Flame Turns Blue

 

Daniel
I don't know what to do. My mind is sluggish with the delusion I've allowed myself to embrace for months. Years, even. How could I have not realized how deeply this runs? I should have seen.
I'm conning myself yet again. I did see, but chose to ignore the truth he laid out before us all on several occasions during the past five years. I naively chalked Teal'c's strength of spirit to the nobility of the warrior he is, never once considering the warrior he is, is not noble at all. His 'strength' has always been fostered by something else.
My mind now easily displays the warnings Teal'c gave. When Apophis was at the SGC, dying, we all wanted to see him go. Jack was vehemently vocal when it came to what he thought was the best course of action. I agreed one hundred and ten percent - Apophis' presence evoked a response that still frightens me. If Sam hadn't come in when she did...I might have killed him.
No. As much as I wanted to, I don't think I would have. I don't think Jack would have either. Teal'c would have. I know he would have. I can still see the satisfied smirk on his face as he carried Apophis' dead body to the active Stargate. My stomach twists with the memory. I admit I was glad to be rid of the Goa'uld, but at the same time was sickened at Martouf's revelation that Sohkar would revive Apophis to inflict torture upon him. Looking back, I think Teal'c may have understood what he was sending his former master into and took pleasure in it. God.
An even more blatant sign flashes before me. Hell, Teal'c told me the truth. Told me flat out the reason he strove so hard all his life to become First Prime to Apophis. It was not ambition to be the best Jaffa he could be; it was merely a means to seek revenge upon Cronus for the death of his father. I feel like such a fool. He only served Apophis to gain personal fulfillment in wounding Cronus. He said he joined us to help free his people from slavery, but now I wonder if his true motivation was only to seek revenge on Apophis for holding him under slavery his entire life. Are we just a means to an end for Teal'c?
Doubt is crippling me now. I can't do anything but stand in the cold hallway, hesitating at the door. I know that I need to talk to Teal'c, but I don't want to face him. I don't know if I can.
That...look is back. The one that chilled me so thoroughly after Heru'ur had him tortured. The one I saw as Teal'c's hands were squeezing so tightly around my neck. The one that still gives me gooseflesh. The one I knew would make its unwelcome reappearance when I learned of the Tok'ra request for the ship floating above Vorash. Teal'c's face betrayed nothing during the mission briefing, but I could see the darkness edging the corners of his eyes, crawling back into them...into him. I had thought the death of Cronus might have been enough to destroy the blackness forever - if only because that hate was so deep-seated within Teal'c.
I did see the impact Cronus' death had on Teal'c when I visited him in the infirmary after that mission. He'd been obviously disappointed he'd not been the one to actually do the deed, but was still very pleased at the end result. Ding, dong, the witch is dead. I tried not to get uneasy by Teal'c's pleasure - he looked so smug. Just like at Apophis' passing. I looked past it. It was easy to do. I've done it for years. And for a couple of days, I even forgot there were other wicked witches out there.
I remember now. I scrub a hand through my hair, barely refraining from sighing in consternation. How could I have tricked myself so effortlessly? Tanith is the biggest, nastiest, freshest witch on Teal'c's hit list now that Cronus is dead. Nothing Apophis has done - including brainwashing Ry'ac - comes close to the very personal lesion Tanith scored in Teal'c. He's a minor annoyance by comparison.
I don't think Teal'c realizes how much I understand that. Apophis does hold the rank of the vilest being in the universe in my book. I'm no stranger to the darkness growing in Teal'c. Everyone knows it now, thanks to Shifu. Even the watered-down version of my dream-walk caused Sam to flinch, Jack to cringe and General Hammond to wince. Teal'c simply raised his eyebrow, as if to say 'See? That is what I fight against every day. That is what I am.'
I won't buy that. Can't buy it, because we all fight the exact same fight. Roman Catholicism labels it original sin - the potential for evil we're all born with, which we struggle throughout our daily lives to overcome, never washed completely away by baptism. Teal'c is no different than me. If I can choose a different path, I have to believe he can as well.
As quickly as my self-reassurances bolster my resolve, doubt attacks me again. Teal'c's rage is an incurable illness; a form of cancer so consuming there's no hope of recovery. I shudder and try to stem that horrible thought, scrunching my eyes tightly as if the action will physically avert my mind from wandering so close to despair.
