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Jigsaw: A Quintet

by cofax

[Story Headers]

Not Just a Job

There's a legend among the people of Kintalla -- PSF-something-with-sevens-in-it -- about four-winged angels. Daniel can't remember the precise translation, but it was something about the angels sweeping in before a big storm, slamming closed the doors to animal pens and storage sheds, tearing the ancestors' flags in warning.

SG-1 could have used the advance notice; but then they're not on PSF-whatever-it-was. Instead they're huddled in the only shelter for miles, a decrepit and thankfully ancient byre -- "Sheep," Sam suggested, but Daniel repeated "goats," firmly and without a whisper of nostalgia -- hunched against the water dripping into their clothes and hoping the low roof won't collapse on top of them.

Jack is, improbably, asleep, head leaned back against the shuddering wall, P-90 across his boots. Sam is pressed close between Daniel and Teal'c, her eyes a little too wide. They turned off the lantern, as the near-constant flashes of lightning provide enough light to see by, anyway. If there were anything to see. Which there is not.

Except, possibly, for the small cream-colored animal in the corner. Which hasn't moved since they stumbled through the door, Teal'c first, weapons up. Daniel's not sure it's not dead, but every once in a while, Teal'c swears, it blinks at them.

Life in the SGC is a never-ending adventure, Daniel decides. See the universe! Meet new peoples! Save the world!

Spend six hours crouching in old, wet, goat shit.


Silenced

PMG-787 has no trees. Instead it's grass, green-purple grass, dotted with leafless shrubs. The wind brings tears to her eyes, whistling through the empty gate, tossing the grass in chaotic patterns, weaving in and out of the line of cairns that marches, shoulder-high, from the gate to the horizon.

The horizon seems too near, but her pack and P-90 weigh the same. It makes her think about the possibility of heavy metals deep underground, but she says only, "Let's move out."

Her team swings in behind her: Carson and Smay taking notes on biology and atmospherics, Ry'ac bringing up the rear, weapon ready. The grass is deep, dense and untrodden, catching at her boots, and she knows she'll feel the weight tonight in her bones.

A double moon hangs in the sky, one full, one quartered. Once, she would have described their orbital mechanics until even Daniel's eyes glazed over. Now, she gives orders, and listens to the wind.

She will not find them here.


Draw Down the Sun

He runs, chest heaving, sweat slick on his face, almost defenseless. He has left his staff weapon behind, and the pistol is empty. The weight across his shoulders makes him stumble in the shadows. Shouts in the distance among the trees, but with fortune, he may outpace the pursuit.

"Teal'c? What--" Daniel's voice is muffled against his shoulder.

"Be quiet, Daniel Jackson," he says, pausing for breath, and Daniel goes silent again. Teal'c cannot tell if the archaeologist is still conscious. They are not far from the chapa'ai.

There is a break in the trees ahead. Teal'c staggers forward, realizing only now how much his strength has drained away in this race, and then stops. He drops to one knee and gently lowers Daniel to the ground.

There is no urgency now. They have lost: the Gate is surrounded by dozens of Jaffa.

"Jack?" Daniel murmurs. "Ouch." He fumbles at his waist, and Teal'c takes his hand instead. Teal'c cannot see the blood soaking Daniel's trousers, but he can feel the slickness on his hands.

Neither forward nor back. He sits next to his teammate, and waits for nightfall.


Come by Here

This time there is no warning.

The clouds catch the last rays of the sunset high above; Teal'c turns his head to watch the colors change as O'Neill turns into the parking lot. They planned steaks, and beer, and maybe a late movie at the cinema a short distance away.

They never get to the steaks.

Halfway through the first pint, the mountain blows up.

O'Neill's eyes widen, and Teal'c looks out the window in time to see the cloud roll upwards, blotting out the sky, the sunset, the world. Then the rumble hits, a sound so large it shakes the building, knocks O'Neill's beer off the table, and drowns out the shocked cries around them. The roar goes on for a long time, and dies away only to allow for the blaring of alarms.

An hour later, after helping the injured as much as they could and dozens of fruitless attempts to call out, they stumble outside to the parking lot. The dust is thick in the air, layered inches deep on every surface, and they wrap napkins around their faces to breathe. It doesn't help much. Sirens wail, but even in the dust the sky above is disturbingly empty. If there are any vessels above them, goa'uld or tau'ri, they cannot be seen. Teal'c suspects there are no tau'ri vessels anymore.

