Again, co-written with Amaranth Traces with our thanks to Jess13 for betaing.
We know what you're thinking. A 10,000 word chapter? Let's just say that when SG-1 starts arguing, there ain't a thing you can do to break them up.
General Hammond followed his injured lead team to the infirmary. Doctor Fraiser ordered an x-ray of Jackson's wrist and an MRI of his shoulder as well as an x-ray of Colonel O'Neill's ribs. Then she proceeded to examine the rest of her patients. Teal'c uttered a pained grunt when the arrow was extracted from his shoulder.
"Sorry, Teal'c. That's the worst of it," said Fraiser. "We'll cover the wound with a bandage, but your symbiote will do you more good than I can."
Colonel O'Neill returned from his x-ray as Fraiser was examining Major Carter's injuries. "Clean both wounds, bandage the arm and she needs stitches in that leg," she told another doctor.
Next, Doctor Fraiser examined the bloody gash on the side of Colonel O'Neill's head. "What happened here, Colonel?"
The Colonel held his head in his hands, "Arrow graze. It's fine. It's this headache that's killing me."
She pulled her penlight out of her pocket and shone it into his eyes. The Colonel winced, "Damn it, Doc. Why is that so bright?"
"He's just hung-over, Janet," said Doctor Jackson as he returned to the infirmary after his tests.
Fraiser glanced at Jackson and then turned back to Colonel O'Neill. The older man shook his head and winced. "Long story," was all he said.
She accepted the film of Doctor Jackson's arm and studied it before instructing the nurse to prepare a cast. An examination of Colonel O'Neill's chest x-ray showed three cracked ribs, but nothing broken. "Standard antibiotics and pain meds all around," ordered Fraiser.
The medical staff bustled around the infirmary, busily performing their duties.
General Hammond got the okay-nod from Doctor Fraiser and stepped forward. "Does someone want to explain exactly what happened?"
"Mission from hell, General," said Colonel O'Neill.
Major Carter released a loud breath and looked up from watching the doctor stitch the wound in her thigh. She glared at the Colonel, then closed her eyes briefly and turned to General Hammond.
"As you know, General, the MALP detected strange tachyon emissions from the planet. When we arrived, we tracked the emissions to a – ow! Damn it!"
Carter scowled at the doctor working on her leg.
With another glare, Carter turned back to General Hammond. "We found a mineral deposit in a cave near the gate, sir. I ran some field tests that confirmed the rocks as the source of the tachyon emissions."
Colonel O'Neill paced as I ran some tests on the sample I had collected.
"Hey, look at this!" Daniel said excitedly. He was holding some oddly-shaped stones; he gave one to me.
I turned it over in my hands. "It's been carved."
Daniel nodded and raised his eyebrows. "Evidence of a society."
"Think they might still be around?"
"Hopefully. No harm in looking."
"What? Wait a minute! Who's in command here?" Colonel O'Neill's head bobbed back and forth between us as Daniel and I spoke.
"If there is a society here, sir, we really should try to find them so we can discuss a trade agreement."
"Why would we need a trade agreement? We don't even know if they exist, let alone if they have anything worth getting!"
"But if someone has a claim on this mineral deposit–"
"They're rocks for crying out loud!"
I sighed. "Yes sir, but these minerals could conceivably revolutionize the way we envision superluminal travel. They emit a tachyon field, which, if properly harnessed, could be adapted for use in hyperdrive engines small enough to be used in a death glider. If we can combine a working prototype of a tachyon particle accelerator with a naquadah reactor in a larger ship, then we'd have engines capable of rivalling the Asgard."
The Colonel stared at me for a long moment. "Okay. What?"
"Sam, I thought the Asgard used neutrino ion generators in their engines?"
Colonel O'Neill gaped at Daniel. "How the hell do you know that?"
Daniel pinched the bridge of his nose. "Because, Jack, believe it or not I actually listen to Sam when she's explaining things. I may not understand everything she says but a little concentration and, dare I say it, tact are actually beneficial in a professional relationship. You should try it sometime."
I bit my lip and turned my back to hide my grin. I wished I could get away with mouthing off to the Colonel like that.
"Wanh-wanh wanh-wanh waaaanh..."
Colonel O'Neill must have been on the debate team in high school. I shared an amused glance with Daniel who had moved to stand next to me.
"I do not understand, O'Neill. How was that a valid rebuttal to Daniel Jackson's argument?"
"T, you've lived on Earth for years now and you haven't seen Charlie Brown?"
I decided to head off that discussion before we got too far off topic. "Anyway sir, I'd like to run a few more field tests, but I think there may be even more applications for this mineral. You see, Felger's been working on a retrofitted–"
"They went on like that for a while, General."
General Hammond looked at Colonel O'Neill who had interrupted Major Carter's explanation.
"Carter and Daniel babbled away, running more tests on those damn rocks. Teal'c and I went to uh, secure the area. Didn't take us long to find the natives, sir...or rather, for them to find us."
I was really hoping the society Daniel and Carter mentioned would be long dead. I guess Daniel was hoping louder than I was, because we were barely a few hundred feet away from the exciting rocks when we were surrounded by a dozen spear-carrying natives.
They were dressed in white jumpsuits and had distinctly orange-tinted skin. I couldn't help but chuckle at them.
"Hey, look. They're oompa-loompas! I wonder if they have a puzzle for us."
"O'Neill. I request that you refrain from making references to Earth culture with which I am not familiar."
"Oh, lighten up, T. It's bad enough I have to deal with Lisa Simpson and Martin what's-his-face over there. I don't need a Jaffa with no sense of humour on my case too."
The muscles in Teal'c's jaw flexed and I rolled my eyes. Would it kill him to crack a smile now and then?
The natives started shouting in some incomprehensible language and thrusting their spears at us. They were particularly threatening towards Teal'c.
I tried to calm them down, but there was a slight language barrier.
"Where's a babelfish when we need one?"
"Give it a rest, Teal'c."
Luckily, all the shouting must have attracted the attention of Carter and Daniel and they came running. Daniel managed to understand their language. It seemed they recognised Teal'c as a Jaffa and assumed he was an agent of the false gods. Once the locals had sufficiently calmed down, Carter wanted to start on that trade agreement so she could get some of those damn rocks.
"Daniel, ask them if–" She was abruptly cut off by a spear being shoved in her face.
