Main ~ Authors ~ Production Crew ~ Promotion ~ About Chrysalis
~The Chrysalis Team~
The iris span out of the way, and from the control room, General George Hammond watched to see who would arrive through. The iris code was that given to the Langarans, and truth be told he hoped that it would be Jonas Quinn as opposed to the bickering representatives of the joint council.
A familiar figure jumped through the gate. It was Jonas, and he waved excitedly at the figures in the control room, before essentially bounding down the ramp like an excitable puppy.
The guards stationed in the gate room lowered their weapons, and looked at the energetic Kelownan as he jumped off the end of the ramp.
"I've got it!" Jonas announced, beaming at the whole room, before heading to the door, only just missing knocking into a technician who had just entered the gate room. It was amazing the rush that discoveries like this gave him. The only thing that had come close had been when he'd been introduced to coffee!
He ran out of the door and through the corridor, spotting Sergeant Siler coming towards him. "I've got it!" he grinned happily at the bemused man, waving the sheet of papers in his hand, before running on. He had to tell the general as soon as possible.
"Excuse me, sorry," he apologised, slipping in between two burly marines, who looked down at him. His wide grin never diminished, and he skipped out of the way of a third marine, who was looking at him like he was an annoying gnat to be swatted.
"Oomph!" His shoulder made contact with another person, and he looked to see Doctor Fraiser collide with the wall.
"Jonas!" she exclaimed, surprised to see just who it was who had introduced her to the wall.
"Sorry, Doctor… Janet! I'll explain later!" he called back down to the corridor to her. "It's just that I've got it! I've finally got it!"
Janet rubbed her shoulder, glaring at Jonas' back. He was lucky that he didn't have any more post-mission physicals with her. "I'm not sure I want to know what he's got," she mumbled to herself. "Last time he had something it put the whole base in quarantine and me in command."
Jonas bounced into the elevator, narrowly slipping in as the doors were closing, and jammed excitedly at the button to take him to Level 27. He didn't know the technician he was riding with, but that still didn't stop him announcing yet again "I've got it!" with an almost disbelieving tone in his voice.
The doors had barely opened before he squeezed out of the gap, and rushed into the briefing room. Hammond was there waiting for him.
"I've got it!" Jonas said triumphantly, waving his papers again. He was trying very hard not to bounce, as the general looked at him as though he'd just announced to give up bananas for Lent.
"Mr Quinn, it would perhaps be in both our best interests if you were to explain what it is you have," Hammond remarked. "As long as it's not measles, mumps or rubella, I'm quite happy to listen."
Jonas took a deep calming breath. "We've finished the translation, we finally have the information we need about the naquadria!"
Hammond wasted no time in calling SG-1 into a briefing, delaying any further information until they were all present. Major Carter was the last to arrive, hurrying in with a clipboard still in her hands.
"General, sorry, I was-"
"Take a seat, Major," Hammond cut her off, and she took a seat next to the colonel, who in turn was sitting next to Jonas. Daniel smiled at her from across the table. "Now Major Carter's here, we can begin. Mr Quinn?"
Jonas began to explain all about their recent breakthrough in translating the information held on the crystal they'd now been working on for so long. It did, as both suspected and hoped, contain information on how to stabilise naquadria - information they had the technology to put to use.
"So," he explained, "with the information we now have, we believe it's possible to go up against Anubis, and win. Naquadria based weapons just weren't feasible before, since we had no way to prevent or predict a possible overload in the firing mechanisms."
"That's oversimplifying, somewhat," Sam chimed in.
"I know," Jonas agreed, "and that wasn't the only problem. The point is, we now have the information we need to create a more controlled environment, a more suitable casing for any weapon. A more suitable casing for a bomb."
"You want to build a naquadria bomb?" Hammond asked for confirmation.
"Jonas," Jack couldn't believe what he was hearing, "correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it exactly this kind of use of naquada that got us into trouble before."
"Yes, Colonel, I know. This is different."
"If you don't mind me asking," Daniel said, "how?"
"We're not going to build the bomb. You are."
The briefing descended into chaos as everyone but Teal'c attempted to speak at once, and it was only General Hammond's raised voice that eventually restored order. When they were quiet, he continued.
"Son, how exactly does that help?"
"There's still too much distrust on our world to do it. As soon as a weapon with that kind of power started being made, no matter who was working on it and where the work was being done, we'd be in danger of regressing years in the political stability of Langara. And besides, we don't have the technology to do it. You, on the other hand, do. And the political implications aren't the same here."
"General," Sam said, "I'm not sure that's true. Hypothetically, if we did this, would we fully disclose the details to the Russians? The Chinese?"
"I'll take that under advisement, Major. Supposing we do go ahead, we'd still need a way to get to Anubis. Any ideas?"
"We'd need intel on his location, and that's something we don't have great access to right now," Jack observed.
Teal'c replied. "Perhaps we should attempt to contact Selmak of the Tok'ra."
"If Dad can get any information, he'd tell us. But I'm not sure we should be making the effort to contact him. It's safer the other way around."
"It could be a long time before he makes contact again himself, Major," Hammond pointed out, "and we have no way of knowing what Anubis is doing in the meantime. He's been stepping up his activity recently, which makes me uneasy. I'd rather not wait for him to come to us."
"Jacob or Anubis?" Jack asked.
Hammond smiled. "Both. We'll contact the Tok'ra. Major, I want you to concentrate on how we can talk to your father directly for now. Once we've achieved that you can brief Lieutenant Hailey about the bomb - I assume you want to pull her in on this."
"Assuming we receive the go ahead from higher up, and get the intelligence we need, we'll go ahead. Jonas, I assume you'll be wanting to stay and see how this plays out."
"I was hoping to be involved in the mission, sir." He turned to the colonel. "With both of your permission, of course."
Hammond, too, turned to Jack. "Colonel?"
"Hey, it's his gig. The more the merrier."
Jonas was talking to Sam in excited, but hushed tones in a more or less quiet corner of the gate room as Hammond ordered the technicians to dial the Tok'ra. The gate jumped to life and as the dialling came close to an end, the general turned around and called for Sam.
"Major, go ahead."
Sam nodded, then left Jonas standing by the back wall and walked up to stand behind the tech operating the consoles.
"Sending transmission, sir." The tech reported the unnecessary to the general a few feet behind him.
Paranoid as they were, the Tok'ra did not initiate the conversation, so as soon as the signal appeared to be clear, Sam jumped in to inform whoever was listening at the other end of the line.
"This is Major Samantha Carter from the SGC requesting to speak with Selmak."
A cold and slightly irritated voice from the other side informed Sam that Selmak was light years away on a mission at that moment, and that in the light of current events, she did not wish to continue communication with the Tau'ri.
Before they could terminate the connection though, Sam managed to blurt out that Thoran might be interested in hearing what she has to say. It was a gamble, but he was at least someone they knew, and that had helped them before. After what seemed to be hours, Sam finally managed to get hold of Thoran and convince him to contact her father.
As the transmission ended, Sam turned to the general. "I guess now we wait, sir."
Hammond nodded. "And hope that Jacob manages to get in contact soon."
Hammond headed off in the direction of his office, and Sam redirected her attention to Jonas.
"Since we seem to have some time on our hands, how do you feel about lunch?"
Sam shifted up and allowed Jonas to drag a chair to join them at the table. He took his plate off the tray and placed it down.
"What?" he asked when he realised they'd all been watching him.
"Nothin'," Jack said, looking back down at his plate.
"We… heard something," Daniel said.
"You know," Daniel repeated.
"No," Jonas said.
"So," Sam said, putting down her fork. "What's her name?"
Jonas' fork stopped halfway to his mouth and he looked at the four of them in turn.
"Jonas?" Sam asked. "You OK?"
"H… How?" he finally managed to ask.
"We have our sources," Jack said. "Her name?"
"It's nothing," Jonas said, hurriedly eating his forkful.
"Not what we've heard," Daniel said.
"Are you going to let them grill me about this, Teal'c?" Jonas asked.
"He was the one who told us," Jack said. "Teal'c's become a regular little gossip."
Teal'c stopped eating and looked at Jack.
"So, what's her name?" Sam asked.
"Don't you have anything better to talk about than my love life?" Jonas asked. "We've got a big mission ahead of us."
"Exactly," Daniel said. "So a little light relief is just what we need right now."
"And that's what this is? Light relief? My love life is light relief?"
"And you're saying different?"
"I'm not saying anything," Jonas grinned.
"Oh, come on!" Sam said. "You've got to give us something."
Sam narrowed her eyes at him and smiled. "You know you want to tell us."
"You've been bursting to tell us something ever since you arrived, and it's not just the naquadria. You're like…"
"The cat that got the cream," Jack finished.
