SG-1 stepped down from the stone ledge as the Stargate disengaged behind them. Jack took a few steps forward and surveyed the area. It was much different from what the MALP had showed them. A jungle of sorts surrounded the Stargate. Though a jungle in content, it lacked threat and darkness that one might have associated with a jungle. Trees surrounded them, undergrowth and twisting vines across the ground. But in the midst of all this were rusty coloured rocks and bright random bursts of plumage. Hand sized flowers in bright colours of pink, blue and red. The sky above them was the brightest of blues with the yellowest of suns. It was a mesmerising display of colour.
However, the oddest of all was the fact that within the jungle there were buildings, visible from where they stood. Buildings made of red rocks that were covered with the surrounding plant life. Crumbling rock buildings half hidden by leaves and flowers.
The MALP transmissions had done the beauty of the planet no justice.
"Wow," Sam finally said.
"Talk about Technicolor," Jack said taking his sunglasses off.
Teal'c touched one of the flowers. "This is indeed most spectacular."
"Uh... and leafy. Very leafy."
Teal'c, Sam and Jack turned to see Daniel standing in the middle of the clearing, flicking his hand back as he obviously tried to rid it of some unknown substance.
"Leafy and sticky," Daniel added.
"Excuse me, the thing about not touching stuff?" Jack pointed his P90 at Daniel's hand.
Daniel raised his eyebrows and then frowned. "I'm not sure I did touch anything actually."
"You think they got a pigeon problem?"
Daniel stared blankly at Jack. "I hope not."
Jack continued to take in his surroundings, listening to twittering birds and various scurrying noises around them. He also noticed to the left of the gate the growth seemed to be slightly thinned out.
"I say we go that way," Jack said nodding to the emptier clearing.
Daniel joined Jack at his side. "Why? The UAV showed most of the buildings are over in that area." Daniel pointed back into the thicker part of the jungle.
Teal'c joined both Daniel and Jack. "You think this may be a path O'Neill."
"Not sure. Just a little odd that this is flatter then the rest of the place. Might find something interesting. Then again, it could just be a bear or something."
Daniel frowned. "Bear?"
Jack shrugged. "Sure. Bears. There's a thing about bears and jungles isn't there?"
Daniel's eyes moved inwards as he considered the information. "I thought that was forests."
"Actually, it's woods. And I really don't think we'll be running into any bears here. They would have said hello to the MALP by now," Sam said smiling. "We should take samples, sir, some of these flowers and plants could have useful properties. It'd be worth a look."
Jack nodded. "Okay, bag a few samples. Teal'c and I are gonna check out if this goes anywhere. You and Daniel check out those fascinating ruins. Keep an open radio."
Sam and Daniel watched Jack and Teal'c disappear just as Jack asked Teal'c whether Chulak had bears.
The beauty of the jungle didn't cease to be amazing as Sam and Daniel made their way through it. Every now and then some odd little creature reminiscent of Earth animals would scurry past, maybe stop with curiosity for a moment and then run off again.
Often small brightly coloured birds like parrots would fly past and then disappear back under tree cover.
The buildings hidden within the jungle were of varying sizes, the only thing in common being the red stone of construction. Some were built close to each other, almost next door and others spaced far apart, the shrubbery filling gaps in between.
Daniel greedily filmed every inch of the jungle. "This is amazing. This place obviously grew up around the buildings. Whoever lived here's been gone for a long time."
"I wonder what happened to them," Sam said looking at the crumbling buildings.
"Could have been anything. The Goa'uld come to mind first. Maybe an illness. War. We wouldn't be able to find out without examining every little piece of evidence."
Sam smiled, knowing that examining every little piece of evidence for Daniel was tantamount to winning the lottery. "Just one problem."
Daniel stopped filming. "What?"
"There's nothing here but plants and trees. You'd have to dig pretty deep to find anything here."
"Well, I'm sure these buildings have something left in them," Daniel said eyeing up the one they stood in front of.
"Uh, Daniel? They don't look too safe."
Daniel nodded. "They never do."
Sam frowned at Daniel and then those to keep moving before he decided to go in to the crumbling building. They walked for another fifteen minutes after which the path they were on began to get steeper and the shrubbery began to thin out.
Daniel stopped and smiled, looking ahead. "I knew it. They always build these things on some steep hill to annoy the hell out of people."
Sam looked at the object of Daniel's appreciation. It was the largest building they had found so far. The building reached far up higher than the trees and was purely a creation of red stone. A few steps led up to an open entrance and six columns held up the building at the front. Plants and vines and grown on to it like everything else, the vines wrapped around the columns and sprouting bright flowers.
"That's beautiful," Sam said taking in the sight. "What do you think it is?"
Daniel shook his head. "Temple. Definitely a place for worship. It's much more ornate than the other buildings. It's much bigger in construction, more elaborate and it's out of the way of all the other buildings."
"And it's on a steep hill?"
Daniel smiled. "Well, that's not always a criteria, but in this case I'd say it counts."
"I suppose you don't want to go in do you?" Sam asked nonchalantly.
Daniel held up the digital camera and smiled.
Jack walked down the barely perceptible path, pulling his sunglasses off his face in deference to the dim light. He frowned as he tried to pick out animal tracks in the soft soil visible through the dead leaves and other debris.
"This forest his home to many creatures, O'Neill, however I do not believe a bear is among them," Teal'c said.
Jack rolled his eyes, kicking at a large lump of debris. "Ewwe," he said as several dozen large black beetles spilled out, scurrying away.
"A feline predator is a possibility in a jungle environment," the Jaffa continued.
"Yeah. So is Tarzan but I doubt we're gonna see him." Jack abandoned the bug nest and tried to peer through the thick foliage. Overhead he could hear the calls and whistles of various birds along with the faint rustle of the leaves stirred by a sluggish breeze. The humidity was an almost physical force and Jack was grateful that they weren't scheduled to spend the night here. In this kind of environment things tended to get damp and uncomfortable in a hurry. "Do you think this leads anywhere?" he asked seriously, gesturing down the path.
"There is a faint trail here, however I do not know if it was caused by bipeds or quadrupeds."
Jack looked at his watch. "We'll give it another half hour, then turn back. Carter's gonna try, but if I know Daniel, if we don't rein him in, we WILL end up camping here."
The temple was dark and dusty inside. Sam and Daniel made their way through, their torchlights passing over every possible inch.
Daniel waved away a cobweb. "Well this planet definitely has spiders."
Sam grimaced and pulled off a cobweb that had attached itself to her sleeve. "Yeah. Lots of them."
"Or one really big one."
"Don't wanna hear that Daniel."
Daniel sighed as he recorded the details of the main hall that they had walked into. The room was too dark and the torchlight not enough to illuminate everything.
"Look at this," Sam said standing next to a carving on the stone wall in what must have been vibrant reds and blues once.
Daniel quickly crossed the ornate mosaic floor to join Sam and focused his torch on the wall to reveal the image of a woman mid dance.
Sam looked at Daniel. "Is she dancing?"
Daniel squinted at the carving. No mistake, the woman carved into the stone was definitely caught up in the ecstasy of dance, a cross between a ballet pose with tribal clothing.
"Yes, I'd say so. Not surprising. Dancing and religion were inseparable on Earth at one time. Many cultures commonly believed that dancing was an expression of the inner feelings of a worshipper. Many cultures still have that strong bond of religion and dance. The Sun Temple in Konark has some similar sculptures in its dance hall. Look, there's another carving there, just like this one," Daniel shining his torch further down the wall.
Sam watched as Daniel continued to walk down the wall and look at each carving while muttering things to himself. "Just carvings. No inscriptions, no representations of ritual, well beside the dancing. I think we should ask General Hammond if we can come back for a longer look."
Sam smacked her hand to the back of her neck as something buzzed and touched the skin. She had been wondering when the more annoying parts of nature would turn up. Sam looked across the hall they stood in. At one time it would have been beautiful. It was a perfect square with a perfect alignment of small mosaic pieces on the floor that has somehow remained intact, though the colour had faded. Sam wondered what the rainy season was like in a place like this.
The ceiling was dark, but torchlight revealed incredible faded images and ornate stonework that worked itself around the edges of the room. It was when Sam came full circle in her observations that she noticed Daniel had disappeared. Jack was right, Sam thought to herself. The man just wouldn't learn.
"In here," came an echoing reply which sent dustfalls astray from various areas of the main hall.
Sam followed the voice through a dark doorway only dimly lit by Daniel's torch. Daniel stood in a narrow hallway recording images of the wall. Once finished, he set the camera aside and pointed to the wall.
"I think it's some kind of religious occasion. This person here is obviously the focal point, probably a priestess. All the rest are seated on the floor facing her. No signs of the gods they worshipped, no symbols. We definitely need to come back for more."
"Maybe they weren't into grand gestures. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar Daniel," Sam said shrugging.
Daniel stared off into space for a moment and then gave a nod which turned into a shake of the head. "I have no idea what that means."
Sam grinned sheepishly. "It means I've been around Colonel O'Neill too long."
Just as Daniel turned back to the wall, pointing finger at the ready, the temple seemed to shake, a loud thundering noise passing over.
Daniel looked at Sam. "Whoa, what was that?"
Sam felt her heart skip a beat. "Crap," she muttered, hurrying towards the exit.
"Sounds a hell of a lot like a death glider to me." She pulled the lever to arm her weapon.
Sam retraced her steps, hearing Daniel hurrying behind her. "I was afraid you were going to say that," he quipped.
"We need to get out of here," she said, reaching the end of the hall and carefully making her way towards a small window.
"Carter?" their radios crackled into life. "Please tell me that I can tell Teal'c he's full of it?"
"Not if he said he heard a death glider, sir," she said, sticking her head out the open window. She could see nothing but cloud studded blue sky over the tops of the heavy trees.
"You two get your butts back to the gate," he ordered, his voice tight. "We'll meet you there."
"Yes, sir. Let's go." Sam turned to Daniel. He nodded and they headed out of the labyrinth of tunnels. They reached the large anteroom and dashed outside when Daniel cursed under his breath. "What?" Sam asked.
