Nothing Is Alone
by Carrie
Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of
Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions.
I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. Not to be archived without permission of the author.

"To date, we've only come across a handful of planets with direct Eastern influence, mainly because the gods of that culture were not as, um, malevolent as gods in Egyptian, Roman, Greek mythology have apparently turned out to be. At least as the Goa'uld have manifested them," Daniel explained with a slight cringe of distaste. "The village doesn't look to be occupied by the Goa'uld. The only life signs we've picked up have been human. I think this is worth checking out."
"Furthermore, sir," Sam quickly stepped up to continue where Daniel left off, "UAV and MALP readings indicate possible naquadah deposits about 5 kilometers away from the 'gate, quite possibly a mine of some sort. While I believe it is in disuse, as the readings are nominal, I would still like to investigate."
General George Hammond gazed around the briefing room at the gloom tinged faces surrounding him, worry creeping into his veins stealthily. After the undercover operation to weed out Maybourne's rogue crew, the members of SG1 were on edge. Major Carter, Teal'c and Daniel seemed a bit leery around Colonel O'Neill yet, and truth be told, Hammond thought he could sense some underlying tension even amongst the three.
He hadn't liked the way the Tollan, Nox and Asgaard manipulated him and O'Neill into deceiving their own people, especially SG1. The three members not included in the sting had proven their trustworthiness as often as O'Neill had, and he had argued vainly for their inclusion. There was nothing Hammond disliked more than being controlled by people who considered themselves superior. Chuckling to himself, Hammond realized he should be used to that feeling by now - it was pretty much status quo in his position. The President, while professing complete innocence, had successfully backed him into a corner on far too many an occasion.
"Sir? Your thoughts? Doesn't look like the inhabitants will pose a threat." Colonel O'Neill's voice broke into his wandering thoughts.
The curious look on Jack's face snapped Hammond into full attention, a blush working its way up his neck to the tip of his bald crown. How embarrassing to be caught daydreaming in the middle of a briefing. Hammond pulled himself erect in his chair, cleared his throat and took one more cursory look at the team. He wasn't satisfied they were fully ready to go on any missions - their lack of cohesiveness could prove a major obstacle. If Daniel and Sam were correct, this mission should be straightforward, in and out in a matter of days. Hammond couldn't think of a plausible reason not to approve it.
"Yes. Very well." Hammond cleared his throat before continuing, "You have a go. Dr. Jackson, Major Carter? Do you feel 48 hours is sufficient time to complete your research?"
"It should be, sir."
"Yes, sir."
The pair of them responded at the same time, both normally exuberant scientists somewhat subdued. Hammond raised his eyebrows, afraid for a fleeting moment his decision was an incorrect one. Sam was always enthusiastic to find possible sources of naquadah for the reactor she was working on, and her lack of interest was highly disconcerting. Daniel's lack of verve at the chance to explore ancient Eastern culture was just as disturbing, all too reminiscent of Daniel's difficulty after his wife died.
Looking back, Hammond couldn't help but feel a pang when he thought of Daniel's withdrawal after the death of his wife, a grief he understood far too well. It had only been after many months of depression he himself was able to move on with his life after the loss of his beautiful wife. Hammond missed her just as much today as he did only days after her death, the emptiness at times threatening to consume him.
At those times, Hammond had only to think of his children, grandchildren and adopted family to pull him out of the funk. SG1 had somehow sneaked into that space in his heart, unknowingly filling it exactly when it was needed. As the months progressed, he saw Jack O'Neill, Teal'c and Samantha Carter do the same for the young archaeologist. Their work was laborious, but done with love and patience, eventually leading Daniel a little further away from misery.
Daniel wasn't unique in his sufferings. The past six months had brought little but grief to SG1 - since Hathor's demise. Having to watch team after team search for the three human members while Teal'c lay in what can only be termed a coma had been agony. Teal'c was so weakened when he awoke, but so damn determined to find his friends, so damn sure they were alive, despite his own horrifying condition when he was found. Hammond took great stock in the Jaffa's strength of spirit, wiggling his way out of the Pentagon enforced corner to aid the noble warrior in his search. But, every once in a while, Hammond was certain he caught Teal'c studying his three companions as though they might disappear before his very eyes. Afraid of what might have been. Hammond silently commiserated with him, honoring Teal'c's stoic reservation.
Hammond switched his gaze to the young major, who only a few short weeks ago almost lost her father. Her anguish had been evident to all, worry lines etching around her eyes, lower lip refusing to remain steady. SG1 rallied around her as they only can - saying few words, but conveying their support through unfailing dedication to find Jacob or die trying. Each knew they were volunteering, literally, to go through hell and there was no question as to their determination. Hammond knew it had helped Carter tremendously to have them and Martouf with her as she had to endure accessing the memories of Jolinar and the uncertainty of whether her father was alive or dead.
Nor had life been kind to Colonel O'Neill. Hammond was feeling immense guilt at being required to ask the colonel to lie to his friends only a short couple of weeks after returning from Edora. Duty was a bitch. As if being trapped on a distant planet, thinking you'd never get home again, wasn't enough of a burden to handle. Jack didn't have the opportunity to regain his footing, to gather his family around him, before duty called again.
Hammond had been shocked to find Jack in his office late one evening, tucked into a corner as if to hide. He was positive he'd seen a hint of tears in the younger man's eyes as Jack unleashed all his pent up emotion on Hammond, explaining how awful it had been to lie. How he had cut Daniel to the core at his house; how Jack hurt because of it. Such a show of rare emotion should not have been demonstrated to him, Hammond knew. It should have been expressed to Jack's team, but SG1's relationships had become fragile and unstable where once it was a formidable brick wall.
A rift was torn wide open, disrupting the balance SG1 worked so hard at obtaining, given their wide varying backgrounds and styles. Hammond could see the foundation slowly but surely being laid again, and he only hoped it would not crumble. The lack of trust, the wariness each of them expressed toward each other was disheartening, but deep in his heart he knew they would pull through this. Together, as always.
"You're scheduled to leave at 0900 hours. Dismissed."
Hammond sighed. He hated not being able to say what he wanted to say, to tell them to be careful and to get better. They wouldn't know what he was talking about anyway, or at least they'd pretend they didn't. Shaking his head as SG1 silently left the briefing room, Hammond longed for the banter and teasing that was now conspicuously absent. He rubbed his head and turned back into his office, to try and focus on the rest of his work and not his troubled flagship team.

Jack pulled on his boots, staring at the wall blankly with his back to his team. The locker room was filled only with the sounds of zippers and Velcro. The spaces in between were as grim and silent as a cold winter morning. Jack closed his eyes and stamped down the need to hit something in frustration. He had received absolution from Carter, Teal'c and Daniel, but their actions conflicted their words.
Carter seemed extremely uncomfortable...all the time. Jack could usually count on her support, however ever since Edora and the damn NID thing, she avoided being alone with him. At first he had tried his usual method of stupid jokes to relieve the tension, but it didn't induce her customary smile. It didn't take him long to figure out he would have to go above and beyond to determine exactly what was eating at Carter and then even further to fix it.
His second in command wasn't the only one giving him a cold shoulder. Though Teal'c was naturally reserved, Jack had been slowly breaking through his Jaffa skin. Teal'c had progressed so far Jack thought he might actually crack a joke of his own soon. That all changed upon his official return to the SGC. Jack could sense Teal'c was glad to have him back, but the wall was back up as solid and high as ever.
Jack drew his laces in snugly, pulling at the hapless strings as if the action would somehow rein in his feelings of helplessness. Tamp them down before things got really out of control. It didn't help, and Jack knew he could anticipate sore feet in a few hours. In an odd way, the pain would be welcome, a tangible reminder with every footstep of his actions. The fact he was ordered to keep SG1 in the dark didn't matter. He should have trusted them with the truth - should have demanded it. They would have if in the same situation. No, military protocol would have forced Carter's hand as it did his and Teal'c also honored their rules. Only Daniel...
God, Daniel was the worst of all. Jack took off his hat and viciously rubbed a hand through his hair, now oblivious to the fact he wasn't physically alone in the room. He kicked the wall stubbornly.
Oops. "Carter?" he snapped back, shooting her a look that would have fried an egg.
"Are you...nothing," she replied and slunk out of the room.
Jack wanted to call an apology, confused at his inappropriate reaction to her innocent concern. Tensions had built so high, he was practically shaking. Jack couldn't take it much longer.
Jack sighed, but didn't turn toward Daniel. He just couldn't look at the younger man and see the hurt in his eyes anymore. After nearly four years together, did Daniel actually think Jack couldn't read him easier than a children's book? Hell, they'd spent a few days on Abydos a short time after having met and had developed an almost instant simpatico. It was strange to think about it that way - but it was truth. He and Daniel rubbed each other the wrong way at first, but then there was a moment of realization. They were just in sync.
"What, Daniel?" Jack asked softly.
"Are you ready? Teal'c and Sam are probably already in the 'gateroom," Daniel replied equally softly.
He looked around, surprised. Damn that Jaffa was stealthy. Daniel stayed behind and was staring at Jack's overly tight bootlaces as if he understood the reason for their assault on Jack's feet. He averted his gaze from the younger man, Daniel's expression too similar to his own inner feelings to bear at the moment. Jack shrugged. Daniel's expression was because of him.
"Yeah, go ahead. I'll be right there."
"We are trying you know, Jack," Daniel said hesitantly.
"I know. I know," Jack murmured almost inaudibly.
"Do you?" Daniel pressed.
"Yes, I do, Daniel. Look, can we talk about this later? Now's not a good time. When we get back," Jack replied quickly.
Daniel shuffled out of the room with no further comment. Jack gaped at the open door, the footsteps receding from him rapidly. Why wasn't now a good time? It was the first time any of his team even approached the subject and Jack snuffed it out before it could really get lit. Both with Carter and Daniel. Sometimes Jack believed there couldn't be a bigger idiot in the universe.
Jack stared regretfully at the empty room, trying to convince himself there wasn't time to hash out all the pent up resentment and distrust floating around. He noticed all three of his teammates seemed more reserved and wary with each other as well as with him. What Jack couldn't figure out was if it was simply a residual effect from his own actions or something deeper.
Regardless, Jack had seen Hammond study all of them during the briefing. Jack could tell his commanding officer obviously had some pretty heavy reservations about sending them on this mission. Daniel wasn't the only one whose face revealed more than its owner thought. Ever since Jack had his embarrassing little 'breakdown' in Hammond's office, he'd caught the older man examining him surreptitiously. The fact he'd opened up the concern to include his entire team worried Jack considerably, but if Hammond could overlook his misgivings, then SG1 could pull themselves together to get through a routine trip through the Stargate.
If they couldn't manage that, Jack didn't know what they were going to do.
He was tired of being alone.

