Quo Vadis

 The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death ye will find him;

There was nothing left.   Freedom was a dying flame that burned on a diminishing wick, barely visible behind the battalion of Jaffa who ringed the ‘gate and lay shrouded in the surrounding forest. Jack held what was left of his team in the palm of his hand. Coated in blood, their dog tags glinted in the light of twin moons that lit a deadly path to the Stargate, reminding him of just how futile any attempt at escape would be.
The mission had come at an impossible price that each of them accepted wordlessly. Knowing instinctively their odds of success were hopelessly outmatched by their chances of failure, they had shrugged on their packs and slung their weapons in typical SG-1 style.
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"

Jack could see figures moving in the forest below; the rocky overhead he had found shelter on had at least afforded him a moment to rest and regroup. They knew he was here, had hunted him from the moment he fled the ambush, from the instant he knew there was nothing he could do to save his team. Only Daniel was still alive when he’d been forced to leave, his promise of returning with help was shallow but well intended. An offer of comfort to the dying.
Daniel’s dog tag sat atop Teal’c's and Carter’s. He hadn’t taken it from him. Daniel had pulled it, snapping the chain, and thrust it in Jack’s hand, an unspoken plea for him to survive shining in his quickly dulling eyes. Fear and cowardice burned through Jack, but as Daniel’s blood-coated hand closed over his, sealing the tag from view, he knew he was choiceless.
The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain
Could not bring his proud soul under;

Shadows fell over him, their blackness stealing the moonlight and pitching his world into darkness. Jack kicked out, falling backwards as hands grabbed at him, pinning him down. And from above, the snarled smile of victory looked down from behind a staff weapon that primed inches from his chest.
The tags were warm in his grasp. A final reminder of friends lost to the battle.
Then may he play on his harp in peace,
In a world such as heaven intended,
For all the bitterness of man must cease,
And ev'ry battle must be ended.
Jack opened his eyes to the face of death and smiled back.
The End


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