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Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep
After worrying that they'd never get as far as their 'entry point', SG-1 had finally crawled out of the shaft that had taken them deeper into the ha'tak at the beginning of their mission. Stepping into the corridor, moving cautiously, the team worked their way back to the cargo bay that held the only way off of the ship. The first streaks of light were visible against the horizon as the gaping hole in the side of the craft came into view.
Too close to their escape to want to risk capture, they slowed even more, 'leapfrogging' past one another through the half-empty bay, hiding behind the few stacks of crates that had been brought onboard by the villagers.
Daniel heaved a mental sigh when they were just across a corridor that ran parallel to the bay doors. Another hour at the most, and they'd be through the 'gate, and home. They were still hyped on adrenaline. He'd suggest a stop at IHOP on the way home. Almost grinned at the thought of Casey ordering her usual French toast and sausage. Realized, when his stomach growled, that it had been awhile since they had eaten their cold MREs. No doubt that after a night of sneaking and crawling around on a Goa'uld ship, his Wife and teammates were as hungry as he was.
Teal'c inched toward the door...peeked out. Looked back and nodded. He stepped forward, Casey and Sam close behind. All of them continued to look around carefully, taking in every shadow, every movement of the trees that lined the nearby road. Listened for any sounds of movement. The 'loading dock' appeared to be completely deserted in the predawn light.
Jack watched as the Jaffa led Casey and Sam to safety. The three were crouched as low to the ground as they could get, moving toward a stack of crates that would offer them ample cover. Glanced over his shoulder at Daniel. Who nodded. They checked the cross corridor, ready to dash across and out the opening that beckoned to them, toward the safety of the hill behind the village...and the Stargate. The metallic rattle of armor clanking filled his heart with dread. God, he hated that sound! Grabbing Daniel by the shoulder, he ducked back behind the support columns just before a full squad of Jaffa guards marched toward them.
Daniel bit back his curse when the Jaffa stopped in front of the open hatchway. Then felt panic grab his heart when one of the guards stepped toward the control panel and activated the lowered ramp, bringing it back up to slide into position for storage. Slowly the bay doors moved toward one another, blocking out the early morning sunlight that had begun to brighten the shadowed passageway. His heart lurched at the resulting knell that resonated around him, through him, as he watched the two hatches close tightly. He gulped a breath, his blood roaring in his ears as he watched the Jaffa manipulate the controls once again. Watched in disbelief as he and Jack became prisoners on the ship. How in the hell were they supposed to get off of this damned thing now? Well isn't this just fucking par for the course?
Oh, hell, this is not happening! Jack thought. It was impossible to see exactly what the Jaffa was doing, given his position behind the pillar. Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't good. Another glance at Daniel had him shaking his head mentally. The archaeologist looked to be on the verge of losing it completely. Then, in a single blink of his blue eyes, Daniel had pushed down his fear and anger and irritation. That was just as bad, Jack knew. The tin plated bastards who had totally screwed up his plans, and his day, proceeded to march further down the corridor, disappearing around the corner.
"Okay, now what?" the younger man asked calmly, his voice a low whisper.
"Don't suppose we can just open the door again." He peered around the beam, trying to make out the controls on that panel. Just which ones had Tin Man pushed to close the door, and would opening it be as simple as pushing the same buttons in reverse? Quit dreaming, O'Neill, of course it's not that simple!
"Doubt it. At least, not if we don't want to set off alarms somewhere. I think that Jaffa locked it," Daniel replied.
Jack reached for the radio on his shoulder. "Carter? We have a problem."
"Yes, sir, we saw," Sam's voice replied immediately. "We have a bit of a situation here."
He felt every muscle in his body tense. "What problem?"
"One of the locals saw Teal'c. We're in a bit of a-"
When the transmission was cut off, the two men looked at one another, matching expressions of horror...worry...on their faces. There hadn't been anyone in sight. Just when had locals shown up, and were there any Jaffa nearby as well? Just how in the hell had everything gone to shit so damned fast?
"Casey?" Daniel asked, holding down the button on his own radio.
"No time to chat, Stud Muffin!"
The distinct sounds of gunfire had accompanied Casey's breathless response.
"I hate it when this happens," Jack grumped. His body was practically twitching with the need to join his kids, the three who were at that very moment under fire. Without him. Damn it! The team had been together, had stayed together...this wasn't supposed to be happening!
"I should be used to it," Daniel snapped, annoyance reflected in every movement of his body as he adjusted the pack on his back, gripped his P90 tighter. "Every damned time I turn around, Casey and I are being separated!"
There was nothing to say...because it was the truth. And platitudes weren't what Daniel needed to hear. Would probably get his head bitten off as well, Jack thought. He took a deep breath. "Well, we're SG-1, Danny. The shit has to happen before the good luck kicks in."
Which was also a truth that the team had learned to live with. It was impossible not to smile. "I guess so."
"Well, as long as we're still here, I guess we should take a look around." He groaned out loud when he felt the telltale vibrations in the floor. "Tell me this ship didn't just take off."
"Okay. This ship didn't just take off," Daniel intoned.
"Let's see if we can find out where the hell we're going," Jack sighed.
"If we can find some Jaffa armor, we might be able to move around easier," Daniel suggested.
"There has to be something like a barracks around here," Jack agreed. At the moment, any plan was a good one. Because without a plan, they were screwed!
Sliding into the shadows, moving slowly, and with determination, two-fifths of SG-1 began to move upward in the Goa'uld ha'tak.
