TITLE: Red Blood, White Blood and Cold Blood.

AUTHOR: Pheral

E-MAIL: kamilshka@hotmail.com

STORY STATUS: Complete

SEQUEL/SERIES INFO: N/A

SEASON: Around four I guess

SPOILERS: None really

CATEGORIES: Action/Adventure, Hurt/Comfort

PAIRINGS: None

Content Level: 13+ for violence

CONTENT WARNINGS: Fairly graphic torture, general evilness and Jack-whumping!

SUMMARY: A distant enemy takes advantage of some bad seeds in the military and causes problems for SG-1 and Colonel O’Neill.

ARCHIVE PERMISSIONS: ThePointOfOrigin site, Helio, JackFic site.

DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, Gekko Productions, this story is for fun and I sure as hell didn’t get any money. No copyright infringement is intended and you can’t post this story anywhere else without asking me first damnit!! But I’ll probably say yes anyway, so go ahead and chance your luck kiddo.

FILE SIZE: 159KB

AUTHORS NOTE: Hell yes, thanks to the JackFic group for encouraging me to write and post this – my first fic – and happy birthday Mary Badger, this one is for you as thanks for getting me involved in the group and introducing me to all the people out there who love the same things I do!

Feedback would be really appreciated and constructive criticism is welcome.

Red Blood, White Blood, and Cold Blood

Colonel Kandal shivered and pulled his regulation airforce jacket tighter around his shoulders. It was a mid September night and the air had that cool, still quality that meant winter was coming. Auburn leaves fell around him as he turned back to the two men crouched behind him, fiddling with a metal box in the middle of the vast dark forest. General Sutherland looked up as Kandal rejoined them,

‘Don’t worry Kandal,’ he sneered not at all sympathetically, ‘You can go home to your central heating and your doggy soon,’ Colonel Riveer laughed at this apparently very funny joke. Kandal knelt down in the Autumn leaves next to them,

You’ve included everything that Malazite wants to know?’

‘Yup,’ Riveer nodded, ‘All about the MALP, how to hide from it and SG-1, when they’ll all be coming through, how to use their GDO transmitters and dial earth to send us the goods. Everything’s covered, stop worrying.’

Kandal nodded nervously as Sutherland made a last adjustment and they strolled away from the box,

‘And he did say,’ Kandal continued, ‘that he’d send SG-1 back didn’t he? He won’t kill them?’

Sutherland shrugged, ‘We’ve told him that Stargate Command will send rescue parties, it’s up to him whether he wants to risk tangling with them or not.’

Riveer nodded, ‘He only wants some information from them anyway, and going on his reputation I’d say he’s pretty good at getting what he wants. As long as he’s satisfied I dare say they’ll make it back alive.’

Kandal wrung his cold hands, his brow creased; he was altogether unsatisfied with the whole idea, he was beginning to wish he’d never joined them in the first place. He didn’t think his colleagues were giving SG-1 the credit they deserved, he knew O’Neill from a few occasions and was aware of his stubborn nature, he was willing to bet Malazite wouldn’t get anything from him or the rest of the team and if so they’d never get home. Better that though, he thought, than they get home and O’Neill turned his energies to finding the airforce officers that instigated the whole affair.

Sutherland turned around to face the box again, now a good twenty metres behind them. He lifted his hand and pressed down on a green button lying in his palm. Their three heads jerked up as the box sprang into life, an explosion of light and fire and rocketed upwards almost too fast for the eye to follow, and disappeared deep into the sky.

‘There,’ Riveer stated, ‘It’s done.’

Sutherland grinned as they headed back to their cars, ‘And even God won’t be able to help Colonel O’Neill where he’s going.’

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‘So as you can see,’ the General finished as he turned off the video of the MALP data, ‘no sign of life, animal human or Goa’uld. There’s evidence of civilisation though in those engravings. You’ll be going through in half an hour people, and you are due for return in two days.’

‘Thank you Sir.’ O’Neill nodded as he rose from his chair, collected his notes and followed his team from the briefing room.

‘Looks like this will be pretty routine Sir.’

‘They always look routine Carter.’ O’Neill huffed as they headed for their quarters to kit up for the gate.

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‘For crying out loud Daniel, try and present yourself in some semblance of civilised order.’ Jacks brow knitted as he tried to release the archaeologist from the mess of straps and cords that his kit had become. Standing at the base of the Stargate ramp, Carter reached forward and tried to untangle his infa red goggles,

‘Aaargh, Sam you’re strangling me!’ Daniel screeched.

‘Sorry, sorry,’ Carter mumbled and let go as Jack tutted and frowned at the tangle of equipment. As they mounted the ramp and walked towards the blue, rippling Stargate, Daniel was still trying to untie his hat strap from his binoculars cord. Jack raised his eyebrows to the sky in despair as he stepped through the glowing gate and Carter grinned as she followed Daniel. Teal’c stoically followed them into the event horizon and they all disappeared off the face of the earth.

