Jack, having just rounded the corner, paused momentarily and looked to his right, just in time to see Major Carter exiting the elevator behind him. “Good morning, Carter,” he replied, slowing down to allow her to catch up with his long strides.
“Did Dr. Frasier catch you?”
“Yes,” Jack answered as he subconsciously rubbed his arm. Last night, before he had a chance to leave the base, the doctor had called him into the infirmary. At the time, he hadn’t thought any thing of it, that is, until she brought forth a big honking needle. Personally, he didn’t like needles. Frowning, he continued, “I’m guessing you are asking if she vaccinated me for the flu, and yes she did.”
Sam grinned as she watched the Colonel rub his upper arm. “Yeah, she caught me this morning,” Sam stated, pulling out the newspaper that was tucked under her arm. Unfolding it, she showed the Colonel the glaring headlines of the flu that was wrecking havoc across the country. “Janet was telling me that this is a stronger than usual strain of the flu and what’s worse is that the US Government didn’t order enough vaccines. As it is, only essential employee’s here on base are allowed to be vaccinated.”
“And who should I thank for considering me an essential employee?” Jack asked grumpily.
“General Hammond, sir.”
“Should have known.”
The two rounded a corner, pushing open the door into the briefing room, joining Daniel and Teal’c who were already seated. On the table were a stack of folders, placed there earlier by Major Carter in preparation for the morning’s meeting. Pulling out adjoining chairs, they settled down in their seats and before general conversation could begin, General Hammond entered the room.
“Good morning people,” the general greeted. Arranging the papers on the desk in front of him, he went straight to business as turned to Major Carter. “Major, do you have the information on the planet PX8-897?”
“Yes sir,” she replied as she reached across the table for the folders, then stood up and passed them out to each person seated at the table. “If you notice, the M.A.L.P. indicates that there is a breathable atmosphere, and the UAV that was sent out shows that there is civilization on the planet.”
Daniel sat up in his chair, studying the images that the UAV shot of the surrounding area. “This looks really interesting. From the looks of the village, the structures they seem to be from the equivalent of our 1800’s.”
Talk around the table continued until finally Jack, who had been studying the contents of the folder, snapped it shut. “So when do we head out?”
The general, used to this particular colonel’s impatience, sighed. “You’ll leave out tomorrow morning at 0800 hours. Until then, I recommend that you all get some rest. The mission will be for five days, time to get the village, do some recon and then report back to base.” Tapping his hands on the table, he dismissed the team.
“Yes sir,” Jack replied. Pushing away from the table, he grabbed the folder and was on his way out of the briefing room, when he heard the General’s voice.
“Oh, one more thing,” said Hammond, pausing beside his chair. “I need for each and every one of you to get a flu shot before you step through that gate. We don’t need to be infecting any other planets with our own diseases.”
Jack nodded, the phantom pains from his arm returning just from the suggestion of the shot. “Dr. Frasier already caught me,” he replied begrudgingly.
Hammond grinned. “That’s what I hear.”
Jack looked surprised. “She told you?”
“Only because I came in not long after you to get my shot.”
“Oh,” Jack replied. He swiveled around and nodded the Hammond, then glanced around the room. Daniel was already gone, and Carter was still gathering her materials. And Teal’c, well Teal’c was Teal’c. “Well, I’m going to go plan a mission if that’s all, sir.”
“It is Colonel.”
+ + + + + +
0600 hours came too early for Jack the next morning. Somewhere just after midnight he had crashed on the cot in his office, unable to stay awake any longer. He rubbed his eyes, wishing that the gritty feeling that often accompanied a poor night of sleep didn’t haunt him. Cranky with having to get up and out of his comfortable position, one that he finally found a few hours back, Jack left his office and staggered down to the locker room to get a much needed shower. Washing the overnight grime from his body, he leaned his head against the wall and closed his eyes. It wasn’t until he felt the warm water turning cool that he realized it was time to get out.
Dressing quickly, a glance at his watch showed that he had just enough time to head down to the armory and get his weapons and gear together, and then make it down to the infirmary for his pre-mission physical. He really ought to be used to having to disrobe and prodded every time he went on a mission, but he wasn’t. Well he was, but there were times he wished he could just skip that bit of pre-mission protocol.
He laughed to himself, remembering the time he did try just that, skipping out on the physical. Oh boy, Hammond was not pleased at all when he found out. The general went as far as demanding that their team return immediately back to earth and bring back a very reluctant Colonel who knew he had been caught. Needless to say, the subsequent warning and severe dressing down he had received had taught him well.
Five minutes before the 0800 departure, Jack was in the gateroom, his gear on and his impatience obvious. Teal’c entered moments later, followed by Carter who was still adjusting the straps on her pack. Jack ignored her and turned his attention back at his watch, before glancing up at the control room, taking note of Hammond who was standing there looking down on them.
A minute before 0800 the doors opened into the gate room, the appearance of a very rumpled Daniel Jackson made his entrance. His glasses were awry, and his hair a tousled mess, looking as though he hadn’t even bothered with his morning routine before joining the team.
“Sorry I’m late, Jack,” Daniel apologized as he ran his fingers through his hair. Feeling a sneeze coming on, he tried to muffle it. Instead it came out as a mixture between a snort and a sneeze.
Jack looked at him strangely.
Not surprised at the statement, Jack shrugged his shoulders as he turned, sending a nod to the General above. “We’re set and ready to go, sir.”
The sound of the klaxons moving, while the gate rotated to the various symbols created a thunderous noise in the space they occupied. Again Jack was reminded of how he preferred to be standing in the control room when they dialed the gate. But thanks to his own late arrival, he instead headed directly to the gate room to wait for the rest of his team members. He watched as the gate kawooshed open. Motioning to his team, he waited until they entered the gate before following behind them.
The quick and sudden frost bitten feeling he experienced in the wormhole was immediately replaced by a sultry humidity on the other side of the gate. It was a thick humidity that quickly laid a heavy layer of wet heat on his body, wrapping it tightly around him. Within minutes his uniform was drenched in sweat, encouraging him to remove the jacket he currently wore. But before he did that, Jack was determined to make sure the area was secure. At first glance, he immediately noticed the thick forestation of trees that lined the area around the stargate, on all sides. Ever on alert, Jack kept his hands on his gun, watching as the rest of the team followed his motions to fan out and case out the area.
“It’s clear, sir.”
Jack nodded at Carter’s call and lowered his gun, but keeping his finger close to the trigger. “Daniel, which way?”
“Um, I think if we head that way,” Daniel answered, his arm pointing in an easterly direction. “Then we will come upon the village that we saw on the UAV.”
“Ok, Teal’c you take point, and I’ll take our six.”
Together the four of them trekked through the forest, no one saying very much other than to point out hanging limbs, or stumps that threatened to trip the team. Slowly, one by one, each of the team members removed their outer coverings until they wore their t-shirts. Even so, the oppressing humidity clung to each of them, creating rivers of sweat that slipped down everyone’s body. Even Teal’c was having a hard time with the humidity, every few minutes wiping sweat from his forehead.
The beauty of the land was overwhelming. It nearly outweighed the dripping humidity that was surrounding them. The trees were tall and a vibrant green, with lushness in the surrounding brush apparent. Multi-colored birds swung down upon them, chasing large insects, a variety that even Carter couldn’t identify. Part of the trail swung them past waterfalls, their thunderous roar announcing their presence long before the team appeared before them. This was paradise, something you only found in books, Jack realized.
As they passed by another body of water, a large lake, Jack couldn’t help exclaim. “Look at those fish!” From his position in the back of the team, he couldn’t help but pause a moment, his thoughts lost in the clear blue depths of the water. Fish were everywhere, and he bet he even could have caught a fish in this lake.
SG-1 continued to travel, each lost in their own thoughts in this paradise they had found. At one point Carter paused, studying the machine she held in her hand, carefully observing the readings it emitted.
“Sir,” Carter called out, “I’m not finding anything of particular value. Nothing is showing up,” she said, holding the machine up for a moment.
“Keep trying, Carter,” Jack replied. He pulled out his damp bandana and wiped once again the sweat that dripped won his face, then walked up to where Teal’c was, taking over point.
Eager to find some sort of encampment, or place to set up camp, Jack took another look at his watch. They’d have to find this area of civilization soon, or else they would be setting up camp just off the trail. And from what he could see, there weren’t any places that were considered ideal, at least from a defensive standpoint. He was taking another look at his watch, flipping the cover closed, when the trail took a sudden turn to the left.
Cautious and uncertain what was just around the bend, O’Neill advised his team to continue with extreme caution. Carefully they rounded the corner, the trees breaking away from the trail to show the steep descent of the trail, one that led directly in a rustic village, one that was alive with activity.
“There’s people!” Daniel exclaimed excitedly.
Jack couldn’t help the sarcasm that dripped from his words as he glanced over at the archaeologist. Daniel hadn’t said much or made much noise on their trek through the jungle, other than a few occasional sneezes. For Daniel that was unusual, he and Carter usually had something to talk about.