"Hey!" I shouted, training my P90 on the man pointing the spear at my 2IC. "Lay off!"
Daniel shushed me and started talking to the natives. They relaxed again and Daniel told us that their society didn't allow women to speak unless spoken to. Carter was obviously not pleased to hear that. I wondered if they were going to insist that she wear some local clothing. I wasn't going to object if they did.
"Oh, thanks so much, sir. Your support is overwhelming." Major Carter glowered across the infirmary at Colonel O'Neill.
General Hammond sighed. This was unbelievable. "I take it that didn't happen."
"No, sir. Too bad though. That blue number was sweet."
"Back to the mission please, Colonel."
"They want to bring me to meet with their clan chief," said Daniel.
"Right. Daniel and I will go with these guys."
"Jack, I don't think that would be the best idea. It might be better if I went alone."
"Damn it, Daniel. I'm going."
Daniel sighed. "Fine. Refrain from handling any commodities and allow me to engage in all discourse with the populace."
"That's not what I said! I don't talk like that!"
"I beg to differ, Daniel."
Doctor Jackson glared at the Colonel over the shoulder of the doctor who was putting a cast on his arm.
General Hammond cleared his throat and the two men appeared chastised. Colonel O'Neill pressed his fingers to his temples before resuming his account of the mission.
"Carter, go back and play with your rocks. Teal'c, you go with her." That order caused her to send an icy glare in my direction.
"I can take care of myself, sir."
"No way in hell am I leaving you alone again on a planet where they don't like women, Carter."
"Sir, just because my–"
"Ah!" I held up a finger to stop her. "I don't need to hear that speech again, Major. Just go with Teal'c."
"He's right, Sam."
I gawked at Daniel. Since when did he agree with me?
"Indeed. I will remain with Major Carter." Teal'c too. Wow.
I looked back at Carter and I could swear I saw steam coming out of her ears. If looks could kill, Daniel would have died. Again. It was funny. Gave me a warm fuzzy feeling to know I'm not the only one he annoys.
"Fine." Carter turned her glare back to me. "Just make sure we get an agreement." She ignored the spears shoved in her direction and stomped off with Teal'c behind her. I watched them go. Major Carter was easy to get along with. Doctor Carter, on the other hand...
"You make it sound like I have multiple personalities!" Seeing her facial expression, Hammond was relieved that Carter's injury kept her in place on the infirmary bed. He would not have wanted to be forced to bring her up on charges after seeing her strike her C.O.
"Well, you do! I can relate to Major Carter! Doctor Carter is just plain annoying. Much like Doctor Jackson. Anyway, sir, the oompa-loompas invited us back to the village and introduced us to their leader, umm...Ivan."
"His name's Itann, Jack," Doctor Jackson muttered.
"Right. Ivan. So, Daniel was more annoying than usual – ordering me not to say or touch anything. Like he's one to talk. How many times has he nearly died from touching something?"
"Oh, please! I never–"
"Enough!" All heads swivelled to look at Hammond. "Back to what happened on the planet, Colonel."
Colonel O'Neill sighed. "Daniel seemed to think that I'd cause some kind of diplomatic incident."
"You did!" Doctor Jackson shouted.
"That's not the point."
"Gentlemen, please! Get on with it!" General Hammond was losing patience.
Doctor Jackson cleared his throat and picked up the story before Colonel O'Neill could say anything more. "The chieftain's name is Itann, which I think is derived from the name Etana, a legendary king of the Kish dynasty. Etana supposedly ruled for between 600 and 1600 years immediately after the deluge, which is referenced in the Book of Gen–"
"Doctor Jackson? You can put all the historical information you want in your written report. For now, please stick to what actually happened on the planet."
The archaeologist ducked his head and squirmed a bit on the cot. "Yes, of course, General."
After brief introductions, Jack and I followed Itann and his subordinates into a mud-brick dwelling and sat down with our host. I did my best to translate as we began to negotiate.
"You claim to be gods?" Itann asked.
"No, we're not gods. We're explorers." I said.
Itann nodded in acknowledgement. "It is said that many years ago our ancestors were found by Jawen, and with his help they defeated the false gods, sending them back through the Great Wheel to the barbarous lands from whence they came."
"The one true god."
Uh-oh. Jack leaned forward, obviously bothered by this development as well, although apparently not in the same way that I was. "Does this Jawa stop by often? Does he bring droids to trade?" Irritated, I relayed only the first half of his comment to Itann.
Itann shook his head, "Jawen is all around. He does not come and go, for he is everywhere at once. He lives in the hearts and minds of the believers and judges the souls of all peoples."
Ah. That kind of god. Much better. I reiterated that we were not gods, but only came seeking trade.
"You have come through the Great Wheel to fetch rocks from our land?" Itann asked.
Jack snorted at the translation, but I did my best to ignore him. "Yes. Your rocks are made of a mineral we value. It will allow us to better fight against the false gods who threaten us. We wish to know what you value, so that we may give you something in return."
"You are a strange people. The rocks you speak of are not useful. They cannot be smelted into weapons or tools. They are too soft to be made into much more than jewellery and figurines, and too common to be made into items of great beauty."
"Yeah, and we've seen how much he knows of beauty." Jack looked around the sparse hut derisively, "Ask him if he's ever heard of Martha Stewart."
I think Itann might have sensed the insult, as his eyes narrowed. I tried to distract him from Jack. "What materials do you use to make tools and jewellery?"
"Our supplies of copper and tin are scarce; we spend much trading with our neighbours for them." The chieftain looked thoughtful for a moment. "Perhaps there is something you can help us with. Our ancestors saved several items of great beauty, yet we have no way of making more. The material is unlike anything I have seen."
"If you show it to us, perhaps we might be able to tell you about it."
Itann and his guards led us through the forest for several miles, until we came across a large crumbling ziggurat. It must have been beautiful when intact; it reminded me strongly of the reconstruction drawings of Etemenanki in Babylon. The ruins had obviously not been cared for in many centuries, yet still some sections were well over 100 feet high. We followed Itann up the stairs.
He glanced at us. "It is forbidden for weapons to enter the shrine except in cases of dire need."
Jack smirked insufferably. "Well, good thing my need is dire."
"Do you want to be the one to tell General Hammond that we can't have a wonderful new power source because you decided futile posturing was more important than making friends?"
