seeing there was no one within the vicinity. It was now or never. Jack slowly made his way towards the jungle concealing himself the best he could while carrying his unconscious friend. He sighed in relief when he entered the woods. He had looked at the sky earlier to determine which direction to head. He wished he had his compass, but for now he'd have to use the sky to guide him and the little "trail markers" him and Sam had used to mark their path. Inconspicuous trail markers...a broken branch here or there a pile of rocks, small marks on a few trees...all were obvious indications of a "trail" if you knew what to look for.
Jack noticed that the longer he held Daniel the heavier he became. Jack knew that would happen but pushed on. After an hour of hiking he had to stop. His arms were screaming in protest of his heavy burden. He scanned the woods for guards and for possible hiding spots. When he found a natural spot that seemed to be full of thick brush that could serve as good camouflage he carried Daniel over there, careful not to disturb any of the cover. He was glad that Daniel still wore his camouflage pants and that Jotham had returned Daniel's flack jacket. Both would serve to help better camouflage him. Jack gently placed his unconscious friend on the ground then pulled old branches, some still covered with crinkled leaves, over to Daniel placing them around him to conceal him better. He kneeled beside Daniel then said, "Daniel, I'm going to make a sweep of the area, okay? You just stay here and try to stay quiet."
Jack knew that Daniel couldn't really hear him, but he felt a lot better telling Daniel where he was going anyway. After he glanced at his friend once again and double-checked the natural camouflage he left Daniel to make a quick sweep of the area.
While Jack scoped the area he suddenly heard twigs snap. It had been quiet until that moment. The snapping of the twigs echoed throughout the jungle terrain of Ta-hetchet announcing someone's presence. He felt the hair at the back of his neck raise and stand on end. Someone was here. He was no longer alone and Daniel was left unguarded and unprotected, not to mention unconscious. Shit! If he was captured...Jack tried not to think of the ifs in this situation. Instead he chose to slowly scan the trees. They were out there...somewhere he just didn't know where and just couldn't see them. 'Where are you you son of a bitch?' Jack muttered to himself. He knew that he was not alone his whole body was on alert screaming a warning at him. He listened to those warnings. They saved his life, and the lives of his teammates, on more than one occasion. He had learned a long time ago to listen to those warnings when they went off inside himself. His instincts never failed him and they were screaming at him that he was no longer alone. There was someone, or several people, out there in those woods somewhere. Jack just couldn't see them. What the hell were they waiting for? Jack to roll out the goddamned red carpet or something? Oh he would give them a welcome one they would never forget. There was no way in hell he was about to give Daniel back over to Osiris. No way in hell! He wanted to yell, to scream, to tell them just to show themselves but he remained stubbornly silent his mind working on overtime thinking up a million possible ways to escape, a million ways this could end. His mind quickly calculated his chances and the possibilities and options he still had available to him. Thank you God for all of that military training... Okay options...basic options were fight, flee or freeze...well, freezing was definitely not an option...unless he wanted to end up at the firing end of Jaffa staff weapon. No thank you! Been there, done that, don't care to repeat that! Okay option two...stay and fight... Well, definitely better than freezing, but he was just one man. One man against an entire army was not very good odds. He had no idea how many enemies were out there only that he was not alone. He had only himself and not a whole hell of a lot of weaponry...not to mention, an unconscious friend in these woods who, as long as he was totally unconscious, would not be able to defend himself. Okay so option two wouldn't work, that left option three: fleeing. Okay fleeing was good, he could do fleeing...or rather retreating as quietly and as quickly as he possibly could then disappearing. Damn, he hated these kinds of situations! Fleeing was his choice. Now his next question...had he been spotted? Surely if they had seen him they would've fired on him already...unless they wanted Daniel. Then they might be waiting to follow him expecting him to lead them to Osiris' prized prisoner. No way in hell would Osiris get his, or was it her, grubby hands on Daniel again! No way in hell! Okay, so making his way back to Daniel was not an option. He had to lead them away from his young friend and do his damnedest to avoid being caught himself. His mind made up, Jack beat a hasty retreat slipping out of the immediate area as quickly and as quietly as he possibly could. He headed the opposite direction, away from Daniel. If they were following him to locate Daniel then they were in for a big surprise. He’d never lead them to his unconscious friend. Never! He'd rather die then reveal Daniel's locale. Osiris and Kelsham would never get their hands on Daniel again. No way in hell!
As Jack continued on he started weaving deliberately not walking a straight path meandering between trees and foliage. When he got behind a huge tree he took off at a dead run fleeing as fast as he possibly could, running until he could go no further. He collapsed later leaning against a huge rock for support. He listened as he caught his breath. He didn't hear anything. He sat there waiting for his heart rate to slow down and to catch his breath listening to everything, listening for any sounds. He heard nothing. Had he lost them? He hoped so. When he finally calmed himself he got up again, still listening for sounds. He had to start making his way back to Daniel but he couldn't use the trail he had just created in his fleeing frenzy. He looked up at the sky wishing he had a damned compass again. He found the setting sun and headed back towards it. Daniel was in that direction.
What seemed like hours later Jack finally found his natural marker that indicated where Daniel was concealed. It was about damned time! He had started worrying that he had lost Daniel in these woods forever but his gut instinct had told him he was heading the right way and he always listened to his gut instincts. As he passed one of his natural markers he jumped as a figure stepped into his path. Jack pulled out the zat gun Teal'c had handed him at the small building earlier. He raised it his hand gripped on the trigger ready to fire when he saw who it was. He held up his hand then said, "God Teal'c, thought I told you not to do that ever again!"
"O'Neill, I am pleased to have finally found you."
Another figure stepped out from behind the tree. She was smiling, "Sir..."
Then Za'tar approached. Jack then asked, "What the hell took you so damned long?"
"It is a long story, O'Neill."
"A very long story, sir."
"Well, I'd love to hear it."
"O'Neill, where is Daniel Jackson?"
"He lost consciousness earlier, so I hid him then surveyed the area."
"So Daniel’s with you, sir?"
"Well, not with me...I have him hidden."
They followed Jack wondering as five minutes later they still had not come across their friend. Sam became worried which contributed to her next question, "Sir, are you sure we are going the right way? Shouldn't we...?"
As she went to finish her statement Jack separated from the group hurrying over to what appeared to be nothing more than shrubs and undergrowth. Sam fell silent looking at Jack in concern. Jack was moving branches then she heard him say in a gentle tone of voice, "Hey buddy, how are you? Miss me?"
He felt for Daniel's pulse sighing in relief when he found it. Daniel coughed then awoke choking out, "Jack? That you?"
"Yeah Danny, it's me."
"Come on. Let's get you off of this cold ground."
Daniel nodded and was very grateful when Jack helped him to sit up. As soon as he was upright he lapsed into violent coughing. He could feel his throat constricting in protest, and his ribs sent waves of pain flooding his system. He started gasping and wheezing as drawing breath was more of a struggle. Jack spoke softly to him encouraging him to breathe slowly and relax. As his coughing subsided and he tried to calm his breathing he became aware that he was leaning on Jack again. Jack was holding him gently in his arms and rocking him gently telling him to relax and focus on breathing. He had his eyes closed then said, "Thanks Jack..."
"You all right now?"
Daniel still kept his eyes shut and tried to speak again but his voice was failing. He slipped his tongue out to wet his lips wincing mentally as his tongue found the split on his bottom lip. Then Daniel swallowed hard saying, "Jack...got to stop doing this..."
"Doing what Danny?"
"Shouldn't be leaning...on you all time..."
"Ah Daniel, what did I say about that before? What are friends for?"
Daniel smiled weakly then said, "I remember..."
"Thirsty...wa...do we have...water?"
Jack glanced up at Teal'c and Sam who were now surrounding him and Daniel. Both were extremely happy to see Daniel again but also worried for him. Jack swore he could see glistening, faint glistening, at the corners of Sam's eyes... She quickly lowered her gaze now fumbling in her jacket. She pulled out a bottle of water. She screwed the lid off of the container and handed it to Jack. Jack looked at her in question. She answered, "It was provided by Jotham and Nivan..."
"And you accepted it? Why?"
Daniel muttered, "Sam is that...?"
"Yes Daniel, it's me."
Daniel opened his eyes seeing Sam's smiling face before him. He returned her smile then said, "Good to see you..."
"Did anyone ever teach you the meaning of duck?"
Daniel started laughing at her smiling, joking face. Then he muttered, "Don't...don't make laugh...hurts...it hurts when I laugh..."
"Oh, I'm so sorry."
"Don't be...needed it..."
"Daniel, it's good to have you back."
"Good to be...back..."
Jack watched the interchange between Sam and Daniel then eyed up the water. Jotham gave it to her...should he trust it was safe? Well, Daniel sorely needed water. He was still badly dehydrated so Jack sent a silent prayer up to the heavens that the water was indeed safe. He spoke, "Danny...Daniel?"
Daniel glanced up at him. Jack continued, "We have water...would you like some?"
Daniel nodded so Jack pressed the bottle gently to Daniel's lips and tipped it until the water flowed into his mouth. He pulled the bottle away shortly after that allowing Daniel time to swallow what he just drank. Jack helped him drink as much of the life-saving water as he could. Sam interrupted, "Oh bread...Nivan gave us bread."
Daniel smiled then said, "Jotham...I take it you met Jotham?"
"Yes we did. He helped us escape."
"Helped you escape? What happened?" questioned Jack.
"Long story sir."
"It is a very long story, O'Neill."
"Can't wait for the briefing on this mission."
Sam handed Jack bread, which he helped Daniel to eat then afterwards Jack said, "We have to move. Daniel is still weak."
"I'll be fine Jack..."
"Let me be the judge of that, Daniel. Come on let's get up."
Daniel struggled to comply and was extremely grateful when Teal'c offered him a hand. He smiled at Teal'c and thanked him. The whole team knew that Daniel would need help to stay upright. Sam said, "Okay Daniel, you'll be with me awhile. Come on put your right arm across the back of my shoulders."
"Daniel, don't argue with me."
"I'm not...but I'm also not...putting my right arm across your shoulders."
"Sam...I can barely even lift my right arm..."
She looked at him in confusion as he placed his left arm across her shoulders instead of his right. He hated leaning on others for support but knew if he didn't he'd never make it and he knew that Jack had struggled to carry him into these woods...probably the reason Jack looked so tired. He would try to stay on his feet as long as possible instead of making them carry him. He noticed Sam was looking at him in confusion and question. She probably didn't know about the staff wound. Daniel supplied her answer, "Blast wound to my shoulder...delivered courtesy of Kelsham, Osiris' First Prime."
"For insolence and defiance...disrespect to his lord...and for kicking Kelsham."
"You kicked Osiris' First Prime?"
Daniel smiled slyly saying, "Yep, felt pretty damned good too...also caught Osiris a few times."
Jack interrupted, "Okay kids, time to go." He handed Sam the water, which she put away and the remaining food. Then Jack commented, "We'll take turns helping Daniel. Carter, when you start feeling tired speak up and I'll help Daniel for awhile. All right?"
"Let's go...the woods are crawling with jackals tonight..."
Jack smiled when he heard Daniel say his name as if to remind Jack his jokes were rather bad. He replied, "Yes Daniel? You called..."
"Let's go campers."
Daniel looked at Sam then rolled his eyes. Sam started laughing. Jack obviously hadn't realized how bad his jokes were. Nice to see Jack didn't lose his sense of humor when Daniel went missing. Thank heavens for small favors... Daniel smiled then and allowed Sam to help aid him.
Daniel noticed that tall trees and lush green vegetation surrounded them. Upon being brought to the planet he had been unconscious due to a zat gun blast. He awoke at the Stargate before Anubis. He hadn't seen much of the planet itself. Now that he looked around it reminded him of a jungle, an Amazon jungle or a rainforest. He found himself thinking of the Aztecs and the Olmecs. He half expected to see a Mayan ziggurat protruding from the jungle floor, hidden amongst the wild foliage and many vines. The forests of this planet were truly amazing. He could hear howls of creatures, wild creatures, and birds that inhabited this planet. There was a definite line drawn between Anubis' fortress and the jungle. It was odd to see the huge differences. Here everything was alive, growing wild, lush and fertile. All kinds of plants, shrubs and trees covered the area. It was actually breathtaking and so unlike Anubis' fortress. His fortress was similar to the Goa'uld mother ships. Gold hued walls covered in hieroglyphs in all of the main rooms, even that last room Daniel had been held in with Jack, was very ornate. His prison cell had been dark and dreary. There was a black tint to the entire room but the walls themselves looked like marble...until he struck one of them very hard succeeding in adding some more grooves to the multiple bruises and cuts already covering his body. The wall he slid down had not been smooth at all. It was rough like brick or cement and dug deeply into his tender flesh tearing open skin as easily as a knife would have. The outside of the complex was also unlike the forest. It was free of any vegetation. It was almost as if Anubis had the area around his complex and the Stargate completely cleared out.
As Daniel continued to scan the area he found himself remembering his grandfather, Nick Ballard. Then he wondered what ever made him think of the man who was now on another planet learning of another culture. He realized he actually missed Nick. When he was growing up he had been angry when his grandfather had refused to take him under his wing after his parent's had died. He had only been eight years old and had lost his own parents. He had been extremely angry that Nick refused to take him in, but he understood why. What his grandfather didn't realize at the time was how much Daniel would've loved to travel with him on his many expeditions. Nick didn't think young children should constantly be moved around. Young children needed stability. Of course Daniel would've gotten a lot more stability if he had stayed with Nick instead of going into foster care. He ended up shuffled around in the system a lot. He learned to cope with the unexpectedness of the foster care system by getting lost in books. He had a passion for learning and spent a lot more time one on one with books than with people. He loved to learn and ancient history just fascinated him. He couldn't get enough. He read so much and learned so much. Teal'c sometimes told Daniel that he was amazed that someone so young knew so much. Daniel knew more than most scholars in their fifties. Teal'c greatly respected Daniel and part of that reason was because, for one so young, Daniel knew a lot. There weren't many people who could say they knew over twenty different languages, but Daniel had. Teal'c also respected Daniel's mind. The young man was brilliant. Daniel smiled when he thought of how Nick would love this place. He was drawn from his straying thoughts as Sam spoke up, "Daniel? Daniel, are you all right?"
"Yeah Sam. I'm fine..."
"What were you thinking of just now?"
"Now? Nick...how he'd love this place..."
"Oh...my dad would probably love this place as well... Daniel, are you all right? You don't need to rest?"
"How's the leg?"
Daniel glanced up at her and as she looked into his intense blue gaze she could read pain in those eyes. Daniel was in pain. She became worried. Daniel answered, "Hurts like hell...but I'll live."
"Are you sure you don't need a rest? Because if you do we can stop."
"No...I'm fine. We need to keep moving. The longer we're on this planet...the higher the chance of recapture..."
Jack had glanced up when Sam questioned Daniel. He looked at his friend noticing that Daniel was limping even heavier on his leg and hanging onto Sam heavier. She now braced him at the chest, as well. He had his arm draped across her shoulders, and she was supporting his weight. She had reached over with her left hand and placed it firmly across his chest in an effort to keep him from slumping forward any more then he already was. He could tell by looking at Daniel that pain still filled him, but Daniel was stubborn. The guy had a stubborn streak that ran a mile long. Daniel was a very stubborn, very determined young man who refused to give up easily. Jack admired that about him guts and determination, that's what Daniel had. He noticed that Daniel was growing tired again and wondered if he should take Carter's suggestion and stop for a break, but Daniel stubbornly said no that he didn't need a break and that they had to keep moving. He had said the longer they remained on this planet the more likely they were to be captured yet again. Daniel was right about that; Daniel was always right. Jack learned that very quickly, but unlike the others, Jack knew what injuries Daniel had sustained and he also knew that Daniel's head had to be pounding extremely loudly in his ears. The aftereffects of that device stayed with the victim several days afterwards. He knew that Daniel was trying to ignore the insistent sharp pain in his head. He also knew with that kind of pain Daniel would most likely black out again and soon. He was exhausted. Jack could tell Daniel was struggling to remain alert and upright. Even with Carter's support Daniel was fighting a losing battle. The fever also still raged in him. Jack had a feeling that Daniel would probably have to be carried off of this planet. He glanced at Carter to see how she was doing. She seemed to be struggling only a little bit with her burden. She was determined not to let Daniel fall and she was determined to continue helping him.