Daniel turned back towards the temple.
"The camera, I gotta go back," he called over his shoulder, turning and running back into the building.
"Daniel!" she called after him.
Daniel ran into the temple as debris fell freely all around him, turning into larger chunks of stone. He dodged too many near misses on his way to the back hall where he had left his camera. The temple was fast turning into clouds of dust, large pieces of the building falling to the ground and increasing the building's shaking.
Daniel reached the hall, and reached out instinctively to retrieve his camera. Only it was no longer there. Daniel frowned at the plinth where he had placed it. Nothing. He directed his torch to the ground to see if it had fallen. No camera. But there was something else.
Daniel tentatively knelt down, the loud weapon fire from outside forgotten and the crumbling temple ignored. Red. There was something red and shining for a moment before a gust of air carrying dust took the shine away. Daniel poked his finger into the red finding wetness. Bringing his finger under the torch he saw it was red. No mistaking it was blood. And it was freshly split.
Daniel stood up, simultaneously pulling his gun from it's holster. There were gliders outside and someone was hidden in the temple. These two facts could only equal bad news. Daniel began to edge back out into the main hall. He couldn't risk getting caught by the Goa'uld if they were around. He couldn't risk the rest of his team getting caught.
Another loud burst of fire hit the ground outside, dangerously close the temple. The temple shook some more and Daniel could clearly hear unseen parts of it caving in behind him somewhere as he tried to make his way out. As he tried to make his way out of the main hall, fallen columns having become obstacles he saw a shadow in the corner of his eye.
Daniel spun around and fired, and then jumped behind a column as a burst energy exploded towards him. The kind that usually came from a zat blast.
"This place is going to a pile of rubble in a few seconds. I suggest we get out of here!" Daniel shouted across the noise of the firing outside and the crumbling of the temple inside.
Daniel waited for an answer, but there was none. He decided he would just have to make a break for it. He could either take the risk or die buried under a pile of rocks. The latter was unacceptable.
Daniel jumped up and tried to make his way through the falling rubble, his torch getting knocked out of his hand in the process. A zat blast fired to his left and Daniel turned momentarily to fire a succession of shots and his invisible attacker. Another zat blast fired, missing Daniel narrowly, but at least giving Daniel an indicator of where the attacker was. Daniel fired at the source of the blast, unfortunately, as he had guessed, the attacker had gained some space. Daniel felt his wrist being grabbed and pushed upwards so the bullets hit the ceiling instead.
A struggle ensued to gain control of the situation. Daniel tried to pry the hand off his wrist as rock dust fell on to his face. He levelled a punch at his assailant and heard something drop to the ground. He hoped it was the zat and tightened his grip on his gun.
A loud burst hit the temple directly somewhere in the back. Daniel heard what sounded like a large section of rock fall to pieces in one go. And just as the temple seemed to reach it's climax of disintegration Daniel saw a glint of metal directly over his head. A second later an oval crystal began to glow amber and the familiar sharp cutting pain of the ribbon device pushed into his brain. He felt his grip on the gun begin to loosen.
So when the entire floor gave way and he fell through with his attacker, Daniel considered it a blessing in disguise. But only for the brief second before a blow to his head brought about complete unconsciousness.
"Damnit," Sam muttered, torn between following Daniel or seeking shelter in the trees. The whine of another death glider made her decision for her. The craft appeared over her shoulder, opening fire. Her survival instincts taking over, she ran, trying to zig zag. With a heavy thump that she could feel, the staff canons blasted away at the dirt, clods of it hitting her in the back. One shot hit its mark and she flew through the air, crashing into the heavy foliage. Unconscious, she didn't see the next barrage strike the temple, didn't hear the roar as millennia old stone surrendered to the demands of gravity, didn't realize that her friend was now entombed under tons of stone.
"Where the hell are they?" Jack whispered harshly, searching for any sign of movement in the trees. Both he and Teal'c had made it back to the gate without incident. Now they were crouched among the bushes at the edge of the clearing, trying to stay out of sight while they waited for Carter and Daniel to return.
"I would presume somewhere between the Stargate and the temple," Teal'c answered, earning him a dirty look from Jack.
The colonel shook his head. "They should be back by now," he said unable to ignore the feeling in his gut that something was wrong.
"Then perhaps we should ascertain their present condition."
"Huh? Yeah." Jack reached for his radio. "Carter? Daniel? What's your position?"
Receiving no response, he tried again, only to be greeted with the faint crackling of static.
"Let's go," he said, getting to his feet. Teal'c did the same and together they started towards the temple.
Sam slowly opened her eyes, squinting as she focussed on the large multilegged creature perched just inches from her face. Groaning softly, she rolled over, relieved to feel not much more than a few muscle twinges. Slowly she sat up, trying to clear the cobwebs. It didn't feel like she'd been out for very long, maybe just a few minutes. Which meant Daniel should still be inside the temple. "Daniel?" she called softly into her radio. Hearing not even the faint crackle of static, she pulled the device from its pocket on her vest. The casing was cracked, a few wires visible through the broken plastic. "Damnit," she muttered, using a tree to pull herself to her feet.
She started out of the trees then stepped back as she heard the guttural sounds of Jaffa voices. Dropping into a crouch she peered carefully around the tree trunk to see about a dozen enemy warriors converging on the temple. The temple. Her eyes focussed on the fallen walls of the structure. Evidentially it had fared far worse than she in the attack. About half of the building lay in ruins, the huge stone blocks strewn like a child's toy.
As she watched, the Jaffa gave the ruins a cursory look, then turned their attention to the ground outside the temple. Realising that they would soon discover her tracks, she turned and quietly made her way deeper into the trees, sending a silent apology Daniel's way. It went against her every instinct to abandon him. But she knew she'd do him no good if she was captured. "Be ok, Daniel, please be ok," she whispered as she made her way towards the gate.
The first noticeable thing was pain. And if there was pain, there was a good probability that he was still alive. Daniel opened his eyes and a slight impairment of his surroundings told him he had lost his glasses.
Daniel lay on his back for a moment as he tried to piece together what had just happened. The temple had caved in. And there was someone else in the temple with him. Someone who could make their eyes glow.
Blinking a few times, Daniel realized that his surrounding space seemed to be well lit for a place that had no natural or artificial light. And surely the temple falling in on itself couldn't have improved the situation.
He decided to sit up and try to assess the situation. To his astonishment, it was only then that Daniel realized his hand was still gripping his gun. Stiff and sore all over, Daniel slowly sat up and looked at the gun in his hand. When he saw the gaping hole in the ceiling which was several meteres above him, he realized the gun would not be of much use.
Daniel shifted slightly as he felt a twinge in his lower back. He could feel the bruises where had fell. His back was sore and stiff all over. Touching his forehead he could feel a trail of dried blood that had seeped into his hair. Stinging sensitivity across the skin of his cheek and chin told him he was scratched up pretty bad.
But this was of no worry. His major worry was his foot. As he had shifted to ease away from some rocks that were digging into the back of his legs, an abrupt and sharp pain flared in his ankle and foot. He couldn't be certain if it was broken, but any movement was definitely impossible without excruciating pain. Daniel looked back up at the hole in the ceiling. His foot damaged; there was no way he could even attempt to climb out.
Looking around, Daniel could see he was in a part of a larger chamber, now obscured by the rocks that had fallen with him. The room was being lit by his torch he could now tell. He couldn't see the torch itself, but there was a gap in the rocks not far from him out of which a beam of light was shining upwards, lighting some things brightly and others only very dim.
Daniel pushed himself from his position with one foot and pulled himself towards the light. His injured left foot hit a rock at the ankle.
"Ugh!" Daniel couldn't help yell as pain exploded up his leg. Daniel shut his eyes and grimaced. He took a few deep breaths letting the pain subside and moved backwards more carefully this time.
It was as he neared the brighter corner, Daniel noticed something. A hand lay limply over a rock. A hand encased in a Goa'uld ribbon device. Daniel's gaze, though nowhere as sharp with his glasses, could still make out clearly the hand, the arm and finally the shoulder that was slumped over some other rocks.
Daniel's attacker lay hidden in the shadows, just outside the beam of light. The Goa'uld lay face down, the top of the black haired head visible, along with the length of the body which was dressed in a black or possibly very dark blue outfit with kneelength black boots.
Daniel stared at the body and wondered if it still had life in it. Looking up at the ceiling, Daniel found it looking even further away than before.
He stared back at his roommate. "Oh boy."
Jack moved aside a fern frond and pulled out his scope to get a closer look at the temple.
"I know I tend to zone out during Daniel's presentations. But wasn't that temple in better shape before?"
"Indeed. It appears to have fallen victim to the death gliders' attack," Teal'c confirmed. "Do you believe that Major Carter and Daniel Jackson were inside the structure when it collapsed?"
Jack nodded. "I'm starting to think that. Their radios were working just fine before we heard the weapons fire."
"We should examine the area around the temple. It will take us much time to explore the ruins. If they escaped, they would have sought refuge in the forest."
The two men cautiously made their way out of the concealing greenery, four eyes scanning the ground intently. The death gliders' staff canon blasts had carved large craters out of the ground, a few of them still smoking as wet leaves smouldered. Between the craters, Jack could see one set of footprints, the stride wide and the imprint deep.
"Teal'c?" He squatted down and pointed the boot print out. "That look like Carter's size to you?"
The Jaffa nodded. "She was running."
"Yeah." Jack looked around. "Where's Daniel's?" he asked.
Teal'c also scanned the ground. "I do not see any prints matching those of Daniel Jackson's. I do however, see other signs."
Hearing a rustling behind her, Sam quickly ducked down, crawling on her stomach under a low bush. So far she'd done a fairly decent job of eluding the Jaffa. Unfortunately it looked like her luck might run out. She figured that she was maybe halfway back to the gate, and still no sign of the colonel or Teal'c.
This whole thing didn't make any sense. They'd been monitoring the planet off and on via MALP readings for over a month, and in all that time, nothing had even messed with the MALP, much less any signs of goa'uld or Jaffa. It was almost as though it was all some grand galactic coincidence.
