TITLE: Results Of An Unexpected Cross-Country Hike
CATEGORY: Drama, angst, episode tag
SPOILERS: The First Ones
CONTENT WARNINGS: A few bad words
SUMMARY: Jack's thoughts after Daniel's rescue from the Unas
DISCLAIMER:I do not own Stargate SG-1. Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only. No money has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Big thanks to Lex for helping me out with this little plot bunny. The transcript for Daniel's recording that Jack is so interested in listening to can be found on Stargatefan.com.
Oh, man, Daniel is out.
At least he's not unconscious. Just exhausted. He walked all the way from that Unas cave to the Stargate. I knew he was tired and hurt even before we started the long march back. I'm no doctor, but I know Daniel well enough to know how he acts when he's mildly concussed.
Oh, yeah, he was definitely nursing a mild concussion.
I knew he hadn't eaten for a while either. Or slept -- unconsciousness is not sleeping, not in my book. That Unas, Chaka, had practically dragged him for miles with very little rest.
And what do I do?
I watch Chaka leave, grab Daniel by the arm and pull him out of that cave.
Yeah, I pulled. I didn't drag. Daniel was looking a little frazzled right then.
We walked back at a normal pace at first, then Daniel started slowing down. Carter brought this fact to my attention. I looked back at Daniel and realized he was further behind me than I thought he was, but he was trying hard to keep up. We all wanted to go home and not just because the search and rescue was successful. We wanted to get away from those Goa'ulds swimming in the water, so I had set a brisk pace that everyone was keeping up with until Daniel started stumbling over his own feet.
I can be a blue-ribbon winning idiot sometimes.
I called for a break even though I knew we couldn't wait long. I didn't care that Danny made friends with the Unas that was going to use him as the main course, I still didn't trust those big, stinky monsters. The more distance between us and them, the better I liked it.
While we were sitting there, Carter took another look at Daniel. His wrists were raw from the ropes that Chaka used to drag him all over hell and creation. He made a pained face every time Carter touched them. It hurt me just to watch. Carter said his eyes were a little dilated and not as responsive to light as she would have liked. Those were definite signs of a concussion. The cut on his cheek -- gotta ask him how he got that one later. He kept dodging some of our questions about some of his cuts and bruises. I think he was just too tired to explain anything. Yep, he'd definitely been through the wringer, and I wasn't acting much better than Chaka did by rushing him home.
I knew he wasn't firing on all thrusters when he didn't ask about Rothman or SG-11 right away. He was practically on his last leg when he did, and I had to tell him.
I'm gonna have to write a memo about how to tell one of your closest friends that you killed one of their friends because they had a snake in their head. The "How To Act Like A Colonel In Bad Situations" manual doesn't have that procedure listed. I checked.
Reaching the Stargate wasn't fun at all. Five times, I was ready to tell Teal'c to throw Daniel over his shoulder and carry him the rest of the way, but I didn't. That would have really topped off Daniel's day. Instead, I grabbed one of Daniel's arms and helped him to stay on his feet. Griff, Colburn, Pierce and the others were waiting on us. They had buried Hawkins and Rothman by the lake and were finishing the burial detail on SG-11. Griff has already asked me about why Carter was worried about giving Rothman and Hawkins a decent burial there by the lake after we had left the bodies of SG-11 lying around the base camp area. Griff didn't understand, and I wasn't exactly in the best mood to explain it to him, but I did. Carter only said that they deserved a decent burial because she felt like she had to say something. She didn't mean that we were to stop searching for Daniel and start digging graves. She had worked with Rothman before, and even though she didn't like him any more than I did, she knew him better than I did. She didn't want to just leave him there by the lake. Hell, Daniel would have been more than a little upset that we just left them there so whatever other animals lived on that planet could just carry the bodies off. He would have wanted better for them, and as much as it still surprises me, he expects me to deliver.