Jack jerked his head back to Daniel when he heard a whimper of pain coming from beside him. Daniel had stumbled and in doing so jolted his badly damaged rib cage. Jack noticed Daniel set his lips in a grim line. He was clenching his eyes tightly shut against the pain allowing Carter to lead him. Jack became even more worried for his friend. He also noticed lines crossing Teal'c's forehead as Teal'c looked at Daniel in concern. Daniel opened his eyes and started watching his feet intently. Jack realized that he was probably trying to watch where he was walking. He noticed Daniel falter a bit and heard his friend moan then clench his eyes shut again. Jack questioned, "Daniel, do you need to stop?"
No response. The young archaeologist acted as if he hadn't even heard Jack speak. Jack asked again, "Daniel, do you need to stop? Daniel?"
Daniel kept his eyes closed tightly shut then asked in that hoarse voice of his, hoarse because he was badly dehydrated, "Wha...what Jack?"
Jack winced when he heard the straining of Daniel's voice. He questioned again, more gently this time, "Do you need to stop?"
"No...No Jack, I'm fine."
"Are you? Really?"
Daniel just then opened his eyes and glanced up at Jack. In those vivid blue eyes, now dulled by pain, he saw Daniel's answer. No he wasn't fine. He was pushing himself, and he was far from all right. Jack said, “Let's take a break."
Daniel shook his head no then hissed as pain sliced at his head. He didn't even realize he had voiced his pain. Sam became even more scared for him than before. She was close enough to Daniel to hear his labored breathing and to hear those low utterances of pain that were whispered. She knew Daniel was trying not to voice his pain, but she could hear him. She looked at him noticing that he was slumping against her even more. He was literally forcing himself onward. She could tell he was. She could see the fever in him and the pain. Both were at a constant. She also could see that he was completely exhausted. He was practically dead on his feet. They had been walking now for over an hour and Daniel had not complained once yet she could tell, could see, that he was suffering. She added to Jack's statement, "Yes, I think we should stop a moment."
"No," came Daniel's firm rejection. He continued, "No, we’re easy targets out here...Osiris has to know I am gone... He wants me...he’ll not let me go. He's even told me that several times. He won't give up. He wants to make me suffer. Guards are in these woods right now... We stop we could end up dead. We have to keep moving. Jack, you know we do."
Jack sighed heavily. He remembered a time when Daniel was rather innocent to such things. Daniel had grown so much and learned so much since that first trip to Abydos. He wasn't military but working so closely with the military these last five years he picked up a lot...like how to make a risk assessment, which is exactly what he obviously had already done, several times, on their trek through the jungles of Ta-hetchet. He was thinking like a military person would, like a soldier. That would explain his bold determination to continue on even though he was about to collapse. He knew the risks should they stop even for a few minutes. Guards were closing in. Daniel knew they were and knew that to stop where they were now would make them sitting ducks. Jack urged, "You need a break..."
"Jack, they're probably flanking us now...coming from all sides... They have to know we're in this jungle. If they continue to flank us they'll eventually find us... How far to the rings?"
"Probably half a days' walk, why?"
"Then it's settled...we keep moving."
"Jack, you know I'm right about this. Let's face it...half a days' walk...more like a day with me. I'm slowing everyone down..."
"Don't even suggest it! We've already discussed this! I am not leaving you here!"
"NO! I did not come all the way here to leave you behind with that psychotic snakehead! NO!"
"Daniel, don't even say it! It's settled. You are getting off of this planet. We will not leave you behind!"
"But I’m endangering..."
"Jack please...," half way through the complaint Daniel lapsed into his violent coughing again. He nearly collapsed as the severe coughs shook his whole frame and caused his throat to again constrict. The coughs tore at his ribs showing no mercy as they literally rattled and shook his rib cage making fractured ribs worse and nearly fracturing others. He couldn't focus. All he could do was cough and gasp. He wanted to scream as the coughs lashed cruelly into him, sending waves and waves of stabbing piercing pain to his ribs and causing the pressure already present in his head to increase. He swore he was going to pass out. He fought to regain his breathing and to draw oxygen into his lungs. He felt himself go lax and waited for the impact of the ground as his already battered body met it. He nearly sighed in relief when he felt the coughs subsiding some. The attack was almost over. God, he needed to breathe! He focused on calming himself and calming his breathing. As he stopped wheezing so badly he became aware of where he was. He was in the jungles of Ta-hetchet being pursued by guards of Anubis and Osiris. He felt something warm immediately behind him. He was leaning against a wall of warmth. He jolted when he felt a hand on his face. He screamed as the movement sent pain slicing throughout his body again and felt pressure over his mouth. What? Something was covering his mouth! He was about to panic, but then he smelled the familiar scent of Jack's aftershave and relaxed. He opened his eyes seeing Jack's piercing gaze looking back. He nodded his head so Jack slowly eased the hand away from his mouth. Daniel choked out, "Sorry... Thanks Jack..."
"Now tell me again how you don't need that break, Danny."
Jack's soft, gentle voice moved over Daniel like a healing balm. He replied, "You know I'm right...Jack."
Jack sighed gently placing his hand against Daniel's forehead to check if the fever seemed to increase at all. Jack added, "Yes you're right, Danny. You're right but you are also ill, feverish, weak...you're hurt, Daniel, badly hurt and I’m willing to take those risks to keep you alive."
"Even if in doing so...the rest of you pay...?"
"Daniel, we came here to rescue you. We knew the risks and we are all willing to take them. If we are recaptured...well...we'll cross that bridge when we come to it..."
"No buts Daniel, no buts... How are you feeling?"
"What about your head?"
"What about my head, Jack?"
"Daniel I know Osiris used that...device on you. Jotham told me."
"Daniel, Jotham also told me that the aftereffects last for several days, especially in a human who is not a host..."
"I'm fine Jack, really I am."
"Okay...not going to talk about it... How about explaining to me why you jump every time someone touches your face?"
"Daniel, you were never, ever that jittery before. Sam was stroking your face to calm you and you jerked away as if she had screamed bloody murder..."
"Jack, if this questioning is designed...to stall until I either black out or fall asleep then stop it. We have to leave...now Jack."
Daniel started to rise realizing suddenly that he had been leaning against Teal'c. Well now that surprised him. Teal'c must've been the one to catch him when he collapsed.
Teal'c noticed Daniel struggling to stand then questioned, "Daniel Jackson, are you in need of assistance?"
"Little help...wouldn't hurt, Teal'c."
"All you need do is ask." Teal'c quickly got to his feet and helped Daniel to get up. Jack commented, "Daniel we're resting."
"No we aren't...Jack, we have to go. You know it and I know it."
"Damn it you are one stubborn son of a bitch!"
"Takes one to know one Jack."
Sam nearly choked when she heard Daniel say that. She nearly busted up laughing. She couldn't stop a small giggle from slipping out. Jack looked at her saying, "Carter?"
"Uh, yes sir?"
"You're not...laughing at your CO, are you?"
"Uh, no...no sir..."
"Because Carter, that could fall under the category of disrespect..."
Daniel spoke up, "Jack, stop being an ass..."
"Uh..." Jack was about to retort when Sam quickly got to Daniel's side placing her right arm across his shoulders and her left hand against his chest to help support him upright. Daniel accepted the aid placing his left arm across her shoulders. Teal'c then moved to Daniel's right side to be there in case he stumbled. They started walking when Daniel called back over his shoulder, "Jack...you coming?" Sam looked at Daniel and smiled as she saw the devilish gleam in Daniel's eyes. The pain and exhausted ness were still present also but she was glad to see that Daniel could still joke around even being in as bad a shape as he was presently.
Jack came up behind them then said, "Daniel, after you're out of the infirmary how about a game of hockey...ice hockey just the two of us?"
"Uh, no thanks...Jack...would rather go fishing..."
"Fishing, I can do that. Fishing's good...there's this beautiful lake in Minnesota where the bass are this big..."
Daniel looked at Sam and rolled his eyes then said, "Great looks like I'll be going fishing when I get better...could someone just shoot me now, please?"
"I heard that!" came Jack's sudden reply. Teal'c looked at Daniel then said, "I sympathize with you, Daniel Jackson...a suggestion if I may?"
"Request a cell phone...from General Hammond."
"Teal'c, stop giving him advice...when you fish you don't take cell phones..."
"And make sure that you have a spare set of batteries, Daniel Jackson..."
"A spare set of...Jack you didn't! That's why Teal'c hung up on me...because you...?"
“I said goodbye...then I tossed the batteries. We were supposed to be fishing."
"Do you know I had more questions for him?"
"We were fishing, Daniel. You were supposed to be on leave attending a funeral and taking a few personal days off not calling from an office inquiring about a couple of dead gods..."
"Not dead...Osiris is still very much alive...Isis, on the other hand..."
"Not after I get my hands on him! After what he did to you..."
"Jack, Sarah is important to me. She's an unwilling host...you just can't..."
"So why didn't she try to help you...?" came Jack's quick retort. It made him so angry knowing that she was there the entire time watching and couldn't even offer aid to Daniel. The Goa'uld were a very parasitic and controlling race. Jack couldn't even begin to imagine how she must have felt being a silent witness to Daniel's torture. Daniel's next comment caught Jack off guard. He could only gawk at Daniel when he answered, "She did Jack. Several times."
"What?" that comment made Jack stop dead in his tracks. He said, "Are you telling me...?"
"Sarah's still fighting Osiris."
"What? I don't believe it..."
"It's true...you know what the burns on my face are from, Jack...Osiris had planned on killing me and reviving me...Sarah stopped him..."
"She took control of her body long enough to yank that ribbon device away from my skull. She saved my life Jack." Then Daniel fell silent saying no more.
Jack didn't even know how to respond to that comment. This woman who Osiris now possessed, Sarah, had actually stepped in and helped Daniel? Jack found that concept hard to fathom. Of course he knew that the host remained intact, a silent witness, a silent prisoner inside of their own mind. He had known because of Klorel. Klorel had been the name of the Goa'uld larva selected to be implanted in Skaara. Skaara had fought against the possession but failed to win. He was lucky when Klorel ended up crashing on a planet named Tollana, which just so happened to be the Tollan's new home world. The Tollans offered help freely and a request was made: the separation of Klorel from Skaara. Skaara had managed to surface long enough to request the separation. After the request was made then a Triad was set up. The Triad was a trial in which three parties would participate to argue their sides along with Klorel/Skaara. A representative for Klorel was selected in the form of a Goa'uld named Lord Zipacna. The neutral party came in the form of Lya. She was of the Nox and was able to rule without bias. The representatives selected to argue on behalf of Skaara were Jack and Daniel. They had learned on their trip to Tollana that the Tok'ra had a way of separating host from parasite. There were risks of course both could die as a result of the trauma of separation. The procedure was far from full proof. The Triad voted in favor of Skaara and the procedure was performed. Skaara and Klorel had been successfully separated and both lived after the procedure. Jack and Daniel had been overjoyed and, in seeing the results of such a procedure, both Jack and Daniel was given the knowledge that a Goa'uld symbiote and a host could truly be separated. Neither Daniel nor Jack ever forgot that. Jack was sure that even now Daniel was thinking of helping Sarah by taking her there.
Sarah...Jack had wondered who she was. How did she know Daniel? She must've known him some how. His friend said that she meant a lot to him. She was an old friend. Sam said that her and Daniel had grown up together. Jack still had a hard time thinking that Daniel knew others outside of the SGC. He was so quiet, so silent about his past. He spoke little of it, so little of it in fact that when Jack found something out, even if it was just a small bit of information, it surprised him. He never realized just how silent his friend was about his own past until now. Why didn't he talk of it much? Sure he knew of Daniel's parents being killed when he was eight and of Nick Ballard but even when they found out about the grandfather who had abandoned an eight year old boy to go on a long search for ancient artifacts and became obsessed with a crystal skull he had discovered in Belize Jack had been extremely surprised to learn of him. He had thought Daniel had no living relatives. Daniel spoke so little of his childhood that Jack often wondered exactly what did happen to him. He knew Daniel had been happy as a child until his parents were so tragically killed directly in front of him, but after that the only information they knew was he had been in the system and had become a brilliant scientist. He was very intelligent and so young. Jack couldn't help but wonder if anything traumatic had happened to Daniel while he had been in the system. Had his foster families cared for him or...Jack shivered at the thought...were some of the foster families guilty of hurting, of abusing, his friend? Jack didn't know; he doubted he'd ever know. Daniel was so closed off when it came to his personal life history...of course Jack was a lot like Daniel in that respect. He didn't talk much of his childhood either. Come to think of it neither did Sam or Teal'c. All of his teammates had secrets. Every one of them had a traumatic experience when they were young. His team spoke little of their lives as children.
For such an odd group of people his teammates had a lot of similarities in their lives. It was so odd. Perhaps that was one of the reasons they had connected so well and became such a close-knit group of people. None of them really had any family left or around. Sam had her dad, who was usually on some mission to some other world, and her brother who lived in another state. Daniel had his grandfather who was presently on another planet learning the culture of an alien race of beings. Teal'c had a wife and son who were presently also on another planet. Jack had Sara, his wife...estranged now. She had moved and hasn't spoken to him since that time when he had scared her to death by almost dying only to show up in the flesh unharmed as his other self was about to explode. They had arrived on a planet on one of their early missions in which they had found these large blue crystals much of them had been destroyed by staff weapons. Sam had said it looked like a mass graveyard on that planet. Crystals were broken and seared, scattered near the Stargate. They had found out later that those crystals were energy able to mimic a human being. Jack had touched one of those complete crystals and had nearly died, so the crystal mimicked him, copying him and returning through the Stargate with the rest of his team to heal the damage he had caused. What the being of energy didn't realize was the pain Jack had was not physical, not the damage the energy itself inflicted upon him, but mental: the death of his son Charlie. As the energy being started to break down it was rushed to a nearby hospital. Sara had been with the energy O'Neill when Jack had arrived to get the energy being back to the Stargate and home before it died. After that Sara had just left. She hasn't spoken to Jack really since then, so Jack's only real family was his teammates. The team of SG-1 was a family. They had each other; they could rely on one another and depend on one another. They were close-knit and would do anything for each other...anything. Even go to a highly guarded planet to rescue a friend who had been abducted forcefully against his will only to be tortured and beaten. The members of SG-1 were prepared to willingly trade their lives for another member. The team of SG-1 was also very willing to help one another out at any cost. If one of them were in danger they could rely on the other three to be there to help them at any cost.
SG-1 and Za'tar continued on in silence for a time before one of them spoke. As Sam spoke low Jack glanced up at her. She was still helping Daniel who was looking rather ragged around the edges. He was struggling...a lot. He heard Daniel mutter something to Sam then shake his head no as they continued on. He also noticed that Teal'c was observing Daniel and seeing the concern on the Jaffa's face for the man beside him worried Jack.
Sam constantly glanced over at her friend. Daniel was growing weaker and hanging heavily on her needing her support just to keep moving. She noticed that Daniel was again struggling, worse now, to place one foot constantly in front of the other. She kept glancing up at him hearing him wince and groan occasionally. He didn't utter those obvious sounds of distress, strain and pain extremely loud. She doubted that Jack could hear him at all. She was sure that Teal'c could hear Daniel though. Daniel was faltering more and more with each step that he took. Sam could tell that he was. He continued to rely on her more and more for support. She watched as he dragged his feet and stumbled over obvious rocks and tree roots jutting up from the ground. She was very surprised that Daniel hadn't fallen yet. She could hear his breathing become heavier and a fine sheen of sweat lay across his face, just enough sweat that his face glistened in the remaining sunlight. Sam couldn't ignore Daniel's obvious signs of distress. She asked quietly, "Daniel, are you all right?"