A A A A A A
It was all she could do to keep from screaming when the sound of the doors closing filled the still morning air around them. Casey squeezed her eyes shut for just a brief moment. Goddess, no! We're almost home!
Where there had been no one present as the three teammates had ducked behind cover, the 'loading dock' - a simple patch of bare earth beside the resting ha'tak - was suddenly filled with Jaffa, pushing several villagers forward. It was obvious that the men had just been awakened, their clothes had been hastily pulled on, hair stood at odd angles on their heads, testimony to the fact that they hadn't been given time to take care of even the most basic needs.
Teal'c watched from his vantage point beside one of the storage sheds. There would be no way to move, no chance to slip away and make their way to the Chappa'ai. Their presence would be quickly discovered, if there wasn't a diversion. To rescue O'Neill and Daniel Jackson the Prometheus, or a Tok'ra ship, would be required. They would not be able to raise the alarm if they could not make it back to the SGC.
His dark eyes went to the torches that lined the perimeter of the 'dock', still burning in the early glow of dawn. He smiled grimly when his gaze lit on the crates with bright red markings. Explosives. The type preferred by the Goa'uld for mining. Whether there was ore on this planet that Keku wanted, or the supplies were payment for his services, Teal'c had no way of knowing. Nor did he care. Tossing a torch onto those boxes would offer the diversion needed.
Moving with grace and stealth that belied his bulk, the large man slipped from behind the crate that had kept him out of sight. His hand had just gone around the base of the torch, he was already turning, his arm tossing the flaming stick toward the dynamite when a cry of alarm, and the sound of a Jaffa yelling orders, split the air.
A flash of light and the ozone-like smell of a staff weapon added to the melee. Time seemed to slow to a crawl; seconds seemed to be minutes long. Confusion reigned among the conscripted workers, who were doing their best to flee in the opposite direction; the Jaffa doing their best to keep control of the situation.
Sam watched in absolute horror as Teal'c went down, a staff weapon blast leaving a hole in his back that she could fit both of her fists into. Smoke spiraled upward from the wound as he hit the ground face first, landing on his cheek, his dark eyes staring unseeing in her direction. Before she could move, could fully comprehend what had happened, Casey was screaming, standing up from where she had been crouched, firing her P90 with such vengeance that the weapon seemed to glow with her anger. Her rage appeared to stun the Jaffa for a few seconds; sent the locals scurrying for shelter, several running back to the houses that comprised the village.
She wanted to shout at her friend, warn her to get down, knowing full well that it was already too late. The staff blast came from behind her position - Sam looked over her shoulder, then whipped back around to see Casey staring, wide-eyed, at the hole in her chest. The slender seer dropped to her knees, then fell forward as well.
The flames of the torch that Teal'c had tossed toward the crates of waiting cargo were licking at the wooden boxes hungrily. In a sudden explosion of sparks and debris, the flammable contents of the crates began to burn, the fire roaring in its intensity. Another explosion, this one sending anyone within the immediate vicinity to their knees as the ground shook from the force. One shed began to sway, then collapsed in a heap of wood scraps and dust.
All attention was focused on the orange and yellow and red tongues of fire that shot skyward, sending signals to the rising sun. This was her only chance, she had to get her friends, and get the hell out of the village. Sam paused long enough to gulp in a breath of air. Just how the hell was she supposed to do that? She couldn't carry Teal'c on a good day, and she certainly couldn't carry him and Casey!
She couldn't allow the Jaffa to take the bodies. If the Goa'uld were to discover the team's immortality...oh that would be so not good! The terror of what her teammates would endure if they were to reanimate while in the custody of Keku brought the bile in her stomach up into her throat. That couldn't happen! She couldn't let that happen! Daniel would never forgive her if Casey was taken away from him again!
When the ha'tak roared to life, and slowly began to rise into the air, it was all she could do to keep from screaming her frustration out loud. She was alone on the planet, two of her teammates dead, two now prisoners on the ship that continued to move upward. She had to protect Teal'c and Casey. It became a mantra in her mind. Followed by the random thought that she had to remain alive long enough to do so. For the moment, Jack and Daniel were on their own...she had no time to spare for worrying about them.
Pushing down the panic that was doing its best to take complete control of her mind, Sam dashed forward, grabbed Teal'c, who had fallen the closest to her. Looking around as she pulled him toward the small shed where she had been hiding, her attention was drawn to what looked like a gully. Dividing her attention between watching where she was running and the Jaffa who were scampering back and forth - attempting to put out the fire that was now threatening two nearby buildings, as well as consuming what cargo was left on the loading pad - she snuck toward the narrow dirt lane.
Covered with vines and bushes, the gully was deeper than she thought. It was, she realized, a deep ravine. It would be the perfect place to hide Teal'c and Casey, until she could locate a more suitable place for them.
Her legs felt like jelly as she ran back to the shed. She barely paid attention to what was happening around her as she dragged the heavy, still warm body of her friend to the edge of the ravine. With a grunt of exertion, she tugged and pulled, finally achieving her goal after what seemed like an eternity, but had been not more than three minutes.
"Sorry, Rocco," she whispered as she rolled the body over the side. She watched to make certain that he couldn't be seen, then crouching as low to the ground as possible, made her way back to what had become a killing field, as Jaffa fired on the villagers who were still attempting to flee. She had to step over the fallen bodies of the Jaffa who had been killed by Casey's rampage, and try to remain unnoticed. Not the easiest task she'd ever been faced with. For the moment, she was blissfully unaware of the fact that she would be facing even tougher challenges in the hours to come.
