Written by Yum@
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The Stargate flashed its shimmering light one last time before the wormhole finally disengaged. Colonel Jack O'Neill got up and brushed the grass off his uniform. He cast an angry look back at the Stargate. "Why am I always the one to get tossed out on my as..."
"Colonel," Carter said mildly as she did a quick survey of the land before her.
The colonel promptly stopped what he was going to say. Jack looked around. He was glad that the weather here was dry and mild. It reminded him of a pleasant spring day in Colorado. Except that here, there were a lot more trees, a Stargate surrounded by stone statues, and a lot less buildings, cars, people, sounds of traffic and... Okay, maybe it didn't seem like Colorado. But it was still pleasant.
Daniel Jackson was going into his archaeologist mode, whipping out the digital camcorder at the first sight of anything of interest. Jack tried to suppress a grin at the sight of the younger man frantically trying to film everything whilst failing miserably to contain his excitement.
"Watch it, Jackson. You're going to get whiplash," Jack told the scientist as he motioned Teal'c to follow him to the rover to fetch supplies. Daniel gave an absentminded nod and began his narration of observations to the camcorder.
"Daniel Jackson appears to be quite excited about the objects here." Teal'c commented as Jack handed him the meters for measuring the air and water.
Jack chuckled as he began moving the rover to a hiding place with his remote. "You think?" Jack quipped, getting a raised eyebrow as a response. "Carter! Will you get Daniel to at least grab his pack before he goes running off for the hills?"
"Yes sir!" Carter called back. She nudged Daniel, smiling as the younger man mumbled something about wishing for an extra pair of eyes while he re-shouldered the backpack that Carter had handed to him.
"Sam." Carter rolled her eyes. When Daniel got excited, all his words got jumbled up in their haste to get out. "Just Sam, remember?"
"This is incredible, Sam." Daniel walked closer to the statue he was referring to, trying to get a better look. "This statue is fairly new. It- ouch!" Daniel nearly dropped the camcorder, bumping it and himself into the statue, having miscalculated the distance because of his excitement.
"Daniel," Sam tried to not laugh, but it was nearly impossible, "use the zoom button, okay?"
"Okay," Daniel grinned sheepishly, as he pushed his glasses back into place with his index finger.
Jack shook his head. Normally, the colonel would have been upset at the slightly lax mood his team was in, but it had been a hell of a month for them. The entire team was battered, bruised, and weary from their numerous draining missions. And the place they had 'gated' to felt so peaceful. Jack was almost tempted to call for a break and have the team just enjoy the peaceful landscape.
After all, Jack was a soldier before all else.
"Great place for a picnic, sir," Carter commented as she waved away a butterfly-like insect from landing on her shoulder. She regretted that move as she saw the two suns catch light on its iridescent wings as it flew away.
"Maybe," Jack muttered, silently agreeing, "but the ants must be hell to fight off. I have a image of giant purple ants sneaking up on us."
"What is a picnic?" Teal'c inquired. Jack was trying to find an excuse not to explain when Daniel came back to them, his usually pale face red with excitement.
"Jack, you've got to see that." Daniel pointed out a statue that was at the end of the short pegs that led away from the Stargate. The colonel squinted in that direction and realized that Daniel was pointing to a statue of a naked woman.
"Daniel," Jack grinned as he cocked an eyebrow towards Daniel, "You dog! Aren't you a little too young to be watching nudies?"
"What?" Daniel was momentarily confused until he heard Carter snicker. "No!" Daniel's face turned beet-red. "I mean what the statue represents!"
"A really naked lady."
"No!" Daniel was rolling his eyes at this point. He grabbed Jack by the sleeve, snagged Carter's arm and motioned Teal'c to follow. The two soldiers gave half-hearted protests while the Jaafa just followed, silently commenting on the sight with just one raised eyebrow.
As the team got closer to the statue Daniel was referring to, its details were revealed. It was a cat's head on top of a human body, adorned with carvings of elaborate jewelry and crown.
"The statue is new, compared to the others along the Stargate path," Daniel explained, his words picking up speed with his excitement. "The older statues are clearly in the iron age while this one is along the lines of the bronze age."
"What, what?" Jack waved his hands at the younger man, becoming a bit overwhelmed with the terminology. "English, Daniel. English."
"The statue was made recently, sir," Carter summarized for the colonel.
"That means that there is an existing culture here, Jack." Daniel's eyes were wide with possibilities. "We should..."
"Pop up to the village people and say hello. I know, I know," Jack said, reading Daniel's mind. "Calm down, Daniel. You look like you're ready to jump out of your skin."
Teal'c looked at Daniel with concern.
"Figure of speech, Teal'c," Carter explained as Daniel gave Jack an annoyed look.
Jack waved his hands in surrender. "Never mind. Let's reconn and be back in four, kids."
"But..." Daniel protested.
"Four, Daniel." Jack gave Daniel a stern look. Enthusiasm was one thing, recklessness was another. "We're equipped for reconn, not for a welcoming committee." Jack paused as he waited for the words to sink in. "Friend or foe, Daniel." Daniel nodded mutely and just followed the rest of the team glumly.
The villagers paused as the parade of Jaafa cut through the crowd, heading for a newly built temple. The men bowed their heads, mumbling their allegiances while the women looked away - half disgusted at the men and fearful at the same time.
A beautiful woman, the object of the men's loyalties, stepped out of the temple's doorway. Jaafa guarded her as if nothing else mattered. The woman smiled demurely and eyed the villagers with glowing eyes. Suddenly, she paused. The woman looked about with an excitement which the villagers had never seen in her before. Her eyes glowed and the villagers flinched. She turned to her guards and gave a few quick commands. The guards paused, reluctant, but when she raised her voice, they hastened to fulfill her wishes.
The villagers were corralled away from the temple and the woman. The Jaafa forced them into their homes, barking at them not to come out until their Queen had passed through. The woman watched all this with glowing, anticipating eyes.
"Soon." The woman said in a soft breath. "I knew you would return to me, my Chosen."
Daniel looked up with a frown. "Did you hear that?"
"Boo," Jack quipped as he paused, waiting for the younger man to catch up.
Daniel gave Jack an annoyed look and proceeded up the hill, further and further away from the Stargate. The well-worn trail might be leading to the village so the team traveled parallel with it.
I have waited for so long.
Daniel froze again, wondering if he was imagining things. It was the briefest of whispers, so low that Daniel almost dismissed it as the wind dancing around the trees.
"Daniel?" Jack hissed impatiently as he saw that Daniel had stopped once more.
"I thought I heard..." Daniel started helplessly, "it felt like..."
Rolling his eyes upward, Jack motioned to Daniel to hurry up. "You were the one who wanted to find civilization, Doctor Jackson. Will you get back in formation, before I change my mind and head back?"
"Jack-" Daniel's voice trailed off as a rustling came a few feet away on the trail. Carter grabbed Daniel by the arm, pulling him into a thicket of bushes nearby. Jack and Teal'c were opposite them, in the top of a tree. The team remained silent as the rustling became footsteps, and those steps came closer. Jack silently motioned to Daniel with a finger across the neck and then waved. Daniel rolled his eyes and nodded, understanding what Jack was signaling about. The colonel was telling him to not do his usual jumping out and saying "Hi" until he could assess whether the natives were friendly.
A group of humanoids with dog's head helmets were marching up the trail. Within the group, surrounded protectively, was a slender woman whose sparkling cloak was draped over her head. Jack strained to see who the Jaafa were protecting but the tree was high enough both to conceal him and that the woman's features were concealed, too. The group paused just below them and Jack stiffened, wondering if something had given them away. He glanced across to the bushes where Carter and Daniel were, but saw nothing that could have done that. Jack could feel Teal'c tense up, waiting for an attack and preparing to defend.
The Jaafa bowed to the woman, who was still silent as she stepped from their protective circle. She turned slowly left and right, her features still hidden to Jack. Carter wondered how long a person could hold their breath. She stared at the entourage, wishing they would leave. Carter counted nine Jaafa and two female slaves with the cloaked woman. Although numbers had not stopped the team before, advanced weaponry could. Carter wished that they all carried staff weapons like Teal'c, instead of assault rifles, which were now feeling very heavy and awkward. Suddenly, Carter felt the sleeve she was holding on to move. She moved her eyes, glancing towards Daniel, whose sleeve she had held in order for her to ensure he remained where he was.
Daniel's face was pale, his eyes fixed upon the group. Carter wondered if he was scared, although if that were the case, she would have been surprised. Despite his mild and gentle character, Daniel had often surprised the team with his resourcefulness and ability to back them up.
The voice in Daniel's head was like an intoxicating drug. When that voice vanished from his mind, Daniel felt drained as if realizing that he was lacking something. He stared at the cloaked woman, a sick realization growing in his stomach as to who she might be. That knowledge both frightened and excited him at the same time. The mixture of emotions frightened Daniel even more.
Abruptly, the woman moved back into the circle and with a sharp word in an accented voice, she ordered them to leave. The group went down the trail, still encircling the woman, without a backward glance to the spot they had stopped at before. It seemed that the team had escaped discovery. Jack waited a few minutes until the rustling of the trees the group brushed past as it left was gone. He whistled low, signaling the team to come out, and they emerged, meeting where the group had been standing before.
"Did you see who it was?" Jack asked in low tones. Teal'c and Carter shook their heads regretfully. "Daniel?"
Daniel started, tearing his eyes away from the direction the cloaked woman had taken. "What? What did you say, Jack?"
"Are you okay, Daniel?" Carter asked, touching his arm. Daniel still looked pale, like he had when they were hiding in the bushes, "you don't look so good."
Daniel shrank from Carter's touch and looked at her with a touch of fear. "I-"
Jack looked at Daniel now, the paleness of Daniel's face had been brought to his attention. "Daniel? What is it?"
"I-I don't know," Daniel murmured. His brow furrowed as he tried to find the words. "I... there was something about the woman. I- why can't I figure it out?" Daniel's hands clenched tightly in frustration.
Startled at how upset Daniel was getting, Jack gripped Daniel's shoulder and shook him gently. "Daniel. Calm down. Whatever it is can wait."
"No..." Daniel shook his head, still visibly upset at the way his mind was so jumbled, "it can't."
"Yes, it can," Jack said firmly, "we're getting back into the Stargate. We do not even have the firepower to defend ourselves, much less to seek out whatever-"
"No!" Daniel was becoming even more upset. The soft voice in his head had gone and an empty feeling from its loss was aching in his chest. "No ! We can't leave, Jack."
The colonel glared at Daniel angrily. "Don't question my orders, Jackson," Jack told him gruffly, switching to Daniel's last name now, "we're leaving."
"But-" Daniel's voice trailed off. Before he even realized it himself, his knees buckled under him.
"Daniel!" Carter exclaimed, stepping forward to catch him. Teal'c got to Daniel first and caught him before he could hit the ground.
"Daniel!" Jack supported the younger man. Abruptly, Daniel stiffened and tried to step away from Jack and regain his balance. "Hold on, wait until your feet can find the ground." Jack cursed as Daniel tried again to stand up, only to collapse once again. Had Teal'c not been behind him to grab him, Jack would have had an armful of Daniel.
The colonel sat down, pulling Daniel down, too. He motioned Teal'c to watch the trail to ensure the group didn't return this way. Carter was pulling out her first aid kit to find the ammonia capsules. Jack had Daniel on the ground, his head pillowed by Jack's backpack. Carter found the ammonia capsules, and with a flick, she snapped one open, waving it under Daniel's nose. The sour smell wafted up and Daniel flinched from its offensive reek. He wrinkled his nose and instinctively tried to move away from the smell. Jack held Daniel's head steady so the smell could completely revive the younger man.
"Ugh," Daniel said as his eyes opened. He waved feebly at the capsule Carter had in her hand. "What was that? It smells like your locker, Jack."
"Daniel, what happened?" Jack asked, ignoring Daniel's remark.
"What?" Daniel stared at Jack blankly. "What are you talking-" Daniel then realized he was on the ground. "What am I doing on the ground?"
"You don't remember?" Jack was startled at this piece of news "You passed out, Daniel. Right after we came out from hiding."
"Passed out?" Daniel's eyes widened. "I-I... passed out? Really?"
"You think I would joke about something like this?" Jack's voice was thin with worry.
"N-no." Daniel closed his eyes briefly and took a deep breath to steady himself, "I guess not, Jack. Help me up?"
The colonel helped Daniel up, against his better judgment. "We're heading back home right now, Daniel."
A flash of panic went across Daniel's face. "Jack," said Daniel, looking confused, "I-"
"We're leaving, Daniel," Jack told him in a voice that brooked no argument, "you obviously don't see the dangerous situation we're in-"
"I know, I know," Daniel said vaguely. His eyes returned to the trail. "I-I don't know, Jack. When you said that we were leaving... I-" Daniel looked at Jack now. "I suddenly felt very, very afraid. I- I don't know why, Jack. There's something about that... woman. I can't explain it, Jack. We need to find out who-"
"No we don't," Jack said as he motioned for everyone to start heading back. The colonel took hold of Daniel by the elbow. "My main concern is to get everyone back in one piece through the Stargate. And as for you," Jack studied Daniel for a brief moment before returning his eyes to the path leading to the Stargate, "you're going straight to Doc and have yourself checked out. No arguments, Daniel," Jack added quickly when he saw Daniel was about to protest. "You don't usually take a swan dive for the ground, Daniel."
"No, I guess not," Daniel murmured, provoking a surprised look from Jack. The colonel turned and exchanged worried looks with Carter and Teal'c. If Daniel wasn't going to argue there were reasons for staying - to study a new culture, like he usually did, then the anthropologist must be feeling a lot worse than he admitted.
The team reached the Stargate quickly, their pace quicker due to their worries about Daniel, and their concern that the woman might return. As they approached the edge of the forest, Jack spotted the group returning. He motioned the team to duck quickly. Carter watched the seven Jaafa and the two women leave the Stargate and head back to the trail. She was glad that the rover was hidden in the woods, under camouflage netting.
Jack nodded when it was clear and half carried Daniel out to the clearing, while Teal'c went to get the rover over to the Stargate. "Carter, dial us home now," Jack ordered.
Nodding, Carter hurried to the DHD while Jack helped Daniel over to the platform. Luckily those guys didn't see us. There's no way we could have fought nine Jaafa - Carter froze.
She had counted seven Jaafas returning up the trail. Where was the other two? And their leader?
"Sir !" Carter whirled around, but it was too late. The team suddenly found the two Jaafa, hidden to the side, bursting out of the woods. Teal'c dropped the remote that controlled the rover and grabbed Carter. The two of them hid behind the rover. Teal'c took aim and fired his staff weapon, forcing the two Jaafa to scatter. Jack pulled Daniel closer protectively behind a cluster of statues as he aimed his rifle towards the other person who was approaching them while all this was happening.
"You will not aim your primitive weapon towards me," the soft voice said. The woman stopped before Jack and Daniel.
Jack froze at the familiar deep purr of her voice.
"Hathor," Jack hissed.
Daniel started at the name, his eyes glued to the woman. Despite the fact that she was hidden within her cloak, he could see her in his mind.
My Chosen, I have waited for so long. You have finally come.
Daniel shuddered. Jack didn't dare look. He could hear Carter and Teal'c defending their position behind the rover. They couldn't leave their cover to dial home. Jack was still too far away to help them.
"Release my Chosen," Hathor commanded. Long slender hands pulled back the hood, to reveal the exotic features of the woman who had attacked the SGC and nearly made Jack a Jaafa.
"Go to hell, bitch," Jack snarled, aiming his rifle at her. He had to take her down now, without her guards around her. With her dead, the distraction could be enough to get to the DHD and dial home. As the assault rifle cocked, Daniel shuddered suddenly, straightening up. Jack was glad that Daniel was recovering from whatever it was. He needed the backup.
"Release him," Hathor intoned her eyes glowing.
"Why don't I just release you from this existence instead ?" Jack snapped and pulled the trigger.
"No !" Daniel exploded. The younger man wrenched free from Jack's grasp and lunged in front of Hathor. Jack jerked his rifle away but the bullet had left the barrel.
"No !" Jack and Hathor cried out simultaneously as the bullet ripped through Daniel's chest. Daniel staggered, his eyes wide, staring at Jack. His mouth opened as if he wanted to say something. Suddenly, he grabbed his chest, grimacing as he felt blood spurt between his fingers.
"Danny..." Jack whispered, his own eyes wide with the horrific realization that he had shot Daniel.
"Ja..." Daniel said and then he crumpled to the ground.
Jack felt the rifle slip from his grasp. Hathor was still standing there. Jack started for Daniel, Hathor forgotten for the moment. At the first step, Hathor whipped her head up and glared at Jack furiously.
"You will PAY !" Hathor flung out her hand and her ribbon device was revealed. With barely enough time to react, Jack was flung back by a great force when the device lit up. Darkness swept over him. The last thing Jack saw was Hathor's bowed head over Daniel's body.
"He's awake !"
Jack woke to find Carter and Teal'c hovering over him.
"Sir ?" Carter asked anxiously, "are you alright ?"
For a moment, Jack wondered why they looked so worried. Then he remembered...
"Daniel !" Jack sat up, immediately regretting it when their faces began to spin rapidly. "Where's Daniel ?"
