Daniel woke to the sound of Jack’s voice. At first he didn’t understand why he seemed to be in lying down motion. Last thing he remembered he had crawled into his sleeping bag to get a few hours of sleep before returning to Earth in the morning. Maybe I’m dreaming. With an effort he pried open his eyelids and stared disorientedly into the star-speckled sky.
“Seriously, Daniel, I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of anyone with as monumentally bad luck as you!”
The latest installment of Jack’s rant brought back the night’s events to Daniel’s hazy mind. The panicked awakening at Sam’s shout, the loss of his night vision goggles, and the fall off the cliff. He didn’t remember landing, so he assumed that he must have blacked out on impact.
“And it would have to be you to manage to hit the only hard spot in this sandpit of a canyon. Can’t we ever just have one nice little mission where no one gets hurt?!”
“Jack…” Daniel’s voice was a weak whimper, and as such it had the same chance as a snowball in hell to halt the colonel’s tirade. Daniel gave up and decided to try orienting himself instead. Turning his head left and right he caught a tilted glimpse of the canyon walls gliding by. The foggy confusion in his head reluctantly gave up some more ground as he made sense of what he saw. They must have me on a gurney or a sled of some kind. And judging from Jack’s huffing and puffing, he’s pulling it.
He tried to move his hands to examine the means of his transportation, but found himself stuck. His sensitive fingertips recognized the texture of the strong climbing rope they’d used to get up the cliff when they arrived on the planet. It appeared to be wrapped in consecutive loops around his torso, firmly fixating him to the sled.
Panic grabbed at his heart, but reason told him that if they’d been captured Jack would probably not have been allowed to go on ranting the way he did. The ropes must just be to make sure I don’t fall off. Besides, there isn’t any Jaffa around. Of course, they could be out of sight in the darkness, he remedied the thought, but as he looked around he could only manage to discern a single figure wading through the deep sand behind the sled.
After watching it for a while he recognized the gait; the figure was Sam and her movements told him that she was guarding the rear of the party against pursuit. Safe for the moment. One worry soothed, his mind turned to another. How badly hurt am I? Can’t be too bad, he reasoned, I can’t feel any pain. It’s just a little heavy to breath, but that could be ‘cause of the rope wound so tight around my chest, right…
With her night vision goggles intact Sam’s sight was better than Daniel’s, and when she caught the movement of his head she knew he was awake. She struggled to catch up with the travois, and leaned in close enough for him to see her face – or at least the part of her face that wasn’t covered by the goggles.
“We’ll be home soon, Daniel,” she said to soothe the worry in his eyes, partly glad that most of her face was hidden and all he might be able to see was the smile she forced onto her lips. Her eyes would surely have betrayed the worry festering in her own heart. Hopefully he hadn’t noticed yet, but she knew what it meant if his back was as severely injured as she suspected.
The team came to an abrupt stop as Teal'c held his hand up in a signal for the others to halt. Sam immediately tore herself from Daniel’s side and panned her weapon around behind them for threats. Satisfied that their backs were still safe, she joined her alien friend in front of their two presently defenseless teammates.
She spotted what had attracted his attention at once; a group of five Jaffa positioned on the relatively steady ground of the Stargate-platform, evidently just waiting for them to make a bid for the ‘gate.
“Have they seen us?” she asked in a hushed voice.
“I do not believe so, SamanthaCarter. Jaffa eyesight is good, but Tauri night vision goggles are superior in range. We hold the advantage at the moment.”
Having assessed the situation, they both retreated to Jack who was waiting impatiently a few steps behind. Hanging back and letting others do the work was not usually his kind of command style, but he had put himself in that position in taking the responsibility of dragging Daniel onto himself. Good thing I have a team I can trust to do the job as well as me.
“We’ve got five hostiles at the ‘gate, sir” Sam reported. “They probably haven’t seen us, so we still have the element of surprise. If we time it right we should be able to take them out without any real fight; providing there aren’t more hiding nearby.”
“Alright. You and Teal'c circle round on each flank. I’ll approach from the center of the canyon and draw their attention. We’ll attack simultaneously on my signal. When we’ve taken them out you dial it up while I get Daniel, and then – we’re nearly there.”
Teal'c and Sam nodded their agreement and moved off in opposite directions to take up their positions. Meanwhile Jack carefully placed the travois with Daniel on the ground, and pulling off his goggles he moved in close to his face.
“Just hang tight, pal,” he said in a soft low voice, accompanied with what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “We’ll have you home in just a minute and hand you over to Fraiser to prod and poke.”
Daniel just nodded, obviously a little confused but as intended reassured by the sound of his friend’s voice. Probably better anyways, Jack thought and grabbed his P90, leaving Daniel in the relative security provided by the dark blanket of night.
With his goggles back on Jack gazed out into the darkness, and saw that Sam and Teal'c had found their way to either side of the gate. Just like they’d planned the Jaffa still didn’t seem to have noticed them. With a pleased nod to himself Jack began to set into motion the plan, certain that each member of his team would play their parts without a glitch. The only thing putting a small cloud on his shiny prognosis was the experience of their luck being less than exemplary, as proven by the night so far. Well, here goes nothing.
Jack rose from his crouched position and approached the Stargate-platform in a deceptively relaxed stroll, or as close to a relaxed stroll as the sand permitted. It wasn’t long before the Jaffa spotted him and rushed to level their staff weapons in his direction.
“Howdy!” he hooted and waved to them. As always the alien warriors failed to pick up on the humor in his voice, a so frequent occurrence that Jack seriously suspected the Jaffa as a race was comedic challenged.
“Kree!” yelled the one who obviously was their leader. His voice was hard as steel, conveying that this particular “Kree” probably meant something along the lines of “Drop your weapon and surrender, or die”. Jack took it as his cue, and without further ado he brought up his weapon, dropping to one knee as he let loose a barrage of bullets on the Jaffa. His quick motion was the signal that Teal'c and Sam had been waiting for, and before the Jaffa knew what hit them they were caught in a deadly crossfire. Seconds after the firefight started it was over, and five Jaffa lay dead in the sand.
Savoring their luck of the first stage of their plan for once going off without a hitch, SG-1 hurried to the next stage. Sam rushed to the DHD and while Teal'c kept an eye out for enemy reinforcements she punched in the address for Earth. Just minutes later Jack dragged the travois through the blue puddle, closely followed by his two walking teammates. After the nights events the cold gray walls of the gate-room was a heartwarming sight to all of them. There’s no place like home, Jack thought with relief.