Maybe it's better to bury hosts anywhere but on Earth. Given how classified our work is, hosts have to be cremated to keep any outsiders from finding out about them by accident. At least our people can rest here. The rest of SG-11....I don't know how the hell I'm gonna tell Daniel that they had all been made hosts. Every one of them had entry marks on the backs of their necks. I don't know what was happening on 888, but Daniel's gotten pretty good at paying attention to the soldiers around him when he's off world. He would have noticed if any of SG-11 were acting strange. Maybe they had only become hosts recently. Maybe the symbiotes were still learning how to use all that knowledge inside the soldiers' heads. Maybe that's why there were so many spent rounds on the ground and only one in Chaka. These Goa'ulds weren't great marksmen, no matter how good the hosts were.
Carter's been trying to analyze everything that happened. She has this theory that Chaka took Daniel because he thought Daniel was the "alpha male" of the human clan. She says that Chaka taking a leader of another group made his rite of passage more meaningful, increased his status within the clan. I'm no scientist, but something tells me that Chaka could sense that Daniel was the only un-Goa'ulded one of the bunch. That's why Daniel was the one he dragged off. That's why he killed SG-11. They were the enemy.
I hate to think what would have happened to Daniel if Chaka hadn't come along and attacked. I really hate to think what would have happened if SG-11 had returned to the SGC.
We came back home, and the first thing I did was call for the medics. Janet was there with two corpsmen and a gurney. I was there supporting a half-asleep-on-his-feet archaeologist and trying to keep him moving off the ramp. We got him on the gurney, and Janet whisked him away.
Now, he's lying in "his" infirmary bed, sound asleep. All his tests are back. He's not a Goa'uld -- not that I ever thought he was -- I mean, would a Goa'uld let an Unas drag him all over the place? I don't think so. After that, the rest of the results seemed pretty tame and routine. He was concussed, exhausted, a little dehydrated. The worst Daniel came away with from his little adventure was a couple of pulled muscles. Doc's got him hooked up with a couple of IVs. He's got bandages around his wrists and a butterfly bandage on his cheek. It's my job to wake him up every hour since he has a concussion, so I'm sitting here writing my report on a laptop and keeping an eye on him. I don't like writing reports. It's not easy to concentrate on typing up my version of events while Daniel's lying there sleeping and not telling me what happened. I wish I knew more about what went on with Chaka.
Wait a minute....Daniel's tape recorder. Maybe he took notes?
It doesn't take me long to find it. I found where he always kept it -- his jacket pocket.
The tape is almost at the end, so I rewind it. It's an amazingly quiet machine. Given how much it cost, it should be quiet. Only the best gadgets for our people. It reaches the beginning and quietly clicks off.
Then I press "Play." Yeah, an amazingly sensitive tape recorder. Daniel's clear voice and Rothman's nasal tones sound clear on the tape.
DANIEL: "SG-11, archaeological survey P3X-888, dig site four..."
DANIEL: "Five. Subject Queen, primordial Goa'uld as evidenced by the enlarged pectoral musculature and dorsal structure. This Goa'uld ancestor appears to have been a..."
ROTHMAN: "Well I found her I get to name her...no Cleo."
DANIEL: "Cleo, as she has been so colorfully named by Robert Rothman, appears to have been a predator, not parasitical, confirming my theory that the Goa'uld evolved for millions of years in the prehistoric oceans of this planet before ever taking on hosts."
ROTHMAN: "Lets get a sedimentary time line before we jump to conclusions here, please."
DANIEL: "Testing for naquada levels......wow. Nothing. Not even trace amounts!"
ROTHMAN: "We didn't find any naquada in Brutus or Julius either."
DANIEL: "It must have became part of their Goa'uld makeup later in their evolution. That's significant."
ROTHMAN: "How so?"
DANIEL: "I have no idea...Let's crate this one. Loder!"
ROTHMAN: "Have some."
DANIEL: "No, thank you."
ROTHMAN: "Go ahead, Hawkins can make a water run. I love ordering those military types around...Hawkins!"
