A Shock to the System
* * *
He was running as fast as he could, dodging between the trees in order to lessen his profile as a target. Staff blasts flashed past him occasionally as his pursuers kept up the barrage. Despite his age, he was faster as he was not burdened by the metal of their uniforms.
He reached a more open area that was scattered with boulders. Quickly sizing up the situation, he threw himself into cover, just avoiding being hit. Given how inaccurate a staff weapon was, it must have been a fluke shot.
After several moments of breathing deeply, he reached down and activated his radio.
"About 100 meters east of your position on the other side of the boulder field. I'm pinned down by Jaffa, Sir."
"I am approximately 50 meters south of Major Carter. My position is similar, O'Neill. There are many Jaffa."
He groaned. It seemed like they were surrounded.
"I can't see anything, Jack. I'm completely pinned down."
He risked a quick look around the boulder, and ducked back just before a staff blast sent stone splinters flying through the air. He thrust his gun around the opposite side and fired off a quick burst, hoping it would keep the Jaffa cautious.
"We need to get into a position where we can support each other. They'll take us out too easily otherwise." He thought for a moment about what the best course of action might be. "We'll all pull back towards Daniel."
Not bothering to listen to the responses of his team members, he loosed another burst around the boulder, and then dived behind another rock. Although he'd only been in the open for seconds, several staff blasts still flashed around him.
After several minutes of moving and dodging, he finally made it to a position from which he could see Daniel.
"You okay, Daniel?"
"Just peachy, Jack. Why?"
He saw movement out of the corner of his eye, and swung his weapon to cover the threat, finding Teal'c and Carter moving into position. He called across to them.
"Teal'c? How many do you think?"
"It would appear to be at least a battalion of Jaffa."
"Any bright ideas? Anyone?"
Before he could continue, a voice rang out from the tree line.
"Surrender now Tau'ri, and your god, Apophis, will be merciful."
Apophis? What was he doing here? What were any Goa'uld doing here? Looking around the rock again, he took careful aim and fired his response, hearing the sound of bullets hitting metal.
"Does that answer your question?" he yelled, and was answered by another hail of weapons fire from Apophis' Jaffa.
They'd arrived on the planet two days ago, and had begun a standard reconnaissance, checking for mineral samples and ruins. Nothing of any great interest had been found until about an hour previously, when a Death Glider had appeared out of nowhere. He'd immediately ordered a retreat to the 'gate area, but before they'd been able to reach their destination they'd been cut off. Now they were sitting in the middle of a group of boulders, probably around a click from the 'gate itself. The only problem was all the Jaffa sitting between them and their escape route.
"I think that they're moving up a staff cannon."
Great. Now they were really screwed. The staff cannon would be able to take apart the rocks one by one, leaving them completely unprotected.
"Anyone see a gap that we might be able to exploit?"
His question was answered by another round of fire that slammed into the rocks, and sent more shards flying. One of them hit the side of his face and started a trickle of blood flowing down his cheek.
How was he going to get them out of this one? When he'd been in situations like this before he'd always waited until dark, and then made his escape. Of course this time the enemy knew exactly where he was, and possessed a weapon that would deny his team of cover. What the hell should he do?
His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a Death Glider approaching. He wasn't sure why they hadn't employed them previously instead of bringing up a staff cannon, but that was the Goa'uld for you: big on frontal assaults - not so good with anything more subtle.
"Heads up! We've got a Glider coming in."
He cringed as far as possible behind the boulder, knowing that Carter and Teal'c would be exposed as they had to hide from the ground troops, and hoping that they could find enough protection. He felt the ground shake from the explosions as the Glider swept buy, but was surprised by the louder sound of a significant explosion past here Carter was crouching.
"What the hell was that, Carter?"
"The Glider hit the staff cannon, Sir!"
"Was that some sort of friendly fire accident?"
"Don't think so, Sir. Look!"
He risked a look, and saw staff weapons fire directed at the departing Glider. He wasn't sure what was happening, but knew an opportunity when he saw it as he watched the Glider swing around for a second run.
"Let's make a break when the Glider makes a second pass."
As the fire from the Glider started raining down again, he made a move for the Jaffa past where Carter was located. Given that their staff cannon had been destroyed, they'd likely be in some sort of disarray. He watched the Jaffa start to fire at the Glider, now ignoring his team.
He opened fire, taking out two Jaffa in a matter of seconds. Carter and Teal'c fired from either side of his position, eliminating more Jaffa.
He didn't wait for the others, but started running towards where the Jaffa had been located, pausing briefly to fire another burst at an enemy soldier who attempted to block their escape.
They made it back into the tree line safely, Daniel lagging slightly behind as he had the furthest distance to cover.
"We'll go straight for the 'gate. They're distracted for the moment, but it won't take them long to realize that we've gone. Teal'c, you lead with Daniel. I'll bring up the rear with Carter."
He turned to take a look back at the clearing, seeing the Glider making yet another pass over the area. He mentally thanked whoever was responsible for the attack, knowing that it was probably just another Goa'uld looking to exploit a weakness. Turning back, he saw Daniel and Teal'c running towards the 'gate.
"Let's go, Carter."
Together, they ran through the trees, occasionally looking to make sure they weren't being followed. They probably only had a few hundred meters to go when he practically tripped over a Jaffa. Surprised, they both stared at each other for a second before reacting. He fired off a short bust, hitting the Jaffa full in the chest. The return shot from the staff weapon went past his right side.
He moved to keep going, but immediately noticed that Carter wasn't behind him. He turned and saw her lying on the ground, a large blackened hole in her left side.
