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Sunday, July 11th, 2010 06:25 pm
My thanks to the 26 authors who made Team Alphabet Soup a reality: Acarlgeek, Ansostuff, Cleo the Muse, Colej55, Da Angel, Eilidh, Elder Bonnie, Fig Newton, Gategremlyn, Gillian, Grav, Green Grrl, Hummingfly, JD Junkie, Lilyleia, Penknife, Q_d_o_g, Rachel500, Random, Rigel, Samantilles, SG1Danny, Suzannemarie, Traycer, Thothmes, and Wonderland. An extra warm welcome to our first-time contributors: [livejournal.com profile] penknife, [livejournal.com profile] jd_junkie, [livejournal.com profile] da_angel729, [livejournal.com profile] elder_bonnie, [personal profile] green_grrl, and [personal profile] sg1danny. We have now had 93 different authors contributing to the various Alphabet Soups, which just goes to show that SG-1 fandom is happily thriving. :)

Enjoy some 36,500 words of teamy goodness! Story lengths range from 100 words to 4,500. Ratings range from G to PG-13. Expect spoilers throughout the entire series, and one futurefic includes references to character deaths.

Story text is as written by the authors, but minor HTML coding has been changed (removal of smart quotes, for example) and scene breaks have been altered to allow for more uniformity in page style.

Readers are strongly encouraged to follow the links to the authors' individual journals and leave feedback.

A is for Air
by [personal profile] ansostuff

Checking that she indeed was not suffocating and that yes, she had slept with her window open she breathed in more of the stale, dry air and went about her morning business. They were going off-world today. Hopefully the air wouldn't be as hot and stale there. The MALP's censors had shown a desert-like planet with no apparent sign of civilization. A deserted planet was what they were looking for and the UAV had shown no further signs of life further afield. That the planet was a barren wasteland was only to their advantage for this mission.

***


Darn, but it was hot! Jack put on as little clothing as decency allowed for and immediately starting the air conditioning in his truck. If the MALP's findings were true it was even hotter where they were going today. Turning the a/c to its highest setting, Jack drove towards the mountain, enjoying the coolness for as long as it lasted.

***


Teal'c could not sense any change in the air as he exited his private quarters and headed for the locker room. He could however judge by the attire of the arriving personnel what kind of weather it was on top. Most were wearing shorts and t-shirts and many of the women wore cotton dresses. Almost everyone was wearing sandals. Spotting his team-mate coming down the corridor he stopped and let other people pass while he waited.

"Good morning, DanielJackson."

"Morning, Teal'c." Daniel walked in step with Teal'c and drew a deep breath.

Teal'c looked at him expectantly. "What is the purpose of this deep breathing?" he asked, looking closer at DanielJackson. His friend was, as the others, wearing short sleeves and sandals and appeared somewhat hot and bothered. "Is anything amiss? There is no need for worry."

"What?" Daniel frowned. "No, no. It's nothing," Daniel smiled, looked at Teal'c with amusement and started walking towards the locker rooms. "It's just that it's so hot outside that it's difficult to breathe. It almost felt like if I took a deep breath the air scorched my lungs. We really could do with some wind and rain."

Teal'c looked at his friend and nodded, confident that he spoke the truth. DanielJackson did indeed appear to be enjoying himself. This was a good start to the day.

***


Ten minutes later found all of SG-1 changed and walking together to the briefing room for a brief last-minute briefing before they headed out.

"Good morning, people," General Hammond said, looking at each of them in turn. Everything appeared normal with his flagship team this morning. Jack was fiddling with a pen, Teal'c was sitting attentively, waiting for what he was going to say, Major Carter and Doctor Jackson were eagerly discussing something, both with a big mug of coffee at their elbows. From experience Hammond knew the mugs would be empty by now. It was incredible how fast those two could drink coffee in the morning. Major Carter usually stopped with the caffeine intake around noon, while Doctor Jackson never stopped. At his addressing them Jack stopped fiddling and Major Carter stopped in the middle of a sentence, both of them coming to attention. With amusement Hammond noticed that Doctor Jackson looked at him expectantly but didn't stop reading the paper before him. Or perhaps it was just because he wasn't done with his coffee yet and was not yet fully awake and hadn't actually paid attention. Seeing the good doctor look at Major Carter to find out why she stopped talking so suddenly, he turned his gaze to Hammond and sat up straight, watching as Jack and Major Carter stood at attention.

"Please be seated." Hammond smiled to himself as Jackson drained the last of his coffee and folded his hands on the pad in front of him. "Just a quick word before you head out..."

***


Preparing himself for the hot desert air on the other side of the gate Daniel breathed in deeply as he heard the Sergeant's "chevron seven locked" over the intercom and stepped into the wormhole. Daniel exited the gate and stumbled as he was pushed back by what was like a wall of dry heat that surrounded him on all sides. There wasn't anything wrong with the gravity on the MALP's censors was there? He wriggled his nose. There was something in the air in addition to it being hot. Unlike in Colorado the air was not stale, but desert-hot and dry. He knew it wasn't possible but there appeared to be no humidity in the air at all. But there was something else as well. He couldn't quite smell it, but something was there, affecting his sinuses. And was the air somehow thickening? He sneezed. It did nothing to alleviate the fast increasing stuffiness of his sinuses.

"Carter?" Jack said taking a deep breath. "What's going on?" He coughed a little and looked around at the sandbanks suspiciously.

"I don't know, sir. The MALP didn't show any indication of gravity fields or unusual air density. There must be something wrong with the sensors, sir."

"I concur. Something is indeed amiss," Teal'c said. "The air is uncommonly heavy."

Daniel coughed. Then he sneezed again, and again. "Or maybe there is something or someone here who didn't want to make themselves known when we sent the probe through," Daniel said, feeling out of breath. "And now they've come forth to see what we are." He took a deep breath before stepping a few steps further away from the stargate. "Hello, I'm Daniel Jackson. We're peaceful explorers." He waited a bit but there was no answer. After trying in a few other languages the result was the same and Daniel shook his head. "I don't know." If anything the air had only thickened further. He turned towards the others again. "Maybe they use the air to communicate?" Again he sneezed, followed by a cough.

"Bless. How do they do that?" Jack asked.

Daniel shook his head. "I don't know. Maybe the density in the air suggests how important what they want to say is?" Daniel guessed, shrugging.

"In that case I'd say they have something pretty important on their minds," Jack groused before repeating Daniel's earlier speech about being peaceful explorers.

"I've never seen anything like this before," Sam said, shaking her head. "I can't draw a deep breath at all. It feels like something is forcing the air back."

"Or something," Daniel agreed. "Maybe we should try to ignore it and walk to," he turned to Sam "where were those coordinates again?"

"Just two clicks ahead, to the north."

"Yeah, maybe we should go there and act as if nothing happened. Perhaps they'll be forced to face us or in the very least let us know what or who they are?" Daniel coughed and tried to inhale deeply, the lack of oxygen making him start to hyperventilate. "If we'll make it that far, that is," he said when he had his breath somewhat under control again.

"There's no real risk here, sir. Daniel's right. We could just do what we came here for. We'll won't be very far from the gate so if we need to retreat we can always do that."

"DanielJackson?" Teal'c was at Daniel's side, looking at him expectantly.

Daniel leaned against the DHD, breathing fast and shallow. "Um...I don't know what's going on," Daniel said, forcing himself to calm down in an attempt to calm his breathing further.

Jack looked at Daniel who appeared to be wheezing. "You okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Daniel felt a little breathless after his second bout of hyperventilation.

"Take your pills?" Jack asked, looking more intently at Daniel.

"Yup. And the booster dose yesterday as well. Janet's experimenting on me again," Daniel replied with a fond smile. He turned to Teal'c. "Have you come across other races or places with air like this?"

"Indeed I have not. This is most unusual."

They stood looking at each other for a moment then turned to scrutinize the sandy hills before them. There was nothing to see but sand and more sand. No bushes, trees, water or any other signs of inhabitation. They stood like that for a while and when the air didn't change for a while, Jack made his decision. "Well, let's get started then. The general wants us to check out the potential for a training base here, so let's go check." Jack stepped forward, breathing heavily after just a few steps. "Come on," he called out to the air in frustration before he pushed forward again, annoyed that the aliens or whatever it was that altered the air were still hiding from them. "Show yourselves!"

Nothing happened.

Suddenly Daniel couldn't breathe at all. His chest grew heavier every second. Instinctively he drew a deep breath in an attempt to get more air into his lungs to no avail. Wide-eyed he looked at the others for help, his voice not longer cooperating. It was a losing battle.

"Daniel!" Sam was at Daniel's side in a heartbeat, intently looking at him to get what he was trying to say. "Sir, he can't breathe!" She said needlessly as Daniel's hands instinctively came up to his throat.

"Carter, dial us home now," Jack said urgently as he reached for Daniel who now was turning a scary shade of blue. Teal'c immediately took Daniel's other arm and together they steered him away from the gate while Sam dialled.

Barely being able to stand on his feet, Daniel stumbled while concentrating on staying conscious long enough to get home.

***


"We need a medical team, now! Daniel can't breathe!" Sam said as she rushed through the open wormhole, almost backing down the ramp at the same time trying to keep an eye out for Teal'c and the colonel as they helped Daniel.

The rest of her team came rushing into the gateroom behind her, Teal'c supporting a Daniel bent double gasping for breath still clutching his throat while Jack stood right behind their team-mate, supporting him as they waited for the medical team to arrive.

A moment later several people in white came rushing in, guiding Daniel to sit on the ramp.

***


Daniel couldn't remember having had so much trouble breathing before. His airways felt incredibly tight. Focussing all his energy on the task of breathing, Daniel only vaguely registered that someone guided him to sit, that a pair of hands came over his shoulders to his front to unclip his P90 as other hands unzipped his vest and jacket before pulling his t-shirt out of his trousers and unclasping his belt, None of this made any difference in his breathing and he batted the hands away. Why were they trying to undress him in the gateroom? Then a mask was put in place over his nose and mouth and blessed air filled his entire world for a moment. He breathed in as deeply as he could but at first it didn't help and the continued struggle to breathe annoyed him. Daniel lifted a hand to push the mask tighter to his face but it was firmly held back. Annoyed at this he realised he'd been keeping his eyes closed and decided to open them to look at who was hindering him in breathing now that he had blessed oxygen flowing into his airways. All he could see was arms and white coats. Concentrating on what he could make out Daniel could hear a soothing voice talked to him as if from far away but for the life of him he couldn't get what it was saying at first.

"Easy, easy. Just breathe in and out, steady now. That's it Dr. Jackson."

It was one of the medics but Daniel couldn't remember his name. The mask was pulled away from his head and exchanged for an inhalator mask, the hissing and burbling sound of the vapours filling his ears as the medicine took affect and opened his airways and cleared his lungs.

"That's it, slow and easy breaths." As breathing became easier Daniel also became aware of a hand on his wrist and that it moved to his throat, clearly taking his pulse. There was the telltale pinprick of a needle drawing blood and someone was firmly anchoring him to the bed he suddenly found himself on with various leads and wires. He had no recollection of how he'd made it from the gateroom to the infirmary. His head was starting to pound. Or he was noticing the pounding that probably had been there for a while. His brain was definitely catching up on some oxygen as well as the rest of his body and as long as it kept that up Daniel couldn't care less where the headache came from or when it'd started.

As soon as he was settled on the bed, waiting for Janet, Daniel felt tiredness sweep over him and he leaned back to sit against the pillows. It felt good to sit down. Daniel yawned and coughed a bit beneath the mask, his chest feeling sore and abused after the struggle to breathe. A moment later Janet was there and had him strip his jacket and t-shirt off before she listened to his lungs. "Deep breaths, please," Janet ordered as she moved the stethoscope around on his torso. Daniel tried to breathe deeply but found that he couldn't and coughed drily instead.

"Can't," he gasped through the mask.

"Here," Janet handed him a glass of water and Daniel drank greedily as Janet pulled the earpieces out and watched him carefully before smiling at him encouragingly. "I'm sorry Daniel," she said apologetically when Daniel breathed hard after finishing his water. "Just take it easy and breathe as deep as you can and we'll try again." Daniel complied and soon felt a sense of drowsiness overwhelm him. As Janet finished and he fell asleep, he sensed someone taking the mask away and exchanging it for a nasal canula.

***


The blue tinge was finally gone from Daniel's face, Jack observed as he sat down on a bed close by for his own exam. Now Daniel was sound asleep on top of the covers, sitting more than lying down. "How is he?" Jack asked as Janet approached him.

"He'll be fine. It's good that you were as close to the gate as you were." Janet looked at him with a searching look. "What happened?"

"I don't know. The air was heavy and got heavier for the short while we were there. Daniel did his usual greeting thing but nothing happened. Then suddenly he couldn't breathe."

"Did the rest of you have trouble breathing?" Janet asked.

"Not that severely. The air was heavy and it was hard to draw a deep breath, but it wasn't impossible."

"Sir," Sam said from her bed on the other side of Daniel. "I've been thinking about that. Maybe there was something out there, like Daniel said. Maybe they recognised that he tried to communicate with them and somehow created an airless pocket around him, sort of like an energy barrier."

"They can do that?" Jack asked. He tucked his shirt back in as Janet finished and hopped down from his bed to sit down beside Daniel's.

"Why not? We've seen it before. Remember the life forms on the underwater planet? They communicated through water. Why can't someone communicate through the air?"

"It also appeared that you had trouble moving about, O'Neill," Teal'c observed.

"What do you mean?" Janet said, back at Jack's side and studying him closely.

Jack grimaced, remembering the struggle to move and Daniel's unexpected suffocation. "When Daniel tried to communicate and that didn't help, I started walking forward to see if that would get them to show themselves, but all they did was put up a physical air-barrier. I couldn't have moved if I'd shot my way through."

"And did anyone show themselves?" Janet asked, taking Daniel's pulse again.

"No. But that was when Daniel started suffocating, so I think maybe they did after all."

"It is evident they did not want us there," Teal'c said.

"I'll run some more tests," Janet said. "I don't want any of you leaving the infirmary just yet. Did you experience any loss of feeling or circulation in your arms or legs, colonel?"

"No, it was more like walking into a wall, as long as I stayed inside the barrier I could move freely." Jack said.

"Or as freely as not being able to breathe properly allowed for anyway," Sam added. "We didn't lose any feeling."

"Teal'c?" Janet said, walking over to him.

"I am fine, DoctorFraiser."

"I'll be the judge of that," she smiled at his customary response, "but for now just stay close, okay?"

"They did manage to communicate," Daniel suddenly said, blinking owlishly as he woke more fully.

"Have a good nap, there?" Jack asked, leaning forward to look at his friend.

"Yeah, thanks. I feel much better. I can breathe," Daniel said, taking a deep breath for emphasis.

"Good," Janet said. "Now, let me make a call to the general to let him know you're all alive and well. Then give me five minutes with Daniel then I want to hear more about this." She snapped the curtain shut around Daniel's bed. Good to her word, a few minutes later she was done and as proof that he indeed was breathing easier, Daniel was sporting fewer wires and was now wearing scrubs and neatly tucked in under the covers.

"What was this you said about communicating? Did they talk to you while you were suffocating?" Sam asked.

"Actually, yes they did."

"Really," Sam said curiously.

