Stuff that Jaffa are made of



Two things happened at once. Daniel�s brain made the connection that some of the words he was trying to transcribe meant that there was some kind of danger here, while simultaneously seeing Jack lean forward to touch one of the many carved tiles on the wall before them.

At the sound of the �click�, Daniel knew that Jack was in trouble. In a smooth motion, he pivoted on one foot and threw himself at his friend. As they both went crashing into the soft sand, Daniel saw something white out of the corner of his eye. It literally flew out of newly opened hole where the tile had been moments before. As he landed on top of Jack, the younger man heard Jack grunt as the breath was knocked out of him.

Something plopped on top of Daniel�s legs, and trying to disentangle himself from Jack, he instinctively kicked it away. A burning sensation suddenly enveloped his right leg just below his knee. He curled up and attempted to pull off whatever it was that had wrapped itself around him. His hands encountered a slimy, gelatinous mass affixed to his leg.

�Jesus, Daniel. What the hell were you� � Jack�s voice faded at the telltale sound of rock grinding against rock.

Daniel looked up and saw the huge doors of the crypt begin to slowly slide shut. Dust, sand and pebbles were dislodged from the ceiling and floor as the ancient slabs of rock slowly made their way along long-buried tracks in the ground. He continued to pull at the white slug-like thing, but it wouldn�t budge. A part of it had affixed itself solidly to his leg on the outer part of his calf, somehow biting through his pants and into his skin and muscles. That was where the burning sensations were the strongest, and it was inexorably making its way around his leg.

�Okay, we�re out of here. Let�s move,� Jack yelled as their only exit was slowly being cut off. Daniel was aware of Teal�c and Carter coming from the other end of the immense crypt and heading towards the opening as Jack bent down to give Daniel a hand up. �What *is* that thing?� Jack asked with a grimace.

Still pulling at the mass stuck on his leg, Daniel stood up. It was now almost rubber-like, no longer slimy, stretching as he pulled at it. And then realized he was in trouble when part of the creature elongated itself and slithered down his leg, continuing into the soft sand.

�Jack, I�m stuck,� he said as he now pulled on the part of the creature burrowing into the sand.

�Shit,� Jack swore as he glanced at the still-moving doors. As Jack removed his knife from its sheath, Daniel saw that the doors were nearly halfway shut. Sam and Teal�c were watching by the shrinking exit, ready to leave. Jack knelt and began cutting into the mass near Daniel�s leg.

The pain caught Daniel off guard. His leg spasmed as fire rose up and down the muscles. His whole leg cramped agonizingly, and he screamed when the pain suddenly swept up into his hip, throughout his chest and into his arms. He was aware of Jack holding onto him as his body convulsed in intense muscular cramps. The muscles in his back and ribs were contracting so badly that he was barely able to take a breath. He tried to curl himself as tightly as possible against the agony, struggling to breathe and ride out the pain.

- - - - - -

As the doors continued to slide shut amidst much noise and dust, Carter and Teal�c rushed to Jack�s side, trying to assess Daniel�s injury. Jack had dropped the knife and had caught Daniel as he collapsed with an anguished cry. His friend was struggling in his arms, small moans escaping his lips. Jack could feel Daniel�s muscles actually moving beneath his hands, contracting in painful seizures. His breath was wheezing in his lungs, and his chest was straining to pull in air.

Jack eyed the exit, realizing that they would all be trapped inside this vault in less than a minute. The room slowly dimmed as the doors cut off the daylight. Streaks of light shone down from large cracks in the ceiling, now fuzzy with floating dust and sand particles, but illuminating the room enough so that they could get by without their flashlights.

�Teal�c, go outside and see if you can get the doors open from that side. If you can�t, go to the village, see if you can get help. It�s on your way to the Stargate.� As Jack spoke, Teal�c was rummaging through his pack. �If the villagers won�t help, get Hammond to send a crew out here. And we might need another translator to read that stuff outside in order to get the doors open.�

Teal�c removed his GDO from his pack and placed it in a vest pocket. Picking up his staff weapon, he stood up, leaving his pack behind, and strode to the now almost closed doors. Before squeezing through the rapidly diminishing space, he gave his friends one last look before the doors ground shut together. Jack could tell that Teal�c had hated to leave them here, but he�d needed one of the team to apprise the SGC of what had just happened.

The deep boom of the doors coming to a close reverberated in the chamber. Jack ignored the fact that the three of them were now imprisoned inside this vault, giving Daniel his total attention.

He saw Carter remove two of the prepackaged syringes from her backpack. He shifted his friend in his arms so that he was lying on his back, cradling his head on his lap. Pulling his jacket and tee shirt aside, he exposed the top part of Daniel�s arm. He held the arm still as Daniel continued to writhe in agony. The Captain quickly swiped his arm with an alcohol wipe before injecting him with half of the contents of one of the syringes. She recapped the needle as she spoke to him.

�I just gave him 5 mg Valium, sir. It should help with the cramps.�

He nodded as he laid Daniel down onto the ground. Carter removed her jacket and placed it beneath Daniel�s head. Jack carefully removed Daniel�s glasses, which had become skewed on his face with his thrashing about. He placed them in his vest before he joined Carter in massaging Daniel�s limbs. Jack could feel the hard, knotted muscles beneath his fingers as he tried to coax them into relaxing. Daniel curled up tightly into a foetal position, and they had a hard time trying to straighten his limbs. The younger man cried out whenever they pulled too hard on resisting muscles, and both he and Carter were constantly apologizing.

After twenty minutes, when Daniel wasn�t responding to the drug, Carter injected him with another 5 mg.

Another twenty minutes went by with no apparent relief. Jack�s hands were aching but he continued kneading. If he thought this was painful for him, he couldn�t imagine what Daniel was going through. He watched helplessly as Carter grabbed the second syringe and gave Daniel yet another 5 mg. of the stuff. Jack wasn�t a doctor, but he did know that Valium could cause breathing problems. He�d heard Fraiser mention it often enough whenever she used it. He fervently wished he had a doctor here with him at the moment, along with all of the medical paraphernalia that came with the SGC�s infirmary.

As Carter took Daniel�s pulse, Jack moved down and eyed the thing that was still wrapped around his leg. Had Jack�s attempt at removing it been the cause of this pain? Should he try and cut it off once more? He looked at his discarded knife, but before he could reach for it, Daniel�s pained cry brought his attention back to his friend.
He wrapped his hands around Daniel�s thigh once more and began kneading the hard bands of steel, feeling the sweat-soaked material of his pants beneath his fingers. He listened to Daniel�s breathing with half an ear, waiting to hear if there would be a change. He�d been hoping that this last dose of Valium would do the trick, but Daniel appeared to be in as much agony now as he had when he�d collapsed. Fifteen mg., Jack didn�t know if that was a lot or not, but it still didn�t seem to be enough to do the trick.

�Sir,� Carter said, breaking Jack out of his reverie. She held another syringe in her hand, looking up to him for permission. �It�s morphine. It would at least ease some of his pain.�
Damn. Morphine and Valium. Both singly could cause respiratory problems, together� He stilled his hands, feeling Daniel�s body writhing.

�Carter, I don�t know� what if� can�t that affect his breathing?�

�Jack, please,� Daniel�s whispered plea barely reached Jack�s ears. He looked down at Daniel, and saw his blue pain glazed eyes begging Jack to help him.

�Do it,� Jack said, praying that he made the right choice. She quickly injected the contents and they resumed their manipulation of Daniel�s taut body.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Jack felt Daniel�s muscles begin to loosen slightly beneath his hands. His breathing eased a bit, and he stopped thrashing and lay still. He was shivering, his body spasming occasionally as a muscle contracted involuntarily.

Carter picked up the syringe containing the Valium and looked to Jack. He nodded, knowing that as dangerous as this was, they couldn�t have Daniel continue experiencing this degree of pain for very long without his going into shock.

The last dose of medication finally did the trick as Daniel managed to relax totally. Jack knew that Daniel�s body was going to be very sore for days after the intense contractions his muscles had just experienced.

Jack wiped the sweat and involuntary tears from Daniel�s face with his jacket�s sleeve. At his touch, Daniel opened his eyes and looked at Jack.

�Better?� Jack asked.

Daniel simply nodded, too spent to speak.

�Do you need something for the pain, Daniel?� Carter asked as she rearranged her jacket beneath his head. He shook his head slightly, closing his eyes.

Jack could see that Daniel�s tee-shirt and jacket were soaked in sweat. It was cool and damp in the tomb, so he eased Daniel�s jacket off before wrapping him up in his own, followed by an emergency blanket from their pack. Better to try and keep him warm before he got chilled. He and Carter rolled Daniel onto his side into the recovery position, allowing him to rest.

Jack examined the creature wrapped around his friend�s leg, noting that the spot where he had sliced into it had apparently healed.

Either the drugs were making Daniel sleepy or he was exhausted from his ordeal, so Jack left Carter sitting beside the dozing man. Daniel�s breathing appeared to be normal for the time being, so they had probably made the right call with the meds.

Jack cautiously approached the hole where that thing had leaped out at him like a jack-in-the-box. If Daniel hadn�t thrown himself at him, it would have landed on Jack right at chest level, possibly enveloping his face and neck. He shivered as he thought of that thing smothering him.

He prodded the open door with the tip of his gun, then flashed his mag light into the hole, relieved to find it empty. Jack cursed himself for his carelessness. Didn�t he always tell Daniel not to go around touching things? So why did he, the one who was supposed to know better, go and press the one tile that held a picture of Earth�s symbol on the Stargate? Dumb, dumb, dumb.

The whole wall was covered with glyphs, less than half of them recognizable to Jack while Daniel and Teal�c had recognized many more from their studies of the various Stargates they�d seen on their travels. Daniel had been trying to translate the text above the tiles when Jack, out of boredom, had foolishly touched the damn thing, triggering some sort of booby trap.

The people in the nearby village had given them directions to this abandoned tomb when Daniel had questioned them about ancient writings. They had said something about rites being performed here generations ago, but these had been discontinued when their interest in the old gods had waned. More than likely it was after the Goa�uld had abandoned this planet for who knew what reason. All he knew was that this place was now taboo to the inhabitants. And from what had just happened, he didn�t blame them for steering clear of the place.

Jack hoped that Teal�c would find someone in the village who would be able to help them open the doors and get rid of this thing which had attacked Daniel. Speaking of the Jaffa� Jack flicked his radio on and tried to raise Teal�c. Static hissed from his speaker, confirming his suspicions that the radio waves wouldn�t penetrate the thick stone walls. He eyed the ceiling, noting that it was very high and there was nothing with which he could try to climb onto to reach it. Those cracks were fairly large, maybe Carter could squeeze through� but there was still the question of how to get up there.

He turned his attention to the doors, trying to see if there was a lever or something that would open them. Afraid of tripping another booby trap, Jack hesitated. He cursed at his indecision, and then cautiously began running his hands over the edges of the carved wall. His fingers met with only stone and an occasional insect. There were no indications of any hidden doorknobs or release mechanisms for the massive doors.

Having gone over every inch of the doors and nearby walls without success, he made his way to Carter and Daniel. She was sitting beside him with a hand on his chest, monitoring his breathing. Jack squatted beside Daniel and attempted once again to examine the thing that had decided to make friendly with his archaeologist. It had stretched itself along the length of his leg, and it was now almost transparent. Jack could make out the faint green colour of Daniel�s BDUs through its membranous body.

He pulled carefully at the thin gelatinous edge, trying to see if he could pull it off without causing Daniel more pain. It gave slightly at first, allowing an opening to be made. As Jack tried to insert a finger between it and Daniel�s pants, he came across something thin and hard, almost like a needle. It was firmly embedded in Daniel�s leg. With a grimace, he pushed his hand beneath the slug as far as he could reach. His fingers came across several more of these needles, or teeth, he thought with a shudder.

Pulling his hand out, Jack picked up his knife. As he tried to dislodge one of those teeth with its edge, Daniel moaned in his sleep and tried to pull his leg away. A frown marred Daniel�s face for a moment and his breathing began to speed up. Jack put his knife away, realizing that his fiddling with the creature was causing it to hurt Daniel. He placed a hand on Daniel�s shoulder, trying to calm his friend. Carter�s eyes met his as he looked around helplessly, wishing that *something* would jump out at him and give him an idea of which direction to take next.

- - - - - -

Teal�c arrived at the Stargate slightly out of breath, having run the five miles from the village. As he slapped the glyphs on the DHD, he contemplated what the old priest had just told him. He had wasted precious time speaking to the younger priest. It was only when the elderly man had entered the room to see what the commotion was about that Teal�c was shown the scrolls. He now knew what was happening to Daniel, and unfortunately there was very little that Teal�c or his friends could do to help him. Daniel was going to have to endure this, or die.

