“Major, you are drunk.”
She spun around trying to locate the source of the patently untrue statement. After accidentally turning a bit further than she intended, she reoriented to face her commanding officer. “Am not!” she retorted. After a beat, she added, “Sir.”
From where he was sprawled across a couch in the corner of Jack O’Neill’s living room, Daniel drawled, “Let’s face it. We’re all three sheets to the wind.”
“I feel no wind, Daniel Jackson.”
Despite the room pivoting on an axis centered somewhere in his brain, Daniel quickly looked toward his friend to explain the colloquialism only to find the Jaffa’s mouth curved somewhat upward in a smirk. Alcohol consumption made baiting his friend so much easier.
Steadying himself so as not to slide off the couch, Daniel threw a dirty look in Teal’c’s direction. “You know someday I’m going to remember you’ve been here for the better part of a decade and stop falling for it.”
The team was celebrating the first night of their first break after several long months of high-priority, high-stress missions designed to deliver a series of crippling blows to the System Lords. Tomorrow morning, Jack would be off to his cabin in Minnesota, and Teal’c offworld to visit Rya’c. Daniel and Sam were, of course, using their time off to... work. Jack always rolled his eyes when he thought about the fact that to those two vacation meant taking time off from long hours in the field to spend long hours working in the lab.
Laughing at Daniel and Teal’c, Sam started to resume her course to the kitchen for the next round of beers when she very inelegantly tripped and would have gone sprawling if not for the quick reflexes of her CO. She found herself snug against his chest and, while she knew very well that she should now stand up, she just couldn’t seem to bring herself to do so.
Closing her eyes, she allowed herself to breathe in the unique woody scent that always seemed to surround him. She allowed herself a minute to enjoy the feel of his arms securely holding her. This was so not a good idea, the rational part of her brain screamed at her. They kept walls up between them for a very good reason. But Sam was inclined to give herself a little break tonight; she could still feel the chill that had run through her two weeks ago when she had stumbled across O’Neill’s still body as they had beat a hasty retreat to the Stargate. Under fire and with no time to assess his condition, Teal’c had simply carried him the remainder of the way. Fortunately, it had only been a Zat blast, and the colonel was already regaining consciousness by the time the arrived back at the SGC. Still, if she wanted to reassure herself that he was still here and breathing, she didn’t think it was too much to ask.
Jack looked down at Carter with a small smile, guessing that they were thinking very similar things. He tightened his arms around her briefly. It always surprised him how soft she was, given the fact that she was able to kick major ass any day of the week. He gently rested his chin on top her head, closing his eyes for just a minute. Then, sighing softly, he pulled back, slipping his hands under her elbows and gently stood her upright.
“You okay there, Carter?”
She looked up into those twinkling brown eyes and smiled. “Yes, Sir.” Back to normal, then.
He directed her to a chair. “You sit and tell us what is so fascinating that it’s keeping you at the mountain this time. I’ll go get the beers.”
They spent the rest of the night talking and laughing. When Daniel, Teal’c, and Sam left early the following morning, it was with promises of ‘See you next week!’ and brief hugs. Jack watched his team head back to the SGC with a smile. They all deserved this rest. And now, he was going fishing! Humming, he gathered up his gear and hopped in the truck. It was going to be a great week.
After a productive couple of days, Sam was excitedly giving General Hammond a summary of possible uses of her latest findings when Major Boarman entered the briefing room. “Yes, Major?” the general questioned, acknowledging SG-5’s team lead.
“General Hammond, as you know, SG-5 is scheduled to leave for a scouting mission on P2X-791 in,” he checked his watch. “Thirty minutes.”
The general nodded. “Is there a problem, Major?”
“Thompson’s wife just went into labor, Sir. I’d like to give him leave.”
Hammond considered the request. The MALP had shown no signs of civilization near the Stargate and it was just a routine mission to determine if there was anything of interest on the planet. A three-man team could probably handle it. Before he could answer, Sam jumped in.
“I could take his place, General,” she offered.
“What about your project?”
She smiled. “It’ll still be here when I get back. I saw the mission briefing; we’ll be back tomorrow.” She looked at Boarman. “If it’s okay with you, Major. I can be ready in 15 minutes.”
Boarman smiled at her. The chance to work with a member of the infamous SG1? “We’d love to have you, Major Carter. Just hope you don’t find it too boring!”
Hammond nodded. “All right, then. It’s settled. Have a good mission. And give my best to Captain Thompson.”
Later that afternoon, Daniel was taking a break to grab a cup of coffee in the cafeteria when the alert sounded an unscheduled offworld activation. Out of habit as much as curiosity, he made his way to the control room. As he entered, he was immediately struck by the palpable tension and a number of voices speaking at once. He focused on the voice shouting over the radio. He could hear weapons fire in the background. General Hammond was standing next to Walter listening as well.
“Say again, Stiller.”
A tinny voice came through the speaker. “The took Major Carter, Sir. Major Boarman is dead. They’re coming from everywhere. Do we go after Carter?”
Daniel froze where he was standing, his coffee cup raised halfway to his mouth. ‘
Major Carter?’ What the hell was Sam doing offworld?
The general paused for a moment. “What’s your condition? And White?”