Jack cursed under his breath, no doubt intending for me not to hear it. I stared at him expectantly, and he finally rolled his eyes. Removing the clips, he handed over his weapons. I did the same.
Itann nodded. "They will be returned to you when we go back to the village." He turned and entered the remains of the shrine. I followed Itann as Jack moved to the opposite end of the structure, apparently to take in the view below. Just as well. The negotiations would go more smoothly without the involvement of Jack O'Neill.
Inside there was an altar, with oil lanterns burning brightly. The altar was covered with a purple cloth, and a copper bowl holding some sort of fruit rested upon it. My curiosity got the better of me.
"Itann, what is the purpose of the fruit?"
"It is an offering to Jawen. Only he may partake of it."
The chieftain opened a well worn stone chest in front of the altar and with great care brought out a beautiful and delicate filigree amulet. "It is this substance which interests us. The metal appears malleable, yet it has survived many generations with little decay."
I smiled. This was something we could help him with, and there was little chance of them turning it into anything dangerous. "This is gold. We can supply you with some in exchange for your mineral. It is rare and expensive, but I'm sure a reasonable trade can be arranged."
Itann smiled. "This pleases me greatly, Daniel. My wife has often wished that such beauty could be duplicated. It is foolish of me to pay attention to the desires of a woman, but I must admit–" The chieftain froze, his expression turning from pleasure to horror. "Stop! What are you doing?"
I turned around and found Jack sitting on the sacred altar of Jawen, stuffing his face with the fruit offering. Purple juice dripped down his chin, and his cheeks were puffed out like those of a chipmunk. "This is really good, Daniel. You should try some." He held out a half-eaten specimen.
"That's crap and you know it!"
Doctor Jackson glared at Colonel O'Neill. "Exactly what part was crap?"
"I was not sitting on the altar, I was leaning on it. And I did not look like a chipmunk. I had one papaya-thing." Jackson continued his glare. "Okay, maybe two. What can I say? I was hungry. And nobody told me about them being sacred!"
Itann's shock dissipated and he called out for the guards. He turned back to me, shaking with rage. "The punishment for disrespecting Jawen's sacred harvest is death. Because you have lost control of Jack, your lesser male, you too must–"
"Shut up. He did not call me your lesser male," Colonel O'Neill interrupted.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Jack. Maybe you're right. Tell me, how would you have translated it?"
"Uh. How should I know? They were speaking Sumoish."
Doctor Jackson's eye twitched, "Sumerian. As I was saying–"
"Because you have lost control of Jack, your lesser male, you too must pay with your life. The ceremony of atonement will begin, followed by the rite of repentance."
Great. Jack had needed a snack, and now I was going to die. Painfully, by the sound of it. My relief on learning that their god was not the corporeal kind was fading. At least a Goa'uld could be negotiated with, or better yet, killed. But fanatical faith was another matter entirely. Any argument I might have made was discouraged by the arrival of a half-dozen warriors holding spears. They dragged the two of us back to–
"Which would never have happened if you hadn't insisted we leave our weapons at the entrance."
"Which was necessary in order to see what we could trade for the minerals Sam wanted so badly."
"What, so now this is my fault?" Major Carter exclaimed, turning to the archaeologist.
"No," Doctor Jackson said, putting up his hand to fend off her attack. "That part wasn't."
"Excuse me, Daniel? That part? What the hell is that supposed to–"
"Settle down, people!" Hammond shouted. "You are trying my patience. Major, Colonel, shut up and let Doctor Jackson continue."
Two sullen 'Yes sirs' followed.
They dragged the two of us back to the village and started their ceremony, which delightfully consisted of playing 'who can kick the archaeologist and his lesser the hardest'. For some reason Jack didn't seem to be feeling the pain quite as much as I thought he should have been, though I was pretty sure at least one of those kicks must have damaged something pretty badly. After several rounds, we were dumped in a hut to await the rest of our sentence.
Turns out that the rite of repentance involved being flung off the top of the ziggurat. Apparently their god would save the innocent by granting them wings on the way down, a sort of trial by ordeal. As the leader responsible for the sin, it was my privilege to repent and try to fly first. I tried explaining that Jack was the actual leader, but the chieftain didn't believe me. Who would put a man with the mind of a child in charge, after all? I couldn't think of a reasonable counter-argument. Jack's idiotic singing didn't help. Something about 'living in happiness too'.
"I don't get no respect," the Colonel muttered.
"This is true, O'Neill."
Colonel O'Neill looked over at Teal'c, incredulous. "What?"
"You do not, in fact, get no respect. Many people have a great deal of respect for you, myself included. Thus your statement was accurate, although I believe the meaning may have been more readily understood without the double negative." The Jaffa inclined his head at his C.O.
Hammond sighed. He wasn't sure how many more of these interruptions he could handle. "Alright Teal'c, Major. This might be a good point to hear what you were doing while Colonel O'Neill and Doctor Jackson were busy upsetting the natives."
Teal'c nodded gravely. "Very well, General Hammond."
As Major Carter and I made our way back to the mineral deposit, it became quite clear that she was disturbed by the conduct of our friends.
"Major Carter. You should not be upset with O'Neill and Daniel Jackson for their concern over your welfare. You must admit that our experience with the Shavadai has given us cause to–"
"Shut up, Teal'c. You're no better than they are."
I looked at Major Carter, surprised.
"Oh, don't give me that silent eyebrow raise. Tell me, Teal'c. Why is it that we've never met any female warrior Jaffa? Hmm? Maybe it's time for a little brassiere barbecue on Chulak?"
Before I could answer her confusing questions, Major Carter stormed away from me. I kept a respectful distance. She muttered to herself as she continued running tests on her samples. She occasionally requested my help to lift the larger stones, but remained aloof.
As time passed I found myself anxious for Daniel Jackson or O'Neill to return. I do not value idle conversation, but it is preferable to angry silence. Yet if it were not for that silence, we would not have heard the distant beating of drums.
Major Carter looked up from her instruments at the sound. "That can't be good." She picked up her radio and called for O'Neill and Daniel Jackson.
"Perhaps it is a celebration indicating the acceptance of trade terms."
"Yeah, that or the chieftain turned out to be Hannibal Lecter and those drums are his way of announcing dinner's ready." Receiving no response on the radio, she picked up her weapon and started running down the path leading to the village. I did not know why she would make a guess as to the leader's name, or why the thought of the evening meal would so concern her, but I followed.