"The cat?" Jonas asked.
"Expression, don't worry about it," Sam said. "Her name."
"Why are you so interested?" Jonas asked.
"Because you're the only one at the table who has some kind of a love life and we'd like to live vicariously through you, even if it's just for five minutes," Sam said in a rush.
"And if you believe that, you'll believe anything," Jack said.
"Hey!" Sam protested.
Jack shrugged and went back to his lunch.
"Why should I tell you anything?" Jonas asked.
"Because we're your friends," Daniel said.
Jonas stopped eating and looked at him.
"You'll say anything to find out what you want," Jack said around a mouthful.
"I learnt that from you," Daniel said.
"Do you want to know or not?" Jonas asked.
"Yes!" Sam, Daniel and Jack said at once.
"What's it worth?" he teased.
"Your ability to walk out of here unaided," Teal'c said.
A moment's silence fell around the table as the four of them looked at him.
"See? Regular gossip," Jack finally said.
Sam put down her fork and folded her arms. "Her name."
Jonas grinned. "Riana."
"And?" Sam asked.
"So, you just wanted her name."
"You've become a right little tease," Sam laughed.
"Something else I learnt from my time here."
"Dad!" Sam exclaimed as she entered the briefing room. Jacob turned from where he was looking out towards the gate, and accepted the hug his daughter bestowed on him.
"Hey kiddo," he said.
"Jake," Jack greeted, "good to see you."
"You too, Jack," Jacob replied as they all moved to take seats at the table. "I have the intelligence you wanted on Anubis' current position. He's on his ship."
"So, we'll take the Prometheus," Jack said, looking around the table.
Jacob nodded. "Yeah, but you won't be able to get close to him," he pointed out. "However, I know someone who can lend you a teltak for the duration of the mission. Is the Prometheus on Earth?"
"No, Carter crashed it about a month back," Jack said. Sam glared at him, but knew better than to try and start an argument with her CO. "Ronson's crew are currently supervising repair detail. Again."
"I'll send over some extra people," Hammond added, "speed things up a little."
"Fine, I'll get Maran to meet you en-route," Jacob said. "He'll contact you with co-ordinates."
"But, dad, surely Anubis will be able to detect the teltak even through the cloak," Sam pointed out.
"We've been coming up with some idea for modifying the cloak further," Jacob said, handing her a Tok'ra data crystal. "We've not come up with anything solid yet, but if you take a look…"
Sam raised her eyebrows at the amount of faith her father had in her technical abilities. She barely knew how the cloaks actually worked, and here she was, being expected to modify it so that a half-ascended Goa'uld could no longer see through it.
"Sure," she replied weakly.
It was Hammond who spoke up next. "Jacob, I know you've already done enough, but is there any chance that you can get some of that isotope that will shield SG-1 from the internal sensors?"
Jacob nodded. "I'll manage it, and I'll send someone through with it," he said.
"Um, I have a question," Daniel spoke up for the first time. "No offence, Jacob, but why are you being so accommodating? What I mean is that last time we tried to take out a single system lord you told us that it was a bad idea as it created a power vacuum and would just make the galactic situation worse."
"Anubis is too dangerous," Jacob replied. "If he was a normal system lord then it wouldn't matter. But the number of Tok'ra we've lost because of him… we've lost a lot. He needs to go before he can do any more damage."
The gate was already spinning by the time Sam and her father walked into the gate room. This whole situation seemed to Sam to be moving quite quickly, it was a little overwhelming. It was only that morning that Jonas had arrived, and now she had seen her father, and would be gearing up to head through the gate and check out the X-303 immediately after he left.
"I know it was another short visit," Jacob started to apologise.
"Dad, I'm grateful you could come at all. After what you said, I thought it might be-"
"Years?" Jacob interrupted, with some amusement.
"So far we've been lucky. And," Jacob turned towards the gate as the wormhole was established, "I should be going before that luck changes."
"Dad." Sam stopped her father with a hand on his arm. "Getting the isotope for us, and the teltak... You're not taking too big a risk, are you?"
"I'd be lying if I said there wouldn't be trouble if the Council as a whole knew what I was doing, but considering the possible benefits the risk's worth it."
"There's... one other thing."
"The... super soldiers. You didn't even ask what we were going to do about them."
"I assumed you'd have a plan."
Sam dropped her gaze away, unable to look her father in the eye.
"You don't have a plan?!" he asked, amazed that they could be so... so...
"Not exactly," Sam admitted. "Those on Anubis' ship should be destroyed along with him, given the force of the expected explosion."
"What about the others?"
"They work like drones, right? No mind of their own?"
"As far as we can tell."
"Then with luck, they'll lie dormant until we can deal with them."
"Or until another Goa'uld decides they're worth picking up."
"Yes. Well. We're hoping that won't happen."
"I'm not exactly sure what you want me to say."
Sam thought for a second before replying. "I guess I just wanted to know that I'm not missing something. And that we're not doing something really, really stupid."
"I can't comment, on either. But... I don't see that you have any other option."
"Thanks, Dad." Sam hugged Jacob, then stepped away to let him head up the ramp, but his progress was once again halted - this time by the distinctive sound of heeled shoes running into the room.
"I thought I'd missed you!" Janet stopped in front of Sam and Jacob, obviously out of breath.
"Could you take this for me?" She handed Jacob a thick padded envelope. "It's a letter for Cassie."
"Sure." Jacob turned the envelope over in his hands, somewhat surprised by its bulk. "Did you write a book?"
"No! Well," Janet smiled, "I didn't. There's a letter in there, and a book along with it. It's a new one out, part of a-" She cut herself off. "It's one I know she'll want to read."
Jacob tucked the package under his arm, and smiled. "I'll make sure she gets it."
Jack pulled on his boots and sighed. "I can hear that grin from here."
"What grin?" Jonas asked.
Jack turned around and faced him. "That grin," he said.
"What? This feels…"
"Like old times. No offence," he said to Daniel.
"You really do miss this," Sam said.
"Who wouldn't?" Jonas asked.
"What? The unsocial hours? The dicing with death?" Sam asked. "Yeah, can see why you'd miss it."
"The travel, the new worlds, new cultures, new experiences," Jonas said.
"And they're just so…" Jack started.
"Don't," Daniel warned playfully.
"To each their own," Jack said. "Even if it is stupid."
"See?" Jonas said to Sam. "I've missed this too."
"You are nuts," she laughed, and went back to lacing up her boots.
"You get it, don't you, Teal'c?" Jonas asked.
"I can understand your sentiments, Jonas Quinn," he said.
"But I agree with O'Neill."
"You think I'm nuts?"
"Major Carter thinks you are nuts," he pointed out.
"What does the Colonel think I am?"
"Don't ask," he heard Daniel say.
Jonas was the last to get to the gate room, somehow managing to lag behind despite them leaving the locker room together. He blamed it on the holster of his Zat gun causing some problems while walking, but Jack O'Neill knew better than not to tease him about it - after all, how else would the kid feel back home again without his snide remarks.
The general gave his orders and the five members of SG-1 - past and present - stepped through the gate and arrived at their destination a few seconds later.
The team trotted down from the stone steps the gate was mounted on and started in the direction of the X-303.
"Okay folks," Jack announced as they neared the vessel, "time to get some work done. Carter, take Daniel and Jonas with you. Teal'c and I will keep an eye on things out here."
Sam looked around her, but wasn't entirely sure what the colonel thought he would be keeping an eye on. After all, they were far from the only SGC personnel out there. She grinned as she replied. "Yes, sir, time to," she made a point of taking in their surroundings, "get to work."
Before he had a chance to reply, she indicated for Daniel and Jonas to join her and made her way to enter the ship.
Sam walked through the familiar halls of Prometheus, a shiver running down her spine. She just couldn't shake the feeling that this ship seemed to have it out for her. The first time she'd been on it she'd nearly been killed by people trying to steal it and ended up marooned, with the rest of SG-1, hundreds of light years from Earth. Only Thor needing their help had saved them that time.
Then while overseeing its maiden flight, SG-1 had ended up having to prove the existence of the Stargate to the Tangerans… and probably messed up their belief system as a whole by proving that those myths about Horus were based in reality.
Later, after persuading Colonel O'Neill that he really, really, really needed to surrender his newly stolen Alkash so that she could commandeer the hyperdrive, she'd spent four very confusing, very painful and still very shadowy days marooned alone on the huge vessel.
And finally her and Cassie had gotten the fantastic pleasure of riding the Prometheus as it crashed into a planet, courtesy of Mirdir, the offspring of Jolinar and Martouf, an offspring that Sam hadn't even known that she'd had.
The way she looked at it, if you took the alien intervention out of the mix, it was Prometheus 4, Sam Carter 0. Definitely not good odds.
