Bug in a Bottle

Jack put his sunglasses on, stepped out of the dark cave that housed the Stargate and into the bright sunlit day. Twin suns shone so fiercely that he squinted despite the sunglasses' protection. He looked around at the sandy world around him, adjusting the brim of his cap. The mountain range behind him continued on as far as he could see, the vista before him was one of sand, rocks and an occasional strange looking tree.

"And you said the days here last seventy two hours?" Jack said to Carter, realizing they'd be working and sleeping in the heat and sunlight unless they returned to the cave's protection.

"Yes, Sir." And the nights are only four hours long, meaning we won't get much of a reprieve from this heat. From the MALP's reading, I'd say it's early morning, of the first day," she said with a grin.

Daniel came to stand beside Jack, staring at the desolate area before them. Jack could see the small lines around Daniel's eyes as he squinted behind his clip-ons.

"The paintings the UAV filmed are that way," Daniel said, looking towards the cliff face on his right. "If I remember correctly, I think they're right beside that tree," Daniel continued. The tree in question was about a half kilometer away.

"Fine, you're with me. Carter, Teal'c, better get a head start since the day is young. Youngish," he corrected.

Daniel turned towards Jack, his lips curling up at the corners before he moved away. Carter pulled out her doohickey and began scanning the area, looking for the power source the UAV had registered, but hadn't been able to accurately pinpoint.

"Contact every thirty, and try and take it easy in this heat," Jack ordered as he and Daniel began walking towards their goal.

"Yes, Sir," Carter replied as she and Teal'c set off in the opposite direction after consulting her instrument once more.

Jack and Daniel hadn't walked very far when they came to their first tree. Jack stopped to examine it. It was bright green, about 2 feet in diameter, and about eight feet in height. It had no leaves; if anything, it looked like it was made of rubber. He pressed a finger against its edge, feeling it give slightly beneath the pressure.

"Jack, look at this." He turned at the tone of Daniel's voice. There, before them, was a trail in the sand. Not footsteps, but more like something huge, no, make that enormous, had dragged its bulk along, gouging a deep rut in its wake. He looked around, but the trail disappeared into a break in the cliff. The wind had probably covered it up. He hoped whatever had left this trail, wasn't coming back.

"Maybe we should make this snappy?" Jack suggested. They continued on their way, finding the wall paintings without difficulty. While Daniel settled down to study, film and translate, Jack moved off to see if he could follow the trail of whatever it was that had passed by. He wasn't sure, but it looked fairly recent.

- - - - - -

"Daniel, you almost done?" Jack called out as he turned the corner of the cliff's edge. He came to an abrupt halt when he saw that Daniel wasn't there. And if he wasn't mistaken, a large portion of the cliff was gone. Just� poof. He grabbed his radio.

"Carter, we have a problem."

- - - - - -

Jerry hurried home, anxious to show his mom what he had captured. When that little thing had flown through the air late yesterday afternoon, he had simply known it had come from the area behind the house where those old scratchings had been painted on the rock. His grandpa used to say they'd been there for ages, and that bad things happened to children who played around there.

But this morning he'd gone and looked around, and when the little animals had come out from a crack in the rocks, he'd stayed really still, hiding in the shadows of the stone until one came close to him. He'd waited until the second one left, knowing if he could just concentrate on one, he wouldn't have a problem catching it.

They were really strange-looking, having only a few moving parts as compared to his own many-faceted, moveable body. And they were so small, so cute. He hadn't had a pet since Rover had died last year, and maybe he could train this creature to sit on his head, like Rover had.

He looked into the glass jar and noticed that the little creature wasn't moving around as much. He shook the jar, and it stirred. Okay, it was fine.

His bulk sped quickly on the sandy soil, and he reached his home in a few minutes.

"Mom!" Mom! Look what I found," Jerry yelled as he waved the bottle before her. She reached out a limb and took the bottle, holding it up to the light. He could clearly see the creature, it was now lying limp at the bottom of the jar.

"It's not moving anymore!" he wailed.

"Oh my," she said, and quickly unscrewed the top of the jar. After a moment, the creature stirred slightly. She tilted the jar, and it rolled over limply, then moved a little more on its own.

"It needs air, honey," she chided. "You put the cover on and it almost suffocated."

"Oh," Jerry said. Of course, how could he have been so dumb! He should have drilled holes in the cover first.