The village was empty when we arrived, and we proceeded into the forest, following the sound of the drums. We came to the top of a hill and saw a great structure, much like the pyramids the Goa'uld often build, but with sides that were tiered rather than smooth. I recalled Daniel Jackson once telling me that the Tau'ri referred to such structures as ziggurats. This one was damaged. One side was a sheer drop from the top to the ground below. There was a great gathering of natives around the base, and I could see several figures at the top, near the damaged side.
We lay down on top of the hill in order to observe without being seen. Major Carter pulled out her binoculars and looked through them.
"Damn it," she said as she handed them to me.
I looked at the figures on top of the structure. There were several warriors with spears and another man with somewhat more refined clothing, undoubtedly the chieftain. O'Neill and Daniel Jackson were also there. It appeared they had seen battle and been defeated. O'Neill appeared quite calm but Daniel Jackson was arguing most emphatically with the chieftain. Though I could not hear their words, I could tell that the leader was not persuaded.
Two of the warriors took hold of Daniel Jackson's arms and dragged him towards the edge of the structure. My friend began to struggle, and though he disabled one of his assailants, another joined the battle. A spear held to the throat of O'Neill by the leader ceased his uncharacteristically inefficient efforts to render aide. I realized that the natives were preparing to hurl Daniel Jackson from the precipice. I stood up and readied my staff weapon, though I feared the distance was too great for an accurate shot. I might harm Daniel Jackson.
Major Carter was still prone. She was observing the action through the scope of her weapon, and I saw that she was taking aim. She fired a single shot just as the warriors reached the edge. I have always been impressed with her skill, and indeed she hit her target this time as well.
"Thank you, Teal'c." Carter looked across the infirmary at Teal'c and smiled.
"You are most welcome, Major Carter." The Jaffa inclined his head.
The wounded native tumbled off the precipice. Daniel Jackson faltered on the edge for a moment and the remaining warrior shoved him over.
Major Carter gave a cry, as did I. But Daniel Jackson did not cease his fight. By shooting the first warrior, Major Carter had ensured that Daniel Jackson fell along the wall of the ziggurat, rather than through open air as I believe was intended. He managed to catch a vine growing on the structure about two-thirds of the distance down, and though it must have caused him great pain, it slowed his fall. He tumbled the rest of the way and lay still at the bottom.
The natives below had been alerted to our presence by Major Carter's shot and approached our position. We fired repeatedly in front of them, slowing their advance. Many fled into the forest, though most of the men armed with spears and daggers continued toward us.
"I can hold them here for a while, Teal'c. You should take advantage of the distraction and rescue the Colonel. And Daniel too, if he's still–" She broke off abruptly. I believed she did not wish to consider the likely consequence of Daniel Jackson taking such a fall.
I bowed my head in acknowledgement and circled around the approaching natives through the trees. I reached the base of the ziggurat in a few minutes. The warrior Major Carter had shot was quite obviously dead.
I was relieved to find Daniel Jackson in a single unit. His pulse was strong and he awoke when I touched his shoulder, hissing in discomfort. "Teal'c?"
"What is damaged Daniel Jackson?"
"Um, aside from everything?" He closed his eyes for a moment and then reopened them. "My wrist is broken, and I think I've dislocated my shoulder." His right arm moved very slightly and he winced. "Oh, yeah. Not good. Uh, most of the rest is just scrapes and bruises."
This was fortunate, though the shoulder injury would require tending. I would have to attempt the traditional method of replacing a shoulder in its socket. I took firm hold of him.
"Uh, Teal'c? What are you doing?"
"You will find it easier to move if I repair your joint."
"That's normally done with two people, Teal'c. And I think I'd prefer a hefty dose of painkillers first. I can walk; let's just get out of here and then Janet can–Aarrrrghhhhh!"
His scream reminded me of a small child, though the words which flowed from him in the Abydonian dialect did not. I questioned whether some of what he suggested was physically possible.
"You rammed my shoulder into place without even attempting to position me properly. Not to mention the pain it caused my broken wrist. I asked you to–"
"Did my actions not ease the discomfort in your shoulder, Daniel Jackson?"
"After the initial excruciating pain, yes. But–"
"And did the increased mobility not allow you to later provide assistance to Major Carter?"
Doctor Jackson's eyes flicked past Teal'c to the Major and back, "Yes, it did, but–"
"Then I fail to see where I was in error." Teal'c leaned back into his bed, a satisfied expression on his face. The effect was somewhat ruined when he jerked forward again, having obviously leaned on his arrow wound.
Doctor Jackson did not miss the movement, and it seemed to amuse him.
Doctor Fraiser frowned. "Well, I certainly wouldn't recommend it over more modern methods, but it didn't do any lasting harm. The MRI shows that you've torn some of the ligaments. The reduction would have hurt even more if the surrounding tissues had had more time to swell, so it was probably just as well that Teal'c did what he did."
Doctor Jackson muttered something barely intelligible and non-complimentary under his breath.
Hammond shook his head. It was going to take a great deal of effort to get his flagship team up and running again. And that was assuming they didn't kill each other in the process. "Please continue, Teal'c."
I helped Daniel Jackson back to his feet and gave him my zat'nik'tel. He rudely opened it while it was pointed in my direction, but after a moment he turned away. "We have to get Jack."
"Indeed." I looked back to where Major Carter was distracting the warriors of the planet and saw that she did not yet require assistance. We proceeded up the steps and found O'Neill sitting on the floor of the shrine. He appeared to be both relaxed and upset, although I am not certain how it was possible. The leader and the warrior Daniel Jackson had defeated before his fall appeared to be arguing.
O'Neill stood up immediately upon seeing us, however he did not appear to be entirely stable on his feet. "Daniel! You're okay!" He gave Daniel Jackson a warrior's welcome, clapping a hand onto his shoulder and peered around him. "Where are your wings?"
Daniel Jackson was silent for a moment. His face had become quite pale. "I'd really appreciate it if you didn't do that again, Jack."
Daniel Jackson turned to the natives, speaking to them rapidly in their tongue. Both the warrior with the broken nose and the one who had pushed Daniel Jackson nodded immediately, but the leader shook his head, evidently not agreeing with what Daniel Jackson had said. Daniel Jackson spoke more harshly, pointing to himself and then over to the edge of the platform, then back to himself. The chieftain again shook his head, and crossed his arms over his chest.