There was no time to be gentle. Grabbing Casey's wrists, leaving the P90 where it lay when it had fallen from nerveless fingers, Sam jerked and pulled until she had heaved the seer over her shoulders, holding her in the 'dead man carry' she had been taught in basic training. Within minutes the blonde was also hidden in the relative safety of the ravine. Sheer luck saw the slender woman slide down almost beside the large man.
No time to catch her breath...she had to make certain that the Jaffa wouldn't check this ditch. For the final time she scurried toward the shed, retrieved her P90 and the pack she had tossed aside at almost the same time she'd reached for Teal'c. Heard the shouts of the Jaffa, understanding three words...kree obi tan...which, her mind translated dazedly, meant she was supposed to stop what she was doing. She didn't. Another shout, words she didn't recognize immediately...kek kel shak. Kek meant death. So, apparently the Jaffa who were yelling at her were threatening her life. Didn't need to translate the whole thing to figure that out.
Not pausing to make certain that no one had witnessed the hasty removal of her friends' bodies, Sam began to run toward the hills that lay just beyond the village. Fought her desire to head straight for the Stargate. The Jaffa hadn't been guarding it before, she sure as hell had no desire to remind them of its presence.
The steady pounding of boots behind her, the rattle and clank of the armor the Jaffa wore, kept her moving forward. Her lungs felt as if they were on fire as she continued to run, her body was shaking from a combination of stress, shock, grief, and not a little downright terror as she continued to plant one foot in front of the other.
"...you're going to be fighting for your life..."
The team had managed to stay together, that should have kept what she'd seen from happening... Damn it, couldn't Casey have been wrong just once?
Even as her body continued to propel her forward, her mind came to a crashing halt as Sam finally understood what Casey had been seeing. Teal'c had been 'missing', because he had been killed. That's why the seer couldn't sense herself near her teammates, because she was dead as well.
Casey had given them the warning. Well, as much as she had been able to do, given what she had 'seen'. It was a damned shame she hadn't been able to discern the meaning of the images downloaded into her head before the team had embarked on the mission. No doubt her still shaky faith in herself and her abilities was to blame for that little problem. Of course, with this happening, Casey would blame herself...again; have even less faith in her abilities...Holy Hannah, what a mess!
Unable to go farther, her chest heaving, Sam dropped down behind a large boulder. She just needed a few minutes to catch her breath. She struggled to keep from gasping, attempted to make as little sound as possible.
For now, she had to stay alive. Prevent Casey and Teal'c from being found before she could send for help, and get them back to the SGC. She'd worry about Casey's self esteem problems later. There were too many other thoughts competing for her attention. The knowledge that often when Casey didn't offer the full 'translation' of what she had seen was a direct reflection of the fact that what she'd seen had to happen was lost on Sam in that moment. It was a thought that she wouldn't recognize for many long hours.
Grappling to maintain control of her emotions, Sam pulled every minute of her SERE training foremost in her mind. Survival. Evasion. Resistance. Escape. With luck, the first two would see her through, and the latter two wouldn't be needed.
Survival. To do that, she couldn't get caught. Icy calm began to replace the heat of her panic. She was on rocky terrain. They wouldn't be able to track her as easily. For now, the bodies of her friends were safe enough. She needed to worry about herself...her first priority was to remain free.
She squinted up at the top of the hill. It seemed to be a million miles to the peak. A look in the other direction and she could see the Jaffa who were still pursuing her. They had stopped, were looking around, trying to figure out where she was. Given that the vegetation hadn't been disturbed, it wouldn't take them long to discern exactly where she had gone.
Moving with care, opting for stealth over speed, Sam began to make her way from boulder to boulder. Peeking over the tops of the rocks each time she slid into the safety of their shadows. Making certain that the Jaffa were still there, but not aware as of yet which path she had taken.
Her world became focused on the simple acts of rushing from one boulder to another. Run. Hide. Check for hostiles. Run. Hide. Check for hostiles. Run...
Shouts broke the silence that had been filled with nothing more than her labored breathing. She craned her head around the boulder that was her current hiding place. Felt the heat of the energy beam as it shot past her and darkened the rocks beside her.
Over the top, major, she ordered herself.
Become as small a target as possible...
Never move in a straight line...
Words shouted at her as she struggled in the training camp all pilots had been required to attend filled her mind as she ran. Curled as low as possible, she ran in a serpentine fashion, shoving herself from one rock to the next, ducking behind boulders that offered a moment's protection. Adrenaline was flowing, her shaking body was now reacting to each command she sent almost before the thought had been completed.
She threw herself over the top of the peak, knowing she had only a matter of minutes to regain her footing, and disappear into the forest she could see looming at the bottom of the hill.
Had she not stumbled and fallen, rolling nearly thirty feet over rocks and bare dirt, bruising and battering her ribs and arms, Sam would never have seen the small opening.
Another glance over her shoulder.
There could be an animal inside that cave.
I could be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
She didn't have a choice. She crawled into the small opening. Nearly squealed with absolute delight to find that the cave was large enough to stand up in. In a miracle occurrence that she had neither the time nor the inclination to question, her small flashlight was still in her thigh pocket. Beneath it would be one hell of a bruise, since she had landed on the damned thing.
Clicking it on, she looked around. Sent up a prayer of such fervid thanksgiving that she was sure the gods and goddesses that Casey spoke of were calling her an unmitigated suck-up. The cave was perfect, absolutely perfect!
Moving slowly toward the back, where the ceiling began to slope sharply, she located what almost seemed like a cave within the cave; a depression in the hard packed, dirt floor that was over three feet deep. Perfect. It would be the perfect hiding place! All she had to do was get Casey and Teal'c here.
