I am writing you this letter to apologize most profusely. During the past month and ten days I have found myself being unfaithful in our author/reader relationship, and I cannot express how disappointed and upset I am at myself for that. I allowed a little thing called Life to seduce me and drag me away from what I know truly matters. However, I am pleased to tell you that I have now officially ended my relationship with Marching Band, and will strive my very hardest to be the author that I know you deserve. I hope that, somewhere, in the depths of your heart, you can forgive me.
Seren (your author)
Yeah, I am SO sorry for taking such a long hiatus. Deeply, very deeply sorry! I'll try to never leave you all hanging this long again, and I understand if any of you stop reading this or hate me or whatever...I know it bugs me when authors take FOREVER to update. Anyway...I hope that you like this chapter. Remember, read, reviewing would be really nice of you, but please, PLEASE enjoy!
*Content Warning for this chapter. Not really sure what to put it under precisely, so we'll just go with 'semi-adult themes and scenarios'. This IS a PG-13 story. Not a slightly mature K+*
Chapter 3: Of Trials and Tribulations
Silence fell over the Throne Room, the only audible sound Sam's rapid breathing and stifled sobs. She was curled on her side, blood beading on her lip as she bit down, locking her jaw. The world around her was cold, and she felt as if she were suspended out of reality.
She felt as if she were some kind of creature tied down in a cage that had just been branded. Something inside of her rebelled, rising up and refusing to be caged like this.
Drawing on strength she hadn't realized she possessed, Carter pushed herself up off of the floor, barely gaining her knees before the shaking completely overtook her. Her shoulder burned and ached all at once, the pain radiating up into her neck, a massive headache forming at the base of her skull. Locking her teeth in a snarl, she forced her legs beneath her and stood upright.
Something slammed into her temple, and she fell to the floor once again, unconscious before she hit the metal.
"You remember what to do," Anubis rasped, watching the scene unfold beneath him. Anger pulsed through his entire being, filling him with unfathomable rage. He could do nothing, however. Ammit had made her choice, calling the woman and her companions to serve her on her world.
Anubis's First Prime bowed, motioning for two of his underlings to pick up the fallen woman and carry her out of the room. The doors slid shut behind them, silence once again descending over the Throne Room.
"Take the others to the transport craft," Anubis ordered, standing by way of dismissal. The remaining Jaffa bowed to their god, then quickly herded the shell shocked villagers and the slightly disturbed and frightened SG-1 out of the large room. As the door began to slide shut again, Anubis heard the flippant colonel call over his shoulder, "If you hurt her, I will personally tear out your-" The rest of his threat was silenced.
Anubis stood, stepping down the steps to his dais heavily. He crossed the gleaming floor, his cloak swishing along the ground as he strode toward the window overlooking the sandy yellow and blue planet orbiting restlessly beneath him.
"Curse you," he hissed. Whether he meant himself or Ammit, he would never know.
When Sam regained consciousness, the first thing she noticed was the cold. She forced her eyes open, blinking in the sudden light that bit into her sensitive retinas which only served to increase the astounding headache that pounded through her skull. Instinctively, she turned her head to the side, her cheek coming into contact with the smooth, hard surface of a table.
It was only then that she realized that she was completely naked. Startled, and the first taints of panic beginning to seep into her heart, she sat upright, nearly falling off of the table as she did so. She clutched the edges of the table, barely maintaining her precarious position on top of the bench, her eyes wide and her breath hitching in her throat.
Seconds after her abrupt awakening and near plummet to the ground, hands grabbed her shoulders causing goose bumps to ripple along her arms as they pulled her back down to the table. She instinctively fought them, but whoever it was that had a hold of her was much too strong.
She heard a door open and someone else come into the room, then the clatter of a tray being placed on a counter or shelf. Sam looked around frantically, attempting to see who had a hold of her, but the figures were cloaked in shadow, their faces unreadable.
"We were hoping you'd remain unconscious," a voice remarked impassively as a man drew near to the table, the familiar prickle up her spine and the dual tones announcing that he was indeed a Goa'uld. He paused as he looked down at the thrashing woman, admiring her spirit as she continued to fight a losing battle. "Ah well. I suppose the procedure will have to be done this way."