Colonel O’Neill’s booted feet hit the ramp at speed and he stumbled to a halt, quickly followed by his team. He turned and watched them emerge from the gate one by one, Daniel heading straight for the engraved pillar to their left, his interest piqued. Sam stood by Teal’c, facing her CO, her back to the still activated Stargate. She heard the familiar whoosh as it broke connection and she looked expectantly at her CO, waiting for the order to move out. He looked, well, funny, she thought.

Jacks eyes widened a little.

‘Oh,’ he said, ‘oh dear,’ and he fell silent, staring past Carter and Teal’c.

Carter turned round very slowly, followed by Daniel and Teal’c. Behind the Stargate, concealed as they arrived and now revealed, was a huge army of men. A mass of soldiers dressed in some kind of hard white armour and all carrying guns of some kind. They stood stock still and silent.

‘Uh, Jack?’ Daniel prodded. Jack waved a hand at him to be silent and a took a commanding step forward,

‘I am Colonel Ja…ow!’ he yelped and clutched at his chest, plucking a small dart from his skin he watched the others do the same, ‘Damn,’ he muttered, as numbness spread from his chest and engulfed his body, uncomfortable heaviness sent him to his knees and everything went black.

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In his office General Hammond’s head lifted. He shifted his attention from the paperwork on his desk in front of him and concentrated. Even from his office he could hear when the gate was activated and he could swear he could hear it now. He frowned, he knew there were no teams due to embark or return until tomorrow, and just as he rose from his seat his phone rang. He picked it up and listened for a second before nodding, ‘yes, I heard it, close the Iris and I’ll be there immediately.’ He slapped the phone down and marched from the room, heading for the Stargate control room. As he stepped down from the stairs onto the viewing room the on duty technician turned to him, ‘it’s been activated off-world, we’re receiving SG-1’s code Sir.’

‘What?’ Hammond frowned, stepping closer to the window as if seeing the gate would shed light on the situation. It didn’t.

‘Open the Iris Sergeant, and get security teams down there.’ He didn’t ask for medics but it was in the back of his mind, he couldn’t think why they’d dial home early except that something had gone wrong. He tensed as the iris opened and soldiers flooded into the gateroom, effectively surrounding the ramp and waiting silently, guns pointed at the shimmering wall of blue liquid.

The General jumped as something large shot out of the gate and slid down the ramp, the soldiers flinched but not a gun went off, not a man backed away as the tension was shattered. The gate whooshed shut as General Hammond headed for the stairs, and curious but cautious soldiers surrounded the large wooden box that now rested on the bottom of the ramp.

The head of the security team greeted Hammond with a sharp salute as he joined them and Hammond nodded in acknowledgement, ‘Major Teager, what the hell is it?’

The Major turned back to his men, understanding the question as permission to investigate.

‘Men, two to a side, lever the top off.’

General Hammond stood back as the men ripped the slats from the crate, lifting the top and peeling away the sides to revealed dark grey box. Teager fingered the only feature on the box, a little raised area like a combination lock, showing many different symbols along five lines.

‘Must be some alien combination lock Sir, Want me to get the boys on it?’

Hammond shook his head, ‘no, take it to be x-rayed, we don’t know what opening this thing might do, let’s try and find out what it is first,’ He nodded to himself as the team got ready to haul the item away.

He turned and headed up to the control room to order another MALP sent through the gate, it worried him that the SG-1 code had been used but that there was no sign of them and no explanation for their actions if they had indeed been the ones who had sent the box through. His gut told him this was not the case however and the possibility that they were in trouble weighed heavily on his mind as he headed back up to his office.

-----------------------------

‘How’re you getting on Major?’ O’Neill enquired of his team-mate. She sat in front of the lock on their cell, staring intently at it, a bent piece of wire in her hands. Jack shifted restlessly where he sat as Carter replied, ‘I’m not sure Sir, I don’t think this is going to be that easy.’

Jack flopped a tired fist onto the dusty floor, ‘aw darn it all to hell, are they just going to leave us here to rot?’

Daniel glanced at his watch, noting the five hours that had passed since they had awoken in the cold, featureless cell – all suffering from cracking headaches.

‘Maybe,’ Daniel said mournfully, ‘they’re starving us before they torture us?’

Jack snorted angrily, ‘maybe they’re trying to bore us to death!’

He disliked not knowing who his captors were, he needed something to happen so that he could start assessing chances and opportunities for escape. Stuck in this tiny room they’d die and not be able to do a thing about it. O’Neill’s head snapped up suddenly as he heard a noise, ‘hey Carter – get over here, someone’s coming.’

Sam followed his order and they all stood defensively by the wall furthest from the door, the Colonel a small distance in front of the others, ready for action.

Multiple footsteps approached the cell and the door slowly eased open. A tall, fair haired, solemn man entered and soldiers followed, flanking him. He growled softly, baring his teeth and revealing pure white fangs, just under an inch long. O’Neill raised his eyebrows slightly as the man snarled, ‘you will come with me, our Lord wishes to ask you some questions,’ and he smiled what Jack could only describe as a greasy smile. O’Neill saw no sign that the man or any of his men were Goa’uld and wondered what they could have done to so anger a race that they hadn’t even met before, Daniel didn’t even touch anything, for crying out loud! he thought angrily.

