New Arrivals
Author-Gadfly
Titles

Guarding The Tribe
by Gadfly

Summary: The Sentinel and Guide come to the assistance of their new tribe. Part of A New Direction series; continues on from A Place To Call Home; crossover with Stargate SG-1.

Author’s Note: Un-beta’d as usual.

Disclaimer: Jim, Blair, Simon, et al, and The Sentinel belong to Pet Fly, UPN, and Paramount. Jack and the gang belong to MGM, and the other Stargate Powers That Be. No copyright infringement is intended.

Wanting to help in any way that they could, Jim and Blair had accompanied O’Neill back to the base. If Daniel and Carter were in trouble, they could at least be there to support O’Neill, knowing how protective he was of his team.

“Mind if we sit in, Sir?” Jim asked respectfully, pausing in the doorway to the small briefing room. O’Neill had already entered, and was seated next to the General at the table.

“Not at all, Colonel. You and Doctor Sandburg are welcome to stay,” Hammond said, gesturing to the empty seats at the table.

“Thank you, Sir,” Blair nodded as he and Jim seated themselves quickly, on the other side of the table to O’Neill.

“This is what we got when we dialled P4Y-479 when SG-13 missed their scheduled check-in. We’re hoping that one of the linguists will be able to provide a translation for us, but the images are fairly self explanatory.” Hammond played the tape of the images and sounds sent back via the MALP.

On the screen, Carter, Daniel, Dixon, and the rest of SG-13, knelt on the grass in front of the gate platform, hands securely bound, surrounded by what appeared to be South American Indians in native dress. One of the natives, much older than the rest of the group, and obviously their leader, was facing the MALP camera and speaking, his agitation obvious as he gestured toward the captives.

“Quechua!” Blair exclaimed in surprise, not having expected to recognise the language.

“Can you translate for us, Doctor Sandburg?” Hammond asked immediately. “In Doctor Jackson’s absence, we’re having some difficulty finding someone who can translate the language.”

“My knowledge is fairly rudimentary, and I’m more than a little rusty I’m afraid, so it would take me a while,” Blair said regretfully, then brightened, “but Jim could do it.”

It had been years, but Jim found himself slipping back into the language surprisingly easily as Hammond obligingly rewound the tape and restarted it again from the beginning.

“The Inchac are demanding reparations for the trespass of the woman and three of the men into the sacred temple. They’re holding all of our people until they can speak to someone in authority, someone who can explain why the strangers went without permission into the sacred temple,” Jim supplied, and then suddenly grinned, head cocking as he listened more closely. “Daniel’s whispering that he hopes I’m listening in, and that no one’s been harmed yet – they’ve actually been treated very well so far – and that he’s fairly certain that the whole situation can be resolved peacefully, and that soon would be good, since he doesn’t want to miss the barbecue at Janet’s on Sunday.”

“I see,” Hammond smiled as Jim related Daniel’s comments. “I’m willing to trust Doctor Jackson’s judgement, but we have a problem. The majority of our SG teams are offworld. The members of SG-7 are still in the infirmary after their run-in with the Jaffa on PX2-118, and SG-11 are all in quarantine following the outbreak of measles on P8G-992. The members of SG-8 are on leave, and can’t be recalled quickly enough to respond to this situation. Major Ferretti and Sergeant Higgins are available, but the remaining two members of SG-2 are still recovering from their injuries.”

“What about the newbies?” O’Neill suggested immediately.

“What’s your assessment of your classmates, Colonel Ellison?” Hammond turned to Jim.

Jim narrowed his eyes as he considered his answer. “They’re all really good, but Captain Thomas, Master Sergeant Anderson, and Sergeant Saddler are probably the pick of the bunch from what I’ve seen so far, Sir.”

