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The Sun Started It (Again)

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“Yes! Now that is what I’m talkin’ about.” Mitchell pointed air pistols in Teal’c’s general direction, to which the Jaffa quirked a patient eyebrow. Cam was undaunted. “Face it big guy, I told you the cavalry was coming.”

“You were indeed correct, Colonel Mitchell.” Teal’c dipped his head a fraction. “However, I believe it was Colonel Carter who won the betting pool. You estimated three days to our rescue party.”

“Yeah, so my grandma raised on optimist.”

“Three days, Mitchell?” Jack raised his eyebrows. “You know this rock hasn’t got a stargate and you’re about oh, a billion miles away from the usual neighborhood.”

Sam smiled, “Actually, Sir, it’s closer to—”

“Several million billion,” Mitchell and Daniel chorused; then, Mitchell sighed: “Yea, we had the geography debate somewhere around day four.”

Sam smirked when Jack wriggled his eyebrows at her. Good to see some things never changed. “What’d you have, Carter?”

“Six weeks. Although technically I only half-won. I thought it’d be the Daedalus who’d come get us. Daniel had his money on you.”

Daniel shrugged. “I figured you’d be bored enough at Homeworld by now to join the rescue mission. But I thought it’d be at least a couple months before they authorized a ship, and then another month to get here, so…”

“I’m here ahead of your schedule.” Jack bit his lips, head tilting, “I can always come back at a more convenient time.”

“Well, since you’re already here.”

"Nah, really."

"Seriously, we're gonna do this now?"

"What, you got somewhere to be?"          

I would certainly like to be somewhere else. Anywhere else, really.” Vala had been lounging on a long divan near the far wall; as everyone’s eyes turned to her, she got up and walked over to Jack. “What weapons did you bring? We’re going to need weapons.”

“Yea, about that--”

“Easy there, Dirty Harriet. We’re not shooting our way out of here.” Mitchell rolled his eyes at her, “Haven’t we had this talk already?”

“This is a jailbreak, Mitchell. In my experience with jailbreaks—”

“Ample experience,” Daniel put in.

“—weapons nearly triple one’s chances of success! We don’t have to shoot anyone…unless they shoot at us, first, of course. Then you’ll thank me for thinking to have weapons.”

“No one’s gonna shoot at us.” Mitchell waved a hand to their surroundings, “Their jail’s the freaking Ritz. These people are all about rehabilitation, and we’re not gonna ruin their nice system with a shootout. We’ll break out…peacefully.”

Vala rolled her eyes.

Jack leaned against the marble wall, arms crossing. “Someone wanna catch me up, here? Jail…?” 

“It wasn’t my fault,” Daniel hurried to declare. When Jack arched his eyebrows, he threw his hands up, “It wasn’t!”

“It was Sam’s fault, technically.” Vala slung an arm around the colonel’s shoulders, “But it was an honest mistake. Anyone could’ve blown up that sun.”

Jack opened his mouth. “You blew up…?”

“It was an accident!”

“It was just a small sun,” Vala consoled. “And very far away. And it was Daniel who mistranslated the instructions on the darth star cannon.”

“I didn’t mistranslate—”

“The correct analogy, Vala Mal Doran, is the Death Star—”

“—I told you it was a weird dialect, and I needed more time to make it out, but—”

“—and in fact the alien weapon was not a cannon, and it was located on the surface of P4W889, not on a space station—”

“Alright!” Jack waved his hands. “Carter blew up a sun, someone got mad, they tossed you on this rock. Got it.” He surveyed the surroundings again, from the vaulted doors to the big windows and lavish furniture, to the fruit baskets on every available table. “You sure this is jail? Looks like a spa.” He squinted, “Is that a sun terrace?”

“With a garden.” Daniel sighed, “Yeah, this is basically a yoga retreat. But the doors are locked and below that nice sun garden you’ve got thirty guards with rifles.”

“Another reason to have weapons,” Vala put in. “What did you bring?”