The enormity of that task threatened to overwhelm her. Sam ran a shaking hand through her hair. Three days. She had to keep Teal'c and Casey safe...she had to remain out of sight...for three days. If the Jaffa found them...
She dropped to the ground, pulled her legs up and wrapped her arms around them, resting her cheek on her knee. Everything had happened so quickly. They had been sneaking off the ha'tak...Teal'c had found a place for them to hide until they could make their way back to the thick woods near the village that covered the base of the ridge, just below the flat area where the Stargate waited. They had heard the rattle of the ramp being raised...turned and watched in shock as the cargo bay was closed off...with Jack and Daniel still inside.
When the clang of the bay doors closing had filled the air, Teal'c had grabbed her arm, and Casey's, and hurled them toward the protection of a stack of crates. At first they seemed to be alone...and then there were Jaffa and villagers, who suddenly seemed to be everywhere. Their only hope had been to get away from the loading area and back to the SGC. The Prometheus could be called upon to track Keku's ship, she was certain of that. They just needed to get to the Stargate...
Teal'c had created a damned good diversion. Too bad it hadn't worked out as planned. Getting caught had been damned rotten luck. One of the villagers had cried out in alarm...that was when he had been shot...God, the hole in his back had been so big...
Casey...so terrified...so angry. Her rage had been evident on her face as she had exacted revenge for the death of her best friend, foolishly making herself a target as well...
Those moments had become a blur in her mind, colored by her fears and her anger...and her guilt. She began to shake so hard her teeth rattled. It took concentrated effort to bring her body back under control. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. She relaxed minutely as the shaking passed, leaving her weak and more than a little weary.
A frown creased her brow. Had any of the villagers seen her drag Teal'c and Casey to the side of that road, and roll them into the ravine? Had any of the guards left behind been witness to her actions? Would the Jaffa simply see two dead bodies, and leave? Or did they have orders that would bring any miscreants or intruders...dead or alive...to face their 'god'? Who knew what Keku would do? He was a Goa'uld, after all. As the colonel always said, the snakes were batshit crazy. She couldn't help but smile at the thought. Which faded when that thought was followed by the knowledge that at the moment, Jack and Daniel were on that ha'tak. Trapped, just as surely as she was. She had a better chance of escaping the planet than her CO and her best friend had of getting off a ha'tak that was now somewhere in space.
If she could get to the 'gate, and then get a message through, she only needed enough help to get her two dead friends back to the SGC. They'd be cleaned up, put into infirmary beds, and it would be a simple matter of waiting until they reanimated. She nearly giggled hysterically as she realized that this was Teal'c's and Casey's first death. Daniel had died twice now. She shook her head. No, that wasn't true. He'd died at least three times before becoming Immortal. Thank goodness for those damned sarcophagi!
She had to rest...she'd been up all night; they all had been on that ship all night. Skulking through access shafts to move up to a level where they could access a computer. Had spent more time trying to remain quiet and undetected than actually finding the information they were after. It had taken so long...too long it seemed...to get back to the cargo bay.
The colonel had been exasperated when Daniel had insisted on copying the files that she had stumbled on, something about an Ancient weapon had caught his eye. He hadn't taken the time to translate what had been there, he admitted he had no idea if it was just a myth about the Ancient weapon, or if there were actual clues to be had.
She reached into her pocket. Pulled the data crystals from the safety of the nylon and kevlar vest. The information was there. It would require Daniel's ability to read the Ancient script for them to find the clues that the archaeologist hoped had been contained in the reports. What she held in her hand was the only thing they had managed to get from the ship. She tucked the crystals safely away, making certain that the velcro enclosure was fastened securely. What they had found had damned well better be worth the hell the team was now facing! Well, three of them. She was alone on the planet, two teammates dead, two stuck on the ship...
Ship. Jack and Daniel were on that ha'tak. Were they even alive? Oh, God, they had to be! If they had been captured, and were being tortured...if that Goa'uld found out they were Immortal...
Sam shuddered. Don't borrow trouble, she told herself firmly. She clicked the flashlight off, slipped it back into her pocket. The total darkness was more comforting than stifling. She needed to rest...just for a minute. Her eyes drifted closed. She'd rest for just a minute. Then she'd figure out how she was going to get Teal'c and Casey from that ravine to that perfectly safe spot right over there...
A A A A A A
The general watched the monument that loomed in the room below him. Waiting, praying that the Stargate would activate. That SG-1 would come strolling down the ramp, cocky with success.
He had expected them at least an hour earlier, given that the colonel had reported that the team would wait until nightfall on the planet before attempting to board the Goa'uld ship. Casey's input had been...confusing...to say the least. She'd seen trouble, at least for the colonel, Major Carter, and Doctor Jackson. She had privately insisted that the mission be undertaken, even though she couldn't be certain that prior knowledge of what was about to happen could once again prevent the disaster.
Hammond sighed. Casey had been frustrated by the lack of anything other than a few images. He couldn't begin to understand her gift. He did understand that the burden of that gift weighed heavily upon her slender shoulders. She hadn't failed anyone in the SGC yet. There were times when her 'visions' seemed to change as her abilities continued to grow. Sometimes when those changes occurred it took time for her to interpret what was happening. She'd seen the attacker who kidnapped her and Daniel. Although she'd only seen a shadow, she had known something was going to happen. It turned out that the entire incident had prevented a worldwide catastrophe from occurring.
