Strategic Differences

by Jb

 

"We have our own wounded to care for… I suggest you take your friend home."

At those words Daniel released the breath he was holding, and the catch in his chest quickly subsided. Oh thank God... thankyou-thankyou.  Throughout the Serpent Guards’ attack on the Byrsa Daniel had been painfully aware that even should Teal’c make it past Apophis’s Jaffas, it could be for nought. Hanno was determined that Teal’c must die.

It was to have been a death of retribution, and despite his very best efforts nothing Daniel had tried to do or say had changed that. He had been so certain that his way – respect and compassionate logic – would produce a positive outcome for the Cor-ai. He had been sure that he understood the fundamental concept of Cor-ai... but really he hadn’t, and so he had blown it. In the end it was Teal’c himself who had turned it all around, not through diplomacy or impassioned arguments and insights, but through direct action. It was Teal’c’s active demonstration of honor and self-sacrifice that had saved his own life.

Not him, not Daniel. He hadn’t helped at all. Then, to boot, he had passively allowed himself to be hauled away, leaving Teal’c to Shak’l.

Jack had gone back to Hanno, renewing the offer of assistance in fighting the Goa’uld. As O’Neill spoke with the Byrsa, Daniel could see that Jack’s weight was balanced on his near leg, his body turned ever so slightly in Teal’c’s direction. Sam’s hand rested supportively on their injured friend’s arm, instantly ready to assist Teal’c should he seem willing to accept it. Teal’c was standing right there, not three feet from him, but somehow Daniel couldn’t go closer, couldn’t move to offer his friend the assistance which the others so freely and instinctively gave.

A hand on his forearm startled him. Sam dislodged the velcro around his wrist with a slight apology on her face. "Teal’c needs to go home… c’mon."     She turned away.

Her soft tone and the still-visible tremble of Teal’c’s lips tore at him. His relief at Hanno’s change of heart was rapidly disintegrating into dismay and a growing sense of, what? Guilt? Something not welcome, not helpful. There was another catch in his chest... but this time it was not the result of breath held far too long for comfort, was not suspense or anxiety. It was bitter self-recrimination.

"Daniel!" Jack’s voice was loud; he sounded annoyed.

Daniel realized with a start that the others had gone outside; he now stood alone in the enclosure. Damn. He must have spaced out for a moment. Several quick strides took him outside, where he saw Sam and Teal’c making their way past the DHD. They were leaving. Leaving? Should they be leaving now... Daniel vaguely thought that it was too soon to leave. Unaccountably he felt preoccupied, confused.

 


 

Jack and Hanno stood just a few feet left of where Daniel left the enclosure. A scowl darkened Jack’s face as he watched Daniel emerge and, not watching where he was going, strike his shoulder on the wall as he rounded the corner at the entrance. Then Daniel just stopped there, looking around with a baffled expression on his face. Useless.   Jack thought that SG1 had been solidifying into a pretty decent team of late, but now...  Jack was not thrilled with Daniel’s behavior on this trip. The kid had challenged him openly at every turn. And now that everything was settling out okay – no thanks to Daniel – he was holding them up. Daydreaming, while Teal’c was hurting.

"Get over there and dial it up, Daniel. Sometime today would be nice."

Trying to both mask and control his irritation, Jack turned to Hanno. "Some of our people will come back soon; we can provide you with some help, equipment and information to help you deal with these snake-guys."

Hanno thanked O’Neill and he and his men re-entered the building. After watching them go, Jack turned his attention back to his own people. Daniel was at the DHD and Sam and Teal’c stood expectantly in front of the steps to the Stargate. Jack’s relief was huge; Teal’c was coming home with them, alive. That was a real victory, but watching Daniel prepare to dial home Jack knew that one other thing of significance, something considerably less positive, had occurred on this mission. He also knew that if SG1 was to grow to be a cohesive unit, that one other thing would have to be dealt with.

.


 

Standing in front of the DHD, Daniel was very aware of Jack’s displeasure with him. It complimented his own quite nicely. He’d handled this all wrong; he had been wrong, wrong, wrong. Teal’c had almost been killed. Could that be in part because maybe, just possibly, he, Doctor Show-Some-Respect, had placed his own personal agenda above Teal’c’s safety? Anger at himself rising, Daniel began dialing, pushing at the glyphs with more force than was really necessary.

One...    two...    three...   A hand was placed on his shoulder, and Daniel looked up to see Sam, and standing just behind her not looking at him at all, was Teal’c. Daniel felt his failure burning on his face.

"Daniel? You okay?" The concern in Sam’s voice and on her face was not helpful. He didn’t deserve it. "Daniel, try to relax. It’s over now... I’m sorry we left you here alone, that you had to go through that without..."