Fortunately, for all the digs from the Asgard about the ship being primitive, it had withstood the force of crashing quite well. There were a few parts that they'd had to simply seal off and worry about fixing later, but structurally, the ship was in good shape. Definitely good enough shape to be space worthy, once they got these last few things done.
One thing she was glad to find out was that the landing bays had survived intact. The hope was to eventually fill them with hybrid fighters, although at the moment the landing bays were going to have a sole occupant - the teltak.
"Do you really think they can get it fixed?" Jonas asked, following Sam as she left engineering. She'd handed out her assignments, there wasn't much else she could do, short of lurking behind them and unnerving the techs. There'd be time enough for that later… or maybe she'd give the colonel that job. He seemed to enjoy it.
"They should be able to," Sam said. "A lot of the damage is cosmetic. If we can just get her space worthy, we can fix other stuff on the fly."
"Like we did when we went after the meteor," Daniel said.
"Right," Sam agreed, walking around a turn in the corridors. "Of course, this time there'll be a repair crew of twenty, not just us."
"And hopefully we'll be avoiding asteroid fields as well," Daniel quipped, sharing a glance with Sam. Both of them had far from fond memories of being forced to seek shelter in the escape pods of their teltak, the mechanism's resemblance to a coffin not being lost on either of them.
"Tell me you guys stocked up on food," Jonas requested, breaking the silence.
"The one thing I miss about Earth… the food on Langara sucks," he said, making them chuckle with his use of Earth colloquialisms. "Especially ice cream. I've tried and tried and tried to get someone to make it, but it just doesn't taste the same."
"I think we can come up with something later," Sam said, grinning at him. "Dibs on the chocolate chip cookie dough," she said, amusing herself with the aggrieved expression on Jonas' face. "For now though, Jonas, how about you show Daniel around? I don't think he's had a chance to see the ship properly before."
"Uh, okay," Jonas replied, slightly uneasy at the idea. Nevertheless, he asked Daniel to follow him, and headed towards the bridge.
Jack waved his arm to show Teal'c - sitting on the ground near the X-303, waiting patiently for his services to be required – where he had wandered to among the trees.
Teal'c rose and made his way towards Jack. "There is a problem, O'Neill?"
"This plant oozes something blue." Jack held up a branch, with bulbous blue growths covering it, and plucked one between his forefinger and thumb. Teal'c saw the growth release a thick blue solution as Jack squeezed, but was unsure why it fascinated Jack so.
"Do you believe it to be toxic?"
"No, Teal'c," Jack rolled his eyes and held out another branch to his friend. "I believe it to be the perfect thing to get rid of this boredom – paintball!"
"I do not understand, O'Neill."
Jack pulled another growth from his branch, squeezed it to get the fluid going, and flicked it towards Teal'c. It landed just below his right shoulder, leaving a small blue mark on his jacket. "Paintball. Hitting each other with balls of paint. It's easy."
"And messy. Perhaps we should seek alternative targets."
Teal'c flicked his 'paintball' and watched as it hit perfect centre on the target Jack had drawn on the side of the X-303 with the plant fluid.
"A bull's eye, once again, O'Neill. The score is now three hundred versus seventy four."
"I quit." Jack tossed his branch backwards into the surrounding trees and lay back in the grass. "Remind me not to teach you darts."
Teal'c inclined his head, but did not ask Jack to explain. There was silence for several minutes, as Jack enjoyed the sunshine, before conversation began again.
"Don't you get bored, Teal'c?"
"When I do," Teal'c replied immediately, "I do so quietly."
Jack ignored the utterly unsubtle rebuke and continued with his line of thought. "Daniel's never left sitting around. There's always something for Carter to do."
"Major Carter specialises in the technical areas you are less–"
Jack cut Teal'c off, knowing that if he allowed him to finish his sentence he would end up feeling dumb. "Yeah, Carter can do everything, I know. I'm just bored."
"I am happy to continue our game, O'Neill." Teal'c lifted his branch and removed another bulb, but Jack declined the invitation, closing his eyes as he lay in the comfortable grass with the sun warming his skin.
"I think I'd rather practice that 'silent boredom' you were talking about."
Teal'c barely noticed when the snores began. He was busy scoring his four hundredth point at 'paintball'.
Jonas felt like he was walking a thin line. On the one hand, he knew about the X-303, and could tell Daniel everything he needed to know. But at the same time he couldn't help think that maybe someone else would have been better suited to this.
"I meant what I said," Daniel said suddenly.
"Earlier, at lunch."
Jonas continued to look at him blankly.
"We are your friends."
"Oh, well, Earth has been very good to Langara…"
"OK, stop this," Daniel said, stopping in his tracks. "I think it's about time we sorted this."
"We've never really had a chance to sort out this… thing between us, have we? I mean, the first time I couldn't really remember you, the second we were a little more concerned about your planet blowing up…"
"I did what I did because I wanted to. At the end of the day, it wasn't your fault."
"Yeah, we all make mistakes. But the reason I… died in the first place, wasn't your fault."
"I was working on the project…"
"Have you been carrying this guilt around with you for the past two years?"
"…No," he lied unconvincingly.
"Jonas, I don't blame you. I never have. The others have let it go, I never had hold in the first place, so I think it's about time you did the same."
"No one calls me that anymore," Daniel said.
Jonas laughed softly. "OK."
"So, this all looks impressive."
"Yeah, it is."
"The maiden flight sounds like it was fun."
"Not really," Jonas said.
"Still, looks like I missed a lot last year."
"Looks like I've missed a fair bit this year."
"Trade stories over coffee?" Daniel asked. "Assuming we can get coffee here."
"The Mess Hall will have something, don't know if you'd call it coffee," he warned.
"I'll take my chances," Daniel said. "After you."
Sam checked the readings on the monitor, comparing them against the numbers on her clipboard. "Good, good," she muttered, doing the math in her head. Things weren't quite perfect. The exhaust manifold was just barely within operating parameters, but it was a lot better than it had been before. It wasn't what she'd call perfection, but it would get this ship into orbit.
Sam turned to look at the tech. "Good job, Sergeant. I honestly thought it'd take us hours to get this right. Why don't you call Colonel Ronson, let him know that his ship is fixed."
"Yes, ma'am," the man smiled.
"Sam?" Sam heard a porthole open and she turned, sighing at the sight of Jonas and Daniel crawling out of the access stairs.
"Jonas, those are supposed to be for repair work, not used to get around the ship."
"We're still on partial power and only half the elevators work. I have to take the stairs anyway, these are less cluttered," he said, smiling impishly at her.
"And you just couldn't resist the chance to pick on Daniel, could you," she said softly, reaching out to help her friend out of the shaft.
Jonas grinned unrepentantly. "Are you done?"
Sam nodded. "All systems up and running, or actually all systems we need to be space worthy. I just need to report in with Colonel Ronson and then we're ready to leave. I'm sure Jen is waiting for me to get back so we can get stuck into our bomb."
"We can grab them on the way to the gate," Daniel said.
She shrugged. "Works for me."
"O'Neill," Teal'c said, pulling Jack from his doze. Jack pushed back his cap, opening one eye. "Major Carter approaches."
Jack sat up, rubbing his hand over his head before settling his cap back into place. He looked towards the Prometheus, frowning at the sight of Jonas and Daniel trailing her. He shot Teal'c a look. "It appears that they have been successful in repairing the Prometheus."
"What makes you say that?"
"I find it doubtful that Major Carter would have left the Prometheus were repairs still underway."
"Good point." Jack got to his feet, groaning slightly as various aches and pains made themselves known. "What's up, kids?"
"We're ready to go, sir," Sam said, squinting slightly in the sun.
Jack nodded and started towards the gate, the rest of his team falling in behind him. He felt a soft sense of completeness fall over him at the sound of their footsteps echoing behind his, their soft chatter and quiet chuckles seeming so right to him. He'd worked with some damned fine people over the years, but he had to admit, these were the best. They weren't just a team, they were friends, some of the best friends he'd ever had.
They were within ten yards of the gate when it activated, the thunk of the chevrons clicking into place making Jack's head jerk up and the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end.
"The last of the techs arrived an hour ago. There shouldn't be anyone coming from Earth," she said, confirming Jack's fears.
Reacting to his instincts, Jack raised his hand, sweeping it to the ground. With the practice of years, he heard the rest of his team drop, squatting amongst the now horribly sparse vegetation. They were sitting ducks out here. The only cover was the DHD thirty feet away.
The wormhole opened with its normal dramatic swoosh and Jack could only watch as a group of Jaffa marched through the gate, staff weapons at the ready. Time slowed to an impossible crawl as he watched them, praying that they wouldn't notice him and his team, yet resigned to the fact that not even Jaffa were that blind. He heard Carter's gun cock in unison with Teal'c arming his staff weapon.