That thought deepened his frown. Could the images she had seen this time be something that had to happen? That was certainly not a new development. Would trying to prevent her vision result in something much worse happening?
General Hammond heaved another sigh. There were times he wished for the 'old days', when knowing about the astral plane and the machinations of Beings from higher levels of existence weren't part of his day. Didn't hover in the back of his mind as each SG team embarked on a mission. It was difficult enough dealing with the Goa'uld...and the politicians from Earth.
Instinct, and experience, told him that SG-1 was in trouble. The hard, cold reality of that fact was that, for the moment at least, there wasn't a thing he could do to help them.
A A A A A A
She jerked awake. For a moment wasn't sure where she was...only that it was dark and silent around her. Her fingers searched for, located her flashlight. Bumping it reminded her of the bruise on her leg. And the reason for that bruise...
A quick glance at her watch told Sam that she'd been asleep for less than three hours. Moving toward the front of the cave she could see where sunlight brightened a spot just below the opening that led to her hiding place. She crept as close as she could, listened intently. She couldn't hear anything.
For the moment, she was more than content to sit where she was. There wasn't anything she could do in the light of day...not if she didn't want to become a Goa'uld captive...and all of the joys involved with that situation . What she needed to do was get Teal'c and Casey to the safety of this cave, and as soon as possible. That became her single-minded goal. And one of which she had absolutely no idea how she was going to accomplish.
The warmth of the sun had her dozing again, although her dreams were violent and filled with the images of all that had happened in the early morning hours of the day, preventing what little sleep she did get from being truly restful. When she opened her eyes for the eighth time, after witnessing Teal'c and Casey killed...again...she shook her head, trying to force the nightmares away. According to her watch, another hour and a half had passed.
Survival. Evasion. Resistance. Escape.
She'd managed the first two...so far. Leaving the safety of the cave put her at risk of being captured...or at the very least, seen by someone. Someone who would then watch this area, and prevent her from leaving...stop her from rescuing her friends.
A heavy sigh left her lips. Some rescue. Was it even possible to rescue dead people? Wasn't that simply 'retrieval'? No. Absolutely not. Those 'retrievals' were two of the dearest people in her life! It wasn't just a matter of bringing dead bodies to the cave. She was rescuing her friends, preventing them from being discovered by the Jaffa, turned over to a Goa'uld who would do who knew what unspeakable things to their bodies! There was dead...and there was dead. It sounded crazy, but it was just another 'fact' in her life that she accepted as easily as wormholes between Stargates which allowed almost instantaneous travel between planets; and aliens, and the existence of Goa'uld. And all of the other crazy things she'd experienced during her time as part of the SGC 'family'. Teal'c and Casey were dead. In three days, Casey would be sitting in the infirmary complaining about the bed and having a numb butt, and Teal'c would be insisting that he was fine and fit for duty.
Survival. Evasion. Resistance. Escape.
It seemed that the instructors at the training camp had been successful. What she had been taught seemed to have sunk into her subconscious, not allowing her to forget the lessons she had so painfully learned. Knowing that she had to have as much current information about her situation as possible, she carefully eased toward the opening. There was nothing directly in front of the cave. Lying flat on the ground, sliding forward slowly, she inched her way out of the small, almost vertical mouth of the cave.
The sun was directly overhead. To her right was the top of the hill...small mountain actually, her weary mind pointed out. To her left she could see the top of a forest. There seemed to be an equal amount of several species of deciduous trees, as well as those that looked like palm trees. Or something similar.
Crawling back into the cave, Sam's stomach gave a rumble that would likely alert any Jaffa within a hundred feet of her. Moving her flashlight around, she located her pack near the spot where she had awakened. Believing the mission would last no longer than twenty-four hours, the team had packed one MRE, which had been eaten before the trek to the ha'tak. All she had left were couple of energy bars and a canteen full of water.
She stared at the energy bars for a moment. Part of her wanted to devour both as quickly as possible. There was no telling how long she'd be here. Nor was there any way to know what local plants might be edible. She'd need to keep her strength up, while rationing what she had for as long as possible.
Allowing herself three sips of water, Sam opened the cellophane that covered one of the bars. Carefully broke it into two pieces. She'd eat half now, and half before she set out to bring Teal'c and Casey here.
The thought of her friends brought a new rush of grief; and worry that their bodies had been discovered and were no longer where she had left them. Giving herself a short, stern lecture on the subject of not borrowing trouble - as her father had always referred to dwelling on the negative things that could happen, all of those annoying 'what ifs' - she pushed those thoughts away.
Instead, she began to focus on what she needed to do. For a moment she felt completely panicked. Could she remember the way back to the village, and that narrow lane with the deep ravine beside it? Closing her eyes, she brought up every moment of her escape from memory. Yes, no doubt about it. Backtracking wouldn't be difficult. The hard part, she realized, would be making that trip twice in one night.
A rather familiar sound caught her attention. Heart pounding, she once again eased her slim body toward the opening of the cave. She could barely make out the sounds of movement. And the clanking of Jaffa armor. To her ears, it sounded as if it was on the other side of the hill.
She contemplated for a moment. Sitting here, she was relatively safe. But not knowing what was going on could turn out to be a liability later. Especially when she was ready to retrieve Casey and Teal'c.
With a mental sigh of frustration over the situation, she pulled the strap of her P90 over her shoulder and carefully slid out of the cave. Her heart beat her trepidation. Slowly, methodically, moving as silently as possible, Sam made her way to the top of the hill she had only a few short hours ago tumbled over.
