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Do No Harm

Do No Harm

Stargate SG1 - Book 1

(ALL Release)

PUBLISHER: Fandemonium Books
FORMAT: Paperback
ISBN-10: 1905586094
ISBN-13: 9781905586097

Find out more about Do No Harm

                                    Chapter One

Janet Fraiser was in the concrete cubicle she laughingly called her office, reviewing the bloodwork results on SG-6, when Sergeant Harriman’s voice blasted through the base’s intercom.

“Medical emergency! Medical team to the gate room! Doctor Fraiser, please report!”

She was too much the seasoned professional to leap up from her desk, sweating and swearing, but she wanted to. Oh, how she wanted to. It was the fourth emergency call to the gate room in twelve days.

Just when I thought the worst was over. Hell, I’m so damned sick of this …

With over-practised ease she grabbed her stethescope from its hooks by the door, pulled on gloves from the dispenser beside it, collected her response team from the infirmary with a quick “Soup’s on. Move it.” and made her brisk way to the latest catastrophe. At least she knew for certain it wasn’t SG-1 this time. SG-1 were safely in the briefing room giving General Hammond the run-down on P4J-992, where miraculously not one of them had so much as stubbed a toe.

Thank God.

She ran through the potentials in her head as she threaded through doors and corridors at something close to a jog. SG-10 were on a diplomatic run, SG-5 were bored spitless on P9C-446, guarding an archeological dig. So that only left –

SG-8. The scene in the gate room was grim. Major Jake Andrews, recently promoted team-leader of SG-8, sprawled unconscious on the gate ramp, his right forearm attached to his elbow by two sinews and a prayer. From the damage to his clothing it looked like there was some kind of penetrating belly wound too. Things that should be inside – like blood and intestines – were outside. The slicing wounds were sharp, clean, from some kind of machete maybe. Captain Ariel Lee slumped beside him, her slim brown hands clutching at the broken arrow-shaft protruding from her left thigh. Her team mates, Lieutenants Esposito and Brackley, bled from a profusion of nasty lacerations to their faces, arms, chests and legs. More blade work, like Andrews, but at least it didn’t look life-threatening. They supported each other unsteadily as they gasped for air.

“Why wasn’t this wound secured before you came back, Captain?” Janet asked Lee as she dropped to her knees on the ramp beside Jake and opened the first response box. Damn, damn, where was the – yes. Her fingers pulled out the tourniquet, and she hauled it tightly into place just above Jake’s elbow. The pulsed flow from the severed arteries was sluggish, easy to compress, the tourniquet a bandaid gesture after the fact. Her hands felt gently, deftly for evidence of a chest injury to go with the belly wound, for a neck or head injury from his unprotected fall through the gate onto the ramp. It would be so easy to miss something, and they were in too much trouble already.

The major’s fatigues were drenched to a soggy scarlet. Class IV shock – greater than 40% volume loss, he was almost exsanguinated. “Get him on oxygen and put a couple of i/vs in him if you can,” she said to Liz Gardiner, her chief nurse. “We’ve got to bring his pressure up. If you can’t get an i/v in we’ll cut down and get central access in the OR.” Turning to Tim Webber she added, “I want that gurney now. Then notify the OR we’re coming in hot and they need to start scrubbing for a dirty abdomen. Then call the blood bank and radiology and warm up the rapid infuser.” She arranged the bloody, cooling, inanimate remains of Jake’s forearm beside him. Blood dripped through the ramp grating to the concrete floor below. “The arm can wait.”

Ariel’s teeth were chattering, her eyes blank with shock and pain. She looked like she was trying to remember how to speak. “Sorry, Janet. Sorry,” she muttered. “No time for a tourniquet. If we’d stopped running we’d be dead.” All the colour had drained from her face. Rob Cheung was working on her; she didn’t seem to notice him. “I’m sorry. Doctor Fraiser, please …”

Please, please, don’t let him die. It’s what they always asked. What she could never promise. There was blood on her hands now, way past the edges of her gloves. “He’s a fighter, Captain,” she said, and knew it wouldn’t be enough. She was going to lose Major Jake Andrews. She’d seen too much impending death in the last three years to believe he’d survive his dreadful injuries. His trauma score was too damned high.