"What?"   What was she talking about?

"The Jaffa attack, Daniel. I know it must have been hard on you, with us gone and Teal’c..."

Daniel felt an urge to laugh out loud. The compassionate look Sam was giving him seemed to contain an entirely different message than the one she probably intended on sending. To Daniel, it said volumes about how much faith she had that he could handle things. And he had proved her right.

four...    five...    "Just worried about Teal’c. Need to get him home."

six...    Shit.   It was the wrong one. He’d mis-dialed. "Dammit!"   Bending quickly, Daniel reached down and reset the DHD. Before he had straightened up completely, his collar was grabbed and he felt himself being roughly shoved off to one side.

"I’ll do it." Jack gave him a little extra push at the end, and Daniel stumbled slightly. "Go get yours and Teal’c’s packs. In there."  He jerked his head off to the left, towards the building’s entrance.

As Daniel headed off in that direction, the knot in his chest growing ever tighter, Hanno and several other Byrsa appeared from inside carrying the SGC gear. Hanno put one hand on Daniel’s arm as he reached for the packs. "I would like to thank you... I have learned something from you, from the Cor-ai. My judgment... it was faulty. I am sorry. Will you be among those who return here?"

Daniel almost choked. His first thought was ‘you’re sorry? thank me? for, what?’ Speechless, the only response he could come up with right then was one which he kept to himself – yeah he had been *sooo* helpful. As Daniel fumbled for an answer which he could voice aloud, the second half of Hanno’s comment registered. ...among those who return here...   Somehow, that provoked an almost familiar sense of dread; it seemed to Daniel to be a very important statement, but somehow not in the same context as Hanno had clearly meant it.

Feeling unaccountably disturbed by Hanno’s innocent question, Daniel smiled thinly at the young Byrsa man. He heard himself say that he’d very much like to return. Hanno returned a very genuine smile before turning and with the remaining Byrsa men, leaving for the Hiding where the rest of his people had taken their injured. Daniel had only moved a few steps toward the Stargate when sudden understanding – cold realization of what had disturbed him – burst free. Daniel snatched up the packs and ran over to Jack. "Wait! We can’t leave yet!" He placed one restraining hand on Jack’s arm, to stop him from dialing out.

He didn’t exactly get a warm reception.

 


 

This was the second time Daniel had laid a hand on him this trip, the first being when Daniel had blocked Jack and held the barrel of his rifle while telling him that he wasn’t handling the situation properly. Plus, it was about the millionth time that the kid had either run off at the mouth or had actually outright challenged Jack’s decisions. All of the anxiety and frustration Jack had felt on this trip – his powerlessness over the situation, dsmayed amazement at Teal’c’s stubborness, impatience with Daniel’s damn I-know-it-all-you’re handling-this-all-wrong crap, and especially his frustration at Hammond’s refusal to help – all that and more coalesced into a huge explosion of anger, directed right at Daniel.

"Damn it, Jackson! I’ve had enough of you!" In the heat of the moment Jack’s body reacted instinctively to the flood of outrage and before he could organize any effort to stop himself, Jack struck out, pushing Daniel away. Hard.

Daniel was forcefully propelled backwards and tripped over debris from an overturned cart, twisting awkwardly just before he hit the ground. Jack turned his back on the young man, forcing the upsurge of unwilling acknowledgement of what he had just done back underneath a mountain of still unexpressed frustration. Not looking at Daniel and ignoring the shocked exclamation from Carter and the look of surprise on Teal’c’s face, Jack quickly dialed and activated the Stargate.

As Jack’s hand closed on Carter’s arm and guided her towards the event horizon, Carter managed another protest. "Colonel! What on earth..."

"Look, Carter. Let’s just get Teal’c back and then we’ll all kiss and hug and make nice. Okay?"

"I do not require this assistance." Teal’c pulled his arm out from under Jack’s other hand. Clearly this had been a difficult time for Teal’c, and in his emotional turmoil he had long before lost the impassive mask he normally wore. Now, both confusion and an appalled look passed across his features. Removing his hand from Teal’c’s arm, Jack stood back as Teal’c turned to look over at Daniel before settling his gaze upon Jack. "O’Neill. Your disappointment with me should not be expressed in this manner."

For a split second the recognition came back, but then Jack’s irritation swelled again. It wasn’t Teal’c he was mad at... he looked toward Daniel, who seemed to be getting himself organized to stand up. For sure, there were some things here which would have to be dealt with. "He’s coming, Teal’c. We’ll sort it all out later back home." Giving Teal’c a gentle push with a single finger, Jack indicated that they should go.

