Disclaimer: Not mine. All rights of all characters in the show go exclusively to their owners and creators. However, I would like to stake my claim on the original characters. Like Sergeant Ezeeks and Captain Williams.
Rating: Teen. Rated teen for graphic violence, disturbing images, language, and overall just pain and injury.
Timeframe: I'm never really good at these...after 'The Tok'ra I, II'. Janet is alive, as is Daniel...so between seasons 3 and 5.
Summary: After a naquadah mining expedition goes sour, can Sam lead a group of civilians from Washington D.C., two new SGC recruits, and a scientist through a vicious attack and being trapped underground?
A/N: Ok, this a/n is gonna be a little long.
First of all, to anyone who is reading my other ongoing fic, 'The Love of a Father', please bear with me. While writing Chapter 5, I suddenly found myself staring blankly at a mostly empty word document, experiencing one of the largest writing blocks I have ever experienced. I have not given up and continue to plug away, but I decided that, instead of staring lucidly at my computer, I should do some good and get to writing another story that has been chasing around in my mind for a while now. So I wrote it out, and it ended up finishing itself before Chapter 5 did.
Secondly, I'm not going to be able to post anything for a while, seeing as I am departing for vacation as of tomorrow (YAY!)
Thirdly, I hope you all like this oneshot. I worked hard on it, writing feverishly in between packing for my trip. Reviews, as usual, are wanted direly. I can only make things better if I know there's something wrong with it. Anyhow, thanks for reading this short novella of an a/n, and I hope you enjoy this story.
A piercing scream shattered the still air, wrenching Sam out of the cloying darkness that had been pressing down on her eyelids, holding her a prisoner in the warm folds. The scream continued, the undulating shriek of a woman in distress. Sam tried to move, to silence the woman, knowing somehow that the shrill sound of her voice would be bad, would bring even more nightmare. But she couldn't move, couldn't move anything below her right knee.
She attempted to remember how she had gotten here, why she was unable to move. But, she realized with a thrill of horror, that she couldn't remember anything, that there were huge gaps in her memory; she couldn't remember anything that had happened in the last twenty-four hours.
She twitched, trying to move, trying to escape, hoping that, if she did, she'd be able to figure out where exactly she was. She stopped, gasping for breath, something pressing down on her lungs, strangling her, clamping around her chest with iron tight grip. Sam fell back against the hard, lumpy floor, gasping, blinking her eyes.
Slowly, the pain crept up out of the abyss, clamoring to be heard. The first thing she could truly feel was the pounding headache, the sharp stabbing centered above her left eye. She thought for an instant that she felt a sticky liquid dripping down her cheek, landing by her ear with a soft plop, but as soon as she thought about it, the sound and feeling faded away into a steady throb. The next thing Sam noticed was the shooting pain that radiated from her chest every time she attempted to breathe in.
Once again, Sam attempted to move, to pull her right leg out from under the oppressive weight that felt like it was crushing it.
She was unconscious before the scream could leave her lips.
The ground shook beneath her feet, dark gray dust raining down onto her shoulders and settling in her hair. Sam coughed, ducking away from the small crack that had suddenly opened up above her, calling behind her for the others to hurry.
"No, I can't keep going," wheezed man, leaning over and grasping his knees as he fought for breath. His previously smartly clean, pure black suit was covered in dust as well, the lighter colored fragments of dust covering him in a pale dusting.
Sam spun, holding her lantern up higher. "You wanna be here when the walls surrounding us blow?" she hissed at the man. "Get moving, or move over so that the others that are behind you can get through."
The man glared at her, but complied, standing and moving forward again.
"Keep going, I'll be there in a minute," Sam told the man, handing him the lantern. He shook his head numbly, shaking visibly. Sam huffed in annoyance, then called behind her, "Sergeant Ezeeks!"
An auburn haired girl, with her long locks tied up in a tight bun, appeared the next instant. "Ma'am?" she asked, drawing near.
"Take point," Sam ordered, gesturing for her to take the lantern and continue. Ezeeks nodded and, after snatching the lantern from the man, hurried onward.
Sam tucked herself against the wall, watching the others squeeze past her. She finally unstuck herself from the jagged stone wall, falling in step with a short, skinny man with glasses barely hanging onto the bridge of his nose.
"Dr. Schell," Sam began. The man turned to her.
"Yes Major Carter?" he wheezed, his chest moving up and down rapidly, coughing as he passed under a spurt of dust that rained down from the ceiling.
"How much farther are we going to have to go?" Sam asked him. "I don't think the other civilians are going to be able to keep going much longer."
Dr. Schell shook his head, answering her in between rushed breaths. "Soon. The blockade is coming up soon."
Sam nodded, clapping him on the shoulder as she moved forward again to take the lead. His information hadn't been as helpful as she could have hoped, but it was going to have to suffice.
As she passed the two women who were staggering down the tunnel, Sam slowed. "We're almost there," she reassured them. "It's not much farther. Oh, and it might be easier if you take off your high heels," Sam added before moving onward.
She squeezed past the man second in line, repeating her assurances. He didn't say anything; just shot her a venomous glare. Sam ignored this, stepping forward again to take the lantern from Sergeant Ezeeks. "Thanks," Sam muttered and the young woman smiled.
As if through a veil, Sam heard someone calling her name, could hear them moving something as they struggled to get nearer. "Major!" The called out again.
Sam attempted to call out, to tell him where she was, but all that came out was a strangled, painful cough. She lay gasping, struggling to breathe in despite the shooting pains and the oppressive weight that had settled even more firmly over her chest.
"Major Carter, can you hear me?" came the voice again.
