A fun little idea that literally came to me lying in bed one night, trying to go to sleep.
“This shouldn’t take very long,” Sam said as she caught Sergeant Siler glancing at his watch for the third time in almost as many minutes.
“I’m sorry, but the general wants an explanation for the anomalies we experienced last night. And he wants them before another team goes out.”
“Of course,” he said. “I understand.”
Sam glanced over at him. “Not how I wanted to spend my Sunday morning either,” she said, keeping her voice low. “The weather’s gorgeous, I had plans for a nice long bike ride on this road I found. Just enough curves and switchbacks to keep it interesting but not so many to slow you down.”
“Sounds like fun,” he said as he finished moving the large rolling ladder as close as he could. “Maybe it was just a random glitch?” he suggested.
“Here’s hoping,” she replied. She looked towards the control room and gave Sergeant Harriman the thumbs up. He nodded and the gate started to dial. Despite being well out of the way, she and Siler both took yet another step back. “I went over the logs this morning. It was probably just a power surge. If we can run the diagnostics on all the capacitors and make sure they’re stable, I’ll be comfortable with declaring that it’s a glitch.” The chevrons clunked into place as they talked and she indulged herself in simply watching the mechanics of the gate work.
The glyphs sped around the inner ring, the smooth movement testifying to the precision craftsmanship of millennia before.
“If there’s something wrong with the capacitors we do have a couple of spares,” Siler volunteered.
“Let’s hope not,” she said. “Or there goes the afternoon.”
The gate splashed open and they both stepped forward, the wheels of the ladder clanging as they rolled over seams in the concrete floor. She climbed the stairs onto the ramp and turned on her scanner. She ran the probe over the gate’s surface and studied the readings. “Damnit,” she muttered.
“It wasn’t a glitch, was it?” he said, his voice resigned.
“It’s a glitch that repeats,” she replied, smiling wryly.
“Do you want to go left to right, or top to bottom,” he said, ready to position the ladder.
“Whichever way means you have to move that beast the least,” she answered.
Siler moved the ladder forward as the door to the hallway slid open, metal grating against metal. Sam ignored it at first, the gateroom wasn’t exactly the most private place in the base. A sense of unease crept down her spine as boots pounded into the room
“What the hell?” Siler said as Sam turned.
“Oh my god. Lieutenant Monroe.”
The lieutenant stood at the base of the ramp, his uniform wrinkled and his hair askew. A dozen armed SF’s stood in a semi-circle, their rifles trained unerringly at Monroe. “Leave me alone!” Monroe cried, his voice shaking as he stood there.
“SG-3 brought him back last night. Week in enemy hands, sole survivor,” Sam whispered, her eyes searching for a way to get them out of the line of fire.
“If he drops that grenade…” Siler breathed.
“Yeah.” Shrapnel everywhere. She’d helped with the cleanup after the aliens from 118 blew up the gateroom. There wasn’t a square foot of the wall that hadn’t had a chunk of concrete missing. If Monroe dropped that grenade, there was a very good chance that none of them would make it out unscathed.
She shifted her weight and the ramp creaked. Monroe’s eyes darted towards them. Sam could see panic and terror on his face. Almost in slow motion, one of the SF’s tackled Monroe. It was like a cartoon, the grenade fell out of Monroe’s hands and bounced up the ramp, momentum allowing it to defy gravity for a few fatal seconds.
The deadly little metal ball paused for half a second, torn between momentum and inertia and Sam almost imagined that she could see the metal swell as the gasses inside fought to escape. Instinctively she reached out and dug her fingers into Siler’s shirt, counting on surprise to allow her to pull him off his feet and through the only refuge open to them.
She knew it was all her imagination, they were dematerialized, they had no feelings, no senses, no ability to even know they were in transit, but she emerged on the other side of the gate feeling distinctly tumbled and tossed about. She rolled, knowing better than to fight the momentum. She came to a stop lying on her back in the dirt and she indulged herself in a half-second of staring at the light green sky, thanking whatever randomness that resulted in them coming out on a planet with a breathable atmosphere.
She pushed herself up onto her elbows, feeling more than one bruise and twinge that was going to be heck in the morning. “Major?” Siler’s voice shook and she looked for him, afraid that he’d been injured. He was on his feet, one arm rubbing his left shoulder as he walked towards her. “Am I where I think I am?” he asked.
Sam shrugged. “Welcome to…P…something,” she said. She got to her feet, stumbling a bit when she put her weight down on her right knee. “Ouch,” she rubbed her knee for a second then took a couple of steps to confirm that it was just sore, not damaged too severely.
“How did we…you pulled me though the gate,” he said.
“Beats being swiss cheesed by shrapnel,” she said, bending over to pick up the scanner she’d been holding. The back fell off and she frowned at the shattered glass. “Great, another report to write,” she muttered before she tossed the scanner back onto the ground.