That was the end of that part. I could tell that Daniel switched off the tape recorder. He must have wrapped it back up and put it in his pocket. He's careful about taking care of it. He's always telling me that a tape recorder is a good friend to have on a dig. Sometimes, you can't grab a pencil and paper and write down notes.
There was nothing so far that gave me any clue how Daniel got that cut on his cheek. It looks worse now than when we found him. It's bruising nicely.
But something Rothman said gave me a hint about what happened. The water runs. That must have been how the team was taken over, one by one. I gave Daniel strict orders not to do anything other than archaeologist stuff. Let the military do the work. Let Hawkins and his men set up camp, cook the meals, take watch and fetch the water. The mission was mostly for Daniel anyway. He needed to go on a scientific expedition. I'd been seeing that look he gets in his eyes if he doesn't get to play grave robber every now and then, so I asked Hammond to let Daniel go to 888. I told him he wasn't to do anything other than his archaeological stuff and give the orders. He might as well enjoy it, even if Hawkins and his team didn't like waiting on scientists hand and foot.
I told Hawkins that he was going to like it. Enough said.
Scientists. I'll go to the edge for Daniel and Carter, I'll even tolerate some of the others that are stationed here if I have to, but I'll never understand them. They find fun in the strangest things. I rewind the tape and listen to it again. I can hear the excitement in Daniel and Rothman's voices. I know it's hard on Daniel to not be able to do his archaeological thing when he wants to, but I didn't realize how the military lifestyle was affecting other civilian scientists as well. No wonder they love ordering us military types around whenever we went on a scientific expedition. Give us a taste of our own medicine.
Speaking of medicine, my wrist alarm goes off, and I push the button to stop the alarm. It's time to wake Daniel.
Daniel doesn't like to wake up at the best of times, and today definitely didn't fit into that category. I shake his shoulder and call his name, but there's no response. I shake a little harder and call a little louder, and I hear a low groan. I try a third time, and two sleepy blue eyes look up at me.
"Just making sure you're still with me, Danny."
Doc has just walked up and she's taking Daniel's vitals, asking him questions despite the fact he's really trying to go back to sleep. He conks out on her on the fourth question. She writes something down on the clipboard hanging at the foot of the bed, gives me a smile and walks off. Daniel's doing fine. That means I get to go back to my report.
After I listen to a little more of Daniel's adventure off-world.
DANIEL: "This is Doctor Daniel Jackson. In case anybody finds this I've met a wonderful new friend, and he's taking me on a long journey to see his planet."
DANIEL: "I'm just making notes. At the moment my main concern is that my new friend is an aboriginal Unas in its un-Goa'ulded state and that I'm the evening meal."
DANIEL: "It...or rather he appears to have undeveloped chin and facial horns which indicate he could be a subspecies. Possibly a juvenile."
DANIEL: "Shut up?"
DANIEL: "I understood that...We're communicating."
UNAS: "Chaka Chaka Chaka"
DANIEL: "Chaka Chaka Chaka"
DANIEL: "Is that what you call yourself? Chaka? Daniel. I'm Daniel. Is Chaka something else? Is Chaka the moon? This is some sort of moon chant? Moons coming into alignment?"
DANIEL: "Moon chant, what was I thinking?"
DANIEL: "What's that?"
UNAS: "Chaka, kay gol! Sheish, Chaka kay gol!"
DANIEL: "UAV! UAV! It's my friends looking for me."
UNAS: "Sheish, Chaka kay gol!"
DANIEL: "You're frightened!...It's okay. It won't hurt you. It won't hurt you."
Right. If we had found that Unas, it would have been shoot first, ask questions later. We wouldn't have hurt him much. Just enough to kill him. And that's exactly what would have happened if the UAV had a camera on it and if we had a receiver so we could have seen where Daniel was. I'm going to have to talk to Hammond about that. I don't ever want to have to chase after Daniel again when I don't know where he is.