Rage was squeezing her, brutal as a wifebeater’s fist. She looked at Liz, who was taping down the second saline bag’s canula. “Okay. Let’s go.”

As she and the rest of her team got Andrews and Ariel onto their gurneys she caught a sideways glimpse of General Hammond and Jack O’Neill, hovering on the edges of the bloodbath.
Needing to be there, but knowing when to stay back. Sam, Daniel and Teal’c had remained in the control room. Like Sergeant Harriman they watched through the window, as though plated glass could shield them from grief.

“Doctor,” said the general, his round face drawn tight with all the things he couldn’t let himself say or feel.

“I don’t know, sir,” she said, although she did and so did he.
“I’m sorry, we have to --”

“Go,” said Hammond. “Godspeed. Keep me informed.”

“Good luck,” Jack added, even though he knew too that all the major’s luck had run out.

Leaving Jeff to deal with the walking wounded, she and Liz raced Jake Andrews to OR 1 with Trinni and Rob rushing Ariel Lee close on their heels for OR 2. Kate Dokic and Bill Warner were the other surgeons on duty. Kate took Ariel and Bill scrubbed in with her for Jake.

As the anesthetist put in the tubes and connected wires and pumped warmed red blood through the places it was meant to flow, her eyes met Bill’s across the major’s blanched, barely breathing body, and what she felt was reflected in his face. Jake was almost out of time. But they were professionals and this was one of their boys. Nobody was giving up till the flatline had sung.
Which it did, twenty minutes later. She wanted to weep.

“There was nothing else we could’ve done, Janet,” said Bill afterwards, once the machines were switched off and the carnage was decently shrouded beneath a green sheet. “He was dead before he stepped into the wormhole.”

She nodded, vaguely aware of a crushing headache happening to someone, somewhere. “Yeah. I know.”

He was a good man, Bill Warner. A lot of surgeons would’ve transferred to Outer Mongolia rather than continue in Stargate Command if they’d been him, the last couple of years. But Bill just shrugged, and smiled, and put in another i/v. Removed another spleen. Packed another liver. Splinted a couple more fractured fingers. Refused to give up.

He squeezed her shoulder. Giving comfort. Getting it. “You going to see Hammond?”

“After I’m done here and I’ve checked on the others.” She glanced at the wall clock. “Your shift ended an hour ago. You should think about heading home.”

“Yeah,” he said, nodding. “I will.”

But she knew he wouldn’t. At least not until, like her, he was certain the rest of SG-8 was dealt with.

“I’ll finish up and file the paperwork,” he added. “Don’t keep the general waiting.”

By ‘finish up’ he meant tidy Jake Andrews’ gaping wounds, so that when his team-mates came to say their goodbyes they’d take away with them an image not entirely horrific.

Throat aching, eyes burning, she managed a brief, small smile. “Okay. Thanks, Bill. I appreciate it.”

She left him with Jake in the silent operating room and went to see how Ariel Lee had come through her surgery.

“It’s not too bad,” said Kate Dokic, who was still new enough to the SGC after four and a half months to be visibly rattled by what came back through the wormhole. “No arterial or nerve damage, which is some kind of miracle since the arrowhead nicked the femur. She’ll be out of rotation for a while but she’ll be fine, eventually.”

Still stupored by anesthetic, Ariel snored softly in the recovery room. Under the light blankets the bandage on her wounded thigh was bulky.

Janet pressed her fingertips to the captain’s wrist, feeling for the blessed reassurance of a pulse. I’m sorry, Ariel. I couldn’t save him.

“I hear things didn’t go so well for you,” said Kate.

The pounding in her head was vicious. “No. No, they didn’t.”

“Damn,” said Kate, and dragged long fingers through her short red hair. “That sucks.”

No kidding.

But she didn’t say so aloud. Flippancy was Kate’s armor of choice, just like it was Jack O’Neill’s. People coped how they coped. There was no one right way.

“Janet, I’m sorry,” Kate added. “It’s been rough lately.”

That was one way of putting it. Two fatalities. No – Jake made three. Four near-misses. Two significant spinal injuries, one almost certainly due to end in paraplegia. A broken arm. A broken pelvis. A compound tib-fib fracture. One whole team down with hemorraghic dysentery. Three-quarters of another team in lockdown isolation with some weird alien ‘flu. Altogether, five team leaders lost or out of action.

