N.B. -Jack's thoughts in apostrophes
(Third month in captivity)
Even as the icy spasms trembled through his pain-wracked body, the burning heat radiated outward, the sweat pouring down the length of him in streaming rivulets which soaked the soft baby hide in which he was enveloped. A crude dressing covered his right shoulder and when the hide was pulled away for the women to cool his over-dry, heated skin, the larger dressing on his left thigh was revealed, the swelling beneath it all too obvious. Though he was unconscious there was no peace in his condition as he tossed his head from side to side, mumbling incoherent words, swatting at the hands that sought to ease his pain by coaxing him to take a liquid that was constantly dribbled through his chapped, stubborn lips.
A younger woman stooped low as she came through the tent's entrance, cautiously holding in her hands a flat stone upon which a concoction that looked like mud and made the others eyes water from its pungent smell bubbled. Instantly this woman knelt at his side and the other two moved to remove the dressing on his thigh, restraining him as he fought their ministration.
The laceration, deep and jagged, was raw and ugly and oozed a putrid pus so when the heated sludge was placed gently on the wound the man reared up, yelling his protest in the only way permissible until the dark chasm of unconsciousness won the battle, allowing the three women to continue offering comfort through the long hours and days that the infection raged.
(Three months earlier)
His first return to consciousness was so agonizing that he didn't at first have time to wonder about the strange position he was in. No doubt he had been slung over Teal'c's powerful shoulder like a sack of disgraced potatoes and was being carried to bed. His main bewildered thought once he'd got a hold on the pain was that he was experiencing the worst hangover of his entire life, but before he could worry over the fact that he had absolutely no recollection of what must have been a titanic drinking episode, he passed out.
Some time had passed. The motion hadn't stopped, but although it was offensive, the Sahara desert in his mouth was far more desperate and combined with the roiling in his stomach, which was making a hasty movement up his throat, Jack knew he was going to throw up any time soon.
He knew he had to move if only for the sake of saving himself the ignominy of puking all over Teal'c's back, something he knew without doubt he would be made to answer for at a later date. Teal'c had a good long memory.
"Teal'c, put me the hell down."
His words were a mere groan producing no effect. He moaned again feeling as if shards of glass were piercing his brain, but when he tried to raise a hand to his pounding temple he found it to be impossible.
'What the hell!'
The effort to open his eyes could not justify the result, particularly when Jack's eyes were fixed on smooth short hair - some black, some white. It took a while for his blurred vision to focus, but when it did he stifled the groan that his body automatically produced as his confused mind sorted out the muddle of his position, to inform him he'd been flung over the bare back of a piebald pony which was being led by a - he jerked, instantly regretting the move, yet still he was unable to accept the astonishment...
To all intents and purposes they looked like Native American Indians - bare legs and loin cloths, skinned leggings and various ornamental feathers in long, black hair. How the hell had this happened?
'Come on flyboy, get your act together,' he ordered his frazzled brain.
As he strove to bring some semblance of order to his reeling wits he determined that his last clear memory was leaving Sam, Daniel and Teal'c at their campsite on PX530 and going to the stream nearby to collect water. He had zero recollection of any sort of attack after that, which was utterly bewildering.
As he frowned in frustration his nausea reached crisis level and Jack's thoughts moved to self-preservation.
'If this is a dream, please let me wake up now and if not, let the damned cavalry come!'
As he felt the vomit erupting, he painfully raised his aching head resting against the side of the pony's flank, revolted by the hot, thick liquid spewing from his body. He tried hard to jerk his hands away, but not only did the foul smelling stuff land in a solid grey trail on the ground, it partially covered the animal and his tethered hands.
He moaned in disgust thankful he didn't continue to dry heave. Yet as his discomfort made itself known in different parts of his body, he tried easing his body back, kicking with his tethered legs to gain backward momentum.
"Argh!" A sharp verbal command and an even sharper blow to his shoulder blade stilled his movements and he lay as motionless as was possible hogtied over the back of a pony. The language, though unknown, conveyed its meaning loud and clear, but just to emphasize the point, the bruising blow had accompanied it to make doubly sure.
'Not such a good idea, Jack.'