He had debated going back to the abandoned tomb, but had decided instead that he needed to apprise General Hammond of what had occurred. And Daniel was going to need medical help very soon if the priest�s recollections were correct.

He shifted the bundle of aging scrolls in one hand as he punched in SG1�s code on the GDO. Wasting no time, Teal�c rushed through the wormhole and continued running as he came down the metal ramp. He glanced up into the control room, ascertaining that General Hammond was indeed there. He took the stairs two at a time in his haste to speak to the man.

- - - - - -

Daniel could feel no pain at the moment, although he remembered it very well. His body felt heavy and cumbersome, and his mind was a little foggy. This was a familiar sensation he sometimes experienced when waking up in Janet�s infirmary after suffering mishaps when off world. He was a little breathless and very thirsty. Still too tired to even try and open his eyes, he listened, hoping that someone would walk by his bed soon and offer him some water. He tried to clear his throat, hoping to ease his breathing.

�Daniel?� Sam�s voice penetrated the fog that was his brain and although he tried to answer her, what came out of his mouth sounded like a grunt. He opened his eyes reluctantly, and was surprised to see white sand and stone walls before him instead of crisp white sheets and the infirmary.

�Daniel, you awake?� she said again, this time closer to his ear. He turned his head slightly to face his friend, realizing then that he was lying on his side. He saw Sam before him, and a smile lit her face when he managed to focus on her.

He felt hands beneath his shoulders, turning him and lifting him off the ground. Daniel closed his eyes against the dizziness that the movement invoked. When the world stopped spinning, he was lying in a half-seated position against someone�s warm chest. The position eased his breathing, and he relaxed when he heard Jack�s voice just behind him.

�You back with us, Daniel?�

He licked his lips before attempting to ask for something to drink.

�J�ck.� Not so bad, better than when he�d tried to answer Sam. �Is there water?�

�Yeah, hold on.� Something wet dribbled over his lips and Daniel greedily swallowed the tepid liquid.

Blinking several times, he managed to more or less focus on the dimly lit room. There was a series of tiles with carvings on the wall beside him. Off near the side a gaping hole was evidence that one of the tiles had fallen or broken off. His gaze wandered up and from his vantage point Daniel saw what appeared to be writing in old variations of Greek and Latin, interspersed with Goa�uld. As he squinted at the wall, he realized that this was all vaguely familiar, and he wondered what it had to do with the way he was feeling now.

�What happened?� he asked as he closed his eyes when his vision blurred. He shifted slightly, trying to manoeuvre his body into a more comfortable position. His right leg wouldn�t move, and he opened his eyes to look at it. When he saw the life form wrapped around his leg, he remembered everything, up to and including the intense pain it had caused.

He jerked up away from Jack, gasping as he leaned over to try and tug the thing off. He fought someone�s hands which were trying to prevent him from touching the creature. Jack�s arm pulled him back against his chest, feeling like a steel bar across his ribs. He tired quickly, and lay back, defeated.

He shivered, the slight exertions causing him to break out into a sweat.

�Don�t touch that thing, Daniel,� Jack said as Daniel tried to catch his breath. Sam replaced the blanket which had slid off his shoulders with his struggles. He shivered again as Jack continued. �It�s stuck really good to your leg. Whenever I tried to take it off, it hurt you. Just leave it alone for now, okay?�

Daniel nodded, trying to shake off the lethargy he was feeling.

�Drugged?� he asked.

�Yeah, we had to give you some Valium and Morphine.�

Valium and Morphine? Daniel turned slightly to look up at Jack�s face. His friend�s face was set, and although he smiled down at Daniel, it couldn�t hide the fact that he was very worried. Daniel glanced at Sam and saw the same expression on her face. Oh well, at least he knew now why he was so dopey.

He looked at the writing on the wall again, realizing he had managed to translate a part of it earlier. He had deciphered the words �endurance� and �rite of passage�. This led to the suspicion that Jack had triggered some kind of �start� button when he�d touched the tile.

�Where�s Teal�c?� he asked, realizing that the Jaffa wasn�t in the room with them.

�I sent him to the village for help. He should be back any minute,� Jack said unconvincingly.

�I need to finish that translation.� Daniel raised his arm and pointed vaguely at the writings. He was surprised to feel the limb heavy and he let it fall limply back to the ground.

�You can do that later. You need to rest now,� Sam admonished, fiddling with the blanket. �You�re still pretty groggy from the drugs.� She stroked his cheek with the back of her hand, before pushing his bangs away from his eyes.

�No, you don�t understand.� He wanted to tell them that this was some kind of test, and that they needed to know the rules, but Sam�s caresses were soothing and he really was sleepy. He closed his eyes for a moment, relaxing against Jack. �I think that the� script explains� what this is all� about.� He couldn�t concentrate on what he was going to say next. He tried to open his eyes, but he just couldn�t seem to find the energy to do so. The last thing he was aware of was Sam�s voice sounding from very far away, saying �I think he�s asleep.�

- - - - - - -

�I think he�s asleep,� Sam said to the Colonel as she watched Daniel�s breathing even out. She�d been so scared when the medications she�d been giving him hadn�t done anything to relieve his pain. She swore to herself that when they�d get back to the SGC, she was going to ask for more medical training. This was so frustrating, she knew so little and had felt so helpless trying to help her �little brother�.

Colonel O�Neill appeared to be prepared to remain sitting with Daniel propped up against his chest, so she manoeuvred their backpacks behind him to give him a little support to lean against. Too bad the slug hadn�t burrowed several more inches closer to the wall, that way the Colonel could have leaned against it for support.

Leaving Daniel in the Colonel�s care, she moved off to examine the door herself. Not that she didn�t trust her commanding officer�s efforts, but a second look surely wouldn�t hurt. Her eyes and fingers trailed down the carved walls surrounding the doors, then along the doors themselves.

Frustrated that she couldn�t find any release mechanisms either, she realized that they�d most likely need Daniel�s help in deciphering that writing. Hopefully there�d be a key in there telling them how to leave. She turned to look at her friend, sprawled partly on the ground and partly on the Colonel, dead to the world thanks to the drugs in his system. She glanced at the alien that had attacked him, and realized that something had changed.

She took the ten steps separating them almost at a run, throwing herself beside Daniel. She swore as she attempted to move Daniel�s leg into the sunlight, the dim light not strong enough to illumine the creature properly. The beam of sunlight was too far away, the creature anchored securely in the sand preventing her from moving it into the brighter light. Spotting the discarded mag light, she reached over both Daniel and the Colonel and grabbed it. She played the light over the creature, and with a sinking heart, confirmed her suspicions.

�Shit, shit, shit,� she intoned as she began digging in the sand where the creature had tunnelled into.

�What is it?� the Colonel asked, leaning forward to see what she was doing, a hand held against the side of Daniel�s head holding him securely against him.

�That thing� it�s draining Daniel. I�m sorry, sir, I should have noticed this before,� she said as she flung large handfuls of sand behind her. The long thin portion of the alien continued down into the sand as she tried clearing a space around it.

�What�re you talking about?� he asked in confusion.

�The color, it�s changed. It�s not white anymore. Look at it.�

A few seconds elapsed as he studied Daniel�s leg. �Yeah, it�s pinkish.�

�It�s pink because it�s drinking Daniel�s blood!� she said between clenched teeth. The part that had burrowed itself into the sand had to be connected to something. She was down a foot now, and still no end in sight.

She could make out several thin red tubes or vessels inside the pinkish, almost translucent cylindrical part that must be carrying the blood to somewhere. Another pair of hands joined hers in removing the sand, she hadn�t noticed the Colonel laying Daniel down and joining her. Her hands suddenly touched something other than sand, and she and Colonel O�Neill carefully excavated around it.

�How long do you think this has been going on?� he asked in a worried voice.

She thought carefully. Daniel wasn�t showing any signs of significant blood loss at the moment, although his pulse was a little fast and he was pale, but that could be due to the after effects of the pain he�d gone through.

�It�s impossible to tell, but I think it�s been a slow process. We�ve been here,� she quickly checked her watch, �over four hours. It must have been sucking Daniel�s blood all that time.�

As the area around the newly unearthed section was cleared, she could see that the alien was attached to one of several slightly larger tubes, which had a similar rubbery feel. This particular cylinder was white on one side, pink on the other, so they continued to excavate on the side of the blood flow. Three feet later, it came to an end, separating into three filaments which went off in different directions. One appeared to go straight towards the doors, another back to the wall where the alien had emerged. The third continued along the vast chamber towards the far back wall. All three were ominously tinged with pink.

Without a word they began following the filament leading to the doors, digging through the sand. It appeared to disappear into the rock itself, and Sam suspected that this was the �locking� mechanism for the door. Maybe it needed a certain amount of blood before it unlocked.

Returning to Daniel, Colonel O�Neill suggested she follow the strand to the carved wall while he worked on the one going into the chamber. She worked doggedly, stopping occasionally to glance at Daniel to make sure that he was okay. He slept on, oblivious to their efforts.

Wiping the sweat from her face with a gritty, sand encrusted sleeve, she sat back and examined the spot where this particular strand joined the wall. It was similar to the one attached to the door, merging into the stone itself. Sighing, she moved over and joined the Colonel in digging up the sand surrounding the last of the three filaments.

- - - - - -

�Jack?�

Daniel�s voice sounded weak and strained. Jack turned around and saw him trying to push himself up onto his elbows. Jack got up from his attempts at unearthing the alien piping, leaving Carter to continue. As he walked towards Daniel, he wiped his hands on his pants, trying to dislodge the sand stuck to his skin.

Daniel had managed to raise his upper torso, but even from several feet away, Jack could tell that the effort was a huge strain on his friend. Even before he reached his friend�s side, Daniel had collapsed back onto the ground. He was out of breath, and Jack noted a sheen of sweat on his face.

�Daniel?� Jack asked as he knelt beside him. As Daniel turned his head at the sound of his voice, Jack reached a hand out and pushed away a lock of hair that was sticking to his damp cheek. He never understood why people wanted long hair; it always seemed to be such a pain in the ass to upkeep.

�I feel like I�ve been trampled over by an army of Jaffa,� Daniel complained in a panting breath.

�I can imagine,� Jack said as he grabbed a canteen and sat down behind Daniel. �You had some really severe muscular cramps, you�re probably gonna be sore for a couple of days. I�ll give you some Tylenol in a minute.� He raised the younger man up so he was leaning against his chest. He could feel the younger man�s muscles trembling as he tried to help Jack reposition him.

�Ow,� he said, his face contorting in pain. Jack could just imagine how much Daniel was hurting; he�d once had a charlie horse in his leg that had him limping for days. Daniel had experienced the equivalent of one of those over his whole body.

As Jack helped Daniel sip some water, Carter abandoned her work and came to sit beside them.

�Daniel, is that thing painful?� she asked as she examined the alien once more.

�Yeah, it�s burning. A lot,� Daniel admitted. Jack frowned; for Daniel to admit he was hurting, it had to be pretty bad.

She nodded to herself and reached over for her pack. Jack saw her take out the syringe that held the remainder of the unused Morphine.

�Carter, is that really necessary?� Jack asked, wondering if she knew something he didn�t. She glanced at him as she swabbed Daniel�s arm, then looked down at the slug affixed to Daniel�s leg. Jack followed her gaze, and realized that the thing had changed in color again. It was now a reddish hue rather than the pinkish one it had been barely an hour ago.

�I think that the drugs are affecting it, sir. They might have been slowing down the bleeding,� she said as she skilfully injected Daniel with another dose of Morphine.

�Bleeding?� Daniel asked, bewildered. He looked up owlishly at Jack, his face scrunching in confusion when he tried to look at himself, searching for an injury. His face twisted in pain as his abused muscles protested. He fell back weakly against Jack, panting. Jack knew it would be a good twenty minutes before Daniel felt any relief from the drug Carter had just administered.

�That thing is sucking the blood from your leg,� Jack explained.

�What?� Daniel exclaimed. He shuddered once, then said quietly, �Ow.�

�There�s more blood flow since you woke up, Daniel. The drugs are leaving your system and it stands to reason that they might be affecting that creature too.�

Daniel�s grabbed Jack�s arms and squeezed tightly. �Ow,� he said more loudly. �Shit, Jack. That hurts.�

�Daniel, what�s happening?�

�I don�t know, it�s�.� He strained against Jack, arching his back, his face tight in pain, gasping loudly. �My leg� hurts.�

�Damnit,� Jack swore as he saw Carter removing more syringes from the backpack. God he hoped that that thing wasn�t going to cause Daniel the pain it had earlier. He held tightly onto Daniel, who was as tense as a board. His friend was covered in sweat, his muscles trembling with his efforts of holding in the pain.

