A/N: Apologies it took me so long to get back to this. My muse and I were having a difference of opinion for a while, but I think we've reconciled. And so, for a bit of fun, we have completed this story. Totally. New chapter every day or two.
The room shook and Sam let out a moan as she stirred to consciousness.
It was Daniel's voice, spoken softly from next to her. Oh God, everything ached and she struggled to open her eyes and focus on the worried face hovering above her. "Daniel?" Her voice cracked and sounded weak in her own ears. She cleared her throat.
"Sam. How do you feel?"
"Like road kill." She tested her left hand with a squeeze of her already clenched fist and was relieved to find her prize still there.
"What is road…?" Teal'c, who was standing now, began to ask but the room shook, cutting him off and Sam watched his face turn toward the ceiling.
"What's that?" she asked trying to sit up – though frankly she would have been happier staying where she was. Her muscles were being uncooperative and Daniel helped her.
"I am uncertain," Teal'c answered.
They all turned when a loud thud sounded from the back of the cell. Sam felt Daniel stiffen next to her and to her shock and slowly dawning horror, she watched water start to pour in from the narrow section that had opened up between the wall and the floor of the cell.
With Daniel's help, Sam scrambled to her feet. Her legs felt like jelly and she felt Teal'c's strong hand under her arm steadying her when she wobbled a little.
"They're going to drown us?" Daniel said.
Determined to get a hold of herself, Sam deliberately stamped each foot, the water spraying out from under her boots as she stretched her throbbing calf muscles. "Well I don't know about you guys, but I didn't bring any scuba gear this mission so how about we get out of here?" She said, striding to the bars. It was most likely due to the new surge of adrenalin, but she was quickly feeling better. She decided not to question it, but just to go with it.
"How?" Daniel came to stand next to her but kept his eyes on the water, as though it might bite him in the ass if he turned away from it.
The image nearly made Sam laugh, but the pain in her left hand as she pried her own fingers open sobered her. Boy, she'd really had a death grip on this thing, she thought. She'd planned on revealing the crystal to her friends rather dramatically and triumphantly, unfortunately the circumstances didn't allow for gloating right now.
"You acquired the device needed to open the doors. Impressive." Okay, well maybe a little gloating. She shot the Jaffa a smug grin. And strangely felt a little glow of pleasure at the man's praise. She had a great deal of respect for Teal'c.
"Really?" Daniel finally seemed to trust that the water now lapping around their ankles wasn't going to catch him unawares, and turned to watch as she felt around the bars to find the little control panel. "When did you do that? How did you do that?"
"Found it!" she said, instead of answering – she didn't think it was the time to go into Pick-Pocketing Captors 101 – and inserted the crystal. There was a buzz and the door swung open. They splashed their way to the table that held their gear. Quickly, expertly, they slipped into their combat vests and attached their weapons. Sam handed the Colonel's MP5 to Daniel. "Don't use it unless you have to Daniel. We need to try and sneak out of here and weapons fire isn't exactly conducive to stealth." She turned to Teal'c as she pulled her zat – her side arm of choice lately – out of its holster at her thigh. He nodded his understanding and took his own zat into his hands, positioning himself at the door while she inserted the crystal into the control panel and the light blinked green.
The dim passageway in which they found themselves was deserted. Not even one guard posted at their door. And Sam instantly realised why. It wasn't just their cell that was being flooded, it was the whole level. This was a problem. They had to find a way out, and fast. And they had to find Colonel O'Neill while they were at it. Sam felt fear stab into her ribs. Where was he?
"The water is rising rapidly," Teal'c said as they trotted down the hall, the water now knee high.
"He has to be around here somewhere." Sam had chosen to abandon stealth for speed when it became clear there really were no guards and the water was not letting up. They had to find the Colonel; if he was on this level he didn't have much time.
They had checked every cell and room along the way, and still there was no sign of him. Sam was taking point now, she had her weapon raised in front of her and leapt over the water, when she was forced to an abrupt stop. The passageway they'd been following branched off into two directions and she took a careful glance down both, but it was too dark to see anything significant. Her apprehension for the Colonel's welfare grew, but she swallowed it and was all business when she turned to her team mates.
"There's no time. We have to split up. Teal'c, you and Daniel take the right," she ordered with a wave of her zat toward the east passageway. "I'll go left. Radio contact every five minutes." She plugged her radio ear piece into her ear with Daniel and Teal'c following suit. "Let's go." She started down the left passageway, eyes and ears open, leaving Teal'c to take the right with Daniel following him closely.
The passage was dark, but the overhead lights continued to work even as the water rose to Sam's thighs, casting a soft glow over the water and making the rough hewn walls ripple. She sped down as fast as she could with the water now impeding her progress. She knew that eventually she wouldn't be able to reach the floor any longer. They had found only one way up so far – back near their cell. She wouldn't abandon the search for Colonel O'Neill, but she couldn't risk Teal'c and Daniel, either. Contacting Teal'c, she ordered them to return to their original location and get out once the water reached their waists. Daniel's protest sounded in her ear, but in the background she heard Teal'c shush him - just by simply speaking his name - before she had a chance to respond. She was grateful for it. After a brief hesitation, Teal'c assented. She was relatively certain that would give them enough time to make it out. Meanwhile she herself continued deeper into the underwater compound, and tried not to think about the physiology of drowning or the myriad of microbes that almost certainly lived in this murky water.
A shadow loomed several yards ahead and Sam slowed, angling her body closer to the wall and training her weapon on the spot. She was able to see it more clearly as she neared. It was an opening in the wall and she approached it carefully making certain there were no hostiles ready to pounce on her. But just like everywhere else down here, there wasn't another soul in sight.
Sam keyed her radio as she continued on. "Teal'c, Daniel, come in?"
"Yeah Sam, we're here," Daniel's voice sounded in her ear.
"I found another way up. It looks like a steep staircase, but its closer."
"Okay. Hold on, Teal'c sees something."
Sam felt herself hold her breath for a moment and had to force herself to breathe, continuing on past the staircase. The passage ahead opened up into a wide chamber. It was more brightly lit by the overhead lights, but there were no doors or openings anywhere. If the room had a purpose she couldn't tell what it was.
"Major Carter. There is a stairway here also." This time Teal'c spoke directly to her.
Sam thought for a moment. "Teal'c, there's nothing down here. I'm heading up. Complete the sweep of your area and then head up those stairs...use caution." They didn't bust out of their cell just to get themselves shot, or to reveal they'd escaped. Their best defence now was stealth and surprise.
"Understood," Teal'c replied.
If Teal'c and Daniel didn't find him, then the Colonel wasn't down here. Which meant he was up, and Sam felt that was probably the best news she'd had all day; on the upper levels he would be safe from the flooding. She held onto that one thought like she held onto her zat. She turned away from the chamber and headed for the stairs.