Author Notes 2/16/08: This is a repost. I don't normally do the whole reposting thing, but I did this story a disservice way back when I got lazy and posted it as a one-shot. It's just too long for it to be a one-shot, and it didn't really get read. I hope it's not too annoying to you all that I'm posting it again. If it is, just, well, please ignore me and know that you have my apologies.
Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1, Stargate SG-1 characters, and Stargate SG-1 plotlines do not in any way belong to me. They belong to Double Secret Productions, MGM Home Entertainment, and teacher with enough bills to light a bonfire. Gekko Film Corp. The original character in this fic is mine, and mine alone. Please don't sue me…If you do, you won't get anything out of me anyway, since I'm just a public high school teacher with enough bills to light a bonfire.
Original Author's Notes: This is my first Stargate fic, and I submit it in the hope that it's enjoyed by all of you who love Jack-whumping. This one certainly covers the bases in that department! My utmost thanks go out to Katie (a.k.a. Sokerchick) who did a wonderful beta job on this fic and without whose help…well, I don't know what I'd do! Any mistakes are mine alone (and that includes run-on sentences wink to Katie )!
Please do not post this fic without my prior approval. Additionally, although I love constructive criticism and feedback, any flames will be added to the aforementioned bonfire.
Voices Calling From A Yellow Road1
He opened his eyes to the bleary image of two pools of blue and idly wondered what the hell had happened this time. It had to have been pretty damn interesting for him to be on the receiving end of that particular look from Carter.
Closing his eyes again, Colonel Jack O'Neill readied himself for what was surely to happen next.
"Are you alright, Colonel?" his favorite USAF Major asked.
Unsurprised by the words, but tired of hearing them being repeatedly directed at him over the past few years, Jack sighed heavily.
"That depends, Carter," he croaked out.
"On what, Sir?"
In an attempt to abate his throbbing headache, Jack kept his eyes closed but could still hear the concern for him in the tone of Carter's voice. He knew that she would be worrying about a head injury. It was probably best to lay those worries aside.
He cracked one eye open and flashed his cockiest smile at her.
"On whether or not we're all still locked up in an overly small metal room, Major."
Sam smiled, and he opened his other eye in response. His vision blurred for a moment, and he was overcome by the nausea that assaulted him.
"Yes, Sir," Carter responded, and as dazed as he was, he failed to notice for the moment that she had not answered his question. But, his physical discomfort was only fleeting, and he was relieved when his vision quickly cleared, and the nausea dissipated. Realizing that Carter was beginning to eye him with serious concern, Jack mentally shook off his weakness. No sense needlessly worrying her, he thought and then decided that diversionary tactics were definitely called for.
"Which is it Carter? Are we actually okay for once?" he asked devilishly as he struggled to sit up straighter.
"We're all still locked up in an overly small metal room, Jack," came the decidedly grumpy response from somewhere to the left of the Colonel and indisputably not from Carter. Jack twisted around to see Daniel uncomfortably squeezed in between the large form of Teal'c and Jack's own long body. Daniel looked stressed and miserable in the confines of the small room, and the older man realized that the archaeologist was bored.
"How're you doing there, Danny-Boy?"
"Bored," came the sullen reply, and Jack grinned at the expected response while glancing surreptitiously at Teal'c. The Jaffa simply raised an eyebrow at his commanding officer, making Jack's grin spread wider. O'Neill did not have to ask to know that an altercation had occurred between the archaeologist and the large warrior. Jack imagined that Daniel's habit of being verbose during stressful situations had gotten the better of the stoic man. He suspected that Daniel's current sullenness was due at least in part to Teal'c having made the archaeologist aware that under the current circumstances the Jaffa required more silence than Daniel knew how to give, and that the strong warrior was more than willing to physically silence the younger man in the name of education.
Jack shook his head and choked back his laughter as he glanced back at Carter.
"So Carter, how long was I out?" It had to have been for more than a couple of minutes if Teal'c had had the time to successfully curb Daniel's nervous, non-stop chatter.
The Major glanced at her watch and grimaced slightly.
"Almost an hour, Sir. Are you sure you're alright?"
Jack skillfully hid his surprise. Almost an hour! Wow! Glancing over at the seemingly open wall in front of him, he mentally saluted the invisible force shield that he knew was there. That thing sure packed a punch!
"I'm fine, Carter," he said grouchily. And it wasn't quite a lie since a dull headache didn't really count. He noticed the Major's skeptical look, but decided to ignore it.
"Well, I guess we've firmly established that we shouldn't approach that force shield, huh?" he announced to the group.
"Yes, Sir," Carter responded with a relieved smile.
"So, what happened while I was in la-la land?"
"We have ascertained that this room appears to be impervious to escape," the somewhat formal reply came from Teal'c, and Jack nodded in response.
