Rating: "T" for some language and a littlebitta blood'n'angst.
Genre: Dramangst, I guess.
Beta: I'm lucky there was an alpha. (If anyone wants to volunteer...)
Continuity: Sometime Season 7. References to Meridian, Abyss, The Changeling, Solitudes, and The Light but not enough to be truly spoilery.
Summary: O'Neill's in a dark place.
Disclaimer: What I made up belongs to me, what others made up belongs to them or to whomever was given the rights. The opinions expressed herein are the properties of the characters and not of any DeLuise. This product is not to be taken orally and is not tax-deductable. Qustions, comments and kumquats can be left in replies or directed to magistrata(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank you for reading!
Jack woke in the dark.
It wouldn't have been so unusual if it had only been dark. But this was a very specific darkness--a kind of gloomy just-barely-enough-light-to-see-by dark that denoted either a cave or a really, really bad Goa'uld dungeon. He wasn't sure which, in this case.
Truth be told, he wasn't sure of much in this case. Such as where he was or how he had gotten there.
He didn't groan, even though he wanted to. Instead, very carefully and very quietly, he moved a hand up over his face to check his skull. Nothing much hurt when he did--a few minor bruises, a few scrapes, but nothing worse than usual for a boxing session with Teal'c. Still, he felt out of it--confused, disoriented, with the feeling that if he tried to get up he would find himself light-headed as well.
He rolled his eyes to one side--then, seeing nothing immediately threatening, rolled his head to one side. As a grand finale he rolled onto his side, taking in as much as he could--not much. He didn't have his vest, couldn't feel his pack--he could feel his baseball cap still firmly on his head, could feel the regulation SGC jacket with its velcro patches. The Swiss Army knife in his right thigh pocket was a familiar pressure against his leg, though it seemed that and his watch were the only pieces of equipment left to him.
(Odd. They got my lighter, my pen, and my fishooks, but they left my knife?)
He had the feeling that he shouldn't have gotten out of bed that morning. The thing was, he didn't remember getting out of bed that morning--or going to a briefing, or on a mission, or ending up here. Wherever here was. The jury was still out.
The room/cell/cave/place had one other occupant--a few moments of blinking and squinting brought him into fuzzy focus. Daniel. Sam and Teal'c were either not there or hidden in the shadows. He didn't see anyone else.
"Hey," Jack said softly. Didn't want to attact undue attention, after all. ...of course, it didn't seem to attract due attention, either. "Hey!"
Jack groaned. He was going to have to get up, after all.
He pushed himself onto his hands and knees, then onto his knees. He didn't know how low the ceiling was, but the ground was uneven--he opted to make his way acoss the area on all fours rather than stand for the shaky few steps it would take.
Settling down next to Daniel, he put a hand on one jacketed shoulder and gave him a light shake. No response--though he could hear him breathing.
He could hear him breathing rather loudly. As if it was difficult--
"Dammit, Daniel, don't you dare--" he started, and reached out to check his friend's pulse.
Daniel was cold.
He jerked his hand away. It wasn't death-cold or hypothermia-cold, but Daniel was definitely not in the best of shape. His breathing was still ragged, and when Jack steeled himself enough to feel his pulse he found it slow and shallow, not quite as steady as it should have been.
Dammit. He really needed to know what was going on here.
"Daniel," he said, shaking him again. "Hey! Daniel! Danny-boy! Wakey wakey. Wake up!"
The last, in a full military snarl, brought out... a slight stir. Not an actual waking.
Not a good sign.
Daniel was propped against a wall--dirt, if texture was any indication. Jack pulled himself up so that they sat shoulder-to-shoulder, starting a quick exam. His eyes weren't adjusting to the light. If anything, visibility was getting worse.
He didn't feel anything on Daniel's head--no swellings, cuts, foreign objects. His glasses had come off, though--never promising. His neck (still chill) was intact; there were no breaks in the fabric of his shirt or the bones beneath.
One arm had been pulled across his stomach and was clenched there, with Daniel leaned forward over it. (Please be a stomach ache,) Jack thought.
"All right," he said, narrating as much for himself as for Daniel. "We're just going to have a look at you, okay..."
He wrapped his fingers around Daniel's fist, pulling his arm away.
A fist-sized patch of Daniel's jacket was soaked in blood, and if there was enough to soak through to the outside of his jacket there had to be more on the inside and more still invisible against his black shirt.
He finished the examination quickly--no obvious wounds or breaks on his legs--and pushed himself away from the wall. The ground he was sitting on seemed to be a relatively flat patch, though he would have taken sticks and stones if it meant he could have light.
"You probably can't hear me," he said--and it was hard to hear himself over the blood rushing past his ears, "but I just want you to know I got pretty high marks in this class. So we're just gonna lie you down here..."
("Position the casualty on his back with knees flexed. Turn head to one side for unconscious patient. Check for entry and exit wounds." Dammit, Daniel, I don't suppose you'd like to wake up and tell me what's going on here?)
On impulse, he did an inventory of Daniel's pockets--and found nothing useful. Between them they had a knife, a paper clip, and a folded piece of paper. Not encouraging.
(My kingdom for a penlight.)