"Fine." Daniel Jackson said, shooting the leader with the zat'nik'tel. He pointed the weapon at the warriors, but the men bowed to him repeatedly and backed away. They then turned and ran.
"I take it the negotiations didn't go too well?" O'Neill slurred.
"Are you drunk?" Daniel Jackson asked.
O'Neill uttered what I believe is termed a 'giggle'. "Yep. I think the papayas were spiked."
"That's just great. You eat the forbidden fruit and get high and I get thrown out of the garden. How is this fair?" Daniel Jackson seemed most displeased.
I looked at our surroundings. Seeing no physical garden, I realised that Daniel Jackson was making another cultural reference. "I assume you are referring to the casting out of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden?"
"Yeah, I was."
I did not try to hide my pleasure at my comprehension, but it was not the appropriate time to discuss it further. "Major Carter will shortly require our assistance."
O'Neill threw an arm around Daniel Jackson's shoulders, and did not appear to notice his friend's groan. He gestured to me. "Lead on, MacDuff."
"I did not understand. Who is MacDuff? Was I being insulted yet again?"
Colonel O'Neill hesitated for a moment. "Uh, it's from some old crappy play I had to read back in high school. I don't remember what it was."
Doctor Jackson took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. "It's from MacBeth by William Shakespeare, Teal'c, and the quote is actually 'Lay on, MacDuff'."
Colonel O'Neill snorted. "That doesn't make any sense. What's MacDuff supposed to do? Sleep through everything?"
Doctor Jackson turned to Teal'c. "If I said it was an insult, would you hurt him?"
"It is quite possible."
Jackson gave a tight smile. "It was an insult."
Hammond had reached his limit again. "What in the world is wrong with you people? If you can't get through a simple debriefing without constantly hurling insults and half-truths I will personally toss you all into isolation and throw away the key!"
The three male members of SG-1 had the grace to look chagrined. Hammond looked at Major Carter. She was smirking; no doubt proud that she hadn't said anything inappropriate for the past half hour or so.
"What were you doing during this time, Major?"
"I don't think the natives had seen any weapons like ours before, so for several minutes their surprise seemed to keep them at bay," she began.
I continued firing at the ground in front of the approaching natives. They stopped, watching as my bullets kicked up a cloud of dust before them. After several minutes of magical fun, they started shouting and pointing in my direction.
"That's right. The woman is causing a ruckus. Come and get me, boys."
About half of them had scattered into the forest, but the ones that were armed – mostly spears and daggers – began heading towards me. I tossed a grenade and they scattered at the explosion. They regrouped quickly and started advancing again.
When I saw that Teal'c had Daniel on his feet, I took careful aim and shot a few of the natives leading the pack in the leg.
They fell to the ground and some others crowded around, examining the injuries. I took cover behind a nearby tree as they started throwing spears in my direction.
I fired at the natives again when the rain of spears stopped. What was taking Teal'c so long? I glanced over at the ziggurat and saw Daniel, Teal'c and the Colonel at the top. Daniel zatted one of the natives and the three of them finally started heading back to rendezvous with me.
The sound of a ringing bell filtered through the forest and I had a feeling that I'd have more company soon. More of the natives fell as I shot them.
"I'm guessing we're not getting that treaty," I said to myself.
Teal'c was finally in range and started sending staff blasts to further deter the natives. Colonel O'Neill was leaning on Daniel. He appeared injured; he seemed on the verge of falling down. Daniel's face was pale and he was clutching his right arm to his chest.
Finally joined by the rest of the team, we all crouched behind some trees. Teal'c and I continued firing at the natives.
"Daniel, are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Sam."
Uh-huh, sure he was. "What's wrong with your arm?"
"Oh, I think it's broken. It's no big deal."
"Okay, I didn't say that either. My wrist was broken; I would not say that was no big deal."
"Daniel, your head could be lying on the ground next to you and you'd still insist that you were 'fine'."
Doctor Fraiser examined the cast that now covered Jackson's arm. "Well, six to eight weeks wearing this and you really will be fine."
"Six weeks?! Janet, come on."
"Ah ah! Six to eight weeks, Daniel. No arguments."
Doctor Jackson looked about to protest, despite Fraiser's warning, and General Hammond glared at him. Jackson closed his mouth and poked at his cast, a pitiful pout on his face.
"Please continue, Major," Hammond said.
"Major Carter, we must leave this planet immediately."
"Agreed, Teal'c." I peered around the tree and saw that the natives that had fled into the forest had returned with more weapons, including bows and arrows. "Where are your weapons, Daniel?"
"Uh, somewhere in the village? I'm not sure." He looked at the approaching enemies. "Somehow I don't think they'll just give them back."
"Colonel?" I looked at my commanding officer. He was mumbling to himself and kept grasping at the air as if trying to catch an insect.
"Colonel?" I repeated, more loudly. I was starting to worry that he had sustained a head injury.
He looked up at me. "Oh, hey, Carter! Did you see Daniel fly? I missed it but I'll bet it was sweet."
My eyes widened and I glanced at Daniel before turning back to the Colonel. "Sir, are you–"
"I didn't drink anything! I swear! Hey, look at that!" He giggled as his fingers opened and closed again on thin air. "So sparkly!"
"Why does everyone keep saying I was giggling? Jack O'Neill does not giggle."
"I'm afraid you were, sir."
"You were indeed laughing with considerable glee, O'Neill."
"Oh, for crying out loud."
I watched Colonel O'Neill for a moment, bewildered. "That's it. I'm taking command of this mission."
"What? No way, Major. See the bird? Unless you've suddenly developed stars, that means I give the orders around here."
Colonel O'Neill tried to stand up, but failed miserably.
I decided not to point out that his rank insignia was not on the collar of his BDUs. "You're incapacitated, sir. Teal'c, I want you to help the Colonel back to the Stargate. Daniel you go with them. Dial Earth and get home. I'll be right behind you."
"Where are you going, Sam?" asked Daniel.
"I'm going to get some samples of that mineral. All of you get to the gate and go home. I won't be long."
Teal'c nodded and pulled the delirious Colonel O'Neill to his feet. He wrapped his arm around the Colonel's waist to steady him as they stood up.