‘Excuse my curiosity,’ he started in a totally unapologetic tone, ‘but why have we been imprisoned? I wasn’t aware that we had done anything wrong.’

The man cast a lazy eye over O’Neill, ‘the sooner you stop flapping your jaw the better Tau’ri. Come with us or we will shoot you and drag you with us,’ he turned and walked through the door, the soldiers waiting for SG-1 to follow.

Jack shrugged. ‘Just nice to have options I guess,’ he muttered sarcastically and led his team after the man and out of the cell door.

They were marched down an unremarkable, dark tunnel so that they were nearly blinded when they emerged into a vast, white cave – shining with bright light. The room was adorned in gold and white, it sparkled like an ice cavern stuck with jewels and the team found themselves gawping at its beauty, despite their predicament. Jack looked down to see he was walking on a white fabric much like carpet, it was slightly stiff, as if it had once been moist and had dried out. For a moment he entertained the possibility that it could be plant life of some kind, like dense moss. He dismissed the thought to the back of his mind as they drew nearer to a throne-like seat, filled by the shape of a robed man. Jack sighed heavily as they were stopped in front of the throne. The man was large for human standards, well muscled and adorned with layers of beautiful fabric and decoration. His long blonde hair was matted and tangled, but clean, and it hung over his pale face as he sat stock still, his eyes closed.

Getting more and more annoyed and angry as they stood there, O’Neill nudged Daniel gently in the ribs, ‘I was right, they are trying to bore us to death.’

Then the man opened his eyes and Jack stared into two colourless retinas, their only feature a tiny red pinprick for a pupil. Those eyes gave him the same sinking feeling that he’d had upon the sight of the glowing eyes of Apophis, they lacked something, something important. He swallowed, ignoring Daniels gasp from beside him. O’Neill decided to take the plunge and unknotted his throat.

‘Who are you? Why have we been treated like this?’

The man stood slowly, revealing an impressive height and smiling white fangs, looks like an albino vampire, Jack thought. He felt the bloodless eyes focus on him and the man spoke in a deep snarling voice, ‘I am the Almighty Lord Ipsom Malazite, fearless, motherless, endless,’ he boomed, letting his voice echo off the walls of the vast cavern.

‘Well, I’m Jack,’ said O’Neill pithily, ‘and I can tell you I don’t think much of your hospitality,’

Daniel cut in then, afraid of Jack dashing any chance they had of rescuing the situation. ‘We are peaceful explorers, we mean you no harm, we didn’t know this planet was inhabited and didn’t mean to encroach on your land.’

‘But,’ Jack continued, ‘if you continue to treat us like this we will be missed and our people will encroach on your land like you’ve never been encroached before, they will retaliate,’ he finished in what he hoped was a confident and commanding manner. The Lord didn’t seem terribly affected,

‘Yesss,’ Ipsom replied, the word almost turning into a hiss as he moved down from the throne, ‘I know all about your people, they can retaliate all they like,’ he waved his hand dismissively, ‘now then, I believe you are the leader of this little band Colonel Jack O’Neill.’

Jack worked hard to prevent his face contorting, how did they know his name, his position? He saw Carter turn to him from the corner of his eye and he turned his head slightly in her direction to acknowledge her confusion,

‘Have you had contact with our people before?’ he asked, his curiosity blazing. Ipsom grinned like a Cheshire cat, well aware he was totally in control, ‘silence Colonel!’ and he snorted out a command, ‘mettath! Put the others in the cage.’

The soldiers nudged the others with their guns and Carter looked to her CO, ‘Sir?’

The soldiers behind her pushed her hard in the back and she stumbled forward.

‘Do what they want Major,’ O’Neill ordered, using Carter’s rank to force her into a detached state of mind. Hardly able to do otherwise with the soldiers prodding her, Carter nodded and walked to the cage with the others, Teal’c throwing even more severe glares than usual at the soldiers. Jack watched them locked into a small cage about four metres away from him, he felt painfully exposed, standing alone with three guards and Ipsom in the middle of the endless cavern.

He shot his team a small smile and turned to Ipsom, he changed tactics, well aware that the situation was not exactly going his way, ‘if you harm us, you’ll be in deep crap, Earth has weapons that could wipe you out in the blink of an eye.’

Ipsom stepped in front of O’Neill and leant forward.

‘I can tell,’ he whispered, his voice dropping to cold insanity, ‘that by the time I’ve finished with you this floor will be scarlet with your blood.’

Jack tutted, trying not to look into the lifeless eyes, ‘now that’s gonna take a lot of shake’n’vac.’

So quick was Ipsoms move then that it was almost a full stop to Jacks sentence, he whipped up a dagger to Jacks chest and carved a quick slit in the clothing and skin. Jack hissed at the flash of pain and then took his chance, he grabbed Ipsoms wrist, squeezing hard so as to wrestle the knife from his grip. No sooner had he touched the man’s cold skin than a soldier stepped keenly forward and pain exploded in O’Neill’s back.