"Hathor took him," Carter's voice cracked a bit, revealing her grief. She remembered hearing Jack's horrified shout and whipping around in time to see Daniel crumple to the ground. Carter swallowed, now was not the time for this.
"Where are the dog's heads ?" Jack muttered as he waited for their faces to stop whirling.
"Took off after Hathor left," Carter said as she helped Jack sit up. Jack rubbed his eyes, trying to wipe away the image of his gun firing at Daniel, the younger man looking at Jack in disbelief, Jack's name on his lips before crumpling to the ground.
"I shot him," Jack whispered harshly.
"What ?" Carter sat back on her heels in shock. Teal'c bent down to Jack, his eyes asking him the questions that Jack was unwilling to answer.
"A-are you sure, sir ?"
"Of course I'm sure, dammit !" Jack snarled at Carter. Then he realized what he had said and closed his eyes for a moment, before opening his eyes and speaking slowly, "Sorry. Of course I'm sure. I was aiming for Hathor and somehow, Daniel got in front of her and got cut down." Jack's eyes darkened with the memory. "He got cut down with my bullet."
"S-she took him, sir." Carter swallowed to calm herself. "She may be taking him somewhere to be healed."
"Daniel said the statues were new, so Hathor must have taken this planet recently. She has lost Ra's favor, she wouldn't have the technology." Jack's voice softened as the impact of what he was saying hit home. "There's no sarcophagus here for him."
"She... she wouldn't have taken him, otherwise, sir," Carter said, refusing to let go of the possibility. Jack didn't hear any of this. All he could hear was the half-choked whisper of his name from Daniel. God, Danny. I'm sorry. Unbidden, before he could do anything to stop it, the image of his dead son's body sprawled in a bloody heap in his yard came into his mind. No ! Not now. Can't think about it now, O'Neill. Later.
"Did you see where they headed ?" Jack's voice sounded startlingly harsh, even to his own ears. "They took the same trail," Carter said slowly, realizing that the colonel was intending to follow, "sir, we should go back and get reinforcements and-"
"Be delayed and possibly lose the chance to rescue Daniel," Jack finished. He also knew that there was a possibility that General Hammond might not let them return once he heard that Hathor was planetside. The general knew all too well the threat Hathor posed with her easy control of the male populace. No, Jack wasn't going to leave any members of his team behind. "Not to that bitch," Jack muttered.
"Wondering which tactic to take, Carter," Jack changed his words smoothly as he eyed Teal'c. The Jaafa had not protested the idea of staying. In fact, he was picking up guns and extra ammo from the rover. Luckily, the battle had distracted Hathor's Jaafa from scavenging the team's supplies. Carter silently took Jack's rifle, systematically loaded it, cocked it and handed it back to him. The colonel took the rifle after a moment's hesitation, Daniel's stunned whisper still ringing in his ears as if it had been a shout.
"Let's go, kids," Jack said, getting up. He ignored the tightness in his side and walked ahead, leading the way to the trail. Carter noted the colonel's slight stiffness and vowed to keep an eye on him closely.
Damn it, Daniel. You better be alive. Jack wasn't sure he knew what to do if he wasn't.
The temple was buzzing with the excited news that their Queen was returning with her Pharaoh. Some of the women hoped that this meant Hathor would release their husbands, others feared what this could mean for them.
As the lines of Jaafa returned, the slave girls were surprised to see the Prime carrying a limp and bloody body into the inner chambers. Hathor ordered the slaves to bring clothes and water to her personal chambers. Then she entered the inner chambers where all except for the goddess were forbidden to go, even her personal servants, and closed the heavily gilded doors.
The doors closed with a thump that sounded so final, the slave girls couldn't help but shiver, though they didn't know why.
The team crouched, using the thick grove of trees as cover, while Carter silently counted the lines of Jaafa roaming the village below them. It didn't look good.
"The temple, sir," Carter whispered, "it's different from everything else."
Jack agreed. While the huts were mostly wooden planks slapped together with mud and straw, the temple was made of shiny black stone. Jack wondered briefly if it was made of Naquada, the same material as the Stargate.
"Sir !" Carter tugged at Jack's sleeve. She pointed out the entourage that was emerging from the temple.
A woman with a cat's head helmet emerged, surrounded by her Jaafa. She motioned to them with instructions. Carter wished that they were close enough to hear what the woman was saying. The Jaafa bowed deeply and then fanned out into the village. The people froze in their tracks, staring at the Jaafa. As men struggled with the Jaafa, women were shrieking, trying to stop the Jaafa from taking their husbands, sons and brothers away.
It was only a matter of minutes and then it was silent. Women were on the ground, being consoled by others as the Jaafa took some of the men away. Baskets of fruits were crushed where they had dropped, fires were scattered where the Jaafa had kicked aside their pots.
"My god," Carter murmured, horrified at the cruel way the Jaafa took the men. The women were crying pitifully, but the men had just obeyed like zombies. "The men... they didn't even try to fight them."
"Hathor," Teal'c concluded grimly.
"Yeah..." Jack agreed, his eyes hooded as he remembered Carter telling them how they had behaved when Hathor infiltrated the SGC. The men hadn't listened to reason and had followed her every command, despite what their consciences were telling them. This had looked exactly like what had happened in the SGC, except the village didn't have women soldiers to come to their rescue.
"Sir.." Carter touched Jack's arm lightly. "We may not be able to get in and retrieve..." she swallowed, "I mean, rescue Daniel. If we go in and run into Hathor, you-"
"Didn't you say once that Daniel was able to resist her for a brief moment ?" Jack recalled.
"Yes sir, Daniel said that when she told him that she was going to use his DNA to create more Goa'uld larvae, he had resisted. But it was only for a moment, sir-"
"I'm not leaving Daniel in there, Carter," Jack gave her a stern look.
Carter bristled. "Sir, I think you're taking this personally." She looked him squarely in the eyes. "Sir."
"Are you disagreeing with my call here?" Jack looked at her, eyes narrowed.
Carter swallowed but didn't look away. She knew she was crossing a dangerous line here, disobeying the colonel's orders.
"I think that you're still vulnerable to Hathor's influence. Your... reaction to, your concern... for Daniel is clouding your judgment."
"Captain, if you have something to say, spit it out," Jack said coldly.
"You said you shot Daniel," Carter said, wishing she didn't have to be so blunt, and knowing how this fact was paining the colonel, "and you feel... guilty, sir."
"And you don't think I should? Is that what you're saying?" Jack murmured softly, his voice still holding a dangerous edge.
Carter winced, realizing she had struck a sore spot.
"No, sir. I can understand why you feel guilty-"
"I'm not asking for your understanding," Jack said in an even quieter voice, "I'm asking if you think I should feel guilty."
"O'Neill," Teal'c interrupted.
"What ?" Jack hissed angrily, tearing his eyes from Carter.
"Hathor." Teal'c pointed to the woman who was leaving the temple. The team crouched down once more, watching the Queen Goa'uld leave the temple, surrounded by her usual entourage of Jaafa. The group passed behind the temple and it looked as though they were heading for the mountains that were a backdrop to the village below.
"There's our opening, Carter,." Jack murmured. The captain didn't reply, her eyes glued to the shrinking image of the departing Jaafas.
"We go in and get Daniel out." Jack looked back at Carter, wondering why she said nothing. "Agreed ?"
Carter looked at Jack. She could still hear Jack's horrified shout as the shot had echoed across the field. Carter knew they had to get Daniel out - dead or alive.
For Jack's sake.
"Agreed, sir," Carter said softly. She adjusted her grip on her assault rifle and removed the safety catch. "We get Daniel out."
Jack's eyes conveyed the thanks he couldn't say. Nodding curtly, Jack motioned for the others to follow him. Silently, the team went down the path leading to the village, following the line of trees bordering the village, using the shadows of the closely built huts as cover. The temple was guarded by three Jaafa. Jack didn't like the odds. There were no visible side openings to sneak in and sneak out. There were entrances above, but Jack could see they were too small to crawl in through. The only way in or out apparently, was past the Jaafa at the front.
"Sir," Carter pointed to a group of villagers pulling a wagon towards the temple. They approached the Jaafa, bowing deeply. The Jaafa barked at them to scatter and the villagers rambled desperately to them, unwilling to leave.
"Please, I wish to see my son."
"Let me take my husband's place. Tell the Queen-"
"My life ! Take that instead, please don't take my brother-"
"Come on," Jack whispered, tearing his eyes away from the scene, "they're leaving the entrance, we can get in."
The team crept up behind some stacks of barrels and went carefully along the smooth black walls of the temple to the entrance. The villagers and the Jaafa were still arguing, the noise growing. The guards didn't realize someone was behind them. One villager, dressed in a gray cloak, gasped as she spotted three strange people trying to sneak in the temple.
"Jaafa !" she cried out suddenly and the team froze.
The villager clutched the Jaafa's arm, pulling him from the temple entrance. Her eyes stared straight at the three as she pleaded with the Jaafa.
"Jaafa ! Please ! Release my husband. He is what you once were. How can you forget ? You should help us !"
Jack pulled Carter in, with Teal'c following stealthily. The colonel didn't know why the villager had helped them, but he wasn't going to waste her assistance by standing there wondering.
"Be silent, woman ! You should serve our Queen with gratitude, not complaints. If she returns from her circle and sees you are so ungrateful, she will throw you to the hounds !"
The team couldn't hear the rest as they turned the corner into one of the many hallways.
"They will all pay, my Chosen," the soft voice caressed his mind as he felt himself being lowered into something.
Energy flowed through him, keeping his heart pumping, and his blood flowing. But it also kept the pain in his chest very real.
"You will rest here. It is nothing like our golden bed, but it will heal you. When you are healed, we will embrace you once more and make you our Pharaoh. You had told us you would honor and cherish us. Do you not remember ?"
The last sentence pulled at his thoughts and a flood of memories returned unbidden. He remembered how beautiful she was, how her hair shone like burnt copper. Her eyes that - Her eyes. He whimpered, struggling feebly to push away the hands that now covered him with a sheet. Her eyes. They had glowed.
No! She wasn't beautiful! She was evil! He couldn't... he mustn't!
"You will remember us, Chosen. There is no other way for you to survive." The soft voice now sounded very frightening to him.
"You will remember us."
No! He didn't want to 'remember' her. He would rather die.
He would remember Jack. His face when the rifle fired. He had to stay alive, he needed to return and wipe that look from his friend's face and he couldn't do that if he was dead.
Just remember Carter, Jack, and Teal'c. Don't remember her, just remember the team. Remember Jack, remember Jack.
That was his last thought as something heavy began to press upon his chest. It hurt. He felt himself crying out but, for some reason, he could not hear it. Gradually, the pressure increased and the pain slowly vanished. Sleep was taking over and he chanted the last sentence like a warding charm.
He couldn't breathe. He realized this when the strange yellow light shone through his shut eyelids. He wanted to call out, but felt no air rushing into his mouth when he opened it. He felt very warm. His fingers didn't move, neither did his feet. He tried moving his head and found only sluggish movement. He tried breathing deeply once more and to his horror, liquid flooded through his nostrils and mouth. He began to panic. The limbs that couldn't move before began to struggle against the weight that he now knew was liquid. The liquid felt heavy, almost coating him like a shell.
He still couldn't breathe. So why wasn't he choking ? Eyes finally opened halfway, then shot open wider when he saw where he was.
Let me out! His mind screamed as he automatically shut his mouth again to prevent more liquid from entering. He could feel the panic pushing inside his throat, struggling to force him to scream out loud, which would spell his doom.
Hands broke free of the liquid's surface and he realized that he wasn't in deep, when the freed hands felt the cold tingle of air. He lurched up, struggling to break out of this watery grave. It didn't matter that he wasn't suffocating. The lack of the sensation of air was a terrifying enough illusion for him to want to escape. Hands found the edges of the box he was laying in and clutched them tightly, pulling him out slowly. With a gasp that vocalized his freedom, he broke free of his watery grave.
Daniel Jackson was alive.
The hallways were dark, their walls of smooth black stone lit only by small glasses on tall metal stalks, lining the walls beyond where their eyes could see.
Carter, at one point, had looked at what was inside the glasses and found, to her surprise, an iridescent yellow gel. "It seems to emit it's own light, sir," Carter whispered as the team went down the halls, "it appears to use some sort of molecular..." She stopped when she realized that the colonel wasn't really paying attention.
Jack occasionally stopped and opened the veils that covered the doorways to peer inside. Carter could see his reluctance as he paused each time before looking in, almost as if he were afraid to see if there was a dead body in the room, blood drying from a wound Jack had unknowingly-
Stop it, Carter told herself. Daniel's alive. Why would Hathor take him otherwise?
Still, it was hard to forget the image of Daniel on the ground, the blood so red that it stood out in her mind more than anything else. It was also hard to forget how Jack's voice had sounded, almost simultaneous with the short burst of gunfire. She wondered before she could stop herself, if that was how he had sounded when he had discovered his son Charlie's body, after Charlie accidentally shot himself.
"O'Neill." Teal'c stopped suddenly.
Carter froze, as Jack came to a stop.
"I hear someone approaching."
Jack didn't question how the Jaafa had heard it before anyone else. The Jaafa's acute senses were one of the advantages of the team. Jack nodded and motioned to get in the room to their right, where he had checked before. The team slipped in through the veils. Teal'c touched the veils briefly, to still them so that the newcomers wouldn't see them swaying from the team's movement.
The footsteps soon became audible to Jack and Carter. The three pressed themselves flat against the doorways' edge, trying not to expose their existence. As the footsteps grew near, Jack could hear the hushed conversation of two females. They talked rapidly, their voices a mixture of excitement and apprehension. They stopped right by their hiding place and Jack tensed, wondering if they had been discovered, but it turned out that they were just talking and had stopped as they got to an important part.
Accented words stumbled out of their mouths as they excitedly talked to each other. Jack caught a few words that that made him stand up straighter and lean closer to the doorway to hear more clearly.
"...Mistress wouldn't let us... the golden room near the back... the sign of the cat..." "Young lord... after many sun rises... the seven symbols..." "...Home... regain her throne..."
Carter looked at Jack, mouthing "Seven symbols ?"
The colonel nodded, placing a finger to his lips to tell her quiet.
Teal'c was listening silently, piecing together the words with a growing sense of foreboding doom.
"She will return soon from her... back of the cave... never aged..." "...Men... changed... after the trip... the liquid of life..."
Liquid of life?
Carter wondered what that meant or perhaps she had not heard correctly. She looked at Teal'c, who shook his head, indicating that he too didn't know what it was. The voices faded and Jack took a cautious peek to the hallway, watching the flimsy fabrics that were the women's clothes, as they fluttered after them. He motioned to Teal'c and Carter, indicating that it was okay, then went back in the room.
"What do you think, Teal'c ?" Jack asked.
"It would appear Hathor may be rebuilding her army from the men in this village."
"She's forcing them !" Carter exclaimed.
"She will turn them to Jaafa. They will listen to her."
Jack nodded, remembering vague impressions of when Hathor had him under her control. All he had felt was not the fear of being turned Jaafa, just the thrill of the 'privilege' it was to serve her.
The memory left Jack with a sick feeling in his stomach.
"The two were saying seven symbols," Carter mused, "Hathor may be leaving soon."
"Good," Jack muttered. His eyes were dark.
"I did not understand what the two women were saying about 'liquid of life'," Teal'c spoke up.
"Me neither. Do you know, Dan..." Carter's voice trailed off, her face paling slightly as she realized that she was about to ask Daniel for linguistic aid. She glanced over to Jack, who had heard every word. The colonel's face was unreadable. Oh shit. "Sir-"
"They were saying about some room in the back. Sounded like a place they couldn't get into themselves," Jack said abruptly, "Teal'c, did you get that, too ?"
"Yes," Teal'c said. The Jaafa made no indication that he had noticed how Jack's eyes had looked upset at Carter's slip. "They had mentioned the sign of a cat, the symbol for Hathor. Perhaps her personal chambers."
"A place where she might put Dan..." Jack didn't finish. He ignored the sympathetic looks Carter was giving him, he didn't have time for that now. "They said it was in the back. We better go and get him out, then." Jack checked the hallways again and nodded to them that it was safe.
One by one, the team slipped out and began their search for the room.
It was dark.
Daniel gasped as he sat up in a human length box, filled with a gel-like liquid that rose to his chest. It was so thick, he could barely move in it. It took all of his waning strength to pull himself up to a sitting position.
"H-hello ?" Daniel called out, coughing as the liquid that still clung to his throat, blocked his airways when he tried to talk. Surprisingly though, the liquid clogging his airways wasn't choking him. He still felt his lungs still heaving in and out, drawing air in from some source.
Daniel coughed, hacking the remaining liquid out, and was gratified to feel the cool air rush into his mouth and nostrils.
"H-hello ?" Daniel called out again, his voice clearer now. There was no answer. He could barely see his surroundings. There were small points of light from the distance, seeming as though they were floating in mid-air. Normally Daniel would have been fascinated, but all he could think of right now was how he had to leave this place.
Daniel shuddered as the two words echoed in his head. He found he was wrapping his arms around himself, shivering uncontrollably. God, why couldn't he stop shaking? The images of a woman he must bring himself to hate returned to his mind, sending another rush of tremors through his body. Daniel had to remember not her, but someone else.
