Title: The Enemy of My Enemy
Spoilers: pre-Meridian/Ascended Daniel
Summary: A mission goes wrong and Jack becomes a Tok'ra.
Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Stargate but my rabid fan behavior. Alas.
A/N: This is about the third time this particular chapter has been uploaded. There were some problems with certain symbols showing up, so if you read an earlier version that was faulty...sorry about that. Hopefully it won't happen again.
Of all the senses to come back first, it had to be smell. Jack O'Neill clawed his way up from the clutches of unconsciousness to the smell of battle. The stench of burned flesh and dying fires singed his nose hairs, and memories of a hundred battles swirled in his mind so quickly that his only recourse was to lie still, immobile, as he tried desperately to sort out which battle this had been. The smell of burning bodies and trees were not enough to distinguish this battlefield as remarkable from a dozen others he'd stood on, so he had to find something besides the smell to tell him where he was.
The second distinct sensation was pain. His chest, his throat... for a moment, he thought he had to be dying. When the seconds passed, crawled like eons, and he didn't slip back into darkness, he accepted that he wasn't going to die... not just yet. Even if he would live, it would be barely, because his pulse threaded weakly in his temples and neck, a tenaciously fighting beat, hollow in his sternum as it battled fatigue to keep him alive. His lungs labored to pull in the fire and smoke-tinged air. Whatever this battle zone was, however he had come here, someone had seriously screwed up, and if he lived he planned to raise all kinds of hell about this fubar operation.
Jack heard a sound, a horrid croaking, and the tickling urge to cough made him realize it was he who'd made that pathetic noise. Coughing burned in his throat and sent clutching grips of pain throughout his chest, seizing at his battered body. His heart hammered, helpless and scared, as he worked a good minute to pry open his closed eyes.
Light assailed him and he squinted. Tears blurred his vision as he forced himself to look again, this time focusing long enough to make out shapes. The tops of trees, the sky a deceptively peaceful shade of blue, the trails of curling smoke rising into the air.
He listened for sounds of the enemy, for the sound of friends, but there was only the crackle of dying fires and the utter stillness that hung over the recently slain. Neither side had stuck around, so it stood to reason no one had really won. Everyone had bugged out, drawn back, and where he now lay was no man's land where neither side dared venture to retrieve their dead.
'Is that what I am?' Jack thought, still unable to move, relegated to listening and smelling passively.
Jack felt a surge of panic, a terror that swelled toward him from no discernible direction. For a dead guy he had good reflexes, because the unspecified fear that had suddenly loomed galvanized him to move. Curling up on his side his first instinct was to cross his arms over his chest, cradling the white hot pain. He looked down and realized why the smell of burnt flesh had been so strong, it was literally right under his nose. The front of his BDUs were missing, burned into ash, and his raw skin underneath exposed, a sore of red and black where pink flesh should have been. His hands were red with angry wounds, too, fingers curled like the severed chicken's feet he saw in grocery store meat sections but never even considered eating.
Jack looked away from his body, afraid of what else he'd find if he continued his self-evaluation, and scanned the area where he lay. Bodies littered the ground, surrounded him. Jaffa, he recognized the clothing and large bodies. So they'd tangled with a Goa'uld and lost, but it still didn't tell him much.
Jack blinked then his eyes locked on the lifeless shape nearest to him. A sprawled figure, burned to a blackened crisp over half its body, what survived of the clothing pompous, its left hand impotently laid on the ground, ribbon device untouched by fire.
'Goa'uld,' Jack thought. Like a tidal wave fury roiled at him, consuming his thoughts. Jack felt the panic resurface in full force... the anger was not his for the Goa'uld, it was a foreign sensation, a source within his own mind that rose in fury at HIM.
Flinching away, Jack struggled to his knees. The higher vantage point was not encouraging. He spotted a few bodies clad in green fatigues, fellow SGC members who'd died here. He couldn't stop anger of his own to see his people killed, grief and regret flickering through his thoughts. The dead were everywhere, canvassing the land, and he found himself sick to think he was the only one alive among corpses.
'Why aren't I dead?' he thought, and again panic, sheer and unadulterated terror that demanded he pay attention to the threat, see the danger, rose and even though he searched, looked so hard, he saw only inert bodies.
Jack stumbled to his feet. He swayed but managed to stand to his own amazement. His weapon was gone, as were his dog tags, their absence around his neck like the loss of a limb. If they took his tags they had to believe he was dead. 'I should be,' he looked again at his chest. Dried blood stained the edges of what remained of his clothing, 'I shouldn't have bled this much and lived. Whose sick joke is this, anyway?'
The presence loomed again, pressed at him, and he couldn't stop the stab of horror it provoked within him. He spun to look for an attacker in the still field and fell to his knees when his head spun from the fast movement. His instincts screamed at him, knew something horrible he didn't, but he couldn't see what his senses did.
A sense of crowding filled his thoughts, moving closer, and his stomach lurched. The gag reflex kicked in, as though he had something lodged in the back of his throat, and he vomited. He heaved and folded against the pain but no amount of throwing up rid him of the foreign object.
Jack coughed, hugging his aching chest, and his thoughts whirled, 'What the hell is going on?'
He heard the words like a whisper, a voice he knew came from nowhere but his own brain, –Stop resisting...–
Jack jumped back, only to stumble and fall to the ground, heart racing and the panic response rushing through his every nerve. He was shaking, terrified because he was beginning to figure out what it was his body had known since waking, what malady had beset his broken form.
'It's not true, it's not real,' he chanted in a desperate effort to convince himself.
Again the sense of invasion, the utter lack of privacy within his own skull, –It is very real, Jack O'Neill.–
Jack turned on his side, writhed, clenched his eyes closed and prayed desperately for a way to escape from his own skin. His hands searched in vain for his weapon, the overpowering thought of putting a bullet through his own head just to kill the thing that had crawled into his brain consuming him, driving him mad with the need to have it gone.
'Get out of me! Get out, get out, get out!' he cried in his mind, sick at the thought of a snake in his head, enough to make him gag again, dry heaving in an attempt by any means to expel something that should not be in him.
The presence grew, like a dark figure stepping from a heavy fog, and he panicked and cried within the confines of his skin... and aloud, he screamed.