"Yeah," Sam finally managed to force out, although it was weak and reedy.
The sound of the person stopped as if they were listening. Silently, Sam prayed to whatever deity was looking down on her, protecting her even in the crisis.
"Captain?" Sam called out, a little louder this time. The sound of frenzied movement heralded the fact that the man had heard her.
"Keep making noise Major," he said, nearing her position.
Sam lifted her right hand, pushing it against the loose rubble by her side. Suddenly, she felt the small rocks being swiftly pushed aside, and then she felt someone gripping her fingers. "We're going to get you out of there," the man said, squeezing her fingers reassuringly.
"Ezeeks! Get up here!" the man yelled, then knelt back down on the rock pile. He started to shift one of the larger rocks, but froze as he suddenly realized that it was propped up against another, and he could only guess that it was what had saved Major Carter.
Alana Ezeeks was suddenly at his side. "Williams, you found her?" she asked.
"Yeah," Williams replied. "She's under here, but we're going to have to work fast. She doesn't sound too good," he told the Sergeant, his voice dropping. Ezeeks nodded, and knelt as well, grasping some of the smaller rubble and flinging it down the rocky slope.
After a few moments of shifting rubble hastily, the two of them had Major Carter mostly freed.
"Major, all that's left now is your right leg," Captain Williams said, pulling the stone that had been resting fully on Carter's chest with Ezeeks' help. They dropped it to the side, and then the two knelt on either side of the fallen major.
"Alright," Carter said, gasping to take in as much air as she possibly could. Williams noticed that, with each breath, she winced, but the need for oxygen seemed to win out above the pain.
Williams turned his attention to rock pinning her leg. He looked up at Ezeeks, nodding as he stood, shoving one shoulder against the small boulder. As he shifted it marginally, Carter gasped, biting her lip. Williams' eyes narrowed, and he was suddenly almost afraid to free her leg, knowing that they would then have to deal with whatever damage was hidden beneath the dozens of pounds of stone.
"Get ready," Williams told Ezeeks. She nodded, bending to grip Sam's knee.
Williams shoved up and back, pushing the boulder up a few inches. With a spurt of movement, Ezeeks pulled up on the major's knee, forcing her leg and foot out from under the stone.
As her foot dragged along the floor, Sam couldn't bite back a scream as her leg seemed to catch on the jagged stone, feeling as if something was being ripped from beneath her skin.
"This is it, we can't go any farther!" wailed the man in the suit. For some reason, Sam couldn't put a name with the face at this time.
"Calm yourself. Panic won't get anyone anywhere," Sam snapped, silencing him with a glare.
Dr. Schell made his way forward, joining Sam and Sergeant Ezeeks beside the blockade stoppering up the tunnel.
"This is it?" Sam asked him. He nodded mutely, his eyes wide as he looked at the thick beams set into deep grooves on either side of the tunnel walls. Sheets of something like plywood mostly covered the beams, and Sam, Ezeeks, and Williams, who had just joined them, set to ripping them off with frenzied fervor. Blocks of cement-like material filled the space between the waist-thick supports. The three of them slammed their shoulders into the cement, attempting to break through the artificial wall.
The sound of another explosion echoed down the passageway, a wave of heat slamming into the small group.
"We have to hurry," panted Sergeant Ezeeks. "If we don't get through this, then we'll be caught in the next few explosions." Sam nodded, throwing her shoulder against a block again.
"Stand back," barked Captain Williams. He lifted his P90, which was strapped to his vest, pointing it at the wall. "Desperate times call for desperate measures."
Sam nodded, motioning for the others to step back. Williams opened fire, slamming the flying metal bullets into the material. Small chips of the stone material began to fly through the air, slamming into the walls. Sam stepped back to cover the civilians as the shrapnel continued to rain down, slicing skin and cloth wherever it impacted.
The blocks began to crumble into dust, finally shattering into a hundred fragments that tumbled to the floor. The sharp retort of weapon fire died, and Sam and Ezeeks rushed forward, pushing the fragmented remains of the cement blocks. They tumbled like gray, solid rain, down around their boots.
"Let's go," Sam said, motioning the others forward and stepping over the ruined wall. "Ezeeks, you have our sixes," she ordered before looking back in front of her, switching the light on her P90 on. The beam crossed the drifting swirls of dust that billowed out from the ruined wall. The air smelled odd, different; stale, but with a tint of fear and terror underneath.
Sam stepped forward with a careful tread, listening for the footsteps of those behind her. They sounded hesitant, careful, and Sam could only guess that the others had sensed the strange feeling pervading the air as well.
The group had just turned a corner and began descending into the depths, the floor of the tunnel sloping downward slightly when, "I don't like it in here," came the whining man's voice. "Why are we down here? Surely the tunnels up farther are safe," he said, obviously scared now.
Sam turned back, motioning for the others to continue. They complied, traipsing onwards, Williams moving forward to take point. Looking up, Sam immediately pinpointed the panicking man, the lantern that he was carrying flickering fitfully as the light bulb inside it began to die.
"Come on. It's best if we stick together," Sam urged, beckoning him onward.
A thunderous explosion pierced the darkness, shattering the stillness. A gout of flame lit the tunnel behind the man's back and he started, moving forward in over haste. His feet tangled and he fell, slamming into the rough floor. The floor shook again, and with a thrill of horror, Sam heard the shriek of stone splitting.
She looked up and saw the roof above the man begin to give away as the tremor subsided.
"GET OUT OF THERE!" Sam bellowed, starting up the slight incline. The man merely lay there, paralyzed by fear and terror, as he stared upward as the roof gave way.