"Fine...I'm fine Sam," came Daniel's quiet response. She continued, "Would you like to rest?"
Daniel shook his head no. Then he groaned as pain sliced at his already throbbing head. He clenched his eyes tightly shut then opened them again continuing to focus on the ground beneath his feet.
Daniel knew that he was growing weaker with each step he took. He wouldn't be able to stay upright much longer. He kept ordering himself, his legs, to move. Don't stop. He couldn't stop or they would become easy prey. They had to keep moving. He set his lips in a grim line determined to keep moving despite his ever-increasing lethargy and extreme exhausted ness. Daniel refused to stop. He ordered himself onward. His left leg was now throbbing and pounding excessively and he was limping very badly. His right leg felt shaky, as well. It was badly bruised but didn't collapse under him...yet. He found that even though he hated relying on another person he was exceedingly grateful for Sam's support. Without Sam helping to keep him upright Daniel knows he would've collapsed long ago. He was so tired, so tired and so drained. He felt as if he could fall asleep walking. His mind was starting to get cloudy as the forced sleep deprivation caused him to waver and stagger. He mentally cursed as he slammed his left booted toe into a rock, scuffing up his combat boots in the process and nearly falling as a result. He lost his balance temporarily and feared that he'd knock Sam down, but thankfully he didn't. He glanced up at her briefly noting how she was faring having to carry a half-dead, six foot tall, young gentleman. Sam was doing well. Daniel winced as he again tripped over another rock. Sam looked up at him hearing his softly spoken retort. He thought for sure he'd fall down when a hand suddenly reached out from his right side to steady him...Teal'c he knew it was Teal'c. He was glad that Teal'c helped to steady him that time or he would've brought Sam down with him. God, he hurt all over! His chest was screaming out in protest of his heavy breathing. With each heavy deep breath he took it sent stabbing, biting anguish tearing throughout his rib cage like fire. He heard himself beginning to gasp as the strain of his efforts to draw in breath pulled and pushed on his badly damaged rib cage. He tried to ignore the intense stabbing pain in his chest area, but the further he walked the harder that became. He suddenly started coughing again, heaving like he was going to pull up a lung. He whimpered loudly as coughing only made that already severe pain in his chest increase. He couldn't stop his brutal coughs. They nearly drove him to his knees again. His coughs nearly turned into choking as they wracked his already too thin frame shaking his body with the force of them. In between coughs he gasped, struggling to pull oxygen into his lungs. When the coughs finally started subsiding Daniel groaned loudly saying, "Oh God it hurts..."
He clenched his eyes tightly shut against the pain trying desperately to relax hoping that his breath would calm and the pain would abate. When he started to get his bearings he became aware he was now leaning against something, or rather against someone. As his awareness slowly began to return he realized that he was no longer upright, so his legs must've buckled under him that time and he hadn't even noticed that they had. He opened his eyes remembering Sam and looked for her. He spoke just above a whisper, "Sam? Sorry Sam. Did I hurt you?"
"No Daniel. Teal'c and I both guided you down to the ground when your legs went out."
"Thank heavens. I'm sorry."
"Shh, don't worry about it Daniel."
Daniel kept his eyes closed swallowing hard. He hissed as his rapid breathing drove stabbing pain to his ribs again. He could tell that he definitely was sitting. He was sitting propped against Teal'c. He was a bit surprised when he realized that Teal'c held him and not Jack. Where was Jack? Daniel looked around seeing the older man standing bent at the knees looking intently at him. Daniel could tell that his coughs frightened the hell out of Jack. He could see it in the older man's gaze. He felt bad for upsetting Jack, but he couldn't help it.
Jack had froze when Daniel began to cough violently again. He felt ice-cold chills climb over him and felt goose bumps climbing his arms as he saw Daniel coughing so violently that his legs refused to support him any longer. Thank God that Teal'c had fast reflexes. The Jaffa noticed immediately when Daniel's body went suddenly lax and had reacted quickly catching the young man before his body impacted the ground. He hated watching his young friend laboring for breath. The coughs were getting worse. They were gripping him longer and refusing to release him. He noticed that Daniel was having obvious difficulty in breathing when those coughs seized him. Most likely that was a result of his badly damaged rib cage. As soon as Daniel's coughs stopped Jack ran over to his friend to check and make sure the young man was all right. He nearly sighed out loud in relief when Daniel questioned if Sam was all right. Thank God he was all right now! But Jack knew the coughs would grip him again; it was only a matter of time. He watched as Sam began to reach for Daniel then stopped herself and questioned him. It was then that Daniel looked up. Jack could see the pain and anguish was still very present in his friend, not to mention the fever. They had to get Daniel off of the planet. He was only getting worse by the minute.
As Sam reached for him Daniel refocused on her noticing her stop suddenly. He could feel dampness on his cheeks and was sure he had shed tears that time, tears of anguish, no doubt. As if Sam was suddenly reading his thoughts she reached out again and gently wiped the moisture off of Daniel's face. He dropped his head in response to such a tender gesture. Then she gently questioned, "How are you feeling? Are you all right, Daniel?"
Daniel then glanced up at her with those bright blue eyes of his, still dim with pain. Sam noticed suddenly that Daniel was holding his left side. She asked, "Daniel, may I look at your side?"
"Your side...may I look at it?" she questioned more gently this time.
Daniel hesitated as he recalled just what lay under his shirt. She would be able to see immediately the harsh evidence of his cruel torture and vile treatment, and she would see the nasty bruises that now seemed to make up his chest. He hesitantly caved in saying, "Might as well..."
Daniel eased his hand off of his side, inhaling sharply as the simple movement elicited more pain. He watched as she reached over to his t-shirt. She began to gently ease the shirt upwards noticing Daniel flinch as she slightly bumped his stomach area. She didn't know what exactly to expect but whatever it was didn't prepare her for the dark ugly massive bruising now spanning Daniel's whole left side of his rib cage. She paled upon seeing it. Sam felt queasy thinking of the kind of pain Daniel must've suffered through to create such massive bruising on his body. She was positive he had to have at least one broken rib. There was no possible way that Daniel could've sustained such horrid bruising without also acquiring a broken rib or two. She swallowed hard as she imagined what he had endured at the hands of Osiris and Kelsham. As she started to recover from the shock of seeing such a nasty injury she scanned other exposed areas of his body. She felt chills climb her spine as she saw splashes of bruises here and there. Some bruises were black, some were yellow and some were green with age. It was obvious that Daniel had been beaten...badly several times from the looks of it. Her throat constricted as her eyes fell to the various burns also spanning the length of now exposed flesh. She knew all too well exactly what had created such nasty burns. Daniel had been exposed to the shock device...and from the amount of those burns present on his flesh he had been tortured with it on several different occasions. She remembered suddenly the pain that Jolinar had suffered from her exposure to such a device. She clenched her eyes shut blocking out the memory then refocused on Daniel. In the short amount of time that Daniel had been Osiris' prisoner he had been horribly beaten and abused. As her eyes again strayed to the massive dark bruising that now made up Daniel's chest she found herself wondering how Daniel could even still be walking. He had been horribly, horribly beaten and abused but he still managed to walk this far with such serious injuries. She silently cursed Osiris and Kelsham. How the hell could someone be capable of inflicting such damage on another and not feel any remorse for what they had just done? As she scanned his exposed flesh yet again she became aware of just how minor some of the injuries were. There were a lot of minor injuries...a lot. They were minor but excessive...obviously Osiris also seemed to enjoy prolonging Daniel's suffering making much of the injuries he sustained minor enough not to be life-threatening but severe enough to keep him forever held in a constant grip of pain and suffering. As she glanced at the left side of his rib cage again she felt ill. God, what if Daniel not only had a broken rib but was bleeding internally as well? The amount and severity of the marks that now marred his flesh and sharply contrasted with his normal skin tone indicated that internal damage could be a possibility. Now she understood why his breathing was so labored at times and why he lapsed into violent coughs. Broken and bruised ribs not only caused severe pain but also constricted breathing. The more severely damaged they were the more the breathing was constricted. She glanced at Daniel asking in a gentle voice, "Are you trying to kill yourself or something?"
She shook her head to say never mind. Then she reached towards the badly bruised area. Her hand shook as it hovered above those obvious indications of physical abuse now marring Daniel's chest. She gently placed her hand against the injury using very little pressure. Daniel cried out in pain. God! She didn't even know what to say or do! She spoke up, "Daniel you have a broken rib..."
Daniel glanced up at her saying in a clipped voice, as he tried to bite back the pain her simple touch ignited, "Several actually...broken, bruised...fractured..."
She paled even further staring at Daniel in shocked horror and surprise. Daniel shouldn't even be moving with damage that extensive. What if he fell a certain way? He could send a broken rib directly into his lungs...and his coughing, his coughing was so powerful that he could fracture even more ribs. She could see that the overlaying tissue was swelled, as well, another indication that Daniel had some broken and fractured ribs. She considered offering Daniel some morphine for the pain, his pain had to be considerable, but she knew that he would most likely refuse it. Daniel had a strong aversion to drugs of any type, especially after experiencing a violent withdrawal several times in his life already...
The first time Daniel suffered the nasty symptoms of withdrawal was when they were on P3R-636. Daniel had come across a woman preparing to throw herself over a cliff to end her life. Daniel saved her, catching her just before she fell, and yanked her away from the edge. The result of Daniel's actions caused SG-1 to be captured as spies and worked as slaves. It seemed the girl he saved was a princess and had a thing for Daniel, so she had him brought to her after he was injured in the Naquadah mines they were working in. Shyla, as they later learned was her name, nursed Daniel back to health and started encouraging him to return to the sarcophagus again and again. She would say that he needed to heal more and would lure him into it until Daniel became quite literally addicted to it. The sarcophagus started to change him as well, turning their gentle-natured, caring, loving friend into a wild-eyed, non-caring individual. The sarcophagus was stealing Daniel's humanity, Daniel's soul, with each usage of it. When they were finally released they managed to coax Daniel to return home with them. What occurred after that was a violent withdrawal as Daniel's body began to break down and expel the addictive properties of the sarcophagus. He became desperate to return to Shyla's planet, not knowing or really thinking of whom he was, only wanting and needing that sarcophagus to make the violent withdrawal cease. He ended up pulling a gun on Jack ready to pull the trigger until Jack had told him what was happening. Daniel broke down after that and continued on his path to recovery. That was the first time he had a violent withdrawal from a substance.
On one of their more recent missions Daniel had been off-world with another SG team. Upon their return the members all became suicidal. One of the members went as far as to throw himself into the Stargate as it was activating. He was killed instantly. Later that day several members began to lose consciousness and Daniel hadn't contacted anyone. Jack became concerned and drove to his friend's house only to find Daniel standing on the edge of his balcony ready to jump off. He tried talking Daniel down, but it was almost as if he didn't have control over his own body. Just when Jack felt sure Daniel would jump Daniel turned around saying Jack's name and asking what he was doing. Daniel had been very scared that time. He had snapped back only to realize he stood on his balcony ready to jump off. Jack helped Daniel down and guided him into his home. Shortly after that Daniel passed out and nearly died. They discovered later that there was a source of light that drew everyone. A device was implanted in the base of the light projection that emitted a low level of constant sound that, in essence, acted like a narcotic. If you strayed too far away from that source you would start suffering withdrawal and die if you did not return. Daniel had returned to Earth not realizing that he was even exposed to such a substance. The withdrawal nearly killed him. He flat-lined in the infirmary and the only way he managed to survive was because Jack had realized that planet had something on it that could keep Daniel alive. Jack had been desperate that day. He had yanked Daniel off of the infirmary bed he had been on and literally flung him over his shoulder, carrying Daniel through the Stargate to the planet. Within only a few minutes of his returning to the planet Daniel awoke and was fine.
After those two experiences Daniel had been extremely leery of drugs. Not to mention, his experience in that institution...an insane asylum...when he was under the effects of Ma'chello's little Goa'uld killing worms. They had diagnosed Daniel with schizophrenia without really checking all their facts and kept him so drugged that half the time he was either out cold or so far gone he had no clue who he was. Then they noticed him returning to normal and discovered those little buggers of Ma'chello's. Daniel was released immediately but he still bore the emotional and psychological scars of what committing him to an institution wrought on him. As a result, he asked Jack to promise that he'd never let anyone lock him up in one of those places again...ever.
Since Sam knew all this she knew Daniel would refuse the drugs. He would argue with her right and left until she caved and did as he asked. The only way drugs were getting into Daniel's system is if he was unconscious. Daniel was even starting to have a strong aversion to needles, as well. She was sure that his aversion to needles was rooted in his experiences while under the supervision of Doctor Mackenzie. The man had kept Daniel so drugged up when he was in that padded room that Daniel couldn't even think clearly. She remembered so vividly the day they had visited and Daniel had spoke softly about how they took his glasses because they were afraid that he'd try to hurt himself by breaking the lenses and using the shards to cause himself bodily harm. She felt chills climb her spine as she remembered him apologizing to them for being such a head case. She remembered how he had become extremely afraid and agitated, pointing towards them saying that "they" were here and trying to shrink away from whatever he had seen. Sam shook her head to clear it...that was then and this was now. She had to focus on the present, not think of the past...Drugs were out of the question. Daniel would never accept them, never, not to mention morphine had some nasty side effects...breathing difficulties, nausea, vomiting and drowsiness. All four of those side effects were possible. Daniel might or might not experience them but in his present condition any of those could get him killed or be the death of him. He was already having difficulty breathing, not to mention, he was badly dehydrated and struggled just to eat. Osiris not only physically abused Daniel but he neglected Daniel, as well. Osiris never provided water or food for Daniel to ingest. It was obvious by looking at him. He was grossly underweight. He had lost a good twenty pounds, if not more, in the last few weeks. One of the first indications of starvation is the rapid weight loss in the first week, which slows down as the body starts using the remaining stores of fat in the body to sustain life. A person couldn't live anymore then two months without food, which means Daniel could continue to live, except that he was also badly dehydrated. The lack of sufficient water intake combined with starvation would kill a person within only ten days. This is how Sam knew someone had been providing Daniel with water and food because, otherwise, Daniel would now be dead. She was sure she knew who that someone was...Jotham. She would have to thank him if she ever saw him again for taking care of Daniel when Osiris chose to neglect him.
Sam looked at her friend noticing he was extremely exhausted. She wondered how Daniel could even still be alert in his condition. She knew he needed something for the pain but the risks were too high for him and he wouldn't accept drugs without a fight. He even argued with Janet when she tried to give him some on his many visits to the infirmary. Sam had watched the young Doctor administer drugs to Daniel when he was no longer awake to protest and she only did that when his suffering was extreme. She usually honored his wishes and understood why he was so leery of drugs and needles. Sam had to tell Jack that Daniel couldn't go on. She spoke up, "Sir," then she heard Daniel's soft hoarse voice, "Sam no...we have to keep moving."
"We can't stay here. I'll be fine just... We have to go."
"Daniel, you're very badly hurt, you're weak and you’re exhausted..."
"Daniel, you have to rest."
"No I don't."
Jack cut in, "Yes you do."
"Jack, don't you start on me. You know as well as I do that if we stay here...Anubis' guards will find us. We'd be recaptured and I'd be taken away. Osiris would have Kelsham take me somewhere. He’d be able to get his revenge on Sam...you and Teal'c would be sent back to Apophis...No Jack, no. I will not be responsible for causing all of that to happen. We go..."
