Of Men and Trees
�I don�t know, Carter. I�m not sure if I can trust Daniel anymore.�
Daniel stopped in surprise outside the door to Jack�s office. He
hadn�t meant to eavesdrop on his friend. He�d been cooped up in his
office for the past two days, and had been on his way to ask Jack to
join him for a late supper.
�Surely you don�t mean that, sir,� he heard Sam reply. Daniel stood
undecided at the door, wondering whether he should enter and pretend he
hadn�t heard anything, or just turn around and leave. Truth be told, he
wanted to hear what Jack would say. Jack�s answer came before he could
decide to do either. Daniel stood there numbly just outside the
doorway, listening and hating himself for it.
�Tell me again that Daniel won�t run off and abandon us the next
time he sees something he thinks to be the meaning of life stuff.�
Daniel heard the derision in Jack�s voice, and he closed his eyes at
the pain this invoked in him. Jack was talking about Daniel�s decision
to stay behind when they had had only the one chance to escape the
crumbling castle on Ernest�s planet.
Jack was right, though. Daniel had momentarily forgotten all of his
current goals in life; the main one being rescuing Shau�re from the
Goa�ulds. Not to mention exploring the universe, finding ways to
protect Earth, or discovering new and ancient civilizations. And how
about belonging on a team with his newfound friends? Except for that
one incredible year that he�d had with Shau�re, Daniel hadn�t felt like
he�d belonged anywhere since he was eight and his parents were still
alive. Now having spent mere months as a member of SG1, Daniel knew
that he�d been unequivocally accepted as part and parcel of the team.
But throw him a tantalizing morsel of incredible alien ideology wrapped
up in alien technology, and without thought he�d gone and reversed the
role. He had been so very willing to abandon his team, his friends.
He couldn�t believe how easily he�d been distracted. He had
endangered Jack in his decision to stay behind. As a result, they
almost hadn�t made it through the Stargate this time. It was Ernest
Littlefield�s words that had finally gotten through to Daniel; that no
prize was worth obtaining if there was no one to share it with. Daniel
should have identified that bit of logic without having Ernest to
His own theories of the pyramids had been ridiculed, and he�d been
laughed out of the archaeological academia for voicing them when his
fellow colleagues had walked out of his last lecture. He had been alone
with his discoveries, certain he was right; except for the usual quacks
who kept contacting him, saying that the end of the world was near.
�But Daniel didn�t abandon us,� Sam said fervently. Daniel
appreciated the fact that she was defending him, but he also
acknowledged that he had been so very close to doing exactly that. He
thought back to what Ernest had gone through, living 50 years by
himself on an otherwise uninhabited planet. Would Daniel really have
been happy being the only living person on a planet? Daniel was a loner
by nature, he had the foster care system to thank for that. He had
closed himself off from people while growing up, choosing to immerse
himself in his books and studies rather than seeking solace with
�This time,� Jack replied acerbically. After a short pause, Jack
continued, speaking softly. �I need to be able to trust my people,
Carter. I don�t know if I can trust him.�
Swallowing convulsively, Daniel turned on his heels and started
back towards his office. His pace was such that others had to dart out
of his way as he sped down the hall. He was embarrassed to know that
they had been discussing him, but was more troubled when he realized
that he had disappointed Jack.
�Daniel!� Sam�s voice called to him, and he slowed down after
taking several more hurried steps. She jogged up to him, slowing her
pace as she walked beside him.
�You heard?� she asked tentatively. Daniel kept his eyes on the
ground, a little embarrassed at having been caught eavesdropping.
�Yeah,� he said sadly.
�The colonel�s a little upset right now, Daniel. He�ll get over it.
Maybe you should go and talk to him.� Daniel arched his eyebrows as he
looked at Sam, before turning his gaze back down to the ground.
�Sam, it�s been two days. If he�s still angry at me now� anyway, he
was right. Who knows how I�ll react the next time I get so caught up in
something that nothing else matters to me. I�m a hindrance to the
Sam grabbed Daniel�s arm, stopping suddenly in the middle of the
passageway. �You don�t mean that. So you found something that you
thought was significant and you wanted to stay behind. But you didn�t,
that�s what�s important.�
�I endangered Jack�s life. I should have grabbed my notes and left
when he came to get me and Ernest. Instead we almost got crushed when
the room began to collapse. Sam, I nearly trapped Jack there with me!�
Daniel turned away from his friend and continued walking.
Sam sped up in order to catch up with him, her eyes rolling in
exasperation. �But you both made it out safely. You can�t keep blaming
yourself over that.�
�It�s not me who has a problem now, it�s Jack. You heard him, he
can�t trust me.� In a softer voice, he added, �And I don�t trust
�If you�re aware of the temptation, Daniel, then you won�t make the
same mistake again. Don�t you think there won�t come a time that I�ll
find some exciting new technology and would offer body and soul to be
able to bring it home? It�s human nature, Daniel. You�re human, you�re
my friend, and you�re also my team mate. You�re not going to let any of
us down.� Having said her fill, Sam stopped walking. Her words ringing
in his ears, Daniel continued on to his office.
He sat down and stared dully at his computer, his enthusiasm
suddenly gone. He�d been eagerly compiling all of the information he�d
gathered on Ernest�s planet, the self-same stuff that he�d nearly
chosen a life of self-imposed exile for had he remained behind. Was
Jack going to take him off the team? Daniel removed his glasses and
massaged his forehead. Trying to ease the headache that was quickly
forming, he realized that his neck and shoulders were stiff from having
spent hours sitting at his computer. He threw his glasses onto his
desk, his hand moving to rub the back of his neck as he tried to
stretch his aching back.
He had done it again. He had acted without thought, and thus
endangering someone he cared for. He�d done it with Shau�re and her
people, by convincing Kasuf to unbury the Stargate so that *he* could
prove his theories about the map room. Not that anyone on Abydos gave a
damn about the forgotten room or the numerous glyphs that had formed
addresses to other worlds. No, Daniel had wanted to be the one to make
the discovery. His theories had been right; shouldn�t he have been
satisfied with that? He�d found a new world, someone who loved him,
people who had not only accepted him but had looked up to him. Why
couldn�t he have left well enough alone?
God, but he felt stupid. The pain of what he�d done to his
Abydonian friends rushed back to overwhelm him. He was the one
responsible for their needless injuries and deaths caused by Apophis�
Jaffa; and for Shau�re and Skaara�s abductions and possessions by the
Goa�uld. Daniel had been able to push the hurt aside while immersing
himself in his work, knowing that he was trying to make amends, and
looking for a way to free his wife and her brother. He realized that in
that one hasty decision, he might have condemned them to a lifelong
existence of slavery to the Goa�uld nation. Because that�s what Shau�re
and Skaara were, slaves to the parasitical snakes that now possessed
Oh sure, he could also argue and say that unburying the Abydonian
Stargate had led to Jack returning to Abydos and meeting up with Daniel
a second time; and by going to Chulac, SG1 had been the pivotal point
in Teal�c defecting and joining their cause; and with the Stargate
programme being reinstated, Sam�s reassignment at Cheyenne Mountain had
brought her into the team. So in essence Daniel had been the focal
point in bringing his team together. Bullshit. He�d rather be living in
married bliss on Abydos with Shau�re, totally ignorant of the fact that
Earth was at war with the Goa�uld.
He sighed. He missed Shau�re terribly, but he couldn�t deny how
much his new family had come to mean to him. And okay, he admitted it.
He actually enjoyed exploring the universe. He welcomed that little
thrill of anticipation when a new gate address was found viable and a
new planet was ready to be explored. Plus the fact that his theories
and suggestions were actually listened to now and carefully considered
by people was downright flattering. The only thing that could make
everything perfect was having Shau�re here, by his side. Snake-free.
Maybe Sam was right, maybe by knowing he had been so easily
enticed, he could recognize the temptation the next time the situation
came up. So how could Daniel prove to Jack that he wouldn�t go off half
cocked once again whenever something tantalizing came along? Was Daniel
even sure that he�d be able to trust himself not to? Would Jack even
give him another chance?
He reached into a drawer for some Tylenol, and as he downed two of
them with the dregs of what was sitting in his coffee cup, Teal�c
appeared at his door.
�Have you eaten, DanielJackson?� Teal�c asked. It hadn�t taken his
friends long to learn that once Daniel became caught up in a project,
food became a low priority. They�d take turns coming around to make
sure that he�d eaten; a task which simultaneously annoyed him and
touched him. He hated having to leave his work when he was in the
middle of something, but he admitted to himself that he liked being
cared for and worried about. He did the same for Sam at times, knowing
she was in the midst of an experiment or busy with some alien device
that only she could appreciate, and had forgotten to eat.
�I�m not really hungry, Teal�c,� Daniel answered, his appetite
having fled when he�d heard his friends talking. He put his glasses
back on, thinking maybe he�d just go home. He didn�t feel like working
anymore, and he really was tired. Okay, he admitted it. He just wanted
to go home and sulk. The first days after coming back from Abydos, he
had stayed with Jack. His friend had been understanding and had helped
keep him out of a funk. He was feeling lonely and guilty right now; and
hell, why was he feeling like he�d been the one abandoned? He was the
one who had disappointed Jack. He shouldn�t feel that Jack had written
him off already.
�Is there a problem?� Teal�c asked as he made his way to stand
beside Daniel, arms behind his back. Daniel shook his head, saying,
�I�m just tired, Teal�c. I�ve almost finished with the information I
gathered at Heliopolis, I guess I need a break. I�m heading on home.�
�That is a wise decision, as you need to be refreshed for our mission to P7B 448 tomorrow morning.�
�Mmmission? What mission?� Daniel stammered. He didn�t remember any
mention that they had been assigned a new task. He dragged forth the
address from his memory, remembering that P7B 448 had been a planet
with immense trees, and no notable ruins in the immediate area except
for a hazy shot of several tall, carved stones covered in moss.
�General Hammond issued a memo earlier this morning. Have you not seen it?�
�I didn�t get a memo�� Daniel started, when he realized that he
hadn�t checked his emails or his in-tray. He flipped through the few
pieces of correspondence and found the one Teal�c had been talking
about. They were scheduled to go through the Stargate tomorrow morning
at 6 a.m. Daniel sighed, realizing that he hadn�t prepared for this
Once Teal�c left, Daniel spent the next few hours studying the
readouts and trying to decipher the obscure photos that the MALP had
taken. The reports also stated that the soil appeared to have trace
amounts of Naquada in it, so Daniel suspected that they�d be spending
lots of time gathering soil samples. When he finally gave up and
admitted that the pictures were too unclear to decipher, it was too
late to go home. Daniel spent the rest of the night tossing and turning
on his assigned bunk, wondering if this was to be his last mission
offworld with SG1.
- - - - - -
Rushing into the gateroom, Daniel fiddled with his vest and
equipment, his fumbling fingers having problems getting everything to
fit in their proper places. He�d had little rest in the past two
nights, and had finally fallen asleep 30 minutes before his alarm woke
him up this morning. He had gotten up feeling groggy, was running late
and had had to choose between a shower and breakfast. The shower won.
He came to a stop beside Jack, not quite looking him in the eye,
but throwing frequent glances his way, trying to gauge his mood. He did
catch Sam�s eye, and she smiled a greeting at him. Teal�c came to stand
beside Daniel as the last chevron lit and locked, watching as the
wormhole whooshed before them. Jack ordered them through, barely
glancing at Daniel.
They came out of the Stargate into the shadows of trees. The
Stargate was in a clearing that had obviously been dutifully kept clear
of growth for about ten feet in diameter. There was a very narrow path
leading from the Stargate and into the intimidating forest. Daniel
turned his attention to the moss covered stones flanking the entrance
to the path. A cursory look confirmed that his attempts at deciphering
the carvings had been for naught. After brushing the moss and vines
away, all they depicted were little stick people standing dwarfed by
He dutifully videotaped everything as Jack stood by, watching
silently. He could hear Sam and Teal�c talking together softly, and
knew that they were gathering samples. Daniel knew that Jack was
getting impatient, and quickly packed his video camera into his
packsack. He was ready to go before his other team mates had finished
Ordering them into the forest, Daniel took his place behind Teal�c
as they started down the dark, narrow path. Jack and Sam followed
behind. Daniel batted away long, clingy vines that hung from the trees,
and tried not to trip over exposed roots.
Jack was uncommonly quiet, and Daniel wondered whether it had
anything to do with him. Jack hadn�t even made one sarcastic comment
about the trees, a characteristic that they had all come to expect from
their commanding officer whenever they came to a tree laden world.
Daniel thought that maybe he should have taken Sam�s advice and talked
to Jack last night instead of returning to his own office and licking
his wounds. He didn�t want to bring the subject up now, not when he
wasn�t quite sure of Jack�s mood at the moment.
The trees were gargantuan. The smallest tree that Daniel saw was a
mere eight feet in diameter. Most of the trees were at least twenty to
thirty feet in width. They didn�t grow very tall, though. The canopy
was about fifteen to twenty feet high. They could hear slight rustlings
in the branches, but none of them had spotted signs of wildlife yet.
They followed the winding, root congested path for about an hour,
until it came to an end in a large clearing. It was thirty feet wide
and was blocked by a fast flowing stream. Sam commented that this spot
was ideal for collecting more samples; there was naquada readings
registering from the soil and even from the trees. As Daniel grabbed a
specimen container to help out, Sam instructed him to gather several
pieces of foliage. Pulling out his knife, Daniel walked to the nearest
tree and began slicing a six inch piece from the branch. The wood was
hard and at least two inches in diameter. Daniel began to saw the blade
through the branch in order to make the cut. Clear-coloured sap ran out
of the incision he made and dripped thickly onto his fingers.
Suddenly, the branch bucked in his hands. Daniel dropped his knife
and let go of the branch in surprise. The whole tree began to shake,
its limbs beginning to whip up and down in what seemed to be an
agitated manner. It made a deep, thumping sound which echoed throughout
the clearing. Daniel backed away from the agitated tree while his team
mates dropped what they were doing and rushed to his side. They had all
drawn their weapons, looking around for signs of danger.