Carter cursed as she watched her CO fall to his knees, the soldier who had whacked him in the back with a gun now restraining his arms behind him. Other Soldiers stepped up then and help O’Neill securely, his arms wrenched behind his back as he knelt on the mercifully soft floor. O’Neill gritted his teeth and raised his head, the pain in his back subsiding to a dull ache. Ipsom brought the knife back up to Jacks neck, running it closely against his skin as he tipped his head back to escape its cold edge.

‘This is pointless and a waste of your time,’ Jack said, swallowing awkwardly, ‘I’m not gonna tell you zip.’

Ipsom leant in close to Jacks face and whispered, ‘I know. But they will,’ he pointed to Jacks team with a cruel smile. ‘Any decent torturer knows that ultimately mental pain and empathy is a greater motivator than mere physical discomfort could ever be. So put on a pathetic face, Jack, and scream for me.’

He leant back and glanced at Carter, Daniel and Teal’c who were all staring with concern at their CO. Then he shifted his grip on the knife, put a hand behind O’Neill’s shoulder and put the tip of the knife against his shoulder joint at the front. Then he started to press, gently at first, then harder, and Carter closed her eyes as she heard the faint pop of the blade puncturing his skin.

Jacks jaw tightened and he closed his eyes shut with pain as Malazite slowly worked the knife deeper into his shoulder. Jack convulsed once as metal met bone, but he didn’t make a sound, he stared at the inside of his eyelids and tried to breathe, breathe Jack breathe, remember that your team is watching and breathe.

He went so deep inside himself that he hardly noticed when the knife stopped moving – the pain had become so general that he only opened his eyes at the sound of his torturers slimy voice.

‘I’m impressed Colonel, but I know how to make torture last for an eternity without killing a man. Eternity is a long time.’ he said, his voice raised and his head tilted towards the cage holding the rest of SG-1.

Jack nodded slowly, ‘yeah yeah, been there, done that, got the t-shirt.’ And the scars, he thought to himself.

‘Mmm,’ Malazites lip twitched and he stood up – pulling the knife from Jacks shoulder and watching Jacks face contort into barely disguised agony. But still no sound. He brought his hand down savagely on Jacks face, watching lazily as the man cradled a now bleeding nose. He turned to look at the other SG-1 team members and, maintaining eye contact with them, swung his right foot towards their CO, catching him full in the stomach. O’Neill doubled over, his eyes wide and breathing strangled, he stared at the floor as he whined in pain and strained against the soldiers holding him, trying to curl up into a protective ball. The pain calmed slightly and he watched scarlet blood drip from his nose onto the pure white carpet.

‘You really didn’t plan ahead,’ he gasped, ‘when you bought this carpet did you?’

Ipsom grinned,

‘On the contrary Jack, it didn’t start out this colour. Let me show you how it got this way,’ he beckoned to a nearby guard. As soon as the guard got within arms reach Ipsom lunged forward – plunging his knife into the startled guards stomach and twisting it savagely as SG-1 looked on in surprise. Malazite removed the knife and watched the guard collapse, he grunted with satisfaction and then reached forward to touch the guards stomach. He turned back to Jack and held his hand up to him. It was smeared with white blood.

Daniel’s face drained of all colour as he understood, ‘oh my God.’

Jack heard him and his mouth twisted in disgust, this man had killed so many of his people so as to turn the floor the colour of their blood. What a terrifying place this must be, he suddenly realized, for the soldiers to have to be in – the colour a constant reminder of their ruler’s apparent insane, murderous tendencies.

‘Yesss,’ Ipsom nodded, enjoying immensely watching the humans’ faces as the realization dawned. He wiped the blood onto the floor and walked towards the cage. He stopped in front of it and smiled gently at Carter, Daniel and Teal’c.

‘So, this is what I want to know…’ but Carter cut him off.

‘It doesn’t matter, we won’t tell you anything – nothing will change that,’ she barked, wanting desperately to get her hands on the man and beat him to a pulp.

‘Nothing?’ Malazite asked innocently, ‘fine, I will give you some time to think about that while your Colonel bleeds, for I am not rushed for time by any means. I’m sure you will make the right decision eventually,’ and he walked back to Jack.

‘See you soon Jack,’ and he rammed his left boot into Jacks sternum as the soldiers let go of him. He collapsed to the floor, his eyes screwed shut as his windpipe closed and he struggled for breath through the pain.

As Ipsom swept away towards the door two of the soldiers dragged the gasping Colonel over to the cage where they quickly shackled his legs to the bars with heavy metal manacles. As they left, leaving only two guards standing a small distance away, Carter, Daniel and Teal’c stuck their hands through the bars, touching Jack in concern as he lay wheezing on his back, his eyes closed.

‘Dear Lord Sir, are you okay? Can you breathe?’ Carter asked, her hand gripping his arm tightly.

