Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
This is ridiculous. How did things go so badly so quickly? They had left the Stargate calmly, confidently. Their scheduled meeting with the natives had promised to be several hours of boring discussions. They saw the natives in their funny hats in the distance and he had told Daniel to lead off.
He had never seen the other tribe approach. The natives they had met previously had never mentioned that there was anyone else on the planet. Never mind that it was one of their laws that the enemy tribe's name was not to be spoken.
The enemy had approached silently, their long blowguns allowing them to fire those nasty darts without leaving the shelter of the forest. Even Teal'c had no idea they were there until it was too late. They were all struck simultaneously. It was amazing how quickly the paralyzing agent worked. He was certain Carter, even now, was dying to study it. Aahh - poor choice of words. They had dropped immediately. The tribe had dragged them into the forest even as the natives had run to reach them.
He had to give them some credit. Apparently they were attempting to intervene. That was something.
The four of them were lying helplessly on the floor of a grass hut. She tried to get up, to reach her teammates, but she couldn't move a finger. She heard noises she thought came from Colonel O'Neill, but she couldn't turn her head to look.
Suddenly she was blinded by bright sunshine as the door was thrown open. A group of five men entered followed by someone who could only be their chief. The men spoke rapidly. She could tell from their gestures they were recounting the capture, but beyond that she had no idea. She hoped they were discussing their release, but it didn't seem likely. Maybe Daniel could understand them, that is, if he were conscious.
The men's speech was rapid, but he could make out most of it. It was a slightly different dialect than the natives they had met with earlier. He should have asked about other groups of people on the planets. He was sure Jack was pissed. He could hear noises of him trying to speak, to argue with their captors.
Right now the men were telling their chief about their `brave and heroic' capture. Jack would love that description. They explained how they had literally saved their land from invasion. Yeah right! Then the Chief spoke, and he realized the chief was there to decide their fate. As far as he could tell, the Chief was telling the men to do nothing. That sounded good. Just leave them alone, they'd let the poison wear off, and then they'd go.
The Chief left and the men seemed really happy, really proud of themselves. Wait a minute - Something's not right. Those men wanted them dead, he was sure of it. If they were being left alone... The men leave the hut laughing and pounding each other on the back.
The poison was slowly beginning to burn. It was starting to get hard to breathe. The blood in his veins seemed to be heating up, burning a path through him to his heart and lungs. Each breath became more painful, more difficult than the last. This would not be the end of them. Not if he had anything to say about it.
The grass wall above his head, furthest from the door, parted and one of those silly hats poked through. The man who wore it was one that Jack remembered. He seemed to be one of the few that had his head on straight. Okay, maybe that was because he had seemed just as bored at the meetings. He knelt over Jack, knowing he was the leader, he held up three roots, three antidotes, a sad question in his eyes. Jack knew immediately what he was being asked. He jerked his eyes over toward his people. The man nodded and went to administer the root.
Sam had heard noises over near Jack. She was not surprised when one of the natives appeared in her field of vision. He held a root to her lips. He helped her open her mouth and rubbed the bitter tasting root against her teeth and gums.
Almost immediately the pain began to subside. The heat retreated and soon she was able to move her head, then her shoulders and arms. Then she sat up and looked around.
The man was just finishing administering the third root to Teal'c who had been deep in kel'no'reem. He now began to awaken. Soon he too sat up and looked at her and Daniel. Then he looked over at Jack.
"Why have you not cured Colonel O'Neill?"
"I'm sorry. The root is extremely difficult to find. We had two in the village for emergencies; it took me several hours to find the third. I was afraid that if I didn't come now, it would be too late to save any of you. I am truly sorry."
Daniel frowned, "But you came through the wall right next to Jack, reached him first... why-"
"Because the Colonel told him to." Sam's stare bored through the man who looked away.
"We need to find more and we need it now." Sam's tone did not allow doubt or argument. She had learned a thing or two from her CO over the years. "Where do we look?" She moved to Jack's side and checked his pulse.