I don't like hearing that sound in Daniel's voice. It's not exactly fear, but for Daniel, it comes pretty close. He's one of the few people I know that can keep his head while the rest of the world is going to hell in a hand basket, but I heard it then when he said "Moon chant, what was I thinking?" It crept into his voice when he said that. I don't know what Chaka did, but it didn't sound good on the tape recorder.
Even when the UAV was over them, Daniel was trying to calm the monster down. Kept telling him it wouldn't hurt him, kept trying to get through to him. I've seen Daniel do this so many times -- it's scary, but he'll try to communicate with anyone even if they're trying to kill us. It's not a gift I have, so it's a good thing a member of my team has it. I think he's gotten us out of trouble more times his way than I have by trying to shoot our way out of it.
The tape keeps playing, and Daniel's voice comes out of the speaker again.
DANIEL: "I'm in a cave. There are crude drawings, pictographs. The Unas seems to have a comprehension of Goa'uld symbiote species structure as well as their ability to blend......Obviously the Unas who were taken over must have figured out how to work the Stargate and left but...why not all of them?....This Unas wears a strange bony neckpiece. At first I thought it was purely ornamental but now I suspect it must serve as some small safeguard to protect against symbiotes penetrating the neck....Some of the aboriginal Unas must have realized that their kind were being taken over and taken refuge in these caves!....This is a right of passage. There are parallels in earth culture. For example the Massai warriors of Africa kill lions in order to be recognized as adult warriors."
DANIEL: "I think I understand what it is you are doing!"
UNAS: "Mock tall!.....Ka!"
DANIEL: "Key ka?....I think I've just been marked for death!"
Great. He gets that little sound in his voice when he's talking about a moon chant, but he says he's just been marked for death with all the enthusiasm of a man ordering breakfast. I think that's when he got the cut on his cheek. I'll just bet that was how he was marked. The blood on the wall was near some drawings, the recording was talking about drawings.....oh, yeah, Danny. We're gonna talk about exactly what happened because listening to your notes just doesn't cut it.
I hate listening to events over a tape recorder. Probably goes back to the same reason I don't like listening to baseball games over the radio very much. I like seeing what's going on, being a part of the action. This time around, Daniel was in the middle of things, and I was trailing along behind. Behind is not usually where the action is.
I don't know why we stopped for the night except for the fact that even Teal'c can't track in the dark. All that time, Daniel didn't know if he was going to make a friend or be an entree, and we were sleeping by a snake-filled stream. Maybe it's a good thing we stopped. I guess Hawkins had been Goa'ulded before we showed up. I really don't know when Rothman got snaked. Maybe if we had kept on going, the two of them would have killed us and left Daniel on his own. He'd be dead, too, and his great discovery that the Unas have a rite of passage similar to the Massai warriors of Africa would have gone unheard. That and the fact that the Unas can draw.
The tape ends there.
I look at him, sleeping there in the infirmary bed, and I still can't believe he made it out alive. Maybe I should believe it. Daniel always gets out of messes alive. And sometimes we both end up in here just like this. Him lying in some stage of unconsciousness and me sitting in this blasted uncomfortable chair.
I really ought to get a comfortable chair in here. If the Powers-That-Be can spring for a really sophisticated tape recorder for Daniel, they can buy me a chair that doesn't reduce my backside to tears.
Carter and Teal'c are coming in now. If I know them, they've already finished their reports while I've only gotten about three sentences into mine. I hate writing reports. Not enough action -- just fonts, margins and bullet points.
Teal'c stands in his usual spot -- right beside the bed. He doesn't have to say anything when he's visiting the infirmary. We always know when he's there. It's not like you can miss him, even when you're unconscious.
"Sir?" Carter doesn't have to ask. I already know the question.
"He's fine, Carter. Doc didn't even have to give him any happy juice. Actually, he's having a little problem waking up."
"So I take it he's not distracting you from your work, sir?"
Oh, yeah, Carter. Go ahead and gloat. Your work's done and mine's not even started. "No, he's not up to his usual brilliant conversational standards. He hasn't even woke up enough to give Doc an argument about staying here."