He turned his head as far as it would go to one side, squinting against the sunlight that stabbed his aching eyes, the better to see his captors and more importantly if the others under his command had also been captured. There were two young warriors sitting their ponies side by side in a pose he knew so well, relaxed yet ever vigilant, eyes scanning their surroundings, never pausing unless to check something out. At least from his limited view he could see no other prisoners, which was a relief unless... No, he wouldn't go there, better to be positive. He'd try the Daniel Jackson approach - there was nothing to lose.
"Hey guys? I'm a peaceful traveller who's argh--!"
His words were choked off mid-sentence as his pony launched itself into a painful trot and Jack could do nothing with his limited energy to prevent his body making painful contact with his mount's hard back as his stomach and chest were battered by the motion.
When the horses moved into canter there was a measure of relief, but he didn't have a chance to think about it too much as he desperately fought to stay on top. Lashed as he was to the horse, there were still positions which were far more excruciating than others and he worked on reducing the amount of his suffering as much as he could.
Over the following hours, lack of water, coupled with the pain in his head, encouraged moments of hallucination when he was back at the SGC working out with Teal'c and taking a heavy hammering. When he hit the floor he felt the blast of pain from Teal'c's padded boxing glove make impact with the side of his head, the hurt radiating out, ripples in a stormy lake, and he groaned at the injury knowing it meant a trip to the infirmary. He lay still trying to overcome the pain, to channel it into a compartment he could shut the door on and control. Janet would have his butt in a sling for this stupidity.
'Time to get up, Jack,' he advised himself wearily, but his body refused to co-operate, until, that is, Teal'c's foot made heavy contact with his bruised and sensitive rib cage. He yelled a curse, wondering what the hell had gotten into the Jaffa and promising him he would suffer payback big time until his blurred eyes realized that the foot in question was covered in moccasin footwear.
He bit back another painful groan, swallowing down more burning bile which threatened to make another spectacular eruption and made it to his knees. Raising his throbbing head, he found himself the object of intense scrutiny by half a dozen native Indians.
Half raising his tied hands, trembling with the cold and shock, he called out with more bravado than he felt, "Hi guys."
There was no reciprocal greeting.
Scanning the area, he realized any opportunity for escape was slim. From the little he could see in the gloom, they had just entered the mouth of a cave and the temperature indicated they must be at a high altitude. Not that the Indians showed it. With his trousers, jacket and T-shirt he was still shivering whereas his captors looked as if they were out for a gentle stroll on the beach.
One of them, the one who appeared to Jack to be the leader, uttered something guttural; the tone again sounded like a command, but having no clue, Jack shrugged his shoulders. More words and further shrugging ensued. The leader, whom Jack had designated Geronimo, had long hair like the rest of his party, but one side section was plaited with black and white feathers hanging from it at intervals. His face, paler than the original Native American Indians on earth, bore a bright yellow sun on one half and a white lightning flash the other. His eyes, darker than Jack's, stared at him without expression and Jack surmised him to be in his early thirties.
The colonel made a signal, touching his mouth to indicate his thirst; he was desperate and not averse to milking the situation if it was to his benefit.
'Damn - they must've been talking to the general or Janet,' he decided dejectedly when there was no reaction to his miming. Slowly, painfully he made it to his feet swaying dangerously, for a second finding his vision tunnelling just as he observed Geronimo approaching him with a wicked looking knife gripped in his right hand.
Jack tried to evade the weapon, but so disoriented and dehydrated was he that all he ended up doing was falling on his butt ignominiously and waiting for the finishing stroke. It never came.
Instead he felt the ropes on his ankles give way and, eyes widening, he forced his vision to clear gazing up nonplussed by the action. A further low guttural growl conveyed its meaning clearly to Jack when it was accompanied by another glancing blow to his feet.
"Okay, okay. Keep your shirt on."
Just at that moment he heard Carter's concerned voice from the radio still attached to his collar calling his name, demanding he answer. He jerked to one side reaching for the button with clumsy hands, powerful relief that he had proof that at least one member of his team was still alive coursing through his body, but as his numb fingers struggled to reach his radio, a hand plucked the device from his uniform while another held him firmly as he struggled to regain his precious equipment. Dejectedly he watched as it was tossed to the floor, his 2IC's voice receding as he was pushed firmly forward.
Sandwiched between the warriors, Jack was forced to follow a circuitous route through low tunnels which appeared to cut through a mountain. When a number of routes were available there seemed no hesitation in the darkness, and horses and men walked on with the exception of Jack, who weaved and limped.