"Jack, don't argue with me."
Jack rolled his eyes throwing his hands in the air he commented, "Why does everyone keep saying that to me? Daniel, you're as bad as Jacob!"
Daniel watched Jack for only a moment longer before saying, "Teal'c, help me up please."
"Daniel Jackson, I feel that it is unwise of you to be moving."
"Well, whether you help me or not I am getting up."
"Indeed you are most stubborn."
"Yes, several people have told me that already... Please Teal'c."
Teal'c nodded his head then helped Daniel to his feet noticing how putting pressure on the wounded leg caused Daniel to wince. He was standing, leaning heavily on his right leg. Jack noticed also, which contributed to his next question, "How's the leg?"
"Little stiff, but it'll be fine..."
"You need to let me know when you need a break. Do you hear me, Daniel? You let us know."
"Yes Jack." Jack watched Daniel intently and knew on instinct that Daniel would do no such thing. He would remain silent pushing himself until his body could take no more. He wouldn't stop until he lost consciousness. Damn, why did Daniel have to be so damned stubborn all the time? Jack cocked his head still watching Daniel who was in turn watching him.
Daniel gritted his teeth, annoyed at Jack. Jack knew he had just lied. He wouldn't stop until he could go no further. Daniel questioned half irritated, "What Jack?"
"You better let us know." Then Jack turned and took position at point. Za'tar joined him. Sam went to help Daniel when Teal'c interrupted, "I will help him Major Carter. You need a break."
"No Teal'c, I..."
Daniel looked at her noticing she was looking ragged around the edges, also. He said, "It's all right, Sam. Teal'c will help me. You go on ahead with Jack." Daniel could see her want to argue but as Teal'c braced his arm across Daniel's shoulders she nodded her head and went over to Jack. Daniel sighed in relief. She had been practically carrying him for the last several hours. Daniel knew it hadn't been easy, especially with him constantly tripping and growing weaker every minute. He was actually surprised she had supported him for so long. He knew she was tired and exhausted from supporting him for such a long distance. She needed a break. Teal'c was quite capable of supporting Daniel. Daniel placed his left arm across Teal'c's broad shoulders and the two started to follow Jack, Sam and Za'tar.
As they continued to travel onwards towards the transport rings Teal'c noticed Daniel struggling harder and hanging heavily on him for support. Daniel was indeed growing weaker by the minute. He noticed Daniel tripping several times over very obvious tree roots protruding from the ground and knew that his friend was only getting worse. Teal'c kept moving even though he could tell Daniel was fast deteriorating. His reserves of strength were almost all used up. He often wondered where his friend got energy when he was like this. It was almost as if Daniel could pull that energy, that strength, right out of the air. No matter how badly hurt or injured Daniel Jackson was he always found hidden reserves of strength that motivated him to move on and not give up.
Daniel was very glad that Teal'c was helping him. He was weaker now and could tell that he was only getting worse. He was depending heavily on Teal'c, heavier than he did on Sam. His legs were starting to ache and throb. His blast wound on his thigh thrummed excessively. Each time he stepped it was as if he jarred the wound. He could tell that he was now badly limping in fact his leg was getting shakier by the minute. He had to keep moving or they would all be captured so he drove himself, pushing himself to move faster and harder. He noticed that he kept stumbling over rocks and tree roots that were very noticeable, which only angered him further. Anger at his weakened state helped add fuel to the fire of his determination. He refused to stop until his body would no longer allow him to. As his leg muscles began to ache more so did his head. The pain was nearly unbearable now. He could feel the constant pressure in his skull and the insistent pounding of his blood as it pumped furiously through his blood vessels. The pounding inside of his head only continued to get louder, echoing through his mind, making him want to scream as the anguish tore throughout his brain. It felt as if someone was constantly banging on his skull. He couldn't focus on anything at the moment. He vaguely noticed the ground beneath him go momentarily blurry. He was starting to get dizzy and lightheaded. He started to see blackness at the edges of his vision. His field of vision had narrowed considerably since he started walking. He knew that he would pass out and he knew that he would not be able to stop it, but he was determined to keep himself moving until that unconsciousness floating just barely beyond his reach prepared to grab him and hold him, sucking him downwards into nothingness. As the pain in his head tripled his vision narrowed even further. Black and white spots started to dance before his eyes taunting him at the same time that they were beckoning him to follow. Daniel watched as the woods swam before his eyes and blurred out of focus. He stopped nearly losing his balance as he clenched his eyes shut tightly in an effort to ward off those damned spots now flashing before his vision. He groaned without even realizing it causing Teal'c to stop and examine Daniel in concern. As soon as he stopped Daniel felt himself falling backwards as his body attempted to go limp on him. As he fell back into Teal'c the temporary physical contact served to snap him back to alertness and he stood up again. He focused on the ground again clenching his eyes closed as the ground began to shift and buck under his feet. Teal'c's voice broke through his clouded mind as he suggested, "Daniel Jackson, if you must rest then please do so."
"No...no... I'm fine."
"You are not fine. You must stop pushing yourself."
"Yes you are."
"Teal'c I'm fine. Let's go."
"You push yourself even now. You must take care of yourself and stop worrying about us. You are only harming yourself further by forcing yourself onward."
Daniel glanced at Teal'c just then. Teal'c was right of course, but Daniel wouldn't quit...not yet. He had to keep moving. They had to get off of this planet.
Teal'c could see the stubbornness in Daniel, the refusal to quit. Daniel would continue pushing himself even if he had to use up all of his energy to do so. The young man was a very determined, very stubborn individual. Teal'c was no fool. He knew exactly how Daniel was feeling. Jack had told him that Daniel had been tortured earlier in the day by that shock device. Teal'c knew how debilitating and how painful that device could be...especially on a human. Daniel had no symbiote within him, which only amplified the effects of such a sinister device. Teal'c could see the pain, even now, reflecting in Daniel's eyes. The pain was a constant in his friend's eyes, the pain and the exhausted ness. He had seen the same things in Daniel's eyes earlier. This was one of the reasons he told Sam that he would help Daniel now. He knew that Daniel would soon lose consciousness. His body would soon no longer be able to handle the stress and strain that Daniel was placing on it and his body would simply just shut down on him. Daniel's endurance was very high for a human being, but even the strongest individuals would soon succumb after the trauma Daniel Jackson had suffered through since his capture on P3X-173. Teal'c was there to catch Daniel when his body finally did succumb to exhausted ness and unconsciousness. He would be there to catch Daniel when he fell and then Teal'c would carry his young friend. He was stronger than Sam or Jack because his symbiote gave him added strength and added endurance. He would be able to carry Daniel a lot further then his other two human companions.
Teal'c glanced up no longer seeing Jack, Sam or Za'tar. They obviously didn't realize that Teal'c and Daniel had stopped. He looked at Daniel now seeing that the young man was ready to continue. Teal'c nodded his head and continued to help Daniel onwards.
Daniel no sooner started walking when he tripped over a log practically falling. He muttered, "Damn it!" Daniel's left leg had nearly given out on him just then. The only reason that he still remained upright was because of Teal'c's aid. He inhaled shakily as the pain increased in his leg. Teal'c patiently waited for his friend to recover. When he was sure Daniel could focus he gently asked, "Daniel Jackson, are you all right?"
"Yes Teal'c. Thanks," as soon as Daniel finished thanking Teal'c loud blasts pierced the air. Daniel jerked his head up groaning as pain echoed back at him for the sudden move. He felt lightheaded and almost passed out but as he heard another weapon discharge he refocused and looked up at Teal'c in worry and fear. Staff weapons, they were staff weapons being fired nearby, which could only mean one thing: Anubis and Osiris had found them...
As Daniel looked around him he felt the hair on the back of his neck rise on end and chills tingle up his spine. Where the hell were Sam and Jack? There was no sign of Sam, Jack or even Za'tar. Where the hell were they? He recalled suddenly that they were ahead of Teal'c and him. SHIT! Could they have been captured? He hoped not! He looked back at Teal'c softly questioning, "Jack and Sam where...?"
"They are ahead of us."
"Shit! Damn it! Let's go!" It was his fault that they had been separated and it was his fault if they had been captured. His present state had slowed everyone down. They hadn't moved fast enough. Damn it, he hated being weak! He was now positive that those blasts were most likely fired at his friends. He started to move when Teal'c spoke up, "Daniel Jackson, if we investigate we too may end up captured."
"We have to at least look, Teal'c!"
Teal'c nodded his head then helped Daniel onward. They didn't have far to travel before they came across jackal guards. Teal'c and Daniel immediately ducked down behind some dense shrubs for cover. Daniel bit his bottom lip so as not to give voice to the pain the new position provided. He looked beyond the trees and silently cursed. Sam, Jack and Za'tar were there. All three were on their knees, their hands at their sides surrounded by jackal guards. Several guards held staff weapons trained on the trio. One of the guards, Zo'lair, demanded, "Where are the other two?"
Jack's smart reply flowed over to their hiding place as he responded, "There are no others."
"You lie to protect your friends. What of Doctor Jackson?"
"Doctor Jackson? Never heard of him."
Zo'lair sneered at Jack saying, "You are a fool, Tau'ri. We will find them." He muttered several words in Goa'uld then grabbed a zatnickatel. Zo'lair then walked behind Jack and aimed the zat gun directly at the back of his head. He then scanned the surrounding woods saying, "Your friend will come. He is a Tau'ri. Friendship is very important to you Tau'ri. He will come."
Zo'lair chuckled at the human's impudence then yelled, "Doctor Daniel Jackson, I know that you are out there watching...if you show yourself we will not kill your friends. Listen to me Doctor Jackson surrender now or your friends will be killed. Our lord only has an interest in you. He will let your friends go if you come with us quietly. If you do not come out then we will shoot your friends. The choice is yours, Doctor Jackson. Surrender now or watch as your friends are killed."
Daniel didn't like the sudden turn of events. He glanced at Teal'c who had his mouth set in a grim line. He then glanced back over at Sam and Jack. The zat gun in the guard's hand was presently aimed directly at the back of Jack's head. Daniel felt chills climb his spine as sudden deja vu gripped him; it was rather eerie. He had experienced this same stand off once before. Only that time the positions were reversed, the stakes were different and the situation was different. He had been in Jack's place with Major Trofsky, one of Hathor's goons, standing directly behind him saying almost the exact same thing, but not at him, not that time. He had been trying to draw Sam out of hiding. The guards had captured him along with Colonel Makepeace and his team. The Goa'uld had threatened to kill Sam's friends one by one beginning with him if she did not surrender. He had noticed how Trofsky had placed him directly in front of the Stargate and directly in the center. He had held that zat gun aimed at Daniel prepared to shoot to kill. Daniel had told Sam not to listen to the Goa'uld. He had been waiting for the first discharge of the weapon when Jack had approached the group pretending to be snaked. He informed Major Trofsky that his queen was dead. The man refused to believe Jack because Hathor was a queen and a goddess. She was immortal; she could not die. Jack kindly informed Trofsky that he had been the one to slay Hathor. Daniel had prepared himself for death then when shortly after that the Stargate came to life. As the wormhole engaged a small ship flew through it. At first the ship scared the hell out of him and everyone else. Then he had realized that the ship was firing on the guards. Preceding that craft was Bra'tac, who had ordered the guards to surrender. As the craft landed Daniel saw Teal'c and Hammond exit approaching them. He had been rather surprised to see that Hammond had come to rescue them...
Daniel's thoughts were interrupted as Zo'lair yelled, "Surrender now Doctor Jackson, or your friends will be killed!"
Daniel prepared to rise when Teal'c placed a gentle restraining hand on his shoulder. He was prepared to surrender. Teal'c whispered, "If you surrender you will be recaptured and so will O'Neill and Carter. Osiris will not let them go."
"I know that Teal'c, but by surrendering I might be able to buy them some time to escape."
"Osiris will, no doubt, send you with Kelsham immediately to be taken off of this world..."
"Teal'c, what other choice do we have here? There is no other choice."
"There is always another choice. You should know that better then anyone, Daniel."
"You have a plan? I'd love to hear it."
Daniel felt himself waver and silently cursed. Not now, damn it he couldn't black out now! His vision began to swim before him and blur in and out of focus. He couldn't do this, not now, damn it! His body stubbornly refused to listen. He felt himself getting even more lightheaded and heard the ringing in his ears. He silently yelled again, not now! He couldn't black out now! Please not now! But as the ringing began in his ears he knew that he would lose consciousness shortly. He had pushed himself to and beyond his limits. His body betrayed him as he started seeing white light flashing before his eyes. He mentally cursed his weakened state as everything wavered before him sickeningly. His ears started to ring louder and he felt his eyes slide shut as his body went totally lax. He managed to utter one word, "Teal'c..." before darkness descended yet again, crashing all around him, sending him deep into the pitch-blackness of oblivion. He felt his legs turn to jello and go out from under him. He was aware of falling, falling fast then being caught in strong arms just before his battered body impacted the hard ground and he was aware no more.
Teal'c glanced up when Daniel spoke his name responding, "Yes Daniel Jackson..." His comment trailed off when he saw his friend collapse. He noticed that Daniel was wavering and knew that Daniel would lose consciousness soon, as Daniel had uttered his name Teal'c barely had enough time to react. He saw his friend begin to collapse and caught him just before he fell to the ground. As he looked at Daniel's face he could tell that Daniel's reserves of strength had finally been reached. His body shut down on its own. Teal'c knew that Daniel would pass out shortly but wished it hadn't been now. Now how would he save his friends? He glanced down at his now unconscious friend seeing just how ill and weak he was. His friend had pushed himself way too hard. Teal'c should have stopped him and should have carried him despite his arguments. Daniel was out cold and would probably remain that way for the next several hours. Before he had time to really consider what to do next he gently placed his unconscious friend on the ground. He glanced at Daniel once more before returning his attention to his other three friends. What was he going to do now? He had one unconscious friend and three captured friends and only himself to help all four.
Teal'c watched as the guard holding the zat gun presently on Jack gestured to the guards to fan out in an attempt to flank Daniel and flush him out of hiding. He noticed that after those guards departed only four remained with Jack, Sam and Za'tar, as well as Zo'lair. Teal'c didn't like the sudden change in odds. The guards were now attempting to surround Daniel and him. If they succeeded neither Teal'c nor Daniel would get off of this planet. He had no choices left. He had to attempt to flee now with Daniel before they were completely surrounded. As long as they didn't have Daniel then Sam, Jack and Za'tar would remain alive to use as weapons to draw him out. Teal'c hated leaving the other three behind but he had little choice in the matter. If they stayed they too would be captured with Jack, Sam and Za'tar and all of this would be for naught. Teal'c would have to radio Jacob to inform him of their present situation. He cursed as he heard Zo'lair order guards to go watch over the area in the woods where the rings had been used recently...with guards there now Teal'c and Daniel would be cut off from the transport rings which left them with only one other option: to return the same way they had just come and head for the Stargate. Teal'c didn't like that idea at all but Daniel and him were now out of options. He had to move as well before they had no escape route left. He kneeled beside his unconscious friend then carefully lifted Daniel into his arms picking him up as if he were as light as a feather. As he placed his arms under Daniel's shoulders and knees he heard his friend whimper in pain. Teal'c bent towards Daniel then whispered, "Shh, I know that you are in pain but you must be quiet my friend, or we will not be able to get you the help that you need."
Teal'c sighed in relief when Daniel again fell silent at his gentle urgings. He tensed as Daniel moved his head hoping that he would still remain quiet. He sighed in relief when Daniel merely moved his head to prop it against Teal'c's chest. Teal'c was suddenly reminded of his son Ryac as Daniel used his chest for a pillow. He swallowed hard at the memory then glanced up again after making sure that his friend was still only unconscious. Teal'c slipped stealthily back into the forest beginning to make his journey to the Stargate and taking extra precaution not to jar Daniel by moving too fast. The odds were not in their favor. To coin a phrase Teal'c has heard Jack say often he thought, 'This is turning out to be a very bad day.'