Instead of forestalling the horror, I'm greeted by rapidly flashing and almost as terrible images. Teal'c's hands clamping tightly around my throat. His eyes cold and dark, yet burning inexplicably deep. Muffled shouting. My own desperate, shuddering gulps for air.
Panic rises in me and I snap my eyes open with a gasp. The nightmarish pictures dissipate quickly, but the physical aftereffects still wrap their icy tentacles around and through me. I jerk my head to the left and right in a subconscious denial of the memories that continue to haunt me. I feel like someone is cruelly holding a pillow over my face, cutting me off from the air I need.
"Daniel?" Sam's soft voice drifts from behind me.
Oh, I have to pull it together. Can't let Sam see me so freaked out. Then she'll know...
"You okay?" she tentatively asks.
Silently heaving a huge mouthful of air, I turn around as blithely as I can and plaster a half-smile on my face. Any more than that would give me away. Sam is looking at me, her eyes huge, innocent and wary at the same time. She assesses me and I fight to keep from shirking her gaze. It doesn't take a genius to see she already knows or at least suspects something is...bothering me.
"Fine, Sam," I brush her concern aside. "What's going on?"
"I was just coming to get you, the colonel and Teal'c. Dad and I are ready to start," Sam explains. "We'll be on the pel'tak ."
"I'll grab them and we'll head right there," I hastily offer, knowing I have to take the opportunity to talk to Teal'c now or I might back out altogether.
Sam peers at me with open suspicion now, but nods her head slowly in acquiescence. Her gaze flickers to my neck for an instant before she replies, "Okay. Whenever you're ready."
I watch her walk away from me for a moment before I become aware of my right hand at my throat, massaging gently. Guiltily wrenching the offensive thing away, I turn back toward Teal'c's room and lean on the wall for support. God. I have to look into the darkness now and hope that I can still see a little light.


Sam
My footsteps reverberate thunderously in the barren, Tok'ra constructed tunnel If I wasn't worried before, I sure am now. Seeing Daniel standing like a statue outside Teal'c's door and hearing his harsh, raspy breathing were the only indicators I needed to confirm what I already suspected. Something is not right. I think Daniel thinks he fooled me, but he doesn't know how long I was standing behind him. Doesn't realize his hand was rubbing his neck the whole time he was giving me false assurances.
His subconscious action shocked me right back to that damn moon, and it completely solidified my concern. I'd never never seen Daniel so upset - even after Sha're died - as he had been when he woke up on the Tok'ra ship. It was horribly disconcerting. Usually Daniel has the remarkable ability to school his outward appearance when things are extremely emotional. It's as though there's a curtain he simply draws across his face that magically voids everything out. I don't know whether I should be scared that he can pull such a mask, or scared that he thinks he has to.
But not this time. Not this THING. I haven't quite figured it out yet, not completely anyway. I'm not an idiot. Teal'c strangling Daniel frightened the hell out of me. I've never seen him so upset. Upset isn't nearly a strong enough word for it. His grip was unfathomably strong, locked into completing the task. On whomever it was he envisioned.
At first I thought it was the guy who tortured him, but now I'm not so sure. There was a lot of unspoken communication going on in the ship and I didn't really catch much of it. I don't think the colonel did either, but I know he's not clueless. His face certainly took on that sick look he gets when he's upset. Like right before Hathor implanted her 'friend' in him. Like when we thought Daniel was schizophrenic. Like... God, that list goes on too long. I can't believe this can be that bad.
The corner approaches and before I turn it, I give Daniel one last glance. He hasn't moved, except to brace himself up with one hand. His back is to me, yet I can still see his face. Behind the grimace I'm sure he believed was a smile, it was there. This THING is that bad. This THING. It's maddening to not know what's going on.
Looking down, I step into the center of the rings and give Dad the go ahead to whisk me away from the cold underground. Like the distance from my friends will keep the awful feeling from eating away at me. I keep my eyes to the decorated floor as I slump back toward the pel'tak. I can figure this out. I know I can. When have I seen Teal'c really angry? The occurrences are so rare, I can rattle them off like a grocery list. When he found out Drey'auc had taken another husband. During Apophis' little man I wish it had been final visit. Well, I didn't see that, per se. But all the guys were acting a little Neanderthal during that fun adventure. The treaty talks...Cronus.
Not a huge list. I can't keep the niggling thought that I'm missing something out of my head. I dig deeper into the recesses of my memory, but I keep coming up empty. I choose to focus on what I already now and hope it'll come to me.