Sam grabbed him, hauling him to his feet and shoving him down the incline, the man falling and rolling clear of the cascade of rocks. Sam turned to dive out of the way, but it had taken too long to get the other man out of the way.
A rock slammed into her forehead, and she fell, feeling as if she was sinking through an open wormhole and into darkness.
She almost wished the darkness would hold her down, keep her a prisoner. But something inside her wouldn't let her stay asleep, stay in the welcoming darkness and hiding from the pain. She needed to be awake, needed to be there for those under her command, however temporary it was, needed to be able to take charge.
"Oh shit," she heard Captain Williams mutter as he let the stone fall to impact the others, landing with a cracking thud. She heard Sergeant Ezeeks gasp and saw her turn her head, her eyes filled with worry and even fear.
"Uh, Major?" Williams began. "Your leg…it's-"
"I don't want to know," Sam cut him off, fighting off the fog of unconsciousness. "I can guess anyway," she said. "Help me up."
"Major, I don't think that's such a good idea," Sergeant Ezeeks said, looking at her worriedly.
"Well I'm sure as hell not going to let you carry me," spat Sam, the pain and her barely controlled fear causing her voice to come out harsher than she had meant for it to. "Please, just help me up," Sam begged, her tone much softer.
Captain Williams moved to her right side, kneeling to grip her underneath her arm, Ezeeks doing the same on her left. "On three," the captain said.
"One, two, three," she heard him mutter, then her entire body was screaming, feeling as if her nerves were bleeding as she was lifted into a standing position. Her right foot slammed into the ground and she bit off a scream, determined to not let the others know just how bad it was. She could, she would walk down on her own. Her stomach roiled and she had to fight from vomiting with the pain, and the world around her spun in crazy circles.
"We set up a temporary camp down farther, off of the ramp," Williams informed Carter. She nodded silently, still battling the pain that threatened to overwhelm her.
With the help of the two young officers, Sam half hopped, was half carried, down the pile of rocks. Williams jumped off of the final boulder, reaching up to catch her as Sam dropped off after him. He steadied her as she stumbled, Sam keeping her right foot off of the ground as if it would cost her her life.
They traveled a little farther, and then the floor leveled out. Sam found herself in a chamber, the ceiling rising higher than that of the tunnels. The walls also opened up, creating a small pocket of space. Only three of their lanterns were still working, and the three civilians were sitting in a huddle, although the man was sitting slightly apart from them. Dr. Schell sat near to the entrance, obviously waiting for the two officers to return. Sam also noticed two other men, big, burly, and both wearing suits like the whiny man, who were standing as if they were bodyguards.
"They are bodyguards," Sam realized, somehow the thought pushing through the mist of pain that had settled down over her mind. She blinked, trying to form another thought, to try and put the two-and-two together so that she could remember just who these people were, but the thoughts and memories just kept evading her.
The three huddled together looked up as they entered the room, noticing that two of the officers were having to practically hold the third up.
The man stood, a strange look crossing his face. With a few hurried steps, he was standing directly in front of Sam, reaching out and gripping the collar of her jacket.
He began to shake her, his eyes shooting anger and hate at her. "What were you doing?" he screamed at her. "Why did you push me? What the hell were you thinking pushing me? I'll be sure Kinsey knows that!"
Williams was suddenly slamming the man against the wall, holding him against the rough rocks with both his arms pinning the man's shoulders against the rock.
"What the hell did you just say?" he growled, his voice low and dangerous. "Obviously you're even more of an idiot than most of you bureaucratic bastards. If you weren't such an arrogant jerk, you would have realized that Major Carter just saved your sorry little ass. And because of that, she's injured with a double compound fractured leg, obviously broken ribs, a gash that's bleeding profusely and probably a concussion on top of it all. And all you can do is shake her, screaming at her for saving you." The man snorted. "Hell, she should have let you die in there. You'd be dead, or wishing you were. Then we wouldn't have to deal with you or your whining. She's worth a hundred of you."
Williams released the man, whose face was pale, all the blood drained out of his face. Sam was slightly surprised that he didn't simply collapse as soon as Williams let go of him, returning back to Carter's side.
Ezeeks and Williams helped Sam over to a relatively clean patch of floor, helping her to lower herself down to the ground.
"You should at least sit," Ezeeks commented. Sam nodded, and the two helped her over to a relatively clear section of ground. They helped lower her until she was sitting on the lumpy floor of the chamber, her back resting against the wall.
Sam was biting her lip, feeling the blood trickling down her chin as her teeth pierced the skin. She leaned back against the wall, gasping from the pain, while at the same time having to fight to draw breath as her chest sent piercing bolts of agony tearing through her lungs.
The two others looked at her, their faces full of fear and worry. Sam attempted to smile at them, but it came out as more of a pained grimace; she stopped trying.
Schooling her face into a soldier's mask, Sam asked, "Is there any way that you'll be able to get through the rock wall to the other side?"
Williams shook his head dubiously. "I doubt it Ma'am," he said, glancing back over his shoulder. "There were a ton of huge chunks of rock. Even Ezeeks and I won't be able to shift them, and I'm pretty sure they fill the entire passage." He took a breath and caught the look on Major Carter's face. "I'll go check though, shall I?" He stood, turning and retreating back into the shadows, carrying one of their remaining lanterns with him.
Dr. Schell hurried over, his face drawn and his eyes worried. "Uh, Major? Can I talk to you?"
Sam thought about saying 'You already are, but go ahead,' but thought better of it as her ribs gave another painful twinge. She settled for an encouraging nod, gritting her teeth as a wave of dizziness overtook her.
