Characters: Chris, Jack O'Neill, Vin
Alternate Universe xover with Stargate SG1
Sequel to Only the Strong Survive
Summary: SG1 launches a rescue mission for SG7 - the search and rescue team.
Previously appeared in the fanzine "Brotherhood"
Bored, Colonel Jack O'Neill tapped his fingers on the table, ignoring the dark looks Dr. Daniel Jackson shot at him. The way Jack saw, it if he had to suffer, so did his team. And, as far as he was concerned, sitting in the conference room waiting for General Hammond to make an appearance was tantamount to torture.
He was in the middle of a "drum roll" when the general exited his office. Rising swiftly from his chair, Jack came to attention, watching expectantly as Major Samantha Carter set aside the file she had been reading and quickly followed his lead.
"At ease," ordered Hammond, sitting in the chair at the head of the table.
Dropping back into his seat, Jack asked, "What's up, sir?"
"I'm sending SG-1 on a rescue mission to PL3-988."
Since SG-1 was primarily used in first contact situations and Larabee's team was almost exclusively search and rescue, Jack prodded, "Why not send SG-7?"
"Because," Hammond looked down at his hands, "it's SG-7 that needs rescuing."
Even if he had wanted to, Jack couldn't have kept his lips from curving into a broad smile. "Why send us, sir? It's not Christmas or my birthday."
"You're the only team available."
Jack looked up at the ceiling. "There is a God."
Hammond's lips twitched as he passed out folders.
"This wasn't a first contact mission, was it, sir?" Carter clarified, flipping through the report.
"No, SG-11 made first contact; this was a follow-up. SG-7 was to accompany Dr. Mead to negotiate mining rights."
"Dr. Mead? Great," grumbled Jack. "They sent a diplomat who doesn't know how to be diplomatic."
It was Daniel's turn to ignore O'Neill as he tapped his finger on a page in the folder lying on the desk in front of him. "It says here the indigenous population is equivalent to our late Pleistocene period."
"That's correct," confirmed Hammond.
"That's like asking an ape for permission to share his tree," contended Daniel. "They won't have any idea what Dr. Mead is talking about."
"Does anyone ever understand Mead?" Jack innocently stated.
Hammond cleared his throat. "Colonel."
Closing the file he had barely scanned, Jack asked, "So what's the problem?"
"That's what I need you to find out. SG-7 is four hours overdue for their check-in."
"Colonel Larabee is very conscientious," observed Teal'c. He would not go so long without reporting in unless something was wrong."
"My feelings exactly." Hammond rose. "You have a go, SG-1."
* * * * * * *
Though it was difficult in the confined space of the net, Colonel Chris Larabee lowered his P-90 so he could check the time on his watch. Growls of anger made him quickly raise the weapon and fire a short burst at the feet of the group of barely-clothed men and women advancing on his position.
"What time is it?" Buck inquired.
"Almost five hours past our check-in," said Chris.
"I hope someone comes soon," JD called. "I'm almost out of ammo."
Low on clips himself, worried about Vin's disappearance and the rest of his team's safety, Chris was still torn concerning the prospect of rescue. He wasn't looking forward to the amusement that would grace the faces of the other team when they saw SG-7's predicament. Each man, except Vin Tanner, was trapped in a net hanging from a tree. Chris had one advantage as he occupied a net by himself, as he had been covering the team's six. The remainder of SG-7, along with Dr. Mead, were stacked uncomfortably in a separate net. Escape was impossible. The composition of the ropes had proven to be impervious to the sharpest knife.
To make matters worse, they were surrounded by an ever-increasing number of the planet's inhabitants. All were angry and yielding crude armament. While clubs and spears were no match for automatic weapons, they could still cause damage to delicate flesh, as Ezra Standish had discovered when he took a spear to the thigh.
"I want to look at your cut again, Ezra?" said Nathan Jackson.
A soft moan carried on the wind, accompanying Ezra's answer. "Is it really worth making our snare swing again, Mr. Jackson? We barely avoided wearing Lieutenant Dunne's lunch the last time you treated my wound."
"You tell me. I don't want you to bleed to death."
"I assure you I will not. I have had far worse injuries."
Ezra's words said one thing, but Chris heard the truth in the strained voice. Rescue couldn't come soon enough for the injured man. The dirt coating the nets made infection a real possibility.
"How are you doing, Josiah?" asked Nathan, unable to reach his teammate without climbing over several others.
Josiah Sanchez's arm had been broken when the traps were sprung. Having suffered a broken arm once himself, Chris knew the big man would find no relief from his pain in the swaying confines of his net, an inadvertent blow from his teammates, or the movement necessary to effectively yield his weapon against their attackers. There was little Nathan had been able to do for either of the injured men due to his position at the bottom of the net, and the constant danger of the angry natives.