Well, it can't be Drey'auc. Apophis? Not likely, or this THING would have surfaced well before now; would have been the rule instead of the exception. And Cronus is dead. Damnit. What am I forgetting?
Two boots appear in my field of vision. I don't associate it with the person they're connected to as I adjust my gaze upward. Forward motion refuses to stop in time when I look into Dad's eyes, only about a foot away from me. The next thing I know, I'm all jumbled on the floor while he towers over me with tiny, smug smile and crossed arms.
"Sam. Didn't I always teach you to look where you're going?" he laughs and stretches a hand down to help me to my feet.
I don't see the humor in his comment, my brain still embroiled in its mad scramble for answers. I give him my best 'teenager-hates-overbearing parent' look and a near snarl. He wilts into a frown almost instantly. Rubbing the seat of my pants brusquely, I turn and look back toward the rings. Dad tugs my face back to his with a gentle hand on my chin.
"Sam?" he asks, keeping me aligned directly with his eyes.
The warm concern I see in them is a balm that eases my worry just a notch. I give him a smile and a small nod. "It's probably nothing, Dad. It's just...I don't know. You remember back with the whole Apophis/Heru'ur thing? When Teal'c-"
"Oh, I remember. I don't think I could forget," Dad blessedly cuts in before I can continue and drops his hand from my face.
"I think whatever that was has resurfaced again," I comment vaguely.
"Any indication of what 'it' was?" Dad pushes.
"No, at least nothing I can figure out," I admit with a sigh. I suddenly feel the need to change the subject. This one is too uncertain and I really need to get my mind on what's coming up. This plan is crazy, but it has to work. If we manage to take out Apophis, it'll be huge both for us and for the Tok'ra. If it doesn't, at least we'll not have lost anything. Well, except for a Stargate. "Daniel's bringing Teal'c and Colonel O'Neill."
Dad narrows his eyes, understanding my intention to change the subject right away. He sighs audibly to show his reservation; I know Dad and I know he's already figured out where my train of thought had song. For the most part. Normally, I'd be nothing but nervous about blowing up a sun and excited about the scientific implications of it. But my mind continues to search for answers to the questions Daniel and Teal'c put there.
"C'mon, let's go," Dad urges, cupping my elbow and guiding me to the pel'tak. "Selmac wants to go over these calculations one more time."
"Okay," I agree, resisting the urge to check the hallway again.
We're only at is for a few minutes when I hear the colonel's voice approaching. I turn as he, Daniel and Teal'c enter the room; I didn't even notice Dad bringing them up to join us. Daniel's hands are jammed severely into his pockets and the crease that always appears when he's upset is present, deep and foreboding. Neither he nor Teal'c are speaking. Teal'c looks at us calmly, almost ultra-pleasantly. I have a strange feeling that he's giving us a snow job. If Daniel's body language around him is any sign, I'd say that's pretty much a guarantee.
The colonel is goofing around more than usual. Granted, we've never had this good an opportunity to take down the SGCs greatest nemesis. I've learned, though, that the higher the stakes, the punchier the colonel gets. He's pretty much humming now. While I normally appreciate his ability to lighten the atmosphere, this time I can't help but wonder if more than what is obvious on the surface fuels the silliness.
He gets serious quickly however, and as we maneuver the ha'tak toward the sun, I give each of my teammates another quick appraisal.
Something tells me this isn't going to go smoothly.


Teal'c
Tau'ri and Tok'ra justice is not sufficient to avenge Shau'nac. Even before Tanith escaped I believed this to be so, though I flaunted the agony he would endure during his removal from the host. I wanted to disembowel him right there, but I foolishly capped my urge. It was a mistake I do not intend to repeat.
I will not allow Daniel Jackson's words sway my resolve. Tanith will die by my hand. I have never been so certain of anything in my life. If opportunity should arise, I will not hesitate to pursue it until my vengeance is wrought. Why does he not understand that?
With infinite composure, I stab Daniel Jackson precisely where I know it wounds him the most - Sha're. Surely this comparison will make him comprehend the depth of my determination and hatred. "And yet knowing what Apophis did to Sha're, would you not trade it all for the opportunity to crush the life from his throat with your bare hands?"
To my satisfaction, pained silence fills the room for countless seconds. Daniel Jackson sees the merit in my words and even now struggles with his emotions regarding the false god.
