Alternative Destiny series
Title: First Step Forward Series: Alternative Destiny, following Exposition in a Can Fandom: Stargate SG-1 Genre: Time Travel / AU Rating: PG Summary: Destiny's first interstellar mission is unexpectedly green-lighted for Heliopolis, while the first SG teams deployed off-world run into some trouble.
First Step Forward
Stargate Command, April 1996 CE
Jack sat by himself in the SGC mess hall idly poking at the contents of a cup of red jello. His internal musings were interrupted by the clatter of Charles Kawalsky's lunch tray, and he looked up to see the man in question drop down to a chair across from him.
"Can you believe it?"
Squinting across the table, Jack pretended to consider the tapioca pudding on his friend's tray before answering, "that you've got horrible taste in dessert? Yeah, sure, youbetcha."
Kawalsky rolled his eyes at his former CO's smirk.
"No, I mean the people they're sticking on my team."
Jack hummed apathetically and turned back to his jello. Undeterred, Kawalsky continued with his grievances.
"I mean, did you know they're shipping out two women on my team? I thought SG-2 was going to be a military reconnaissance team?"
"Hence, Captain Lance from Military Intelligence," mused Jack idly around a mouthful of jello.
"And who is this Lieutenant Astor anyway?"
Jack squinted at him again, then wave a spoon meaningfully in the air. "If my memory serves, she's the lieutenant who pulled my son from Hathor's line of fire."
Kawalsky gaped at him. "Oh, well, uh..." he sputtered, "I didn't mean it that way, Jack."
Taking pity on the younger man, Jack decided to give him a straight answer. "Look, Charlie, your team is going after the planet Hathor escaped to. If she's still there and still got her mojo goin', you're going to need competent female officers in case the guys get...distracted." He held up a hand to stop Kawalsky from interrupting. "Besides, the lack of women in SpecOps aside, this program's got top picks of personnel anywhere in the armed services, so I wouldn't worry about qualifications."
He grinned as he saw Louis Ferretti and Sam Carter approach the table, and raised his voice slight enough to be heard by them. "And no, you can't have Carter instead."
"Excuse me?" asked the woman in question, looking suspiciously between her CO and Kawalsky.
"Nothing," Kawalsky said quickly, not wanting to get on the wrong side of Jack's twisted sense of humor and Sam's well known feminist tendencies.
"Oh, we're just going over Kawalsky's complaints about his first mission," Jack announced innocently, then promptly turned to Ferrett. "What about you, Ferretti? Let's hear 'em."
"Me? Oh no, no complaints," Ferretti said quickly, as wary of his former CO's humor as Kawalsky was. "I don't even know why we're going where we're going to, uh...Y'know, we have got to get a better naming system than this P3-whatever we've got going."
"Ah, it's based on a binary code the computer uses for extrapolation," Sam explained.
"Like I said," Ferretti interrupted, "better naming system."
Sam ignored him and continued her explanation. "P3R-636 is the first planet from the list of stargate addresses that appeared during Colonel O'Neill's download where the remote probes picked up signs of the exotic element that most advanced technologies in the Destiny database require."
"There were stargate addresses in that pile of...stuff?" Kawalsky asked in surprise, turning to look at Jack for confirmation.
Jack shrugged and focused back on his dessert, not wanting to get into the whole business of the files containing the Goa'uld database addresses that had been put through the base computers, versus the full Ancient database of addresses that was in the Destiny computer itself, versus the separate and very classified sublist of planets marked as dangerous or important.
"Uh, yes," Sam answered for him, treading tentatively as well due to the very classified nature of the other stargate address lists. "Of course, the addresses are a little off due to thousands of years of stellar drift, but the data from the files also included a revolutionary theory of calculating planetary distances--"
"Thank you, Captain," Jack interrupted, letting his spoon clatter into his empty jello cup as he looked around at the glazed looks of his two male colleagues. "You can stop with 'yes'."
Sam stopped her exposition abruptly, looking a bit embarrassed at being cut off. Before anyone could say anything else to break the awkward moment, however, they were all distracted when the door to the room sprang open to admit a very excited Daniel Jackson.
"Jack! Jack, you won't believe what I found!"
Kawalsky and Ferretti turned as one to stare at each other in amused confusion, simultaneously mouthing a silent 'Jack?' at each other. Obviously, it was news to them when their former CO had ever let a civilian - a scientist, no less - treat him so casually.
"Let me guess," Jack drawled as he regarded the excited archaeologist sardonically, "you found another alien site on Earth?" He obliquely referenced one of the tasks that had been given to Jackson when the man was hired onto SGC.
"Uh," Daniel abruptly paused in his exuberance, and had the grace to look sheepish. "Oh, actually, no, not yet. But I was taking a break going through the old recordings of the old experiments they did on the Stargate back in '45--"
"Ah!" Jack raised a hand to stop the deluge of words. "Correct me if I'm wrong, Dr. Jackson, but I don't think your job was to be spent digging through hours and hours of old records of repeated failure??"
"They didn't fail!" Daniel blurted out. "They actually successfully activated the stargate back then once! And they sent somebody through!"
That revelation certainly shocked the table silent. At length, Jack pushed up from his chair and beckoned toward the archaeologist. Sam also scrambled to her feet, not wanting to miss the show.
"Alright, let's see this recording of yours," Jack said as they left the table.