Turning his attention from his friend, Jack looked down at the village below them. Daniel’s pre-assessment of the village from the UAV scans seemed to be pretty much on target. They dressed as though they were straight from the western’s he liked to watch on occasion, minus the side arms. Come to think of it, Jack thought as he studied them, no one was carrying any sort of weapon with them. Must not have many visitors, he reasoned.
The SG-1 team stood at the top of the steep embankment, studying the activity below when suddenly a man, standing near the edge of the village looked up to see the strangers. Turning excitedly to his fellow men, he started pointing excitedly and calling out to those around him. Suddenly all activity in the village stopped as the announcement flowed through the village.
“Looks like it is show time, Daniel,” Jack said, patting the archaeologist on the shoulder.
Startled out of his thoughts, Daniel looked at Jack blankly for a moment then turned to face the villagers. “What? Oh yes, right away,” he stuttered, realizing what Jack had just said.
Carefully Daniel stepped down the steep incline, his hands balanced beside him as the loosened gravel on the slope threatened to send him hurling down the hill. He was nearly down to the bottom, where the ground leveled out, when the sound of loose gravel sliding down around him alerted him that the rest of the team was following him down. Quickly he glanced behind him, and jumped aside as he watched Sam slide down the hill, inadvertently, on her butt. Jack and Teal’c fortunately made it down without any spills.
Wiping his sweaty hands on his pants, Daniel took a step towards the group, holding his hand out to the one man who stepped forward. “Hello, my name is Daniel Jackson, and we are peaceful explorers from Earth.”
The man nodded, his look penetrating Daniel as he studied Daniel’s companions, his eyes slowly gazing on each of them. “You say you are peaceful explorers,” said the man, his eyes briefly landing on Daniel, before turning back to Teal’c. “Yet you bring a Gould’s into our midst.”
“No, no, Teal’c isn’t Goa'uld, he is Jaffa.”
Jack grimaced at Daniel’s clarification, realizing that Goa’uld and Jaffa wasn’t what these people needed to hear at the moment. It was time to speak up. “Teal’c, is a good man,” Jack announced. “He is a member of our team, and seeks to do good, and not evil.”
The man, this tall man with dark red hair that went every which way, clothed in long pants and a rough-hewn shirt, took a step backwards at the Colonel’s statement. He paused a moment, then studying O’Neill for a longer moment. Then he smiled.
“You are a man of strength and power,” the man stated solemnly. My name is Loshum, and these are my people the Lokamites.”
“Nice to meet you,” replied Jack. “My name is Colonel Jack O’Neill, and this here is Major Samantha Carter,” he said, pointing to the Major and then pointed to Teal’c. “And this is Teal’c. We are, as Daniel said,” Jack pointed to Daniel, “peaceful explorers.”
“And we are your friends,” Loshum stated. Then turning to the townspeople who huddled behind him in clumps, he spoke to them assuring them that these new visitors were their friends. Turning back to the SG-1 team, he motioned towards the water fountain in the main part of the village. “Come and partake of an evening meal with us, then you must bed with us this evening.”
At this, O’Neill scanned his team, curious their reactions of the offer. Carter raised her eyebrows. The opportunity to mingle and find out more about their resources was tempting to her. Daniel looked curiously out of it, yet there was a glimmer of eagerness that spelled out in his countenance. Jack shrugged his shoulders. Sure, why not, he thought to himself.
“Sounds good, Loshoom,” O’Neill stated.
SG-1 followed the man, the leader of the crowd, as the people who were thronging about them parted, allowing them to pass, guiding them en-mass to the courtyard. There, the team found that tables had already been set up and mounds of food set upon these tables. Loosening the packs they had strapped to their backs, they set the bulky items on the ground, and then settled down on the bench like seating. Crispy meats, roasted and grilled lined the table in front of them. Vegetables of all sorts of varieties spilled over from the bowls that contained them, while fruits lay loose on the table top. The smell that wafted smelled so delicious, that it was all that they could do to restrain themselves, waiting for the rest of the people to sit down.
Loshum hovered nearby, his hands motioning in the air as he encouraged the team to eat. “Eat, eat! We shall eat once you have begun.”
Staring at the food, Jack had to admit that the food did look good however he wasn’t completely sure about Loshum’s insistence that they eat first. Maybe it was how they treated all their guests, just to make sure they didn’t add too much poison to the food. Suspicious, yet hungry, he cautiously picked up a fruit that looked similar to an apple and nibbled the exterior of it. Whatever it was, it wasn’t an apple. If anything, it was better than an apple. The interior was a pale yellow, but the texture was similar to a grape. However, it was so sweet and juicy that Jack couldn’t help but finish off the fruit he had picked up.
Some time during their eating, the rest of the villagers had settled down around them, eating while talking amongst themselves. Daniel carried on a conversation with a young man to his left, while Carter was trying to explain her hand held naquadah reader to an anxious youngster across from her. As for Teal’c, he sat at the table and ate, seemingly ignoring the questionable stares from the little children who migrated to him. Jack, well, he ate and observed.
Lights were lit around the courtyard as darkness began to close in around them, when finally Jack leaned back from the table, stuffed. The food was good and a quick glance at his watch made him aware of just how late the hour was now.
Spotting Loshum sitting at a table across from him, Jack stood up and was about to approach the man, when Loshum turned to see O’Neill standing.
“You are finished, my friend,” he said, making a motion with his hands towards someone on the perimeter of the crowd.
Jack turned to see two families approach, each with a line of children in tow. He motioned to his team members, who were now in the process of standing to their feet.
The first family approached the team, Loshum there to assist. “This is the Monokam family.” The leader of the Monokam’s hesitantly smiled, while the wife was a little more open with her greetings.
“Oh, hellow, hellow, we are so happy that you will be staying with us,” she greeted affectionately towards Major Carter.
Carter turned to look at the Colonel, who raised his eyebrows.
“Looks, like that is where you’ll be staying. Teal’c,” O’Neill said, as he turned to face him, “go with Carter.”
Teal’c nodded. “I will do as you ask, Colonel O’Neill,” he said, as he moved in behind Major Carter, collecting the gear as he left the area. Two of the children from the family hovered close to the big man, staring curiously up at him. Teal’c remained silent, aware but ignoring their questioning glances.
Jack felt a tap on his arm.
“Jack, I think this is the family we’ll be staying with,” Daniel said quietly.
A family of six stood before him and Daniel, four children stair-stepped in age, with the oldest a boy, approximately in his teens. The two that followed him in age were girls, with the fourth child, a young boy, a toddler. Jack smiled and nodded, following the family to their home near the edges of the village square.
“I’m not so sure how lucky we are, Jack,” Daniel whispered, “I don’t think our family is very wealthy, considering the size of their dwelling.”
“That’s easy to believe,” Jack said with conviction as he bent his head down, stepping within the small building. There was a large room, where the family did their cooking and apparently visiting, evident from the animal rugs that were strewn across the floor. There was another room, just off from the cooking area, an area that looked as big as his bathroom. Jack turned and smiled at the family, uncertain with where he and Daniel were to sleep.
“You, being our honored guests, will receive the room there.”
Jack raised his eyebrow and looked over at Daniel.
His friend shrugged his shoulders. “At least we don’t have to sleep in the main room, Jack. And it will be easier to defend with only one doorway.”
Sighing, Jack just wanted to shake his head and tell the family that they’d find their own accommodations. But the way that the small children were looking at them, he couldn’t do that to them. They were bursting full of questions, with the oldest boy was looking at them with a sort of admiration. He stifled a yawn and then sighed. Motioning towards the bedroom he suggested that they put there things away, then visit for a little while.
Hours later Daniel and Jack were finally were able to pull themselves away from the family, to get some sleep. Daniel, who had become increasing quiet throughout the evening, turned in first. He was fast asleep while Jack attempted to find a comfortable spot in this cramped room. The room was just large enough to fit two bodies, but for him to stretch out the length of his legs, it was proving to be a challenge. Plus, he didn’t really like the closeness he had in sleeping so close to Daniel. As he spread his bedroll out, he sank down on the cloth and lay his head down.
Jack could feel Daniel’s breathe on his back, and to be honest, it wasn’t something he was really interested in feeling at the moment. And just to clarify things, there was no time he wanted to feel his buddy’s breathing on him.
Tired and exhausted, Jack just wanted to sleep, but he couldn’t like this. Sitting up, he leaned his back against the wall, feeling the coolness from it, then with his head resting against the other wall he fell asleep.
Morning didn’t arrive soon enough for Jack, he reflected as he strode around the village. Teal’c was next to him, silent, while Carter was testing her instruments, and Daniel was mingling with the people. He hadn’t received much sleep, in between the sounds from the adjoining room, and then with Daniel’s constant sniffling and coughing during the night. Then add on top of that an annoying neck ache, caused from his poor sleeping position the night before, had put him in a foul mood. Mindless chatter was not what he wanted, which is why he chose to hang around Teal’c for the morning.