The noise seemed horrendous, but Jack knew that they'd need every second they could get. He raised his weapon just as the lead Jaffa turned his head, their eyes meeting for an eternal second of perfect clarity. The man's mouth opened as Jack's finger pressed on the trigger. He let loose a barrage of bullets, feeling the recoil in his arms a split second before he heard the familiar tinging sound of steel bouncing off armour.
His radio crackled to life as he saw one of the Jaffa raise his hand to his mouth, yelling into something. Jack grabbed his radio with one hand, trusting his team to keep up the fire. "Ronson! We've been made. Get your ass off this planet now!" he screamed. More Jaffa poured through the gate and Jack heard the gunfire pause as Sam reloaded. "They reported our position," he yelled. "None of them leave this planet."
"It takes three minutes for Prometheus' engines to warm up!" Sam yelled.
"I know! Teal'c, Jonas." He pointed right, signalling that the two men break right and attempt to flank the Jaffa. Staff fire hit the ground at his feet, throwing clods of dirt into his face. Jack rolled to the left, trusting Daniel and Carter to stay with him. They had to keep these Jaffa busy, keep them away from Prometheus, buy the ship enough time to get into orbit where it at least stood a chance.
Jack's gun clicked and he reached into his vest, pulling out a clip, reloading in a second. Jaffa kept pouring through the gate, now twenty circled the huge ring, taking advantage of the cover provided by it. Visions of the Alamo flitted thorough Jack's brain and he felt his jaw clench. Not this way, damnit, it was not going to end this way.
So far they were managing to hold them off, but he wasn't sure how long they could keep it up. It seemed that no matter how many Jaffa fell, more came through to replace them.
He squeezed the trigger again, hearing Carter gasp as a large cannon appeared through the event horizon. That thing could definitely hit Prometheus. "O'Neill?"
"Get the hell out of here, Ronson!"
A bright flash lit the sky and Jack ducked, lowering his head to shield his eyes while still keeping both hands on his weapon. He heard Carter and Daniel cry out… and then it was quiet.
His heart pounding, he opened his eyes, staring in amazement at the huge crater at the base of the gate, liberally dotted with Jaffa bodies. "I was going to say get down," Ronson's droll voice echoed in his ear.
"You should have got that bird in orbit, Colonel," Jack said, slowly standing up.
"We're in the air, figured we may as well make good use of the fact," Ronson said. "Are you ok?"
Jack looked around, relieved to see four other people, all standing on their own two feet. "Yeah, we're fine, thanks."
Jack walked towards the gate just as it shut down. "We should dial it up, sir," Sam said. "Inform General Hammond and see if he can keep it open from his end. Keep whoever attacked from having another go."
"Do it," Jack said.
They walked forward, pausing to check the Jaffa, insure that they were in fact dead. For most of them, it was obvious. Not even Jaffa fortitude could help them survive being blown to bits. Daniel and Sam reached the DHD, struggling a bit over the horribly uneven ground, torn up by the viciousness of the attack, and started to dial as Jack slowly turned, eyes studying the horizon. "How did they know we were here?" Daniel asked.
Jack shook his head. "I don't know." He took a step, his eyes still riveted on the horizon.
"Look out!" Sam screamed. Jack stared, his eyes fixated on the nightmare image in front of him. A battered, bloody figure raised itself from the smoky crater, his staff weapon armed and ready… and aiming right for him. He started to run, but had only taken a few steps before he felt something twist in his knee and he went down, his hands crashing harshly into the still warm and smoking earth.
"Jack!" Daniel screamed. Jack saw the Jaffa turn, swinging to the sound of Daniel's voice. A brilliant orange burst of light streamed across the clearing. Carter stretched out her hand, diving for Daniel, a dive Jack could see would fall short. The wide eyed stare of his friend as the blast struck his leg. The dull thump of his body crashing to the ground. The answering thump of a staff, striking the Jaffa, blowing his head off.
Ignoring the agony in his own leg, Jack scrambled to his feet, scrambling forward, arriving just as Sam turned Daniel over, muttering 'oh god, oh god' under her breath, realising he'd been knocked out as he fell. "Daniel?"
"Clear the way, Teal'c," Jack ordered, bending over and hauling Daniel's unconscious form over his shoulders. He heard the Jaffa speaking frantically into his radio, sweeping in behind them to cover them.
"Go," Teal'c ordered, the single word telling Jack that it was safe to enter the Stargate. In the back of his mind, he heard Carter talking to Ronson, telling him that they'd catch up with them just as Jack stepped across the event horizon, the searing cold of the wormhole a welcome force.
In an instant, he stepped down, his boot clanging on the welcoming metal grate of the ramp. He stumbled slightly under Daniel's weight, and struggled not to dump Daniel to the ground. Hammond's voice echoed through the chamber and Jack heard three more sets of boot prints, then the snapping sound of the wormhole closing.
Ignoring everyone else, he rolled Daniel to his back, his fingers frantically feeling the man's throat. Someone's hand pressed into his shoulder, trying to pull him away. Jack shook them off, finally giving in when Teal'c's dark hand covered his own, pulling it out of the medic's way.
Jack leaned back, watching as they bore Daniel away. "He is alive, O'Neill," Teal'c reassured him. Taking no comfort in the man's words, Jack got to his feet, ignoring Hammond as he walked from the room, careful not to limp and betray his own injury. His thoughts were not on the present, but seven floors up, where his friend lay injured once again. A injury he'd sustained because of Jack.
"Doctor Fraiser!" Janet turned from taping up Siler's broken fingers and her heart gave a jolt when she saw her medics rushing in a gurney with an unconscious Daniel on it.
"Oh God, what's he done this time?" she whispered to herself, rushing over. "Stats?" Her eyes were drawn to the ugly staff blast on his thigh.
"BP one thirty-five over seventy," the medic reported. "Pulse seventy-five."
Janet nodded. It sounded like he looked a lot worse than he actually was. "How did this happen?" she demanded when she saw the others crowding by the door. "How did he lose consciousness?"
"He hit his head when he fell," Jonas said.
"Is he going to be okay, Doc?" Jack asked heavily.
"I don't think there's anything for you to worry about," she said. "If you want to shower first then come back for your physicals, I'll have more information for you then."
Without waiting for a response, she pulled the curtains, shutting them from sight. The medics had lifted Daniel from the gurney to the bed.
Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out her penlight and checked both of his eyes. Good. Nothing to suggest any problems there.
"Lieutenant, could you pass me Doctor Jackson's chart?" she asked a passing nurse.
"Of course, Doctor," the nurse replied, finding it with ease as it was the thickest there, despite his year's absence.
Janet sighed. "Oh, Daniel, what am I going to do with you?"
"I have some ideas," came a weak voice.
"Oh really, Doctor Jackson?" she asked, arching an eyebrow as she moved up to stand by his head. "How are you feeling?"
"Headache," he confessed. "And my leg hurts."
Janet smiled sympathetically down at him. "I'll get you something for the pain," she told him, reaching for a needle on a nearby tray. "Did you throw yourself in front of the blast again?"
Daniel tried to grin up at her as she slipped his jacket off and plunged the needle into his arm. "Not this time," he replied. "There were no damsels in distress to save." He thought for a moment, then added "Except perhaps me."
Janet gave a small laugh. "If you say so," she said, replacing the empty syringe. She lay a small, warm hand on his arm. "Now, can you stay out of trouble while I go and sort some things so I can deal with your leg?"
"I can try," Daniel replied.
"Oh, you will," Janet decided, turning to leave. "My bed, my rules." She stopped in horror when she realised what she had just said, and flushed slightly. Daniel was sniggering. "Stop it! You know what I mean!"
"Right then, sir. Let's take a look at you."
"You might want to look at my knee."
Janet looked up, surprised the colonel was actually admitting to any problem. "Sir?"
"It gave out on me. On the mission." Something in his tone told Janet there was more to this. Instinctively, she clutched her clipboard closer to her chest.
"You re-injured it?"
"No. I fell because the stupid thing gave out on me."
"When did this happen?"
"After the damn thing was almost over."
"Around the time when-"
"Daniel got shot. I fell, he saw, he called out to me and that was it."
It was suddenly obvious to Janet why he'd asked for help. "Is this the first time it's happened?"
"No. But it is the first time on a mission. And the first time since..." He trailed off. "Since-"
Jack was grateful for the out. "Yes. Since the sarcophagus."
"Okay, let me take a look at you."
Jack swung his legs round onto the bed, and submitted to her examination much more passively than usual. Janet kept her usual routine. She needed the familiarity. She didn't think, even now, that she had the full picture, but she wasn't going to push it. The colonel was quiet for most of the examination, but she could tell he was brooding over something. When she was just finishing up, it came blurting out.