There really wasn't a good reason for his behavior over the past week. Sure, Jack had gone behind their backs. All in the line of duty. Daniel scoffed at the antiquated and, in his mind, moronic military excuse. It was a quick fix, a bandage to slap over gory moral atrocities. Daniel stopped in the middle of the hallway. Gory moral atrocities? That was slightly melodramatic, but the long and short of it was his teammates were often forced to take actions they wouldn't as regular, non-military people. To kill, to lie, to...steal.
Daniel understood that. He himself had had to do things he was against during his time at the SGC. That's why he should feel no bitterness toward Jack or General Hammond for their participation in the subterfuge. But he was only human, and the feelings rose in him more often than he'd like to admit. There were times when Daniel wished he could achieve the level of Kel No'reem Teal'c did. He had advanced significantly with practice, but not so much to ease this strain.
This strain which was eating away at him, turning him into a strange deviation of his usual self. Normally, he used the closeness of SG1 as a built in comfort blanket. Sam, Teal'c and Jack were always there for him when he needed it the most, but now he sensed the blanket had been snatched ruthlessly away from him. When he jokingly told Jack he, Sam and Teal'c had drawn straws to determine who would try to persuade him to stay with the SGC, Daniel hadn't realized how appropriate the analogy was. Except he hadn't only drawn the losing straw, he'd drawn the final straw.
Daniel could catalogue every event from the last six months into nice, neat boxes. He could label each as significant factors leading to the ultimate collapse of SG1. Their separation on Hathor's world, Sha're's death, Netu, Edora...all things which should have gathered them closer in actuality tore them apart with the destructiveness of a tornado. He felt as though he had been flung a great distance away from everyone, left to dangle in the wind.
He saw it all happening. Saw it and did nothing to stop the downward spiral, reverting instead to childhood defense mechanisms. To cope with the loss, he shut himself off from his surroundings, playing that everything was nice and normal. On the outside, he was positive the 'nice and normal' act was successful. He and Sam still compared notes and worked together, but lately the element of camaraderie Daniel had come to depend on was absent. Their time together became almost clinical - of coworkers and nothing more.
When Jack was trapped on Edora, Sam's time was consumed by the need to bring him back home. Not that Daniel resented her drive. He had been as worried as she about the colonel. But her devotion seemed to be spawned by something deeper, something that was intangible to him and Teal'c. Daniel's attempts to break into her dogged research routine were met with snappish and sometimes even rude responses.
Daniel wasn't stupid. He saw the...friction between Jack and Sam. The only proof he needed to confirm his suspicions was her stunned reaction at Jack's bittersweet goodbye with Laira. That had wounded Sam more than it should have, and then with Jack seemingly turning his back on them, well, Daniel couldn't blame Sam for being a bit distant with the man. Even looking back at his own behavior, he could see why she was irritated with him. He'd been pretty snarky with Makepeace and Hammond and put her on the spot inappropriately.
And Jack. Daniel hadn't really given his friend the chance to explain or really apologize for the deception. Jack's words, though he now knew were spoken as protection for Daniel and to safeguard the secret operation, still hurt considerably. What is it people say? Hidden behind every statement said in jest is an element of truth. The mere possibility Jack actually harbored some of those feelings was bothersome. Did Jack consider all of Daniel's ideals to be worthless? If that was the case, he might just as well consider Daniel worthless.
"Dr. Jackson?" A mild voice edged into his dreary reverie. "Are you all right?"
Looking up to find the friendly face of Sergeant Siler looking down at him in concern, Daniel realized he'd been standing stock still in the hallway far too long. "Uh, yeah. I'm fine. Thanks," he said quickly and hastily walked away. He could feel worried eyes following his progress. Great. It seemed he was more transparent than he'd led himself to believe. General Hammond was sure to get a report. At least he could trust the general to exercise discretion when he approached SG1, which he no doubt would.
Approaching the 'gateroom, Daniel suddenly hesitated again. He saw Sam and Teal'c standing at the ready, neither speaking. Not even facing each other. His eyebrows instantly furrowed. Daniel's relationship with Teal'c had always been somewhat tentative, but it was one he valued highly. The Jaffa proved time and time again his dedication to the 'greater good', the battle against the Goa'uld. His dedication to his friends was equally strong. Then Teal'c killed...was forced to kill...Sha're, and Daniel was blinded to Teal'c's friendship. It had taken him a long time to really believe Teal'c had done the right thing. Maybe too long.
Daniel studied Teal'c for a few minutes. Though it had taken months, Daniel was positive their friendship was not in jeopardy, but that didn't preclude the fact Teal'c had been even more reserved than usual around all of them. He hadn't shirked any of the stalwart support when it was necessary. When it wasn't? Teal'c all but disappeared. Daniel shook his head. While he was trying to coax Sam away from her lab with such die-hard enthusiasm, he hadn't thought twice about Teal'c or how he was handling Jack's absence. He could excuse it away as remnants of discomfort about Sha're, but that would be a lie. Daniel just hadn't thought. He was pretty sure Sam hadn't either.
Daniel sucked in a huge breath and walked toward his teammates. He wished Jack would hurry up and get here so they could get this over with. He should be intrigued at the chance to gain firsthand knowledge of ancient Eastern culture, but his heart wasn't in it. The rift between him and his teammates spanned miles. He never realized how vital each friendship was to him until it had disappeared. Vital not only personally, but professionally as well. He'd not felt the thrill of discovery when stepping through the 'gate for some time. He missed that feeling.
The instant they came back, he was going to have a good, long conversation with Sam, Teal'c and Jack to attempt healing the wounds. There wasn't anything else he could do.
He missed his friends.

Why was Daniel staring at them? It was extremely uncomfortable for Sam to be held under his microscope for any period longer than thirty seconds. He didn't mean anything by it, she knew, but it still made her want to squirm and shout 'Make him stop looking at me!!' to Jack. Both Daniel and Teal'c had that affect on her. There was just too much they could be thinking that was never revealed.
Not that Jack was easy to read. God only knows she'd spent hours trying to discern his behavior patterns. It just wasn't going to happen. She knew that, but it didn't stop her from thinking about it. She was a foolish teenager with a crush and she was pretty sure the same applied for the colonel. Nothing harmful, just a little chemistry.
Well, that's what she'd thought until Edora. All those months, thinking of no one but him and he didn't even appear grateful for the rescue. Nor did he seem to want to leave. To top it all off, he chose there to spend his retirement. So it was a fake retirement. It still rankled her. Sam realized she was now staring at Daniel staring at them. She shook her head at her pointless thoughts. She had no right to be angry with Jack...Colonel O'Neill... about her misplaced feelings. She had better just suck it up and move on with her life.
Sam found it so much easier to forgive the colonel his transgressions in the NID affair than his inability to return her affection. He'd been undercover, under direct orders from General Hammond. She had the impression he was still beating himself up over it, though they had all assured him of their understanding. When they got back from this mission, Sam intended to have a little discussion with her commanding officer to clear the air and set things right.
Studying her shoes, Sam didn't notice Daniel finally join them. He looked pathetic in his misery, his expression should have reflected wonder and excitement for the upcoming days and instead was sallow, almost dour. It couldn't have happened overnight. How had she not noticed?
Daniel had tried to keep her company, demonstrating frustration because he couldn't assist her in any other fashion as she worked to bring the colonel home. For his trouble, she treated him like a wayward puppy, always underfoot and unceasingly annoying. It had been wrong of her and the memory made her twinge with embarrassment. That isn't the way you treat a friend.
What exactly went on at the colonel's house that day, Daniel never told her. Likely never would. It had to have been bad, though, if the colonel's dead on performance as heartless, bad-ass military man with her was any indication. Those two had known each other the longest, the feelings ran the deepest between them, whether they wanted to admit it or not. She couldn't help but wonder if that conversation wasn't the root of their current conditions. Daniel was acting exactly the way he had been for a month after Sha're's death...
"Where is Colonel O'Neill?" Teal'c asked.
Sam jumped, caught a little off guard at his deep voice. She felt her cheeks redden when her two teammates gave her identical eyebrow quirks, both delivered with an air of understanding. She was embarrassed when she understood they knew exactly where her thoughts were.
"He'll be here any second. When I left he was just finishing up," Daniel answered, looking like he didn't believe his words.
Teal'c bowed his head once, but said nothing. Sam wondered what was going on in the Jaffa's mind. On a good day, Sam couldn't figure him out. Now it was absolutely impossible. His reaction to the colonel's absence was as she would have predicted - he had carried out his duty like an efficient soldier, but the light she swore filled his eyes had dampened to a mere flicker. The colonel's playful presence gone, Teal'c became the same Jaffa which had first joined them four years earlier. He was stoic and sensible. Sam hadn't even realized how much Teal'c had changed over time and how much she relied on his strength. And that was not limited to his physical strength.
Checking her watch, Sam was worried. It wasn't like the colonel to be this late. Actually, he was never late. Usually it was Daniel they waited for, the archaeologist cramming as much research in before embarking as he could and delaying them all. There had been several instances where someone had to go collect him. Sam smiled at the memories. The colonel would feign disgust for outward show, muttering under his breath complaints against Daniel. Underneath the gruff and grumble, though, he appreciated the younger man. More than appreciated all of them. If he was this late, Sam was more certain than ever it was because he needed some self-recrimination time.
"SG1, what's the delay?" General Hammond's disembodied voice echoed in the 'gateroom.
"No delay, sir. We're ready," the colonel barked as he marched into the room and took his place at the front of the team. "Let's go, people."
Sam was relieved her commanding officer seemed to be himself again until she noticed his refusal to meet any of their eyes. He didn't even spare a look in their general vicinity. Daniel shifted slightly, clearing his throat. The sound hung in the air like a bad omen. The colonel shot him a stare Sam couldn't interpret, but Daniel apparently could, as he made a couple of sidesteps to stand directly behind Teal'c. Teal'c, in turn, moved away from Daniel and the younger man's face beaconed her own feelings. He blanched, openly pained.
No matter what it took, Sam was going to figure out a way to fix whatever had broken her team.

Teal'c calmly ignored the shocked expressions of his two young companions and the non-reaction of O'Neill at his withdrawal from Daniel Jackson. He felt their surprise unfounded, based upon their recent lack of interaction with him. Teal'c was feeling uncharitable of late and, if he admitted to himself, hurt at his Tau'ri friends' callous behavior. Finding himself embroiled in the 'you get what you give' mentality, Teal'c was having a difficult time avoiding traipsing further down that unsavory path.
When O'Neill had first been left behind on Edora, Teal'c accepted the responses from the remaining members of his team. They were undoubtedly upset and merited some time to deal with their emotions on the personal level. Teal'c had thought they, as a team, would then be able to come together to cope with the vast loss. This did not happen, though it was apparent to him Daniel Jackson made some attempts toward Major Carter while offering nothing to him.
The thoughts seemed petty to Teal'c. He was quibbling about reactions to an unusual and stressful situation. His interactions with Daniel Jackson had decreased naturally after the death of Sha're and the current wall could still be attributed to that event. However Teal'c did not believe it to be the cause for his young friend's disregard. Perhaps Teal'c had allowed himself to become too unemotional and rigid. Jaffa training dictated him to be stalwart in his actions, so as to keep the enemy off balance. It was a trait most cumbersome to him with the Tau'ri, who conveyed emotions readily and considered those who did not were cold and heartless.
Teal'c was not cold and heartless. Rather, he felt and experienced everything with utmost sensitivity. It was only his outward appearance that reflected unceasing calm. Inside he churned with all the feeling they were able to display. His friends were slowly drawing Teal'c's innermost feelings to the surface, a feat he would have deemed impossible a few short years ago. It takes time to break down mechanisms that have been in place for many years.
Truth be told, it was mostly the work of O'Neill Teal'c attributed his newfound ease to relay emotion. The leader of SG1 possessed will so mighty as to rival Master Bra'tac, coupled with a lighter side. Teal'c had not understood O'Neill at first, but as time went on, he had come to respect and appreciate both facets of the warrior he served for and with. He saw O'Neill keep the respect of so many, yet relax and joke casually. It was a mix of which Teal'c was somewhat envious.
Without the steady stream of O'Neill-induced facetious comments, Teal'c found it easy to retreat back into his shell. Major Carter revealed very little amusement at O'Neill's antics and Daniel Jackson even less, and since they had demonstrated no interest in his company, Teal'c spent countless hours on physical and mental training, alone.
The Stargate whooshed to life and O'Neill immediately stomped up the ramp and through the event horizon, not hesitating for his team. Teal'c watched with deep regret upon his heart. He missed the familial atmosphere of SG1. Despite being upset at them, Teal'c was concerned for his Tau'ri friends. He took many opportunities to covertly survey their states and he was not pleased with what he saw.
The scientists both were paper cut outs of their former selves, already slight statures now alarmingly slender. Identical bruised purple shadowed their eyes, cheekbones more defined. More worrisome than the physical signs was the apparent lack of spirit each contained. Their actions reflected a weariness borne not of lost sleep. Through his own hurt, he had observed Daniel Jackson's futile attempts to aid Major Carter and the dejection both took on as time passed.
Major Carter slouched into the wormhole, followed momentarily by Daniel Jackson. Both exhibited defeated expressions. Teal'c frowned at the sight. He was responsible for a portion of that and he was struck by a sudden onset of guilt. No good could come from him refusing to let go hard feelings. He should have approached them earlier, but nothing could be done about it now, except to remedy the wrongs.
Teal'c solemnly walked up the ramp, the thought most prevalent in his mind was how to accomplish that task. He knew his friends would likely not even understand his need for absolution. That did not matter. His confession would reveal all and allow his conscience to be cleansed completely. That is what mattered.
Nearing the event horizon, Teal'c could feel eyes upon his back. He turned briefly and looked up to the briefing room observation window. General Hammond was framed dead center in the glass, a distressed expression radiating from his face. Teal'c's admiration for the Air Force commander increased exponentially each day he knew General Hammond. The concern was not for their physical beings. Teal'c was certain the general was fully aware of the underlying tension and hoped SG1 could overcome it.
Teal'c would ensure their survival as a team. Perhaps there would be a time on this mission to begin down the long road back home. He stepped the open 'gate with hope high in his heart.