Another yawn threatened to escape as he thought back on the morning’s meal, one that consisted of some strange creature buried in layers of grease. Whatever it was, it had done a number on his stomach. Twice already he had to relieve himself in the woods behind him, constantly aware of the strange noises that followed him. He took another swallow of water, then turned to Teal’c.
“How were your accommodations, Teal’c?”
“They were most comfortable, Colonel O’Neill. They provided Carter and I with our own room.”
“Your own room?” Jack sputtered.
“Well, if that doesn’t beat all,” the colonel replied, head shaking.
Teal’c tilted his head, uncertain with how to respond. Instead, he raised his eyebrow and turned away, his attention captured by a movement across the village square. He glanced over at the Colonel, who had now moved on down the street.
The man didn’t seem to look all that great, hunched over as though in pain as he weaved his way through the crowd of people, pushing some aside. At one point, he wavered in his footsteps, using his hand to keep him balanced. Concerned, Teal’c said nothing as he moved towards where Daniel was walking.
Daniel, fighting nausea for the majority of the day, had already thrown up his breakfast earlier in the day. If he thought he had been tired earlier, it was nothing compared to the overwhelming weakness he was feeling at the moment. He felt awful. All he wanted to do was go back to the home where he was staying and go to sleep. So he continued to push his way through the throng of people, all of whom seemed just as determined to block him from his destination.
With one hand on his stomach, Daniel lurched forward, finding it difficult to keep one foot in front of the other. Suddenly, there was a weight on his arm.
He looked up.
“Are you ill, Daniel Jackson?”
Daniel couldn’t help but groan. He patted his stomach in reply. “I think something I had for breakfast this morning disagreed with me. It isn’t going down very well,” he said, as he paused against a doorway, sagging against the rough wooden surface.
“Daniel Jackson?” Queried Teal’c.
“Oh, God,” Daniel cried out, “I think I’m going to puke!”
If there was one word that Teal’c had learned from his time spent on earth, it was the variety of words that humans used when they expelled waste from their mouth. Puke was one of those words he recognized. Immediately he stepped aside, yet remained close enough to the ill man to provide support.
Unaware of the movement, Daniel hunched over and moved away from the doorway, finding a spot in an alleyway between two homes. For the second time that day, Daniel emptied out what remained in his stomach. Reaching into his pocket, he withdrew his handkerchief, wiping his mouth. Then he stood up, and with Teal’c’s helping hand, he withdrew from the area, slowly they made their way to the house where he and Jack were staying.
“Thanks, Teal’c,” Daniel whispered.
“Do you not need further assistance, Daniel Jackson?”
Daniel shook his head. “I think I can take it from here,” he said quietly. He was about to turn away, when he paused, turning back to face Teal’c. “Thanks.”
“You are most welcome, Daniel Jackson.”
Watching as Teal’c departed, Daniel backed away slowly. His head was hurting and his joints were aching fiercely, and then there was the nausea that remained with him. He stretched out his hands, resting them alongside the walls, guiding him as he stumbled into the room that he and Jack shared. Without another thought, he fell to the pallet and promptly fell asleep.
“Colonel, have you seen Daniel?”
Jack looked out from behind his binoculars to stare at Carter. “Daniel? No, I thought he was with you?”
“He was earlier, sir,” Carter replied, “but he said he wasn’t feeling good so he came back.”
“How long ago was this?” Jack asked, tucking the binoculars away in his pack. Shifting his gear onto his back, he stood watching as the major studied her watch.
“Nearly, four hours ago, sir.”
“Four hours ago? Damn!” Jack replied vehemently. He adjusted the straps on his backpack, and then took a step backward. “I’m going back into town and take a look around, and see if I can find him. Find out if Teal’c has seen Daniel.”
Jack sighed as he trudged down the steep slope back into the town. Balance was difficult with the slope of shale type stone. One false move and he had a feeling he would be slipping down on his butt, much like Carter did on their first day here. He walked along wondering if the Major had come up with anything on this world, while at the same time wondering where Daniel had gone. Probably discussing the history of the buildings with some poor old soul, he thought to himself.
Quickly he scanned the area, not seeing any sign of the archaeologist. Worry began to settle in the longer he milled around the town, until finally he stood outside the home where he and Daniel were residing. As he stood there, his gaze touching every corner of the street a sound from within the home caught his attention.
Puzzled, Jack turned and followed the sound, ducking his head from the low doorway. There it was again, and it distinctly sounded like a cough, a congested cough and it came from their quarters. Pushing aside the cloth that hung between the small room and the cooking area, Jack couldn’t help but gasp.
He looked horrible.
Daniel coughed, a deep wracking cough that came from deep within him. Just from where Jack stood, he could see that Daniel was extremely ill, a high fever and chills causing him to shiver beneath the light blanket that covered him.
Jack swore. “Damn it, Daniel, what’s wrong with you?”
The sound of Jack’s voice, prompted Daniel to open his eyes, but he promptly shielded them with his hand. “Jack?”
Slipping off his pack, Jack dug around within looking for the medical aid kit that they all carried, digging out a package of aspirins. He reached for Daniel’s canteen, only to find it was empty. Handing the ill man the aspirins, Jack loosened the cap on his own canteen, handing it to Daniel who promptly swallowed the pills, washing it down with the lukewarm water.
Just from where Jack was kneeling, he could feel the heat radiating up from Daniel’s body. His friend’s eyes were glazed with fever, and his body shook occasionally from chills.
“I’m cold, Jack,” Daniel whimpered. He wasn’t feeling good and he wasn’t ashamed to admit it. The pallet below him didn’t offer him much protection from the cold stone floor below him, other than to make him realize just how sore he was at the moment. Daniel watched as Jack pulled the blanket from the pallet where he had slept the night before.
Jack unfurled his blanket, and then let it rest across Daniel, aware that the ill man was watching every move he made. “Daniel, we gotta get you off this planet and back to earth.” He covered his face with his hand as his thoughts continued to run through his head. “Did you get the flu shot like Hammond asked?”
“No, Jack, I didn’t.”
That wasn’t good. The team was his responsibility and not only was a member of his team ill, but there was a chance Daniel had just infected an entire population. Jack certainly hoped that wasn’t the case, but he couldn’t take any chances. He had to get Daniel back to the gate, and back home as soon as possible. Jack flipped open his watch and studied the time. The hike back to the gate was going to take some doing, and it wasn’t something he was looking forward to doing again. But it couldn’t be helped. Quickly he packed his things in his backpack, before he began working on Daniel’s pack, he lifted the ill man from the pallet and began removing the now soaked blanket from his body.
The crackling of the radio broke the silence in the room. “Colonel?”
“I just met up with Teal’c, and he said he had taken Daniel back to the house. He said he wasn’t feeling good.”
“I found him, Carter,” O’Neill stated matter-of-factly. “I need both you and Teal’c over at the house. Daniel’s sick and I need to take him back home.”
“We’ll be ready, sir.”
“No, Carter, I’ll take him back to the gate. I need for you to stay here and see if you can find any naquadah resources.” Jack paused. He took a deep breath as he glanced down at Daniel. “I also need for you and Teal’c to stay around and see if anyone comes down sick with the flu. But first I need Teal’cs help in getting Daniel back to the gate.”
“Yes, sir,” Carter replied.
In less than thirty minutes, Jack had Daniel’s pack stuffed while Teal’c remained outside the doorway waiting to offer assistance. Motioning to the larger man, Jack stepped outside the room as Teal’c entered the room, picking up the limp man on the floor and putting him in a fireman’s carry over his shoulder.
“We’ll take turns with him, Teal’c,” Jack stated, leading the way out of the house.
Together the three of them left the village, leaving Carter behind to observe the population and continue with her own research. Teal’c carried Daniel for nearly a mile before he had to put the sick man down. Unwilling to stop for a long period of time, Jack waited for Teal’c to catch his breath, and then hefted Daniel up onto his own back. It was a long journey, one made even more difficult with the extra weight they had to carry.
Hours later the three make it to the gate, Teal’c carefully laying Daniel down on the ground while Jack quickly dialed the gate. He made a call through the gate to the command center advising them to have a medical team waiting for them. Stepping away from the DHD, he turned to Teal’c.
“Thanks for your help, Teal’c,” Jack said as he reached down, lifting Daniel up over his shoulders. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
Teal’c tilted his head and nodded, then watched as Colonel O’Neill carefully took the steps up to the Stargate and disappeared into the shimmering pool.
“What happened out there?” Hammond asked, watching as his second in command paced the length of the briefing room.
“Daniel didn’t get his shot, and in turn ended up infecting probably a large majority of the population.” Jack paused a moment, looking at the Stargate below him before turning back to face the general. “Sir, I request a supply of flu vaccines to take back with me to the planet. There is a chance that these people will become victim to our lack of judgment. We can’t allow this to happen.”