“Well…”

“That bodes well,” muttered Daniel.

“Would you let the man finish, Jackson?” Mitchell rolled his eyes again. “General—”

“Ah—” Jack raised a warning finger, “actually, no ‘general’ on this one. I’m here more as a… private citizen.”

Mitchell opened his mouth, then paused, and grimaced.

“No cavalry?” asked Daniel.

Jack nodded. “No cavalry.” He held out his arms, a silent what-you-see-is-what-you-get, while his former team digested the news.

“So I was right about the IOA dragging their heels the Daedalus. Big surprise.” Daniel frowned, “How exactly does a ‘private citizen’ get to an alien planet?”

“Eh, you know… couple poker buddies owed me a ride.” Jack rolled his eyes at Daniel’s curious look. “The O’Neill.”

Daniel raised his eyebrows. “As in…?”

“The Asgard ship?” Cam’s eyes got large and round, “You came on an Asgard ship?”

“Like I said...good buddies.”

“Yea—for the record, the Asgard count as cavalry.” Mitchell shook his head, awe written in his features. “Seriously? The Asgard? They just…gave you a ride?”

“I believed the O’Neill was destroyed.” Teal’c looked to Sam, who shrugged her own confusion.

“It’s the O’Neill Three,” said Jack.

Daniel bit his lips. “What happened to the O’Neill Two?”

“Freyr took it for a joyride and crashed it.”

Vala cleared her throat, loudly. “Not to interrupt this lovely reunion, but—“ she elbowed her way between Daniel and Mitchell, to face Jack again, “hi, remember me? Yeah, I think we should leave the reminiscing to later and get out of here. Can you teleport us over to this O’Neill ship?”

“No.”

“Not that it’s not been splendidly luxurious, you know, for a prison, I mean believe me, I’ve seen my fair share and these accommodations…” Vala trailed off, expression souring. “What do you mean, no?” When Jack shrugged, she cut a sideways glance to Mitchell. “I thought this was supposed to be a rescue.”

“If it were easy, we wouldn't have spent a month here.”

"You Tau'ri are spectacularly unskilled at jailbreaks."

“It’s the force field around the planet, isn’t it?” Sam sighed. “They lowered it when they brought us here. I’ve been trying to reconfigure the teleportation device to get us out, but the field seems to only allow one-way transport for any tagged matter.”

Jack frowned. “Tagged?” His eyes landed on the matching armbands all five of them wore. “Ah, that explains the fashion choices.”

Sam held up her arm, tapping the thin yellow band. “Far as I can tell, it’s pumping some sort of tracer into our blood stream. Harmless, or at least it has been so far, but it keeps us from going through the field.” She paused for a moment, thinking. “You shouldn’t have a problem with it.”

“Huh.” Jack reached into the pocket of his leather jacket, pulled a thin pad and tapped a button. A moment later, he disappeared.

A beat, then Vala put her hands on her hips.

“That wasn’t a great rescue.”

Jack materialized in the middle of the room again. He looked around, then hummed. “Whaddaya know. It does work.”

Daniel frowned: “You transported down without knowing you could get back up to the ship?”

Jack affected a hurt look. “I don’t criticize your rescue methods, Daniel.” He clasped his hands together, determined. “Alright kids, so the easy way’s out. What’s next?” He walked to the nearest wall, banged on it. “Doesn’t seem that solid.”

“The wall’s not the problem.” Daniel opened the terrace door, “We can go out and we’ve made it down to the yard a few times, but the same forcefield that keeps us from transporting actually keeps us from leaving the jail perimeter.”

“I haven’t been able to deactivate it,” said Sam. “The power source is outside the perimeter. Can’t leave the perimeter while the field’s up, so…”

“But you have a plan,” Jack guessed.

“Well…”

“Carter.”

“These people’s technology operates mainly on wireless transmission…on P4W889 we saw plenty of their vehicles and machinery and there were barely any manual controls on any of them. Even the…Death Star cannon...operated off of short-wave radio signals.”