Several boulders offered perfect hiding places. She glanced over her shoulder. As long as no one decided to sneak up behind her. The barren, rocky hillside at her back showed absolutely no sign of life. There weren't even weeds trying to take hold in the dusty ground. She peeked around the boulder that had become her protection. Could hear more than see the Jaffa. Concentrating on the sounds, she figured there weren't more than half a dozen. Still looking for her, it seemed. Persistent bastards.
What she needed to do was keep the tin men away from this area, preventing them from coming over the hill and finding that cave. Her eyes moved over the rough terrain of the hill. If she could get in behind them, she could leave a trail, one that would lead them away...
Fingers caressing her weapon almost lovingly, Sam contemplated the option of taking out the Jaffa. If she moved quickly enough, she could fire from several vantage points. It might even confuse them enough for a few minutes, long enough to wonder if there wasn't more than just one person to look for. Another thought demanded her attention. If this group didn't report back, how long before they were missed? Would that buy her enough time lay out trails for other Jaffa to follow?
She watched for several more minutes. The group was starting to work their way up the hillside. She had to stop them. No choice. It was them...or her. And she had an obligation to her teammates as well. Me, or them, she thought again, almost frantically. The icy cold realization that her very survival depended on her actions in the next few minutes trickled down her spine.
Wishing that she had a silencer for the muzzle, she switched the gun from auto to semi-auto mode. One shot at a time. Saved bullets. Less noise. She took a deep breath. Sited in her first target. Grinned at the thought that taking out the one furthest away would most certainly draw their attention to the small cluster of trees at the foot of the hill.
Another deep breath. She squeezed the trigger slowly. Watched the spray of blood from the neck of the Jaffa that indicated she had hit her target. About four inches lower than where she had been aiming.
For a few seconds there was no reaction. Then his comrades began to drop to their knees, making themselves smaller targets, or at least attempting to do so, staff weapons aimed and charging. Even from the distance she could see how wide their eyes were. Apparently Keku and his Jaffa had never run across the Tau'ri, or their weapons. If this group had been present during the fire fight earlier in the day, then the most they knew about the weapons were the wounds and damage that they inflicted. If they hadn't been at the site where all hell had broken loose, they weren't even aware of that much. From their reaction, she figured this group hadn't been clued in.
Keeping low to the ground, Sam quickly moved to the next boulder, one just over the top of the ridge. Crouched down, and searched for her next target. There. Him. Facing the trees. She adjusted her aim slightly. Deep breath. Squeeze the trigger slowly.
There hadn't even been time for the Jaffa's brain to register that he'd been hit before he went down, crumpling to his side.
Now, if these Jaffa were smart, they'd realize that the wounds were being made from one direction. The fact that they'd never encountered a P90 before had them confused. Thanks to the rocky outcroppings that surrounded them, the echo of the shot seemed to surround them, coming from several places at once. Two facts that were in her favor.
She wished she understood more Goa'uld. There was a hell of a lot of chattering going on. Keeping one eye on the Jaffa who were starting to move back toward the foot of the hill and the other on the next boulder where she wanted to be, Sam moved again. One of the Jaffa was looking in her direction, while the others seemed convinced that the danger was coming from the trees.
"Okay, asshole," she muttered under her breath. "No telling your buddies where I am."
Another shot, and that Jaffa was down. The bullet had entered his skull cleanly between the eyes.
"Bull's-eye," Sam whispered.
Four Jaffa remained. And those four were looking particularly spooked. It was difficult not to be a bit impressed with herself, nor did she bother to suppress the amusement at watching the four Jaffa cluster together. No doubt Teal'c would have given them hell for that if he were their First Prime!
When the Jaffa were sufficiently close enough to one another, Sam switched back to full auto mode. Within seconds the four were down.
She slumped behind the boulder for a moment, the adrenaline rush caused by the situation leaving her shaking. She glanced over her shoulder to make certain reinforcements weren't on their way. Leaving the bodies where they lay would bring far too much attention to the hill. As it was, the sound of her P90 might have alerted any nearby squads. If she was going to get rid of those guys, she would have to do it now...and quickly.
Tugging her lip between her teeth, Sam contemplated her options. There weren't any convenient ravines nearby. The best she could do would be to drag the tin men to those trees, and cut a few branches to cover them. It wouldn't completely hide them, but any group coming through certainly wouldn't see them right away.
Waiting just a few more minutes to make certain the Jaffa had been alone, Sam made her way to the first body. It was easy enough to start him rolling. He landed with a thud against his fallen friend.
Two hours later, panting from the exertion of her work, the seven bodies were piled together, and covered with enough brush to resemble a wide bush. With luck, that's exactly what any passing Jaffa would think their dead comrades were.
Scouting out the terrain at the bottom of the hill, Sam moved slowly through the dense jungle-type forest, her mind dealing with the task that she faced. Getting Casey to the cave wouldn't be a problem. Even dead, the seer didn't weigh much. It would be a simple matter of putting her training into use, carrying the woman over her shoulders. She wouldn't delude herself into thinking that the trip would be easy. But it would be possible.
Teal'c, however, was all muscle, and heavy even when he was alive. She'd had to drag his unconscious form a time or two. And dragging was all she could do this time. Which would leave a trail as obvious as a paved road, directly to the cave.
Damn it! How the hell was she going to move a dead, two-hundred and thirty-five pound Jaffa without being noticed, or leaving any signs of that movement?
She was so caught up in her thoughts that she nearly tripped and fell over a vine that stretched across what must be a narrow path used by animals. Or she assumed it was an animal. It was far too narrow to be used by the nearby villagers.