‘Just about,’ Jack whispered, wincing at the pain that talking prompted, ‘I think he broke something,’ he stated. Daniel screwed his eyes closed and pinched his nose hard in frustration, ‘we’ve got to get you out of here before that guy kills you Jack!’

Teal’c nodded, ‘Major Carter, do you believe you could pick these locks?’

Carter cast her eye despairingly over her injured CO, ‘I didn’t exactly have raging success the last time I tried that.’

Jack opened his eyes to look at her, ‘well try it anyway, just until we come up with something else okay?’

‘Yes Sir,’ she replied and moved over to the cage door. Daniel took off his camouflage jacket and tore strips from it, folding a few into wads. He reached out to Jack and pulled back the material over his wounded shoulder, ‘I’m gonna try and stop the bleeding here okay Jack?’

Jack grunted his acknowledgement and growled softly as Daniel pressed on a wad of material and tied it in place with other strips.

‘Thanks,’ Jack whispered and closed his eyes. His mind felt clouded and heavy, the situation looked hopeless to his tired eyes and all he wanted to do was sleep and wake up once it was all over. Satisfied that Carter was trying her best with the locks, he let himself fall into what he told himself would be a quick doze to recover some of his energy before they got the hell out of the godforsaken place. Daniel gently worked at O’Neill’s face as he slept, wiping the worst of the blood away, if only to make the situation seem not so bad to Daniel’s own eyes. Seeing blood on his friends face always startled him, he was shaken by how vulnerable Jack looked in his uneasy sleep. He turned to Teal’c and sought solace in the strong Jaffa’s eyes as he watched the guards like a hawk, looking for weaknesses or chances of escape.

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Hammond picked up his ringing phone expecting news from the lab on the box that they had received a few hours ago. It was, however, the base guard post informing him of the arrival of some officials, namely a Colonel Kandel, Colonel Riveer and General Sutherland. Hammond hadn’t heard the names before and was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed by the amount of unexpected arrivals to his base.

Shortly after receiving the alien box they had sent a MALP through the gate to P3X-781, it had immediately been hit by enemy fire and incapacitated. Upon review of the video data, they managed to make out a vast army of soldiers in white, surrounding the gate. Hammond had cancelled the plans for a rescue mission, needing time to think. He wasn’t ready to give up on his best team quite yet but neither did he plan to send his men into a death trap. He has set SG2 the task of contacting the Tok’ra in the hopes that Selmak would be able to help them. With the situation as it stood, they were their only hope. He replaced the phone on the receiver and swiveled his chair to face the office door. He sat, clenching and unclenching his fists as he waited for his untimely guests.

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A soft metallic clunk sounded in the huge white cavern that was SG-1’s prison.

‘I don’t believe it,’ Carter whispered, ‘I’ve done it!’

‘What? Really?’ Daniel asked in disbelief.

‘Yes, look!’ Carter replied and as Teal’c leant forward she pushed the cage door open a fraction.

‘Wow, nice one Sam,’ Daniel smiled, keeping his voice low so as not to attract the attention of the two guards standing some fifty feet away from them. Then his face fell, and Carter and Teal’c followed his dismayed gaze to the heavy shackles chaining O’Neill to the bars of the cage.

‘Damn,’ cursed Carter, ‘I’d totally forgotten.’

As if sensing the attention on him, the Colonel stirred, consciousness coming back slowly and painfully. His face burned with heat and contrasted sharply with his cold limbs, a point of sharp fire spread out from his shoulder and he could feel dried blood beneath his uniform. Carter helped him struggle into a sitting position as he winced at the sharp pulling sensation in his chest that indicated broken bone. He turned his head carefully to look over the tired faces of his team.

Carter reluctantly started, ‘I’ve picked the lock Sir, the door’s open. Let me get at those shackles and try them too.’

O’Neill cast her a withering look and she half cringed back at him, she knew exactly what was coming, and she knew he would be right, but that didn’t mean she had to like it.

‘Sir…’ she almost pleaded with him.

‘No.’ O’Neill cut her off with a dry throat, ‘you three are getting out of here now.’ He saw Daniel open his mouth and shot him a silencing look, ‘no Daniel! My best chance is that you guys get out of here and bring back help! Don’t argue with me, this is an order!’ He saw Carter cast despairing eyes to the ground and he continued in a softer tone, ‘look, the fanged crusader here is hurting me to get to you guys. If you go he won’t have a reason to hurt me anymore,’ and his eyes pleaded with them to believe it, however untrue they all knew it was. They sat there for a while, nobody speaking, and finally O’Neill broke the silence, ‘right, we need to get you guys past the guards, Carter, get over here a second…’

The white guard stood stock still in the harsh light of the cavern, his mind half crazed by too little sustenance and too much terror. The prisoners who had dared to stand up to their Lord were trapped in the cage to their left and he could see them out of the corner of his eyes, murmuring softly amongst themselves. Then suddenly he heard one of them, the woman, cry out, ‘he’s dead, oh my God, get help, he’s dead!’ she screeched, pawing at the prone figure of the man who lay outside the cage, shackled to it.