“So everything they’ve got is remote controlled. Got it.”

“Right. That means in theory if I could get my hands on a reading and transmission device I could figure out the frequency of the dampening field and switch it off remotely—I don’t think it’s made to keep out signals, only tagged matter.”

“Alright, I’m sure I can get our buddies up there to send down what you need. Reading and transmission device…”

“Actually…” Sam walked over to the bed in one of the alcoves, and pulled a rudimentary-looking machinery from underneath. Loose wires hung on three sides, and something whirred inside. “I’ve taken out the door controls and the garden temperature sensors and put together a receiver-transmitter that’s able to read the field’s frequency and pulse width. I think I’ve figured out the right signal to transmit to shut the field down…” She trailed off, “Sir…?”

Jack blinked, staring from her to the blinking machinery she held. Next to him, Vala grinned and leaned in conspiratorially:

I had my bet on no rescue party, and Sam getting us out within two weeks.”

Sam smiled. “Right. Except, my receiver-transmitter’s not powerful enough. We need a longer radius to signal all the way to field’s power source, and nothing in here can amplify the signal sufficiently. I need a proper semiconductor.”

Jack shook his head. “So…I should ask our buddies…for…?”

Sam thought for a moment. “An…antenna would be nice.”

“That might be too rudimentary for the Asgard,” Daniel put in.

“Okay, Jackson, Carter made a radio from a door button, I’m sure the Asgard can whip up an antenna.”

“And if not,” Vala added, “just tell them to scan for the field’s power source and blow it up.”

“No blowing anything up!” Mitchell protested.

Jack held up a finger. “Hold that thought.” And he tapped the small pad again, vanishing into thin air.

After a moment of silence, Vala walked over to grab a fruit from the table. “For the record, Samantha, I think you’d have fried that field with or without the Asgard’s help.”

Sam snorted. “Thanks, I think.”

“Also, I could’ve had us out of here in three days if Mitchell weren’t so uptight about shootouts.”

Mitchell pointed a warning finger at her. “Do you want another therapy evaluation?”

“I’m only saying, when people throw you in jail, it’s alright to break a few bones getting out! It’s not like we did anything terrible to deserve to be in here!”

“We blew up a sun.”

“The sun started it,” Vala muttered. “And there was nothing sentient nearby.”

Mitchell began to reply, then paused as the air hummed and Jack reappeared in their midst. He held out a shiny silver device to Sam. “Compliments of the chef.”

She took it and turned it in her hands. “Wow.”

“Not the right thing?”

“No, it is…I mean, we could probably transmit a signal to Earth with this…”

“Overkill. Got it. Well…as long as it works.” He glanced to the wide doors while Sam went back to her machinery. “Just in case, maybe let’s block the entrance…you know, in case our friends outside get suspicious when their force field fries.” He and Daniel went to pick up one of the large wooden tables, and, tipping it over, carried it to the door.

“Just like the old days, huh?” Daniel smirked.

“Yea…my back didn’t mind as much in the old days.”

“Done.” Sam looked up from her work. “Alright, ready to transmit the signal to shut off the force field…with any luck, they’ll think it’s just a glitch. We should only need a few seconds to beam up to the O’Neill.”

Jack tapped the pad, then gave her a thumbs-up. Sam looked back down, and as she reached for the machine, the floor suddenly shook. The noise of explosions rang outside.

“What the—Carter!” Mitchell caught Vala’s elbow as she lost her balance. “What happened?”

“Not me,” called Sam. “I haven’t sent the signal yet. Do you hear pulse weapons?”

Teal’c walked over to the window. “I believe a ship is attempting to breach the perimeter.”

Vala bit her lips. “So, something quick I forgot to tell you. Remember after we blew up the sun and they put us here and Cameron was all gung-ho about not hurting anyone to break out? And how I thought he was crazy to wait for someone to come rescue us?”