When the vine refused to give way, she reached down to hack it out of her path. It was as tough as a new rope, she groused silently. Nearly dropped to her ass when the implications of the thought that circled in her mind set in. Rope! If she could find enough of these vines, and if they were long enough, she could use them as rope! That would certainly aid in getting Casey and Teal'c out of that ravine!
The rope would give her some leverage for pulling Teal'c along, but the fact still remained that she'd be leaving a very easy trail to follow. She sighed. She could always lay down one or two false trails, and hope the Jaffa would follow them first, giving her time to get her large friend to the cave.
With one problem seemingly solved, not allowing herself to worry about the next step, not for the moment anyway, Sam pulled at the vine. Followed it to a nearby tree. The trunk was completely covered with the thick ropes of green. With an ear to ear grin, she began to cut as many as she could reach, trying to get a variety of lengths. She'd tie the longest together, to make one rope long enough to use to get the bodies out of the ravine. The others she would use to tie legs together, and arms to torsos, to make carrying or dragging them easier. The knife that was a part of the SG team 'kit' was similar to a hunting knife. The knives, she mused - memories playing through her mind regarding the times the knives had been used for cutting wood...or vines, had been all Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c had had to cut the bushes for firewood on that planet with Bigfoot and his friends. The vines, while tough, were considerably easier to hack free. Luckily for her.
Coiling the lengths of the natural 'rope', Sam shrugged them over her shoulder, her P90 gripped tightly in her right hand. Maybe, just maybe, she'd make it through this ordeal after all.
She made her way back up the hill. The ground became so rough and rocky near the summit that she was required to pay attention to each step she took. Sure wouldn't be able to track anything over this stuff. Too damned many rocks. Of all sizes. She muttered a curse when she tripped over the top of a rock as big around as a basketball.
If she could find enough rocky ground, she could drag Teal'c to the cave that way. There wouldn't be much of a trail to follow...only an expert tracker would be able to see any marks. The Jaffa she had seen so far were soldiers...warriors, not trackers. She'd already learned that not all Jaffa had been as carefully trained as Teal'c had been. Oh, the training of the chal'ti, the apprentice Jaffa, was certainly better than what most of the armies on planet Earth provided for their troops. Even the elite fighting units didn't have all of the specialized training that Jaffa, particularly those of personal guard units, received. Still...these Jaffa weren't wearing the sashes of personal guards. Weren't wearing the emblems on their chests that signified the Jaffa version of 'special forces'. It was a small thing, but she'd take the favors anywhere and anyway she could.
Casey first. Then Teal'c. Because once they were hidden, she wouldn't be able to risk leaving the cave until she was certain any Jaffa still looking for her had returned to the village. There was no doubt that the evidence of the bodies being moved would not go unnoticed. The area would be swarming with Jaffa. Nor would she delude herself into thinking that the bodies of those she had just killed wouldn't be discovered...soon.
Wiping the back of her hand over her mouth, wishing for a drink of water, the thought of her own survival captured her thoughts. She sure as hell wished she'd been able to grab Teal'c's and Casey's packs. The extra water would have been nice. She licked her dry lips. Don't think about it! she scolded herself. Just do what you have to do.
It had been difficult enough to find that ditch to roll the bodies into. Thankfully the heavy vegetation had covered them. Probably wouldn't be easy to get them out of that ravine. But when the Jaffa hadn't located them by dark, and the only way that would happen was if someone had seen her roll her friends into that ravine, there wasn't a doubt in her mind that come daylight, there wouldn't be an inch of ground near that village that wouldn't be carefully examined. And they'd still be looking for her, too. Three days. She had to keep that group of tin men from finding them for three days. It might as well be three weeks, or three months, so daunting was the task that loomed in front of her.
A A A A A A
Jack let his head drop back and rest on the wall he and Daniel were propped against. They had been hiding from Jaffa all day. Although, he thought wearily, by now it was probably night again. Their presence had yet to be detected. That was a good thing. A couple of energy bars had been the extent of their remaining rations, their canteens had held all of the water they had believed necessary. And were irritatingly empty now. They were going to have to find food and water - and soon. Experience on Ba'al's ship when it had left that freaky planet where Casey had been captured had taught them that it wouldn't be easy.
"Do you think they're all right?" Daniel asked softly, his voice little more than a whisper, pressing his back against the wall in an attempt to remain in the shadows that offered the only protection from being found.
"Sure they are," Jack replied, more enthusiastically than he actually felt. He was worried about the three members of his team left behind on the planet. The last communication had been from Casey; and she, Sam, and Teal'c had been under fire...he and Daniel had heard the gunfire. That was never a good thing. If the three could make it to the 'gate, they could get the hell out of there. If they'd been overwhelmed...if the Jaffa had been able to keep them engaged until their ammo ran out...Don't go there, O'Neill. Positive thoughts. Positive thoughts.
Jack continued to keep watch, knowing that Daniel was struggling to hold himself together. He just needed a little more time to come to grips with what had happened. Which was, he realized, exactly what Casey had predicted. The team had been separated. There still wasn't a clue about the whole deal with Teal'c not even being there, and her being missing as well. Maybe the two of them had been sucked into a 'mini' Bermuda Triangle or something. If they'd been captured, Radar would have seen that, right? So what the hell could be going on? He shivered slightly when he thought about the other aspect of Casey's 'vision'. That Sam would be fighting for her life. Something was going on...something that would separate Sam from Teal'c and Casey...was that what the seer had seen? Maybe she hadn't wanted to look any closer, maybe Radar had been afraid to look closer. Couldn't say that he blamed her. It had to be hell knowing the things that she did, seeing the things that she did. How she managed to keep it together in the face of all that, he'd never know. He did know that she was the toughest bundle of blonde hair and attitude he'd ever met in his life.