Sam lashed out with her feet, catching the Goa'uld in the back as he turned away. He stumbled then turned, his eyes flashing in anger. He motioned to someone on the other side of her, and before she could react, her knees were being pressed painfully into the table as well, a heavy weight crushing them. She arched her back, attempting to lift the dead weight off of her but, with the ones holding her shoulders as well, she realized that it was fruitless. Nonetheless, she couldn't help but try.
"Stop fighting. It'll only make it worse," the Goa'uld said from her shoulder. Sam slumped to the table, turning a gleaming glare on the creature by her side. She jerked toward him, unable and unwilling to allow him to win. He easily stepped out of reach of her snapping teeth.
Sam felt a hand grab her hair, slamming her head onto the table as well. She attempted to move at all, and only succeeded in straining her neck and back. Unable to fight any longer, Sam grit her teeth and stared straight upward, determined to give those holding her no satisfaction during whatever they were about to do to her.
A sharp pain sliced into her hip, tearing at the tender skin and grating against her bone. She bit her lip, her imaginary scream reverberating around her mind as she clenched her teeth together to keep from making a sound as whatever it was continued deeper into her flesh. Her body tensed as it fought the pain and she felt hot liquid run down her hip and onto her back as blood pooled out of the cut.
Seconds stretched endlessly onward as the Goa'uld worked. Sam had no idea as to what he was doing and, at the moment, she didn't care. Small tremors wracked her body as the pain spiked yet again, the feeling of something being shoved into the wound making Sam cringe and bite back a small whimper.
Abruptly, the hands at her hip vanished, cold air washing over the wound, causing the raggedly torn flesh to sting agonizingly. The blood on her lip once again began to stain her mouth with a coppery taste as her teeth tore through the already worried tissue.
The hands returned, only this time they were at her shoulder, poking and prodding the tender skin. Sam barely swallowed a hiss that threatened to escape between clenched teeth as the Goa'uld ran a long, carefully manicured nail over the angry red and raw skin that covered the mark that had been seared into her flesh. As he continued to inspect it, her stomach constricted consciously fighting the nausea that threatened to overcome her.
"The brand looks good; it burned deep," the Goa'uld commented. "I suppose I don't need to ink anymore in." His presence at her shoulder vanished again.
The next thing Sam felt were warm vibrations running through her body. Her eyes went wide, her breath stilling for a second as she felt the effects of the Healing Device working throughout her damaged body.
Slowly at first, and then quite suddenly, the pain in her hip disappeared, diminishing to a memory. The pounding headache that throbbed through her temple began to fade as well, the cut still bleeding fitfully on her lip shrinking and then disappearing. The burning that had continued to plague her shoulder and back also vanished, leaving Sam gasping as she suddenly found herself pain free.
The hands holding her lifted as well, leaving her alone and shaking on the table. Immediately sitting up, Sam caught a glimpse of four figures marching through the open door, leaving only the Goa'uld that had performed the operation – whatever that may have been.
The man eyed her for a second before he sneered. He left without another word.
Sam pulled her legs up to her chest, hugging her knees close. Small tremors overtook her as she sat on the cold surface of the table, numbness beginning to creep into her outer extremities. For a moment, all she could do was sit there, silently collecting her thoughts that had been scattered during the last few minutes, and pushing the fear that threatened to overwhelm her back into the box where she kept it locked.
When she felt a little more in control, she looked around. She was in a small room – barely large enough to hold the table upon which she was sitting, cabinets, and a small stool. All of the cabinets were bare, and she could see from where she was sitting that they were locked.
Sam slipped off of the table, crossing the narrow space to the wall. She slid down the surface, crouching near the floor, her chin resting on her knees, her hands clutching her shins. As the silence stretched around her, she slowly, ever so slowly, began to relax.
Finally, Sam reached down, carefully inspecting her left hip. A small ridge met her probing fingertips – a tiny bump in her skin that shouldn't have been there. She pressed it, and a dull pain flared through her hip, a small popping feeling grating through her bone. She drew her hand back, wishing to not witness the feeling again.