"T, buddy. I like you, but not in that way. I did see Lieutenant Singh eyeing you in the commissary a few days ago, though. I know he's not as handsome as I am, but I think you'll agree that..."
Satisfied that Teal'c had things under control, I headed through the forest toward the cave with the mineral deposit.
"Did you secure the samples of the mineral, Major?"
"No, General. I didn't." Major Carter glared at Doctor Jackson.
"You've got to be kidding me, Sam! If I hadn't–"
Hammond held up his hands, "Alright, don't start." He sighed. "Colonel, aside from the giggling, do you recall the events as they've been described so far?"
Colonel O'Neill rolled his eyes. "More or less."
"Very well. What happened after Major Carter left for the mineral deposit?"
"Well, General. Since it seemed that all of the oompa-loompa men were in the mob that was following us, Teal'c and I went back through the village on our way to the Stargate."
The village women were still there; several orange faces were watching us from the windows and doors of their huts. They didn't seem to pose much of a threat so we continued on our way.
One old woman with white hair that really set off the tangerine colour of her skin stepped in front of us.
"We don't want any trouble, we're just getting the hell outta Dodge," I said as I tried to make my way around the woman.
She stepped in front of us again.
"Look, lady. Move it." I stepped around her but there must have been an earthquake or something because I lost my footing.
"Are you injured, O'Neill?" Teal'c stooped to help me to my feet. Why hadn't the earthquake knocked him down too?
That old woman whacked Teal'c over the head with some kind of frying pan. I fell to the ground again, but this time it was because I was laughing so hard.
"Does that make you Punch or Judy? I could never tell which was which."
Teal'c gave that woman the most threatening glare I've ever seen. She squeaked and then ran away. Then he turned his glare in my direction.
I managed to get up again, and we were surrounded by rainbow-coloured bunnies. They were twitching their whiskers and rubbing their ears together like they were up to no good. I hoped Daniel would be able to communicate with them before things got ugly. I figured with the way his face scrunches up sometimes he'd be able to handle it.
"O'Neill," interrupted Teal'c, "I do not recall encountering any long eared rodents on the mission."
General Hammond's attention was drawn to Doctor Jackson who snorted loudly and then to Major Carter, who was struggling to speak around gasps of laughter, "I think it's a safe bet that the bunnies were a sacred fruit induced hallucination, sir."
Colonel O'Neill appeared puzzled for a moment, and then lowered his head into his hands with a moan. "Papaya DTs. That figures."
Doctor Fraiser smiled. "More like an acid trip Colonel. I've taken a blood sample. When the test results come back I imagine we'll find a chemical similar to mescaline."
"Let the good times roll. Hey Doc, while we're waiting could you, I don't know, cut off my head or something?"
Hammond sighed, "So, the three of you were headed back to the Stargate while Major Carter went to collect some samples of the mineral."
"At the time, I was preoccupied with O'Neill and did not realise that Daniel Jackson was not with us, General Hammond."
"Yeah, actually General, I followed Sam back to the mineral deposit," said Doctor Jackson.
"Disobeying a direct order!"
Doctor Jackson turned to Major Carter. "I saved your life, Sam. Most people would be grateful. I still can't believe you put yourself in danger like that. What the hell were you thinking?"
"If you hadn't distracted me I wouldn't have been in danger."
Jackson's eyes widened in obvious outrage. "Oh, that is so not true."
"And I am hardly the only one who's almost gotten killed for science. Ernest's planet ring any bells for you?"
"So you admit you almost got yourself killed?"
The Major flushed a bright red and opened her mouth again to argue. Hammond held up his hand, and she wisely closed it. "Just tell me what happened, Doctor Jackson," he ordered.
Sam had suggested that we get to the Stargate, but I was worried about her. Several dozen fanatical, angry and misogynistic natives were not something she should be tackling alone, no matter how capable she was. Teal'c seemed to have Jack well in hand, so I thought it would be best to make sure Sam was okay.
I ran back to the cave where the mineral deposit was, though I was much slower than usual as my wrist was throbbing with each step. Sam had already bagged up several smaller pieces of the material when I arrived.
I was about to let her know I was there when I saw one of the native men creeping up on her from the shadows. He was brandishing a large knife. I yelled a warning, fumbling for my zat. I'd had to jam it into my pocket so I could stabilize my wrist with my other arm during the run to the cave. Stupid of me.
Sam turned and met the charge of the warrior. She brought her P90 to bear, but the native collided with her before she could fire, bowling her over. They grappled and the gun went skidding away along the ground. She managed to kick him away from her and went for her sidearm, but he jumped back on her, stabbing at her with his dagger.
I finally got the zat out and open, but I didn't have a clear shot. I didn't trust my aim left-handed, and I didn't want to accidentally catch Sam in the blast. But then she cried out in pain, and I saw the knife flash back up covered in blood. I fired, and luckily I hit the native.
"Yeah, while he was sitting on me. The blast transfers, you know."
"I'm sorry. Did you want me to let him stab you again?"
She sighed, "I suppose not."
I shoved the unconscious warrior off of Sam and checked her injury. Upper thigh wound. It looked nasty but the femoral artery hadn't been hit, thank God. I applied pressure. Sam apparently took exception to my hand being on her thigh. I suddenly found myself face first on the ground, with my left hand pinned behind me, and my already broken right hand crushed underneath me.
"I said I was sorry. One minute I'm being stabbed by a murderous local, and the next, I come to and find someone feeling me up in a very unpleasant way. I'm not sure what reaction you expected."
Doctor Jackson tapped his chin with a finger. "How about 'Thank you, Daniel' or 'Good shot, Daniel' or even 'Damn that hurt, Daniel'? I really wasn't expecting 'Get the hell off me you lecherous bastard!' followed by large amounts of pain."
"I didn't even know that it was you who'd distracted me. If you'd gone through the Stargate like I ordered you to–"
"You'd be dead!" he shouted.
Major Carter glared at the archaeologist, but thankfully remained silent. After a moment of matching her stare, Doctor Jackson continued his story.
After Sam was convinced I wasn't a short orange native bent on molestation she let me up. I secured my belt around her leg to maintain some pressure on the wound, and we managed to get up and rearmed before we heard more natives approaching. It was time to go. We peeked out the mouth of the cave.
"We need some samples, Daniel. It's what I came back for," Sam said.
I almost relented, but then I saw the warriors approaching from one side and knew that we'd never make it if we went back for the rocks.