* * * *
Jack, Sam and Za'tar had continued onward when Teal'c had stopped with Daniel. Jack's senses screamed a warning at him and just when he was about to react a staff weapon was discharged near him. He stopped in sudden surprise as another blast exploded near Sam. In the next minute they were surrounded by guards with no possible escape route in sight. Jack silently cursed. They had failed and now Daniel would again be Osiris' prisoner, but as he turned to see how Daniel was faring he was surprised to see that Teal'c and Daniel were nowhere to be seen. He quickly covered up his initial shock at that realization. He glanced at Sam who whispered, "They had to stop...he needed a break."
At that moment Jack didn't know whether he wanted to kiss Sam or shake her for being so damned observant when he had not. He was just damned glad that Teal'c and Daniel would still have a chance to get away. He only hoped the Jaffa would realize that getting Daniel off of the planet was more important then saving them. They could still escape. Daniel, however, needed immediate medical attention. Soon he wouldn't be able to go on. As he was ordered to his knees Jack only thought of his two friends still out there. He prayed that Teal'c would realize what he had to do and do it. He also found himself scanning the surrounding woods silently praying and urging his friends to remain hidden. He hoped that the staff blasts were loud enough to be heard. If Daniel or Teal'c had heard those weapons discharge then maybe they'd realize what lied ahead of them and pull back before it was too late.
Jack silently cursed Zo'lair as he used them against Daniel. When he heard Zo'lair order Daniel to surrender or watch his friends be killed he silently ordered Daniel to remain put. Daniel was the type of person who would risk his own life in a split second if it meant he could save another. Daniel's mercy and self-sacrifice were two traits that Jack greatly admired in the young scientist. They were strengths, but Jack also knew that those strengths could be used against Daniel. Zo'lair didn't know Daniel, but he knew that threatening those Daniel cared for might be just the push he'd need to get Daniel to surrender. Jack nervously glanced around half-expecting Daniel to reveal his location in order to save his friends. He was extremely grateful as the seconds turned into minutes and Daniel had still not shown himself. He hoped the two were making a hasty retreat. He noticed how Zo'lair ordered the jackal guards to spread out and encircle the area. They were attempting to flank Daniel and Teal'c, knowing or at least suspecting, that the two were in the immediate vicinity. He hoped and prayed that Teal'c and Daniel were again on the move. They were now completely cut off from the transport rings, which left them with only one alternative, a more dangerous alternative, but it was the only one now available to them: heading back to Sekhem, back towards Osiris, back towards Anubis' main complex and back to that heavily guarded Stargate. He sent up a silent prayer to the heavens for Daniel and Teal'c's safe departure through the Stargate.
Jack noticed that they were now left with only four other guards, besides Zo'lair. This could be a very big advantage...the odds of escape were higher now when they had less enemies to deal with.
* * * *
Teal'c continued on carrying his unconscious friend. He headed back towards Sekhem, back towards the jackal's lair, back towards the one Goa'uld who desired to destroy his friend. He would have to move quickly. He moved surprisingly fast with the extra burden of Daniel in his arms but knew now was not the time to be slow.
* * * *
Before Jack had time to think he watched as Za'tar lunged for the Goa'uld and quickly followed suit. Za'tar wrenched the zat gun away from Zo'lair's hands then quickly turned to fire on the other four guards. Luck was with them this day for the guards had been so surprised that Za'tar attacked they had failed to react quickly enough. Jack, Sam and Za'tar were quicker. Za'tar zatted the other four guards and, to Jack's great satisfaction, they all dropped like flies…not bad, not bad at all.
Za'tar glanced up at Sam and Jack saying, "We must go quickly. The others will return shortly." Each of them grabbed weapons with Za'tar and Jack each grabbing staff weapons while Sam grabbed two zats. Jack then spoke up pointing, "The rings are this way."
"They will be under heavy guard, Colonel O'Neill."
"We have an advantage though, Za'tar. They don't know we're coming."
"This is very true."
"Let's go...quietly shall we?"
"Daniel and Teal'c, sir?"
"Carter, I don't think they'll come our way. They know they’re cut off from the transport rings, which leaves..."
"The Stargate...which is very heavily guarded, sir."
"They have to get off of this planet on their own, Carter, to go after them would be suicide. Anubis' guards are attempting to surround them. We have to go before our escape is detected."
"If they’re captured we’ll come back for them. We have no other choice, Carter."
Sam didn't like it but knew they had little other choice in the matter. If they were to go after Daniel and Teal'c they would be captured by those guards. They had two choices: go to the Stargate...going through all of those jackal guards now prowling the woods and most likely be recaptured again or head for the rings. They would still have an army of jackal guards to get through, but they were much closer to the transport rings then to that Stargate and the chances of getting off the planet using those rings was much better than the alternative. They would have to wait to learn the fates of their other two friends. Right now they had to get away from the immediate area and get to those rings...before they were surrounded and all chance of escape was completely cut off.
* * * *
Teal'c was certain they had lost most of the guards in the forest. He had to radio Jacob Carter to let him know of their present situation. He made certain that they were well hidden before making the call. When he was certain that they were no longer in danger of being captured...at the moment...he pulled out his radio and contacted Jacob who still remained aboard the Tel'tak orbiting Ta-hetchet, "Jacob Carter this is Teal'c, do you read? Jacob Carter..."
Jacob nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard the radio come to life. As he recognized Teal'c's voice he raced for the radio. Thank God! He hadn't heard from any of SG-1 in over eight hours. He had become worried that they had all been captured. Jacob grabbed up the radio replying, "I read you Teal'c. What is happening?"
"Jacob Carter, we have successfully departed Sekhem..."
Thank heavens, thought Jacob. Teal'c continued, "We had been en route to the transport rings when we were separated. Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill have been captured along with Za'tar."
"WHAT? And what about you and Daniel?"
"Daniel Jackson and I were forced to depart or be captured as well."
"So what’s happening?"
"Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill will be heading towards the transport rings. Major Carter still has her radio. I am sure that once they have successfully escaped she will contact you."
"And what of you and Daniel?"
"We have been cut off from the transport rings. We were forced to retreat."
"Retreat? To where?"
"Daniel Jackson and I will have to get to the Stargate..."
"Teal'c, are you crazy?"
"We have no other option, Jacob Carter."
"Bad plan Teal'c, very bad plan! That Stargate is under heavy guard, not to mention you’ll have to get past Sekhem to even get to that gate. You’re taking Daniel directly back into the jackal's lair, Teal'c..."
"We are unable to get to the rings, Jacob Carter. We have no other option."
"And Daniel agrees with this?"
"He does not know."
"Daniel Jackson is unconscious again. I have been carrying him. We had no choice."
"You’ll need a GDO code to get through the gate, assuming that you even get that far, or both of you will die when you impact Earth's iris, do you have a GDO code? Teal'c?"
Dead silence followed that question, which could only mean one thing...neither Teal'c nor Daniel had the GDO code that they would need in order to inform the SGC that friendlies were coming through the gate. They would be killed instantly as they impacted the iris. Jacob questioned again, "Teal'c do you or Daniel have the GDO?"
"Teal'c, you can’t go through that Stargate. You’ll both be killed if you do so. We’re too far from Earth to send a message that would get there on time..."
"We will attempt to make it to the Stargate."
"Teal'c that's suicide! Sure you may make it to the Stargate successfully, but what will you do once you get there? Neither of you have a GDO. You’ll both be killed! No Teal'c..."
"I do..." came a quiet voice in the background. Jacob heard the voice then demanded, "WHAT?"
Teal'c heard the voice too, turning he saw Daniel Jackson now sitting up resting his head on his bent knees. Teal'c felt relieved to see his young friend awake again. He said, "It is good to see you awake again, my friend."
Teal'c was interrupted as Jacob demanded, "Teal'c what’s going on?"
Daniel glanced up then said, "I have a GDO...Jotham...he slipped it in my jacket. He must have done it before...handing it to me. He had told me to check the pocket, but I had forgotten. We have the GDO."
Teal'c silently cheered. They had a way off of Ta-hetchet and had a way to let the Tau'ri know who was coming, unannounced, through the gate. He questioned, "Jacob Carter, did you hear that?"
"Yes Teal'c...Daniel has the GDO...and Jotham must still be alive. Thank heavens."
Jacob had been extremely worried when Teal'c reported that they had no GDO. He knew that if Teal'c and Daniel had managed to get beyond the guards to the gate they would be killed when they attempted to gate home. He was so glad to hear Daniel's voice and to hear that Daniel had the GDO. Jotham had some how managed to get the device to him. Thank heavens for that! Jacob continued, "Then it’s settled...Daniel and you will head for the Stargate. I’ll wait here to transport Jack, Sam and Za'tar onto the Tel'tak. Good luck to you, my friends...and Daniel it’s very good to once again hear your voice. Welcome back."
Daniel smiled when he heard that comment then the radio went dead. Teal'c was now kneeling beside Daniel. He questioned, "Are you able to continue, Daniel Jackson?"
"I’ll try...but I don't know how much longer it’ll be before I lose consciousness again... I'm sorry Teal'c."
"You have no need to apologize, Daniel."
"Sam, Jack and your friend?"
"They will leave Ta-hetchet via the rings. You and I must make it to the Stargate."
"That's crazy Teal'c. It's heavily guarded..."
"We were cut off from the rings. If I had not left when I did they would have captured us both. They were preparing to surround us. I did what I felt was best."
Daniel glanced up at Teal'c then continued, "You did the right thing, Teal'c. Now let's get to that gate, shall we?"
"We must remain quiet, Daniel Jackson. We have to get by Sekhem to get to the Stargate. We must move quickly."
Teal'c offered aid to his friend yet again bracing Daniel about the shoulders to help support him and keep him upright. Daniel quickly draped his arm across the Jaffa's strong shoulders gritting his teeth as the simple movement jarred his rib cage. He would try his best to remain upright, but he knew that he would black out again. It was inevitable. He was still extremely weak and still gripped tightly in the aftereffects of that Goa'uld shock device. He would have to try his best to remain conscious. He knew that his strength wouldn't hold out for long. He had pushed himself too far. He had pushed himself to and beyond his limits. He could already feel the lethargy and the weakness in him. He would pass out soon but as long as he remained awake Daniel would keep moving. He had to keep moving.
* * * *
Jack, Sam and Za'tar headed in the general direction of the teleport rings, all too aware of just how dire their present situation was. Jack whispered, "We'll have to radio Jacob...I don't suppose..."
"I have my radio, sir."
"Good. We'll have to radio Jacob to let him know what's happening. Now would probably be a good time."
Sam radioed Jacob. Jacob just ended his transmission with Teal'c and was surprised when Sam's voice came from the radio. He immediately picked it up saying, "I'm here Sam."
"Dad, we’re heading for the teleport rings now."
"Teal'c said you were captured."
"We escaped. We're going to need you to...Teal'c said we were captured? You spoke with him?"
"Teal'c and Daniel are all right. They're heading for the Stargate."
"The Stargate? But they don't have a GDO..."
"Jotham put the GDO in his jacket before returning it to Daniel."
"Jotham? I should have known...so they’re all right?"
"Yes for now."
"Good. We’re attempting to get to the rings now. We should be there in..." Sam glanced up at Jack who held up five fingers then she continued, "...about five minutes, so get ready to transport us. It's guarded so I'll radio you when we're in position."
"I'll be ready."
"See you soon dad." Then they ended the transmission. She then turned to Jack saying, "Colonel, Daniel and Teal'c are heading for the Stargate. Jotham managed to return the GDO to Daniel..."
"Of course! His jacket...clever..."
"Dad will be waiting for us. I told him we’d radio when ready."
* * * *
As Teal'c and Daniel neared Sekhem Daniel faltered. Teal'c looked up at him in concern then questioned, "Do you need to rest?"
Daniel quickly responded, "No...I was just kind of hoping that I wouldn't have to see this place again...sorry."
"We must go quietly. How do you feel?"
Teal'c glanced at him oddly. Daniel continued, "Tired...very tired..."
"That is a normal response to such torture. How is your head?"
"It's pounding...loudly, very loudly."
"A side effect of the shock device."
"Will you be able to make it?"
"I have to make it, Teal'c. Let's go."
Teal'c nodded and the two continued on. As they neared Sekhem, getting closer and closer to the complex, Teal'c could see Daniel getting anxious. He had no desire to be any where near Sekhem. Teal'c knew that as they neared the complex Daniel recalled more and more of the brutality he had suffered at Osiris and Kelsham's hands. He could tell that his young friend did not care for this place all that much. He also knew that many very unpleasant memories, all very recent, were coming to the surface. He could see Daniel remembering, all too clearly, those fresh memories of his recent torture and abuse. Daniel's obvious outward anxiety as they drew closer to Sekhem was the first sign Teal'c has seen his young friend exhibit that indicated he was traumatized by his captivity. All the physical marks were present on his body but Teal'c had seen none of the emotional and mental trauma that such brutal captivity could wrought on an individual. He questioned gently, "Daniel Jackson are you able to continue?"
Daniel glanced up then said, "Yes Teal'c... I'm fine really." Teal'c inclined his head in response. Then he continued helping Daniel to walk.
They carefully and silently made their way around Sekhem inching and ducking behind buildings to keep out of sight. As soon as they were on the grounds of Sekhem the trees were no more. Anubis had cleared the area of all trees so that left Daniel and Teal'c with very little cover available. They had to get by Sekhem to get to the Stargate. There was no other way around the complex.
Daniel glanced up at Teal'c and bit his lower lip as they ducked behind a building in response to the loud CLOMP, CLOMP heading in their general direction. Jackal guards were patrolling the area. Daniel bit gently into his lip, clenching his fists and his eyes shut to keep silent as the crouching position made his ribs, his whole body, flood with pain. He had to keep silent even though he wanted to scream as pain encompassed him. He remained stubbornly silent breathing slowly so as not to make the ribs throb any more than they already were. As each CLOMP echoed to them from those jackal guards monitoring Daniel found himself groaning low. Each CLOMP, CLOMP echoed in his mind causing the already horrible migraine to only get worse. He jumped as a hand touched his arm and nearly screamed. Teal'c whispered close to his ear, "It is only I, Daniel Jackson."
Daniel felt his sudden fear at physical contact instantly recede upon hearing Teal'c's voice. Damn it but he was sensitive to physical contact now! It was even more heightened here at Sekhem, probably another lovely side effect of his captivity in this facility. Jack had questioned him earlier as to why he jumped every time someone touched his face. He hadn't said anything. He knew part of that heightened response was due to Osiris' little mind games. The ones he played on Daniel when he used Sarah and his past history with her against him. Those were the worst parts of his torture, not so much the beatings and shockings, he could deal with those and move on but the psychological torment that Osiris used...now that would take a little bit longer to deal with. Sure the physical beatings and the shockings had a strong effect on Daniel but not as strong as the mind games Osiris rather seemed to enjoy playing. Daniel's thoughts were halted as Teal'c's voice again spoke near his ear, "We may now continue, Daniel Jackson. Are you ready?"
He bit into his lower lip groaning as Teal'c helped him to his feet. The pain was extreme; Daniel felt himself wavering as he got on his feet. Teal'c immediately braced his arm across the back of his shoulders supporting Daniel yet again. God, he'd have to remember to give Teal'c a huge thanks for all of the help he's been providing. Without Teal'c's help Daniel knew that he'd never have made it this far. He muttered, "Thanks Teal'c."
"You are welcome, Daniel Jackson. We must continue."
"Yes, we must."
They continued on, neither were very thrilled to be back at Sekhem. They both wanted to just leave this place and never return. They both stopped as they had visual sight of the Stargate in the far distance. As they had expected the gate was very heavily guarded. They would have to do some fancy footwork if they were ever going to make it to that gate without being spotted and captured. Daniel looked at Teal'c then questioned, "So what do you think?"