Listening, Hammond agreed with Jack’s reasoning, however he needed proof that the people were going to get sick. It could be that they had a natural immune to the flu. “I agree with you Jack, however, we need to contact Carter and find out if anyone has come down with any symptoms from the flu. If so, then I find no reason why you couldn’t take a supply of vaccines back with you.”
“Thank you, sir,” Jack replied. He barely waited for the general to rise before heading to the stairs to the control center room. Walking over to the engineer handling the stargate, he gave him directions to dial up the planet he had just been on and make radio contact with his team members left on the other planet.
“O’Neill.” Hammond stood next to Jack, fully aware that he had yet to follow with procedure. “You need to get down to the infirmary and let the doctor’s do a post-mission physical.”
“But sir, I’m fine.”
Hammond shook his head. “I want you down in the infirmary now. Once Dr. Frasier gives you her okay, you can return for the results here.”
Resigned to the inevitable, Jack sighed. “Yes, sir.”
Colonel O’Neill fidgeted restlessly on the exam table, waiting what felt like eternity for Dr. Frasier to finish with her tests. “I don’t know why you have to do this,” he complained. “I’ll be stepping through that gate again before the day is out.”
“Protocol, Colonel,” the doctor replied with a sigh. The Colonel had been antsy since the moment he had walked into her domain, and no amount of threats would get him to stop fidgeting. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the Colonel’s hand snaking towards a medical instrument on the table beside her. Without thinking, she reached out and slapped the Colonel’s hand.
Jack looked stunned as he glanced down at his now red, stinging hand. “Ow!”
“Oh, Colonel!” Dr. Frasier cried out, realizing belatedly what she had done. The look of surprise on the older man’s face immediately sent a feeling of guilt coursing through her veins. She reached out to grab O’Neill’s hand, but the man was quicker, snatching it from her grasp.
“I don’t think so,” he muttered, casting a glare her way. “Are we finished here?”
Again Frasier sighed. She looked at her notes and the test results she was still waiting on, admitting to herself that the results would show that he was all clear. Besides, he was driving her nuts. Ignoring protocol, she nodded her head. “Go, Colonel, go,” she said, waving her hand towards the door.
Without prompting, O’Neill grabbed his shirt and slipped it on, buttoning it up while slinging his jacket over his shoulder. “Thanks, doc,” he called out. He rounded the corner out of the room and disappeared from sight.
Subconsciously he rubbed his hand, thankful that the stinging sensation was gone. Dr. Frasier’s slap was fast and efficient, his fidgeting at that moment was gone from his mind. Her slap was a godsend. Knowing that she would be feeling guilty for hitting him, the chances of him getting out of the infirmary was high. And he was right, he thought with a grin.
He sauntered down the hallway, winding his way down the hallway until he entered into the briefing room. Looking around, he saw the general sitting in his office. Jack tapped on the door, waiting until Hammond recognized who was knocking. The other man nodded, which was all the encouragement that Jack needed.
“So what did Carter say?” The Colonel asked as he settled down in the chair.
Hammond sat his pen down on the desk, then leaned back in the chair and studied the man across from him. What he was about to tell the Colonel wasn’t going to go over well, that much he knew, but he had his orders.
“She acknowledged that some of the people in the village are falling ill.”
“Ok, so how soon can I get a shipment of vaccines together?”
“I can’t authorize that, Colonel.”
O’Neill stared at the general. “You can’t authorize it? Why the hell not?” Jack stood up, glowering at his commander. “There are people sick on that planet, a direct consequence of what we brought to them!”
“I’m sorry, Colonel. But after talking with Major Carter, and then a long conversation with the president, I am not allowed to give you the authorization to take vaccine back to the planet for those people.”
“Why? Just tell me why?”
Hammond sighed. He sat up in his chair, bringing his elbows to the edge of the desk where he rested them. “Because Major Carter has found nothing on the planet that would prove useful to our world. In fact, you are to go back to the planet and retrieve your team and bring them back home immediately.”
“Stop there, Colonel O’Neill before you say something you will regret,” the general calmly said. His voice may have been calm, but inside it felt as though his blood pressure was rising, and what was worse, he could feel the veins on his baldhead bulging, ready to pop. He had known telling Jack the news would be bad, but he wasn’t aware of just how bad.
“My apologies, General, sir, ” Jack snarled, “but here we come to their planet and bring our virus and infect them. We are essentially killing them. So in a month are we going to go back and claim the planet as ours, once we have decimated their population?”
Hammond glared at O’Neill, well aware of the thin line that the Colonel tread with his impudence at the moment. “Our own country is going through a flu epidemic at this point, and the country is running out of the vaccine. We cannot afford to give away any of our vaccines at the moment.”
“Can’t we give them our supply here on the base?”
“No we cannot not, and this is enough, Colonel. There is to be no argument regarding this. The decision has been made and that is it!”
Hammond had reached his limit, and no amount of argument from Jack was going to make him change his mind. He didn’t like this decision any more than Jack, but he had his orders, direct from the president. The missions that SG-1 had been on of late had become more of a social, cultural gathering rather than technology based. He could understand the difficulty of obtaining knowledge, but from the Major’s observation there was little that could be used from the planet for Earth. He dropped his head down a moment, shuffling the paperwork on his desk, but looked up at the sound of his door slamming shut. The sound reverberating through his office and no doubt the base.
He sighed. There were times he didn’t like his job, and today was one of those days. But Jack would get over it, Hammond knew, he always did in time.
Jack stalked down the hallway, ignoring the questioning looks of those who passed him in the hallway. He was so mad and there was nothing he could do about it. The base had a supply of vaccines, ones that could easily be shared with the small village population.
Without pausing to wonder if what he was contemplating was right or wrong, he turned abruptly and retraced his steps to the infirmary. He stepped inside to see the medical staff busy at work. Jack walked over to where Daniel was only to find that he was still sleeping. A nurse walked over while Jack looked down at his teammate.
“He’s doing much better, sir.”
Startled, Jack looked up from his musings. “What, oh yes, good.” He paused a moment as he studied the young nurse standing next to him. She hadn’t been here long, fairly new from what he recalled. “Did he get a flu shot when he returned?”
She smiled. “No sir, considering he had already been infected.”
“Of course,” O’Neill replied with a sheepish grin. He looked around the room, his eyes landing on Dr. Frasier who was working on a patient across the room. “Do they keep the vaccines in this room?”
“Oh no, sir,” the young nurse replied, reaching down to take Daniel’s vitals. “We keep them in a the supply closet just outside in the hallway. Dr. Frasier didn’t want all the supplies taking up her shelf space in here, and there was room out there.”
Jack nodded, then looked down one more time at Daniel. “Take good care of him, nurse.”
“Yes, sir, have a good night, sir.”
Quietly Jack left the infirmary, his eyes scanning the hallway as he stood next to the supply closet outside of the infirmary. Being second in command, he had keys to every room on the base, and he was guessing that this small closet outside of the infirmary was no exception. With his keys resting in one of the drawers in his desk, he knew he’d have to wait until later in the evening to follow through with his plan.
“Sir, I’m ready to depart back to the planet and help out Carter and Teal’c,” O’Neill stated as he stood before the General in his office.
“Are you certain, Colonel? I heard from Dr. Frasier you were suffering from a headache earlier in the day.”
“I’m doing much better sir,” Jack said. Uncomfortable with the lies he had to give Janet, he had to do something at the time to guarantee his lengthened stay on the base.
“In that case, you are free to go. You know your mission.”
“Yes, sir,” Jack said, the bulk of the backpack weighing heavily on his back and his mind. Walking down the stairs to the command center, fully understanding what would happen to him once he returned. It was worth it, he reasoned to himself.
The klaxons were glowing and spinning by the time Jack walked down the stairs to the Stargate room. He walked over to the base of the ramp, fearful that someone would find out what he had done, before he had a chance to make it to the other side.
The massive Stargate kawooshed open, spilling out the shimmering blue horizon, encouraging Jack to step into it and beyond.
“Nurse, go get a vaccine for Sgt. Marshall here,” Dr. Frasier requested as she stepped away from the soldier who had just returned from a vacation off base.
It had been a long day, and the conference that she had with the General the day before weighed heavily on her mind. She was standing outside of the door, when the Colonel had come stomping out of the room, the look of rage apparent on his face. For a brief moment she was glad that she hadn’t been in the room, despite the general’s initial request that she attend.
Now in the infirmary, she glanced across the room, her eyes landing on Daniel where he lay resting, his flu caught before reaching the advanced stages of pneumonia. Daniel, she knew, had been feeling guilt ever since learning of the flu on the planet they had gated to, but what he didn’t know is that Hammond had refused to allow any of the earth medicine to be sent to the planet.