Come on already, universe. Cut us some slack.

“Is it always this bad?” said Kate. Her eyes were apprehensive, as though she was having second thoughts about accepting this job.

“No. Not always. Actually, not ever.” Janet patted her arm. “Not since I started here. Like you say. It’s just a rough patch.”
In the same way that the Great Depression was a minor financial inconvenience.

“Okay,” said Kate, not sounding convinced. “If you say so.”

“I say so. Now, I have to see Hammond,” she said. “We’ll debrief with Bill in the morning before finalizing the reports. Okay?”

Outside in the main infirmary Lieutenants Esposito and  Brackley sat side by side, Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Their  cuts and bruises had been patched. They looked at her face and knew they’d lost their team leader.

“What about Ariel?” said Jenny Brackley, her eyes too bright and her breathing uneven. “Can we go and sit with her until she wakes up?”

She nodded, gravely. “Sure. Just be nice and quiet.”

“And Jake?” said Esposito, his voice unsteady. “What about Jake?”

She rested her hand briefly on his tense shoulder. “You can see him a little later. Doctor Warner will tell you when.”

“Okay,” he said. “Thanks, Doctor Fraiser.”

“Yeah. Thanks,” said Jenny.

“You’re welcome,” she told them, though why they should feel grateful when she’d failed to save Jake Andrews for them she couldn’t begin to explain.

She left them still sitting there, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, looking for a way to summon the strength to move. Changed out of her stained scrubs into a neat and tidy uniform and took herself off to see General Hammond.

He was in his office, talking with Jack. “Come on in, Doctor,” he said, seeing her hesitate in the doorway. His voice was tired, his eyes glazed with grief.

“Screw it. We lost Andrews, didn’t we?” Jack demanded, as though he didn’t know the answer. His voice was ugly. Loss always did that to him. Made him angry. Unpleasant.

She stepped over the threshold, looking at Hammond. “I’m sorry, sir. It wasn’t just the traumatic near-amputation. His liver was cut in two.” And his upper intestine and his spleen, but they didn’t need to know every last grisly detail. “Maybe, if there’d been a doctor on hand, someone whose only job is to identify life-threatening injuries and  can, I don’t know, apply a tourniquet under fire. Someone like that might have made a difference to Major Andrews.”

Hammond glared. “You don’t know that for certain.”

“Actually, sir –“

“Doctor Fraiser, we’ve discussed this ad nauseum. The Pentagon’s position remains the same. No medical personnel on the SG teams.There aren’t enough of you, and you’re valuable here.”

“Not every team, sir,” she said, because stubborn was her middle name. “As we’ve discussed, just the first contact missions.”

“Doctor, I’m aware of your opinion on this. So is the Pentagon. The answer is no.”

The Pentagon was full of idiots. When the hell was someone going to listen? I bet they’d say yes if they were the ones going through the Stargate …

But antagonizing Hammond wouldn’t help her case. “Yes, sir.”
The general pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger. “How is the rest of SG-8?”

“They’ll make a full recovery, sir. Captain Lee won’t be fit for duty for a few weeks, though.”

“Crap,” said Jack and scrubbed his hands across his face. “General …”

“I know, Colonel,” said Hammond. “You don’t need to tell me.”

“This brings us down to eight functioning teams,” said Jack, not listening. “With not enough team leaders to go around.”

“I know,” said Hammond. “Are you under the impression I’ve been asleep at the wheel?”

“Sorry, sir,” Jack muttered. “Of course not. I know you know. And you know that I know that --” He stopped. Sighed. “I’m just going to quit while I’m ahead, if that’s all right with you.”

“I insist,” said Hammond, glaring again. Then he shifted his gaze. “Was there anything else, Doctor?”

She shook her head. “Nothing that can’t keep for the moment, sir. If you wanted to stop in and see Captain Lee, she should be alert enough to talk by 2100.”

Hammond glanced at his watch. “Good. I’ll do that. In the meantime don’t let me keep you. You either, Colonel. We’ll finish that mission debrief at 0830 tomorrow. For now I’ve got some phone-calls to make.”

