Pretty world, Daniel thought desperately, looking at the dawn-lit sky, the storm-blown trees, the mountains in the distance. Any direction but down. It didn’t help. He could still smell… that.
“Thought you said the locals cremate their dead,” Jack said levelly, toeing a bit of spent brass with a look of focused interest.
“They do,” Gojyo stated, stepping around bodies as Hakuryuu launched off Hakkai’s arm. “This isn’t good.”
“The villagers might have a good reason not to come here,” Sanzo stated, violet scanning their surroundings. You’d think he didn’t even see the bodies, if not for the fact that his feet avoided them completely. “We missed a few on our way out.”
“Define few,” Jack said dryly.
“Four. Or five.”
“And that’s enough to pin down a whole village?” Sam said skeptically.
“They are youkai, Major Carter,” Teal’c noted. “If the villagers are not trained warriors, it would indeed be a daunting force.”
White wings circled, and Hakkai glanced at Sanzo. “They’re not here.”
“Just because your dragon doesn’t see an ambush-” Jack started.
“Hakuryuu doesn’t see them. Two youkai and a han’you don’t hear them. And Goku doesn’t smell them. They’re not here.” A last flick of violet eyes about their surroundings, and Sanzo stalked off westward, toward what looked like an old footpath. “Let’s go.”
Jack’s eyes narrowed, but he waved them forward, catching up with Sanzo’s team.
Oh, this is going to be messy, Daniel realized. Yes, the general had said they were going to pay attention to their local experts’ advice, but when they were in the field, it was Jack who decided which way they went. Unless of course there were key ruins Daniel had to examine, or people he had to talk to, or scientific samples Sam had to take… and, well, even then, it was Jack who decided when they had to stop studying and go.
Sanzo hadn’t asked. Hadn’t even consulted. Sanzo just moved, and expected everyone else to follow.
Very, very messy, Daniel thought guiltily. Particularly because his first impulse hadn’t been to support Jack. It’d been to follow, because wherever Sanzo was going was away from the bodies.
Jack wasn’t going to forget that. He knew it.
The last scent of decaying flesh fell behind them, and Jack moved up to point besides white robes. “You know, it wouldn’t kill you to throw on some cammo.”
“Says you.” Violet narrowed, darkly amused. “Colonel, youkai vision’s a hell of a lot better than human, and most humans aren’t going to try and kill a priest. If I’m going to get shot, it’s not going to be by accident.”
“Yeah. A sniper could put a real damper on this party.”
The priest almost smirked. “It’s been tried.”
“Why does that not surprise me?” the colonel said dryly. “So what have you got in your bag of tricks that we don’t know about?”
“Who says I’ve got anything?” Sanzo lit a cigarette, never breaking stride. “Maybe I have a death wish. Stick around with these three long enough, the quiet gets tempting.”
Hakkai laughed; it raised prickles on Daniel’s neck. “You’d rather shoot us all first,” the healer said cheerfully.
“Shoot at us, at least.” Gojyo rolled his eyes. “Think the Sanbutsushin take bets on whether or not he leaves the hotel without bullet holes?”
“Hey, they’re not all Sanzo’s fault!” Goku said indignantly, shorter legs keeping up with no apparent extra effort. “How was he supposed to know those assassins were good enough to dodge?”