General Hammond nodded, quietly pleased that Ellison’s assessment matched up with the progress reports he’d been receiving during last three weeks. It was good to have confirmation that Ellison’s judgement appeared to be as reliable as he’d expected. “Very well,” he turned to O’Neill. “Colonel, you’ll be leading the team, which will consist of Colonel Ellison, Doctor Sandburg, Major Ferretti, Captain Thomas, and Sergeants Higgins, Saddler, and Anderson. You leave in three hours, once your team has gathered,” he stood and headed for his office. “I’ll clear your inclusion on the mission with Doctor Fraiser, Colonel Ellison. Your translation skills will definitely be required.” There was no way that Fraiser would have given Jim a medical clearance for the mission under normal circumstances, but since he was pretty much the only choice for the job of translator with Daniel one of the prisoners, and given the urgent nature of the mission, Hammond was more than willing to intercede.

“Thank you, Sir.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fraiser had insisted on performing the pre-mission medical on Jim herself, making no secret of her displeasure at being overruled by the General, even though she understood the reasons. “No pack for you, Colonel,” she stated as she adjusted the sling that supported his right arm so that it rested more securely against his chest, “and you will rest in your quarters until it’s time for the mission.”

Jim wasn’t about to disagree. He’d stiffened up considerably since the accident, and strapping on a backpack really wasn’t an option given his lack of mobility and the heavy ache in and around the abused shoulder joint. “No argument from me, Doc,” he smiled.

“If you hurt that shoulder worse you’ll answer to me, Colonel.”

“Understood, Ma’am,” he nodded as he hopped lightly off the examination table he’d been sitting on.

“Bring them, and yourself, home in one piece, Jim,” Fraiser said quietly, allowing him a glimpse of the concern she felt for her friends.

“We will, Janet. We will.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Blair knocked lightly on the door to Jim’s quarters twenty minutes before mission time. The fact that he actually got the chance to knock told him that he would need to watch Jim fairly closely during the mission, to ensure that he didn’t overdo it.

They headed for the locker room, speaking quietly in Quechua, to help both of them brush up on their usage, but especially Jim, since responsibility for translations between the Inchac and SGC personnel would fall to him.

O’Neill entered the locker room a few minutes after Jim and Blair, and walked over to the table along one wall of the room, where he gingerly laid out the item he’d retrieved from the lab.

“She finished it, then?” Jim asked as he picked up what appeared to be an ordinary chain, with dog tags attached. Dog tags which bore his name and details, as well as a small red dot just below the hole where the chain threaded through. One of the dog tags had deep indentations at each corner, while the other had corresponding bumps in each corner.

“Yeah,” O’Neill nodded soberly. “You activate it by pressing the two tags together. It takes a fair amount of pressure, so there’s no chance of activating it accidentally,” he pointed to the indentations and bumps which would allow the tags to fit together neatly. “They’re only for off world missions,” O’Neill added, “so you wear your normal ones at other times.”

“Okay, thanks.”

Blair observed in silence as Jim slipped his original dog tags over his head and replaced them with the new ones. The idea that his best friend was now wearing an explosive device around his neck didn’t sit well with him, but he’d promised Jim his support in this, and he was determined that he wouldn’t let him down.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The tension as the group gathered in the gateroom could have been cut with a knife. O’Neill, Ferretti, and Higgins made a point of checking the ‘newbies’ – Blair and Jim included, even though Jim was carrying very little – to ensure that they had everything that they might need on the mission. There was nothing condescending about their actions. It was more a ritual that the experienced gate travellers followed, both to settle their own anxieties about their captive colleagues, and to tacitly remind the newcomers of the seriousness of every mission through the gate.

Finally, it was time. The gate spun and locked in the chevrons, and the event horizon established with the usual whoosh, captivating all of the new personnel for a moment before Hammond’s voice reclaimed their attention.

“Colonel O’Neill, you and your team have a go. Good luck.”

O’Neill snapped his usual casual salute in the direction of the control room and headed up the ramp. “Let’s go, campers!”

Ferretti and Higgins were just behind him – it had been decided that the experienced members of the team would lead the way through the gate. Saddler, Thomas, and Anderson were next through, with Blair and Jim bringing up the rear.