"Well, I'd be lying to you if I said I'd never thought about it. That doesn't mean I'd do it, given a more reasonable option," he finally stutters, distress dusting his words.
"In the future, I will not be capable of such restraint."
This discussion is over. Giving the blue crystal in front of me a final blink, I stand up and walk around Daniel Jackson into the hallway. I do not spare him a glance, knowing that as it has in the past, his face will play against my weaknesses. For five years, I have fought against darker impulses, striven to conform to Tau'ri principles. Influenced by highly emotional beings. O'Neill leads his team softly; coddles even me. Major Carter displays her feelings, the ease in which she can be wounded readily. I consider this to be a failing in a soldier. And Daniel Jackson. While he is always logical, he is also too often run by his emotions. From the very beginning I have oscillated between admiration and disgust at this quality in him.
I no longer fluctuate.
"Teal'c, wait!" Daniel Jackson calls, running up to me. I take a deep breath to quell my growing frustration with him. I do not wish to harm him, but I will do so if he persists with his futile attempts to reason with me.
"Daniel Jackson," I growl, with no small amount of irritation.
"I almost forgot. Sam wants us on the pel'tak. She and Jacob are about to begin, and I was supposed to grab you and Jack," he says breathlessly, his eyes searching mine earnestly. His words are said with ease, but I sense his alarm at the fire, which is no doubt shooting from my own eyes.
I turn the corners of my mouth up into an awkward, artificial smile, but this does not relax him. It does not matter.
"Hey, did I hear my name?" O'Neill calls as he saunters around a corner.
"Indeed, O'Neill. We are going to the ha'tak," I agreeably relate.
"Great, let's go," he breezes and takes the lead.
Daniel Jackson winces one last time before staring at the floor. He avoids looking at me and in return I do not look at him as we walk. My thoughts are only for Tanith.


Jack
It's a Jaffa revenge thing.
Jaffa revenge thing. Yeah, right. I can't believe I dismissed this so readily. I guess I did because it's Teal'c we're talking about. Teal'c, my 'brother', who has now gone way, way over the line. I wish I could say this came from nowhere, but that is a consideration I can't allow myself.
So here I am, heading for a hunk of dead rock I'd hoped never to visit again. Stuck in a glider with Teal'c. Again. I've got that dj vu thing, but instead of the typical uncanny, hair-raising feeling, it's manifesting itself as weary resignation.
As I sit, I'm powerless to stop Teal'c. He's hell bent on personally ensuring Tanith's death. It isn't good enough to know the snaky bastard will be blown to smithereens in a few short minutes. Oh, no. Teal'c just has to carry it one step farther. He won't listen to me. Doesn't even give me the dignity of a response.
I'm not surprised at all with my new and wonderful predicament. Goddamnit, I was the one to suggest we take the glider out here. Hello. Not my most brilliant move. I pretty much gave Teal'c the keys to the Porsche and told him not to take it for a spin. To give myself a little justification, there wasn't really anything else I could have done. We couldn't just sit there and wait for Tanith's buddy to finish us off.
I can't help but think that had I opened my eyes to the warning signs...opened my mind...I could have tried to prevent this from happening. Daniel tried. He didn't tell me he tried, but I know he did just the same. The slumped shoulders and his inability to look at Teal'c were a dead give away. They, along with that...look also told me he was unsuccessful.
That look. The one that gave me some damn unpleasant dreams. The same one that should have prompted me into action months ago. The one that told me Daniel saw something in Teal'c that scared the shit out of him, and it wasn't that he'd nearly been strangled to death by the Jaffa.
I honestly can't remember a time I've seen Daniel so disturbed by something, and that kid has gone through as much bad stuff in his life as I have. I shouldn't have let it slide. Knew it then and boy do I know it now. I feel like we've all been duped into believing we understood Teal'c. I've always considered him to be loyal to a fault. Willing, like the rest of us, to forego personal concerns for the good of the SGC. Hell, for the good of the Earth.
How could we have all been so wrong? Even now, I'm harboring feelings of disbelief, clinging to the hope that this isn't a character flaw that has always driven Teal'c. He's always managed to pull himself together and tamp down the strong emotions I know course through him. There's something different about this. Love knows no bounds?