"Jack ? Sam ? Teal'c ?" Daniel called out, feeling quite desolate in this dim room. He couldn't get himself to stop shaking. God, why can't I stop shivering? Daniel moaned as he found himself suddenly hunching over, his face nearly touching the liquid he had fought so hard to surface from before. The pain in his chest had flared up suddenly and all thoughts of escape had fled as quickly as they had come.
Shaking, Daniel pulled up his own shirt, the material clinging to him from the liquid. He groaned when he saw the bruise on his chest, and the bullet wound, that had stopped bleeding before, began to bleed again. "Not... now." Daniel whispered, feeling his arms drop weakly to the liquid. He had to leave this place. His friends...
All other thoughts were left incomplete as Daniel found himself helplessly sliding back into the liquid. With a final burst of energy, Daniel clutched the box's edge to stop him from sinking further, but he continued to move. Soon, his hands had to let go - Daniel cried out weakly as he felt the thick liquid cling to his body, pulling him down, filling his mouth and nostrils once again. The pain vanished, but Daniel wasn't concerned with that. One hand flailed out desperately, trying to find anything, wishing frantically for a friendly hand to grab hold of his. Then that hand sank and Daniel stopped struggling, feeling exhaustion override his survival instincts once more. As his eyes closed, Daniel felt the voice in his head returning.
Remember me, my Chosen.
The hallways were beginning to look repetitious. Jack glared at the black walls, glistening with crystals, lit by the glowing glasses. They had only found rooms with veils, no doors concealing their inner contents.
"Hathor has no closed doors here. It's like she wanted to be able to see everything as she goes by," Carter whispered as she checked another room. Most of them were stark, lined with beds.
"The Goa'uld Queen may be using these rooms to quarter her Jaafa. She would remove their privacy as a mind trick," Teal'c added thoughtfully as he gazed at the choice ahead of them. The hallway they were following had now split into two.
"Hathor wouldn't want them to feel like they could hide from their god, she'd want them to feel exposed. Sort of a psychological technique to keep her men at bay," Carter agreed.
"No room with cat heads," Jack muttered. All of this was fine and dandy, but Jack was only concerned with finding that one room, hoping to find the one person who, in the past, had more lives than a cat. Come on, Jackson, where the hell are you?
"O'Neill," Teal'c said, pointing to the hallway split, "the path is now divided."
"Perhaps we should go left, sir," Carter said as she eyed the right path.
"It's better lit than the other. We would be able to find our way around there, without needing our flashlights and thus exposing us to the guards here."
"Agreed." Jack took a step towards the left hallway, when he heard a shout.
The team whirled around and saw a slave girl, her basket dropping to the floor, screaming as she ran. Shit. The Jaafa guards were alerted too quickly, the footsteps of their approach came too soon. The way they had come was blocked.
"Split up ! Join up again outside !" Jack shouted, motioning Teal'c to follow Carter to the left, while he took the right turning.
Without another word to each other, the team took off in separate directions, each group hoping the guards would follow them and not the other.
Jack didn't know how long he ran.
The twists and turns he had taken to shake the guards behind him were beginning to look the same. Jack had heard footsteps and knew that the guards must have split up to follow both him and Carter's group. He ducked into one room and waited. The footsteps ran by him, so loud and fast that for a moment, Jack thought it was his own heartbeat hammering in his ears. They faded a little, Jack slipped out of the room and went in the opposite direction. Hopefully, by the time the guards realized that Jack was not in that hallway and turned back, he would have found another way out.
The hallways were beginning to look different now. Despite Jack's urgent need to find an exit, he noticed that the smooth black walls were now covered with thin layers of gold, carvings of languages that he couldn't even begin to read, and the lighting here was bright, unaided by the glasses the other hallways had. Jack slowed down, as a nagging feeling in his chest told him that somehow, these corridors were not an exit to anywhere.
As Jack reached the end of the hallway, he found a doorway. There were no veils in front of this one, instead, a heavy door with inscriptions was there. Jack was deciding whether or not he should check the room out when he heard distant footsteps.
It was the guards.
There was no choice in the matter now.
Jack opened the door, a bit surprised that it swung easily in his hands, despite its weight. He slipped inside and shut it quickly. Just in time, because the footsteps came around the corner to the very hallway where he had been standing before.
Jack stood, in the darkness of the room, listening to the footsteps as they ran closer and stopped by the very room he was hiding in. He gripped his weapon tightly as he heard one of them walk up to the door.
Carter and Teal'c ran down the left corridor. The Jaafa spared a quick glance behind him and found, to his dismay, that only three of the guards followed them. That meant the other two sets of footsteps he had heard were following the colonel. He wondered briefly why they hadn't fired their staff weapons, when a brief spark to the right of him answered his question.
The Jaafa didn't pause to return fire. He grabbed Carter by the forearm and ran faster as the two of them turned into a hallway that opened up ahead and to the left.
Carter skidded to a halt when she saw that the new hallway they had entered split to over a dozen new hallways, each one without lights. Just how large is this place anyway ?
It didn't look so large from the outside. Yet the distance they had already traveled argued against that.
Another staff weapon blast told her that she couldn't stand there calculating square footage and so on. With an abrupt jerk of her hand, Carter pulled Teal'c into the middle hallway, silently hoping that the guards wouldn't be able to guess correctly which path they had taken.
After a few hushed words, the guards left, passing the closed doors without a second thought.
Jack didn't know why they hadn't checked the room, but he figured he should just be grateful that they didn't. Deciding it was too soon to leave the room, Jack decided to take a look around where he had found a haven. The room was dark, save for a few lights that stood on metal stands like the ones outside in the halls - except that these were more elaborate with carvings of various animals. Jack grimaced at the twisted bodies around the stalks.
"Nice." Jack muttered, wondering what sick kind of artist had done those. The twisted bodies wrapped around the stalks must have been for decoration, but they only reminded Jack of bodies lying lifeless on the ground.
Unbidden, the image of Daniel falling to the ground rose in Jack's mind. The colonel groaned, dropping to his knees and holding his head with his hands. Carter and Teal'c no longer with him, the pretense he had been carrying on was no longer needed.
"Christ, Danny," Jack whispered, "what the hell were you thinking ? How could you go in front of me like that ?" The sound of the bullet that ripped through his friend's body resounded in Jack's head over and over again.
With an anguished cry, Jack took his rifle and slid it away from him. The colonel glared at it from the distance, its black metal lit by the glowing glasses around the room. Although at first it had been a weapon, to protect him, Jack looked at it now as if it were Apophis standing before him.
Jack bowed his head over his knees, his hands wrapped on top of his head. He suddenly felt that if the guards found him, it wouldn't matter. But it did.
The colonel looked up again, right at his discarded weapon, gazing at it with narrowed eyes. What the hell am I doing ? I can't think about this now. We have to find Dan... We have to find him and bring him home. I'll think about it then. Not now. Later. Later, O'Neill. Later you can empty the first bottle you find and drink yourself into a stupor. But not now.
With shaking knees, Jack got up and staggered over to pick up his weapon. He took the weapon in his hands and stared at it for a long moment. With a deep breath, he slung its strap over his shoulder once more, feeling the cold metal pressing against his back. The familiar feeling of the weapon dangling behind him, reassuring him that he was defended, was no longer there. It now felt unusually heavy for him.
Jack wondered if that familiar feeling would ever return.
Sighing, chiding himself for indulging in personal feelings during a crisis like this, Jack turned to leave the room.
In the darkness, Jack didn't see the object that was before him and banged his knee on it. Muttering a curse, Jack bent down to feel what it was and his hands met the smooth corners of a box. Judging by how far his hand swept across it, it was a huge box.
Jack eyed the dark mass thoughtfully, wondering if there might be anything of use here after all, apart from just a hiding place. He went to bring one of the glowing glasses of gel over. Jack grunted when his fingers touched the glass. Despite the bright glow of light, the glass was surprisingly cool to the touch.
The dim light flickered, then grew brighter as if sensing Jack's touch. It cast a yellow glow over the box as Jack swept the glass across it slowly. He saw a sheen, which must have been liquid in the box. Jack passed the glass to the end of the box - what he saw made him drop the glass, which shattered when it hit the ground, shrouding the box in darkness once more.
Carter and Teal'c finally stopped when it was clear that the guards weren't following them. Taking advantage of their escape, Carter took a good look at their surroundings. The hallway they had taken was completely dark, but Carter didn't dare turn on her flashlight in case the guards found them. She could feel a slight breeze coming from the end of the hallway.
"Teal'c," Carter whispered, "that may be an exit."
A touch on her sleeve told her that Teal'c agreed. Casting a worried look back where they come from, Carter said a silent prayer for Jack and went down the hallway.
As she almost reached the end, a hand grabbed her roughly by the elbow and she knew that it wasn't Teal'c's.
It was Daniel.
Jack stood there, his hand slightly curled from having held the glass. When the glass had broken, he found that his knees were unable to hold him up anymore and he dropped to the floor. His knees made contact with the sharp shards, but Jack took no notice. With a trembling hand, he touched the box's surface.
A sticky film clung to his fingertips. It was gel, like in those glowing glasses. Jack stared at his fingers, feeling the heavy gel, remembering how the glasses lit a dim reflection on the box's surface. It was filled with the gel, and Daniel was at the bottom of all that stuff.
"Oh god," Jack whispered, hands dropping to his sides, "Daniel..." He was dead. Gone. Jack caught a brief glimpse of closed eyes under the liquid's surface. Hathor had brought his body here and left him in this strange coffin. Why ? Perhaps to preserve his body, Jack thought dully. He reached out a hand again to touch the box, but he couldn't bring himself to do it. Suddenly rage filled his every thought.
"Bitch !" Jack screamed, jamming his fist into his mouth so that his rage wouldn't echo out into the hallway. "That sick bit..." Jack pulled his fist out and slammed it into the ground instead. Glass cut his knuckles but Jack didn't feel it. He didn't feel the glass cutting into his knees either. "Sick bit..." Jack bowed his head, shoulders shaking as he struggled to regain some sort of balance in this reality. After a moment, Jack looked up, his eyes glued to the box.
"Don't worry, Danny. Jack's not going to leave you here. No way in he..." Jack couldn't finish the sentence. He choked on his own words as he got up, making his way over to one of the metal stalks and dragging it over to the box.
The yellow light cast its eerie glow once more over the box and Jack could now see Daniel clearly. He was lying face up within the opened box, his eyes closed, hands awkwardly by his sides and bent slightly. His mouth was slightly open, but Jack could see that no air could have possibly passed through the thick liquid. The gel was yellow and still, almost as if Daniel was cast in amber.
Frozen there, as if Daniel were sleeping and not....
"Damn," Jack whispered, closing his eyes once more. This sight was harder than he had imagined. He was not going to let Hathor have her sick way with him. Daniel was not going to be left here with her. Jack knelt over the box, his hands resting on its edge, and looked at Daniel once more. He wished that this were all a dream.
"What words can I say, Danny ?" Jack whispered - staring at the face that had looked at him before with disbelief after the shot was fired. "What can I say ? God, I'm sorry, Danny."
That's what they would say. Jack knew it before it could even be said. It's something he had heard before. He had heard it in the low voices, meant to be reassuring, after Charlie's death. The sympathy in their voices didn't match the horror in their eyes as the mourners paid their condolences. They said accident, but Jack heard the thoughts behind the words anyway.
His gun. It was his gun that did this. His son was playing with his gun. Why the hell was it loaded ? Why the hell was it around for him to find ? Why the hell did Daniel move in front of me ? Why the hell did I fire ?
"Why ?" Jack's choked voice repeated his mind's torment. He shuddered, wondering if he could bring himself to dip his hands in there and pull Daniel out. Jack bowed his head, resting his forehead on the box's rim and took a deep breath.
"Sorry about this, Danny," Jack murmured, "but I think you'll understand if I take you away from here."
Jack stretched out his arms, into the yellow liquid and touched Daniel for the first time. He swallowed as his hands gripped Daniel's shoulders firmly and pulled. The liquid was heavy, its hold on Daniel's body was strong.
"Dammit, let him go !" Jack nearly shouted, pulling harder.
The liquid gave Daniel up abruptly and Jack stumbled back, sitting down hard on the ground. Daniel fell into his arms. Jack sat up straighter and cradled his friend protectively. Daniel's clothes and hair clung to Jack, covered with the viscous liquid. The colonel gently brushed back sticky strands of Daniel's hair, away from his forehead. The head lolled back with the touch and the sight of this broke Jack's heart.
"God dammit, Danny. I'm so sorry." Jack bowed his head over Daniel, tightening his grasp on the limp body, and wept.
Carter jumped, her free arm whirling back to strike when she realized that it was the villager from earlier. The woman clutched Carter's elbow with surprising strength, quickly pulling her into a room. Teal'c silently followed once he recognized who it was.
"Are you here to free my mistress and my people ?" she whispered desperately, "did I help a foe or a friend before ?"
"A friend." Teal'c stepped forward. The villager shrank back at the sight of his Jaafa tattoo.
"The sign of the rival gods," the villager whispered. She let go of Carter's elbow and stared at them both fearfully.
"My name is Carter," Carter introduced herself, hoping it would calm the villager.
"Leyla," the villager whispered back, her eyes still glued to Teal'c.
"How did you get inside ?"
"I was once the mistress' personal companion. She had many places to come and go."
"Hathor ?" Carter asked, wondering if Leyla would betray them.
"No," Leyla looked at Carter with anger, "my mistress."
Carter sighed in frustration. That didn't say much. "Then Hathor wasn't your mistress ?"
"She said she was, hides behind my mistress' mask, but I know she isn't. Our mistress did not know how to see our thoughts."
"See your thoughts ?" Carter felt a chill up her spine. "You mean Hathor's telepathic ?"
"Tele... path... ic ?"
"One who could read your thoughts," Carter explained. She glanced up to Teal'c worriedly.
"Yes ! Yes. Tele... pathic." The villager nodded fervently.
"Teal'c. I knew Hathor used hormones to control her men, but what about mind control ?" Carter looked at the Jaafa questioningly.
"I was not aware of such power, but she might have used her ability to a small extent for control." Teal'c pondered on the possibility.
"She uses my mistress' life light to gain more power," Leyla hissed - her eyes flashed with anger at what Hathor had done.
"She killed your mistress ?" Carter whispered.
"I... do not know. I can not sense her anymore." Leyla looked downcast with the idea that her mistress, whoever she was, might be dead. Carter awkwardly patted the villager's arm, guessing Leyla was about her age.
"We've lost our friends., Carter whispered, "I need to find them. One was with us before. You saw him." Encouraged by the slow nod by Leyla, Carter continued, "Another was a man with blond hair."
"Yellow, like this." Carter fingered a yellow sash that wrapped around Leyla's thin waist. The villager looked at what Carter was referring to.
"Hair of this ?"
Leyla's eyes grew into big circles. She yanked her sash away from Carter in alarm.
"Leyla ! What..."
"You must go. Now !" Leyla pulled Carter and Teal'c out of the room. "I will take you to my home. It is far away from here. You will be safe for a little while there."
"But our friends..." Carter protested. Leyla ignored her as she dragged Carter further down the hallway to some panels of writing. She touched two particular symbols and the panels slid open a crack, revealing sunlight from outside.
"I will try and find the one who came in with you, but the other..." Leyla's eyes looked fearful. "He may be lost as was my husband. Now go !" Leyla dragged Carter outside, surprisingly strong for a woman her size.
Carter, hearing footsteps of the ever-pursuing guards, nodded to Teal'c and they followed Leyla out of the temple. The panels slid shut after them, concealing their means of escape from the guards.
The heavy cloak of unawareness had suddenly lifted.
Air. He needed air.
The liquid that enveloped him before still clung stubbornly to his mouth and nose, blocking all air from coming in to his lungs. Yet, the liquid was not choking him. He tried to draw air in, but got only liquid again. His chest ached from pain and from the inability to move in and out.
Someone was here.
Hathor, he thought with panic and tried to yell out for her to let him go, not to come near him, but his body refused to move. It was still drunk with the sensory numbing effects of the liquid.
"God dammit, Danny. I'm so sorry."
"I didn't... I didn't mean to pull the trigger."
No, Jack ! It wasn't you ! Why can't I speak ? God, it's the liquid. I can't get it out of me. Can't move with this stuff inside me. I can't cough the rest of it out.
"Remember how I said that I couldn't ever forgive myself for Charlie, but sometimes I could forget ? Well...," Jack's voice broke slightly but he continued, "I don't think it's gonna be that easy this time, Danny."
No ! I'm still alive! I'm not dead! Jack! Oh God, someone help me. I can't get through! Jack! JACK!
Daniel felt a hand brush back his hair and he felt a wave of panic as he realized that Jack couldn't see his struggle to breathe. Jack only saw his chest stilled with the illusion of death.
"We're going to get you home, Danny. Don't worry." Hands that clutched his shoulders shook as he felt himself being lifted up.
I'm not dead, Jack. Oh God, he can't hear me. Jack ! Jack ! I'm not dead !
The path that led away from the temple was concealed with carefully placed broken branches and shrubs. Because of the certainty with which Leyla led the two of them, Carter knew that this villager had taken this path many times before. Leyla glanced back occasionally to see if they were still behind her. When she saw that they were, Leyla nodded and motioned silently for them to follow her.