“Dial everything down, just below normal, Big Guy,” Blair whispered, his hand settled firmly in the small of Jim’s back as they followed the others up the ramp.

“Gotcha,” Jim nodded that he’d heard. “Here we go, Chief.”

Taking a deep breath, they stepped into the event horizon.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Even with all his senses dialled down, Jim was nearly overwhelmed by the incredible cold. He stumbled on an uneven section of the platform as he emerged on the other side, but quickly regained his footing, and he and Blair headed over to join O’Neill and the others near the DHD.

Saddler and Anderson were supporting Thomas, who looked decidedly green after his trip through the wormhole.

“Oh, man! What a rush!” Despite the traces of frost on his cheeks, Blair couldn’t contain his delight as he dropped his pack beside the others’ and began to look around the clearing, his face alight with curiosity.

“Glad you enjoyed the ride, Sandburg,” O’Neill smirked even as his gaze flicked restlessly around the clearing checking for possible threats.

“We’re being watched,” Jim said softly to O’Neill.

“Yeah, I know,” O’Neill agreed. He’d felt the telltale prickling at the back of his neck as soon as he’d exited the gate.

“I don’t think they’ll keep us waiting too long,” Jim said, having heard the quiet murmuring of the watching natives as they prepared to break cover.

“Good,” O’Neill stated flatly. “Waiting is just so not my favourite thing.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“You’re up, JJ,” O’Neill murmured the natives emerged from the concealment of the trees surrounding the clearing into the late afternoon sunlight. “Everyone just stay cool,” he said a little louder, glancing at the rest of his group to ensure that they were following his instructions.

There were twelve natives in the approaching group. The majority appeared to be warriors, arranged protectively around two older men, both of whom appeared to be in their late sixties or early seventies, and who wore more decorative adornments than the warriors.

Jim stepped forward, holding his left arm slightly away from his body, his hand open and obviously empty of weapons. He was, in fact, completely unarmed, having applied what he had learned while with the Chopec to the current situation. Those who were selected to act as translators, or ‘Speakers’, during negotiations between the different tribes were expected to be without weapons, their safety guaranteed by both sides for the duration of negotiations.

“We come to you in peace, hoping to resolve the misunderstanding that led our people to trespass where they were not wanted.” Jim said calmly as he stopped about halfway between the Inchac and the SGC personnel.

“Are you the leader?” the native next to the man Jim had identified to himself as the Inchac Chief asked immediately.

“No, Shaman, I am but the Speaker for my leader, so that you may know his words,” Jim gestured toward O’Neill “And as you say the words, so shall I say them to him in the language of my people,” he completed the words of the ritual that he’d learned in his time with the Chopec.

“How do you know that I am a Shaman, young one?”

“You bear the symbols of a Shaman on your face and chest,” Jim replied easily. “I was fortunate to live for a time with a tribe on our world who are kin to you. The Chopec were very patient with me, teaching me their ways and customs. Their Shaman, Incacha, was my main teacher, and though he walks now on the Spirit Plains, he is ever in my heart.”

“Well spoken, young one,” the Shaman seemed pleased by Jim’s words. “We would know the names of your companions that we might commence our discussions in the proper way.”

“Our leader is Colonel Jack O’Neill, warrior and a chief in our tribe. With him are Ferretti, Thomas, Saddler, Anderson, and Higgins, also warriors of our tribe.” Jim gestured to each man in turn.

“And the young wolf?”

Jim grinned, not surprised that the Shaman knew about Blair’s spirit guide. “He is Doctor Blair Sandburg, teacher and Shaman.”

“How should we address you, young jaguar? And how is it that your Chief brought you on this journey when you are obviously injured?”

“I am Ellison, or, if you prefer, Enqueri, as I was called by your kinsmen when I lived with them. As for my presence, although my Shaman has some knowledge of your language, it was decided that I was the best choice to act as Speaker, since my Chief wishes there to be no further misunderstandings between our peoples.”