I have a hard time buying into that. I saw definite sparkage between him and Shau'nac, that I'll admit. Sparkage is a far cry from 'throw yourself in front of a moving vehicle to save her life' devotion. Probably not a great example, since I'm sure Teal'c would do that for any of us without hesitation. Well, he would have. Not so sure about that now.
I can't help but think about the Teal'c I thought I've known for five years and try to poke holes in his armor. Try and unmask the hidden man that fooled us so thoroughly. I have all this time on my hands and I can see things crystallize in front of me. He was ready to kill Apophis when he was our POW; he once threatened to dismember Maybourne, though I think he might have been half joking; he was pretty damn pissed when that other Jaffa guy married Drey'auc...I could go on and on. But the only time I've seen Teal'c's rage personified so explicitly was when he figured out Tanith had killed Shau'nac. I remember the feeling of panic welling in my chest as droves of Tok'ra barely restrained him. He had been like a mad dog, rabid and tenacious in his fury.
I sit up straighter in my seat at the memory. All I can envision is Teal'c's hands, clenching and unclenching in time with his jaw muscle. His rage was centered there. Just like when he had his hands around Daniel's neck on the moon after Heru'ur went bye-bye. I shudder, imagining that I can hear Daniel gasping for air right now. Turning my head to the side as if to block out that nonexistent sound, darkness and stars stare back at me through the hood. Even close up, they appear small. Tiny dots of light in so much black.
Is this what Daniel saw in Teal'c back then? Oppressive blackness? I want to think Daniel found light somewhere in there. He had to have. No way would Daniel have dropped it with one look from Teal'c if he'd had any doubts. Unless...
Unless Teal'c had successfully deceived Daniel. I look away from the normally awe inspiring celestial bodies surrounding me and bore my eyes once again into the back of Teal'c's head. The Daniel from five years ago might have been taken in by insincere promises, but not the harder, wiser Daniel that has evolved. No, Daniel has known all along, just like I've known. And neither of us wanted to nor was willing to admit it.
More fools the both of us.
All this recrimination is really getting me nowhere. A waste of time. I'm finished wavering between anger at Teal'c for getting me into this and anger at me for getting myself into this and I'm back to complete acceptance. What's done is done. Just like we've pulled through equally sticky situations, we'll get out of this. Teal'c can't be so far gone that he's lost his never say never pit bullishness to survive.
The sick feeling in the bottom of my stomach tells me otherwise. I just have to come to terms that chances are high that I'm going to die out here. By a real supernova or the artificial one sitting in the cockpit in front of me.
All I can really do is hope Teal'c will be satisfied with eliminating Tanith's escape vehicle and we can get back to the mothership ASAP. The Carter's will have it repaired and we can get the hell out of here. And, unlike Apophis and his minions, in one piece.
It's seemed to take forever to catch up to the Goa'uld bomber, but we finally have. Teal'c's firing like crazy on it, and it's going down fast and hard.
But Teal'c's not pulling up. Shit, shit, shit.
"Pull up, Teal'c!" I scream fruitlessly. "Teal'c, pull up!"
The bomber bursts into an orange fireball and we're not far enough away to avoid the blast.
"Mayday, mayday! We are SO going in!"
God, I hope someone hears me.


Daniel
// 'Mayday, mayday! We are SO going in!' //
Jack's voice haunts my head and over as I stand here uselessly on the pel'tak. My brain twists his words around into 'My fault, my fault! Why didn't I tell him what was going on?' as if a mockingbird jeers them at me. Jack's out there now, maybe dead, because I didn't tell him what was really going on with Teal'c. God, Teal'c could be dead too.
Jack knew, but he didn't know. Now it's too late and again I can't think of what I'm supposed to do. Part of me wants to yell for Sam; the other part says to let her focus on fixing the ship so we can go find Jack and Teal'c. I've decided to believe they are alive, despite the fact that I've tried to raise them on the radio fifteen times to no avail. They're alive. They're alive. They are alive.
I repeat the words over and over under my breath like a muted chant, seeking some sort of comfort from them. I get none and my mind wanders. How long since Jack's cut off message? Five minutes? Gotta give Sam and Jacob just a little bit more time. Think, think, think. My mind jumps.
Shifu.
What did tell me? The true nature of a man is determined in the battle between his conscious mind and his subconscious. He also said that the evil in his subconscious was too strong to resist.
Goa'uld evil. Evil Teal'c carries in him every day.