"You will attend to this at that time?" At O’Neill’s nod, Teal’c cast a quick glance back toward Daniel before turning and limping into the wormhole. Sam looked uncertainly from Daniel to her C.O. Jack raised his eyebrows at her and made a sweeping gesture, ‘after you’... and to his satisfaction she allowed him to direct her home.

 


 

Daniel felt a strong two-handed shove and before he could brace himself he was falling back, stumbling awkwardly over the broken frame of the cart which the Serpent Guards had overturned. He landed with a jarring impact on his rear end, his chest in sudden spasm as the wind was knocked out of him. They were really leaving... they were at the Stargate... Lack of breath, dismay, and disbelief choked him, and he was unable to get out even so much as a gasp to warn them. He saw Teal’c and Sam look back toward him and tried to get to his feet, but then they were gone. Sitting on one leg, wavering unsteadily, Daniel whispered "No! We can’t go right now... not yet..."

Daniel’s entire body flushed with uncomfortable heat and he felt vaguely ill. Again, he’d blown it; he’d misread the situation – this time, the depth of Jack’s anger with him – and he’d failed to get his point across. Jack didn’t understand… didn’t realize the danger to the Byrsa. Daniel couldn’t really be sure how much time they had. He thought that Teal’c would know, but Jack had not given him the chance to ask. Okay, then... he’d have to go back to SGC and do just that. General Hammond would send help. He’d have to.

Intending to rise to his feet, Daniel shifted his weight, but he wasn’t even able to get his other leg underneath him before his lower back flared... a breath-stealing stabbing pain which radiated down into both hips. Vertigo and nausea assailed him. Reaching out for the edge of the fallen cart, he steadied himself against the wooden frame and concentrated on taking deep slow breaths. It took a few minutes, but the pain seemed to ease somewhat. Working to supress the rising fear that there was something very wrong here, Daniel shifted his weight, trying once again to get his feet under him... only to gasp with the sharp heat that lanced through his spine and down into his hips. As soon as he stopped moving it settled into an almost overwhelming burning sensation centered in the small of his back.  God... It hurt... a lot.

The Stargate was still active. He didn’t have a remote transmitter... he’d have to go through now before it shut down. Daniel tried to stand up, and cried out against the intensity of the new spasm in his lower back. Again, unpleasant warmth flooded through his body and with it, this time, he felt gut-wrenchingly nauseated. It was all he could do to keep from vomiting. Daniel looked up at the active Stargate, feeling the fear rapidly turning into overt panic.

He could see the Jaffa marching through the silver sheen, advancing upon him, aiming their staff weapons...

 


 

"SG-1 code, Sir."

General Hammond glanced at the computer screen which announced the receipt of the correct code and ordered the iris opened. Hopefully he’d see all four members returning, but given the unfortunate circumstances and Teal’c’s own choice in this matter, he rather doubted it. The first to emerge from the wormhole, was Teal’c. With tremendous relief General Hammond made his way to the Gate Room. O’Neill and Carter, tactfully supporting Teal’c, met him at the blast door to the corridor.

"Had a bit of a problem with the Goa’uld, Sir. Teal’c needs medical attention."

"The Goa’uld! What happened?" As confused as ever at yet another unexpected turn of events – Hammond couldn’t help but feel that SG1 existed for the very purpose of muddling his brain – the General moved aside for Dr. Fraiser and her medical team, looking with some concern at the wound on Teal’c’s leg.

"Let’s go upstairs, Colonel. Due to the situation, I want to hear about this right away."

"Sir, permission to accompany Teal’c?" Hammond nodded his assent to Carter, and once again moved aside as she and Teal’c were bustled off to the Infirmary by the Doctor and medical attendants. Alarmed over what could have gone on in the short time since Carter and O’Neill had left previously, Hammond pressed O’Neill through the door and followed the Colonel into the corridor as the Stargate shut down behind them. O’Neil and General Hammond rounded the stairs through the control room, continuing on up the second set of stairs to the briefing room. They were in conversation as they went, O’Neill pausing only to toss his remote transmitter over to the tech on duty, Harriman, before swinging around the handrail and taking the steps up two at a time.

The airmen on guard in the Gate Room looked at one another with open curiosity. But, often there were weird things going on and the SGC teams came and went unpredictably. It wasn’t up to them to know who was supposed to be where, when. They simply shrugged at each other and went back to minding their own business.

Harriman looked up as he caught the transmitter, then glanced out the control room viewing window. He thought of asking, but like the guards below there were many times when he wasn’t privy to the whys and wherefores of the comings and goings of the teams, most especially SG-1.

If the General and the other SG-1 team members accepted the absence... well, so would he.