The door slid open, and a Jaffa entered. He looked around when he saw that she was not on the table but, as soon as he noticed her pale figure huddled against the wall, he dropped something on the table and turned to leave. He paused on his way out, glancing back at her, then left, closing the door behind him.
He had left a small bundle on top of the table and, daring to hope, Sam moved toward the bench cautiously. With a small sigh of relief, she grabbed the small pile of clothes and carried it back to the corner opposite the door. She shook the pile out and a small smile crept onto her face for the first time in hours. Her own sports bra and underwear had been returned, and a pair of loose fitting black pants and a pearly gray shirt had been supplied along with them. She gratefully pulled the clothing on, feeling much better as she slid the material over her head.
Once again sliding to the ground, she waited for whatever was next to come.
The door slid shut, cutting off the view of the Throne Room beyond. Something in O'Neill's mind ruptured, spewing anger and hatred out into his body, filling him with a boiling, seething rage. He lost it.
"If you hurt her, I will personally tear out your heart!" he yelled, not realizing the irony of his statement as the door closing with a snick cutting off the threat before he could finish it. He turned, making a dash for a side corridor, his only thought to find and rescue Carter. Unsurprisingly, was grabbed before he could make it more than a few feet and thrown to the floor.
Almost instantaneously, Jack was back on his feet, anger and hatred glittering in his steely brown gaze. He stood there for a second, poised and ready for a fight. The fight never came. Instead, he received a sharp blow to the head and he fell, somehow miraculously retaining consciousness.
"Move along," a gruff voice ordered, and he felt someone pick him up. The scent that clung to the man holding him in a fireman's carry was clean, yet slightly warm, as if surrounded by a hundred candles – Teal'c.
As the darkness fought for control of his mind, Jack's thoughts drifted back to his 2IC. Fiery rage flashed through him once again as he thought of what Anubis had done to her. Son of a bitch. And she had been dragged off, unconscious, blood beginning to matt her hair from the head wound.
What had they been thinking, the bastards. Why had they knocked her out like they had? At the same time, Jack couldn't help but feel a wave of pride for his Major as he thought of the way she had fought.
Since when had she become his Major? Jack wondered idly, slipping farther into incoherency. His last thought before he finally succumbed was that, if anything happened to her, he would personally kill whoever had done it.
Long moments stretched out monotonously for Daniel as they passed through the Ha'tak. Teal'c was ahead of him a little, Jack slung over his shoulders. What had possessed the man, Daniel would never know. Then again, he himself had come close to losing it as they had been ushered out of the room. Even now, the horror of what had just happened was only beginning to sink in, and Daniel could feel his anger mounting ever so slightly.
They continued to descend, reaching the very bowels of the Ha'tak. As the small contingency of people continued through the hallways, Daniel began to notice differences from the upper levels. There were doors spaced at regular intervals along the corridor that they were traversing, although they were much larger than the standard Goa'uld entrances. He could have easily fit an elephant through one of them, with room to spare. The gold plating on the walls was also much duller, as if it was not cared for as well.
Distracted by these details, Daniel almost ran into Teal'c when he stopped abruptly. Only then did Daniel see the Jaffa's upraised hand, signaling them to halt. The hum of a keypad being activated buzzed through the corridor, and then the large doors set into the wall began to slide open.
Daniel peered inside and saw a ship hangar, two Tel'taks sitting precariously on their landing pads. Huge doors on the opposite wall looked as though they retracted, and Daniel could see the faint, telltale glimmer of a force field oscillating around the opening.
"Inside," the lead Jaffa ordered, his tone bored.
Daniel obeyed, knowing that it would be pointless to not. As he stepped into the hangar, he was suddenly struck by how small he was. The ceiling dwarfed him by a good hundred feet, walkways spaced around the room and catwalks criss-crossing the open space.
As they neared the Tel'taks, Daniel was slightly taken aback. It was only as they drew closer that he realized that, although the design was much the same as the usual Cargo Ship, these ships were in fact much larger. As they were ushered inside the lightened interior, Daniel once again was amazed at Anubis's seemingly endless amount of resources.