"Well, I just wanted to talk to you about that barrier that we blasted through." Sam waited for him to continue, not wanting to use the energy to ask him about it.
"According to the records that we found stored in a side chamber, the last occupants of this mine built it. As I'm sure you heard, we didn't build the mine; it was already here, although the former occupants didn't clean the mine out of naquadah, seeing as the walls were still veined with the ore. Well, according to the records, there was some kind of monster that had been locked in some sort of chamber. The miners cracked the chamber, and the monster escaped, killing the two men. It said that it then hunted down and killed the god that had been enslaving them, ordering them to mine the precious metal."
"A Goa'uld," Ezeeks put in. Dr. Schell nodded.
"Exactly," he affirmed. "That's what we presumed as well. The records continue, saying that the miners retreated from the mines, having no one to mine the ore for any longer. However, the monster was not satiated by the human lives it had already consumed, and thus began to journey down into the village, taking more and more people as its prey. Apparently, some sort of sacrifice was made, and the natives blocked up the tunnel, retreating from the mines for forever."
"Any idea if it was true?" Sam asked, her eyes roving around the dimly lit chamber. There were stones scattered all over the floor, the walls cracked and ravaged. It almost looked as if something had ripped chunks out of the walls, attempting to break through. The ceiling was pockmarked, short stalagmites hanging down from the ceiling, water dripping off of the tips every now and again. Another tunnel led away into the cloying darkness on the other side of the chamber.
"Well, they seemed to be mostly historical documents and records dictating the mining process and such, so…" Dr. Schell trailed off. "It's likely there are hints of truth in it, at least," he finished.
Ezeeks sighed, sitting down and burying her face in her hands. "This was my first mission," she said quietly. "My first mission; something easy, just a guard detail for some miners."
Sam laughed weakly, clutching her ribs as they protested. "Nothing with SG-1, or me for that matter, turns out the way it's supposed to," she said, looking at the dejected sergeant. "We'll get out of it; we always do."
Ezeeks looked up, smiling sardonically as she realized that the famous Major Carter, who was severely injured, was still attempting to reassure her, even though she should be the one reassuring the major.
"Thank you Ma'am," Ezeeks said sincerely, looking into Carter's pain filled, blue eyes.
"There's no chance," Captain Williams said, returning to their small group. "It's just one big wall of solid rocks that I doubt an entire team of engineers would be able to shift without the aid of explosive."
Ezeeks' face brightened. "We have some C4 in our vests, don't we?" she asked. "Why don't we use it to blow it down? You said that there wasn't any naquadah in the walls down here, thus why we retreated down here."
"Not a good idea," Sam said suddenly. "Explosion would likely trigger another cave in."
Ezeeks' face fell. "Oh, right."
"How did you know that there wasn't any naquadah down here?" Ezeeks asked, turning to look at Dr. Schell.
"We have naquadah sensing capabilities."
Sam smiled tightly. "He means me," she supplied. "They dragged me down here when they first started their operations."
"Before SG-1 was called back to escort Senator Kinsey's lapdogs around," Williams scoffed.
"Sir, might I ask why we were suddenly called back from P3R-…whatever it was?" Colonel O'Neill asked pointedly as he led the way down the ramp set against the Earth Stargate.
General Hammond was waiting for his flagship team at the bottom of the steps, looking grim.
"Senator Kinsey has apparently been stirring up trouble."
"Psh, like that's a shocker," O'Neill snorted, rolling his eyes.
Hammond looked sternly at the colonel, but did not reprimand him. "Yes, well, the only way that the President was able to quiet the 'beloved' Senator was to promise a tour of an offworld mining facility to three of his staff. And he insisted that you be the ones to escort his people."
"You mean we're babysitting some of Kinsey's people?" asked O'Neill, the disgust apparent in his voice.
"That's right," affirmed General Hammond as they walked out of the Gateroom. "You leave at 0900 tomorrow morning, with Kinsey's advisor, two of his secretaries, along with two governmental body guards."
"Didn't the President say three members?" Daniel pointed out.
Hammond sighed. "Yes, but somehow Senator Kinsey managed to wrangle the two body guards in."
"Where's the rest of SG-1?" Sam asked suddenly, horrified at the thought that they had been higher in the mine when the explosions had begun.
"You don't remember?" Dr. Schell asked, his brows creasing together as he looked at Sam sharply. All she could do was shake her head slightly, fighting against the throb that persisted.
"Colonel O'Neill, Teal'c, and Daniel Jackson went down to inspect some ruins that Jackson noticed on your way back to the Gate last time," Captain Williams said. "Don't worry, they weren't in the mine. You offered to stay behind and help with the tour, being one of the naquadah experts," he finished.
"Right," Sam said, closing her eyes in relief. Thank you she prayed silently.
The sound of someone shuffling up to them brought all of their attentions around.
A small, petite woman walked up, her blonde hair, which had been in a neat braid, straggled and coated in dust, along with the light jacket, blouse, and dress pants that she wore.
"Uh, excuse me?" she asked, kneeling down beside Dr. Schell. "I just wanted to come over and see if you alright," she said, looking at Sam.
"I'll be fine," Sam said, fighting down another surge of nausea. The woman looked at her skeptically, and glanced down at her leg. She gagged, quickly averting her eyes.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, closing her eyes. She stood, about to turn and go back to the others, but then she paused. "What exactly happened up there?" she suddenly asked. "Why was the mine exploding?"
"Naquadah is extremely volatile," explained Dr. Schell. "The first explosion was different from the others. I'm guessing that an accident occurred, and then the naquadah explosions were secondary."