“I’ve been hit, but I think I’m okay. White looks pretty bad.”
Daniel heard White in the background. “Just give the order, General. We’ll go get her.” His voice sounded thin.
The general shook his head. “I want you boys back home now. Open the iris,” Hammond ordered Walter.
Seconds later, three figures appeared through the gate, Stiller supporting White on his left and half-carrying the limp body of Major Boarman. Energy blasts shot over their heads through the event horizon. They collapsed on the ramp as the medical team rushed up to them. Daniel’s eyes were focused on the shimmering event horizon. “Come on, Sam. Come on,” he whispered. He knew they said she had been taken, but still he hoped against hope that she would appear. Abruptly the wormhole disengaged. Daniel felt like he’d been stabbed through the heart.
Hammond was observing the activity in the gateroom. Switching on the intercom, he said, “Doctor, I want to know the instant I can talk to them.”
Fraiser looked up briefly and nodded before returning to her duties, preparing to move the two injured men to the infirmary.
Daniel walked up to Hammond. “General, I...” he trailed off, not exactly sure what he wanted to say.
Hammond looked sympathetically at the archaeologist, even as he barked out orders to the aide behind him. “I want you to recall Colonel O’Neill and Teal’c immediately. Deactivate Major Carter’s IDC. And get me the video from the MALP. I want to see what happened out there.”
“And I want all available teams geared up and in the gateroom ready to go in 30 minutes ready for an SAR.” Without waiting for further acknowledgement, Hammond motioned for Daniel to follow him as he headed up to the infirmary. Their eyes were immediately drawn to the flurry of activity centered around one of the beds. Dr. Fraiser was performing chest compressions on White with a determined fury while a nurse administered oxygen. Others came and went doing their jobs quickly and quietly as Janet shouted orders. Daniel and the general waited off to the side. Stiller, pale and bloody but conscious, was being cared for by another physician on the other side of the room.
After a few minutes, Janet pulled back and the frantic noise subsided. Daniel winced as he heard the high pitched whine of the flatline. Janet pulled her gloves off. “Call it. TOD 16:24.”
Trying to regain her composure, she walked over to her other patient. Stiller lay quiet on his bed, trying to ignore what he knew was happening to his teammate. Janet listened to a status update from Dr. Warner and then gave the general a small nod, indicating that he could talk to the patient.
General Hammond stepped up to Stiller’s bedside. “Son, can you tell me what happened out there?”
His voice quiet and hesitant, he said, “They surprised us. Or we surprised them. I think they were there doing the same thing we were, just scouting. Then it was an all-out firefight. Majors Carter and Boarman were trying to hold them off so White could dial home. They both went down. I was able to get to Boarman’s body, but she was farther away. I saw them carry her off.”
“Who was it?”
“Jaffa, Sir. But I didn’t recognize them.”
Janet had been reviewing the data displayed on his monitor and interrupted. “Just one more question, Sir.”
Hammond nodded. “Can you describe their tattoo?”
The young man searched his memory. “It looked like a lion’s head, sir.”
Hammond nodded. “Thank you. Get better, Lieutenant.” Stiller sank back as Hammond and Daniel left the room.
They walked slowly down the hallway. Although he appeared as composed as ever, Hammond was reeling from the rapid turn of fate. At least half of SG-5 was dead, another in the infirmary, and Samantha Carter was MIA and wounded, if Stiller’s recollection was correct. He turned to Daniel. “Find me anything you can about this lion’s head symbol.”
Daniel, grateful for something to do, nodded seriously. “I’ll find something for you, General.” And for you, Sam, he thought to himself. They split up at the elevator as Daniel headed up to his office. Entering with purpose, he suddenly found himself facing hundreds of volumes and realized he had no idea where to start looking. All he had to work with was that it was probably a lion’s head. Okay, he thought. A Goa'uld we haven’t heard of before. Somewhere he had been keeping a running list of gods worshipped throughout Earth’s history. Searching through the piles on his desk, he finally found the notebook. Lions, lions, okay, let’s start with belief systems from areas that may have had lions. He sighed as he realized that it would be much easier to search had he actually gotten around to indexing his notes, or even entering them into the computer. Taking a seat, he started skimming the pages.
Three teams were waiting in the gateroom when Hammond returned from the infirmary. “All right, people. As I’m sure you’ve heard, SG-5 was attacked offworld. Major Carter was taken during the attack. You are going through into a potentially hostile situation. Your job is to find Major Carter. If that is not possible, we need any information you can bring back on these Jaffa, who they worship and where they make have taken Major Carter. This is time sensitive. I expect reports every 30 minutes.”
He looked back up at the control room. “Dial the gate.”
They encountered no resistance once through the gate. The planet appeared to be as deserted as initial readings had indicated, with the exception of three dead Jaffa. Pictures were taken of their tattoos and sent back immediately to aid in the identification of the Goa'uld to whom they had sworn allegiance. The Jaffa who had fled the scene had given little thought to covering their tracks and one of the teams followed them till they ended abruptly. Disturbed earth and scorched foliage indicated that they had boarded a ship at this point. After several hours, the teams returned to the SGC, with little more information than when they had left.