Behind him, Kawalsky shook off his own surprise and turned to his friend.
"So, when's your team leaving?"
"Tomorrow at 1300 if everything's on schedule," Ferretti answered while digging into his own lunch.
"Yeah, same here," Kawalsky grinned in challenge. "Wanna bet who gets sets foot on another planet first?"
On the grainy black and white film, a man in a bulky diving suit slowly walked into the glimmering event horizon of the stargate.
"One small step for man," Jack murmured, watching the chaos that erupted on the video screen as the wormhole suddenly cut off.
"They never made another attempt after that," Daniel informed General Hammond, who had also joined the group. "Just think, all this time, this was the first instance when humanity stepped off the Earth in thousands of years, decades before the moon landing."
"Correct me if I'm wrong, Captain" said General Hammond, having shaken off his own wonder at what the video revealed, "but I thought the stargate doesn't actually start the transfer to the other side until the full object is within the event horizon?"
"That's according to our current theory of wormhole mechanics," Sam confirmed. "When an object passes through the event horizon, it is dematerialized in discrete units and held in a 'hyperspatial buffer'. The gate does not begin transmitting an object until it has entirely passed through the event horizon. The dematerialized object is transmitted in the form of energy to the destination gate using power supplied by the dialling gate. If the wormhole disconnects prematurely due to the power supply being interrupted, it should prevent reassembly of the object--"
"So you mean he never made it to the other side?" Jack interrupted, gesturing to the screen.
"Well, we can't be certain of that," answered Sam. "There was no indication on the video that power was interrupted on the dialing side, so whatever cause the disconnect must have been due to something on the receiving stargate." She shook her head ruefully. "I'm afraid that, as far as we've come, we're still babes in the woods when it comes to the workings of the stargate. Quite frankly, most of the mathematics found in the Destiny database are still beyond us to comprehend--"
"In other words," Jack summarized for her, "you don't know." He shook his head at the tendency of scientists to use more words than needed to get simple meanings across, and turned to the general. "Sir, rather than sitting back and scratching our collective heads over what may or may not have happened, I suggest dialing up that address again and sending a probe across."
"It's been nearly fifty years," murmured General Hammond. "You really think this man could still be alive?"
"Well sir," Jack nodded to the screen, "I wouldn't underestimate the things that humanity is capable of."
"Besides, it's not a planet on the Goa'uld database list," offered Daniel, "so it should be a safer destination than most."
"I'd like to get some readings of the other side," Sam added, "and see if we can find some clues as to why the wormhole shut down prematurely."
"Uh, I'd also like to call up Dr. Langford," Daniel continued. "If anyone knew who the person they sent over is, it would be her, and she already has some clearance to the program."
General Hammond looked at the hopeful faces around him, and finally nodded in acquiescence. He had to admit, he was curious about the results himself.
With the general's agreement, events happened quickly after that. Destiny's endless supply of small advanced probes were a godsend at exploring the gate network without the high costs of a large supply of MALP units. By the time Daniel reported back with the identity of Dr. Ernest Littlefield and the request from Dr. Catherine Langford to accompany any expedition to retrieve him, the probe had sent back all the information SGC needed - one single lifesign within range, and a broken DHD which explained why the good doctor never made it back home. The icing on the cake were the videos taken from the structure that the gate on the other side was held in. The probe picked up writings in four different languages, at least one of which was Ancient, and some kind of power readings.
"This-this could be big!" enthused Daniel as he poured over the writings. "I mean, if I'm reading the Ancient script part right, this was a meeting place of four advanced civilizations! Imagine - there could be three contemporary races to the Ancients out there! And they met together, on this planet, to discuss who knows what. We could be talking about the meaning of life stuff!"
"And these power readings are unlike anything we've seen on Destiny," added Sam with slightly more contained enthusiasm. "If whatever is causing it came from one of the other races than the Ancients, we could be talking about an entirely different type of technology."
"Meaning of life and shiny new technology aside," drawled Jack, leaning back in his chair and meeting General Hammond's eyes directly, "this is an American citizen we're talking about - a bona fide hero. He's alive, so we should bring him back."
Slowly, General Hammond nodded. "I have to agree with you there, Colonel. We have a responsibility to bring our people back. However," he raised a hand to forestall the excitement of the two scientists, "I would like to you how you plan to do so when we know the DHD is broken on the other side."
"Uh, well, we do have some schematics on how the DHD is put together," Sam started.
"It's never been tried or tested," Hammond reminded her. "It's certainly not something I would like to leave to chance on a mission like this."
"Well, there is one simple way around a broken gate," Jack announced and leaned forward in his seat to catch everyone's attention. "We take Destiny," he said simply.
"If the Ancients were involved in building that place, they've got to have ring transporters for us to beam down," Sam immediately realized, switching gears quickly. "Even if they don't, we can always use the shuttle."
"I'm not sure the Pentagon would authorize Destiny to leave the Solar System," mused General Hammond.
"Oh please, General," Jack replied impatiently. "That planet is practically next door! It's close enough for us to pop over and pop back by time for dinner."
"Well, I'd hoped we'd be able to stay over slightly longer than that to look over the place," Daniel said mildly.
Jack shrugged at him. "Figure of speech."
"With the long distance communications systems pulled from Destiny, we'd be able to keep in touch with Earth at all times," offered Sam. "If need be, we can get back in literally minutes at the fastest available speed."