The rustling grew louder and she froze, her heart beating so loudly she was sure that it was audible. The guttural mutterings of Jaffa grew louder and easier to hear as the sounds of the forest faded, animals scared away by the intruders.
She could smell the heavy odour of the damp earth under her hands, feel the moisture seeping into her fatigues. The cut on her head was still bleeding and she could feel it trickling down her forehead, tickling as it slowly crept over her skin, meshing with the dirt. One drop at a time.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw six feet approach. They stopped just inches from her face, turning to face each other. Fighting her adrenaline induced trembling, she fought to stay still, knowing that any sound could alert them to her presence.
They talked among themselves and she struggled to understand them, cursing herself for not pushing Daniel to teach her more goa'uld. Irrationally feeling that they could feel her looking at their boots, Sam averted her eyes, looking down at the ground. Her eyes grew wide and she almost cried out at the clear imprint of her boot in the soft dirt. All they had to do was look down and they'd know she'd been there.
Transfixed, their voices faded from her hearing as she stared at the marked earth. They had to see it, how could they not? Didn't they ever look down, don't look down, please don't look down.
After an eternity, one of them turned and fumbled with his clothing. She heard a faint sigh and the all too familiar hiss and spatter of urine hitting the ground. The Jaffa finished relieving himself and the trio slowly walked away, leaving her alone.
She held herself still for several minutes, until she knew they were gone, then she collapsed, her face falling to the ground. Almost giddy with relief she waited a few more minutes, then quietly got to her feet and continued on her way.
Jack peered cautiously around the corner of the temple, frowning as his eyes settled on an usual sight. About a hundred yards from the temple walls there was a break in the foliage. A break that didn't look natural. He slowly made his way to the break, stopping short when he discovered something that definitely wasn't natural.
"An escape pod," Teal'c said.
Jack knelt down and held out his hand. "It's still a little warm. It crashed, maybe a couple of hours ago."
"This would explain the Jaffa's' sudden interest in this planet. They were not seeking us, rather whoever was in the pod."
"All the more reason to get our butts back to the SGC. We get in enough trouble on our own, we don't need to get in the middle of goa'uld politics." He got to his feet. "We take a quick look in the temple, then we head back to the gate. If the Jaffa are looking for someone else, maybe they'll leave."
"And if they do not?"
"We need some back up," Jack said fighting his emotions. He didn't want to leave Daniel or Carter behind. But he also knew that he and Teal'c were no match for the dozen or so Jaffa that were in the area. "We'll call home, get some help coming, then come back here and search more."
Teal'c nodded, his reluctance plain on his dark face. Jack started towards the tumbled rocks, stopping as Teal'c grabbed his arm. Hearing the thumping of boots, they ducked into the bushes, hoping to remain undetected. Jack watched the alien warriors examine the crash site, fortunately none of them noticing his and Teal'c's boot prints. The leader, sporting a tattoo Jack didn't recognise, barked an order to his men and they turned to leave, headed back towards the temple.
Just then, his radio crackled to life. "Jack? Sam? Teal'c?" he heard Daniel ask. He reached frantically for the knob, turning the radio off. But the damage had already been done. The Jaffa turned and fired upon them. Jack fell, his nerves screaming from the all too familiar effects of a zat. He felt a rough hand grab his collar, dragging him from his hiding place.
Forcing his eyes open he winced as an armed staff weapon was shoved into his face.
"Remind me to talk to Daniel about his timing," he gasped out, holding his hands up in surrender.
"Jack?" Daniel repeated slightly louder.
The radio seemed to crackle for a moment and then nothing. Daniel sighed and closed his eyes. In their current state, things were not set to improve. There was no visible way out, or at least not without a ladder. The rest of his team couldn't hear him and most worryingly, he had no idea how Sam was. Surely she would have seen the temple cave and she would have tried to make contact. Even if it was just a shout. She would have run back to the others and let them know what had happened. But nothing. He could only assume that his friends were in as much trouble as he was if the attackers had spotted them.
Movement on the opposite side of the caved room brought Daniel back to his senses, his eyes snapping open. It seemed his roommate was waking up. Daniel watched the man slowly gather himself up into a sitting position. He wrapped his arms around his midsection in obvious pain. His head came up slowly as he took a deep breath. Then he noticed Daniel.
In a split second his hand came in Daniel's direction, but Daniel didn't move. He just looked at the broken center of the other mans ribbon device. Frowning, Daniel's would be assailant turned his palm towards himself and saw the broken crystal. His gaze darkened and sent Daniel a frosty look.
"Yeah, I noticed that too," Daniel said slowly.
A glare was directed at Daniel. "I do not need a weapon to kill you," the threat was issued in standard Goa'uld base treble.
Daniel brought up his gun and pointed it at the arrogant man in front. "I don't think so. I don't want to have to use this. But if you give me a reason to... I will do it."
Silence descended as both men appraised each other. Daniel sat with gun-holding hand resting on his thigh as he looked his roommate over. In truth, he looked no different from any human being. No tell tale signs of being a Goa'uld. He was probably around Jack's height and weight and in the dark his hair looked thick and black, hanging over his ears. His eyes, when not glowing, looked a shade of darkest brown as they peered in a narrowed fashion at Daniel.
"I'm... Daniel Jackson," Daniel ventured, "You are?
"Of no consequence to you," came a cold reply.
Daniel nodded slowly. "That's an unusual name."
The nameless man frowned, confirming Daniel's theory that the Goa'uld possessed neither a sense of humor nor the ability to detect sarcasm.
"O-kay then. We'll just sit in here in silence then. Until someone rescues us or one of us dies from starvation or another cave-in. My guess is the latter since I had a pretty big... lunch."
A malevolent smile appeared on the other man's face.
"You are injured," he said looking at Daniel's left leg stretched out in front of him in an awkward manner.
Daniel nodded towards the other man's midsection which he was wrapping his arms around. "So are you."
"I am not. This host body is injured. I am healing it as we speak. Your injury will not heal without help."
Daniel made a point of re-aiming his gun at the other man. "Well... I forgot my symbiote at home."
The man snorted and looked away. "A pity, because you will not leave this place alive."
Daniel tightened his grip on the gun.
Sam peeked around the side of a large tree, squinting behind her sunglasses. It was times like this when she cursed the habit of the gate being in the middle of a clearing. From the point of view of someone entering an unknown planet, it was great. But when you were trying to sneak off said planet, the openness of the clearing was a death trap. She hadn't heard any more Jaffa since her last encounter, but that didn't mean anything. If she were looking for someone on a planet, the first thing she'd do was secure the gate.
She scanned the trees, trying to find her companions. The colonel had said to meet at the gate. So where were they?
Her senses hyper alert, she slowly circled the clearing, keeping well hidden in the trees. Seeing no sign of them, she paused, contemplating her next move. Ok, if she were the colonel, what would she do?
A death glider screamed overhead and she instinctively ducked. Noise. The temple had to have made a lot of noise when it fell. And if she knew the colonel like she knew the colonel, he'd have gone to investigate. But was that before or after he let the SGC know what was going on?
She should contact the base. They'd need help to get Daniel out of the wreckage at the very least, and even more help if the Jaffa hung around. SG-1 was good but not even at her most arrogant could she think they could defeat an unknown number of Jaffa while extricating Daniel from the temple.
But her radio was broken, so if she wanted help, she'd have to return to Earth to get it. She didn't want to leave them behind; it went against all her ingrained beliefs. But solidarity didn't mean a damn thing if you were dead.
Taking another curious glance around, she slowly stepped out, her gun at the ready. Not getting immediately shot, she jogged towards the DHD and knelt beside it, her eyes again scanning the clearing. She'd be vulnerable for the next several minutes. The roar of the gate opening was audible for several miles and even if she'd escaped detection from any near by Jaffa so far, the kawhoosh was a huge neon sign announcing her presence.
Seeing no signs of anyone else in the area, she stood up, her hand out stretched to dial Earth. A metallic zinging sound filled her ears and her body jerked as the electric blue power of a zat filled her vision. Her senses overloaded all she could do was lie there as the menacing shadow of a Jaffa fell over her.
Jack knelt on the rocky ground, wiggling his knee a bit to alleviate the pressure of a rock digging into his flesh. "What is it with Jaffa and kneeling anyway? There some secret orthopaedic fixation of yours?" Jack groused, shooting Teal'c an annoyed look.
"There is not, O'Neill," Teal'c replied, apparently willing to play along. Their banter gained the attention of one of the Jaffa. He appeared to be the leader of the group, a tall man, rather slight compared to the normal burliness of Jaffa. He looked young, maybe early 30's. His face was drawn and pale, speaking that he evidentially lived under stress. Which didn't surprise Jack given that most Goa'ulds weren't in the running for boss of the year.
"Remind me to talk to Hammond about issuing knee pads," Jack quipped, watching the man approach. "Save tons of wear and tear on the old patella."
"I shall remember to do so," Teal'c said, giving the Jaffa an arrogant look.
"Who are you?" the Jaffa demanded, standing before them, his hands on his hips.
"Heckle, this is my buddy Jeckle," Jack said.
The Jaffa sneered at Teal'c. "He is the sholva," he spat. "And you are O'Neill of the Tau'ri."
"Well, if you know that, why did you ask? You getting paid by the word?" The Jaffa slapped Jack, grinning as he fell forward, catching himself with his hands. "Evidentially not."
"Where is he?" the Jaffa asked.
"Of whom do you speak?" Teal'c asked.
"Where is he?" the Jaffa said, snagging a staff weapon from one of his companions. He armed it and pointed it directly at Teal'c.
"I can not answer that question with the information I have," Teal'c said, nonplussed by the weapon in his face.
"Look, this is all some huge misunderstanding," Jack said. "We got no idea who you're looking for. And we don't care. Let us go and you can get on with your search."
The Jaffa spun, pointing the staff weapon right between Jack's eyes. Despite himself, Jack stiffened fighting the urge to close his eyes. He could see the Jaffa's finger tighten on the trigger, he heard Teal'c gasp slightly although he knew that he'd never say a word.
A horn wailed through the trees, and the Jaffa frowned, his eyes narrowing. "It appears that we do not need your help after all," he said, lowering the weapon. "Watch them," he ordered, turning and walking away.