Jack pushed to his feet. “Of course, General. I’ll see you in the morning.”

“You certainly will.”

Janet nodded, in lieu of a salute. “Thank you, sir. I’ll be in my office if there’s anything else you need to know.” Or if you need to talk. Or share a fortified coffee. It wouldn’t be the first time, after someone had died.

A little of the bleakness eased from Hammond’s eyes. “Thank you, Doctor. Close the door behind you on your way out.”

She and Jack retreated to the briefing room, quietly, exchanging a look as she pulled the office door shut.

“This is crap,” he said, staring through the glass map-panel at the general. Hammond hadn’t reached for the phone, he was just sitting motionless, staring at his clasped hands.

“You are so right about that,” she replied. “Colonel, I’m sorry. About Jake. Major Andrews.”

Jack shoved his hands in his fatigue pockets. He looked pressured, and secretive with feelings he rarely expressed. He and Andrews had bonded over The Simpsons. Drove the base half-nuts with their Marge-and-Homer routines.

God, I’m going to miss that.

“Yeah,” he said. “Me too.”

His voice sounded calm, flat, but by now she knew better. “I liked him,” she said. “He was a good guy.”

“Everyone here’s a good guy,” said Jack, edgily. He hated platitudes as much as clichés. “Even when they’re a pain in the ass they’re still a good guy.” He looked away, pretending sudden interest in the clock on the wall. “We’ve lost too many good guys lately, Janet.”

“We certainly have,” she agreed … and was angry to hear her own voice cracking round the edges, like lake-ice that proved too brittle to bear the weight of more sorrow.

Jack heard it, of course. “Hey …” He looked back at her, his expression softening. “You okay?”

She nodded. “I’m fine. I have to go. I’ll see you and the rest of SG-1 tomorrow at 1700 for your pre-flight physical.”

“Ah. Yes. I can hardly wait.”

She gave him a look. “If memory serves, PX8-050 has a gravity 15% above Earth normal, yes?”

Jack rolled his eyes. “Yes.”

“Then you’d better pray that knee of yours is behaving itself or this is one mission you’ll be sitting out. Okay?”

“Oh, come on …”

She managed a tight smile. “Don’t even think you can charm me, Colonel. Or bully me. Or cajole. I am impervious to your machinations. At 1700 sharp tomorrow I’ll be stress-testing your sorry joints and that’s the end of the discussion. Get a decent night’s sleep, sir. You’re going to need it.”

She could feel his chagrin behind her, like heat from a glowing fire. “You know what you are, Doc?” he called after her.

“A damn fine physician and a superior chef,” she called in reply as she reached the briefing room door. “And don’t you forget it. 1700! Don’t be late!”

He wasn’t late. But he also wasn’t going to PX8-050.

After a horrible day of debriefings and report-writing, and setting up counseling sessions for the surviving members of SG-8, and finding out that she’d been right, dammit, about Captain Meyers’ probable paraplegia, and filling out the reams of paperwork that a death-on-duty generated, she’d actually looked forward to SG-1’s pre-mission physical. With both her and the team’s schedules of late erratic, in the past fortnight she’d hardly laid eyes on them to say more than ‘Hi!’ and ‘Bye!’ So even though this was business, she enjoyed their company …

… right up to the moment Jack climbed on the leg-press machine. With the strictly medical portion of the program dealt with they’d moved on to one of the base’s gyms, where she could double-check the team’s tolerance for an extra 15% weight-bearing pressure under duress. Teal’c, of course, barely noticed the difference. Sam and Daniel huffed and puffed a bit but she was prepared to pass them fit for mission status.
It was Jack who proved to be the fly in the ointment.

“Okay, Colonel, I don’t think so,” she said, seeing the sweat pop on his forehead and the ominous shaking in his quadriceps as he worked the machine. “We’ve got our answer.”

“No, we haven’t,” he grunted. “I can do this. Just need to warm up.”

“No, you don’t,” she retorted. “Stand down, Colonel. That’s an order.”

Nothing pissed him off harder and faster than her giving him an order. He hated being outranked by the framed degrees on her office wall.