“This isn’t right,” he said.
“Most alien planets are like earth,” she said. “We think the goa’uld terraformed hundreds of worlds…”
“No, ma’am. That’s not what I mean,” he interrupted. “This isn’t where Harriman dialed,” he said.
“It was some moon,” he said. “Some dead, airless moon. He didn’t want to risk ticking off some aliens or something so he deliberately dialed a dead destination.” He looked around. “This is not an airless moon.”
“Ah, hell,” Sam breathed, scrubbing her hand over her face. “Not again.” She walked towards the DHD. “Doesn’t matter, we can still dial home. Even without a GDO the computers will log our address. They’ll dial us back and we’ll be home.” She pushed in a glyph and frowned when the DHD didn’t respond. “Or not.”
She pushed glyph after glyph, each one harder as if the extra force would make the DHD light up. “Who did I piss off this week?” she asked herself.
“The control crystal is missing?” he asked as she knelt down beside the DHD. She looked up at him and he shrugged. “DHD 101. If it won’t power up, then there’s probably a problem with the control crystal.”
“You’re right,” she said as she opened the panel to confirm his supposition.
“We can’t go home.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Sam got to her feet. “It just means whoever comes for us will have to send back for a naqahdah generator.” ‘If they find us,’ she kept to herself. She knew the odds, probably better than anyone. If the SGC had dialed a moon and they were on a planet, then the explosion from the grenade had likely caused the wormhole to jump destinations. So no one knew where they were.
And the only reason to pull the control crystal was to keep people from leaving. Which meant someone was in control of this planet. And it was probably someone they didn’t want to meet.
Almost as if on cue, a horn trumpeted in the distance, confirming that they were indeed not alone.
“We need to find cover,” she said, looking at Siler. He nodded and they quickly made their way into the trees. They knelt behind some bushes and waited for the Jaffa to come. It only took a few moments before a dozen Jaffa marched into the clearing, a goa’uld in gold armor in the middle of the group. The first and last four Jaffa carried their staff weapons while two others carried a large chest between them.
The parade stopped and the two remaining Jaffa opened the chest the other two held. They pulled out a familiar scarlet crystal. The lead Jaffa placed it into the DHD and then dialed the stargate. Once the gate opened the goa’uld marched through, escorted by half of the Jaffa. The gate closed and the First Prime removed the control crystal, put it back into the chest and led the others back up the path.
“That’s our ticket home,” Sam whispered.
“Yeah,” Siler agreed. “And the Jaffa have it…ma’am.”
Sam shrugged. “So we get it back.”
“Do you have another plan?” He shrugged. “We’re just going to look,” she continued. “They’re on a planet that probably no one ever visits. Chances are we can walk in, snag the crystal and walk back out before they even realize we’re here.” She got to her feet and looked back at him.
“We don’t have any other choice, do we?” he asked.
“Unless they have a space ship we can steal.”
They trailed the Jaffa for about half an hour before they got within sight of a garrison. About ten smaller buildings were scattered around one large building and it was this one that the Jaffa marched into carrying the chest. “We’re going to break in there?” he asked, frowning at the sight of armed Jaffa guarding the entrance.
Sam sighed. “It’s too bad we weren’t armed when we were fixing the gate,” she said. “This would be a whole lot easier.”
“Look, Major, I know that I have absolutely no off world experience, but I have watched enough movies to know that this won’t work. There are way too many of them, too few of us, well two of us really and…”
“If I had my gun…some C4….Teal’c….maybe,” she agreed, ticking the items off on her fingers. “A death glider would be really great too. It could just swoop in and….” She stopped, rolling her eyes at herself. She had definitely been around Colonel O’Neill too long. “Yeah, ok, there’s no way we’re getting in there.” She turned and studied the building a bit more. “At least…not while they’re all in there.”
She looked back at him and Siler knew in an instant exactly why General Hammond lost the last of his hair.
Malicious mischief. That’s what Sister Mary Catherine would call his actions. ‘That mischief will be your undoing’, she had lectured him over and over. He never saw it as mischief. It was just having fun. Sometimes in a moderately destructive way, but still, nothing was ever really hurt.
Still, it had taught him some very important life skills. Such as how to clog a chimney and how to block shut a door. He supposed that even Jaffa panic. Major Carter said that they did, and she should know. Although when Sly thought of Teal’c the last thing he ever imagined the massive man doing was panicking.
A quick glance across the settlement showed that Major Carter was doing the same with her building, blocking the door shut before she threw burning branches in through the windows. The sun was just starting to set and they both hoped that the gathering twilight would add to the confusion and help them steal the crystal.
