ROLL WITH THE PUNCHES
episode-related: "Within the Serpent's Grasp"/"The Serpent's Lair"
In a military op, you can’t anticipate every situation. So they teach you one simple rule: Roll with the punches.
The world narrows, to the gold beam of a ribbon device, to a pair of eyes wide in pain, to a familiar face twisted in a sadistic smile.
He got past Klorel once. Can't he do it again?
But that face is distant, focused on causing as much pain as possible. I know what that thing does to people. Daniel is shaking already.
Sometimes I’m not sure which actions I choose, and which are straight from training. “Skaara!” Not this time. I sight, and pull the trigger. Twice.
Roll with it.
Of all the possible faces to see in the outfit of Klorel’s Boss Jaffa, this pock-marked, bearded one is...not on the list. He’s one of the good guys. Maybe the first spark of hope we’ve had all day. So I step forward. “Bra’tac?”
His backhand is also not on the “expected” list. Ow, dammit. I blink furiously, trying to clear my vision and checking to make sure my nose isn’t completely broken. Teal’c’s talking to him. Maybe that’ll work a bit better. Jaffa to Jaffa.
“Come,” the old warrior says, like he’s holding all the cards here. Which he is. At the moment. “This is not the place to speak of such things.”
Hijacked by renegade Jaffa. Can this day get any weirder?
Go with the flow.
I run back to get Daniel. The stink hits me before I see him. Charred flesh and the coppery tang of blood. Dammit, why him? Out of all of us, why him? It has to smell worse than it is, but when I crouch to look, he tries to shake his head, to speak. “I’m dead anyway, just get out of here.”
Dark blood wets down the ashes of his jacket. There’s even a spatter across one lens of his glasses. “I’m not leaving you here, Daniel.” It’s not a lie, not when I say it. But that blast caught his left chest and shoulder. I’m not sure why he’s even still breathing. Or how he finds enough energy to drag the MP-5 closer to his body and tell me to go. That he’ll stay and watch our backs.
I sure as hell don’t know how I tell the others that Daniel will be staying behind.
It’s so quiet. Teal’c and Bra’tac are exchanging dismal status reports, and my 2IC is babbling about the damage our gliders sustained in the blast, but all I notice right now is the silence, and the light. We travel across the galaxy every day, but never get to see what’s in between. Not the way I’m seeing it right now. “Carter.” She stops her recitation of the time we have before we burn to a cinder. “Look up.”
If there were an “up” in zero g, that great blue curve would be hanging above us. Every line of ocean and land that I can see beneath the swirls of clouds, I know. That’s home. And unlike normal closeup views of cities or landfills or war zones, it looks gorgeous. Like a gemstone.
“It’s beautiful.” There’s nothing but awe in Carter’s voice this time.
I’ve always wanted to see Earth like this. I had no idea there’d be a reward for saving her.
Just take it.
Leave on a mission, anticipating either death or a court-martial. Return from the same mission, to a hero’s welcome. Can’t wait to see that smarmy Colonel Maybourne–-he deserves a good, “I told you so.” Even if that should really have been Daniel’s job.
On the other hand, I hope this doesn’t take much longer. And that heroes get to wait a few hours before being plunked into a detailed debriefing. I could really use a few straight days of sleep. I’d even settle for a few hours, right now.
“Someone would like to see you,” Hammond says. I wonder if we’re suddenly hosting some even more august person, like the President.
But the President doesn’t wear glasses.
“Daniel?” Carter almost shouts his name.
I’d think he was a ghost, except that he’s moving with no sign of pain, and grinning all over his geeky face. And when I grab him, he’s solid, and warm, and smells like miliary-issue soap instead of blood and ashes. I can’t help laughing.
Roll with the punches? Oh, yeah.