“I said I can do this!” The look on his face was dirtier than mud. “So back off and let me –“

“Jack, stop being a macho moron,” said Daniel at his most helpful. “One more rep and your knee’s going to pop like a pretzel.”

Jack glared at him balefully. “And if you call me a moron one more time your nose is going to pop like a pretzel. It’s going to gush like Old Faithful. It’s going to –“

Time for the doctor to insist. “Okay, time out! Colonel, I’m sorry. I’m not passing you fit.”

Dripping sweat and grimacing Jack eased off the machine and stood, his expression daring her to notice he was favoring that knee. Tried to use his superior height to intimidate her. “Doctor Fraiser –“

“No,” she said. “And that’s final.”

“There is nothing wrong with my damned knee!”

The latest volume of his medical file was sitting handily on a nearby weight bench. Janet sifted through it, extracted the last MRI of his trick knee and waved the flimsy under his nose. “And lo! A picture worth one thousand words! Read it and weep, Colonel. You’re grounded."

He snatched the flimsy from her and glared at the incontrovertible evidence. “Crap.”

“Your eloquence never fails to move me, sir,” she said, with mock severity.

“I do my best,” he murmured, still staring at the MRI. “Okay. You win. I’m staying behind. This time.”

And that’s why he was pushing so hard, she knew. Because he dreaded the day he was grounded permanently. Where Jack was concerned it wasn’t the years, it was the mileage … and his body had clocked up one hell of a lot of miles. “Of course, sir,” she agreed. “This time. You’re fine when off-world conditions are Earth-equivalent.”

Which stretched the medical facts a little … but she was prepared to do that still, for a while.

“Sir,” said Sam, carefully insinuating herself into the conversation, “the mission’s just not crucial enough for us to risk losing you to a significant injury. According to the MALP and  UAV telemetry 050’s probably going to be a bust. My guess is we’ll be home again, empty-handed, a couple of hours after we deploy.”

“Really?” said Jack, dripping with sarcasm now, along with the sweat. “Hanging up a shingle as a psychic now, are we?”

Sam sighed. “No, sir.”

“Good,” he said, glowering. “Because –“

“Major Carter is correct, O’Neill,” said Teal’c. “Had SG-4 not succumbed to illness we would not be going to this planet.”

“Since when are you a mission snob, Teal’c?” Jack demanded. “We go where we’re sent, no questions asked.”

Which was funny, really, given Jack’s relentless questioning of everything, but luckily no-one was silly enough to laugh.
“Sir, it’s not snobbery,” said Sam. “With the latest round of personnel changes, technically SG-4’s still a new team. This mission would’ve been perfect for them.”

“Which isn’t the same as saying we’re too good for it,” Jack retorted. “I’m surprised at you, Major.”

Sam looked uncomfortable. “I’m sorry, sir. I didn’t mean to imply …” She squared her shoulders. “Of course every SGC mission is intrinsically valuable. And I suppose it’s possible the telemetry’s wrong and we’ll find something useful on 050.”


“And while we’re gone,” said Daniel, grinning, “you’ll be able to catch up on all those reports.”

Jack scowled. “Which reports?”

“The reports General Hammond keeps dropping anvil-sized hints about. The reports –“

“You’ll be eating if you don’t shut up,” said Jack, then raised his eyebrows at his team. “And? So? What are you waiting for, written invitations? Get your gear on and report to the gate room. I’ll go tell Hammond I’m sitting this one out.”

“Yes, sir,” said Sam, and led her team’s exodus from the gym.

“I’m sure they’ll be fine, Colonel,” Janet said quietly. “It does seem like a perfectly straightforward mission.”

“Famous last words,” he grunted, watching them leave. “Are you trying to jinx them?”

Well, that was a nasty thing to say. She plucked the MRI flimsy from his fingers and tucked it back into his file. “Of course not. I don’t choose the missions or the teams. I just get to pick up the pieces when everything goes to hell.”

He looked at her. “Sorry. I didn’t mean –“ He shoved his hands back in his pockets. “How’s Lee doing?”

“She’s fine. Considering.”

“And Esposito? Brackley?” he persisted.

“They’re fine too. Colonel –“

“I know,” he said. “You’re just doing your job.”