"I think that we have our work cut out for us as you Tau'ri would say."
Daniel smiled at the Jaffa then replied, "I concur."
Teal'c glanced at his friend and couldn't help but grin in response to Daniel's comment. Daniel Jackson would be fine. It would take some time for him to get completely over what happened to him here, but he would be just fine. Teal'c knew this to be fact. He then turned back towards the Stargate... Now if only they could get off of this planet...
A new voice came from behind them causing Teal'c to jerk rapidly around and Daniel to jump, "What are you doing here?"
Daniel turned in response to that new voice as it continued, "Daniel, you should not be back here if Kelsham..."
"Jotham, we had no choice. We were cut off from the rings. We have to get out of here..."
"You intend to go to the Stargate? Daniel, that is very foolish."
"We have no other choice."
Daniel suddenly clenched his eyes shut as more pain sliced at him. He would black out soon. He knew that he would just please, please not yet... Jotham approached Daniel gently placing his cool palm against Daniel's forehead and cheeks. He eyed Daniel up worriedly saying, "Your fever is higher. You cannot run, my friend. You are too weak."
Daniel opened his eyes focusing on Jotham and simply replied, "I have to run."
"I will go with you..."
"Daniel your friend will need help. You cannot fight in your present condition. You will soon lose consciousness again. You know that you will and I know that you will. You need my help."
"You've already helped enough."
"I will help your friend and you to get free of Osiris. If you are recaptured then you will be moved. You need my help...now more than ever Daniel. You know that I am right."
"Yes," came Daniel's only reply before he turned back to again examine their escape route. This was not going to be easy...
* * * *
Jack, Sam and Za'tar had also finally made it to their destination, like Daniel and Teal'c their escape route was also heavily guarded. 'Great just great,' Jack thought. Now what the hell were they going to do? Guards combed the surrounding area with staff weapons raised, prepared to shoot on sight. Jack scanned the area. Just how many guards were out there? Damn, he had been hoping that since these guards were completely oblivious to the fact that Zo'lair's prisoners had, in fact, escaped that they would have this place less heavily guarded. Well, Daniel and Teal'c were still out there maybe this little welcoming party was for them should they some how managed to even get this far. Damn it, how were they going to get out of this one? What they needed was a distraction. He glanced at Carter and she at him...obviously Carter had come to the exact same conclusion that Jack had.
Za'tar glanced at the two Tau'ri with him. They were a most curious race. He had interacted with very few from the Tau'ri home world in his lifetime. The three that meant so much to his Jaffa friend were very strong, indeed. At first he had little hope for the one called Daniel Jackson. When he had seen the young Tau'ri as he was brought before Anubis he hadn't expected that spirit, that defiance. The young Tau'ri was a strong one, a fighter, as was his other two friends. When Teal'c had informed him that the young Tau'ri had been exposed to the Goa'uld shock device Za'tar had never expected the young man to stay conscious for so long afterwards. He had a stubborn streak a mile wide...or so one of his friends had said. Za'tar had seen that stubbornness, that determination to never give up. Without him even doing anything, Daniel Jackson had earned Za'tar's respect. The determination and spiritedness in the young Tau'ri was a very admirable quality, indeed. He also respected the young man's willingness to sacrifice himself for the sake of others. He had told his friends several times that he would slow them down and every time he was about to prove his point the older man, Jack O'Neill, would not hear of it. These three Tau'ri and his Jaffa friend were extremely close. Za'tar could see how much one cared for the other. They were not only a team but a family. Teal'c had told him of their connectedness and upon telling him that these Tau'ri were not only his friends but his family was all the reason Za'tar had needed to join his friend in his rescue attempt. He saw why Teal'c would risk so much for the sake of one of the Tau'ri. Teal'c was extremely close to his teammates. He was still stoic, a result of his training as First Prime of Apophis, but these Tau'ri seemed to know his friend very well and his friend seemed to know them just as well.
Za'tar made up his mind. He would distract the jackal guards long enough to allow these two Tau'ri to escape. They had no other options. Za'tar spoke, "I will lead them away from the transport rings to allow escape..."
"You will have to get to those transport rings. You have no other option. I will be the distraction."
"We are not leaving you behind! We never leave anyone behind!"
"I will join you after I have distracted Anubis' guards."
"You're coming with us."
"I will come." Za'tar was shocked to hear the older Tau'ri, O'Neill, say that they would not leave him behind. They never left anyone behind. These Tau'ri not only had strength, they had honor. O'Neill and Carter didn't even know him yet both said that he was coming with them. Za'tar found that he not only greatly respected Daniel Jackson, but now he also respected Carter and O'Neill. He was beginning to see why these Tau'ri were so special to his friend. Za'tar again glanced around. He searched for a location that he could draw the guards to. He glanced back at the Tau'ri then said, "I will lead them away from the immediate area. You must radio your friend quickly for they will most likely not stay gone for long."
"Good luck Za'tar," replied Jack.
Za'tar then left the two heading around the immediate perimeter surrounding the location those transport rings would appear. He headed a good distance away then fired a staff weapon. Jack and Sam watched as all but three guards headed to that immediate area. Jack said, "NOW!"
He jumped up quickly zatting the first guard. Carter followed in suit firing on the other two guards. They crumpled to the ground immediately. She and Jack ran for the teleport rings. Sam glanced at Jack nervously. Where was Za'tar? Jack waited as seconds turned into minutes. He looked at Carter saying, "I'm going after him. You had better radio your father and have him prepared. I have a feeling we’re going to have to get out of here very quickly."
Sam watched as Jack headed in the direction that Za'tar had. She radioed, "Dad? Dad, this is Sam."
"Sam, are you ready to be transported?"
"Not yet...Za'tar distracted the guards and has not returned. The Colonel went after him. Be prepared to ring us up on my say. We may have to get out of here quickly."
"I'll wait for your signal."
* * * *
Za'tar ran into the woods firing a staff weapon to attract the guards. He could hear them heading his way. He made a break for it trying to give the two Tau'ri time to get to those rings. He doubted very much that he'd be joining them. As he continued to flee a staff weapon fired. He felt the pain of the impact as a new wound opened up on his shoulder. He continued to run ignoring the pain when he ran directly into Zo'lair. Zo'lair had only been zatted once, enough to temporarily paralyze him. He had recovered. Zo'lair glared coldly at Za'tar then said, "I have no use for you, Shol'va. It is the Tau'ri that I want. You will tell me where they are or you will die."
"I will tell you nothing and I shall die free. I shall die free."
Za'tar waited for the killing blow as Zo'lair aimed the weapon at him...the deathblow never came.
* * * *
Daniel looked up at his friend again. They had to get to that Stargate. They had no other choice, but the odds were greatly stacked against them. They had to get by all of those guards. There were just too many of them. Daniel questioned, "I take it that you have a plan?"
Teal'c glanced at Daniel and Daniel could read his answer in the Jaffa's face. He inhaled deeply, regretting it as soon as pain echoed back at him. Then he continued, "Nope, no plan...okay. So what do you suggest we do?"
"I do not know Daniel Jackson, but we must get you home. We must get you medical care, so we must do something."
Jotham looked from Daniel to Teal'c then back to Daniel again. Daniel Jackson was fast weakening. He was running on nothing except pure adrenaline now and Jotham could see the adrenaline was even starting to dissipate. Daniel was actually shaking whether he realized it or not. His body was shaking from lack of sleep, lack of food and lack of water. The fever had increased and the young scientist was more lethargic. Daniel would not remain upright much longer. Jotham had to do something and he had to do it fast or Daniel Jackson would not make it off of this planet.
Daniel could feel his reserves of strength fast dwindling. He knew that he was completely exhausted and he knew that he would soon collapse again. He refused to let the darkness constantly trying to encompass him win. He had to stay awake; he had to stay conscious. Once on the other side of that gate he could sleep. He just had to wait until they were on the other side. He just had to wait a little while longer. He could do that.
Jotham glanced at the Jaffa saying, "Perhaps I could be of some assistance in that area. Neither Osiris nor Anubis know that I am Tok'ra. They believe me to be loyal to the Goa'uld. I could use that to our advantage. I shall return."
Daniel and Teal'c watched as Jotham headed over to one of the guards near the Stargate. He said something to them and several of the guards departed, so now instead of an entourage of guards they were down to four. Well, four was better then a ton. Jotham watched as the other guards departed then, when he was sure that they were too far away to see what he was about to do, he zatted the other four. The Stargate was now very accessible. Jotham waved them to come. Teal'c helped Daniel to his feet and helped to lead him over to where Jotham now stood. Daniel asked, "What did you tell them?"
"That you and your team were captured and Anubis needed them to help lead you back here."
Daniel then spoke up, "Uh Jotham...could you please not point that at me?"
"What? Oh sorry."
Jotham had the zat gun raised still in the ready. He didn't realize that he had it aimed directly at Daniel until the man spoke up. He lowered it immediately then said, "We must go. It will not be long before it is discovered that the Stargate has been left unguarded."
They approached the DHD and Teal'c began to input the address as Daniel prepared to send their GDO code through immediately after the wormhole was engaged. Before Teal'c was able to input the final symbol a staff weapon fired. Daniel jumped watching as Teal'c's leg suddenly gave out on him. He noticed the blood immediately...Teal'c had been wounded. He then glanced up at the guards noticing that they were now heading in his direction. Daniel could only think of one thing to say, "SHIT!"
Daniel quickly focused on the DHD inputting the rest of the Stargate address. He was aware that a weapon started firing beside him...Jotham! Jotham was firing the zat gun at the fast approaching guards. Daniel quickly finished punching in Earth's address then sent the GDO code through. Jotham hollered over his shoulder, "Daniel, you must go now! I will not be able to hold them off much longer!"
Daniel quickly went over to Teal'c's side and reached down for his friend. Teal'c had already begun to rise to his feet the best he could in his present condition. Teal'c got to his feet leaning heavily onto his left leg. He quickly braced his arm across Daniel's shoulders saying, "We must go now."
"But your leg..."
"Will be fine."
Jotham shouted out a second command, "GO!"
Teal'c looked at Daniel questioning, "Did you send the GDO...?"
"Yes Teal'c...let's go."
* * * * * * * *
General George Hammond had been worried about the fate of SG-1 ever since their departure from Earth. He had heard nothing from them and was wondering if they had found Daniel Jackson. That was over two weeks ago and they had heard nothing from SG-1 or the Tok'ra since. He was worried, extremely worried. What if they had found Daniel and were captured with him? Worse yet, what if they haven't found Daniel and he was still with Osiris? Damn it! He hated this, the waiting for days for something, for anything to be reported to him regarding his still missing team. He felt so damned helpless knowing that SG-1 was out there and knowing that if they had not contacted Earth by now they were either prisoners or hadn't found Daniel yet...or they were dead. His thoughts came to an abrupt halt as shrill alarms began to sound. Someone was attempting to access the Stargate. No team was expected due back. Hammond quickly made his way to the control room demanding, "What is going on?"
"Unidentified incoming traveler...off world activation."
"No code yet?"
Hammond watched as armed guards entered the embarkation room guns upraised and pointed directly at the Stargate. He became suddenly nervous as no codes came up. The man continued, "Still no code sir."
Hammond waited for the impact of the unlucky traveler or travelers as they struck Earth's iris...it never came. The officer suddenly yelled, "I have a GDO! It's SG-1, sir!"
"Open the iris! I need a medical team to the embarkation room STAT!"
He then ran into the embarkation room watching as the iris disappeared. The wormhole remained activated but no one was coming through yet. Where the hell were they?
* * * * * * * *
Daniel and Teal'c began to ascend the ramp to the Stargate as blast fire continued to erupt all around them. Daniel turned yelling, "Jotham let's go! NOW!"
Jotham started heading towards Daniel and Teal'c as a staff weapon blast suddenly exploded near him. Daniel saw him fall and felt chills climb his back. He yelled, "Teal'c, we have to help Jotham!"
"You must go now, Daniel Jackson! I will get Jotham."
Daniel felt his adrenaline beginning to pump anew and jumped as a blast erupted right by his head. He ran up the ramp throwing himself as hard and as fast as he could through the Stargate as another blast erupted to his left shattering a stone pedestal as it impacted.
Jotham thought that he had been shot but discovered he was not so he quickly got to his feet and saw the Jaffa heading towards him. He yelled, "GO! I will be right behind you! GO!"
Teal'c obeyed but waited until he was sure that Jotham would have enough time to get through the Stargate. Teal'c then stepped through the gate with Jotham immediately behind him just a split second before they were surrounded.
* * * * * * * *
Hammond waited patiently. What the hell was going on? Where was his team? What was happening on the other side of that wormhole? He jumped in sudden surprise as someone dove through the gate impacting the ramp hard then rolling violently down it. Debris, shattered rock, followed the first traveler. SG-1 was obviously under fire. He ran over to the fallen person glancing up as a second then a third person exited the gate. Teal'c's voice boomed, "Close the iris! Shut it down!" Then Teal'c's leg gave out on him as he fell towards the floor. Jotham quickly reacted stepping forward he caught the Jaffa and prevented him from impacting with the floor itself.
Hammond spoke up, "Teal'c..."
"I will be fine, General Hammond. You must help Doctor Jackson. He is in need of immediate medical attention."
Doctor Jackson...Daniel! Daniel had been the first to exit the Stargate. He ran over to the young archaeologist taking in his too still form. He reached out and began to slowly ease the man over onto his back trying his best not to jar the man in case he had any severe injuries. He was unprepared for what happened next. As soon as Daniel was rolled onto his back the young man grabbed a hold of Hammond's arm with incredible strength then yanked him downwards immediately ramming the deadly blade of a knife against Hammond's throat...
* * * *
As Za'tar waited for that final deathblow from Zo'lair he was ready to willingly accept death, but before Zo'lair could direct that blow at him Za'tar watched the Goa'uld jerk as blue electricity snapped and sparked around his body. As Zo'lair collapsed to the ground, no longer drawing breath, Za'tar saw why. Directly behind him stood the Tau'ri, Jack O'Neill, and upraised in his hand was a zatnickatel. Two shots killed...Zo'lair was dead. He watched as O'Neill fired the weapon again and Zo'lair disappeared forever. Za'tar didn't know what to say or even how to react. The Tau'ri could've left him but he did not. Instead he came after him and ended up saving his life. Yes, Teal'c's friends were truly worth the risks. Jack spoke up, “Figured you could use a little help."
"Thank you Colonel O'Neill, for saving my life. I owe you..."
"Nah, you don't owe me anything. Come on, let's go. We have a Tel'tak to board." Jack then reached down and helped Za'tar up.
Their return trip to the transport rings was uneventful since the guards were still scouting the woods for the Tau'ri and the four remaining guards were taking a rather long nap. Za'tar and Jack approached Sam who radioed her father. They were instantly transported onto the Tel'tak.
Once on board they all relaxed but remained stoically silent. No one knew what befell Teal'c or Daniel. All they could do was hope the two had made it successfully off of Ta-hetchet.
* * * * * * * *
General Hammond felt his body go on alert the instant he felt the deadly blade of the knife digging into his throat. He heard the guards move and cock their weapons preparing to fire if necessary. Hammond ordered, "Stand down! I said stand down!"
The men obediently did so. General Hammond then looked into Daniel's eyes. The first thing he saw was the immense pain in them and the fever. The second thing he saw was that Daniel was not here in the embarkation room. He was still on Ta-hetchet. As soon as he had ordered his men to stand down he saw the recognition spark in those eyes. Then he saw the shock in Daniel's eyes. Shock at what he almost did. He watched as Daniel quickly removed the deadly blade flinging it down the ramp. He spoke in a hoarse, pain-laced voice, "Oh God...I'm so sorry General."