The surrounding trees also began to rustle and shake, the noise
becoming very loud. Daniel looked around in confusion, wondering if the
other trees were reacting to the one he had tried to cut a piece off
of. But how could trees move like that? The branches were so rigid they
shouldn�t be able to bend in such a manner. He heard Sam yelling in his
ear, but couldn�t quite make out the words. The noise became a
drumbeat, echoing into the forest.
The cacophony became almost unbearable as more trees joined in.
Soon Daniel had his hands clasped instinctively to his ears, trying to
block the sound. His team mates dropped their weapons, hands also going
to their ears in pain. Jack grasped his shoulder, pointing back along
the path. Daniel turned and entered the forest behind Teal�c, making
for the Stargate. He had only taken a few steps into the wooded area
when he realized that the sound was worse among the trees. He stopped,
wanting to turn around. As he did so, the noise unbelievingly
intensified. It became a thrumming sound, vibrating throughout his
whole body. He clenched his teeth, his hands held uselessly against his
ears. He found he was gasping for breath, the force of the vibrations
somehow preventing his diaphragm from expanding fully. He saw Sam and
Jack holding their heads, their faces contorted in pain.
Daniel wanted to tell them to get out of the forest and away from
the trees, but he couldn�t get his mouth to work. As he took a step
forward, his knees buckled. He found himself falling, his hands coming
down limply, unable to soften his fall. He landed hard on his right
shoulder, feeling pain jar up and down his arm. Through his peripheral
vision, Daniel saw the sole of a boot, either Jack�s or Sam�s. They
were down also. The boot slowly disappeared from his sight as his
vision grew dark.
- - - - - -
Teal�c concentrated on breathing through the pain as he saw his
team mates go down. His symbiote was also affected by this strange
reverberation, but it was able to aid Teal�c withstand its effects
slightly better than his Tau�ri friends. Teal�c�s legs gave out, and he
found himself on his knees. He saw CaptainCarter and DanielJackson lose
consciousness, their bodies going limp after their telltale struggles
to withstand the pain. O�Neill fought its effects a short while longer,
but his body soon lost the battle. Teal�c felt his own body tilt to the
right and was unable to prevent its tumble to the ground.
He lay there in agony when suddenly it ceased. He saw the trees
before him calm, their limbs returning to their natural still state. He
lay there and enjoyed the simple feat of breathing in and out without
distress. After a minute, Teal�c tried to turn his head to see if his
team mates were all right, but his body wouldn�t obey. He could only
move his eyes, and his friends were out of his range of vision.
He was startled to see several short tiny brown legs pass in front
of him. A small brown, knobby face peered down at him, its brown eyes
growing huge in surprise as they saw Teal�c staring back. Several more
faces joined the first, and small fingers grasped at him, rolling him
sideways. He felt himself moving. At first Teal�c thought that they
were carrying him, until he realized that he was being dragged on some
kind of sled or travois. He travelled through the forest silently, not
a footstep or rustle of leaves could he hear.
A sudden jar to the travois caused his head to shift down, and
Teal�c could now make out at least one travois behind dragged behind
him. There were at least a dozen of the creatures pulling it. They were
barely two feet in height, wearing what appeared to be leaves and vines
as clothing or adornment. Their heads were covered with something
resembling more roots than hair. The tendrils appeared to move
independently from one another, some singly, some in groups. Their
brown skin appeared barklike, hard and knobby. Their legs and arms
appeared to have several joints, bending in strange places. Teal�c
surmised that they were probably indigenous to this planet. Not like
the Tau�ri, who had been transplanted throughout the galaxy by the
They travelled through the forest for what Teal�c approximated to
be about twenty minutes. The travois came to a stop. After experiencing
several hard bumps, he found that he was being dragged into a hole
leading into what he thought was the interior of one of the trees. They
descended down a tunnel with a very low ceiling. The creatures
themselves merely bent low, their legs seeming to double up. Teal�c
felt that it was disconcerting to have his head lower than his feet, he
felt as if his body was about to slide down head-first off of the
travois any moment.
The walls were made from uneven sized pieces of wood, and Teal�c
realized that these must be the roots of the trees. Soon, to his
relief, the tunnel evened out. He could make out dim shafts of light
shining through the top and sides of the tunnel, and he realized
belatedly that these came from holes in between the roots. They weren�t
inside the trees, they were beneath them.
They came to a halt inside a large round chamber. Teal�c moved his
eyes upward and estimated that the roof was about fifteen feet in
height. The travois was shifted away from the entrance. Teal�c felt a
touch on his head and face and looking upwards, he saw one of the
aliens standing before him. It rushed off and he managed to turn his
head slightly to watch it. It stopped next to MajorCarter, stroking her
face, then ran off to do the same to O�Neill and DanielJackson. The
hairs on its head began moving in what Teal�c assumed to be excitement,
and soon all of SG1 was being stroked, poked and prodded by dozens of
aliens. It was only when Teal�c managed to weakly raise a hand in an
attempt to brush them away from his face did they finally scurry away.
Before he could find the strength to sit up, Teal�c felt something
grab hold of his wrist. Pain flowed through it as his arm was forced
above his head, where his bicep was also tightly clasped. The bindings
tightened painfully, and he felt a burning sensation on his skin.
Whatever was holding him had pierced through the long-sleeved tee-shirt
he wore, and his thick cotton jacket. The pain increased as the vines
began tugging on his arm. His body was slowly raised off the travois,
his full weight bearing on his arm. He lifted his free arm to try and
grasp whatever was holding him. His flailing arm was quickly caught and
also painfully squeezed. He was pulled to a vertical position, his legs
limp and useless beneath him, unable to hold his weight.
As he was being dragged upright, he saw that CaptainCarter�s
sagging body was also in the process of being pulled up to her feet by
what appeared to be vines reaching down from the ceiling. She was
beginning to come to; her head was trying to move against the pull of
gravity. Her weapon was still strapped around her body, bouncing
against her ribs as she was hoisted up.
DanielJackson was lying limply on his side beside CaptainCarter,
but a large crowd of aliens were surrounding him, seemingly intent on
his hands. He still appeared to be unconscious, his face slack, eyes
ColonelO�Neill was already stirring, and some aliens were scurrying
around him, gesticulating at the vines creeping down from the ceiling
towards his commanding officer. Teal�c watched helplessly as his
commanding officer was also strung up. He watched O�Neill wince as the
vines dug deeply into his wrists and biceps. He also had his weapon,
but was effectively barred from using it.
The creatures grouped around DanielJackson appeared to become
agitated, the roots on their heads vibrating similarly to the trees
earlier. More came running into the chamber, and as Teal�c watched,
they appeared to be sniffing or tasting the younger man�s hands. When
they had all had a turn, they dragged Daniel slightly off to the side,
and began to string him up also.
Sensation had begun to return to Teal�c�s body and he attempted to
get his feet underneath him to take the strain off of his arms. He
managed to lock his knees, maintaining his balance as the vines took up
the slack. Soon both the Captain and the Colonel were standing, looking
around warily as they finally came to their senses. It was only when
Teal�c saw the Colonel�s mouth move but heard no sound, did he realize
that the trees� cacophony had caused him to become deaf.
- - - - - -
Jack woke up as the ground slowly slid away from him. His head was
pounding, his stomach threatening to rebel, his legs not obeying his
commands. His wrists and arms were burning, the pain still tolerable,
but promising to get worse. There was movement everywhere, his blurry
eyesight not quite discerning the shapes. He swallowed back the bile
that was rising in his throat, trying to breathe deeply and take
control of his body. The stinging sensation in his arms increased as he
managed to set his feet beneath him. He looked up, finally making out
the vines that had a hold on his arms. He swore, and swore again when
he realized that he couldn�t hear anything.
Jack soon realized that Carter and Teal�c were also in the same
predicament, and that Daniel was soon to be. His friend was clearly
still unconscious, but he could see that both Teal�c and Carter were
awake and alert. There were little treelike creatures swarming all over
the cavern, making their way to and fro, but cautiously keeping a
distance from the four prisoners.
�What the hell happened?� he called out to them. He saw Carter
shake her head, her mouth moving silently. Jack mouthed the word �deaf�
several times, saw Carter watch his lips and then suddenly nod her head
when she understood. She glanced over at Daniel, and Jack saw her
worried look. He was hanging limply by his arms, his head hanging
heavily between his shoulders. Jack called out to Daniel in the hope
that his friend hadn�t lost his hearing, and that he�d wake up at the
sound of Jack�s voice.
Something slithered from above, and Jack saw more vines make their
way towards Daniel. They slid along his arms, across his shoulders;
feeling their way inside his jacket. Daniel�s body started as they slid
against skin. Jack could seem the vines bulging around Daniel�s torso
and waist as they surrounded his ribs. His breathing was speeding up as
he tried to pull away from the pain they must have been inflicting.
More slid down his legs, surrounding his thighs and his calves. Jack
could see Daniel�s legs moving as he tried to kick the vines away, but
they had surrounded him as neatly as a boa constrictor.
As the vines squeezed, Jack saw Daniel raise his head in agony and
scream. He was glad at this point that he was deaf, seeing Daniel in
agony was bad enough. Jack attempted to free himself to go help his
friend, yelling and screaming his anger at the aliens. He saw Teal�c
and Carter struggling, Carter�s face shiny with sweat from the pain and
effort of her struggles. He could see her mouth moving, but he was
unable to figure out what she was saying. She kicked at one of the
aliens as it came a little closer, and a vine popped out of the soil at
her feet, spiralling itself up her leg.
- - - - - -
Sam stood stock still as the vine began crawling up her leg. When
it reached her thigh, it stopped, the tip moving restlessly, as if
trying to decide whether to continue on. This one was strangely
painless, unlike the ones surrounding her wrists and upper arms. Those
burned and stung, the pain increasing as the minutes went by. Sam could
see Daniel writhing in agony, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. He was
panting furiously, no longer screaming now. The vines surrounding him
had stopped moving. She hoped that they weren�t trying to squeeze the
life out of him.
She looked over at the Colonel, who was still struggling valiantly
to free himself. Teal�c was similarly straining to escape from the
plants� hold, alternately keeping an eye on Daniel and Sam. She tried
moving her leg tentatively, and the vine squeezed her ankle. She felt
the pressure through her boot, but there was no pain. She froze, and
the pressure eased slightly, although it held her more tightly than it
had previously. More vines came down towards Daniel, twisting around
his arms and shoulders.
Daniel opened his eyes, his eyes darting about in panic. As he
spotted them, she saw the look of hope appear momentarily on his face.
It vanished when he took in their predicament. His eyes locked with
those of the Colonel, and Sam knew that Daniel was trying to express
his sorrow at getting them into this predicament. She couldn�t see
Colonel O�Neill�s expression as his face was turned away from her, but
she saw him stop struggling when Daniel caught his eye.
- - - - - -
DanielJackson appeared to be in great pain as the vines encircled
his body. Teal�c saw CaptainCarter cease her attempts to free herself
when she became enmeshed with more of the same. They did not appear to
wish to harm her as they did DanielJackson. Teal�c wondered if perhaps
there was something about Daniel�s body that attracted the vines;
perhaps there was residue from the tree he had attempted to cut.
When more of the plants came down towards DanielJackson, Teal�c
doubled his efforts at getting rid of his restraints. He felt a
pressure near his neck, and saw that the vines were attempting to enter
beneath his clothes at the neckline. He bucked his body, trying to
evade them but they tenaciously eased inside. He could feel the cold
plant slither along his skin, moving beneath his shoulder, encircling
his back and coming around to the front. It wound itself around again,
brushing against his womb. The cold sensation began to burn, the pain
radiating through his skin and muscles.
The plant ceased its movement as it sensed the opening. It appeared
to ripple, and he could feel the tip prodding. His symbiote didn�t
react to the �knocking at the door,� instead it appeared to be absorbed
in trying to ease Teal�c�s pain. He felt the plant push into his womb,
the feeling both intrusive and disturbing. He worried momentarily that
if the vines killed his symbiote, Teal�c himself would soon die. Then
he realized that it didn�t matter, they would all probably not survive
DanielJackson was no longer struggling, his pain had overwhelmed
him and his legs no longer supported him. He hung limply in the grip of
the vines, held up solely by their cruel and painful grasp of his body.
He was still conscious, Teal�c could see the effort he maintained in
keeping eye contact with his friend. ColonelO�Neill was unable to do
anything to help DanielJackson except provide silent moral support.
Teal�c thought this to be a painful task; he knew that O�Neill hated
the feeling of helplessness. As he watched, more vines began
surrounding O�Neill�s body.
The tip of the vine suddenly pulled out of his womb, and the vines
surrounding him shuddered and pulled away. They released him so quickly
that he was unable to keep his balance. As he fell to his knees, he saw
his team mates released simultaneously. O�Neill landed heavily on one
knee, while the captain managed to control her fall and quickly crawled
towards their stricken team mate. DanielJackson lay sprawled motionless
on his stomach before them.
- - - - - -
Sam reached for Daniel, shoving her P-90 aside as it hung from her
shoulder. Daniel was trembling, his eyes scrunched tightly shut against
the pain. She felt for a pulse with trembling fingers, noting that his
skin was warm and he was sweating profusely. His pulse was rapid but
Her team mates were quickly by Daniel�s side. Unable to comfortably
lay him on his back because of the backpack he still sported, they
turned him onto his side. The colonel pulled up Daniel�s tee-shirt,
revealing numerous welts and bruises around his chest, waist and
ribcage. Sam glanced at her own wrists, noting the redness and swelling
where the vines had had a hold on her. The muscles around the swelling
were stiffening already, and moving her fingers was painful. She
assumed that the puffiness continued wherever the plants had touched
Daniel�s skin. Ignoring her own pain, she looked around, hoping for an
The creatures were amassed behind them, keeping their distance. The
growth atop their heads were vibrating madly, and she could see roots
and vines that made up the walls of this room moving around in what
appeared to be an agitated manner. She saw Teal�c eyeing them warily;
he had lost his staff weapon, but both she and the Colonel still had
their guns. She released the catch on Daniel�s holster and handed
Teal�c his weapon.