Almost an hour later, the two reached a clearing. In the center of the clearing was a stone building, narrow and short. It looked like it could only fit one person standing.
"Inside, quickly," Leyla instructed as she entered.
Carter looked at Teal'c and shrugged, wondering if they would fit inside.
"Leyla..." Carter started to protest as she entered, when, with a yelp, she disappeared before Teal'c's eyes.
The walls rumbled as they voiced their disapproval of the new arrivals. The woman pulled back her cloak and hissed back, almost as if she were daring the walls to do something. They didn't, just rumbling once more before becoming silent.
"Mistress." The Jaafa who had accompanied her, all went down on one knee as she turned to face them.
"Leave us," she instructed them as she bid them stand, "we need to rest and can not be disturbed. We will call you when we are ready."
Heads still bowed, the Jaafa did as they were told and left to guard the entrance of the temple that was carved into the mountain. As the last warrior left, Hathor's eyes began to glow.
"My bindings are still weak," she murmured, sensing the blurry thoughts of her Chosen. Before, she had felt him try to leave his containment and she had worried that he would have slipped out of her grasp. But before she could turn back to him, she had felt his pain as his yet unhealed wounds reopened. Hathor had smiled then and continued on her way, feeling him being surrounded by the healing gel once more.
"You are not yet healed, my Chosen," Hathor cooed as she proceeded further into the cave, "once you are, I will strengthen our bond to you and begin once more to regain what is ours."
As Hathor felt the last of her contact with her Chosen fading, she looked around the room she had entered.
A beautiful woman, dressed in transparent robes, sat blankly on a throne. Her bracelet, decorated with a cat's head and red glowing eyes, dangled limply from her pale wrist. She made no move against Hathor, nor did she struggle, as Hathor tried to remove the bracelet.
Sparks from the cat's eyes snapped at Hathor's slender fingers and the Goa'uld Queen hissed, drawing back from the surprising pain. The woman, her eyes glazed and unseeing, made no sound. Hathor glared at the bracelet and then at the woman. With a sharp flick of her wrist, Hathor slapped the woman. Head lolling back, she made no move to avoid the blow.
"Ra is no longer here to help you," Hathor said in a low voice, "I will reclaim what is mine and watch you despair over the destruction of your reign here. You may watch me drain the temple's power away and take your people away for my army."
Hathor smiled demurely and reached over to adjust a glittering gold headband that hung on top of the catatonic woman's head. The woman's eyes glowed briefly but the gems on the headband flashed back and those eyes dulled once more.
"You may fight all you want, but it does you no good. We did not believe our good fortune when we had recovered our gifts from Ra back in Chulak. But here they are and here on your head it will stay, until I become strong enough to take your gifts." Hathor's fingers hovered over the bracelet once more, pausing when the fingers almost touched the cat's head.
"Your people will now only obey me. You may despair about that. And when my sweet Pharaoh awakens and is under my bonds, we will be too strong for you to stop us."
The woman's eyes glowed weakly once more then faded as the headband reacted. Hathor, watching this, laughed out loud, her voice echoing throughout the temple.
"You are not yet healed, my Chosen. Once you are, I will strengthen our bond to you and begin once more to regain what is ours."
Daniel heard the voice in his head like a soft whisper and then it faded. He wanted to scream, to do SOMETHING, but his hands felt like stone, his chest was still, and his eyes were unwilling to open.
He felt himself being picked up slightly, then dropped again, as Jack found none of his usual strength to carry his friend's supposedly lifeless body.
"God dammit," Jack whispered as he grabbed his left side with a hiss of pain. The ribs that had bothered him only a little before, were beginning to escalate to a non-stop reminder of the blast his body had taken when Hathor used her ribbon device on him, just after Dan....
"God dammit !" Jack said it in a voice Daniel had never heard before.
It frightened him as much as the thought that he might still be 'dead' when they returned him home, and he might be buried alive.
Jack, Daniel thought, his heart breaking at the sound of his friend grieving needlessly before him. God, why are you doing this to me ? Why do you let him suffer so?
Why can't he hear me?
Why can't he hear me?
The horrible thought of being buried alive returned and Daniel shuddered in his mind. The images of his parents, crushed by rubble, came unbidden like a vision of his own fate.
God, I can't die yet. Sha're. I CAN'T DIE YET!
Daniel tried again to draw in air and felt nothing in the way of progress. As he felt Jack tried to pick him up once more, Daniel despaired.
Jack took a deep breath and slipped his arms under Daniel's knees and around his shoulders to pick him up. As he willed his knees to lock and rise, Jack looked down at his friend again.
"Hang on, Danny. We're going home."
No, Jack. Look at me. Please ! Look at me ! I'm not dead ! I'm not ! Please ! LOOK AT ME !
The colonel paused as he looked at his friend. The gel had dried slightly and had begun to flake from Daniel's face and hair. Some still glistened under his closed eyes and Jack had to fight the urge to wipe it from his friend's face. He had indulged in his grief long enough. He....
Wait a minute.
Jack looked at Daniel again, a slight frown on the colonel's face as he studied Daniel once more. He lowered Daniel back down again, propping him against the box. With a shaking hand, Jack fingered the glistening liquid under the closed eyes.
They were tears.
"Daniel ?" Jack whispered in a stunned voice.
Daniel didn't respond, his head lolling slightly against the box. His chest was so still.
"O'Neill, you're losing it," Jack muttered, as he looked again at his fingers, damp with liquid, "probably that gel not dried off yet." After he had said that out loud though, the colonel paused, looked at his fingers, and then at Daniel again. He sniffed his fingers and gingerly touched them lightly to the tip of his tongue.
"No way," Jack breathed, his brown eyes lit up with a hope he didn't dare voice.
Jack moved closer and checked Daniel's chest. Nothing. There was no heartbeat, no rise and fall of breathing, nothing that would indicate that Jack had been mistaken with his assumption. But then, the tears....
"Danny ?" Jack whispered. "Danny ? Come on, Jackson. Are you in there ? Don't do this to me. Don't tell me I'm losing it here."
There was no response. Jack sighed as he wondered if he *was* losing it when suddenly he saw it, out of the corner of his eye.
A finger.... twitched.
"Daniel ?" Jack grabbed Daniel by the shoulders and gave him a shake. "Danny ? Come on. Breathe !"
The head lolled back and Jack saw the tears coming down from the closed eyelids now. Jack cursed as he wondered what could possibly be happening to Daniel.
The gel, it had to be the damned gel.
Jack pulled Daniel close to him and pried the young man's mouth open with his fingers. He grunted when he saw the gel flowing out of Daniel's mouth.
"Sorry about this, but I have a funny feeling this Jell-O doesn't belong in there, Danny boy," Jack muttered as he worked on a hunch. Steadying himself, Jack forced two fingers down Daniel's throat, using a classic first aid method for pulling out foreign objects. The gel was as foreign as anything Jack had ever known. With a grimace, Jack used his fingers to scoop out the gel. When he got the majority of it out, Jack placed his head on Daniel's chest to listen.
"God dammit, Daniel. You always have to take that extra step, don't you ?" Jack muttered, wondering if things were ever going to be easy for him and his team.
Jack repositioned himself, behind Daniel this time, his fists just under Daniel's ribs. With a quick heave, Jack started to push in on Daniel's chest in a Heimlich maneuver. It took a couple of pushes, but finally, Daniel's mouth opened and the yellow gel that was in his lungs were forced out.
Jack supported Daniel, leaning him against his shoulder and gave the young man a firm shake. For a long moment, Daniel didn't respond and Jack wondered if he HAD been mistaken, or if he was too late.
With a loud gasp, Daniel jerked upright - his eyes opened wide, his mouth opened wider in an effort to grab air into his starving lungs.
"Daniel !" Jack didn't know whether to laugh or cry or even start cursing as relief turned to worry when Daniel kept coughing. He rubbed Daniel's back, trying to help his friend, but Daniel was turning red in the face as he struggled to breathe.
"Hey, take it easy." Jack tried to steady his voice, as he tried to cope with the very fact that Daniel was alive.
Daniel was alive.
With a sudden burst of strength, Daniel grabbed Jack by his shirt, hunching over coughing, his head bowed so low that Jack thought he was passing out.
"Hey, take it easy. Just cough it out, Danny," Jack admonished as he rubbed Daniel's back again. Daniel heaved as he tried to force the rest of the gel out.
"I'm... not... dead," Daniel whispered.
"...I know, I know," Jack murmured as he gripped Daniel's shoulders, "thank God. I know, Dan..."
"I'm not dead." Daniel's body began to shake as sobs racked his body. He clung to Jack's fatigues, trembling as if he were cold.
Alarmed, Jack wrapped his arms around his friend.
"Hey, it's alright. You're okay. You're going to be-"
"I couldn't... I couldn't speak. I tried... Oh GOD, I tried. I... couldn't... mo... move. I... I... I'm not dead." Daniel whimpered as he trembled. "Don't... bury... bury me, Jack."
A chill ran down Jack's spine as he realized that Daniel had been aware of everything that was going on. God, if I didn't.... He could have been buried alive and not been able to do anything about it.
Daniel whimpered again as if he could tell what Jack was thinking.
"Hurts," Daniel whispered as Jack rocked his friend slowly in an effort to calm him down.
Worried, Jack pulled up Daniel's shirt. To his dismay, he saw the bullet wound beginning to bleed sluggishly.
"The... gel," Daniel said in a breathless voice, "Hat... she said it would cure... me, but not... immediately. Then... then she would take me. Jack I... " Daniel gasped as the first wave of pain returned.
"Shit," Jack said as he pressed his hands down on the wound, trying to stop the bleeding. Already, the blood was seeping through the colonel's fingers.
Daniel stared at the blood dispassionately. "It was... worse before, Jack." His voice slurred as the pain overrode his awareness again. "It was quicker. I think... I think the longer I was in... there... the more the wound began to... heal."
"Don't talk," Jack ordered as he pulled off his jacket and began to rip strips of fabric to make bandages. Daniel just stared at Jack now, his fear gone as the strange sense of being far away took over. "Just stay awake, Danny. We're going to get you out."
Daniel nodded weakly. Jack was ready to bind Daniel's wound when suddenly he gasped out loud.
"She's coming !" Daniel cried out.
"Captain Carter !" Teal'c called out as he failed to grab Carter before she dropped out of sight.
"Watch that first step, Teal'c," Carter called out weakly, "it's a doozy."
A doozy ?
Teal'c cocked his head in puzzlement, but entered anyway, stooping slightly to step in through the low door.
Carter winced as she got up slowly, rubbing her rear where she had landed hard.
"I am sorry. I forgot to warn you about the step," Leyla said anxiously, "are you alright ?"
"Yeah," Carter muttered, "just my pride is wounded." She didn't see the drop that was six feet. How Leyla jumped down so effortlessly, Carter would never know. "Teal'c, be careful of the..."
The Jaafa dropped down neatly, landing on both feet and straightening up again just as quickly.
"The drop," Carter's voice trailed off when she saw that her warning was useless.
"A doozy ?" Teal'c repeated, eyebrow up at the phrase.
"We must go further or she may detect us." Leyla motioned them to hurry.
This time though, Carter refused to budge until she got some answers. She grabbed Leyla by the elbow, stopping the villager from going further.
"I'm sorry," Carter apologized for her sudden move, "but you must understand that this is all very... unusual. And we do need to find our friends again."
"Yes, yes. I know." Leyla nodded, showing that she had understood the urgency. "But it is not safe here. We MUST move further away from the village and the temple."
"Because Mistress can find you and change you if she finds us disloyal," Leyla said in an urgent voice.
"Hathor can only control men," Carter tried to explain, "Teal'c and I are immune."
"Perhaps the Hat... Hathor you knew, but she has found a way to control all." Leyla pulled at Carter's sleeve again. "Please. She is not strong enough yet, but she will be. We must hurry !"
This new piece of information stunned Carter enough that the rest of her questions were forgotten, as she was swept up in Leyla's worries. Without any further protest, Carter and Teal'c followed Leyla into the dark tunnels they had entered through the stone building.
"Who's coming ?" Jack demanded, grabbing Daniel's arm and giving him a shake.
"Hathor," the younger man gasped as he found himself sliding down against the box. Jack grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him back upright.
"You can... sense this ?" Jack asked tersely as he gave Daniel a shake to help him to get it together.
"Her voice." Daniel was fading fast, as quickly as the blood was beginning to flow. He looked at Jack silently. The two men knew then that Daniel wasn't going to be able to make the trip back to the Stargate like this.
"Is she... close ?" Jack asked quietly as he thought of what he could do.
"I... I don't think so. Her voice..." Daniel's voice trailed off as his eyes glazed over.
"Daniel !" Jack gave the scientist another shake.
His eyes focussed on Jack again.
"If I concentrate real hard," Daniel said faintly, "her voice is not so... distracting." Frightened eyes looked at the colonel. "Jack, it's like... like I couldn't hear anything else when she's in my... head." Daniel slid sideways as weakness came over him. Jack grabbed Daniel and awkwardly pulled him to lean against him.
"Daniel, there's no way I can get you back to the Stargate in..."
"I know," Daniel sighed as he tried to sit back up. He was silent for a moment. Then he looked at Jack solemnly.
"What ?" Jack stared at his friend. Daniel weakly gripped Jack's arm.
"Leave me, Jack. Even if you could get me out, she might catch up and I can't..." Daniel blinked away the frustrated tears that threatened to spill. "I can't guarantee that I wouldn't do anything that would betray you... like when I... blocked that shot." Daniel coughed as blood trickled down his mouth. Whatever healing the gel had started was breaking down before Jack's eyes.
"I couldn't stop... myself, Jack." Daniel gripped Jack's arm a bit harder. "I saw you aiming for her and.... something inside me was screaming. I couldn't watch... I couldn't watch her die, Jack."
The colonel didn't say anything.
"Oh God, Jack. I'm so sorry." Daniel's hand loosened its grip and Jack grabbed the hand before it dropped.
"Daniel..." Jack didn't know what to say. The young scientist sat up straighter and gripped Jack's shoulders. He looked directly at Jack and repeated what he had just said.
"Jack... leave me."
The colonel, after a long moment of thought, nodded.
Daniel breathed a sigh of relief and mumbled something but then Jack stopped him.
"I'm leaving, but only to get that bitch, Danny," Jack told him. Daniel started to protest but Jack gave him another shake. "I'm going to put you back in the gel thing, Daniel."
"No," Daniel protested faintly, his hands clenched tight on Jack's jacket.
"Yes." Jack didn't look too happy with the idea either. "Way I figure it, that it's the only thing that's going to heal you. Long enough and then I can get you out of here."
"No," Daniel pleaded with his friend, "Jack, I can't... God, don't make me go back in there."
The colonel sighed, his heart heavy, but he knew that this damned gel was the one good chance for healing Daniel. Already Daniel's shirt was soaked in his blood and the scientist was barely able to cling on to Jack's arm.
"Jack, no..." Daniel begged the colonel, but saw it was no use.
"Do you trust me ?" Jack asked suddenly.
"You ? Yes, of course," Daniel said in surprise. The colonel smiled at the answer.
"Then will you trust me to come back and get you, Danny ? I won't let her get you. It'll be okay. I just want a live Daniel Jackson to rescue."
The scientist shuddered, bowing his head as he thought of having to go back into the gel. His head down, he could see the droplets of blood trickling down to his clothes. Daniel swallowed.
There really was no choice at all.
"Okay," Daniel whispered, his voice broken, "promise ?"
"Promise, Danny," Jack whispered and helped Daniel up to his feet. The scientist clung to the colonel, his legs shaking. Jack helped him over to the box. Before he could help Daniel in, the young man froze.
"You'll come back ?"
"I swear, Danny. Nothing's going to stand in the way of my getting you back. Just get better, okay?" Jack gave Daniel's shoulder a reassuring squeeze, as if to say I swear, Danny. No way in hell am I going to just leave you here. I'm coming back.
Jack helped Daniel into the box, lowering him until he was sitting up in the gel. The older man grimaced as he felt the heavy gel cling on to him. Daniel was shaking badly, holding onto Jack's arms for dear life as he closed his eyes.
"It'll be okay," Jack lied. Even he wasn't sure what would happen, but he knew the gel had been healing Daniel before and Jack hoped that it would do the same again.
Lower and lower Daniel went, his head cradled in Jack's hands. Just as the gel began to seep into his mouth, Daniel's eyes flew open in panic. Jack whispered reassuring words as he lowered Daniel further.
As the numbing effect of the gel returned, Jack felt Daniel's hands slip from his arms and he paused, wondering if something was wrong. A weak squeeze on his arms before slipping down to the gel told Jack, however, that this was to be expected.
For a brief moment, Jack wanted to pull Daniel back up. It was hard for him to watch the gel slowly pulling Daniel in, feel his body relax, watch his chest falter for a moment, then stop altogether.
"God dammit, Danny," Jack murmured, his eyes glued to his friend's face as he watched the furrowed brow relax into unconsciousness. He swallowed and continued to ease Daniel to the bottom.
Suddenly, Daniel jerked and grabbed Jack's arms once more in panic, almost pulling the colonel in with him. He thrashed about, despite the weight of the gel, his eyes opened in stark fear.
"Daniel!" Jack cried out, his hands reaching down to steady the man, to calm him. "It's okay. It's okay, remember?"
