New Tricks

The MALP�s video feed clearly showed the planet�s dry, barren landscape, which was interspersed with the skeletal remains of gigantic trees and various shrivelled shrubs. Colonel O�Neill�s face was visibly sweating beneath the shade of his baseball cap, his long-sleeved jacket a necessity to protect him from the brutal sun.

General George Hammond listened to the Colonel�s report while scanning the area behind him with avid curiosity. He felt a sadness in the knowledge that he himself was too old to traipse through these wonderfully exotic worlds, that part of their work was left to the younger, more able, generation. However, the planet�s landscape continued to supply a renewed sense of purpose in him. He had been so close to retirement; his last assigned duty being the preparation of dismantling the Stargate and shutting down the complex. But Apophis� unexpected visit to Earth just weeks ago had turned what had been a tedious job into one he was certain would become a pivotal point in Earth�s history.

�Carter and Teal�c should be back in about two hours with the soil samples, Sir, so it doesn�t look like we�ll be leaving this hellhole until then. In the meantime, Daniel�s found some old bones along with bits of jewellery, so he�s happy as a clam.�

Movement off to the side caught Hammond�s eye. He realized then, that what he had taken to be a rock, was actually Doctor Jackson�s back, his camouflage gear having blended perfectly into the landscape. The archaeologist was kneeling on the ground, bent over something which he was carefully examining. What Hammond had seen was Jackson�s arm as he had reached for a tool beside him.

Hammond still had mixed feelings about the young man kneeling in the background. He wasn�t totally in agreement with O�Neill�s assessment of him, and he definitely felt that civilians had no place on offworld missions. Hammond mentally chided himself. Jackson hadn�t made the best first impression on him when he had returned from Abydos, long haired, dressed in robes and smelling of exotic spices and animal dung. And not thirty seconds on Earth and he was demanding� demanding! to be assigned to the team who would be sent to rescue his wife and brother-in-law. He usually tried not to let his personal feelings influence his decisions, so he had listened to what Colonel O�Neill had had to say about the archaeologist.

Of course O�Neill had specifically requested Jackson for his team, as he had later done for the Jaffa, Teal�c. And Hammond had acquiesced to both, realizing that the men�s skills might come in handy. Even now, with two missions already under Jackson�s belt, Hammond hadn�t yet seen reason to complain about his performance, even though he knew that defeating this new enemy wasn�t the archaeologist�s first priority.

Hammond had decided to trust O�Neill�s judgement. The archaeologist had, after all, undergone all required training as his time permitted. Hammond himself had seen him struggling in the gym and on the shooting range, although his lukewarm performance in both areas had Hammond grateful that he wasn�t assigned to watch his back. O�Neill had assured him, though, that Jackson was steadily improving.

He knew that the Colonel wouldn�t stand to have someone unable or unwilling to pull his weight on his team, so Hammond continued to permit Jackson to remain on SG-1. And a strange combination this team was: a turncoat alien Jaffa who nobody except his teammates yet trusted; a civilian archaeologist/linguist who was on the team for personal reasons; a brilliant captain whose knowledge of the Stargate should have kept her Earthside; and O�Neill himself, who just over a year ago had eagerly gone on a suicide mission, and had returned successfully and unscathed.

�Very well, Colonel,� Hammond replied to O�Neill�s request for an additional few more hours on the planet. �We�ll be keeping supper warm��

A loud screech drowned out his words and both O�Neill and Jackson turned towards their right. O�Neill had his hands on his MP5 but before he could bring the weapon to bear on the off-screen target, something huge filled the video screen, all but obliterating Hammond�s view of O�Neill. The screen cleared after a moment, revealing only Jackson�s stunned figure in the background staring away from the camera.

�O�Neill, Colonel O�Neill!� Hammond yelled into the mic. �Pan the camera,� he quickly ordered the technician sitting beside him. Another loud screech filled the room, setting everyone�s teeth on edge as the sounds reverberated shrilly in the loudspeakers.

The sight was one Hammond would never forget. What appeared to be a seventeen foot giant, had grabbed O�Neill, and was holding him tightly against its chest like a child holding a large stuffed toy. O�Neill�s was struggling, but the creature, whose arms were nearly the size of O�Neill�s chest, had a tight hold on the man. Its body was covered with patches of fur or short hair, its long, wild hair knotted with dirt and twigs. What looked like needle-sharp horns stuck out of its arms and legs at various intervals. Those, along with the strange bits of hair or fur, made it almost seem like a walking cactus. With a face.

