"Major Carter was awake again. So was the Jaffa," Major Davis reported.
"Perhaps the time has come to rid ourselves of them," Colonel O'Neill said. "After all, their minds cannot be tapped, and so their images are of limited use to us."
"You are forgetting that their absence would cause suspicion in the mindweb. That would affect the integrity of the simulation, and so risk the connections and the content of the mind-transfer. According to our scientists, it could easily cause disruptions at a critical point," Lieutenant Colonel Samuels reminded them.
"We should wait, then," Major Davis suggested, "We are not yet strong enough, and our positions are not yet completely secure. Soon we will be ready to move outside this country, and then other subjects will be of more value. After all, Major Carter and Teal'c will not remember this small... escapade when they are reconnected."
"Agreed. It is a minor nuisance for now. Increase the dosage of the drug as much as possible."
"We will. However, remember that they cannot be kept too deeply unconscious if they are to participate in the simulation," Major Davis warned.
"Yes, an unfortunate fact. Well. The guards will remain, and so will Major Carter and Teal'c. This discussion is closed until level 3 is completed," General Hammond decided.
Sam slowly woke up and groggily looked around in the low light. She had no idea where she was, but she had a vague memory of being here before. Wherever 'here' was.
The room was small. She could just make out the greyish walls, and some sort of device standing nearby, hiding the other half of the room. It was blinking slowly and humming softly.
She was in a bed, hooked up to various cables and wires, and she wore a helmet of sorts on her head, with a strap or something similar under her chin.
She wondered if she was sick, or injured, perhaps, and spent a moment trying to take stock of herself. She felt no pain, and thought herself reasonably well, though when she tried to lift her hands, it was clear she was pretty weak. She groaned softly as a flurry of images popped up before her inner eye. Images and sounds. The room seemed to disappear around her.
Hallucinations? Or was the room the hallucination?
She felt groggy, and she could barely raise her arms. With some effort she managed to rip off the strap under her chin, then grab hold of her helmet and pull at it. After some moments, it came off. Slowly the strange sounds and images faded. Only the room, the bed, and the device was left.
She now noticed that cables and wires were running from her to the device, and wires went from the device to the roof, snaking along it and disappearing into the wall. More wires connected the helmet she had worn to the device.
It was time to do something about those cables that she was hooked up to. She was still strangely weak, and when she tried sitting up, she realized she was also strapped to the bed.
She found it all incredibly weird and unsettling. Slowly, she lifted her right arm, and found where the fastenings were tying her to the bed. She tore at one of them, unsuccessfully.
The damn cables were in the way, hindering much of her movement.
With a groan she tore them from her hands, ignoring the liquid that splattered when she did so. She did not know if it was blood or something that was being pumped into her, but decided that all things considered, it was probably unlikely she was being treated for anything. The fact that she was wearing t-shirt and BDU pants - and boots, and had no blanket over her - were other strong indicators.
With her hands free, she could work on the fastenings, and after several frantic minutes she managed to free herself so she could sit up. Doing that, she felt as if the whole room was spinning. She groaned at the rising nausea, and closed her eyes as she forced it back down with an effort.
She took a deep breath, and the room slowly stopped moving. She opened her eyes and found that she could remove the rest of the binding and cables easily, and then she was free.
Sam looked around, and listened for any sounds other than those from the machine. That was when she suddenly sensed something.
An energy signature from a symbiote!
She silently swung her legs to the side of the bed, stopping for a moment when the room again began to spin. After several deep breaths, she put her feet on the floor and stood - and almost fell. Her legs felt so weak they would barely carry her.
Supporting herself against the bed and the strange device, she managed to stand, then slowly walk.
Slowly, cautiously, she circled the machine.
"Teal'c!" she exclaimed, just staring at the man lying in a bunk, similar to the one Sam had just woken up in.
He did not react to her call. Sam studied him for a moment. He wore the same type of helmet that she had worn, the same cables and wires connected him to the machine, and the same type of fastenings bound him to the bed.
She gently touched his shoulder. "Teal'c..." she repeated, keeping her voice down. No need to alert whoever it was who had put them here.
She was still feeling groggy, and her mind was like molasses, but she was fairly certain something was not right about all this - and she was also getting the distinct feeling she should recognize the technology, and not for something good.
Teal'c regained consciousness and opened his eyes, staring into nothingness for a few moments before his gaze focused on her, and then another moment before she saw recognition in his eyes.
"Colonel Carter." His eyes fell shut again.
