Rating: PG-13 for language

Warnings: Team angst, Daniel whumping, Jack whumping

 

            Cold whispered down the line of his cheek yet searing flecks trickled across his flesh to contradict the play of chilled wind. Irritated, he shifted and burrowed down into the vinyl bag encasing him and giving him refuge from the alien elements.  Yet something teased at his consciousness, tugged him from his needed repose until he fully awoke.  It occurred to Daniel then that he had expected to feel the comfort of linens about his body and the monotone beeping of the infirmary’s machinery. Instead a turbulent almost violent rush of water greeted him as he struggled to focus, to remember exactly what had happened and why.

            Why was it he seemed to have been dumped without ceremony onto the wet, muddy banks of a river? Why were the recollections of voices screaming in warning still skidding across his memory like some out of control spinning top?

            He fought to open his eyes, the remains of fatigue and pain hauling him back to darkness. The shrieks had died out and only the roar of the river sounded to keep him company. Grappling with the body bag, Daniel pulled it open and surveyed the area. When the rescue team first placed him in the body bag, in his near delusional state, he thought he was dead but Jack had reassured him, told him they were using the bags to transport both Sam and him back to the stargate. It was a method the military used to keep the elements off the injured. But now, the frigid wind crept over him and he realized the medical team had removed his jacket and shirt. He shivered against the onslaught and squinted into the clouded day.

            At first, he thought snow flickered down. Raising his face to the cloud burdened sky, he blinked against the burning ashes that hit him. Daniel rubbed the sting from his eyes as they began to tear and he examined the banks of the river. The stretcher he’d been transported on lay in a broken heap at the edge of the shore, water running over it and dragging it into the current. Next to the split poles of the stretcher was a nameless airman. Nameless, he shivered at the thought. Was the boy alive or dead? He looked so young, the youth of childhood still tinting his face. As Daniel twisted around he caught a glimpse of Jack. His crumpled body lay face down in the mud.

            Daniel ripped at the zipper of the bag, managed to open it wider and he crawled to Jack’s side.  “Jack, Jack?” He reached with his uninjured arm and turned his friend over while his injured shoulder screamed at him for putting his weight on his numb arm. 

            Unresponsive.

            What the hell happened?

The last thing Daniel could drag out of his fogged recollections was Jack and Teal’c standing over Sam and himself as they were carried on stretchers back to the Stargate. It had been a simple mission; check out the ruins, check out the soil, nothing more. It had turned into a disaster. Not an hour into their investigations, both Sam and himself plunged into the pit of some ancient shaft. A shaft Daniel now knew to be an ancient type of lift to bring priests up from the mound. The mound probably played an important role in some ritual and the priests would abruptly ‘appear’ within a smoky or fire display. Their worshippers never realizing that the priests or holy men used a mechanical lift to rise from the ground and not some form of magic.

            He stopped himself. Babbling, Daniel, Babbling.

He centered himself, used the pain streaking up and down his right arm to re-focus his attention on the present. Jack and Teal’c with a little bit of help from their SGC friends retrieved Sam and Daniel from the pit but not before both received injuries. As the stretcher rose to make its journey to the gate, he had relaxed into the pleasant thought of being in the cradle of his friends, his family.  Somehow, someway that peaceful journey to home and to help had been interrupted. Sam’s injuries and his own would have to wait.

            Sam? Where the hell was Sam?

Using his one good arm, he grappled to steady his balance as he knelt and looked around the area.  Though he’d lost his glasses during the fall into the pit, he made out the skid marks carved into the side of the hill by the stretcher. Rivulets of water ran down the hill, joining with the river. The light drizzle never let up and mixed with the ashes floating through the air.

Ashes. He’d finally decided that no it wasn’t snowing, but flakes of ash permeated the air. The air felt slightly burnt like it would after a lightening strike. O-zone smelled heavy and thick. He wondered if it had been a lightening strike, but knew the firing of several zat guns could cause the same effect. With that thought, goose bumps shivered up his flesh and he reached to touch Jack again.

“Jack?” No outward injury was evident so Daniel only surmised that the fall must have knocked him unconscious. He scuttled over to the young airman and noted the boy wasn’t half as lucky.  Part of his abdomen had been blown away. “Shit.”

He fought to keep his stomach from twisting. His lightheadedness oozed up and he swayed. The blood loss and infection in his shoulder wouldn’t be kept at bay for very long. He suspected the only reason he was conscious and relatively coherent was the iv lines still stuck to the back of his hand had delivered a sizable amount of fluids, glucose and antibiotics. But the bags lay like tossed garbage beside him and without a stand, their precious fluid ran static. Without thought, he tore the lines out only wincing at the pain. Lately, minor cuts and bruises were a God sent.

Looking for the airman’s medical bag, Daniel found it and rifled through it to pull out several syringes of morphine and antibiotics. He shoved them into his pants’ pocket. He needed to find out what was going on and he needed to find out now. Grabbing hold of Jack’s collar, he shook the man and cringed when he thought of what kind of internal damage he might be disturbing.