As if this wasn't enough to stretch Chris' already taut nerves, Vin's disappearance was enough to make him stop firing in warning and allow his bullets to find targets. Feeling something was wrong, Vin had scouted ahead. They had not heard a word from him since he had entered the forest.
"Colonel Larabee," Mead whined, "I insist you get me out of this contraption immediately."
Ignoring the often repeated request, Chris activated his radio hoping this attempt would not prove to be as futile as the others. "Tanner report." When static was the only response to his request, Chris anxiously tried again, "Vin, come in."
"Larabee, is that you?"
The initial adrenaline surge at receiving an answer dissipated quickly when Chris identified the voice as belonging to Jack O'Neill. Almost tempted to keep silent, obligation won over embarrassment as Chris warned, "Careful, Colonel, the natives are restless."
"Where are you?" asked O'Neill
"Two clicks north, northwest of the Stargate, about three hundred meters inside the forest."
"We'll be there in fifteen."
"Understood. Be advised, they've laid traps."
"What kind of traps?"
Firing a burst at a group trying to sneak up behind him, Chris said, "Mostly it appears to be nets hanging from trees."
"You mean the fish in the barrel are doing the shooting?"
"Something like that."
"Can't wait to see it."
Chris sighed, knowing no words had ever been truer.
* * * * * * *
When Jack saw the mob circling the trapped team, he had difficulty taking them seriously with their clubs, spears, and loin cloths. This coupled with the sight of Chris Larabee hanging in a net from the branch of a tree about ten feet off the ground his knees pressed against his chest, made it impossible to do anything except crow in delight.
The sound turned the enemy's attention to the new arrivals.
"Good job, O'Neill," shouted Larabee, executing a mock salute.
Jack quickly shifted to avoid the spear flying towards him and flipped the safety off on his P-90. "You just don't know how to use scare tactics, Larabee." Bracing himself, Jack fired a line of bullets into the earth near the feet of the advancing swarm.
The man in the lead backed up a few steps, shifted the club from his left hand to his right, and charged Jack again.
"Can you show me what I was doing wrong again, Jack?" Larabee requested, laughter in his voice.
Frustrated that he had lost the advantage, Jack fired a second time kicking up dirt at his nemesis' feet. All this did was turn more of the pack against his team.
"Jack," observed Daniel, "you don't seem to be scaring them."
"Ya think!" Jack snapped.
Raising his staff weapon, Teal'c thumbed the switch to charge it. Aiming at a tree a safe distance from Larabee and his team, the Jaffa fired.
The bold of energy shot over the advancing throng and cut off the top of the tree, sending it toppling among the charging warriors. Screaming in terror, they turned and ran deeper into the forest. Cheers from the trapped men followed the retreat.
"Way ta go, Teal'c," praised Buck.
"I think," Larabee quickly suggested, "you better get us down from here before they come back."
Pouting over the failure of his plan, Jack pulled a knife from the sheath at his waist.
"Do you think we'd still be up here if knives worked on this stuff?" Chris tugged at a strand of his net to demonstrate its strength.
Jack slid his knife back and secured it in place. Resting an arm on the barrel of his P-90, he stared up at Larabee, before shifting his gaze to let it rest first on Carter than Jackson. "I got nothing."
"I thought you were supposed to rescue us, Jack," Larabee pointed out, a smug look on his face.
"We will," snapped O'Neill.
"It's a good thing for you my team is better at its job or you would've been killed several missions ago."
"Just give us a minute."
"I will, but will they?" Larabee nodded in the direction the mob had disappeared.
The sound of angry grunting reached Jack's ears, confirming Larabee's assessment. Still the threat of danger didn't give him any ideas.
"Colonel Larabee, cover your head." Teal'c's evocation was followed seconds later by a blast from his staff weapon. The bolt struck the branch securing one side of Larabee's net.
Chris barely had time to comply with the request before he felt a wave of heat flash past his head and he found himself tumbling to the ground. Only years of training gave him the presence of mind to curl into a ball as soon as his feet touched the ground. When he stopped rolling, he lay on his side trying to catch his breath. He was glad to finally feel solid earth beneath him again, but he would've liked it better if the meeting hadn't been so abrupt.
"Nice shot, Teal'c," praised O'Neill, leaning over to offer Larabee a hand. "But I think you better give the others a little more warning."
"Understood, O'Neill." Teal'c raised his weapon. "Major Wilmington, are you and the remainder of your team ready?"