"Hah! Now they're rocks."
"Shut up, Jack!"
We started running for the gate. Actually, I started dragging Sam back to the gate. It wasn't until the natives started whooping and screaming behind us that she decided to co-operate. It was slow going, and I knew we weren't going to make it. Sam fired blindly behind us at our pursuers. I didn't have a free hand to help; it was all I could do to keep us both upright and moving. Suddenly there were staff blasts hitting the ground between us and the natives, a little too close for comfort, but welcome just the same. Teal'c had stayed on this side of the gate and was covering our escape. Maybe we weren't dead after all.
"I ordered you all to get through the gate. Did anyone listen to me? No! Not one of you."
"Welcome to my life, Carter. Daniel never listens, Teal'c follows orders whenever it's convenient, and you only do so to avoid a court martial."
All three other members of SG-1 objected to their commander's statement, thankfully drowning each other out, because Hammond was not in the mood to hear much more from any of them.
"Teal'c, could you explain why you disobeyed the Major and what happened when she and Dr. Jackson returned?"
I felt that it would be prudent to remain and ensure that all members of SG-1 survived this encounter. Major Carter was focused on the novel substance rather than on battle. Daniel Jackson was injured too severely to properly defend himself. O'Neill was...difficult.
"Exactly how was I difficult?"
The Jaffa raised an eyebrow and stared solemnly at his C.O.
The Colonel swallowed nervously. "I don't really want to know, do I?"
"You do not."
I led O'Neill to a location roughly 100 strides from the Stargate, which appeared unguarded. From there, I had adequate cover to observe any who crossed the hills between the forest and the Stargate without betraying our position. Many minutes passed and I began to grow concerned for our friends. I was considering returning to the mineral deposit to locate Major Carter and Daniel Jackson when they appeared atop the farthest hill, hurrying toward the gate.
It appeared that Major Carter had damaged her leg, for Daniel Jackson was supporting her. Their expressions and attempt at speed indicated that they were being pursued. Indeed, at that moment, many tens of warriors crested the hill behind them, their battle cries filling the air. I rose to my feet to aid them, however O'Neill placed a hand on my arm.
I complied. Perhaps he had noticed something I had not.
"I've seen this one. The archaeologist makes it to the plane just in time. Then there's this big snake and–" O'Neill tilted his head to one side, squinting as he watched our companions, "But I remember him running faster than that and I don't think he was carrying a girl."
I removed my arm from his grip and ran to a rock formation closer to our teammates. Major Carter was firing her weapon over her shoulder. Daniel Jackson was concentrating on the ground before them. The natives gained rapidly. I fired my staff weapon in warning, hitting the grass before the feet of the nearest warriors. They slowed, but only to ready their weapons.
My teammates reached my position. Major Carter fell to the ground beside me, inhaling sharply as her injury pained her. She fired at the native aggressors. Daniel Jackson did likewise with the zat'nik'tel.
"Where's the Colonel?" Major Carter shouted over the noise.
I pointed to the rock grouping closer to the Stargate. "He is there. Or rather, that is where I left him."
"Oh, that's just great. Couldn't you have at least tossed him through the gate?"
"I had hoped he would recover in time to be of use."
Major Carter seemed to wish to chastise me further. However, arrows began to fall on our position. Major Carter received a grazing wound on her arm. She cried out and grasped at it. It was time to depart.
I turned to Daniel Jackson. "I will occupy them. Get to O'Neill."
He nodded. After firing several more zat'nik'tel blasts he pulled Major Carter to her feet. I laid down covering fire. When they reached the relative safety of the boulders, they returned fire, allowing me to join them.
O'Neill appeared more alert than he had previously. "Nice to see the gang's all here. What's going on?" Major Carter fired again, and O'Neill clasped his hands to the sides of his head. "Ah! Too loud! Who stuck the nail in my brain?"
"Teal'c!" Major Carter shouted, "Stay with him. Daniel and I will get to the DHD."
O'Neill looked up. "Carter! Give me your sidearm."
She looked at him warily, "I'm not sure that's a good idea, sir."
"You're going to leave me unarmed in the middle of the Alamo?"
Major Carter looked from O'Neill to the warriors and back again. I understood her concern. Perhaps a compromise. "Daniel Jackson, leave your zat'nik'tel with O'Neill."
"You will be incapable of firing it while moving, and then you will be occupied activating the Stargate. If you have need of a weapon Major Carter has her sidearm, and O'Neill will have a non-lethal weapon."
Daniel Jackson scowled, but gave the weapon to O'Neill.
Under covering fire, Major Carter and Daniel Jackson made it to the Dial Home Device. I turned my attention back to keeping the warriors from overwhelming us, and was pleased that O'Neill had joined the fight.
The Stargate activated, frightening the approaching warriors. O'Neill and I took advantage of their confusion to break cover and run. One of the natives was less frightened than his compatriots. I heard O'Neill's cry of pain and turned to see him fall. A single warrior stood firm, reloading his bow. O'Neill pushed himself to a seated position. His wound was not serious; the arrow had grazed his head. I swung my staff weapon around to dispatch the warrior threatening him, but Major Carter was the faster. The warrior fell in a spray of bullets.
The archer's companions were recovering from their shock. More bows were being drawn. I aided O'Neill back to his feet, and we ran for the open gate. I watched Major Carter and Daniel Jackson go through.
There was a sharp pain in my shoulder. One of the arrows had struck me. I stumbled and must admit that O'Neill's quick action in dragging us behind the DHD likely saved my life.
"I guess that means you won't be hurting me because of the MacDuff comment."
"I will not. I have since promised Daniel Jackson that I will leave you unharmed."
"Thanks, Daniel. Knew you'd take it back."
"Don't mention it. I just wanted to make sure I could kill you myself."
"Crap. Always knew I'd be bored to death."
O'Neill fired several more shots, but still the natives approached. "Go, Teal'c. I'll be right behind you."
"You will go first, O'Neill."
"Teal'c! Someone on this godforsaken mission is going to follow an order. Go. Through. The. Gate."
I was not pleased, but did as requested. O'Neill was indeed right behind me.
"The remainder is of antiquity, General Hammond."
"That's 'the rest is history', Teal'c," said Colonel O'Neill in a tired voice.
"General, I think it's best if we let them all get some rest."