Jack watched him leave and took a gasping breath, trying not to slump in relief. "It appears we shall still need to request knee pads," Teal'c said.
"Yeah," Jack gasped. "Gotta remember that."
Daniel shifted his leg slightly, grimacing in pain when his ankle objected to the movement. The Goa'uld sat still, eyes closed sometimes, no doubt healing his injuries. Daniel wondered exactly when the assault would come.
"Tau'ri," he said after an excruciately long silence.
Daniel looked down at the patch on his arm that visibly displayed Earth's point of origin. "Yes."
"Your people have become a great nuisance in such a short time. Daniel Jackson. You are the one that opened the chaapa'ai on your planet and then killed Ra, are you not?."
Daniel wondered where exactly the conversation was about to go and decided to tread with caution. "You have me at a disadvantage. I don't know anything about you."
"Your people are simply known by association Tau'ri. Firstly for killing Ra and then for corrupting the Shol'va Teal'c. Your disorganised elimination of a number of Goa'uld has also made you notorious. You yourself are of no interest."
Daniel nodded. "Thank you. I think."
The Goa'uld snorted and went back to looking around at the surroundings. Daniel watched him, frowning, wondering. It occurred to him that there were two odd coinciding events. The first being the presence of the Goa'uld. The second being the presence of gliders.
"Are they looking for you?" Daniel said after a while of pondering.
The Goa'uld's head snapped back and his eyes locked on to Daniel. However he didn't reply.
Daniel pointed upwards. "The gliders. They were looking for you weren't they? This place shows no signs of civilisation or recent traffic, yet, you're here and so are those nice people that almost killed us."
"What do you know of it?" Came the aggressive question.
Daniel shrugged. "Nothing. I'm just wondering what you're doing hiding out in a centuries old crumbling building. We were here to explore. Why are you here?"
Daniel watched the Goa'uld stiffen and sit back in silence, no doubt formulating an answer. He just stared for a while after which he gave a small smile.
"Not that it is of your concern, but yes, they were looking for me. My ship became damaged in an attack and I escaped using a pod. They have come to rescue me no doubt. And when they arrive, you will not have time to ask your futile questions."
Daniel frowned and looked down at the gun in his hand. He took a moment to recap the instant before he fell through the ground.
"You're lying," Daniel said matter-of-factly.
The Goa'uld's eyes flashed bright momentarily, sending a chill up Daniel's sore spine. The glowing eyes of the Goa'uld never became any less horrifying or nauseating. They never ceased to remind him of Sha're and every injustice that the Gao'uld had committed. The glow of their eyes was what kept his hate for the Goa'uld alive.
"You see, if you knew someone would come to find you, why would you be hiding? Wouldn't you be somewhere where they could find you? And if even if that's not the case, surely they would know that you could be hiding, in which case firing on the sheltered buildings doesn't strike me as a bright idea. Unless. Unless they're the ones that attacked your ship."
The Goa'uld didn't reply. His face was blank. The only thing betraying him was the sheen of sweat on his hosts upper lip.
Sam felt a rough hand roll her over to her back, the other fumbling for her gun. She let him have it, hoping that he'd ignore her pistol and knife. "Tau'ri," he growled, standing over her.
"You would think after all these years, you'd come up with something more original," she said, scooting back.
"What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same thing, we were here first," she said.
"My lord shall teach you a more respectful attitude." He bent down to pick her up, digging his fist into the front of her jacket. She drew up her leg, driving it into his groin. He doubled over and she pulled her pistol, firing once at point blank range. He collapsed and she used his momentum against him, pushing him away to land beside her. Realizing that the gunshot would attract more Jaffa, she scrambled to her feet, running back to the trees, knowing that if they were going to help Daniel, they'd have to do it on thier own.
Teal'c slipped into a light state of kel-no-reem, letting his body rest while his mind remained active. He knew he would need all his strength in the hours to come. He did not know if Daneil Jackson was still alive, the Jaffa had taken their radios from them. He also feared that Major Carter was in great danger. It was possible that the horns were announcing the presence of their quarry, however it was far more likely that the Jaffa had discovered the major's presence.
"Who do you think they're looking for?" O'Neill whispered.
"I am uncertain, O'Neill. Whomever was in the escape pod."
He heard O'Neill sigh and opened his eyes to see the human shooting a dark look at the Jaffa guarding them. Teal'c shook his head slightly, signalling that it was likely that they could overpower the Jaffa. Unable to vocally reassure his teammate, he tried to instill confidence with a look. Major Carter and Daniel Jackson were very resourceful individuals.
"You have a vivid imagination," the Goa'uld said with a rather disgusted look on his face.
"No, I don't think so. You were hiding and I think they started to fire on us because they probably thought we were here to help you. You attacked me because you thought I was one of them, didn't you?"
"You will cease your irritating chatter or I will have to use physical force," came a very angry threat.
Daniel lifted up his gun and showed it the Goa'uld. The Goa'uld snorted.
"Hmph! A wound from your pitiful projectile will heal. It is why the Goa'uld choose these bodies. So easy to repair."
Daniel clenched his jaw as he tried to hold back a sudden surge of anger. Blinking a few times, Daniel looked at the other man and gave a small smile.
"Yes, that's true. But I'm guessing with enough bullets in the right places, even a symbiote is useless."
Another frosty glare. Daniel reached for his radio and decided to try again.
"Jack? Sam, Teal'c?"
Nothing. No response whatsoever. Daniel's heart sank again as he envisioned his team mates being targeted by the gliders. Sam had been just outside the temple and probably the most vulnerable. He knew the chances that Sam was okay were pretty slim. Daniel sighed and let go of his radio. He shifted slightly closer to the rock he was leaning against as legs began to cramp. Movement once again sent a jarring pain through his damaged limb and he just about kept a yelp of pain suppressed.
"Your friends are probably dead. Your leg seems to be most certainly broken and I see no concievable way that you will leave this ruin alive."
"You're being chased by armed and dangerous gliders. Your injuries don't seemed to be healing any quicker than a few hours ago. You've got no weapons and from what I can see, you're not going to be able to leave this place without help either. As for my friends. I know them and they've worked themselves out of tougher situations than being chased by a few gliders. If they're out there, they will come for me. From where I'm sitting, you're the one that should be worried."
It seemed the Goa'uld's poker face was much better than Daniel's. He did not look worried in the slightest.
Sam sat with her back to a large tree and pulled her canteen from her belt. She took a drink, fighting the urge to gulp the whole thing down. She guessed she was halfway back to the temple, although she couldn't be sure.
Fearing pursuit, she'd quickly abandoned the trails they'd used before and made her way through the heavy undergrowth. The way had been a lot harder, but worth it since she'd heard no signs of pursuit in the last hour or so.
Her stomach rumbled and she curiously looked up, frowning at the darkening sky. Looking at her watch she cursed under her breath. Hours. It'd been hours since the temple had collapsed and planetary night was fast approaching. Doing some quick mental calculations she realized that there was no way she'd make it to the temple site before it was dark.
Sending the guys a silent apology, she got to her feet. She had to use what little light was left to find a secure place to camp for the night.
Jack shot the Jaffa a look that had been known to make recruits cry and gave his bonds a cursory tug. Unfortunately, the Jaffa seemed to be made of sterner stuff than young recruits and merely sneered. He turned on his heel and stalked away, squatting by the small fire.
After spending a good portion of the day on his knees in the dirt, it was oddly reassuring to now be tied with his back to a large tree, Teal'c suffering the same fate on the other side of the trunk.
Heavy hemp ropes secured his wrists to Teal'c's and more ropes wound around his chest. His ankles were securely bound and Jack knew that escape was not possible. At least not without some serious help.
"This doesn't make any sense," he whispered to Teal'c.
"They don't have any tents or supplies. They didn't plan to stay the night."
"Jaffa warriors do not require much camping equipment."
"Then why haven't we been taken up to a mother ship? Not that I'm complaining but..."
"Strategically it is not a wise move to leave your prisoners unsecured."
"I'm thinking these guys are on their own."
Jack shrugged. "I dunno. At the very least, whichever Goa'uld they're serving has them on a pretty long leash."
"You believe we can use this fact against them."
"If they're on their own, we can use that against them. Hammond's probably tried to contact us already, we've missed one check in. He'll try for another twenty-four hours, maybe send a team through. We have to warn them about what they're walking into. If we can get loose, we can evade them, hide in the jungle until we can contact him and get some reinforcements. You get a chance, bail," he ordered.
"Teal'c. I want to think that Daniel's fine and Carter's out there waiting to kick ass...but if not, someone has to get free to contact Hammond. Consider it an order."
Daniel shivered and huddled into himself as the crisp air began to bite. Even with the torchlight, it was much darker now. Daniel didn't know how long the torch would last, but he guessed it wouldn't be long. His main concern though was whether he would last until morning. The night chill was making his lungs feel sore and his leg was just one great big painful appendage. His head was beginning to throb and his hand was beginning to cramp, still holding on to the gun. On top of all this he was feeling increasingly exhausted. He knew even with the cold, it would be so easy to close his eyes and fall asleep. But with a rather annoyed Goa'uld sitting opposite him, falling asleep could be the wrong move.
"You were exploring," the Goa'uld's voice broke the silence, the words slow and sounding bored.
"Yes. We were," Daniel replied.
The Goa'uld rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Even with the chaos your explorations have been responsible for? I assume you are proud of the system lords that you have eliminated, regardless of the unbalanced state of the galaxy now."
"Well... we didn't really mean to. Those things just happened. And personally, I think the galaxy is a better place without them. I'm sure the millions that were enslaved by them appreciate it."
The Goa'uld laughed. "Fool. Momentary freedom is of no use. Someone will simply replace those that were there before them. These millions will once again become slaves. If you want to free these people, you must strike at the heart of the Goa'uld. Taking down a few pieces of an empire does nothing."
Daniel sat confused. This was not Goa'uld-speak. "You're a Tok'ra."
The man laughed again, in that same Goa'uld timbre. "My identity is of no consequence to you."