The truck starts reluctantly. O'Neill is silent as he drives; Teal'c stares out the window, his hands empty. He is alive, and he would not be were it not for a long off-world mission and O'Neill's fondness for Jake's beer selection.

With some care, they wind their way around the central part of town, heading for the west side of town. They have not spoken since they left the restaurant.

"O'Neill."

O'Neill grunts. It's completely dark now: no street lamps, no moon, no light but for that from other cars, driving recklessly. They pass several collisions, but O'Neill does not stop.

"The goa'uld will have destroyed your major cities, too. And your military installations."

O'Neill's voice is clipped, tight with restraint. "I know, Teal'c." He guns the truck through the next intersection, and the engine coughs, falters, and recovers. "Shit."

They are fortunate: Major Carter is in her home, and answers the door gun in hand. She hugs them both fiercely, and ushers them back to the kitchen, where a candle illuminates a large box half-full of canned goods and random equipment.

"Daniel?" O'Neill asks. She shakes her head. She is dressed simply, in jeans and a dark shirt: as close as she can come to her BDUs, Teal'c realizes, without being in uniform.

The light from the candle shimmers in Carter's eyes and reflects off the pots suspended in the kitchen, but O'Neill's face is shadowed, giving back only darkness and resolution. Carter closes her eyes, opens them to meet O'Neill's, and then reaches into the cabinet for another box of cereal.

They never expected to be out of the mountain when it happened. They never expected to be separated when it happened. They have had six years of implausibly good luck, and even Teal'c allowed himself to believe it could continue. He knows better now.

In the weeks of their long journey east, as he keeps watch outside each day's dreary hideout, he will allow himself to resent the humans' contagious optimism. The Stargate is destroyed, and Chulak is lost to him. The tau'ri will not bring freedom for the jaffa.

They will never find out what happened to Daniel.


Sugarloaf

The leaves are thick on the ground, red gold brown hiding stones and roots, traps for the unwary. Jack approves: they also hide the trail from the Jaffa, who haven't adjusted to these eastern forests, thick with deciduous vegetation. Pine trees are common, but in nothing like their profusion on so many Goa'uld-settled worlds. He always wondered why the snakes loved pine trees so much. If he'd asked her, Carter would have had an explanation, or at least a guess.

Now? He glances down the trail and sees only her grey cap behind the granite boulder she's chosen as cover. From here he can't see the dull weight in her eyes or the stained jacket she's worn for the last six weeks. If he were to ask her about the trees, he doubts she'd answer. She still talks now, but the geek is gone: she's all soldier.

He doesn't have the luxury to be sorry for that: she is a very good soldier.

Carter flashes a hand signal, and Kandinsky comes over the rise, moving at a steady jog, followed by Teal'c, then Benson, then Kal. Jack's eyes narrow as he realizes there won't be any more, and Benson's favoring her left arm. Teal'c pauses when he reaches Jack, but the rest keep on past, heading up and over the notch. By midnight they'll be deep in the woods.

"Well?" Jack keeps his eyes on the trail.

Teal'c drops to a crouch, body close enough Jack can smell him sweating, and the lingering odor of cordite. "The mission was a partial success. We infiltrated and destroyed the ammunition depot, but Whitehead fell behind on our escape. We must assume he is taken."

Shit. They'll have to move again. "Carter!" he hisses. "Gotta go!" He covers her as she heads up the trail, weapon solid in her hands. She nods at him as she passes, and now he's the rearguard, peering eastward through the trees as the daylight dims. The wind shifts, carrying the smell of burning cities to them.

"Go," he says to Teal'c, and waits for a count of one hundred.

One soldier down, one depot destroyed. This war started six weeks ago, or six years ago, or six thousand, depending on who you ask; he's lost a little more every day, and the snakes keep coming. Jack spits to the side, his eyes on the orange light reflected off the cloud cover, before shouldering his own gun and heading up the hill after his team.

END

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Fandom:  Stargate SG-1
Title:  Jigsaw: A Quintet
Author:  cofax   [email]
Details:  Standalone  |  PG  |  9k  |  08/11/04
Summary:  Five things that could happen to SG-1, but probably won't.
Notes:  Written for Vonnie, Katie, Barkley, and Maayan, pushers extraordinaire
Spoilers: none of note
Disclaimer/Other:  Not mine, never were, no money changing hands.
Posting date: 24 May 2004
Archive: Yes
Feedback makes me do the wacky; send it to cofax@mindspring.com

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