Jack looked at his surroundings with disinterest. The terrain was not abnormal, more prairie than forest and the landscape was calm and peaceful, with no signs of life. The UAV had revealed a village eight kilometers north of the 'gate, a naquadah mine five kilometers south. As time was limited, Jack felt it best they divide into pairs.
"All right, we've only got two days. Carter, you and Teal'c head to the mine to scope out the naquadah deposits. Daniel and I will head to the village to make friendly with the natives. Join us there when you're done. Check in every three hours," Jack spoke quickly, trying to make his voice normal.
"Yes, sir," Carter said simply and began to walk away.
Teal'c spared a slight nod and strode with a long gait to catch up to her. Jack paused and watched them for a few seconds. Maybe the time alone would prompt conversation, both for Carter and Teal'c as well as him and Daniel. He had planned to just get through this mission and then address his personal worries, but now Jack strangely found himself wanting to get things out sooner rather than later. It would be easier to talk with Carter and Teal'c, so Jack purposely chose Daniel as his partner. Like eating your least favorite thing at Thanksgiving dinner first, saving the best for last, Jack wanted the most difficult task out of the way first.
Out of the way. That wasn't exactly the best angle to look at things. Daniel, though, had been the one receiving the most unfavorable and hurtful lies from him. Daniel was the one he couldn't even look at anymore. Daniel was the one who had made a concerted effort to speak with him. It seemed only right to start mending holes with his young friend first.
"Jack?" Daniel asked timidly.
The colonel turned to the voice, dismayed to see Daniel half raise his hand to snag Jack's sleeve only to jerk it back down rapidly. Almost as though Jack was a too-hot pan and he'd accidentally forgotten the hot pad. Damn. He really had burned his team, hadn't he? Not only that, he'd been treating the wounds with bandages and salve, covering the pain and locking it in rather than letting it breathe.
"Right. I'm coming," Jack mumbled.
Trouble was, Jack didn't have a clue where to begin. What should he say? The great O'Neill intellect was giving him nothing. He shoved Daniel away before, would any attempt even be welcome now? Jack hated the indecisiveness he was feeling. There was no reason to wait until they got back home. He had Daniel here now. Alone, with eight kilometers to go and nothing but the wind to fill the silence.
"Jack?" Daniel repeated, concern now edging the enquiry.
Right. Walking would be a good idea. Carter and Teal'c were probably already halfway to their destination, while he seemed to have taken up permanent residence at the 'gate. Jack squared his shoulders and turned to face Daniel again. Maybe he should just try standard mission talk first, then work up to the dirty stuff.
"So, Daniel. Tell me more about Eastern traditions. Anything I should be aware of before we run into people?" Jack asked, pleased to find his voice was not laced with tension.
Daniel loosened up slightly, shoulders notching down from their stiff state. He began speaking softly and Jack found himself relaxing. Daniel's voice soothed him and gave him confidence that all would be well. He only listened partially to the words because they weren't necessary. Jack knew the rules with first contact - allow Daniel full reign until the younger man was positive the native people were comfortable with them. Only after this point was Jack permitted to speak. It was standard operating procedure.
They journeyed for several kilometers this way, conversation never diverging from Daniel's history lesson. Jack asked questions to fill in the spaces and Daniel answered them, perhaps with little enthusiasm, but at least they were speaking with each other. Jack's confidence grew with each step. They would find their way out of the gray and into full color. It was only a matter of time.

Sam trod through the waist-high grass, uncharacteristically paying little mind to her environment. She and Teal'c hadn't come across anything threatening and they were making excellent time. The naquadah deposits were only another kilometer away and they could gather the information she needed and head to the village, reaching it before nightfall.
Her thoughts wandered to the colonel and Daniel. Was their hike as quiet as her and Teal'c's? Sam didn't know what to say to her companion, not an uncommon occurrence. Words seemed out of place with the big Jaffa, more being said with a tilt of the head and elevation of an eyebrow then a filibuster of pointless rambling. She thought his quiet manner at once comforting and disturbing. She wasn't one to chatter, but she'd give her right arm for anything verbal right now.
"Major Carter."
Sam jumped and bit back a screech. Okay, so wish granted. Her heart thumped spastically in her chest, startled by the abrupt interruption. She spun around to look at Teal'c. He had stopped several feet behind her and was standing like a statue, left hand raised a little, right grasping his staff weapon tightly. Uh oh.
"Teal'c?" she whispered.
"I do not believe we are alone," Teal'c called mutedly, as though to prevent his words from being heard by someone other than her.
"What? How do you know...never mind," Sam began. Teal'c's tracking skills were unquestionably keen. If he thought they had company, they likely did. "Daniel said the people were probably peaceful. Are there any signs to indicate he was incorrect?"
"Indeed. I believe we are, in fact, surrounded by Jaffa," Teal'c returned grimly.
Shit. If Teal'c 'believed' anything, Sam was positive it had to be true. They were stuck wide out in the open, the grass providing no protection. The Jaffa probably already realized their presence was known and there was nowhere for she and Teal'c to hide. Sitting ducks in some twisted carnival game - twenty points for Teal'c, ten for her. Maybe if they pretended they didn't know...
"Major Carter, do you see the grove of trees ahead of us?"
Sam turned back around and began walking slowly. She nodded carefully, resisting the urge to hoist her MP5 and shoot into the steppe all around them. That would only get them killed and therefore not an option. She had to warn the colonel and Daniel. All of a sudden, Teal'c began to sprint, grabbing her elbow as he passed her.
She ran, struggling to keep up with Teal'c. Their burst of speed finally resulted in movement behind them. Jaffa popped out of the grass and the duck game shifted into a bizarre version of a cheesy military training sequence in an action film, where cardboard targets sprang forth at random. Except these cardboard figures were shooting at them.
Breath rasping, Sam saw the blue sparks of zat guns flaming past them, some coming far too close to their mark. She stumbled slightly, buoyed instantly back up by Teal'c's strong arm. They weren't going to make it, the trees were too far away yet. They would only provide limited cover anyway. There were too many attackers for the pair of them to handle. Shit. Fumbling with her radio, Sam switched it on, frantic to forewarn the colonel.
Her fingers hit upon the button and she screamed breathlessly into it, "Colonel!"
That was all she managed before one of the Jaffa hit their targets. Together, she and Teal'c crumpled, enveloped in the cold embrace of a zat blast.

Daniel was grateful for Jack's random questions. He understood the true motivation behind the ongoing remarks, knew Jack wasn't seeking information about the mission. Daniel had been disheartened by Jack's unwillingness to talk in the locker room, but found that sick feeling diminishing. He even thought a glimmer of interest was forming inside himself for the mission at hand. As he expounded on Eastern culture and traditions, Daniel was getting lost in the history of it. He found himself prattling on and on, shooting sidelong glances at Jack as he went.
Jack appeared to need Daniel's voice, if not his words. With the passage of time, the tight shoulders and face of his friend gradually eased. Good. If he could get Jack unwound a bit, maybe he could start the conversation he had planned for when the mission was over. No time like the present, and if Jack thought the time was right, Daniel should make good use of the opportunity. It was all or nothing with Jack. He opened his mouth to speak.
Their radios exploded to life, startling both men. Sam's voice pummeled them, her words desperate and alarmed, "Colonel!"
A zat blast, followed by a muffled grunt sounded and then the transmission ended. Stunned, Daniel stared at Jack's radio. Jaffa? Here? There had been no indication, no reason to believe the Goa'uld were here. Oh, this was not happening.
"Shit," Jack swore, hand automatically traveling to his radio. He stopped himself before activating the device.
Daniel searched Jack's face and understood the man's hesitation. Communicating would only confirm their presence. They'd be of no use to Sam and Teal'c if they were captured as well. Daniel hoped his friends were captured and not...dead. He could see the exact same thoughts mirrored in Jack's expression. Cronus' departing words from the treaty filled his head suddenly. No mercy if caught on a Goa'uld planet. No mercy. Daniel's stomach stirred brutally.
"Daniel. Daniel!" Jack's harsh voice snapped him back into awareness.
What was he doing, zoning out when immediate action was needed? No wonder Jack thought him useless. Daniel shook his head. No. Not now.
"Sorry, Jack," he mumbled.
"Whatever. You with me now?"
Daniel nodded, embarrassed to hear Jack speak to him slowly as if he were stupid.
"Okay, we head back to the 'gate, contact the SGC and request back up. We don't know what or whom we are dealing with here and I don't want to be surprised. We wait for the back up and then look for Teal'c and Carter. My guess is they'll be taken to the mines or to the village."
Daniel nodded mutely again. He had somehow turned into one of those bauble headed dolls. Jack shot Daniel one more look, clasped his shoulders once and took off at a fast but stealthy jog. Daniel followed, easily matching strides with the older man. They were only halfway to the village and at this pace, Daniel guessed they'd get back to the 'gate in about thirty minutes. He hoped their course of action wouldn't cause his friends harm. Part of him wanted to just go find them, though he knew it would be foolish.
They neared the Stargate and Jack slowed down to a cautious trot. He held up a hand and Daniel stopped. Both of them eyed the clearing for signs of activity. Daniel was worried the Jaffa might have brought Sam and Teal'c to transport them through it. They could already be on some distant and unknown planet...but he couldn't see anything to suggest that. Jack waved them forward, apparently reaching the same conclusion. They crouched behind the ritualistic boulders interspersed throughout the cleared area, slowing heading for the DHD.
Daniel hunched over the device and began to dial while Jack kept his eyes out for danger. He punched in three symbols before Jack hissed, grabbed him by the waist and hauled him down and away from the 'gate. Loud voices and footsteps floated their way and Daniel fought back a gasp when he spotted the approaching entourage. Twenty Jaffa encompassed two unconscious figures strapped crudely to sturdy poles by their wrists and ankles, carried horizontally between several of the guards.
Sam. Teal'c.
Their heads flopped lifelessly as the Jaffa jumbled their prisoners thoughtlessly. To Daniel's surprise and relief, the group did not stop at the 'gate, sojourning past it toward the village. He sighed when it appeared he and Jack had not been discovered, but the sense of semi well being was short lived. He heard a Jaffa call out in alarm.
"Kree! Lem tok nokra!"
Crap. The symbols were still lighted on the DHD, as effective a give away as a flashing neon arrow pointed at them. The Jaffa carrying his friends dropped their loads unceremoniously and armed themselves, all of them now searching the area with wary eyes. Daniel sharply looked at Jack for direction. What the hell could they do? If they moved, they'd give away their position. If they didn't, the Jaffa would find them anyway.
Jack flashed him signals to stay put while he distracted the Jaffa. Daniel could then go free Sam and Teal'c. Daniel fiercely shook his head. No. No way was Jack going to sacrifice himself, which is precisely what his friend had in mind. Did Jack really think Daniel couldn't read him like a book, after four years together? Jack sighed silently. He grabbed Daniel's right arm and squeezed it.
'The only way,' Jack mouthed, catching Daniel's eyes with his own intense stare.
Daniel shook his head again, this time in resignation. Damnit. This would never work and they'd all get captured. He looked over to Sam and Teal'c's bound forms and thought he saw Teal'c moving. Jack squeezed his arm again, prompting him to turn toward him. Daniel nodded and Jack began to move away.
"Jaffa, kree!" a metallic voice resounded through the clearing.
Daniel and Jack froze. Goa'uld. They watched together as one of the Jaffa...First Prime?...withdrew a communications orb and studied it intently. The speaker on the other end was muffled and Daniel couldn't totally make out the conversation. What he could catch was the Goa'uld ordering his Jaffa back to the village with the prisoners, to ignore the possibility of other trespassers for now.
Gathering up the two trussed up members of SG1, the Jaffa shot disgusted glares into the outlying area and stormed off. Daniel was perplexed. Why were they spared?
One thing he was sure of. It could only get worse.

They were leaving, but not all of them. A sizable contingent stayed behind to guard the 'gate. Eight, Jack counted. They should be able to take them out, but Jack was torn between doing so and proceeding with his original plan or taking off after his downed teammates.
His decision was made for him as he saw the Jaffa fiddling with the DHD. They attached a small metallic box to the underside, pressed a button and backed away quickly. Jack could see some type of barrier encase the DHD. Damnit. Plan B it was. Satisfied their diversionary tactics would be successful, the eight Jaffa strode away without a backwards glance to rejoin the rest of the group. He and Daniel were left alone again.
Jack suddenly became aware he had clamped his hand on Daniel's arm, either as a subconscious effort to keep the younger man at his side or a subconscious need to actually feel his presence. Daniel was staring at Jack's white knuckled grip with a pained look on his face. Guess it wouldn't hurt if Jack let up on some of the pressure. He released Daniel to run both hands across his eyes. Jack wondered if it was possible to get Daniel out of here. He didn't want to have to worry about the younger man.
"What now, Jack?" Daniel questioned when the Jaffa were out of hearing range.
"We see if we can figure out what they did to the DHD and dial out as planned. You'll go through to get back up and you'll stay at the SGC..."
"No," Daniel interrupted angrily, "I won't. Not when Sam and Teal'c are in danger."
Taking in the archaeologist's stubborn set of jaw, Jack gave in. He had to try. "Right. Well, the point may be moot anyway. Without Carter, I doubt we'll be able to crack that shield. Hell, even with her we'd have poor odds."
Jack made one last search for Jaffa before moving toward the DHD. He snatched up a rock and chucked it at the pedestal, unsurprised when it bounced back at him at great velocity. He dodged the stone, cursing himself when he heard Daniel grunt behind him. Damnit. He swung around to find Daniel shooting virtual daggers at him and clutching his right thigh in discomfort.
"Sorry. Sorry! You all right?" Jack hastily asked.
"I'll live. Just warn me next time you do something like that," Daniel scowled and straightened. "Okay, we know personal shields work based upon the speed of the object being shot at them, right? This is probably unlikely, but do you think we can use your gun to dial out? If we push it slowly through the barrier, it should work."
"Worth a shot."
Lifting the strap over his head, Jack moved closer. He extended his automatic to the shield with trepidation. It couldn't possibly be this easy. The gun hit the field and Jack's arm suddenly felt like it was on fire. Hairs raised on the back of his neck and he could hear Daniel calling out to him, but he couldn't move. The pain scored up his arm and across his chest like a boa constrictor, tightening with each breath. Daniel's voice was getting distorted and deep, sounding almost Goa'uldish.
A sudden force propelled him away from the painful trap and he landed in a heap several feet away. The remaining air in his lungs gushed out and a heavy weight pinned his legs. Jack feebly tried to kick it off, fighting the haze attacking his vision. Legs were made of putty and wouldn't move, uncooperative and limp.
With one last pitiful heave, Jack succumbed to darkness.