"What did they say?" Jack asked.

Daniel coughed a little, clearing his airways further, his throat feeling sore and his voice sounding raw and harsh in his own ears. "I have no idea. It wasn't exactly words, more like gusts of wind. It sounded like something being carried with the wind. It was impossible to make out." He sipped the water that Teal'c handed him.

"Well, did they sound angry that we were there?"

Daniel thought for a moment. "No, I don't think so, curious, but not angry. I'd say annoyed is more what it sounded like."

"That's not possible, is it?" Jack said. "If they weren't angry, how come they wouldn't let me walk away from the gate?"

"Maybe because you were rude to them?" Daniel said half-jokingly.

"I wasn't. And besides it was your idea to walk forward."

"True, but you acted on it. And perhaps you were not, but to them you might have been," Daniel persisted.

Forgoing the usual discussion he'd have with Daniel at this point, Jack let it be as Daniel still hardly could string two sentences together without catching his breath. Turning to Teal'c, Jack asked, "T, does any of this sound familiar at all?"

"No. I do not believe the wind can speak," Teal'c stated regally and raised that eyebrow just a notch, "although it is possible for voices to be carried on the wind."

"Maybe Daniel is right; maybe there were some sound waves carried by the wind," Sam mused. "My instruments didn't pick up anything, but that doesn't necessarily mean there weren't any. This is just speculation," she continued, "but perhaps Daniel was the only one who could hear it since he was encapsulated in that air field or whatever it was."

"Or," Janet interrupted as she entered, several folders in hand, "it might have been a figment of his imagination. I'm sorry Daniel, but it appears the last combination of meds we tried isn't working as well as we'd hoped. I just got your blood work back. One of the possible, and admittedly rare, side effects of the combination of allergy meds we've given you is auditory hallucinations. Another and more common is spasms of the trachea, which might have caused or at the very least increased the problems you had breathing."

"You mean Daniel not being able to breathe was more than the air being sucked out of our lungs by whomever or whatever was on that planet?" Jack asked.

"Yes, I'm afraid so, sir. That you couldn't breathe didn't exactly help things, and in Daniel's case it might have made things worse, but the allergy meds did most of the job themselves." Janet turned to Daniel again. "As soon as they're completely out of your system, you should be fine."

"And how long will that take?" Daniel asked feeling a little upset about this news. He knew that Janet couldn't prevent any and all side effects, but it angered him somewhat that he'd reacted to this combination this way. Janet's experiment had gone so smoothly up till now and he'd had no side effects at all. At first the allergy meds he'd been on when he joined the SGC worked well enough, but as they visited more planets and discovered new allergens he reacted to, they needed to change the meds. So Daniel and Janet had been experimenting with several combinations up till now, trying to find the ultimate combination that would not only take away the symptoms when he reacted to something but also prevent him from reacting in the first place. Sometimes the sneezing was so annoying that it hampered his work and the headaches were a constant annoyance.

"24 to 36 hours," Janet said, interrupting Daniel's thoughts.

"A failed experiment certainly explains a lot," Daniel said. "I didn't think there were any allergens in the air there as there were no evident signs of plant life."

"I'm sorry," Janet continued. "We'll keep you overnight for monitoring and as a precaution in case there should be any latent effects of the drugs."

"It's not your fault," Daniel said, smiling at her gently. "You couldn't have known I'd react that way to them. You tested me beforehand, remember?"

"I should have known better, but yes, you're right," Janet smiled. "I do remember. How could I forget? You're almost worse than the colonel when it comes to complaining about needles."

"I am not!" Daniel said indignantly. "No one is as whiny as Jack when he's laid up."

"Hey, that's not true," Jack protested. "I know a certain archaeologist who isn't all that cooperative and patient."

Knowing the two men as well as she did and knowing an argument was brewing, Janet held up her hands to avoid it ever getting started. "Okay you two. Enough, there's sick people here," Janet said sternly, but not without a twinkle in her eye.

"You are evenly matched in this," Teal'c concluded, ignoring Janet. "You both behave childishly and without dignity when you are ill or injured."

"So," Sam said before her teammates could start their argument again and Janet gave a silent triumphant whoop. At least someone was listening to her. "This means there won't be any training base."

Jack sobered. "No, but we'll find somewhere else. We do need it."

"There was something in the air there but it doesn't necessarily mean its bad for us, especially if there was something there that tried to communicate. If we manage to talk to them, maybe the air will be breathable for us. Sam, perhaps we should go back and check it out again? I'm sure there are precautions we can take so we can breathe easier."

"Like oxygen masks? Daniel, I don't know," Janet replied, getting an encouraging nod from Sam. "I wouldn't recommend it."

"We can do some more tests," Sam added. "We'll send the MALP back and have it monitor the planet for a while and see if something changes."

"But the MALP didn't sense anything before," Daniel said.

"I'm sure Carter's got gravity sensors and other equipment to measure the air with that she can add," Jack commented.

"There are some results from the UAV's recon on PX8 230," Teal'c said. "The terrain may prove beneficial for various types of attack and defence scenarios."

"I read that," Jack said eagerly. "It's a good place for weapon's training."

"Okay you three, Janet said there were sick people here," Daniel said after listening to his team talk military strategies and techniques for a while. His chest felt abused and incredibly tight still, his limbs leaden, and he was starting to get a little nauseous. He rubbed his forehead. The headache he'd started feeling when he wasn't suffocating any more was getting worse, and a lively discussion was not what he felt like just now. It was still hard to breathe and he felt bruised, battered and wrung out. "If you don't mind, take your discussion somewhere else. I'd like to get some more sleep."

"I'm sorry, Daniel," Sam said rubbing his arm in apology. "Janet hasn't released us, but we'll be quiet. Just sleep."

Daniel smiled at her and hunkered down in the bed and pulled the sheets up over himself. He was asleep within seconds.

"I'm releasing you now," Janet said. "Your blood work has come back and everything looks normal. I'd like you to stay on base for tonight as a precaution as we monitor Daniel in case anything does come up."

"We're not going anywhere," Sam said. She found a stool and pulled it over to Daniel's bedside. She turned to look at a slightly snoring Daniel.

"So, anyone want anything?" Jack asked, standing from his chair. "Coffee? Juice? Pie?"

***


"You sure it's safe?" Jack asked the next afternoon when Daniel was released from the infirmary. "I mean, the weather isn't any better out now than it was yesterday."

"Jack, I don't need an oxygen mask. I'll be fine." Daniel was getting tired of this discussion. Jack had started on it as soon as he'd set foot in the infirmary in the morning. Would it be safe for Daniel to go home? Could the stale air harm him further? Janet had adamantly said that as long as Daniel took it easy and didn't exert himself in any way he wouldn't be harmed.

"If you keep this up, I'll suffocate you instead just to stop your whining," Daniel said, glaring at Jack teasingly. He headed out of the infirmary in front of Jack, snatching a oxygen mask from a table at the foot of a bed, and turned to come face to face with Jack and hold it up threateningly. "And then you'll be the one in need of this." Daniel waved the mask in front of Jack's face.

Jack snatched the mask away and gave Daniel a shove to get him to move. "I give up. With all your talking and the speed you manage to say things, you probably have the best lung capacity of anyone I know."

"Thank you," Daniel smiled. "I take that as a compliment. Speaking of me talking of things, did you know that PX6 344 is our next mission and that..."

"Oh, just shut up, will you!" Jack said, interrupting him.

"I thought you liked me talking," Daniel smiled.

"Yes, but simple words, remember. No long and elaborate explanations."

"Sure, Jack. So, back to PX6 344..."

feedback

B is for Big Beasts
by [personal profile] samantilles

The call of distress came in as soon as Hammond called out on the radio through the Stargate to SG-6. The crackled signal alluded to some sort of danger, but the message was too distorted to make out anything other than the words "danger", "help", and "beasts". Rising to the call for help, Hammond immediately summoned SG-1, 2, and 8 for backup. Within minutes, the twelve members of the three teams filled the conference room. Daniel and Sam sat at the table, and while the rest stood; Daniel read through SG-6's mission file and Sam ran last minute calculations in one of her mobile devices. Hammond strode into the room, and without sitting, briefed the teams.

"It seems SG-6 is in some sort of trouble. When they didn't check-in as scheduled, we dialed the planet and hailed them. We received a signal, but we were unable to get a clear update on the team. The message indicated that SG-6 is in danger, and that there may be dangerous native wildlife on the prowl. Your mission is to assist in SG-6's safe return to the 'gate." He cast his gaze over each teammember in turn, and added, "People, you move out in five minutes. Dismissed!"

The teams 'gated precisely on schedule and exited the wormhole to a pleasant field. About two to three miles to the right was the edge of the forest, through which the path to the nearest village crossed. The teams neared the tree line when sounds of automatic rifle fire stopped them in their tracks, and at once the three commanders began signaling to each other and setting up a proper defensive position. They moved carefully closer to the tree line when the four members of SG-6 emerged from the shadows in a full run, their weapons held behind them. Major Barnes, the commanding officer of SG-6, upon seeing the rescue teams, began screaming and flailing his hands. "Get out of here! Get back to the 'gate!"

Jack looked at Ferretti, nodding to move the guard back carefully, allowing SG-6 to be folded into the defensive perimeter as they rushed towards the group. Before the lost team made it to the formation, Sam noticed what was giving them chase. "Sir! It looks like wolves!"

"Wolves? Big giant dogs?" Jack pulled out his field glasses to get a better look.

She held up her weapon and peered through the scope. "Definitely wolves, sir."

"Oh, for crying out loud!" With the last member of SG-6 approaching the rescue team, Jack gave the signal to retreat back to the 'gate. Ferretti and SG-2 brought up the rear, retreating backwards, guarding as the large beasts approached at a great speed.

"I like dogs; I don't want to be chased by them!" Jack complained to Daniel at his side.

The 'gate was now within site, less than a mile off. SG-2 broke out in weapons fire and Ferretti shouted above the noise. "Colonel, they'll reach us before we reach the 'gate!" With a quick groan, Jack turned around and ran back towards Ferretti and his team. He gasped when he saw a pack of nearly a dozen horse-sized wolves running at full speed towards them. He motioned for SG-2 to keep running, turning to fire upon the beasts. Two frontrunners continued to run closer and closer, despite the hail of bullets.

To Jack's surprise, he saw Teal'c rush towards the giant beasts. "Teal'c, what the hell are you doing?" He slowed down to see what was happening, and prepared to turn around and help his teammate out. Daniel and Sam also noticed the strange behavior of Teal'c, and within seconds, all of the SG teams had stopped their forward progress.
Teal'c stood stoically in the middle of the field, calmly watching as the beasts approach, their speed not lessening. He raised is hands and bellowed out a deep and powerful "SIT!"

"Teal'c, are you crazy?!" Jack shouted, but Daniel tapped him on his shoulder. Everyone stood in wonder as suddenly the twelve wolves all sat on their haunches, panting deeply. Not a soul on the field moved. "What the--?"

"I suggest we move to the 'gate as calmly as possible, O'Neill. They will not stay quiet for long." Teal'c did not draw his eye away from the closest wolf.

"Right. Teal'c, you know what you're doing?" Jack looked warily at the pack of wolves, still focused on Teal'c. Daniel and Sam stood as still as statues.

"Indeed, O'Neill. I will be right behind you."

With a silent nod, Jack, Daniel, and Sam all began walking backwards towards the 'gate. Jack heard the woosh of the wormhole and a radio coming to life, as someone on SG-8 relayed a report back to the SGC. SG-1 was within a hundred feet of the 'gate when he ordered all the teams to retreat through to Earth. Teal'c calmly approached the 'gate, and while never breaking eye-contract, shouted, "STAY!" and stepped backwards through the wormhole.

Once Teal'c emerged through the event horizon and took back a step, Jack quickly ordered the iris closed. As the massive metal barrier spun tightly shut, the teams waited eerily for the sound of objects hitting the iris, but none came. The 'gate disengaged, and everyone collectively released a joyous sigh. Quickly, several team members cheered and high-fived each other, swarming in on Teal'c to give a hearty pat on the back. Teal'c warmly received the gratitude with a reserved tip of his head and a small smile.

Hammond stepped through the 'Gate Room door. "The mission was a success, I take it?" He took a quick inventory of his subordinates.

Jack stepped forward with Teal'c. "Indeed, sir! Thanks to Teal'c! Turns out SG-6 was being chased by super-sized wolves, six feet in height, and a good eight to nine feet in body length. He just stood there and told them to sit! And the kicker is, the entire pack actually sat!"

Hammond stared incredulously at Teal'c and Jack. Sam and Daniel moved forward towards the pair. "Teal'c, how did you know the wolves would stop?" Sam queried.

"They were domesticated canines, Major Carter. Once I could determine the leather around their necks were collars, I knew that they would obey my commands."

Daniel held up a finger. "Teal'c, the natives don't speak English. How would the animals understand your command?

"It is not the words that make the command powerful, Daniel Jackson. It is the tone of the voice. My tone clearly told them what I commanded."

Jack gaped at the obviousness of the answer. "I didn't know you were a dog person, Teal'c!" He patted Teal'c on the back of the shoulder.

Teal'c looked at him seriously. "I am not, O'Neill. I do, however, enjoy the variety of shows Animal Planet has to offer. They are quite informative, as you can see." Sam, Daniel, and Ferretti broke out in laughter.

Hammond chuckled and extended his hand. "Well done, Teal'c, SG-1, SG-2, SG-6, and SG-8. Good to have you all home safe. You are dismissed until 0800 hours tomorrow for a full debriefing."

Jack and Teal'c stepped off the ramp and walked through the blast doors. "So, Teal'c. Ever consider a second career as a dog trainer? Cassie's pooch is driving me nuts! Seem's like you're a natural!"

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C is for Communication
by [personal profile] sg_wonderland

1- giving or exchanging of information;

Daniel raised his hand hesitantly. "Yes, Dr. Jackson?" Colonel O'Neill indicated he was recognized.

"Is it true they give us pictures of 'our' colonels because everyone looks the same behind a machine gun?"

Sam managed to smother almost the entire laugh; only Daniel could make air quotations sound sarcastic. She dropped her eyes as 'her' colonel stared down the only person in the room he could intimidate. "Daniel...Dr. Jackson..."

"Oh, please, I'm not shouting 'Colonel O'Neill, sir' every time I want your attention. So, Jack," he drawled the name out, "is it true?"

"Okay, Daniel," he drawled right back. "The reason we give you pictures of your colonel is so you can hang them up in your locker...in case you forget who the guy in charge is. When we're in the field, I'm responsible for getting your ass back through the gate unharmed. And that's why I'm in charge."

"But not everyone out there is our enemy." Daniel protested.

"And we can tell that how?" Jack replied coolly. Daniel frowned upon finding he had no answer to that. Jack's voice softened, "Listen, Daniel, I know you don't want to hurt people any more than I do but until we know how to tell friend from foe, we're going through the gate loaded for bear. Every time we go. If it comes down to a choice between some native I don't know and a member of my team, that team member is going to win every time. So if you're determined to be on SG-1 and you're going through the gate, you are going to carry a weapon. You may never have to fire it but you're damned sure going to know how just in case. Fair enough?"

Daniel nodded reluctantly. "Fair enough."

