Page 10

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The Gate disengaged behind Carter as she immediately took up defensive stance beside the Colonel.
Allowing a small smile to show at the Colonel's unveiled irritation with yet another planet covered in trees, Sam watched Daniel's eyes scan the scenery around them.
If he devoted even half of that perceptive gaze to watching for hostiles instead of artifacts, buildings, and natives, they'd have a fantastic warning system.
She'd have to have another talk with him about it.
"...completely surrounded by forest and there's only the one path from here...barely a clearing at all...I wonder if the Stargate was here first and the trees were planted around it rather than the other way around...could be religiously significant..."
The Colonel motioned for Sam and Teal'c to start forward while Daniel was talking.
The movements completely ingrained after so many missions, Sam held her gun ready, just in case.
Sam smiled again when the Colonel made a noise at Daniel and motioned to Daniel's gun, still holstered.
Daniel sighed and did as the Colonel wanted.
Daniel had asked her to help him get used to the gun so they'd been having light training sessions.
He was actually quite good, he just didn't feel comfortable with it and that sabotaged his learning.
It would take time.
Jack caught Carter watching Daniel and suppressed a smile.
He knew the two of them had been working on Daniel's willingness to use weapons.
He wasn't sure why Daniel didn't want him to know, but since the only reason he knew is because he'd gone looking for Carter, heard her giving orders, and had watched Daniel disassembling and reassembling one gun after another with, well not ease, but pretty decent speed and accuracy for a civilian, he decided not to let on that he knew.
Even now, he noticed Daniel's grip on the gun was perfect.
Oh well...
The team cautiously began walking down a well-traveled path, watching warily for signs of civilization, hostile or otherwise.
Teal'c motioned for them to stop.
"What is it?"
Teal'c's head was cocked a bit to the side, listening.
"I hear a number of individuals approaching from CaptainCarter's direction."
Sam whirled around and listened as the men took up defensive positions beside her, looking for a place to hide.
Jack spotted a massive tree trunk, hollowed by a small fire from the looks of it.
Easily big enough for the entire team to hide in.
"Follow me."
The team looked to see where the Colonel was heading.
Daniel was on the ground beside the Colonel in an instant, the trunk providing fantastic coverage while not obscuring their view of the path they'd just left.
Sam and Teal'c were there not a second later, weapons primed.
They watched as 20 or so children walked briskly, but vigilantly in what seemed to be a haphazard pattern through the trees.
When the children were all on the path, they formed a single line and began marching down the path away from the Stargate.
Jack marveled at how perfect their line was.
Never in his entire military career had he seen that level of precision and that was really saying something.
Daniel's eyes roved quickly over each child as they passed, taking in the details of their clothing and apparent hygiene, and mentally filing away each sound made in case it might converge into a language later on.
A small animal ran across Daniel's leg and he moved quickly away from it.
Instantly Jack and Carter were laying on top of him, shoving him face first into the dirt.
Teal'c, aware of why DanielJackson had moved as well as what had prompted his teammates, calmly removed the animal that had been trapped between DanielJackson and O'Neill's knees when the dogpile had happened.
As soon as the last child was out of sight and, hopefully, out of hearing range, Jack let Daniel up.
Daniel sputtered sand and epithets at his team, his angry glare laced with confusion.
"What was that for?"
Jack stared at him for a second.
"You moved."
"No kidding. Thank you for letting me know. Next time a simple 'Gee Daniel, you moved.' will suffice. I will get the picture, I promise."
Sam's eyes were apologetic, but she felt the move had been valid.
"Daniel, you have a slight track record for jumping in front of natives and introducing yourself. When you moved to do it this time, we stopped you bodily since verbal requests and orders don't have the slightest affect on you."
Daniel stopped, stunned.
"I wasn't going to jump in front of the children."
Jack turned his cap backward and smiled kindly at Daniel.
Daniel wasn't fooled and just glared back, his arms folded tightly.
" move and then run, jump, or holler. Everytime. Without fail. It's okay. We love and accept you the way you are. Since we don't want to change you in any way, personally, we'll simply plow your face into the ground every time you move. That way, your thought still counts, but the action does no harm."
Daniel's jaw dropped a bit and then he snapped his jaw shut.
He wasn't even going to tell them what really happened.
He didn't have to.
"DanielJackson, this is the animal you were shaking off your leg."
Jack, Carter, and Daniel all turned to look at the squirrel-like animal dangling in the air, it's legs flying wildly about as it tried to disengage it's tail from the Jaffa's strong grip.
Now that they weren't talking, it's soft chittering, angry and frightened, could easily be heard.
Jack and Sam didn't move as the information completely sunk in.
"Daniel, I'm sorry..."
"Well how was I supposed to know he actually had a good reason..."
They started talking at once, Sam being apologetic and Jack feeling guilty and annoyed.
Daniel smiled a bit for Sam, but resolutely decided that unless a combat situation appeared, Jack O'Neill didn't exist.
Sam started toward the squirrel, examining it.
She was actually more curious about why Teal'c was still holding it than she was in the creature itself.
The squirrel suddenly bit the Jaffa's fingers, causing his grip to slacken for a second.
That's all the time the animal needed.
Twisting, the animal flew through the air straight at Jack.
Chittering the entire time, it shoved impossibly large claws into Jack's shoulder, causing the Colonel to grit his teeth against the pain.
Daniel was there instantly, concerned.
"It's probably terrified from Teal'c holding it...the claws imply tree-dweller...can probably attach easily to any branch..."
Jack's incredulous glare shut Daniel up for a second.
Daniel forced a gentle smile at the squirrel and began babying it from Jack's left shoulder where blood was starting to appear.
"Come's okay...we're not gonna hurt you...come on...that's a good...ummm...squirrel...yeah...there you go..."
The squirrel watched Daniel's eyes closely as it carefully removed it's claws from the Colonel and walked warily into the archaeologist's open hands.
Daniel held it to a tree trunk and it jumped, skittering up the trunk in the blink of an eye.
Turning around, he saw Jack leaning on Sam a bit.
Sam's eyes were intent and he realized the skin showing where Sam had cleaned off the blood was bruised.
"Do you think it's claws were poisoned?"
Sam shook her head.
"No, but I don't like way the blood is clotting underneath the skin. Sir, I recommend we gate home immediately."
The Colonel's jaw was aching from the constant tension he was placing on it to stay in control while Teal'c and Carter tended his wounds.
He nodded weakly and Carter gave a short nod back and went into command-mode, unaware of the Colonel's proud amusement of how much of his command-style had shaped her as an officer when she was in control.
"Daniel, get the rest of the gauze out of my pack and as soon as Teal'c's finished bandaging the Colonel, we'll move out."
Sam kept an eye out for the children or anyone else.
Then, the team moved together, Daniel supporting Jack's left side.
No sooner had they stepped on the path when multiple whizzes were heard.
Daniel felt a sting in his back and just before his world became fuzzy white, he saw a dart go into Sam's neck and her arms raise before she dropped to the ground under the Colonel's weight as Jack had tipped forward onto her.
Unconsciousness seeped over him forcing awareness of his surroundings away as the white turned to black.

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