Author's Note : This is yet an old story from the beloved "Gateways" fanzine. A wonderful zine by a wonderful editor. I think my muse flourished writing for them. Dedicated to Cleo (hi!). Thank you!
"Hold onto him!" A voice that sounded like it was hoarse from shouting was barely inches away from his ear. It sent piercing waves of agony vibrating throughout his entire body.
He felt his arms being yanked upward, lifting him above the chilling water he was floating on and that hurt. He cried out in protest and tried to pull his limbs back.
"Sorry," someone muttered, close to his ear.
"Over here!" A higher pitched voice, female, called out from a distance.
When did they get a female on the team? He could have sworn…
Another yank. More pain.
He must have groaned again because a hand brushed across his forehead and the voices lowered, the jerky pulls on his sore body gentler. Arms went around his shoulders and he realized whoever it was, the person was wet, too. Droplets of water ran down the person's sleeves to his clothes.
What did we do…take a dip in the ocean?
There wasn't any ocean here…not one he recalled seeing.
"I will carry him."
Another voice. A deeper one. One he couldn't recognize. Just how many other people were on this team, and he didn't notice?
Hands bracing him, two…no…four…two on his legs, two under his armpits. Breathless, his chest heaving, he felt himself being hauled up. He felt enormously heavy, weighted down. Fidgeting, twisting, it occurred to him it was because of the water.
"Relax. We got you."
The same voice again. He could hear something odd in it, but he couldn't tell what due to the loud splashing.
Something soft wrapped around him and he shivered, suddenly realizing he was cold. Arms carried and settled him down on the hard earth as gently as possible. He moaned when he made contact with the unforgiving surface; and coughed as his body was laid across the ground. His throat burned. He felt a hand pounding him hard. Curling on his side, he vomited water. More hands came, rubbing at his back, wordlessly encouraging that horrible reaction to happen over and over again until no more water spewed. Gasping, moaning, as the retching made his whole body clench and his chest stab with hot needles, he didn't fight when those hands flipped him on his back once again.
Nothing else existed except for the pain.
Everything hurt. Especially his head. It felt like it was on fire. Pounding non-stop, the intensity always increasing, never decreasing.
Someone was prying his eyes open.
"Na…" His mouth felt stuffed with cotton or sand…maybe both. He protested feebly, trying to twist his head away from the hands, but his neck felt so stiff. Strong fingers gripped the back of his neck and a palm lay on top of his forehead, keeping him still.
"Easy…easy…" Insistent hands peeled back an eyelid. Tears sprang up as bright searing light from the suns bore down, burning his eyes. He tried turning his head away. Aching hands weakly tried to push the offending ones away, but the hands on his neck and head pressed harder to hold him down.
Giving up, he opened both eyes and saw a pale-faced woman smiling tightly over him. Her long blond bangs were dripping water, on his face like falling rain until she noticed, mumbled an apology and leaned back away from his line of sight.
"Hey, how you doing?" Another face. Narrow, stern eyes, a scowl twisting the features, a bruise marring the cheek. Wait…he knew that one.
Before he could put a name to it, the woman came back.
"Can you tell me your name?" Her voice was soft, eyes expressively worried. It was a face he wasn't used to see directed at him.
He swallowed and told her, middle initial and all. Surprise flickered in her blue eyes. Apparently, she didn't know that part.
"How about your birth date?" she asked while her hand slipped behind to feel around his head.
"July…eigh—ah!" He jerked, hissing as her fingers found the lump behind his left ear.
"Sorry," the woman murmured, pulling back. She tried unsuccessfully to hide her fingers, but he saw the blood tipping them. He tried to sit up; everything blurred. Someone swore. He had a feeling it was that familiar man from before and a hand pushed him back down.
Blinking, he saw the world refocus once more, and the olive green uniforms came as three of them hovered over him with equally anxious expressions.
He paused, mouth slightly open partly to breathe better and partly in shock.
One face he knew; the name strangely at the tip of his tongue, maddeningly out of reach. The other two…
Wait a minute.
The uniforms…they looked…off.
"Pupils uneven," the woman whispered low to her companion, but he heard her anyway. The man with the frown looked at him again.
He nodded then winced as it created a sensational fireworks display flashing behind his eyes. The man with the scowl, that stern iron look in his eyes, seemed to sense this. He reached over a hand to grip his, giving it a small squeeze before letting go.
"We're getting out of here." The voice was gruff.
"B-but…" He tried to speak.
"No buts." The man frowned once more, and he wondered fuzzily if the guy even knew how to smile at all. "A nosedive off a cliff isn't exactly playground stuff."
"Off…off a cliff?" he echoed in disbelief.
The frown grew, the entire face changing with it as the man scowled down at him.
"Don't you remember?"
He finally found the air to speak. He shakily pushed himself up on his elbow, his mind finally drawing a name to that face. His confusion was apparent as he spoke. "Cliff? What cliff? I thought we were heading back to the pyramid, Colonel O'Neill."
Then, the strangest thing happened.
The stern man, Colonel Jack O'Neill, went deathly pale. His mouth dropped open. And all that came out was one word. "Shit."
It occurred to Daniel Jackson the soldier appeared strangely upset. Looking around, he realized the desert was gone. Before he could ask, his head spun, and it became dark, the suns suddenly vanishing. Dizzy, the archeologist fell back, vaguely hearing his name being called. But his vision leeched away. He was so tired. Closing his eyes, his questions no longer mattered.