Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Spoilers: ...probably but nothing concrete.
Warnings: sexual themes
Summary: "Just take a breath. Now imagine it your last."
Disclaimer: All known characters and premises belong to their respective owners. So there.
adverb. quietly in concealment.
Somewhere deep in the slip-slides of their tunneled travels, she shifted unceremoniously, causing an imbalance in her stance. Once her body broke through the ice-blue liquid, she braced herself for impact. Her shoulder connected with the gravel, followed by her hip, knee, feet and then head. She let out a silent moan, cringing inwardly as her gun was jabbed harshly into her stomach, bruising ribs and stealing her breath.
"Easy there, Carter."
She allowed herself to be rolled onto her back, her gun strap easily removed from around her neck. She placed her hands on the bottom of her rib cage, allowing them to take on a hypnotic rubbing motion that soothed and allowed her mind to wander from the aches that now throbbed in various places of her body.
"Y'okay?" Jack glanced at his second-in-command, putting her gun down beside her. He glanced up at his other two team members, silently signaling them to secure the perimeter even though the MALP had offered no visual threat. "Carter?" Kneeling down beside her, he placed his hands on her shoulders, gently kneading them. One thumb lightly brushed the smooth expanse of her neck, secretly rewarding both the giver and receiver.
Eyes still closed, she exhaled softly, sound being carried on the shallow breath of air the forced him to lean closer. Ear to mouth, he shivered slightly as he felt her warm breath tickle the sensitive skin.
He let out a small chuckle, extending his hand. "C'mon. I promise not to judge your ever graceful movements, Carter."
She took his hand and stood up slowly, hands returning to her bruised ribs. She kept her eyes closed, head tilted back slightly. She rolled her shoulders, working the aches to a dull as she exhaled loudly.
Jack absently picked up her gun, eyes unabashedly observing her form through his shades. Body stretched, he could easily imagine her naked form beneath her BDUs, skin glistening - forbidden thoughts that hid behind guarded eyes and, as he glanced down, strategically placed accessory belt. He handed her the weapon, and motioned her to join the other two.
She walked slightly behind him, her injuries now in the back of her mind. Sam took in the lush environment. She observed the medley of different trees and plants, all surviving in the same area. "Interesting how all these different specimens of plant-life can survive under one climate, Sir." She walked backwards, eyes always searching for any signs of movement or threat. "There are cacti, palm trees, oaks and maple leafs all clumped together over there. Almost as if they were taken from their respective homes and deposited here. But how are they surviving in the same climate?" She did a double take, pointing towards another clump of nature. "Bamboo and lichens coexisting together as if they were joint at the hip! Sir, this is incredible! There must be something in the air, or the soil...or -" She bumped into Jack, turning and smiling apologetically. "Why the sudden stop, sir?"
Jack paused, head tilted downwards. "Thought I heard something...or saw something..." He trailed off, looking towards the east, where the dense forest literally painted the horizon. The Sun cast shadows, looking towards the wind for aid as the branches and leaves danced and swayed with trickery.
She glanced over his shoulder, looking towards the forest. She opened her mouth to comment when Daniel and Teal'c called them over to the small rural-like village that lay nestled in a crescent-moon of plant-life.
Sam and Jack jogged, meeting up with the other two. "Any signs of human life?" Jack asked, eyes scanning the area.
"Well, not exactly. I mean, at one point yes but at this point...no." Daniel shrugged. "If you look around, sure life could definitely be supported, though I still haven't found any trace of animal life -"
"That is true, O'Neill. Both DanielJackson and I have yet to find any excrements to prove that animal creatures have once inhabited this land."
Jack nodded, still looking around. "Maybe they're so advanced, they got all their animals potty-trained." He reasoned, though illogically. He walked towards the center of the village, spying a hut with an open archway. He glanced at the other huts, all of them pointing towards the center of the village. He nodded towards the door, watching as Sam readied her gun and stealthily walked towards the opening. Teal'c took the other side of the door and Daniel merely stood, pretending to hold his gun in a combative manner. Jack grinned, rolling his eyes. He glanced over his shoulder, another movement catching his attention, but was greeted with a stilled view. He glanced towards the fountain, only now hearing the trickling of the water. Walking over to structure, his eyes took in the long columns that adorned the large fountain as his mind tried to remember whether the fountain had been running when they had arrived in the village.