***


2-a written or spoken message;

Daniel woke slowly, yawning, pulling away from the papers that had somehow gotten adhered to his face. He fumbled for his glasses, still yawning, and wandered over to his coffee pot. Only to find a Post-it attached to the front of the machine. Someone, and he suspected he knew who, had scrawled under his previous jibe about indiscriminate Jell-O-eaters a simple reply, "Neither is coffee!!"

He smiled as he started a fresh pot.

***


3- rapport

"Good, Teal'c," Daniel praised. "That's very good. It's hard to believe you've never actually read English before."

Teal'c looked slightly discomfited before admitting. "There were times when, in the service of Apophis, I was charged with carrying a message between battle commanders. Sometimes, these would be written in the language of the Tau'ri since very few could speak the language."

"And if the message fell into the wrong hands, it couldn't be easily translated." Daniel nodded.

"Just so. Apophis would sometimes speak the words aloud as he scribed. I learned to recognize some of those words."

"A talent you kept to yourself."

"It would not have pleasured Apophis to have a First Prime who was too well educated." Daniel shrugged; withholding education was something that was always going to anger him. "Daniel Jackson, may I ask you a question?"

"Of course, Teal'c. Any time you have a question, feel free to ask."

"Why are you doing this?"

"This?" Daniel eyebrows slanted upwards.

"You have taken great pains and tremendous amounts of your own time to teach me the words of the Tau'ri. There are not many who could do so with one who has wronged you as I have."

"Because we have to find Sha're. And in order to do that, we have to be the best team we can be. If that means I have to set aside my personal feelings to make the team stronger, then that's what I'll do. It's what I have to do."

Teal'c bowed slightly. "Then that is also my mission."

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D is for Duct Tape
by [personal profile] fignewton

SG-1 was seated at a table in the commissary when Teal'c produced a roll of duct tape and solemnly pronounced its simple versatility to be one of the Tau'ri's greatest technological triumphs.

Jack spluttered a mouthful of coffee across the table, leaving Daniel blinking indignantly behind spattered glasses and Sam hiding a smile behind a diplomatic hand. "It can't be better than cable," Jack protested as he absently handed Daniel a napkin.

Teal'c was unmoved. "Cable television is a luxury, O'Neill."

"Well, yeah. That's my point!"

Teal'c raised a meaningful eyebrow which clearly stated that Jack was only pretending not to understand what he meant. Jack pointed a menacing finger back at him, daring him to say that out loud. Daniel finished wiping his glasses and nudged Sam, who tipped her head down to hide the broadening grin and muttered under her breath, "Yes, I know."

"I'm not saying duct tape isn't useful," Jack sighed finally, caving into the Eyebrow of Doom. "I've used it often enough. I'm just saying that it's somewhere on my list after air conditioning. And The Simpsons."

"Duct tape should be part of our regular supplies," Teal'c said firmly. "I believe it would be most useful on missions."

"Oh, Jack thinks so, too," Daniel interrupted, his voice bright with false innocence. "That's why he always carries a flattened roll of duct tape in a pocket of his vest."

Jack gave Daniel his patented I-am-Colonel-tremble-before-me glare. Daniel's sweet smile only grew wider as he cupped his chin in one hand. This time, it was Teal'c and Sam who exchanged raised brows and wry looks.

"I think it's actually very appropriate to take duct tape with us on missions through the Gate," Sam announced, her voice a little louder than necessary. When Jack and Daniel broke their ongoing staring contest to look at her inquiringly, she continued in a normal tone that grew more animated as she expounded. "I mean, think about it. Stargate Command marries the military with the scientific. Duct tape was first invented back in 1942 for military usage, and NASA has found it tremendously useful in space -- think of how it saved the day in 1970, when they used it on Apollo 13 to modify the CO2 scrubbers..."

Teal'c listened with grave courtesy as Sam happily detailed the many ways in which duct tape merged her two fields together. Daniel gestured wildly as he analyzed the etymology of the term, explaining duct versus duck and other common names. Jack rolled his eyes repeatedly and pretended to ignore the entire conversation, swiping Sam's untouched cup of coffee and Daniel's pie.

Two days later, though, he introduced Teal'c to the wonders of MacGyver.

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E is for Extol
Ode to SG-1
by [profile] suzannemarie

When General George Hammond died suddenly and unexpectedly, Jack O'Neill took on the task of going through George's desk at the Pentagon. Jack was one of the few people who knew about George's whimsical side, so he was not entirely surprised when he examined the contents of a folder that he found tucked into one of the desk drawers. Inside the folder were tributes--in verse--that George had created for each SG team. Jack smiled nostalgically as he turned over each page. After much thought, Jack decided that each SG team should see what had been written about them.

Like every other team, the members of SG-1 were pleased and touched when they received copies of their tribute.

Teal'c set the words to a traditional tune of Chulak and took to singing it to himself when he thought no one was around to hear him.

Cameron tucked his copy of the poem into his desk at home and referred to it when he had a bad day.

Sam also kept a copy in her desk. Every time the page surfaced it made her smile and remember the General and the bonds that SG-1 shared with each other.

Daniel kept a folded copy of the poem in his wallet. The memories it evoked for him were sometimes bittersweet, but also served as a reminder to reach for the highest goals at all times.

On Langara, Jonas kept a framed copy of the poem in his room. On days when he felt overwhelmed at all that remained to be done to rebuild from the damage of the Ori, he would read the lines and remember that anything was possible.

Vala tucked her copy into her underwear drawer and smiled every time she saw it. She never figured out how to explain to people that even though she was barely acquainted with General Hammond, the moment she read the poem was the moment she truly understood that she was fully part of the team and had found a place where she belonged.

Jack kept a copy of each of the SG team tributes on his desk and referred to them often. They served as a reminder of where he had been, what had been accomplished, and what was at stake for the future.


Shall we sing praises of brave Es Gee One?
Which started with Jack, Teal'c, Daniel, and Sam.
Battles aplenty were lost and were won,
Later came Jonas and Vala and Cam.
Traveling across space and even through time,
To races and worlds malign and benign.
Soldiers, a scholar, a former First Prime,
A scientist, aliens, did combine
To overturn empires, and help free slaves.
The Asgard ordained humans the Fifth Race,
The Goa'uld in contrast considered them knaves,
To protect and defend and act with grace.
SG-1 and friends, for those who keep score,
Beat Goa'uld, Replicators, Ori, and more.

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F is for Family by Firelight
by [personal profile] thothmes

Major Griff glanced out of the corner of his eye at the other campfire. His own team's fire was at his back, and he could hear some low voiced grumbling from his new team. O'Neill had shown a sensitivity that Griff had not hitherto credited him with in choosing to have the two teams camp side-by-side, instead of sharing one big encampment. His Marines were still smarting from the shock of watching SG-1's colonel arrest their own Colonel Makepeace very publicly in the Gateroom. If some of the whispered mutterings he'd caught bits and snatches of were to be believed, his team was more inclined to believe that Makepeace would soon be settling into a long stay at Leavenworth, not because he had been doing some extracurricular espionage and smuggling for the N.I.D., but because O'Neill's Air Force pride had been wounded one too many times by the superior showing of SG-3's marines, and he'd taken out his petty spite on one of the best Marine officers still breathing. This struck Griff as patently ridiculous. O'Neill was a straight shooter, if ever there'd been one. There had been no denying, however, that O'Neill had taken a certain delight in surprising and securing his fellow officer, and Griff's men were young, inclined to be hot-blooded, and exceedingly loyal. The Major hoped that if he allowed them to bleed off some of that misplaced anger and camaraderie as grumbling, they would soon come to see how ill-founded and exaggerated their conspiracy theories were, and get a more realistic view of the situation. If they hadn't gotten it out of their system by the weekend though, he was prepared to take names and knock heads together come Monday morning.

The mission had been a straight forward search for useful technology in a structure that the UAV had spotted some 18 klicks from the gate. SG-3 had been sent along on the theory that if the structure had turned out to be still in Goa'uld possession, then 18 kilometers would have been too far away for SG-1 to summon back-up, should they have needed it. In the event, it turned out that the structure was abandoned, in very poor repair, and apparently stripped of all technology or records that might have been of interest. Between the long hike in, and the avidly bloodthirsty swarms of blackflies that had greeted them and shown no signs of being affected by DEET, with nothing to show for it in the end other than a large collection of itchy red bumps, it was no wonder that Griff's men were inclined to be cranky.

SG-1 had certainly been cranky, Dr. Jackson in particular. The Jaffa had been silent and imperturbable as usual. Major Carter was constrained by military protocol from being too free in her self-expression, although the quality and vehemence of the way she pronounced "Sir" and the frequency with which she used the word was enough to let any experienced commander know that he was not currently in her good books. Dr. Jackson's remarks were masterpieces of pointed sarcasm and most of the barbs, had they been physical, instead of verbal, would have been protruding from O'Neill's broad back. Griff was beginning to wonder if maybe the rumors that the other members of SG-1, contrary to what they themselves insisted, had not been in the know about O'Neill's undercover work from the very beginning were true, especially in view of the patience O'Neill had displayed with their behavior. Major Carter had been scrupulously militarily correct, and nothing in her behavior or speech had actually crossed the line, so Griff would have been hard put to take her to task, but if it had not been for the delicate etiquette of disciplining a member of a team that was not his own when he was not in command of the mission, and that member a civilian, he would have been severely tempted to bark at the archaeologist, and demand that he show some respect to his commander. As it was, he worried about the effect that such a display would have on the good order and discipline of his own team. He didn't want them getting ideas. Although if it came to that, Major Carter would probably be the more dangerous example for any of his marines bright enough to learn from it.

Behind him, on the other side of the fire, the conversation had died down and his men, with the exception of Johnson, who had first watch, could be heard breaking out their sleeping bags and settling in for the night, but around the other fire, SG-1 was still showing no signs of readying for bed. Major Carter and Dr. Jackson were seated shoulder to shoulder with their backs to a boulder, sheltered from the night's breezes. The Major's hair glowed more golden than ever in the flickering firelight, and Daniel's eyes were unreadable behind the dancing flames that were reflected in the lenses of his glasses. Teal'c was seated opposite them, and further from the fire, and in the dark night, there were times that the only parts of him that were readily visible were the gleam of the gold in his tattoo, and the way the firelight caused his eyes to glisten. On the far side of the fire, facing SG-3's encampment, was O'Neill. The ever-changing light from beneath cast his features oddly, and in contrast with the descending rays of the sun by day, gave him a demonic look, and emphasized the weathering of his face, and the lines between his brows. Something about the intensity of the silence from the other campfire apparently triggered the notice of O'Neill and Teal'c and they both looked over, and on seeing Griff watching them, they both looked over at their team members, and once he had their attention, O'Neill gestured with a raise of his chin and a pointed glance in their direction, and in an instant, Griff found himself pinned by the stares of all four team members.

Major Griff was suddenly and forcibly reminded of the Totten brothers of his childhood. There had been five of them, spaced two years apart throughout, every last one of them a red head, and constantly quarreling, one with another. They lived down the street from the Griffs, and Mom had been known to remark that it was a miracle that their house didn't simply tumble down with the force of the argument within. Still, heaven help any outsider who picked a fight with one of the cantankerous Totten boys, because at any hint of a threat from outside, they became a unified and dangerous front. Pick on one Totten, and you were taking on all five, because they were brothers and family, and family sticks up for one another. The expression on Colonel O'Neill's face was measured, evaluating, judging whether a threat indeed existed. The faces of his team were inimical. Griff decided on swift and decisive retreat and retrenchment and busied himself readying his own sleeping bag, and making eye contact with Johnson and pointing to the bedroll to let him know that he was in sole charge now.

As the Major lay listening to the breathing of his two sleeping team mates and waiting for sleep to come, he could hear quiet voices drifting over from the other camp.

"I think I may have lost perspective a bit, sir."

The "sir" this time was soft, somehow managing to convey both apology and affection.

"Indeed."

Teal'c's voice was dark with conviction, but his next words were conciliatory.

"A warrior does not always have the luxury of acting as he would wish. Actions must be taken to ensure that there will be time to handle small matters later."

"So I'm a small matter now?"

Dr. Jackson's voice was brittle and challenging.

"No. Never!"

O'Neill's voice was vehement.

There followed a long silence. Griff's curiosity over came his caution, and he opened his eyes to see Daniel and O'Neill sharing a long measuring look, while Major Carter and Teal'c watched the two with breathless intensity.

"We never drew straws, " said Dr. Jackson at last.

"If we had, it would have meant Daniel won," said Major Carter.

"And represented the concerns of us all," added Teal'c with a magisterial nod of the head.

O'Neill said nothing, but rummaged in his pack for a moment, emerging with a square plastic food storage container, and four white plastic forks.

"I brought cake," he said, and passed around the forks. As he opened the container, his teammates moved closer, to be within arm's reach of the treat.

The rest was silence, and Griff, after deciding that he was just as glad he commanded Marines, and not the odd assortment O'Neill did, drifted smoothly into sleep, with the long practice of a career military man.

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G is for General
by [personal profile] randomfreshink

With Jack O'Neill

"I think we're about done here, Colonel."

"Sir, permission to speak freely."

"Denied." George let out a breath, a short one, kept it to a soft exhale. Then he looked up from his papers and at the colonel in front of him, feet spread wide, hands behind his back and still showing more attitude than an officer should afford to his superior. That seemed to be the trouble with O'Neill--he didn't think anyone superior. And he just kept on talking, that Irish streak in him showing a mile wide.

"Sir, I'm not saying he doesn't need training, but we can't--"

"Colonel, is there some part of denied you're not understanding?"

O'Neill stiffened, finally straightened that mouth of his into a line. And George vowed another read of the man's record--he needed to see those good points he was getting along with all the rest he was having to put up with.

George went back to the orders on his desk--the ones he had to follow. "As it happens, Dr. Jackson will be attached to SG-1 as your cultural expert and civilian advisor. This is only until we can identify and staff up military personnel with sufficient background and experience to--"

"God knows how many languages and a year on another planet? That's what you're looking for?"

Looking up, George leveled another stare on O'Neill, and at least the man was smart enough to know when to finally stop talking. George gestured to the door. "I suggest you get started on that training you mentioned. Dismissed."

O'Neill nodded, started for the door, but turned back. "And Teal'c?"

"You're pushing it, Colonel"

"Well that is what Uncle Sam pays me the not so big bucks for...sir." O'Neill fired off a crooked smile, a sloppy salute, and George gave back the latter and not the former. When the man had gone, he reached for his drawer and the aspirin. Have to double the size of that jar. And then he smiled--life had gotten a helluva lot more interesting than it would have been in retirement.

With Teal'c

"Am I to understand you allowed Dr. Jackson and Captain Carter to borrow your staff weapon? And approved their firing it in the gate room?"

"Indeed."

"You didn't think to ask anyone for authorization?"

Eyes straight in front of him, back even straighter, Teal'c didn't so much as flinch with an ounce of guilt. "General Hammond, your world and society has many nuances and as of yet I am unfamiliar with all your protocols."

George sat back in his chair. Lord, this man could string an excuse pretty as a row of colored lights. "Just how often is that particular justification going to be trotted out for me--or your team?"

Head tipping, Teal'c glanced down. His expression didn't change, but George caught a glimmer of something. Understanding maybe. Sympathy certainly. "You may be assured this particular issue will not arise again."

