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Posted February 1, 2006
Fan Fiction: Eclipse
Act Five: Chaos in the Dark
Sam bolted to her feet at Jack's order, ignoring the discomfort of limbs made stiff by long hours of sitting. She snagged Daniel's arm as she moved, assisting him to his feet, and realized only after he hissed in discomfort that she'd taken hold of his injured limb.
There wasn't time to be gentle. She let go his arm and shifted her hand to the small of his back, then dug in her heels and pushed. He stumbled forward, nearly tripping on Teal'c's heels, his profile lit starkly by the burning flare the Jaffa thrust ahead of them. Sam readied her P-90 as she ran, activating the attached flashlight and aiming it out into the darkness. She had no idea what minimum candlepower might be required to keep the swift-moving nightmares at a distance, and she didn't intend to be left in a position to find out.
Jack fell in behind her to cover the team's six. Sam heard a few echoing alien screams as the Colonel's P-90 spoke out in their defense, interspersed with war cries from angry Jaffa as Shu's soldiers reacted to their presence. Another staff blast blew past them, detonating on the canyon's floor and throwing up a cloud of dust that briefly captured the light of the flare like a cloud of fog caught in a car's highbeams.
Scuttling sounds from the tops of the cliffs confirmed the presence of more of the creatures, watching them from above. Sam clamped down on the seed of panic germinating in her chest and focused her entire being in the moment, on staying alive. It didn't matter that there was nowhere to retreat to, Jack would think of something, and even if he didn't, there would be another way out. There had to be. This was SG-1; they had survived worse odds than this.
A third blast slammed into the earth at their heels, knocking Jack off his feet. Sam heard him go down and turned to cover him, yelling for Teal'c as she did so. "Hold up! The Colonel's down!"
Teal'c either didn't hear her, or else the flare was starting to burn out, because its flickering light illuminated less of her surroundings with every passing second. She had no idea if they'd been running long enough for that to happen; her time-sense had evaporated with the flood of adrenaline in her system. All she could think of as the shadows swarmed back in around her and Jack was that they were not going to die this way. She fired past him as he got back up to his knees, briefly illuminating the cliffs with each muzzle flash, and yelled for her teammates again. "Teal'c! Daniel! Hold up! We need to stick together!"
There was a whisper of movement to the left. Sam turned and fired a burst at the sound, catching one of the aliens in mid-leap. Dark blood spattered the rocks around it; some of it splashed back on her face, but she hardly noticed as she poured another burst into the thing to make sure it was dead. As she fired, an echoing call sounded almost in her right ear-- it hadn't been alone. She swiveled back, heart pounding in fear, and heard another voice cry out: the Colonel's, astonished and in pain.
"Carter!" Jack had nearly made it back to his feet, but a clawed alien hand imbedded in his calf yanked him back down again. He curled sideways as he fell, aiming his P-90 at the attacker; a simultaneous burst from his weapon and Sam's nearly sawed the thing in half across the breastbone. It was the first time Sam had gotten a really good look at one; aside from the strangely shaped head and the greyish coloring, the thing reminded her of nothing so much as one of the velociraptors from the Jurassic Park films. Its skin started shriveling as it collapsed to the earth, and she realized that the light was growing brighter again. Teal'c had heard her after all.
She dropped one hand from her gun, reaching down to grab Jack by the back of his BDU jacket, and started dragging for all she was worth. He complained at the treatment, yelling out as his injured leg bounced over the ground, but she didn't stop until she was right up against the solid tower of strength that was Teal'c. Several more staff blasts shot into the canyon as she moved, but none came anywhere close; from the shrieks at each impact, Sam guessed the creatures were temporarily proving more of a distraction to the Jaffa than SG-1 was. But that couldn't last forever.
Daniel knelt at her side, tearing off a strip of his T-shirt to serve as a quick and dirty bandage around the Colonel's bleeding leg. Jack lurched to his feet almost before Daniel was finished, listing badly to one side but still more than capable of action. "We gotta find some cover!" he yelled, limping toward a large rock propped against one of the canyon's walls.
Sam moved automatically to cover him, firing at every sound she heard outside the shifting sphere of light holding the darkness back around the team. She had no idea what Jack was doing-- one rock could hardly provide them all cover-- but she was operating very much on an instinctive level now. See danger, kill danger; protect the team; follow the Colonel.
"T, buddy! Some help here!" Jack braced himself as best he could and leaned his shoulder into the rock, reaching into a vest pocket for another flare as he did so. Teal'c joined him, dropping the burning flare he'd been gingerly holding on the ground beside them, and together they shifted the heavy, man-height rock to one side. Where it had been, a narrow, gaping hole was revealed.
Jack ignited the second flare, tossing it into the cavern, then paused to check for hostile occupation. Nothing moved or shrieked, and after a few seconds Jack dove inside, P-90 at the ready.
"It's clear!" he called. "Daniel! Carter?"
"Right behind you," Daniel called, inching through the narrow opening carefully to protect his injured side. Teal'c stood next to the rock, guarding the way as Daniel disappeared from sight. Sam fired a few more rounds into the shadows, then followed.
The cave proved to be quite shallow, not connected up to the nearby warren of tunnels the creatures probably lived in. Sam moved out of the way as quickly as she could, intending to give Teal'c room to maneuver, and was baffled when he didn't immediately appear in the entryway.