Again, General Hammond felt himself being convinced by the faces at the table around him. Sam was giving him that look he hadn't seen since she was a little girl trying to wheedle favors out of her favorite uncle. Daniel's excitement was positively infectious, and Jack of all people was practically giving him a boyish puppy-dog look - ridiculous on a grown man.
"Alright," the general said at last, "let me speak to the Pentagon." Ruefully, he stood up from the briefing table and made his way to his office.
Behind him, Jack looked wistfully at the two other people around the table.
"So, do you think we'll set foot on alien soil before SG-1 and SG-2?"
The next morning, by Earth time, Destiny emerged from the rippling lights of FTL over the planet clinically dubbed P3X-972. Short range sensors swept over the planet, noting its abandoned status, and then focused on the structure that held the only life sign on the planet.
"Eh, a little old, a little run-down, but nothing that a little construction work can't fix," Jack quipped as he observed the sensor readings over the shoulders of his 2IC.
"I'm detecting ring transport stations," Sam reported, "but there's some kind of interference. I'm guessing there may be some debris in the way that's preventing it from functioning."
"Looks like it's time for Plan B," Jack said, rubbing his hands in anticipation. Flying Destiny from system to system just didn't have the visceral thrill that flying something more hands-on like the shuttles did.
Star Trek cliches of the captain staying with the ship aside, there was no way Jack would have stayed behind on this mission. However, in the interests of security (as well as the possibility of heavy lifting to clear the ring transporters), he also brought along few marines in addition to Daniel, Sam, and Catherine Langford. Within moments, the shuttle landed in one of the courtyards of the castle-like building.
"Watch your step!" Jack called back to Daniel and Catherine while he gingerly picked his way around the rubble lying around the courtyard.
"This damage doesn't look like it came from artificial causes," Sam noted, swiping a hand carefully against the remains of a crumbling wall.
"No, just time and exposure to the elements," Daniel agreed, looking over the stones with a professional archaeologist's eye, even as he helped Catherine catch up to the rest of the group.
"Goodness," Catherine breathed in awe, "it must be thousands of years old! And yet, it's still standing!"
"Well, Destiny is older and still in great shape," Jack noted. Shaking off his own wonder at standing in a thousands-year-old alien castle on another planet, he raised his voice to get everyone moving. "Alright, campers! Let's not just stand and gawk. Everybody inside!" He herded the group toward the tower where the sensors had reported the single life sign had been located.
"Whoa, it's kind of hot in here, isn't it?" Daniel noted as the group made their way into the depths of the building.
"I'm picking up some kind of power reading," Sam reported. "It might be the gate, or it could be some kind of technology that's still operational down there. Could be generating heat that's being kept insulated--Oh my!"
The group turned to the corridor that Sam had been looking down to see what had prompted her reaction. A figure approached out of the darkness - short, human... and naked.
"Oh, for cryin' out loud," Jack muttered in exasperation. He knew they'd end up forgetting to bring something; but then again, no one else had thought of clothes either.
"Dr. Littlefield?" Daniel, of course, immediately tried to make contact. "Ernest? Uh, hi. I'm Dr. Daniel Jackson. We, ah, came from Earth, ah, to find you."
As Daniel approached the Ernest, the man in question slowly reached out and prodded him in the chest.
"Yes, we're--" Daniel began, but was cut off when he was immediately pulled into an embrace, "-real. Yeah." He patted the man on the back awkwardly.
"It's about time," sobbed Ernest.
"Dr. Littlefield?" Jack prompted as he also walked up to the two men. He grimaced as he was pulled into a hug as well by the naked man. The things he endured for the sake of command, Jack mused. It was a good thing neither Kawalsky nor Ferretti was there to see it. "Ah, yeah, Daniel?" he motioned at Ernest awkwardly. "Do something, willya?"
"Yes, right, of course," Daniel said quickly. "Uh, Dr. Littlefield?" On capturing the man's attention again, he gestured toward where Catherine Langford stood looking upon the scene with tears in her eyes.
Ernest stared at the old woman in front of him blankly.
"Catherine..." For a moment, Ernest stared at her longingly. Then, suddenly, his expression closed down. "Hmph." Without a backward look, he turned around stormed away.
For a moment, everyone stood awkwardly in the corridor. Finally, Jack decided to take charge again. "Well, that was unexpected. Daniel?"
"Yeah," Daniel answered, looking after the departing man in bemusement, "I'll, uh, go talk to him." He gave Catherine an apologetic look and then hurried after Ernest.
"Carter, check out the Gate and see if you can fix the DHD," Jack continued. "Take Catherine with you. I'm going to take the rest of the guys and clear the rings down here." With that, he turned to retrace the path outside of the particular tower they were in, heading toward where the rings were supposed to be.
"Yes sir," Sam called after him, and turned toward the direction that the stargate should be located.
On the way there, Catherine finally recovered from the stupor that Ernest's rejection had sunk her into. "After fifty years, that's all he has to say?" Catherine finally murmured, half to herself and half to Sam, the only other woman there.
"Maybe he's having some trouble dealing with...things," Sam offered awkwardly. Given her own relationship history, she didn't think she was the person to offer any advice in that arena, especially not to someone three times her senior.
After clearing the rubble from the transport rings, Jack found Sam finishing up her repairs of the DHD.