But now the Colonel was gone, back on the planet with nothing to help those poor souls. She wished she could have done something, she wanted to go to the planet and help, but Hammond had said no. Well, as the General had explained, it wasn’t that he didn’t want her to go. It’s just that he had received word from the higher uppers in the chain of command that no further staff from the SGC was to go to the planet. In fact, the Colonel had orders to bring his team home. So O’Neill had left.
“Excuse me, doctor?”
“I can’t find any of the flu shots,” the nurse replied hesitantly.
“The closet was empty.”
It had to have been O’Neill, Dr. Frasier thought to herself. There was no other explanation as to why they were out of vaccines. Now, she had to tell the General and it wasn’t something she was looking forward to doing. Turning to the nurse, Dr. Frasier waved her aside. “Go to one of the other doctor’s and find out if they know of any other supplies we can pull from.”
Leaning against the wall, Dr. Frasier sighed. This wasn’t good.
“Carter, I’m taking some of these vaccines and will be hitting some of the villages at the top of the mountain,” Colonel O’Neill stated, pulling his jacket on. Adjusting the straps on his pack, he then hefted it onto his back.
“Do you need any help, sir?”
“No, I got it,” he replied quickly. “I’ll be back before dark, which should give you and Teal’c plenty of time to finish up here. We’ll head back home tomorrow.”
He paused a moment. Should he tell Carter about the stolen vaccines? The moment passed, and he didn’t. His team would find out soon enough the backlash of what he did, and hopefully he would be able to protect his team from the consequences of his actions. As it was, he had to get away and be alone. After working all morning vaccinating the people in the village, he found out there was a few remote people who lived alongside the hills. They had been there during the initial meal with him and his teammates, and he wanted to make sure that they were vaccinated. Too many had already died and he didn’t want there to be any others.
Without another word, he walked out of the village and climbed the steep embankment to the area above the village.
For hours he walked, vaccinating the few he had come upon, unaware of just how much time had passed until his growling stomach prompted him to stop. A glance at his watch showed it was well past lunch, but he knew if he stopped now then he’d never be able to make it back down to the village before nightfall. Nabbing a trail mix bar from his pack, he tore it open and began munching on it unaware of the dip in the trail ahead. One moment he was walking on solid ground, the next he was stepping in thin air.
Unaware of what was happening, Jack thrust his arms out trying to find something, anything to hold on to, but his fall was too rapid. He could feel the needles breaking in his backpack as he fell atop them, his body plunging rapidly down the steep incline when suddenly all motion stopped.
Night fell and there was no word from Colonel O’Neill. For the umpteenth time that evening, Carter glanced towards the mountainous range, worried about her commander. He had promised that he would be back before nightfall, but there was a chance that he had been delayed. Numerous times she had tried calling him on the radio, but there had been no answer.
She and Teal’c had successfully vaccinated all the townspeople, with vaccine to spare. Now she cast her worried glance towards Teal’c, who was looking calm as usual. Needing some of his calmness now, she walked over to him.
“I’m worried about the Colonel,” she stated.
Teal’c bowed his head. “I worry for him also, Major Carter. Did he not say when he would return?”
“I thought he had said he would be back before nightfall, but there has been no sign of him.”
“Perhaps he was delayed in the village up above?”
Carter shook her head. “I don’t know, Teal’c. I’ve tried to reach him on the radio, but apparently the mountain pass doesn’t allow the radio waves to travel.”
“We should look for him.”
“I agree,” Carter said with a relieved sigh. Looking around her, she realized that all the townspeople had settled in for the night, the days had been long for her also and she was tired. But the tiredness she had felt during the day was gone now.
She made a move towards her backpack when the radio came to life, voices bursting out from it.
“Colonel O’Neill, this is Colonel Neffon, do you read me, Colonel O’Neill?”
There was silence on the radio, no response forthcoming.
Again, Colonel Neffon spoke on the channel. “Colonel O’Neill, I insist that you respond.”
Major Carter pressed the keys down on her radio and spoke into it. “Colonel Neffon, this is Major Samantha Carter. Colonel O’Neill is not here at the moment.”
“Major Carter, what is your position?”
“We are approximately three hours from the gate, travel to your west and you will come upon the village.”
“Major Carter, this is Colonel Neffon. You are ordered to remain where you are.”
Carter looked over at Teal’c, puzzlement evident on her face. “Colonel Neffon? What is he doing here?”
“I do not know a Colonel Neffon.”
“He’s not from our base,” she replied with worry.
A crackling sound from beneath him jerked Jack awake. “Oiy!” he moaned, trying to move from his cramped position. His chest was resting against a large boulder, with his left arm flung against the rock by his head. Muffling his cry of pain, he moved again trying to figure out what had happened.
A pain shot up from his wrist as he tried to move from his position, a pain that was foreshadowed by the ache that was lodged in his chest. Without feeling he knew that he had at least one broken rib. Every part of his body was lined with scrapes and bruises, and the pack beneath him must have prevented him from further injury, although he could feel the multitude of broken needles puncturing into his back. He flipped back the cover on his watch and studied the time, trying to get the cobwebs out of his brain.
The time didn’t make much sense to him, a knock on his head must have sent part of his brain matter into a different time zone, he realized belatedly. Toggling with the radio, he could hear voices over one of the channels. But his attempt to make contact with those outside of his cavern was impossible. The mechanism for conversing with others was gone, twisted off during his fall down the mountainside. What exactly had happened, he wasn’t sure, but what he knew was that he was in dire trouble since no one knew where he was, and from the talk on the radio, things weren’t looking too good for him at home.
He was tired, oh so tired.
Unable to keep his eyes open much longer, he fell asleep.
“What do you mean he’s under arrest?” Carter demanded to know. Colonel Neffon and his team had arrived, and promptly had placed her and Teal’c under their guard. Their weapons and GDO’s had been removed from them, placed in the care of another soldier. Then they were marched back across the country, back to the stargate.
“He disobeyed a direct order, and stole vaccine from the infirmary. The president demanded SG-1’s return to base immediately. If you know where the Colonel is, it is in his best interest to return.”
“I tell you, I don’t know where he is. He’s been gone longer than he said. We need to go look for him,” Carter pleaded.
“Negative. If he has his radio with him, he’ll know to head back to the stargate rather than attempt to return to the village. If he does return to the village, one of my men there will escort him back to the stargate.”
“But he might be injured!”
“Then he can radio for help,” he replied matter-of-factly.
Nodding to the soldier at the DHD, home was dialed and they stepped through the gate.
Days passed and there was no word from Colonel O’Neill. The team at the base worried about his whereabouts, while speculation and rumors abounded around them. Many believed that he had hightailed it out of the village, knowing that he was going to be court-marshaled for his role in the theft. But Sam consistently defended her commander, never believing for a moment that he wouldn’t face the consequences of his actions.
One afternoon, after a particularly trying days of interviews, Teal’c entered the locker room to find Carter huddled in a corner, tears streaming down her face.
“Major Carter,” questioned the big man.
“Teal’c!” sniffled Carter in surprise. “You’re not supposed to be in here.”
“You were upset,” he stated.
Sighing, Carter wiped her nose with the back of her hand, always surprised with the insight that the big man contained within him. “I’m worried about the Colonel,” she admitted softly. “I’m wondering if perhaps he really did turn tail and hide, knowing that he would be court-marshaled when he returned to base.”
“Do you really believe that, Major Carter?”
“No,” she replied softly, her voice quivering. “But the accusations and insinuations that are being made, makes me wonder, makes me second guess what I believe in.”
“Colonel O’Neill is an honorable man, he would have returned and faced the consequences for his actions. He is a great warrior.”
Unable to contain her emotions any longer, Carter turned to Teal’c, great sobs billowing up from within her and spilling out. The big man remained close by, holding and comforting the sad and heartbroken woman.
For days Colonel O’Neill languished at the foot of the mountain, realizing with a deep regret that a rescue would not be forthcoming. His team had been sent home, forced to leave him behind. Oh, he knew they had no choice, but the still the realization that it was Iraq all over again sent him spiraling into a deep depression.
For days he had tried, over and over again, to get the radio to work, but all his fiddling seemed merely to worsen the situation. Weakened from lack of food, he heard the crackling of the radio break the peace around him.
“Colonel O’Neill. This is General Simmons. This is your last warning. You have one hour to make it back to the stargate with your current GDO code, or else your GDO code will no longer be valid. Any attempts to make it back to earth from this planet, will be met with certain death, as you well know. One hour, Colonel O’Neill.”
Desperate to contact home, Jack tried once again to contact Stargate Command, knowing that it was useless. But he had to try. He glanced at his watch and sighed. An hour or more had passed, and with a sinking realization knew that he was forever abandoned on this forsaken planet.
He would die here.
Jack glanced around the area that was now his home and knew that he wouldn’t make it long anyway. His water ran out that morning, and his food rations were used up days ago. Death was imminent, and for once, Jack didn’t care.
Jack closed his eyes and waited for the pain to carry him away to the dark place that haunted him on the edge of his dreams.