"Teal'c?" she called, fearing for her friend's life.
"Keep them safe, Major Carter," he answered.
"Teal'c? You get your ass in here!" Jack yelled, indignant, as a rough scraping noise sounded outside the mouth of the small cavern.
Sam understood, belatedly, as the rock that had covered the opening settled back into place, blocking her view of the canyon. "Teal'c!" she screamed, beating on the back of the rock with one bare fist.
Her radio activated abruptly, and she started as Teal'c's deep voice sounded in her ear. "The Jaffa will look for those who caused the disruption," he said calmly. "O'Neill and Daniel Jackson are both wounded; there are too many of them for us to defeat as we are. I will lead them astray."
"Teal'c, you don't have to do this!" Daniel said desperately, activating his own radio. "The SGC knows where we're at, the rescue team will probably be here any time!"
Teal'c did not answer. Daniel drew in several harsh breaths, then backed into the cave wall, sliding down it until he was seated on the cool floor.
Jack sat down more carefully next to him, looking every bit his age in the flickering light of the flare. "Not after Shu's Jaffa blew up that last MALP," he said, quietly. "They won't come through until they're sure it's not suicide-- and since we were keeping radio silence at the time, they don't even know we're still alive."
"We can't just let him die out there!" Daniel objected, angry and near tears.
"T's tough. I'm sure he'll make it. How long can this eclipse last, anyway?" Jack said, in a transparent attempt to reassure the younger man.
Sam swallowed. "I hate to be the bearer of bad news-- but if this system is aligned the way I think it is, the night will last several more hours at the minimum. And if there's another gas giant on the other side, blocking the suns from the other direction..."
Jack dropped his head to his knees. "Really didn't want to hear that, Carter."
"Sorry, sir," she said, at a loss what to do next. She was beginning to shiver a little, partly due to the aftermath of the adrenaline rush but also from the rapidly dropping temperature in the cavern. She was abruptly grateful that they had worn the jackets with their desert camouflage BDU's, despite the earlier heat, and quickly moved to sit on the other side of Daniel to conserve warmth.
He'd taken his own jacket off much earlier in the day to tie around his waist, but with Sam's assistance he struggled carefully back into it. "How many more flares do we have?" he asked quietly, feeling in the pockets of his jacket and vest.
"I dunno. A couple," Jack said, glumly. "You and Carter should have one each, Teal'c's probably got one or two."
"And there was another in the bottom of my pack," Daniel mused. "Which, of course, you left out there--"
"Hey!" Jack objected. "I was in kind of a hurry, in case you hadn't noticed."
"I have mine," Sam spoke up, interrupting them. Much as their arguments usually amused her, now was not the time. "But I didn't pack any extra flares. I brought C4 instead."
"Which would be fine if we needed to blow ourselves up," Jack said, sourly. "Damn it."
They didn't have much in the way of emergency rations or first aid equipment, either; they hadn't really been expecting to stay on the planet very long, and now they were down Daniel's portion in addition to whatever Teal'c had been carrying. Was still carrying, Sam reminded herself. She wasn't going to assume Teal'c was dead until she had proof otherwise, no matter how poor the odds.
"We should probably do something about your leg, sir," she suggested. "Before this flare burns down." She did at least still have a standard emergency bandage in her vest, and it would be worth sacrificing a little of their remaining water rations to reduce the likelihood of infection.
He shifted a little, turning the injured calf toward the light, and grimaced. "Probably so," he said. "It doesn't look too bad, but it's still bleeding and it hurts like hell. I'd like to be able to run on it when we bust out of here."
She moved quickly to carry out her suggestion. The deep gouges where the claws had sunk into his leg really needed better medical care than she was able to give him-- stitches, for starters, and better pain medication than the aspirin Daniel had on him-- but she was at least able to wash the debris out and bind the wounds up tightly. He'd have a new set of scars, but no serious impairment. Provided they got off this planet alive.
The flare burned out just after she'd finished, casting the cave into darkness. The twin flashlights on Sam's and Jack's P-90's were the only relief in the oppressive blackness, and she knew even those would have to be turned off soon to conserve battery power. The idea made her stomach churn, but there was nothing else to be done save charge back out of the cavern and make Teal'c's sacrifice meaningless.
Better now than later. Sam switched the light off, then heard a faint click as the Colonel did likewise. A hand reached for hers; Daniel's, she was fairly sure, though she could no longer see to be certain. She grasped it thankfully, unnerved by the complete and total absence of light around her, and rested her head back against the wall of the cave.
When faint blue spots began appearing in front of her eyes a few minutes later, she thought at first that her eyes were beginning to make things up, starved for any kind of visual input. She blinked a few times, then sat up straighter, staring up at the ceiling of the cavern.
The hand wrapped around hers clutched tighter for a second. "Look," Daniel said, voice barely louder than a whisper. "Are those..."
"Bioluminscent slugs," she answered, as the light brightened further and the blobs of color took on form. Of course; light would be a better biological defense on this planet than the more usual spines or poison ever could be.
Somehow, in the dim bluish light given off by the tiny creatures, their situation didn't seem quite so bleak.
© 2006 Jedi Buttercup.