The sound was distant, at first, barely recognizable with the drowning furor of the river overwhelming his senses. He ignored it, setting his alert senses aside like one might set aside the day’s mail. He continued with his attempt to wake Jack. As he focused his attention on the prone man, the sound intruded again.

This planet was supposed to be uninhabited. But how uninhabited could they classify it with the scant data from the UAV and then minor data from the MALP? The Martian land rovers gathered more data then they did before stepping onto the surface of an unknown world.

Voices calling out above him echoed through the darkening day. He started to yell out, to cry for help when he realized they were not speaking English. He could not understand the words and started to run through the catalogue of languages he knew in his head. He heard distinctly mechanical sound as if something was charging and then a whine of gears.

He tuned his concentration to the words, the flow and cadence of their language. It sounded so familiar and the answer, the identity floated at the surface of his memory yet he could not capture it. What was it? He knew it. Damn this injury, the pain was distracting him –that was it.

A figure appeared at the edge of the cliff above Daniel. He glanced up but couldn’t make out the features or any identifying marks. Of course, the fact that he was nearly blind without his glasses did play a part in the fact he couldn’t tell who they were. And it was they because several more figures appeared at the edge of the steep hill.

Had they spotted him? Without moving his gaze from the figures on the hilltop, he jerked at Jack’s shoulder but no amount of prodding stirred him. Daniel crouched low toward the scattered rocks and boulders near the banks of the river. The slip and slide of their boots hitting the muddy ground warned him they were attempting to come down the hill.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

            Lying in the mud was one of his least favor ways to wake up. His absolute least favorite way to wake up was to strange voices and the distinct ache of a bruised and abused body. The fact that the approaching voices were not speaking any recognizable language made the situation even worse. Jack didn’t shift his position, simply lay in the mud feeling the cold stiffen his muscles, chill his bones.

            His head throbbed and, as he attempted to recall exactly what happened, a strange whirling sensation nearly sent him over the edge into full blown nausea. He must have a concussion. Jack stopped himself from cursing out loud. He needed to assess what the hell happened, or better yet where the hell he was and who the hell was stomping in the mud around him before he revealed he was alive and awake.

            For a second when he woke up, Jack couldn’t place his surroundings, the feel of the ground or even the day of the week. What the hell day of the week was it? Was he camping? No, couldn’t be camping. He routinely didn’t camp at places with people who had a language that sounded more like grunts and clicks. Okay, that set him off world. And if he was off world and awaking from unconsciousness with aliens walking around him – well that meant he was in a load of shit.

            Come on, O’Neill, think.  Where the hell were you this morning – at least figure that out.  Nope, not getting anything. Okay – where’s your team? As his mind clicked through the names, Sam, Teal’c, Daniel, a foreboding slammed into his chest, felt like a bowling ball crashed into his sternum. That same bowling ball raced down the alley of his brain and fragments started to come back. His brain hurt thinking of it and, as each pin was knocked over by that bowling ball, the last twenty four hours came into focus. Strike.

            Damn it, where the hell was Daniel?

            That was when the clicking around him grew to a furious pitch and he heard a strangulated cry. He chanced to open his eyes a crack and searched the banks of the river. Several aliens – they looked like some kind of crossed between a skeleton and a reptile – surrounded a bent figure. Even from this distance, Jack could tell that the figure was having difficulty breathing but even through broken pants the person was trying to communicate.

            Daniel.

            “Please we’re peaceful explorers,” Daniel repeated then said, “Do you understand anything I’m saying? Your language sounds so familiar.”

            Familiar? Sounds like clicks and grunts, Jack thought. The largest of the aliens leaned over Daniel and chanted something at him. When Daniel didn’t reply, the alien seized him right under the arm and started to drag him up the muddy hill.

            Shit.

Daniel cried out as the alien yanked him by the injured shoulder. He kept trying to communicate with the alien. His voice shattered between groans of pain. “Please, I’m not here to intrude. Explorers. Peaceful.” He began to recite the statement over and again in a number of languages through fits of coughing. Jack imagined he was trying every one he knew. The aliens remained unmoved by his entreaties, by his gasps of pain.

            One of the aliens crouched by Jack and he slid his eyes closed, hoping the alien had no idea about human physiology and would just conclude he was dead. A three fingered hand cupped his chin, tugging his head back and forth. Jack stifled the need to vomit as the stench of the alien overwhelmed him. Okay that sealed it – the smell of these things reminded him of when he stepped on a stink bug – so they were officially named Stink Aliens. A fit of laughter gurgled in his throat but he held it back which wasn’t hard since the foul odor gagged him. He choked down his reaction. The alien stood, kicked him in the guts as if to check the tires on a new vehicle and then clicked to his companions. He’d been successful in restraining his reaction to the repulsive smell of the aliens but not enough to convince the reptile-skeleton thing examining him.