Hammond nodded to Doctor Fraiser. SG-1's injuries had all been tended to, and it appeared that their pain medications were starting to take effect. All four of them seemed to be less agitated than they were when they first returned through the gate. With a final glance at his favourite team, Hammond left the infirmary.
As he headed down the corridors toward his office, Hammond decided to make a quick stop at the security office.
"General!" The SF on duty stood at attention upon Hammond's entrance.
"At ease." The man sat back down at his post, and Hammond peered over his shoulder at the security monitors. "Can you bring up the infirmary?"
"Yes sir." The SF typed some commands into the computer and the camera feeds from the infirmary were displayed on several screens. Hammond watched as Fraiser did a final check on the members of SG-1 and then retired to her office. An orderly wheeled a cart into the infirmary and began distributing food trays to the four bedridden patients.
"I'd like you to keep an eye on them and let me know if they start acting strangely."
"You need me to keep an eye on SG-1, sir?"
Hammond almost smiled at the note of awe in the man's voice. "Colonel O'Neill was exposed to an alien substance that affected his behaviour and I have concerns about the rest of his team. Just keep me apprised."
Hammond nodded and then headed for the door.
He turned and saw the SF curiously watching one of the monitors.
"Does that qualify as strange behaviour?"
The General looked at the monitor that had captured the SF's attention. Doctor Jackson seemed to be arguing with Colonel O'Neill, his good arm doing more than enough gesturing for both. Normal enough for Doctor Jackson, but Hammond could see why it had drawn the SF's attention. Given the team's earlier behaviour, Hammond wanted to make sure that things were not getting out of hand.
"I'd like to hear what's going on in there, Sergeant."
"Yes sir." The SF typed some more commands into the computer and Doctor Jackson's voice filled the room.
"–ven syllable words!"
"Every day I have to listen to you babble on about one thing or another, Daniel. It never ends!" Colonel O'Neill made a gesture of futility with his forkful of spaghetti. The Colonel looked at his fork and then at Jackson before flicking the fork in the archaeologist's direction. The pasta sailed across the space between their beds and splattered squarely on the side of Doctor Jackson's face.
Jackson lifted his good hand and wiped the food from his cheek. He stared at his tomatoey fingers and then looked at the Colonel, his mouth hanging open in obvious shock.
"Ha! I finally got you to shut up!"
"Colonel!" Major Carter exclaimed from her bed.
Doctor Jackson narrowed his eyes at Colonel O'Neill and scooped some of the spaghetti from his tray into his hand. He probably meant to target his aggressor, but his left-handed aim was bad and the gooey mess flew over the Colonel, raining down on both Teal'c and Major Carter.
"Daniel!" Carter pulled a glob of meat sauce out of her hair, a look of disgust on her face.
The SF clapped a hand over his mouth. General Hammond sighed.
They both continued watching as Major Carter collected a heaping spoonful of pudding from her tray and flung it towards Doctor Jackson. The pudding was apparently more cohesive than she anticipated as it ended up splatting on the back of Teal'c's bald head.
The Jaffa turned and raised an annoyed eyebrow at Major Carter, whose eyes widened. "Oh God, Teal'c, I'm sorry," she said quickly.
Colonel O'Neill started laughing only to abruptly stop when a handful of spaghetti hit him in the back of the neck. He turned and scowled at Jackson who had a satisfied smirk on his face. The Colonel scraped the pasta off his neck and tossed the blob back at the archaeologist. It landed smack in the middle of Doctor Jackson's face, a strand of spaghetti hanging over the left arm piece of his glasses.
Jackson removed his specs and shook the pasta strand off, wiping the lenses on his scrubs. He put them back on just in time to receive a globule of chocolate pudding between the eyes. Jackson sputtered in shock and quickly swiped at his glasses, using his fingers like windshield wipers.
Major Carter was grinning triumphantly at him from across the infirmary. Hammond was rather impressed with her aim. She'd quickly adjusted for the viscosity of the dessert. It was nice to see she could apply her knowledge of physics in combat situations. She was readying another volley of pudding when she was met with a faceful of it herself.
Part of that payload had also struck Teal'c. He glowered at O'Neill and picked up his spoon. Colonel O'Neill's laugh of delight at successfully targeting his second in command was cut short with a splutter as Teal'c hit him in the mouth with a large splodge of spaghetti.
The SF snorted. Hammond trembled with suppressed laughter. At least they didn't seem to want to kill each other anymore.
For several minutes, handfuls of food flew haphazardly from one end of the infirmary to the other. General Hammond and the SF watched the security monitors as the members of SG-1 worked out their problems. When their trays were empty and they were all covered in food, they collapsed on their beds, exhausted and laughing.
"What the hell is going on in there?" All four members of SG-1 scrunched their shoulders at the sound of Doctor Janet Fraiser's wrath. Her tone made General Hammond feel guilty that he hadn't done anything. The petite doctor entered the room and stopped abruptly. Her back was to the camera, but Hammond could picture her expression.
Colonel O'Neill tried first. "Look, Doc, I know this looks bad, but–"
"Don't think that your being a superior officer is going to lighten your punishment, Colonel O'Neill. You and your team have created a bunch of work for my orderlies. And you've all gotten food in your wounds, haven't you? That's my nurses tied up for the evening as well. What do you have to say for yourselves?"
"I'm light-headed from all the blood loss?"
"I have no excuse, Doctor Fraiser. I apologize for my behaviour."
The doctor looked at Daniel expectantly.
"Um, no hablo ingles?"
Hammond decided he'd better get back to the infirmary before Doctor Fraiser's self restraint broke and took her Hippocratic Oath with it. He made a quick stop along the way and then headed to Level 21. The pasta mess was mostly cleaned up by the time he returned, and SG-1 was looking suitably chastened. The massive syringe Doctor Fraiser was holding probably had something to do with it.
"General! So nice to see you again. Tell the doc we don't need another shot of antibiotics, would you?"
"Wouldn't dream of interfering in medical matters, Colonel. You've been busy, I see."
"Uh, yes, sir. Just a bit of a food fight. Very catheter for us."
"Daniel, don't start." O'Neill's attention was distracted from his teammate when a commissary worker entered the infirmary with a tray.
Hammond smiled. "I took the liberty of ordering some more food for you."
The airman gave each member of SG-1 a small bowl of fruit.
"Oh, for crying out loud! Papayas?"
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