�I don�t think it likes the Morphine,� Carter said, as she waited with Jack to see what would happen. She�d placed a hand on Daniel�s leg, the one that was shackled by the creature.

Daniel continued to grit his teeth against the pain, the only sound being his harsh panting. His hands held onto Jack�s arms, the pressure of his hold and the trembling of his body being the only other indication of the agony his friend was in.

After several more minutes, Daniel relaxed slightly, his back easing down against Jack�s chest, his hands now simply gripping and not squeezing. Jack noticed that the creature was turning once more towards a pinkish shade, and he hoped that meant that the Morphine was affecting it and causing the blood sucking varmint to ease up on Daniel. Jack removed one hand from under Daniel�s grip and rubbed it up and down Daniel�s arm, noting that the material of his tee-shirt was soaked with sweat.

Carter dampened one of Daniel�s bandannas and used it to wipe the sweat from his face. He opened his eyes at the touch, and closed them again, obviously exhausted. He continued to relax over the next few minutes, either the Morphine was easing the pain or the creature had stopped whatever it had been doing to him.

Daniel now appeared so comfortable that Jack thought he�d fallen asleep, and was startled when Daniel spoke up.

�Jack, can you hand me my journal?� He raised his arm and waved in the direction of the tiled wall. Jack glanced around, and saw said book lying somewhat trampled a few feet away. Daniel had obviously dropped it when he�d thrown himself at Jack when he had triggered the trap.

�Daniel, you need to rest,� Sam said chidingly.

�No. I need to finish that translation so we know exactly what�s happening here,� Daniel argued. �There may be more of these things waiting to jump out at us. Maybe that,� he waved at the wall, �will give us an idea of what to look out for.� Jack agreed with Daniel, they needed to know what this place was, and hopefully the writings on the wall would tell them that. But Carter was also right, Daniel needed to rest. Jack sighed, and motioned for Carter to retrieve the book. He had to look out for the whole team, not just the one injured member.

She got up and picked it up, slapping it a few times against her leg in order to dislodge the grains of sand that were stuck to it. By the set of her face, Jack could tell that she wasn�t happy. She also picked up the pen that had been hidden underneath the book.

Daniel shifted, trying to sit up straighter. Jack helped him, continuing to act as Daniel�s backrest. He felt Daniel shiver as the blanket fell off his shoulders and pooled around his legs. Jack pulled the blanket up over Daniel�s chest, leaving his arms free. Daniel accepted his pen and journal from Sam, setting both on his lap. Jack handed him his glasses, which had been kept safe in his vest pocket.

�I�ll go back and finish digging,� Carter replied, pointing over her shoulder towards the unfinished trench they had made.

Daniel�s hand was shaking badly as he attempted to finish reproducing the alien mixture of text into his journal. Jack noted that his handwriting wasn�t as clear and precise as the script he had copied earlier. When he dropped the pen for the third time, Jack took it from him and made short work of copying down the weird looking symbols and text.

The weakened man slowly relaxed against Jack, his abused muscles making it difficult for him to remain sitting up on his own. Daniel laid his head back on Jack�s shoulder, looking up at the script, mumbling to himself as he tried to make sense of the alien mix.

�Thanks, Jack,� came the soft reply when Jack placed the pen back in Daniel�s hand. An occasional shiver would wrack his body, and Jack reached back one handed for a pack, fumbling with it till he managed to remove a second blanket and spread it over Daniel. Daniel continued leaning against Jack, occasionally writing in a word or scratching one out. He�d seen Daniel�s incredible mind at work on many an occasion and Jack was very aware that he seemed to be working in slow motion at the moment. Jack hoped that it was merely due to the potent drug that was in Daniel�s system, and not to a significant amount of blood loss. They really had no way of knowing how much the creature had stolen from him.

When the pen dropped out of Daniel�s hand once more, Jack sighed and picked it up. When Daniel made no move to take it, he looked down and realized that Daniel had fallen asleep. He waited a few more minutes until he was sure that the younger man would stay asleep, and then eased him down onto the sand. He repositioned Carter�s jacket back under his head before carding a hand through the long damp locks, pushing them away from Daniel�s eyes before removing his glasses. He noted with a bit of alarm that Daniel�s skin was somewhat clammy and cool. His pale countenance emphasized the dark circles below his eyes, and even though he was deeply asleep, he didn�t look well.

Casting a glare at the living shackle still wound around Daniel�s leg, Jack got up stiffly, trying to work the kinks out of his back and legs. Carter had almost finished uncovering the alien conduit, and was only a few feet away from the wall. Jack followed the tubing with his eyes as he made his way to Carter, noting that halfway along, the color changed from pink to a darker red. He could actually see where the flow of Daniel�s blood began to ebb.

As they had both suspected would happen, the third filament also merged with the wall. Having learned nothing of value, they returned by Daniel�s side to sit and wait.

- - - - - -

Janet Fraiser readjusted the straps on her backpack, trying to make it look as if it was a natural action. She was out of breath, her legs were burning and her back ached with the weight of the medical supplies that she was lugging in her pack. If she hadn�t known that the situation could be as dire as Teal�c had explained, she would have asked for him to slow down for a bit.

It was a five mile trek to the ancient tomb that SG1 had been exploring. She should be grateful that the Jaffa hadn�t insisted that they run. As it was, SG2 was moving at a very fast clip, and Janet�s shorter legs were having trouble keeping up with all the six feet plus personnel.

It was with a great sense of relief when they arrived at the now sealed-off crypt. She could see immense gilded doors shining brightly in the late afternoon sun. The building appeared to have been built inside of a small hill, the doors being situated at the foot of the rise.

As Dr. Dennis Conners, the archaeologist who had been assigned to SG2 on this rescue mission, began to study the symbols on the door, Janet lowered her backpack to the ground. She stretched her aching muscles, hoping that they wouldn�t have too long a wait. She retrieved the small cooler from Captain Jenkins, thanking him for having taken the trouble to carry it for her. She set the container beside her pack, checking quickly to make sure the vital contents were as she had packed them.

She watched Teal�c as he stood by supervising the nervous archaeologist. He stood stiffly beside the man, and she smiled to herself when he finally asked Teal�c to move out of his light. SG2 were busy setting up a perimeter watch, and she realized suddenly that those immense doors were not about to be opened soon.

�Teal�c, you�re sure that there�s no other way in there?� she asked as he walked by her.

She was certain that he was going to say no, but instead he looked her up and down critically before he answered, �I believe that there may be another entrance, but you may not be agreeable to it.�

�Show me and let me decide,� she answered flippantly. Before she knew it, the Jaffa had grabbed the cooler and said, �Please follow me, DoctorFraiser.� Even though his voice was curt, she knew that he meant no disrespect. She took a deep breath and forced her tired body to follow after him.

They made their way around the crypt till Teal�c found a spot that he deemed acceptable. It was a rough climb, but with her companion carrying some of her supplies, she was able to keep up with him.

Ten minutes later found them walking on what she presumed was the ceiling of the ancient building.

�DoctorFraiser, please take care, the structure may not be sound,� Teal�c warned as they circumvented several small cracks. He led her to a large hole in the ceiling, where he knelt to look down into the depths of the building.

As she looked past Teal�c�s shoulder down into the hole and into the dim interior, Teal�c called Colonel O�Neill�s name. She smiled as she heard the surprised man answer back below her. Movement off to the side caught her attention. The Colonel was walking up to them, head tilted back, with a large grin pasted on his face.

�Teal�c, buddy. Glad you decided to come back.�

�SG2 and Doctor Conners are attempting to open the doors as we speak. I regret that their endeavours will take some time. DoctorFraiser is here with me now. How is DanielJackson?�

�Doc? You there?� came the pleased voice.

�In the flesh, Colonel,� she answered back, moving forward slightly as Teal�c moved back to allow her some room.

�Look, Daniel�s not doing so great. He�s had a really rough time, and now some damn � thing � is sucking his blood.�

Janet swore softly. She had hoped that Teal�c had been wrong in his assumption. She could hear the strain in the man�s voice; she needed to get down to her patient, and fast.

�Yes, Teal�c already explained about the test. Sir, I need to get to Daniel. There�s no other way inside, is there?�

�DoctorFraiser,� Teal�c interrupted. �I shall lower you down,� he said, indicating the hole in the ceiling.

�Through there?� she squeeked, estimating that they were at least 30 feet high. She eyed the gap, knowing that although it would be a tight squeeze, she could probably fit through it.

�I would not drop you,� Teal�c said.

�I know, and I trust you with my life, Teal�c,� she answered, smiling at the man�s serious countenance. She leaned over the hole and yelled down to the Colonel. �Sir, Teal�c will lower me down through this hole. I have medical supplies with me.�

She saw Teal�c remove a coil of rope from his pack and quickly wrapped it around the cooler and her backpack. He lowered the supplies down to the Colonel, who handed them over to Sam. Janet smiled down at her friend who had been presumably sitting with Daniel.

She stood still as Teal�c tied the rope around her legs and under her arms, harness-like. Sitting down with her feet dangling into the gap, she slowly lowered herself, feeling the tension of the rope holding her securely. She looked up a last time and smiled at Teal�c, trying not to show her nervousness. He smiled at her, and she knew that he wouldn�t let her fall.

She looked around as she was speedily lowered to the ground, spotting Daniel lying not far from the ornate doors. Colonel O�Neill helped her step out of the loops of rope and escorted her to the injured man.

Her first assumption on seeing him was that he was breathing rapidly, his skin was pale and felt cool and clammy to the touch. His pulse was thready and weak. She glanced at the pinkish thing wrapped around Daniel�s leg, intending to examine it later.

�Daniel,� she called, keeping a hand on his cheek. �Daniel, wake up.� Her efforts were rewarded and he opened his bleary eyes. He blinked a few times before peering at her in confusion.

�Janet?� he asked, his voice showing his confusion. �Are we home?�

�Sorry, no. I just made a house call,� she joked as she took out a penlight and flashed it into his eyes. Good, pupils responsive, albeit slightly dilated. His mucus membranes were pale, she noted as she pulled down slightly on his lower eyelid.

�Ah, that makes me feel so tingly inside,� he answered. He tried to sit up and Colonel O�Neill was there in a flash, helping Daniel up and sliding his body underneath to support him.

�Are we leaving?� he asked as he laid his head back against his friend.

�Not quite yet,� Jack replied, rubbing his arm in a soothing manner.

As she wrapped the BP monitor around his arm, she saw three discarded syringes lying a few feet away. Sam must have seen her glance at them, because she spoke in an almost apologetic voice.

�We had to give Daniel some Valium and Morphine�� she started.

�No, you must not!� Teal�c�s voice echoed strangely in the large, empty chamber. �Any substance given to the subject will be absorbed by the Ghor�ad. It will in all probability nullify the trial and the creature will terminate it prematurely. ColonelO�Neill, it will without doubt kill DoctorJackson.�

�Damn it, Teal�c. It�s too late. We�ve been pumping Daniel full of drugs for the past five hours!� She saw the Colonel wipe his face with the palms of his hands in frustration.

Janet busied herself with taking Daniel�s blood pressure, frowning at the results of 70/40. It was much lower than she would have liked.

�Sir, there�s definitely significant blood loss and he�s shocky. I�d like to start a transfusion and some fluids.� At his nod, she removed the O-Negative blood from the cooler and a liter bag of Normal Saline from her pack, placing the ice pack back over the remaining bags of blood. She quickly untangled the various IV tubings and deftly inserted a catheter in the antecubital area of Daniel�s right arm after swabbing it with a sterile wipe.

As she prepared the back of his hand for the Normal Saline, she kept an eye out for transfusion reaction because there was no chance of cross typing and matching the blood to Daniel�s. Sam jury rigged a hook and hung the bags from a broken tiles on the wall.

Both IVs were set to run wide open. Daniel began to shiver and complained of feeling cold.

�Sam, tell me why you had to give Daniel those drugs,� Janet asked as she removed a woollen blanket from her backpack and covered him up with it.

�He had intense muscular cramps when the Colonel tried to remove the slug,� she explained. �When the Valium didn�t do the trick, we added the Morphine.�

�Are you sure it wasn�t a seizure,� Janet asked, trying to diagnose the symptoms.

�Positive. Daniel was awake throughout and � the pain was terrible, Janet,� she continued in a low voice. �It was only a little while ago that we realized that that thing was taking his blood.�

Janet looked at Sam and saw the concern in her face. �You did good, Sam,� she said softly, laying a hand on the woman�s shoulder. Sam smiled weakly at her, her relief obvious at having a doctor on hand.

After a few minutes, she took Daniel�s pulse and blood pressure again when the bag of blood was nearly depleted. Good, his pulse was still fast but stronger, and his pressure was beginning to come up. She replaced the second bag of blood with another, setting it to run for an hour.

Watching carefully once more for a reaction to the blood, she relaxed slightly when Daniel�s vitals remained constant.