"Corinthian columns, caryatides holding them up...looks Ancient Greek," Daniel mumbled, causing Jack to jump slightly.
Jack sighed, taking off his glasses and rubbing a hand over his eyes. "I'm too old for this. It was supposed to be our down time but nooo, you and Carter wanted to come check out P3X-12-buckle-my-shoe." He grumbled, putting his glasses back on.
"P3X-173..." Daniel began, but his voice died down after his commanding officer shook his head and walked away.
"I need a vacation," he sighed aloud, looking down at the ever-inviting water. He reached into his belt-pack, taking out a small bottle filled with little strips. He dipped one of the strips in the water and held it up to eye-level. "Aaaand it's not acid. Good." He tossed the strip on the ground and dipped his hand in the water, cupping the liquid and splashing it all over his face. He was about to take a small drink when a sound startled him. He glanced back at the hut, noticing Daniel wandering in. Stepping up on the small ledge that circled the fountain, he placed a hand flat on one of the columns. He pressed his ear to the cool cement, eyes softly closed and ears ever alert. A whisper reached his ears, and he frowned, unsure whether it was actually an audible sound or his over-active imagination fooling his mind. Suddenly, he felt a pressure on his back and he tumbled into the shallow fountain, landing hard on his stomach and forearms. He quickly turned on his back and sat up, gun ready and aimed. He glanced around quickly, standing up and moving heavily through the water.
"Sir?" He turned, aiming his gun at the captain, who quickly put her hands up in defense. "Easy there, Sir."
"Carter." He sighed, easing his gun away from her and running a hand through his now wet hair.
"Graceful." She commented, knowing she was bordering on insubordination. She gave him a secret smile, pleased when he snorted softly.
"Doesn't count when you push me, Carter. Seriously, no fooling around." He stepped out of the fountain, shaking the excess water out of his now unruly hair.
"Um, I...I didn't push you in, Sir."
"Ha. Ha. Very funny, Carter. We'll just omit this 'splish-splash-good-time' fun from our report, shall we?" He remarked, peeling off his BDUs from his skin.
"Sir, I was in one of the huts with Daniel and Teal'c. We found something...unusual and I came to get you." Sam answered, the smile no longer on her face, but confusion now present.
"Well, did you see anybody? One of the locals maybe? I mean, there have to be people living here, Carter." He nodded towards a large cauldron that sat proudly about a now-dying fire. "There are signs of life..."
"Therewere signs of life," Sam corrected him.
He eyed her uneasily. "What do you mean?"
She paused and took a small breath. "Sir, I came out just in time to see you tumble into the fountain. If someone had pushed you, I would have seen them complete the action or run away to say the least."
He nodded. "So what do you mean, 'were signs of life' and why is this place so damn creepy?" He spun around, sure he heard some rustling in the woods that surrounded the village. He was about to take a couple of steps towards the small cluster of exotic flowers when something shiny on the ground caught his eye. He bent down and picked up a large onyx ring. The outside of the shape was irregular but as he held up the ring to the sun, he noticed the perfect circle on the inside of the piece of jewelry. His eyes fell to the floor, noticing small footprints in the sand. He dropped to his knees, ignoring the pain and the concerned vocalizations of his teammate and friend. Crawling beside the footprints, he found that they lead all the way up to the exact spot where he was standing before gravity had taken its toll. He got up, pocketed the ring and dusted off his still-wet BDUs, annoyed at the sand still clinging on to his pants. He leaned over the edge of the fountain and wet his hands and face again.
Sam pretended to look elsewhere but she couldn't deny her eyes the pleasure of wandering over to her colonel's firm buttocks. She had almost memorized the exact shape it took, in each specific situation. She just wanted to reach out and feel, massage the strong muscles.
He jerked up turning on his heel, hand on his right cheek. "Carter! That was a little out of line!" He stared at her, eyes wide.