The Jaffa started to notice the smoke and yells and shouts broke the silence of the alien night. Sam and Siler both positioned themselves close to the main building, near but out of sight as Jaffa poured out of the main garrison, drawn by the screams of their comrades.
He watched Carter, waiting until she moved to do the same, following her as she slipped into the garrison. She moved quickly and silently, sliding from shadow to shadow as they penetrated deeper and deeper into the garrison. Sly’s heart pounded in his chest so hard that he was sure Carter could hear it. His senses seemed to thrive in overload as his eyes picked out every detail of the stone walls, the metal sconces holding torches. The smell of smoke and food imprinted itself upon his brain. They crept deeper into the building, only once having to duck into a doorway when some Jaffa ran by. Carter motioned and he followed her into what could only be described as a throne room.
A large chair dominated one wall while chests lined the tapestry covered walls. “This is like something out of a B movie,” Siler said, looking around the room.
“Gaudy Goa’uld,” Carter said. “Now we need to find that chest.”
They separated, each opening chest after chest. Siler ignored the absurdity of dismissing chests of gold and jewels and other items as he searched for the singular item that would get them home. “I found zats,” he said, opening a chest to reveal at least two dozen of the alien weapons.
“Good, grab one, cause I found the crystal.” She held the large crystal awkwardly in one hand. “Time to get out of here, they won’t stay distracted for long.”
He moved towards her and swapped her the zat for the crystal. They made their way back out into the hallway and started towards the front door. Siler stopped when Carter held up her hand and he could hear the sounds of the Jaffa returning. “Don’t suppose there’s a back door?”
She nodded and spun on her heels as she led him past the throne room and down a short flight of stairs. “How do you know your way around?”
“They all seem to use the same architect, or maybe it’s that whole genetic memory thing. If we’re lucky, the kitchen staff got curious too.”
She stopped by the door of the kitchen and looked at him. He nodded that he was ready and they slipped into the kitchen. His eyes darted over a table laden with bowls and piles of vegetables. Pots and pans hung over a raging fireplace and bundles of dried herbs hung from the rafters. A large boned woman sat beside the table, her sleeves rolled up, a half plucked chicken in her lap. Siler stared at her while she stared at him, chicken feathers floating off her lap and onto the stone floor.
Just as she opened her mouth, Siler heard a zinging sound and an arc of blue fire traced over the woman. She slumped in her chair, the chicken rolling out of her lap. “It’s better for her,” Carter said. “They can’t blame her for letting us go if she’s unconscious.”
They pushed their way out the back door and into the open air. “Trees,” he said, pointing to their right. They ran to the cover of the trees and kept running, only stopping when they were a few hundred yards into the trees.
“We’ve got to beat them to the gate,” Carter said, breathing heavily. “It’ll take a couple of minutes to get that crystal installed and we’re sitting ducks.”
“Least we’re armed now,” Siler said.
She nodded. “Let’s go.”
They made their way toward the gate, their progress impeded by their need to stay off the trail. Even then, it took them less than twenty minutes to get to the gate clearing. “We beat them,” Siler said.
“Let’s hope it stays that way,” Carter said. “I’ll get the crystal installed and the gate open, you keep an eye on our six.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he said, holding up the zat.
“I’m going to dial Cimmeria. The second that gate is open, we run for it. We can contact Earth from there. Come on.”
They left the shelter of the trees and hurried towards the DHD. Carter knelt beside it and opened the panel while Siler scanned the trees. “This should only take a minute,” she said.
“Right.” He heard an ominous thunking sound and turned, needing to confirm what he already knew. “Aah, major.”
“Ah hell,” she said.
“What do we do?”
“Hide.” She pulled the crystal out of the DHD and handed it to him.
They ran back towards the trees and ducked into cover just as the gate splashed open. “What if the goa’uld is back?” Siler asked.
“If we’re lucky, him and his entourage will just march off to the garrison and we can put the crystal back in place and dial out and…” She stopped and stared at the people walking through the gate. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” She stood up and looked at Siler. “As glad as I am to see him—“
“He’ll be insufferable, won’t he…ma’am.”
“Insufferable is an understatement,” she said. She whistled, then stepped out of the trees and into the open.
“Carter, you know, if you wanted a little field trip, all you had to do was ask!” O’Neill said, walking towards them. Teal’c and the rest of SG-3 fanned out around the gate.
“I’ll remember that next time,” she answered. “How did you find us, sir?”
“Some egghead was rambling about proportions and explosions and jumping and…”
“What O’Neill is attempting to convey is the theory that the strength of the explosion is directly proportional to the distance the wormhole will jump between destinations,” Teal’c said.
Sam shrugged. “That actually makes sense.”
“Colonel, we have a problem,” one of the members of SG-3 called out. He was standing beside the DHD and attempting to activate the device.