�What did you call that thing, Teal�c?� the Colonel asked as Janet removed another liter of Saline from her pack to replace the nearly depleted one.

�It is a Ghor�ad, O�Neill. An ancient creature that I believed to be legend. The tales said in the early years, when the Goa�uld wished to choose Jaffa, they would go to a temple on a planet known only to them, and put likely subjects to the test. Those who were the strongest, the fittest and the most intelligent survived.�

Janet saw Daniel look around, presumably searching for the Jaffa. His eyes widened when he finally spotted the rope hanging from the ceiling. He turned to look at her, and she nodded, smiling gently. She was pleased to see him looking a little more alert.

�That�s what the writing on the wall says, Jack,� Daniel said tiredly. �Lucky me, I get to see if I�m Jaffa material.�

�You got my vote, Daniel,� his friend said. Daniel smiled crookedly as he looked back towards the hanging rope.

�Can we get out through there, Janet?� he asked.

Janet shook her head. �Maybe Sam could squeeze through the hole in the ceiling, but it was a tight enough fit for me. You and the Colonel would never get through it.� The bag of Saline was now empty and she replaced it with the fresh one, setting this one to run for four hours.

�And there�s the other problem of that little vampire attached to Danny�s leg,� O�Neill pointed out.

�Can�t we just chop it off,� Janet asked, taking Daniel�s pulse, satisfied with what she found.

�That will ensure DanielJackson�s death,� Teal�c replied.

�Oh joy,� the Colonel intoned.

�It must disengage of its own volition. It is part of the test. Presumably when it has ingested enough blood, it will provide a clue to the next stage.�

Happy with the progress of her patient, Janet moved her attention to his leg. With the Colonel�s help, they managed to lift it high enough so that she could get a good look at the alien. She noted a deep red mark inside the creature, on the underside of Daniel�s leg where it had been lying in the sand.

�What�s this,� she asked, pointing out the blotch.

�It looks like some of those symbols,� Sam said, pointing to a dozen which had been painted onto the edge of the tiled wall. Janet peered at them, realizing that indeed, the mark on the slug resembled an unfinished symbol. She suddenly suspected that they had found their first clue. They just had to wait for the symbol to fill up, and they�d know which of the twelve it would be.

�Teal�c, you said that the creature would absorb the drugs in Daniel�s system. Is there a time limit to this test?�

�I believe so, DoctorFraiser, although I do not know what it is.�

�Then we have no time to lose,� she said as she took out another bag of blood. Hoping she was right, she pricked it with one of the discarded needles, allowing some of the red fluid to leak out. Motioning for Sam to grab hold of the bags of fluid which she�d hung earlier, she waited until the woman had them in hand. Janet dripped a few drops of blood onto the creature, and was rewarded by seeing the edges ripple outwards. She laid the bag of blood on the sand beside Daniel�s leg, and jumped back as the creature suddenly disengaged itself from Daniel and quickly surrounded the bag.

Seeing that Daniel was finally free, Jack grabbed his friend and dragged him several dozen feet away. They all distanced themselves from the slug, now happily feeding on the bag of blood.

- - - - - -

Daniel shivered uncontrollably with relief as Jack dragged him away from the voracious creature. He hadn�t realized how much pain it had been inflicting until it had unfastened itself from around his leg. Spots of blood began oozing through his pant legs, surprising Daniel as to the numerous teethmarks it had left.

Jack propped him up against the far wall and Daniel pressed his head back against the stone. It felt good just knowing that he could move around again and not remain confined in one spot. Janet quickly cut his pant leg and with a warning, poured disinfectant over the bleeding wounds. He yelled in surprise at the stinging, he�d expected the pain, but it still caught him by surprise. He saw a multitude of pinholes going all way around his lower leg as the blood was washed away. Janet quickly bound it up and tucked the blanket over and around his legs.

Daniel was beginning to feel a little better since Janet had come. He was still very tired and his body was excruciatingly stiff and painful, but that bone weariness he�d been experiencing was gone.

Jack squeezed his shoulder as he got up, and Daniel watched him skirt the alien as he made his way back towards Teal�c. Daniel winced as he tried to make himself a little more comfortable. His whole body felt like one massive bruise.

�Anything else you can tell us about this test,� Jack yelled up to Teal�c.

�Jack pressed the glyph for Earth,� Daniel imparted, hoping his voice would carry. �I would assume that whatever comes next, the questions and answers would be focused on Ra.�

As Jack turned to Daniel in surprise, Teal�c�s disembodied voice sounded. �DanielJackson is correct. You must bear in mind that Ra is the Goa�uld you have chosen as your God in this trial, so you must respond accordingly.�

�Ra�s dead,� Jack said to nobody in particular.

�Yeah, but the computer, or whatever that�s conducting this test, doesn�t know that,� Daniel said.

�I�m going to give you something to help relax your muscles, Daniel,� Janet said as she fiddled with the IV. Daniel nodded distractedly, listening for Teal�c�s explanation.

�There will most likely be one, possibly two more challenges. You have just undergone the test of endurance, DanielJackson. The next may be one of skills, intelligence, faith, or even possibly loyalty.�

�How will we know?� Sam questioned as she approached the alien cautiously. She stayed several feet away, keeping an eye on it. Daniel presumed she was watching to see how fast it would consume the blood. He shivered, thinking that it might have bled him dry.

�You will know once the next challenge is begun. There is yet another thing to keep in mind. The trial may be set for a group, or for an individual. Be aware that you may be pitted one against the other. In any case, DanielJackson is the one who has made the challenge, at any point when a request for identification is demanded, it must be he who answers. If not, it will be assumed that he has not survived, and the test has failed and you will in all likelihood be killed. There is one more thing, O�Neill. The mechanisms of this place are very old. Many may not be operational. This may affect the results of the test. Be prepared for anything.�

�Teal�c, buddy. You think there�s any chance of enlarging that hole up there,� Jack asked, obviously not liking Teal�c�s version of the house rules. �Maybe a little C4, wouldn�t take much, just a couple of inches all around.�

Daniel didn�t think it was a good idea; the explosion would probably take the roof down. Teal�c obviously was on the same wavelength as Daniel when his answer came echoing down the room.

�The structure is unsound, O�Neill. I fear the explosive may cause it to collapse on top of you.�

�Yeah, kinda what I thought,� Jack said softly.

�I can do this, Jack,� Daniel said, not wanting his friends to risk their lives, and knowing that with his knowledge of Egyptian lore, he�d probably breeze through whatever questions there were to answer.

Daniel found that he was having trouble keeping his eyes open, and suddenly realized that whatever Janet had given him for the pain, it was going to knock him out. He seemed to be losing track of the conversation. He opened his mouth to complain, but found himself sliding down the wall. He put a hand out to stop the movement and was suddenly held securely by strong arms. He forced his eyes open as he was shifted around, and saw Jack�s smiling face looking down at him. Knowing that the trial wasn�t over but feeling safe in Jack�s arms, Daniel stopped fighting the drug and allowed his weakened body to fall into sleep.

- - - - - -

Having exhausted Teal�c�s knowledge about the upcoming portion of the test, Jack looked over at Daniel sitting up against the wall. He suddenly appeared to wilt and began to lean sideways. Fraiser grabbed him, preventing him from toppling over and Daniel opened his eyes, startled awake. Jack made his way over as Daniel began slipping again and caught him in his arms. Positioning him so that he was half lying on Jack�s legs, he allowed Daniel to use his lap as a pillow.

Jack saw the used syringe lying beside Fraiser�s medical bag and realized that she�d probably given Daniel something for his discomfort. Jack knew that the man needed rest, and wouldn�t begrudge him the time that they did have, allowing him to sleep. But he�d need Daniel awake sooner or later; other than Teal�c, he was the one with the knowledge about Ra.

Carter was still standing near the creature, which had turned a bright shade of red by now. It was happily slurping up the blood Fraiser had given it; Jack just hoped that she had enough in stock to keep it happy. Fraiser had settled down beside them, and she�d check Daniel�s pulse and blood pressure occasionally. She seemed pleased with the results, and smiled at Jack as they watched their friend sleep.

Finally after close to thirty minutes, Carter called out to Jack.

�Colonel, it�s almost emptied out the bag.�

�Can you still see the symbol, Captain? Jack asked.

�Yes sir, but it�s incomplete. I still can�t tell which of the five symbols it�s going to be.�

�Looks like our friend needs a refill,� Fraiser said as she took another bag of blood from the cooler. Jack pursed his lips as he hoped that Daniel wouldn�t be in need of any of the stuff she was handing over to the slug.

He watched as she pricked the big and carefully tossed it near the creature. It moved quickly, latching part of itself onto the bag and began draining it. A few minutes later, it moved away from the first bag, now emptied and concentrated solely on the second one.

Fraiser came and sat back down beside Daniel. �At the rate that thing is filling up, it�ll have completed the symbol in about thirty minutes. It�s a good thing we got it off of Daniel, sir, because he�d be in pretty bad shape by then.�

Jack thought that Daniel was in pretty bad shape now. He was thankful to Teal�c for having brought Fraiser along with the rescue team. He hated to think what would have happened had she not gotten that thing off of Daniel when she did.

The next thirty minutes went by quickly. Fraiser disconnected the IV with the hookup to the blood, leaving only the Saline. Jack figured that meant Daniel was doing pretty good if she felt that he didn�t need any more blood.

When Carter announced that the symbol was completed, Jack shook Daniel awake. Glazed eyes looked up at him, and Jack knew that the poor man�s head was probably full of cobwebs. He helped Fraiser get Daniel to drink some water, which seemed to revive him.

�You�re gonna need to unhook him, doc,� Jack said, pointing to the IV. �We might have to move fast.�

She nodded, and deftly disconnected the IV. Jack left Daniel sitting with Fraiser as he went to join Carter. As he walked by the creature, he saw that it was now lying perfectly limp on the ground, the half emptied bag of blood forgotten. It probably meant that once it would have drunk its fill from Daniel, it most likely would have released him. Jack was tempted to shoot the thing as he walked by, but reined in his emotions, thinking that his action would probably turn around later and bite him in the ass.

He took a good look at the blood-laden symbol and walked to the wall, easily identifying it now amongst the five. He motioned to Carter to step back before he carefully depressed the tile. The sound of grating rock shook the room once more, and Jack saw the far wall begin to shake. Sand and dust fell from the ceiling, and a crack appeared down the center of the wall, exactly above the spot where the cylinders that the creature had been pumping blood to were joined to it.

�Needs a little oil,� Jack suggested as he watched the wall began to retract itself inch by slow inch, amidst much grinding of rock. It ground to a stop once the gap was about a foot wide. The stone slabs on either side shook as they continued to attempt to move, but the mechanism was clearly stuck somewhere. Finally the movement stopped altogether, leaving the room in silence except for the occasional trickle of sand and rocks as the ceiling resettled.

�Teal�c, get some C-4 on that hole, just in case,� Jack ordered the Jaffa. �Backup plan,� he told Carter with a shrug as she stared at him in surprise.

Walking warily towards the door, Jack and Carter pulled out their mag lights and flashed them into the darkened opening. The beams revealed a second room, this one in total darkness except for the daylight seeping through the newly opened entrance.

Jack stepped into the room, his light showing only one wall filled with carved tiles. Carter was examining the other walls, which were totally bare of markings. He examined the symbols quickly, noting that most of these were unfamiliar to him. He stuck his head back through the opening and called Daniel and Fraiser to join them.

Daniel got up shakily and Jack was dismayed to see that he was limping heavily. He made his way towards Jack slowly, one hand on Fraiser�s shoulder for support. As he neared the entrance, Jack could see the sweat beading his forehead. Damn, Daniel shouldn�t be here, he should be lying in Fraiser�s infirmary. Jack frowned, knowing that this was all his fault.

Daniel smiled at Jack as he reached the doorway. Jack stepped back, allowing the two to squeeze by.

Carter flashed her light on the tiles, illuminating them for Daniel. Letting go of the doctor�s support, Daniel stood in the middle of the room, examining them all carefully.

�We need to find the symbol for Ra,� Daniel said as he craned his head up. He swayed slightly, and Jack placed a hand on his shoulder, steadying him. Daniel�s eyes were almost black in the dim room, dilated by both drug and low lighting. Jack could feel him trembling beneath his hand, and he wished he�d hurry up and find the damned symbol.

Jack raked his eyes over the carvings once more, and suddenly he spotted a familiar glyph.

�There it is,� Jack said, letting go of Daniel and heading towards a picture similar to what he�d seen Daniel wear years ago when Catherine had lent him a medallion on their first trip through the gate. �The eye of Ra.�

�Jack, no!� Daniel yelled, startling Jack. Before Jack could depress the piece, Daniel threw himself onto Jack, throwing them both onto the floor. Jack landed hard on his side, but Daniel landed on top of Jack, a heavy and limp weight. D�j� vu, Jack thought to himself as he remembered how all of this had started earlier today.