"Can I keep it, mom? It'll fit in Rover's cage, it's still small but I don't think it'll be able to fit through the bars."

"Well, I don't know, we'll have to ask your dad when he gets home tonight," she said as they watched the creature fold itself up and look around. His mom smiled. "Listen to it, it's making such a sweet noise."

"It's squeaking," Jerry said excitedly. Rover had never made sounds. Oh, his friends would be so jealous when they saw his new pet. Jerry raised a body part and rubbed it against the glass. The creature moved back quickly, then squeaked some more.

"Don�t be scared, I won't hurt you," Jerry crooned. "I'm gonna have to find a name for you, aren't I?"

"Yes, you're a cute little" his mom said in a sing-song voice. Jerry rolled his eyes, she was such a wuss sometimes.

"I'll go find the cage," Jerry said. "I'm sure dad won't mind. I bet dad will want to show him off to all the guys at work when he sees how different it is."

They tipped the jar and the creature fell into the bottom of the cage. As Jerry's mom placed the lid on top, Jerry noticed that it wasn't moving again.

"Mom!" he complained, picking the cage up and shaking it.

"Jerry!" she scolded, taking it away from him. "Your new pet might be fragile. That's no way to treat it." She inserted a part of herself between the cage and prodded the limp figure. It made a small, soft sound, and moved away from her.

"You hurt it," Jerry whined, stamping the floor.

"It'll be fine," she said no-nonsensically. "Now, dear, have you finished your homework?"

"No," Jerry sulked.

"Well? It might not be a school day, but you do have your assignments to finish."

"Yeah yeah, right," Jerry complained as he took the cage from her.

- - - - - -

"The tracks lead in this direction, O'Neill."

Jack could see for himself that the deep gouges in the sand they'd been following led towards a large house. Large in the sense of huge. The door, from this distance, appeared to be at least twenty feet high. Jack aimed his binoculars towards the house. There didn't appear to be any movement in or around the structure.

"You think Daniel's in there?"

"That's where the trail leads to, if whatever made those tracks kidnapped him," Carter said.

"Well, it was definitely deliberate," Jack grumbled. Something had hidden itself against the stone wall, blending in somehow so neither he nor Daniel had made it out to be something other than rock. It had waited for Jack to move on and had grabbed Daniel and ran.

To this place.

He'd called for reinforcements and his team and SG-3 had spent the last eleven hours tracking it, and they were all hot and tired. They needed to rest before going on. Jack assumed it was at least another two hours down to the building, and if that place was as huge as it looked from this angle, it might take them several more to find Daniel inside it.

"We need to stop and rest. Teal'c, you can take first watch."

- - - - - -

"What's that smell?"

"It's Pipsqueak," Jerry said quickly. It hadn't taken long before his pet had begun making a mess. The corner of his cage was all wet and there was some slime there, too. And it stank horribly.

"Pipsqueak?" Well, I guess the name's appropriate. That's strange," his mom said as she bent down to peer through the bars at their new acquisition. "Eww, you're right, what the hell did he do?"

"I don't know, I didn't see him do it. And he won't shut up. Mom, make him stop squeaking!"

"Maybe it likes the dark," she said thoughtfully. "You did say you found him near the rocks?" She took a piece of cloth from Jerry's nest and tossed it over the cage. The squeaking stopped immediately.

"See? Nothing to it," she grinned.

"Thanks mom."

"We'll just make sure we clean out the cage before your dad gets home. He's not going to like that stink in the house. Maybe you should keep Pipsqueak outside?"

"No, I want to keep him in my room, just like Rover."

"You kept Rover on a leash. I think Pipsqueak is a little more fragile, honey."

Yeah, he thought, nodding, looking at where he kept Rover's remains. It hadn't taken long for Rover to disintegrate once he'd died, but he'd loved Rover, and the little bit he had of his pet still made him happy.

Pipsqueak had stopped moving a while earlier and he'd had to poke him to get a reaction from him. He loved the little blue beads that showed at the top of his body, though. But they'd disappear whenever he stopped moving.

"Did you finish?" she asked, indicating his homework.

"No," he admitted with a sigh.

"Call me when you're done. I'll have a look at it if you'd like."

"K," he said.