Daniel closed his eyes and let his head fall forward. The last time he and Jack had been in a similar situation, they'd been captured by Zeus. And Casey had been with them. They'd managed to do a lot of damage to that ship. Well, Casey had done most of the damage. He couldn't help but smile at the memory of her recitation of events and the gleam of satisfaction it had brought to her eyes. She had, she'd informed him, thoroughly enjoyed breaking those crystals. She said it had been 'therapeutic' for the absolute rage she'd been feeling at the time. The key to that adventure, and his ability to deal with that situation with the calm that he'd managed to retain, he reminded himself, was that she had been with him. Daniel wished fervently that she was with him now. Or he was with her. Whichever. He just wished that they were together.
There had been an underlying hint of terror in Casey's voice, even though she had tried to sound nonchalant about being in the middle of a firefight with Jaffa.
Are you okay, Angel?
What was she going through? Had the three teammates been able to hold the enemy off, had they made it back to the SGC, or had they been captured? His heart lurched in his chest at that thought. Didn't want to contemplate what the results of that catastrophe could be. Hell, they could be moved from the planet...no, don't go there. Teal'c was with her. Sam was with her. No doubt by now the two blondes had any remaining Jaffa wishing they were on this damned ship. Casey could raise nine kinds of hell when she was pissed off. And woe be to the poor fool who was the cause of her ire. Especially if he or she was of the snaky variety. The thought that Casey was a snake-baiter extraordinaire flittered through his mind. Jack had always accused him of being a snake-baiter. Something, Daniel thought, that Jack wasn't too shabby at either. Casey however, made the two of them look like amateurs. And she hadn't been fighting the Goa'uld half as long as he and Jack had been. Another smile tugged at his lips when the question of whether or not there was a description attached to the 'wanted poster' of her skittered through his mind. He could see it now: 'Highly insolent. Grasp of Goa'uld language allows outlaw to be particularly insulting.'
Sometimes, he wished he had a bit of her gift. Just enough to let him know that she was okay. That she hadn't been captured. Wasn't being tortured. That she was safe and sound back at the SGC, helping Sam, Teal'c and General Hammond plan a rescue operation to get him and Jack off of this damned ship.
If that was the case, his Wife was probably madder than hell at the universe in general, and the Goa'uld in particular. Any Jaffa standing between her and him when that rescue mission was carried out wouldn't stand a chance. She'd grab him, kiss him senseless, and then probably slug him for worrying her so. Then she'd launch into an explanation of just how the rescue had been carried out, and then tell him about escaping from the planet. In one breath, no doubt. And, no doubt she'd have a very colorful description of what she, Sam, and Teal'c had been through, the battle they had fought. It would be, he thought, his smile going wider, very entertaining...she'd be adorable as hell as she chattered, too.
Another thought, one not of his Wife, poked its head up, causing him to pause and examine it. Apophis had had a Stargate on his ship. Ba'al seemed to keep one on his mothership...was it possible that this Goa'uld did the same? He turned his head, looked wearily at his best friend. "We should check out the hanger bays."
"Good idea. I can fly one of those gliders."
"Be easier to just 'gate home, if there's a Stargate there," Daniel replied. His eyes closed again, seemingly on their own accord.
Jack started. Then remembered the Stargate that had been their mode of escape from Ba'al's clutches. "True. Think there'll be one?"
He snorted softly. Opened his eyes and looked at his companion. "With our luck?"
Jack forced a weak smile. "Yeah. Probably not then, huh?"
"At least checking it out will give us something to do."
"What have you got against resting?"
"Nothing. I just want to get the hell off this ship," Daniel muttered.
Jack reached over and squeezed Daniel's arm. "Me too, Space Monkey."
Daniel climbed to his feet, held his hand out. Helped Jack to stand. "Corridors or access shafts?"
"Let's stay on our feet as long as possible," Jack replied immediately. "These don't make it easy to move through the shafts," he added, holding his P90 a bit higher.
"At least we have them."
"Yep. Sure would like to have a few more magazines, though," Jack sighed, falling into step behind the archaeologist, moving carefully through the shadows that clung to the back side of the support pillars.
"Grenades would be good, too."
Jack stopped. "Armory. We need to find an armory. Zats would be a good idea...no bodies left behind."
"Less noise, too," Daniel pointed out.
"Armory," Jack repeated.
Daniel began to carefully scan the walls. Like every other Goa'uld ship he had been on, the stories of the Goa'uld who owned the vessel were displayed on every wall. Propaganda, pure and simple, he mused. Among the text were 'signs' which indicated what level, what use a particular room might have, even directions for the equivalent of the 'men's room' were posted every few feet. "We need to move down three levels," Daniel said, noting that they were on what was the 'barracks' level of the ship. Which explained why they had been dodging Jaffa at every turn.
"Let's do it."
"Think it's safe?"
Jack heaved a sigh. "I hate crawling through those damned shafts."
He couldn't help but smile. "Not my favorite activity either."
Watching the corridor carefully, the two men located the vent that covered one of the shafts. Cautiously climbed inside. Jack led the way, holding his P90 tightly against his chest as he moved. Didn't we just do this? Hopefully he'd be able to aim and fire if necessary. It would make a hell of a lot of noise, confined as they were in what amounted to metal-lined tubes. But if he had to do so, he would.
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