"Colone- O-…..come i….Mini….o –ou co-y? O-r."
There was a flurry of activity as Williams and Ezeeks dove for their radios that were still strapped into the vests that they had dumped into a pile.
Williams got his radio first, pressing down the button and raising it to his mouth. "Colonel O'Neill? This is Captain Williams. Over."
There was a long moment of silence, then, "Wh- happ-?"
"Mine explosion, sir. Me, Sergeant Williams, Major Carter, Dr. Schell, and the government people made it out in time."
"We're far down in the mine, Sir," Williams said. "The passageway is blocked."
"There are other ways into the mine," said Dr. Schell. "But we didn't use any of them because they were all blocked up like the passage."
Williams quickly repeated this information to Colonel O'Neill. Silence ensued, then the radio crackled to life once again.
"Under-ood. Com- to –ou. Stay in con-."
"Yessir. Williams out."
The radios fell silent, and it was almost as if the very air lightened in the chamber with relief.
"Well, that was lucky," said Dr. Schell, smiling. "I'm not entirely sure how the radios are able to penetrate the rock, but however it is, we're lucky."
Everyone relaxed a bit, sitting down and smiling more freely now. Colonel O'Neill and the rest of the team was on its way to find them. They'd be out of the nightmarish hellhole soon enough.
The sound of rocks tumbling down in the tunnel opposite the group of people silenced them. Nothing else happened, however, and everyone's attention turned back to whatever it had been that they had been doing before.
A roar rent the air in two, the sound of something large and heavy slamming into the wall just around the corner echoing through the enclosed space.
Captain Williams and Sergeant Ezeeks snapped into action, grabbing their P90s and pointing them at the tunnel mouth.
A pure black figure with flaming yellow and green eyes bowled out of the opening, its maw open in a second roar. Large, ivory fangs glinted out of the large mouth, the muzzle seeming to be too small to hold all of the sharpened, predatory fangs that the monster was graced with. The thing's body was covered in armored plates, the black edges overlapping. It had huge paws with even longer claws that shot out of sheaths as the sight of the humans in front of it. It lowered its head, glaring up at us as it regarded us all, his eyes gleaming balefully in the sudden silence. Spikes poked out of the short, tufted hair that grew along its spine, a long tail twitching behind it.
Suddenly, the beast charged, the thunder of the thing's paws slamming into the ground filling the cave. Both officers opened fire, the bullets pinging off of the toughened skin, spinning crazily into the air and slamming into the walls.
"Cease fire!" Sam yelled, ignoring the complaint of her ribs, realizing that someone was going to get hit if the firing continued. Immediately, the two guns fell silent, the only sound the monster charging.
The monster paused at the sound of her voice and turned to regard her. Its eyes suddenly narrowed, its nose twitching. Sam drew herself up, reaching behind her for the knife she instinctively knew should be belted to her waist.
The creature roared a third time, rearing up and shaking its head viciously. Everyone around Sam scattered, seeking safety, or perhaps to draw the monster's attention. The thing leaped forward, intent on the injured woman sitting helpless in front of it.
Something else slammed into the creature, throwing it off balance, causing it to stumble. One of the bodyguards raised the machete like knife that he was gripping tightly in his right hand, bringing it crashing down to slam into the small crack that the overlapping plates formed.
The monster roared, staggering to its feet and stumbling away from the bloody blade that was being raised to descend a second time. It turned tail and fled, retreating out of the chamber.
"You need to move," Sam told the others, looking up. "It knows where we are now, and when it comes back it's going to be pissed."
Captain Williams nodded, picking up his vest and buckling it on, Ezeeks following his lead. They crossed over to her, preparing to help her to her feet.
"No," she said quietly, shaking her head. "I'll just slow you down. Besides, they need you to lead them," Sam insisted.
"We're not leaving you behind. If nothing else, because Colonel O'Neill would skin me alive for it," Captain Williams growled, glaring at her.
"Don't make me make it an order," Major Carter threatened.
"You don't have to," came a new voice. The second of the two body guards was by her side in an instant, kneeling down and hauling her to her feet, one arm around her shoulders, the other supporting her elbow. "I'll help you."
Sam looked up at him in surprise. She shook her head slowly. "They need you to protect them too."
"Nope, just my brother. I have no idea how to use those things," he told her with a sheepish grin. "This way the other two can help the others, my brother can protect us all, and I can help you. It's non-negotiable, and you can't order me to leave you behind. And I have a feeling you'll be hard pressed to pull any of your usual ass-kicking moves on me right now."
Sam blushed at the praise.
"Which means you're still in charge," Captain Williams said with a relieved grin.
"Then let's move," Sam ordered.
Everyone complied, even the snarky man with the suit.
The journey through the catacombs of the mine were a nightmare of pain and agony for Sam. It felt like, at every turn, something was catching her foot or hitting her leg, that something forced her to gasp, which in turn caused an explosion of pain through her chest. Her head throbbed and, although the nausea abated after a while, her head still spun.
Williams, who was leading, attempted, multiple times, to contact Colonel O'Neill, but to no avail. The radios remained silent.
One thing, however, was in their favor: after the original encounter, they didn't hear anything from the monster.
After more than an hour, the man and one of the women began to complain. The woman with the braid, however, remained silent, taking the difficulties and obstacles in stride. For this, Sam was very appreciative; the constant whining of the other two was enough to give her a headache on a good day. And today was not a good day.
The nine of them finally settled down to rest, Sam merely leaning against the wall, attempting to move her leg as little as possible.
The radio suddenly crackled into life for a second time.