He was ready to go.
Three Years Later
Jack sat at the edge of his log cabin, quaint as it was, high up in the mountains. He wanted to be alone, and the villagers were well aware of his varying moods. Every year on this day he remembered, and remembering came at a cost. It was three years to this day that he had made the fateful decision to take the vaccines from the Stargate Command and bring them back to this planet. He and his team ended up saving the majority of the planet, but not before some succumbed to the foreign disease that they had brought with them. But nonetheless, the villagers were forever grateful for what Jack had done for their people.
Phantom pains returned periodically to his wrist, usually when he thought back to the day that his team, his world had left him behind.
He had been abandoned.
Jack had languished near death for days in the crevice of a mountain, until a scouting party came upon him. By then, he was delirious and didn’t really know what was going on. But for days into weeks they cared for him, nursing him back to health. He survived, but he had lost the will to live. What was there to live for?
He fiddled with the watch on his arm, the timepiece died a few months back, but it was habit that kept him from taking it off. The people on this world had been kind to him, and he had tried to mix in with them over the years, but it was hard. It was hard to forget when you were abandoned by your own people. Sure, he had tried a few times to dial earth, but each time before punching in the last chevron, he’d back off, remembering the final words. “Any attempts to make it back to earth from this planet, will be met with certain death, as you well know.”
So despite all the times that he and his team had saved Earth from destruction, he was on a forced exile on this planet. Jack couldn’t help but laugh. To think that they wouldn’t give any medicine to this world because they didn’t have any technology to share, they were willing to let these people die. In return for Jack’s life giving medicine, the people of this world shared with him what they were unwilling to share with him before. Far deep within the deep crevices of their planet, they had rich veins of naquadah that ran beneath their village and spread all over the planet. So far down below the surface, that Carter’s doohickey machine would never have been able to pick it up. Earth would have benefited greatly from this discovery, but they had turned their back on him and the planet. All it took was establishing some trust with these people, proving that you cared. He had proved it, and in turn, what did it give him? Nothing but useless knowledge.
Jack sighed, and again looked at his watch. He shook his head. Habits were hard to break, he admitted to himself as he slowly pulled himself up from the seat on his porch. The people of the village were kind to him, helping him build a home up here in the hills, just above the village. They left him pretty much alone, other than a few pretty young females who visited him on occasion. But today they knew he would be coming down the mountain to visit the town, meandering down the streets to remember the first day he had arrived. They would expect him.
But this time, he would join in with them and their festivities. Or would he? Probably not. Every time he left his home he had the intentions of integrating better with the society below, but by the time he arrived down below he had fostered a cranky attitude that dared anyone to approach him.
He couldn’t help it. It seemed like each time he visited the town, he was reminded of the horrors of the flu, of how it had spread like a plague through the small village. Each home had been struck in some manner, and the home where he and Daniel had stayed, they had lost all their children but the youngest. The guilt tore at him anytime he saw them.
But he would try, he really would try this time, Jack thought to himself as he slipped on his worn military boots. The soles were nearly thin, and the ties had long since unraveled, but like so many of his other things, he was unwilling to part with them.
Jack took a step off the front porch, and slowly walked down the trail towards the town, noticing how the sun seemed to be shining so brightly down upon him. Off to his left, he saw the lake that he had been so intrigued with when the team had first arrived. Oh yes, he had gone fishing and had caught fish just like he had predicted, but there was no one to share the experience with.
Halfway down the trail, a noise in the distance caught his attention. It sounded deceptively like the activation of the gate. Taking the steps two at a time, he ran down the trail and headed towards town wondering who after three years was activating the Stargate.
As Jack ran into the village, he could see the townspeople milling around the square, many of them in huddles talking of the noise in the distance. A small party of men was sent out to find out whom these visitors were, to bring them back to the village. Uncertain with what he should do, Jack migrated to the edge of the crowd and found a lonely corner, one where the sunshine spilled over, and sat, his back leaning up against the wall behind him. In a few minutes, the noises around him faded into nothing as he fell asleep, the warmth of the sunshine soothing his weary soul.
A voice from the crowd awakened Jack, the sound familiar yet not. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he sat up in his chair while rolling out the soreness in his muscles. He leaned forward and peered through the crowd, realizing that their visitors from the Stargate had arrived. Jack stood to his feet and meandered through the crowd, his ears again trying to place the language that he was hearing.
Suddenly it hit him.
Pushing aside the people, Jack sought a way forward and within seconds found him face to face with the Russian military. They continued to speak in Russian while the villagers studied the trio in front of them in puzzlement. Jack stepped forward.
“Do you speak English?”
Surprised, one of the Russian’s nodded. With a strong Russian accent, he switched over to English. “We are from the land of Earth, and are learning about the planets outside of our solar system.”
Jack raised his hand, motioning towards the distant Stargate. “When did you get hold of the Stargate?”
Surprised, the Russian conferred with his teammates before replying. “Our program has been existence for two years.”
Two years? Shaking his head in disbelief, he continued to question the Russians. “What happened to the Stargate that was located in the Cheyenne Mountain complex?”
“I do not know, mister. The only thing I know is that there was a situation three years prior that had closed down the Cheyenne complex in the states. It therefore allowed us to start up our own program with the Stargate.”
Jack had trouble with what he was hearing, but was determined to find out what was going on. “So has Earth had any problem with the Goa’uld?”
Puzzled, the Russians stared at Jack. “The who?”
“We have never heard of anyone with such a name,” the team replied.
Flabbergasted, Jack stared at them. “You mean you don’t know about the guys, their eyes glow?”
“Oh yes, we know of the glowing eyes, but these Goa’uld, are they the same?”
“Are they the same?” Jack couldn’t believe his ears. They had never heard of the Goa’uld? What on earth had happened during the three years he had been gone? “I’ll tell you what, let’s go up to my cabin and we can talk. I have a feeling there is a lot of things that I need to learn, and a lot of things that I need to teach you guys.”
Ignoring the questioning looks of the villagers, Jack led the way up the trail to his cabin. Along the way, the Russians and Jack shared information. For one, Jack learned that the Russians knew nothing about the Goa’uld, Tollans, or the Nox. Their main goal was to explore the world on an exploration basis only. Needless to say, Jack wasn’t very happy to hear this. An attack of earth was inevitable if these idiots continued to explore as they currently did. Apparently, the Russians admitting that they had nothing in their power to stop them instead avoided them as much as possible. Seeing them more as a parasite to be reckoned with when they came upon them. But the part that really had Jack floored was when he found out that the Russians had never read any of the mission reports from the Cheyenne complex. The very reports that would have educated them on the worlds they were now visiting. Apparently, from what Jack gathered, the reports that he and his teams wrote were now sealed and was forbidden to be shared or accessed by the Russian complex. No one was allowed to remove them from the Cheyenne complex, and well, the Russians were not allowed on the base.
How confusing everything turned out, Jack thought to himself. Lost in his thoughts, he never even saw one of the Russians meander off the path until it was too late.
“Hey! Where did he go?” Jack asked, pointing to the leader of the group. “The one with the poofy hair.” In response, one member of the Russian team pointed to an area just off the trail.
“Damn!” he exclaimed. “There are bearth traps out there.” Speaking as though they knew, Jack quickly realized that the team had no idea what he was talking about. He paused in his steps, his senses on alert as he cased out the area around him. “Bearth, they are like a bear but they have horns. There’s a renegade one out here, one that has been injured in the past, and I’ve been trying to catch it. The only place that we are safe is here on the trail. For some reason, these bearth creatures don’t stray up on the path. But your partner,” Jack said with a shake, “is in trouble and he doesn’t know it.”
Suddenly a scream rent the air around them.
“Now he does,” Jack said, as he grabbed a gun out of the hands of the Russian standing closest to him. Running through the woods, he headed in the direction he had last heard the scream, dodging hanging tree limbs that threatened to gouge out an eye. He hated doing this, entering into Bearth territory, but with the Russian M16 in his hand, he had more confidence than he ever did before when attempting to face this creature. His own gun had run out of ammo years ago, but he kept on to it, like so many other articles from his previous life.
A branch swung down in front of him, nearly swatting him in his face had he not ducked down. But hat moment of distraction cost him. A roaring sound came from his left and before he had a chance to adjust the rifle, he heard the animal come darting towards him. Smelling the oily fur of the bearth run past him, he couldn’t help but notice the blood tipped horns on its head. Jack glanced down and surrealistically noticed the deep gash in his arm, and a slash across his midsection, blood spilling out from both areas as the red dripped down and saturated his pant leg.
Taking advantage of the lack of pain, he swung the M16 up and scattered the area with gunfire, ever on the lookout for the missing Russian. He took a step backwards, when he heard a soft groan. Looking down at his feet, he found the missing soldier. Bloodied and in obvious pain, the young man had trouble getting to his feet.