There was nothing that they could do for Daniel�s pain at the
moment. The colonel was trying to get Daniel to sit up. Hefting her
weapon, she stood up carefully while thumbing the safety and preparing
to fight her way out. Teal�c stood also, drawing his own hand gun, one
now in each hand. The miniature tree people stepped forward en masse,
advancing approximately several inches and stopping. She aimed her gun
at them at the movement, but they had stopped moving before her obvious
She looked back towards Daniel, who was leaning heavily on the
colonel. His eyes were open now, and he was staring at the aliens. Sam
saw Daniel�s mouth moving, but she wasn�t able to hear a sound.
The aliens advanced again, a solid black mass that glided forward a
few inches. She felt that the aliens were trying to herd them
somewhere. But there was nowhere for them to go! Behind them were
walls, and the creatures were blocking the only exit. She glanced
around anyway, and saw an opening behind her that hadn�t been there
It was as if the roots had been pulled aside, creating a gap for
them to crawl through. And crawl they would, as it was barely two feet
in height. She caught the colonel�s eye, jerking her head behind her.
His eyes widened in surprise and ensuring that Daniel could sit without
his support, he grabbed his mag light and peered inside.
A vine snaked out from the soil in a movement so quick; it would
have made a rattlesnake jealous. It grabbed Daniel by the arm, and in
one fluid movement, dragged him several feet towards the hole. Jack and
Teal�c grabbed for Daniel as Sam covered the aliens with her gun.
Sam kept glancing behind, trying to keep an eye on her team mates
and on the unmoving wall of aliens before her. The vine had just as
quickly disappeared back into the soil, and Daniel managed to push
himself up and away from where it had vanished. As Sam turned her head
back towards the aliens, she�d found that they had moved forward once
again. It was more than obvious that they wanted them to go through
The colonel signalled for them to pass through the hole; Teal�c
first, then himself, Daniel, and then Sam. Sam was glad, this way she�d
be able to keep an eye on Daniel. She backed up towards the hole, her
gun continuously trained on the creatures. Teal�c went through, then
Colonel O�Neill. She bent down beside Daniel as he crawled painfully
through the space, and she went in backwards, her gun the last thing to
Sam tried to peer around Daniel in order to see what they were
headed towards. All she could make out was a long, dark tunnel which
wound through a forest of roots and vines. They had no choice but to
crawl, the ceiling was too low for them to even attempt to frog walk.
She glanced at the hole behind her and saw that it had disappeared. She
hoped that they weren�t being led to a dead end where they would die a
slow death inside the trees. She shivered, maybe the trees were
carnivores? What if they were inside a giant venus fly trap? Or in this
case, human trap.
Trying to rid herself of these morbid thoughts, she took the time
to remove her own light from her pack and fastened it to her jacket.
She then crawled quickly on her hands and knees and positioned herself
behind Daniel, wincing as the unforgiving roots bruised her kneecaps
and shins. Her hands slid on the damp earth, scratching them with bits
of twigs and rocks.
Her hands and arms ached horribly from her wounds. She hated to
think of the agony that Daniel was in; his whole body had been covered
with marks where the vines had gripped him, not to mention the bruises
that they had incurred. She hadn�t had time to look him over carefully.
She didn�t think that he had internal injuries, but there was always
the possibility. Hopefully they�d be able to stop soon and she�d have
the time to give check him out, and also give him something for the
pain. She had noticed Daniel favouring his right arm as he scrambled
before her; she hoped that there wasn�t anything seriously wrong.
The path opened before them as they continued on. It slowly
squeezed shut behind them as they crawled for what felt like forever,
forcing them to keep going forward. Sam�s gun kept hitting her knees as
it swung beneath her. She needed both hands to crawl, and whenever she
threw the gun over her shoulder, her movements eventually caused it to
slide back to the front. She raised a muddy hand to wipe the sweat from
her face, wishing that the colonel would stop so that she could check
She couldn�t see beyond Daniel�s legs and butt, there wasn�t enough
room between the roots to see her other teammates. She followed
doggedly, hands right behind Daniel�s feet. The path began to descend
suddenly, and she was scrambling not to slide head first in the
slippery soil. Daniel managed to slide down without falling, and soon
the path levelled, although it was much muddier than before. She had
managed to catch a glimpse of the colonel before the path straightened
again. He appeared worried as he looked back towards her and Daniel.
Water now dripped heavily from the roots, and she thought that they
might be beneath the stream where they had been captured.
The path became harder to negotiate; her hands and knees were
constantly sliding in the mud. Sam saw Daniel slip and land sideways on
his shoulder. She stopped near his feet, her light showing pain
expressed in his face. She peered beyond, and could see the
illumination of the colonel�s light beginning to fade as he and Teal�c
continued on. She yelled out, telling them to stop. She nudged Daniel.
She needed him to get up again. Glancing behind her, she saw that the
path was disappearing slowly.
Daniel brought his knees underneath him, and managed to force
himself up on one hand. He had obviously injured his shoulder in the
fall, or had made a previous injury worse. He tried to go on, and slid
again, landing on his stomach.
Sam yelled again, slapping her hand in the mud, trying to get
Colonel O�Neill�s attention. Her hand landed on a rock and she threw it
as hard as she could. It landed against the colonel�s backpack, but it
served to catch his attention. As he backtracked to them, Sam straddled
Daniel, her packsack catching on the roots hanging on the ceiling. He
lay exhausted, his cheek lying in the mud. She placed a hand on his
face, and although her fingers were cold, she knew that Daniel felt
warmer than normal. He started as she touched him; he opened his eyes,
looking up at her.
Colonel O�Neill had backed up to where they had stopped, unable to
turn around in the tight space. Sam could see his mouth moving as he
spoke to her, and she knew that she had to get Daniel up and going once
again. Daniel began struggling to sit, and Sam backed out of the way,
giving him room. He sat back on his legs, head bent under the low
ceiling, left arm clutching his right shoulder.
Sam tried to get him to mime what was wrong, but he just shook his
head, indicating that he wanted to go on. She met the colonel�s eyes
behind Daniel, saw him glance behind her and swear. No mistaking that
word. She turned, and saw that the wall of roots was barely two feet
from her. Daniel saw it also, his eyes widening in comprehension.
- - - - - -
Daniel forced himself forward, trying to push the pain aside as he
moved leaden arms and legs. The pain where the vines had marked him had
spread into all the surrounding muscles, his ribs, arms and legs were
also painfully bruised from the force the plants had exerted when
they�d squeezed him. His shoulder had been injured, probably badly
bruised, when he�d fallen in the forest. He had just landed on it once
again, and now his right arm was having trouble holding his weight. His
head pounded unmercifully, and he had a sinking feeling that he had
He kept his eyes glued on Jack�s feet before him, barely
perceptible through the illumination coming from Sam�s light behind
him. Whenever he faltered, he felt Sam�s hand on his leg or foot,
encouraging him. Jack was constantly looking behind him to make sure
Daniel was keeping up. He was embarrassed for having caused them to
stop. He had endangered them, especially Sam, when the trail had kept
on closing up behind them. He wondered what would have happened had he
not been able to go on. Would whatever awareness that was controlling
this path have sensed them and waited till he could get up? Or would it
have enveloped him and left him there to die, trapped amongst the
roots. Well, the point was moot because he was pretty sure that Jack
would have dragged him through this trail if he had had to, but Daniel
tried not to dwell on that thought anyway. They still hadn�t made it
out and he doubted any of them knew where they were being led.
Right hand, left knee�left hand, right knee. Ignore the pain, try
not to slip. He felt feverish and a little chilled. He wondered whether
the vines were poisonous. The marks that they had left on his skin were
obviously a reaction to a poison or toxin. Whatever it was, it was
beginning to affect his muscles and nerves. Everything around the welts
was very stiff and sore. Not so painful to the touch except where he
was bruised, but it made it very difficult to move. And to breathe.
Between his bruises and stiffening muscles, he was beginning to pant
for breath, making him slightly light headed. Or was that from the
headache and fever. Shit.
Daniel saw that Jack�s feet were farther away than they had been
just a moment ago, and he realized that he had slowed down again. He
forced himself to take longer strides, and ended up off balance when
his hand slipped. He found himself sliding in the mud and landing
painfully on his stomach again. Before Sam could help him, he was up
and moving again, swearing and cursing at himself between breaths.
The tunnel was suddenly flooded with intensely bright light,
blinding him and causing his eyes to tear. He had to stop and turn
away; he couldn�t see where he was going. It took a moment before he
realized that the brightness was daylight. They were moments away from
escaping this underground forest. Squinting through his tears, he
couldn�t see Jack in front of him anymore, and he moved blindly
forward. He felt something gripping his arms and he panicked for a
moment. He struggled until he realized that they were hands pulling him
up, and suddenly he was on his feet. Tears still streaming down his
face, he tried to shield his eyes with his hands. Teal�c�s massive body
was beside him, urging him away. His legs barely able to hold him up,
he leaned on Teal�c as they moved away from the trees.
When his eyes began adjusting to the brightness, Daniel looked
around. They were approaching a large stream, probably the same one
they had seen before. They were in a glade, still surrounded by
immensely huge trees. As he looked around, he noted that they weren�t
in the same spot as they�d been captured. Teal�c sat him down near the
water, Sam and Jack joining them scant seconds later.
He sat down heavily as his legs refused to bear his weight. Teal�c
caught him as his knees buckled, supporting him against his chest. Jack
had hold of Daniel�s arm while Sam began checking him out. He tried not
to wince at her touch as he half lay across Teal�c, his body shivering
as the cold air touched upon his damp clothes. He realized that it
wasn�t as bright as he had first thought now that his eyes had adjusted
to the light; it actually looked like the sun was beginning to set.
Someone removed his pack from his back, and soon a blanket was
spread over him. Teal�c moved from beneath him, laying him down, and
his head was cushioned on a pack. He missed the heat generated by
Teal�c�s body. When he felt Jack also leave his side, he reluctantly
opened his eyes. Sam was washing her hands by the river, Teal�c
standing guard beside her. Jack was walking around the clearing,
picking up pieces of wood. As Jack neared the trees, they suddenly
began whipping about once again. Pressure built in his head, and he
pressed his temples with his hands, trying to squeeze away the pain.
After a moment the pain and pressure stopped. He saw that Jack had
stumbled backwards, losing the load of wood as he had instinctively
brought his hands up to his head. As Jack picked up the strewn wood
while keeping a wary eye on the trees, Sam kneeled down beside Daniel.
She handed Daniel three pills and had Daniel swallow them with some
water. He took them gratefully, hoping that they would soon ease some
of the hurt that he was experiencing.
Jack began laying out the wood in order to build a campfire. Teal�c
was wandering around the clearing, picking up more wood to stockpile
for the night, decidedly staying away from the tree line. Daniel
watched as Jack attempted to light the kindling. The wood was so hard
that it didn�t seem to want to catch, the fire starting equipment
charring the wood rather than igniting it. Jack�s mouth was constantly
moving, and Daniel could picture the words in his mind as Jack swore.
Daniel leaned up onto his elbows, and reached into his pack.
Removing his journal, he opened it halfway and forced his stiff fingers
to tear out the pages. Jack quickly placed his hand over Daniel�s,
trying to stop him. The expression on Jack�s face was one of concern;
Jack probably knew how much Daniel valued his journals. But Daniel�s
written thoughts would be of no use to any of them if they were going
to catch pneumonia during a cold, damp night. He shook his head
ruefully, and continued tearing out the pages. He handed them to Jack,
who hesitated before taking them.
The flames caught at the paper, and quickly teased the kindling
into igniting. Soon the fire was burning cheerfully, giving out a bit
of welcome heat. The trees reacted to the fire in that they whipped
their limbs around. Of course, they must be terrified of fire! Jack was
watching them carefully. Daniel felt a pressure growing in his head
once again, but either it faded or he grew accustomed to it. Maybe the
trees realized that the fire was under control� who knew how
intelligent they were.
Sam took one of Daniel�s muddy hands in her own clean ones. She
carefully examined the injury around his wrist. Sam tugged at something
caught in his skin, and Daniel saw what looked like a strand of fibre
as she agonizingly pulled it out of the wound. He gritted his teeth
during the process. As she placed the strand into a sample bottle, he
brought his arm close to his face and saw that the red puffy ridge
around his wrist was full of the stuff. He hissed as she pulled on
another and tugged his hand free, unwilling to undergo this kind of
misery at the moment. He was in enough pain as it was.
She mouthed �sorry� at him, as she experimentally pulled at a
strand stuck to her own skin. He saw her wince at the pain the action
caused. As she placed her own sample into a second container, Daniel
curled up into a ball, cold, wet and shivering. He closed his eyes,
secure in the thought that she wouldn�t try to remove the strands. His
exhaustion over the past couple of days and his growing fever coupled
with the waves of agony his body was experiencing, soon overwhelmed
him, and he felt himself drifting.
He felt someone finger his hair out of his eyes, and then pause
their hand momentarily against his forehead, probably testing for
fever. He lay there despondently, thinking that a short while ago, his
only worry was that he was going to be removed from the team. Now he
was afraid that even if they made it off this planet, SG1 might be no
more if their hearing loss was permanent. Wrapped up in his pain,
Daniel didn�t register when his pants were loosened and pulled over his
hip. A cold sensation, then a sting in his thigh, and he realized that
someone had given him an injection. He just hoped that whatever it was
they�d given him, it would start to work soon.
- - - - - -
Jack watched as Daniel huddled up into himself, in very obvious
pain and misery. While Carter was preparing to give Daniel a shot of
morphine, Jack carefully brushed Daniel�s bangs away from his
mud-splattered face. He then laid his fingers against Daniel�s
forehead, registering the obvious high temperature.
Daniel barely noticed the shot, and Jack was afraid that he might
be going into shock. Carter�s worried eyes looked at Jack, and he
cursed the fact that not only were they all injured in one way or
another, they also had very limited means of communicating. Oh right,
they could write in Daniel�s journal or take a stick and draw letters
in the soil, but it wasn�t quite the same thing as talking.