The white guard knew the intentions of his Lord to torture the prisoners for information and, struck by terror at the thought of being blamed for letting him die, he sent the guard next to him to fetch his Lord quickly. Then he jogged over to the cage, asking as he approached, ‘what ails? My Lord was gentle with him.’

The other human male looked up at him with stressed eyes and stammered, ‘but, but, Jack has, well, he has high blood pressure and heart problems and…’

The guard didn’t have time to wonder over the meaning of the strange words that Daniel spoke for as he knelt down by the cage Teal’c’s massive hands shot out from between the bars and gripped his head, slamming it against the bars savagely and everything went black.

Carter pushed open the cage door fully and ducked outside, stripping the guard of his gun and a knife that he had strapped to his side.

‘Are you saying I’m fat?’ Jack asked Daniel as he joined him outside the cage

‘Oh shut up Jack,’ and Daniel nearly smiled despite their predicament.

‘Here Sir,’ Carter pressed the knife into Jacks hands, ‘keep this hidden somewhere, it seems that the people of this planet are ruled by fear, kill their leader and you might just be alright.’

O’Neill nodded, flashing her a quick smile, ‘I’ll bear it in mind Carter, now get out of here,’ he gave her a gentle shove as she took off towards the biggest tunnel leading from the cavern.

Teal’c followed behind Daniel and turned, stating quietly, ‘we will return soon O’Neill.’

‘I know you will, I know you will,’ O’Neill whispered to their backs as they disappeared across the whiteness and ran off down the tunnel.

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Weaving through the empty tunnels of the vast white structure worried Carter, she wanted to know where all the soldiers were. Perhaps a part of her knew exactly where they were and didn’t want to face up the possibility that they wouldn’t be able to get through the gate and get help back to the Colonel. After a few dead ends and strange rooms they eventually recognized the colour of daylight and broke out cautiously into the sunlight of a new day. Again, no soldiers could be seen and they jogged into the forest, making sure they were well covered before they stopped.

‘How are we going to find the gate? We have no idea where we are or how far they carried us while we were unconscious,’ Daniel turned to Carter, looking for her answer.

‘Right,’ agreed Carter, 'so the best thing to do is find a vantage point and see if we can see the gate, we’ll head to that hill over there and just hope that we’re near to the gate.’

They took off, none of them speaking what they all felt; if they couldn’t see that gate from the hill they were out of ideas and getting themselves and Jack out of there fast would become less and less do-able. Daniel stared at the foliage as his feet trampled the soft ground and he followed Sam and Teal’c up the slope and towards the top of the hill. How such a beautiful planet could harbor such evil and pain was beyond him, but then, people like Ipsom were beyond him altogether, he didn’t want to ever understand them. His thoughts strayed to Jack, he hated leading him there, vulnerable, tied up with only a knife to protect himself. He was relying on his team for rescue, they were his only hope and they had to find the gate and get help. He set his jaw and increased his pace, nearly overtaking Carter as she hastened to stay ahead of him.

Some ten minutes of jogging later, when Daniel thought his lungs were going to burst and render him altogether useless to Jack, they reached the top. Carter let out a relieved,

‘Oh!’ and then her tone dropped, ‘oh.’

‘What? Oh…’ Daniel joined Teal’c and Carter at the peak of the hill and his eyes met the scene. They had found the Stargate alright, and they had found the soldiers too.

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A strange peace had come over Jack O’Neill. He felt like he was waiting for the inevitable, he knew the Lord would return, he knew he would be angry, and he knew his team wouldn’t be back in time to prevent him doing what he wanted to Jack. Jack’s eyes were heavy with anger, anger at this madman who ruled this world with so much fear and pain. He could almost sympathize with the guards that had tied him up, he knew the power of fear and it enraged him and made him even more determined to kill this man. He knew the ruler wasn’t stupid enough to give him the opportunity to kill him but Jack let the rage build anyway. It warmed his bones and sent the blood coursing fast through his veins and quickened his sluggish thoughts. The bright light of the cave stung his tired eyes but he kept them wide open, staring intensely at the tunnel that his team had left through and through which Ipsom would return.

Soon there were hasty footfalls and he tensed his muscles, ignoring the pain that tugged at his body. Ipsom rounded the corner, taking long strides, his clothes streaming out behind him as he ran and Jack watched his face morph into absolute disgust as he neared the empty cage and he turned to the guard who was running behind him.

‘You let them escape!!’ he almost screamed. The guard said nothing as they neared the cage and it’s chained prisoner. Ipsom’s mad eyes darted from the unconscious guard on the floor to Jack and he pushed the white guard forward roughly.

‘Search him,’ he instructed coldly.

Jack’s eyes bored into the guard as he stepped forward, he knew Ipsom wouldn’t be that stupid and Jack was disappointed, but the knife wouldn’t go to waste and without his guards the ruler may become more vulnerable or unsure. Looking at him silently seething now though, Jack wasn’t so sure about that.