 


 

Okay, okay okay... it’s okay...   Like a mantra, Daniel’s mind gave voice to the word over and over again. He concentrated on controlling his breathing, exhaling slowly with each ‘okay’. The intense queasiness faded some and he settled himself carefully onto his left hip, left leg curled beneath him. During the time that he had been preoccupied with trying to cope with the disabling pain and nausea, the Stargate had shut down. That was all right; surely they’d re-open it and come back as soon as they saw he wasn’t there. Sam knew he didn’t have the remote; she’d removed it from his wrist just before she and Teal’c had left the enclosure.

Damn, his back hurt! The pain stabbed, jolted, throbbed through him. And when he moved... well, that wasn’t something worth thinking about. He could feel and wriggle his toes, and knew that if it were not for the pain, there would be adequate strength and movement in his legs. Mind you, Daniel also knew that didn’t completely rule out a spinal injury... but he felt pretty sure that this was just a strain, just muscles. And ligaments. And whatever else normally held him all together back there.

"Ah!" The gasp tore out of him as fresh pain clamped down on his lower back, squeezing mercilessly. This was no good. He couldn’t let Jack find him like this, cowering in the dirt with tears running down his face. Jack was pissed off with him enough as it was. Rightly so, too.

Willing himself to think of anything else but that humiliation, Daniel told himself that it wasn’t so bad; that it would just be a minute more... just a minute more and they’d be back for him. Jesus... why aren’t they back even now?  Come on!  He was afraid to move, to turn his arm so he could look at his watch. Afraid of the pain. Wasn’t anyone coming back? What about the Byrsa? Daniel knew, though, that not as much time had passed as had seemed to... although it felt like an eternity it had probably only been a few moments. Certainly, sheer agony had a lot to do with how time seemed to pass, but Daniel figured it was also the unatural quiet which made the time drag; the entire area was deserted as Hanno’s people were all in the Hiding, tending to their injured.

The Stargate was still quiet as well. But if it stayed that way much longer, Daniel knew that when it did fire up, it would be a toss-up as to just how welcome a sight it would be. Perhaps he should try to move into the woods... to find the Hiding. The pain flared once more, sending a bolt of fire along the outside of his leg down to his left ankle. It left no doubt; walking was out of the question. With an inadvertent giggle Daniel told himself that the Hiding wasn’t all it was cracked up to be anyway – just one big misnomer, now. He knew he was really starting to lose it; there was nothing even remotely amusing about the Jaffa knowing about the Hiding.

"Oh No..." His back grabbed at him again. His breath came in gasps. The SGC packs were there, right over there... Every movement sent unbearable stabs of pain across his back and down into his legs. With some difficulty, Daniel reached out toward them, but they were just out of reach. Shifting his weight off his hip, unsuccessfully fighting to stifle the cry lodged in his throat, Daniel pushed himself over onto his other side, reaching out for the pack...

...and a strong hand suddenly, unexpectedly, gripped his own. In his surprise, Daniel’s chest seized so abruptly he thought he’d never breath again.

A recently-familiar soft voice comforted him. "It’s okay... it is just I... let me help."

 


 

Hanno placed a supporting arm around Daniel’s shoulder and eased the man back to lean on his own chest. He had been shocked to hear a loud cry of pain as he re-entered his village from the trees, and even more shocked to see the visitor, still here, alone, huddled on the ground. He was obviously in distress; ill, or maybe injured. Perhaps an injury from the Jaffa attack, somehow hidden until now?

Daniel opened his eyes and looked up at Hanno. The expressive blue eyes, the face that Hanno had recently seen so alive with passion and conviction, now only held pain and anxiety. "Hanno!" His name came out from the other in a quick gasp. "Your people... leave the... the Hiding. Find some...where, somewhere else." The young stranger then made an attempt to shift his position, reaching out to one side. Hanno tightened his grip as Daniel’s face paled and he cried out yet again. The hand reached out again, and Daniel shook his head, forcing out the words. "No... let me... I need, I need to get it..."

Leave the hiding? That was out of the question; the wounded were there. Hanno let his eyes fall over the other’s body. There was no bleeding, no obvious signs of injury. Hanno didn’t understand what was wrong, nor what these words could possibly mean, but he understood the physical struggle. This young man called Daniel, his breathing was ragged and his hands trembled, but he seemed to know just what he wanted. Hanno reached over and snagged the pack which Daniel was obviously intent on reaching. Pulling it to them, he re-settled Daniel against his chest, and placed the pack in the other man’s lap.

 


.