Sam groaned and took the helmet off him, and gave him a light shove. "Teal'c! I need you awake!"
His eyes opened again, and he tried to sit up. Noticing the restraints, he tore them apart as if they were nothing, and sat up.
"Where are we?" He looked around, then glared at the cables still connected to him in several places. He ripped them out with little effort.
"No idea." Sam frowned. "But the tech is giving me a bad feeling..."
"The aliens from the Foothold situation," Teal'c said, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and standing. He swayed, and his expression betrayed the dizziness and nausea he was feeling.
"Damn, you're right!" Sam exclaimed, steadying him with a hand. "Careful. They've drugged us with something."
"Yes. I will manage."
"Sure." She eyed him worriedly as she let go. "We need to get away - and find out if anyone else is being held here."
They walked, slowly and as silently as possible, to the door. Sam swayed a little as she reached it. "Whoa!" She looked at Teal'c. "You seem to be doing better."
"I am." He opened the door and almost fell through the door.
"Take it easy!"
"Some of the drug still remains, but I seem to be neutralizing it faster than you."
"Lucky," Sam said. "Well, there's no one out here." She gingerly stepped out into the long, empty corridor. Her legs still felt like rubber. A red light was blinking steadily at the end, but otherwise it was fairly dark.
"Do you hear... or rather sense, a high-pitched sound?" Sam asked, turning to look at Teal'c.
He was wincing. "I do. It is most unpleasant."
She stared at the blinking light for a few moments. "It's an alarm! It's just not meant for our ears!" She looked around for a way out, and opened the nearest door.
Inside, a dim light came on, and she saw one of the big devices, or structures, perhaps, with people hanging in harnesses. Just like they had back then, when the Foothold aliens had attacked.
"Crap!" She sighed. "We don't have the time to free them. We'll have to come back for them later."
"Colonel Carter," Teal'c said.
"I have found Daniel Jackson."
Sam groaned. "Okay, we can't leave him. We need to get him down, quickly."
Teal'c had started to free Daniel, and she joined them as quickly as she could. She was still dizzy, but her head had started to clear. The weakness had not left her, though, and her legs still felt as if they could only just carry her.
"Daniel?" Sam shook him gently. "We have to go!"
He mumbled something in a low voice, but did not react otherwise.
"Damn it, Teal'c?" Sam had to hold on to Daniel, or it was obvious he would fall.
"Coming. I have found General O'Neill."
"What? Sam turned, frowning. "He shouldn't have been in a position to get caught!"
"Mph?" Daniel said groggily.
Sam returned her focus to him. "Hi, Daniel!"
He looked up at her and blinked his eyes rapidly a couple of times. Sam frowned, and looked closer at him in the dull light. He seemed different, somehow, but she could not put a finger on it. Not as long as her own mind was sluggish from the drug. In any case, now was not the time to worry about that. They needed to get out, and quickly.
"I am helping O'Neill down," Teal'c informed her.
"Good." Sam helped Daniel stand up straight. "We gotta get out of here. Can you walk, Daniel?"
"Yeah, yeah... I think so..." He looked at her. "Sam? Why are you here?"
"I don't really know, but let's worry about that later." She helped him walk to the door, while Teal'c freed O'Neill, who was clearly just as confused and groggy as the rest of them.
"Colonel Carter. I believe that one hanging near the roof is Major Ferretti," Teal'c said.
She stopped, just inside the door. "What?! Ferretti?" She half-turned to stare up at the person Teal'c indicated. "It's too dark for me to see."
"I am quite certain. However, I do not know how to get him down from up there."
"Let's worry about that later," Sam decided. "We need to get out of here before someone comes to check on the alarm."
They walked through long, dimly lit, empty corridors, looking into a room here and there. Several more contained unconscious people in the alien harnesses, connected to the large machines. It was beyond creepy, and the alarm was not helping.
The effects of the drug was starting to clear from Sam, and Teal'c seemed to be back to normal, but Daniel and O'Neill were still badly affected and had to get help from Sam and Teal'c. Because of this, and because Sam, Daniel, and O'Neill were all weakened, they could not move as fast as they wanted, and they constantly worried that their captors would return any moment.
They made their way up several flights of stairs, regularly having to stop and recover. Thankfully, they met no one, and finally they found an exit. The door was locked, but Teal'c forced it without much trouble. Outside it was almost completely dark. The moon was more than half full, but there were so many clouds that it only cast a bleak light.
They were barely out of the door before they spotted car lights in the distance. They approached at high speed.