The guard knelt down and gripped Jacks arm, the left one, and pain seared from the knife wound, he used the surge of adrenaline and yelled, bringing his hidden knife up with his right hand and plunging it deep into the guards chest. It went in all the way to the hilt and Jack’s scream fell silent as the guards gurgled and collapsed on top of him. He pulled the knife hard out of the guard with a grunt and pushed him to one side on the floor. Not giving himself a single second to run out of adrenaline he leapt forward, towards Ipsom, and as he did he reached out and struck out at the Lord. The end of the knife nicked the cloth of his clothes before pain dug into Jacks ankle and he was jerked backwards by the shackles chaining him to the cage – their length used up. He hit the ground hard and lay there, gasping, all his reserves of strength used up and pain claiming his senses momentarily.

Ipsom stood over Jack, looking at him gasping on the floor, he kept his distance, waiting until Jack regained himself somewhat.

‘So, your people have abandoned you Jack. Obviously you didn’t mean as much to them as I had thought,’ he spoke clearly and calculatedly, in a strangely calm tone. Jack recognized the mood but was loathe to draw the comparison between himself and this monster. Ipsom had hit the plateau where Jack was. Past anger and rage. Into a quiet place, where all the madness was masked over and cold detachment took control.

‘My people will destroy you. You can count on that,’ Jack spat, his hand gripping the knife tightly to his body.

‘You first,’ replied Ipsom and smiled. Jack heard a click from Ipsoms palm and sickly yellow light shot out from a small device that he held. Jack heard his own intake of breath as if down a megaphone as the light hit and he spasmed. Cold pain crushed him like a vice, squashed his limbs and bones and stopped his breath as he writhed. The knife fell to the floor and Ipsom leant forward and picked it up as O’Neill gradually stopped shaking.

Jack could feel his body quivering from the impact and his breaths came in big shuddering heaves as he lay limp on the floor, no control over his limbs, his face screwed into a mask of agony as he fought back a scream. He felt like he had been hit by three zat blasts all at once, and deep inside himself he laughed at that, then you’d be dead Jack, all dead Jack, and you’re not dead Jack, you’re not dead.

His mind ran in circles for a while until he began to hear a voice getting through the numbing pain. It was dulling enough for him to hear Ipsom and he opened his eyes, blinking at the harshness of the light.

‘Did you like that Jack? No, I don’t suppose you did. My soldiers are surrounding the gate on this planet, every single one of them that I have left, and that’s a lot, not as many as it used to be but a lot still. Your team will be cut off, trapped and slaughtered, and you will all be sent back to your planet, very dead,’ he snarled quietly, almost too quiet for Jack to hear from the ground.

‘You’re completely crazy, you know that?’ Jack whispered, surprised that he could still master his own vocal chords.

Ipsom’s lips curled slightly, he glanced at the tunnel through which he had entered and took a few paces toward it, then he turned, took a run and swung his foot at Jack, catching him full in the face. Jack’s head snapped back and he yelped, his head crying out from the punishment and his ears ringing loudly as he tried to curl up on the floor.

--------------------------

Carter sank to her knees in despair; in the face of the worst-case scenario she no longer knew what to do. Hundreds of soldiers surrounded the gate, facing outwards from it in a ring of defense, there was no way for just the three of them to get anywhere near the gate, they had no way of getting home.

‘Perhaps,’ Teal’c gently suggested, ‘as actions here look hopeless we should return to try and liberate O’Neill, it is not yet totally impossible that your world will be able to help us in some way.’

Carter nodded, shaking her head as if to clear it and she got to her feet.

‘You’re right, we’ll do what we can while we’re here,’ she turned to go and then stopped, her head lifted to the sky. She stood still like that, Daniel looking at her strangely.

‘Sam?’ and then he too stopped, they all heard the faint whoosh as the air moved heavily, as if interrupted by some thing large. Carter turned back to the gate, watching as the soldiers shifted in agitation, sensing the same disturbance. Suddenly, with breathtaking speed a massive Tok’ra ship shot from the clouds over the gate, swooping gracefully over the soldiers and raining down blasts of fiery shots. The soldiers scattered in panic, felling to the blasts and running in all directions away from the attack.

‘Yes!!’ Carter grinned and they all happily started off in a run down the hill and towards the gate and the ship that had come to their rescue.

By the time they had burst free from the foliage surrounding the gate there was not a single standing soldier in sight, many lay dead around the gate and the ship streaked over their heads as they stood in the clearing, Carter’s radio sprang to life then and she picked it up hastily, ‘SG-1 come in.’

‘This is SG-1, Major Carter speaking, thank you!’ Replied Carter, not knowing quite what else to say, such was her relief.

The radio crackled and then a familiar Goa’uld type voice replied, ‘you’re welcome Major Carter, although I’m afraid this is all the assistance I am able to give, your home planet will be opening the gate shortly to assist you further, will you be alright now?’

‘Er, yes,’ replied Carter, slightly disappointed that it was not her father come to rescue them.

‘Oh, and Major, your father sends his good wishes, he is indisposed at this time or he would have come himself.’