"Capt-n Will- co- in please?" The static was less, more of the words audible. Sam grinned in spite of herself, comforted by the sound of her CO's voice.
"This is Captain Williams, go ahead."
"We ar- -n the m-ne now."
"Understood. Uh, sir? We were attacked by some kind of monster. Bullets are useless against it, although it seems as if knives work if stabbed where the plates of armor join. Stay alert, sir."
"Under-ood. Any-ng el-e?"
"We were forced to move, sir, because of the creature. We have stayed on a relatively straight course."
"Understoo-," came the reply. "O'Nei- out."
They rested for another quarter of an hour, then once again stood, moving farther down into the tunnels. The silence was oppressive, the darkness closing in around the small group and giving them the feeling of being strangled.
The hairs on the back of Sam's neck began to raise, a strange prickling racing up her spine. She turned her head, calling a halt.
"Ma'am?" asked Ezeeks, coming back to stand beside the major. "What is it?"
The creature fell on them, launching itself from the wall where it had been waiting for them to pass. It slammed into the bodyguard with the machete. The man had no chance, his blade only halfway out of the sheath belted underneath his jacket.
The headless corpse fell to the ground with a sickening squelch. One of the secretaries screamed, causing the monster to flinch, but he didn't waver. He peered around at the people around it, as if deciding who to attack.
"SCATTER!" yelled Sam, the adrenaline spike enabling her to push herself away from the man holding her upright, hobbling and grabbing onto the wall for support. "Go!"
The beast's attention was broken this time, its gaze finally being torn from watching the blonde haired major, as the other people around it began to run haphazardly. It snapped at the auburn-haired secretary, only to be slammed into by the brother of the dead bodyguard. He was flung through the air, slamming into the wall.
And then, Sam realized why the tingling along her spine persisted. The monster had naquadah inside of him; not part of him, which is why she had been unable to pinpoint the feeling before, but inside of him.
And with that realization, the puzzle pieces fell into place. The walls of the tunnels had been pulled apart, the veins of naquadah had ended abruptly at the blockade, the fact that the Goa'uld had been hunted down and killed. The monster consumed naquadah.
"Hey!" called Sam, pushing herself away from the wall, balancing precariously on one leg as she reached behind herself, pulling the knife belted at her waist free of its sheath.
She was breathing hard, knowing that if she hesitated, she'd never be able to do what she knew she had to.
The monster was approaching the stunned bodyguard, its teeth bared in a feral and triumphant snarl.
With a scream of anger and challenge, Sam brought the sharpened blade to her upraised wrist, digging the tip into her flesh. She ripped the knife down her arm, slicing the delicate skin to shreds as she ended the cut at her elbow.
Blood welled up out of the deep cut, running down her arm and dripping off of her arm in rivulets. The ground was covered in a sickly red carpet within seconds, the scent of fresh blood coating the air.
"Come 'ere," Sam whispered, hopping slowly down the passageway, away from everyone else.
The monster growled, turning away from the fallen man, its nose twitching as it picked up the scent of fresh blood. And then, it definitely picked up the sense of naquadah dripping out of her mangled arm.
With a snarl and a howl, the monster raced for Sam, slamming into her and sending her flying. It leaped at her, clamping its teeth around her leg and slamming her into the ground, landing on top of her. It opened its mouth wide, preparing to deliver a killing bite.
Carter brought the knife upwards, driving it into the creature's mouth. The blade sunk into the soft tissue at the roof of its mouth, but Sam realized that it hadn't pierced the brain, the blade being too short.
The creature roared, snapping down on her arm as she snatched it out from between its jaws. She felt teeth ripping into flesh, and she stopped still, praying that it wouldn't rip her arm from her body.
The pressure on her arm was released, and the next thing she knew, her entire torso was alight with agony, the feel and sound of fangs piercing her flesh echoing through her entire body. She tried to scream, but she couldn't get enough air in her lungs.
She felt herself being lifted, then carried down and away from the others. Her last conscious though was, At least I know the others will be safe, at least for the time being. And then, she lost herself in clutching darkness once again.
Sergeant Ezeeks watched in horror as Major Carter lured the beast away from the others, watched in frozen terror as she was grabbed and dragged away. The monster had disappeared around the corner by the time that her legs remembered what they were supposed to do.
She took off in a sprint down the tunnel, trying to catch up to the creature that had taken away the Major. The crackling of the radio stashed in her vest pocket brought her to a halt.
"Captain Williams, come in please."
"Colonel O'Neill, this is Sergeant Ezeeks," Alana panted. "Sir, where are you?"
"We're not sure, but we think we hear something coming up the passageway toward us." This time it was Dr. Jackson's voice that issued from the small piece of plastic.
"That's not us," Ezeeks said. "It's probably the monster. But don't shoot!" she said, suddenly panicked.
"Yes, we know. It's bullet-resistant," Colonel O'Neill said sharply.
"No sir, I mean yes sir, but that's not why. Sir, it has Major Carter."
The silence was deafening. Then, his voice shaking as if he was running, O'Neill said, "Understood. O'Neill out."
Ezeeks turned, deciding that the next most important thing was to get the others gathered together.
No! thought Colonel O'Neill, the one word resonating through his soul as if it had been screamed in an empty corridor.
He, Teal'c, and Daniel had all reacted to the words the exact same way, the three of them taking off after the large object that had hurtled past them a few seconds before.
He didn't know what he would do if they were too late, but the fear of having to find out fueled his frantic run, just as he knew it did the others. He refused to admit to himself that the fear he was feeling was burning hotter than it technically should have.