When his mom left the room, Jerry lifted the corner of the cloth, and with a bit of anger, noted that Pipsqueak was lying on the bottom of the cage again, hiding his blue beads. He shook the cage and this time the sound his pet made was louder than the usual soft squeaks. Jerry grinned. He liked this sound better.

- - - - - -

"Carter, freeze!" He pulled his 2IC back against the wall as something huge brushed past them. Whatever it was, it was made of many parts, all moving independently from the other. And it was big. He craned his head up as it whizzed by. At least 20 feet. Sheesh, they were in the land of the giants.

They'd tried their radio repeatedly to contact Daniel, with no response. They weren't even sure if Daniel was in this house, but the trail had led to here and they had no other places to search.

"Fredericks, we have a live one in here," Jack reported to SG-3's Commanding Officer, who were keeping a watch on the outside of the house. "It's kinda big, so stay out of sight."

"O'Neill, from this angle we have no idea what may be up there," Teal'c said, waving towards what looked to be a table and countertop.

"I know, but let's check out the perimeter before we worry about what we can't see." He ignored his fatigue and began leading them to what looked like a hallway and an open door at its end.

- - - - - -

"My goodness," Jerry's mom said, wrinkling her face. "It smells worse than ever. You're going to have to take Pipsqueak outside, sweetie. It's just not hygienic to keep something that dirty inside."

"Aw, mom!" Jerry complained. "Wait, maybe we can wash it?"

"I don't know," she said with a frown.

"Come on, let's try," he said, picking the cage up and rushing towards the bathroom. His mom followed, and before long, they'd filled the sink and his mom was dunking the cage in the water.

"Oh dear," she said when Pipsqueak began making funny noises. She quickly pulled the cage out of the water. Jerry's pet was folded up, making strange hacking sounds. Jerry didn't think it had liked the bath. But at least the cage was clean now.

"Thanks mom," he said as he took the still-dripping cage from her and returned it to his desk.

"Lunch in two minutes, honey," she said as she blew him a kiss.

- - - - - -

"Sir, listen," Carter whispered.

It was faint, but it sounded like someone coughing. This had been the last room to be checked out. They'd stayed away because they could hear one of the creatures inside. They'd nearly been bowled over again a few seconds ago as one of them left the room, and Jack could now see the grey hulk of another, albeit much smaller alien, by a window.

They moved silently towards the sound, hugging the wall. Once beneath a huge six-legged desk, Jack could make out that the coughing was coming from directly above him.

There was a long thick wire leading up to the table, and Jack figured they could climb up without too much difficulty. He signaled to Teal'c that the two of them would climb, and Carter would stay behind to watch their six.

- - - - - -

Jerry was tired of his pet lying on the ground all the time. He didn't like these hacking sounds it kept making, the squeaking had been better.

He went to the door and looked down the hall. His mom was busy cleaning the house so he opened the lid of the cage and reached inside.

Pipsqueak felt different than Rover, more squishy, and even though it struggled, it was easier to hold onto. He held it loosely at first but when it almost slipped from his grasp, he squeezed.

A moment later, he heard small popping sounds and felt a sharp stinging. He dropped Pipsqueak back into the cage and ran out of the room.

"Mom!" Pipsqueak bit me!"

- - - - - -

They were halfway up when Jack heard gunshots and the table suddenly shuddered. The wire swayed sickeningly, and Jack clamped his legs tighter around the moving cord.

"O'Neill, the creature has left the room."

"Thank God," Jack murmured. "Daniel," he hissed, looking up at the still far-away seeming goal of the table top. He heard another cough, and he chanced calling out louder. "Daniel!"

"Jack?" His voice sounded weak and strained, but it was definitely Daniel's.

"Hang on, we're coming." Adrenaline now pumped through Jack's veins now that they'd found Daniel. They had to get him out of here before the creatures came back. He reached the top in no time and saw that Daniel was imprisoned in a cage on the desk's far edge.

They ran to the cage, and Jack quickly assessed his friend's condition. He was kneeling, his hand wrapped around his ribs. He was coughing, and was wet.

"You okay?"

Daniel winced as he stood, then swayed before he managed three limping steps to the bars separating him from Jack and Teal'c. "Cracked ribs, I think. My leg's pretty banged up, but I don't think it's broken. Got any water?"

Jack quickly handed him his canteen and Daniel took several long swallows while Teal'c examined the cage.

"Easy," Jack warned. Daniel nodded and lowered the container, gasping slightly as he tried to restrain more coughs.