Gunshots sounded, and the creature opened its mouth, sharp teeth bared as it screeched again at Jackson. Hammond winced, realizing that the archaeologist could easily hit the Colonel in his panic.

He was about to order Davis to shut down the Stargate to enable them to dial out from this side in order to send reinforcements, when Doctor Jackson rushed into the image. The man�s face appeared terrified, but he unhesitatingly ran right up to the creature, his Baretta held securely in both hands. He stopped three feet away, and took careful aim up past the Colonel.

All shots hit their bull�s eye, literally. The creature�s eyes exploded in gore and it dropped O�Neill with a scream. The Colonel landed in a heap at its feet. The creature began to sway backwards and Jackson quickly ran to his team leader, probably intending to pull him to safety. The moment Jackson�s attention was off the creature, he became unaware of the new danger posed to both men.

Hammond yelled into the mic, �Doctor Jackson, look out!� but it was too late. Instead of falling backwards, the creature screamed once more and toppled forward, landing on top of both men.

�Shut down the �gate,� Hammond finally ordered Davis, whose white face spoke of the troubling scene they had both been witness to. As the Stargate powered down, he added, �Dial up the planet. Then get some marines up here on the double, and call the infirmary. I want some medical personnel out there ASAP.�

- - - - - -

Daniel couldn�t breathe. As he�d bent down to check Jack out, a huge shadow had cut out the harsh sunlight. In a split second, he had been painfully knocked to the ground. Agony had erupted in his side and in his leg, but these had since become inconsequential as spots now began to dance before his closed eyelids. His lungs were burning and he panicked. Pushing hard against the heavy weight pressing down on him, Daniel wasn�t even able to grunt as his efforts made no visible improvement to his situation.

As his fingers encountered warm and leathery skin, he finally came up with the answer. The creature had fallen on top of him in its death throes, probably piercing him in two places with those horny protuberances along its body. Daniel could only hope that Jack was all right, that the creature had fallen only on Daniel, and not on his friend.

But where was Jack? Was he hurt? Daniel hadn�t had a chance to see if he�d been injured before he�d been hit by the dying alien giant. He reined in his panic, trying to listen to sounds beyond his grisly tomb, but the dead blanket covering his body also cut off all sounds beyond it. His head began to pound, the throbbing increasing in intensity as his heart raced.

He felt himself fading. His thoughts flitted through his brain, and he wasn�t able grasp onto them long enough to make much sense of them.

He became filled with sadness when he realized he wouldn�t be able to save his wife or brother-in-law from the Goa�ulds that had possessed them.

He�d failed Shau�re.

He�d failed Skaara.

He�d failed the people of Abydos, promising his good father that he�d bring his son and daughter back to him.

Just like Daniel hadn�t failed Jack. Because he knew if Jack were still alive, his friend would be pulling that monstrosity off of Daniel right at this moment.

He�d failed General Hammond. He�d sworn to try and help save Earth from their new enemy, and here he was, dying because he�d carelessly assumed the creature was going to fall the other way.

How long had it been since he�d killed the alien? It felt like forever, but he knew people could go without air for only a few minutes. He hadn�t realized that dying could take so long. Or be so painful.

But things could be worse. Giddily, he thought he was glad the weight bearing down on his chest prevented him from inhaling. The stench the creature had given off had been awful; to be this close to it would surely have been enough to make him gag. And poor Jack, having been held close to the monster�s body, his face pressed hard against its chest. Talk about BO.

Barely holding onto consciousness, he was suddenly aware of a cool sensation over his body and that the crushing weight was gone. He was conscious of pain once more; in his lungs, in his head, in his leg and side.

Then there was air.

He could breathe.

He could breathe!

He inhaled in a rush, expelling the air out just as quickly in order to try and bring more into his oxygen deprived body. He couldn�t get it in fast enough, his body reduced to loud, gasping breaths. Sweat poured over his body, cooling him despite the planet�s oppressive heat. He thought he was going to be sick, but he willed the nausea away; it would simply prevent him from breathing.

He heard sounds, voices, hands were touching him, moving him and hurting him, but he ignored all of these, concentrating only on the one thing he needed right now.

Air.

Oxygen.

In. Out. In�

Oh, the pleasure of breathing again. Such a simple act, taken for granted, until the ability is forcibly removed. His bruised chest and ribs hurt from the movement, but he didn�t care. He simply breathed.

�Doc, how is he?�

Was that Jack�s voice?

He lay there stupidly, moving his attention from his still aching lungs and trying to concentrate on the conversation around him. His brain was having trouble making out who was talking and who she was talking about.