And that, George thought, is about as good a non-answer as I'm going to get. He gave a nod, turned back to the papers on his desk--the report of an unauthorized alien weapons discharge in the gate room that was going to take him hours to finesse.

"See that it doesn't. Thank you. That'll be all."

With a nod, a half bow, Teal'c turned and left.

And George decided, even if it cost him in paperwork, he could live with a man in the field who put his team first.

With Samantha Carter

"Captain, this is the third time this week you've taken out power not only to this command but to most of NORAD."

Carter's chin lifted and she dragged her spine another inch taller. "With all due respect, sir, this is alien technology. We're taking every precaution possible, but we can't anticipate all possible outcomes. In my opinion, the potential advancements far out-weight the risks."

"That's not what I'm hearing from NORAD. And I can't keep explaining how in tarnation a Deep Space telemetry installation is behind these outages."

"Well," Eyes lighting, she let her stare fall to meet up with his. "We could offer a cover of experimental EM pulse generation for--"

"Captain, let's both save some time. I'm reassigning your lab to Level Twenty-one. You'll be on your own there until we can staff up. With your own generator."

Carter's face lit with a smile--anyone else he would have been worried that officer would see this as punishment, isolation for a mistake made. But SG-1's captain was made of different stuff. "Really? The whole level?" she asked. She started to edge to the door. "Permission to spread out in the meantime, sir? There's a new--"

"Captain, write it up and I'll take a look."

With a crisp salute and a sharp, 'yes, sir,' Carter wheeled out of his office.

George frowned after her, shook off the shiver chasing down his spine. But he knew better than to ignore it. Leaning over, he flipped on his intercom. "Walter, just what kind of warning system can we install on Level Twenty-one, and how soon can you get it in place?"

With Daniel Jackson

The knock came soft and George glanced up, fought the instant urge to stiffen. He'd learned caution over the past three years--visits with Dr. Jackson could range from pleasant to downright uncomfortable to insubordination he wouldn't have taken from anyone else on this base to mystifying outbursts that always meant trouble. But Dr. Jackson offered a hesitant smile, seemed to have a rectangular box in his hands and something on his mind. With Major Carter, George would have been hoping for nothing explosive in that box. With Dr. Jackson...well....

"Something I can help you with?"

The man looked fine, despite having been not quite visible or even in this plane of existence for more than a few hours. He took one step in, stopped, waved a hand and the box, "If you're busy...?"

"Not at all." George gestured to the seat opposite his chair, but instead of sitting, Dr. Jackson waved the box again.

"I just stopped by..." He gestured to the door. "The light was on. And I--well, I wanted to...you missed your granddaughter's play for me. For a friend. I wanted you to know I appreciate that. And, well, I thought your granddaughters might like something to make up for that."

Dr. Jackson's smile slipped on and off again, so fast you could almost believe you'd missed it, a brief dazzle of charm. He settled the box on the desk, and George eyed it, wary and careful.

"It's...uhm, a game. Senet. It was played in ancient Egypt, but no one on Earth knows the rules--well, not exactly. But, well..." The smile snuck out again, vanished. "They play it on Abydos."

Picking up the narrow box, George turned it over. A compartment slid open, spilling turquoise markers and a parchment with Dr. Jackson's dashed off handwriting, half-tamed to something legible. He tucked the pieces back in, glanced up, had no idea what to say. From anyone else he would have taken this for a casual gift, but Dr. Jackson didn't go in for such things.

"Thank you, son. I'm sure they'll love it."

It must have been the right thing to say, or right enough. The smile came out stronger and longer this time, and George made up his mind right there. Standing, taking the Senet box with him, he asked, "Care to walk me out? I was just about to head home."

"Well, actually, I should--"

"It'll wait. Besides, I don't think I ever told you about that other time you went missing--how Colonel O'Neill took out my car window at your wake."

"Really? Your car? Why?" Drawn in by the story, Dr. Jackson fell into step, and George started spinning the tale. The least he could do was look after his people--and sometimes that meant nothing more than this.

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H is for Hell is Other People
by [personal profile] rigel

"So wait, how is it that I owe fourteen dollars and twenty-two cents?" Daniel asked, frowning slightly as he pushed back his glasses.

Jack clicked the pen he was holding and ran a finger down the list of figures. "Well, it worked out that way. There were a few, shall we say, unexpected expenses."

"But I put in at least forty-five for gas yesterday!"

"Do not forget the purchases at the grocery store, Daniel Jackson."

"Good point Teal'c." He rummaged through his knapsack and produced a receipt. "Ninety Four Eighty-Two. Surely I should come out on the plus side?"

"It's already on the list," said Jack, "I have factored it in."

"I'm not sure I trust your math, Jack."

"What are you trying to say?"

"There might be a bit of creative accounting going on there."

"It adds up. See." Jack pointed to a series of circled numbers that each had arrows emanating in several directions on the page, leading to yet more sums and odd looking notations.

"I value my sanity, thank you. Your idea of logic breaks my brain."

"What the hell did we spend Ninety odd dollars on?" Sam pulled up a chair and put her coffee mug down.

"Ummm there was food, chocolate, batteries, something called Magic Fingers..."

"Great investment by the way, T. Our best purchase to date." Jack waved what looked like a disembodied hand around.

"Indeed. It is most effective."

"Do I even want to know?" asked Daniel.

Jack placed it on the table. It was made from cheap plastic and had a gaudy pink finish.

"That thing is obscene," Sam said. "There was a reason it was banned from the cabin."

"What, this? How can you not love it, Sam. We bought it for you especially."

"I highly doubt that."

"You were looking a little... tense."

"Tactful, Jack. Very subtle there." Daniel shook his head in mock disapproval.

"I call it like I see it."

"I am not tense," interjected Sam.

"Highly strung then."

"Cranky," muttered Daniel.

"Pardon?" Sam shot him a severe look.

"You're not exactly the vacationing type, Sam. We had to prise you bodily away from the lab and you still brought paperwork with you."

"Major Carter has also checked her cellphone numerous times."

"Teal'c, you traitor."

"O'Neill has threatened to toss it into the lake should you take a call. I thought it prudent to warn you."

"There's no reception out here anyway. It's barbaric."

"The fish would be quite happy if I gifted them your Blackberry."

"What fish? There are no fish, I doubt their existence."

Jack narrowed his eyes. "The fish are just too intelligent to be caught."

"So they're subtle fish, then."

"Ha Ha."

Daniel picked up the hand "Well, it looks like Thing from the Addams Family," he said. "But I'm not exactly seeing the magic."

"That's because you have to press firmly on Uncle's thumb nail."

"Excuse me?"

"The instructions were most specific, Daniel Jackson." Teal'c pulled the packaging out from the pile of wrappers and empty soda cans that littered the table. "It requests that we utilise this device for the relief of stress and as O'Neill has stated, press upon the fingernail of the Uncle."

"Uncle?"

Sam snorted. "It does actually say that. I think we can safely assume the original meaning was lost in translation."

"Otherwise you have to consider that this really is Uncle's severed hand, handily turned into a battery operated device." Jack pressed the thumbnail and set it back down on the table.

A low buzzing emanated from the hand and then it began to jitter.

"God, not again! I swear, that thing is possessed."

"It does seem to have a strange affinity for you, Major Carter," observed Teal'c, as the hand began to move across the table, strangely gravitating towards Sam.

"if either of you puts that on me, or even near me in the middle of the night again, there will be severe consequences."

"She does sleep with her sidearm," Daniel reminded them.

"And I have access to alien technology. Need I remind you all of the PX-1142 incident?"

"Ah, no." Jack coughed, and rubbed his nose. "I do prefer my... you know, I thought we agreed to never speak of that again after the debriefing?"

Sam raised her eyebrow.

"What? My incident report was completely truthful."

"Sir, keyboard mashing isn't really a coherent summation."

"Those were perfectly valid words."

"In some dialect, I'm sure they were."

"Actually, Jack..."

"Daniel, don't ruin a perfectly good comeback with your logic."

Teal'c pushed back his chair and stood up. "I believe it is now time to retire."

"What? It's only a quarter after eight."

"Don't be such a Grandma, you're only just pushing six hundred or so."

"I have not attained that milestone, nor am I displaying the tendencies that you are implying."

The others exchanged glances.

"Oh really now?" said Jack.

"I can think of no examples. My behaviour befits that of a warrior."

"You have disturbed my kel-no-reem with your tuneless renditions," Jack said, imitating his inflections.

"There is a lack of toilet paper, O'Neill. It was perhaps unwise to use it for decoration," Sam chimed in.

"I can see no reason to pose in such a manner for a photograph," Daniel added.

Teal'c lifted his chin. "You can only aspire to my greatness. Your lack of appreciation merely illustrates how far you have to go."

"I think we just got told," said Daniel.

"Oh Snap!" Sam and Daniel high-fived.

"But back to the issue of me somehow owing you money," said Daniel. "Show me where exactly this happened."

"I carried the two, Daniel, see over here next to the excellent drawing Carter contributed. There was some sort of back-owed interest involved as well."

"I am so going to give this to you in pennies."

"Beans would be better."

"Don't give him ideas, Carter."

"Perhaps you can arrange to barter something of value, Daniel Jackson."

"Yes, my fist in his face. That's a pretty fair exchange."

"I seem to remember suggesting a kitty the last time we did one of these trips," Sam interjected. "Then we won't get into these arguments."

"How else am I supposed to fund my poker nights?" said Jack, as he mimed an exaggerated wink.

"I knew it! I swear I'm going through all of my receipts from the last ten years!"

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I is for Inventive
by [personal profile] lilyleia78

For the first time in the history of the program, the SGC was in a lockdown completely not of their own making.

"No really, Sir. It's not our fault," Jack assured General Hammond. And it was true for once. It wasn't 'not their fault' because how were they to know invisible aliens had followed them home or who could predict the effects of a black hole on an open stargate? It was really not their fault.

Because it was NORAD's fault.

And since the way out of Stargate Command led through NORAD, they were stuck.

NORAD was on lockdown for reasons they refused to share with the SGC. Technically, Jack suspected that his most junior janitor had the clearance to be privy to NORAD's deepest darkest secrets, but no one who was locked down at NORAD had the clearance to know that they - the SGC - had the clearance. It was all very confusing, but what it boiled down to was that the SGC stayed in the dark about why they weren't allowed to leave the mountain. Jack strongly suspected a mass outbreak of the clap, but...

By some whim of fate, Colonel Jack O'Neill was the ranking officer on base when they became cut off from the surface. He'd immediately contacted his commanding officer. "Want me to go up there and flash around my shiny clearance until someone can tell me what's going on?" he asked with probably more glee than with which Hammond was comfortable.

"No, Colonel, I do not want you to break cover by flashing your security clearance for details. I'll flash my credentials at their superior officers and let you know if you need to be worried." He'd also promptly banned any personnel from going through the gate. The General seemed to think it would be best to keep the back door locked until the front one was secure again. Jack argued furiously against it, but mostly for form's sake. He did actually see the common sense behind Hammond's logic, even before Carter and Daniel nagged him about it. Not that that stopped the nagging.

Which meant that Jack had a base full of nervous civilians and bored Marines left to their own devices for the foreseeable future. Never the best idea. After three hours of lockdown, with the first rumbling of unrest coming from all corners, Daniel decided to appoint Teal'c morale officer for the base.

"Why Teal'c?" Jack asked, not-so-secretly hurt that he hadn't been first choice.

"He has the least amount of responsibility on base," Carter explained reasonably.

"And he's the least likely to accidentally blow us up," Daniel added with all the diplomacy of a truck, earning him glares from Jack and Carter.

"It was one time!" They complained in near-unison.

Teal'c and Daniel shared a grin that Jack decided was just affectionate enough to let them off the hook about it.

Jack tried not to pout too much after that. He had better things to do with his time than to make up entertainment for the kids anyway. They'd all come crawling back to him when they were stuck playing Jaffa freeze tag with real zats.

Actually, that might be cool.

Of course Teal'c had to go and ruin the whole thing by being adept at everything, including keeping up base morale. The Star Wars marathon projected onto the wall of the gate room Jack had expected. But there were also tournaments in the gym in everything from kickboxing to fencing. There were cooking classes that provided a constant buffet of snacks, coffee and real food in the mess hall. And the scientists were setting up a lecture schedule to present papers to their peers - papers that probably wouldn't be declassified in their lifetime.

Jack was happy to see all his people so happy, but he felt aimless, strangely lost in the dull grey confines of Cheyenne Mountain. For the first time in too many weeks to count he found himself with nothing pressing to do and nowhere important to be; it was disconcerting.

Of course, the SGC morale officer extraordinaire noticed his distinct lack of morale. When lockdown reached it's tenth hour, with Jack picking listlessly at a piece of peach pie for dinner, his team descended on him.

"Sir," Carter greeted cheerfully. The gleam in her eye made Jack think they were up to something.

"Jack," Daniel's innocent tone did nothing to alleviate Jack's suspicious.

"O'Neill, it has come to our attention that you have availed yourself of none of he morale boosting activities we have organized," Teal said. Oh yeah, they were definitely up to something.

Jack liked it.

"That's a lie. I judged the pie contest an hour ago," he said with a pointed glance down at his plate.

"Yes, Jack, and we all appreciate the sacrifice you made in the name of keeping the base's spirits up." Daniel's tone lacked sincerity, but Jack decided to let it slide.

"It's the mark of true leadership, Daniel," he informed his friend gravely. He could practically hear the effort it was taking Carter not to roll her eyes. Daniel, of course, didn't bother to resist the urge.

"The point is," Daniel said with a scowl toward his vexing team leader, "we think we know how to raise your morale. If you're up to it."

Jack considered Carter's scheming face, Daniel's 'I'm a perfect angel' expression, and Teal'c's stony silence and concluded, "Prank war?"

"SG-2 won't know what hit them," Carter said with a scary amount of glee. Jack was glad she was on his side.

"I owe Ferretti one," Daniel promised.

"I will acquire the superglue," Teal'c said, "Major Carter, if you could see about liberating a number of the science departments fluffiest bunnies? Daniel Jackson..."

"I've still got some of those hot vibrating stones from MR5-930 in my office," he said.

"I'll grab the purple marbles," Jack volunteered. The team scattered to their tasks, and Jack smiled around his last bite of pie.

This was going to be the best lockdown ever.

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J is for Joy to Behold
by [personal profile] sg1danny

Ah, the joy and satisfaction of seeing a well thought out and executed plan come to fruitition. Jack watched from the control room as Ferretti lad the rest SG-2 down the ramp, all of them muddy, heads bowed and soundly beaten.

He looked at his team mates, who were standing with him. Both Carter and Daniel smirked, while Teal'c gave a small bow. Jack smiled and they all watched as SG-2 trudged out of the Gateroom. Yep, good plan, great plan, created from teamwork. All it had taken was a quiet word with Bra'tac and lesson learned, never mess with SG-1.

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K is for Kawoosh
by [personal profile] green_grrl

Jack watched Daniel sketch a large circle in the air with both hands, and pause. The villagers still looked patiently expectant, so Daniel crouched to draw a quick circle in the dirt with two fingers.

Carter whispered, "I hope this works."

"I concur. We have been on this planet long enough."