“Enqueri. It is a good name. We will use it,” the Shaman nodded. “I am Pinachu, Shaman to the Inchac, and our Chief is Michanka. Will your people accompany us to our camp? The negotiations will be conducted there after the proper ceremonies have been observed.”

Jim quickly relayed the names and the invitation to O’Neill.

“Tell them yes, but that we would also appreciate the chance to check on our people before we begin the talks,” O’Neill instructed Jim with a smile toward the Chief and the Shaman, who were observing the exchange intently.

The Chief readily agreed to O’Neill’s request, and the natives waited patiently while the SGC people gathered up their gear in preparation for the walk to the Inchac camp.

Neither the Shaman nor the Chief missed the way Jim suddenly seemed to tense up, head cocked slightly to one side, eyes fixed on the eastern side of the clearing.

“What is it, Jim?” Blair asked quietly, recognising that Jim’s senses had picked something up, and moving to a position where he could place one hand lightly at the small of Jim’s back to ground him.

“Another small group of warriors is approaching,” Jim advised quickly. “Only four in all. Probably just part of the escort to the camp,” Jim said more softly, his voice only carrying to Blair and O’Neill. “They’re talking about the hunt they’ll be going on in the morning. Everyday sort of stuff. I don’t think they pose any threat to us, but they were probably held back from the greeting party in case we proved to be hostile.”

“Backup, then. Fair enough,” O’Neill nodded, trusting Jim’s judgement. “Stand down,” he quietly instructed the others, who had paused in their preparations at Jim’s words.

The four natives who emerged from the trees joined the group already with the Chief and Shaman. Once they had their gear, the SGC people fell in with the Inchac and they were soon on their way to the natives’ camp. After asking for permission, Blair had engaged the warriors nearest to him in conversation, wanting to both increase his working knowledge of Quechua and learn more about the Inchac people. The warriors corrected his errors in pronunciation with tolerant amusement, and by the time they reached the camp, Blair was more fluent, although some of his pronunciations still sent the warriors, and Jim, into fits of laughter.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The walk to the camp had taken a little over four hours, and it was fully dark by the time they arrived. Blair kept darting increasingly concerned glances at Jim, who was visibly flagging despite the easy pace that the Inchac had set. Nothing really surprising there, Blair acknowledged to himself, considering that the Sentinel had come damned close to dying a little over thirty-six hours before.

Daniel, Carter, and SG-13 were brought out from the huts where they were being held and led to where O’Neill and the others were waiting. The natives guarding them ensured that they remained separated from O’Neill’s group by a distance of several yards, but handled them gently. O’Neill had been pleased to see that their hands were no longer bound.

“Hi, Jack,” Daniel smiled ruefully, wiggling his fingers in a half-hearted wave.

“It’s good to see you, Sir,” Carter said with an embarrassed smile.

“Hey, Jack, guys,” Dixon nodded in greeting, a resigned expression on his face. He was never going to hear the end of this, he just knew it.

“You just had to go into the temple, didn’t you, Daniel?” O’Neill sighed at his team mate in mock exasperation.

“Ah, well, you know how it is, Jack,” Daniel shrugged. “It’s what I do, after all.”

“So, you’re all okay?” O’Neill asked Dixon, wanting to confirm that his impression of the captives’ overall condition was correct.

“Yeah. Apart from being tied up and confined to a couple of huts, we’re all good. They’ve kept us well supplied with food and water and bathroom breaks,” Dixon nodded. “If it wasn’t for the fact that we’re not allowed to leave the huts without an escort, it’d almost be like we were guests instead of prisoners.”

The guards began to herd the captives back toward their huts.

“Uh, guess we’ll catch up with you later,” Dixon called over his shoulder as he followed the others.

“Count on it,” O’Neill called out firmly before turning to the chief. “JJ, thank the Chief for allowing us to check on our friends, and let him know that we will be ready to begin negotiations at their earliest convenience.”