“That’s right.” She hesitated, then added, “When you saw the geophysical readout from that planet you must have known –“

“I did,” he said, frowning. “But haven’t you heard? ‘Optimist’ is my middle name.”

“Since when?” she called after him as he headed for the door.
He didn’t answer. She smiled to herself, collected her bits and pieces of paperwork and went back to her office where the mission status report awaited her completion and signature.

O’Neill found the General in his office, glued to the phone. Hammond waved him in and pointed to the empty chair, still talking.

“Yes, Scott. -- Yes, I agree. -- That was my impression as well. -- Yes. Good. –- No, no. I appreciate you’ve got some hoops to jump through. Come back to me when you can. Goodbye.”

“What was your impression, sir?” O’Neill asked, as Hammond replaced the receiver. “If I may be so bold as to enquire."

“Am I imagining things,” said Hammond, “or are you supposed to be getting ready for a mission to P8C-050?

In other words mind your own damn business, Jack. He smiled. “No, sir, you’re not imagining anything. I was scheduled to visit good old 050 but our doughty Doc Fraiser’s put an end to that dream.”

“Ah. Well, I didn’t think your knee would stand up to it,” said Hammond. “And be honest, Jack. Neither did you.”

“No. But you know me, sir. Hope springs eternal.” He cleared his throat. “At the risk of being court-martialed for presumption, General, I’ve given Carter, Daniel and Teal’c the go-ahead to romp through the Stargate without me this time. Pending your approval, naturally.”

“Naturally,” said Hammond, dry as a martini. “Though why you should give a rat’s ass about being court-martialed at this stage in your career I really don’t know. It’s certainly never stopped you before.”

They shared a brief smile. “Well, sir, I thought I’d try turning over a new leaf.”

“That’ll have all the charm of novelty,” Hammond murmured. Then he relented, and stood. “Let’s go bid your team bon voyage, shall we?”

After three years working out of this base O’Neill had lost count of how many times he’d watched the Stargate open. And yet, just like the majestic flight of the native American UAV, the sight never got old. The seventh chevron locked and the wormhole blossomed into existence. Something from nothing. A miracle that defied belief or explanation … no matter how many times Carter tried to explain.

“Sir!” she said smartly, presenting herself to Hammond. “We’re ready to go as soon as you give the word.”

Hammond always found a smile for Carter, no matter how tough life was, no matter how many crises he was juggling at once. “The word is given, Major. Take your team and have a good look around. I know the telemetry wasn’t promising but we both know telemetry doesn’t always tell the full story.”

“Yes, sir,” she said. “Colonel –“

He nodded. “Have fun, Carter. Don’t let the kids get into any trouble. And if Daniel’s suddenly struck with the urge to explore any mysterious caves or unexpected ruins I am ordering you to sit on him until it passes. Capisce?”

“Capisco,” she said, grinning. “Have fun with your reports.”
“Oh come on,” said Daniel, mock-complaining. “It’s been months since I got lost in a cave. And anyway, it only happened the once.”

“Once was sufficient,” said Teal’c. “O’Neill, we will return.”
“You have to leave first,” he pointed out. “So scram. Skedaddle. You’re costing us a fortune, leaving the wormhole on like this. Use it or lose it, boys and girl.” He waved his hands at them. “Shoo!”

It was a cruel wrench, watching them step through the gate without him. Who cared if this was a standard recon mission meant for the newly re-formed SG-4? His team had no business going anywhere without him.

“They’ll be fine, Jack,” said Hammond, clapping him on the shoulder.

“I know they will, sir,” he said as the wormhole disengaged. “Our run of bad luck can’t last forever, right?”

The minute the words were spoken he wished he could call them back. The warmth in Hammond’s eyes chilled and his shoulders settled a little, as though remembering the heavy weight duty had placed on them.

“I certainly hope not,” he replied. “But even if it has ended, Jack, there’s still the fallout to be dealt with. We’ve got some … interesting … decisions to make.”

Something in the way Hammond said that set off his alarm bells. “Ah – sir?”

But Hammond shook his head. “Not yet, Colonel. But … soon.”
“Yes, sir,” he said after a heartbeat’s hesitation.

Hammond departed the gate room, and O’Neill watched him go, frowning.

Crap. What now?