The Scrolls of Ra (continued)
All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
This story is a stand-alone sequel to Hathor, and is Rated PG. Be warned - the author is dedicated to angst - and this story is little more than an excuse to give Daniel a tough time!
Jack O'Neill was pacing the gateroom. Every minute or two he would glance at his watch. Jackson had been gone for 11 hours, and the tension was getting to O'Neill. "He should've been back by now. Something's obviously gone wrong."
Teal'c stood beside him, his face as expressionless as ever, but Jack knew from the Jaffa's raised eyebrow that the man was as concerned as he was. "Plan C?" Teal'c asked.
"Plan C. Let's be ready to go as soon as the clock hits zero hour." For once O'Neill envied the Jaffa for his goa'uld lavae - before he went through the gate he had to head for the infirmary and Doctor Frasier's dreaded needle.
Daniel had lost all track of time. For a while he had alternated standing still with walking round the small cell, but now it didn't matter which he did, pains were shooting up his calves and thighs. Dehydration had given him a throbbing headache, and his vision was beginning to blur. He stopped by the door of the cell, contemplating for the hundredth time calling out to the Jaffa. He could at least buy himself some time. Tell Hathor that he was translating the scrolls, and do it as slowly as possible. Yet the thought of giving into that woman and her schemes sickened him, and if there was one thing Daniel knew about himself it was that he was as stubborn as a mule - even when he was in agony, perhaps more so then.
He turned away from the door, and gritted his teeth. Once more around the cell, keep away from the walls, stay conscious. The door flew open behind him and the two Jaffa entered. "The Queen has summoned you," the taller one announced.
Blinking as sweat trickled into his eyes, something snapped inside Daniel and he blew all caution to the wind. "The Queen can go to hell!"
He regretted the words instantly. The Jaffa pushed him backwards, up against the far wall. Daniel screamed as the hot brick burned his exposed skin. Pulling him forward again, the Jaffa smiled cruelly. "You will learn respect, tau'ri."
On the brink of unconsciousness Daniel wasn't capable of replying, simply allowing himself to be dragged unceremoniously from the cell.
In the gate room of Hathor's palace, the chevrons began to glow. The six Jaffa on guard immediately reached for their weapons and stood in readiness for the unexpected traveller. The vortex sprang into life and the silver event horizon formed. Three small round cylinders rolled out of the gate and onto the floor, emitting a foul-smelling smoke as they did so. The Jaffa, assuming just another smoke screen like the one Sam had used earlier that day, moved closer, their staff weapons primed and ready. Too late they realised the smoke was actually a fast acting anaesthetic. In seconds all six were unconscious. Moments later, Jack, Sam and Teal'c stepped out of the gate, their faces hidden behind gas masks.
Working silently, SG1 cuffed and gagged the Jaffa and dragged them out of sight. Jack motioned towards the gateroom door and the team silently slipped into Hathor's palace.
Moving down the corridor, Jack tried the handle of the first door they came too. It opened into some sort of storeroom. SG1 slipped inside and removed their masks. "Works every time," Jack said, smiling at the memory of the sleeping Jaffa. He ran a hand through his hair, before pulling on his favourite cap. "Sam, any idea where we might find Daniel?"
"No, Sir. I didn't see anything beyond the gateroom."
"Teal'c, you recognise this place?"
The Jaffa shook his head. "I do not. However, it should be possible to tell the purpose of certain rooms from their ornamentation . I believe I can lead you to the royal chambers, but there is no certainty that Daniel Jackson will be there."
O'Neill shrugged. "It's as good a place as any to try. Lead on."
Daniel was indeed in the royal apartments - in fact he was in Hathor's private rooms. The problem was that he was once more on his knees in front of the goa'uld queen. Hathor had pretended to look shocked at his battered appearance. She walked around him slowly, dramatically drawing in her breath at the sight of the burns on his back. "We are sorry that we had to teach you such a harsh lesson," she said as she stood before him once again. "But we cannot allow our subjects to make us look foolish - not even our beloved."
She moved to a small table, poured a glass of cold water, and then returned to Daniel. She gazed at him for a long moment and then held the glass out towards him. "Would you like this?"
Daniel eyed the glass suspiciously. He was desperate for its contents, but he had been through too much in the past few hours to simply reach out for it.