�Daniel?� Jack said worriedly as his friend lay unmoving on top of him. Both Carter and Fraiser were there, pulling him off of Jack and allowing the older man to sit up. Daniel�s eyes were closed, and he was breathing fast. While Fraiser was taking his pulse, Daniel sighed softly and his eyes fluttered open.

�What happened,� he asked dazedly, looking around.

�You tell me, Daniel. I found the symbol we were looking for and suddenly you�re giving me one helluva body check.�

�Daniel, can you sit up?� Fraiser asked. Nodding, Daniel managed to sit with Jack�s help. He soon began to tilt sideways, and Jack held him steady against his side.

�Gonna be sick,� Daniel whispered. Within moments the few sips of water he�d taken earlier made their way back up. Jack held him and waited for his stomach to settle. When he stopped heaving, Jack pulled him back against him, wiping the sweat from his face with the edge of Daniel�s jacket.

Fraiser looked at Jack and he knew that there wasn�t much that she could do for their friend. They needed to get out of here, and that meant solving the damn pieces of the puzzle.

�Daniel, why�d you stop me from pressing the Eye?� Jack asked, needing to get Daniel talking.

�Ummm?� Daniel asked, raising his head and looking at Jack blearily. �Oh, the Udjat isn�t necessarily a depiction of Ra. Ra is the Sun God, so you probably need to find a glyph of a sun.�

Jack saw Carter get up and step up to the wall. After a moment, she called out. �Daniel, is it this one?� She pointed to a circle with straight lines extending from beneath the lower half of the circle, almost like a child�s drawing. Daniel stared at it for a moment before replying in a near whisper, �Yeah.�

The glyph lit up when she pressed it, and another one depicting that of a woman with the head of a lion lit up farther down the wall a scant second later. Three large vertical squares appeared on the formerly bare wall behind them, each blinking out of sync with one another.

�Oh, Sekmet,� Daniel mumbled to himself as he stared at the picture of the woman. �Created by Ra, Goddess of war and retribution. Ra got rid of her eventually when he��

�Daniel, which glyph do we press next?� Jack asked, interrupting his friend before he got sidetracked. Daniel looked at him in confusion. �Ra, remember? We were looking for symbols of Ra.�

Daniel turned and squinted at the newly lit symbols. �Sekmet is usually depicted with a sun disk and a uraeus.� He looked around, and nodded to himself. �They�re probably both on the wall. But we need to find something that�s symbolic to Ra�� Daniel stared at the wall for a long while, and Jack had a sinking feeling that Daniel wasn�t seeing much up there. Daniel�s head slowly fell back against Jack�s shoulder.

�Daniel, you sleeping� Jack asked when Daniel didn�t move.

�Hmmmm?�

�Daniel, Ra?� The exhausted man lifted his head from his friend�s shoulder. Jack rubbed his back in encouragement.

�We got a sun, and we got a� lady, what next?� Jack coaxed.

�Sekmet,� Daniel corrected absently. �We need to find the uraeus, which can also symbolize the sun. Sam, you need to look for a cobra in an upright position.�

Carter examined the wall and finally called out, pointing out her find. When Daniel said yes, she pressed it and it also lit up. One of the squares behind them stopped blinking, remaining lit. Jack looked at Daniel, who seemed to be staring off at nothing.

�Daniel,� Jack said, shaking him gently. �What next?� he coaxed when the dazed man focused on Jack.

He licked his lips before looking back up at the wall. �Ra� the sun god,� Daniel repeated. �We have the sun, the uraeus� what else� Sam, is there a scarab?� he asked, leaning forward slightly.

She quickly found the bug drawn on the wall and pressed it. It lit up also, and a second square stopped blinking.

�Okay, that�s two. Ummm, a winged solar disk��he said, pointing to what looked like wings with a circle in the center. She pressed the glyph but nothing happened. Carter turned to look at Daniel, who in turn frowned at the wall.

Jack felt Daniel sigh as he raised his hands to rub tiredly at his face. He raised his head again and began to examine the carvings once more, mumbling to himself. After several moments, he said softly, �Sam, could you try that tile again.�

She pressed it several times before the glyph finally lit up. All three squares were now solid, and a soft ping sounded behind them. They turned at the sound, and a blinking picture of a hand appeared in the center of the otherwise bare wall.

They stared at it for several moments before Daniel spoke up. �Guess this is where I need to go sign in,� he said. Jack helped him up and he placed a shaky hand to the symbol. He held it there a moment, then pulled it back with a yelp. He nearly tripped over his feet, and Jack caught him before he went crashing onto the ground. Placing the fleshy part of his thumb to his mouth, Daniel glared at the picture of the hand which had now turned stopped flashing.

�Let me see,� Janet said as she pulled his hand down from his mouth.

�It�s nothing,� placing his hand behind his back.

�Daniel,� Jack said, getting a little worried.

�It�s nothing, Jack,� Daniel repeated, as he put his hand out in front of Fraiser. �It just startled me, that�s all.� Jack saw a spot of blood where something had pricked his skin.

�It�s probably comparing your blood to that which the Ghor�ad took,� Carter exclaimed. �It must have to make sure that you survived and made it this far. This is incredible,� she said as she stared at the wall which had begun to slowly sink into the floor with a smooth motion.

�And what happens when it gets a taste of the O-Negative blood I fed that oversized bug a little while ago,� Fraiser asked. They all stared at her for a moment, realizing that they probably didn�t have much time left.

This time the entrance was revealed with a minimum of fuss and sound. Soft illumination bled into the room, and Jack and Carter turned their hand-held lights off. An immense chamber appeared before them, with what looked like a stone chair set on a dais at the far end of the room. A corridor of light led from the entrance right up to the dais, with the rest of the chamber mostly hidden from sight in the dimmer light. A glint of gold caught Jack�s attention, and squinting slightly, he was able to make out what seemed to be an elaborate altar or table set between the throne and the wall, situated just in view of the chair. The chair itself was haloed in dramatic lighting.

�Stay here,� Jack ordered Daniel. When Daniel opened his mouth to complain, Jack raised an index finger. Daniel closed his mouth, looking away. He raised an eyebrow at Daniel�s compliance, and then pointed down at the floor. �Rest, I�ll call if I need you.� He saw the indecision flit over Daniel�s face and knew that the younger man wanted to be with his team in case they needed his help.

When Daniel moved to sit by the entrance, Jack and Fraiser helped him down and made sure that he was comfortable.

�Doc, go with Carter, see if you can find anything that looks like a way out,� Jack ordered as he stood up.

�It probably won�t be that easy,� Daniel said from where he was sitting, leaning back against the wall. �This must be where the initiate meets the Goa�uld, and probably where he becomes Jaffa.�

Fraiser stopped suddenly, looking around warily. �You don�t think that there�s a Goa�uld here, do you?�

�It�s highly unlikely, unless they�re in hibernation inside a sarcophagus.� Jack looked at the doctor, realizing that she didn�t have much field experience offworld. She smiled bravely at him, and moved to accompany Carter to the far wall.

With a last glance at Daniel, who looked totally exhausted as he sat with his eyes closed, Jack followed the corridor of light to the makeshift throne. He could barely make out anything outside of the brightness he was walking in except for the throne and altar shining before him. As he climbed up the four steps to the chair, he could see decaying bits of fabric that had at one time adorned the chair and the surrounding platform. It was hard to tell how old this place must be, the damp air certainly wasn�t conducive at preserving any artefacts. The thought reminded him of Daniel, and he stepped off the dais and took a few steps away from the light to see his friend still sitting where he�d left him, legs splayed out before him.

He could see Fraiser and Carter as they made their way towards him, flashlights splaying over enormous paintings of various Egyptian Gods on the walls. He glanced at the altar, noting that it appeared to be made from a solid lump of stone. As the women approached, Jack returned to the throne, examining it carefully. After walking around the chair, he reached down and placed a hand on the stone seat. It felt cold and damp. Regardless of this, he gingerly sat down on the chair, finding it mildly uncomfortable.

�I think I know why the Goa�uld are always in a bad mood,� Jack commented.

�Sir?� Carter�s voice echoed in the room.

�They�re probably suffering from hemorrhoids.� He heard a snort, and he couldn�t tell which of the women had laughed. He settled farther onto the chair, trying to get comfortable. The second his back touched the hard stone of the throne, a soft ping sounded as a spotlight appeared, outlining a circle on the wall just behind the altar. A flashing picture of a hand appeared, similar to the one that had allowed the door to open into this room.

�That wasn�t there before,� Fraiser commented.

�Looks like I�m up again,� Daniel�s voice sounded to his right. Jack turned swiftly, seeing his friend standing at the edge of the dais.

�Daniel, I thought I told you to stay put,� Jack growled. Before he could get up and go to his friend, Fraiser had a hand on Daniel�s arm and was escorting him towards the beckoning symbol. Jack remained sitting, having a great view of everything from where he was. He heard Daniel�s �I�m fine, Janet� as he shrugged his arm out of the doctor�s hold. Jack shook his head, wondering at the tenacity of the younger man.

The petite woman stood back, allowing Daniel to walk the few steps alone to the marker. Daniel placed his left hand on the wall, holding himself steady before reaching and placing his right palm onto the flashing hand. Jack saw him flinch as the identification was made, the light becoming stable before he removed his hand from the marker.

A loud screech startled Jack, and he looked around, searching for the cause of the sound. He felt a puff of air and found himself looking through what appeared to be thick glass. He realized that the dais was surrounded by some kind of container. He stood up and looked for an opening, but was unable to find one. Carter ran to him, and she quickly began searching for a way to let him out. He could hear her voice, but the sounds that came through were unclear, drowned by a loud hissing noise. Placing his face near the edge of the glass, he could see Fraiser kneeling near Daniel, frantically trying to get to him. Jack realized that his friend was trapped inside a similar container, and he was sitting dazed on the floor.

- - - - - -

Daniel shook his head, trying to clear the ringing in his ears. His hand was throbbing where that thing had jabbed him and taken his blood. The last thing he remembered was a loud screeching sound. He�d stumbled back and had bumped into something. He�d lost his already precarious balance and had slid down to the floor.

The sudden movement made him dizzy, and for a moment he thought he�d been going to pass out. A muffled voice finally caught his attention and he opened eyes that he hadn�t realized were closed. Janet�s huge brown eyes were staring at him through what appeared to be a thick casing of glass. Daniel looked around, and realized that he was surrounded in a circular tube about five feet in diameter. He waved his hand at Janet, trying to impart the fact that he was okay. Well, he wasn�t, not really, but at least she�d stopped yelling at him after that.

Daniel figured he should try and stand up. He brought his feet around with difficulty, his whole body still very stiff and sore even with the medication that Janet had given him earlier. His injured leg gave a twinge as he put his weight on it, and he had to stop in a semi kneeling position to catch his breath. His face was close to the glass and he saw Janet�s hand come up as if to stroke his cheek. He smiled faintly at her before taking a deep breath and forcing himself all the way up.

He swayed and fell back against the glass. For a moment he had visions of crashing through it, but it easily held his weight. He rested, eyes closed and breathing heavily, leaning against the glass wall and waiting for the room to stop spinning. He was suddenly sorry that he hadn�t remained by the door where Jack had ordered him to. He�d seen the artwork on the walls as Sam and Janet had made their way to the dais and he had decided join them.

He opened his eyes and saw beyond Janet that Jack was in a similar predicament. His friend was leaning forward against the barrier, staring intently at Daniel. Figuring that this must be the final test, Daniel turned away from the sight of his friend and looked around. The glass tube that he was in was attached to the stone wall, and just below the now darkened pictogram of a hand was a control panel. It appeared embedded into the wall, and there was no sign of how it had been hidden previously.

Shrugging at the technology, Daniel peered at the panel. There were three buttons, one of which was flashing. Daniel stared at the hieratic symbols. Beside the flashing buttons he translated the words �to empty�, which were set inside the drawing of an empty cartouche. The other two were situated farther down, and read �air in� and �air out�.

Mumbling to himself and cursing his fuzzy brain, Daniel figured that the empty cartouche represented a Goa�uld, which most likely meant the dais. It was flashing, why? What was being voided? He glanced over at Jack and saw that he appeared to be in difficulty. He had a hand to his throat and he was gasping for breath. Oh God, air!

Jack was suffocating. Daniel stared in horror as Jack slid down to his knees. By now Janet had left Daniel and had rushed beside Sam, both frantically searching for a way to open his compartment.

�Jack!� Daniel yelled, cursing the fact that he was also imprisoned. He banged on the glass with his fist, and only ended up bruising his hand. Shaking the stinging hand, he looked around and spotted the control panel. Shit. �Air in/Air out�. He passed shaking fingers through his hair, noting distractedly that it was damp and stringy.