The colonel didn't know if Daniel heard him, but the younger man suddenly stilled, eyes glued to Jack. Then his hands let go and Daniel drifted down to the bottom, eyes closed again. Jack stared down at the bottom of the box, his hands still in the gel. He finally pulled them out and staggered back. Jack fell to the ground hard, exhausted.
"God help me if I'm wrong," Jack whispered in a broken voice, his mind unable to erase the image of the fear in Daniel's eyes as he had forced the man down into the gel, literally drowning him. Jack rubbed his eyes wearily then pulled his hands away from his face with a grimace. His hands and clothes were dripping with the stuff.
"Gross," Jack muttered.
A sound from outside got Jack's attention - he froze as he realized it was Hathor and she was coming this way.
The tunnel Carter and Teal'c had dropped into was long, twisting and turning up, down, left and right to a point that Carter lost track of how long it was and began to just wish it would stop.
"We're almost there," Leyla whispered.
Where? Carter wondered once more.
Abruptly, Leyla stopped in front of a rock wall. Carter groaned mentally to herself, figuring that they had reached a dead end and must have made a wrong turn somewhere. She didn't relish turning back and starting over.
"We're here," Leyla said, turning around to Carter and Teal'c. Carter noted that she didn't try to approach Teal'c at all. Her conversation was always directed to Carter. Teal'c didn't seem to mind. He just stood there, listening patiently, with one eye glued to the tunnel from where they had just come.
"Leyla..." Carter waved her hands helplessly at the rock wall. "I don't see anything..."
The villager pulled out a bracelet, slipped it on her wrist and then placed her palm on the rock wall. The tunnel shook slightly as, to the team's amazement, the rock wall...flickered.
"A hologram," Carter murmured. She couldn't believe it. It had looked so solid, so detailed, with dusty cracks on its black surface.
The wall disappeared and Leyla stood there calmly, waiting for Carter and Teal'c to step through.
"She is gone, otherwise we would not have been able to come in. Come, I will take you to where my mistress sleeps."
With that, Leyla stepped through the new opening. Carter stood at its threshold, feeling very much as she had the first time she stepped through the Stargate. She stood there, eyes searching for where the hologram would have been projected from, but there was nothing.
Teal'c stood, behind Carter, a raised eyebrow indicating that he was wondering why Carter just stood there. After a moment and a second call from Leyla, Teal'c gave Carter a gentle nudge, which shook the captain out of her daze. The captain gave Teal'c a sheepish grin, feeling very much like the time Jack had shoved her through the Stargate when she took too long, and stepped through.
As the warm air of the new place lifted strands of hair away from her face, Carter stood still once more as she saw what was on the other side. Her mouth opened, the captain could think of only one thing to say.
The room was dark but not dark enough that Jack could disappear, so, when Hathor's personal guards came in, it was a quick fight. In a matter of seconds, Jack was forced to kneel down by two Jaafa, in front of the one person he sorely wished he could shoot right now.
The Queen Goa'uld smiled demurely as she stood there with her two servant girls, studying the human she had once favored to become her First Prime. The human said nothing, just glaring at her, still struggling against the iron grip of her Jaafa while he knelt before her.
Yes, the human would have made a fine First Prime.
He had shot her Chosen, however.
"If you had put down your primitive arms sooner, my Chosen would have already been by our side, helping us." Hathor's eyes glowed with displeasure. "Now he must sleep until he is healed."
Jack laughed bitterly as he heard this. "You think he will stay with you, bitch." Jack glowered at the alien. "He despises you. You won't be able to control him for long."
"I will, if he comes willingly." Hathor smiled as she approached the box where her Chosen slept. "Then our thoughts are his thoughts. Our actions are his actions. He will not leave us and will stay to cherish us and protect us as he had promised before."
"What's with all this 'us' stuff ?" Jack retorted, wincing as the Jaafa tightened their grip on his arms, pulling them back painfully. "Sounds like you're already a couple in there. Daniel doesn't go for threesomes."
Hathor looked at Jack silently and then nodded to her servant girl. The girl meekly approached Jack, apology in her black eyes, and slapped him.
Jack flinched as flesh struck flesh, but stilled his head from snapping back. He steadied his eyes at Hathor. "I'm going to say it again," Jack said slowly, "he's not going to stay with you. No way in hell."
"Hell?" Hathor smiled as she approached Jack this time. "You do not know hell, human. Perhaps I should have you take her place so you may taste it." With that, she slapped Jack hard. Jack's head whipped back from the blow. With a roar, he snapped his head back, lunging for the Queen. The Jaafa, taken off guard, lost their grip and Jack was able to finally get his hands around Hathor's throat.
The Queen, taken by surprise, gasped as she fell to the ground. Jack saw her hand come up, armed with the ribbon device and grabbed her wrist just as the blast came. He twisted the wrist until the device was aimed at the guards. The beam flashed and the guards were suddenly down. The servant girls screamed, fled to the corners of the dark room, and hid there as they watched their Mistress choke under Jack's grip.
"Human..." Hathor rasped as her eyes glowed furiously at the colonel, "release me."
"Do you think if I squeezed tighter," Jack said in a dangerously quiet voice, "you alone will die or does this 'us' stuff apply to death, too ?"
"You do not want to hurt me." Hathor's voice dropped into a soft, liquid tone. A sweet scent floated out from her and to Jack.
Jack grunted as he struggled to take hold of his thoughts. He could feel himself doubting what he was doing, his hands itching to let go of her throat. Then he remembered Daniel.
Jack remembered how Daniel was shot because of her.
Jack remembered how Daniel was afraid because of her.
Jack remembered how Daniel was now trapped in that nightmarish liquid because of his wounds, because of her.
Jack remembered how Daniel told him to leave because of her.
Jack remembered how Daniel's eyes were filled with fear as Jack pushed him down that liquid because of her.
It was all her.
The hands that wanted to unclench tightened once more. Hathor's eyes widened as she realized her efforts to seduce Jack's will to hers were now useless. Something else more powerful was taking over his consciousness.
"This is something I can learn to live with," Jack breathed as he tightened his grip a bit more. The Queen coughed - her eyes glowed as she struggled to remove his hands. Even her enhanced strength from the Goa'uld was useless against the fury Jack was feeling right now.
"Say good night," Jack whispered as he readied himself for his final move.
A sound of footsteps behind Jack distracted him, but before he could turn around, he saw a light glowing just above his head. By the time Jack realized it was one of the glowing glasses, it had made contact with his head and then it didn't matter anymore.
When Jack came to, his hands were being tied around his back by the newly-awakened guards. Before he could struggle, a shadow loomed over him and Jack snarled at who he thought it was. When he did look up though, the colonel was taken back.
It was Daniel.
With glazed eyes and looking like he could barely stand, Daniel's arms dangled limply by his sides, one hand still clutching the glass that he had used to hit Jack. Hathor laughed as she approached Daniel, one hand caressing his cheek. She looked at Jack with a smug expression.
"You had already lost him, human," Hathor said with a smile as she watched the colonel's face pale.
"Daniel," Jack called out to his friend, but the man didn't hear him, "Daniel !"
"He will not hear you," Hathor said. She frowned when she noted the bloody shirt. "You have not healed completely, Chosen. Were we not in such a need, we would not have called to you to rise."
"How considerate of you," Jack commented sarcastically. Hathor whipped her head back to Jack, hand up to slap him. She paused, however, glancing back at Daniel. Her smile returned as she thought of something better.
"You said that we would never be able to keep our Chosen by our side," Hathor said as she walked around Daniel, one hand tracing his shoulders as she did. Jack wanted to throw up at the sight, but just swallowed, continuing to glare at the Queen Goa'uld.
"Do you remember what we said ?" Hathor said, coming closer to Jack's ear. She enjoyed how the human flinched as he thought she was going to release her pheromones on him again. She knew, however, that it wouldn't work. His fury had both surprised her and intrigued her.
Hathor wanted to see just how strong his anger was.
"Do you remember what we said ?"
Jack knelt there, saying nothing. One of the Jaafa guards muttered something and lifted his staff weapon to hit Jack but Hathor stopped him.
"Let us remind you then, human. We said if he was willing to come under, we would never lose him." Hathor went up to Daniel again, whispering something into the man's ear, stroking his hair at the same time.
"Don't you touch him, bitch," Jack hissed. The Jaafa kicked Jack painfully when he spoke, but it didn't stop him. "You come near him, you hurt him, and I'll snap your neck so fast, you wouldn't even have time to glow your damned eyes !"
Hathor said nothing. She just stepped away and said something in her language. To Jack's surprise, Daniel blinked and focussed his eyes on Jack.
"Jack," Daniel moaned. He held his head with one hand, looking at the glass grasped in the other. "Oh God, I'm sorry. I..."
"It's okay, Daniel," Jack said quietly, his eyes glued to the young man, "she can't hold you forever."
Hathor laughed softly at Jack's claim.
"She- I-" Daniel looked at the glass again, dropping it to the ground. "I... I SAW you fighting her. I wanted you to kill her, but then all of the sudden I wanted to kill you." Daniel moaned, dropping to his knees.
"Daniel !" Jack lunged forward, instinctively wanting to catch the young man but his tied arms and the tight grip of the Jaafa stopped him. He could only watch as Daniel dropped to the ground, kneeling with his head on his knees.
"God, Jack," Daniel's muffled voice continued, "I'm so sorry."
Hathor motioned the guards to pull Jack back. She approached Daniel, her hands on his back as she knelt down beside him. The young man jerked back, but was too weak to go anywhere as Hathor moved closer.
"I will kill your friend, Chosen."
"Yes. I will kill him right in front of your eyes." Hathor waved to her guards. The Jaafa nodded. One Jaafa stepped away from Jack. Hathor lifted her hand with the ribbon device and aimed it towards the ceiling. With a brief flash, the device sparked. Suddenly, the room lit up from a gel filled dome that was on the ceiling. Jack now saw the hieroglyphics on the walls, the statues of lionesses that stood in each corner and the columns that lined the box, which stood in the center of the room. It was an archaeologist's paradise.
Daniel saw none of this, however. His eyes were glued to his friend, who was now being tied to one of the columns, his arms awkwardly pulled back around it. The Jaafa then walked around to the front of the colonel and readied their staff weapons.
"No !" Daniel shouted, struggling to get up to stop them, but the mere pulling of his sleeve by Hathor was enough to make him fall. "No ! Jack !"
"It's okay, Danny," Jack said calmly, his eyes locking with the younger man, "just fight her. Don't let her win."
"Jack !" Daniel moaned as he watched the Jaafa take aim. The staff weapons blossomed with a spark and then with two quick bursts, they opened fire.
"Holy Hannah," Carter said as she saw what was under her feet.
The room she entered was a cave, half the size of a football stadium. The walls were smooth and Carter guessed that this cave was man-made, but the floor was what got her attention.
The entire floor was filled with the iridescent yellow gel. Except Carter wasn't sinking in it, she was floating above it, mere centimeters above the shimmering surface.
Teal'c looked down, raised an eyebrow at the gel, then at Leyla. Finally, he spoke to the villager, "Intriguing."
"There is a air shield that prevents us from falling down into the source," Leyla explained, a bit surprised at the two's amazement, "it is only the life light."
"Only the life light," Carter repeated in a daze.
"Yes." Leyla wondered what was wrong with them. "It heals us, protects us, gives us light from the darkness."
"Oh man," Carter murmured. Suddenly, she stared at Leyla. "Heals ? You mean like from injuries ?"
A little hope seeped into the captain. We may be able to heal Daniel. Hathor might have taken Daniel to heal him in this !
"Yes. It slows us down." Leyla waved at them impatiently.
"Slows you down ?" Carter echoed, feeling much like a parrot. She and Teal'c gingerly walked across the room of shiny gel. She half expected herself to suddenly fall into the thick mess, but Leyla walked across it as if it were a tiled floor.
"Slows our life appearances. It has been so since our Mistress had come to be. Ra had granted her..."
"Ra ?" Carter interrupted - a chill went down her spine. "Ra was here ?"
"Oh no." Leyla shook her head. She arrived at the other end of the room and waited for the two to catch up. "Only his consort Bastet."
"Bastet ?" Carter asked as she reached the villager. Teal'c nodded as he recalled the name.
"Daniel Jackson had mentioned her once. But he said she was the daughter of Ra." Teal'c tilted his head towards Leyla. "I was not aware of another consort named the same as his daughter."
"No, she was Bastet. Before, she was Hathor." Leyla waved her hand with the bracelet, at the walls and another opening appeared. She nodded, satisfied. "Good, she has left. We can enter now."
"What ? Wait a minute. Back up a sec," Carter said. She shook her head as she saw Teal'c and Leyla both take a step back into the room, looking at Carter with puzzled expressions. "No, I mean go back to what you were saying. How could Bastet be Hathor ? Hathor is controlling your village right now."
"Bastet was Hathor and Hathor was Sakhmet. Now Sakhmet returns as Hathor and Bastet is just Bastet." That was Leyla's mysterious reply. "Come ! We are near my Mistress' prison. Hathor has left. We can enter the temple freely now."
Carter stood there for a moment shaking her head, but followed Leyla anyway. Teal'c glanced back at the room with the gel and then followed.
"Jack !" Daniel screamed as the blasts struck. He closed his eyes, unwilling to watch the death of his friend. Hathor laughed softly and Daniel forced himself to look.
"Jack," Daniel whispered as he gaped at the two burning holes.
They were to the left and right of Jack.
Jack was alive. Not a mark on him.
"What are you trying to pull, bitch ?" Jack hissed. He was glad he was alive, but the colonel figured that this was only the beginning. He saw the haunted look in Daniel's eyes and knew Hathor was probably enjoying every minute of the torment. "If you're going to kill me, get it the hell over with !"
"No," Daniel whimpered as he watched the Jaafa readied their staff weapons again.
"You can save him, Chosen," Hathor whispered.
Daniel whirled around to the Goa'uld Queen. "What did you say ?"
"You can spare him if you do what I ask," Hathor said in a hushed voice. She touched his face softly, laughing as Daniel pulled back from her.
"I- I don't understand."
"Don't listen to her, Danny. She's going to kill me anyway, I-"
"What ?" Daniel's voice trailed off as Hathor cupped his face with her hands. He found himself unable to pull away as her eyes locked with his.
"Submit willingly like before and stay with us. We will release your friend. Then you will return with us to Chulak."
"That is the biggest load of crap I ever heard !" Jack yelled, struggling to undo his bonds. His hands were itching to wrap themselves around her pale throat again.
"What guarantee do I have that you would keep your word ?" Daniel asked abruptly.
"Danny..." Jack whispered, stunned. Rage colored his face as he realized that Daniel was seriously considering the idea. "What are you, crazy ? Forget it ! Don't even think about it, Danny ! You can't-"
"Remember how it was ?" Hathor whispered as she ran a slender hand up Daniel's arm, enjoying the sight of goosebumps that followed her touch. "Your will was still your own, but your heart was with us, Chosen."
Daniel nodded, remembering that he had had some awareness of what was going on, even if he had falsely believed that he was in love with her. If he could maintain the pretense, just until Jack and the others left, then he could escape.
Looking at Hathor, realizing how beautifully her hair shone in the light, how her eyes gleamed hungrily at him, Daniel seriously doubted it.
But he had to try.
"Daniel..." Jack's voice trailed off when the younger man slowly nodded. Hathor's laughter rang out across the room.
"Remember your promise, Jack," Daniel said faintly as he felt Hathor's hand pulling him up, guiding him back to the box. He paused there, remembering the terrifying feeling of the gel smothering him with its thickness.
"Daniel..." Jack frantically tried to get the man to look at him. Daniel had his eyes closed as he sat down in the gel again, before he gasped as the numbing effect returned to his aching chest.
"Look at me, my Chosen," Hathor commanded. She smiled as the man opened his eyes. She leaned closer until her face hovered in front of him.
Daniel shuddered, knowing what would come next. Her voice that would cling to his thoughts, the scent that would make him forget everything including Sha're, the feeling of existing only for her.
Could his decision have been wrong ?
Hathor must have seen the doubt in his eyes. She smiled, touching his face in an almost humanly tender way.
"You can command the Jaafa yourself once you submit. You can order them to release your friends once you submit." Hathor leaned even closer as she spoke.
"Kiss me, my Chosen. Return to our side as our sweet Pharaoh."
"Daniel, don't !"
The ancient texts Daniel had studied in his school years had always mentioned the temptations of hell, both painful to see and yet too painful to look away from. He remembered myths that talked of souls that burned just for looking at this hell, their cries of fear that echoed forever in purgatory.
Daniel felt like he was looking into this hell right now.
"Promise ?" Daniel whispered as his eyes closed for a moment. Then he looked at Jack, remembering something he had done when he was in the gel and hoping it would work again.
"Yes, Chosen," Hathor said, believing he was talking to her, but Jack knew better.
"Yeah, Danny. Promise," Jack whispered. His heart ached as he watched Daniel gave him a shaky smile before turning back to Hathor.
"Then will you trust me to come back and get you, Danny ? I won't let her get you. It'll be okay. I just want a live Daniel Jackson to rescue."