Daniel knew he wasn’t explaining very well, and tried again. "Goa’uld. Shak’l..." He couldn’t get the words out around the pain. He’d have to tend to his back first... the pack. He had to get the pack open. Daniel squirmed forward and took possession of the backpack, gritting his teeth against the fresh spasms. Grunting, Daniel scrabbled at the fastenings on the far side of the pack where he knew he’d find the MedKit, in the side pocket. He pulled it out and clawed at the velcro to open it. Pulling out the first two of the preloaded syringes his hands came into contact with, Daniel was relieved to find that they contained morphine.

Daniel had only done this once before, and never to himself. Not too sure if he remembered what to do, he scanned the label: ‘3 cc prediluted morphine sulfate, dilutent...’ He scanned it further; there it was, the strength: 5mg per ml. If he remembered his training correctly, he could use a vein but the drug was only lightly diluted, it would need to be injected very slowly. Dosage... into a vein, he could start with about a half a ml., about 2.5 mgs. Dr. Fraiser had told them that any more than that, given intravenously at one time, would be dangerous.

He pawed through the pack, looking for a suitable needle to replace the one on the syringe. Oh hell, wait. What if it made him drowsy? He had to get his message across to Hanno, had to get Jack to ask Teal’c about how much time they might have. If he gave it into a muscle, he could use the entire dose... but, it would take a fair amount of time to really get working. He might have a better chance of staying awake, though. Daniel pulled the cap off, exposing the 2 inch long injection needle.

"What is that?" Daniel felt Hanno tense up against him, heard the alarm in his voice.

"Medicine... takes away... pain."  Ohhh, please.  "S’okay. No... no problem."

An intense back spasm reminded him that he’d need to do something right away, before he thoroughly lost what little cool he was hanging onto. Twisting the plunger to unlock it, Daniel firmly stabbed the needle through his fatigues into his thigh. So far so good. He grimaced and depressed the plunger forcefully to overcome the resistance in his tense muscle, injecting the painkiller. Knowing he needed to be conservative, he tried to stop when the chamber was about two-thirds empty, but he overshot the mark slightly. The scant bit of remaining fluid swirled as he released the pressure on the plunger.

As Daniel pulled the needle out of his thigh, he saw blood in the syringe, and a sick feeling came over him. God... he had forgotten to aspirate before he injected the drug... what if he had just given himself a full syringe of morphine, into a vein in his leg? His heart hammering with fear, Daniel closed his eyes to wait and hoped for two things; that Hanno was a patient man, and that he hadn’t just killed himself with a massive overdose of intravenous morphine.

 


 

It hadn’t taken all that long – about an hour and a half – to know for sure that Teal’c was going to be okay. He still had a haunted look in his eyes, but was considerably more composed than he'd been earlier. Doctor Fraiser had dealt with the leg wound and after awhile Teal’c had insisted that he wanted to return to his quarters, alone, to meditate. Sam thought she might track down Daniel.

He and Colonel O’Neill had really crossed each other up on this mission. She could almost actually feel the jolt from the vicious shove her C.O. had given Daniel; yup, right clear up to her eyeballs. That had been alarming. Sam knew that the Colonel had been appalled beyond rational thought by Teal’c’s situation, and Daniel’s vocal opposition to the O’Neill’s instinctive reactions had certainly contributed to his upset. But, holy hannah, the Colonel had actually laid a hand on a team member.

Despite her conviction that O’Neill’s physical attack on Daniel had been unintentional, born of incredible stress, she couldn’t help but feel that, still, that was no excuse. She also felt that she was getting to know Daniel pretty well; he would no doubt be burned to the quick at what had happened and unlikely to be dealing with it very well. And now, Janet Fraiser was annoyed that Daniel hadn’t turned up at the Infirmary. She’d complained to Sam that Daniel needed to learn to follow the rules; he was supposed to get checked out... he knew that. Sam had told Janet that Daniel was probably with Colonel O’Neill and General Hammond, but she knew he wouldn’t be. Daniel was smart enough to know to steer clear of the Colonel; not only would he want to avoid the Colonel for his own sake until things settled down, but he’d surely realize that for his part O’Neill would not tolerate Daniel’s presence very well just now.

She sighed. Those men were so different. Theirs was a developing relationship between polar opposites, born of shared trauma and fueled by mutual need, and the early goings were not always pretty. But she couldn’t help but notice that as time passed they were becoming more and more inexplicably – and very powerfully – connected to one another. That made it all the worse for them when their differences in opinion and attitude came to the forefront. While today’s incident was clearly something which the two men should address in private, Sam figured it wouldn’t hurt to give Daniel a bit of a head start by lending her ear. He was probably holed up in his office; she’d get rid of her gear first and go haul him down to the infirmary, before settling him down with a cup of coffee.