A test. This was a test. So if he assumed that Jack was supposed to be the Goa�uld and was suffocating, then Daniel would be expected to save him. How? They were both in similar contraptions, so then� would Daniel be expected to sacrifice himself for him? He brought a hand up to the buttons, noting that his hand was shaking.

Why two buttons? In and Out. Hoping he was making the right choice, he pressed the �out� button. Immediately he heard a loud hissing sound and the button lit up. He hit the �in� button, hoping that it would send his oxygen to Jack. He turned to look at his friend, who was lying unmoving in a heap. Oh no, was he too late?

After a moment, he saw Jack stir. Relief overwhelmed him. He�d done it. He�d saved Jack.

A loud buzzing sound came from the control panel. The lights around the buttons all went dark and the hissing sound stopped. The pictogram of the hand began to flash again. Damn, did he have to register with it once more?

He slapped his hand against the picture, urging it to hurry up and take its sample. He felt the needle rake his already sensitive flesh and gritted his teeth, needing to get the machinery going again. He jumped as the needle pierced him a second time. That hadn�t happened before. The light continued to blink, and he muttered an �ouch� when it pierced him a third time.

When the hand went dark, he took his own down in confusion. He turned and stared at Jack, who was looking back at him in bewilderment. At least Jack had air now. Daniel looked around, wondering why the equipment had shut itself off without letting them go.

A crackling sound behind him caught his attention and he turned around to look. Sparks were flying from the control panel and thick acrid smoke began pouring out from it. Immediately Daniel began coughing. He hit the buttons frantically, hoping to clear the air. The smoke kept pouring in. He sank to his knees, trying to find cleaner air. He looked helplessly towards Jack, and to his horror saw that his chamber was also filling with black smoke. Daniel was coughing non-stop, unable to catch his breath. Dark spots filled his vision as he felt his body slump bonelessly to the floor.

- - - - - -

When Sam saw the Colonel�s compartment begin to fill with smoke, she turned to Daniel in order to urge him to hurry up and finish whatever had to be done. To her horror, she saw him crumpled in a heap, unconscious in his own cell. Out of desperation, she grabbed her weapon and aimed it towards the top of Daniel�s prison.

�Stand clear,� she yelled at Janet. Without waiting to see whether the smaller women obeyed, she fired two shots. The glass shattered, falling noisily to the ground. She saw Janet run towards Daniel as she took several steps back and aimed again, this time at the Colonel�s compartment. He ducked down with his hands over his head, trying to protect himself from the falling glass. She ran over to him and helped him up, leading him away from the cloying smoke.

They stumbled towards Daniel and Janet, the Colonel coughing non-stop, eyes tearing. The smoke around Daniel had dissipated somewhat, but it was still oozing thickly from the wall and from somewhere overhead. Even though Daniel was coughing weakly, he appeared to have problems breathing. Colonel O�Neill tried to lift him up, but the man was a dead weight and the Colonel couldn�t seem to gather the strength to hoist him up. Sam placed a shoulder underneath Daniel, enabling them both to drag him towards the far exit. Janet placed a hand on the Colonel�s back, trying to steady him as he coughed and wheezed through his exertions.

The chamber was filling up with smoke, and both Sam and Janet were coughing a bit by the time they got to the exit. The Colonel was stumbling now, but he never let go his hold on Daniel. They cleared the opening and breathed fresher air. Tendrils of smoke were beginning to make their way into the smaller chamber, obscuring the various glyphs on the wall, but the air was still relatively fresh near the outer door.

�What went wrong?� Janet asked as she helped the Colonel lay Daniel down, and then motioned for him to sit and rest also. He nodded as he collapsed beside the unconscious man. Even though he was having problems breathing, the older man struggled to lift Daniel into a half seated position, trying to ease his breathing. Daniel was breathing rapidly, his face pale and damp with sweat. The Colonel clutched the limp body to his chest, cradling his head against his shoulder.

�I�m not sure. Either the machinery recognized that the last of the blood wasn�t Daniel�s and this is the Goa�uld�s way of getting rid of the losers,� Sam said as she reached for the doctor�s packback when Janet pointed to it, which they�d earlier left by the entrance. �Or something went wrong,� she amended as she realized that the Colonel�s cubicle had also been smoke filled.

Biting her lip a moment as she watched Janet prepare a syringe from her medical supplies and inject Daniel with it, Sam realized that there was only one way out of this place before it became their tomb. Janet was coughing now as the smoke began to thicken.

�Stay here,� she ordered them. Running into the larger chamber, jumping over the slug and almost tripping over the holes in the sand where they�d dug up the alien piping, Sam ran to the spot where Teal�c had lowered Janet to them.

�Teal�c,� Sam yelled. She was rewarded by the sight of his dark face peering down at her.

�CaptainCarter,� he replied.

�Are they gonna get that door open anytime soon?� she asked, waving towards the heavy doors.

�It appears unlikely.�

�Then blow the hole! There�s no other way out,� she yelled up at him.

�Understood.� He called back, pulling up the rope. �Please stand clear, I do not believe the ceiling will be able to withstand the strain of the explosion.�

�We�ll be in the other chamber,� she cried as she began running back to her team mates and friend. Smoke was pouring out of the opening into the main chamber now. She�d have preferred to move them out, but it was probably safer inside for the moment.

�Take cover,� she called to them as she skidded to a stop. She crouched over the men who were struggling to breathe in the smoke-filled room. Seconds later she heard the blast, and the resulting crash of stone falling. The ruckus lasted several long seconds, and when she lifted her head, she saw that the room was brightly illuminated by daylight. She peered out and saw that half the ceiling had collapsed. Smoke began pouring out even more quickly, pulled in by the newly-formed opening. Dust mixed with smoke, making breathing even more difficult.

�CaptainCarter,� Teal�c called.

�We�re coming,� she yelled back. Coughing and hacking, she helped the Colonel and Janet drag Daniel to the rope Teal�c had thrown back down. She quickly tied it around Daniel and watched as Teal�c and Ferretti pulled him up.

�You next,� she ordered Janet. They made short work of the petite woman, and the rope was quickly thrown down again. By now the smoke was very thick, flowing darkly out of the hole. The rescue team was standing downwind, thankfully, out of the flow of the smoke.

�Colonel,� she said, holding the rope to him. He opened his mouth to argue, trying to get the words out while coughing harshly. Before he was able to utter a sound, she had the rope tied around him.

�Okay, haul him up,� she shouted. He stared at her a moment, then raised his head towards the fresh air waiting for him topside.

When Teal�c threw it back down to her, she simply made a loop, placed her foot in it and wrapped her hands around the rope. Coughing, she cried, �Ready!�

The fresh cool air hit her face as she cleared the opening. Hands reached for her, pulling her out of the torrent of smoke. She saw that Daniel was already being carried down the side of the hill, with Janet accompanying him. Colonel O�Neill was sitting a little way off, coughing but looking and sounding a little better. She grinned at Teal�c and Ferretti.

A loud crack had them scampering for the side of the hill. A huge chunk of the ceiling fell into the room below, sending up more smoke and dust. They descended slowly as Colonel O�Neill was still struggling for breath. From her vantage point, she was able to keep track of Daniel and his rescuers. She wished that they were nearer to the Stargate, they still had a five mile hike before they could go home.

- - - - - -

Jack shifted on the hard plastic seat, trying to find a comfortable position to ease his tired body. They�d been back on Earth for several hours and Janet had finally released him from the infirmary. Not that it mattered any, he had just moved from his hospital bed to sit beside Daniel�s.

His friend hadn�t regained consciousness since they�d returned. Jack had managed to sleep for a few hours, and the nap had done wonders for him. At least he wasn�t coughing anymore, although his chest still felt tight and sore. He stared at Daniel�s pale face beneath the oxygen mask, wondering how much more smoke his friend had inhaled.

�He�ll be all right,� Fraiser said softly beside Jack.

He picked up Daniel�s hand, careful of the pulse oximeter attached to his finger. He noted that his skin was warmer than normal. �He�s got a fever,� Jack stated.

�We�re keeping an eye on that,� she confirmed. �He�s also suffering from bronchitis due to the smoke inhalation, and he hasn�t recovered from the blood loss. I�ve given him steroids and bronchodialators; they�ve helped with his breathing. He�s still pretty weak, but he�s a fighter. He won a pretty hard contest out there, Colonel, even if the place did go up in smoke.�

�Yeah, that he did. Imagine that, Daniel actually having the stuff that Jaffa are made of,� he said with a smile. She placed a hand on his shoulder before stepping away from the bed.

Jack reached up and brushed an errant lock of hair away from Daniel�s cheek. Sighing loudly, he sat back in the chair, waiting for his friend to wake up.

A twitch from the hand still lying limply in his startled Jack out of his doze. He looked at his friend, and saw that he was in REM sleep. He stirred restlessly, his breathing beginning to speed up. Jack leaned forward, putting a hand on Daniel�s shoulder.

�Easy, big fella, it�s just a dream,� he said in a soft voice. Daniel gasped, and promptly began coughing. He didn�t wake, but became more agitated. �Easy, Daniel,� Jack said. Daniel moaned, his right leg jerking. His hand clutched Jack�s convulsively, then let go. He moaned again, his head moving to the side. He kicked his leg again, this time his foot bumping against the roll away table at the foot of his bed.

�Get it off,� Daniel screamed, sitting up so suddenly that Jack jerked backwards. He batted at the oxygen mask which impeded his movement, whipping it off as with one hand as he attempted to pull the blanket off with the other.

�Daniel, it�s okay. It�s okay,� Jack said as he grabbed him and pulled him back down onto the bed. Daniel struggled weakly in his arms. As a nurse ran towards them, Daniel finally collapsed back onto the bed, too spent to struggle. Seeing that Daniel wasn�t going to try and sit up again, Jack moved out of their way. Daniel was looking around wildly, obviously disoriented and trying to focus on something familiar. His panting breath was punctuated with wheezing sounds.

His eyes finally fixed on Jack�s, and he could see the fear reflected in the wide, blue eyes.

�Is it still there?� Daniel asked, his voice almost cracking.

�It�s gone, Danny,� Jack said, trying to calm his friend.

Daniel�s eyes closed, and from the expression on his face, it didn�t appear to be in relief. Worried, Jack took a step forward, skirting the nurse who was checking Daniel�s IV which he had dislodged in his struggles. Jack picked up the discarded oxygen mask and placed it over Daniel�s face, holding it in place with one hand.

�What is it?� Jack asked his friend.

�My leg,� Daniel mumbled, opening his eyes and looking up at Jack with overly bright eyes. �I can�t feel it.� His arm reached out and gripped Jack�s. He could feel Daniel�s muscles shaking as he held onto him. �Did they�� His hand dropped back heavily onto the bed as he was overcome with emotion.

�Oh my God, Daniel. No!� Jack said as he suddenly realized what Daniel was asking. He
stepped towards the foot of the bed and touched Daniel�s leg, squeezing gently below the bandaged area.

�Daniel, do you feel that?� At Daniel�s nod, he ran his fingers down Daniel�s leg, and over his foot. �That�s my hand, on your leg.� At the sense of pressure on his leg, Daniel closed his eyes, breathing heavily and wheezing despite the oxygen mask. He opened them moments later, fixing his gaze on Jack�s, like a kid trying to believe his father that there really is no monster under the bed. He finally tore his gaze away from Jack, trying to look down at his leg. Jack felt the taut muscles relax as Daniel finally understood that he was in the infirmary and that he was whole. He squeezed Daniel�s leg and Daniel winced.

�Sorry,� Jack said contritely, quickly pulling his hand away.

�S�okay. Just a little sore,� Daniel mumbled. �It�s good to feel something.�

The nurse leaned over Daniel, securing the oxygen mask onto his face. She smiled at him when Daniel turned to look at her. �I�ve just given you something to help you relax.� She took a cloth to wipe the sweat from Daniel�s face, but Jack intercepted it and swiped it gently over his face and neck. At least this made him feel like he was doing something for him.

�I�m sorry,� Daniel�s muffled voice cracked slightly.

Jack stopped his ministrations, looking at him in surprise.

�For what?�

�Not getting you out of there. I failed. I put your lives in danger.�

�Daniel, you�re not the one who went pushing buttons without thinking in the first place. This wouldn�t have happened if I�d kept my hands to myself.� Jack saw Daniel�s eyelids droop and knew he�d be asleep in moments. He resumed patting Daniel�s skin with the cloth, wiping off the beaded sweat. Finished, he put the cloth back on the table and sat back.

�You did good out there. Carter thinks that the system crashed, and no, it wasn�t your fault. The place was just too damned old.�

�Shoulda been able to figure out the puzzle,� Daniel mumbled as his eyes closed once more.