Daniel was shivering violently now, and Jack took pity on him and
moved up behind him. He pulled Daniel�s upper body up onto his lap,
trying to warm him with his own body heat. He dug into Daniel�s vest
pocket and pulled out one of the bandanas that he knew Daniel always
carried around. He tipped some water onto the cloth and gently wiped
the drying mud from Daniel�s cheek and temple. Daniel tried to twist
away from the coolness of the cloth, but Jack held onto his chin and
continued to wipe the dirt away.
When he finished, Daniel settled into Jack�s arms. Carter was busy
tormenting herself by trying various medications on her wounds. Jack
remembered how it hurt when she�d pulled one of thosethings from his
wounds, no way was he letting her take more out. Carter finally settled
with a sterile wipe. She winced every time the alcohol touched upon the
welts. But she doggedly finished one wrist and moved onto the other.
When Carter approached Jack with a freshly opened sterile wipe, he
looked at her incredulously. She just extended her hand out, wiggling
her fingers. He hesitatingly gave her his hand, and jumped, swearing
mightily, as the alcohol came into contact with the reddish weals on
his skin. Daniel stirred in his arms, and Jack held himself still,
gritting his teeth as she worked her way around his arm. She took her
damned time cleaning the wound, but when she�d finished, Jack realized
that the alcohol had gotten rid of the fibres. They had all curled up
and withered, and were easily brushed away. She did the same to his
other wrist, and then worked on the wounds around his biceps. By the
time she�d finished, Jack was feeling weak and was sweating.
She and Teal�c finished tending their own wounds. Jack winced as he
saw the red puffy lines around Teal�c�s torso, some extending straight
into his womb. The Jaffa stood the pain without emotion; the only sign
of his suffering was the sweat pouring down his body. When they had
finished, they turned to Daniel. The morphine had finally kicked in
about 30 minutes after the injection. Daniels body had relaxed and he
had fallen asleep. His fever was still high, but at least now he was
able to rest. Jack hoped that they�d be able to remove the stuff from
Daniel�s wounds. He had so many�it was bound to have been a very
painful process without the injection. He was deeply asleep at the
moment. Time to get to work.
Carter began by washing out the mud and dried sap from Daniel�s
hands. Then they gently eased his damp clothes from his limp body. They
laid him down on top of another blanket. His body was a mass of welts
and bruises. His right shoulder was already turning dark, the bruise
spreading down his back. With Jack working on Daniel�s legs and Sam and
Teal�c working on Daniel�s torso and arms, they managed to get rid of
most of the strands on Daniel�s body. When they ran out of sterile
wipes, Carter took out a small bottle of alcohol that she carried for
emergency use. With that she went over the wounds, ensuring that they�d
removed all traces of the vines� residue. She spread antibacterial
cream over everything before they wrapped him up in blankets once
By then the sun had set. They had had to finish up by the light of
their flashlights. They heated up some MREs, and had a couple more
Tylenol and antihistamines for dessert. Jack signed that he�d take
first watch, then Teal�c, then Carter.
- - - - - -
Painfully fingering the handful of pebbles in his left hand, Jack
drew one up from his palm with his thumb and index finger. The muscles
surrounding the swollen flesh around his wrist ached as he manipulated
his fingers. He tossed the stone into his right hand, drew his arm back
and lobbed it into a clear pool of water before him. He barely heard
the faint splash, but at least he was hearing *something*. The stream
was a low murmur and the fire before him crackled faintly. He looked
down towards the canister of water he�d put on to boil, it was taking
its own sweet time to heat up. He tossed another pebble, watching the
ripples as the stone disturbed the still water.
He looked over towards where Daniel lay in a drugged sleep, and was
surprised to find his friend watching him, eyes heavy lidded, but
definitely awake. Smiling crookedly at Daniel, Jack said, �Hey.�
When Daniel didn�t answer, Jack dropped the pebbles on the ground
and crawled over the three feet separating him from Daniel. He wiped
his hands on his pants, before placing the back of his hand against his
check, checking for fever. It was still high, but didn�t appear to be
worse than before.
�Daniel, can you hear me?� Jack asked. He was suddenly worried that
maybe Daniel�s hearing hadn�t returned, as it had for the other three
members when they�d woken up this morning. It hadn�t completely
returned, but hour by hour, Jack�s hearing seemed to be getting better.
�Jack?� Daniel asked softly. He appeared to be still slightly out
of it, thanks to the pain killer. He�d woken up during the night in
extreme pain, and Carter had given him another dose of morphine, and
then yet another dose again a short while ago. Jack had expected Daniel
to sleep at least another couple of hours.
�Yeah,� Jack replied. Picking up the last of their bottled water
and some Tylenol, Jack helped Daniel sit up. As he leaned Daniel
against him, Daniel asked, �Where�r Teal�c n Sam?�
�They�re trying to see if they can find the other clearing. You know, the one with the path leading back to the Stargate.�
�Where the trees � oh� he said, eyes widening. �C�n hear.�
�Yeah, our hearing is coming back.� Holding the Tylenol to Daniel�s
mouth, Jack said, �Here, can you swallow these? And some water.� Jack
coaxed him into drinking as much of the water as he could. His fever
wasn�t coming down, even with the antibiotics and Tylenol they�d been
giving him. They all had a touch of fever, probably due to some kind of
toxin from the filaments the vines had left on them.
Swallowing the last mouthful of water, Daniel laid his head back
drowsily against Jack�s chest. Jack moved to put Daniel down on the
ground, but he clutched at Jack�s hand, opening his eyes and looking
�Shhh, it�s okay, it�s just me,� Jack said soothingly. As he
brushed away Daniel�s sweat soaked bangs away from his eyes, Daniel
closed his eyes again.
�Sorry, Jack,� Daniel said softly, his brow furrowed slightly, eyebrows arched upwards over closed eyelids.
�Shhh, it wasn�t your fault. Go to sleep.�
�Shouldn�ta stayed. Shoulda gone when you said. You don�t trust
me.� After a short pause, Daniel said softly, �I can�t trust me.�
�Daniel, I have no idea what you�re talking about. It�ll keep for
later, okay? Just go to sleep.� Jack kept his voice soft, trying to
lull Daniel back into slumber. Daniel didn�t answer, and Jack thought
that he was nearly there�when the water Jack had been waiting to heat
suddenly boiled over, threatening to douse the flames of the campfire.
Swearing, Jack had to lay Daniel down to move the container away
from the open flames where it would boil at a slightly lower pace. This
was to become their drinking water and he had spent enough time waiting
for it to heat. Carter didn�t trust the water purification tables,
something about the minerals in the area affecting the water. Satisfied
that the water wouldn�t boil over again, he turned back to Daniel.
Daniel had curled up on his side, eyes open once more. He watched
Jack approach him again, and Jack felt guilty that he�d had to dump him
so quickly. �Sorry,� he apologized, as he sat down beside Daniel.
�I wanna stay,� Daniel murmured.
�What?� Jack asked. �Why do you want to stay here?�
�No, stay with you. Don� kick me off t� team.�
Jack passed a hand through his hair in exasperation, his fingers
feeling bits of dirt and other stuff he�d rather not think about at the
moment. �Why would I kick�.� Jack finally figured out what Daniel was
trying to say. He�d mentioned trust earlier� �You�re talking about my
conversation with Carter, aren�t you? She told you about it?�
Daniel shook his head. �No, heard you. Talking to Sam. Sorry. Sorry, Jack.�
Jack felt like such a heel. Daniel was staring up at Jack, his glazed eyes pleading.
�It�s okay, we�ll talk about this when we get back and you�ve got a
little less happy juice in you, all right?� Daniel was fighting sleep,
and Jack would rather have this conversation with Daniel when Daniel
was lucid enough to remember what they�d said. Right now, Daniel�s
emotions were probably too close to the surface, and Jack really didn�t
want to hear him bare his soul.
�Won�t do�t again. Know now. Please Jack. Sorry. Wanna stay.�
Jack placed a hand on Daniel�s uninjured shoulder. �I know, Daniel.
You�re not off the team, okay? We�ll talk about this later when we�re
home. Go to sleep now.� Daniel grasped Jack�s arm, and as he watched,
Daniel�s eyes shut involuntarily. Soon Daniel�s fingers loosened their
hold on his arm, growing slack in sleep. Jack gently took Daniel�s hand
and placed it back down on the ground. He tucked the blanket around his
sleeping friend, and went to check on the water.
- - - - - -
�Colonel?� Sam�s tinny voice interrupted the tranquil sounds of the
stream that Jack had been listening to. He picked up the radio that he
had placed beside him on his packsack and answered, �I�m here.�
�Sir, I�ve found the clearing. It�s about 25 minutes out from where you are, across the stream.�
�Teal�c,� Jack said. �Did you copy that?�
�Indeed, O�Neill. I am proceeding back to camp as we speak.�
�Carter, stay put. I�ll break camp while I wait for Teal�c. We�ll
come and join you.� He looked over at Daniel who was still sleeping
soundly next to him, and hoped that his friend was up to the trek.
�Sir, there�s another thing. The path to the Stargate has disappeared.�
�Shit,� Jack swore to himself before replying. �You�re sure it�s the same clearing?�
�Yes sir, I can see Teal�c�s staff weapon and my specimen case.�
�We�ll deal with it when we get there. See if you can find a good spot where we can cross.�
�Yes, sir. I�ll be waiting.�
Jack placed the radio in his jacket pocket, and then began packing
up their gear. He threw stream water over the fire, making sure that it
was totally extinguished. He didn�t want the trees blaming them for
causing a forest fire. �Smokey Bear would be proud of me�, he mumbled
under his breath as he kicked the sodden ashes apart.
Jack surveyed the camp one last time, and then turned to Daniel. He
knelt down beside his friend and shook him gently. Daniel stirred
slightly, but didn�t wake.
�Daniel, come on, wake up. We�ve got to get going,� Jack said,
shaking him a little less gently. Daniel opened his eyes, saw Jack, and
closed his eyes again.
�Oh no, you don�t. Come on, upsee daisey.� He pulled Daniel up into
a sitting position. The movement and the cold air on his body finally
�Jack?� he complained. Jack kept a steadying hand on Daniel while reaching for his friend�s pants and tee shirt.
�Let�s get you dressed, Daniel. Carter�s found our clearing, and
Teal�c�s on his way back. We�re moving out as soon as he gets here.�
Daniel took the proffered article of clothing, and with Jack�s help,
managed to get dressed without too much difficulty. Jack handed Daniel
his boots and walked down to the river�s edge to see if Teal�c was
nearby. He spotted Teal�c and waved. The Jaffa would be arriving in
another minute or two. Jack returned to Daniel�s side. His friend had
managed to get the boots on, but Jack could see that he was having
difficulty tying up the laces. Watching Daniel fumble once, and then
again, Jack batted his hands away and deftly knotted them up. It
reminded him of when Charlie was a baby, except that he was lacing size
11 boots rather than little kiddie feet.
When Teal�c arrived at the campsite, he picked up their backpacks
while Jack helped Daniel stand up. Keeping his arm around Daniel�s
waist, they began making their way along the stream towards where
Carter awaited them. The going was slow; Daniel kept tripping over
roots and stones. Jack could feel him shaking with the effort of
Their journey was made even more difficult because they had to keep
their distance from the edge of the trees. If they wandered too close,
the trees protested and the pain from their complaint would send them
to their knees.
It took them 45 minutes before they met up with Carter. She�d found
a spot where they could cross fairly easily. The area was wider here,
but the water appeared to be slightly less deep as the current was
dispersed over a sand bar near the middle of the stream.
Jack sat Daniel down to rest before they attempted to cross. Carter
immediately went to him and began checking him over. Jack stood at the
water�s edge, looking across the stream. They had about 70 feet to
cross, but Carter had chosen well. The water didn�t appear to be any
deeper than his waist. He looked farther downriver and he could make
out the clearing. Yup, there was Teal�c�s staff weapon shining in the
Teal�c came to stand beside Jack. �The current is strong here,
O�Neill. But it is probably the best location to cross, as the depth
appears to be shallower at this point.� He glanced over towards Daniel.
�The water will be cold. We will need a fire when we reach the other
Jack followed Teal�c�s gaze, and saw that Daniel was leaning
against Carter, legs curled beneath him, head on her shoulder, his eyes
closed. Jack thought that he looked totally exhausted. Carter was
talking to him quietly, her hand on the back of his head, holding him
close. She looked up and gave Jack and Teal�c a worried look.
Kneeling beside Daniel, Jack asked gently, �Daniel, you gonna be able to do this?�
Eyes still closed, Daniel said weakly, �Piece of cake, Jack.�
�Teal�c could carry you, put you over his shoulder��
�Indeed, it would please me greatly to put you over my shoulder, my friend.�
Daniel opened one eye and looked up at Teal�c.
�Thanks, but � um � I think I�d rather not go over like a sack of potatoes.�
He pushed himself upright with difficulty, looking over the water.
�Can I have something to drink before we start?� Jack berated himself
for not having offered Daniel any water. As Jack reached for his
canteen, Teal�c had already removed his own and was handing it over to
Daniel. Jack saw Carter replace hers back into its holder.
When he�d finished with the water, Daniel forced himself up onto
his feet. Jack was by his side in a second, making sure that he was
steady enough to stand on his own.
�Carter, think you can manage the equipment? I�d feel better having
Teal�c give me a hand with Daniel.� As his 2IC nodded, Daniel rolled
his eyes at Jack. Daniel might be feeling confident at the moment, but
Jack was sure that he was going to need the assistance of both Jack and
Teal�c before making it across to the other side.
Jack handed his weapon to Carter, who hung it around her neck. She
grabbed Daniel�s pack, and looped the straps around her arm. Nodding
her readiness, she stepped first into the water.
�It�s pretty cold,� she warned them as Jack and Teal�c escorted
Daniel to the water�s edge. Jack kept half an eye on Carter as he kept
a hold on Daniel. Within ten steps, the water was nearly up to Carter�s
armpits. She forged on without any problems, the guns held high above
the water level. She was soon out of the deeper channel and was
slogging through water reaching only halfway up her thighs.