"No problem... Welcome back son."
Daniel smiled then said, "Glad to be back." Home, he was finally home. He could rest now. He could let the darkness take him. He was finally home. Daniel accepted the darkness, embracing it with open arms as that realization sank in. He left his eyes slide shut and fell into the cavern of pitch-blackness.
General Hammond felt the bruising grip on his arm suddenly ease up. He glanced at where Daniel held his arm in that biting grip. When he glanced back he saw Daniel's eyes roll back in his skull and all the strength instantly went out of him as he went completely lax in Hammond's arms. Hammond yelled, "Med team! WHERE'S THAT MED TEAM?"
He felt Daniel's head roll gently against his left arm and knew that Jackson was totally unconscious. He was ready to yell for the med team again when Doctor Fraiser's voice cut in, "General, you’ll have to move so that we can get to him."
Two other med techs went over to Teal'c and began working on him. Janet watched Hammond as he held the young man in his arms. Jotham approached the unconscious archaeologist. Then he reached down gently brushing a stray strand of Daniel's hair off of his forehead. He spoke in the voice of Nivan, "You are home, young one. Now you must fight to live."
As soon as that gravel voice spoke the guards again raised their weapons in the ready. This time they were aiming for Jotham. Teal'c ordered, "Do not! He is a friend of Daniel Jackson's!"
An officer quickly responded, "He's a Goa'uld, General Hammond."
Teal'c spoke again, "He is Tok'ra. Lower your weapons."
General Hammond noticed how the young man who spoke in that Goa'uld voice was extremely concerned for Daniel Jackson. He ordered, "Stand down men," and they obeyed.
Nivan watched as a stretcher was brought to Daniel's side. He saw them preparing to lift Daniel then spoke up, "Please be careful with him. Doctor Jackson has many injuries. You must take great care in moving him or you will only cause him more pain."
Janet questioned, "What are some of his injuries? Should we be careful not to bump any when we lift him?"
"The worst injuries are his broken ribs. Doctor Jackson has multiple fractures and bruises to the left side of his rib cage. His right shoulder has also been injured. Please be careful not to jolt those areas...and his leg, of course. He is in a lot of pain. This young one has suffered much at the hands of Osiris."
Janet nodded her head and aided in lifting him carefully up. They carefully placed Daniel on the stretcher taking extra precaution not to jar any of the areas Nivan warned them about. As they started to head to the infirmary with Daniel Nivan turned to General Hammond saying, "With your permission sir, I would like to be with Doctor Jackson."
"I will need you to get a check up in the infirmary any how so you may come with us."
Hammond turned as he heard Teal'c snapping at a soldier saying, "I have no need of assistance. I must go with Doctor Jackson." Then the Jaffa limped after Jotham and Hammond. Hammond only rolled his eyes knowing that the Jaffa would do as he wanted regardless of what he was told to do. He questioned, "Where is the rest of SG-1, Teal'c?"
"Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill are boarding the Tel'tak. They will return with Jacob Carter. We were separated. Doctor Jackson and I had to go to the Stargate. Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill had to go to the transport rings."
* * * *
Doctor Janet Fraiser was used to her job, but she still felt queasy when dealing with victims of torture. As she examined Doctor Jackson's body for any severe injuries she couldn't help but notice the multiple bruises, burns and injuries across the man's pale flesh that were indicative of torture. There was no question in her mind Daniel Jackson had been tortured. He had not only been tortured he had been starved and dehydrated. Osiris had been extremely cruel and extremely neglectful with his prisoner.
She had Daniel cleaned up and placed on a bed. He was dressed only in his underwear for the time being so that she could see all of his injuries. When they had first removed his pants she hadn't expected to see the nasty bruising that covered his right leg. The blast burn was very noticeable but she never expected those bruises to be covering his right leg. Of course those injuries weren't too bad...bruises and blast wounds she could handle, but as his jacket was removed the first thing she saw was his wrists. He had obviously been kept in restraints the entire time. She started to feel a bit ill when she saw those obvious indications that the man before her had been kept in restraints. As her eyes traveled the lengths of his arms she could see other bruises and scratches. Those weren't too bad either. She noticed blood that rolled down his arm from his left shoulder. Some of it was dry but most of it was wet. He had an injury there, she was sure of it.
As his t-shirt was removed Daniel yelped out in pain. Janet ordered, "STOP! Move slower, gently...he's injured there...ribs."
As she glanced at his face again she could see the lines of pain etched across it. She could also see the cuts and bruises again. Someone had definitely worked him over...on several different occasions. His face was bruised badly, his lower lip was split open and he had grooves, deep scratches, splashed across his temple, upper jaw line and cheek bone. She focused again on his abdomen when the nurse helping her replied, "Oh my God..."
Janet glanced at the flesh now exposed. As the woman continued to gently pull the shirt off of Daniel she almost lost her lunch. Daniel's chest was a mass of bruises dark ugly massive bruising covered his left side and chest. Where his flesh wasn't bruised it was burned, badly burned. Something had been pressed against his flesh that burned. As the nurse continued to pull the shirt off of Daniel other burns, cuts and bruises were revealed to her. Then she pulled the shirt up over his head revealing the nasty shoulder wound. Oh he had been tortured, Daniel Jackson had most definitely been tortured. What had they done to him? What happened to him while he was Osiris' prisoner? Janet reached towards his rib cage. Her hand was shaking badly. She inhaled deeply and made her hand still. She then placed her hand very gently on Daniel's ribs. Daniel cried out in pain so loudly that Jotham and Hammond came running into the room. When Hammond entered the room he heard her speak softly, "It's all right. It's all right...calm down. Breathe Daniel, that's it breathe."
Daniel had come half awake as her light touch sent severe anguish thrumming through his body. He was aware of the pain first and some how could hear a voice, a very distant voice, hushing him and telling him that it was okay. He swallowed hard concentrating on that voice. He heard her say about giving him some analgesic drugs. He screamed no inside his mind. No drugs, please God no more drugs! He would rather tolerate the excessive pain then accept drugs. No drugs, she had promised him she would give him no drugs. He couldn't remember who she was right now, his mind was so cloudy and he was so lethargic, so tired, but he did remember that. She had promised him no needles and no drugs. Daniel screamed no in his head again not realizing he verbalized his protests. He spoke loud enough that Janet could hear him, "No."
"Daniel? Daniel, can you hear me? Daniel..."
He tried to open his eyes but no matter how he fought to do so his eyes stubbornly refused to open. He inhaled deeply whimpering aloud as the simple act of inhaling made his rib cage protest. He felt a hand on his face and attempted to jerk away saying, "No...No... I don't know anything... I don't..."
Hammond approached her looking from Daniel to her in concern. She spoke, "He's muttering. I think he's also remembering... Daniel? Daniel, can you hear me? Daniel? Give him 4 cc's..."
"No...no drugs... You promised me."
"Daniel, you're in so much pain. I..."
Hammond's voice interrupted her thoughts as he questioned, "What's he talking about, Doctor? You promised him you wouldn't give him pain killers?"
"Yes I did."
"Because he asked me to sir, and I’ll respect his wishes."
"Doctor, he's in so much pain..."
"No General, I promised Daniel I’d never put him through that. No."
"General, Daniel is my patient and he doesn't wish to be given drugs. I respect Daniel's wishes. We've discussed this before."
"Why wasn't I ever told?"
"There was no reason for you to know. Daniel prefers to keep his reasons for such requests silent."
"It's because of Mackenzie, isn't it? That bastard!"
"General, will you please move away and allow me to tend to my patient."
Hammond obeyed stepping backwards to give her room to continue working on Daniel. Doctor Fraiser was all too aware that Hammond still stood behind her. She spoke again, "General Hammond, I need you to leave the room so that I may focus on my patient. I'll let you know when I'm done. Right now I need you out of here, please."
General Hammond listened. He told Jotham to come with him so they went to check on Teal'c, allowing Janet to work on Daniel.
God but his injuries were nasty. She noticed relatively quickly that most of the injuries were induced to cause Daniel pain and make him suffer constantly. They were designed to keep him in constant anguish. She felt chills climb her spine at that thought. He had been gone over two weeks. She wondered if he had died at all in that time. She had been very disturbed to learn that Anubis had a sarcophagus and that if he so chose he could repetitively kill Daniel then bring him back to life. She found herself wondering if he had died several times or had only been threatened with such a thing occurring. She whispered soothingly, “Daniel, I'm going to press my hand gently against your left side. It will hurt. I'm sorry but I have to."
She looked at him in surprise. He was still at least semi-conscious or else he would've never been able to respond to her. She gently pressed against his side. Daniel whimpered inhaling shakily as pain spread throughout his ribs and chest. He swallowed hard muttering, "God, it hurts..."
"Shh...Shh...I know it does. Relax Daniel. You need to relax for me. Can you breathe for me? Inhale and exhale?"
She gently pressed against his rib cage listening to his breathing as he inhaled and exhaled on her command. His airways sounded clear, that was a good sign. He didn't have any fluid in his lungs...yet. She then continued to examine him and worked on patching up his many cuts and injuries. She had to stitch the knife wound present on his shoulder and worked on the staff burn. Then she said, "I need to get to his back."
Daniel was gently raised so that Janet could see his back. His back was also a mass of bruises and burns. She saw a knife wound over top his kidney and bruises splashed in various areas across his back, as well. She paled when she saw the nasty burns at the base of Daniel's neck. These burns were worse and there were a lot more of them. She couldn't even begin to imagine the pain and anguish he must've suffered through or what would've caused such nasty burns in such excess. After she finished his back she had him laid gently back down then attended to the many scratches and grooves carved into the side of his face.
She sighed in relief when she finished her exams. As she looked at the young man she could tell that he was sleeping again. He was in a very deep sleep. Good, sleep was one of the essentials for healing. She left his room after sitting with him for a time. She would have to give Hammond her report.
Later, when she entered the briefing room three faces turned to her expectantly. She spoke, "I’ve finished my exams of Doctor Jackson. He's sleeping comfortably right now."
"How is he?"
"Physically he’ll heal, but mentally...that's something we'll just have to wait and see on... He was tortured, obviously. He has multiple broken, fractured and bruised ribs, evidence of a fractured sternum..."
General Hammond spoke up suddenly, "Fractured sternum? Evidence?"
"Yes. It appears to have been healed, not completely though."
Jotham spoke up just then interrupting, "The sternum bone is still weak. Another blow could fracture it again. It is fused together but not completely healed..."
"Yes, how did you...?" Janet began to question. Jotham replied, "Because I am the one who healed it... I had to or he would have died."
Janet nodded then continued, "He was starved and is badly dehydrated but someone," she glanced briefly at Jotham then continued, "...has been providing him with water and nourishment."
"How can you be so sure, Doctor?" questioned Hammond.
"Because if that person hadn't of helped him..."
Jotham interrupted again, "Daniel would be dead now. Osiris was starving him to death, intentionally. He knew that he could use the sarcophagus to return Daniel to life. He enjoyed watching Daniel starve slowly to death. He also refused to provide Daniel with water."
Everyone looked at Jotham knowing, without having to be told, that Jotham had been offering aid to Daniel the entire time he was on Ta-hetchet. Hammond felt so much better knowing that someone had offered him aid. Janet was grateful also...being tortured repetitively and not tended to, not visited, except to be beaten again was horrible. Daniel had not been totally alone. Jotham had visited him, which in the end could help Daniel to recover a lot faster than if he hadn't been helped by this man.
Janet continued with her report, "Daniel has several stab wounds and staff wounds. He has multiple burns across the expanse of his chest and back and multiple bruises. Most of his injuries, although they are excessive, are not lethal. Most of his injuries were induced to keep him in constant pain. He's exhausted, weak and malnourished. He should be awake soon though..."
Jotham spoke up, "He will be in and out of consciousness over the next several days."
"What? No, he should be fine..."
"He was tortured with the Goa'uld shock device. The burns at the base of his neck...they are where he was prodded with the device. The device elicits electricity throughout the entire body gripping the victim in constant pain. It leaves the victim with an extreme migraine, a migraine that lasts for over three days. Daniel will be in and out of consciousness until the aftereffects of that weapon subside. The weapon was designed to keep the victim weak and in constant pain for long periods of time."
"So what are you saying?"
"Daniel is in extreme pain, even now. He is still being tortured on the inside. There is nothing that you can do for him. When the device was applied and discharged he was automatically gripped in that pain. The Goa'uld shock device was Kelsham's favorite weapon. He enjoyed torturing Daniel with it knowing what the aftereffects were."
"You're telling me he's still being tortured?"
"Yes...in essence... You cannot stop it. Nothing will cease the pain, for the weapon has already been discharged, the current has already entered his system. There is nothing you can do except wait until the effects finally wear off. He will be confused when he awakes. He always is. He'll most likely think that you are Osiris. He will fight you. You must tell him what has happened. He will remember once you tell him, remind him, of what has happened. Kelsham rather enjoyed using the weapon because he knew it would weaken Daniel. They would visit him at least once a day to torment him. He has been through a lot. He will need time to heal completely...both mentally and physically. Daniel told me how much the host means to him...he had to suffer by her hands. I cannot even begin to imagine how that would make one feel."
"Yes..." was all Janet could seem to say as she once again thought of the cruelty Daniel had been exposed to. Jotham interrupted her thoughts questioning, "May I please go see him? Please?"
"Yes of course..."
"We will debrief in one our, people. I'll meet you back here." announced General Hammond.
* * * *
Jotham and Teal'c entered Daniel's room to see how he was doing. Doctor Fraiser followed in behind them. She approached her patient glancing at his still bruised, cut up face. He was sleeping, deeply and peacefully. She had a feeling that Daniel hasn't slept this peacefully in a while. She was glad to see it. She commented, "He's resting."
"Good. Daniel needs rest. He did not get much while on Ta-hetchet."
"Jotham, just how long have you been lending him aid?"
"Since the third day of his capture. I visited him at least once a day, sometimes several times a day, to check on his condition and to make him drink water and eat food. He at first refused to accept water from me..."
"Because he had not been given any water, at all. Kelsham approached him on the second day offering him water. Daniel would not accept it."
"He was sure that the water was drugged."
"Yes. I found out later that Osiris had planned to drug him in hopes that it would make Daniel less alert and more easily coerced. When Osiris discovered that Daniel refused to drink or eat he became outraged. I believe because Daniel refused the drugged water, Osiris desired to punish him by giving him no nourishment and no liquids. Osiris expected Daniel to be easy to interrogate, of course Daniel was greatly misjudged. He refused to reveal anything and in fact gave both Kelsham and Osiris a very difficult time while they interrogated him."
"Osiris obviously did not know that Daniel Jackson has a stubborn streak a mile wide, as O'Neill would say."
Janet reached out gently placing her hand against Daniel's face. Daniel jerked awake screaming as pain reverberated throughout his entire being. He looked wild-eyed when he first awoke not sure of where he was. He heard a voice, soft spoken, and gently speaking to him. Where the hell was he? God, he still hurt all over! He had to focus. As he heard that voice he looked towards her then muttered, "Janet..."
His comment sounded more like a sigh of relief. She watched as he began to calm down again. She never expected that her simple touch would make him wake up so rapidly. She had seen fear in him upon first awaking. His response to touch was definitely more heightened now than before he had been abducted. She was a bit worried about that response. She smiled gently watching as Daniel clenched his eyes tightly shut swallowing hard. She had no doubt that his sudden jerk to consciousness sent his head and body throbbing painfully again. She questioned, "Hey Daniel, how are you feeling?"
No response. She became even more worried. She watched him intently waiting for a response, any response. Then she saw his tongue slip out of his mouth and travel across his lips. He was moistening his lips so that he could speak clearer. Daniel then opened his eyes and looked at her a smile on his face as he spoke in that hoarse raspy voice, "Fine Doctor Fraiser. I feel better...thirs...I'm thirsty though."