�� Deep laceration along his ribs, stab wound to the right thigh. Covered with bruises, but I don�t think anything�s broken. I�ll know for sure when I get him back to the infirmary and take some X-rays.�

A light was flashed into his eyes, and he tried to turn from it.

�He might be suffering from a concussion, although his pupils are equal and reactive. Okay, let�s see about moving him.�

�Daniel?� He felt a gentle touch against his hand, then something brushed against his cheek.

�Daniel, you awake, buddy?�

That was definitely Jack. His brain was finally beginning to wake, as was the pain throughout �his body. He forced his eyes open, squinting against the painfully bright sky.

�Jack?� His voice sounded muffled and it was then he realized that there was an oxygen mask over his mouth. What he�d felt earlier was the edge of the string holding it in place brushing along his cheek. He tried to raise his hand to rub it away, the sensation quickly becoming an irritating tickling, but his hand was heavy, and he was only able to make a half-hearted swipe before he let it fall heavily to the ground.

�Good to see you�re back with us. God, you had us so scared there for a minute.� Jack raised his hand and tucked the errant little piece of thread back under the mask, and with his thumb, rubbed at just the exact spot that Daniel had been aiming for.

�You�re okay?� Daniel asked, raising his head and trying to see if Jack was injured.

�Stay still,� his friend replied, placing a hand on Daniel�s forehead and pushing him back onto the ground. Daniel didn�t resist, and let Jack brush away the strands of hair that had fallen into his face.

�I�m just bruised, I�m not hurt. But that thing ended up stabbing you when it fell on top of us. Me? I got lucky, it only fell over my legs, but damnit, a few seconds longer and you would have��

As Jack�s voice faded, Daniel stared up at Jack�s eyes, seeing the worry that was reflected there. He realized Jack had seen the creature fall on top of Daniel and had been powerless to help his friend.

�Doctor Jackson,� a familiar petite woman said as she knelt beside him. �We�re going to move you now. We�ll have you nice and comfy in a bed in no time at all.�

As two marines picked up the ends of the stretcher that he was apparently lying on, Daniel was surprised to see the clear, plastic packaging of an IV swinging slightly above him as he was lifted up. He followed the trail of the plastic tubing to the back of his hand. Now that he knew there was a needle stuck in his vein, he was hyper-aware of it, afraid to move his hand and hurt himself.

He saw the Stargate before him and suddenly they were moving along at a fast clip towards it. He grabbed the edges of the stretcher with his hands, suddenly afraid to fall off. He felt the sting of the IV as skin moved around it, but ignored it in his fear of faling off the stretcher and jarring his increasingly hurting body.

Then he realized two of his friends were missing.

�Jack!� he yelled, letting go of his hold on the stretcher to remove the oxygen mask. As he tried to sit up, Doctor Fraiser was suddenly beside him, as was Jack, who was limping badly. The marines came to a stop at the doctor�s request.

�Easy, easy,� Jack said to him. Daniel realized that Jack had been walking behind him, out of sight. He wanted to comment on Jack�s discomfort, but worry for his other teammates overrode his concern for Jack at the moment.

�Teal�c and Sam. They don�t know about those giant creatures. What if they run into one, what if�

�It�s all right. They�ve been warned and SG-3 are escorting them back to the Stargate. Don�t worry, they�ll be all right. Let�s just get you back home, okay?�

Daniel looked at his friend until his words finally registered.

�They�re okay?�

�They�re fine. They�ll be along in about twenty minutes.�

�Let�s go,� the small woman quietly ordered the marines. Daniel relaxed back onto the stretched material underneath him, grabbing the sides once more as the stretcher swayed beneath him. He felt a touch on his arm and saw the doctor�s small hand on his wrist. He thought for a moment she was taking his pulse, but her fingers simply rubbed his arm soothingly. When he caught her eyes, she smiled at him kindly and patted his hand. �It�s all right, they won�t drop you,� she said in a soft voice.

He tried to relax, but was too uncomfortable and anxious. He had a sudden irrational fear of going through the Stargate lying down. Bad enough the wormhole picked you up and spit you out where it was hard to stay on your feet, but here he�d have to rely on the hopefully superb balance of the marines.

His head swam as the landscape tilted in rhythm with the motion of the men carrying him, and to his dismay, he felt his nausea increase.

�Here we go,� Jack warned, and Daniel raised his head slightly, seeing the blue of the active wormhole directly before him. He closed his eyes, reading himself for the usually titillating and enjoyable ride between planets.

It was worse than he�d expected, and the moment the cool air of the underground complex hit his skin, Daniel shivered and knew he was going to be sick. The stretcher tilted as they carried him down the ramp, adding to his discomfort.