Stepping into the rushing water, Jack could feel the bottom sloping
sharply, and within several steps, the water went from his knees clear
up to his waist. Carter was right. The water was cold, the shock of it
seizing his breath for a second. His body quickly adapted, growing numb
in the frigid liquid.
Jack�s attention was on his footing as the rocky bottom made
walking a little tricky, when he felt Daniel grab his jacket. Jack
turned to look at Daniel and saw him gasping for air. Teal�c grabbed
Daniel�s other arm, steadying him. Daniel was dragging in huge lungfuls
of air, but at irregular intervals. It was almost as if he couldn�t
control his inhalations.
�It�s cold, can�t breathe,� Daniel gasped between breaths. He began
shivering uncontrollably, and Jack realized then that with Daniel�s
temperature being so high, the shock to his body was more severe than
that of Jack�s.
Jack literally pulled Daniel along in the deep water. Daniel
appeared unable to even stand at this point; his sole attention was on
trying to breathe through chattering teeth. When they reached more
shallow water, Teal�c hefted Daniel onto his shoulder like the
proverbial sack of potatoes Daniel had alluded to earlier. They sloshed
through the river, Jack stumbling and nearly falling several times in
his rush to keep up with Teal�c.
Carter, aware of what had happened, had dumped her gear on the
ground, and had an emergency blanket already spread out. Teal�c laid
Daniel down on the blanket, and Jack and Teal�c began tearing Daniel�s
dripping clothes from him. They both removed their own tee-shirts in
order to wipe Daniel down, while Carter rushed off to collect wood. She
sacrificed the remainder of Daniel�s journal to start the fire. By the
time the wood was burning hotly, Daniel had been dried off and wrapped
up in another blanket, lying shivering against Jack�s chest.
The combination of shock, exhaustion, fever and drugs overwhelmed
Daniel, and he passed out in Jack�s arms. Carter handed Jack his now
damp tee-shirt, and helped him put it back on without disturbing Daniel
overmuch. While Carter and Teal�c looked around the clearing, Jack sat
there feeling helpless, unable to do anything but try and make Daniel
- - - - - -
Sam sat beside the colonel and Daniel, trying to dry off in the
weak sunshine and the heat of the fire. Her clothes were still damp,
but at this point it was more of a discomfort than a danger to
hypothermia. She reached over and flipped Daniel�s wet pants over,
hoping to dry them out before the sun went down. She glanced at her
friend; he hadn�t woken since he�d fallen asleep in the colonel�s arms.
The dunking in the water had brought his fever down a bit, which was a
relief. Sam expected that he�d need another shot of morphine soon; she
was beginning to get concerned, they would be running out of the stuff
She and Teal�c had walked the perimeter of the clearing several
times, unable to find any signs of where the trail leading back to the
Stargate began. Their footprints were everywhere, and although they had
a rough idea where they had first come through, the trees had shifted
in such a way that entry into the woods was impossible. The tree limb
that Daniel had cut� at her request, was still dripping sap. The tree
itself appeared ill, weakened. Its bark appeared more grey than black.
They had obviously seriously injured it. If the trees were sentient and
intelligent forms of life, wouldn�t it be more feasible to let them go
back to the Stargate and leave? Then again, she thought that the
inhabitants had originally been intending to systematically torture and
possibly kill them for their transgression.
She looked over at Colonel O�Neill, who was sitting opposite her,
one elbow leaning on bent knee. He had the leather cover of Daniel�s
journal in his hands, and his fingers kept stroking it, almost
reverently. He appeared lost in thought, staring towards the hidden
Daniel was sleeping on the ground between the colonel and Teal�c.
Teal�c had been performing kel-no-reem, the symbiote had already dealt
with much of the toxins in his bloodstream. At this moment, Teal�c was
the healthiest of the bunch. Both she and the colonel had low grade
fevers and were suffering muscular aches, especially in their arms near
their injuries. They were both beginning to feel lethargic and weak,
and nausea was beginning to settle in.
A low moan caught her attention, and she saw Daniel beginning to
stir. As she rose to her knees, Colonel O�Neill already had a hand on
Daniel�s head, and Teal�c was placing a hand on Daniel�s shoulder.
- - - - - -
Breathing. It hurt to breathe. His head was pounding, and every
painful inhalation echoed throughout his skull. Daniel tried to shift
around to try and ease the pressure on his ribs. The slight movement
roused the fire slumbering in his exhausted and misused limbs. His
muscles protested by sending waves of pain throughout his body,
culminating at the top of his skull. He stopped moving, wanting to
escape the pain. But he still needed to breathe. His ribs ached,
burned, cramped. He found himself gasping, needing air, but also
wishing he could just hold his breath and get some relief.
A hand gripped his shoulder gently, another stroked his hair. He
heard noise, and then realized that they were individual voices. He
concentrated on the sounds, after a few seconds he knew that they were
calling his name. He knew those voices. Daniel wanted to open his eyes,
but his eyelids were too heavy. He felt cold air on his lower body, and
then something stung his thigh. The pain was negligible compared to
what the rest of his body was experiencing. The draught went away when
something warm was tucked against his leg.
The voices were back. Daniel continued to struggle for breath. He
felt someone pick up his hand, the movement causing sharp pain to
radiate through his wrist and into his hand and he tried to pull it
away. His hand was firmly held for a several seconds, fingers pressing
into his skin. Then his palm and fingers were gently massaged, easing
the ache. He felt his head and shoulders lifted and placed under
something warm, which yielded more than the hard ground he�d been lying
on. The position eased the pain in his ribs slightly, and he was able
to relax a bit. He felt a hand continue to card through his hair, while
another kept up the gentle kneading on his hand. He felt a pressure on
his uninjured shoulder and knew that a third hand grasped him there.
Daniel drifted in the pain, aware of his friends around him but
unable to make the effort to join them. Time had no meaning; he
breathed, he hurt, he endured. Then one moment the pain engulfed him,
and the next, it began to ebb, enough so that he felt he could rejoin
the living once more. His head still throbbed, his muscles ached, his
injuries burned, but all was now endurable.
Daniel tried once again to open his eyes. He saw two forms beside
him, and as he blinked several times, they coalesced into Sam and
Teal�c. The weight was removed from his shoulder as Teal�c placed
something near his face. Cool wetness dribbled onto his lips and he
opened his mouth to allow it entry. He swallowed the water gratefully;
he hadn�t realized how thirsty he was. He closed his eyes, only to open
them again when something cold and wet was passed over his face.
�Daniel,� he heard Sam say. He looked over towards her, and saw her
smile at him. Her eyes looked strange, and after a moment Daniel
realized that she appeared worried. Was she worried for him?
�I gave you something for the pain; I want you to tell me when you start feeling better, okay? Daniel, do you understand?�
�Yeah, I understand� Daniel said, thinking that his voice sounded hoarse and weak. �Better now,� he added.
Sam nodded, and smiled again. �Good,� she said, passing the wet cloth over his face once more.
�Where�s Jack?� Daniel asked. Sam smiled again, and looked behind Daniel.
�Right here,� Jack�s voice sounded in his ear. Daniel tilted his
head back, and realized that he was propped up in Jack�s arms. He
looked around, saw the trees surrounding them, and with a sinking heart
knew that for some reason, they couldn�t make it home.
�Not going home?� Daniel asked, knowing the answer but still hoping he was wrong.
�The trees do not appear to wish us to leave, DanielJackson�, Teal�c answered. �They have apparently closed the trail.�
Daniel squirmed around, trying to look and make sure that Teal�c
and Jack weren�t mistaken. They had to walk through the trees in order
to get to the Stargate, which meant that they were now stuck here. But
why would they have been released, but then forced to remain? Daniel
gasped in pain as protesting skin and muscles made themselves known.
Jack pulled Daniel back down onto him, rearranging the blankets that
Daniel had disturbed with his movement.
�Don�t worry about it, Daniel. We�ll get you home to Fraiser in no
time. Just try to relax.� Jack�s words were meant to comfort and
reassure, but instead they managed to alarm Daniel. How could he relax,
they were stuck here and it was all his fault.
He lay back obediently, waiting for the pain to subside. Sam said
she�d given him something for it, but it didn�t seem as effective as it
had the other times she�d treated him. Sam�s words followed his
�I�m sorry, Daniel. I didn�t give you as much morphine as before.
We�re getting low on supplies; I only have enough for two more doses.�
Daniel looked at Sam�s concerned face. �It�s okay, Sam. I�m feeling
a lot better now.� He smiled at her, trying not to show how lousy he
really felt. He closed his eyes, and after a while, he felt himself
begin to drift.
Jack shifted beneath him and he jumped. He�d almost fallen asleep, and the movement had startled him.
�Sorry,� Jack said softly in his ear.
With stiff fingers, Daniel squeezed Jack�s arm which was wrapped
against his torso, preventing him from sliding off. Daniel looked
around lazily, the morphine was making him sleepy. He spotted the tree
that he�d injured, the one where his actions had started this whole
mess. It seemed to have shrunk onto itself, and the trees surrounding
it were leaning over it, almost in a protective manner. He looked for
the branch he�d cut into, and saw the white of the wound contrasting
against the dark of the bark. The whole branch was glistening wetly,
and as he watched, something dripped from the tip of the branch.
�It�s bleeding,� Daniel said softly.
�What? Where?� Jack asked, shifting Daniel to look at him. Daniel
realized that Jack thought Daniel was hurt, and he waved his hand
towards the tree, wincing as pain flared up at the movement.
�Not me, the tree. The sap is like blood: the tree�s still
bleeding. Jack, I might have killed it; it might be bleeding to death.�
Daniel tried to sit up and get a better look at the tree, and Jack
pulled him back down irritably when Daniel grasped his ribs at the
�Daniel, stay put, willya,� Jack snapped.
Daniel tried to relax again, waiting for the pain to diminish. �Did you try and stop the bleeding?� Daniel asked.
�The trees won�t let us near them, Daniel.� Sam replied.
�Don�t worry about the damned trees,� Jack said irritably. Daniel
wondered why Jack was so short-tempered with him, and looked to Sam for
an answer. Daniel suddenly realized that she looked sick. She was pale
and the skin below here eyes were smudged with fatigue. Daniel glanced
over at Teal�c, but his friend appeared well.
�Sam, are you okay?� Daniel asked. She looked at him and smiled, but Daniel could tell that she was hiding something from him.
�I�m fine, just a little tired.�
�No, you�re sick, aren�t you?� Daniel twisted in Jack�s arms,
trying to look at him. He glimpsed bloodshot eyes and a face lined with
fatigue. �You�re both sick.� He finally sat up with difficulty. Jack
kept a hand on him, making sure he didn�t topple over and land in the
�The vines must produce some kind of toxin, Daniel.� Sam leaned
over and pushed him back down onto the ground, placing a pack beneath
his head as a pillow. �We�re all a little sick, but we haven�t had as
much exposure as you had to them. You just need to rest, okay? Try to
conserve your strength, and let us figure out how to get you home.�
�I can help,� Daniel offered, fighting to keep his eyes open.
�Fine, but do it from where you�re lying,� Jack ordered. The effort
of sitting up exhausted Daniel, and he stopped resisting and gave in to
�So, what are we going to do about getting home?� Daniel asked. He
hadn�t expected an answer; there really was nothing that they could do
unless the trees decided to let them pass. His eyelids heavy, he gazed
back towards the injured tree. As his eyes closed against his will,
Daniel thought he spied several pairs of eyes staring at them from
between the branches of the trees.
- - - - - -
Jack watched as Daniel drifted off to sleep. He brought his hands to the back of his neck, trying to ease his headache.
�O�Neill, you and MajorCarter are ill. Perhaps if you rest a while, you would feel better upon waking. I will stand watch.�
The offer was too tempting to refuse. There wasn�t anything that
Jack could think of doing at the moment, so he nodded his agreement. He
curled up beside Daniel, with Carter lying on the other side of the
fire. He listened to the crackling of the fire, the rustling of leaves
in the wind, thankful that his hearing appeared to be nearly normal
now. He fell asleep quickly.
Daniel�s shout woke him out of a deep sleep. Daniel was thrashing
on the ground, yelling for someone to �make it stop�. Jack reached over
and grabbed Daniel, realizing that he was dreaming. Jack saw Teal�c
striding from the other side of the clearing, where he�d obviously been
searching for a way out. Carter made her way around the fire, coming
around to squat beside Jack.
As Jack turned Daniel onto his back, the movement woke him up and
he opened his eyes. He looked around in confusion, and Jack could see
his eyes appeared glazed. Jack felt the heat of fever on Daniel�s bare
skin beneath the blanket. Daniel finally met Jack�s eyes, and he was
relieved to see recognition in them. Carter was rummaging through the
first aid kit, probably looking for more Tylenol.
�Make it stop crying, Jack,� Daniel begged.
�Make what stop?� Jack asked.
�The tree, it�s crying. Can�t you hear it? It�s hurting. Make it stop hurting.�
�Daniel, the tree�s not crying,� Jack said patiently. �You were dreaming.�
�No, I can hear it.�
�Daniel,� Sam said gently. �Listen, listen very carefully.� Daniel turned to look at her. �Do you hear it now?�
Jack saw Daniel�s brow furrow in concentration, his eyes looking wildly towards the injured tree.
�I� I don�t� I can�t hear it anymore,� Daniel said sadly.
�That�s because it was all a dream. You dreamed the tree was
crying, understand?� Jack reached for the water bottle and lifted
Daniel�s head so he could drink. Carter gave Daniel the Tylenol, which
he swallowed with a bit more water. Jack was beginning to get worried.
He looked at the sky, estimating that it would be dark in a couple of
Carter was checking Daniel�s clothes, and stating that they were
dry, Jack decided to put them back on Daniel, should they need to move
fast. Once dressed, they tried to make Daniel comfortable. Carter
rested his head on her lap, where he lay quietly, staring off towards
the wounded tree. As Jack watched, he saw movement around the trunk,
and realized that the little stick people were moving around just
beyond the fringes of the trees.
�Damn it, we�ve got company,� Jack said softly.
�They�ve been there the whole time, Jack,� Daniel said, just as softly.
�What do you mean?� Sam asked.