"I'm going to retire."
Janet was grateful she hadn't been holding any needles, or he would have suffered a rather nasty injury at that time. Or she might have. "You're... you're what?" She wasn't sure whether she was more surprised at what he'd said, or that he'd said it to her.
"I'm not gonna let something like this," he indicated his knee, "put my team in jeopardy again."
"Sir," she carefully began "you're right, I can't promise your knee won't do this again, at some point in the future. But I equally can't, and won't, say you're medically unfit for duty."
"I don't need you to."
"Sir..." Janet paused, trying to find a way to put her thoughts into words. "Don't rush into this. Not on the basis of what happened today. You're... well, we-"
"Look, just don't mention this to anyone yet, okay?"
"You've not told anyone?"
"Not yet. I'll be talking to the general today."
"Today. You're that sure."
"Doc, sometimes you just know."
"Doctor Fraiser's just informed me that Doctor Jackson's doing fine, although she'll be keeping him in for observation overnight," Hammond told the three remaining members of SG-1 and Jonas as they sat at the briefing table. "Colonel, could you explain what exactly happened on the planet?"
"We were attacked by Jaffa, sir," Jack replied, discretely stretching out his leg under the table. "We had finished at the Prometheus and were heading back to the gate when they came pouring out. If it hadn't been for Colonel Ronson…" his voice trailed off, and Hammond turned to Teal'c.
"Did you recognise who they belonged to?" he asked.
Teal'c bowed his head. "Indeed. They were in the service of Baal," he said. The silence in the room was deafening and Jack shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "I believe that they must have heard that the X-303 was on the planet."
Hammond nodded. "Very well," he said. "Major Carter, I trust that the Prometheus is fully operational?"
"Yes, sir," Sam replied. "We should have no problem getting to the co-ordinates Dad gave us for Anubis' ship. Lieutenant Hailey and I will continue to work on the naquadria bomb and I'll get some time to take a look at the schematics for the modifications of the cloak on the data crystal."
"Jacob was able to send a small quantity of the isotope through the gate while you were gone," Hammond told them. "It's been sent down to the infirmary, and Doctor Fraiser's preparing it so you can administer it to yourselves before you board the ship."
"Swell, more needles," Jack deadpanned, knowing perfectly well that if he got his way then he wouldn't be using the injection himself.
"Does anyone have anything else to add?" Hammond asked. There was nothing. "You'll leave as soon as Major Carter has completed all she needs to for this mission. Dismissed."
Jack hesitated outside General Hammond's office, took a moment to remind himself that he was doing this for the right reasons, then raised his hand and knocked.
"Enter," Hammond called from inside. Jack pushed the door open and saw the general seated behind his desk, flicking through a thick folder.
"Sir," he began, but Hammond interrupted him.
"Take a seat, Jack. I've seen Dr. Fraiser's medical report, so you don't have to pretend your knee is fine."
'Well, it's now or never,' Jack thought as he lowered himself into the chair in front of Hammond's desk, trying not to show how gingerly he moved his right knee. "That's actually what I've come to talk to you about, Sir."
Hammond said nothing, just sat and waited for Jack to explain what was on his mind. Jack couldn't help feeling that Hammond had already guessed what was coming, but wanted to hear it from Jack's own point of view. There was nothing for it but to be direct.
"General Hammond, I love this job. Seriously. It's changed my life – perhaps even saved it." He took a deep breath and blew it out. "I can't do it anymore. My knee can't take it, and I'm endangering my team. Daniel wouldn't have been shot back on the planet if it hadn't been for me."
Hammond looked back at him, his face showing understanding, but not acceptance. He shuffled through the folders on his desk, lifted a thin one, and opened it to the first page, then looked up. "According to the report she submitted, Dr. Fraiser believes you to be fit for active duty."
"Yeah, she told me that. She also told me that she can't promise me this won't happen again." He rose as he spoke, and shook his head sadly at how slowly he was forced to do so. "How she equates that with 'fit for active duty', I really don't understand."
"Dr. Fraiser knows her job, Jack. She's a damn fine CMO."
"I know she is, sir. I also know that I won't go through the gate again when I know that each time I do I'm risking the lives of my team."
Hammond came around his desk and leaned against the front of it. "You're in the middle of a mission. Do you intend to just abandon it?"
Jack did feel guilty for basically walking out in the middle of an important mission. Surely though, he thought, that was better than jeopardising it with his disability. "Carter can handle this. She could run SG-1, sir, easily. Probably better than I do," he added ruefully.
"I'm sorry, Jack." Hammond was putting his foot down. "I'm not letting you quit in the middle of a mission."
"Sir–" Jack started to protest, but Hammond cut him off.
"No, Jack. You'll see this one through. If you still want to resign when you come back, I'll accept it."
"I'm a liability, sir."
"Daniel's injured too, but he doesn't want to sit this one out. You'll stay on the X-303, with him. Major Carter, Teal'c and Jonas will plant the bomb.
"There isn't any way I can change your mind, is there?"
Hammond shook his head. "I'm afraid not, son."
Jack moved towards the door without waiting to be dismissed. "Then I guess I have no choice." He opened the door and left, leaving Hammond to look after him in disappointment.
"One of the best…" he murmured, as he watched Jack leave. "One of the best."
"I see you kept the fish," Jonas commented as he entered what had been his office during his stay on Earth.
Daniel looked up at his visitor, then across at the fish who were happily swimming around in their aquarium. "Uh, yeah," he said, laying down his pen. "I've had a bit of help feeding them, when I've been off-world or otherwise incapacitated." His hand strayed to the back of his head to where he had hit it on the planet. Janet had kept him under her watchful eye because of it, and had only let him out a few minutes ago, having extracted a promise that he would not work too hard.
Jonas grinned and moved to the bookcases. "So, how's the head?" he asked, scanning the rows and rows of books.
"Not too bad," Daniel replied, closing one of the books on his desk, and moving it to another pile.
"And the leg?"
"A bit sore still, but I'm used to feeling like this anyway," he shrugged. "The crutch is a bit annoying, but Janet wouldn't let me leave without it."
Jonas turned around to smile sympathetically, and a book lying on the desk caught his attention. Picking it up, he frowned at the title.
"Why do you have "My First Guide to Ancient Egypt"?" he asked curiously.
"It was a joke... a gift from a friend," Daniel replied, trying to act casual about it as he reached for another book. "I got my revenge though."
Jonas opened it, and read the inscription, his eyes widening slightly. "So, is this why Doctor Fraiser has "How the Body Works" in her office?"
Daniel froze. "When were you in Janet's office?" he asked, not daring to look up and look the Kelownan in the eyes.
"Oh, just now," Jonas replied. "She wanted to give me an MMR jab."
Daniel almost sniggered, but managed to stop himself in time. "Oh right," he replied nonchalantly, hoping that Jonas would drop the subject.
"So," Jonas began innocently, a minute or two later. "Should I be asking you about your love life?!"
Jack stood in the doorway, content to watch her for the moment - blonde head bent over her keyboard, the soft tap-tap-tap echoing in the otherwise quiet room. She paused, scribbled something on a notepad, and then went back to her rapid-fire typing.
He must have made some small sound, because Sam suddenly sat up, grimacing as she rubbed at her shoulder. "Jen, did you..." She glanced back, and her eyes widened. "Oh, Colonel!"
"Hey, Carter. How goes the bomb?"
"Well, Hailey and I still need to..." Sam cocked her head to the side. "Uh, sir?"
Jack blinked. "What?"
She pointed. "Your arm."
"The one you're holding behind your back."
"Oh. Yeah. That." Caught out, he grinned and strolled across to her, where he pulled his arm out with a flourish and set what he'd been hiding on her notepad.
She stared at it. "What's that?"
"It's cake, Carter. You know, box of powder, add eggs, water, stir until half of it splatters out of the bowl..." He swiped one finger across the top of the piece of cake and stuck it in his mouth. "Chocolate cake, to be precise," he mumbled around his finger. "With butter-cream frosting."
Sam didn't quite roll her eyes. "Yes. I am aware that it's cake. Sir. What's it for?"
He handed her a fork, wiping his finger on the sleeve of his coat. "Oh, just to celebrate."
"Celebrate what?" She took the fork, cutting off a bite of cake.
"Oh, just the usual. Beating unbeatable odds-"
"We haven't beaten them yet, sir."
"But we will. Now, where was I before I was so rudely interrupted..." This time she did roll her eyes and he grinned. "Ah, yes. Unbeatable odds..."
Jack waited until she put the forkful of cake in her mouth. "...me retiring." Cake crumbs flew across her desk and the fork clattered to the floor. Jack helpfully patted her on the back. "Easy there, Carter. You're supposed to eat it, not inhale it."