The big guy was disgruntled, but then none of the team were fans of being kidnapped by a rival village after a perfectly lovely visit at the village by the gate--or as lovely as you could get without a common language.

Jack wasn't too fond of wandering through the woods lost all night after escaping captivity, either. Fortunately they'd at least found this village, which Daniel had determined from their iconogra-whatsit belonged to the friendly faction.

Standing up, Daniel stretched out his hands again and rotated his imaginary circle. "Rrrrrrr ... Chunk!"

He leaned over and drew a triangle on the edge of the circle in the dirt. Then he stood up and rotated his circle the other way. "Rrrrrrr ... Chunk!"

Jack read the body language of the watching villagers and relaxed minutely. "On the plus side, classic Daniel Jackson charades show."

That got a smile out of Carter. "Always look on the bright side of life, sir."

As Daniel went through the chevrons locking, the village's youngest children began running around, waving their arms in circles, and squealing their own high-pitched "Rrrrrrr ... Chunk!" "Rrrrrrr ... Chunk!"

Carter tried to hide her smile behind her fist, and even Teal'c looked like the corner of his mouth was tipped up a millimeter. "I must confess, I wish I had witnessed Daniel Jackson's full performance in imitation of a UAV on PJ2-445."

That made Carter break out into a full grin. "The little aliens imitating him were awfully cute."

Jack shook his head. "No, the one you really wish you'd seen was the Chicken Dance on Abydos."

"So you have said, Colonel O'Neill. I admit, that would have been most amusing--particularly as there was no similar type of bird on Abydos."

Daniel's performance had come to a dramatic pause, and then he flung his arms in front of him with a "Kawoosh!"

This set the children off into peals of laughter, and they threw themselves into full-body imitations that left them rolling on the ground.

"Oh, I think the Kawoosh Dance is an instant classic," Carter laughed.

"Well ... it beats the Hokey Pokey," Jack hedged.

Daniel didn't turn around, and he kept his smile for the village elders plastered on his face, but he gritted out in a patently false singsong, "Don't think I can't hear you."

Fortunately the village leader was approaching him with the sort of friendly, positive nodding that looked like why, yes, I do know where this circle of kawoosh is. He pointed in an easterly direction, and then made a gesture towards the sun and arced his arm across the sky to indicate they could reach the gate soon after midday. (Jack wasn't too bad at reading charades himself.)

Daniel gave the elder what they'd learned was the arm clasp of friendship on this planet, with lots of earnest, open smiling, then turned to rejoin the team.

"Got the triple-A map, then?" Jack asked.

"As good as," Daniel replied.

Jack paused to give his own friendly smile to the villagers, then waved the team along. "Let's hit the road, then." Daniel got an extra pat on the shoulder for a job well done.

As they headed towards the eastern trail through the trees, Carter said, a little too innocently, "That was a really good depiction of the stargate. We should film you doing that for gate team orientations, in case other teams run into language barriers."

"No video, Sam."

"I'm just saying, Daniel--"

"No. Video. Nice try, though."

"--it could be so useful. But I'm not entirely sure the gate sounds like 'Rrrrrrr ... Chunk'; I'm thinking it's more like 'Mmmmm ... Thack!' "

"Oh, by all means, I'd love your opinion on alveopalatal approximants versus bilabial nasals ..."

Jack shared an amused look with Teal'c, and they moved to bracket their bantering teammates for the hike home.

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L is for Lessons
by [personal profile] penknife

Sam frowned at the markings on the Goa'uld power converter. At least, she thought it was a power converter. "See, here, 'transforms the voltage'--"

"No," Daniel said. "That's an imperative, see the marker? 'Transform, or convert, the power before you connect.'"

"It doesn't say 'before,'" Sam said. "Or 'you.'"

"They're understood."

Sam pushed her stool back from the lab bench and rubbed her forehead. "Did I mention that I'm no good at learning foreign languages?"

"You're doing fine," Daniel said.

"I took two semesters of German at the Academy because you had to take something. I think I can just about remember how to say 'Hi, my name is Samantha Carter, and I like math.'"

Daniel reached around her for a pen and scribbled something in Goa'uld hieroglyphics on a piece of note paper. He folded it into a tent shape and propped it up on the lab bench behind the device, whatever it actually was.

She raised an eyebrow at him. "What does that say?"

"'Hi, my name is Samantha Carter, and I like math.' Well, more like 'Greetings, I am Samantha Carter, and I find math pleasurable.' But close enough."

Sam smiled despite herself. "Think you could make me some flash cards?"

***


Daniel was more skeptical of the MP5s than he was of the pistols, and Jack was more skeptical about issuing him one, but it was seeming harder to avoid. He watched Daniel on the firing range, not displeased with his aim. He still needed practice, but that wasn't a surprise, and he didn't seem more cautious of the weapon than was healthy.

"All right," Jack said, unloading the gun. "Let me show you how to break it down for cleaning." He took it apart fast and put it back together equally fast, then broke it down more slowly so that Daniel could follow what he was doing. "Now put it back together."

Daniel considered the disassembled MP5 for just long enough that Jack was about to prompt him to start by reassembling the bolt, and then put it back together, more slowly than Jack had the first time but without hesitation. "Like this?" he said, sliding the last locking pin back into place.

"Pretty much like that," Jack admitted.

Daniel looked a tiny bit smug. "I'm an archaeologist, I'm used to keeping track of the positions in which things were originally ..." He was turning toward Jack as he talked.

Jack caught the muzzle of the gun as it started to swing toward his chest. "Never point a gun at anything you're not willing to shoot."

Daniel looked for a moment as if he were going to protest that the gun wasn't loaded, which it wasn't, and which wasn't the point. Instead he nodded acknowledgment of the point. "Right," he said. "I'll remember."

"One of these days," Jack said.

***


"If direct pressure doesn't stop someone's bleeding, I'll show you how to apply a tourniquet, but that's only as a last resort," Dr. Fraiser said. "If you cut off the circulation to a damaged limb entirely, you're increasing the chances that the person may lose the limb. But I'm sure a lot of this isn't news to you."

Teal'c shook his head. He was finding the lesson in battlefield medicine unsettling. It was hard to remember that as fierce warriors as they were, the Tau'ri were as fragile as children in some ways. "My symbiote would control the bleeding and heal the damage if I were wounded as you are describing."

"We don't have that kind of extra help," Dr. Fraiser said. "You also need to think about infection under field conditions. Even minor wounds need to be cleaned carefully to avoid infections that can be harmful or fatal to us without treatment." She looked up at him. "I know sometimes it must seem to you that we take very minor medical problems extremely seriously, but it's easy for them to turn into much bigger problems."

"I have not found the members of SG-1 to be overly concerned about minor injuries," Teal'c said, but that wasn't entirely true. All three of the others shrugged off scrapes and minor burns, but O'Neill and Carter tended to insist on performing first aid on whoever was injured once the immediate crisis was over.

"Probably not," Dr. Fraiser said. "Luckily, they've got me to be concerned for them. All right, so if you can't stop the bleeding and you need to apply a tourniquet, here's how we do it. If you've got time for me to show you?"

"I will make time," Teal'c said.

***


"The control mechanisms of the glider cannot be accessed as you are attempting to do," Teal'c said. "You must first disassemble the navigational console and disconnect the auxiliary power cells."

Sam squinted up at the interior of the wrecked glider, now taking up most of the floor of one of the labs. She scooted further under it, reaching up with a miniature screwdriver to tease apart plastic-coated wires. "I know what I'm doing," she said. "I can see the power conduit that I'm trying to get at, right there--"

The wires above her abruptly began spitting sparks, and she ducked and closed her eyes, rolling ungracefully out from under the glider. She patted at her hair, which smelled singed but didn't seem to be in flames.

"Are you injured?" Teal'c asked. He looked more concerned than annoyed, which she appreciated under the circumstances.

"I'm okay," Sam said. She took a deep breath and let it out. "So, how about you show me how to disassemble the navigational console?"

"I would be pleased to," Teal'c said, and picked up a screwdriver.

***


"So, basically it's a bunch of different conversations people are having with each other," Sam said. "They're divided into different categories, so rec. is recreation -- hobbies and sports and TV -- and sci. is science, and soc. is social issues, and so forth. So if you look at rec.outdoors.fishing ..."

"What do you know," Colonel O'Neill said. "It's people arguing about fish."

"I just thought you might find it interesting," Sam said a little defensively. "There's more and more information available on the Internet--"

"I know, I know, with that Netscape thing," O'Neill said. "No, this is pretty cool. Look, they have one for hockey." He peered at the computer screen as Sam navigated up and down through menus. "What's 'alt'?"

"Alternative," Sam said. "It's sort of more unofficial newsgroups."

"Alt.atheism," he read. "Alt.beer?"

"I think you get the picture," she said, and was relieved when he went back to investigating the rec.outdoors hierarchy.

She really didn't feel like explaining alt.startrek.creative.

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M is for Memorial
by [personal profile] crazedturkey

There are stories in every family -- tales told every time a subject is raised or an event occurs until you can recite them all by heart.

My teenage children roll their eyes at each recitation I'm sure, because I once did. But I have come to treasure these stories and their connection to my past.

Uncle Teal'c features prominently in many of the legends of my family. He and SG-1 saved my life and raised me as their own. Like him, Earth is my adopted home planet and for that reason we always shared a special bond. I suppose this is why I was asked to speak to you all today, a final honour for my dear friend and mentor.

There are many other dignitaries here today who will speak about Teal'c the leader of the Jaffa nation and his role in the freedom of his people.

It is my role to talk about the man I knew, the wonderful man who has been my surrogate father all of my life.

It is my role, in short, to talk about family legends. To do so I need to talk not about Mum and Dad, Aunt and Uncle but about Jack, Sam, Daniel, Jonas, Cam, Vala and Teal'c. Because one cannot ever talk about one without all of the other.

Teal'c joined SG-1 at the very beginning before the team even existed. The bare bones of the story -- a brave first prime choosing freedom over slavery and defecting to the Taur'i- are quite well documented in the history books. Those history books fail to document the light that lit Uncle Teal'c's eyes when he spoke of seeing those three aliens for the first time and realising, somehow, even then, the impact that they would have upon his life.

I remember Jack once joking that he had given up trying to count the number of times Teal'c risked his neck to save Jack's life. I remember one quite memorable story where Teal'c was gated into a confined space with only a few hours in which to dig through many layers of molten naquadah before his oxygen supply ran out, all to save his friend. Teal'c would tell stories such as this one with the same unflailing resolve with which I imagine he approached the situation to begin with. Until the end of these days there was simply no question. If any of the six other people who had made up his beloved team had been in trouble, Teal'c would have gone to their aid, even if it meant his life.

We know from the history books that Teal'c also suffered torture in order to protect his team, although from those stories I have thankfully been shielded.

Such devotion was reciprocated by other members of the team. Sam's ability to go days without sleeping was not just legend but fact and employed in service not just for Teal'c but for all of her team. Jack too put his life on the line without thinking and Daniel did lose his life to save his friends, not once but several times. I remember another family story about a virtual reality training tool for stargate members to rehearse potentially dangerous scenarios in a safe environment. Unfortunately this alien technology malfunctioned, trapping Teal'c in a deadly trap. According to legend Jack, Sam and Daniel all volunteered without hesitation to enter a potentially deadly situation in order to save Teal'c's life. Daniel eventually took the job and at great personal risk was able to bring Teal'c out to the relief of all.

Each and every member of SG-1 risked his or her life on more occasions than I have time today discuss.
Those are the heroic stories. There are also the smaller ones. The Star Wars movies, reportedly the greatest example of Taur'i story telling, although apparently the later three movies were not up to par. Jack and Teal'c's monthly visits to observe jelly-wrestling, a tradition that continued until the day Jack died. There were also the team barbeques. I know Vala was removed from the rota very early for reasons I have never been able to discover. Teal'c was removed not long after. I learnt not much more about this other than a few cryptic comments from Daniel about cooking.

Sam and Daniel until the day of their deaths would dissolve into silent hysterics at the mention of the phrase "undomesticated equines". Jonas once told me a long story about the alien conspiracy he and Teal'c were involved with, the details of which I have never fully understood but which seemed to amuse Teal'c greatly.

Teal'c was known well in his team as a living, breathing lie-detector. Those skills were used throughout my childhood by my mother, much to my detriment. I felt a special bond with Vala in this because apparently those skills were also employed frequently and no doubt just as lovingly for her.
SG-1 as a team was disbanded decades ago. Formally at least. Informally it has definitely continued on. I know it may seem as though I am giving a eulogy for a team rather than for Teal'c, but to me the two are inextricably linked. Teal'c was the heart and soul of SG-1 and with his passing with have lost our last living link to a remarkable group of people.

When my mother, Janet, died suddenly when I was quite young Jack, Sam, Daniel and Teal'c stepped easily into the role of surrogate parent, without comment or complaint. Teal'c has continued in that role for my own children. I have been raised on legends of SG-1.

My teenagers might roll their eyes at me, but I will continue to recite the tales, by heart, until I too reach the end of my days. So that I in some small part keep the spirit of SG-1, my family, alive in my heart.

I will miss you Uncle Teal'c. Rest in Peace.

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N is for Now!
by [profile] acarlgeek

Daniel Jackson carefully gripped the girder and shifted to his right to follow the inscribed symbols around to the next side of the hexagonal supporting column. He suppressed a shudder when the new panel turned out to be one of the filigreed ones, 'Not now,' he fiercely told himself, 'It's hard enough keeping everything steady, I don't need to deal with even a minor panic attack.' He locked his gaze and the camera on the filigreed metal immediately before him and tried his best to ignore the crystalline depths visible through the intricately tooled metalwork. He'd learned very quickly that the last thing he wanted to do was to shut his eyes to calm himself while floating in microgravity. That intensified his other senses, which were all screaming to remind him that he was drifting near the middle of an extremely large open space. Not that he was likely to forget how far "down" it appeared to be in every direction around him.

It had all seemed so fascinating and easy while they reviewed the MALP data back at the SGC.

SG-7's scientists had petitioned for the mission as soon as the MALP revealed that S2M 669 was apparently an abandoned space station of enormous proportions. SG-1's Major Sam Carter had trumped their bid by being the first to combine atmospheric jetpack technology successfully with NASA's MMUs to create a maneuvering harness that had enough thrust to work in a breathable atmosphere, yet retained the gentle precision necessary for weightlessness. She and Teal'c had sealed the mission for SG-1 by coming up with a viable plan for getting the MALP back to S2M 669's stargate without the assistance of gravity or even a continuous approach path connected to that 'gate. It wasn't until after SG-1 had secured the assignment that Colonel Jack O'Neill admitted he thought it would be cool to go on a mission where the team floated instead of walking.

To be honest, all of SG-1 had thought it would be cool, until they actually arrived.

As soon as SG-1 floated out of the stargate, Daniel discovered that it was one thing to look at MALP footage of bottomless rooms while gravity firmly anchored his body in a chair. It was quite another to function at such apparent heights when his whole body realized he was in free fall. He was immediately and constantly checking to see how much further he had to fall. Daniel wasn't certain whether his stomach was clenched in fear or nauseous from the microgravity. Fortunately, Daniel also learned that Jack and Sam routinely took Dramamine before they flew, and Jack was prepared to share. Teal'c, of course, needed no chemical assistance in dealing with weightlessness.