"How's it going, Carter?" Jack asked as he absently brushed at the dust on his BDUs.
"All done, sir," Sam reported. "I'm almost ready to run a test. How are the rings?"
"Just peachy," Jack told her as he walked around the DHD to inspect the work. "There was a ton of rubble on top of it, but once we cleared that out, it was workin' like a charm. I had Destiny test it by ringing down a probe." Absently, he ran a hand through his hair, shaking off some more dust. "I tell ya, this place is pretty sweet, if it weren't so run down."
"Thinking of investing in some beach-front property, sir?" Sam asked cheekily.
"Finders, keepers," Jack quipped back. "But while I can manage the renovation costs, the lack of cable service would be a downer. Where's Dr. Langford?"
"She went to talk to Dr. Littlefield," Sam told him.
"Ah, yeah," Jack had a rueful look on his face. "I had them ring down a spare set of BDUs too, so I'm just gonna--" He made a vague motion.
"Right sir," Sam winced at the memory of the naked Dr. Littlefield.
After verifying with the ship where Daniel and the two senior scientists had gone, Jack made his way toward the rooms where the three scientists were located. He walked right into a room filled with holographic light. Giving a low whistle at the spectacle, Jack looked up at the holographic elements floating in the air.
"Yeah, isn't it neat?" Daniel said from where he stood next to the holographic generator. With a quick press of his hands to the device, the images in the air flitted and rearranged themselves in a new pattern. "It's some kind of universal language, made up of the fundamental building blocks of matter."
"A hundred and forty-six elements, letters, or word symbols," added Catherine with a small smile at Ernest.
"Uh huh," Jack deadpanned, not wanting to let on how awed he was by the very concept. "Here," he said instead, handing over the change of clothes to Ernest. "This is probably more comfortable than what you're...wearing." He waved vaguely at the remnants of the diving suit that Ernest had worn to the planet.
"Oh, of course," Ernest had the grace to look somewhat abashed, and retreated to a corner of the room, presumably to change.
Out of politeness, the other three people in the room looked away from that corner of the room. As his gaze roved along the walls of the room, however, Jack's attention was caught by the words inscribed on the walls - the earlier probe scans didn't do them justice - and in particular, one wall.
"Hey, I've seen this before," he noted with some surprise, walking up to the wall in question.
"Really? Where?" Daniel asked excitedly. The wall Jack was examining was not the one inscribed in Ancient.
"On Destiny," Jack told him, surprised again that Daniel had to ask. "Didn't you already--oh, that's right, you're new."
"I thought Destiny was built by the Ancients?" Daniel asked in confusion.
"It is," Jack confirmed, "but back when we were scoping the entire ship out, we found a couple of rooms that we couldn't open, even with my level of access. Those doors had characters that looked like these."
"Huh," Daniel hummed thoughtfully. He reached out and traced one of the characters on the wall in front of them. "This one here - Othala, the Norse Rune thought to represent the collection of numinous power and knowledge from past generations."
Jack shot him a puzzled look at the non-sequitor. "Meaning?" he prompted.
"Norse - meaning Asgard," Daniel summarized. "We do know the Asgard were once allies with the Ancients."
"What, you think they helped build the ship? Left some stuff behind?" Jack asked skeptically.
Daniel shrugged and lowered his voice so that his next words only remained between the two of them. "Well, that, or it has to do with the fact they helped get Destiny to the Solar System in the first place."
Jack nodded thoughtfully. "Maybe." He glanced out of the corner of his eye to make sure that Ernest was presentable, then raised his voice to the room at large. "Well, fun as all this linguistics...stuff...is, Sam's finished with the DHD and we're going to dial back from here for our checkup with Earth. So why don't we all mosey back to the gate."
"But Jack..." Daniel protested, waving toward the holographic elements still floating around the air.
"Ah!" Jack held up a hand to stop the incipient whining before it could be fully verbalized. "This stuff has been here all this time, Daniel, and it's not going anywhere. So let's move it."
With long practice at dealing with recalcitrant scientists, Jack herded the group back to the chamber holding the stargate.
"Dial her up, Captain," he ordered Sam.
"Right, sir," Sam confirmed, quickly pressing the address for Earth.
With a spectacular kawoosh, the wormhole connected with the SGC stargate. While Sam entered the code on her GDO, Jack, opened a communications channel with Earth.
"Stargate Command, this is Destiny One checking in," Jack reported into his radio.
"Destiny One, this is Stargate Command, confirming check in," came the response from the radio.
It was followed up by the recognizable voice of General Hammond. "Colonel O'Neill, what do you have to report?"
"Primary and secondary mission objectives accomplished, sir," Jack reported. "Dr. Littlefield was found in good health, and Captain Carter was able to fix the DHD for the local stargate."
"Excellent," came the congratulatory voice of General Hammond over the channel. "Are you all ready to return to Earth then?"
"Jack!" Daniel called out with a mulish look on his face.
Jack rolled his eyes at the younger man's antics, but nonetheless, qualified his answer to the general. "Actually, sir, Dr. Littlefield's introduced us to some more of that 'meaning of life' stuff Daniel was babbling about earlier. We have a possible identification on one of the non-Ancient writings with the same kind of writing that's on the still sealed areas of Destiny. While I'd like to send Dr. Littlefield back first to get him checked out, I would also like to request that Destiny stay behind here on P3X--"
"Heliopolis," Daniel interrupted, then sheepishly explained his outburst at Jack's impatient glare, "uh, that's what Dr. Littlefield named the planet."