�DanielJackson is correct. The indigenous life forms have been
nearby ever since we crossed the river. They are only now being more
obvious about it.� Teal�c sat down beside Jack, offering him a power
bar. Jack declined, his stomach certainly not in the mood for food at
the moment. He saw Carter blanch at the sight of the food, and wished
that he could come up with a plan to get them home.
Daniel was still staring at the tree intently, and suddenly he stiffened, and tried to sit up.
�They�re trees,� Daniel said in an astonished voice, as Carter made him lean against her in support.
�Of course those are trees,� Jack said, beginning to wonder if Daniel was becoming delirious.
�No, I mean the little stick people � the aliens, they become the
trees. They�re like children. Look at them, Jack. They�re miniature
versions. They probably grow to a certain size and then go plant
themselves in the woods. Look, look at that one,� Daniel exclaimed at a
much stockier form passed near the edge of the trees. �He�s much larger
than the rest. He�s moving much more slowly, he�s probably ready to dig
his roots in.� Although Daniel was excited at the revelation, his voice
appeared breathless and weak.
�Sam, help me up,� Daniel asked as he tried to place his feet underneath him.
�Daniel, stay put,� Jack ordered as Carter tried help to Daniel. He
turned and glared at Jack, and continued to push himself upright.
Sighing, Jack had no choice but to get up and make sure that Daniel
didn�t fall over. Daniel swayed, and Jack saw his eyes lose focus for a
few seconds. He managed to rally a bit, grabbing onto Jack for a moment
before he regained his equilibrium. Carter was up also, holding onto
�Bandages, tape, gauze,� Daniel mumbled, looking around dazedly for
the items. �Jack, do we have something we can use to stop the sap from
running?� Carter let go and rummaged through the first aid kit.
Still holding onto his friend, Jack said, �Daniel, this doesn�t
make sense. There are broken pieces of wood lying everywhere. I know,
because we�ve been burning them for the past 24 hours. The trees have
survived having bits broken off from them, and I sure as hell don�t
remember seeing any dead trees in the forest.�
�I know, but those were probably due to acts of nature. Jack, I�m responsible for this.�
�Daniel, if anyone is responsible, it�s me,� Carter said, as she
handed Daniel some bandages and tape. He took them awkwardly, obviously
having problems using his hands. �I�m the one who asked you to take the
sample. If there�s anyone to blame, it should be me.�
�Oh, for crying out loud!� Jack exclaimed, waving his free hand in
the air. �Nobody is to blame here. We came to do a job, like we�ve done
a dozen times before. It�s not like we had any warnings that the trees
Daniel stared at Jack. �But we did, Jack. The carvings near the
Stargate, they had pictures of the trees and the little aliens. I
�Ack ack, don�t start that,� Jack said, pushing his raised index
finger before Daniel�s face. �You�re not going to tell me what looked
like a picture of a tree and a child�s stick drawing of a man could
have told you about any of this.�
Daniel looked away a moment, before saying, �No, you�re right. But
I still have to try.� As he turned towards the tree, Jack squeezed
Daniel�s arm, want him to stop. Daniel turned to Jack and gave him a
pleading look. Jack figured he�d let Daniel try, at least this way if
it didn�t work, maybe Daniel would rest easier because he had at least
tried to do something.
�Don�t get too close, Daniel,� Jack warned, remembering the pain
the trees caused when they got agitated. Daniel continued walking until
he was a few feet away. He stopped before the tree, swaying slightly,
and slowly held up the bandages. He took a step forward, and then
another. The trees remained still. Another two steps and Daniel was
standing before the ailing tree. He began wrapping the material around
the injury, his movements clumsy and obviously painful. Jack began to
walk towards his friend to help him, but the trees began jerking
loudly. Jack stopped, and the trees settled after a moment. He guessed
that Daniel was on his own. Teal�c and Carter joined him, ready to pull
Daniel out of there if the trees tried to grab him.
Having wrapped the bandage around the limb, Daniel began winding
tape around it to hold it in place. When he finished, he looked for
something to cut the end of the tape. He spotted his knife lying on the
ground nearby where he�d dropped it the day before. He bent down to
pick it up, and lost his balance. Jack took an involuntary step
forward, coming to a halt when the trees warned him off once again.
Daniel was on all fours, breathing heavily. To Jack�s surprise, Daniel
put a hand out to the nearest tree and used it for leverage to drag
Daniel cut off the end of the tape, and tried to place the knife
back in its holster on his belt. He fumbled several times before
finally getting it right. He took a few steps back, and Jack caught him
as his legs gave out beneath him. Teal�c was beside him in a flash,
helping Jack half drag, half carry Daniel back to his makeshift bed.
Jack placed the blanket over Daniel, shaking his head at his
friend�s determination. The effort he�d expended had exhausted his
already weakened body, and Jack could feel his muscles trembling. He
fell asleep nearly as soon as Jack had him horizontal.
�O�Neill.� Teal�c�s warning had Jack up and reaching for his gun in
one swift move. He aimed it at the approaching alien; the one who
Daniel had pointed out was bigger than the rest. It was lumbering
slowly towards them. Leaves were beginning to grow out of its limbs,
smaller branches beginning to sprout from its �arms� and �legs�. Jack
thought that Daniel�s assumption might be right; these beings were
definitely turning into trees.
Carter and Teal�c both joined Jack, standing before Daniel�s
oblivious body. The tree alien came to a stop several feet away, and
bending with difficulty, lowered something to the ground before them.
It was a piece of wood, about 10 inches long, with the center hollowed
out. Inside of it was some kind of oily liquid. With thick fingers, the
creature pantomimed dipping into the oil and spreading the stuff over
what would be its wrist. It looked towards Daniel, and then took
several clumsy steps backwards.
Carter approached slowly, bending down to take the proffered
container and sniffing the contents. She made her way back towards her
friends, not knowing what to do with the stuff. The creature once again
pantomimed dipping its fingers into the oil, then pointed at Daniel.
�Sir, this might be something to combat the toxin the vines gave
out,� Carter suggested. Jack took his eyes off the creature and looked
�How do we know that stuff won�t make him worse?� Jack asked.
�We don�t, but so far nothing we�ve given him has done any good. If
anything, he�s getting worse. And I hate to say this, sir, but so are
Jack had to agree with Carter. He felt lousy, and could see that
she did too. There was also the chance that even if they managed to get
Daniel home, Doctor Fraiser wouldn�t be able to counteract the toxin
that was poisoning Daniel.
�Put some on me,� Jack ordered, offering her his arm. Carter
dropped her weapon and smeared a fingerful of the stuff on Jack�s
wrist. The burning stopped immediately, and the ache and stiffness
eased up slightly. The creature was gesturing towards Daniel once
again. Hoping that the stuff would help his friend, he said, �Okay,
Daniel first.� Carter put her weapon down and raised Daniel�s tee shirt
to expose his wounds. Teal�c and Carter began treating Daniel while
Jack stood nearby; his gun aimed towards the alien.
Daniel shifted slightly at their ministrations. Carter talked to
him gently as Teal�c pulled down his pants to reach the wounds along
his thighs and calves. Daniel didn�t quite wake, but continued to
fidget in his sleep. When they finally finished tending Daniel, Jack
glanced down at his friend. His face appeared more relaxed now that he
was no longer in pain.
The alien watched all of this, standing as still as a tree.
�Yourselves next,� Jack ordered. As Carter treated Teal�c, Jack
took a quick look, noting that the wounds on Teal�c�s skin looked
almost as livid and raw as his own. His symbiote might be dealing with
the toxins, but Jack suspected that Teal�c wasn�t feeling 100%. Teal�c
took up guard position after he had tended to Carter, and she treated
the rest of Jack�s wounds. When finished, Carter walked up to the
creature with the near empty container. It slowly extended a limb, the
small branches at the end of the branch coming out to gently grasp the
container from her hands. It turned and made its slow way back to its
Jack relaxed slightly when it disappeared amongst the trees. He
glanced at the wounded tree and noted that the wound appeared to have
stopped dripping sap; at least the makeshift bandage Daniel had wound
around the limb appeared to be dry.
- - - - - -
Teal�c didn�t need to check his timepiece in order to know that he
had another hour left on watch. He had performed kel-no-reem and his
symbiote had finally rid his body of the toxins which had been making
him ill. His injuries were no longer paining him, and the swelling and
stiffness were nearly gone.
He reached over from his seated position and laid on hand on
DanielJackson�s forehead, testing for fever. His touch perceived heat,
but it was not as rampant as it had been earlier in the evening. He did
the same for O�Neill and then CaptainCarter, relieved to find that both
had normal temperatures. They slept deeply now their bodies were no
longer in pain. Whatever had been in the substance the being had given
them to treat their wounds with, it had effectively numbed the pain of
their injuries and neutralized the poison in their bodies.
Teal�c glanced towards the trees, constantly aware of the movement
near the fringes of the woods. He could occasionally see the reflection
of their fire in the eyes of the creatures as they stopped to stare at
them. Teal�c contemplated on the reason that they had been permitted to
leave that underground prison. Could it have been his symbiote? The
vine had breached the entrance of his womb, and had pulled out once it
had come into contact with the Goa�uld larva. Maybe these beings had
made contact with the Goa�uld before. He suspected that it was
something he may never know.
DanielJackson coughed softly, and Teal�c turned back to his friend. He was awake, and was turning to face him.
�DanielJackson, are you in pain?� Teal�c asked, trying to remember
where CaptainCarter had placed the remaining syringes of the
painkiller. He realized that his friend was several hours overdue for a
shot. Teal�c hoped that the substance had relieved Daniel of his pain.
�Teal�c,� Daniel croaked. He cleared his throat. �No, I�m okay. Is there any water?�
�Of course,� Teal�c said, his hand already uncapping the canteen.
He helped his friend sit up and handed him the container of water. He
watched as Daniel held the canteen shakily to his mouth, ready to
assist should he need the aid.
�How do you feel?� he asked quietly as he took the water bottle and
helped Daniel lie back down when he�d finished drinking. He tossed a
few logs on the fire, and the flames rose up, illuminating their camp.
�Better, thanks. Doesn�t hurt as much.� He looked around, trying to peer in the darkness. �The tree?� Daniel asked.
�It appears to be healing,� Teal�c answered, remembering the last
glimpse he�d had as the sun had set was of the tree beginning to stand
tall once again.
�Good,� Daniel said with a smile.
�I do not believe it was due to our efforts, my friend.� Daniel�s
eyes jumped to Teal�c�s face. �I believe this may have been a test, to
see where our actions might have led. Once you bandaged the tree�s
wound, one of the beings came out and presented us with an antidote of
sorts. That is why you are feeling better; the medication relieved the
pain of your wounds, and has probably neutralized the toxins in your
body. You are still ill, but not to the extent of this past day.�
�But why test us?� Daniel asked. He raised a hand and rubbed his
forehead. �Unless they wanted to find out if we came here with the sole
intention of hurting them? They came after me in that cave because I
cut one of them, didn�t they? Maybe they wanted to see if we�d try to
leave by using violence? And why give us an antidote? Why not just let
us pass through the trail and go back to the Stargate? Did they open
the trail? Can we go home?�
Teal�c smiled slightly to himself as he listened to his friend
expound on his theories. It was a sure sign that he was feeling better;
although he was still very weak.
�The trail was still hidden to us as the light failed; we need to
wait until morning and see if the aliens will permit us to leave. In
the meantime, you should rest, DanielJackson.� Teal�c placed the back
of his fingers on Daniel�s cheek, testing for fever once again, and
letting his friend know he wasn�t alone. �There still remains several
hours of darkness. Sleep, you will feel better come morning.�
�Sam and Jack? They�re better too?� Daniel asked, his eyelids beginning to close.
�They have been given the anti toxin and are resting comfortably.
As should you be,� he added. As he watched, Daniel�s eyes closed and he
was soon asleep. Teal�c removed his hand from Daniel�s cheek, relieved
at having spoken with his friend and seeing for himself that he
appeared to be better.
Teal�c settled himself and returned to his vigil. He would awaken MajorCarter in another 45 minutes for her turn on watch.
- - - - - -
Daniel swatted at the hand as it shook his shoulder once again. He
tried to roll over and go back to sleep, when Jack�s voice sounded in
�Damnit, Daniel, wake up.� Jack didn�t sound very happy, so Daniel
cracked his eyes open. Jack was squatting next to him, a hand on his
�I�m awake,� Daniel mumbled, turning onto his side. As his bruised
shoulder ground into the hard earth, he hissed in pain and quickly
turned onto his back.
�You okay?� Jack asked with concern.
�Yeah�, Daniel said, trying to sit up. He gently rubbed his
shoulder, trying to massage the pain away. It was only then that Daniel
noticed the *tree* sitting in the middle of the clearing. It was about
6 feet high, and was a cross between the immense trees and the little
wooden aliens scampering around the edge of the woods.
Daniel looked at Jack, and saw the smug look on his face. �We have a visitor, Daniel. Say hello.�
Daniel saw Sam and Teal�c go up to the tree and Sam take something
from its hands�branches. She brought it over to Daniel, and he saw it
was a wooden container with some oil inside.
�Looks like the aliens think you need a second treatment, Daniel,�
she said with a smile. Daniel looked at her and Jack in confusion. He
remembered vaguely talking to Teal�c during the night, and his
mentioning an antidote? The alien remained where he was, watching them
Jack tugged at the hem on Daniel�s tee-shirt, and Daniel pulled down on it, glaring up at Jack.
�Take it off, Daniel. We need to spread the stuff on those wounds again.�
Daniel looked at the liquid in Sam�s hands, then back at Jack�s
resolute face. He sighed, pulling at the tee-shirt, grateful when Jack
helped him pull it over his head when his ribs and shoulder protested.
He looked at the marks on his chest. There were reddish marks going
completely around his rib cage and waist, marking the spot where the
vines had encircled him. Beneath the weals were bruises, which
explained why his ribs hurt so much.