Daniel suddenly felt alert and awake. He looked at the smirking man. "Are you a Tok'ra?"
"What do you think?"
Daniel sat in silence unsure of how to answer the question. The fact was that the man sure enough appeared more Tok'ra than Goa'uld. But then at the same time, he also seemed more Goa'uld than Tok'ra. He seemed neither, yet he seemed both.
"To be honest, I'm not sure. I know if you were Tok'ra you would know that you can trust the Tau'ri and that we're your allies. That should my friends find me, they would help you too."
The hidden message was not lost on the man of questionable identity. It was clearly an offer of help. If he was a Tok'ra. "And what if I'm a Goa'uld?"
"I can still help you," Daniel said cautiously. "If those gliders were looking for you and you are in danger, you need all the help you can get...."
"You and your friends are not in a position to help. You are injured as am I. If the Jaffa flying the gliders have found your friends then you must assume that they are dead or severely incapacitated. Once outside, it would only be a matter of time before the Jaffa would find us and kill us."
Daniel leant back and gave the other man a look of appraisal. "I thought you said they were here to rescue you."
There was no reply to that.
Hammond descended the metal staircase into the control room for the third time in the last two hours. The scene was normal. Technicians were milling around certain control panels and Sergeant Davis was on duty sitting behind a terminal. In the gateroom, SG-15 were walking down the ramp looking tired and dishevelled.
"SG-15, debriefing in one hour," Davis announced.
Hammond went to stand behind the terminal next to Davis'. He thought about enquiring whether SG-1 had reported back yet, but he knew had that been the case, he would have found out within thirty seconds of the message being recieved.
"Sergeant, dial to P2X-969."
Hammond watched in silence as the chevrons lit up one by one, hoping that this time SG-1 would respond. A man of his military experience wasn't supposed to feel so much fear when his people suddenly went missing. His experience was supposed to have taught him that in this line of work people were expendable. It came with the territory. But it never got easier. In fact, it only became more difficult.
The gate activated and Hammond turned to look at the overhead monitor.
"And... recieving telemetry... now," Davis said before looking at a monitor to his left.
The monitor showed the same images as before. The MALP hadn't moved any further than the last time images were sent back. It still showed the small clearing in front of the gate.
"Take another look around Sergeant."
Davis input the command and moments later the image on the monitor began to pan, first the left and then back all the way to the right. The image began to move back to the left again when the tip of something seemed to appear.
"Go back," Hammond said looking at the monitor.
As the image stilled, the tip revealed itself to belong to the end of a staff weapon. The owner of the weapon soon came into view. A Jaffa stood looking at the camera lens with curiosity, the sign of Anubis visible on his forehead. He stood still for a moment and then smiled just before he aimed his staff and fired.
The screen became a series of sprinkled grays as the images were lost. Davis turned to look at Hammond awaiting a command, his C.O standing stiff with clenched jaw.
Though this didn't mean SG-1 were dead, Hammond knew he couldn't send a team after them either. Not without knowing more about the situation. For now his people were on their own. Abandonment, no matter how brief was the most difficult part of his job.
Hammond sighed. "Shut it down, Sergeant."
Something rustled in the bushes, startling Sam out of a light doze. Her heart pounding in her chest, she strained her ears, trying to determine if the noise was a threat or just a normal part of the jungle.
She'd been lucky enough to find a large rotten log lying on the ground, its inside hollow and just big enough for her to crawl into. Studiously ignoring the fact that the log was probably crawling with bugs, she dozed a time or two, giving into the demands of her tired body.
Determining that whatever noise had wakened her, was a natural one, she slowly crawled out of her hiding place. Moonlight filtered through the dense foliage, painting the jungle in silverish light. It was dark, but not too dark to prevent her from making her way. If she couldn't sleep, at least she could use the concealing darkness to do a little recon.
Daniel felt himself slipping away into the warm fuzzy feeling that being on the brink of sleep brought. Everything felt hazy and his breath felt as though it was thinning out. The grip on his gun was loosening and though sleep promised warmth, his body was thoroughly cold. Staying awake suddenly felt more trouble than it was worth. At times like this, the idea of a an underfunded long laborious dig somewhere in Egypt seemed like heaven. But only in times like this.
Daniel's eyes finally closed all the way and his head turned to lead as it fell to the side. Then something hit him. Something small, but hard. Daniel didn't wake, ignoring whatever had hit his shoulder. But then something hit again and this time it hit his chin. His eyes snapped open in time to see the other occupant of the cave aiming a very small piece of rock at him.
Daniel straightened up and narrowed his eyes at the projectile being aimed at him, simultaneously tightening the grip on his gun.
The Goa'uld threw the rock aside. "It would be unwise to fall asleep in your injured state. You can not know the extent of your injuries."
Daniel raised his eyebrows. "Well, I'm touched you care."
"It has nothing to do with caring. I simply have no wish to spend time with a rotting corpse."
Daniel laughed without any real humor. "Right."
The Goa'uld went back to his quiet staring. He sat calmly. Almost still. Not a worry in the world it seemed.
"Your host should be healed by now," Daniel said.
"Perhaps he is," came the deep reply.
"Right. Or maybe you're more injured than you'd like to make out."
"That could also be true," was another calm and collected response accompanied with a smile.
Daniel nodded as he tried to look calm, frustration rising on the inside. "You know, considering you may have an injury of varying degrees of seriousness and that you're trapped in the ruins of a temple at gunpoint with Jaffa looking for you, who obviously are not here to rescue you... you seem very calm."
The Goa'uld started to laugh. It was an odd sound to hear a Goa'uld laughing, the deep timber of the voice rumbling and rising in pitch somewhat. It was almost eerie.
"I'm... sorry, I didn't realize I was making a joke," Daniel said with a raise of his eyebrows.
The laughter continued for a moment before slowly disappearing. "You think this a place of worship."
Daniel's moved from left to right to take in his surroundings. "Uh... yes, that is what I believe it to be. Why?"
The laughter began again. Daniel found it to be more annoying this time. "I have a wealth of academic and practical experience that leads me to believe this was a place of worship. The structure, the location and there are some images painted on the walls that indicate...."
"It was a ko'shykyaan," came a smirk accompanied statement.
"Ko... shykyaan. That's uh... a... I'm unfamiliar with that term," Daniel said flatly.
"It is old Goa'uld. An archaic term. A ko'shykyaan was a place where men went to sit in the company of courtesans. To hear them sing. Watch them dance. The residents of the ko'shykyaans, the timayah, were women of great wealth. Wealth that was made from their profession and passed down through generations. This place you have found is on the outskirts of a long dead city. The path you will have taken to come here was a market place where one could buy adornments to gift these women. They were unattainable. There are stories of many having pined away their life and riches for the timayah. But they were also hated by those that lived in the city and watched their men leave for the ko'shykyaan They were women of ill repute."
"What happened to them?" Daniel said quietly.
"The Goa'uld took the timayah for hosts. What better hosts than women of great beauty? They were all taken. There were no more timayah after that. The ko'shykyaan valley was abandoned. The city fell to wars and time."
"How do you know all this?" Daniel asked.
The man stiffened, his smile gone. "I was the one commanding the effort."
Both men fell silent.
"So... not a temple," Daniel said after a while.
The Goa'uld looked ahead blankly. "No."
Daniel went back to looking at the ruins the best he could in the dark. They were old and reminiscent of structures he had seen on Earth. Incredibly old structures. The only reason these ruins still stood, was the incredibly dense rock they had been built from. And even that had started to deteriorate in several places.
"You must be very old," Daniel said after a while. "I mean, if you were here."
"You will find most Goa'uld to be of incredible age. Our natural existence in one host is of a mere two hundred years. But with technology and constantly changing hosts we are of course immortal."
"How old are you?"
The Goa'uld looked away. "Of no consequence."
Daniel nodded, irritated but knowing he could get no more information by delving. But that didn't stop other lines of questioning.
"How does it feel?" Daniel said evenly as he pinned down the other man with a steady gaze.
"How does what feel?"
"Oh you know, taking a host. Using them up. Discarding them like clothing. I mean, it must feel pretty weird for you to be back here knowing what you did. Remembering what you did. How does it feel?"
The Goa'uld sat silently, anger visibly simmering under the surface, but not asserting itself beyond. However, Daniel did feel a sudden surge of anger. He wasn't sure from where. But it had made it to the surface, far from where he wanted it.
Daniel continued with a deathly calm. "You don't care do you? You have no problem using humans for your own needs. Do you know what you're doing? You're taking away someone's life. You're killing them. The host might not remain in your view, but they're always there. Every second of every day they're trapped and watching themselves do dispicable things. You take them away from their family and the life they knew and destroy everything. How do you sleep at night?"
The Goa'uld blinked and a tight smile appeared. "Imagine if you will Tauri, thousands of years of sleep listening to the screams of the host. Reliving his memories as they were your own. Thousands of years. With age, those screams become louder and your sleep becomes shorter. To answer your question, I avoid sleep."
Daniel stared blankly. He had expected to be laughed at, mocked perhaps. This was not an answer he anticipated. Perhaps not even an answer he wanted. He looked away to the ground, pushing the anger back down where he could hide from it himself. Anger for Sha're. Anger for Sarah. Anger that Earth and its' allies were no closer to defeating the Goa'uld.
"Time is a strange thing Daniel Jackson. It shows you many things. After enough of it has passed it begins to change you. But only if you had the seed of doubt within your mind to begin with."
Daniel listened in silence. He had completely no idea of who he was dealing with. This wasn't any kind of Goa'uld he had seen before. He didn't know what to believe, so he continued to listen.
"The Tok'ra were once Goa'uld. All it took for their birth was one Goa'uld who wished to break away from the ideals of our species. Ideals that go no further than the need to kill, conquer and rule. Egeria spawned many with her ideals embedded within their psyches. An ideal that said life was worth living for itself, that it need not be lived at the expense of others. And thus you have the Tok'ra. But once again, time has changed much. Do you think the Tok'ra are pure in their motivations for fighting the Goa'uld?"
"You just said they were born of a different ideal. Why wouldn't their motivations be pure?"