Jim duly translated O’Neill’s words, the exchange taking several minutes. It seemed that Jim was disagreeing with something that the Shaman said, but he eventually sighed in resignation, looking rather sheepish as he turned back to O’Neill to relay the Chief’s response. It didn’t help that Blair was smirking, having followed most of the conversation.

“Ah, Chief Michanka has decided that the talks will commence in the morning, after the Shaman has ensured that the Speaker has had sufficient rest. If you go with the escorts,” he gestured to two young warriors who stood respectfully off to the side of the SGC group, “you will be given food and drink, and shown where you can rest for the night. The, ah, Speaker and Shaman will go with the Inchac Shaman to his hut, where he will tend to the Speaker’s injuries and ensure that the Speaker rests well before the negotiations tomorrow.”

O’Neill stared in silence at Jim for a long moment, noting his friend’s obvious fatigue and the stiff way he held himself in an attempt to minimise the pain of his shoulder injury. “So, the Shaman is related to Doc Fraiser, then?” he asked finally, with a knowing smirk.

“Something like that,” Jim said with a rueful smile.

“Well, I like him,” Blair grinned.

You would, Chief,” Jim was sorely tempted to poke his tongue out at his Guide.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

O’Neill and the others watched as Blair and the Inchac Shaman led a still protesting Ellison away.

“Do you think they’ll be okay, Sir?” Saddler asked, glancing anxiously toward the hut into which Blair, Jim, and the Shaman had disappeared.

“Yes, I do. So far, the Inchac haven’t hurt anyone, even though they could have. They’ve also allowed us to keep our weapons and equipment,” O’Neill pointed out as they followed their escorts into a large hut, where they found fresh fruit and water in copious quantities, as well as what appeared to be some kind of stew, which was being kept warm over a small fire in the centre of the hut. “And since the Shaman seems to be a long lost relative of Doc Fraiser’s, I’d say that Colonel Ellison and Doctor Sandburg are in good hands,” he added with a smirk. It was obvious to him that the Inchac’s intentions seemed both peaceful and honourable. Of course, that didn’t mean that he wouldn’t still be on guard…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Once they were inside Pinachu’s hut, the Shaman told Blair and Jim to make themselves comfortable, gesturing to the furs that were spread out around a small fire.

“You will eat now and then rest, Enqueri,” Pinachu instructed firmly, handing Jim a small bowl of what seemed to be stew, along with a rudimentary wooden spoon.

“To be honest, Pinachu, I think I’m too tired to eat,” Jim replied with a weary smile. Truthfully, the pain in his shoulder was bad enough that he wasn’t sure that he’d get much rest, either, but he wasn’t about to tell Blair or Pinachu that.

“You need food, Jim,” Blair told him in somewhat hesitant Quechua, out of deference for their host.

“Listen to your Shaman, Enqueri,” Pinachu nodded, crossing his arms and glaring at Jim until the Sentinel sighed in defeat and began to eat.

By the time Jim had finished the stew, and the cup of water that Pinachu had also insisted he have, it was all he could do to keep his eyes open. The older Shaman deftly retrieved the bowl and spoon before Jim could drop them, and with Blair’s help, eased Jim down into a comfortable position on the furs.

“He will sleep now until morning, young wolf,” Pinachu stated smugly as he and Blair settled back down by the fire to finish their own meals.

“How can you be so sure?” Blair asked, then his eyes widened. “You drugged him!?” he exclaimed angrily.

“The powder that I put into his meal will not harm your Sentinel, Guide,” Pinachu spoke slowly so that Blair would have no difficulty understanding his words, smiling in satisfaction at the expression on Blair’s face.

“How did you – ” Blair began, then cut himself off abruptly when he realised that he was only confirming the Shaman’s suspicions about Jim.