As Daniel was mastering the art of swallowing water and a pill without gravity to help keep liquid out of his nose, Sam and Teal'c determined that the equipment clusters and support girders criss-crossing the vast chamber that housed the stargate were composed of a combination of non-ferrous metal and some form of ceramic. So although the modified jetpack harnesses worked superbly for maneuvering both SG-1 and the MALP, the magnetic tethers they'd planned to use for leverage and station keeping were useless. They had to rely on bungees, which could only be clipped to a few places, or resort to the oversized recoil-countering tools designed for astronauts wearing spacesuits. This complicated not only the plan for recovering the MALP, but almost every activity scheduled for the mission.

SG-1's spirits began to fall even though there was no up or down on S2M 669.

"OK, Teal'c, let's try it now." Sam said for the umpteenth time in the past hour and a half. Her voice reflected her thinning patience. Every minute spent wrestling equipment into place, and keeping it there, was a minute she didn't get to spend examining the technology of the site. "Yes!" The triumph in that single word reflected the successful solution to the current complication.

"Good work, Carter." O'Neill's voice also reflected satisfaction. He'd long since jetted through several perimeter checks, all the while speculating as to the correct term for a three-dimensional survey of boundaries. 'Spherometer check' was his current front-runner. "Teal'c and I should be able to finish getting the MALP back home now; you get to work on your technical survey."

"Thank you, sir." Carter promptly jetted over to the most promising of the nearby knots of alien equipment. The radial, icosahedral, or seemingly haphazard orientation of the clusters of equipment brought home the fact that the aliens who had built this station had not felt any compulsion to orient things along either vertical or horizontal axes. Consoles were attached to the support girders in an Escherian combination of directions.

Daniel was relieved to follow his inscription onto another of the solid panels. The workmanship of the panels, especially the filigreed ones, was amazing, and the preservation of everything inside this station was absolutely outstanding. There were no signs of wear or metal fatigue. Evidently the natives had floated between destinations, rather than climbing along the girders.

The total absence of dust had at first seemed to reinforce the notion of fairly recent abandonment of the site, but then Sam and Teal'c had started encountering bolts and joints that were fused in place, presumably from disuse. It was possible that the lack of dust merely reflected builders who didn't shed dander the way mammals from Earth did. Teal'c's suggestion that the lack of dust might indicate a still-functioning maintenance system gained some support.

After successfully sailing the MALP through the stargate and back to earth, Teal'c and O'Neill rejoined Sam at the largest of the instrument clusters. Shortly thereafter, both Sam and Jack exclaimed as a set of display screens burst into life, providing views of even more sections of the enormous facility. "Oh, wow! "

"Hey, Daniel, you may want to see this." Sam invited, followed by a curious, "Is that something moving on this screen?"

Daniel had barely begun the laborious process of stowing his camera and releasing his anchoring bungees when Teal'c answered Sam's question, "Indeed, it is. But it appears to be mechanical, not living."

O'Neill chimed in, "I think we've found your maintenance system, Teal'c. There's a set of them, and they seem to be moving from one side to the other of those two rooms. Daniel, hurry up, maybe you can figure out how to adjust the settings on these displays."

Daniel rolled his eyes as he braced himself prior to unhooking his final bungee, "Coming, Jack."

There were simultaneous gasps and expressions of alarm from the trio observing the screens, then O'Neill spoke, "Well, I guess that explains why there's no dust on anything, and why everything is made from metal and glass: neither of those materials burns very easily. Woah! I guess the settings change automatically as the maintenance robots move from compartment to compartment."

Carter interrupted, "Sir, what's that already moving on that girder on the new screen?"

"I believe it is Daniel Jackson moving toward our position." Teal'c supplied. "We must leave this place, immediately!"

O'Neill concurred, "Oh, crap! Those maintenance robots are entering our compartment. We are so not sharing with them. Daniel, jet over to the DHD and then shoot the magnetic end of your tether over to me! Carter, Teal'c, collect our equipment here. We've gotta get out of here, now! "

Daniel managed to forget about heights, or the appearance of heights, while getting to the DHD and dialing out. O'Neill, Carter, and Teal'c quickly stowed gear, jetted over to the spot they'd used for launching the MALP on its final leg back to the stargate, and tethered themselves together for their own return trip.

Carter sent their IDC as O'Neill reeled Daniel's tether line in. Teal'c positioned himself to provide guidance propulsion for the entire group.

The quartet sailed through the stargate at a rate that was probably faster than advisable for giving themselves time to adjust to a gravity field on the other side, but they were eager to leave S2M 669 now.

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O is for Ominous
by [personal profile] grav_ity

This is how Jack knows that Jonas will never be the same.

He watched Daniel on Abydos, both times, and Teal'c when they met another Jaffa. Heck, even Carter was blue around the edges when it came to the Tok'ra. But Jonas is going back to frustration. Unending strife and political machinations. The smile will come with less frequency. The eyes will harden. The glorious fascination with every little thing will fade into cynicism. Jack is not sure how much of that he is responsible for, but it's enough that he wishes he'd been nicer while he had the chance.

This is how Sam knows that Daniel has changed.

He is quicker to snap; less thoughtful about what he says. It's not like the time he was addicted to the sarcophagus. That was cured easily enough. This is different. Deeper. Some darkness that no amount of light can fully restore. He's lost something, had something taken from him by his former peers, and Sam knows that he will never forgive himself for his inability to act. It's not his fault, they all remind him of that, but Sam is starting to understand that that only makes it all the worse.

This is how Teal'c knows that Jack is going to leave.

He stops making jokes about his knees. He stops meeting Teal'c's eyes during briefings when Carter goes on for too long about something both of them pretend not to understand. He stops reminiscing about the good old days over beer and pizza on Friday nights. Teal'c joined the SGC because of what he saw in Jack, but that isn't what keeps him here now. He thought Jack knew it, but he has always been too good at hiding things from his comrades. Now there's nothing left but another good-bye.

This is how Mitchell knows Sam is okay with him in command.

It has to do with baking and fishing, but it takes him a while to figure out the rest. The rest is that she'd had her fill of fighting gods when they were entirely fake. Dealing with fake gods who are entirely real is another matter; one she'd rather take orders on in place of giving them. He's a little bit jealous of that, sometimes, but the days when his legs hurt and he remembers the price he paid to get here, he just laces his boots tighter.

This is how Jonas knows exactly how Teal'c feels.

Jonas got to go home. It wasn't under the best of circumstances, and he wishes he could leave almost every day, but he stays. He stays because if he left, it would get much worse. As always, worse arrives when he's entirely unprepared. After the Ori come and he realizes that there's absolutely nothing he can do, it's all he can manage to send a message to the SGC. It's short and heavily encrypted, and once defragged, will read simply "don't go home". He can only hope that Teal'c will understand.

This is how Daniel knows that Mitchell will be a different story.

Jack calls him Daniel as a sign of forgiveness and of gratitude. Sam does it to show they are equals. Teal'c's use of his full name shows respect and, later, deep friendship. He expected Vala's coy familiarity to rub him raw as the bracelet after a few days, but it doesn't. It's doesn't because of Mitchell, and because of what Mitchell uses as his name. Every time he hears Mitchell say "Jackson", he knows he's starting again from the beginning. He didn't realize how much that would hurt.

This is how Vala knows she made a terrible mistake.

They give her a place. A patch. Sometimes they even give her a gun. She has connections here, actual connections she's willing to bleed for. She never had that before. Before it was money and fast ships and living to do it again tomorrow. Now there's people and promises hiding behind her pigtails, and more responsibility than she can cope with. It's difficult to sleep sometimes; a weight on her she can't blame on the mountain above her head. When the universe comes for them, it'll come for her too.

This is how you know.

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P is for Provisions, Predicaments and Pastimes
by [personal profile] hummingfly67

Daniel, Vala and Sam fell first, their combined weight enough to trigger the trap door in the floor.

Before they had regained their feet, having tumbled uncontrollably down a steep stone ramp to land in a heap after a painful drop, Teal'c and Mitchell triggered it a second time. The pair had been following far enough behind them to miss witnessing their predicament and thus avoid the same fate.

Once it had been determined luck had been on their side and no one was injured beyond bumps and bruises, they had set to searching their cramped, stone-walled prison, roughly 12x12 in size. It hadn't taken long to admit there were no avenues of escape, other than their route of entry, approximately 15 feet above them in the dimly revealed ceiling.

Vala's joking suggestion that they attempt a human pyramid of sorts to investigate the trap door led to first her and then Sam being balanced on Teal'c's broad shoulders. In vain, of course, as apparently their luck had ended after no injuries.

"Eerily similar to that room we were stuck in under that Cadbury place, isn't it, Daniel? Do you remember?" Vala remarked after, rubbing her hands up and down her arms as she warily eyed the ceiling.

"I'd rather not," he muttered as he turned back to his task, stubbornly searching the walls again for seams that might indicate a possible exit. "By the way, it was Glastonbury Tor," he corrected in a louder tone. "And don't touch anything!"

"There is absolutely nothing to touch, Daniel," she huffed, and then dropped to the ground with a groan.

A softer grunt followed and he glanced over to see that Sam had taken a seat beside Vala, looking just as disheveled and dispirited.

"Well, this is a fine pickle," Mitchell said low-voiced as he completed yet another slow circuit of the room.

Vala groaned again. "Don't mention food, Cameron! Breakfast was hours ago and I didn't have seconds today." She shot to her feet to stand behind Daniel and began patting at his chest, pressing against his back to reach around him.

"Vala!" he barked, batting her hands away. "What are you doing?"

"You always have provisions," she explained, now trying to get at the side leg pocket of his BDU cargo pants. "I'm hungry."

He tried not to think of how long ago breakfast had been, and nudged her away with his knee. "I don't have any food on me." His provisions, as Vala called them, were in his pack. Which was somewhere far above them, in the main room of the abandoned temple ruins they had been exploring, along with everyone else's packs.

Vala finally left him alone, returning to her spot on the ground next to Sam. "It's amazing how many food items begin with the letter 'p'," she remarked to no one in particular, despite her earlier comment to Mitchell about not discussing food. "Potato chips, pretzels, pistachios..."

"I could really go for a peanut butter sandwich," Sam said wistfully.

"Pizza," Mitchell sighed gustily.

"With pepperoni," Teal'c intoned. He had been stoically silent after their fruitless investigations, peacefully sitting against a wall seemingly observing them all. Daniel halfway suspected he had learned to doze with his eyes open.

Sam nodded agreement. "Several fruits start with 'p'," she said after a few moments. "Papaya, plums, peaches, pears, pineapple."

"Passion fruit!"

Daniel refused to look in Vala's direction, certain she'd start yet another round of their date, not-a-date debate. He did however, finally admit defeat with the walls, and dropped down next to Teal'c.

With nothing to do but wait until their missed check-in was noted and investigated, they continued their name-the-food game, starting anew at the beginning of the alphabet at Sam's suggestion. It helped keep their minds off other issues, which would eventually become pressing. Not to mention uncomfortable and awkward.

They were back at 'p' when they finally heard the grinding, grumbling sound of the trap door being opened, followed by an amused voice calling out, "Anybody home?"

Much later, as they trooped towards the cafeteria after being cleared by Dr. Lam, Daniel overheard Vala remark to Teal'c, "So Muscles, these pepperoni sticks, they're packaged to carry?"

"Indeed."

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Q is for Quintessential
by [personal profile] gategremlyn

Daniel coughed to get the attention of the guide sitting at the front desk. She'd finished her peppy little tour, complete with pictures, and was now taking a turn at the information kiosk.

"Yes, sir? Did you have a question about the tour?" She tilted her head and gave him a syrupy sweet smile.

"I hope I'm not bothering you," he said, pulling the brim of his hat down on the odd chance that she'd recognize him, "but I did have a question about something you said in the 'gate, um... embarkation room."

She nodded for him to continue.

"You mentioned that SG-1 wasn't your 'personal favorite' SG team," he mimicked her air quotes with his fingers. "Do you mind if I ask why?"

"Certainly, sir. I'm always glad to help people learn about the original SG teams." She reached behind her for a team photo that Daniel recognized and plunked it down on the counter between them. "Now, sir, I want you to really look at this picture. Really look at it."

Daniel squinted and concentrated. He didn't think the picture was particularly unique. It showed SG-1 in the 'gateroom posing for a picture, not something that happened very often, but nothing remarkable. It could have been after a mission---a successful mission, he guessed, since everybody looked tired, dirty, and cat-in-the-cream pleased with themselves. Sam was a major with a cocky grin and dirt-smudged face. Jack's hair was gray; his sunglasses hung on chord around his neck and he had his P90 tucked in close to his body. His own hair was short underneath the boonie, and he held a camcorder in his hand. Teal'c looked like Teal'c, as regal as only Teal'c could look. So a few years into the program, then.

"What do you see?" The guide's voice startled him. She had leaned in until she her face was next to his.

He straightened up. "Well, I see Jack, Sam, Teal'c--" He covered his mistake with another cough. "I mean I see Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, Doctor Daniel Jackson, and Teal'c, the four original members of SG-1."

"Exactly," she said, obviously pleased with his powers of perception.

"Excuse me?"

"Well, really, sir, how could this be the premier team? Look at them."

Despite himself, Daniel got a little defensive. "Why couldn't they be? I've heard they were smart, resourceful, hard-working," he struggled for adjectives, "innovative, dedicated, clever, brave, strong, imaginative..." he thought he might be overdoing in a bit with the last few, but he didn't like the woman's condescending attitude.

"That's what they say," she said, grabbing the picture and moving it away, "but how could one team do all the things *they* say they did?" The first "they" had air quotes around it.

"*They* say?" Daniel needed some clarification of vague pronouns.

"Supposedly, according to the archives, this team saved the world over and over again. They did everything but invent the light bulb, and I'm sure someone's working on adding that."

"That might be a little extreme," Daniel muttered.

"Samantha Carter was supposed to be the world's brightest astrophysicist."

"She is," Daniel agreed. "I mean, so I've heard."

"Would they really have put her on an SG team if she was that smart? Of course not," she finished before Daniel could object. "And Colonel O'Neill, he's not even standing at attention." She tapped the glass frame. "How could he be a respected Air Force officer? All of the other pictures have officers at attention, or at least standing up straight. It's just not possible he was leader of an elite team."

"You know, Jack's a good--"

She plowed on, not hearing him. "Obviously a PR job by someone. The only one I might believe was extraordinary is this one here." She pointed at the picture, a distracted look on her face. "He's rather ruggedly handsome, in a quiet, reserved sort of way."

"This one?" Daniel repeated. "You mean the one in the boonie on the end?"

"Him? No, no, not him," the woman scoffed. "I mean the one with the gold emblem--and all those muscles." She gazed until she remembered the man standing in front of her. "If you like that kind of thing. Some people do, don't you think?"

Daniel wasn't sure if he was supposed to answer that so he wisely stayed silent until he could change the subject. "And the one at the end?" He didn't know if he wanted to know her opinion of the one at the end.

"The one at the end," she whispered, "died four or five times."

"Really? Four or five, you say?"

"Really." She gave a sharp nod of her head. "Not."