"Time Daniel Jackson, time. Do you think that thousands of years of struggle will not have embittered many? Made them see errors in their ideals. Made them wish they were on a different side. Do you not think some will tire of this constant battle?"
"Why should they? The Goa'uld don't tire of it."
The Goa'uld frowned as if confused. "But we do Daniel Jackson. Some of us do tire. My species does not believe in sharing. It believes in owning. The system lords have allied with each other not out of good will, but out of necessity. They plot behind each others backs to gain territory and power. Each one of them hopes to overthrow Anubis one day. Every Goa'uld aspires to be the one powerful ruler. No matter how many hosts this will take, no matter how much time or how many wars. With Apophis, Her'ur, Sokar and Ra gone, the path to the throne of the most powerful has become much easier to tread. For every Goa'uld that dies, another will take his place. Even now Anubis is working to destroy all the system lords. With Zapacna and Osiris as his hands, it will be a short time before he is the only one in control. You will never defeat the Goa'uld. The war will never finish. And I have tired of it."
Daniel couldn't think of what to say for a moment. It was some huge trick. Perhaps he was trapped in some Goa'uld virtual reality machine and any minute the Goa'uld would start asking questions of strategic importance and then the whole act would be revealed.
"If you're tired of all this, maybe other Goa'uld will get tired too."
"Not those using a sarcophagus. The sarcophagus increases a desire to be in control to an insane desire for being all powerful. If you are waiting for Anubis to see the error of his ways, you will die waiting."
Jack opened his eyes, shaking off the fuzziness of sleep. The makeshift camp was asleep, only one or two Jaffa holding a cursory watch. He could hear Teal'c breathing quietly behind him and figured that the man was either meditating again, or asleep.
Seeking to relieve the stiffness in his legs, he drew them up, moaning as the movement made him aware of another problem. "Yo?" he said softly, gaining the attention of one of the Jaffa. "I gotta go." He felt the ropes tense, signifying that Teal'c was awake now.
The Jaffa walked towards him, scowling as he took a drink from a mug in his hand. "What do you want?"
"Come on, man. I gotta go," Jack said. The Jaffa merely looked at him strangely.
"T'kresa," Teal'c spoke up, translating Jack's request into the Jaffa's language.
"Bah," the Jaffa cursed, turning his back to Jack.
"T'kresa. Maha treha," Teal'c barked.
The Jaffa paused a moment, then cursed. He dumped out his mug, turning to toss the empty container to his companion. They shared a couple of comments, then the Jaffa came towards Jack, his knife held comfortably in his hands.
"He will allow you to relieve yourself, O'Neill," Teal'c said. "You should avail yourself of this opportunity," he said meaningfully.
The Jaffa cut the ropes and pulled Jack to his feet. He struggled a bit, trying to keep his balance with his feet tied together. After giving the Jaffa a cold look, the warrior grunted, bending down to cut the ropes. He led Jack off a bit, then pointed towards a small copse of trees, his intent obvious.
Jack gestured with his bound hands, the rope loosely running around his back, making his mission physically impossible. The Jaffa rolled his eyes and pulled his knife. He cut the rope, leaving the ends still wrapped around Jack's wrists.
Pointedly turning his back, Jack unzipped his fly and accomplished his mission. After a minute, he made himself decent and walked back to the Jaffa. "Don't suppose you have a handi wipe do you?"
The Jaffa frowned and Jack lashed out, catching the man unaware. The Jaffa grunted, staggering back to keep his balance. Jack's hand darted out, snatching the knife from his hand. Jack threw himself forward, using surprise and his body weight to knock the man off his feet. His eyes narrowed in determination, Jack slit the Jaffa's throat, ignoring the hot blood that spurted onto his hands.
Fighting his own disgust, Jack pushed himself off the weakly flailing Jaffa, turning a deaf ear to the man's death gurgles. His heart still pounding, he made his way back to the camp, intent upon rescueing Teal'c. Just as he got within earshot of the camp, he heard a loud cry and the sound of something crashing through the underbrush.
"O'Neill, ru...!" Teal'c yelled, his cry abruptly cutting off.
Cursing under his breath, Jack veered off from the camp, hoping to lose himself in the dense foliage...and that he hadn't just lost another team member.
Daniel had sat for an hour recounting everything the man in front of him had said. Already in a small space of time Daniel was sure he knew something more of the Goa'uld than before. He wondered what secrets the man in front held. What more he knew about Anubis and the other system lords. And more to the point, who were the people chasing him and why?
"Before, when you said about time and age making you tired. Exactly how old are you? I know it's of no consequence, but humor me anyway," Daniel said placing the gun beside him, an act that didn't go unnoticed.
The Goa'uld seemed to withold a sigh. "Old."
"It will not do well for you to have this information."
"Really?" Daniel found himself forgetting all discomfort and pain.
The Goa'uld stared back blankly. "Too old. Some of the Ancients were still roaming this galaxy, when I took my first host. The Tok'ra did not even exist."
Daniel was visibly stunned. A million things went through this mind in an instant. Question upon question. A possible rebel Goa'uld that had been alive before the Tok'ra even existed and one that may have come into contact with the Ancients.
"The Ancients were around when you took your first host... or were your first host?" Daniel said, his voice hushed.
The Goa'uld looked down at his hands and then back at Daniel. "My last host as you have presumed, is of the Ancients."
Daniel stared long an hard at the man in front of him. "You're saying this host is an Ancient?"
"I don't understand, if you're as old as you're implying then how have you kept the same host without using a sarcophagus?"
"I never said that I did not use a sarcophagus. I said the Goa'uld that use it will only sink deeper into their darkest desires. The sarcophagus does not have the same effect on my host and I."
Daniel had now forgotten everything. His present situation and the danger outside suddenly became of no consequence. The man in front suddenly offered so much. More than anyone else had had to offer. An Ancient host with a symbiote older than the Tok'ra. And one that was not effected by dark-siding effects of the sarcophagus. No, it wasn't true. It wasn't to be believed.
"My host body is able to generate the necessary chemical balance to stop the mind altering effects of the sarcophagus. No matter how many times I use it, I am still who I am. He is still who he is."
"That's amazing, if it's true," Daniel said in awe. "That's why you're hiding, isn't it? Imagine what Anubis could do with an Ancient host. All that knowledge."
"He could do nothing," the Goa'uld said quietly. "Nothing of the host remains."
"That's not true, you know it's not true."
"Daniel Jackson, after thousands of years, the mind of the host withers away and dies. All that remains are shadows of memories. All that remains is an essence which is absorbed by the Goa'uld. All that remains of this host is within my mind now. After ten thousand years, host and symbiote merge to become one. That is why the Goa'uld continue to change hosts."
"Ten thousand years! You're ten thousand years old?"
"My host is ten thousand years old."
"Your host? How old are you?"
"Older," came the calm reply.
In front of him sat a possible ten thousand years of knowledge about the Goa'uld and the Ancients and Daniel found he had lost all his linguistic capabilities.
Sam made her way through the trees, wishing that her sunglasses would not have shared the same fate as her radio. The sun was now high over head and small tracks of sweat trickled down her back. Her sense of direction told her that she had to be getting close to the temple site. She'd seen no signs of life since she'd begun her trek pre-dawn this morning.
The fact that she'd seen no sign of the colonel or Teal'c had her worried. Even if they'd crossed paths the previous day, she found it hard to believe that Teal'c hadn't picked up her trail and made an effort to contact her. Unless of course, they couldn't.
She couldn't ignore the fact that she was the only one left free. She just hoped she wasn't the only one left alive.
Something crashed through the underbrush and she dropped, concealing herself behind a trunk of a tree. Her eyes grew wide as she saw Jack run through the trees. She stood up, ready to reveal herself when the zinging whine of a zat cut through the trees. He fell hard, rolling several yards. Four Jaffa melted from the trees, surrounding him in seconds. She watched them roughly pull him to his feet, efficiently hog tying him and hoisting him up in their arms.
Determined not to lose the first sign of her missing teammates in over a day, she quietly followed the group, hoping that where there was one, there'd be the rest.
"If any of that's true, do you realize you could bring down every Goa'uld?" Daniel had finally said. He felt an excitement he hadn't felt for almost a year. This was something big. Bigger than meeting the Tok'ra or Asgaard. Bigger than meeting the Nox or Tollan. It occurred to Daniel that the Goa'uld would probably willingly go through hell to get their hands on this man. Of course he was in danger.
"More than you can comprehend."
"You don't know what it would mean to Earth to have an ally like you," Daniel said hopefully.
"More than you realize," the Goa'uld said with a bored expression.
"No, I don't think you realize. Look, I'm sure someone as well informed as you knows that the Tok'ra numbers are on the verge of extinction. Even allied with Earth, they're not making any progress in shifting the balance of power. Even if the system lords are thinking about overthrowing Anubis, they're still too afraid to take any action. If you and others like you...."
"There are no others. I am the only one. Others like me, with Ancient hosts are either dead or were retrieved by the Ancients, the symbiotes removed, many thousands of years ago. Present rebel Goa'uld choose to not show themselves. It is easier to live that way. They simply live out their lives in a host and then take a new one when the need arises. They have no wish to be part of a war or struggle. You will not find them."
"Do you know where they are?" Daniel wasn't willing to give up hope.
There was no reply.
"If they were to join our allies, it could make a difference."
"I will not involve those who wish to remain hidden."
"How do you know what they want?"
"I know because it is what I want. I spent a time fighting the Goa'uld from within to no avail Tau'ri. If the Ancients were to find me, they would remove me from this body and let me die. My deeds would not be counted. If the Goa'uld were to find me they would remove me and put me in a new host so they could torture information out of me and use this body as a host for themselves. All I wish to do is remain alive. I have great attachment to this life and I wish to continue experiencing it. I will not risk it for anyone. This is not my war."
"You could save billions of people from slavery."
"You want help? I will advise you. Kill Anubis so the system lords may throw themselves into killing each other. There is your solution."
"Oh thanks, that should be easy. Why didn't I think of it before?"
"I have a bounty on my head Daniel Jackson. If Anubis finds me, my life would be worse than death. I cannot allow myself to become embroiled in new struggles."