"You... Why..." Sam spluttered, grabbing her coffee mug and taking a swig of what Jack guessed was very stale, cold coffee from the way her face scrunched up. Coughing, she cleared her throat and glared at Jack. "What are you talking about?"
Jack shrugged, picking up the second fork from the plate and shoving a bite of cake into his mouth. He chewed slowly, deliberately, watching her eyes narrow. Finally he swallowed. "After this mission. I'm retiring."
Sam stared at him. "You... you're serious."
"Dead serious." Jack paused. "Well, okay, not dead. Bad analogy. But you know what I mean." He picked up the plate and held it out to her. "Cake?"
Huh. For a second, he really thought she was going to reach over and strangle him.
"Major, did you...." Jack glanced over to see Jennifer Hailey standing in the doorway. "Uh..."
"Colonel." Her gaze flickered between him and Sam, who he was trying very hard not to look at. "I can come back if..."
"No, no." Jack stood. "You have important things to do, what with the blowing things up. So, please, commence." He waved a hand at the bomb schematics on the computer monitor. "I have to go do... stuff, myself."
He had just passed a still-puzzled Hailey when he heard, "Colonel?"
He hesitated just a second before turning back. "Carter?"
"Your cake?" She was holding out the plate. And she was smiling.
Jack shook his head. "It's all for you, Carter."
Jack opened his mouth to tell them, then he shut it again. This would make it real. Despite previous conversations, if he told them then there would be no going back. Well, there could be, but he wouldn't. He'd made his mind up.
Now he just had to tell them…
"Did you actually want something, or are you just going to stand there?" Daniel asked eventually.
"I'm sorry?" Jack asked.
"You have been standing there for several minutes, O'Neill," Teal'c said.
"Yeah, I wanted to talk to you guys."
"What about?" Daniel asked.
"Well, I want you to know that it's nothing to do with you guys. It's nothing you've done. Or anyone else. This doesn't involve anyone else but me, it's all me, OK? And I don't want you thinking that something's happened. Well, something has happened, but it's happened to me, not us…"
"Geez, Jack," Daniel laughed. "You sound like you're breaking up with us."
Jack sighed and put his hands in his pocket.
"You are breaking up with us, aren't you?" Daniel asked, putting two and two together.
"I do not understand," Teal'c said.
"I'm retiring," Jack said. "After this mission. Assuming we come back from this mission of course," he added with a wry smile.
"You've been thinking about this for a while, haven't you?" Daniel asked.
"Will Major Carter be assuming command of SG-1?" Teal'c asked.
"Probably," Jack said.
"That explains why you stuck her in charge," Daniel assumed.
"You guys are OK with this?" Jack asked.
"What? You wanted us to plead with you?" Daniel smiled and clasped his hands together. "Oh, Jack, please don't leave us!" he mocked. "We're nothing without you. I can change. We can work this out. Please, stay. If not for me, then think of Teal'c. How will he cope without you? He needs you around."
"I will be fine, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said. "Your concern is misplaced."
Daniel laughed. "No, Teal'c, I was…" He stopped and looked at Teal'c. "You're joking, aren't you?"
Teal'c merely tipped his head to one side and looked back at O'Neill. "You have obviously taken considerable time to contemplate your future," he said. "If it is your choice then we shall honour it. You have been a valiant warrior, O'Neill."
"Hey," Jack said, "I'm far from done yet."
Sam looked over the work they'd done already, and not for the first time she wondered if it was the right thing to do. The military part of her knew that this bomb would give them a significant victory, but the humanitarian side of her was having a hard time justifying the enormous loss of life that would undoubtedly occur. She'd spent so long fighting to free the Jaffa and slaves oppressed by the Goa'uld. She understood many didn't want to be freed, that they served because they wanted to. Shaking her head to drag herself back to the task at hand she decided to focus on the idea that if they did this, then the lives that they would save in the future outnumbered those that would be lost by an enormous ratio.
"Major?" Hailey's voice was the final pull back to the real world.
"I'm sorry, what?" she asked.
"You were miles away," came a third voice from the doorway.
"Jonas, hi," she said. "Sorry, I was thinking."
"Should have known," he said with a smile. "Whenever you start thinking no one can get near you."
"What do you think?" she said, indicating the machine in front of her.
"Looks impressive," he said.
"Impressive?" Hailey said, a note of shocked surprise in her voice. "The yield on this will be at least four times that of a naquada powered bomb, and that's with a fraction of the amount!"
"I think he gets that," Sam laughed.
"Sorry," she blushed, and looked down at her calculations.
"The colonel was right," Jonas said. "She's a mini you."
Hailey looked up at Jonas, and smiled. When he caught her eye she suddenly got nervous again and looked back down.
"So, you gonna help us finish this or are you going to continue embarrassing Jen?" Sam asked.
"What do you need me to do?" Jonas asked.
"I feel like we should have champagne," Hailey said as the final panel was fixed into place. "Or good coffee at least."
"Maybe," Sam laughed. "Why don't you go get some, be the last decent cup I have in a while."
"You're calling the base stuff decent?" Hailey asked. She caught Sam's eye and realised she was being sent away for something other than coffee. "Yes, ma'am," she said quickly.
"You can tell the general that we're ready to go," Sam said. "And thanks for all your help."
"It was a pleasure, Major," Hailey said. "Really."
"She's a smart kid," Jonas said, walking around the table towards the door.
"Jonas," Sam called. "Can I have a word?"
"Sure. What's up?"
"There's something you need to know."
"Colonel O'Neill's retiring."
"After this mission."
"I just thought you should know."
"He's still on the mission, he just won't be coming with us."
"He'll stay on the ship?"
"Well, someone's got to keep Daniel company," she smiled.
Teal'c carried the bomb with Jonas keeping pace beside him, and they walked almost ceremoniously up the ramp. Everyone knew how vital this mission was and this machine was either going to win or lose it all for them.
Jack took the lead, Sam and Daniel brought up the rear. Just before stepping through Sam glanced backwards and she smiled as she saw Janet standing in the Control Room, mouthing 'Good luck'. Then with a final step the SGC was replaced with the sprawling landscape of the planet.
"How far away is the ship?" Jonas asked.
"Captain Ronson estimated a fifteen minute walk to where they set down again," Sam said.
"You alright with that thing?" Jack asked.
"I am fine, O'Neill," Teal'c said.
"Right then," Jack said.
"This path," Daniel said, indicating a track heading north-west.
"Follow the yellow brick road," Jack said.
The takeoff complete and journey underway, Jack headed to the Mess Hall to find something to do. He found Jonas, Teal'c and Daniel in the middle of some conversation.
"Where's the ice cream?" he asked, joining them.
"We asked," Jonas said. "Apparently they don't have any."
"How can they not?" Jack asked, feigning hurt.
"I informed them that I was most displeased," Teal'c said.
"I bet you are," Jack said. "Did they just forget?"
"Apparently not," Jonas said. "They didn't bring any because they didn't think anyone would want any."
"We are not," Teal'c said, folding his arms.
"I'm gonna speak to someone when we get back," Jack muttered.
"What are you guys on about?" Daniel asked.
"The last time we were all on a long trip we… You know what, you had to be there," Jonas said.
"I am glad you were not," Teal'c said.
"Why not?" Daniel asked.
"I would not have liked to share."
"T is very possessive of his ice cream," Jack said. "So, what do they have?"
"Not a lot," Jonas said.
"Right." Jack sighed and folded his arms. "Gonna be a long trip."
Jack headed up to the bridge to find Sam waiting for him. "You called?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," she said. "We're here."
Jack looked out of the main viewer and saw the ship loom into view.
"Already? That was quick."
"You ready to ship out?"
"Just about, sir."
"Well, we'd best get on with it then."
"Yes, sir," she said, and they headed off together.
"Major?" he started.
"Yes, sir?" she asked, turning towards him.
"You sure about this? I mean, are you sure you're not going to be spotted?"
"Yes, sir," she smiled. "I'm sure."
"You'd be forgiven if you weren't."
"Sir, it's OK. We've been over this. We do know what we're doing."
"OK, we'll be around to save your asses if you need it."
"With all due respect, sir," she smiled, "I'd prefer it if you didn't have to."
"I know," he said. "But I'm here all the same."
"Good to know, sir." She nodded at him, and continued walking.
"Major?" he started again.
"Sir?" she asked.
"Thank you, sir."
"Just call if you need us, we'll be here."
Sam walked to the rear of the teltak and met Jonas and Teal'c. Once aboard, they left and quickly cloaked before coming out of the moon's shadow.
"If they can see us, they haven't made a move," Jack said from his position with Daniel at the controls.
"Looks like the modifications we made to the cloak work," Jonas said.