“Damn it!” Mitchell’s fingers tightened on her arm, “Who?”

“Bounty hunters. First week when we tried to escape I used the guard post to send out a broad message. Well I had to make sure someone knew where we were!”

“And you picked every god-damned person who wants money for our heads?!”

“It was a back-up plan! If Sam didn’t fix that transmitter and you wouldn’t let us break out properly—” She threw her arms up, exasperated, “I didn’t actually think we’d be here long enough to have to worry about it!”

“Send the signal, Carter,” said Jack when the floor shook a second time. “We’ll worry about the bounty hunters when we’re out.”

Sam pressed the button; her machine whirred, sparked, then went silent. “Done. The field should be—” In an eyeblink, the walls of their luxurious prison vanished, replaced by the chrome-and-silver hues of a ship’s deck. "—down," Sam finished. She looked around, and sighed, "Yup, feels just like I remember."

A small, naked alien stepped gingerly up to their group. “Greetings.”

“There’s a ship shooting on the prison complex,” said Mitchell. “Can you—I don’t know, make it stop?”

The Asgard tilted his (her?) head. After a moment, the head dipped. “We have disabled the ship’s weapons system and transported it back to its home system.”

“You might also want to send out a message saying we broke out,” Vala added. “You know—so more bounty hunters don’t show up. We’re very popular. What,” she crossed her arms when Mitchell scowled, “I didn’t know Sam’s boyfriend would show up! We could’ve sat in that jail for months without a way to take out the force field!”

“Vala,” growled Sam.

“All I’m saying is, in my place you all would’ve done the same.”

No,” the rest of SG-1 chorused. Vala rolled her eyes.

The small Asgard bent over the nearest console; after a few moments of study, it looked back up: “A representative from the moon’s surface is asking whether the Asgard are exercising jurisdiction over their prisoners.”

Daniel frowned, “Jurisdiction? This is actually in Asgard-protected territory?”

“No. The sun that was destroyed neighbored one protected system. The Asgard are among the parties entitled to pursue damages.”

Mitchell sighed. “Great. Intergalactic politics. So…would you like to…pursue damages?”

The alien thought for a moment. Then, “We would not. There was no damage to our system, nor any other nearby populated system.”

“And if Carter hadn’t diverted the space cannon charge, it probably would’ve blown up and leveled half their extremely populated planet.” Cam shrugged at Jack’s curious look, “Yeah, we didn’t really get to explain that before they tossed us in jail.”

“And their society doesn’t have an appeal system,” Sam added.

“Yeah, well, their jails look like Palm Springs, who’d want to appeal?” Jack wriggled his eyebrows, then looked around at the rest of SG-1. “So, kids…get settled in. Long road trip back home. And you,” he pointed a warning finger to Vala, “don’t call any more friends. And you.” His finger moved to Daniel. “Don’t touch anything. I mean it, Daniel. If I have to pull this ship over, so help me god…”

Daniel rolled his eyes, and headed off the main deck toward what he hoped were the showers.

Mitchell cleared his throat. “Sir…thank you. For the rescue, I mean. And…you know. The whole thing.”

“Don’t mention it. I’m serious—don’t. Officially I’m on a fishing trip. Gotta fill out all sorts of paperwork if I leave Earth...really gets the old carpal tunnel flaring.”

Mitchell snapped off a salute, and headed for the door. He grabbed Vala’s arm on the way, “Come on, princess. You and I gotta talk about mission protocols again. And your life choices.”

“It was a back-up plan!”

They made their way out arguing, leaving Sam chuckling under her breath. Jack gave her a long look. “Remind you of old times?”

“Pretty much.” She dusted off her clothes, and smiled at the small Asgard. “Thanks for the antenna.” The alien dipped its head, and Sam looked to Jack. “And for the rescue.”

“Don’t mention it. So…” He hummed, biting down on a smile. “Blew up another sun, huh?”

Sam sighed. “The sun started it.”