"So why did you tell me all those things?"
The Goa'uld looked away for a moment, an uneasy breath making his chest rise and fall. "I wished to offer you hope. The Goa'uld are not indestructable. They are not unmoving in their ideals. I am of the Goa'uld. Egeria, mother of all Tok'ra, was of the Goa'uld and there are many more of us, hiding and hoping for peace."
"There'll be no peace if you stay hidden," Daniel said forcefully. "But if you help us...."
"Be silent!" The Goa'uld yelled making small peices of rock trickle into the crevices, his eyes aglow. "If you wish to escape the ruins of this building then you will remain silent or I will leave you here so your friends may find a corpse, if they themselves are not dead."
Daniel became quiet for a moment as he calmed himself down. But he couldn't help adding, "You know, if you wanted to, you could save a lot of lives. It's in your hands to do that."
"Right now, all I wish to do is survive."
Jack hadn't gotten far when he had run up against a sudden 'kree!'. His attempt at confrontation failed when he felt his body engulfed by an electric surge. Groggy and tired, Jack let himself be dragged away.
Arriving back at the temple, they roughly dropped him to the ground, knocking the wind out of him. His muscles cramping and sore, he could offer no resistance to them untying him, then retying him to the branches of a tree, his arms painfully stretched out and his feet barely touching ground.
His senses still stinging from the zat blast, Jack could do no more than glare at his captors. He didn't know what was worse, getting caught...or getting caught.
One of the Jaffa stood before him, growling something in his native tongue. The pitch of his voice suggested that he was asking a question. Unable to understand him, Jack could just shake his head. The Jaffa sneered and suddenly punched Jack in the stomach. Tied up spread eagle as he was, he could do no more than grunt in pain as he struggled to breathe.
The Jaffa spat at him, then turned and stalked back to the fire. "O'Neill."
Jack craned his head, catching sight of Teal'c, similarly strung up. The warrior's face was bruised, dried and caked blood running down his neck and staining his torn t-shirt. "Teal'c, you ok?"
"I shall survive. For the time being," Teal'c said, his voice speaking of his pain.
"What'd he want?" Jack asked, fighting a wave of nausea as his stomach protested being used as a punching bag.
"His son was killed. They found his body by the DHD and believe that you killed him."
"I never made it that far," Jack said, feeling a bit of hope for the first time. Unless there was dissension in the ranks, there was only one person on this planet that could have killed the Jaffa...and that one person could be their last chance to get off this planet alive.
All conversation had stopped. The Goa'uld seemed reluctant to impart any more information and Daniel himself was unsure of how much truth lay in what the Goa'uld had already said. The silence had brought back the present reality. Their situation had not improved.
"How exactly do you expect to escape?" Daniel finally spoke.
"Escaping this building will not be a problem. It is the Jaffa presence outside that is of concern."
"Why would you help me? My injury would only slow your escape."
"Your injury is of no consequence. If we can both escape, then the better. I have no quarrel with you."
"So why did you shoot at me in the first place?"
"A misunderstanding. I was already injured and had no wish to be captured."
Daniel nodded, an urge to start asking questions about the Goa'uld's ten thousand years of existence returning. "So you think you can get out of here?"
"I know. The problem, as I said are the Jaffa waiting for me. Even if I take a glider, there is a ship in the planet's orbit. I cannot use the Stargate as there will certainly be Jaffa guarding it."
"Three of my friends are out there, we could help you overpower them."
"If your friends are in any condition to do so."
More silence as the Goa'uld sank back into thought. More empty minutes that Daniel filled with wondering what secrets the Ancient host had given to his symbiote, if he was indeed an Ancient. He wondered what kind of knowledge a being over ten thousand years old carried. So many questions, never enough time. One thing was for sure. This Goa'uld was not like any he had ever seen before.
"What's your escape plan?"
The Goa'uld looked around the destroyed room. "Through that wall there," he said pointing to the wall on his left. "Through that room is an underground passageway to the surface. A tunnel for some visitors to be able to come and go discreetly, so as not to soil their social standing. Only a short walk to the surface."
Daniel looked down at his foot. "Right."
The Goa'uld suddenly got to his feet very swiftly and suddenly. Immediately Daniel grabbed his gun and pointed it at the standing man.
"Don't move," Daniel said steadily.
"I see I have not won your trust," the Goa'uld said flatly. "Another deed undone."
"I only have your word for who you are. Coming from a Goa'uld, I guess that's not enough."
The Goa'uld shook his head. "You will not kill me. If you had any intention of doing so, you would have done it already."
"That's where you're wrong. I haven't had cause to do it yet. If you give me a reason, I won't hesitate. I may be a pacifist, but I'm not stupid."
The Goa'uld ignored the warning and continued to walk towards Daniel, until he was standing right next to his injured foot. He swiftly knelt down on the floor, as Daniel's grip tightened on the gun.
"What are you doing?" Daniel said.
"You do not believe what I have told you."
"You don't exactly belong to the most trustworthy of species."
"I can prove to you I am who I say I am."
Daniel frowned. "How?"
The Goa'uld looked down at Daniel's foot then back at Daniel. Then without saying anything else, he placed both hands on Daniel's leg just above his ankle. Daniel jerked back in the anticipation of pain. Then something very strange happened. Daniel was sure that he saw a faint glow in the hands of the Goa'uld and around them on his leg. His leg itself felt a sudden surge of heat. Then there was intense crackling pain that made him cry out. Daniel dropped the gun and found both his hands pressing beside him against the ground as he gritted his teeth and shut his eyes tight. The pain continued until after a moment it became less and less. Finally it dissipated to a tingling sensation and Daniel opened his eyes.
The Goa'uld removed his hands as Daniel watched him sway a bit before he fell back. He sat looking dazed and exhausted as he pushed himself to lean against a fallen pillar.
Daniel moved his foot. No pain. Just a slight stiffness to suggest it may have been injured once. Moving his foot about he turned and looked at the recovering man, gun lying forgotten on the floor.
"How the hell did you do that?"
Daniel watched as the Goa'uld unsteadily got to his feet again. He looked around for a moment and then picked up a large piece of a broken pillar.
"I will be leaving now. You can help me to break through that wall, or you can continue asking questions. I leave the choice to you."
Daniel looked down at his healed foot again.
Moments later both men began to break through the stone wall.
Sam peeked over the edge of the temple, hoping that the high ground would give her enough of an advantage to make the risk of climbing the unsteady structure. She bit her lip as she watched the Jaffa string the colonel up to the tree. At least she found them, she consoled herself. Although, from the looks of things, she wasn't going to be able to count on them for much help.
She pulled her glasses out of her vest and studied the rough camp. The colonel and Teal'c's packs were stacked by a tree, some of their contents scattered on the ground. About ready to abandon the idea, she looked closer, a smile creeping over her face at the sight of two tiny blocks of C4. A plan bubbling in her brain, she took one last look at the camp, counting Jaffa and making notes of their positions, then shimmied back from the edge, casting a glance at the sky.
The sun would rise in a couple of hours. Just enough time to get ready.
The wall had not been too hard to penetrate. Especially with the aide of Goa'uld strength. However, the demolishing of the wall had set about the further disintergration of the building. If they had entered the tunnel a moment later, they would have become permanently buried under the rubble of the ruins.
It had taken just over ten minutes to reach the forest at a steady pace, something that Daniel found hard even with the now healed ankle as it still ached like an aggravated injury would.
The forest was dark, but the light of the moon had cast an eerie glow over everything, allowing some visibility.
Daniel limped out into the forest, behind the Goa'uld that would not be named.
"What are you going to do now?" Daniel asked, noticing that the Goa'uld was looking around with an unsure air about him.
"Escape," came the low reply.
"Okay. That's a good plan. How?"
"I do not know."
"Right. Not such a good plan."
The Goa'uld stood for a long moment, listening to the sounds of the forest while Daniel contemplated using his radio and therefore risking his friends lives. He stepped up next to the Goa'uld, but before he could speak, the other man put his hand up to silence Daniel.
Daniel watched him as he began to walk downhill from the spot where they had been hiding. They came to an edge lined with bushes which was separated from a path below by a few yards of sloping ground.
Two Jaffa guards in the middle of the path, mid conversation. One of them pointed towards one end of the path and the other proceeded to take his orders and leave. The other Jaffa looked around, as though he knew someone was watching. Then he began to walk in the opposite direction.
Daniel opened his mouth to suggest an ambush. However, the man next to him had disappeared and as quick as lightening, skidded down the slope and ran across to the Jaffa guard. The guard hearing his attacker, turned, staff in both hands, ready to fire. The staff was grabbed from his hands swiftly, the right end going back just as swift to hit him in the face. As he stumbled back, the staff swept the guard's feet from under him, landing him on his back.
The Jaffa lay on the ground, breathing hard, winded from his fall. He stared back at his attacker, waiting for the next assault. The end of the staff was brought hard against his head and he was knocked out unconscious.
Daniel skidded down the slope and came to stand next to the Goa'uld, looking down at the unconscious guard on the ground.
"Let me guess. You've done this before," Daniel said, trying not to feel too much distaste at the evidence of how much of the Goa'uld indifference was still in the man standing next to him, no matter how much he professed to having changed.
Daniel was handed the staff as the Goa'uld leant down and began to relieve the guard of some of his attire. Then he stopped. Rising up from the ground, he looked at Daniel.
"If I were to give you coordinates, would you be able to remember them?"
Hope flared in Daniel as he imagined the possibility of rebel Goa'uld joining the fight. "Uh, yeah...wait," Daniel fished out his notepad and pen from his pocket, "there, write it down."
Daniel watched as the Goa'uld took the pad of paper, spared a small glance at the pen and then proceeded to slowly and carefully write down the coordinates. He then tore off the paper and folded it before handing it back to Daniel.
"You will know when to use this," he said.
Daniel looked at the folded paper and then put it into his pocket. "Now what?"
The Goa'uld went back to the task of disrobing the fallen guard. "Now we leave this planet."