They followed the sound of the retreating creature, sprinting after it with everything they were worth. Then, after only five minutes of running, the three of them slid to a halt.
The passage had opened up into an enormous cavern, the ceiling arching up and away, the roof just barely visible in the faint light that filtered through natural vents. A large waterfall cascaded down one cliff, the water being collected in a pool in the center of the room.
Across the cavern, O'Neill could just make out the shadowed figure of the monster carrying his 2IC leaping up the sheer wall of a cliff that formed the opposite side of the room. "Let's go," he barked, lengthening his stride as he began the sprint across the seemingly endless cavern.
The monster disappeared into a darkened hole, which could only be a cave, and O'Neill unclipped his P90, letting the useless weapon drop to the floor. Beside him, O'Neill could hear Teal'c drop his staff weapon as well. He was nearing the cliff wall now, and with a leap, O'Neill slammed into the rocks, his fingers and toes digging into the crevices that pockmarked the wall.
Daniel hesitated as they neared the cliff face. A sudden pang of fear shot through him, paralyzing him for a second with the fear of climbing and falling.
He was staring up, his feet stilling as he watched Jack and Teal'c beginning the ascent. A faint whimper, almost a scream, issued from somewhere above him.
He didn't even realize as he leaped for the wall, scrambling up the cliff in frantic haste.
With one final heave, Daniel pulled himself over the lip of the cave, his fingers drawing out his knife. Jack flipped on his flashlight, illuminating the small cave.
The monster suddenly turned, only just realizing that there were others in its den with it and its prey. Blood dripped from its jaw, dripping onto the floor. Behind him, Daniel could just catch a glimpse of Sam, blood dripping from her fingertips and pooling on the floor.
Anger filled the normally pacifistic archaeologist and he yelled at the creature, letting all of his fury and fear fuel his challenge.
The creature leaped forward, his teeth flashing in the light. Daniel yelled, sending his blade flying toward the oncoming monster. The blade gashed its muzzle, burying hilt deep just beneath its right eye. Daniel threw himself to his left and away from the charging creature.
The sound of a zat being armed brought his attention around, rolling over onto his back. Jack, with a feral snarl fixated onto his features, pulled the trigger. The spiraling blue light enveloped the roaring creature, stilling him for a second. Then, with savage pleasure filling him, Jack pulled the trigger once again.
With a shudder, the monster staggered and fell, twitching, still attempting to reach out for the colonel with its twitching claws. Jack squeezed the energy weapon a third time and the monster fell silent and stilled, the flame of life extinguished from its limbs.
Daniel stood, staggering over toward the limp body of his friend, his breath shallow as fear coursed through him. Jack passed him, kneeling by the side of his 2IC, his fingers lowering to touch her neck just underneath her jaw.
A sigh of relief escaped him and he looked up, some of the fear that had been constricting his breathing, his very life, alleviated. "She has a pulse," he said quietly, looking at the haggard form of the archaeologist.
"We must get her aid quickly," Teal'c stated, leaning over to pick up the unconscious form of his teammate.
"Yeah," Jack whispered, standing up. Daniel moved over to stand next to Teal'c, who held Sam lovingly in his arms. A cut above her left eye was dripping blood slowly; the long, ragged laceration running down her left forearm was still bleeding profusely. In the dim light, Daniel could just make out five holes chewed into her side. Her leg was the worst, though; the bone protruded from her shin and ankle in two places, the blood drying around the tears in her skin. Her breath was thin and odd sounding, leading Daniel to believe that something had happened to her lungs. And if that had happened, who knew what else was wrong internally.
"We have to hurry," Daniel stated matter-of-factly, moving quickly to the edge of the cliff. "Uh…how are we going to get down?" he asked quietly.
A sudden beam of light hit Daniel's face and he leaned back. "Hey!" he called down. "Who is that?"
"Captain Williams and Sergeant Ezeeks and company," came the echoing reply.
"You got rope?" Daniel called down.
"Throw it up. And make it fast!" Daniel called down. A loop of rope came sailing upwards after a minute of tense waiting. Daniel grabbed it, pulling it over to Sam.
His fingers flying, Jack fashioned a sort of harness around Sam's body, attempting to keep her as flat as possible.
"Coming down!" Daniel called, lowering himself over the lip of the cave. Teal'c descended beside him, guiding Sam as Jack lowered her slowly.
As soon as he reached the ground, Teal'c relieved O'Neill of his burden, enabling the colonel to be able to descend as well.
As soon as his feet had touched the ground, the colonel was up and moving, snapping out orders. "We're moving out. Carter needs medical attention ASAP. We know a way out of here." And with that, he was moving off toward the tunnel leading back into the labyrinthine tunnels of the mine.
"How'd you find this place?" Daniel asked Dr. Schell as he, Teal'c, and the rest of them picked up the pace, struggling to keep up with the fast stride of the aggravated colonel.
"We followed the trail of blood," Dr. Schell replied with a wry twist of his mouth. "As horrible as that sounds, that's how we found you."
"Well, it's probably a good thing," Daniel told him, thanking him silently with a squeeze to his shoulder.
It took a tense half of an hour for the group to push their way out of the mine, finding themselves at the bottom of a steep cliff.
"The Gate is that way," Jack told Captain Williams. "We're taking Carter on ahead. You escort the others down and through. Oh, and good work Captain," Jack said, turning and motioning his own team forward.
Now that they had left the rest of the civilians, SG-1 settled into a much quicker pace, covering ground quickly. And yet Jack still feared that they would be too late, that Carter would bleed to death from her injuries before they reached the Gate and were able to gate to the SGC.