"Promise," Daniel whispered as he looked at Hathor again. She opened her mouth slightly and Daniel could see the pheromones that he hadn't seen before when she had first infiltrated SGC so long ago. He shuddered as the distance shortened and he forced himself to open his mouth. As his lips tentatively touched hers, Daniel began the chant he had started when Hathor had first put him in the gel.
Just remember Carter, Jack, and Teal'c. Don't remember her. Just remember the team. Remember Jack.
Repeating this over and over again in his mind, Daniel kissed Hathor.
The voice returned as if it had never left in the first place. He could hear the pleasure in the voice as the soft tones filtered to his consciousness.
You have returned to us, Chosen.
No he hadn't. He wasn't her Chosen.
You will cherish us. Protect us. Love us.
No ! He was going to hide from her. Escape from her.
Fight her !
Fight her !
Only love her.
There was never anyone else.
How could he think there was anyone else ?
Do not fight us, Chosen.
No, he wasn't going to fight her.
Remember us, Chosen.
Remember her. Remember your Queen. She is the only thing that...
Remember your friends.
Oh God, remember how he looked when the gun fired. Remember. REMEMBER !
"I won't let her get you. It'll be okay. I just want a live Daniel Jackson to rescue."
Remember your friends.
And just remember.
It'll be okay.
Right, Jack ?
The woman on the throne made no move to greet the newcomers. Dull eyes, capped by a metal headband, stared back at Carter as the captain stepped forward.
"This... this is your mistress ?" Carter asked. Her voice echoed like bells across the new room they had entered. It was huge, the ceiling beyond where her eyes could reach. The walls were mad-made smooth, black and shiny as if silk rather than stone.
"Yes," Leyla said softly as if fearing her Mistress would awaken from just the tone of her voice. She went over and tenderly pulled the catatonic woman up so she would be sitting straighter. Leyla brushed back her hair from the face but didn't remove the headband. She set the arms back on the armrests of the throne, but didn't remove the bracelet.
"What has happened to your Mistress ?" Teal'c asked, noting that no visible wounds were on the body, just a blank look on the woman's face. The head lolled back every so often under the weight of the headband and Leyla would just tilt it back up again.
"Hathor. She came through the Gods' Doorway, claiming to be Ra's consort." Leyla paused as her dark eyes narrowed with the memory. "She was lying."
Carter didn't want to correct her. Remembering back after Hathor had fled, Daniel had researched it further. Hathor was personified as Ra's mate in the myths.
"She took the symbol of the lion and the cat, claim it as hers and then imprisoned my Mistress Bastet in here. In her own temple."
"This was her temple ?" Carter asked, making no move to come any closer. There was something about the woman's eyes that unnerved her. Even though she was in a coma-like state, the eyes held some sadness behind the half-shut lashes. It gave Carter the chills.
"Yes, Hathor built a new one in the village so she may watch over us." Leyla frowned. "My Mistress did not believe in that. She felt she shouldn't interfere with our affairs unless a crime was committed."
"A very wise woman," Teal'c commented seriously, "an unexpected woman for Ra." The Jaafa glanced over to Carter, who agreed.
"An understanding leader for this planet. Somehow doesn't match the kind of mate for Ra." Carter murmured.
"Ra respected her wisdom," Leyla continued on as if she didn't hear them, "gave her many gifts when he came to see her." She fingered her bracelet. Carter began to realize that it matched the one the woman had on her own wrist. "And in turn, my Mistress would give them to us. She taught us how to use them." Leyla cried out softly as she found a speck of dirt on her Mistress' robes. "But we knew not enough to help protect her. Hathor took her by surprise, converting our men into her slaves, using their brute strength to take her prisoner. Mistress would never hurt them. She tried to fight back, but..." Leyla covered her face and began to cry.
"Leyla..." Carter placed her hands on the villager's shoulders. "How can we help ?"
"Hathor is sure to have healed her new Pharaoh. Afterwards, she will use him to create more of her kind and make more Jaafa from us." Leyla looked up at Carter wildly. "You must help me stop her !"
"How ?" Teal'c asked. Leyla looked at him with surprise.
"By killing her Pharaoh, of course."
"What ?" Carter dropped her hands from Leyla's shoulders. "But that's Dan... We can't do that ?"
"You will not help us ?" Leyla pleaded.
"No ! I mean, yes. We'll help each other, but not that way !" Carter shook her head.
"The only way to stop Hathor is to kill her Chosen before she can make more slaves from us !" Leyla cried out.
"We are not going to kill Daniel Jackson," Teal'c told her, his voice serious, brooking no further argument.
"Then... we are doomed," Leyla sighed, her shoulders slumping in defeat. She looked at her Mistress again and cried.
"What about killing Hathor ?" Carter suggested.
"We would need to kill our people before we could even reach her. Her control over them is incredible. They would rather die than have harm come to her."
"Yeah," Carter murmured, remembering Daniel going in front of Jack before the bullet struck. The young man must have been under her control again at that point.
"Hathor knew you were coming. She was going to choose another Pharaoh after another few moons. Then she sensed her Chosen coming through the Doorway and my people were spared that torment. But she needed to return here to regain her control over the other men."
"How ?" Carter demanded.
"The life light," Leyla answered, "it increases her power."
"Thus adding to her Esper ability," Carter guessed, "so she... eats this stuff ?" Carter made a face. The gel didn't look too appetizing.
"Of course not. She would sleep in it or use my Mistress' gifts."
Leyla pointed to a statue of a sleeping cow that was hidden behind the throne. "It takes the life light and goes into her body."
"Absorption by conversion," Carter murmured.
"I do not know your strange words," Leyla sighed, "if my Mistress could take some, she would be able to fight her way from the prison Hathor has placed her in."
"Why couldn't you ?" Carter wanted to know.
"We can not open the way." Leyla showed them the cow's head. A small symbol was on its forehead.
"A Jaafa tattoo," Teal'c said.
"Yes, only Hathor or a Jaafa may open it. But what Jaafa under her control, would open the way for her enemy?" Leyla despaired.
"I see your point." Carter murmured, a bit frustrated.
"My... point ?"
"Perhaps," Teal'c stepped forward, the light hitting his gold tattoo like a beacon, "I would be able to open the way for your Mistress then."
"Yes !" Carter stood up in her excitement. "It could work. God, you're a genius, Teal'c !"
"The symbol is of the rival gods," Leyla said doubtfully, "I do not know..."
"We will know soon enough." Teal'c approached the statue and found the switches on its sides. Flicking them open, the statue glowed its eyes and a column that looked similar to the DHD arose in front of the woman. It stood as tall as Carter, the top opening with a visor-like attachment on it.
"I believe I must show my tattoo in here," Teal'c said calmly and easily stooped over to place his face over the visor.
"Teal'c," Carter hedged, "I should check to see if it's okay-"
"There is no time," Teal'c said as the column began to rumble. A whine was emitted from the column and the two women standing next to it instinctively backed away. Suddenly, Teal'c stiffened, his hands grasping the sides of the pedestal.
"Teal'c, what is it ? Are you alright ?" Carter asked anxiously.
The Jaafa didn't answer. He just opened his mouth and began to scream.
Jack was dragged into a cell, a hallway away from the room where Daniel slept. Hathor smiled sweetly as she caressed his cheek, pulling her hand back when Jack tried to bite it. The colonel was bound in chains, attached to the walls - his calves were locked through metal rings on the floor, forcing the older man into a painful kneeling position.
"You will die very slowly, human," Hathor breathed, her eyes glowing once more.
Jack stared at Hathor, not really surprised. "You were never going to let me go anyway. You just wanted him to believe..."
"If you think we would allow the one who harmed my Chosen and who could take him away to go unpunished, then you are a greater fool than we had first believed."
"He'll never stay under your control." Jack tried to sound confident.
"He will, once he kills you." Hathor laughed at the expression on Jack's face. "Yes, once I have him kill you with his own hands, I will release the bond on him."
"So that he may remember and then despair." Hathor's eyes glowed brighter with anticipation. "Once he is torn apart with sadness, I will take him during his weakness and he would never be able to return to his own will again."
"Bitch," Jack whispered. His eyes turned into black coals. "BITCH !" He tried to reach her but the irons on his legs cut into his muscles painfully and all the colonel could do was roar in his rage. Hathor's laughter grew louder as she enjoyed the man's anger, flowing out of him uselessly.
"I will see you watch your own friend kill you. You may die, knowing the despair he will suffer," Hathor hissed. She barked at her Jaafa and the guards left.
Moments later, they returned. The Jaafa were half-supporting Daniel between them. The young man looked pale, but the blood on his shirt was dry. He was no longer bleeding.
Jack moaned to himself when he saw Daniel's eyes. They were glazed over, focussed only on Hathor.
"Chosen." Hathor caressed his cheek. Daniel smiled at her.
"My Queen. I have healed thanks to you."
"Yes. And I now wish for you to do something for me." Hathor had the guards hand over a heavy twist of rope. Jack froze when Daniel accepted it so easily.
"Anything, my Queen."
Oh God, Danny.
"Kill him." Hathor nudged him over to Jack. The younger man looked at Jack for a moment and then at Hathor. He smiled. Hathor laughed and went over to Jack. She boldly kissed the top of Jack's head. Then she left the room with her guards.
"I shall return with a... gift for you, my Chosen." The door shut and the room was once more engulfed in darkness.
"Daniel-" Jack whispered. He saw no recognition in Daniel's eyes.
Daniel didn't say a word. He lifted his hand, grasping the thick coil of rope. Abruptly, he swung it down hard into Jack's flesh.
The sound of rope swishing through the air before it struck echoed in his head.
Who was making that sound ?
Whose hand held the rope ?
He couldn't tell.
He couldn't... remember.
A voice in his head kept telling him how pleased she was with what he was doing. Yes, he was doing a good job. An excellent job and soon he would be rewarded.
The rope struck again.
Remember us, my Chosen.
He was supposed to remember...
Why couldn't he remember ?
The rope struck again.
Hathor smiled as she felt her Chosen and his obedient actions in the other room. She stroked the statue that was beside her in her personal chambers and thought of how nice it would be to bring her Chosen back to Chulak.
"My army would be tenfold," Hathor purred, feeling quite pleased with herself.
Suddenly, the gems filled with the glowing gel flickered as if there had been a power surge. Hathor looked up around her chambers with narrowed eyes. The gems were attached to the ceiling, the gel pumped from the original temple.
"It could not be," Hathor said in a loud and angry voice. She couldn't believe it. Surely the woman could not have been able to....
"Jaafa !" Hathor called for her guards from outside her chambers. The guards promptly entered and knelt before her.
"Bring us five of our men. We must return to the mountains !"
Teal'c screamed, his body tensed as pain coursed through his body like electricity. The Jaafa didn't pull away from the device, though. He clutched the sides as if it meant his life if he didn't, though it looked more like it would mean his life if he did.
"Teal'c !" Carter shouted, horrified. She grabbed him by the shoulders with the intention of pulling him free. A jolt ran up her arm and she was flung back a few feet. Carter groaned, got back up and ran back to try again when Teal'c groaned.
"It has stopped singing," Leyla announced as the whining stopped. She watched worriedly as the Jaafa slowly pulled away from the device.
Carter went over and helped the large man up to his feet.
"Teal'c ?" Carter asked worriedly as she saw blood around the tattoo on his forehead.
"I believe I may have succeeded in opening the device," the Jaafa said in an unusually weak voice.
As he spoke, the device shuddered and the visor sank back. It became a smooth column, then it rose higher to the height of a human being. On the other side, a panel opened on its sides, revealing the device to be empty.
Leyla clapped her hands together in joy as she realized that it had worked. As Carter helped Teal'c regain his stability, she watched the villager help her Mistress up and over to the empty compartment. To her amazement, the panel closed, sealing the woman within, and the high pitched whine began once more.
"That's it ?" Carter whispered, watching as the column just stood there. "It will give my Mistress energy. Then it is up to her."
"What was that thing on her head ?" Carter remembered the headband.
"Hathor forced it on her, sealing her soul within. Only Hathor has the key for it. She used it in hopes of being able to take this." Leyla hesitantly handed over the bracelet she had on her own wrist.
"What is it ?" The bracelet was surprisingly light in Carter's hands.
"A Goa'uld key," Teal'c said in a stronger voice.
"A key ? To what ?" Carter asked as she returned the bracelet.
Leyla shrugged. "My key allows me into the temple. It senses for me if there are intruders inside before letting me in. I do not know what my Mistress' key opens."
"Obviously something that Hathor wants," Carter mused.
"A weapon," Teal'c theorized as Carter nodded in agreement.
The column opened and Teal'c caught the woman neatly in his arms. Following Leyla's instructions, he set her back on the throne. Carter took the woman's pulse, holding the fragile wrist between her two fingers, nodding as she reported the pulse to be steady.
"It looks good, for a... umm, Mistress. I don't know how pulses are for-" Suddenly, the hand twitched and grabbed Carter's. The captain yelped - turning in time to see the Mistress' eyes glow at her.
"I will kill you !" She seethed as she grabbed the headband with her other hand and snapped it off her head with surprising strength.
Jack flinched as the rope struck him on the chest again. He felt the fabric of his fatigues tear from the coarse coil. He took a deep breath and tried again.
"Daniel ! Daniel, you can fight this. You HAVE to fight this ! Come on, look at me ! Really, really look at me !"
Jack's heart sank, as he saw no response in Daniel's eyes. The man paused, looking down at his own hands. Jack winced as he saw the rope burns on Daniel's hands, but the man didn't seem to react. Something flickered across his blue eyes for a moment.
"Daniel ! Come on ! You have to listen to me. It's Jack ! Look at me. God dammit, lift your head and look at me !" Jack tried over and over again to get Daniel to listen. The images of what Hathor had said she planned ate away at his heart. Even if Carter and Teal'c could get him out, Jack might not be able to get Daniel. The prospect of leaving Daniel behind was too painful to consider. In fact, it wasn't an option.
Jack O'Neill wasn't going to leave ANYONE behind.
And if Jack died, the pain he suffered was going to be even worse for Daniel.
"Danny, god dammit. I promised I was going to get you out, didn't I ?" Jack whispered, "I can't do that alone."
The younger man stopped, his eyes widening only slightly, but Jack saw it and realized that Daniel was still fighting it.
"Daniel. Danny. I promised. Remember ? Look at me." Jack held his breath, almost shouting in relief when he saw the younger man lift his head to look at Jack blankly. It was a start. "I promised. Remember Danny ?"
"P-promise." Daniel's voice sounded forced.
"Yeah. God dammit, Danny. I don't break my promises. At least not recently. Don't make a liar out of me."
"Yeah. Promise. Remember ?"
Jack grinned, hissing as his arms and chest ached from the blows Daniel had unknowingly inflicted. That action made Daniel step back as his eyes focussed on Jack's wounds, peeking out of torn fatigues.
"Remember," Daniel choked out, his hands beginning to tremble. "I-I... remember... Hat... no... Jack."
"Daniel," Jack whispered, his chest aching with a pain that wasn't from the ropes, "oh God, Daniel. You're fighting it. Good boy. You can do it."
"Jack., Daniel moaned as he dropped the rope and sank to his knees, "kill... kill... Jack."
"Wrong thing to say," Jack murmured.
He helplessly watched Daniel's mental struggles, "kill... no... remember..." Daniel cried out as he clutched his head protectively.
Jack called out to Daniel as the man convulsed, curling to the floor. He shuddered one last time and was suddenly still.
"Captain Carter !" Teal'c grabbed Carter by the shoulders and pulled her roughly away from the woman. The soldier was too stunned at the sight of the woman's glowing eyes to have reacted in time.
It makes sense though, Carter thought, Ra's consort would be Goa'uld. Still, the way the eyes fired up into their glow was startling enough.
It could also have something to do with the Mistress saying something about killing her. That could be it, too.
"Mistress !" Leyla cried out,"it is your servant, Leyla ! These are my friends ! They released the life light for you."
The glowing dulled in the woman's eyes as she calmed down. She looked at Leyla, then at Carter and Teal'c. With a sigh, she slumped back into the throne. Alarmed, Leyla came forward and touched her Mistress on the arm. The woman shuddered at the touch.
"It has been so long since I had been able to talk and... sense," the woman finally said, the eerie dual voice of an occupied Goa'uld host evident, "how long, Leyla ?"
"Almost twenty moons, my Mistress."
"Twenty moons ?" the woman echoed. She sat up straighter, her hands clenching the armrests. "She will pay." Then, as if just remembering, she saw Carter and Teal'c. The moment her eyes looked upon Teal'c's tattoo, she stiffened. "Apophis is here ?"
"No," Carter finally found that her feet and mouth were working, "Teal'c is a friend. He turned his back on Apophis and joined our side to fight him." Carter paused, wondering how the Mistress would react if she knew that they were fighting against the Goa'ulds.
"You are against the Goa'ulds ?" the woman asked softly, "or just against the false gods ?"
"Mistress..." Leyla whispered, not understanding what she meant by false gods.
"Leyla..." the Mistress tenderly patted her clutching hand. "Remain outside of this room. Make sure no one is coming."
"Go." The Mistress' voice never rose, but was firm with command anyway. The villager nodded reluctantly, casting her eyes on Carter and Teal'c - silently asking them to watch over her Mistress. She kept looking back worriedly before opening the door with her bracelet and stepping outside to wait.
When the room was sealed once more, the Mistress sighed.
She is still so young.