�You did figure it out. I was getting fresh air. You proved your loyalty to the Goa�uld. It was just bad luck that the thing decided to blow at that moment.� Jack saw him fight to open his eyes once more. �Go back to sleep,� Jack coaxed. I�ll be here when you wake up.�

Daniel nodded, and Jack watched as he succumbed to the sedative.

- - - - - -

Daniel had been aware of the pain in his leg for a while now. He�d been dozing on and off, but the throbbing was stopping him from slipping into a deeper sleep. He heard footsteps and low voices beside his bed. Recognizing Jack�s, he forced his eyes open and looked for his friend. To his surprise, Teal�c was sitting beside his bed, Jack standing beside him, hands in pockets.

He turned onto his side, facing them, his body feeling leaden and stiff. He clenched his teeth as the movement intensified the ache in his leg. Something hard ground into his cheek as he turned into the pillow, and he raised a hand to push it away.

�Don�t, Danny,� Jack said. A warm hand touched his own, lifting it away from his face. The hard thing on his face was adjusted slightly, still uncomfortable but no longer painful. He realized belatedly that it was an oxygen mask. He shivered suddenly, and pulled the blanket up to his shoulders. He felt a hand settle the blanket around him, and he looked up to see Teal�c�s leaning over him.

�How are you, Teal�c?� Daniel wheezed. He remembered Teal�c leaving the tomb and going for help. How long ago had it been? He�d totally lost track of time.

�I am well, DanielJackson. I regret that we were unable to rescue you sooner.�

�Not your fault. The door was probably rigged to open only after the testing was over with,� Daniel said, surprised at how breathless the effort of talking made him.

�DoctorFraiser informs us that you are recovering. I am pleased that the challenge did not overly damage you.�

He shivered again and slowly brought his legs up towards his chest, trying to curl up and stay warm. �Yeah, I�m just peachy,� he answered. He coughed and ground his head into the pillow as his chest constricted with each spasm. The plastic mask on his face moved, and he shoved it aside in irritation.

�Daniel,� Jack chastised as he made to replace the mask. Daniel turned from him in sudden annoyance, moving onto his back once more. He was having trouble catching his breath, and began shivering harder.

�Are you ill, DanielJackson?� Teal�c asked as Jack repositioned the oxygen mask once more.

�I�m fine,� Daniel said, stiffening his body, trying to hide his trembling. He wished they would leave. He suddenly felt terrible, the oxygen mask didn�t seem to help with his breathing anymore, his leg was killing him and he just wanted to curl up alone in his misery.

�Daniel, why didn�t you tell us you weren�t feeling well?� Jack said suddenly beside him. A cool hand was placed against his cheek. Another grasped his shoulder as he shivered involuntarily.

�Get Fraiser,� he heard Jack tell Teal�c.

Suddenly Daniel couldn�t catch his breath and he frantically grabbed at the thing covering his mouth. Hands caught his before he could take it off, holding his arms down. He was aware of noise and light and pain, and he felt more hands on his body as he struggled to breathe and escape the pain in his chest and leg. He heard a familiar voice talking to him, but he couldn�t make out the words. He concentrated on the sounds, and followed them down a dark tunnel as they faded into silence.

- - - - - -

Jack stood back beside Teal�c, watching with worry as the medical team worked frantically around Daniel. Fraiser was barking orders, and it was with a mental shake that Jack suddenly realized that she was asking him what had happened.

�He seemed okay at first when he woke up, maybe a little weak and groggy. Then he got restless and became agitated, and we realized that he was feverish. When Teal�c went to get you, he began having trouble breathing and started to panic.�

Jack had tried talking to Daniel, telling him to stop fighting them. He�d passed out shortly after Fraiser had arrived, and Jack had had to step back and watch with trepidation as she intubated Daniel. He didn�t understand what had happened, he�d been getting better. Even Fraiser had said that he was recovering nicely.

He bit back his questions, knowing that Fraiser had no answers for him yet. He unconsciously mimicked one of Daniel�s poses, wrapping his arms around himself. Teal�c�s solid presence beside him was a blessing. Jack was so tired; he�d contemplated going straight to bed after his long debriefing with Hammond. Instead he�d come down to the infirmary and had talked with Teal�c for a while, keeping vigil beside Daniel. He�d been pleased when Daniel had woken up, but his delight had quickly turned to fear when Daniel had gotten sick so fast.

Fraiser finally stepped away from her patient, and locking eyes with Jack, motioned for him and Teal�c to follow her. They walked a short distance from the bed before she turned to face them.

�Daniel�s experienced some kind of septic shock to his system. It�s usually due to a massive infection. I�ve given him antibiotics and we�re running tests now to try and discover the bacteria causing this.�

�Doc, his leg was paining him earlier,� Jack said, remembering Daniel wincing as he�d squeezed his leg.

�He complained about this?� Janet�s large expressive brown eyes bored into Jack�s. �No, he said it was sore when I touched his lower leg.�

Fraiser returned to the bed to examine Daniel�s leg. She came back a few minutes later, stating that it didn�t look infected but she�d run tests anyway.

Once the medical team had stabilized Daniel, Jack seated himself in the chair Teal�c had been using earlier. The area was now a cacophony of noise between the heart monitor, ventilator and hum of other machinery. He picked up Daniel�s hand, registering how cold and clammy it was. He sandwiched it between his own, trying to warm it up. He looked at Daniel�s pale face and wondered how things had gone downhill so quickly. If only he hadn�t touched the damned tile in that tomb in the first place. Or had ordered Teal�c to blow the ceiling right away. They could have chopped that slug off of Daniel and hi-tailed it out of there. Why had he waited?

�I shall inform CaptainCarter that DanielJackson is not well,� Teal�c offered. Jack nodded, not taking his eyes off of his friend. He felt Teal�c�s hand rest on his shoulder a moment before the Jaffa said, �It was not your fault, O�Neill. Do not blame yourself for this. DanielJackson performed exceptionally well, better than most contenders would have.�

�Yeah, but most Jaffa wanna-be�s would�ve been healed by the snakehead by now, right?�

�You are correct in assuming that the Goa�uld would have a healing device. But it would be more accurate to presume that the symbiote larva would heal the newly-constructed Jaffa should he survive the transferral process.�

�So maybe we just need to find one of those healing thingies. Maybe if we gated to Cimmeria��

�I fear that would be ineffective. I believe that this illness may be a way for the Goa�uld to rid itself of those participants who were not successful in becoming Jaffa.�

�Teal�c,� Janet said. �Do you mean that Daniel�s been poisoned?�

�It is possible, DoctorFraiser. Perhaps the Ghor�ad has introduced a toxin which would ensure that he succeed in the test, or die.�

�Trust the Goa�ulds to take their jollies out on the losers,� Jack grumbled.

�Come with me,� Fraiser ordered Teal�c. At his raised eyebrow, she explained, �I want some of your blood and that of your symbiote. If Daniel�s been poisoned, maybe there�s something in your blood that I can use as an anti-toxin.�

- - - - - -

Carter had joined Jack shortly after Fraiser had pulled Teal�c to the lab for a series of tests. After sitting with him and Daniel for a short time, she excused herself and went to join the others in the lab, feeling that she might be of more use there.

Jack envied her as he watched her stride out of the infirmary. He felt totally useless sitting here, but he couldn�t bring himself to leave Daniel alone. And where else would he go anyway? As exhausted as he was, he�d never be able to sleep well knowing that Daniel wasn�t out of the woods. And forget trying to work. His mind would keep coming back to his friend lying here burning up with fever, being kept alive only through the intervention of modern medical equipment. Turning back to Daniel, he was surprised to see his friend�s eyes partially open, staring vacantly before him.

�Daniel,� Jack said softly. When he didn�t respond, he stroked Daniel�s temple, letting him know that he wasn�t alone. Slowly, Daniel�s eyes drifted towards Jack�s. He held Jack�s gaze for a moment before his eyes closed.

He knew that Daniel was sedated, and would probably have no recollection that Jack had been sitting here by his side. But having himself been severely injured just last year when the gate had transported himself and Carter to Antartica, Jack remembered the feelings of affection and caring when he�d been told that his team mates had sat with him throughout his ordeal. He could do no less for his friend now.

Still holding Daniel�s chilled hand, he leaned forward and rested his head on the bed by Daniel�s shoulder. He listened to the rhythmic sounds of the ventilator and heart monitor, knowing that while they hissed and beeped, his friend was still alive. Still fighting, still struggling to pass that last trial that had been set eons ago by the Goa�uld. Jack let the sounds lull him into a light sleep, his exhaustion overshadowing the stresses and strains of his body as it lay awkwardly half in the chair, half on the bed.

A small hand shaking his shoulder roused him. He stifled a groan and then a cough as he lifted his stiff neck. Fraiser�s concerned look worried him for a moment, until he realized that it was directed at him.

�How is he?� Jack asked as he forced his stiffened body up.

�His temperature is up another degree, and his kidneys are beginning to fail,� she said in her forthright manner. Jack bit back a curse as he placed the back of his hand against Daniel�s face, testing the fever for himself. He turned his hand over and gently pushed the wet strands of hair off of Daniel�s forehead.

�We�ve taken blood from Teal�c�s symbiote and we�re trying to see if there are any antibodies or antigens we can use to combat the poison.�

�I�m betting that Junior wasn�t too happy about the needle,� Jack said.

�You�re right about that,� she said with a slight frisson. �Teal�c�s meditating now, trying to calm the symbiote down. Look, why don�t you take the bed next to Daniel. You�ll sleep better in your own bed rather than trying to share his.�

�Thanks, but I wouldn�t be able to sleep,� Jack said as he shifted to ease the pressure from his numbing butt.

�Sorry to inform you, Colonel, but that�s exactly what you were doing two minutes ago,� she replied with a smile. �You�re not doing Daniel any good by making yourself sick also. You haven�t recovered fully, you should be resting. Go on, Doctor�s orders.�

With a final glance at Daniel, Jack lifted his worn out body and sat on the adjacent bed. He took his shoes off and lay on his side, watching as Fraiser did her check of the monitors and wrote the results in Daniel�s chart. When she put the chart down, she glanced over at Jack. �If there�s any change, I�ll wake you up.�

He nodded, knowing from experience that she was true to her word. He was asleep within minutes.

- - - - - -

�O�Neill.�

Jack turned onto his back with a groan. He realized he�d been hearing his name called for a while now, seeming to come from far away. He finally recognized Teal�c�s voice and he opened his eyes. He was in the infirmary. Strange, he didn�t feel ill or injured. Just tired.

He took a deep breath, hearing the sounds of machinery intended for life support. With a flash of anxiety, he remembered. He sat up in one quick movement, his friend�s name uttered without conscious thought. He sought the bed beside his and was alarmed to see that ice packs had been placed in strategic spots around Daniel�s body.

He looked at Teal�c, standing between the two beds. �How is he?�

�It does not bode well. His temperature is dangerously high, and DoctorFraiser is now concerned for DanielJackson�s heart.�

�Damn,� Jack said as he slid off the bed and took a step, bringing him to Daniel�s side. �Why didn�t she wake me?� Jack asked Teal�c as he glanced at his watch. Four hours. He�d been asleep for only four hours and Daniel had deteriorated so much in that short period of time.

�It would not have provided any benefit to either of you. I chose to awaken you when DoctorFraiser informed me that she may have a cure.�

�She does?� Jack asked in surprise, hope swelling inside him at the news.

Teal�c lowered his head in assent. �She has in the past few minutes administered the medication.�

�She say how long it�ll take?� Jack asked as he pulled the chair up beside the bed. He took Daniel�s hand in his, careful not to dislodge the ice pack tucked beneath his wrist. The heat coming off of Daniel was worrisome.

�She did not,� Teal�c replied as he sat down on Jack�s vacated bed. �But she did request that you partake of nourishment. I will remain with DanielJackson until your return.�

Jack didn�t want to leave but he badly needed to go to the washroom. A quick shower and a bite to eat; no more than twenty minutes, might also help him feel a little more human. He let go of Daniel�s hand and reluctantly headed for the showers.

He hurried through a sandwich and coffee, and returned to the infirmary in record time. Carter had joined Teal�c at Daniel�s bedside. Jack pulled up a chair on the other side of the bed, and laid his hand over Daniel�s, wary of the IVs and ice packs.

They sat together for the next several hours, waiting for a sign that Fraiser�s vaccine was working. When Jack finally complained that nothing was happening, Fraiser finally told him that that in itself was a good sign. Although still critical and suffering from a high fever, Daniel�s temperature hadn�t risen further. Although his organs had been starting to shut down, they hadn�t deteriorated any further since she�d introduced the anti-toxin into his system.