The native frowned, "I'm sorry, I-"
"It is possible they may have some at our neighboring village, but it is far away, a day's trek, and it is not likely they would give it to you if they had it."
Teal'c stood. "I will go."
"It will take too long! You'd have to run the whole way there and back, and you still won't make it in time."
"My symbiote has aided my recovery. I will go. You will tell me the way."
The native man stands and faces Teal'c, squaring his shoulders, "I will show you." They sneak out through the back wall of the hut.
Sam replaces a cool cloth on Jack's forehead. "His fever's higher." He had brief moments of consciousness, but Sam was sure it was better for him to be out. Then he couldn't feel the pain.
Daniel was sitting against the wall, his elbows on his knees. "Why? I mean, why would he do that?"
Sam looks at him sympathetically. She knows he knows the answer to his own question; he just doesn't want to accept it. "Daniel..."
"I know, I know, `we don't leave anyone behind.' `He always gets us home.' But this? He just let..."
Sam ignores Daniel and his unanswerable questions, and tends to Jack, although she doesn't have so much as an aspirin to give him. She'd tried using the remnants of root she found next to where she had lied, but it didn't seem to help.
Several hours have passed. It's obvious during his conscious moments that the pain has become almost unbearable. But he breathes.
He seemed to be reaching one of his lucid moments. "Just breathe, Colonel. I know it hurts, but just keep breathing. Teal'c is on his way. He'll be here soon." Her words are all she can give him. He looks up at her. His brown eyes are clear and bright. He blinks. She smiles. "You're going to be okay, sir." And then he's gone again.
Teal'c's run had eaten up the miles. He was very impressed at the native's ability to keep pace, but now he began to tire. Teal'c could not afford the delay.
"Tell me the way. I will cover the remaining distance alone."
Panting, the man responded, "Continue on this heading until you reach the river. Follow it upstream to the cliffs. There are caves. I will come as quickly as I can."
Teal'c nods and resumes his run.
Sam is timing Jack's breathing. "He's down to six breaths a minute. His pulse is weaker. His fever's higher."
"He's dying, isn't he?"
Sam glares at Daniel.
"I hate this waiting. There must be something we can do."
"I know. I've been trying, but with no way to analyze the root... We don't even have our med kits!"
"Teal'c will be here."
Carter's worried. Wish I could tell her it's okay. It hurts. It will be over soon. Wish I could tell Teal'c sorry for sending him on a wild goose chase. Wish I could tell them all... Nevermind, I can't keep this up much longer. Who'd've thought it could be such a monumental effort just to breathe. Carter asked, so I will, for a while yet. It hurts.
Daniel kneels next to Carter, a question in his eyes.
"His pulse is weak and thready. He's barely breathing." She bows her head for a moment, raises it to look at Jack. Determination in her face, "Jack?! Jack?! You hear me? Don't you give up now! Teal'c's almost here. Don't make him run all that way for nothing. Just breathe. Is that so hard? C'mon Jack." Tears are in her eyes and she stops before her voice cracks.
His eyelids flicker and he manages to raise them just slightly. She wipes the sweat from his forehead and replaces the cool cloth. She manages a smile for him. "Just a little longer..." His eyes slide closed.
They hear rustling noises, and prepare for anything, but it is Teal'c who enters through the hole in the wall. He hands Carter the root without a word and kneels next to the Colonel. She applies the root as thoroughly as she can. And they wait.
"Alcanor said, even if he yet lives, it may still be too late."
No one responds.
Quietly, gradually, Jack's breathing becomes stronger, more regular. Sam begins to relax. Teal'c sits back on his heels. Jack's eyes fly open.
Jack grunts a couple times before he can actually form words, bringing small, relieved smiles to the faces of his team. "Good work, T-man." He croaks. Teal'c gives him the regal nod.
He raises his forearm, and feels inordinately proud of himself. Sam takes the hand he raised and smiles her full smile.
"Welcome back, Colonel. We're taking you home."
As they lift him you can hear him mumble; "Oh no, not Frasier?!" the appropriate dread in his voice.
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