Shau'nac had been convinced she had 'turned' Tanith good by communicating with him, a belief ultimately proved incorrect. The depth of Goa'uld malevolence is seemingly unending and impenetrable. The Tok'ra are a direct contradiction to this fact, strange anomalies in an otherwise sick gene pool. And even they push the envelope sometimes.
Teal'c also verified communication is possible between a Jaffa and his symbiote, and that the symbiote is capable of inflicting horrible imagery and hatred onto its carrier. We've seen what the fully matured monsters are capable of, making marionettes out of people, forcing them to act against their will. If an infant Goa'uld can unleash hatred of extreme magnitude, I wonder if it's possible for the larvae to influence the Jaffa in a similar manner as a grown one manipulates its host.
I'm leaping, still trying to justify Teal'c's ostensibly abrupt change in character. We know the Goa'uld have other methods with which to control humans, but what if Teal'c's larvae, once the first contact was initiated, maintained a link with him? Fed him subliminal messages of hate and revenge Teal'c was unable to detect or prevent?
Oh, Jack would have a field day with that one. I'm getting hysterical here. If that were indeed the case, Teal'c would have gone like...that long before now. It's a completely crazy thought, fraught with alarm and panic. My rational mind understands that the mental jump I've just taken is based on emotions rather than logic. But I can't seem to help it.
The screen flashes in front of me, startling my rambling brain. Oh, crap. I think Apophis is here already.
"Sam," I call down to her.
"Go ahead," she responds immediately, voice full of stressed determination.
"I just got a mayday from Jack," I can hear the tension in my own voice.
"What's going on?" Sam snaps worriedly.
"I don't know. I lost the transmission."
Just get up here, Sam! I lose track of the conversation, fixating instead on the red, Goa'uld scripted warnings pulsating in front of me. My blood is teeming through the veins in my temples in time with them. I fidget, waiting for Sam and Jacob to join me. Sure, I have the pel'tak, but that really doesn't mean anything since everything still seems to be offline. I just want them to finish the repairs and get the hell up here so we can go collect Jack and Teal'c.
Shifu said the spark lights the flame, but the candle will only burn as long as the wick. I'm still not certain I know what that means, but in this context I'm really hoping the hot blue flame that's fueling Teal'c has been burned in its entirety. That he's done what he set out to do, and that he's resolved his issues without killing himself or Jack.
Or us.


Sam
I frantically tug at the blackened hyperdrive crystals as if they are the cause for my anxiety. When the colonel took off with Teal'c in the glider, I knew it was a bad idea to split up. They never should have left this ship. What if they're already dead? God, what if Apophis gets here before we can make the repairs and go find out?
Tanith. Yanking the last crystal out with a grunt, I indulge myself and hurl it across the room. It shatters magnificently and I feel better for a moment. "Oh, relax, Carter. We'll be back in plenty of time, he said," I mutter, "Sure you will, sir. You're back right now aren't you?"
Should have known it was Tanith. That whole situation with Shau'nac never sat well with me. I couldn't believe Teal'c would leave us to go train all Jaffa to 'commune' with their symbiotes. I wanted to scream at him that Shau'nac and Bra'tac could take care of that; we needed him here. I've never seen him so, so elated. It makes me wonder now if perhaps he was thinking with something other than his brain.
"Great, Sam. Attack Teal'c when he can't defend himself. Classy. Real nice," I mumble, trying to focus on the even more important repairs in front of me. Teal'c's face after he and the colonel returned from Vorash keeps flashing in front of my eyes. Tight, gruesome lines burned his features, terrifying and maniacal.
The chill I felt then sweeps through me again. That must have been what Daniel was so freaked out about on the moon after his up close and personal with Teal'c. If I only saw it from a distance, how much worse had it been when Teal'c was essentially out of his mind with rage?
I have to physically pull myself away from that dark thought, rubbing my arms to stem the invasion of cold. It's too late now to do anything, if anything could have prevented this in the first place. I have to focus on getting the hell to Vorash.
"Sam? How's it going down there?" Dad's voice summons.
"Good, Dad. Got all the crystals out. Now what?" I tersely answer him.
"There should be replacements in a compartment just underneath the drive. Start putting them back in this order: first yellow, then red, then white and finally blue. Then we should be back in business," Dad coolly instructs. "I'm almost to the pel'tak. We'll be to Vorash shortly."