"Uh huh," he said absently as he looked around his surroundings yet again. The situation unequivocally sucked. All four of them were cramped together in a space barely fit for two average sized men, and although he had to admit that they had been in worse situations before, the pain in his knees was really starting to bug him. All of them were forced to sit in awkward positions with their legs tucked under them or bent to their chests since there simply was not enough room for any of them to stretch out without entangling long limbs awkwardly together or touching the force shield. Jack wished he could stretch or even stand to relieve the tension in his legs and back, but the room was too small and the four foot ceiling too low to allow him the luxury of standing upright. When it came right down to it, they were sitting in nothing more than a box, although thankfully, it was a box that was at least dimly lit.
"Any of our hosts introduce themselves?" was his next question. He really needed to know what was happening.
"No, Sir," Carter responded almost apologetically. Jack grimaced in irritation at their lack of knowledge. The situation would be a damn sight easier to deal with if they knew what the hell they were up against.
"Anyone have any suggestions?" he asked no one in particular.
Not one member of the group had any plan forthcoming, and Daniel looked so miserable that Jack decided to take pity on him. Time for some morale-raising, O'Neill humor.
"Alright then," he said rubbing his hands together eagerly. "How 'bout a game of rock, paper, scissors, Daniel?"
Daniel's response was to press his face against his bent knees and moan.
"This really sucks," the beleaguered archaeologist said in a voice muffled by his legs.
Jack smiled wanly. He couldn't agree more.
It had been a simple mission, but then again the worst ones usually started out that way. SG-1 had been sent to a relatively grey and barren planet that seemed to have suffered some extreme environmental catastrophe in its recent past. No structure, alien or otherwise had been detected by either MALP or UAV, and the only indication that the planet had once been healthy was a fast moving river that flowed near the Stargate. Even the river showed signs of contamination as Carter's initial tests had demonstrated it to be highly polluted with sulfates and entirely lacking in any form of life. In fact, the only thing worthy of note on the entire planet had been the data showing that insignificant levels of naquadah could possibly be hidden far beneath the planet surface. And, according to the best scientific mind at the SGC (i.e., Carter's), trace amounts of naquadah several meters below a planet's surface, though difficult to detect, could coincide with deposits of other valuable minerals that were even harder to detect.
Under this hypothesis, the Major had spent several weeks developing a sensitive naquadah detection device that was derived from the less sophisticated equipment found on the MALPs. The plan had been to test both the precision and accuracy of one of Carter's new naquadah-finding devices, hopefully uncover evidence to support her hypothesis regarding the relationship between naquadah and other important minerals, and then return to the 'gate. Nothing taxing or extreme. In fact, Carter had insisted to General Hammond that SG-1 could handle it on their own, and that the barrage of scientists that usually accompanied such a mission was unnecessary. Jack had silently believed that the Major wanted to try out her invention without too many onlookers peering over her shoulder since, during the instrument's naissance she had confided in him that she had her doubts about its final efficacy.
Regardless, it had actually turned out to be a strangely simple mission. That is until they were walking the mile or so back to the 'gate. Daniel and Jack had fought in the early morning hours over something inconsequential, and the Colonel had been preoccupied with the quarrel.
Arguments between the two of them had never been uncommon, but lately the two friends had been sniping at each other over topics barely worth either of their attention. It just seemed as if they both went out of their way to get on each other's nerves. This particular argument had stemmed from Daniel's wish to help out his friend when said friend believed that he really didn't need the help.
Ever since Daniel had reestablished his bearings after descending, he had been preoccupied with the Colonel's increasing self-isolation. And Jack had to admit that he had been playing the hermit quite often lately, but it just wasn't Daniel's job to pester him constantly with things that he thought the two of them should do together. Although Jack knew that the behavior was really the archaeologist's way of saying that he thought Jack should get out more, it was just plain annoying.
Besides, Jack craved the isolation. He needed the time to recoup mentally, and often physically from the arduous tasks and decisions he was forced to endure and make as SG-1's team-leader. Daniel just couldn't fully comprehend what the Colonel's entire job entailed. Although Jack supposed that if he took the time to talk to Daniel about all of this, the man would understand and back down. But Jack had never been one to discuss his feelings, and he wasn't about to start now. And what did Daniel expect anyway?
But he truly had regretted snapping at his friend earlier when Daniel had, yet again, asked Jack to attend a concert that evening. Jack guessed that he still had some lingering issues from the time Daniel had been off doing the 'glowy' thing that predisposed him to acting out resentfully now and again towards the archaeologist. The truth of the matter was that Jack had missed his friend terribly during his ascension; in fact, had never quite gotten over it. And he found himself still floundering a bit with the feelings evoked by the man's all too sudden and unexpected return. And if he were really being honest with himself, Jack would have to admit that the confusion he was experiencing in response to the return of Daniel Jackson had more than anything to do with his need for seclusion. But, then again, honesty was overrated, wasn't it?
Jack had just begun mulling over the idea of having a serious, although dreaded, discussion with Daniel about the difficulties he was experiencing, when suddenly the subject of his ruminations cried out.
Jack remembered turning sharply at the sound and seeing Daniel's flailing body plunge into the fast moving river. The Colonel still wasn't sure how the archaeologist had managed it; maybe he had slipped on some gravel and just plummeted uncontrollably into the water. The "how" of it all hadn't really mattered. What had mattered was what the remainder of the team was going to do to save their struggling friend.