Sam began pasting the stuff on him with her fingers. Jack pulled
Daniel back against him, and Daniel relaxed into his friend�s hold as
his weakened muscles began to protest his efforts at remaining sitting
up. Wherever Sam spread the stuff, Daniel could feel his skin and
muscles loosening slightly, relieving a tension he wasn�t quite aware
of until it went away. When she�s finished with his front, Jack pushed
Daniel forward so he was leaning up against Teal�c. The Jaffa held him
firmly, and Daniel let his head fall forward onto Teal�c�s shoulder. He
closed his eyes, and soon began to drift.
He mumbled sleepily when his tee-shirt was pulled over his head
once again. He was lowered back down onto his back, and he felt his
pants pulled down over his hips. They turned him onto his side, and the
cooling liquid was spread over his legs. Daniel had nearly dozed off by
the time his pants were pulled back on.
He rubbed at his face irritably, wanting nothing more than to
sleep. He heard Sam get up and walk away, and he suddenly remembered
the alien. He forced his eyes open and reached over towards Jack. Jack
jumped at his touch. Daniel figured he must have thought that he was
asleep. He pulled himself up using Jack as leverage.
�You okay?� Jack asked, pulling Daniel against him once again, supporting him so he was sitting up.
�Yeah, just really sleepy. What�s in that stuff,� Daniel asked.
�Your guess is as good as mine, but it�s worked miracles. Hungry?�
Jack asked him as Daniel watched Sam return the container to the alien.
Daniel nodded abstractedly as the alien walked away clumsily. A power
bar was placed underneath his nose. Daniel began chewing, and after the
first bite, he realized that he was starving. Jack threatened to take
it away from him, admonishing him to eat more slowly. He forced himself
to slow down, and by the time he�d finished the meal, he felt full.
Jack offered him some water, but Daniel, his nose having already alerted him to its presence, asked, �Coffee?�
Jack poured him half a cup, which Daniel gratefully accepted. As he
sipped the warm brew, Daniel realized that he was feeling much better.
Other than the painful bruises all over his body and the overall
tiredness and weakness, he realized that the relief from pain he felt
at the moment wasn�t morphine-induced. He felt fairly clear-headed, and
thought that his fever was gone, or nearly so. His stomach was full, he
had coffee, and his friends were nearby. All they needed now was a way
to get home. Daniel thought that there must be a way of communicating
with the aliens. He closed his eyes a moment, trying to remember if the
one who�d approached their camp had made any motions with its body.
Maybe there was a body language that he was missing.
- - - - - -
Jack watched Daniel close his eyes, and rescued his nearly empty
coffee cup seconds later as Daniel�s hand relaxed in sleep. He smiled
to himself; he was still worried over Daniel�s health, but he appeared
to be improving steadily. Carter leaned over and placed a hand over
Daniel�s cheek. She smiled, shaking her head. No fever.
Okay, so the aliens had deemed fit to give them a cure for what
ailed them. They weren�t overtly aggressive; Jack admitted that they
probably had acted in self-defence the first time they�d been grabbed
anyway. Jack and his team hadn�t made any other aggressive moves
towards the aliens. So why were they biding their time? What were they
Jack thought it strange that the medicine had been delivered once
Daniel had gone up to that tree and tried to make it better. He didn�t
like that; it felt like they�d been assessing his team, trying to see
what they would do. Daniel�s overt attempt at trying to help should
have at least been a step in the right direction. But the path still
Granted, none of them had tried to approach the tree line for fear
of getting the beings all upset again. His hearing appeared to be back
to normal and he didn�t want to see what a second dose of that noise
might do. Jack figured that Fraiser was going to have a heyday what
with giving them hearing tests when they got back.
Daniel was a dead weight in his arms, and Jack was getting tired.
He caught Teal�c�s eye and they gently lowered Daniel to the ground.
Daniel curled up sleepily on his side. Jack got up and began pacing,
trying to rid himself of the excess energy that came from waiting.
- - - - - -
Sam watched the colonel pace the length of the shoreline,
constantly glancing back towards the trees. She understood how he felt;
waiting was always the hardest part of being a soldier. She chose
instead to try and conserve her strength, sitting near the fire and
keeping an eye on Daniel.
Daniel slept the sleep of the exhausted. She suspected he�d been
pushing himself before this mission; he�d looked tired two mornings ago
when he�d joined them prior to the mission. The poison and fever
certainly hadn�t helped any; she suspected he�d probably sleep straight
through until tomorrow if given the opportunity.
Colonel O�Neill stomped over to where she was sitting and plopped
himself down beside Teal�c. He�d been alternating pacing and resting
for the past several hours, ever since the tree creature had given them
a second dose of the anti toxin. It and its brethren were still out
there; some were sitting around watching them, others were moving
around in the woods.
Before she could speak up, the colonel exclaimed, �This is
ridiculous.� He jumped up and began striding towards the trees.
Stopping a couple of feet away, he opened his arms wide and yelled,
�Hey! What are you guys waiting for?�
Teal�c got up and approached the colonel. �O�Neill,� he cautioned.
The colonel ignored Teal�c. He continued to rant at the forest as
Teal�c came to stand beside his commanding officer. �You came out and
you gave us some medicine. You cured us.� He turned back and waved
towards Sam and Daniel. �See, Daniel�s doing much better now.�
Jack�s yelling had woken Daniel. He had raised himself up on his
elbows, staring at his friend. He looked up at Sam, a look of confusion
on his face.
�What�s he doing?� Daniel asked her.
�I don�t know, but I think maybe it�s time we pushed the issue,�
Sam answered. She picked up her P-90 and placed the strap around her
shoulder. Standing in one lithe movement, she began walking towards her
�What do you want us to say? Thank you? Okay�thanks for the help. Now, be nice trees let us out of here!�
�Jack, do you really think yelling at them is going to help?�
Daniel�s slightly sarcastic voice sounded from behind Sam. She turned
to see Daniel walking towards them, a little shaky, but moving on his
own power. He came to a stop beside the colonel, placing a conciliatory
hand on his arm.
He turned towards Daniel and said, �Well I don�t know. They don�t
appear to understand that all we want to do�� he turned towards the
trees and yelled, �is go home!�
Turning around in apparent disgust, Colonel O�Neill began walking
back to their camp. Sam turned with the others to accompany him, but a
noise drew her attention. She looked back and saw the trees pulling
aside, revealing the trail they had been concealing all this time.
�Colonel,� she called out. He turned and seeing the path, gave the
order to break camp. They did so quickly and efficiently, anxious to be
on their way home. They entered the vine-congested path with
trepidation, noting with relief that the vines now slithered out of
their way as they approached. An occasional glimpse of movement or
sound showed that the tree creatures continued to pace them behind the
As much as Sam wanted to hurry up and make the best speed possible
towards the Stargate, the colonel deliberately kept the pace slow as
within minutes, Daniel was stumbling on the uneven trail. Teal�c kept a
supporting hand on Daniel�s arm, while the colonel watched their backs.
Sam had point, but she kept turning around every time she�d hear
Daniel�s step falter.
They continued on for over 30 minutes when Teal�c spoke out behind them. �O�Neill, this is not the way to the Stargate.�
�Are you sure, Teal�c?� Sam asked, as the Jaffa�s words brought the team to a halt.
�We have been going steadily south, the Stargate is to the East.
The path is not the same as the one on which we first travelled.�
The colonel turned in a circle, trying to get his bearings. He
raised his hands in defeat. �It�s not like we�ve got much of a choice.
We can either keep going wherever it is that they want us to go, or
turn back.� As they looked the way they came, they saw the trees slowly
bend towards one another, effectively barring the trail. �Or not,� he
�Let�s go,� he ordered, taking point and permitting Sam to cover
their sixes. As she changed position, she cast an assessing eye on
Daniel. He appeared pale and tired, and she�d have preferred that he
not be forced to detour from their way home. But he was still game to
continue on, quickly taking his place behind their leader.
They walked for another twenty minutes when the trail suddenly
opened up into a much thinner part of the forest. The trees were
interspersed with large mounds of rubble. Upon a closer look, it
appeared that the trees had set themselves down at deliberate areas and
had *grown* into the ruins, causing them to collapse purposely.
She looked at Daniel, expecting him to go running off and
exploring. Instead, to her dismay, he was leaning against a nearby
tree. He wasn�t even looking towards the ruins; his eyes were closed
and his head was tilted back against the bark. As she approached him,
she saw Teal�c speak to him softly. Daniel nodded and slid down the
tree, his knees folded before him. He�d wrapped his arms around his
ribs, hands tucked under his armpits.
Sam knelt beside Daniel, feeling for his pulse as she spoke to him.
�How are you feeling, Daniel?� she asked. She noted that his pulse
was rapid, but strong. She placed a hand on his cheek, and noted that
although damp, his skin was a little too warm.
�I�m fine, Sam. Just really tired.�
She dug in her pack for some Tylenol to try and stop the onset of
fever. She hoped that it was just due to exhaustion; but she had no way
of knowing whether the stuff the aliens had given them had really
neutralized the toxins. Maybe it was just something that relieved the
Colonel O�Neill alternated between watching the surrounding area
and the interaction of his team. Teal�c had left Daniel in Sam�s care
and was walking around the area. After doing the little she could for
her friend, Sam joined Teal�c in the survey of the debris. The trees�
roots had effectively crumbled the stone structure, leaving very little
to identify what it had once been. Daniel would have a better idea, but
the fact that he wasn�t showing the least interest in this place
worried her. A lot.
After a bit, Teal�c returned with something in his hand. He made
for the colonel, so Sam stopped her exploration and went to join him.
Teal�c had a bit of stone that held a carving of an open eye. She
recognized it from documents she�d seen from the colonel�s first
mission. It was the sign of Ra.
�Ra,� the colonel confirmed.
�Indeed. This appears to have been an ancient temple erected in his
name.� Teal�c tossed the piece of masonry aside, watching as it broke
into several pieces. �I do not believe the indigenous life of this
planet cared much for his rule,� he said as he looked around.
�Ya think?� the colonel asked. Sam hid a smile as she turned back
towards Daniel. She frowned when she saw that the tree he�d been
leaning on appeared to have pulled in on itself, creating a shallow
hollow in the form of Daniel�s body; effectively creating a space to
cradle his body.
�Daniel,� she called warily.
Daniel opened his eyes and looked up at Sam. She nodded at the
tree, and he turned his head to look. He pulled away quickly when he
realized that the tree had molded itself around him. He stood up too
quickly, swaying alarmingly. Both she and the colonel grabbed for him,
holding him steady until he was able to stand unaided. He seemed to
notice the tableau before him then, and looked around with interest.
�Ra�s place,� Jack said succinctly. �Teal�c found a rock with that
eye thing carved on it. Looks like our friends didn�t like his
Daniel walked over to scrutinize the nearest of the rubble. As he
squatted to examine the foundation, Sam wandered off in the other
direction. She glanced back towards the tree. It had taken back its
normal form, the depression having disappeared.
�This place was destroyed a long time ago,� Daniel stated. �Long
before we killed Ra. I wonder if they managed to expulse him somehow,
or if Ra just lost interest and stopped coming.�
Sam spotted what appeared to be a solid wall in the distance, one
which hadn�t been destroyed by the trees. Actually, there weren�t any
trees within several feet of it. She took several steps towards it when
she heard the colonel swear. She looked back and saw Daniel sitting on
his butt, looking slightly dazed. Rushing over, she realized that he�d
lost his balance and had sat down without expecting to.
�Sir, there�s a piece of wall over in that direction that appears
to be undamaged. I think it might be a little�safer�for Daniel to rest
away from these trees.� The colonel�s keen brown eyes peered in the
direction she pointed. He offered Daniel a hand, hauling the younger
man up when he grasped it.
They stepped over the rubble and made their way to the wall that
Sam had spotted. It was about ten feet long and three feet high, and
was covered from top to bottom with pictures of animals and trees
enclosed in little etched squares. The colonel wanted Daniel to sit and
rest against the wall, but as soon as Daniel spotted the writings, he
�Jack, this is incredible,� Daniel exclaimed, as he knelt before
the wall. He winced as his bruised knees met the ground, and he settled
instead for a precarious squat. He leaned his hand against the wall for
balance. �It�s a mixture of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and �
something else. Maybe their written language?� he speculated as he
waved a hand towards the trees. �This is indescribable. It�s a totally
unique blend of an ancient earth language with an alien one. It�ll take
weeks� months� to translate this.�
Sam smiled at his enthusiasm, watching him as he carefully traced
one of the signs with his index finger. Mumbling to himself, he reached
into his backpack and took out his journal. He froze at the light
weight of the pageless book. He ducked his head in embarrassment as he
returned it to his pack. He reached back with his uninjured arm and
carefully eased himself down into a seated position. Sam could see that
the adrenaline rush had left him, leaving him exhausted once again.
The colonel squatted down beside Daniel, taking his pack from him.
Reaching in, Sam was surprised to see Colonel O�Neill take out Daniel�s
�Well, since I burned all of your writing material, maybe I could
videotape this thing for you? Give you a chance to study it later at
Daniel�s pleased look brought a lump to Sam�s throat. She
remembered her talk earlier with Daniel at the SGC, and thought that
maybe her two friends might be able to work out their problem. She
moved off to reconnoitre the area.
- - - - - -
Daniel rested his head against the cool stone, listening to the
sound of Jack�s feet as he took an occasional step away from him.
Daniel turned his head, looking at Jack who was intent on videotaping
In a soft voice, Daniel said, �Um, you know, yesterday� I was a little��
�Yeah, I know�,� Jack said distractedly.
�You gave me some��
�Yeah, we did�,� Jack answered, looking up quickly from the viewfinder.
�And I was a little�,� Daniel said, ducking his head in embarrassment.
�Out of it?� Daniel heard the smile in Jack�s voice.
�Out of it,� Daniel agreed.
�We had to give you some for the��
�I know. Um� I didn�t mean to�� Daniel looked up at Jack, and saw that he was still looking at him.
�I�d still like to be on...� Daniel heard his voice waver as he said this, and he berated himself for it.
�You�re not going anywhere.�
�It won�t happen again.�
�You know?� Daniel asked in surprise.
