Careful What You Wish For
Daniel hugged the rock. When he had first taken shelter behind it, the size of the monolith appeared suitable to protect him. Another energy bolt struck near his foot, making it painfully clear it was inadequate.
A self-deprecating laugh traveled up his throat, passing his lips as he reflected on the debriefing that had taken place that morning. If only he had known then what he knew now.
Taking a seat next to Jack at the briefing room table, Daniel took a grateful sip from the steaming mug his friend placed in front of him. How had Jack known he'd fallen asleep at his desk and was in desperate need of a pick-me-up? Massaging a stiff neck, Daniel lifted the cup to his lips, taking a longer swallow this time. The stimulant raced through his veins, rousing still sleeping nerve endings.
"Good morning, people." General Hammond energetically entered the room and took his usual seat at the head of the table.
Daniel's sluggish brain envied the older man's vigor. Blue eyes peevishly rested on the ruddy face. "Is there a reason why you called us here at such an ungodly hour, General?"
"Why would there have to be a reason?" Jack sarcastically inquired, glaring at his teammate. "Can't he just like to look at our cheerful faces?"
Embarrassed by his senseless remark, Daniel ducked his head. "Sorry, sir."
"Perfectly all right, Doctor. Might I suggest you pour yourself another cup of coffee before I begin the briefing?"
"Yes, sir." His face burning, Daniel pushed back his chair and rose. Crossing to the coffee maker, he filled his cup. He had consumed half the contents by the time he returned to his seat.
"Now that we're all relatively alert," Hammond smiled to take the sting from his words, "I'll proceed. As you know, the Joint Chiefs authorized the establishment of a permanent research station on M4C-862. The scientific team is headed by Dr. Hamilton. SG-2 has been . . ."
"Babysitting," O'Neill provided when the older man hesitated.
"Guarding the station," Hammond corrected. "They're due to be relieved."
"Let me guess…" Jack held up a finger. "SG-1 is relieving them."
The corner of his mouth curving into a smile, Hammond nodded. "You leave in one hour."
Daniel silently groaned. Hamilton was a pompous ass. Spending the next few weeks on a small moon with the scientist would be torture. Short of self-mutilation, Daniel would do anything to get out of the assignment.
"Excuse me, sir, I have a schedule conflict," Carter informed her superior.
"No need to cancel, Major," Hammond decided. "You can join your team at your convenience."
"Thank you, sir."
A jealous sigh whispered past Daniel's lips.
"Something wrong, Dr. Jackson?" Hammond inquired.
Knowing all eyes were focused in his direction - again, Daniel shook his head. "No, sir."
"Fine." Hammond rose. "SG-1, you have a go."
For once, Daniel felt no enthusiasm as he watched the inner wheel of the Stargate spin to the next symbol. From what he knew of M4C-862 his skills would be gratuitous. There was no sign the moon had ever been inhabited. Thus, no artifacts for an archeologist to dig up and try to interpret.
The seventh chevron locked into place, activating the Stargate.
Daniel had one foot on the ramp when Hammond's voice called his name over the intercom.
"Dr. Jackson, wait."
Exchanging a puzzled glance with Jack, Daniel happily did as he was instructed. He was in no hurry to join Dr. Hamilton's research team. Or, as he suspected, become the scientist's lackey.
"Doctor," Hammond entered the Embarkation Room, "SG-11 has requested you accompany them to--"
"I'd be happy to, General." Daniel didn't care where SG-11 was going as long as it wasn't to M4C-862.
Another energy bolt struck the monolith, spraying Daniel with pieces of granite and quartz. Careful what you wish for, Daniel silently berated himself. Instead of being figuratively bored to death listening to one of Hamilton's lectures, he and SG-11 were in danger of being literally bored to death.
"What the hell is that thing?" Reynolds shouted at his team leader.
Risking a quick look around his rock, Sanchez replied, "It looks like some kind of automated defense weapon."
"How come the MALP didn't take fire when it came through?" Meeks demanded, covering his head as a bolt flashed across the top of his boulder.
Sanchez shook his head. "I don't know. What I do know is we're stuck here until we figure out what set it off and neutralize it."
"It can't be motion." Collins provided through gritted teeth as he wrapped a bandage around the calf of his left leg. "If it was, the MALP would've activated it. And we wouldn't be here."
"Ditto for electrical power," Sanchez agreed.
"Heat!" So excited he almost forgot himself and stood up, Daniel theorized, "It has heat sensors."
"It's something we have the MALP doesn't," Sanchez thoughtfully observed.