"--Here on Heliopolis to further study the place," Jack finished.
"Are there any potential dangers on the planet?" General Hammond asked.
"No sir. Sensors showed no other life readings on the planet, and Dr. Littlefield confirms that there's been no one down here in the last 50 years."
There was a small pause while General Hammond presumably considered the request. At length, he gave his acquiescence over the channel. "Very well, Colonel. Make sure to send me a preliminary report, and to maintain regular check-ins. SGC out."
Jack swept his eyes across the room. "Daniel, make a list of anything you want to have brought over for your work, or any personnel you want here. Carter, escort Doctors Littlefield and Langford back to SGC and give your report to General Hammond. When you're done, pick up whatever Daniel requested and report back."
"Yes! Thank you, Jack!"
With a resigned sigh, Jack turned to leave the room. If there was going to be a lot more scientists crawling around the place, he was going to have to get more security down here to watch out for them. Not that he was concerned about invasion, but god knew someone was going to trip over something or knock themselves out with the condition that the castle was in.
Glancing down at his watch, Jack noted the time and figured that the first two SG teams must have departed on their respective missions by now. They were probably going to see more action than he'll get as part of Destiny Command, he mused enviously. As bad as his last few SpecOps missions were before he was thrown into the world of interstellar exploration, and as grateful as he felt for the initial two years with Destiny in improving his family life, he was starting to miss the real action out on the front lines.
Idly, Jack stopped at an open window and stared out at the ocean vista below. He was on an alien planet tens or hundreds of light years away from Earth, he reminded himself. It was a dream he'd had as a kid watching the moon landing, a part of why he joined the Air Force, and which he'd forgotten in the decade long grind of black ops. Thinking of it that way, it did seem a bit ungrateful to want for more.
Just as Jack was about to push away from the window, a flicker of light in the distance caught his attention. Squinting, Jack noted the dark clouds and occasional flashes of light near the horizon. He wasn't any meteorology expert, but it looked as if a storm was rolling in.
Ferretti looked up in dismay to see Lt. Barnes and Brown being shoved into the mines. The team had split up, with himself and Col. Banks attempting to snag a sample of the mineral being mined by the people in the area, and the two lieutenants to gather intel. Unfortunately, they'd underestimated the security of the place.
"You ok?" he asked Barnes, conscientious of the fact that she was the only female on the team.
"Yes sir," muttered the young woman from military intelligence as she and Brown were shackled together with the other half of SG-1.
"You will meet your quota for the day or you will not eat," the guard said to them as soon as he finished chaining them together.
Reluctantly, the two lieutenants also picked up the pickaxes provided for them.
Banks waited until the guards had moved out of hearing range before quietly asking for report.
"These guards are all human as far as I can tell, sir," reported Barnes.
"We knocked out one of them before we were caught," added Brown. "He didn't have a pouch thing on his stomach, glowy eyes, or echoing voices."
"Their king is called the God-slayer," continued Barnes. "Maybe he killed the original alien who ruled over the planet."
"Or it could just be good ol' superstition," Ferretti said pessimistically. "Except for those staff shooters and that pyramid building, they're not that advanced at all."
"What do we do now, sir?" asked Brown, slanting a cautious look over at where the guards stood.
"We wait." Banks followed his look, the bent over and resumed his task of chipping at the mine walls. "As soon as we find an opportunity, we're getting out of here."
"If we wait too long, we'll miss our check in," Ferretti noted. "They took our radios, so we can't even answer when SGC dials in to check on us."
"We still got a few hours before check-in. If SGC doesn't hear anything from us at all, the SOP is not to mount a rescue," Banks told them grimly. "We're on our own."
Ferretti sighed and bent over to work while keeping a discreet eye on the patrolling guards. Idly, he wondered if Jack or Kawalsky were having a better time of it than he was.
"What is that?" Capt. Lance breathed from where SG-2 was crouched behind some bushes, watching a priest-like figure dip something into a large tank one last time and then pour it out into a ceremonial urn.
"Alien larvae," Lt. Astor answered. "It looks just like the stuff Hathor had floating around in the base bath where she dumped General West."
"Ugh, I really didn't need that mental image," Kawalsky grumbled. It seemed to him that the two women were determined to unnerve him the entire mission.
"Should we follow them?" Lt. Frakes asked, indicating the ceremonial procession who were moving onto the town.
"The higher ups were disappointed that we couldn't get any live samples to study from the Hathor incident," Lance prompted.
Kawalsky sighed. It really seemed like too good of a chance to miss.
"Fine, we'll split up. Frakes and I will follow that procession. You ladies go snag us a larva, then catch up with us. Keep your eyes peeled for any sign of Hathor."
"Yes sir," came the replies.
As the women moved away, Kawalsky could hear one of them muttering to the other, "Doesn't look like any of the guys here are firing on one cylinder..."
With a sigh, he turned to Frakes and inclined his head for them to move on as well. Quietly, the two men faded into the woods.
The procession moved slowly; apparently the priests were not pressed for time, and stopped in front of an ornate tent that had been set up a little distance outside the city walls. Just as Kawalsky and Frakes moved in to take a closer look, however, all of a sudden hell broke loose.