Teal'c stretched his legs, trying to alleviate the pressure on his wrists. His hands were numb, a combination of them being held over his head and the ropes. His symbiote was trying to heal the damage inflicted by the Jaffa's fists and boots, but would have more success if he were able to attain kelnoreem.
He knew he would be able to at least come close to the healing state, yet he didn't dare. To fully heal, required his full concentration, and that was something he couldn't risk at the moment.
He didn't think that O'Neill had noticed the figure on the roof of the temple, and he didn't dare bring it to the man's attention for fear of revealing her presence to the Jaffa.
He glanced at O'Neill, trying to ascertain his condition. O'Neill's shorter stature was making this method of restraint more difficult on him, the human's feet barely touching the ground. He'd been quiet since his recapture and Teal'c didn't know if the man was truly only semi-conscious or merely pretending.
Teal'c knew that when Major Carter made her move, he would have to give O'Neill some assistance. A tiny rock hit him in the chest and he perked up, scanning the trees. Another rock landed at his feet and he nodded slightly, acknowledging her presence. "O'Neill," he whispered.
"Yeah," he whispered back.
"She's gonna get herself caught."
"I do not agree."
A zat blast zinged through the twilight and an explosion rocked the clearing, the shock wave making him grunt. Hands fumbled at his wrists and he fought to keep his balance as his right arm was abruptly freed. "You ok?" she said, moving to cut his left hand loose.
"Yes." A staff weapon was pressed into his numb hand and he fought to grip it.
She moved on and cut the ropes holding O'Neill, supporting him as he stumbled.
A staff blast exploded above their heads and Jack pushed Sam to the ground while Teal'c exchanged fire with the Jaffa. Sam got off a few shots and in a few seconds four Jaffa lie dead on the ground.
Jack rolled off Sam while Teal'c scavenged a staff weapon from the dead Jaffa, handing it to Jack. "We need to go, sir. There's at least five or six more out there."
"Where's Daniel?" he asked her.
There was no time to answer as another staff blast hit at their heels. Jack ran on ahead and fired his zat at a Jaffa emerging in the distance, while Teal'c and Sam covered him from behind firing at the Jaffa in chase.
They ran into the dense forest on the edge of the encampment, the Jaffa giving chase. Were it not for the clear sky and bright moonlight, navigating a path through the forest would have been impossible. Jack, Teal'c and Sam knew that the only other reason they were gaining ground was the fact that they ran unhindered by Jaffa uniforms and staff weapons.
After a while the sound of the Jaffa in pursuit seemed to disappear. Jack stopped and turned to look at Teal'c and Sam, bringing up a finger to his mouth. They listened in silence.
"What?" Jack whispered.
"They choose not to be heard, O'Neill," Teal'c said, his turned towards the direction of any sound that would betray Jaffa presence.
"Figures," Jack said as he turned to Sam and patted her arm. "Carter. Daniel?"
A troubled expression crossed Sam's face. "Sir, we were in a temple. It caved in under fire. Daniel was inside. I don't even know if he's dead or alive."
"Oh he's alive," Jack said sharing a look with Teal'c. "He radioed in just before Teal'c and I got caught by the brothers grim."
"Alive? Well... where? Did he get out?"
"Didn't get the chance to find out. Look, I say we...."
Jack closed his eyes and sighed at the shout that sounded from behind him. "That is so not what I was going to say."
"Put your weapons on the ground," a Jaffa from behind Sam spoke.
Jack looked at Teal'c and Sam, nodding for them to put their zats down. Teal'c, Sam and Jack slowely lowered to place the weapons on the ground.
Then as Sam began to rise up again, she twisted to her left and grabbed the staff weapon that had been aimed at her back. Pushing it out of the way she elbowed the Jaffa in his face as Teal'c swung his fist backwards and into the face of the guard that had come to stand behind him. Jack had never let go of his zat gun and made use of it to neutralize the Jaffa standing guard over him. Jack turned to shoot the Jaffa that was battling to keep a hold of his staff weapon before Teal'c would beat him into submission. Tha Jaffa fell to the ground, but as Jack turned back, Sam still battling with the guard that had been behind her, was sent to the ground, the butt of his staff weapon smacking hard into the side of her face. Jack pointed to fire the zat and the Jaffa fired his staff in haste as it swung back from having hit Sam. The blast hit Jack on his arm as he tried to dive away from it. But it still brought him to the ground, the zat falling from his hand. Teal'c took a step forward, but the Jaffa guard was now pointing his staff weapon and Sam's face.
He smiled malevolently as Teal'c stopped in his tracks. "Save her if you can."
Sam looked back at Teal'c, blood from a gash on her cheek making her face look blackened in the dark of the night.
Jack lay on the ground, his hand over the burning wound on his left arm, and stared at the staff, armed and ready to blow Sam's head off. Jack then stared at the guard who was enjoying every moment.
The sound of the staff firing became the loudest thing that Jack had ever heard in his life. Teal'c felt his heart stop in his chest. Sam's head had jerked back as she had shut her eyes.
She opened her eyes and frowned at the weapon still an inch away from her nose. She looked at Teal'c who was also frowning in confusion. Jack was looking on expressionless, as though he had already reconciled himself to the loss of a team member.
The Jaffa stared ahead, in shock. He looked at Sam and frowned. Then he dropped to the ground. Sam sat up and stared at the smouldering hole in his back. She followed Teal'c and Jack's gazes to where Daniel stood holding a staff weapon.
"So that's how they work," Daniel said frowning at the weapon in his hand.
"Daniel!" Sam said, openly relieved.
Daniel made his way to his team, Teal'c giving him a brief squeeze of the shoulder as Sam helped Jack to his feet.
Jack grimaced as the wound in his arm seemed to pull at the skin and muscle around it. "You okay?" Jack said nodding towards the cuts and bruises that were visible on Daniel's face even in the dark
Daniel nodded. "I'm okay. You guys?"
Jack nodded. "Oh I'm great. Carter? You okay?"
Sam nodded as Jack looked at Teal'c and asked again, "T? You okay?"
"I am, O'Neill."
"Good. So we're all okay, never been better, this is the best vacation ever."
Daniel nodded with an expression of 'okay stupid question'. "Now what?"
"Now we get the hell out of Dodge."
"The Stargate will be surrounded O'Neill."
Daniel held up his finger. "Uh... actually, that might not be a problem."
SG-1 made their way to the gate as quietly and quickly as possible, a task made difficult by the dark.
As they spied upon the gate through the bushes, their assumption proved true. The gate was indeed surrounded by six burly Jaffa.
"Great," Jack mumbled. "You think the prices on our heads have gone up or somthing?"
"No, not us," Daniel whispered.
Jack turned and looked at Daniel. "Oh?"
"O-kay. In that case, you want to tell me what you're waiting for?"
Daniel sank into thought for a moment. "Actually, I'm not sure."
"Oh," Jack said flatly.
"Yeah," Daniel said sheepishly.
"Well, just as long as you know."
The team silently kept watch, until Jack suddenly jerked his head around to look at Daniel again.
"What?" Daniel asked.
"How the hell did you escape? Carter said you got buried under a pile of rocks."
"Like I said, long story."
Jack looked at Sam. "I think this is going to be worth making time for."
"O'Neill, do you hear something?" Teal'c said, moving his head towards the sound.
Jack listened carefully. "Damn, glider."
Sam looked up at the trees and the extent of their coverage. "We should be okay if we stay here."
"For how long?" Jack grumbled.
"Right," Sam said.
The noise of the glider came closer. SG-1 looked up as they heard it fly over and away. The glider caught the attention of the Jaffa who began to stare into the sky. It soon became apparent that the glider was circling the site.
"Back up?" Sam whispered.
"It does not appear so. The guards are baffled by its position," Teal'c said.
Then the glider fired into the clearing and hit a Jaffa, sending him flying through the inactive gate. The other Jaffa guards started to fire at the glider, but to no avail. One by one the glider picked them off. In moments, all the Jaffa lay dead.
"Whoa," Sam said staring in disbelief.
"Okay. What the hell just happened?" Jack said getting up from his position and looking at his team
Daniel looked at Jack, then his expression changed as though remembering something. He pulled a piece of paper from his pocket and squinted at it in the dark.
"What's that?" Jack asked.
"An address," Daniel said. "I think I know what it's for."
Jack rolled his eyes and turned to Sam and Teal'c. "Okay. I'm not getting any of this. You two?"
Sam shook her head and shrugged. Overhead, the glider continued to circle. Daniel looked up into the sky to catch a glimpse of the glider.
"I think I know what he wants," Daniel said before running into the clearing.
"Daniel!" Jack yelled after him before following him out.
Daniel ran to the DHD and stared closely at the paper in his hand. He began to start dialling.
Jack watched Daniel dialling in the co-ordinates. "Daniel? You wanna let me know what the hell's going on here?"
"Yeah. But not right now," Daniel said carefully pressing symbols. "Trust me on this."
The gate activated and lit up the whole clearing in bright blue. SG-1 continued to watch the glider, ready to take cover if need be.
The glider flew off into the sky and then turned in the air to head back. As it flew, the wing span on the glider retracted, a lower set of wings beginning to curve inwards.
The glider was headed right towards the site. The team watched the glider close in, and then finally fly over their heads and through the gate.
The four stared at the gate in silence.
"Those coordinates weren't to Earth I take it," Jack said looking at Daniel who was still staring at the gate.
"Uh... no. They weren't."
"Daniel, who was that?" Sam said with a frown.
Daniel looked down at the piece of paper in his hand and the Goa'uld letters under the seven Stargate symbols. "A Goa'uld. Tusshar."
"A Goa'uld?" Jack raised his eyebrows.
"Yeah. A Goa'uld. We were both trapped in the ruins of this building...."
"I probably would've shot him," Jack said watching the gate as the wormhole disengaged.
Daniel stared at the note in his hand and then took his gun from its' holster, handing it to Jack. "Me too," he said turning around to dial Earth's coordinates on the DHD.
Jack frowned at Daniel and then the gun in his hand. The gate once again activated and one by one his team made their way through. Watching Daniel limp into the wormhole, Jack stopped in his tracks and checked the clip in the gun to find there were no bullets.
- the end -