I start swiftly and industriously replacing the crystals in their proper places. Thank God the Goa'uld color-coded everything so nicely for me. It won't take me long and we can go see if we can pull the colonel and Teal'c out of the fire.
If it's not already too late.


Jack
Son of a bitch. I scoop up a fistful of sand and scatter it into the wind in frustration. It flies back in my face, stinging my cheeks and eyes, but I don't care.
I think Teal'c's dead. Just when I think he was ready to get back to normal. The bomber destroyed, he seemed confident Tanith's death was ensured. As pissed as I was at him for getting us grounded here, I was also relieved that the top item on his agenda was finding the transport rings, not finding snakeboy to finish dispatching him. I knew he was right about Carter and Daniel. Hell, Jacob too. They'd never leave without verifying if we were still alive to be rescued. I really thought we were going to make it.
I miscalculated. We bumbled around without the slightest regard for watching the perimeter. Should have figured Tanith would be hanging around the rings, but the Jaffa had been a total surprise. Where had they come from? No way the guys in the bomber survived. I tap my head on the ground in a comforting rhythm as the last streaks of zat-induced pain lance through me. Rolling onto my side, I scrutinize the spot where Teal'c fell. When Carter and Daniel get here, I'm going to have to know where to stand.
Teal'c is dead. I have to resign myself to that fact, no hedging, no hoping. That staff blast hit him right in between his shoulder blades and he went down like a bag of lead, with barely a groan. I couldn't do anything but run. Leaving him lying there in the open was one of the hardest things I've had to do. What choice did I have? Left him, so motionless.
Rising to my feet, I keep my eyes locked on that spot. I stumble over, half out of residual stupor from the zat, half because of the emotional stupor I'm finding myself in. Right here. My friend died right here.
"Jack, come in."
I vaguely hear Daniel's voice, but I ignore it. Don't want to face it just yet. Kicking the sand and running a hand through my hair, I ignore him.
"Jack, come in," Daniel repeats, concern obvious in his tone, even through the static.
"Yeah, I'm here! Hey, thanks for checking in!" I shout back, inappropriately taking out my frustration on Daniel. I shouldn't. I know it, but I can't stop myself.
"Yeah, we had a little trouble avoiding Apophis' fleet. Are you in position to be ringed up?" Daniel snaps back, instantly on the defensive from my verbal attack.
Guilt instantly rises up. I have no right to yell at Daniel for my own failings. I let them kill Teal'c right in front of me, deliver him with a beautiful bow to Apophis. Damn snakehead will probably try and revive him, but it's useless. Teal'c is dead, will be blown up along with the rest of Apophis' fleet.
"Uh, yeah, I suppose...I don't know," I mutter, now subdued as hope that Teal'c somehow survived or will survive flees fast.
"Jack, if you're not in position-" Daniel begins, concern once again coming to the forefront.
"Daniel, just get me the hell out of here, will you?" I scream. Me, just me. Don't you get it yet, Daniel?
Teal'c is dead.


Daniel
Jack's refusing to tell me anything, though I don't know why. When he ringed up all alone, did he not think that I'd figure out something bad happened to Teal'c? He just looked at me, trying to stop the anguished pain from transmitting from his eyes.
It didn't work. My stomach is one big lump as we run for the pel'tak. Teal'c is dead. Dead. I can't think about anything else, can't hear anything but those words repeating in my head. I don't care that we've just barely escaped being blown to bits by either Apophis' fleet or the exploding sun. Teal'c is dead.
Whoa! Jack and I suddenly are jerked backwards slightly. "Wha-what was that?"
"I don't know," Jack tersely answers.
I take that as Jack's way of telling me to shut up. I've learned a lot about how to read Jack's more subtle instructions this past year. As we enter the pel'tak, Sam turns around with a puzzled look. Teal'cisdeadTeal'cisdead.
Mind still reeling with that thought, I completely miss the conversation until Jacob says something about the long-range sensors picking up a ship. Ship? Suddenly Apophis' massive ha'tak is practically on top of us and all we can do is stare at it.
I unexpectedly flash back to something else Shifu said as I gaze at the ship. He said it to ease my fear of never seeing him again - many paths cross along the way to the Great Path. He looked right at Teal'c after he said that.
And then I know.
Teal'c isn't dead.
The END

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Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This is a parody for entertainment purposes only. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted anywhere without the consent of the author.