“Ah, here,” Siler called out, holding up the control crystal as he walked towards the man.
“Where did you get that from?” O’Neill asked as the trumpet of a horn carried through the trees.
“O’Neill!” Teal’c called out. “This planet is not unoccupied.”
“The goa’uld garrison down the road. It’s kind of a long story, sir,” Carter said.
“Ya think?” O’Neill said, raising his weapon as he moved them towards the DHD, all sense of teasing dropped.
“We never saw the total size of the garrison, but there’s probably a couple to a few dozen,” she said, holding her zat at the ready.
“Oh, so no big deal then,” O’Neill retorted as Teal’c moved to his side, his staff weapon armed and ready.
“Got it, sir,” the lieutenant reported, pushing the panel on the DHD shut before he started to dial the stargate.
“Take your time,” O’Neill said as the blasting horns drew closer.
The lieutenant ignored O’Neill and continued to dial the gate. The second it splashed open he pulled up his sleeve and punched in the code on the GDO. “We’re good, sir,” he said after about ten seconds.
“Sweet, let’s go home before I waste all of my Sunday.” He glanced back, nodding for Carter and Siler to go first. “Watch your step on the other side,” he advised. “Bit of a mess back there.”
Carter laid her hand on Sly’s arm, nudging him towards the gate. He needed no further urging and jogged up the steps and through the gate.
Walter stood at the base of the stairs, a clipboard in hand as he noted the readings on the monitors. Or pretended to note the readings on the monitors that really monitored nothing. At least nothing that anyone cared about. The real reason he was standing in front of the monitors was that – due to a wonderful quirk in engineering, he could hear almost anything that was said up in the briefing room.
Metal crashed and clanged in the gateroom and he cringed, sighing in annoyance. Or NORMALLY could hear anything that was said upstairs. Right now, all he could make out was voices and the occasional burst of chuckles.
They all seemed in good spirits. There had been a lot of smiles and light hearted banter when Colonel O’Neill had returned. Even the old man had smiled, which was always a good thing, but even more so after the general had spent a few hours on the phone, not just explaining an attempted suicide but also three wounded SF’s and two missing personnel.
He heard the slight clatter of people getting to their feet and he hurried back to his station, doing his best to look appropriately busy. Bootsteps clanged down the stairs and he glanced up, deliberately looking back down as Sly made his way down the stairs and sat in the chair next to him.
He deliberately ignored his friend as he made a show of typing. “I’m not jealous, you know,” Walter said.
“Oh, I know,” Sly responded causally.
“Of all the crazy things that have happened down in that room…”
“This one has to take the cake,” Sly agreed, leaning back in his chair.
“What was Major Carter thinking,” Walter asked, finally turning to see Sly. “Dragging you through that gate. She didn’t even know where you were going.”
“Yeah,” Sly agreed. “I mean she could have just pushed us over the edge of the ramp. There wasn’t THAT much shrapnel damage.”
“Probably would have been better than some dusty old alien planet,” Walter said.
“Over run with Jaffa,” Sly said. “Don’t forget that part.” He shook his head and sighed. He leaned closer to Walter and lowered his voice. “She is crazy,” he said. “I seriously think that she thought the whole thing was fun. Raiding a Goa’uld garrison…UNARMED. Sneaking in….you know I think she was disappointed that they didn’t have a space ship she could steal.”
Walter shook his head. “She’s a menace,” he said. “I don’t know how Colonel O’Neill puts up with her. Seriously, I don’t.”
Sly nodded. “Yeah, I just…”
“Was lucky she thought to go through the gate,” Walter said. “Although both of you were damn lucky that gate jumped. We never would have got to you in time.”
“Don’t remind me,” Sly said. “Lieutenant Monroe?”
“Academy Hospital then probably a medical discharge.”
Sly shrugged. “Better than the alternative.”
”I guess.” Walter finished typing a few commands and pushed back from the console. “You know the off world teams have a tradition.”
“You lose your cherry, you buy the rest of your team a drink,” Walter said.
Sly shrugged. “I don’t have a team.”
“You have me. And since it’s just me, you’re buying dinner.” Walter got to his feet. “Steak. O’Malleys.”
Sly got to his feet. “It wasn’t even a real mission. It was a mistake that lasted four hours,” he said.
“Don’t matter. You went through the gate. You are the first one of us to go through the gate, and we are going to celebrate.” A loud clang rang through the room and they turned to see a foreman stalk towards the hapless workman who’d just dropped a piece of gate grating. “Before we have to be back at 0600 to clean up their mess so the teams can go out on schedule,” he said ruefully.
Sly chuckled. “Dinner, on me,” he confirmed. “And don’t worry, Walt, you’ll get to go through that thing some day.”