Jack had quickly taken in the scene and noted that although the river was fast, it appeared to be relatively shallow; waist-high at its deepest. That and the fact that Daniel had been shouldering a pack filled with massive books that dragged along the bottom of the river and got caught in heavy stones had given the archaeologist the smallest chance for a rescue.
Catching both Carter and Teal'c's eyes to indicate that the two should follow, the Colonel had started off at a fast run downstream. Jack's thought had been that Daniel's pack would slow the archaeologist's forward movement enough so that the others could beat him further down the river and catch him. Amazingly, the off-the-cuff plan appeared to have some merit, because they actually had beaten the water-soaked man downstream. Relying on Teal'c's ever-substantial strength, the Colonel had designated the man as an anchor for the Jaffa/human chain that hopefully could withstand the force of the river water.
And actually, the plan had been working. Jack remembered hearing Carter, second in their chain of three, groan at the effort it had taken her to hold tight when Jack had managed to grab a solid hold on Daniel's pack. They had been within mere seconds of plucking Daniel from the water, when a bright light whisked them away from the heart-pounding scene.
One moment they had been braving raging waters, and the next they had found themselves crammed into a cell that was entirely too small for all of them. They had all been a bit disoriented at the sudden change, and it had taken them a few moments to adjust to their new environment. When they did, they had quickly taken stock of the situation and of the fact that all of them, except surprisingly the Colonel, had retained their packs and their weapons. And although their MRE's were soaked, and their waterlogged flashlights were inoperative, all were relieved when their weapons had appeared safe.
The Colonel had been none-too-pleased with the situation, and after noting the static charge of a force shield, had attempted to break through the structure with the Major's zat. Unfortunately, the shield had simply absorbed the weapon's energy, rendering that avenue of escape useless. Even Teal'c's staff weapon had proven to be ineffective. And since the walls of the cell were composed of an unidentifiable metal, none of the team-members had thought that shooting their way out with their guns was wise since the risk of ricochet seemed too high.
And so the Colonel, impatient and frustrated, had attempted to pound his way through the force shield with his fists. It had been a stupid thing to do, he knew, but someone had to try it, and at the time he had felt like the man for the job. Unfortunately, that particular breakout opportunity had yielded worse results than the pilfered Goa'uld weaponry had afforded, and now, after Jack's substantial nap, they were still without information or an escape plan and, worse, still slightly damp from river water.
Sam was amusing herself by listening to the Colonel and Daniel arguing over the finer points of rock, paper, scissors. She marveled at the incredible ability the two of them had to fight over practically anything, and she couldn't refrain from smiling. Despite the fact that she had her eyes closed, she could just imagine the exasperated look on Daniel's face as Jack did his best to debate the point that rock should beat paper since he knew for a fact that Daniel used more than one of the rocks he had picked up on any number of planets as paperweights, and Jack had never seen the paper fight back. After predictably reminding Jack for the umpteenth time that the word "rock" was not synonymous with "artifact," Daniel had begun to spout off the official rock, paper, scissor game rules. Sam was especially interested in what she knew would be the Colonel's impending response but realized she would never hear it as Daniel abruptly ended his argument mid-sentence, and Jack poked her in her arm to get her attention.
"Uh, Carter," O'Neill said conversationally as her eyes snapped open. He motioned towards the open wall with the flourish of an outstretched hand where she observed a metal sphere approximately two feet in diameter silently floating beyond the confines of the invisible force shield. "Any idea what that thing is?"
"No, Sir," Sam said as she glanced at the alien object nervously.
"Teal'c? Ever see anything like it?"
"No, O'Neill. I have not."
Jack sighed heavily in response and brushed a hand through his greying hair.
"Well, maybe we'll finally figure out what's going on here," he muttered as the sphere flew effortlessly through the force shield and entered the room.
"Sweet," Jack said under his breath, and Sam smiled despite herself.
The sphere hovered only for a moment prior to settling itself in the space that was a few inches in front of the Colonel's face. Jack stilled and looked sideways at his Second-In-Command.
"Carter?" he queried warily just before the sphere produced a metal extension that quickly encircled his neck.
"Crap!" Jack exclaimed hoarsely as his body was roughly pulled in the direction of the force shield. He attempted to scramble away from the sphere and fought violently in its grasp.
All three of his team members reached out to the Colonel to help him in his struggle, and,
unwilling to let him go, they grasped tightly onto his arms and shoulders. Then suddenly, Jack's thrashing lessened, and Carter saw his eyelids begin to droop.
"What?" he asked vacantly in the instant before he slumped unconsciously, and the sphere began to exhibit some success in taking his body to wherever it deemed necessary.
"Jack!" Daniel yelled in a panic to keep his friend near. All three of the friends tightened their hold on their teammate, but the sphere's progress increased and before they knew what was happening, Sam, Daniel and Teal'c were watching the Colonel's limp body being dragged through the force shield and away from their protection.