Carter jumped when she heard the voice in her head. Teal'c only reacted with a raised eyebrow.
"You can send your words mentally ?" Carter blurted out.
Only to show you that I can. That she can.
"But I won't," The Mistress finished out loud, "it is draining and without the constant aid of the life light, it is a skill often left unused."
Carter mentally breathed a sigh of relief. She didn't like the idea of someone in her head having conversations. If they could do that, then they could also read and control, perhaps. Like....
"Is that how Hathor's controlling Daniel ?" Carter suddenly asked.
"Our friend. He jumped in front of Hathor when one of us was about to fire our weapons."
"You have encountered her before then." It wasn't a question.
"Yes. Daniel, he was called by Hathor her Chosen." Carter was taken back by the woman's reaction. The woman's eyes glowed with a surprising intensity, her hands clenching tightly at the armrests of the throne.
"Yes." Carter wondered if she had said something wrong.
"Then he must die."
"What ?" Carter almost shouted. Why must everyone insist on killing Daniel ? "We can't do that, he's our friend."
"A friend already lost to Hathor's grasp. If he is her Chosen, surely his mind is lost already. You could never bring him back. He will be an instrument for creating her Jaafa. He must be destroyed before he does that. It will stop Hathor."
"No it would not. She would find another." Teal'c stepped forward with the argument.
The woman looked surprised. "You speak."
"I could not keep silent about this, Bastet."
The woman smiled at the name. "I have not heard myself called that in a long time."
"We're not going to kill Daniel," Carter argued, "besides, Teal'c is right. That wouldn't stop Hathor. She could just find another."
"The bond she once shared with her Chosen would be hard on her if she lost it. It would take many precious moons before she could form another. If he had once shared her bond, it would be a lot easier for her to just rebuild that instead." The Mistress called Bastet looked at Carter sadly as if like a mother telling her child some piece of bad news.
"Your friend is lost."
"He was able to fight her before. He could do it again," Carter simply said, not willing to believe the news.
"Daniel Jackson will be alright," Teal'c agreed.
Bastet studied the two and shook her head. She smiled as she mused out loud.
"I had believed the same for my husband Ra. I thought I could make him see a better way to rule his people. He did not listen." She sighed as she remembered.
"You were once Hathor ?" Carter hesitantly asked, recalling Leyla's strange words from before.
"Once. Then I lost favor with Ra when a rival Goa'uld returned after conquering another planet for him."
"Yes, but then she was called Sakhmet." Bastet's eyes glowed for a brief moment as she frowned. "People made tales out of her deeds, about planets washed in blood. They made her out to be truly evil and she enjoyed the fear. Too much for my liking."
"So you left ?" Teal'c asked.
"I escaped." Bastet didn't say anything more about that.
"Then Hathor, I mean Sakhmet took your place?" Carter guessed.
"I believe so. I returned to my true self of Bastet." Bastet turned her head to the statue of the cow. "I came here with the intent of becoming a mere being, perhaps to live in the hills, but then I saw the chaos here."
"So you became their god."
"They made me into their god." Bastet smiled. "The original worshippers were the rival village elders, seeking leadership. I became that leadership. But after they had settled their ways and sought peaceful development, I disappeared into the mountains." Bastet laughed softly. "Then time passed and their memories made me into a god. Myths of when they were first brought here by Ra made me return as Bastet. So I... let them. I returned to their eyes and taught them when needed. Judged when necessary. Celebrated when there was joy."
"You were a wise god," Teal'c said, a brief smile of approval on his lips, which delighted Bastet to no end.
"He smiles too." Bastet laughed softly. "You must have frustrated your Apophis no end with your unpredictability."
"So..." Carter still wanted to know. "Hathor is now taking your place."
"Yes." Bastet frowned, looking very disturbed about the idea. Her eyes glowed as she continued. "She arrived here in the disguise of a lost wanderer, claiming she needed refuge from Apophis. My people took her in, helped her gain her bearings, and told her of our gifts here."
"This." Bastet swept a hand across the room, its light aided by the glowing gel in glass domes on stands. "This planet was plentiful with this gift. It heals, gives us light, and gives me energy to continue to live." Bastet got up and stroked the statue of the cow. "I escaped with few gifts from Ra, but no sarcophagus. Had not been for this, I would have died long ago as a mere being."
Carter nodded, understanding that the Goa'ulds needed the sarcophagus to survive. She winced, though, as she saw Bastet's eyes glow.
"Do I bother you ?" Bastet said softly, noticing Carter's reaction.
"Um." Carter was taken back . "Actually, yes." She grinned sheepishly, embarrassed for being caught. "I can't get over the idea of a Goa'uld, playing god and actually be..."
"Good," Bastet finished it for her, "neither did Hathor. She found me weak and repulsive. I need not use my power to control my people. They were quite loyal to me." Bastet looked sad at the word 'were'. "Hathor needed her power to control men, to create Jaafa, and the life light to enhance her control."
"What about the key ?" Teal'c pointed to the bracelet.
"Your servant Leyla..."
"She is not a servant." Bastet corrected him in a firm voice. "She is a loyal companion. I do not compel her."
"My apologies," Teal'c told her sincerely, "Leyla had said that Hathor was interested in gaining your key."
"Ah. It opened the ship."
"Ship ?" Carter leaned forward in her excitement. "You have a ship ?"
"Yes, the one that brought me here." Bastet looked confused at Carter's interest.
"You didn't come through by Stargate ?"
"No. It was a warship."
"Hathor would wish to gain this in order to begin war," Teal'c mused.
"What better way to attack than in a ship full of new Jaafa ?" the captain agreed.
"We need to let the colonel..."
"O'Neill," Teal'c said grimly. The colonel was separated from them. They had to get back to get him.
And to Daniel.
"Your friend ?" Bastet asked kindly.
"We were separated when we tried to come into Hathor's temple to rescue Daniel."
"D-daniel is the Chosen ?"
"Yes," Carter said firmly, looking straight into her eyes, telling her silently that by no terms was she going to kill Daniel.
"I will not try to persuade you to reconsider your decision," Bastet reassured them, "but you can not merely return to the temple."
"We have to eliminate Hathor," Carter argued, "and we can't leave our friends behind."
"You will do no such thing," a voice cooed. The three whirled around and saw Hathor standing there, surrounded protectively by ten Jaafa.
"Hathor ! Cheka kret !" Bastet hissed. "What have you done with Leyla ?"
"Your companion ?" Hathor laughed. "She is dead." She motioned to a large man in First Prime uniform to step forward. "And by the man who was once her mate, too."
The Goa'uld Queen laughed louder, the idea of Leyla's husband killing his own mate had pleased her no end. "She pleaded with her husband, trying to get him to remember, but that stopped when he placed his hands around her throat."
"No." Bastet dropped down on to her throne in shock. Her eyes burned furiously. "You will pay for your deeds, Hathor !"
Carter and Teal'c steadied themselves besides Bastet. They had their weapons pointed at Hathor, who was standing behind three Jaafa. Carter was ready to fire, when Bastet's hand on her arm stopped her.
"They are still my people," Bastet said quietly.
"And you will die by the hands of your own people," Hathor said, her eyes glowing back at the woman who was Ra's consort.
It felt so safe here.
There was pain before. There was no pain now.
It was so quiet here.
He could stay here forever. It would be okay.
Nothing to fear. Nothing to hate.
Nothing to... remember.
He was supposed to remember... something.
Was it important ?
But he needed to remember !
God, what was it he needed to remember ?
Remember us, my Chosen.
Just remember Carter, Jack, and Teal'c. Don't remember her. Just remember the team. Remember Jack.
He was right here !
Where is he ?
This place.... It is not safe anymore.
It is a prison.
He had to get out !
A prison. Like the gel.
God. The gel. It had pulled him in. He couldn't breathe. He couldn't move. He wasn't dead. Why couldn't anyone see that ? Why couldn't he tell them before ?
This is a prison, too.
He had to get out !
Just remember Carter, Jack, and Teal'c. Don't remember her. Just remember the team. Remember Jack.
He had to remember.
"Daniel ?" Jack whispered. He strained against his chains, wanting to reach his now silent friend. "Danny ?"
The younger man was curled up a few feet away, unconscious. Jack knew he was still alive though, by the harsh rasp of his breathing, but it worried the colonel that Daniel was unresponsive.
Suddenly, Daniel moaned. Jack nearly stopped breathing as he watched for any other response. The younger man stirred, untangled his arms from around his knees and tried to sit up.
"Daniel ?" Jack called out softly. The younger man shuddered at his name. "Daniel !"
"Ja'k ?" the man whispered back. He moaned, hunching over again as he clutched his head.
"It's okay," Jack said, wincing as the cuts on his chest told him otherwise, "concentrate on my voice. Nothing else, Daniel. Deep breaths. Come on."
"I know. You beat her. You did it."
"I needed... I needed to... remember, Ja'k." Daniel shuddered; his arms now wrapped himself to warm himself.
Jack didn't know what he was talking about, but he kept his voice low and calm as he kept talking to the distraught man. Jack kept talking about anything, keeping his voice the same tone as he went on. Daniel huddled there; shivering as he kept his arms wrapped around himself.
Suddenly, Jack found himself drifting to other topics while he was talking.
"You can't wallow here, Daniel. I can imagine how you feel. You want to shut everything out and just sit there and forget. You can't. You have to get up. When Ch... when my kid died, I wanted to just sit there and not move. People would tell me things that I just didn't want to hear yet. Sometimes I still don't. Daniel, I am trying to forget. Remember what I said ? Sometimes I can forget, but I can't stop either. Daniel. Danny. You have to get up. Come on. Get up. You can forget later. It'll be okay." Jack's voice was getting hoarse with the strain both from talking and his emotions.
The man had stopped shivering a while back. He was silent as he tried to concentrate on the voice from outside, rather than on the voice from within. The voice that was telling him to pick up the rope again.
"Daniel ?" Forcing his head to lift, Daniel finally looked at Jack. The older man sighed in relief. Daniel's blue eyes glistened with unshed tears, he smiled weakly as he got up unsteadily. He went over to Jack and fingered the chains. The colonel grinned crookedly.
"I don't suppose you have a hacksaw with you ?" Jack quipped.
Daniel laughed in a strange voice. "No, I..." He had a good look at Jack now, his eyes swept over the angry red welts and his smile faded.
"It's okay, Danny," Jack said quietly. He couldn't hide the hiss of pain when Daniel checked over his wounds.
"Oh God, Jack. I... I did this, didn't I ?" Daniel looked as if he was going to throw up.
"Daniel, you weren't in control..."
"I could have fought it better, Ja'k." Daniel's lower lip trembled as he spoke. His head bowed lower as he continued, "oh God, I'm-"
"Daniel-" Jack's voice was sharp. "Look at me." Blue eyes blinked back at the colonel. "Let's worry about other things first, okay ?" Jack lifted his arms up to show his bonds.
"See if there are any guards outside," Jack said softly, all the while studying the man carefully. Daniel was taking deep breaths to compose himself.
"Okay." Daniel got up and staggered to the doors. He opened them a crack and saw only two, guarding the doors. Hathor was nowhere in sight. "Two guards, Jack," he reported as he closed the doors again.
The older man gave his chains an experimental tug and then sighed. He looked at Daniel, noticing how the man was barely able to stand. Jack made his decision easily.
"Get out of here and back to the Stargate," Jack said. "Let the guards think you're still under her... ah... influence."
"Back to the Stargate ?" Daniel said, aghast.
"Carter and Teal'c might be there already. We were separated," Jack said calmly, "you can't get these things off of me and Hathor might still be around. While she still thinks she has you, go."
"Daniel, go," Jack repeated.
"You didn't leave me before." Daniel shook his head fervently. "I'm not going either."
"No." Daniel went silent, looking back at the door. "Wait here, Jack." He got up and went to open the door.
"Daniel ! What are you doing ?" Jack was shocked to hear Daniel call to the guards in a cold voice. He wondered if perhaps he had been wrong about Daniel. Maybe he wasn't able to-
"Guards. Your Mistress wants the human to be released into my hands," Daniel told them, glaring at them as he spoke. The two guards looked at each other, confused.
"But Mistress told us that you were to kill the human."
A chill went down Daniel's spine, but he pretended it didn't bother him. "She has told me to bring him to her."
"To the temple in the mountains."
Ah hah, Daniel thought triumphantly. "Yes. She wishes to see him... die before her own eyes."
The two looked at Daniel doubtfully. The younger man raised his voice to pretend outrage. "I am her Chosen ! Do you think I would not know what my Mistress would want ?"
The two bowed deeply. They mumbled their apologies and proceeded to remove the chains from Jack. Daniel then brusquely ordered them to leave a staff weapon for him, to protect himself from the 'human', and leave. The two Jaafa, at the tone of this voice, questioned him no further, did as he requested and left.
Jack massaged his wrists, looking at Daniel with amazement. The younger man smiled back weakly at his friend.
"You never cease to amaze me with all your talents," Jack quipped, repeating what he had once told him long ago.
"It was the least," Daniel murmured as he felt his knees buckled and his energy gone, "I could do, Jack-"
"Daniel !" Jack caught the younger man neatly in his arms. He winced as Daniel bumped into him, touching his welts accidentally.
"God, I'm sorry, Jack." Daniel clung on to his friend's sleeve, too weak to try to steady himself. The struggle to regain control of his own mind was taking a toll. The strain was evident on the man's face.
"It's okay, Daniel." Jack supported Daniel, helping him up. "We'd better get out of here."
"Hat..." Daniel swallowed as he pulled away from Jack's help. "Hathor."
"We're heading back for the Stargate."
Daniel shook his head. "She's in the mountains. The guards said so. We could-"
"Daniel." Jack placed his hands on the man's slumped shoulders. "We have to get out of here."
"Are probably waiting for us outside." Jack looked at Daniel seriously. "We can't risk it. Do you understand ?"
Daniel bowed his head, swallowed and then slowly nodded. "Okay, Jack." Daniel steadied the staff weapon and Jack played the role of prisoner with his hands up. They left the room and the two guards, who were outside, came to Daniel. The two men stiffened as the guards approached.
"We are here to accompany you, my lord."
"We need no aid," Daniel said stiffly.
"But it would be dangerous !" the men protested.
"I need no assistance!" Daniel raised his voice, hoping the guards wouldn't insist.
"But the other humans may be at the temple," one of the guards said. Jack started as he realized they might be referring to Carter and Teal'c.
"What did you say ?" Daniel asked in a shocked voice, but the guards didn't notice.
"Mistress felt an intrusion in her temple. She has sent for her men to accompany her to the temple. Did she not tell you ?"
"Of course," Daniel said smoothly, "you will accompany me then." He exchanged a look with Jack. The colonel reluctantly nodded, agreeing. If Carter and Teal'c were there, they had to get them out.
The guards looked relieved and proceeded to march in front of Daniel and Jack. The two men looked at each other. Jack mouthed one, two, and three. Daniel nodded. He watched as the colonel silently counted down to three. At three, the two men attacked the Jaafa from behind. Jack grabbed his man around the neck. Daniel struck his with the staff weapon. He turned around to help Jack, but saw the colonel had already got his man down without any need for help.
"Thanks anyway." Jack grinned at the stunned look of the younger man, knowing Daniel had been about to help him.
Daniel shook his head. Jack clapped the man on the shoulders, feeling better already.
"Come on, let's get them out."
As the two men left the temple, the two guards guarding the outside of the temple stopped them. Daniel, in the same emotionless voice, repeated what he had said before. It didn't work this time. As the guards tried to grab them, Jack took the staff weapon from Daniel's hands and used it as a lance. He rammed one in the stomach, wincing as he realized the blunt end must have struck the pouch, judging the Jaafa's screams. The other grabbed Daniel by the throat.
The younger man was too startled to stand his ground. The man tripped backwards, trying to get away. Falling, Daniel cried out as the hands tightened around his throat. He brought up his hands to try and pull the Jaafa's wrists away but it was no good.
"Daniel!" Jack turned around and swung his staff up into a vicious circle, readying for a blow.
Suddenly, from the mud-stacked homes, villagers came stumbling out. They took in the sight quickly and without hesitation, jumped on top of the Jaafa. The mere numbers, if not their strength, were enough to pull him away from Daniel. The scientist gasped, getting up with help from Jack. The two men watched in stunned silence as the female villagers tied up the two Jaafa.
"Leyla had told us that you were here to help us," a female villager spoke when they were done.
"Leyla ?" Jack managed to say.
"The one with your friends right now. She led them away when the guards had discovered your intrusion," another explained.
Jack and Daniel looked at each other at that piece of news.
"Please," Daniel stepped forward, his eyes pleading, "we need to get to the temple in the mountains. Does anyone knows where it is ?"
A murmur arose as the female villagers wondered about giving him the location of such a dangerous place. One piped up, saying exactly that.
"We know." Daniel tried again. "But my friends are there. They need our help. We can't let Hathor stay in power here." He looked round at the fearful faces of the villagers. "Please ?"
"Forget it, Daniel," Jack told Daniel quietly, "we can't force them. We'll find Hathor ourselves."
"B-but-" Daniel looked at Jack desperately. "They have to fight her."
"Yes, but they can't. Or won't." Jack surprisingly enough, didn't sound angry that the villagers were too frightened to help. "I guess we'll just have to, instead." He studied Daniel's pale face. "Think you're up to it, Danny ?"