His face glistening with sweat caused more by fear than the planet's cool temperature, Meeks asked, "So how do we combat it?"
Collins' high voice dialed a notch higher when a bolt struck between his legs. "No one is going to be able to reach the DHD. Not alive anyway."
Remembering their encounter with the Tok'ra Korra when they were captured by Aris Boch, Daniel suggested, "We use flares."
"It could work." Sanchez eyed the DHD and its relationship with the Stargate and the automated defense weapon. "Dr. J, do you think you could dial out while we keep that thing busy?"
Daniel swallowed, judging the distance separating him from the Dial Home Device. He was the logical one to make the run. He could tell at a glance what symbol represented the point of origin. It could take one of the others precious seconds they didn't have to decipher the address. Rolling his flares to Meeks, Daniel took several deep breaths. "On the count of three start throwing. One. Two. Three."
The last word thundered past Daniel's lips as he sprang to his feet. Running so fast he almost overshot the DHD, he grabbed the edge with one hand to stop his momentum. With the other, he pushed the first glyph. His weight still rested on it when his eyes located the second.
Behind him, Daniel could hear the sizzle of the energy bolts. A slight odor of sulphur filled his nostrils. Whether it came from the bolts or the flares he wasn't sure. The air crackled with electrical currents as he pressed the seventh symbol.
"Watch it, Dr. J!"
Daniel dropped at Sanchez's warning. A bolt struck the DHD. His fingers tingling and his hair standing on end, Daniel reached up to touch the red globe, triggering the Stargate.
A bolt skimmed his arm. Scuttling behind the DHD for more protection, Daniel cradled his injured limb. It burned as if it was on fire. Daniel didn't want to see the damage a direct hit would cause. He suspected a bolt would cut through the human body like a hot knife through butter.
"Meeks, punch in our identity code," Sanchez ordered. "We have one flare left. I'm going to count to three, then throw it. As soon as I do, run like hell for the Stargate."
"And hope we don't get skewered," Collins pessimistically muttered.
"One," Sanchez counted. "Two."
Balancing against the DHD, Daniel pulled his feet under him, prepared to run faster than he had ever run in his life.
Though he had a greater distance to cover, Daniel easily caught up with Sanchez and Collins. Meeks was already entering the wormhole with Reynolds on his heels when Daniel's feet hit the raised platform the Stargate was sitting on. His breath escaping in painful gasps, Daniel dove headfirst for the event horizon.
Tucking, he hit the metal ramp on the other side with a force that left him breathless. A boot kicked him in the ribs and another just missed striking his head as Sanchez and Collins exited on his heels.
Hammond entered the Embarkation Room. Regarding the numerous cuts and bruises on his team with shock, he asked, "What happened?"
Wincing as Meeks helped him to his feet, Daniel replied, "Let's just say we need to make a modification to the MALP."
His gaze going to the open wound on Daniel's arm, Hammond's eyes narrowed. "Interesting statement, Dr. Jackson. I look forward to hearing why after your visit to the infirmary. Debriefing in one hour."
Cradling his arm, Daniel followed SG-11 out of the room. He didn't have to concentrate on his journey; his feet knew the way without input from his brain. Which was a good thing, he reflected. The burning in his arm was making it hard for him to concentrate. For once, he was actually looking forward to seeing Dr. Fraiser. A painkiller would not be refused.
The smell of disinfectant announced the location of the infirmary before they actually entered it. Through the open door, Daniel saw Jack O'Neill sitting on an examination table. Ugly welts dotted his face, chest and arms. "Whoa!" Daniel stopped in his tracks. "What happened to you?"
"I met Tinkerbell's evil twin." Jack paused. "Make that triplet . . . quadruplets . . ."
His brow creased with concern, Daniel demanded, "Are Sam and Teal'c all right?"
"Fine. We lost Thompson, though." O'Neill turned a puzzled frown on his friend. "What comes after quadruplets?"
"Quintuplets," Daniel answered automatically, upset at hearing Thompson had died. He hadn't always agreed with the scientist's theories, but he had liked the man.
"Well," Jack hissed as a nurse applied medication to one of the welts on his right arm, "let's just say Tinkerbell brought her mother, father, all her brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins . . ."
Daniel held up his good hand. "I get the picture."
"So," Jack nodded towards Daniel's wound. "What happened to you?"
"We encountered an automated heat-seeking defense system."
"Sweet. It sounds like you had a lot more fun than we did. Wish I'd gone with you."
"Watch it, Jack." Daniel's tired voice warned. "If there's one thing I learned today, it's to be careful what you wish for."