We are running. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest like a wild animal, my breath burning in my lungs, my feet are growing heavier with each step as I leap across small bushes and big rocks on the forest trail. The trees flash past as we sprint through them, branches catching at our clothes.
We were ambushed, the enemy laying in wait for us. None of us suspected a thing...no that's wrong. I think Jack knew somehow. I know he did, or we wouldn't still be alive. But he couldn't dissuade Sam and I from our search for things of value to us...to the SGC. So we came and we saw and now we're running for our lives down this narrow rocky trail.
We reach the clearing where the Stargate sits. Teal'c is in the rear with Jack, covering our sixes and protecting our asses with their firepower. Sam is to my side, I am slightly in front headed for the DHD. She's got the GDO, Jack's got the P-90 on full auto and Teal'c is blasting away with his staff weapon. And we are running as hard and fast as we can go, back to the gate, back to safety, back towards home..
Then I see him. They say that you can not hear the one that will kill you, only I do hear it. I hear the electric snap of the head, the thrum of its power cell and the explosion of its blast. This one is not behind me, he stands to the left of the Stargate. He is a young Jaffa, maybe nineteen or twenty. Just in his adulthood and needing to prove his loyalty to his god and his first prime. I see the blazing energy as it flies for Sam and I move instinctively, not even thinking.
I feel no pain as the fiery blast strikes me. I feel surprise as the force that slams me down into the path. It is too fast, too unexpected, too powerful. It hits me in the side as I push my friend to safety. My lungs feel like they explode as my breath is slammed from my abused body. I can feel the dirt and gravel scrape my face as I crash into the unforgiving ground. I taste the blood in my mouth. I can't breath, I can't move, I make no sound other than the silent groan of frustration.
Dimly, explosions sound around me as if at a distance. My vision is tunneled, blurred, my glasses gone, but I can see Sam as she picks herself up and crawls to me on hands and knees. Now, she's shaking me and calling my name but I cannot answer her. Her face is red, her hat gone, her hair wild. I see her lips move, but I cannot answer, I have no voice, I can only watch from where I lay helpless.
Then, I feel myself moved, then shifted to lie on my back. I see Jack for a moment, then again I am lifted and I feel my position change. He grunts as I am picked up and slung ungently across the hard ridge of bone that is his shoulder As I lay helpless in Jack's fireman's carry, I can feel his muscles strain to support my weight. My arms dangle loosely and my face bounces gently against his shoulder blade, I can smell his stink of fear and sweat and I know it must be for me. I can hear his great heart pounding and the air rushing in and out of his lungs. I can feel his feet hitting the ground, jostling me and hurting him as he runs determinedly towards the 'gate and our safety.
In the distance, I sense more than hear the Stargate opening. A second ticks by, as the GDO IDs us to the technicians on duty. Then he starts to run again into the biting bone deep cold of the wormhole and we are flung into its maelstrom.
There is noise echoing around me as we arrive at the SGC. Jack's hoarse breathless shouts as he exits the wormhole. Voices call out commands, weapons snap into position, and the metallic grinding sound as the great trinium iris closes. The artificial lights are bright and dazzling, making colors harsh and vivid, watching with their harsh eyes as our little drama is acted out.
Strong hands grasp and move me again and now I'm lying face up on a gurney. As I lie there helpless and helped, I see the faces of my comrades. I see Janet, her concerned professional gaze takes everything in. I hear the ripping of my shirt as the scissors cut the tough cotton of my uniform sleeve. There is a sting as a needle is pushed into my antecubital fossa and a saline drip started. My face is turned towards my team. Sam stands a few feet away, and she's crying for some reason. Teal'c is standing next to her, a hand on her arm in support. General Hammond has a hand on her shoulder, patting it. Then, abruptly, I see Jack in my limited field of vision. He's dirty, sweaty and has blood on his face and uniform. His brown eyes staring into mine. I see his mouth move but I can't hear his voice. His lips say, "Hang on Danny, hang on." But there is nothing to hang on to.
Then the table shakes and starts to move. I lay there helpless as the medics push me out of the gateroom and we go rattling down the hall. The gray ceiling passes above me. The hanging flourescent lights flash by. The noise of the gateroom fades in the distance as I feel the bumps along the corridor. More voices are shouting then suddenly I see Janet again. She's running beside me, a look of concern in her beautiful expressive eyes. I see her lips move. "Hang on Daniel, we're almost there."
I can hear the voices as I am trundled by. I catch glimpses of the faces of my co-workers and friends as their expressions change to surprise then shock. The table bumps and shakes as we enter the elevator. The chime sounds and the lift pulls us up to Level 21. I know the number. I've been here before.
The big orderly at my head talks to me, he says "Hold on Doctor J. We're almost there. Stay here with me." I want to nod, I want to answer but I can't. I can only blink my eyes.
Then the door slides open and another bump jostles me as we enter the hallway. There are more lights, more gray halls, more faces. Another bump and I am in the Operating Room. The big silver light shines down on me, the chemical smells familiar. I feel the knife against my skin as the nurses cut my shirt and tee shirt off, hear the wet sucking noise as it is pulled from my torso. Janet's tense face comes into view again briefly, then my body is shifted gently, carefully to pull the rough, bloody material from under me
Next, I feel the sheet flex and stretch as I am lifted from the gurney to the table with a strong gentle thump. The light is directly above me now but a masked face superimposes itself between me and its hot glare. "Daniel," It's Doctor Warner. "Daniel, I'm going to give you something to put you to sleep now." In my arm I feel the cold stinging sensation of the drug as its pushed through the IV into my vein. A clear plastic mask is placed on my face covering my nose and mouth. I am rolled to one side and something else is rubbed on my body. It burns. The last thing I see are Janet's brown eyes.
My first sensation is one of noise. There is a steady beeping, a click hiss, and a soft hum. I am in the clinic. Touch comes next, the crisp sheets next to my skin, the dull ache of a needle in my arm and my feet are cold. There is a hard tube in my throat forcing me to breath. But my hand is warm, clasped in the grip of another. I try to open my eyes but everything is blurry. All I can see is the vague white ceiling and the fuzzy glow of flourescent lights above me. I cannot move, I lie exhausted, spent. There are only the sounds, the lights and the hand holding my own. I sleep again.
The light is annoying, but the comforting hand is still there on mine. The annoying sounds from earlier are a backwash of white noise. But there is a voice. "Daniel, come on buddy, it's time to wake up."
I manage to crack my lids for him. "That's it, open up those baby blue eyes." I push my vision to its limit. Jack is beside me, holding my hand. He looks worried. "Danny, wakey wakey." He must see my efforts, because he turns and yells, his voice strident in the quiet of the ICU. "Doc! Doc! He's awake!"
I hear the click of Janet's shoes on the concrete floor. I feel the rubbing motion of his thumb on the top of my knuckles. My skin is sensitive to touch and the friction almost hurts me, but I don't want him to stop. Now, I have something to hold on to.