"Teal'c!" he yelled into the radio.
He dropped to his knees to check her condition, relieved when he found a faint pulse. He heard footsteps, and raised his gun, only to lower it again when he saw Teal'c and Daniel.
"You're going to have to carry her, Teal'c. We need to get back to the 'gate now."
"Her injuries are extensive, O'Neill."
"Dammit, I know!"
Teal'c picked up Carter, and began running again towards the Stargate, carrying her seemingly without effort. Daniel followed, and he once gain brought up the rear, paying careful attention to his surroundings.
They reached the 'gate without further incident, and he immediately took cover, loading the last clip of ammunition into his weapon.
"Daniel, start dialling out. Get us home."
Teal'c had put down Carter, and was scanning the area, staff weapon at the ready. After a few seconds, he heard the familiar whoosh of the 'gate behind him. There was still no sign of any further pursuit, although he could hear horns in the distance.
"You're first Teal'c. Get Carter back to the SGC."
The big man once again picked her up, and jogged up the stairs and through the 'gate.
As Daniel moved, he glimpsed metal through the trees, and fired off a short burst, uncertain as to whether he'd hit anything. He backed slowly towards the stairs, firing off a couple more bursts as he went, and then turned to quickly step through the 'gate, which took him back to the safety of the SGC.
* * *
By the time he arrived, a medical team was already looking at Carter. He waited for a minute for the 'gate to shut down, then turned to find General Hammond standing there.
"What happened, Jack?"
"Everything was proceeding well, and then these Jaffa arrived out of nowhere. They pinned us down, but we managed to escape when another Goa'uld arrived. Carter was hit while we were making a break for the 'gate."
He watched as the Doc came running into the room, coat flapping behind her. She immediately quizzed the medics for Carter's status. After a few seconds, she started giving orders.
"Get her on the gurney, now. We need to get her to the infirmary immediately."
"Doc?" he said.
"Her injuries are quite severe, Colonel. Sam requires immediate surgery."
He turned back to the General. "With your permission, Sir?"
"Dismissed, Colonel. Briefing in an hour."
* * *
The next few hours dragged past slowly as he and the rest of SG-1 showered, changed, and then went through the normal post-mission briefing - the empty seat at the table a reminder of their injured colleague. It was too soon for any information on the surgery, so he had nothing to do but to kick his heels and wait. He had no desire to wait in his office, pending paperwork or not, so he decided to bother Daniel. He found him translating some sort of tablet.
"How can you work at a time like this?"
"I have to do something, Jack. This takes my mind off things."
"Anything I can help with?" he said, picking up a small bowl. Daniel finally looked up from what he was doing, and proceeded to take the bowl away from him, also moving several other fragile looking objects away from him.
They talked for a while about nothing of any consequence, but it wasn't long before Teal'c found his way there as well. Somehow they were drawn together as a team at times like this, supporting each other in ways that only those intimately familiar with each other could. He actually managed to get some paperwork done - Teal'c and Daniel shepherding him away from the concern that they all felt.
The three healthy members of SG-1 ate dinner in the mess hall, not being interested in leaving the mountain until they'd received some news. His team was close, yet he knew that his concern was more than just professional. Over the years many of his team members had been injured on Black-Ops missions. This was different, which confused him.
He'd known it was different the second he had seen her on the ground, the blackened hole in her side. It had been years since he'd felt that level of concern for anyone. How could it have happened? She was his executive officer! What should he do?
"Jack?" Daniel's comment interrupted his musing. They were sitting back in Daniel's office, providing support for each other - even if they'd never admit it.
"She's going to be okay."
He nodded absently, not wanting to encourage Daniel as he really didn't want to have this conversation.
"Daniel Jackson is correct, O'Neill. Major Cater will be fine."
He grunted a response, and turned back to the reports he was reading.
"We need to talk about this."
"Do you remember when we were on P3X-595?"
He couldn't help but grin. It was only a couple of years ago, but there had almost been a naivety about the team, and especially about Carter . . . He suddenly realized what he was doing, and pulled himself together.
"I guess, but what does that prove?"
Daniel had obviously seen his smile, though, and refused to be distracted.
"I would love to know what was in that water - wouldn't you, Jack?"
"Jack!" Daniel's tone was exasperated.
"You know I'm not good at this stuff."
"All the more reason to talk about it!"
He turned back to his reports once again, making it clear that the conversation was over. He heard Daniel sigh in frustration, but after a minute he heard the pages of a book being turned.
Having deflected the conversation, he now sighed himself. The reports, never very appealing, were suddenly much less so. What would he do if he lost her?
* * *
Over 6 hours had passed before they received the call that she was out of surgery. He made his way quickly to the infirmary, trying not to run, but still arriving a good few seconds before Daniel and Teal'c.
He was greeted at the door by Doctor Fraiser, who was obviously exhausted from the long and intensive surgery.
"How is she?" He eyed the door to the infirmary nervously.
"Sam's going to be fine, Colonel. She'll be under the anaesthetic for a few more hours, but I expect her to make a full recovery. The damage was serious, but we were able to repair it. She'll be off her feet for a couple of weeks, and won't be able to go off-world for a couple of months - but she'll be fine."
Feelings of relief flooded into him, and he released the breath he'd been unconsciously holding. "Thanks, Doc. Can we sit with her?"
Fraiser looked at him speculatively, obviously deciding that he wasn't going to take no for an answer. "Only if you don't disturb her. She needs to rest."
She might be injured, but at least she was going to be okay - and he would be there to help her recover. It may not be everything, but at the moment it was all he needed. Maybe he'd invite her to go fishing while she recuperated . . .