Hathor sighed. "Daniel. You transgressed and now you've been punished. It's over. Finished. Take the glass and drink."
Still Daniel did not move. A flicker of irritation crossed Hathor's face, but then she moved towards him and almost tenderly held the glass to his lips. Unable to resist the liquid any longer, Daniel gulped the cold water down his parched throat. "There," Hathor said as though speaking to a small child. "You see everything is going to be fine." As she lifted her hand to smooth his damp hair from his forehead, Daniel flinched. Despite her apparent concern, he knew that his action pleased her - there was nothing Hathor liked more than having him totally at her mercy, and as he had just discovered if she couldn't do that with her hormone cocktail, she was perfectly capable of using less subtle methods. Hathor clicked her fingers and a young girl immediately stepped forward. "See to our beloved's wounds and bring him some food and wine." She turned her attention back to Daniel. "When you are recovered we will talk again of the translation. Unless of course, you prefer to return to your previous accommodation."
Daniel said nothing. If Hathor wanted to play cat and mouse with him, that was fine. Nothing had changed though - he would not translate a word for her.
The rest of SG1 were moving stealthily through the corridors. Teal'c paused at the entrance to a large hall, his sharp eyes checking the gloom for stray Jaffa. He turned to O'Neill and Carter who were secreted behind pillars and indicated with a hand signal that all was clear. Cautiously SG1 circumnavigated the room. At the far side Teal'c paused at a doorway.
"I believe we will find Hathor's private quarters behind this door," he said.
Carter and O'Neill nodded, and all three slipped on gas masks. Carter fumbled with one of the pockets of her flak jacket before pulling out another gas grenade. O'Neill and Teal'c quickly produced similar weapons. With a short nod, Teal'c opened the door and the team stepped into Hathor's inner sanctum.
The first room they entered was empty. Skimming quickly around the edge, O'Neill reached the next door first. As carefully as possible he opened it and peered through the crack. The scene that greeted him made him shake his head in disbelief. Daniel was lying on his stomach on a couch apparently being massaged by a young girl. O'Neill risked opening the door another inch - it appeared the two were alone. Jack quickly ran through his options and then signalled to Carter and Teal'c to wait but be prepared. He slipped off his gas mask, and entered the room silently. Moving panther-like he crept up on the servant girl, neatly grabbing her from behind, his hand over her mouth before she could scream.
"Having a good time, Danny?" Sarcasm dripped from his words, but he instantly regretted them as Daniel attempted to wheel around.
"Jack!" The pain of the action etched itself across the anthropologist's face, and Jack caught a glimpse of the angry burns on Jackson's back. Judging from a bowl on the table nearby, the servant girl had been treating him with some sort of herbal cream.
"We're getting out of here." O'Neill said, indicating a sheet with a nod of his head. "But first we need to tie up your little friend."
Moving as quickly as he could bear, Daniel ripped the sheet into strips and gagged the servant girl. "Can't we take her with us?"
Jack merely raised an eyebrow at the suggestion.
"Jack, I've seen Hathor in a rage. If she finds me gone and this girl..."
"Daniel, our chances of getting out of here are slim enough."
Daniel opened his mouth to protest, but thought better of it. Arguing with Jack when the Colonel was risking his life to save him was hardly appropriate. Instead he addressed the girl in her own language.
"I'm sorry," he said, as he watched O'Neill expertly tie her. The girl was clearly terrified although it wasn't clear whether her fear was of O'Neill or what would happen when Hathor found her. Daniel sighed, hating the fact that his freedom was going to cost somebody else.
O'Neill glanced at Daniel tattered pants as he handed him a gas mask. "New fashion?" Daniel ignored the attempt at humour. He reached for his shirt, peering at the slashed material as though he couldn't quite remember how that had happened. Beside him Jack stripped off his military over-vest and jacket. As he began to untuck his shirt, Daniel suddenly realised what he was doing. "That really isn't necessary."
Jack ignored him, pulled off his shirt and then the t-shirt he was wearing underneath. He handed the latter to Jackson. "100% cotton. And a whole lot less starch than air-force blues." As Jack re-dressed, Daniel pulled the t-shirt gingerly over his head, unexpectedly touched by Jack's domestic concern. He covered his embarrassment by indicating the mask. "What's this for?"