“Chief Michanka and I suspected that Enqueri might be a Sentinel when he detected the approach of the additional warriors when we were still at the Circle of the Gods. His status as Sentinel was confirmed when the powder that I added to his meal sent him into a deep sleep. Had he not been a Sentinel, the powder would have had no affect on him. You must caution him to be more circumspect in displaying his abilities, young Guide, lest those who do not revere Sentinels learn of what he can do. Fear not, though, young one, you and your Sentinel are in no danger from the Inchac,” Pinachu laid a reassuring hand on Blair’s shoulder as he spoke. “We hold true to the ancient ways, and honour all Warden Pairs.”

“Does the whole tribe know about Enqueri?” Blair asked anxiously.

“They do not. Only Chief Michanka and I are aware of his true nature. It was foolishness to risk such as Enqueri on this journey when he is not physically whole,” Pinachu frowned in disapproval as he gently slipped Jim’s arm from the sling, undid his shirt, and carefully examined the bruising around his shoulder before reaching for a small pot from among the many stacked neatly along one wall of the hut.

“Our friends need his help so that the misunderstanding about the temple can be resolved and they can return home. Enqueri would not leave any members of his tribe in difficulty when he might be of help to them,” Blair told Pinachu firmly.

“Such is the nature of the Sentinel,” Pinachu nodded in understanding, his frown fading as he applied the salve from the pot to Jim’s shoulder.

“I would appreciate the opportunity to learn more of your culture. Does your tribe currently have a Warden Pair?” Blair asked hopefully as he helped Pinachu button Jim’s shirt and reposition the sling.

“We do not, although one of the young boys does show some signs of greater hearing and sight. Whether his senses will develop more fully remains to be seen.” Pinachu told him. “Our last Sentinel passed to the Spirit Plains some time ago, along with his Guide. There will be much joy among the Inchac if Sanhaca’s two senses continue to develop, and he will be a Watcher for the tribe.”

Blair began to bounce up and down excitedly as he considered the Shaman’s words. “So, you call those with less than five greater senses Watchers?”

The two talked long into the night, with Pinachu continuing to speak slowly and gently correct Blair’s pronunciation. The older Shaman kept his words simple, but was quietly impressed with Blair’s improved Quechua by the time the two of them finally settled down to sleep for what remained of the night.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jim woke to the undeniable aroma of coffee. Opening his eyes, he flexed his shoulder carefully, relieved when the movement produced less pain that the day before. He sat up slowly, automatically seeking out Blair’s location with his hearing. He relaxed when he picked up the familiar heartbeat – slow and regular in sleep – off to his left.

“Did you rest well, Enqueri?” Pinachu asked, his eyes sparkling with amusement.

“I did, thanks to your drug,” Jim grimaced. “Is it a requirement that a Shaman be sneaky?” Incacha had been just as underhanded in making him rest when he’d been with the Chopec. Pinachu reminded him a lot of his friend.

“Only when the Sentinel is stubborn, Enqueri.” Pinachu smirked.

Jim nodded, unsurprised that the Shaman knew what he was. What did surprise him was that he wasn’t concerned that Pinachu would use the knowledge against him – unless it was to trick him into taking better care of himself or resting when he didn’t want to. Just another way in which the Inchac Shaman reminded him of his dead mentor. “I suppose you’ve passed all your sneaky secrets on to my Shaman?”

“Of course, Enqueri,” Pinachu laughed. “Is it not my role to educate the younger Shaman?”

“I am so screwed!” Jim muttered to himself as he stretched somewhat gingerly, mindful of his injured shoulder.

Not understanding his words, but recognising the tone of his voice, Pinachu continued to laugh even as he handed Jim a cup of coffee, along with a small bowl of fruit.

Eyeing the coffee suspiciously, Jim took a careful sip of the steaming liquid, eyes closing as he savoured the taste. Definitely not drugged.

“Blair instructed me in the importance of the coffee ritual during our discussions last night,” Pinachu informed him with a grin as he gestured to the small coffee pot that had obviously come from Blair’s backpack.

“Blair is very wise,” Jim grinned back. “Of course, you understand that I will deny ever having said that if you tell him.”