Upside down. Teal'c swayed left and right, dizzy from the unnatural position in which he was placed. Consciousness began to return to him some time ago, but he found it difficult to focus. Muffled voices entered his ears, though they were nonsensical. Due punishment? Torture of the captured to torture the uncaptured?
The words' meaning came to him with unkind clarity. He and Major Carter were to become bait to aid in the capture of O'Neill and Daniel Jackson. Rage at the prospect surged through Teal'c's veins and he struggled at his bonds. He would not be a pawn in this game.
"Shol'va, kree!"
Teal'c was jostled harshly and a vicious kick caught him in the side. Eyes flying open from the pain, Teal'c spied Major Carter restrained in the same manner as he. She showed no signs of wakefulness, head hanging limply, body lax. Teal'c ceased his struggles for fear his actions would cause the Jaffa to turn on the young woman. Several more jabs to his ribs silenced the protests poised on his lips. He would submit now, but they would pay should any harm come to his companion.
Traveling in silence now, Teal'c kept his eyes to the perimeters. He thought perhaps they would come across the path O'Neill and Daniel had taken. The Jaffa were not demonstrating caution and Teal'c knew the team leader would become aware of their arrival long before he was discovered. There had to be some way to tell his friends not to come for them, not to witness their torture.
A spasm of regret corded through Teal'c. Death was acceptable for him, but he did not wish the same for Major Carter. The loss of a mere soldier was detrimental enough, but she was more than that - a brilliant mind capable of so much good. It had long been Teal'c's opinion that while he and O'Neill were expendable, Daniel Jackson and Major Carter should be protected at all costs. During the past weeks he had somehow lost sigh of this reality and had subsequently failed in his duty. He would make sure the focus of the upcoming events would be on him.
As they neared the village, the Jaffa called out for assistance. A mass of people thronged around them, removing the bindings from Teal'c's wrists and ankles, replacing them with human iron grips. Teal'c looked behind him to Major Carter. She stirred at last, eyes slitting open to determine their situation. When full consciousness returned, Major Carter started to wrest herself from her captors. Her attempts were quickly quelled by sharp blows to her face by the Jaffa.
Teal'c bit down on his lip at her mistreatment, still afraid that if he tried to help it would only harm. To his relief, she fought no longer, stunned by the slaps. Growling at the villagers restraining him, Teal'c endeavored to learn which Goa'uld occupied this planet. The markings on the Jaffa were oddly familiar, but not instantly recognizable. He could not remember. It was not important. They would find out soon enough.
They were dragged to a large pagoda shaped temple in the center of the village. A vast courtyard encircled the palace, littered with ornate sculptures and fountains. Daniel would be thrilled at the sight, though Teal'c was extremely glad his young friend was absent. He hoped once again that O'Neill wisely went through the Stargate. As he thought it, Teal'c realized how unlikely that to be. O'Neill would not leave them, even if it meant trading his life for theirs.
Major Carter groaned as they were dragged to the top of the stairs and forced to kneel. She looked at Teal'c, trying to communicate to him with her eyes. She wanted to know who had them. Teal'c shook his head minutely and turned to stare straight ahead.
"Well, well. What have we here?" a distant, deep voice rumbled in the enclave.
Reactively, Teal'c swiveled his head to the sound. Emerging from the dark shadows of the temple, with an air of superiority ingrained so completely in all Goa'uld, was Yu. Brilliant red robes swirled behind him as he made his grand appearance, coming to a stop only when he was a foot away from the kneeling pair.
"Shol'va. Tau'ri. Were you not warned of the consequences of being caught on a System Lord's planet?" Yu spat jovially. "You will gain first hand experience shortly. But first you will tell me all you know of the Tau'ri defenses and the Tok'ra."
The Goa'uld ran a small hand down the side of Major Carter's face tenderly. She simply glared at Yu, lips pressed together firmly. The hand cupping her chin began ruthless in its grip. Teal'c flexed his muscles and clenched his own jaw when Major Carter was unable to withhold a wince of pain.
"Speak or you will know pain most unbearable!" Yu threatened.
"You're going to kill us anyway," Major Carter hissed. "Go to hell."
"So be it. You will speak, but I can see it will take some persuasion. Place the woman in the box," Yu ordered with a snap of his fingers. He turned to Teal'c. "Shol'va. The instrument of your demise will be far less pleasant. It is being constructed as I speak. I assure you, in minutes you will wish you never betrayed the Goa'uld."
Teal'c said nothing as he and Major Carter were dragged back down the stairs to their fates.

Sam fought against the strong hands pulling her away from Teal'c. Yu laughed above them, taking great delight in their futile efforts. Sam observed Teal'c being hauled to a large wooden pole and noticed a shorter crossbeam being secured near the bottom of the post. It looked like...oh was shaped like an upside down cruciform.
Teal'c saw the contraption and tried to dig his heels into the ground. Jaffa buried their fists in his stomach severely, doubling him over with agony Sam could only imagine. Her guards easily kept her in place as four Jaffa pivoted Teal'c's head downward. They removed his boots before fastening him to the cross with heavy wires. Sam could see the binding cutting into his flesh even through his socks.
"Stop! Don't..." she screamed, unable to remain passive at her friend's torture.
"Silence!" Yu yelled from his perch at the temple entrance. "The Shol'va will receive punishment fitting his crime. You will as well."
Tearing her eyes momentarily from Teal'c, Sam glowered at the smug Goa'uld. She knew she would be dead before Yu could gain any information from her, no matter how hard he tried. Teal'c would not tell him anything either.
"You might as well kill us now. We won't tell you anything," Sam called irrationally, losing her military cool.
"What would be the delight in that? No, if you do not reveal your knowledge to me, I will at least have the satisfaction of seeing you writhe. And so will the rest of the System Lords and your friends still on this planet. I will record your pitiful deaths for all to see," Yu taunted her and pulled out a flashing globe. "You will beg for your lives."
"Don't count on it," Sam muttered inaudibly.
Friends? The colonel and Daniel...No! They were out there somewhere, possibly watching them right now. Sam wasn't going to count on the colonel to do the sensible thing and get the hell off the planet. He probably wouldn't even call for back up before coming after them - his greatest strength and weakness was his dedication to his team. Sam only hoped Daniel could talk some sense into him.
A snarl from Teal'c pulled her attention back to him. He was fully strung up now, thick wires biting into his wrists as well. Blood streaked down his legs and soaked his pants, turning the olive into deep brown. His eyes were open and focused on her, sparking ferocious strength in her direction.
"Teal'c," Sam whispered, though she knew he could not hear her.
How long could he last like that? Sam didn't know if his larvae would protect him from this type of torture. It could work wonders, but could it save him now? Chances are if he could hold out for a couple of hours, the colonel and Daniel would arrive. Sam flinched a bitter smile. Yes, the colonel and Daniel would arrive.
Teal'c nodded to her as if he could read her thoughts. Only when she received that reassurance did she wonder what Yu had in mind for her. He mentioned something about a box...that didn't sound so bad.
The Jaffa towed her toward a large metal structure about twenty-five feet from Teal'c. It was raised on poles and encompassed by a man made moat of sorts, though it was empty. The only openings she could identify were the door and small air holes lining the top edge of the rectangular building. Sam peered up at the bright sun and back to the prison and she knew.
She would roast in there. No food, no water. She'd be delirious in a day. Delirious enough to give in to Yu's questions?
Sam chewed her lip in frustration. No way. No way would she allow herself to reach that point. If the colonel didn't come for them by nightfall, she would find a way to stop Yu from succeeding. Teal'c would, too.
She was twisted around, hands bound tightly in front of her. The Jaffa shoved her up the short ladder and threw her brusquely into the prison, slamming the door shut with finality. Sam landed with a thud on the far wall of the box, wind knocked out of her. Lungs frantically sucking for air, Sam sagged on the floor and began trying to loosen her bonds.

Hours. Whatever that thing had done to Jack, he'd been out for two hours now. Daniel had arranged the older man in the recovery position and had tried to figure out how to access the DHD. Nothing worked. He tried using Jack's gun again, grasping it between two branched he'd scrounged. The electric surge billowed over the gun, but it didn't penetrate the shield. He tried digging under it, only to be zapped with a less powerful jolt than Jack received.
That jolt. Damn, he could still feel the tingle in his shoulder from where he'd plowed into Jack. Thank goodness it wasn't fatal. Jack's breathing was erratic at first, but had settled quickly into a shallow rhythm Daniel wasn't altogether pleased about. At least Jack was alive.
Now if he would just wake up. Two hours...the longer Jack was out of it, the more worried Daniel became. If he didn't rouse soon, Daniel didn't know what he was going to do. Every minute they spent here, who knows what was happening to Sam and Teal'c. Eight kilometers away. Hours of them being held by some Goa'uld for who knows what purpose. No mercy. No mercy. Eight kilometers.
No mercy.
There was no way Jack could make that hike at a run after his little incident. It would be dark before they made it there. Daniel searched the sky as if it could give him answers. It was 1300 now. Jack really needed to wake up. Maybe he just needed a little assistance.
"Jack. Jack!" Daniel fairly screamed in the unconscious man's face, shaking the body roughly. Jack would kill him for the abuse, but Daniel was beyond caring. "Wake up, will you? Come on!"
His efforts were rewarded by a bare headshake and quiet groan. Jack mumbled unintelligibly and Daniel disregarded the words to focus on helping the older man through the fog.
"That's it...come on. Just open your eyes for me. I know you're probably feeling like yesterday's lunch right now, but get over it. Come on," Daniel babbled, not really aware of what he was saying.
"Daniel?" Jack muttered groggily.
"Jack! It's about time! How are you feeling?" Daniel asked needlessly.
Jack's skin was pallid and almost translucent, covered in a fine sheen of sweat. Daniel examined him anxiously, fearful of the long-term effects of the Goa'uld machine.
Jack pried his eyes open at last and surveyed Daniel with dull eyes. "Oh, shit. What the hell happened? Ungh, why are there two of you? One is more than I can handle."
"Here, drink this," Daniel shoved his canteen at Jack and help the older man sit up. He rocked a bit with the motion and Daniel frowned. "You all right? I, uh, I was wrong about that shield."
"Ya think? God, I feel like I've been struck by lightning."
"That's probably an accurate description," Daniel cringed. "You tried to use your gun to dial out, but it didn't work. As soon as it touched the barrier, you froze and wouldn't respond to me. I had to tackle you away from it and got a taste of what was holding you up. I don't know how many volts were surging through you. I do know it had to hurt."
"Oh, yeah. How long?" Jack rasped and handed Daniel's canteen back.
"What? Oh. Two hours."
"Two hours? Crap. Any luck with the thing?" Jack asked with a little jerk of his head toward the DHD.
"No. I think there must be some sort of remote shut off for it. Which we obviously don't have, so."
"I was actually thinking about heading off to the village without you. I know what you're going to say. I just didn't know what else to do, Jack. Sam and Teal'c have been gone for hours. We don't even know what condition they may be in. I heard the Goa'uld say something about using them to get us. I don't even want to think about what that means," Daniel said desperately.
"Daniel? Calm down. Calm-" Jack seized his head suddenly and groaned.
"Jack?" Daniel cried and grabbed Jack's shoulders tightly. "What is it?"
"Head...God. It'll pass. Just a migraine," Jack hissed through gritted teeth, eyes scrunching shut for a couple of seconds. "Now, how long was I out and did you try to figure out that thing?"
Daniel reeled back. What was that? Short-term memory loss?
"I...I just...two hours, Jack," Daniel said weakly.
"What? You look like you've seen a ghost," Jack whispered, sneaking a look at Daniel through fingers drawn across his eyes. "What?"
"Nothing, Jack. It's just...I already told you that," Daniel murmured back.
"Ah, shit."