"I think they tried to drown me," he said after clearing his throat. "I couldn't get through to them," he said with a sigh. "I ended up shooting one of them. Not that it made much of a difference." He looked at Jack. "How are you going to get me out?"

"C4," Jack said as he took the explosive and placed it on two of the bars. "Stand back," he warned when he'd finished inserting the detonator.

Daniel went to the farthest corner and huddled there, his back to Jack. He and Teal'c crouched behind a large piece of something, and Jack triggered the C4. A quick blast, and Daniel was free.

Jack stood and something brushed against his shoulder. He batted it away in irritation and turned to see what it was. There, pinned to what seemed to be a frame, was the skeletal remains of a Goa'uld larva. With a leash around its neck.

"God," Jack said with a shudder. He moved away from it quickly and went to help Daniel out of the cage. Jack put a hand around Daniel's waist as they hurried to the table's edge. Jack saw Daniel sway and his face quickly paled as he looked down at the distance they needed to descend.

"Piece of cake," Jack said, clapping his friend gently on the back. Daniel looked at Jack and then nodded. He sat down with a groan and swung his legs over the edge.

"Allow me to go first, DanielJackson. Should you lose your grip, I may be able to help control your descent."

"Ah, okay," Daniel replied to Teal'c. Jack waited until both men had swung themselves over the edge and quickly followed.

The descent was easier as all they needed to do was slide down, gripping the thick wire with their thighs to control their speed. His legs were burning by the time he made it to the ground. Daniel had collapsed, and Teal'c and Carter were rubbing his legs, easing the cramps. Jack chose to walk the stiffness away, impatient to be out of the building.

"Sir," Carter said to Jack. "Major Fredericks radio'd that he found an easier way for us to get out of here. It looks like a mouse hole."

"I didn't copy his message," Jack said. He clicked on his radio. "Fredericks, where's the exit?"

"Far east corner of the house, Sir." It's probably in the next room to your right."

"Copy that." He motioned for Carter to lead them and with Teal'c watching their six, Jack helped Daniel limp towards freedom.

"Why didn't the radios work up there?" he asked Carter as she checked the hallway.

"Maybe something in the windows that interrupt the radio waves? Who knows. This place is just plain weird."

"Tell me about it," Jack said, thinking back to the snaky remains on the table.

They found the hole in the wall without difficulty, and managed to squeeze through, although for a moment, it was touch and go whether Teal'c would fit. After removing his Kevlar vest, he made it.

Jack figured with the size of those creatures, it would take the giants no more than a couple of minutes to get to the Stargate. It had taken his teams over twelve hours. And with Daniel injured, it would probably be longer.

They needed somewhere to hole up for a while, and pray that the creatures didn't come after them.

- - - - - -

"MOM!"

"What is it," his mom cried, rushing into the room. Jerry pointed at the empty cage, the wooden bars on one side mangled, evidence of how Pipsqueak had escaped.

"Well, it's for the best," his mother said as she picked up the cage and examined it. "And don't you go chasing after it," she chided. "Your father wouldn't have allowed something that dirty in the house in the first place. Besides, I don't want anything that'll bite around me." She put the cage back down onto the table.

"But mom!"

"Enough, young man." Now, you have chores to finish before dark. The lunch dishes aren't gonna get done by themselves, you know. Hop to it."

Jerry glanced once more at the cage and sighed. Maybe he could talk dad into buying him a real pet this time.

- - - - - -

Daniel looked exhausted as he leaned against the cave wall. Jack kept a wary eye on his friend, knowing that despite the water they'd been plying him with, he was probably dehydrated from the heat and from his exertions. And he was hurting despite the fact that he'd managed to keep up with them without complaint throughout the long grueling hours.

They'd never know what had just happened, why Daniel had been captured and held in a cage for almost three days. Well, okay, make that three Earth days. Hell, Jack's friend had been nearly suffocated, almost drowned, battered, poked, prodded, dropped and prevented from sleeping. Jack was going to recommend to Hammond that they remove this planet's address from the dialing computer.

Anyplace that treated someone like a bug in a bottle, deserved a one time trip.

The Stargate kawooshed loudly, the bright light illuminating the dark cave." Once the wormhole stabilized, Jack motioned for Daniel to precede him and he followed his limping friend towards the safety of home.

 

FINIS!


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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.

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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.

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