�Welcome back,� a familiar voice said as they neared the bottom. �How is he?�

Breathing fast and sweating profusely, he felt himself being hoisted onto something soft and thankfully, sturdier, beneath him. Roils of nausea assailed him and he turned onto his side, lifting the oxygen mask away from his face.

Hands pushed him onto his back and he began to fight them. When the heaving began, they must have finally understood because the hands were suddenly rolling him sideways. Being sick hurt his bruised chest muscles, but he felt slightly better once his stomach was emptied.

They left him lying on his side once he�d finished, exhausted. As they rolled him away, he saw the mess he�d just made on the cement floor and on top of the once-shiny shoes of General Hammond, who stood staring at them as he was wheeled out of the Gateroom.

- - - - - -

George Hammond walked into the infirmary, stopping by the doors and searching out beds until he found the ones occupied by the men he�d come to visit. He stepped softly on the echoing floor, not wanting to disturb them if they were sleeping.

Jack O�Neill was asleep, lying on his stomach with his head turned away from Hammond. He�d been informed that the Colonel had sustained bruising to his legs and lower back. He was being kept in the infirmary under observation, and would be released the following day.

Doctor Jackson, on the other hand, was awake, and watching the General with wary eyes. Twin spots of fever-induced color decorated his cheeks and his normally bright blue eyes were glassy, probably from the effects of pain medication. The man�s wounds had become infected, and Hammond suspected the antibiotic to fight the illness was being delivered in one of the many tubes snaking in and out the blankets covering his body.

�Doctor Jackson, how are you feeling?� Hammond asked softly as he moved to stand beside the bed.

The sick man licked dry lips before answering. �I�m fine, a little stiff and sore, but Doctor Fraiser says the antibiotics are doing their job.�

�That�s good, son,� Hammond said as the ill man licked his lips again. �Would you like some water?�

The blue eyes widened in surprise. �Yes, please,� he answered.

Hammond looked around, and seeing a pitcher on the table beside the bed, poured him half a glass and handed it to him. Jackson raised himself onto his elbows and accepted the drink with a shaky hand.

As he slowly sipped at the water, Hammond watched the man carefully. His estimation of the young man lying before him had jumped a thousand fold since yesterday�s events. He�d always believed Jackson to be a liability to any of his teams, and that simple good luck had served him up until now. When the Colonel had been grabbed by the giant, Hammond had been sure it was the end of both O�Neill and Jackson. To Jackson�s credit, he had reacted almost as professionally as any soldier would have.

O�Neill had been right about this man.

Hammond had been wrong.

When he�d finished drinking, Hammond took the empty glass while Jackson lay back with an audible sigh.

�Doctor Jackson,� Hammond began. The blue eyes looked up at him nervously, then across to glance at O�Neill before flitting back down to stare at his hands. �I simply wished to commend you on your actions yesterday. Your quick thinking saved the Colonel�s life, and most likely your own. I was very impressed with your shooting.�

Jackson smiled self-consciously, his teeth flashing white against paler skin. �I was amazed at my marksmanship myself, General. That was pure luck, nothing else.�

�Perhaps, but it shows you definitely have what it takes to be on the Colonel�s team.�

�Thank you,� Jackson stammered, his face coloring in embarrassment.

�I just have one small word of advice,� Hammond said with a smile. The blue eyes looked up at him again, this time with curiosity and not anxiety. �Try to learn how to duck,� he said with a smile.

�That�s what I keep telling him,� O�Neill groused from behind Hammond. The man�s brown eyes were staring at Jackson with fondness. �But does he ever listen to me?�

�Jaaack.� Jackson�s small whine of complaint was a welcome sound to Hammond�s ear. The banter between these two, which at first had irritated Hammond, was also an indication of their growing friendship. And also of their increasing health.

�I�ll leave you two to your rest, gentlemen,� Hammond said, not wishing to overstay his welcome. He knew the sight of the Commander of the SGC visiting might make some people nervous, and he did wish these two to hurry up and get better.

�Sir, I�m sorry about your shoes,� Jackson said in quiet voice. Hammond laughed out loud. �Not to worry, son. My granddaughters have both done exactly the same on numerous occasions.� He was rewarded by Jackson�s relieved smile.

As he turned to leave, O�Neill simply said, �Thank you, Sir.�

�My pleasure, Colonel,� Hammond replied, knowing the �thank you� was for acknowledging that Jackson did belong on SG-1. �You know the saying, you can teach old dogs new tricks, it just takes some of them a little longer to learn than others.�

Finis

 

FINIS!


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