"Not?" Daniel pulled off his hat and ran his fingers through his hair, feeling a headache starting to throb behind his eyes. Talking to this woman was like playing an game of ping pong on a slanted table. You never knew which way the ball was going to bounce.

"Not," she insisted. "Of course not. How could one person die four or five times? And how can *they*," the air quotes were back, "not know if it's four or five?"

"Good point," Daniel conceded, "but maybe they just thought he was dead once when he really wasn't. He could have been left on a ship, maybe, or even on a planet. Actually, I think that might have happened more than once that they thought he was dead." He sputtered to a stop when he saw the narrow-eyed glare he was getting from behind the desk.

"I'm a history buff," he explained hurriedly, "and I've always been interested in the history of the Stargate. Of course who isn't interested in the history of the Stargate? Like you," he said, attempting flattery, "you're obviously interested in the history of the Stargate?"

Her stare seemed to spur him on. "They're they quintessential team, right? The perfect combination of brains and brawn, ingenuity and talent, yin and yang?" He almost added flotsam and jetsam but restrained himself in time. How had he gotten himself into this mess anyway? "The only team with its original members intact, isn't that right?" He stuck his hat back on his head.

She didn't reply and Daniel did his best to look innocently interested. She pointedly removed the photo from the counter and put it behind her on a small shelf with pictures of other SG teams on sale for only $29.99 each. "Well, when you put it that way...." With a dismissive nod of her head, she sat back down. "But still not my personal favorite SG team."

"Oh, look," Daniel said, glad for an opportunity to escape, "my friends are waiting for me by the 'gateroom... embarkation room... Over there." He resisted the temptation to use air quotes as he saw Jack and Sam come down the stairs from the briefing room. "I'd better go."

"And we're walking," Jack said softly as he swung into step beside Daniel in the busy hallway. He pushed the button for the elevator.

Sam asked, "What were you doing back there, anyway? You look a little flushed."

"I, uh, had a question for the tour guide."

"Missed out on the pictures, didcha? Needed a souvenir?"

"No, I can't say as I want a picture right now."

"So?" Sam elbowed him.

"I wanted to know why SG-1 wasn't her personal favorite..." Daniel stuffed his hands in his pockets, "...SG team."

"The woman has no couth, no taste, and obviously no sense humor," Jack scoffed. "How could she not love SG-1? I might go buy a picture," he added, "so I can have you all sign it. I'll put it on my mantle at the cabin."

"If we make it through this tour..." Sam said the word "tour"; Daniel heard the word "mission" "...I'll be glad to autograph it for you, sir."

"Daniel?"

"Sure, Jack, I'll autograph it if you like."

"No, Daniel, I want to know if we're ready to go. I think we got everything we came for." He patted his pocket. "The garage door should work now. Might need to change the batteries, though."

The elevator pinged and the door opened. Daniel stepped in, Sam and Jack right behind him. "You know, if SG-1 is not her favorite team, why do we," he stopped himself, aware of the people within earshot, "why do *they* keep saving the world?" He found himself pushed to the back of the elevator as a family with a group of children piled in. He ignored them chanting "kawoosh" as they waved their arms around to make a Stargate puddle.

"I've asked myself this question over and over again," Jack said. "Why, oh why?"

"Did you come up with an answer, sir, for the history books?"

"If we re-write history," Daniel muttered.

Jack shrugged. "Fame, fortune, cake."

"Cake?" Daniel crossed his arms, a difficult task in such a tight space. "That's the best you can do?"

"Hey, you went and asked why we... why *they*," and this time Jack did use air quotes and almost punched Sam in the nose, "weren't her favorite team."

"In other words, you don't know," Daniel said smugly.

"Not a clue. But we're about to find out if they can do it again."

The children kawooshed, and elevator door swished shut.

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R is for Rescue
by [personal profile] cleothemuse

"Hold... still... will you?"

"I am... Hey!"

"Yeesh... Get a room, you two."

"Actually, sir, we're trying to get out of one."

"Doesn't look that way to me."

"Bite me."

"Was that an invitation, Daniel?"

"You shall do no such thing, O'Neill."

"Hey!"

Everyone froze, turned, and looked at the incredulous-looking Cam. "What the hell is going on?"

Vala gleefully held up her right hand, which had previously been secured behind her back, shackled around the same pillar as Daniel. "We are rescuing ourselves, Cameron."

The colonel looked pained. "Could we do it a little more quietly?"

Jack, shackled to the same pillar as Cameron, snorted out an aborted laugh. "Daniel and Vala haven't stopped arguing since they threw us in here... I think being quiet now would be suspicious, don't you?"

"Besides, it's not like they can understand us," Sam chimed in, grunting a little as she worked on the lock on her own restraints.

"Yeah, they speak only a variant of Mandarin..." Daniel added, glaring over his shoulder as Vala "accidentally" brushed his butt again while working on her remaining shackle. "But we learned that lesson, didn't we, Mitchell?"

"Aw, c'mon! How was I supposed to know they'd find that phrase offensive?"

Teal'c glowered menacingly. "I believe that was the reason we were allowing Daniel Jackson to act as our sole translator, was it not?"

"Yes!" Sam crowed, raising her newly-freed left arm triumphantly.

"You're slow," Vala scoffed, raising both arms.

"You've had more practice."

"Ladies!"

"Wait your turn, Cameron... Daniel's first, then Muscles, then you and the general."

"Fine, fine. So... what's the plan after we're all unhooked?"

Jack rolled his shoulders. "Carter hotwires the security panel, you and Teal'c jump any goons outside before they can sound the alarm, and Daniel will translate the directions to the nearest exit."

"And I'll scout ahead for any more guards!" Vala volunteered.

"No, Teal'c will do that. You and Sam hang back and guard Daniel, while Cam takes our six."

Cam nodded, then frowned. "And what about you, sir?"

"Ah, I get to supervise."

Two simultaneous exclamations of triumph had Sam freed and Daniel with one hand released. Sam immediately rose and approached the Goa'uld locking mechanism next to the door, while Vala--having obviously gotten the hang of the locks--quickly finished freeing Daniel and Teal'c. By the time Sam had the lock a shorted circuit away from springing open, Vala had the last of the shackles opened. Sam handed over the hairpin she had borrowed to pick her own locks, and the former thief triumphantly returned both decorations to their proper places securing her bangs. Daniel was not going to forgive her any time soon for having to retrieve both clips with his teeth, especially since the whole team had been running and sweating for hours before being captured, and her hair was hardly fresh-smelling.

"Ready?" Sam asked, and when the team nodded in agreement, she crossed two wires and the door popped open.

The guards waiting on the other side were unprepared for a fight with a Jaffa and a Sodan-trained human, and were quickly disabled and disarmed. Vala secured them using the shackles the team had only-recently been tied up with, and SG-1 slunk quickly and quietly out of their former cell. Teal'c took point with one of the staff weapons in-hand, while Cam brought up the rear with the other. The once-opulent palace of a long-deceased Goa'uld was now a barely-lit ruin, and the team was sticking to the shadows as much as possible, just in case their escape was discovered.

Since someone had oh-so-helpfully painted directional markers on the walls, Daniel was able to guide the team to a servant's entrance near the palace kitchens. They surprised the cooks working on the warlord's evening meal, tied them up and gagged them with whatever was handy, then stole as much food as Daniel and Jack could carry.

"Wait... this way!" Daniel whispered, pointing into the darkness.

"The 'Gate's that way," Jack replied.

"O'Neill, I believe Chun Ko has left his tel'tak relatively unattended."

"Its hyperdrive is broken, remember?" Vala hissed.

"We don't need it," Sam answered, brightening. "All we need to do--"

"--Is fly it to the 'Gate," Cam finished. "Sweet."

Jack glared. "Stop stealing my lines, Mitchell."

"Sorry, sir."

In the end, the ship was commandeered with ease, Vala and Teal'c fought over who got to fly it--Teal'c won by physically removing Vala from the pilot's seat--and the team feasted on their stolen food while the cargo ship soared off to the Stargate. What had started off as a friendly trade negotiation had turned nasty when the SGC refused to give the local warlord the weapons he wanted--a situation further exacerbated by Cam's ill-timed insult--and now SG-1 was making off with Chun's one and only spaceship.

And, to add further insult to an increasing injury, before stepping through the 'Gate, Sam and Vala left a staff weapon on overload inside the ship.

SG-1 emerged on the Alpha Site in jovial spirits, got Colonel Pierce to dial up the SGC for them, and strolled down the ramp just as SG teams 3 and 5 were gathering in the 'Gate room. Grinning cheerfully, Jack couldn't help but call out, "Great rescue, Hank!"

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S is for Stargate
Gateway to the Stars
by [profile] traycer_

The gateway stands on the hill like a sentry, strong and tall, forever watching humanity and wildlife as they come and go. There are many names for this gateway - the stone circle, Chappa'ai, stairway to heaven, Stargate, and yet to the four people running toward it, the gateway represents a haven, a way to safety. It represents home.

There is no shame in retreat, Jack O'Neill thought, as he ordered his troops back to the gate. No shame at all, especially since the enemy outnumbered them four to one. He swore softly when a staff blast barely missed him, but he kept running toward the gate, the humongous beacon of hope that meant only one thing at a time like this... safety.

"Daniel!" he yelled as another blast hit the ground in front of him. "Dial it up!"

Daniel did as he was told, but Jack was more concerned about the artillery heading their way. Something exploded behind him, causing him to duck while he raced onward.

"Daniel!" What the hell was he doing anyway, Jack thought as he swiveled around and dropped to his knees. He aimed the P-90 at the nearest Jaffa, while valiantly listening for the telltale sound of the chevrons locking into place. Nothing. All he heard was the sounds of gun fire and the shouts of the wounded. "Daniel?"

"It's not working, something is wrong with it!"

Oh great. This was all he needed. "Carter!" he shouted. "Go!" He didn't even look to see if she obeyed him, he kept on shooting as he got up and back-pedaled toward the gate. He had faith in her abilities to fix things. If anyone could get that gate started, it was Carter.

He reached the DHD just as Carter stood back from the device, her panicked gaze telling him all he needed to know. Things were never as easy as he'd like.

"I have no idea what's wrong with it," she said, "I'm going to need more time to even diagnose the problem." He nodded at her, even as he sent another volley of ammunition toward the Jaffa who had become brave and were now advancing on to their positions. He knew the odds, and odds were they'd all be dead or taken prisoner within the hour if they hung around to wait for her to figure it out. He kept shooting at his targets, while yelling to his team.

"The caves on the other side of the gate! Go!" Carter nodded and took off, with Daniel hot on her heels. Jack and Teal'c continued to shoot at their enemy for a few moments then both took off at a dead run, stopping every few minutes to return the enemy fire.

They made it to the woods that surrounded the caves, but Jack knew better than to think they were safe here. Staff weapon blasts were still whizzing past them and their only hope was to find some shelter, and find it fast.

"This way," he heard Daniel yell and Jack ran for his life. Branches slapped against him as he sprinted through the brush, but he ignored it all, silently running toward what he hoped was a safe harbor.

The clanking of Jaffa boots were fading away by the time Jack reached the entrance to the caves, marked only by the branches that were broken when Daniel fell through them when they had first arrived on the planet. It was a good hiding place. Only those who had been there before would find them, and Jack was fairly sure they would hear the Jaffa if any of them came snooping around - which was a good possibility given their current predicament.

Carter disappeared through the foliage as Jack kept a vigilant watch, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Daniel and Teal'c followed, leaving Jack to take one more look around before joining his teammates.

***


Many have traveled through the gateway. Humans and animals, demons and gods, some to trade and visit, others to explore, yet they all pass through with a purpose. And the gateway welcomes them all, providing a direct route through the stars and offering them the opportunity to discover the various terrains, plants, cultures and lifestyles found on worlds other than their own. Because for some, the gateway is the portal to knowledge.

Daniel Jackson leaned back against the wall of the cave, trying desperately to ease the cramp in his side while wondering when he was going to be able to go back to the temple. He glared at the ceiling as he thought about it. He'd still be there if it wasn't for the Jaffa who suddenly showed up and demanded prisoners.

The pain in his side eased up a little, while his teammates moved into the shelter, but Daniel was still angry about giving up all that knowledge he had stumbled upon. There was so much to learn from the carvings on the walls of that temple. He could only hope that the photographs he took turned out. That's probably the only way he'll learn anything about this place.

"What happened to the Stargate?"

Daniel just shrugged at Jack's question, he had no clue. Sam, on the other hand, gave it a try.

"Nothing's wrong with the Stargate, sir. From what I could see during my preliminary check, the problem is with the DHD."

"The DHD."

"Yes sir. I'm not entirely sure of the extent, but it looked like someone, or something, tampered with it."

"Great," Jack said, as he went to stand next to Teal'c at the entrance. "Looks like we're stranded with the Jaffa out there."

"I don't think they know of these caves," Sam said. Jack gave her a questioning look, prompting Sam to explain her logic. "I mean, the Jaffa would not have come to this world if they knew there was no way back, which means they don't know a whole lot about this planet."

"I concur with Major Carter," Teal'c said from his stance next to the entrance of the cave. "It would not be in their best interest."

"Yet here they are," Jack said with a trace of sarcasm. Daniel could certainly relate. Frustration still ate at him as he thought about all the knowledge he was missing out on. Studying the pictures and words on a temple wall was far more fascinating than the Egyptian pyramids or whatever else he would have been doing had he never heard of the Stargate.

"Well, it looks like we are in for the long haul, better get comfortable," Jack said. "Carter."

"Sir?"

"Do you think you can fix that DHD?"

"I can give it a try," she said. Daniel waited for what he knew was coming. They were going to risk their lives again. He was more than ready to go with them, even though it meant leaving behind the temple. It just irked him that he wasn't going to get the chance to study it.

"Good. We'll leave just before dusk."

Just like that, Daniel thought with a sigh. He grabbed his flashlight and moved further into the depths of the cave. Maybe there was another way out, a quicker way back to the Stargate.

"Don't go too far, Daniel," Sam told him. "It should be dark soon."

"I won't." It was an automatic reply, uttered softly as the beam of his flashlight shone on something that looked like carvings on the wall. "This is more like it," he whispered softly. At least he would have something to do while he waited for dusk.

***


Technology is a major factor in all aspects of the gateway. From the beginning, when the people who are called the Ancients built the Gate, to the various stages of it that pass through its threshold, technology is the backbone of the universe. And like knowledge, many of those who travel through the gateway to the stars, do so in search of technology - and the power that it brings to them."

Sam Carter really hated it when she was faced with a dead DHD. Too many memories of doing so and the frustrations she dealt with when it didn't work when she was sure it would, not to mention an impatient Colonel lurking over her shoulder...

"Can you fix it?" O'Neill asked her for what was at least the second time. Sam nodded although she really wasn't sure if anything would work at this point. Still she knew that if she was going to fix it, she'd better get to it. They had eliminated the Jaffa threat at the Gate when they arrived, but there were a lot more of them out there and Sam didn't want to be anywhere near the Gate when the other Jaffa got around to checking on their comrades.

"I'm going to need some more light over here," she said, and was grateful when Daniel came over to help. O'Neill and Teal'c kept guard while Sam went to work on figuring out the problem.