The inside of the Tel'tak was the same as the usual ones, only the open spaces were much wider. And, Daniel realized as he took a second look around, there was a door that he was unaccustomed to. This unusual door was exactly where they were being led to. It slid open upon command, and once again, the nine of them were ordered inside.
Once they were inside, Teal'c swung O'Neill off of his shoulders and down onto the floor. The soft thud of flesh hitting metal echoed around the compartment, accompanied by the grinding of metal against metal as the doors slid shut. Once again, they were locked behind Goa'uld walls.
Daniel knelt by Jack's side, gently pressing his forefinger and middle finger to his neck, searching for a heartbeat. To his relief, he quickly recognized the steady thrumming, and sat back on his heels, breathing a sigh of pent up breath.
It was only then that Daniel looked around, noticing for the first time since exiting the Throne Room just how frightened the villagers were. They were clutching their stomachs, and their eyes were wide as they gazed around themselves, sweat gleaming on their foreheads. The man who had been talking to Sam while they were in the cell was standing at the front, running his fingers through his hair in worry, although he seemed to be the calmest of all of them.
Daniel stood, crossing the room to stand beside him.
"It's gonna be alright," Daniel promised. "Why don't you get your people settled and calmed down a little? There's nothing we can do right now," he added as he saw the man glance toward the door. "I'm Daniel, by the way."
"My name is Keflur," the man said, turning away from the door and looking suspiciously at Daniel. "Why are you trying to help?" he asked warily.
"We're in this together now," Daniel replied. "Whether we like it or not, we're prisoners together. Might as well be friendly," Daniel said simply, smiling a little. Keflur nodded as if Daniel had passed some sort of test, and then he turned to the others, speaking quietly and reassuringly.
Satisfied that Keflur could handle it much better than he could, Daniel returned to Jack and Teal'c, sitting down by his stoic friend.
"What do you think they're doing?" Daniel finally asked voicing the question he knew they both were thinking.
"I do not know," Teal'c replied, a dangerous set of his jaw alerting Daniel to the fact that perhaps they should steer clear of the topic for the time being. That was fine with him.
Soon after, a faint moan escaped from Jack, drawing the two unharmed members of SG-1 toward him like a moth to flame.
"Jack?" Daniel asked, kneeling by the older man's side.
"Agh," Jack replied, slapping his palms against his forehead which only served to make him wince. "My head," he grumbled, sitting up. "What happened?"
"You received a sharp blow to the head from a staff weapon," Teal'c replied automatically, moving out of the way so that O'Neill could lean against the wall.
"Where are we?" the colonel asked next, peering around the room. Daniel was oddly reminded of whiskery old mouse peering around the larder for any sign of the cat, although he would never tell Jack that.
"I believe we are in a modified version of a Tel'tak," Teal'c answered again. Jack harrumphed and then leaned back against the wall, settling his head back against the solid surface gratefully.
"Carter?" he asked finally, and Daniel got the distinct impression that this was the question Jack had wanted to ask from the start.
"We don't know," Daniel replied this time, crossing his arms and glancing around the compartment again. "We haven't heard anything since we were put in here."
The floor began to quiver, a rumble building up in the engines beneath their feet.
Uh-oh Daniel thought, following Jack's lead as he jumped to his feet.
"No," Jack cursed, grabbing onto the wall as he swayed. "Dammit!" He leapt forward, dodging through the people still clustered around the door, slamming his fists into it. "Where's Carter?" he bellowed, finally resorting to kicking the annoyingly unperturbed door. He didn't even notice when Daniel and Teal'c both moved into positions on either side of him, ready to catch him should he keel over.
The rumbling intensified and a moment later, Daniel felt the surge of pressure as the ship lifted off of the deck, moving forward. A few seconds later, the sound of the engines shifted slightly, and Daniel knew that they had left the cargo bay.
Jack slumped to the ground, his head roaring. He clutched his forehead, his fingers digging into his hair.
They had left, and Carter wasn't with them. She was gone.