Right after a hot shower and a change of clothes.

 


 

Almost an hour later, after showering and checking on Teal’c, carrying her flack vest as she entered the control room, Sam pulled the transmitter out of a pocket and held it out to Harriman. "What?" She looked at the airman. Harriman seemed surprised, almost dazed. He didn’t accept the transmitter, he just stared at it with his mouth making a round ‘O’ shape. Harriman spun his chair around to look to his other side. A remote transmitter lay on the desktop beside him, next to his keyboard.

"Uhh… Captain Carter, whose is that? SG-1?"

Carter pulled back her head, a bit confused. Harriman was looking at the thing like it was a bomb or something. "It’s... ours. Why?"

"Begging your pardon, Ma’am… but how many did you take? I mean, I thought we just gave SG-1 two remote transmitter’s this trip?"

"Yeah... two. What’s the matter?"

Harriman stared at the one on the desk, before looking back up to her. "Oh. Uhh. Well, so you’ll be going back to P3X-1279, then? Am I supposed to dial it now?" He was starting to look positively twitchy.

Sam didn’t know what the man was going on about, but they were in fact going to go back. Maybe Colonel O’Neill and the General had already given the okay? "Well, we’re going to send another team back, I don’t know that it’s going to be SG-1 though. I thought it wouldn’t be for at least a few weeks, though. We have to make some arrang..."

An urgent hand on her arm stopped her. She looked in surprise at the airman, who had half risen out of his seat. He looked like a deer caught in headlights, like he wanted to disappear. ‘What on earth is his problem?’ she thought.

"W-w-weeks. Uhh, Ma’am? Ummm... I need to ask... I mean, if we have both remotes here, what if Dr. Jackson needs to come back before then?"

 


 

Shaking his head to clear away the fog of a drug-induced sleep, Daniel all at once felt ecstatic, dejected, and alarmed. Ecstatic, because he obviously hadn’t killed himself after all, dejected because despite his best attempts to stay conscious, he had slipped away for a while, and alarmed because of the amount of time that had passed. Now, though, he was aware that the pain had stabilized somewhat, settling into a powerful throb in the center of the small of his back with grabbing tentacles of heat radiating off to into each flank and down into his pelvis. But, at least he could breath freely now. It was easier now, at least, to talk. "Hanno..." The Byrsa obviously, in fact, was an extremely patient man. Hanno was still there with him, supporting Daniel against his chest. He looked down at Daniel in response to hearing his name. "Hanno, the Goa’uld. Shak’l – the one in charge – they expect him to return home with prisoners... have to warn you."

Hanno tensed, clearly understanding what Daniel was telling him; that they would return, the Jaffa would return. In his sudden concern, Hanno started to jump to his feet, stopping at the cry of pain from Daniel. "Oh! I am sorry! But, I have to go..."

Working to relax again, Daniel gave Hanno a slight smile. "Yes. Go on. The Jaffa who come back, they probably..." Daniel shifted his position, trying to move off of Hanno. Pleasantly surprised that he could manage it, that moving about was bearable now, he muttered "Oh, thank God."

"What?"

"Sorry... it’s okay. Hanno, they probably know where the Hiding is, or at least, the way you take to escape to there?" Seeing Hanno’s nod, Daniel continued. "I’m not sure how long before the Jaffa come back. Is there somewhere else you could take your people? Until my people come back to help?"

Hanno’s laugh was derisive. "Your people have left you here alone, unwell! I no longer believe O’Neill really would help us."

Daniel had to admit, it was taking a long time. He’d been here alone now for at least a couple of hours. Working to keep his own fears concealed, he knew he needed to reassure Hanno. "No! Hanno, they don’t realize I’m, hurt. I, ah, I stayed on my own. Look, really, you can trust us. Please, trust *me*. I think I may know how we can avoid a massacre, but we have to work together."

The look on Hanno’s face confirmed that Daniel’s contention about his staying behind was a foreign concept to Hanno, that his people never would leave one of their own alone, not even healthy never mind injured or ill. But Hanno’s concern for his own people was clear to Daniel; it obviously over-rode everything else. "The Jaffa will seek out my people and show no mercy. What should we do first?" He gently sought to escape from under Daniel.

Daniel pulled himself to his knees. Not half bad; that morphine was great stuff. Daniel’s back still hurt and he was a bit nauseated, not to mention more than just a little light-headed, but he was at least somewhat mobile now. He gestured around him. "Hanno, the Jaffa? Did you check? Are they all, uhm, dead?"

"Those who were not, now are." Hanno’s face was impassive, but his eyes were cold.