"Just in case we run into any trouble."
"Trouble?" The word echoed behind O'Neill as Hathor and a whole platoon of Jaffa entered the room.
"How unpleasant to see you again." As O'Neill's sarcasm filled the air, the rear door opened and two gas grenades landed in the centre of the room. Forewarned O'Neill dived for cover and put his mask on in one smooth move. Jackson, however, stood motionless as his exhausted brain slowly registered what was happening. He heard O'Neill shout, "Get down!" He saw Hathor raise her arm to launch her Jaffa in attack. Still he didn't move.
Suddenly a uniformed figure wrapped itself around his ankles, crashing him to the floor on his back. Pain engulfed him and he kicked out, only realising it was Carter behind the mask as his foot contacted with her shoulder. "Damn it, Daniel!" she cried. "I'm trying to save your butt." She retrieved his gas mask from where it had fallen and shoved it roughly over his head. Unconscious Jaffa were falling all around Hathor. Carter pushed Daniel towards the door as Teal'c took aim at the gou'ald queen with his zat gun. There was a cry as his shot hit home, but before Teal'c could take a second shot, two still conscious Jaffa moved to protect their queen. O'Neill had already made it to the door. "Come on, kids," he yelled. Carter, oblivious to Jackson's injuries, grabbed her team-mate by the arm and pushed him towards the door. Her eyes widened in surprise as Jackson let loose an expletive, but at least he moved in the right direction. Teal'c stood guard for a moment, his sharp eyes making sure that none of the stricken Jaffa were moving. As Carter and Jackson reached the door, he bolted after them.
Out in the hall, SG1 ripped off the cumbersome masks and hurried back the way they had come. O'Neill couldn't believe their luck as they passed unimpeded by Jaffa. Clearly Hathor hadn't been able to build a particularly large force since her failure to colonise earth.
"Jack! Jack!" Gasping for breath, Daniel could hardly speak. He stopped running, and leaned heavily against one of the rich wall tapestries. Bringing up the rear, Carter almost collided with him.
"Colonel!" She got O'Neill's attention. Back-tracking Jack's face furrowed as he took in Daniel's ashen pallor, but it wasn't his physical condition that had caused the anthropologist to halt. Daniel waved at a small corridor to the right. "We have to get the scrolls." Jack raised an eyebrow in question. "Hathor has the details of a weapon on some old scrolls of Ra. She wanted me to translate them for her. If we leave them here..."
"She'll find somebody else to do the job," Carter finished Daniel's sentence.
Jack's did some rapid calculations. The Stargate was only a minute away, and most of Hathor's Jaffa seemed to be out of it. Hathor herself would need time to recover from the zat gun. He decided the chance to deny Hathor of any advantage was worth the extra risk. "Are you up to this?" His question was aimed at Daniel, who looked like he might pass out at any moment. The only response he got was a slight nod of Daniel's head, but O'Neill knew the anthropologist had more than his fair share of grit and determination when it came to a tough situation. "O.K. Lead on, Daniel."
It was all too easy, O'Neill thought. They reached the library without incident, and Daniel found the scrolls back on the table where Hathor had first shown them to him. The bag in which he had carried them was flung over the back of the chair. Checking them briefly, he shoved them back into the bag.
"Good work," O'Neill said quickly. "Now let's get the hell out of here."
The trip back to the gate was equally simple. Not a Jaffa in sight. As they peered into the apparently empty gateroom, Daniel laid a warning hand on O'Neill's arm. "Don't be fooled," he said. "I nearly made it out of here earlier. Only Hathor seemed to appear from nowhere. I think she may have some secret passageways."
O'Neill drew in a sharp breath. "Well we don't have a whole lot of choice. The Stargate is the only way out of here." He peered suspiciously at the walls, but it was impossible to tell if Daniel's theory was correct. "O.K. Daniel get to the cartouche and dial us out as quick as you can. We'll cover your back."
Daniel managed a weak smile. "I thought you'd already done that."
"Very funny," O'Neill pulled a face, but he was relieved Daniel could still crack a joke. The guy looked like hell.