One moment the woods were quiet with nothing more than the distant chanting of the priests, and the next, it was filled with the roar of blaster shots. Several men appeared from the woods in an obvious ambush, and rush the procession. In the commotion, the tent collapsed that the people within ran from the area in a panic. Among them was a young boy and a woman who was obviously his mother attempting to protect him from the errant staff blasts with her own body.
"What the hell," Kawalsky muttered as Astor and Lance suddenly appeared from the side, taking out the Jaffa that was wildly shooting in the direction of the civilians with a burst of gunfire.
"Run!" Astor called out to the boy, roughly shoving him and his mother away from the area of combat.
"We'll need to cover 'em," Kawalsky said to Frakes. Both men burst from the bushes as well, intent on covering their teammates.
Meanwhile, the strangers who ambushed the party had seized control of the ceremonial urn, and were melting into the woods as if disappearing into thin air... all except one who had been felled by a glancing shot.
"Aww hell," Kawalsky muttered, as a large number of reinforcements from the city swarmed the area with staff weapons aimed at anyone who appeared to be a threat. The team had little choice but to surrender their weapons and be taken captive.
He was going to give those two ladies a piece of his mind if he got out of this alive, Kawalsky mused. He was sure Jack never had this many problems with his subordinates.
"Pretty big storm out there," Jack murmured, nodding a greeting to Sam as she came through the gate with the rest of the supplies and personnel Daniel had requested.
"Dr. Littlefield reported that they get periodic storms around here." Sam told him.
"And of course we would come at just the right time for one," Jack finished, resigned to his luck. He gestured for Sam to follow him, stepping out of the way for the new arrivals to carry their equipment out of the gate room and toward he meeting room that Daniel had ensconced himself.
"Look, I'm a little concerned. We're on the edge of a cliff here, and the place is...well, let's just say I'm concern about whether it can take another big hit."
"We could retreat to the Destiny for the duration of the storm, sir," Sam mused. "Then come back after it blows over."
"Good luck prying Daniel away from that hologram," Jack snorted. "He'll throw a fit even if the sky is falling around him."
There was a crack of thunder, and both officers looked up warily as the ceiling trembled and dust fell down upon them.
"Yeah and I think I'll stop tempting fate right now," Jack declared.
"Well, if we don't want to evacuate," Sam continued musing, "what about if we used Destiny to protect this place?"
"What?" Jack squinted at her.
"Well, I'm just saying, if we lower Destiny to fly right over the castle, we can block out some of the worst effects of the weather, and I think I can figure out a way to extend the ship's shields around the area..." she trailed off, her mind already calculating the possibilities.
"Carter!" Jack prompted sharply to regain Sam's attention. "Can Destiny even go atmospheric?"
"I-I don't know," Sam answered. "I mean, I think it can, and it is supposed to have been launched from Earth..."
Jack scrubbed a hand through his hair, leaving it mussed and sticking up all over. His choices were between arguing with Daniel and prying all those scientists off the planet for a few hours, or to try doing atmospheric re-entry with Destiny... Well, puting it like that, it was an easy choice to make.
"I guess there's only one way to find out."
"What do you think they're waiting for?" Frakes asked nervously. The team and the injured stranger had been locked up in a stone room that reminded him of a stereotypical dungeon.
"Probably for their brass to send someone over for interrogation," Kawalsky answered glumly, even as he paced the room, looking for an exit. "How's our buddy over there?"
"He's alive," said Astor from where she knelt next to the only remaining member of the ambush party from before, carefully examining him. "He's got a pouch like General West had, but there's nothing in there. Yet, anyway."
The team all looked at the unconscious form. In the uncertain light of the cell, they could make out vaguely Asiatic features, dark brown skin, and a head of short-cropped black hair. Unconscious, the kid looked to be about 15; though from his actions, he was probably older.
"He's barely a kid himself," Lance noted. "I wonder what possessed the lot of them to attack like that. It's one hell of a kid's prank."
"Maybe they were after the larvae," Frakes mused aloud. "I mean, maybe they weren't allowed to get one for some reason or another, and they decided to take matters into their own hands."
"That's a lot of maybes," Kawalsky noted, though he privately agreed. "Is the kid waking up yet?"
As if on cue, the young man stirred. Astor just had time to ease herself away from the figure when his eyes snapped open and he surged into a sitting position.
"Woah, easy there," Frakes said in careful Goa'uld as he approached the boy, careful to present an affable front. "Hi there."
The young man took in the obvious condition of their captivity. His eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Who are you?"
The group collectively gaped at him. The question had been understandable to all of them, and it wasn't in the language of the natives.
"You speak English?" Frakes blurted out.
The young man continued staring at the group, obviously refusing to answer anything until his own question was answered first.
"Uh, we're explorers," Frakes said hesitantly when it looked like no one else had recovered enough to speak. "We came here from the stargate to, uh, explore."
The young man swept his gaze across the room again. "You are not Jaffa," he stated; it was not a question.
"No, we're not," Frakes confirmed, unsure of what 'Jaffa' was but nonetheless playing along. "We're kinda new around here...Ah, are you Jaffa?"
"I am Sodan," the young man said haughtily.
"Sodan, is that your name?" Lance asked with false ingenuousness.