She glanced up at him, afraid that she had been caught staring at her superior. "Oh I..." Mouth slightly ajar, she couldn't help fight the blush that reddened her cheeks, hand tightening on her gun. "Sir, I was just looking -"
" - c'mon Carter. You did more than look. I say that was a full out feel -"
" - excuse me, Sir?" She boldly interrupted his interruption. "As in...cop a feel?"
He chewed on his bottom lip, assessing the situation. His eyes darted from her distance from him to her hands tightly clutching her gun close to her body. "Let me guess...you didn't touch my ass."
He sighed, letting his head fall back. "And you didn't see nor hear anyone."
"Great." He sighed, picking up his gun and slinging it around his neck and shoulder. "What the hell is going on in this place?"
Sam swallowed hard, averting her eyes as Jack walked beside her. "That's what I came to tell you about." She pointed towards one of the huts, directing him there. "You are right Sir. Up until recently, and I can take a calculated guess as to very recently, there has been human life on this planet. The reason why the MALP probe didn't pick anything up, why we didn't find anything," she continued, holding open a curtain to the largest hut in the village, "is because of this."
Jack walked in, eyes taking in all of the bodies, placed comfortably on rows and rows of cots. "Alive?"
"No pulse." Daniel responded, looking away from the writings on the walls. "From what I discern, through these images on the wall, is that this place is known as Asar-Neb-Djebu." He placed two fingers on his lips, in deep contemplation of the images and writings on the wall. "When the time comes, when threat is at its highest, their spirits will leave their bodies, protected by Djebu." Daniel paused, looking at all the rows of bodies. "It's a - "
" - a cult," Jack interrupted, "we stumbled upon a group of whackos! This is just great." He sighed, heading towards the door. "Let's go."
"Sir, I think we can still learn something from these people. I mean, if not, just by studying the environment. It's an...oddity." Sam pleaded with her superior. "Just a few more hours, Sir."
He turned to face her, his stern look softening in a moment of weakness. "Fine. I'll be by the gate. Two hours or I'm leaving without you."
"Thank you, Sir," she smiled, ignoring his empty threat.
"Yah, yah yah." He waved his hand, dismissing her as he made his way to the gate.
Sam turned, ready to instruct the other two on what to collect. She paused, taking in the silent stares of her teammates. "What?"
Daniel offered her a half-smile, teasing in its intent. "Right, like you don't have him eating out of the palm of your hand." He raised his voice, in vain imitation of his blonde companion, "oh please Sir! We wish to stay longer!" He then dropped his voice to a comical interpretation of their colonel. "Oh Samantha. Anything you desire!"
She cocked her head to the side, letting out a small chuckle. "It's all in the eyelashes, Danny," she jested, stepping outside to get some soil samples.
"Does DanielJackson really believe that O'Neill grants wishes to those with exceptionally long hairs on their eyelids?" Teal'c asked, respectfully walking through the rows of bodies. He reached down, checking the pulse of a small boy. "His body is cold." He stated, looking at all the other bodies. "It seems no harm has come of them. Perhaps a solution ingested has taken their lives." He checked the child's arms, neck and even legs for any abrasions. "There are no marks. There has been no abuse."
Daniel took a few more pictures of the walls, and glanced around the large, circular hut. "Seems like this to be the town hall. Maybe the sacrificial chambers. A lot of times, to reach divinity, one must give up the perishable body in order to reach that imperishability."
"Does DanielJackson know what could have caused them all to...perish at the same time?"
Daniel shrugged. "Well, usually they drink a solution - something that won't tarnish their bodies, their...vessels."
"But there are no cups, no evidence of such solutions," Teal'c noted, causing Daniel to look around.
"We'll get Sam to take a blood sample," Daniel stated, distracted by the small bookcase that lay at one end.
"Should we just not take a body?"
Daniel turned around, putting his hands up in defense. "No no nonono." He shook his head, taking a relieved breath upon seeing that the Jaffa had not removed nor moved a body yet. "Teal'c, us moving a body would be like digging up someone's grave and moving their body without permission. It's technically a federal offense, if I'm not mistaken." He pondered, pushing his glasses further up the bridge of his nose.