"Yes." Daniel said slowly. He looked at the villagers again, a sadness in his eyes. Then he turned around, picking up two staff weapons from the tied up Jaafa and left with Jack. They went through the surrounding forest and headed for the mountains they saw a short distance away.
"You have nerve, Hathor," Bastet hissed, stepping in front of Carter and Teal'c, "you use my people to do your bidding. I will not allow it."
"Do you think you can stop me ?" Hathor snapped back. She smiled demurely as she waved a hand at her men. "They kill their own loved ones for me. My Chosen was willing to give his life for me. You are alone with a human and a Jaafa." Hathor laughed. "You will fail."
Bastet looked at Hathor, saying nothing as she calculated the possibilities.
"Let them go."
"What ?" Carter couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"Let them go. Your battle is with me." Bastet stepped forward to Hathor. She lifted her hand up and showed her bracelet. She waved a hand across the bracelet's gems. The cat's eyes flickered for a moment, then faded.
"You want this ? You can have it."
Eyes glowing greedily at the sight of the bracele, Hathor looked tempted to surge forward and take it, but after one step she paused. A wary look came over her exotic features and she stepped back. Studying Bastet, she smiled again.
"We need not bargain with you. We shall take it from your lifeless bodies."
"But you will not know where to insert the key," Bastet pointed out with a smile of her own.
"We will take the knowledge from you !" Hathor hissed.
"Not without your device to control me." Bastet waved to the ground where the pieces of the headband that had kept her prisoner lay. Hathor hissed as she saw the shiny pieces. The Goa'uld Queen snapped to her guards and they rushed forward. Bastet, startled by the aggressive attack, stepped back as Carter and Teal'c readied their weapons to fire.
"No ! Do not hurt them !" Bastet shouted as she saw their weapons. It was an unnecessary request however, because before Carter could even squeeze the trigger, the Jaafa slammed their staffs down on her wrists, the pain causing her to loosen her grip on the rifle. It clattered to the floor, at the same time as Teal'c's staff weapon did.
"Now, we shall take what we want," Hathor said softly to Bastet, who fought hard against the strong grip of Hathor's men.
Carter, from the ground, looked up to see Jack and Daniel coming into the temple. She was initially overjoyed to see that Daniel was still alive, but a second look told her that his recent experiences had not been uneventful.
"Chosen," Hathor breathed, her eyes glowing as she stepped away from Bastet. She shook her head as the remaining Jaafa tried to step forward to attack.
"Let my friends go," Daniel said, pointing the staff weapon they had obtained right at Hathor. He bit his lip as he fought to ignore the soft whispering that returned to his head. He prayed Carter and Teal'c would hurry and take back their weapons, because he could feel his hands beginning to shake.
Jack spared a glance at Daniel, noted the trembling and nodded to the remaining team members. Carter and Teal'c, taking advantage of the distraction, broke free from the Jaafa. Carter rolled away quickly, grabbing her rifle from the ground. Teal'c took the staff weapon from his captor with smooth movements. Soon, the two rejoined Jack and Daniel.
"Your Chosen, Hathor, seems to have recovered," Bastet said with a satisfied smile, "perhaps I had underestimated the will of this kind."
"Never." Hathor seethed as she motioned her guards to aim.
A loud shout from behind the team, by the doorway where Jack and Daniel had come from, echoed into the room. The team turned around. To their collective amazement, there were dozens of female villagers, armed with stones and sticks, rushing in and surrounding the group.
"Mistress !" one villager cried out, seeing Bastet. The others cried out happily as they saw that their Mistress was alive and well.
"What..." Bastet was stunned to see the women were surrounding the Jaafa.
"Release our Mistress !"
"Our husbands ! Return them to us !"
The cries of frightened villagers, courage returning with the sight of their Mistress, grew louder and louder.
Hathor was furious. She whipped her head around to the Jaafa, who were stunned as they stood there.
"Kill them all !" Hathor screeched, stepping back from the guards as they opened their staff weapons and fired.
"Scatter !" Jack yelled out, grabbing Daniel by the arm. He dragged Daniel away with him behind cover. The villagers and the team spread out, ducking the blasts as best as they could. The villagers threw their rocks at the Jaafa, catching the guards off balance as their aim rang true. It was utter chaos, as the guards had to struggle with their aim and the growing surge of rocks that were striking them from all sides. Despite their weaponry, the numbers were simply too great.
"Colonel !" Sam exclaimed as she dropped down besides Jack and Daniel behind a statue. She winced as a blast came too close for her liking. "Am I glad to see yo..." Her eyes widened as she saw the torn uniform. "Are you alright ?"
"Fine," Jack said shortly, brushing off her concerns. He looked worriedly at Daniel, wondering if the younger man had heard. Daniel didn't react, his eyes fixed to a lone woman struggling with Bastet at the end of the room. The two women shouted, fighting as they stumbled back behind the throne. When the throne shielded him from their view, Daniel bolted up. He had to get there !
"Daniel!" Jack tried to get the man to crouch down again. "What-"
"I have to get there," Daniel said woodenly and he ran out from the protective cover of the statue, slipping out of Jack's grasp.
"Daniel !" Jack screamed as he got up after him. "Dammit !" Carter was about to follow but the increased firing from her direction had her pinned momentarily.
Hathor twisted Bastet's arm as they fell to the ground. She grabbed the bracelet, screaming as shocks came from the cat's eyes into her hands. Her eyes glowed as she pulled hard on the bracelet. Finally, despite the pain, the bracelet came off. Bastet's eyes widen as she realized that her key was gone.
"Garbage ! You are weak ! Nothing but weakness surrounds me here !" Hathor hissed as she slipped the bracelet on. The cat's eyes glowed then faded as it was slipped on to its new owner. She pointed it towards the wall behind the throne and found it glowing. The wall flickered, revealing it to be a hologram, and exposed its secret room.
"Return that to me !" Bastet grabbed Hathor by the arms, trying to pull her back. Her long mental imprisonment, however, had left her weak and she stumbled to the ground after Hathor pulled free. Bastet got up and ran after Hathor as the woman ran into the room. She stumbled and had to pause. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a human with golden hair run past her. Then moments later, another human, bellowing out a name, followed in afterwards.
The ship was in the shape of a small pyramid, half the size of the temple. It sat in the middle of a huge cavern, lit by the sun from an opening above it. A Stargate stood beside it. Hathor purred as she ran her hands across the sleek brown stones. It reacted to her touch and to the bracelet, promptly opening a door to allow her in. Hathor, without a look back at her men, who were still fighting, stepped forward.
"Hathor !" Daniel screamed. He skidded to a halt in front of the ship. He blinked in amazement of the craft before him, and then he lifted up the staff weapon towards her.
You will not hurt us, Chosen.
"It's not going to work," Daniel whispered, trying his hands to stop shaking. An image of him being forced down into the gel, Jack's face showing through the semi-translucent liquid, came to him. Hathor laughed softly as she saw what was on Daniel's mind.
Your friend. Hathor said with some amusement. He was so quick to push you down, even though he did not know it would help you. Perhaps he feared your betrayal and tried to kill you.
"No," Daniel said in a trembling voice, "shut up. You can't... it won't work, Ha-" Daniel couldn't bring himself to say the name again. Hathor smiled at that.
Remember us, my Chosen. Come with us. We can leave this place.
Daniel gasped as he felt himself lowering his staff weapon. "No ! Shut up !" he screamed as he felt his knees bend, dropping him to the ground.
The image of Jack, chained to the walls, Daniel hitting him without any reaction returned to Daniel's mind.
I could have you kill him again.
"Shut up !" Daniel shrieked, his voice rising in panic. He whipped the staff weapon again towards Hathor.
Kill her. Kill her before she makes you do that again. Kill her...
The Queen frowned in disapproval at Daniel's choice. Her eyes glowed as she stepped closer.
"Don't... don't come any closer..." Daniel warned, his arms beginning to shake uncontrollably. He could still hear her, louder and louder as he tried to look away from her eyes. He could smell her scent still on his mouth and he nearly gagged. His hands. Why wouldn't they move ? He had to kill her ! He just had to !
Remember us, Chosen.
"I'M NOT YOUR CHOSEN !" Daniel screamed and forced himself to fire. The staff weapon burst out a bright fire. He didn't see if it had struck her, just kept on firing the staff weapon. Over and over again, Daniel forced himself to fire, the blasts wildly flying all over. The cavern shook with the constant bombardment and Daniel dully wondered if it would all cave in. It didn't bother him that he might be buried along with it.
A hand on his shoulder caused him to shout, whipping up the staff weapon towards them. Swift movements knocked the staff weapon out of his hands. Daniel, unarmed, began to throw punches at the person, struggling to get away.
"Daniel !" a voice shouted above Daniel's yelling. "Daniel ! Calm down ! It's me !"
A face came into focus, looking very watery. Daniel suddenly realized that he was crying. He blinked blearily and saw that it was Jack. He had almost shot-
Daniel turned away from Jack and promptly threw up.
Hands on his back rubbed him as he started to dry heave. Jack, alarmed, grasped the man's shoulders as he looked around. The sound of a Stargate sang out and Jack saw in its shimmering light, Hathor angrily looking at Jack and Daniel before slipping through.
With a flash, the wormhole disengaged and Hathor was gone.
Daniel moaned as the contact was abruptly cut off. He curled up into a tight ball, hugging his knees as he tried to tell himself that the lack of her voice was a good thing.
"Is she gone ?" Bastet's weak voice asked as she caught up with Jack.
Jack nodded, tilting his head towards the idle craft.
"Yes, but it is now damaged." Bastet looked at the vicious scores on its surface. "No matter. I did not want to leave my people." She looked down at Jack and Daniel. "Is this her Cho-"
"No," Jack said sharply, "not anymore."
Daniel whimpered, falling sideways. Jack caught him neatly into his arms and wrapped them around the shivering man.
"It's okay now, Daniel. You beat her. You did it."
"I wanted to kill her." Daniel's muffled voice alarmed Jack.
"You should have," Bastet murmured.
Jack glared at her, but Daniel hadn't heard her and he continued, "she... she was calling me, Jack. God, I wanted to just run to her. But I had to remember you guys. Oh God, it was too much. I couldn't get her voice out of my head. I couldn't fire. I couldn't fire. Why didn't I fire sooner ?"
"Its going to be okay, Dan..."
"I was dying, Jack." Jack tightened his grip on the man, rocking him slightly as he tried not to let Daniel's words make the image of him shooting Daniel resurface.
"I forced myself to fire. I wanted to point that thing at my own head." Daniel's sob stopped him from continuing that remark. Jack shook his head, mumbling words of support, but still feeling as if they weren't enough.
"Sir ! Daniel !" Carter shouted as she ran in the cavern. She paused at the sight of the craft, but the two men on the ground drew her attention back to them. She looked at Bastet, who shook her head sadly.
"Carter," Jack's voice sounded weary, "what's the situation ?"
"Hathor's Jaafa. They stopped firing," Carter said. Bastet smiled at the news.
"She is gone, her control over them broken." Bastet looked at Jack and Daniel once more and then left the room to help her people. Teal'c bowed his head slightly at the departing Bastet as he entered the cavern.
"Are you alright ?" Teal'c inquired of Jack, his eyes studying the two men with some concern.
"No," Daniel whispered, head bowed down. He couldn't bring himself to open his eyes yet. Carter knelt down besides him and placed a hand on Daniel's hair.
"You're going to be, Danny," Jack murmured as he felt the younger man pull away, "we're going to make sure of that."
"Are you okay, sir ?" Carter asked softly, seeing his haunted eyes. She wondered if she was ever going to hear the whole story. She knew the sterile words of a debriefing report would never tell everything and judging from the protective way Jack was grabbing Daniel's arm, she knew it would not be the whole story. "Are you alright ?" Carter repeated.
Jack paused, images of him shooting Daniel, and of him pushing Daniel down into the gel, flickered before his eyes. It was so clear, it was like it was happening all over again. He breathed deeply and saw that Daniel, Carter and Teal'c were waiting for his answer.
"Ask me later, Carter," Jack said, rubbing his eyes. He saw Daniel looking at him worriedly. He smiled; hoping it would reassure him, but saw that the worried look didn't go away.
"Ask me later, Carter," Jack murmured again. He put an arm around Daniel, pretending that he didn't notice when the man flinched.
"Come on, Daniel." Jack waved for the rest of his team to follow him out. "Let's get the hell out of here." The team stepped outside to find Bastet and the villagers to see if they were okay.
"You are welcome to stay," Bastet said in a soft voice. She stood there beside the DHD in the clearing. Jack kept his eyes glued to Bastet, avoiding the spot where he knew Daniel had fallen. "Until you are well." She stepped forward towards Daniel. The younger man couldn't help himself as he took an automatic step back. The way her voice sounded, her glowing eyes, it was too much like-
"No thanks," Jack murmured his apologies, "I would rather get my team back home now." He shouldered his pack, wincing as his ribs and the welts screamed with contact. Carter looked at the colonel with a frown. She then looked back at Bastet. Teal'c was talking with some of the villagers about the Jaafa and giving them his best wishes. Carter looked sad as she gave her sympathies to Bastet.
"I'm sorry about Leyla, Bastet," Carter offered. The Mistress looked downcast.
"It would have done no good if she had survived, knowing her own mate had struck her down," Bastet said sadly, "she was very loyal to me. I wish I could give her my thanks. It is too late for that now."
"I'm sure," Daniel suddenly said shyly, "I'm sure she knows, Mis- Bastet."
Bastet smiled kindly at the young man. "I pray you will heal within the circle of your friends as I will with my people."
"I will." Daniel looked so sure that Jack couldn't stop a grin from spreading to his face.
"He will," Jack said, promising himself.
"We will help Daniel Jackson," Teal'c vowed as he returned to his team.
Bastet studied the humans and then smiled. "I believe you." With that, she left with her people to return to the village. Some chorused their farewells, waving as they left. In minutes, they were gone and the team was alone in the clearing.
Carter kicked the pebbles under her boot. Teal'c was studying his staff weapon. Daniel was fiddling with his pack. And Jack-
Jack was wondering what the hell was wrong with everyone.
"If you're waiting for me to say something profound, you're going to be sorely disappointed," Jack quipped, lifting an eyebrow when he saw the team looking at each other nervously.
"Jack," Daniel started to say, then he shook his head, bowing it slightly. Taking a deep breath, he tried again, "I'm sorry... I'm sorry, guys."
"I see no reason for apologies, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said quietly.
"You weren't in control, Daniel," Carter murmured, "she was." Carter avoided saying Hathor's name, remembering how Daniel has been trying to avoid saying it out loud.
"I should have been strong-" Daniel's voice trailed off as he felt Jack's hand on his shoulders.
"You were. You fought free," Jack told him seriously.
"But I hit-" Daniel started. He stopped, his head bowed lower. "Maybe you should have just left when you guys had thought I was dead."
"Daniel !" Carter came forward. She took one of Daniel's hands and gave it a squeeze. Daniel slipped his hand out of her grasp. "There was no way we could have done that."
"But, you didn't know. How could you have taken such a chance-" Daniel looked up, his voice fading as he saw the dark look in Jack's eyes.
He saw me go down.
Daniel remembered what he had told himself the first time he had awoken in Hathor's clutches.
He had to stay alive. He needed to return and wipe that look from his friend's face. He couldn't do that if he was dead.
Just remember Carter, Jack, and Teal'c. Don't remember her. Just remember the team. Remember Jack.
Just remember Carter, Jack, and Teal'c. Don't remember her. Just remember the team. Remember Jack.
"There was no way we could have done that, Daniel," Carter murmured, casting a look over to Jack.
"And I had a promise to keep," Jack added softly.
"Then will you trust me to come back and get you, Danny ? I won't let her get you. It'll be okay. I just want a live Daniel Jackson to rescue."
"And you did," Daniel said hoarsely, "thank you, Jack."
Jack shrugged, trying hard not to wince, but Carter and Teal'c noticed it anyway, and they exchanged knowing looks. Carter cleared her throat.
"So, sir ?" Carter waited for Jack to give the word.
"Next time you find some nudie statue," Jack quipped lightly, throwing an arm over Daniel's shoulder, "before you tell me, just turn around and high tail it out of there. Women are nothing but trouble."
"Ahem," Carter said, pretending to glare at the colonel.
"Present company excluded, of course," Jack added hastily.
"Of course, Jack."
"Well," Jack gave one last look around him, remembering how peaceful it had looked before. Last time I make that assumption. "Let's blow this Popsicle stand, why don't we ?"
"Popsicle stand ?"
"One of the colonel's favorite sayings, Teal'c."
"Ah ! Most frustrating."
Daniel gave a choked laugh as Jack grinned. The colonel looked at the expectant faces on his team and knew they were just waiting for him to say the word. He took a deep breath. God, he had wanted to say it so bad. He never thought he would get the chance to say it anymore. Jack gave Daniel a gentle push towards the DHD, savoring the words he was going to say next.
"Dial us home, Daniel."
© January 23, 1999 The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author. © May 13, 1999 Beta-ed by Graculus.
This is for all the evil writers out there...you know who you are! *eg And also to my beta-reader Graculus, who made Chosen grammar boo boo free. Thanks, Graculus!