“Where did it get you?” Jack questioned, as he cautiously lent a hand to help the man up.
“On my side,” the man gasped. Clutching his side, the man leaned heavily against the tree behind him.
Briefly glancing at the man’s injury, Jack was relieved to see that it wasn’t too serious. A gash it was, but it wasn’t too deep to require immediate attention. Suddenly an oily smell wafted over to where the two men stood. Immediately Jack knew what to do. Thrusting the gun through the foliage, he saw the bearth standing just a few feet from where he and the Russian were standing. With rapid gunfire, Jack fired into the creature. The creature bellowed as it attempted to move towards Jack, but the barrage of gunfire halted it. Permanently. With a loud roar, the creature breathed its last breath before it collapsed to the ground before them.
Unable to hold the gun any longer, Jack dropped it to the ground then sagged against the nearest tree, his energy gone. Blankly he watched as the Russians took care of their comrade, then watched listlessly as they turned their attention to him. Uncomprehending what was being said to him, the last thing Jack knew was a darkness encroaching on his senses. Unable to fight it, he gave to the dark recesses.
Jack awakened to bright lights being shone in his face and a scattering of Russian spoken rapidly around him. His arm was being poked with sharp objects, enough to send out a spewing of expletives from his mouth. Struggling to open his eyes, his eyes slowly began to adjust to the bright light, enough to realize that he wasn’t in his cabin. A sterile white environment surrounded him, medical equipment was scattered all over the room, with what he assumed to be the medical staff hovering over him.
“Wha…Where am I?”
A few words in Russian were spoken between two of the men above him. Finally one of the men looked down at him. “You are in the Russian Medical Center, at our military base.”
The man nodded.
Jack fell silent. It was unbelievable that he was on earth, it couldn’t be, but staring at the men around him he knew that he was no longer on the planet where he had been abandoned. Shifting on the bed, he felt a sharp pain in his arm. Jack glanced down to see his arm covered in a swath of bandages, then reached down to feel a bandage on his side. “Will I live?”
One of the men, a doctor, smiled at Jack. “You will live,” he answered with a heavy Russian accent. “We had to put over twenty stitches in you.”
“How did I get here?”
“Get here?” Questioned the doctor.
“I, the last place I was, was on a different planet, not earth. How did I get back home?”
Comprehending the question, the doctor nodded his head aggressively. “Oh yes, the team you meant on the other planet brought you home. They told of how you had saved one of their team members back on the planet, and in turn how you got injured. Unable to do anything for you there, they brought you back to Earth. Do you want to return back to the planet?”
“Absolutely not!” retorted the Colonel.
The doctor smiled. “My name is Dr. Vicousky, your doctor while you are here. And you are…?”
“Colonel Jack O’Neill, US Air force.”
“American that I knew. But how did you end up on that planet, living alone?”
Jack sighed. “It’s a long story.”
The doctor smiled slightly. “I’m sure. For now, I want you to rest.”
Yawning, Jack stretched his legs and mulled over the knowledge that he was back home. Not quite Colorado, but close enough. He was back on Earth. With a satisfied smile on his face, he fell asleep.
The weeks went by since Jack had arrived on Earth, and already so much had happened. Ever since telling the doctor his name, it seemed like the bureaucratic wheels began to work in overdrive. As soon as he was given a medical release, he was immediately flown back to the United States and before he could relish his country, his country immediately threw him into a cell at Peterson’s. He didn’t even have a chance to stop at the local bar for a brew or two.
For days he sat in his cell, his memories taking him everywhere from life on Earth to the past three years spent on the planet he had called “home”. Once the military determined that he was really and truly the “Jack O’Neill”, they changed their tactics and began to question him about the vaccines he had stolen so many years ago.
The questions became so wild and far-reaching that Jack had finally reached his limit. He basically told his interrogators that he refused to say anything else until he was allowed to speak with General Hammond. Needless to say, it was surprising to hear that General Hammond was retired and was currently living out of state. It wasn’t until much later that he discovered that Hammond had been forced out of the military in disgrace. Despite the information he had been given, Jack still refused to speak. He needed to talk to Hammond, no one else.
One afternoon, lost in his thought, the door to his cell swung open. Jumping to his feet, Jack automatically saluted the man standing before him.
“No salutes, Jack. I’m retired.”
“Yes, sir, General Hammond,” Jack replied.
“And drop the General. I’m sure you’ve heard by now that I’m no longer in the military. Forced out by the very people who deemed it necessary for me to be there.”
“I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t…”
Hammond held up his hand, preventing any further words from O’Neill. “I heard about what happened to you on the planet. You do know that if I had a choice, I would have never left you behind.” He glanced up to see Jack half-heartedly shrug his shoulders. “I’m sorry for what happened. My hands were tied.”
Jack dropped his head, fiddling with the cover on his bed. “I know that, sir. It’s just when I come back home and realize how everyone at the base had to pay for my decision, it makes me mad. Really mad,” he said forcefully. Uncertain with how to go about asking, he really wanted to know what happened to the rest of his team. “What happened to Daniel, Carter, and Teal’c?”
Letting out a deep sigh, Hammond sank down in the only chair in the room. He rubbed the top of his head, wondering how to go about telling the Colonel about what else happened while he was gone. “Major Carter and Teal’c had to go thru intensive questioning once they were brought back home. Teal’c, not being military was immune from punishment. However, he was strongly encouraged to return to his home planet of Chulak. Major Carter on the other hand, her classification was stripped from her and she was demoted. She’s working somewhere in D.C. at a desk job.”
“A desk job?” Exclaimed Jack. “Doesn’t anyone realize the wealth of knowledge and information that woman contains? I mean, a desk job seems a bit extreme in my opinion.”
Hammond shrugged his shoulders. “I think the White House was determined to teach us some sort of lesson, although I’m not really sure what the lesson was supposed to be. I was forced back into retirement, which was okay with me,” he said with a hesitant smile. “I can spend more time with the grandchildren.”
“But you miss being at Cheyenne Mountain, don’t you?”
“Jack, that was three years ago. Too much time passes to let any of us dwell on what happened. For one, I never expected to see you again, son. So that in itself is wonderful.”
“Daniel,” Jack paused, “what happened to Daniel?”
“Daniel, I think is a professor at a community college somewhere in the Midwest. Of course the military had no use for him, so they let him go. But they also made it difficult for him to find work at any major university or college.”
Jack couldn’t help but shake his head. “This is terrible. None of this should have happened, if anything, I’m the one who they should have been punishing. But because I wasn’t here, they chose the next easiest target. You guys.”
“Don’t worry about it, Jack,” Hammond said softly. “I hardly ever think about it now.”
“But you do think about it,” Jack replied, lowering his voice.
“Of course I do, it was a part of my life. It was yanked away from me before I was ready,” the older man admitted.
“Well, I’m going to do something about that,” Jack replied aggressively.
Puzzled, Hammond looked over at him.
“Remember the planet that you guys left me on, thinking they had no viable resources?”
“They had deep rich veins of naquadah buried far beneath the surface of the planet. Carter’s machine could have never picked it up.”
“And they willingly shared this information with you?”
Jack shook his head and let out a deep sigh. “That’s the ironic part. Earth didn’t want to do anything for them, thinking they had nothing worth using. But, because I saved the majority of their population from the plague my team brought to them, they showed me their resources. Amazing.” He paused, glancing over at the general. “But I could do nothing with the knowledge. I was locked out of the base.”
Again Hammond spoke. “You probably don’t realize everything that I and your team tried to do to convince the government to get you back. Why do you think I lost my posit…” He stopped, aware of what he had nearly said.
“You lost your position because of me?” Jack said incredulously. “Is that why my team was demoted and basically removed?”
Hammond said nothing.
“Damn. I can’t believe I spent my life fighting for this country, defending it from the Goa’uld! Those worthless son’s of bi…”
“That’s enough, Jack,” the other man said, rising slowly from the chair. “There are ears everywhere. What’s done is done. I understand that you are to go before the tribunal some time this week to receive your sentencing. I’m sorry I can’t be there.”
“They aren’t letting you in, are they?”
Hammond shrugged his shoulders, unwilling to say anything.
Jack turned away, facing the wall as a mixture of emotions covered his face. So much had happened in the last three years that he had been gone. He thought it had been bad stuck on the planet, but these people, his friends had their lives completely ruined because of his decision. It wasn’t their fault.
“Sir,” Jack said softly, unable to face his former commander. “It wasn’t my intention to remain behind on the planet, I would have returned to Earth to face the consequences. Anything to prevent my team from being punished for a decision that was solely mine," Jack said with a sigh. But I couldn’t do anything, I was injured and hurt, my radio was broken beyond repair.” He sighed. “Broken to send messages, but unfortunate enough to hear everything that was sent, including the message that forbade me from ever trying to reach Earth again.” Turning, he faced the older man, strength in his voice that wasn’t there earlier. “I will do everything that I can to get you and the rest of my team back in their proper positions, sir. I promise you that.”