Sweat streamed into his eyes, stinging and blinding. The sun was burning into his exposed skin and his head felt as though it were about to explode from the pressure. How long had he been in this position? Teal'c tried to keep his eyes open, but it was becoming increasingly difficult. In his present pose, the symbiote within fought to keep his body in balance. Kel No'reem was impossible, though he attempted it several times.
Villagers passed by and gave him stares filled with hate. And fear. And pity. There was an even mix of emotions being transmitted, each drilling into him. He ignored the hate and fear, clung to the pity as though those scattered individuals would somehow gain courage to free him. The people left him alone for the most part, allowing the Jaffa to inflict their pleasure on his body with undisguised pleasure.
His T-shirt had been removed hours ago, baring his chest to the world. Small cuts into his flesh followed, not deep enough to do harm. Just enough to make him bleed profusely. Teal'c was thirsty, but was only goaded with the promise of water if he vowed to reveal all he had learned of the Tau'ri and Tok'ra. He fought to keep his eyes averted from the blessed liquid, determined not to give his tormentors the satisfaction.
To distract his own need for relief, he began thinking about Major Carter, trapped in that oven of a prison. If he was overcome with the heat of the sun, how was she faring? No sounds reached him from her direction and he guessed she was likely trying to remain as still as possible to keep her discomfort down. How long could she last in there before begging for release? He did not doubt Major Carter's strength - she had proven her worth as a soldier on many occasions. However, she was fallible, as was he.
Preoccupied by his apprehension for his teammate, Teal'c did not notice Yu approaching until he was directly in his line of vision. The Goa'uld held a long iron rod, pronged at the end. Jaffa at his side carried a vessel of some sort, dangling from two wooden poles.
"Are you ready to speak, Shol'va?" Yu sneered.
Teal'c tore his eyes away in disgust. He would not reveal anything. Surely the Goa'uld understood that by now. Even if he gave in and revealed all to the false god before him, Yu would continue to torture him until he became bored with the activity and killed him outright. Major Carter would surely follow.
"I will tell you nothing," Teal'c ground, displeased to hear his voice sounding weak and shaky. His head felt alarmingly thick and he had to breathe in small gasps, never able to completely fill his lungs.
"Very well," Yu replied agreeably, not astonished at Teal'c's refusal. He turned his head away, looking out to the outskirts of the village. Yu raised his voice, calling to someone unseen. Teal'c hoped his intended audience was far away. "Do you see? This will continue until you reveal yourselves. Do not think I cannot spare my Jaffa to search for you! Your choice to remain hidden is leading to the suffering your friends are enduring."
The Goa'uld shifted back to Teal'c, maliciously smiling at him. He brought the rod to the crisscross opening of Teal'c's pouch. Teal'c braced himself for the pain, knowing now the game had officially changed to cat and mouse. Any sound, any indication he would give to signify his agony would bring more hurt to his friends than himself.
The instrument jabbed into his pouch, fishing around for the larvae. Teal'c bit back a groan as, squealing in irritation, it was yanked from within him. Yu brought the wriggling creature close to his face. His face appeared almost loving as he spoke to it.
"Fear not, young one. You will not be harmed," Yu assured the larvae, placing it carefully in the large container. He ordered the Jaffa to deposit it in front of Teal'c, near enough to torment. "How long will it take your Tau'ri friends to come to your aid? The sun will set soon, and you will not survive a great length of time unless I permit it."
Teal'c said nothing.
"Perhaps they require additional motivation," Yu pondered, stroking the wasp of hair jutting from his chin.
Additional motivation? What -
"Leave her!" Teal'c gasped, his body starting to feel the absence of his immune system. He would not survive more than two hours, but he would do all within his power to avert more misery from Major Carter.
Yu gazed down at him, pleased to have struck such an emphatic chord. Teal'c heart sank when he realized how foolish he'd been. Acknowledging concern for another prisoner was a sure reason to pursue torture on the perceived weaker person. His desire to protect backfired.
"You would like that, would you not? Jaffa, kree. We have another slave to attend to."
Teal'c watched powerlessly, vision wavering from sweat and pain, as Yu and his procession of Jaffa stalked toward Major Carter.

Thoughts cluttered about in Jack's head, piling up faster than his mother's collection of worthless valuables. He could barely remember which foot to place in front of the other, relying solely on the shoulders in front of him. As long as he kept those the center of his concentration, he could manage.
Bits and pieces of the past few hours soared by the big picture window in his mind and he half expected the Wicked Witch of the West to go flying by on her broomstick. All he knew, all that remained a constant for him, were those shoulders. Jack had never really studied them before, never realized how strong they actually were. He'd bet hard earned money they were stronger than their owner imagined them to be.
Daniel was truly pulling through for him, which shouldn't have surprised Jack in the least. When had the kid ever given less than 110%, especially when it came to helping a friend? Yes, a friend. Daniel had confirmed that to Jack in his den, when he tried to understand the reasons for Jack's mysterious change in character. The vision of Daniel's hurt face sprang into the forefront of his mind. He had put that look in those eyes and he had thought Daniel's friendship might be lost for good. The look didn't go away, didn't phase back into the Daniel he did consider a friend as it had so often in the past.
That face emitted something different now. Daniel paused every few minutes to check Jack out, making sure he hadn't lost his travel companion. In every instance, Jack read the increasing anxiety. He knew better than to try and ease Daniel's worries. The younger man dealt with intense fear and stress by bundling them up and burying them someplace deep and dark. Jack understood the reasons for it; hell, he did the same. For that reason, he chose to ignore the emotions being broadcast and allow Daniel to think he was clueless.
It was probably for the best anyway. Despite Daniel's concern for his welfare, Jack still got the impression the younger man was still holding some reservations about how to react to him. The wounds were still too tender to open the subject as fully as necessary, especially now while trudging endless miles. Jack's head still throbbed mercilessly and his concentration level rivaled that of a two year old.
Darkness was falling around them, and Jack remembered they needed to be somewhere before dusk inked to black. He slowed his speed a bit, suddenly overcome with weariness. Daniel stopped in front of him, turning rapidly to see what was the matter.
"Jack? You all right?" Daniel asked, slightly out of breath.
Jack stared at the younger man, brows creased together in confusion. "Uh, Daniel? Where are we going?"
Daniel's face flinched for one almost imperceptible moment and even in the fading light Jack swore he saw it pale. How many times had he asked that question? Jack thought his cognitive processes were settling a bit, becoming clearer. Yep, truly pulling through. A couple of years ago, Daniel probably would have panicked at this situation. Now he was completely in control, and God only knew, Jack needed it.
"The village, Jack. To try and get Sam and Teal'c free," Daniel said as patiently as if it were the first time he'd uttered the answer.
"Oh. Right. Sorry. I am trying, you know," Jack murmured, unconsciously mimicking Daniel's words from the locker room.
"I know. Don't worry about it. Just tell me if your headache comes back, okay? I don't want you passing out on me," Daniel joked lightly. "We're almost there."
Jack shook his head. Damnit. Sam and Teal'c. They should have made it to the village hours ago, but Daniel insisted on going a snail's pace. The younger man practically shoved the Tylenol down his throat back at the 'gate and forced Jack to lie still until the migraine faded to a moveable level. Jack had noticed Daniel checking his watch every five minutes, desire to launch himself toward their missing friends punctuated by the habit. And here he'd done nothing but hold them up for an extra hour. Not that he had a whole lot of choice in the matter.
"You ready?" Daniel whispered, grasping Jack's forearm gently.
"Yeah. Let's do it," Jack projected optimism he did not feel into his voice. It sounded lame even to his ears.
"Stay close, okay?" Daniel said softly.
"Does it say colonel anywhere on my uniform? Who put you in charge?" Jack joked.
Daniel rolled his eyes and started moving again. Jack really was starting to feel better. As long as he didn't have a pesky memory lapse just as they rescued Carter and Teal'c. Nah. Wasn't going to happen. By the time they scouted the area for Jaffa, he'd be in tiptop shape. Fit as a fiddle and ready to play. Tuned like a grand piano before a recital.
At least he hoped.

Netu. Molten lava flowing from all directions. Hell. Fire and brimstone.
Sam couldn't believe she was actually resorting to thoughts of hell to cool herself down. The mental mirages she'd been channeling, beautiful oases with palm trees and pools of gloriously wet, cool water, had all but disappeared after only a few short hours. Dried, shriveled up and had blown away. Gone forever.
She'd kill for a glass of murky, warm, parasite-ridden water right now. No exaggeration. Her tongue literally felt as if it were glued to the roof and inflated to completely fill her mouth. Even her saliva seemed to have vanished, evaporated into thin air. The pits of Netu had been kinder than this godforsaken construction.
That Yu was devious, but pretty stupid. Her cerebral functions were still very much intact; he had simply broken the tool of which he most wanted to use. Sam would just as soon tear her fingernails off as attempt to speak. Uh uh. Not gonna do'it! Hey, Yu got another thing coming.
Uh oh. Perhaps she wasn't at her best and brightest at the moment. Sam was pretty sure if the damn pipsqueak of a Goa'uld offered her a teaspoon of liquid, any liquid, she'd cave. My kingdom for a drop of water. Please, suh, may I have some more?
Oh, that confirmed it. More than a little delirious here. Here in this box. Could not, would not in a box. Could not, would not with a fox. And don't forget the lox. Ewwwwwalthough any sustenance would be good now.
Sam rasped a harsh laugh, pain searing through her abused throat. Bad idea. Bringing bound hands to her neck, Sam tried to relax the seizing muscles with numb fingers. Damn. Her struggles to free her wrists resulted in a steady tightening of the ropes, to the point she started to lose feeling in her hands. How long ago was that? How long had she been in this EZ-Bake Oven? How long could she go on?
How long had Teal'c been hanging on that plank of wood? Sam's thoughts abruptly switched to her friend. She kicked out at the atrocious globe recording her futile attempts to free herself. Goddamn Goa'uld piece of...crap. She and Teal'c were probably giving the monsters hours of entertainment. Play with the Tau'ri and Shol'va, rewind and watch it all over again. What was the point? She'd been left alone for hours and Sam couldn't hear anything from the outside world. If Teal'c was being tortured...more...he wasn't giving any signs.
For all her consternation at Teal'c's stoic nature, Sam also admired the trait. Sometimes she wanted to shout at him to at least provide her with some inkling that he was feeling; his resoluteness was awkwardly unnerving. Then she would truly look at him, notice his jaw contracting, his eyes burning with emotion. Sam always felt foolish for thinking less of Teal'c for behaving like a Jaffa. Of course he did and of course he wouldn't give Yu the satisfaction of verbalizing his pain. Yu was unquestionably torturing him, hoping she would react to the uncertainty of Teal'c's current state.
Ha. She wasn't about to pound the walls screaming for her friend and put on a great show for them. Not like she was physically capable of it anyway. Nope. Sam kicked the orb again, tilting it so the recorder flipped on its back, recording a wonderful view of the air holes. Yu moron. Yu pitiful excuse for a System Lord. Yu-
-was here. Sam could feel the snake before the door began to rattle. She examined the door as it cracked open a slit. A Jaffa's head peeked into the small room cautiously, as if he had reason to be afraid of her. Fearful of an attack. Sam almost forgot not to laugh at the ludicrousness of the idea. She couldn't take out a Goa'uld and its evil henchmen single-handedly even when she hadn't been practically roasted to death. The Jaffa turned back away and muttered something.
The long shadows creeping into the box, stretching over the floor slimily captivated her weary mind. Long shadows. Nightfall and no sign of Jack and Daniel. That was a good thing. Maybe they had both abandoned their hero complexes and summoned the SGC. No, that wasn't right. Yu said they were still here. How would he know that?
"Tau'ri! The air in here is most foul. I trust you have made yourself comfortable." Yu stepped up into the confined space with haughtiness. He paused for her response. "Do you not wish to speak?"
Mustering up the fiercest look in her extensive catalogue, Sam stared back at Yu mutely. No need to speak when 'go to hell, bastard' can be conveyed with the eyes.
"Are you not concerned for the Shol'va? Perhaps wonder if he yet lives?" Yu taunted her.
He beckoned someone outside with a snap of his wrist. Sam was drawn to the doorway, heart sinking when she saw what was headed her way. Two Jaffa squeezed their way through the door, carrying between them a large tub. Water sloshed out carelessly and Sam imagined she could hear the droplets sizzle on the metal floor. She swallowed reflexively, wincing when her dry throat stuck. Damnit.
"No? This surprises me. Do not take offense as I refresh myself. The climate on this planet is quite warmer than I enjoy," Yu smirked and dipped his hands into the water. With a flourish, he swept his billowy sleeves back and plunged both arms deep into the barrel. He brought them back up, hands cupping water and splashed his face. "That is so much better."
Sam couldn't drag her attention from the streams of water trickling down the Goa'uld's face and into his wispy beard. Her whole body wanted to lunge for the basin and gulp it down in one fell swoop. Oh, how she wanted to brutally shove the Goa'uld away and drink in the blessed relief. She fought against the urge, realizing her limbs were uncooperative anyway and she just lay there silently.
"You seem unwell. If you tell me what I desire to know, I will share this with you," Yu gave her another smile and gestured to the water.
His feigned concern for her condition angered Sam and she found it far easier to resist than she had thought. Still unwilling to speak, she shook her head and looked away from the torment.
"I admire your stubbornness. The System Lords are correct to consider the Tau'ri a threat," Yu admitted. "I regret that I must treat you in such a manner. I respect your friends for their ability to allow such affliction to be placed upon you. Perhaps the Tau'ri are not so different from the Goa'uld."
Yu crouched next to her, studying her face benignly. Sam tried not to cringe under the scrutiny, focusing instead on a corner of the box. After a few moments, the Goa'uld sighed and stood again. He ordered the Jaffa to remove the tub and the recording device.
"It is very warm in here. I will be kind and cool you off, I think. I am not as cruel as others," Yu mused. "Yes. You will cool off and be ready to speak to me by morning.
With that, Yu spun around and marched to the ladder. Sam killed him with her eyes, his departure more than welcome. Cool. Cool. Cooool. That didn't sound so bad...but then again, she had thought the same about the tin shack. Closing her eyes, Sam simply waited.
A strange scraping sound met her ears and Sam roused, managing to scoot onto her butt. It was coming from above her and she looked intently at the inadequate air holes, suddenly nervous. Small hoses were inserted into each hole, water starting to pump from them. The first few drops hit her, shockingly cold.
Sam was ecstatic; the liquid might as well have been manna. She ignored the worry niggling in the back of her mind and thrust her hands into the gathering pool of relief. Sam took a small sip and began to giggle crazily. She was going to be okay. She was, she was, she was.