Carter smiled and nodded. ‘Thank you,’ she finished and the ship swooped over their heads one last time before disappearing up into the sky and rocketing out of the planet’s atmosphere. The few seconds of silence following were broken by the sound of the Stargate exploding into life and settling back into a rippling pool of light. Carter’s radio one again crackled into life and General Hammond’s commanding voice greeted her and the others as they walked over to the gate through the fallen bodies of the white guards.

--------------------------

Blackness floated Jack on a cushion of numbness, he stared at the inside of his head for a while, not terribly willing to make the climb back to consciousness any time soon. From silence he started to hear distorted sounds, his ears felt oddly stunned, muffled, probably from one too many whacks around the head, he figured. He gradually felt the pain return, accompanied by an overwhelming crushing sensation in his chest, every time he took a breath it stabbed him with a spiking pain as if conspiring to stop him breathing altogether. He breathed shallowly and tried to ignore the worsening headache ramming its way around his skull as he returned to full consciousness. The first thing he saw upon opening his groggy eyes was a small and sideways Daniel looking very concerned. Well, I would be concerned too if I was suddenly small and sideways without prior warning, he pondered slowly.

He blinked and slowly realized that Daniel was not small but was standing some distance away and that it was himself and not Daniel who was lying on his side. He was right about Daniel looking concerned though, and someone was shouting something from over that direction too. Why didn’t they come and get him? He opened his mouth to shout to them and discovered a few broken teeth. Instead of speaking he managed to cough out some blood instead, the movement spurring pain from areas he didn’t even know could hurt. At his movement the crushing on his chest worsened, somebody gripped him harder, that was it - someone had a hold of him, then there was a contact on his neck and he felt the knife again, pressing harshly against his skin, close to breaking it.

He closed his eyes, trying to shake the grogginess. It must be Ipsom, holding him, the others unable to help him while he was a hostage, so you’ve gotta do something Jack, he concluded and then grimaced as he slowly flexed his right hand. Well, he thought dryly, I have at least one limb at my disposal.

Through shaky vision he saw Daniel edge a little closer, looking directly into Jacks eyes. O’Neill increased his breathing, trying to get his blood pumping, trying to raise his adrenalin, and hoping desperately that he still had some left. He finally felt a little heat enter into his aching muscles and he chose the moment.

Launching himself upwards he swiped out towards the knife with the only limb he knew he could count on, his right hand. He fell more than flew at Ipsom, barreling into him and letting his exhaustion bring them both to the ground. He felt the cold knife on his hand and Ipsom moved to heave him to the side but then there was hands all around and a frantic and confused struggle that freed him from the larger mans grasp.

Finally O’Neill lay on the ground, untied and allowed to relax, his breaths came in big gasping gulps, each one ripping through his lungs like fire, he felt like he was being stabbed to death and opened his eyes just to make totally sure he wasn’t right about that. He saw Doctor Janet Frasier’s face hovering over him and for a moment was unsure of his surroundings, he couldn’t be back in the infirmary already could he? He was losing a sure sense of things, his head felt like it was floating and he could hardly tell where all the pain was coming from any more, although he could still feel it.

‘Doc?’ he asked, unsure.

‘Yes Colonel, don’t worry we’ll have you out of here and in the infirmary in no time, just try not to go to sleep sir.’

He felt an oxygen mask placed over his mouth and his breathing eased somewhat, he felt a soft hand on his right wrist and he turned gently to see Carter kneeling by his side.

‘How’re you doing Sir?’

‘Wonderful, we should recommend this planet as a vacation spot.’

‘Funny you should say that Jack,’ Daniel replied with a smile, ‘but it’s an empty planet now, and a rather nice one. It seems that Ipsom had wiped out most of his people before we got here, they were diminishing to the last hundreds when we arrived, god knows what he hoped to achieve by capturing us.’

‘A last desperate act I suppose,’ Carter suggested, squeezing Jacks wrist softly.

As Doctor Frasier shone her pocket light into O’Neill’s eyes, he asked quietly, ‘how did you guys get help then if there were hundreds left?’

‘The Tok’ra came to our aid Colonel O’Neill,’ Teal’c replied, ‘it seems that we were traded to this ruler by some people in your military, in return he sent a package through the Stargate. General Hammond soon realized what had happened and called for the Tok’ra to aid us in freeing the Stargate of the guards.’

‘What was the package?’ Jack asked, as Doctor Fraiser injected something into his upper arm.

Carter shook her head, ‘from what General Hammond told us at the gate they lost it just before they realized what had been going on, someone in the military has a new and potentially dangerous toy to play with.’

‘That’s all we need,’ Jack sighed, steaming up the oxygen mask and aggravating his aching chest.

Doctor Frasier made way for a stretcher beside O’Neill and commented, ‘all you need is a long time in a warm, soft bed with plenty of rest and quiet.’

‘Ahh,’ he sighed again, ‘you just haven’t known real torture until you’ve counted the thousands of tiles on the infirmary ceiling, over and over and over again…’

He drifted off into a drug induced sleep, only disturbed by the dreamlike whoosh of the Stargate, the harsh echoing sounds of the gateroom, and home.

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