Hammond shook his head. “Jack, it’s been three years. Don’t worry about it, we’ve learned to make do.”
Again the man shook his head. “I’ve got to go now.” Hammond walked over to Jack, patting him on the shoulder. “I’ll be thinking of you tomorrow, and will visit you again sometime in the future.”
Jack nodded his head, accepting the knowledge that Hammond no longer wanted to talk about the situation. Instead, he returned the touch from Hammond, and reached out and hugged the general. “Thanks,” he whispered.
Letting go, Jack stepped aside and watched as the doors open for Hammond, then watched as his friend walked down the long corridor out to freedom. Leaning against the bars of his cell, Jack mulled over the conversation and the information he obtained, uncertain with what he could do to help his friends. He was three years to late to help them, but perhaps he could make things a little easier for them. Moving away from the bars, he sank down on the bed and laced his fingers behind his head, and lay there thinking.
The day had started early for Jack, way too early for his comfort, he thought as he shifted yet again in the uncomfortable chair. The guards had given him a suit and allowed him to shower and shave, before leading him out to a van behind the prison. Guards pressed up against him, as though he was a candidate for breaking out, so he spent the ride to the courthouse in silence. Looking out the window, he caught glimpses of the world outside, his first opportunity since the day he was whisked off the military jet from Russian and hustled across the city to his quarters as of late. He could tell that things had changed, such as new car styles and clothing styles, while other things remained the same. For now, the fact that he was home was worth it.
All too soon they had reached the military court, the guards quickly bringing him out of the prison wagon and leading him inside. The chains around his wrists and ankles made walking difficult, and if they were trying to humiliate him, it wasn’t going to work. Or so he thought, until he passed by some of his colleagues, the look of disgust and dismay on their faces. The great almighty Jack O’Neill had finally been brought down a few notches.
So here he sat, in the scratchy, stiff chair that was sending aching pains down his back. He shifted again, and then heard the sound of the door opening in front of him. Suddenly everyone was rising as a line of men entered into the room, walking up to the raised steps, then finding a spot at the large desks before sitting down. At some point someone must have told them to sit, because he found himself being pushed back down into that uncomfortable chair.
Jack had to admit, he lost track of all the charges being leveled against him, realizing that he would probably spend the rest of his life behind bars. The Minnesota cabin was going to only be a memory, unless he would be allowed out for good behavior. That was unlikely, Jack thought to himself.
Suddenly, all eyes turned to him. Caught in the middle of a daydream, Jack was startled. His lawyer next to him whispered something to him, and Jack nodded with understanding. His chance to speak.
“Um, yes, my name is Colonel Jack O’Neill, and I’ve just spent the last three years on PBX-445. I was left there by my government, believing that I had done the unpardonable sin by trying to help a race of people who were infected by a disease that my team had brought to them.” Jack could see the men in front of him shifting in their seats, each exchanging glances with the other.
“Listen, Colonel,” one of the men said, his fingers tapping against the table in front of him. “We really don’t care what you’ve been doing for the last three years. You’re here so now you are going to pay for what you did three years ago.”
“Ok, yes, that I can accept,” Jack replied defiantly. “But what about my team, and General Hammond. Did they have to be punished?”
“O’Neill, you know procedure just as much as the next person. You may want to try and ignore it most of the time, as your thick folder here indicates,” the man continued, motioning towards the papers in front of him. “However, it still doesn’t give you the right to waltz in here and try to undo everything that happened.”
Jack nodded his head. “Yes, but what if I have information that would be of a benefit to earth? Say, a large massive amount of naquadah that could help generate weapons?”
The men in front of him looked interested, but disbelieving. “If that was the case, O’Neill, a member of your team would have found it long ago. But nothing was found. For now, I’m thinking that this is merely a stalling tactic to get out of your sentencing.”
“No more, Colonel,” the man stated. Pulling a sheet of paper out from in front of him, he was about to read from it when suddenly a flash of light entered in the room. Stunned, everyone in the room froze. Materializing before them all was the image of Thor.
Startled, the men on the council backed away in amazement, uncertain with this creature that suddenly appeared in the room. Many had never seen Thor, although they had read reports in Jack’s history.
Jack said nothing, staring in absolute shock at the little man before him. Finding his voice, he cried out Thor’s name.
“It is I, O’Neill,” acknowledged the figure before him. “I have been following along with great interest in what is happening here. I fear that it does not look good for you.”
“You live on a planet where your own men do not listen nor believe you,” he said, glancing towards the great military minds that were now listening intently. “I see that General Simmons is here in the room. Greetings to you.”
From the back of the room, the general shifted in his seat and then nodded, suddenly aware that he was caught spying in on the proceedings.
“I am here to acknowledge that what the Colonel states is true. There is indeed a great wealth of naquadah on the planet where the Colonel was left for so long. They would make great allies in the future.” Thor’s image turned towards Jack. “I hope my friend that you will soon return to your home at the Stargate and help us fight the continued threat with the Goa’uld. Their numbers are growing stronger, especially since your presence has been gone from the Stargate. I must depart for now,” Thor said with a tilt to his head, “but I shall return.”
The bright light that brought Thor into the room, flashed once again, filling the entire room with its brightness. By the time everyone unshielded their eyes and looked around the room, Thor was gone.
The silence lasted only for a moment before the entire room erupted into a confusing array of noises. The official proceedings were disrupted, and uncertain with what was going on, the guards did the only thing they knew to do. Get the prisoner back out of the confusion, and to a place where they could guard him more securely.
A tug on Jack’s arm alerted him to the guard’s intention. Refusing to follow along, he instead shouted to his lawyer, pleading with him to explain to him what was going on. There was no reply from the lawyer, who himself was up front arguing and discussing the trial with the tribunal judges.
Unwilling to move, Jack shoved aside the guard out of his way and was about to proceed to the front of the room when he suddenly felt himself thrust to the ground. His knees hit the ground with such force he couldn’t help but cry out in pain. Kneeling on the ground, Jack was trying to rise when out of the corner of his eye he saw an electrical prod in one of the guard’s hands. Before he could protest, he felt the sharp pain as the prod was stabbed in his back just before the electricity flowed through his body. Unable to fight the effects of the electricity, he twitched then with a thud, fell to the ground.
Fighting the effects of the electricity, it was a loosing battle as he felt his body being drug out of the courtroom. The last thing he heard was the slamming of the van doors before he slipped away into an unwelcome unconsciousness.
A Year Later
Jack stretched his arms above him as he looked around the room. He couldn’t help but shake his head, disbelieving that he was actually back in Cheyenne Mountain, standing before the stargate. This was something he never believed would ever be possible again.
The last thing Jack could remember from the secreting tribunal meeting was the appearance of Thor. For days after the tribunal meeting he had heard nothing, known nothing, until one day he was literally given his walking papers, by none other than General Simmons. The first thing he when he was released was high tail it to Minnesota and in turn spent the next two months soaking in the sunshine and doing nothing but fish. It was relaxing and home, but he was bored. He missed his life with SG1, he missed his friends, and he missed his work.
At the time, contacting his old team was something he had wanted to do, but for some reason hadn’t been able to do. But you know what, eventually he did. And in turn, here they were. Daniel and Sam, his team, back together again.
The Stargate had been brought back from the Russians and was once again in full operational use. Most of the staff from before returned, such as Dr. Frasier and Walter, although many had already moved on to other jobs. He felt like he was home again. Whatever Thor had said, it had done wonders. From what he understood, Thor had once again returned to those stubborn military minds and convinced them of the integral part of the Stargate to the USA, and how it was equally important that Colonel Jack O’Neill and his team be reinstated. From there, things started rolling along. To be honest, he wasn’t really sure at first he wanted to go through all of it again. But a down home talk with Thor at his place in Minnesota convinced him to return.
So here they were, the last team to step through the stargate before its removal was now the first team to go through. Jack turned and looked up at the command center, smiling slightly to see his good ol’ Texas general at the helm.
The Stargate locked and kawooshed open, the shimmering blueness welcoming Jack into its depths. He glanced over at Carter. She was definitely happy to back at the Stargate, if anything, to visit with her dad whom she hadn’t seen for over three years. Daniel on the other hand, was happy to be out of the community college of academia.
“SG-1, you have an all-clear,” announced General Hammond.
“Ready, guys?” Jack asked as he took a step towards the stargate.
Major Carter eagerly nodded her head. “I am sir.”
Daniel grinned, his smile infectious.
“Head out campers,” Jack sung out, “to Chulak we go!”
Time frame: Any
Pairings: None specified
Plot: Jack is forced to make a decision that will leave a world rife
with plague without the medicine that Earth can provide. Caught on the right side of a wrong decision, Jack bails on his command and takes the medicine to them anyway. Three years after abandoning the SGC and his friends, he finds several SG teams on a lost world, with no understanding of the Goa¹uld or any of the dangers that they face.