The ravine was far deeper than Daniel had thought based on the UAV readings. He worried Jack might have too rough of a time descending it; the older man claimed he was just 'peachy', but Daniel was doubtful of the level of truth in his assurances. Every so often, Jack would stumble or rub his head. They were actions the older man thought Daniel didn't notice, but he'd been tuned into Jack's every move for hours. If so much as a fingernail snagged on his friend, Daniel would know it.
Knowing Jack was stubborn to a fault, Daniel played along with the charade. On many occasions, he found himself exasperated by the tough as nails persona the colonel adopted when stressed or scared. Pausing to check on Jack, Daniel narrowed his eyes. Stressed or scared. Stressed like he must have been with the whole Maybourne thing, making his act easier and far more believable. Daniel should have seen through it. He should have known instantly there was something deeper going on and he shouldn't have doubted Jack's intentions.
Daniel frowned as Jack tripped and caught himself quickly. The older man sneaked a glance in his direction, mild embarrassment flashing over his face as he realized Daniel was watching him. Jack shook his head and mumbled something about two left feet before concentrating once again on the treacherous ground beneath them.
"You all right, Jack?" Daniel had to ask it. A person could only ignore a problem for so long.
"Yeah. Let's just get the hell off this bank," Jack answered brusquely.
Daniel turned back to the task at hand. The almost-gone sunlight was making it incredibly difficult to determine good footfalls and the slope was loose and rocky. Small pebbles rocketed past him from Jack's position, skittering noisily and echoing through the gulch. He really hoped the stream wasn't deep and the other embankment wasn't this troublesome. If...when...they got Sam and Teal'c away from the Goa'uld, Daniel had a pretty good idea in what shape they'd be. He and Jack were having difficulty and only one of them had suffered relatively minor injuries. It could be much worse going the other way around and they'd likely have Jaffa after them.
Quashing the negative thoughts, Daniel jumped the last few feet of the bank and waited for Jack. Upon closer inspection, the stream didn't look very deep at all and the other side was at a much lesser incline. That was good news at least. The brush had steadily increased in denseness as they neared the village. Coupled with the dark night, it would provide Daniel and Jack easy cover to aid their stealth.
A hand on his shoulder startled Daniel from his examination of the landscape. Jack gawked at him inquisitively and he braced himself for another round of Q and A. Jack's memory seemed to be improving a bit; he could now remember where they were going but was still having difficulty with the why. Of course, the why was more terrible to relate, stirring Daniel's stomach with every retelling. The reaction the older man gave repeatedly added more twists to his abdomen.
"Do you hear that?" Jack whispered.
Daniel strained his ears until he pinned down to what Jack was referring. Voices faintly echoed toward them from upstream and around a slight bend, the words unintelligible and muffled. He crooked an eyebrow at Jack and nodded his head to let the older man know he wanted to check it out. Together, they started stealing toward the voices, Jack automatically taking point. Daniel smiled to himself. Up until now Jack had lingered behind him. Seeing him returning to usual patterns began to reassure Daniel their endeavor would be successful.
They silently edged up the ravine, crouching behind the scarce spattering of boulders lining the stream. Daniel poked his head around the rock, not surprised to see several of the world's inhabitants using the shallow river as a bathtub. He could hear their words more clearly now and thought it was a derivation of Mandarin. Not one of the languages he was comfortable in, but he was pretty sure he could get the gist of the conversation.
He scrunched his forehead in concentration. It was mostly inane chatter about their daily lives, but then Daniel heard something that made him freeze in fear.
Yu. Yu was here, making an example of the interlopers on their planet. Daniel couldn't be certain, but he thought he read distress and puzzlement in their tones. They might be able to approach them for help, though Daniel wasn't sure Jack would be willing to take the risk. Signaling for Jack to follow him, Daniel led his friend away from the natives swiftly.
"Did you understand any of that?" Jack asked the instant they were free to speak.
"It's Yu," Daniel informed him.
"It's me?" Jack fumbled.
"No, Jack. The Goa'uld. It's Yu."
"As in Yu, Yu?"
"Shit. Anything else of use?"
"Well, I couldn't hear very much and Chinese isn't a language I'm at ease with, but they didn't seem all that supportive of Yu's capture of Sam and Teal'c," Daniel said. "Yu has been kind to these people and I think his actions now are very troubling to them."
"What exactly does that mean?"
"I'm not really sure. Depending on how many Jaffa Yu has, we may need assistance," Daniel answered hesitantly.
"Well, I don't think we really can risk that, do you?" Jack hissed.
"Probably not," he resigned with a sigh.
"Let's go check out the situation."
Jack once again took the lead and Daniel gladly followed. He couldn't predict exactly what they'd find, but he had a fairly good idea neither he nor Jack was going to like it.

Did Jaffa have a changing of the guard? Jack's knees groaned their aggravation at his prolonged crouch. The village was guarded sparsely, sentries posted at the four distinguishable causeways and another two at the temple. Jack couldn't see much, as the only light came from a few flickering lanterns in a handful of the shelters. He could see the palace comprised the bulk of the little community in traditional Goa'uld style. The silence was stifling and Jack could hear the blood rushing in his ears.
Daniel was circling around to the opposite side of the town to ensure the guards they spotted were indeed the only ones with which to contend. Jack never should have let him go; it wasn't the archaeologist's job to do this kind of reconnaissance. Jack hadn't had a memory lapse in some time, but Daniel insisted on going, using the 'you're still recovering' card against him. So now Jack hid in the bushes. And worried every second about Daniel. Sam. Teal'c. He couldn't see them, couldn't be sure they were still alive. Jack was sickened with the thought that Daniel would learn they'd reached their friends too late. He imagined worst-case scenarios to the point he thought he'd retch.
Soft rustling from his left yanked him from the grim thoughts. Jack froze instinctively to avoid alerting any hostiles that might be approaching his position. The seconds seemed to drag and he longed to call his friend's name. The motion ceased suddenly and a loud thump resounded in the hush of the night. Jack jumped up to find a very frightened man staring back at him, mouth agape. Shit. Raising both hands complacently, Jack tried to look unthreatening. The man didn't move a muscle, just kept gawking at him. Before Jack could think twice, his unexpected visitor nodded to him, picked up the bucket he'd dropped and turned back to the village. Jack winced as the native scuttled by the guard, positive things were about to get very bad.
To his relief, the man didn't pause at the Jaffa to report Jack's location, instead skittering quickly back to his home. Jack blew out a long breath at his good fortune. Maybe Daniel was right; maybe these people would be willing to help them. He just didn't know if it was still necessary. Jack ducked down into a squat and impatiently waited for Daniel's return.
Damn Jaffa. Jack cursed inwardly at the immovable hulks staring resolutely out into the darkness. Yu was probably expecting an attack of some sort; Daniel seemed to think so and Jack suspected the younger man wasn't telling him everything he'd heard from the Jaffa back at the 'gate. He was certain the archaeologist had a concrete base for his worry and that was enough for him. Daniel didn't need to give him the specifics. His face said it all.
Jack stiffened as more rustling noises drew his attention. He really hoped it was Daniel this time. The archaeologist had been gone too long, in his opinion, and he was getting more anxious by the second. He felt fairly confident the villager wouldn't change his mind and inform Yu's Jaffa that he'd seen Jack. Fairly just wasn't good enough. The sooner they took out the guards and got Carter and Teal'c off this rock, the better.
"Jack?" Daniel's strained whisper finally greeted him.
"Daniel, finally!" Jack burst as loudly as he could without attracting unwanted attention to them and turned toward the younger man's voice.
The archaeologist's face reflected all the bad stuff that had just gone through Jack's head. Shit. The questions that wanted to roll off his tongue were stuck with dread at what Daniel was about to tell him. Shit. Daniel's eyes bore into him darkly for a full minute. Oh, yeah, very bad. Jack forcibly shoved his personal feelings aside and allowed his military, cut to the chase, side take control.
"I found Teal'c. Sam too, I think. Jack-" Daniel choked out.
Jack tried to ignore the younger man's anguish, funneling his attention to the words only. Not that the speaker was obviously pained with each utterance.
"God, Jack. We've got to get them out of there," Daniel finished.
"What, Daniel? I need details."
"Teal'c's, uh...Teal'c's a short distance away from the palace in the courtyard. He's been-" Daniel paused, looking physically ill. "He's hanging on a beam of some sort. I don't know how he's, uh, attached. God. I think his infant Goa'uld has been removed."
"But he's alive?" Jack didn't let the image of his friend's torture settle in his mind.
"I think so," Daniel replied weakly.
"I couldn't see her, but there's a small raised structure about thirty feet from Teal'c."
"You think she's in there?"
"I don't want to think about where else she might be," Daniel said with a shudder.
Jack didn't either. He had to keep both of them focused. Daniel was having a hard time getting his answers out and his voice sounded hollow and monotone. The younger man's arms were wrapped tightly around his ribcage defensively. Jack knew he had to keep the conversation in line, demanding quick answers to keep Daniel here with him.
"What about the guards?"
"You were right. There's only six of them. One at the palace was Yu's first prime, or at least he was the one with the communications ball at the 'gate. I also noticed he had some sort of device on his arm. I'm hoping it's the shut off for the shield on the DHD."
"Any movement from inside the temple?"
Jack processed the information, already picturing a plan of attack. The guards had to be taken out quickly and silently. They could each take three of them, Jack handling the ones at the palace. He studied Daniel tensely, worried the younger man wasn't up to the task. Daniel nodded grimly at Jack, hand gripping his knife. Truly pulling through.
"I'll go for Teal'c. You see to Carter," Jack instructed simply. "The Jaffa at the palace are mine and I'll take out the one closest in proximity to them on the perimeter. Think you can handle the other three?"
"Yeah," Daniel replied tersely. "Let's just do this."
"That's my boy," Jack whispered and started toward the left, turning back for one last comment, "And Daniel? Be careful. This seems too easy."

Teal'c tried to keep his eyes pinned to the box that housed Major Carter and willed his remaining strength to her. If she yet lived. Yu had flaunted his evil in front of Teal'c, smirking maliciously at him while his Jaffa rolled some type of pump to the metal building and inserted hoses into the air holes. Teal'c heard water gushing into the small space, at first relieved the Goa'uld had seemed to mercifully allow Major Carter respite. He should have known better.
Yu kept pumping the water. Kept pumping until it streamed out of the minute air holes. Only then had he ordered the guards to wheel away the device. The Goa'uld then turned and walked back into the temple. Teal'c was left alone.
Soon. Very soon he would be dead. His body, already weakened, could not last long. His death was imminent, though he did not fear it. Teal'c had always known he would die in such a manner, battling the false gods to the very end. He only wished he could live long enough to ensure the safety of his friends. He regretted not being able to see them again; to ask for their forgiveness and understanding at his unacceptable thoughts and actions of the past few weeks. Teal'c would die with those marks fresh on his soul.
His body felt thick and weighted, arms and legs thankfully numb. He could not feel the coolness of the blood trickling down his legs until it reached mid-thigh and then it caused shivers to wrack through him. With each breath he exhaled, his lungs retained less and less of their capacity. Despite the loud buzzing in his ears, Teal'c could hear his distressed gasps and strove to eliminate them. Through hazy vision, he could see the Jaffa at the palace stairs laughing at him. He did not want this image to be his last and Teal'c forced himself to look once again to Major Carter's prison.
Fear swelled through him. She had been in there for hours. Could she still be struggling to live? Struggling, as he, to draw the next breath? Teal'c chose to believe she would fight until O'Neill and Daniel came for them. She was strong, and Yu had done nothing to her physical body. She would hold on. He, however, could not.
Closing his eyes for the final time, Teal'c let go.