            Clawed hands grabbed him under the arms then he was hauled up the slope of the hill toward the Stargate. He could hear Daniel still speaking, strings of languages falling out of his mouth. The lead alien turned toward Daniel, grunted something at him then gave him a punch to his wounded shoulder. He toppled over, screaming out through clenched teeth.

            Jack was on his feet, jerked away from the alien holding him and ran toward Daniel’s side. He slipped to his side and grasped his friend’s waist to embrace him and support him.

“What the hell is wrong with you? He’s only trying to talk to you, you stinking idiots.” Jack went for his P-90 but realized in the course of the events to free Daniel and Sam from the shaft, he’d discarded it with the other equipment. He remembered holding Daniel’s battered body, assisting the medics in transporting him to the stretcher. The P-90 seemed superfluous at that point. Why did he need it on an unoccupied world?

The leader, el Chief Stink Alien himself, leaned down over Jack, his fetid breath a smog contaminating the air around him. His features were grotesque, his face elongated like that of the bull’s skull while the bunk of his body was like a Unas. From his long skeletal face, a thick tongue emerged and saliva dripped onto Jack. He screwed up his face but bit back a response. The Chief Stink Alien growled something to Jack and then hissed.

Before Jack could open his mouth to reply, Daniel raised his head and hissed something back to the creature. Chief howled and hurtled a fist into Daniel’s back, squarely hitting the man’s kidney. Even though shudders of pain racked him, Daniel retorted. The grunts and clicks sounded like nothing that Jack would even recognize as a language and a new respect for the linguist grew in him.

Chief smacked Daniel again, this time across the face causing him to fall into Jack’s arms. “Shit, Daniel, what the hell are you saying to the guy.”

As he wiped the blood trickling from his mouth, Daniel said, “Well I think I told him to go have fun with himself.”

“Good going.”

“Yeah, I thought so.” Daniel curled into Jack, the pain obviously quaking through his body. “Jack, we’re in a load of trouble.”

“I kinda got that already.” He watched as the aliens conferred with one another, first pointing to the Stargate and then toward the distant mountain range. “You know what their saying.”

“Yeah, yeah.” His breath came out in short bursts. “They want to bring us before their god.”

“Crap.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought too.”

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

With a single heave, he seized hold of Doctor Bill Lee’s collar and flung him toward the awaiting wormhole. The scientist’s protestations muted by the flickering blue surface as he vanished. Bracing his staff weapon to his side and steadying the inert form of Major Carter over his shoulder, Teal’c swung around, fired once to clear the area and then fell back into the Stargate. Without pause, he turned around as he emerged, commanded the Iris be closed and lowered his precious bundle to the floor.

Medics swarmed over them in the gate room. Refusing any treatment for the mild cuts and abrasions he suffered, Teal’c immediately reported to General Hammond. “General Hammond, I must apologize for my failure to ensure the safe return of O’Neill and Daniel Jackson. Both were separated from us during the surprise attack at the Chappai’.  I must also apologize for my failing in recognizing the identity of the alien attackers.”

“Wait a minute, Teal’c,” Hammond stopped him and held up his hands. “Are you trying to tell me that Colonel O’Neill and Doctor Jackson have been captured by aliens of unknown origin?”

“Of this I am not certain, General Hammond. I can only say with some assurance that O’Neill and Daniel Jackson were being fired upon as we approached the open wormhole. The one airman assisting O’Neill in carrying the stretcher bearing the injured Daniel Jackson was struck by an energy weapon blast not dissimilar to my own staff weapon. I am uncertain but I believe they may have fallen down a hillside into the river.”

“Good lord, son, into a river?”

Teal’c only bowed in response. He had failed his commanding officer and his friend but most of all he had failed Daniel Jackson.  While O’Neill was his brother in arms, Daniel Jackson was his brother in blood.  More than once, Teal’c brought much pain and suffering into the life of Daniel Jackson and, more than once, Daniel Jackson had found it in his heart and soul to forgive him. The burden may have been too much to carry had it not been for Daniel Jackson’s own wisdom and open heart.

“We were under intense attack, General Hammond. The rest of the rescue team had already departed through the Stargate when the aliens surged upon us and opened fire.”

“Was there any warning? Any reasons?” 

“None of which I was aware.” Teal’c watched medics wheel the gurney carrying the unconscious form of his team mate to the corridor toward the infirmary. He turned his attention back to General Hammond. “At this time, General Hammond, I must confess I do not believe it would be safe to engage the enemy until we have more information to assess and evaluate the danger.”

“If you’re saying we have to find out who the devil we’re dealing with, I one hundred percent agree, Teal’c.”

“May I be excused for a short while to check on the status of Major Carter?”

General Hammond reached out a hand and patted Teal’c on the shoulder. Though it was only a brief touch, Teal’c closed his eyes and bowed his head. It was this that reinforced Teal’c beliefs in the Tau’ri.

“Thank you, General Hammond.”

Teal’c bowed and moved off. His focus intent, he did not pay heed to any of the airmen

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