"As we'll ever be," said Buck, grabbing onto his net.
Chris jealously watched as Buck, Mead, and the remainder of his team hung onto one side of their net, while Teal'c shot out the ropes securing the other side. This allowed them to climb down the makeshift ladder. Though, even with assistance, it was rough on Ezra and Josiah.
As soon as his team was assembled around him, Chris ordered, "Buck, I want you and JD to take Josiah and Ezra to the Stargate. Once they've gone through, secure the area."
"Colonel," Ezra protested, "Mr. Sanchez and I are quite capable of reaching the Stargate on our own. You may need Major Wilmington and Lieutenant Dunne to rescue Lieutenant Tanner."
Barely containing his anger and frustration, Chris ignored Standish and said, "You have your orders, Buck."
"Yes, sir." Wilmington's distaste for those orders was obvious, however, he didn't argue. "Contact us if you need backup."
"Carter," said O'Neill, "you go with them and report to General Hammond. Tell him to have another team ready just in case."
"Yes, sir." Carter didn't look any happier than Wilmington. "Sir, we really should take one of these nets back with us. A rope that's impervious to knives could be a valuable resource."
Daniel shook his head, pointing out, "It was probably made from plants native to this planet. Since we're obviously not welcome, I don't see how we'll obtain the material in the future."
Though Chris agreed with Jackson's assessment, he could see Carter wouldn't be satisfied until she got her way. Impatient with any further delay, Chris said, "JD, grab a net."
"Yes, sir." JD crossed to the Jaffa and pointed to the nearest tree. "Teal'c would you bring down the other side of the net?"
Without a word, Teal'c raised his weapon and fired with innate accuracy.
Trusting his team to complete the tasks set for them, Chris turned to walk further into the forest. To his surprise, he found O'Neill walking beside him. "Where do you think you're going?"
"To find Tanner," said Jack.
"Nathan and I can manage without SG-1's help."
"You might not need me and Daniel," conceded Jack, "but I think you're going to need Teal'c."
It was painful to admit, but Chris knew O'Neill was right. Teal'c had the only weapon effective against the angry natives and their traps. "Fine," he ungraciously relented.
"Fine," Jack agreed with a big smile.
When Chris resumed walking, he was brought up short by a hand on his shoulder. This second delay fueled his temper to the boiling point. He turned, prepared to vent his anger only to find himself face to face with an impassive Jaffa.
"Lieutenant Tanner went this way." Teal'c pointed to an area about ten yards left of Chris' position.
Unhappily falling into step behind Teal'c, Chris grumbled, "When we get back, I want to have a conversation with SG-11 about what constitutes 'friendly and cooperation'."
"Mind if I join you for that," Jack quietly emphasized, "discussion?"
"Not at all." This was one time Chris realized where he would welcome O'Neill's support. The prospect of putting the fear of God in the other team offered a small measure of satisfaction.
They hadn't walked more than a quarter of a mile when they found Vin. Ropes, like the ones used to make the nets, secured him to a tree. His head drooped down to his chest, his right side coated with blood.
Chris' first sight of his friend left him shaking and unable to take another step. His teammate wasn't so impeded, Nathan raced to Vin's side. Chris held his breath as he watched Nathan's skilled hand, now smeared with Vin's blood, search for the carotid artery.
"He's alive," called Nathan.
Quickly crossing to Vin's other side, Chris said, "Teal'c, let's get Vin free."
"Yes, Colonel Larabee." Arming his staff weapon, Teal'c moved to the back of the tree. "Are you ready?"
"We've got him."
Pulling back the bolt to arm his P-90, O'Neill shouted, "Hurry up, Teal'c, the cavemen are getting restless."
"Jack," Daniel said his pistol in hand, "they may look like cavemen, they may act like cavemen, but they're obviously more advanced than what we have been led to believe." Daniel turned to Larabee as he continued, "They were smart enough to know they had to silence your scout."
"I don't care if they have degrees from Harvard," Chris snarled. "They tried to kill my team."
Daniel winced. "I'm just saying if they have brains they can be reasoned with."
Throwing one of Vin's arms around his shoulder to help support the unconscious man, Chris waved the other in the direction where the loudest of the outraged cries emanated. "You want to reason with them, Dr. Jackson, be my guest."
"Don't even think about it," growled O'Neill, frowning at Daniel.
"Colonel Larabee, your team must have done something to piss them off." Daniel argued. "If we figure out what it was we could fix this."
As Nathan draped Vin's other arm around his shoulder, Chris said, "The only thing we did was walk through the 'gate."
"Let's go, Daniel." Jack's tone clearly supported Larabee's position.