"But there is no one here to seek for permission." Teal'c stated, staring intently at his friend.
"True. But whether we agree with the methods or not, it was still a sacrificial ritual. It's still sacred, Teal'c."
"I understand, DanielJackson. Perhaps the people of this world wanted their vessels to remain where they had left them." He looked around, eyes taking in each and every body. "Perhaps there is still purpose in their place."
Daniel nodded, not bothering to look up, though secretly considering the Jaffa's words. "Very poetic, Teal'c. Maybe you have the bittersweet tortured soul of an artist, inside of you."
The Jaffa cocked his head to the side, eyebrow raised in question.
He let out a chuckle. "Never mind, Teal'c. Never mind." He nodded a greeting to Sam, standing up with several books in hand.
"Hey Sam. Think you can nab a blood sample from one of these people? We figured we'd leave the bodies here, especially seeing as it was some kind of ritual. We don't want to disturb the dead."
"Transitionners," she corrected him, giving him a lopsided smile.
Silence fell upon them as the two men watched Sam extract some blood from one of the victims. She shook her head. "Bone dry." She paused, head tilted downwards in contemplation. "We have cauldrons sitting on recent fires, food still on tables. There should still be blood in their systems, unless they all drank something that, I don't know, dried them up?" She thought of cutting one of them, of breaking the skin to see if any blood would show, but decided against disturbing them any further. She looked at the empty syringe and recapped it, placing it in a sealed bag. She headed towards the door. "Let's join the colonel, even though he is the oh-so-patient type," she cracked, holding the curtain open for the other two.
"His sarcasm is definitely rubbing off on you Sam. Am I going to have to separate you to from now on?" Daniel teased, falling in step with her. He suddenly stumbled forward, the books falling out of his hand and onto the sandy ground. "Teal'c. Why did you push me?"
"I'm afraid I did not come into contact with you, DanielJackson. Perhaps if you had carried less books and watched where you were going, you wouldn't have tripped." Teal'c replied calmly, offering just the right amount of texture in his voice to certify his sincerity.
"I felt someone push me, guys. I'm not imagining this." Daniel got up and began to pick up the books that he took. He held them close to his chest, looking around.
"The colonel had that same experience, Daniel. He claimed that someone pushed him into the fountain," Sam explained, her brow furrowed. She looked around, glancing towards an area where she could have sworn she had seen movement. "This place is creeping me out."
The three arrived at the gate to find the colonel sitting there, motionless. Sam walked up, smiling softly to herself as she noted he had fallen asleep. She fought back the urge to yell in his ear that they were under attack by hoards of Goa'ulds and instead placed a hand on his shoulder, rousing him. She glanced up, looking at the two worriedly. "Sir?" She shook him again, her force pushing him onto his back. "Sir?" She dropped to her knees, placing her ear next to his mouth. "He's not breathing!"
Daniel nodded to Teal'c, silently telling him to start dialing home. He rushed to Sam's side, picking up her discarded gun as well as the colonel's.
Sam unzipped his flak-jacket and unbuttoned the top buttons of his BDUs. She crossed one hand over the other, and placed it on his chest, roughly pumping his chest. "C'mon sir...please." Fingers gently parted his mouth as she placed her lips over his, breathing life into him. If she could, she realized that she would transfer her last breath of air for him. "Sir!" A tear splashed on his cheek and she angrily swiped at it. "Sir." She continued to alternate between mouth-to-mouth and pumping his chest. "Jack, please."
"Sam," Daniel stopped her with his words, motioning her to step back.
She shook her head, hands still connected to his chest, mouth still near his. "We can save him, Daniel." She pressed her lips against his again, this time only a sob traveling into his body.
Teal'c gently pushed her aside, picking up Jack. "Perhaps we can help O'Neill back at SGC, captain Carter."
She held on to Jack's limp hand, her other covering her mouth as she tried to hide her whimpers. She stepped into the gate, her stomach uneasy.