�Fight this, Danny,� Jack said to the insentient man. �You�ve come so far. You passed all of the tests the Goa�uld threw your way. You�re strong, you can do it.� He rubbed Daniel�s arm gently, wishing he could convey his feelings to his friend.

Daniel�s eyelids fluttered and Jack saw a crack of blue.

�We�re right here,� Jack said as he stood up and tried to place himself in Daniel�s line of sight. He squeezed Daniel�s fingers as he said, �Daniel, you�re not alone. We�re here with you. Carter, Teal�c� even Doc,� he said as he heard Fraiser�s quick footsteps come up behind him.

A slight pressure on his hand communicated that Daniel understood. Jack reached a hand and cupped Daniel�s cheek. His eyes closed once more as his weakened body succumbed to the sedatives. They all watched Fraiser with trepidation as she checked his vitals, until she smiled at them.

�There�s a slight improvement,� she confirmed. As if to corroborate her analysis, Daniel broke out into a heavy sweat. His body began to tremble as the moisture cooled it off. Fraiser covered him with an extra blanket so he wouldn�t catch a chill. Jack sat back down and continued to rub his arm beneath the covering, feeling the sweat beneath his fingers. When his fever stabilized, Fraiser shooed them all out so that they could bathe Daniel and change his soiled clothes. She ordered them all to get something to eat before returning.

They sat quietly in the commissary, all of them exhausted, but elated. Jack chewed his dinner mechanically, too tired to enjoy the meal but knowing that his body needed sustenance.

- - - - - -

Daniel floated in a twilight of sounds and colors. He slowly became aware of sensation. He shifted his attention to it, and found that it was a gentle stroking over the back of his hand. A small movement perhaps, but a huge comfort to him. The noises began to split into separate sounds; he began to differentiate voices from mechanical ones. The voices were nearby, softly spoken. They were all familiar, but one had been speaking to him earlier. Daniel tried to remember why it meant so much to him, and realized that it had been with him throughout his nightmares. Encouraging him, soothing him, urging him to do something. He listened a little while longer, and realized that he knew this person.

Jack!

He tried to form the word with his mouth, and found that it was paralyzed. Something was preventing him from speaking. His mouth, his throat� something was forced inside of him. As he tried to work his tongue around the foreign object, he realized that he was suffocating. He began to struggle, hands grabbed his arms as he raised them to his mouth and held them down gently.

�Danny, shhh, listen to me. You have a tube down your throat to help you breathe. It�s okay, stop struggling.�

The calm tone of the voice did more to ease his worries than the actual words. He finally listened to what his friend was telling him, and tried to relax, realizing that he *was* able to breathe. The blur before him coalesced into the concerned faces of his friends. Sam gave him a shaky smile, her eyes strangely shining with unshed tears. She bent over him and ran a hand through his hair before kissing his temple. Teal�c had a welcoming smile on his face as he placed a hand on Daniel�s shoulder. When he returned his gaze to Jack�s face, Daniel felt his hand squeezed. He realized that Jack had been the one holding his hand, grounding him during the confusing return to his senses.

�Welcome back, Daniel,� Jack said with a smile. �You�ve been pretty sick, but the doc here says you�re gonna be fine.�

Daniel followed Jack�s gaze and saw Janet�s tired face staring down at him. He realized with a pang that all of his team mates looked just as weary. Had they been watching over him? How long had he been sick? What exactly had happened? He stirred restlessly, wanting to know the answers and unable to ask the questions due to the breathing tube.

�Daniel, do you know where you are?� Janet asked. Daniel nodded, turning to look at her again.

�Do you remember what happened?� He frowned, trying to remember. He turned to stare at Jack, looking for a clue. Daniel didn�t appear to be hurt anywhere, except for the fact that his body felt leaden and he was very tired. He became aware of a slight throbbing in his lower right leg, and suddenly the memory of the Ghor�ad came back. In a panic, he tried to raise his head to see if it was still there. He couldn�t see; his leg was covered with a blanket. He fought off the hands holding him down, trying to sit up and pull the blanket away. He heard sharp voices and alarms ringing all around him.

A lethargy enveloped him and he lost all will to try and fight. He fell back bonelessly, strong arms supporting him and laying him back down. Jack�s face swam before him. He saw his lips move, concentrated on the words� �it�s gone, Daniel. Do you understand? That thing is gone, you�re free, you�re safe. Go to sleep, we�ll be here when you wake up.�

Trusting that Jack wouldn�t lie to him, he closed his eyes. As he drifted off into sleep once more, he felt a hand brush the hair out of his eyes.

- - - - - -

Daniel�s reaction had surprised them all, and it took both Teal�c and Jack to hold him down as he fought them with surprising strength. It was only when Fraiser gave him a sedative that he stopped struggling. He was asleep again, this episode not having done any harm except to tire him out.

Fraiser was pleased with his recovery, and had even said that the tube might come out in a short while if he continued progressing in this manner. He still had a low grade fever, but that was to be expected.

Teal�c had offered to remain with Daniel seeing that he was going to be out for the next few hours. Both Jack and Carter had gratefully left to get some much needed rest. As he entered his quarters, Jack felt that he could sleep soundly now that he knew that Daniel was going to be okay. He stopped just before his bed, realizing that he�d thought the same thing just a few days ago before they�d known that the slug had left a farewell present. He shook his head, trying to erase the thought. Daniel was going to be fine.

Jack woke twelve hours later, feeling refreshed and almost carefree. Realizing that no one had come to wake him during the time he�d been asleep meant that Daniel was doing well. Whistling off-key, he made a quick trip to the showers and took the time for a meal before meandering down to the infirmary.

He wasn�t surprised to see Teal�c still sitting vigil by Daniel�s bedside. Daniel was lying on his side, facing away from the Jaffa. After inquiring after both Teal�c and Daniel, he sent the older man off for a well deserved rest. He tiptoed over to the other side of the bed, looking down at his friend. The breathing tube was gone, replaced by nasal cannula. He had a bit of color in his cheeks; Jack placed the back of his hand to his forehead, testing for fever. He smiled when he found Daniel�s temperature to be near normal. Good, the color wasn�t fever-induced.

At his touch, Daniel stirred and shifted onto his back. Jack rearranged the blankets on the sleeping man, smiling at a nurse who came to do her routine check. Teal�c had said that Daniel had slept the whole time; drifting out of a drug-induced sleep into a healing one. Jack returned to the vacated chair, watching his friend sleep.

After a while Jack got up and poured himself a coffee at the nurse�s station. As he rounded the bed to take his seat, he noticed that Daniel�s eyes were open and were tracking him.

�Hey, sleeping beauty awakens,� Jack smiled as he sat down beside Daniel, pressing the call button for the nurse with one hand and placing his cup of coffee on the table beside him.

Daniel cleared his throat before answering. �Hey Jack,� he croaked.

�How you feeling?� Jack asked as the nurse hurried over. He saw Daniel stop to think, maybe assess his body.

�Throat hurts,� Daniel said. �Leg�s better.�

�Your throat might be a little raw for a day or two, due to the intubation,� the nurse said. �I�ll get you some ice chips, that might help a bit.�

Daniel smiled at her before she hurried off.

�So, Daniel,� Jack started. Daniel looked at Jack questioningly. �I just wanted to say I�m sorry about everything.�

�Sorry?� Daniel said hoarsely.

�Don�t talk,� Jack ordered, wincing as he saw how painful it was for Daniel to speak. His throat must have been raw already from the smoke inhalation; the EM tube must not have helped. �I�m sorry that I got you into all of this, if I�d kept my hands to myself��

�No, please don�t,� Daniel argued. �I should have been able to get you and Sam out of there.� He coughed a bit, and opened his mouth to continue speaking when Jack put a finger up.

�We�ve been through this before,� Jack interrupted. �You passed the Goa�uld tests with flying colours. Hey, if this had been the real thing, you�d have a snake in your gut rather than more letters behind your name,� Jack joked as he turned to accept the container of ice chips from the nurse.

As Jack offered him some ice chips, Daniel frowned up at him before allowing his friend to spoon the cold slivers into his mouth.

�You did good, Daniel. It was just bad luck that the place went haywire at the end.� When Daniel swallowed the bits of melted ice, Jack offered him some more. Seeing that Daniel was having a bit of trouble keeping his eyes opened, Jack put the container down on the table and traded it for his coffee. He took a sip, watching as Daniel rubbed his eyes tiredly.

�Stop feeling guilty about what happened. Okay?� Daniel sighed, then shifted around to make himself comfortable. Jack said softly. �I�ve got a meeting with Hammond later this afternoon, but I�ll be around after if you�re awake, okay?�

Daniel looked at Jack and nodded. �Thanks for staying,� Daniel mumbled.

Jack figured that Daniel meant more than his hanging around for the next hour or two. �Go to sleep. I�ll stay with you for a while longer.�

Daniel closed his eyes, and was asleep in seconds.

- - - - - -

He heard multiple footsteps echoing down the hallway towards the infirmary. Seeing as he was the only patient in this part of the medical facility, Daniel knew that the sounds heralded his team mates� approach. He�d been expecting them to show up for the past hour; obviously their meeting with General Hammond had recently ended.

Sam was the first one through the door and she grinned upon spying him. Quickly striding to the bed, she leaned over and kissed his temple, carding her fingers quickly through his hair.

�Hi, Daniel. You�re looking a lot better,� she said as she straightened and looked down at him. Daniel played nervously with the glass of juice on the tray before him, a leftover from his first meal in several days.

�Thanks, Sam. I feel a lot better.�

�DanielJackson, it heartens me to see you looking well,� Teal�c said from the other side of the bed.

�Thanks, Teal�c,� Daniel repeated. �I heard that Junior had a part in curing me. I appreciate what you did.�

Teal�c smiled, inclining his head.

�Dannyboy,� Jack said with merriment I his voice. �Teal�c has a little something for you.�

Daniel turned to look at Teal�c, who brought a small paper bag from behind his back. Shoving a hand inside, Teal�c removed a long, coiled piece of metal. He discarded the bag and promptly balanced an end in each hand, rhythmically raising and lowering a hand to make the metal elongate. He looked transfixed by the chiming, moving toy.

�A slinky?� Daniel asked, perplexed.

�Not *just* a slinky. That�s your baby symbiote.�

�Jack, that�s a slinky.�

�Daniel, will you please play along. That�s your symbiote, and this is your prim�ta ceremony.�

�Wha� my what?�

He heard Sam giggle beside him and he looked up at her. She avoided looking at him or any of the other men, her cheek very obviously being bitten to prevent herself from laughing.

�DanielJackson, it is my honour to present this� slinky, as a symbolic representation of a Goa�uld larva.� Teal�c stopped the motion, the slinky coming to rest in one hand. He offered it to Daniel, who, a little confused, took it from Teal�c.

�I now welcome you as an honorary Jaffa, DanielJackson.� Teal�c bowed his head, then straightened up and stepped back.

�I don�t know what to say,� Daniel said in a deadpan voice. �This is such� a surprise. Guys, you shouldn�t have.�

He put the slinky down on the tray and took a sip of juice, pleased with their antics.

�Don�t you know that there�s nothing we wouldn�t do for you, Daniel,� Jack grinned. �Now you�re officially Teal�c�s brother.� He patted Daniel on the shoulder, then stated, �Gotta go. Hammond�s got another meeting scheduled in a few minutes. I�ll be by later, okay?�

At his words, Sam gave Daniel another peck on the cheek and began walking out of the infirmary, Jack behind her.

�See you, Jack, Sam. And thanks!� he called out to their departing forms. Jack waved a hand without turning around.

Seeing Teal�c eyeing the slinky, Daniel suggested, �Teal�c, why don�t you take� Junior� and keep him safe for me.� The dark man�s eyes brightened momentarily as he scooped up the toy. �And thanks, Teal�c.�

�My words were sincere,� Teal�c said seriously. �You performed as admirably as any Jaffa, and survived the Ghor�ad. I have always been proud to call you my friend, and am gladdened that I may now call you brother.�

Daniel put out his arm and clasped Teal�c�s. �Thank you,� he whispered, overcome with emotion. Although his memory was a little fuzzy about what had happened during the test due to blood loss, fever and drugs, he�d been aware that Teal�c hadn�t physically been in the chamber with him while he�d attempted to decipher the clues and get them the hell out of there. He remembered Jack and Sam supporting and comforting him. Teal�c had had the hardest job of all, he�d had the task of leaving them behind and going for help.

He still felt that he�d failed in his duty, but realized that it didn�t matter to his friends. It had been a team effort, and that was what SG-1 was all about.  

FINIS!


Author's Comments:

 Thanks to Babs and Devra who kept begging me for "more" clippies. And DebA as usual for her invaluable advice. And to Ximeria, for her eagle eye! < G >

 

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DISCLAIMER:The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.