“Too late, Big Guy,” Blair said sleepily as he pushed himself up into a sitting position. “Please tell me that’s coffee that I smell?”

While Blair was inhaling his coffee, Jim turned again to Pinachu.

“Do you think that the talks will go well this morning?”

“There will be no talks, Enqueri,” Pinachu stated before taking a sip of his own coffee.

Jim stared at the Shaman in surprise, but before he could say anything, Pinachu continued.

“We held the strangers because we feared that they, and the ones who came after them, might be allied with the Glow Eyes. Your presence here proves to us that this is not so.”

“Will your Chief and Elders be willing to form an alliance with our people? You have a mineral that we seek in order to assist us with our fight against the Glow Eyes, and we, in turn, would provide goods that would be beneficial to the tribe.”

“That is for the Council to decide, Enqueri, but I would be surprised if they did not look with favour on such an alliance.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

After breakfast, Pinachu led Jim and Blair toward the hut where O’Neill and the others were being housed. Before they got that far, one of the tribe’s women ran up to Pinachu, crying and speaking too quickly for Blair to understand what she was saying.

The commotion brought the SGC personnel hurrying out of their hut, where they were joined by other tribe members.

“Makarei’s children went into the jungle to forage for vegetables and fruit at dawn. They should have been home by now. When Makarei went looking for them, they weren’t in the area where the tribe usually forages,” Jim quickly brought the others up to speed. “She found her daughter’s shawl, and the basket that they were supposed to gather the food in, but no sign of the children. The jungle itself is fairly safe, but there are a couple of large predatory animals that could be a problem, although none have been seen in the area recently.”

“What can we do to help?” O’Neill asked immediately.

Jim exchanged several rapid fire sentences with Pinachu, and Michanka, who had also joined the gathering crowd.

“Makarei is going to take us to where she found the basket and shawl. We’ll start the search from there,” Jim informed him quickly before Michanka commanded his attention again. “Uh, the Chief says that he knows you’re anxious to begin the negotiations, and that the tribe will search for the children so that the talks can commence as soon as possible.”

O’Neill shook his head firmly. “Not going to happen. Finding the kids takes priority over the negotiations. SG-13, Carter, and Daniel are in no danger, but those kids might be. We’ll help with the search.”

While Jim relayed that to the Chief, O’Neill signalled to Higgins and Anderson to grab some of their gear from the hut.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In the end, the search was something of an anticlimax. Jim had picked up the children’s scents from the basket and the shawl and had headed pretty much directly to them. They’d been climbing down a steep cliff to reach some sort of bird’s nest, meaning to gather the eggs as a special treat for their mother, when they’d fallen. Neither child was hurt, but they’d had no way to climb back up the cliff.

O’Neill quickly organised his team, securing the ropes they’d brought with them and lowering two of the warriors down the cliff face to retrieve the children.

Upon returning to the village with the children – and the eggs – Michanka had ordered a feast prepared to celebrate their safe return. The Chief also decreed that the rescue of the children was reparation enough for the trespass into the temple, and Daniel, Carter, Dixon, and the rest of SG-13 were immediately released and their equipment returned.

“Well, this is going better than I’d hoped,” O’Neill noted, a somewhat bemused expression on his face.

“Ah, actually, they weren’t going to make you negotiate for their release anyway,” Blair quietly informed the Colonel.

“And why would that be, Doctor Sandburg?” O’Neill had the sneaking suspicion that he wasn’t really going to like the answer, and he was right.

“Well, the Chief and the Shaman had pretty much figured out that Jim is a Sentinel,” Blair explained with a wince.

“Damn!” O’Neill swore softly. “Is he in any danger?”

“No, actually the opposite,” Blair told him, please that the Colonel’s first thought had been for Jim’s safety, proving to Blair once again that Jim’s faith in the Air Force officer was justified. “The Inchac respect and revere Warden Pairs, and the fact that Jim and I came on the mission to retrieve the others was proof enough for them that we aren’t allied with the Goa’uld, or the Glow Eyes, as they call them.”