"What can I say?" Sam asked. "I'm a genius. Get ready."
Jonas bent over to pick up the bomb.
"Once the cloak is dropped, it'll take them about a minute for their sensors to realise that the blip is actually a ship," Sam said.
"Their shields are up," Daniel added, "but the program you designed is showing up the weak spots."
"Like I said, genius," Sam said. "So we're good to go?"
"Yes," he said. "Good luck."
"Hey," she called back, "with my brains, who needs luck?" Grinning, she walked into the back and took the hypodermic spray from Teal'c. Injecting herself with the isotope she grabbed her P-90 and stood ready. "Ready when you are," she called out.
Within the minute the rings were activated, and she, Jonas and Teal'c were deposited into the ring room of the Goa'uld ship. No alarms were blaring, no Jaffa running towards them.
"It would appear that we have managed to remain undetected," Teal'c said.
"Let's hope it stays that way," Sam said. "Let's go."
Sam didn't like to think it, but so far this was too easy. No one had noticed them ring in, each corridor they entered had been empty... She wasn't complaining, exactly, she just didn't expect it to last.
Beside her, Jonas stopped for a second, readjusting his grip on the bomb.
"You sure you're okay with that?" she asked.
"Yeah, I'm fine." He started walking again, and Sam hurried on to retake point.
It was at the next corner that things went wrong. Just as she was about to check their path was still clear, the unmistakable sound of Jaffa boots started to echo down the corridor.
She looked frantically around her, but typically the last decent cover they'd passed was some distance back. There was just enough cover here for them to keep out of the line of fire, but nowhere for them to go if they fell back. She signalled to Jonas and Teal'c to keep hidden, Jonas behind her and Teal'c on the other side of the corridor.
Nervously, they waited, hoping the Jaffa wouldn't come their way.
It wasn't long before Sam realised that was too much to hope for. But maybe, maybe one of them could find a different route if the others covered their path.
"Jonas," Sam hissed, "get that thing into position. We'll keep their attention focused here."
For a moment she thought he would argue, but Jonas nodded his assent, and quietly slipped away. She didn't have time to watch him turn the corner to safety, as the first staff
weapon blast told her they'd been made.
Jonas crept from corridor to corridor, half-expecting to come face-to-face with more Jaffa at every corner he turned. He could still hear weapons fire in the distance, and it made him nervous. If he could hear it, so could half the damn ship. The only thing in his favour was that he hadn't been seen, Anubis' Jaffa didn't know he was there.
As he stopped once more to readjust his grip, he could hear movement around the corner from him. Movement, and muffled voices.
A servant bowing to his god.
Anubis was around the corner.
Quietly, and with more urgency, Jonas continued on his way.
"So," Daniel leaned back and swivelled his seat a little. "This is kinda weird."
Jack and Daniel had been sitting around on the teltak. Until Carter, Jonas and Teal'c got the bomb planted, and made it back to the ring room, there was nothing for the two injured men to do but wait.
"The word I would've used would've been 'boring'. But weird works." Jack paused a moment, then wrinkled his brow. "Why is it weird?"
"Oh, you know, the whole full circle thing? After all this time we're right back where we started – planting a bomb on a Goa'uld ship…"
"…except this time we're cooling our heels up here, while everybody else does the dirty work. Now that's weird."
"I'll see your weirdness, and a raise you some irony." Daniel grinned at Jack. "None of the team over there on Anubis' ship were even around the first time we did this."
Jack grimaced. "Stop it, Daniel, you're making me feel old." Daniel rolled his eyes, then realised that Jack was still talking, and he wasn't listening. "-been here, anyway."
"Sorry, Jack," he smiled sheepishly, "I tuned out for a minute there."
"I was just saying, it feels like Carter's always been around, doesn't it?" Jack didn't seem to notice the implications of his words, but Daniel's eyebrows raised of their own volition before he could school his expression back to neutral.
"I guess it does, yeah. She's as much part of the team as we are. So is Teal'c." Daniel wasn't blind though – hadn't been at any point in the seven years they'd known each other. There was no point in pretending Jack's feelings for Sam were anything like his feelings for the rest of the team, and Daniel knew it.
He also knew to leave the subject well alone unless Jack brought it up himself, and so said nothing. They remained that way for several minutes, until Jack broke into the silence. "Carter can do this, Daniel. She can lead SG-1. I wouldn't be quitting if I thought she couldn't."
"Nobody thinks you're abandoning us, Jack. You trained us well, and you kept us alive. Well, mostly…" he cracked, remembering his various 'deaths'. Jack scowled at Daniel's comment, but his irritation was feigned. He rose from his seat and paced slowly, stretching out his injured knee.
"I'll miss it. Even with the madness and the secrecy, and all the damn trees, I'll miss it."
"We'll miss you too, Jack. But we'll cope, and we'll keep going, because that's what you taught us. Don't worry about us, Jack. Just enjoy your fishing." And if Daniel intended the ambiguity in his words, he certainly didn't show it. Except for, perhaps, a glimpse of a twinkle in his eyes.
"I will, Daniel." His smile crept wider, and he moved back to his seat, muttering to himself, "At least I hope I will."
Teal'c and Sam ducked back into cover as another flurry of staff blasts filled the corridor. Sam knew that she'd hit at least one of their attackers, and Teal'c perhaps two more. Unfortunately, there were still more than enough Jaffa to make it very difficult to even take a shot, let alone bring this firefight to an end before more reinforcements turned up.
Sam looked across at Teal'c and motioned that she was going to throw a grenade. Hopefully that would provide enough confusion to get the job done. As she reached for the grenade and prepared to throw it, Teal'c let loose with some covering fire. The second the grenade was in the air, Sam grabbed her P-90 and brought it to her shoulder.
The blast brought a chorus of shouts from the other end of the corridor, and Sam was immediately up and moving. The fragmentation grenade probably wouldn't kill any Jaffa outright, they did wear armour after all, but it should wound and disorient them. A shape moved out of a doorway to her left, and without even thinking, she had fired off several rounds, dropping the Jaffa to the ground. A couple of other Jaffa were Zat-ed into oblivion by Teal'c, who was following right behind her. Within seconds, all was quiet.
"We were most fortunate, Major Carter."
"Yes. We were."
"Next time, there will not be so few."
"How long do you think we have?"
"More Jaffa will be here very soon."
"Lets find somewhere to take cover."
As they moved back down the corridor, Sam was conscious of the fact that they needed to be between the Jaffa and Jonas, while also keeping a route open to the ring room. That didn't leave them a lot of choices.
A gesture from Teal'c made her stop and listen. It was the unmistakable tramp of marching Jaffa. This was going to be fun.
Armed with a zat, Jonas quickly shot the two Jaffa who were in the room that contained the power source for the ship. He was surprised that it hadn't been better guarded, but he supposed that Anubis thought that being on a ship normally capable of detecting cloaked vessels meant that he was pretty much invulnerable to any internal attack.
He quickly pulled the bomb out of the bag on his back and knelt down by the power core, one eye on the only door that led into the room.
Looking at the timer, Jonas considered his options. He didn't really want to be still onboard when it blew. It would probably take him a good few minutes to get back to where he had left Sam and Teal'c, then they would have to fall back to the ring room. Deciding, he set it for fifteen minutes, which should give them plenty of time to ring back to the teltak and be as far away as possible from Anubis' ship when it went off.
He set the clock and watched as the first few seconds ticked away. He tucked the bomb away so that it was as hidden as well as it could be and with his zat held in front of him, ran off to rejoin the other two.
They weren't quite pinned down, but it was close. This time the Jaffa hadn't attempted to rush down the corridor at them. They'd found the bodies, and then moved cautiously down the corridor, immediately taking cover when she and Teal'c had opened fire.
She called to Teal'c. "I don't think they're going to rush us."
"Indeed. They are acting as a diversion."
She tried to remember the layout of the ship, but this one was different from most other Goa'uld motherships.
"Is there a way for them to get behind us?"
"I am not sure."
She glanced back down the corridor. "Where the hell is Jonas?"
A staff blast slammed into the wall near her head, and she ducked back as far as she could. Hot metal landed on her arm, but fell off as quickly as it had fallen. Sam poked her P-90 down the corridor and fired off a blind burst, before pulling the gun back and inserting a new clip. If Jonas didn't get back soon, they were all going to go down with the ship.
As though he'd been reading her mind, Sam heard the sound of running feet behind her. There was no mistaking the sound of combat boots.
"You guys need a hand?"
"Is the bomb set, Jonas?"
"Yes. We've got about 10 minutes."
"Lets get out of here then."
She pulled out two grenades, and hurled them at the Jaffa one after the other. The first was a regular fragmentation grenade, the second a smoke grenade. As soon as they went off, she was running down the corridor towards the ring room.