The haughty look became disdainful. "My name is Ianshu, and I am a warrior of the Sodan."
"So, the Sodan are the opposite of Jaffa?" Lance asked, apparently playing up the dumb blond act.
"I do not serve the false gods of the Jaffa," the young man sneered.
"Wait, back up." Kawalsky finally recovered his own wits. "How do you speak English again?"
The young Sodan looked at him with the first signs of confusion. "I have never heard of this... English," he stated definitively.
"Yet we can understand you," Kawalsky told him, confused himself.
Ianshu stared at the group as if they had three heads. Slowly, he reached behind him and pulled out a small device from the base of his neck, letting the four humans get a good look at the device before replacing it.
"This translates for me," he said simply. "All Goa'uld and Jaffa use it when addressing their slaves. The Sodan have it as well."
The humans all exchanged concerning looks, each pondering the strategic importance of what was apparently an universal translator.
"So, you're the same species as the Jaffa, but a different political unit?" Frakes guessed curiously, trying to connect the little information they'd gotten so far. "The Jaffa worship false gods...like Hathor?"
"They worship the Goa'uld," Ianshu corrected him. "I have heard of the Goa'uld Queen Hathor who had disappeared thousands of years ago." He looked at the humans around him suspiciously. "You are slaves of Hathor?"
"Not a chance!" Kawalsky immediately replied. "Our people are no one's slaves."
The boy was still looking at them suspiciously.
"Look, it doesn't matter anyway," Lance told him. "We're all prisoners here, and our captors are probably coming to torture or interrogate us any moment now."
"They will not succeed," Ianshu told them. "Without a symbiote, my wounds will kill me before they can question me."
"Wait, if by symbiote you mean those wormy things, we've got one," Astor spoke up, taking out the small thermos that had not been taken from her when the Jaffa had stripped the group of weapons. "We were going to take it back with us to study it," she told Ianshu, "but it looks like you need it now more than we do."
Ianshu hesitated, but eventually acquiesced and allowed the humans to implant the symbiote on him. His wounds immediately began to close at a notable rate.
"Amazing," Lance looked on in amazement as the healing wounds closely.
"But gross," Astor muttered, averting her eyes from the pouch on Ianshu's stomach.
Dimly, the group could hear heavy footsteps approaching their door. Ianshu's eyes snapped open again.
"You have saved my life," he told them. "I will help you escape."
Without waiting for any response, he reached into his robes and did something, causing him to suddenly disappear in front of SG-2's collective eyes. Before they could do any more than to exclaim their surprise, the door to the cell opened to reveal a small group of Jaffa, apparently there to retrieve the prisoners.
"Where is the last of you?" demanded the Jaffa in charge, obviously noting the missing member among them.
The team looked among themselves, coming quickly to a consensus.
"Last of us? Uh, this is all there is of us," Kawalsky said with a forced smile while he stepped in front of his team protectively. "We've always been a team of fou--oof!" His words were cut off by a staff rammed into his stomach.
Before the Jaffa commander could question the rest of the team, however, there was suddenly an outcry as Ianshu appeared out of thin air behind the group of Jaffa and fell one with some kind of device. At the same time, he seized that Jaffa's staff and fired it at the leader of the guards.
Taking advantage of the commotion, SG-2 all threw themselves at the nearest Jaffa guard. A brief tussle later, and all the guards were down.
"Come, we must leave this place." Ianshu gestured gestured for the rest of the humans to follow him.
"Right behind you," Kawalsky replied, pocketing the translator he had taken from one of the downed guards and hefting the staff he had seized, before hurrying after the young man. Peripherally, he was aware of the rest of the team doing the same.
It took a few false tries for the group to make their way out of the building and the city, although they did manage to come across the room where their equipment had been dumped. Once again armed with their usual fare in addition to the stolen staffs, SG-2 and Ianshu were soon running through the forest towards the stargate.
Once there, however, they found that news of their escape had evidently already made its way there. The gate was well guarded by a platoon of Jaffa guards and one canon-like artillery piece.
"The gate is too well guarded for me to leave," Ianshu realized tonelessly. "I cannot let the address of my home planet to be seen by the servants of the Goa'uld."
"You can come with us," Kawalsky reassured him, "assuming, of course, that we manage to get home." He turned to Lance. "How long til SGC checks in with us?"
"Any time now," replied Lance, checking her watch.
"How will you get past the guards?" Ianshu asked them dubiously.
"We can't," Lance told him, "not by ourselves. But our home planet is going to be dialing in to check on us any moment now, and all we need to do is report in and then to wait for the cavalry."
"Cavalry?" Apparently some concepts did not translate automatically.
Right on time, the stargate burst into motion, and Kawalsky grinned as he heard the familiar voice come over the radio.
Destiny had barely resumed orbit around the planet after the end of the storms when the news came from Earth about the plight of SG-2 and the ominous silence from SG-1. Knowing that only one of the search and rescue oriented SG teams were available, Jack immediately also volunteered himself and his people to the rescue effort. Then, he and Sam had to practically pry Daniel from the Heliopolis meeting room when they returned to Earth.
Fortunately, the two probes that had been sent to the planet SG-2 went to were still available and hidden near the stargate there. The data from them provided a rough image of the forces guarding the gate.
"Kind of nice of them to get so bunched up around the DHD," noted Major Warren, the CO of the SG-3 Marine Combat Unit. "One grenade launched in the right place..."