The team crossed the gateroom rapidly, Carter, Teal'c and O'Neill facing outward, their weapons at the ready. Daniel began to dial. Four. Five.
"O'Neill!" Teal'c voice drew the team's attention to Hathor. Daniel had been right. The goa'uld queen had arrived through a previously invisible opening.
"Keep dialling, Daniel," O'Neill ordered.
"Do and the girl dies." Daniel spun round at Hathor's voice. The queen had the young servant girl in front of her. The ribbon device on Hathor's hand was glowing softly. A knot formed in Daniel's stomach.
"Keep dialling!" O'Neill's voice was harsh. Daniel looked from Jack to the girl. She was so young. So innocent. His hand reached for the cartouche and froze.
Hathor smiled. "A trade." Her eyes rested only on Daniel. "You and the scrolls for the girl."
Jack answered before Daniel had a chance. "That sounds like a pretty poor trade to me."
Hathor glared at him. "We were not addressing you."
Behind him, Jack sensed Daniel moving away from the cartouche. Then the anthropologist spoke, his tone brooking no argument. "Jack, I can't let an innocent girl die for me."
Jack and Daniel stared at one another - unspoken words thick in the air between them. Damn it, Jack thought. Civilians could be such a liability. He studied Daniel's face knowing only too well what was going through the anthropologist's mind. And there was no time to hold the debate that might persuade Jackson to either follow orders or change his next course of action. Finally Jack spoke, "Carter, finish dialling."
Sam looked from her fair-haired colleague to the older face of her commander, sensing the tension between them. "Sir?"
"Now Carter!" Jack's voice was sharp.
Daniel moved from the cartouche and took a step towards Hathor. The goa'uld queen could barely contain her triumph.
Jack heard the final chevron lock, the gate spun. Daniel took another step forward. The rushing sound of the vortex filled the room. Daniel, his eyes fixed on the woman who seemed determined to be his fate, took another step. And Jack swung into action. Reaching out he grabbed the anthropologist by the right wrist, spun him round and landed a firm upper hook on his jaw. Daniel's eyes widened in surprise and then in pain. The last thing he registered was Jack's muttered apology as he slumped into unconsciousness.
"Teal'c!" Jack screamed as he caught Jackson's dead weight in his arms. The Jaffa moved instantly, scooping up the unconscious anthropologist and running for the gate. Suddenly the gateroom was full of staff weapon fire. "The gate, Carter!" Jack yelled indicating she should go. He stooped to grab the bag and scrolls and ran for all he was worth. He saw Carter disappear into the silver liquid. Teal'c carrying Jackson reached the event horizon, glanced over his shoulder and then was gone.
A loud crack sounded to Jack's right. He was aware of a strange smell, something burning, and then he was at the gate. He dived headlong...
...and tumbled into SGC with a cry of pain. Doctor Frasier was at his side instantly. "Hold still, Colonel. You've been hit by a staff."
"You don't say," Jack hissed, as pain shot up his arm.
Frasier produced a pair of scissors and neatly cut open the sleeve of Jack's uniform. Her frown lessened as she saw the wound. "You were lucky, Colonel. Looks like that bag you were carrying took the worst of the blast. I hope it wasn't anything important." Jack looked at the charred leather bag and the ruined scrolls. Across the ramp he could see a medical team lifting the still unconscious Jackson on to a stretcher. "Not as important as somethings," he replied.
Extract from the diary of Dr Daniel Jackson
Jack and I talked last night - long into the night and with far too much beer. When I woke in the infirmary I'd been so angry with him. It had all seemed so simple to me. My life for that of the girl. And once Frasier's injection wore off, I wouldn't even have been aware of the fact I was Hathor's slave. But Jack - sometimes I forget he's military. He sees the wider picture. And he makes the tough decisions. A life here to save a thousand there. And I can't blame him for that. He looked me in the eye and asked what use the scrolls were without me. I waffled - said I wasn't the only one who could translate them. But we both knew it wasn't true.
But all that's irrelevant. The scrolls are gone. And Jack - Jack says he learnt to live with blood on his hands a long time ago. But I saw the look in his eyes back in Hathor's palace. He may put on the brash military facade in public. But I know he carries more than I could bear, and sometimes, when he's had a beer or two, the defences fall just a little.
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