Daniel could understand his point of view. "Okay. You need to go to your people, Hanno. Let them hide somewhere else? Then you need to bring back some men, and we need to dispose of the bodies." Daniel glanced at his watch, did a rough mental calculation. It had maybe three and a half hours since the start of the Serpent Guard attack. He chewed his lip thoughtfully. "There’s probably time to clean up a bit around here. Make it look like they never arrived in first place? If the Serpent Guards who follow Shak’l know that the... others... were killed here, they’ll want revenge." From the look on Hanno’s face, it was clear Daniel need not explain any further.

Hanno offered him an arm up. "Come then. We need to hurry."

Daniel knew that although he felt a bit better, he couldn’t go running around Cartaga. He’d just hold up Hanno, plus, Jack might come back. In the back of his mind, he acknowledged the possibility of a spinal injury which could only worsen without medical attention. Daniel shoved hard at that thought, resolving to keep it there at the far back corners of his mind, until the risk to the Byrsa no longer existed. "You go on. I’m okay here. I’ll wait here for my friends." Hanno gave him a long skeptical look, nodded, and was off at a run into the trees.

Settling himself to the task at hand, Daniel slowly moved to the cart with the intention of cleaning up the area immediately in front of the Stargate. He was pleased to find that as long as he moved carefully, avoiding twisting at the waist, and supported his weight on the side of the cart and whatever else he could find to hang on to, he could at least help out a little. Maybe the injury was just muscular, painful but otherwise insignificant? It would be okay... it would. But as he continued and as with each step the pain flared through the muscles of his back like an embrace, sweeping around over his sides and onto his abdomen, Daniel very nearly decided to give in to his anxiety and simply plop back down But, there was work to do, for his own safety as well as for the Byrsa. It was manageable; at least the pain in his legs was all but gone. He could do it. He had to do it.

He started to scoop up all that he could from the ground, piling everything on the cart. Hanno could take it away later. After a moment of thought, he untangled his vest and sidearm from the the two SGC packs and threw the packs on the cart as well, careful to keep the MedKit with him. Daniel struggled into the vest and, reluctantly, loosely strapped the weapon holster around his thigh. Then he took a good look around him, taking stock of what else would need doing.

 


 

"Un-bel-eee-vable !"

Jack O’Neill let out a bellow that could wake the dead and turned a furious stare onto his Captain. She shrugged her shoulders up around her ears, grimacing. She had the second transmitter in her hand, having just waved it at him and told him that Daniel had not followed them through.

O’Neill had spent over two and a half hours with General Hammond and had just been heading down the hall to check on Teal'c, visions of a nice hot shower and something to eat dancing around in his oh so terribly aching head... and had been diverted by the insistent intercom page instructing him to return to the briefing room, stat. Only to find that it was because that man, some not-benevolent God’s favourite thorn in his side, had done it yet again. O’Neill could feel the sharp point of the thorn – Daniel – digging in deeper and deeper, about to draw blood. ‘I’ll show him blood’ he thought.

"Incredible! No, no... incredibly stupid!" O’Neill paced the length of the briefing room, waving his hand in frustration. "Of all the ridiculous, idiotic..."

General Hammond looked as though he couldn’t figure out whether to be concerned, annoyed, or both at the same time. He shot Jack a very officious General-ly look which clearly said that the Colonel had best reduce the volume, like, right now. "Captain Carter, do you mean to tell us that Dr. Jackson is still back on P3X-1279?"

"Well, yes, Sir. The guards confirmed that he never came through behind us. And he doesn’t have a remote transmitter, Sir, so he can’t come through on his own."

"And did no one think to inform anybody? That was, what, almost three hours ago! Colonel, did he have permission to stay?"

O’Neill felt exhausted beyond rational thought. "No, no, of course not. But when does he ever think he needs permission to do anything. I say we just leave him there for awhile..."

"Colonel O’Neil!" Hammond silenced Jack quite effectively. "I take it there has been some interpersonal strain on this mission?" Not waiting for a reply, Hammond continued, "Go back and get him, Colonel. Right now. I don’t like the idea of any of my people being left behind. And Colonel? He had better be all right."

"Aw fer crying out loud. He’s sulking. That’s all!" Even as Jack said the words, a small part of him recognized them for what they were; a selfish denial of his own culpability. The larger part of him, the part that was still angry with Daniel, wouldn’t allow him to admit that, though.

Anger which seemed to rival that of O’Neill’s flared in the General’s face. "Colonel O’Neil, while it’s interesting to hear that Dr. Jackson has something to sulk about – and the two of you will both have to enlighten me further on that later – I never want to hear you even imply that anyone should ever be left behind, no matter their own role in it. Is that clear?"