"I'm sure Janet would rather have him arguing with her than lying here like this."
I can't argue with that. I wish he'd wake up enough to start boring me with everything he learned about the Unas.
Teal'c sees the tape recorder in my hand.
"Are those Daniel Jackson's notes?"
I toss him the recorder. "It's Daniel at his finest."
Carter and Teal'c listen to the recording just as I had. I know my kids well enough to be able to tell exactly what they're thinking just by the way they hold their eyes. They hear the sound of Daniel's voice when he was discovering fossils, when he was a little nervous, when he was stating the obvious. When they reach the part of the tape where Daniel's talking about being marked for death, I could tell that they knew how Daniel got that cut on his cheek. You don't have to be a genius to figure it out. Now I know that Daniel and I are good at saying the same thing at the same time, but I honestly think that Carter and Teal'c have been practicing the old glance-at-the-person-then-raise-an-eyebrow-in-surprise routine. They both did the same thing at the same time when they heard that part of the recording. Oh, yeah. They knew how Daniel got that cut on his cheek. I think we're all going to have a little talk once Daniel's feeling better.
Speaking of which, Daniel's waking up. The tape recording of his own voice must have woke him up. I check my watch. It's only been 45 minutes since the last time I woke him up. He must be feeling a little better.
I notice that Teal'c pushes the "Off" button. None of my kids say anything about our latest adventure for a moment. What was there to say?
"Daniel?" Carter leans over and calls out in a low voice. "How are you feeling?"
I can see that Daniel isn't really awake yet, but that doesn't stop him from answering. "Fine. Tired. Jack keeps waking me up."
Oh, is that an accusation? "You've got a concussion, Danny-boy. It's standard operating procedure."
"Procedure?" His voice sounds a lot stronger. He's waking up. "I don't have to follow procedure. I'm not in the military."
This is a definite invitation for us to get into one of our little verbal sparring matches that Janet hates for us to get into when one of us is in the infirmary. That never stops us. "Maybe not, but this is Doc's territory and those are her orders. I don't have any say-so in here."
"Oh? Since when?" Then Daniel sees what Teal'c is holding. "Is that my tape recorder?"
Teal'c hands Daniel back his recorder. "We were listening to your notes concerning the Unas' abduction of you."
"Uh huh." Daniel's still not as communicative as usual, and he won't be until he gets a dose of caffeine. He hasn't had a drop of coffee in, how long? Over two days?
"You did good, Daniel," I tell him.
What? He sounds like I don't ever give him a compliment. Well, I don't give them out very often.....okay, okay. I don't give him nearly enough compliments. Hell, the guy's managed to pull off stunts seasoned soldiers wouldn't even think about trying. Maybe I ought to tell him that he's done good more.....no. Don't want his ego to get too big. There'd be no living with him then. But, "Yeah, you did, but the next time you decide to go on a cross-country hike without telling anyone first, I'm gonna put you on report. Got it?"
"You mean you didn't get my memo?" he asks me. He's ready to join in the joke. "I left you an e-mail telling you that I was going sight-seeing with a new friend and didn't know when I'd be home. You really ought to check your mail more, Jack."
He's definitely wide awake now.
Daniel's looking behind me. "What do you think, General?"
"I've been telling him that for some time," General Hammond says from over my shoulder. I didn't even hear him come in.
"Sir, I check my e-mail right on schedule," I half-heartedly protest.
"I know you do, Colonel. I've been thinking that you might want to change your schedule from once a week to several times a day?"
Several times a day? Good thing we've got a General with a sense of humor.
"Since you didn't tell me about Doctor Jackson's change of plans, I had to hear about it from other sources. In fact, Doctor Jackson," Hammond's looking straight at Daniel, a little grin on his face, "Major Carter and Teal'c have informed me that you made a new friend on your unexpected cross-country hike. I'd like to hear all about him."
Yeah, it's good to be home.
Feedback is greatly appreciated.
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