Fortunately, no Jaffa had managed to slip between them and the rings. Unfortunately, it appeared that someone on the command deck had managed to raise a force shield. A force shield that was now preventing their escape. Sam looked at her watch. They had no more than 8 minutes before Jonas' bomb exploded.
"Jonas? Teal'c? Stand guard while I try and de-activate this force shield."
She couldn't hear the sound of Jaffa yet, but knew it wouldn't be long. They had to know they had only one way off the ship.
Sam tried de-activating the force shield normally, but nothing happened. She hadn't really expected that it would, but it was worth a shot. Letting her gun hang from the strap, she pulled the front off the control panel and started poking around.
Behind her, she heard Teal'c and Jonas open fire. How on earth were they going to get out of this one?
Suddenly, her radio crackled.
Stopping what she was doing, she answered. "Yes, sir."
"How's it going?"
"Just peachy, sir. There's a force shield between us and the rings, and a group of Jaffa between us and the rest of the ship."
"A force shield? How did that get there?"
"If I knew that, sir, I'd probably be able to de-activate it faster."
"Has Jonas set the bomb?"
"Of course, sir."
"About 7 minutes."
"Cutting it kinda close there, Carter."
"Anything I can do?"
"You could get off the radio and let me try and de-activate this force shield."
"Oh." He paused. "O'Neill out."
She sighed and released the radio, turning back to the control panel. How on earth was she going to over-ride this?
Oh, dear God. Daniel thudded his head against the wall. The man was going to drive him absolutely mad. "Two minutes since the last time you asked."
"Oh." Jack leaned against one of the control panels, drumming his fingers on the console.
"Just..." Daniel waved a hand aimlessly. "Sit. Please. You shouldn't even be up and around with your knee."
"My ass is numb."
It amazed him how a decorated combat officer could whine like a two-year-old. "Too bad it's not your mouth," Daniel muttered, letting his head fall into his hands.
"Nothing." When Daniel looked up, Jack was playing with his radio. "Jack..."
Jack shoved the radio back in his pocket. "How long?"
Daniel sighed. "They'll be fine, Jack."
"If anyone can get the force shield down, it's Sam."
"Then stop worrying!"
Jack muttered something Daniel couldn't make out, but assumed wasn't very flattering, but hobbled over and slumped into the command chair. "I hate this."
Daniel glanced at his watch, watching the second hand tick along. He hated it too.
"I know, Jack. I know. Too long."
Sam looked at her watch. She guessed they had at most two more minutes before the bomb exploded. Jonas and Teal'c were managing to keep the Jaffa at bay, but that wouldn't help very much unless she could get this force shield open. She kicked the control panel. Why the hell wasn't this working?
Teal'c glanced over to where Major Carter was working, raising an eyebrow. He had not often seen her this frustrated. He knew that the bomb would explode soon, but at least he would die a warrior's death, knowing that Anubis would be dying with them.
Sam replaced the three crystals she had just taken out, putting them back in what should be an override position. Nothing. Another thirty seconds wasted. What was the point?
Stepping back, she raised her P-90 and fired a long burst into the control panel. Damn the wretched thing! Jonas and Teal'c stared at her, amazed. She didn't care. It's not like what she had done would make things any worse.
Suddenly, the force shield flickered and disappeared. Sam opened her mouth in surprise, and saw similar expressions on the faces of Teal'c and Jonas. She recovered quickly when she realized that they had about a minute left, and she rushed into the rings.
Grabbing her radio, she spoke urgently into the mike, "Daniel?"
"Get us out of here!"
Within a few seconds, the rings activated, and the last she saw of Anubis' ship was several confused Jaffa charging into the ring room.
Back on the teltak, Sam felt the familiar sensation of them accelerating away. A moment later, the aftershock from the explosion of Anubis' ship caught up with them, the effects of the blast on their small vessel causing her to lose her balance. The explosion had obviously been a large one. She looked up at Jonas and Teal'c.
"That was close."
Sam picked herself up, and brushed herself down. "Let's go find the colonel and Daniel so we can head home."
If they'd expected things might be a little calmer after such an important mission, they were wrong. The following days were full of intense debriefing, and as the days turned into two weeks the momentum didn't stop.
Sam stood in the control room with Colonel O'Neill, looking down over the gate room where she would shortly be meeting her team for their first mission.
Her team. She really did like the sound of that.
"Jonas get off okay?" he asked.
"You know you don't have to do that anymore."
Sam smiled. "Yes, sir. You know, officially, it's still not-"
"Argh! I don't wanna hear it."
"Okay. Sorry, sir." The smile became a grin that encompassed her whole face.
"So, your first mission in command of SG-1."
"Almost." Sam thought back to their recent mission to rescue SG-7.
"Okay, your first mission in command of your own team, then. Must feel good."
Her continuing grin was all she needed to answer that question. "Looking forward to some downtime too, though," she added. "I thought we might get more after the last mission but it seems General Hammond wants us to get stuck right in. If I didn't know better, I'd think he didn't want to give me too much time to think about... all this."
"So who's your fourth?"
"Captain Tim Rodgerson. He's just come back from a tour in the Gulf, but his background's in science."
"Sounds like he'll fit right in."
"Should do. I thought about Jen, but Hammond rightly pointed out he can't have us both in the same team. Our skills are too similar. Having us both off-world, in the same place at the same time, is... well, tactically unsound."
"He has a point."
"Yeah. Shame, though."
They fell silent, both turning their attention down to Sam's team as they started to assemble below them. Jack wasn't really taking in what he was seeing. There was something else on his mind, something he was both anxious and almost almost a little scared of bringing up.
"So, you got any plans for this downtime once you get it?"
"Actually, yes. I thought I might go fishing." Seeing the look of utter shock on Jack's face, she continued, "I mean, if that's okay. It's just that-"
"Sam. Of course it's..." He trailed off, finding it hard to find the words. The expression of sheer delight that took over his face gave Sam her answer. "So when's this downtime again?"
Sam giggled, and almost reached out her hand to touch his arm. Then she remembered where she was, and who she was, and that - officially at least - his papers weren't quite through. She redirected her attention to her team.
"I should go, before they leave without me. Daniel's itching to explore these ruins."
"Nice to know some things don't change."
"No, some things never will." Sam turned back to Jack, and to his confusion pulled herself to full attention. "Sir, I wanted to say that these last few years have been... amazing. We're losing one of the best."
"You're only as good as the people you surround yourself with, Major."
"We made a good team."
"Yes, we did. But hey, come on, it's not as if we won't still see each other!"
Sam smiled. "Would never let it happen, sir."
"Good. Now get down there."
"Yes, sir." Sam snapped out a smart salute to her former commanding officer, which he returned with more precision than was his usual style. "It's been an honour, Colonel."
"It certainly has."
As she turned and left, Jack tried to forget the moisture he'd seen pooling in her eyes. Maybe by doing that he could forget the same building in his own.
"No second thoughts?"
"None," he confirmed.
Hammond took a moment to observe his colleague, and friend, as he watched Major Carter with her team. "You look like a proud father," he commented. The look on Jack's face told him he hadn't quite gone for the right term! "What I mean is," he back-pedalled, "you're-"
"I am proud of her. But yes, I wouldn't have chosen the word 'father'," Jack grinned.
"No, not exactly appropriate," Hammond replied. His smile showed he had, as they'd suspected, always been aware of the situation. He was prevented from further comment as Janet arrived behind them.
"Sir," she addressed Hammond, "I have the report you wanted on the condition of SG-8." As she came up to stand beside Jack and the general, she got a glimpse of what was happening below. "They're still here? I thought I might have missed them."
"No, they'll be gating out in a minute or so," Hammond told her. As he did so, the gate started to spin.
"Good timing, Doc."
Janet smiled. "Well, Colonel, it wasn't deliberate but I'm glad I made it."
In front of them the wormhole established, and Sam's team lined up at the bottom of the ramp. Hammond moved to the microphone.
"SG-1, you have a go. Good luck."
Sam acknowledged him, and turned to face the gate.
"Things are certainly going to be different around here," Janet observed.
"I suspect, Doctor, that we'll get more work done."
"Hey!" Jack objected. "That's hardly-"
"Son," Hammond interrupted, "if you don't watch them you'll miss it."
It was the only thing that could have stopped Jack's objection, as he looked out at the gate and reflected that he was going to miss this place, and these people.
Still, things had to change. And he stood with the general and the doctor knowing that he was absolutely fine with that.
Below them, SG-1 walked once more into the unknown.
Written by: chiroho, Denise, Jen, LauraJo, Lin, Mesh, splash_the_cat and
Story by: LauraJo & Vicki
Based on an initial idea by: Clara
Producers: LauraJo & Vicki