Netu. Lava flowing from all directions. Hell. Fire and brimstone.
If Sam had the reserve energy, she'd laugh at the absurdity of using the same fantasies she had used a couple of hours ago to keep cool to now keep warm. Her body jerked with the cold, impeding her ability to tread the water. Strength draining as rapidly as she'd like the water to, Sam didn't know how much longer she could keep it up. In the back of her mind, she was convinced Yu would return to save her from this torture and inflict an even crueler one.
Shit. God, where were the colonel and Daniel? Maybe Yu already captured them. He could be using the uncertainty of their whereabouts as psychological warfare. They could be suffering the same thing as her and Teal'c. Or worse?
Could it get worse?
Teeth chattering, Sam peeked through the holes at Teal'c. The one benefit of her own personal pool was that she could see her friend. It was also the biggest drawback. Teal'c looked awful, but he always kept his gaze riveted to her. Though Sam knew he couldn't actually see her, she took comfort in the gesture; Teal'c somehow transmitted strength in a mere look. She wished she could do the same for him, but Sam could only see his agony, helpless to do anything about it.
God, it was so cold and she was so tired. Icicles shot straight through to her bones and movement was becoming more difficult. Sam clung to the small holes with her bound hands, head dipping under the water more and more often. Each time she fought harder to break the surface, her muscles becoming more and more fatigued. She was going to die here. Without seeing her family again. Without speaking to her friends. Alone. Misery invaded her as she realized she couldn't last any longer. That she'd not be able to apologize for giving up.
Sam let go of her handhold and succumbed to the exhaustion.

Daniel heard Jack's soft curse as if he was standing right next to him and knew the colonel had found Teal'c. Damn. He should have warned his friend just how dire Teal'c's condition was, knowing Jack would not be able to fully contain his emotions. The final Jaffa standing before him stiffened at the audible imprecation and Daniel pounced. As he'd done the others, he rammed the butt of his knife into the back of the guard's head forcefully and the Jaffa crumbled. He had no doubt Jack had killed his prey, but Daniel just couldn't do it. He dragged the unconscious figure into the bushes and tied him up with his belt.
Mission accomplished, Daniel surveyed the village. It appeared no one else had heard Jack's exclamation, as all the lights stayed off. The village was benign and safe. Jack's departing warning repeated itself in Daniel's brain. Too easy. Too easy.
Daniel made his way quickly to Jack, finally catching sight of his friend frantically sawing at the wires restraining Teal'c's hands. God, up close, Teal'c looked even worse than Daniel had imagined. The image was sure to be emblazoned in his memory forever. He eyed the tank placed directly in front of the cruciform and noted Jack hadn't put Junior back home.
"I got him. Go!" Jack hissed.
"Jack," Daniel insistently whispered. "The symbiote."
"Fuck!" Jack lunged for the tank immediately. "Stupid. Go!"
Assured Jack had everything under control, Daniel ran to the metal building. He frowned at the moat circling it, hesitating a moment to wonder what its purpose was. Muffled groans from behind reminded him of the urgency of the matter.
"Sam?" Daniel called out softly, praying for his friend to be inside and still capable of answering. A scratching sound from above was his only answer. He stared at the top of the structure, perplexed by the incongruousness of the noise. Still puzzled, Daniel called out again, "Sam, you in there?"
God, if she was in there, why didn't she answer him? He couldn't open the door unless he was positive it was she in the box. Too easy. Could be a trap. The seconds ticked by slowly. Silence. Maybe he should-
"Dan-" a weak voice called from above. It cut off abruptly and returned, now spluttering, "Can't. Hel-"
Shit. Shit. He understood the moat now. Water. Yu had Sam in there, probably with tied hands, floating in water. How long? Frenzied splashes and metallic taps of her feet contacting the sides of the building snapped him into action. He raced up the short ladder to the door, hand on the latch before it struck him. Too easy.
Doubt flickered. This was too easy. There had to be something...shit. It was a trap. When Daniel opened the door, the water would rush out into the moat and make a lot of noise. A lot. Yu had it all figured out - the minimal use of Jaffa to 'guard' really was more than just a simple stroke of luck.
Sam had to hold on just a little bit longer. He had to make sure Jack and Teal'c were on their way out of here before he tripped the wire. She could do it; he just needed to keep her going.
"Sam. You can hang on, I know you can. I can't open the door yet. Please try. Please, Sam," Daniel pleaded. His words could only do so much to combat a weary body.
"C-can't. Daniel, so c-cold. Tired. Please," Sam murmured. Daniel could hardly make out her words. He wondered if she could hear his encouragement, such that it was.
The panicked splashes ceased suddenly and Daniel desperately looked back to Jack and Teal'c, willing them to be ready. Jack was leaning over Teal'c, one hand on the Jaffa's shoulder in a tight grip. The older man glanced his direction, a huge grimace clearly imprinted on his features even in the darkness.
"Daniel?" Jack's low voice echoed in the courtyard.
"Go, Jack. I've got Sam," Daniel tried to convince his friend.
"Daniel?" Inflected at the end this time. More than a question.
"Go. Now!" Daniel cried. "Jack, please!"
Jack shot him one last uncertain query with his eyes and helped Teal'c to his feet. The pair stumbled off and Daniel watched them, giving them about fifty feet before unlatching the door. He hoped it was enough. Water rushed out and, as he predicted, gushed into the moat with gusto, the noise filling the silent air. The force of it nearly knocked him off the ladder, but he clung to it tightly, ready to leap in to get Sam.
Her body thudded lifelessly on the floor of the box and Daniel rushed to her side. His nervous hands fumbled at Sam's neck, fearful he had sacrificed her life for Jack and Teal'c's. Nothing. Shit. Shit. Tilting her head back slightly, Daniel pressed his mouth over hers, now willing her back to life. No way was he going to let Sam die here. Not like this.
"Breathe, Sam. Come on!" Daniel muttered, shaking her freezing body, hoping the action would be enough to get it working again. "Please don't do this to me! Breathe!"
Leaning back down for another breath, Daniel felt a small puff brush across his face. Relief surged and Daniel brushed a damp tendril of hair from Sam's forehead, pausing to be thankful with a second he knew they didn't have. Fingers working on Sam's binds, he kept one eye on the door. There was no activity outside yet. Maybe they'd get out of here after all.
"D-daniel?" Sam awoke with a ragged gasp.
"Sam, I'm sorry, but we have to get out of here ten minutes ago," Daniel grunted as he hoisted the major to her feet, not bothering to untie her hands.
"No argument," Sam sighed.
Daniel towed Sam to the ladder and scrambled down it clumsily. The village was in a full uproar now, Jaffa pouring from the temple toward them, humans emerging from their homes sleepily to see what was going on. Hoping the confusion would aid him, Daniel half-carried Sam after Jack and Teal'c who were still within eyesight.
He got five steps.
Yu's voice roared through the night and Daniel felt the electric sting of a zat wrapping its tentacles around him and Sam heartlessly. As he fell, Daniel saw Jack turning back for him, a scream contorting the colonel's face. No!
Daniel wanted to tell Jack to get out, but the blackness consumed him and he let go of Sam, certain they were all doomed.

Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. First he'd risked giving them away by allowing his anger to be evidenced in a stifled curse and then Jack hadn't even contemplated replacing Junior. God, was Teal'c still breathing?
Jack shifted the container holding the symbiote until it was inches from Teal'c's face. He was nervous Junior would take a flying leap right into him if Teal'c was too far gone, and that was something he really didn't need right now. Not when he still had to consider Carter and Daniel's safety. Hell, not ever.
"Teal'c? C'mon, give me a sign here!" Jack fervently uttered, slapping the inverted face gently.
Dipping his hand into the vat, Jack pulled the infant Goa'uld out. The slippery creature thrashed in his grip, seemingly raged at being disturbed from its slumber. Jack spared it a disparaging glare and lifted his hand to Teal'c's pouch. Junior wrested itself from his grasp and flew into the unconscious man without pause. Teal'c immediately began to moan feebly.
Alive! Thank God. Jack sagged with relief, again clasping Teal'c's face. He needed his friend's help, though he hated to make the Jaffa move so soon after his little reunification with his symbiote. There was no choice. He couldn't get Teal'c loose without him being conscious; Jack couldn't handle catching the bigger man before he would tumble to the ground.
"C'mon, Teal'c. Wake up," Jack murmured.
He glanced toward Daniel, who was talking to the box. Good. That must mean Carter was in there and alive, but why was Daniel just standing there? Shouldn't he be acting a little more swiftly? Jack disregarded his misgivings, trusting Daniel to know what he was doing and turned back to Teal'c. His friend finally stirred under his hands, and Jack watched as Teal'c opened his eyes a slit.
"Way to go, Junior!" Jack grinned, moving to free Teal'c's hands. "You with me, buddy?"
"Indeed," the Jaffa answered a little to frailly for Jack's liking.
"Good. I've almost got your hands free. I'm going to need you to hold on tight when I get your feet, okay? Then I'll help you flip over," Jack said, already moving to the appendages in question.
"Proceed," Teal'c said simply.
Jack hacked through the wires, wincing at the blood crusting Teal'c's pants. He tried to keep his focus only on getting Teal'c in an upright position and mobile. It would likely take too long and Jack knew he'd have to shoulder much of his friend's weight. He imagined Teal'c couldn't even feel his legs at this point. With a snap, the cords were broken and Jack clutched at his friend's heavy limbs, carefully lowering them to the ground. Once his knees touched the dirt, Teal'c's hands let loose and he fell face down in the dirt.
"Shit!" Jack swore and tried to pull Teal'c up. The man shook noticeably with strain and the colonel cursed again, "Shit, I'm sorry, Teal'c."
He pulled the Jaffa up unceremoniously, keeping one hand firmly planted on Teal'c's shoulder. His friend didn't respond, keeping his eyes scrunched shut. Jack frowned and squinted again to Daniel. The archaeologist's eyes were already on him, wide with anxiety.
"Daniel?" he inquired.
"Go, Jack. I've got Sam," Daniel called back.
"Daniel?" Jack felt his own unease creeping up.
"Go. Now!" Daniel cried. "Jack, please!"
Jack sighed and gave Daniel a stern frown. He didn't know why the younger man wasn't freeing Carter or why he was so insistent he and Teal'c get moving, but Jack knew the reason couldn't be good. Gathering Teal'c to his side, Jack turned, snagged the Jaffa's boots from the ground and began staggering away. Every instinct in his body told him to stay until Carter and Daniel were with them and he started to twist back.
A loud whooshing sound startled his movement and he almost lost his hold on Teal'c. What was that? Noise sounded around him, terrified voices screaming in a language he couldn't understand. The door of the metal box was flung open and Jack saw Daniel lugging Carter out of it. Bedlam was breaking out around him and Jack started moving with Teal'c again.
The distinct song of zats and staff weapons assaulted him from every direction, lighting up the night sky. He set Teal'c down lightly and headed back to help Daniel. Jack stopped in horror as a zat hit its target, illuminating his two teammates with a brilliant blue.
"No!" Jack screamed angrily as his friends fell to the ground.
Daniel's eyes fixed on him, urgently telling him to escape. Not without them. Jack groped for his MP5 and blindly shot it at the Jaffa swarming toward Carter and Daniel. They fired back, unconcerned with the villagers now scampering about the courtyard.
Blasts scorched uncomfortably close to him. Pinned down with no cover, Jack couldn't do anything for his friends. Cursing, the colonel kept firing as he walked backwards toward Teal'c and tried to pull him up.
Burning pain in his shoulder caught Jack off guard and he stumbled haphazardly to the earth. His vision phased in and out as he landed on his back, gasping for air. Smoke wafted hypnotically from his wounded shoulder and the cries of the villagers slowed to a dull roar. Hand flailing for Teal'c, Jack attempted to pull himself up. Yu's Jaffa stalked toward them with determination.
Jack searched around frenetically for any means of escape, but every direction yielded either Jaffa or villagers. His eyes lit upon a figure off to his right who, amidst the chaos stood absolutely still. The man who'd spotted him at the edge of the town. Jack watched as the man directed several of those around him to run directly between him and Teal'c and the Jaffa.
The natives effectively blocked the guards' line of vision and in the additional confusion, their benefactor raced to Jack and Teal'c's side, throwing a couple of cloaks over their heads. Jack felt himself being pulled toward one of the houses.
Arms, hands and legs flashed in front of his face sporadically and Jack's head spun dizzily at the excessive stimuli. Strong, gentle hands guided him into a dark doorway and before Jack could come to grips with the most recent events, he felt something press on his shoulder. Agony flared from the tender flesh, shooting up and down his arm, into his head.
Jack passed out.