�I know you. You won�t make the same mistake twice.�
�Thanks. I won�t,� Daniel agreed. He shut his eyes, wishing he had
the energy to explore the ruins. He listened to Jack�s footsteps as he
continued to slowly make his way around the wall. His head felt heavy
and he was aware of it slowly dropping onto his chest. He didn�t resist
the pull of sleep, Jack�s footsteps sounding as his anchor towards
safety. As long as he could hear Jack, he knew that he was safe.
- - - - - -
Jack made his way to the end of the wall, and stepped around it in
order to film the other side. He would have liked to rush the job, but
he knew that if he ended up with blurry footage, he�d never hear the
end of it. He concentrated on getting everything taped, and had nearly
finished when the noticed that the writing had changed. Instead of
symbols, the forms actually looked more like writing.
�Hey, Daniel, come look at this,� Jack said to his friend as he
continued filming. When he didn�t hear a response, he lowered the
camera and looked over the wall. Daniel was sitting slightly slumped
over, either asleep or unconscious.
�Shit,� Jack uttered as he rushed around the barrier. He lifted
Daniel�s head, noting that he was still slightly feverish. Jack reached
for his radio, calling both Carter and Teal�c to him.
�Daniel?� He tapped his cheek lightly, eliciting a response in the form of a slight moan and partly opened eyes.
As Daniel�s eyes closed again, Jack shook him gently. Daniel gazed
at Jack sleepily, and in that unguarded look, Jack could see the utter
weariness his friend was experiencing. He wished he could allow him to
rest, but for all he knew, those few sentences written on the wall
could very well be their ticket home.
�I found something different in the writing. I need you to come and
look at it to see if you recognize anything.� Daniel blinked sleepily
several times before attempting to stand. Jack helped him up, feeling
Daniel�s muscles shaking beneath his hand. He knew that Daniel needed
medical attention, and was afraid that Daniel was going to crash on
them before he could get his team home. He hated having to camp out
here surrounded by the trees; he�d felt much more secure in the
clearing by the river.
Carter and Teal�c joined him as he steered Daniel around the wall.
They all watched their friend as he dazedly tried to read the writing.
�It�s Hieratic, Jack,� he finally said. �Um� that�s ancient
Egyptian, kind of like a shorthand for the hieroglyphs. The dialect is
a little strange, um� it�ll take me a few minutes to translate.�
�Fine. Sit down here,� Jack urged, pressing Daniel down before the
wall. He sat down beside Daniel, and while Daniel concentrated on the
writing, Jack checked the video camera�s playback to make sure he�d
gotten all of this new text. Teal�c and Carter stood nearby, both in a
position to hear Daniel�s translation and to keep an eye out on the
trees. Jack glanced over at Daniel and was worried to see that Daniel
was having difficulty in staying awake. Which meant that his processing
ability was certainly not up to par.
�Daniel?� he questioned. If Jack could maybe get Daniel to start
talking, his friend might be able to pull himself out of this near
stupor he was in.
�Um� this says that Ra brought the trees here � to mine the
Naquada. They can extract it, separate it from the other minerals in
the soil.� Daniel closed his eyes as he continued. �The trees need
minute quantities of the Naquada as nourishment when they�re small, and
were trained to�� Daniel�s voice trailed off as his head began to lower
towards his chest.
�Daniel,� Jack said loudly, causing Daniel to jump slightly. He
looked at Jack in confusion, who pointed back towards the wall with his
chin. Daniel turned towards the wall, and rubbed at his eyes beneath
his glasses. He then peered at the writing, obviously trying to find
the spot where he�d stopped reading.
Daniel swallowed before starting again, speaking
uncharacteristically slowly. �The trees were trained to remove the
naquada in order to supply Ra with it. As they grew bigger, they no
longer needed the stuff.� As Daniel paused to read more of the text,
Jack thought that if Daniel was relegated to using simple words such as
�stuff�, he was even more exhausted than he had thought him to be.
�They were replaced with more of the smaller trees, and the bigger
trees moved away in order to take root. The little ones were treated
harshly by the Jaffa, and eventually the older trees rebelled. They
attacked the Jaffa with those vines, I think.� He stopped, closing his
eyes. Jack rubbed Daniel�s back in encouragement, before offering him
some water. Daniel took the canister with shaking hands, dribbling
water down his chin before Jack lifted a hand to hold it steady.
�O�Neill,� Teal�c said. �It is possible that the trees believe we
have come back for the Naquada, and is the reason why they do not wish
us to return to the Stargate. They know that I have a symbiote; perhaps
they believe we are returning to enslave them once again.�
�We did take a lot of soil samples, sir,� Carter agreed. �But we
still don�t know why they let us go when we were strung up by those
Jack pulled Daniel against him for support as he began to list
sideways. His head fell heavily onto Jack�s shoulder, and Jack realized
that Daniel was already asleep. He was listening to Carter and Teal�c
with half an ear while worrying over Daniel�s condition.
�I believe we were released when the plants became aware of my
symbiote. They may have reacted instinctively, remembering a time when
such a one was their ruler. Perhaps they are undecided. They do not
wish to kill, as evidenced by their providing curative oils. But at the
same time, they do not wish us to leave and possibly return with
�And you know all of this �. how?� Jack asked, hearing the sarcasm
in his voice and hating himself for it. His own exhaustion and worry
for Daniel was beginning to take a toll on him.
�It is simply speculation,� Teal�c answered calmly, obviously not bothered by Jack�s tone.
�Sir, maybe if we dump the samples that we collected we might be
giving the beings here a message that we�re not after the Naquada.�
�But we are, Carter. That�s why we came here.� Daniel was a dead
weight lying against Jack, and he shifted uncomfortably. Teal�c reached
over and helped Jack lower Daniel into a position more comfortable for
the two of them. Daniel�s head and shoulders lay on Jack�s thighs.
Teal�c removed a blanket from their packs and laid it over Daniel.
�Yes, it is, sir,� Carter continued as Jack and Teal�c tended to
their friend. �But my preliminary findings show that the trace amounts
in the soil would prove too difficult for us to extract in any case. I
was just taking some back on the off chance that I might have been
Rubbing the back of his neck, Jack told Carter to go ahead and dump
the samples. She got up and moved away from the wall, making sure that
she as in plain view of the trees. When she finished, she packed up her
now empty containers and joined her team mates.
A feeling of being watched came over Jack, and he looked around
surreptitiously. The larger of the trees had moved quietly near them,
and was waiting patiently. Jack wondered if it was the same one who had
brought them the anti toxin those two times. It looked the same, but
there were no distinguishing marks to tell them apart. Seeing that Jack
was looking at it, it took several steps away from them. When no one
moved, it approached them again, and then moved several steps away.
�I believe it wants us to follow,� Teal�c stated.
Jack sighed, knowing he had to wake Daniel up once again. With
Carter�s help, they had Daniel sitting up and more or less awake.
Teal�c stuffed everything into his pack, and soon they were walking
behind the tree. It led them to the edge of the forest, where a new
path had been opened. Daniel was like a zombie, walking only because he
knew that he had to. He barely answered their questions; Jack
recognized that intensity of exhaustion, he had experienced it more
Following the path once more, Jack started to worry as the sun
began to set. It was a little gloomy now, but still enough light
filtered through the leaves so that they could make their way without
any trouble. Twenty minutes later, they came upon the Stargate. Teal�c
immediately went to the DHD to dial them out, while Carter stood beside
Daniel, helping to steady Daniel�s wavering body.
The welcoming shimmering wormhole appeared, and with relief, Jack ordered his team home.
As they stepped into the embarkation room, Daniel�s strength
finally ran out and he collapsed. Jack caught his friend before he hit
the ground, and slowly lowered him down. He cushioned Daniel�s head
against the hard metallic ramp and waited as the medics ran up to him.
Within moments, Daniel was being conveyed towards the infirmary. Jack
got up slowly, his own exhaustion finally setting in now that he could
allow himself to relax. He met General Hammond at the ramp�s end, and
was relieved when informed that the briefing would take place after he
and his team had gotten medical treatment and sufficient rest.
- - - - - -
Jack walked softly up to the bed where his friend lay sleeping for
the past two and a half days. He was sprawled on his back, totally
oblivious to the goings on in the infirmary. An IV line snaked down
into the blankets, and Jack could also see the tubing that was attached
to a Foley catheter.
Fraiser had said that Daniel was going to be fine; that this
enforced sleep was merely due to a side effect of the toxin and
anti-toxin that had been coursing through Daniel�s system. It had
created a soporific by-product, of which the latest test results were
showing definite signs that Daniel�s system was finally flushing it
Jack placed three empty leather-bound journals on the sliding tray
beside Daniel�s bed. He pushed aside the boxes of chocolates and
magazines that friends and well wishers had dropped off, making sure
that the journals would be the first thing that Daniel saw upon
awakening. He picked up a floppy beige teddy bear from the tray, which
had been a present from Carter.
Pulling a plastic chair closer to Daniel�s bed, Jack sat down,
teddy bear held loosely between both hands. Jack carefully scrutinized
his friend�s face. There was color now in his cheeks, which was an
improvement over the grey pallor and total exhaustion that been
apparent when they had returned to the SGC. His temperature had been
normal for the past 24 hours, and Fraiser was happy with all of his
She had expressed astonishment that Daniel had actually made it
back through the Stargate on his own two feet. That plus the fact that
he had been cognizant enough in the few hours prior to their return to
even talk to Jack, let alone translate something, had totally astounded
Somehow Daniel�s determination hadn�t surprised Jack one bit.
Daniel had a habit of surpassing Jack�s expectations, and this show of
strength of will was just one of the characteristics that Jack was
coming to appreciate about Daniel. He wondered how he could have
doubted Daniel; his passion in his beliefs was one of the things that
Jack had first admired about his friend.
As Jack reached over and propped the soft toy on the pillow beside
Daniel�s head, Daniel turned onto his side facing Jack, sighing deeply.
His movement dislodged the teddy bear from the pillow, and it fell
against Daniel�s face. Jack thought he saw Daniel�s eyes open for a
moment. Jack grinned when he saw Daniel pick up the cuddly toy and
press it to his chest, arms wrapped possessively around it.
�Daniel,� Jack said softly. As much as the picture Daniel presented
was sweet and amusing, his friend wouldn�t appreciate knowing that
others might have seen him in such an embarrassing state. Jack could
just picture the reaction of the hard core marines as they came in for
a physical and walked by Daniel�s bed. Or God forbid, if any of the
nurses should see him like this.
Jack heard a sleepy �hmmmmm.� He reached over and tried to remove
the teddy bear from Daniel�s arms, but Daniel tightened his hold on it,
curling his body around it.
�Daniel,� Jack said, a little more loudly. He heard the amusement
in his voice as he nervously checked to see if any of the nurses had
noticed them. �You know, now would be a good time to wake up.�
�Jack?� Daniel said, his eyes opening a crack. He smiled sleepily
when he saw Jack sitting beside him. With a deft movement, Jack reached
over and tugged the teddy bear out of Daniel�s arms, placing it on the
pillow before him. Daniel�s eyes followed Jack�s movement, and a frown
appeared on Daniel�s face.
�Jack, you didn�t��
�No, Daniel, I didn�t. But it did happen to fall and you did sort
of decide to get a little too comfy with it.� Jack pressed the call
button, alerting the nurses that Daniel was finally awake. He saw
Daniel stretch himself carefully, and Jack realized he was assessing
his body for injuries.
�How do you feel?� Jack asked.
�Um�. Not bad.� Daniel asked with a perplexed look on his face,
scooting up so that he was sitting more than lying. He placed the
pillows behind his back, moving the teddy bear onto his lap. He looked
at Jack, his eyes appearing even bluer than usual without his glasses.
�What happened?� he asked.
�Do you remember our mission to P7 something or other� you know� the one with the giant trees?�
Yawning, Daniel nodded. �They let us go? I remember walking in the woods, but I don�t quite remember coming home.�
�We dumped the soil samples, and they decided we could go home. You
were pretty much out of it by the time we got to the Stargate. You�ve
been sleeping for about 60 hours now.�
�What?� he said incredulously.
�Sleeping potion thanks to the goodies provided by the tree
people.� Jack looked away, slightly nervous. �I think Fraiser might be
ready to let you out soon. You wanna come stay with me for a while?
Maybe just a night or two?�
�Why?� Daniel asked in a not so subtle tone.
�For one, I think that might be one of Fraiser�s conditions. And
two, Hammond�s given us a few days� downtime. I thought we could spend
it together. But it�s your call. If you don�t want to, I understand.�
�No, Jack. I�d like to. Really.� He smiled at Jack, and Jack
realized that Daniel had seen through Jack�s pathetic attempts to make
it up to Daniel.
�Hey, wow,� Daniel said, his eyes coming to rest on the journals that Jack had brought. �Jack, you shouldn�t have.�
�Well, it was the least I could do, since we burned up your last
journal.� Jack felt a flush of pleasure at the look of happiness
expressed in Daniel�s face. Seeing Fraiser heading towards them, Jack
got up, tapping his fingers on the mattress.
�Look, I�ll be by later, see how soon you�ll be sprung. We�ll have Chinese, okay?�
�Yeah, I�d like that,� Daniel said.
�No, he won�t, Colonel,� argued Fraiser. �At least not for another
day or two. Try something a little easier on the system, why don�t
�Can I bring him along?� Daniel asked, waving the teddy bear at
Jack as Fraiser picked up Daniel�s chart and began taking his vitals.
�Yeah, sure, the more the merrier.� Jack made to turn and walk
away. He stopped suddenly, and looked back at Daniel. Both Fraiser and
Daniel looked up at him.
�Hammond�s not too keen about our going back to that planet, but he
is willing to see what the translations of that wall might turn up.�
Jack saw the pained expression on Daniel�s face. �Just thought you
might want to know. He hasn�t closed the planet off completely.�
Jack nodded, glad he managed to talk the general into letting
Daniel do the translations before making a final decision. Seeing
Fraiser involved in her tasks, he mouthed �Chinese� at Daniel. Daniel
grinned back at Jack. He left Daniel in the doctor�s care, knowing that
he had two other friends who were going to be relieved to hear that
Daniel was finally awake.
For devra... just because
And thanks to Lewie...for giving me the inspiration for the 'critter'
to contact me
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
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