"That’s a very good sign. Hold on Daniel. We'll get you some water."
Teal'c quickly got a glass of water for Daniel. He handed it to Doctor Fraiser. Daniel struggled to sit upright. Teal'c stepped next to him and placed two gently restraining hands on either side of Daniel's shoulders, very careful not to bump the injuries on either. He spoke, "Daniel Jackson you must relax. You must lay down."
"I'm fine Teal'c"
"We have had this discussion already, my friend. You must stop pushing yourself. Now please lay back down." Teal'c saw defiance flit across Daniel's eyes and waited for him to argue, but Daniel held his gaze only a moment longer before allowing Teal'c to gently push him back against the mattress.
Daniel wanted to argue with Teal'c, to say that he was fine. He hated being so weak. He wanted to refuse to obey the Jaffa, but he was just too damned exhausted, too damned tired, to even bother fighting the man right now, so he caved and allowed Teal'c to guide him back onto the mattress. Janet spoke up, "I have water."
Daniel glanced at her then reached for the glass forgetting, yet again, how weak he was. As he raised his arm he noticed his hand was shaking. God, he was so damned weak! He hated this! Daniel angrily lowered his arm back to the mattress. Janet could tell that Daniel was extremely frustrated. She spoke gently, "Give it a few more days, Daniel. Your body has been through one shock after another. You haven’t had sufficient food or water intake for several weeks. Your strength will return in time. Right now your body needs to heal and you need to recover. Your body is simply reminding you of that."
Daniel didn't like what she was saying, but he knew that she was right. He found that he did feel some what better hearing her say that. He nodded his head clenching his eyes shut as pain echoed back at him as a result of the simple movement. Then he opened his eyes looking at her again. She asked, "Are you ready?"
Teal'c sat down beside Daniel and helped raise him upright. Janet then pressed the glass to Daniel's dry cracked lips as Teal'c helped aid him in drinking. He swallowed only a little before he coughed violently as the cool water found his raw, aching throat. He recovered managing to keep the water down and asked, "More...please..."
Janet continued to help him drink until he turned his head away to indicate that he didn't want anymore. Teal'c gently guided Daniel back down onto the bed. Daniel said, "Thanks Teal'c."
"You are welcome, Daniel Jackson."
Daniel smiled at his friend. Then suddenly remembered Sam and Jack. He questioned, "Sam, Jack...where?"
"They were transported to the Tel'tak by Jacob Carter."
"Do we have confirmation that they actually are on that ship?"
"No, not yet."
"So they could still be there?"
"No, I do not believe so."
"Rest my friend. You must rest and recover. We will let you know when Jacob Carter contacts us with news. For now you must rest." Teal'c saw that spark again...Daniel was ready to argue, but again he backed down. Teal'c knew why. Daniel would argue if he were able. His friend was extremely weak and knew that he would drain the small reserves of strength he had left if he argued so he remained silent. Teal'c could tell that Daniel was angry at himself, angry at his weakened state... He understood that anger all too well.
Janet spoke, "You know Daniel, you really should stop getting yourself into fixes just to see me. I'm always here. All you have to do is talk to me. You don't have to get yourself hurt to get my attention."
"WHAT?" Daniel questioned in sudden surprise and confusion. Then what she said registered. He couldn't help it as he started laughing. He choked out between laughs, "Oh God...don't make me...laugh...please...don't... It hurts... God."
Janet smiled at him once he regained control of his laughter. She continued, "Rest Daniel...that’s an order. You need to sleep, okay?"
"Sure. Now get some sleep, Daniel."
Daniel had very little difficulty doing as she suggested. He was so tired, so exhausted, that his eyelids were automatically beginning to slide shut. In the next instant Daniel was fast asleep again. Janet sighed in relief as she watched the young man fall prey to much needed rest. She again smirked, glad that he was back and glad that he was now able to recover.
* * * * * * * *
Jack O'Neill was definitely cranky. While he was glad to finally be aboard the Tel'tak heading home he still didn't know the fates of his other two friends. He was sure that Daniel and Teal'c had made it home. They just had to be there! But what if they weren't? What if they had been unable to make it to that Stargate to get home? The gate was very heavily guarded even Jacob had said so. A ton of guards against two were very bad odds. The odds were even worse seeing that one of those two people was so weak and so badly injured that he could lose consciousness at any time. What happened to Daniel and Teal'c? They were finally heading home, back to Earth. Jacob had sent a message to General Hammond informing him that Jack and Sam were fine, as well as Teal'c's friend, but that message would take awhile to even reach Earth. Sam came up beside him noticing that he was rather quiet. She questioned, "Sir, are you all right?"
"Yeah, I'm fine Carter..."
Fine? Yeah right! Sam knew that he wasn't fine. He had been rather cryptically silent since leaving Ta-hetchet. She of course knew why: Daniel and Teal'c. Neither of them knew the fate of their friends yet. Did Teal'c and Daniel manage to get successfully off of Ta-hetchet, as well? Or were they both now prisoners of Osiris? God, she hoped not. Daniel had suffered a lot at that Goa'uld's hands. She hoped, she prayed, that they managed to get away. She wanted to tell herself that they were fine, that Daniel was probably sleeping away in the infirmary under Janet's tender care, but she really couldn't because she didn't know if it was so. She reached out placing a comforting hand on Jack's shoulder saying, "They're fine. They are both very resourceful. I'm sure they made it to Earth, sir."
"And what if they didn't, Carter?"
"I'm sure they did."
"But what if..."
"Sir, they’re fine. You have to believe that. Think positively sir. Daniel and Teal'c are fine. They are back on Earth and Doctor Fraiser is fussing over Daniel again. They're fine."
"I hope so Carter. I really do hope so...because if they're not..."
Jack fell silent and his unfinished comment made Sam feel suddenly uneasy...stop it! Daniel and Teal'c are fine! They made it off of the planet! They're fine!
* * * * * * * *
Hammond found himself looking at those obvious marks on the younger man's face...evidence of his abduction and subsequent torture. He noticed the bad bruising and scratching across the left side of Daniel's face. He had obviously impacted something hard, a wall most likely, and as he had slumped in response the wall dug into his face. Hammond winced as he thought of the pain those marks probably induced. He also noticed the obvious burn marks on the center of Daniel's forehead and the bridge of his nose...the ribbon device had been used on him and he had nearly died as a result. The only way that device could've caused such noticeable burning was if it was held there long enough to nearly murder the young man. Those cryptic thoughts served to chill Hammond to the bone. He continued to glance over the young man. The blanket was pulled up to his waist. He was lying on his back his right arm draped over his damaged ribs, probably in an effort to unconsciously soothe them, and his other arm lying at his side. He had been propped upright a bit. Doctor Fraiser had added another pillow, probably doing that in an effort to help the young man feel more comfortable. Hammond glanced at Daniel's exposed arms. His eyes fell immediately to his bandaged right shoulder. Beneath those bandages lay a wound from a Jaffa staff weapon. As he continued to scan Daniel's exposed flesh he could see the accumulation of bruises and cuts clashing sharply against his lighter skin tone. On each arm were obvious indentations from fingers, where someone had yanked him upright by his arms, none too gently. His left arm was almost a solid mass of bruised flesh. His whole left side was bruised worse than his right side. He most definitely had impacted a wall, probably after being brutally backhanded. Old and new bruises mixed across his face indicating that he had obviously suffered vicious backhands a lot. Then there was his wrists...his wrists spoke of his long time kept secured in restraints. He had been kept restrained, chained the entire time. The shackles had done more than bruise his flesh. They cut into his flesh, tearing open raw skin and chafing his wrists until they bled. Hammond shook his head still shocked at seeing the evidence of torture across the young man's body. It made him so angry! Osiris had done this to him, damn him! He reached out and gently gripped Daniel's left hand in his.
Daniel jumped awake slightly. He opened his eyes, staring at the ceiling. He found himself staring at the lighted ceiling trying to recall where he was. Then he remembered as he heard a familiar beeping off to his right, a heart monitor hooked up to him to keep track of his heartbeat. He could feel the mattress beneath him and breathed deeply but slowly managing to successfully not jar his rib cage. He swallowed hard then licked his lips and turned to the person at his bedside. God, but he felt so tired. He could probably sleep for weeks and not care. He was just so exhausted. As he looked up at his bedside visitor he smiled then spoke up, "General..."
"How are you feeling, son?"
"You've been through a lot. You need to rest."
"Nothing yet. I'm sure we'll hear something soon."
"He's in his quarters...meditating. He'll be back to sit with you shortly."
Daniel swallowed hard merely nodding his head slightly as his throat began to hurt and throb from speaking a few simple words. Daniel closed his eyes and inhaled slowly and deeply again. Then he looked up at the General. Hammond said, "I'll let you rest, son."
"Sorry...I'm sorry about...pulling that knife on you."
"I know, son. I know."
Hammond's mind flashed to earlier when Daniel had come flying through the gate. Hammond had gone to his side slowly turning him over and had froze when the young man grabbed him placing a deadly knife blade against his throat. It had caught him off guard and scared him at first, but as he looked into the man's eyes he could tell Daniel wasn't on Earth...at least not mentally. He thought that he was still on Ta-hetchet and that Hammond was only touching him to grab him and drag him back to Osiris for more torture. He had seen recognition spark in the man's eyes when he ordered the guards to stand down. Daniel had tossed the knife immediately and apologized. Hammond understood exactly what made Daniel react in such a way. He glanced back up at the young man again seeing that his eyes were closed. He was probably asleep again, but as Hammond started to pull his hand gently away Daniel spoke again still keeping his eyes shut. He questioned, "Thirsty...could I...?"
"Certainly son. Hold on." Hammond quickly got a glass of water and brought it to Daniel. He was ready to aid Daniel in drinking some of the water when the door opened. Jotham entered and interrupted, "Here, let me do that."
Daniel opened his eyes when he heard that familiar voice. He muttered, "Jotham..."
"Hello Daniel. How are you feeling?"
"That is good." He approached Daniel and helped him drink the water coaxing him to drink more and to keep it down. As Hammond watched the exchange it was very obvious to him that this was a familiar thing to Daniel. Obviously Jotham had given Daniel water a lot while he was imprisoned. He smiled as Daniel responded to the gentle urgings and coaxings. When the glass was half empty Jotham urged him to accept more. Daniel stopped him saying, "No...can't...later... Thank you."
"You are welcome, my friend. Now you must rest."
Daniel closed his eyes finding that it was a struggle just to stay alert. He could feel sleep descending upon him once again and willingly allowed it to engulf him. Jotham spoke softly, "Yes that is it, Daniel. Rest."
He glanced up as the General's voice broke the sudden silence, "Thank you...thank you for helping him while he was being held there."
Jotham nodded his head then said, "He will sleep for a time, then reawaken. He must rest to heal. I will sit with him awhile."
"Feel free to."
"Thank you General Hammond."
"You are very welcome."
Janet entered the room noticing the two men who were sitting a silent vigil over Daniel. She approached looking at her patient. She asked, "How’s he doing?"
"He's sleeping, Doctor."
"Has he awaken?"
"Yes he has. I have just finished giving Daniel water. He has just now fallen asleep again."
"Good, good. He needs water and rest. He needs to eat, as well. Keep encouraging him to drink fluids when he awakes. We have to get liquid back into his system. He's running a low-grade fever, but it could spike at any time."
Jotham gently placed a hand against Daniel's forehead. Daniel only came half awake as the veil of sleep was just too seductive to completely resist. He muttered, "No...I know nothing...I don't know anything... I can't tell you what I...don't know..."
Jotham hushed him talking soothingly to him until Daniel once again relaxed and let sleep completely take him. Jotham gently removed his hand reporting, "He is cooler now. His fever was higher when we were making our way to the Stargate."
Doctor Fraiser checked his heart rate and listened to his breathing then excused herself and left the room. Jotham and General Hammond remained sitting with him. Teal'c entered an hour later and took the seat that Hammond had been occupying for the last hour.
* * * *
Over the course of the following week they would visit Daniel and take turns sitting by his bedside. He had been happy to finally hear the news that Jack and Sam were alive, safe and on their way back to Earth. They had escaped using the rings and had been traveling with Jacob. He was actually able to sit upright without severe pain swamping him from his rib cage now. His ribs were far from healed but the pain in them had at least receded some. He was sitting with Nyan who was telling him of how they found him and of what all he missed since his disappearance. The man was quite a talker, but Daniel didn't mind. He enjoyed spending time with his friend and was glad to be finally home. He glanced up as Doctor Fraiser entered his room. He looked at her in question then asked, "Doctor Fraiser what...?"
"There are some people here who would very much like to see you. Are you ready to accept more visitors?"
Daniel watched as first Jacob, then Sam and Jack entered his room followed by Za'tar. He smiled as he saw his friends. Jack walked over to him saying, "Hey Danny, how are you doing? Ready for that fishing trip?"
"Hi Jack. I'm glad you made it. I was beginning to get worried."
"You know us Danny, we have nine lives."
Daniel's smile broadened. Jack immediately hugged him saying, "I'm glad you're all right. We were worried about you."
"I'm fine Jack. Really."
Sam waited patiently until Jack released Daniel before she gave him a hug, as well. She said, "It's good to see you, Daniel. I'm glad you're back."
"You look good," interrupted Jack.
Sam broke the hug and moved to the side so that Daniel could see his older friend. Daniel responded, "I feel much better..."
"That's what I like to hear..." then Jack sat down on the bed beside Daniel with that look on his face. Daniel knew that something was coming. Then Jack continued, "Now...about that fishing trip..."
Oh no, here it was that damned fishing trip, of course Jack would remember that. Daniel really wasn't all that crazy about fishing in fact he thought it was completely boring. He had hoped Jack wasn't serious when he told Daniel on Ta-hetchet that he would take him fishing as soon as they returned to Earth. Daniel cleared his throat then started, "Yeah Jack...I've been meaning to talk to you about that. You see..."
"Say no more. I'm going to head home and get the jeep packed. We'll be ready to go..."
Daniel looked at Sam. She was of little help as she busted up laughing. Daniel mouthed to her, "Help." Sam laughed harder. Then she regained control of her laughter and looked at Jack, "Sir, Daniel..."
Jack cut her off before she could even say what she had planned as he interrupted, "Don't worry Carter. I know exactly what you're going to say."
"But I promised Daniel I'd take him. You can come next time..."
Sam stared at him for the longest moment not knowing what to say. The man was impossible! She turned to Teal'c and mouthed, "What?" Teal'c was of little help as he spoke, "Yes fishing...I am sure that you will enjoy it, Daniel Jackson."
Daniel groaned then said, "Someone, please, just shoot me now."
"Daniel, we are going fishing. I promised that I'd take you. Besides you need some time off. You'll enjoy it..."
Daniel muttered, "Yeah about as much as I enjoy being in this infirmary..."
Jack glanced at him with an expression on his face that seemed to be saying 'I heard that.' Sam giggled again, which caused Daniel to direct a glare her way that seemed to be saying 'Thank you so much for your help, Sam.' Teal'c interrupted saying, "Daniel Jackson, you must not forget to request a cell phone..."
"Teal'c, I told you to stop giving Daniel advice."
"And an extra set of batteries..."
"When you fish you have no need for cell phones, Teal'c."
"Several extra set of batteries..."
That did it they all ended up laughing. When they finally got control of their laughter Jack glanced at Daniel again saying, "I'm still taking you fishing."
Daniel rolled his eyes as he replied, "Oh great. Thanks Jack."
Okay, so he wasn't extremely excited about going to Minnesota with Jack on a fishing trip and he knew that Jack would take him, even if he had to strap Daniel to the jeep to get him there. At the moment Daniel didn't care. He was just glad to be home, so glad to be surrounded by the people who meant the most to him...this was home. He was finally home. Daniel smiled broadly at that thought.
** THE END **
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