Jack’s head snapped around. Right, of course; that’s a given, nobody gets left behind, of course. "I didn’t mean..." He trailed off, slowly starting to think beyond his own frustration and impatience. He hadn’t meant it, but he *had* said it. That small part of him was getting larger.

"General..." The expression on Carter’s face was one of worry and rapidly dawning comprehension. "There’s a slight possibility that Daniel might have been, uh, injured, Sir. Uh, in the, the attack." She looked pointedly at Jack. "It may be that he couldn’t follow us through quickly enough, before the wormhole shut down. It’s entirely possible that he couldn’t help being left behind."

Jack woke up, fully and completely. He had left Daniel behind. He had hit him, knocked him down for Christ sake, turned his back on him, and had left him behind. With a sudden knot in his chest the size of Cheyenne Mountain itself, he grabbed the transmitter from Carter. "Let’s go."

 


 

‘Crud.’ Daniel felt awful. He’d done all he could for the moment; now, he had to rest. He grabbed the nearest solid object, hoping that with the additional support he’d be able to stay on his feet. Falling down would really hurt.

Several Byrsa men had returned not long after Hanno had left. They reported that the Byrsa were relocating deeper into the woods, to areas away from the traditional paths they normally took to the Hiding. Upon Daniel’s instructions, they’d gathered up the Jaffa bodies and assorted debris which could not be easily hidden, placing everything on a cart positioned on the dias, right in front of the Stargate. Hanno was there now, surveying the area in front of the Stargate, casting an appreciative look in Daniel’s direction. That acknowledgement meant a lot to Daniel. Considering that he couldn’t even stand up without hanging on to something for support, he knew he had done a pretty good job. He’d dealt with the two eating areas on opposite sides of the clearing, placing the scattered food into bowls, gathering and disposing of broken items. He had cleared away all of the debris and spilled contents of the broken cart; laboriously – and not without significant pain – righting the cart and loading everything on it.

As Hanno gestured for the others to remove the cart, Daniel knew that this was a dangerous time. It was long since the first Jaffa attack, and there was a cart full of dead Jaffa sitting right in front of the Stargate. If the Stargate activated now it would do part of the work for him, but not all... not enough. This was no time to decompensate, but with all the physical activity the effect of the morphine was ebbing quickly. The pain was beginning to radiate down his legs once again, and Daniel felt the telltale signs of an impending major muscle spasm to his back; the tightness was rapidly becoming an overwhelming distraction. Not even three hours of relief out of 15mgs of morphine... Daniel knew that didn’t bode well at all for him being able to make it into the woods.

Trying in vain to swallow rising bile, he felt the telltale heaviness of jaw and thickness of his mouth and throat, as a chill spread through him. Unable to hold it back any longer Daniel dropped to all fours, his stomach heaving. The pain flared immensely and his arms and legs reacted quite unfavourably; Daniel would have dropped face first into his own vomit had it not been for the strong arms which suddenly supported him around his waist.

He couldn’t afford this. There was work to be done here, and if Jack wasn’t going to ever show up where the hell was he then Daniel would have to be sure it got done. Fortunately, Hanno had understood Daniel’s strategy; that if they removed as many signs as possible of the previous attack, maybe the Goa’uld would think that Shak’l never even made it here. They would still want hosts, but if the people had hidden themselves well enough then maybe they’d be safe. His throat still constricting in response to his pain and nausea, Daniel looked over his shoulder at Hanno and motioned toward the DHD. He had to get over to the DHD.

Hanno assisted him, and Daniel hung on to the DHD for dear life. He was fading fast, the burning returning with a vengeance and his vision starting darken at the periphery. He couldn’t use the address for home; he didn’t want SGC to worry about who was knocking on their door. While it was likely that they would realize it was him – and maybe, maybe, maybe they’d finally get their butts out here and get him – there was the possibility that they would interpret the unexpected activation as a threat. That had happened before, and General Hammond tended to lock things down when he felt threatened. No, it would have to be somewhere else. Somewhere where the inexplicable gate activity wouldn’t alarm any locals; Daniel didn’t want to frighten anyone. There was one address that was forever emblazened in his mind; no way he’d misdial that one, the memories sharp and clear, likely to stay with him until the day he died. Warning the Byrsa to stay far back, Daniel pushed the glyphs for Nem’s planet.

Thay all watched as the Stargate activated, as the powerful gush of energy enveloped the cart and disintigrated the evidence. Daniel sagged against the DHD as the Byrsa stared in shock at the fearsome sight of what was once living matter being blasted into oblivion. Two more times, Daniel activated the gate, until all that was left was the remnants of the cart which sat too low on the dias to have come into contact with the energy flow.

Go on to part two




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