They descended from the foothills at a breakneck pace. "Daniel, dial home," Jack snapped as soon as the Gate was in sight.
Daniel broke into a run, closing the distance between himself and the DHD quickly. He was about to activate the Gate when the wormhole suddenly connected, the customary splash of the opening wormhole bringing a spike of fury coursing through O'Neill's body.
"Whoever that is, they're gonna pay for making us later," Jack growled, raising the P90 that he had reclaimed from the cavern floor.
A lone figure exited the shimmering event horizon. The Gate disengaged, and Jack found himself charging the shadowed person.
He grabbed them, pulling them off of the stone upon which the Gate was situated. Immediately, Daniel began to dial the gate once again.
The person in Jack's grip suddenly twisted, sweeping the colonel's feet out from underneath him. As he fell, however, O'Neill grasped the man, pulling him down beside him. They rolled over, both of them attempting to get the upper hand.
They halted with Jack on top. "Get off of me, Jack!" a familiar voice snapped from underneath him.
"Jacob?" O'Neill asked surprised, shocked enough that the Tok'ra beneath him was able to push the colonel off of him.
"Yes. Now what was all that about?" Jacob asked, helping Jack to his feet.
"Jack! The Gate is active. We have to go," Daniel called over.
"Jack, what's going on?" Jacob asked, an uneasy feeling settling in the pit of his stomach. "Where's Sam?"
"Going home. Come on, we're going to need you," O'Neill answered Jacob gruffly, pulling him along behind him as he stepped through the event horizon.
Sam opened her eyes, the constant beeping drawing her out of the comfortable darkness. She hardly felt anything, felt as if she was floating in blessed ambiance. The first thing she saw was the anxious face of Colonel O'Neill. Beside him sat her father, his eyes just as agitated and worried as her CO's, if not more.
"Dad?" she asked, slightly surprised by his presence. The word came out slurred and almost indistinct, and she realized that she was heavily drugged.
"Hey kid," her dad said, his fingers settling over her own. "How are you feeling?"
"Not much of anything, actually," she replied, attempting to moisten her mouth.
"Here," Colonel O'Neill said, holding a cup of water so she could drink.
"Thank you," she said, smiling minimally at him.
The clicking sounds of Janet's heels made their way around her bed, the short doctor finally coming into her line of vision.
"How are you feeling?" she asked, echoing Jacob.
"Fine," Sam replied honestly.
"Well, I do have you as pumped full of pain killers as I can," her red-headed friend said, smiling. "Just call if you need anything." With that, Fraiser moved off to attend to someone else a few beds down.
"So, Dad, why were you here?" Sam asked, her drugged mind trying to put the pieces together.
"Well, the Tok'ra sent me to investigate a legend regarding a certain creature that ate naquadah. The High Council thought that it would be an effective Goa'uld hunter." He smiled wryly. "I see that the legends were true."
O'Neill snorted. "Yes, yes they were."
"Anyway," continued Jacob, overriding the sarcastic colonel. "Just as I came through the Gate, Jack here attacked me. When I finally figured out what was going on, I offered to come with." Sam saw her CO roll his eyes. "Well," amended Jacob, "Jack actually dragged me through the Gate. But I would have offered to come if he had given me a chance to," her father finished, glaring at the innocent-looking man sitting beside him. "It was lucky I was there too. You had severe internal damage, on top of the external damage."
"Doc Fraiser says if your dad here hadn't been here, you'd probably be dead," O'Neill said, his voice full of uncustomary seriousness. "Jacob nearly killed himself healing you."
Sam smiled at her father, her eyes conveying all of the thanks and love that she could with a single look. Her father returned the look, giving her fingers a squeeze.
"You should get some rest," her dad said, standing. He left, giving his daughter and Jack a moment.
"What happened to the others?" Sam asked.
"They came through the Gate about two hours after us. All of them were okay, although the one bodyguard was in a state of shock, what with the death of his brother." Sam nodded solemnly, closing her eyes as his death replayed itself. "It's not your fault, Carter," O'Neill said sternly. "You did what you could."
"I should have done it faster," Sam moaned, looking up at the silver-haired colonel beside her.
"You saved all the others," O'Neill said, ignoring her previous comment. He shook his head. "You can't be perfect," O'Neill finished.
"Oh, and apparently Kinsey's assistant was too afraid of something to tell him much of anything. Kept babbling on and on about how, if he said anything, he'd be a jerk and he was going to get his ass kicked." O'Neill smiled sadistically at the last comment, chuckling darkly. "The only one that could give any semblance of sense gave us a good report."
"Who was that?" Sam asked.
"Jessica Brown," O'Neill answered. When he saw Sam's confused look, he added, "You know, blonde hair, braid?"
Sam nodded, smiling. "She seemed like she had a good head on her shoulders," Sam said quietly, beginning to give into an exhausted sleep.
"Yeah," agreed Colonel O'Neill. "And now, Major, you need to rest. Teal'c and Daniel will be by later," he told her with a small smile, standing as well. He left, the infirmary doors shutting behind him.
With a small smile, Sam allowed herself to slip into the darkness that welcomed her with open arms, sinking down into a dreamless sleep.
A/N2: I just felt obligated to talk about the monster really quickly. You might be wondering why on Earth it took three shots from a zatgun to kill it. Well, we know that there are armors that can dissipate the zat blast (the Kull warriors). So I decided that, considering the fact that the monsters were basically beasts that hunted Goa'uld, they would probably have some sort of defense against Goa'uld weaponry.
Ok, I think that's it. Hope you enjoyed! (And don't forget to review on your way out ;) )