He pulled his knife from his pocket, swung the scissors out by touch, and trimmed back the shirt around the wound. If he couldn't see, he sure as hell wasn't going to try pulling it away--he didn't feel anything lodged in the injury, but he wasn't going to go poking to make sure.
He didn't have a field dressing, but he was reasonably certain that his jacket would be clean. Not sterile, but clean was better than nothing. He pulled it off, hacking down one sleeve lengthwise to expose the inner lining. This was a novel challenge: preparing and administering a dressing in the dark, with short-term amnesia.
They really should update the SGC curriculum to train for things like this.
He finished quickly--he really had gotten high marks on these exams--and wiped his hands off, trying not to think of the fact that his pants would be decorated with bloody handprints for a while. Daniel's blood.
He stood up, sweeping one foot across the floor and creeping forward until he found a wall. It was dirt--not that he expected anything classier. (Someone sure sprang for the budget suite.)
He hummed a low note, hearing it expand to fill the room. It couldn't possibly be more than three or four meters round, though even by standing on his toes and stretching he couldn't touch the ceiling. Carefully avoiding Daniel--stepping on him wouldn't help his condition--he found a wall and felt along it.
Worst-case scenario, they had been dropped here or the exit had caved in. Best case, he found an open door with a Stargate and a closet full of medical supplies and GDOs. He didn't hold out hope for the best case.
On his third circuit around the cavern he stopped opposite Daniel, hands stretched as far above him as they would go. A ledge--possibly a tunnel or a raised doorway--recessed from his fingertips. He had no way of knowing what it was or how far it went--but it was the only avenue open to him, and he'd be damned if he wasn't going to explore it.
"Daniel," he said. "I think there's a tunnel up here. I'm going to look for help. Won't be long--promise."
Careful not to lose his place, he crouched and jumped--caught the ledge and hauled himself up, flopping his weight down onto a stretch of flat, dry dirt. Yes, definitely a tunnel. Definitely a--
He turned, squinting. He could hear Daniel's breathing. He swore he had heard something else.
He swore he'd heard Daniel say Ba'al.
At first the tunnel was too low to do anything but crawl. Soon it opened up, and with the opening came light--but not much. In fact, O'Neill didn't notice until the tunnel ended in a long main run, the omnipresent black giving way to a muddy grey.
He stood, looking around. The cavern stretched to his left and right, extending only a few meters before him. To the right, pale light spilled down a sloping tunnel--enough to tint the air a sickly yellow. To the left yawned two cavern mouths, separated by a few feet of dirt wall.
He walked to the tunnel first, squinting upward. All he could tell was that it went up a ways--twists and turns kept him from seeing the light source or the distance. (Plan B), he thought.
He turned back to the cave. Near his leg rested a low stone bench--or a rock shaped conveniently like one. The only feature of the wall he had crawled out of was the tunnel he had crawled out of.
(Plan A is to scope this place out and see if Carter, Teal'c, and the gear is around here. Somewhere.)
Searching the first cavern turned up a pedestal covered with Goa'uld text--either ornamental or broken. He messed with everything that looked like it might be a switch or a button, then everything that didn't, and nothing happened.
Searching the second turned up Carter.
He knew something was wrong as soon as he saw her--and it was more than the fact that she wasn't moving that tipped him off. She was pale--paler than he'd ever seen her, and he'd seen her ill, wounded, possessed and concussed. She looked like a perfect wax statue of his second in command, with perfect blond hair and a perfect drab jacket.
He didn't bother hailing her--she was obviously out. Instead, dreading what he would find, he crouched beside her and gave the same exam he'd given Daniel.
No injuries. She was comatose and non-responsive, but she wasn't injured.
He felt more than a little awkward going through Carter's pockets, but she wasn't in a state to protest. So, from a morbid point of view, it was a win-win situation--if she didn't wake up before he was finished, he'd be spared the embarrassment of explaining; if she did, well, she'd be awake.
In her right jacket pocket he found a handful of C batteries, which didn't make any sense as their flashlights used D batteries and the GDOs used AAs. In the rest of her pockets, he found lint.
(Which will be great if I can find some straight sticks and need to start a fire, but doesn't really help me. Damn.)
After checking--again--that Carter wasn't in immediate danger, he checked all of the walls. Nothing came to his attention. No panels, tunnels, plaques, emergency phones... all in all, the cavern was exactly like any other useless cave.
He stepped back into the main run and stubbed his toe on a rock.
The world was officially mocking him.
With a groan, he kicked the rock across the floor. What he wouldn't give for a lake, some stones to skip, a pro fishing rod, a can of--
The rock smacked into something that didn't sound like dirt.
He'd found.. bars. An upright grille, most of it buried under the dirt. He could feel air behind it, but couldn't see anything--no sound cam from it. Something smelled rank, though--if this was a dungeon, he wouldn't be surprised if a rotting corpse resided within. ...that was a pleasant thought.
"Anyone in there?" he called, wiggling his fingers through the bars. No answer. (Of course not.)
He stepped away and settled onto the stone bench, lowering his forehead into one hand. In the past hours someone had screwed everything phenomenally up--and he had the unpleasant feeling it had been him.