Gritty cold against her cheek and a heavy weight on her legs tugged Sam toward consciousness. Vague images flashed through her weary brain - sweat, water, Teal'c hanging on that damned cross, Daniel telling her to...
Sam's eyes shot open and she tried futilely to sit up. The weight pressing on the lower half of her body shifted slightly and she automatically peered down to see what it was. Blurry vision plagued her and all she could distinguish was a solid lump of green, which moved again when she jerked her legs. She scouted around her, disturbed to find she was still in the box.
Hadn't she been outside? Massaging her forehead with still tied hands, Sam closed her eyes and concentrated on streamlining the barrage of memories assaulting her. Water. She'd been underwater when she heard Daniel call out. She had tried, but she couldn't stay afloat. Sam gasped as the feeling of water filling her lungs swelled through her again, the darkness overwhelming into a dreadful blank.
Then what? Being jerked back to life and forced to move when her body just didn't want to. Running, disorder all around, a strong arm at her waist. Electricity charging statically through every muscle, a glimpse of the colonel, and darkness once again. The pictures flashed by intensely, leaving Sam breathless and shocked. She had a sick feeling her friends had all been captured, but where were they?
As though the deadweight on her legs could hear her, it produced a muffled groan and Sam finally realized it was a person. She reached for a shoulder and shook it gently, needing whomever it was to get off. Sam couldn't feel her feet. Her head throbbed with every movement, vividly reminding Sam of the dehydration/rehydration procedure Yu had so kindly demonstrated for her. She hesitated to speak just yet, fearful the coarse sandpaper serving as her throat would scrape as painfully as she imagined it would. Her vision was improving drastically and Sam saw her cellmate's...Daniel's...head pop up like a Jack-in-the-box. Jackson-in-the-box!
A fit of raspy giggles flew from her mouth, reverberating through the tin shack insanely. Daniel shuffled clumsily off her legs and stared at her with bleary eyes, face reading a mix of concern, consternation and complete confusion. It made Sam laugh even harder, though in the back of her head she knew this wasn't a good time to have a breakdown. Like it was ever a good time for a breakdown.
"Sam?" Daniel bleated.
She just kept snickering, envisioning Daniel surreally bouncing on a giant spring. It seemed an appropriate comparison, actually. Daniel did bounce on occasion, especially when excited. When was the last time he had bounced? Still chuckling, more subdued now, Sam searched her memory, sobering when she realized she couldn't remember. He certainly wasn't bouncing now. Sam stopped laughing.
"Sam!" Daniel called with a stronger voice and he reached a hand out to clasp her forearm.
Troubled blue eyes sobered her completely. Sam looked back at Daniel with equally troubled blue eyes. "Daniel," she stated dismally.
"You okay?" Daniel asked as he started to untie her hands. He flinched when her wrists were revealed, reddened from earlier attempts to free herself. "Jack? Teal'c?"
Jack-in-the-...not funny anymore. Sam shook her head. "I'm fine. I don't know about the colonel or Teal'c. Everything's still kind of a blur. I think I saw the colonel before we were zatted, but like I said-"
"All a blur," Daniel finished. "You did see him. I told him to get out of here, but you know Jack."
"Yeah," Sam affirmed after a knowing pause and nod from Daniel. She noted the archaeologist seemed infinitely more comfortable and confident of his beliefs about the colonel. Sam hoped she interpreted his non-verbal communication correctly and that things were on their way to improving between him and Jack.
"I wonder where they are," Daniel commented, a haunted look ghosting across his face.
Sam shuddered, instantly picturing the colonel and Teal'c hanging from matching crosses. Sam started. If Teal'c was alive. She didn't remember seeing him in the melee of the rescue attempt.
"Teal'c! Is you think...I mean, he was on that thing for so long-"
"He's okay, Sam. I'm sure he is. We got here in time," Daniel broke in soothingly.
"Unless Yu-" Sam cut herself off now, needing suddenly to know that her suspicions were untrue. She scowled at the air holes. If she stood on Daniel's shoulders, she might be able to see out of them. Sam's gaze dropped down again and settled on an object just behind Daniel. The recording globe. Shit. Without hesitation, Sam grabbed Daniel's left arm and began forcibly removing his jacket.
"Uh, Sam?" Daniel asked with a bewildered expression.
Sam finished extricating the archaeologist from the article of clothing and pointed a finger at the flashing ball. She stomped over to it and threw the jacket on top of it. At least the Goa'uld wouldn't be able to see anything.
"Yu thinks the System Lords might have a fine time watching the Tau'ri and Shol'va suffer. Trust me, you're not going to need your jacket."
"Right. So that thing's a recording device of some kind," Daniel reaffirmed out loud.
"Capable of repeated playback, no doubt," Sam spit angrily, eyes flashing. She moved to the side of the box facing the courtyard and motioned for Daniel to join her. "Can you boost me up? I need to see if the colonel and Teal'c are out there."
Daniel was at her side instantly, cupping his hands for her foot. Slipping her right foot into the cradle, Sam felt herself hoisted up enough to clamber onto Daniel's shoulders. He wavered slightly as he took her weight, but they both quickly found balance. The manmade tower wasn't quite tall enough. Sam stretched upward to peek out the holes, relaxing tense muscles when she found the rest of SG1 absent from the courtyard.
"They're not out there," Sam breathed thankfully, resting her forehead on the wall.
"Do you think-" Daniel started.
Without warning, the door flew open violently and Daniel jumped in surprise. Unprepared for the abrupt movement, Sam teetered on her toes. Daniel fumbled back a few steps and her arms began to pinwheel in an attempt to maintain balance. For a ludicrous amount of time, she perched precariously on his shoulders and then gravity finally won the battle. As Sam toppled backwards, she heard the ugly metallic laughter of Yu ringing through the small building.
Her heart fell as quickly as her body.

An indistinct scraping sound broke into Teal'c's sleep gradually. He had no recollection of falling asleep and wondered briefly why he had not entered Kel No'reem. The question was answered as the scratching stopped and gentle hands probed tender wrists and ankles. Teal'c opened his eyes as corresponding pain shot up his arms and legs. He found himself looking into the curious and frightened dark brown eyes of a village woman. She hopped away from him immediately, but resumed her care after a few stunned moments. Watching her silently, he tried to piece the last several hours together into a coherent memory.
He had felt himself dying, of this he was certain. Then voices, hushed and tense in tone floated through his head. Hands brushed across his cheek, tugged at his wrists. His symbiote placed back into him. Things became a bit clearer after that. O'Neill had coaxed him back into full awareness, though his body had not wanted to cooperate. The night had suddenly become filled with cries and weapons fire and they had run, unsteady in path and pace. O'Neill had stopped, but Teal'c did not remember why.
The ministering hands paused for a moment, moving to explore the gold tattoo on his forehead. Teal'c peeled his eyes open. The woman traced the symbol of his former slavery with delicate fingers, until all at once she stood upright and shook her head. Crouching down to the floor, she drew Yu's symbol on the dirt floor and scratched it away immediately, looking at him with inquiry.
Though he knew she would not understand him, Teal'c nodded. "I do not serve Yu."
She perked up as she understood the name of the Goa'uld. Words streamed from her mouth in a language he didn't recognize. Daniel Jackson might have some knowledge of it. With that thought, Teal'c lifted his shoulders off the hard cot and searched his surroundings for signs of his friends. The room was very small and dimly lit by an oil lamp, absent of windows with its only exit a short door. A crooked wooden table was shoved in a corner, bare except for a mortar and pestle.
To the left of the table was another cot with a still form sprawled on it, face toward the wall. Teal'c recognized the familiar green of the SGC uniform and the gray hair immediately and sat up. His head swam, black spots dancing across his vision. The woman moved to his side quickly, laying a cool, steadying hand on his arm. Teal'c dismissed her, grateful for the help, but determined to learn how his friend fared.
"O'Neill," he whispered cautiously.
The unconscious man didn't respond. Teal'c examined O'Neill more closely. A large white patch covered the entire upper portion of his right arm, the image of O'Neill being struck down by a staff weapon flashed back to him. Concerned by the memory, he began to move. Swinging his legs over the side of the cot, Teal'c planted his feet on the ground and tried to rise. The woman put a restraining hand on his chest and aggressively shook her head. Teal'c removed her hand and she scampered through the door.
Teal'c stumbled over to O'Neill's cot, still very weak from Yu's torture. He knew he must place himself in a deep state of Kel No'reem or he would not be able to make it to the 'gate. First, though, he had to know the condition of O'Neill and the location of Daniel Jackson and Major Carter. He was especially concerned for Major Carter, trembling as he recalled the hours she endured in the sweatbox.
Had Daniel Jackson reached her in time? Where were they now? Teal'c couldn't remember and his worry expanded at their absence in this place. He reached out his hand and jostled O'Neill's wounded arm carefully. O'Neill stirred instantly, groaning low in his throat. Encouraged, Teal'c shook a bit harder until finally the colonel began to open his eyes.
"Teal'c?" O'Neill asked blearily. "What happened?"
"I am uncertain, O'Neill," Teal'c answered solemnly. "My memories are somewhat incomplete."
O'Neill just looked at him, eyebrows knit tightly. "I remember. Carter and Daniel didn't make it...shit. Shit. Where are we?"
Teal'c's heart sank at the words, his suspicions confirmed. He only hoped Major Carter would not be made to endure the same torture again. And that Daniel Jackson had not taken his place upon the cross. Teal'c stared blankly at the SGC patch on O'Neill's uniform until it doubled fuzzily, mind following unpleasant paths.
"Teal'c? Teal'c!" O'Neill called harshly, wrenching him back to full awareness.
"We are in the home of a village woman. She was caring for my wounds when I awakened," Teal'c explained, lifting up his wrapped wrists for emphasis. "She did not understand when I attempted to speak with her. Daniel Jackson would be more successful."
"Yeah," O'Neill agreed, eyebrows now fused together, "but that's not going to happen right now, is it? No sign of him or Carter at all?"
"No," Teal'c answered, raising his eyebrow at the colonel's obviously desperate question.
"Shit. How long were we out?"
"I do not know, though I believe not long, as I have not healed. O'Neill, I must take more time to complete Kel No'reem. My body is very weak," Teal'c informed the team leader. "I regret we will not be able to locate Major Carter and Daniel Jackson until I am more able."
"Don't, Teal'c," O'Neill adamantly ordered, with a hint of desperation coloring the edges of his tone, "Don't go feeling guilty for things you can't control. I'm just glad we got you out of there before it was too late. They'll be all right. I'll scout out the situation while you're meditating - see how many villagers are ready to help. We heard a couple of them earlier and Daniel said they sounded upset at Yu's Goa'uldish behavior. I have to believe-"
The door creaked open, distracting Teal'c from O'Neill's words. He turned to see a tentative face poking into the room. The woman from before gazed at them for a few seconds before ducking back out. The door opened wider to let her though, followed by a man. Teal'c stared at them wordlessly, but O'Neill sat up with a wince.
"I guess we owe you thanks," O'Neill murmured, "You saved our butts."
Teal'c recognized the man to be the villager who had led them away from the courtyard. "They cannot understand you, O'Neill," Teal'c warned.
"Yeah, I know," the colonel sighed.
"On the contrary, I understand you perfectly," the man spoke, voice smooth and melodious. "I am one of the few Yu allowed to learn many languages in order to maintain his library. We are scribes for him, prohibited from sharing our knowledge with others. It is a crime punishable by death."
Teal'c blinked at the man in surprise. It was rare indeed for a Goa'uld to permit advanced learning. He cocked an eyebrow inquisitively.
"Is it true you are of the Tau'ri?" the man directed at O'Neill. "You do not look like us."
"That's what I've been told," the colonel responded tiredly.
"My friends are indeed from the first world," Teal'c confirmed, "In them, great hope lies."
Teal'c saw the room do a couple of flips; he had exhausted what minute energy he had. Hin watched Teal'c carefully, seeming to deliberate his and O'Neill's imprecations. Finally, the scribe nodded and turned to Teal'c, "Come. You must rest. Let me help you to your bed."
Hin grabbed Teal'c's arm and guided him back to the cot. Teal'c sank to it gratefully, muscles quivering from his activities.
Once Teal'c was situated, the man turned again to O'Neill. "My name is Hin and this is my wife Keiko. I would like to help free your friends."
Teal'c fought to stay aware, but his body refused. Trusting O'Neill to notify him when his assistance was required, Teal'c induced meditation.

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  Hawk50 Nancy Bailey Carrie AnnO  
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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.