"This way," Teal'c told them, indicating a stone fence that was just visible at the edge of the parking lot.
Moving as fast as they could, they made it to the fence just as the cars drove up in front of the building. Exhausted, Sam, Daniel, and O'Neill collapsed in the relative security.
Guards emerged from the cars and ran into the facility. Teal'c had stuck his head up to watch, just for a moment.
"Careful," Sam whispered. "With their car lights on they may see us."
"They all appear to have entered the building," Teal'c said.
"Did they look human?" Sam wondered. "Not that it matters. I mean, we know they have the technology to masquerade as us."
"It's cold as hell!" Daniel complained, shivering. "And there's fog!"
"Maybe we should take the opportunity and steal one of their cars?" O'Neill suggested.
"An excellent idea," Teal'c said. "I will do so and return here with it, since I am the only one not affected by weakness."
"No!" O'Neill exclaimed. He continued in a lower voice. "No, they'll hear the car. We need to get over there all of us, so that when we do make any noise, we'll be gone quickly."
"Makes sense. Let's go - the longer we wait, the more chance they'll return to look for us," Sam said.
The fresh, cold air had cleared their heads, and they were all able to walk without support now, even if slowly. It was very obvious that all of them, with the exception of Teal'c, were a good deal weaker than normal.
They had made it to one of the cars, and Sam was trying to jump start it when several guards exited the building, shouting something when they noticed the escapees.
"Damn! Hurry up, Carter!" O'Neill exclaimed.
"I'm trying..." Sam said, working frantically.
A shot rang out, and the bullet grazed the side of the car.
"Work faster!" O'Neill ordered.
"Done!" Sam said, as the car engine roared to life.
"Then let's get out of here!" O'Neill exclaimed. "Teal'c!"
Teal'c was at the steering wheel, and already turning the car around when O'Neill gave the order. Several more shots were fired at them, and one went through the side window and hit Sam in the upper arm. She cried out.
"Sam!" Daniel exclaimed.
"I'm... I'm okay," Sam gasped, clinging to the dashboard with one hand, while the car reeled.
Another car had started behind them, and what appeared to be guards came running towards them from ahead. More shots were fired, and one went through the windshield, hitting Teal'c in the shoulder. He let out a cry, and the car swerved for a moment, but amazingly he got it under control and they continued.
"You okay, T?" O'Neill asked, concerned.
"I'll, I'll be fine. It's... a flesh wound. Hurts like hell, though." Sam grimaced. With the car moving somewhat more steady, she now managed to get the seat belt locked. Breathing deeply, she leaned back in the seat and closed her eyes for a moment.
"We have got to lose those guys!" O'Neill said, unnecessarily, when another volley of shots hit the left side mirror.
"I am attempting to do so, O'Neill," Teal'c answered. He took the next curve without slowing down, then stepped on the speeder when the road was straight again.
The night was very dark, with only the thin moon and their own car lights lighting the road. It was cloudy and the rain started falling when they had driven for a short time.
"They're getting closer! Step on it!" O'Neill insisted.
Light could be seen up ahead. "More cars approaching. Do you think they are unfriendly?" Teal'c wondered.
"Given our luck, probably. Turn left here!" O'Neill exclaimed, making a last-ditch decision. "Now, now!"
The car's tires squealed loudly as Teal'c followed the order.
"Whoa! Teal'c! Are you trying to kill us?" Daniel complained, when the car turned onto the smaller road without slowing down, causing them all to be slammed back and forth, despite the seat belts.
Sam cried out as her arm was bumped hard, just where the shot wound was.
"Are they still following?" Teal'c asked, strangely calm - and ignoring Daniel's rhetorical question.
"They overshot and have to go back!" Daniel told him, some relief in his voice. He added, tension returning. "They're back on track."
"Watch out! There's a barrier across the road!" Sam exclaimed.
"I see it," Teal'c said, not slowing down.
There were deep ditches along the narrow road, so he could not turn, nor could he stop - unless they wanted to be caught.
"We're going to die!" Daniel cried out as they smashed into the beam that ran across the road, and blocked access to what turned out to be a very rickety wooden bridge.
"Keep going! Don't slow down!" O'Neill exclaimed when the bridge groaned and creaked under their weight.
Surprisingly, they made it to the other side. They had just gotten off the bridge when they heard a large crash.
Daniel made a whoop. "The bridge collapsed under the car following us! They're in the river!"
"Don't stop! Just keep going!" O'Neill insisted. "We want to get as far away from them as possible before they find a way around or across!"