“Cool,” O’Neill grinned, pleased that, for once, things seemed to be going their way. “So, would they be willing to form an alliance with us? Allow us to mine the naquada in exchange for something that would be of benefit to the tribe?”

“Yes,” Blair nodded. “Pinachu told us that the Chief and the Council would almost certainly be in favour of an alliance.”

“Very cool,” O’Neill nodded.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The meeting with the tribal Council had gone very well. Daniel and Blair had pretty much led the talks, with Jim providing translations for the others. O’Neill had sent Dixon and his team back to the Stargate to report to Hammond while the negotiations were taking place.

In the end, the Inchac had settled for antibiotics and tools in exchange for allowing the SGC to send teams through to mine the naquada.

Blair had been a little concerned that the Inchac were not getting enough out of the bargain, but Pinachu had taken him aside after the meeting had concluded with the signing of a treaty that Daniel had prepared.

“You are troubled, young wolf?” the elder Shaman had asked, concerned.

“I fear that we have taken advantage of your people, Pinachu,” Blair said miserably. “We get the naquada, and you only get medicine and tools.”

Pinachu had laughed, surprising Blair. “Young wolf, look around you,” he said, gesturing around him with his arms. “Your concern does you credit, but we need little that our world does not already provide. In truth, in the spirit of our alliance, we would have given you the metal from the ground, since we have little use for it, and far more than we need. If it satisfies your people’s honour to trade for it, we are happy to comply.”

“Oh,” Blair was a little nonplussed at the Shaman’s words, but quickly saw the humour of the situation. “That’s okay then.”

“Come, young wolf, it is time to join the others at the feast,” Pinachu led him back to where the feast had been set up.

Once everyone had assembled, Michanka had announced the alliance to the rest of his tribe, and decreed that the feast was now also in honour of their new friends as well as celebrating the safe return of the lost children.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The celebration had continued well into the night, and tribe members and SGC personnel alike had slept in the next morning, although several of the usual early risers were up and about an hour or so after dawn.

“So, how did you enjoy your first mission, JJ?”

“It was okay, I guess,” Jim shrugged and took a sip of coffee.

“Okay? Only okay?” Dixon asked indignantly.

“Well, yeah, Dave. I mean, it wasn’t really all that exciting, you know?” Jim couldn’t contain his grin any longer, especially given the expression on O’Neill and Dixon’s faces. “Not that I have any problem with a lack of excitement, but you have to admit, it was pretty tame. Actually, I’m kind of hoping that this is about as exciting as it gets – Blair and I could use some peace and quiet.”

“He’s got a point, Dave,” O’Neill laughed. “He’s definitely got a point.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Inchac had insisted on escorting the SGC personnel back to the gate for their journey home. Daniel acted as translator for O’Neill and Chief Michanka, who wanted to hear more about the war with the Goa’uld, while Jim and Blair walked with Pinachu. Blair was intenet on learning as much as he could from the elder Shaman about herbal medicines, since Jim often reacted so badly to western medicine.

The group reached the gate in the early afternoon, having stopped for a meal along the way.

Formal farewells were exchanged while Carter dialled the gate and sent the GDO signal once the wormhole had been established.

SG-13 went through first, followed by Carter, Saddler, Higgins, Anderson, and Ferretti.

“Don’t be long, kids,” O’Neill quipped to Jim and Blair, who had hung back to finish their conversation with Pinachu.

“No problem, Dad,” Blair replied with a cheeky grin.

“I get no respect, Daniel,” O’Neill sighed as he and Daniel headed through the gate.

“Be vigilant, Enqueri. The Glow Eyes would surely seek you out should they learn of your abilities,” Pinachu spoke softly, his voice carrying only to Jim and Blair.

“I will, Pinachu, as will my Shaman and my friends, but I thank you for your warning, Be well, my friend,” Jim and Blair raised their hands in farewell before stepping into the event horizon.

The End