"We'll figure it out back at the SGC." Jack started to retrace their path to the Stargate. "Teal'c, cover our six."
"Understood, O'Neill," agreed the Jaffa.
Too busy supporting Vin and looking for possible traps, Chris was only vaguely aware of the danger following in their wake. The discharge of Teal'c's staff grew in frequency the closer they got to the Stargate.
"Carter," Jack activated his radio, "we're coming in hot; dial home."
"On it, sir."
When a spear landed uncomfortably close to his leg, Chris tried to pick up his pace. He wasn't sure if he agreed with Daniel concerning the indigenous population's intelligence, but they sure were persistent, which reinforced Jackson's theory that they were pissed off.
* * * * * * *
Chris shifted his gaze from Vin's pale face to the monitors telling him the body they were attached to was still alive. Despite Dr. Fraiser's assurance that Vin would be all right, Chris needed the constant reinforcement the machines gave him. He had seen enough head injuries to know there was no guarantee to support Fraiser's claim.
"Colonel Larabee," Ezra's voice whispered from the bed closest to Vin's, "you need rest. I will be pleased to stand vigil over our comrade."
A glance at the face, which had only a few shades more color than the one he had been studying, made Chris shake his head. "I'm fine."
"Hardly," a voice snorted from across the room.
Chris shifted his gaze to see Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson filling the doorway. Behind them was the remainder of SG-7, who had been banished from the infirmary by a suddenly claustrophobic Fraiser.
Stepping further into the room, Jack said, "You aren't the only one who considers Tanner a friend."
"I know that." Even as he said the words, Chris knew his actions indicated a different perspective.
"Ezra is still fighting an infection." Chris pointed to the IV next to Standish's bed. "He needs rest. He doesn't need to be babysitting."
"Agreed." Jack nodded. "So what's wrong with the rest of us?"
A quick glance at Buck, Josiah, Nathan, and JD showed Chris he wouldn't get any support from them. They looked even more annoyed with him than O'Neill and Jackson. Of all people, Chris thought Jack would understand his need to be at Vin's bedside. Jack had spent long hours watching over a wounded Daniel on several occasions. It was naïve of him to think Chris could rest anywhere until he knew his friend would be all right. He didn't say a word in response, letting his glare answer for him.
"Y'all mind keepin' it down? I got a headache."
Recognizing the raspy voice, even more gravely than normal, Chris looked down at his friend and almost shouted in relief. "Vin!"
"Hey, keep it down." A shaking hand lifted several inches before flopping back onto the mattress.
"Sorry." Chris quietly apologized.
O'Neill crossed to stand at Larabee's shoulder. "Welcome back, Tanner."
"Where have I been?" asked Vin.
"La la land."
Vin's brow furrowed with thought. "Did this land have people dressed in fur shorts, carrying clubs?"
"No," Jack corrected, "those are the people who sent you to la la land."
Vin closed his eyes. "If they're hoping to get tourists they won't get any endorsements from me."
"You won't get to tell them," said Daniel.
Though he never wanted to step foot on PL3-988 again, Chris was curious. Daniel seemed awfully certain Vin wouldn't be going back to that planet which seemed strange since Mead had been insisting they return - with an army - as soon as possible. "What's going on?"
"Dr. Mead insisted we dial PL3-988," explained Daniel.
"Idiot," O'Neill mumbled.
"Anyway," Daniel frowned at his friend, "we couldn't get a lock."
"Gate malfunction?" asked Chris.
"No, we were able to dial other planets without a problem."
Chris stared at Daniel. "They buried their gate."
"Looks like it."
"You were right, Dr. Jackson," said Chris. "They aren't stupid."
Jack shrugged. "Just really pissed."
A soft sigh drew Chris' attention back to Vin. If anything, the alabaster features had become even paler. The grooves between the closed eyes were a clear indicator of pain. Rising from the chair that had begun to feel like a permanent part of his anatomy, Chris suggested, "We can talk about this later. I think we better let Vin and Ezra get some rest before Dr. Fraiser comes back."
"Good call." Raising a hand, Jack ticked off on his fingers, "You didn't get the treaty with the cavemen, you pissed off Mead, and SG-1 had to rescue you. It looks to me as though you've already had your three strikes. You're out."
"Watch it, Jack," whispered Daniel, tugging at Jack's sleeve. "We may need SG-7 to come to our rescue again."
"May?" Chris smiled and shook his head. "It's a certainty."
"There are only two certainties in life," argued Jack.
"Death and taxes." Chris nodded, walking towards the entrance to the room. "Except here at the SGC there's a third: SG-1 will get into trouble and SG-7 will bail them out."