"Begging your pardon, sir, but we can't do that," Sam Carter interjected. "We can't take the chance that the explosion would damage the DHD and strand our people on the other side."
"I thought those things were tougher than that?" Hammond asked, gesturing to the DHD on the screen.
"Theoretically, yes sir," Sam explained, "but as we saw on Heliopolis, even falling debris, if hitting the right place, could still cause problems."
"You were able to fix the broken unit on Heliopolis, weren't you, Captain?" Warren asked, undeterred. "What are the chances--"
"Let's not leave things to Murphy's tender mercies, Major," Jack interrupted with a voice of finality. "That said, there's no reason concussion grenades can't work if we aim low, can it, Captain?"
Thoughtfully, Sam nodded. "It's only the main console part that's more fragile."
"Smaller blast radius on a concussion grenade though," noted Captain Wade of SG-3. "What about the other crowd control variants? Smoke, tear gas, flashbang..."
"I'm not sure how well tear gas work," Sam replied thoughtfully. "It didn't have any effect on Hathor, and if SG-2's reports about the increased healing capabilities of having a symbiote implanted are correct..."
"We'll go with a wide spread of concussion at knee level and flashbangs at head level," Jack stated, gears turning as he fell back on familiar SpecOps territory. "Launch 'em through the gate, then the marines after them. We'll want armor piercing rounds against those armored guys. Have SG-2 start moving as soon as we go through. If we move fast enough, we should be able to get back before any reinforcements arrive."
"The previous transmission from SG-2 also report one airborne fighter that has been doing wide sweeps of the area," General Hammond reminded them. "I'm also authorizing anti-aircraft weaponry to be taken with you, but we can't be certain it will work."
Jack and the marines grimaced. What little cover in the target area did not look very defensible against air support.
"SG-2 also reported they are bringing back one friendly," Hammond continued. "Make sure not to shoot him, but also keep an eye on him. We don't want another Hathor incident."
"Carter, that'll be your job," Jack told the captain in question, "given your...previous experience."
General Hammond continued to speak. "In addition, you will be equipped with the experimental ceramic polymer vests from Area 51. Hopefully, they will provide proper protection against the energy weapons of the enemy."
"Hopefully?" Jack asked dubiously.
"Well, they're obviously untested in battle, sir," Sam reminded him, "but the formula came from...the Destiny information packet. At the very least, it won't be lethal to the wearer when it comes to energy weapons, unlike kevlar and other armor-plated types of protection."
"Less lethal is good," Jack muttered sarcastically.
"Colonel O'Neill, you will be in command of the retrieval operation," Hammond said with a salute. "Good luck."
"Yes, sir," Jack replied, returning the salute before departing the room with the rest of the officers.
"Alright guys, we're going to be going in hot," Kawalsky whispered to the rest of his team as the stargate burst into action in the valley below them.
His radio cackled and Kawalsky internally cheered at hearing Jack's no-nonsense voice come through.
"SG-2, this is the cavalry, do you copy?"
"This is SG-2, copy. Boy am I glad to hear your voice, Jack."
"Kawalsky, keep your heads low for the flashbangs. As soon as the marines come through, head for the gate. SGC out."
"You heard the man," Kawalsky whispered to the rest of his team, averting his eyes from the gate to wait out the flash of light and thundering roar that heralded SGC's opening rally to the Jaffa. As soon as the effects passed, he turned back just in time to see heavily armed figures rush through the gate, scattering as they arrived and firing at the armed Jaffa guards.
As one, the team jumped out from their hiding place and rushed down the rocky vale. About halfway there, an energy bolt struck wide somewhere next to them, signaling the arrival of more Jaffa reinforcements. It was followed by the distant whine of the death glider also arriving at the scene.
"Aww, dammit," Jack cursed as another shot rained down from the sky toward the rocky outcroppings where the rescue party had taken cover. He eyed the approaching group of five and judged them close enough. "Carter! Start dialing out!"
The DHD being out in the open made it a death trap for anyone trying to use it in the middle of a fire-fight. It was fortunate, then, that Sam always carried one of Destiny's remote controllers with her, which she could use to dial the gate from the relative safety of her cover. The wormhole to Earth connected just as SG-2 reached the gate.
"Go! Go! Go!"
The death glider dove toward the scrambling Earth soldiers, just in time to be met by a surface to air missile. Not having expected advanced weaponry, the glider was not able to dodge in time, and exploded in a mid-air fireball.
"Nice work, Wade," Jack congratulated the captain in charge of the missile launcher. "Now move it!"
They made it through the wormhole with the Jaffa reinforcements just arriving at the gate area.
Notes: 1. P3R-636 is from the canon S2 episode "Need", where Naquadah mines were first seen (ignoring the movie, of course, since they never revisited the Abydos mines). I figure since they already know they need the stuff this time around, that planet will be scouted out sooner. 2. Chulak (P3X-237 here) was picked because that's where Hathor went in canon. Also, I needed a world with Goa'uld larvae for a first contact with the Sodan. Since Ra used human soldiers instead of Jaffa, Chulak was a good alternative and has some uses to setup future stuff. 3. The storms on Heliopolis in these timelines will not be annual. Mostly because I can't get the dates to align with canon. So we'll just have them occur at random... random meaning whenever our heroes need to be challenged by it.