"This wiring is wrong," she mumbled, her mind going over all the diagrams and schematics she had studied throughout her career. From the moment she had been assigned to the Stargate Program, she had poured over everything she could get her hands on. But the one she was most interested in remembering was the blueprint of the DHD that Colonel O'Neill had drawn when the ancient technology was downloaded into his brain. That blueprint helped her once before, surely she could use it again.

She went to work, based on what she could remember, temporarily forgetting the threat of Jaffa as she did what she could to repair the damage. This was just another device, she thought, as she switched out a dead crystal. Much more technologically advanced than what she was taught in college, but for the most part it was just another device.

"Carter," the Colonel said in a loud whisper.

"Almost there, sir." It should work, she reasoned as she gerry-rigged a loose wire into the casing. Please work, she begged silently as she stood up and punched the seven symbols needed to dial the gate. The chevrons lit up as she punched in the codes, filling Sam with hope. It was definitely an encouraging sign. "Please!" she said hopefully, just before she hit the red center of the device. The Stargate burst into life causing her to shout with elation.

"Yes!"

"All right!" Daniel said with gusto, obviously sharing in her excitement. Sam punched in the code to alert Stargate Command that they were coming through, then turned to smile at her commanding officer.

"I knew you could do it," he said, his manner nonchalant. "Didn't have a doubt."

"Yes sir," she said, not believing him for a minute. She turned toward the gate, but was distracted by a voice in the distance.

"Jaffa, kree!"

"Just in time," the Colonel said, as he and Sam aimed their weapons toward the Jaffa who appeared out of nowhere. "Go!"

Sam took a few minutes to shoot at a few of the Jaffa who were advancing on them from the trees, then turned and ran toward the gate, knowing her teammates were right behind her.

***


Many travelers pass through the gateway, relying on it for safe passage through the cosmos, for there are so many worlds that are still unexplored - and for some travelers, worlds still unconquered. Yet, the gateway's only purpose is to provide transportation to those who wish to travel through the stars, whether to explore foreign lands or to fight for what they believe in. Sometimes, that's all that matters most.

The energy of the Stargate died with a familiar sound as Teal'c walked down the ramp. They had barely made it to safety and he took a moment to look around the Gate Room, as was his habit. A habit he acquired from his youth, many years before he earned the position as First Prime.

General Hammond came in through the blast doors with his usual greeting. O'Neill answered him, informing the General of the events that transpired while they were away. Teal'c listened quietly, but his attention was directed toward the wall directly in front of the Stargate. A scorched mark indicated that it was hit by a stray staff weapon blast, reminding him yet again that this world was just as vulnerable as when he first came through the Chappai'ai many years ago.

He turned back to look at the device in question, a mode of transportation readily available for the system lords, and he wondered when the inevitable war would ensue. And they would come. Perhaps not through the Stargate, but they would come and try to destroy those who would destroy them.

They would come and Teal'c would stand by the people of this world.

"Sir?"

He turned to face the young man standing in front of him with his hand held out in a gesture that reminded Teal'c of the day he turned against Apophis. Samantha Carter had done the same thing that day, a gesture of friendship that spanned across the galaxy. It was an honor he would never forget. These people were his allies. He gave the soldier his weapon, bowing slightly to acknowledge the exchange. He would not need the weapon this day.

"Ready Teal'c?"

O'Neill, Daniel Jackson and Major Carter were standing at the end of the ramp, watching him with various expressions of concern and amusement. Teal'c bowed slightly to signify that he indeed was ready and he followed them away from the Stargate knowing that he would soon be back to go through it again.

There was much more to accomplish in his own personal war.

***


The Stargate stands tall, towering over the four people walking away from it, and over the technicians who work daily to keep it running smoothly. The symbols gleam in the fluorescent light, silent and calm, representing the various worlds that are visited by the teams who pass through its giant portal. It provides many things to the people who rely on it, yet despite the fact that it is a technological device that doesn't think or feel, it is still a part of the SGC, which in turn, allows it to play an integral role with the teams as they work to bring peace to the universe. To the people who work here, the Stargate represents so many things. To the Ancients who built it, it represents peace.

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T is for Team
by [personal profile] rachel500

5.

'I'm just sayin',' Cam drawled lazily as though SG1 hadn't just stepped out of a wormhole and into an alien market-place. He found his footing on the steps quickly and checked out the immediate area without missing a beat even as he continued talking. 'Now Sam's in Atlantis and it's just the four of us on SG1 again, it would be good not to go tripping over alien bad guys like we did the last time.'

'What do you mean: the last time?' Daniel asked. He caught the back of Vala's vest and tugged her back into formation with the rest of them; away from the shiny sparkle of some stall.

Teal'c absently noticed Vala sticking her tongue out at the archaeologist. 'Perhaps Colonel Mitchell is referring to the mission where we held an off-world museum hostage, Daniel Jackson.'

'No,' Cam corrected calmly, taking a moment to wonder whether the guy proclaiming the end of the world was nigh was a threat or not, 'I was thinking about before the first Supergate and meeting the Ori.'

'Not that I have any intention of tripping over another alien bad guy,' Daniel retorted, 'but you're forgetting one thing.'

Cam shot him a look but bit at the bait Daniel had left verbally dangling anyway. 'What?'

Daniel glanced at Teal'c with amusement.

The Jaffa smiled smugly. 'Were you not the only member of SG1 at the time you mention, Colonel Mitchell?'

Cam's mouth dropped open a little and he snapped it shut. He wagged a finger at them. 'But...'

'We didn't actually officially become SG1 again until Sam was assigned back to the SGC after the Supergate incident.' Daniel continued cheerfully. 'And, of course, Vala only got her badge last year.'

'See, Cameron?' Vala's laugh was breezy. 'You're worrying over nothing. We weren't even SG1 when we happened to meet an incredibly advanced alien race hell-bent on converting this galaxy.' Her eyes lit up at a stall with multi-coloured material two steps from them. 'Of course, now we are SG1, I'm sure nothing can possibly go wrong.'

She darted off leaving her three male companions staring after her with varying expressions of horror - even Teal'c looked perturbed.

'Tell me she did not just say that.' Cam begged.

Daniel sighed. 'Look on the bright side.'

Cam looked at him sceptically.

Daniel offered a half-smile. 'We are SG1 now.'

Cam watched as Daniel and Teal'c walked away to join Vala. 'And that's the bright side?' He called out after them.

4.

'I did not cheat!' Vala proclaimed loudly enough that her voice carried over the babble of the inn and caused all other conversations to cease. She flicked her dark ponytail over her shoulder and poked a finger into the solid chest of the bearded man opposite her. 'And I highly resent your insinuation that I would, Ron.'

Teal'c exchanged a concerned look with Samantha Carter.

'Oh boy,' muttered Sam as they lowered their tankards of ale and got to their feet.

Teal'c wove his way through the tables to reach Vala's side.

'Do you require assistance, Vala Mal Doran?' Teal'c asked calmly.

Ron got to his feet. He was as tall as Teal'c but where the Jaffa had muscle, Ron had fat. 'This is between me and her.'

Sam smiled brightly. 'If our team-mate said she didn't cheat, she didn't cheat.'

Vala looked astounded at the statement of faith for a moment before she smoothed her expression and nodded enthusiastically. 'And I did not cheat.' She sniffed. 'He would never have known if I had.'

Teal'c gestured at the stack of coins on the table. 'I believe this money belongs to my friend.' He was aware of Cameron Mitchell and Daniel Jackson arriving to support them.

The man gestured at his friends who rose to stand beside him as the rest of the inn moved back to a safe distance.

Vala sighed heavily and cracked her knuckles; made a show of loosening her muscles. 'Well, if we must do this the hard way...'

'Seriously?' Sam blurted out. Her disbelief at the unfolding events was written over her delicate features.

Ron looked Vala up and down with a salacious grin. 'You want this money; you come and get it, whore.'

Teal'c witnessed the dangerous glint Vala Mal Doran's eye: the man should really have refrained from calling her a whore. He would no doubt pay for his mistake.

Ron swung out at Vala and missed as she easily evaded. Even as Teal'c dealt with his own opponent he noticed Vala's right kick to Ron's manhood was a direct hit sending Ron to the floor clutching at his injury.

A few minutes later, SG1 stood outside of the establishment, catching their breath and examining their various wounds as Vala counted her winnings.

Mitchell touched his bloody lip tentatively. 'We had better come up with something else because I am not telling General Landry that we ran into trouble and got in a bar brawl.'

Teal'c clasped his hands behind his back. He had sustained no injury from the scuffle himself, he noted with satisfaction. 'You may tell him that we were defending the honour of SG1, Colonel Mitchell.'

3.

Sam checked the gaudy palace corridor was empty and grimaced.

Why, why, why did Daniel have to go and trip over a Goa'uld Queen hiding out on the planet? Hadn't she told him not to go into the palace grounds? Twice. In words of one syllable. She and Teal'c had been lucky to have evaded the guards that had been sent to capture them.

She glanced again at her watch. They were going to be late for their return which always worried the General. She knew her former team leader really hated not going off-world with them anymore at the best of times but when they were late he got positively cranky about it.

Sam looked at Teal'c who nodded back at her. They slipped out of their hiding place, jogged down the corridor to the intersection, and zatted the guards outside of the bedroom.

They burst into the room. The Goa'uld Queen spun around with a snarl on her pretty face to blast them with the hand device. Sam shot her; the spray of bullets sending the scantily clad woman backwards over a low table. There was an ominous crack as they heard her neck break. Her eyes lit up for a moment with the white flash of the Goa'uld before it died abruptly.

Daniel cleared his throat. He had been secured to a chair with a golden rope. He looked unharmed. Teal'c freed him as Sam closed the bedroom door and covered their precarious position.

'What now?' Daniel asked.

'Now, we escape from the palace and make it back to the Stargate.' Sam said, pretending a confidence she didn't feel and wondering if the General had ever felt the same way. 'We just need a plan.'

Daniel glanced at the body of the Queen.

Teal'c also looked at the body of the Queen.

Both of them looked at Sam.

She caught their gaze and froze. 'No. Definitely not. No way.'

An hour later, they clattered through the wormhole and onto the ramp of the SGC.

Jack's eyebrows rose at the sight of Sam out of uniform and in the clothing of the Goa'uld; her impersonation as the Goa'uld's new host had enabled them to leave the planet with the minimum of resistance.

Sam glared at him, daring him to say anything.

Jack's eyes twinkled back at her. 'You forget the time again, SG1?'

'Daniel tripped over a Goa'uld, sir.' Sam replied, trying not to feel like she was naked.

'Ah.' Jack patted Daniel's shoulder as he started to splutter a protest. 'So, business as usual?'

2.

Jack tentatively looked around the doorway and signalled the all-clear.

Carter and Teal'c swept around him in perfect coordination and headed for their team-mate in the infirmary bed.

Jonas looked up from his book in surprise. 'Oh, hey...'

'Shush!' Jack motioned frantically at Jonas to shut-up before he placed a finger to his own lips and checked the corridor. He breathed out. 'It's OK.' He said quietly. 'I don't think the Doc heard.' He knew there would be hell to pay if Janet Fraiser caught them.

'What's going on, Colonel?' Jonas whispered, his young face creased with concern under the skull bandage he still wore following his brain surgery.

'We are attempting to remove you from the infirmary, Jonas Quinn.' Teal'c informed Jonas solemnly as he assisted Carter in getting a wheelchair up to the bed.

Jonas looked confused.

Jack sighed. 'We're breaking you out for a field trip.'

'Really?' Jonas brightened immediately. As Jack had suspected, days of being stuck in the infirmary had made the Kelownan eager for a taste of freedom. 'A field trip?' He allowed himself to be helped into the wheelchair by Carter. 'Are we going to Vegas?'

'Something a little closer to home.' Sam admitted with a smile as she finished putting a blanket over his lap and patted Jonas's arm. She nodded at Jack.

Jack nodded at Teal'c who took off out of the infirmary to secure an elevator.

They were ready to move out.

Jack checked the corridor. It was empty. He gave the signal. They hurried down the corridor pushing Jonas in the wheelchair with more speed than grace towards the elevator Teal'c had waiting. They gave a collective sigh of relief as they got inside and Jack pushed the button to head up. A few minutes later, they sat out on the top of the mountain gazing at the night sky.

Jonas breathed in deeply and motioned with the banana he was half-way through eating. 'This is great.'

Jack suppressed a smile and gazed up at the moon. The kid deserved a break after all he had been through with the visions and the brain tumour and the almost dying.

'We're just glad you're OK, Jonas.' Sam said, stretching out her legs as she leaned back.

'Indeed,' murmured Teal'c.

Jonas grinned at them. 'Thanks, guys.' He sighed in contentment. 'Although you know I honestly can't believe we managed to sneak out of the infirmary without Doctor Fraiser knowing about it.'

'Hey, we're good,' Jack said proudly, 'we're SG1.'

Carter and Teal'c exchanged identical looks of alarm. They looked at Jack. Jack looked back at them.

Jonas followed the exchange bemused. 'What?'

'Oh yeah,' Jack said, getting to his feet as Carter and Teal'c scrambled to theirs, 'we are so screwed.'

1.

Daniel finished tying his bootlaces and winced at the tightness. 'And all I'm saying is that it could be worth our time actually talking to these people, Jack, rather than just assuming that they don't have anything of value to offer us.'

'And all I'm saying is that the UAV found no signs of any technology.' Jack replied. He gestured at the woman beside him as he finished zipping up his tactical vest. 'Isn't that right, Carter?'

'Yes, sir.' Sam replied dutifully.

Daniel shot her a teasing look of betrayal which she grinned at and shrugged away as she reached for her pack.

'Have we not come across advanced races who do not choose to show their technology before, O'Neill?' Teal'c asked.

'Yes!' Daniel gestured wildly at the Jaffa. 'Thank you, Teal'c!'

Teal'c inclined his head.

'Yes.' Jack said caustically. 'Thank you, Teal'c.'

The Jaffa raised an unrepentant eyebrow as Sam tried unsuccessfully to hide her amusement.

Jack slammed his locker shut. 'Not every wild-haired tree-hugger is going to be the Nox, Daniel. Sometimes they're just going to be a wild-haired tree-hugger or knowing our luck; another alien bad guy.'

Sam snorted and tried to turn it into a cough.

'I'm just suggesting we keep an open mind, Jack.' Daniel retorted.

'You know me, Daniel,' Jack quipped, 'my mind is wide open.'

'Right,' Daniel sighed, 'I forgot that's how the bats got in.'

'What?' Jack asked.

Daniel blinked innocently. 'What?'

The four of them headed to the gate room. The sound of the Stargate spinning; the metal grating along metal, and the heavy thunk as a chevron engaged drowned out everything else. They took their weapons from the waiting Sergeant and made their way into the room, ignoring the chaos around them as they took position at the bottom of the ramp.

'So, what's the weather like on...' Jack struggled to remember the name of the planet.

Daniel shared a knowing look with Sam.

'P7X529, sir.' Sam supplied. 'It's a temperate planet, sir.'

'So...'

'Trees.' Sam confirmed. 'Yes, sir.'

'My favourite kind of planet.' Jack sighed.

'On the contrary, O'Neill,' Teal'c remarked, 'you have made your dislike of trees known on many occasions.'

Jack opened his mouth to explain and snapped it shut again at the twinkle in Teal'c's eyes. 'I get no respect.' He grumbled.

'But just think; one day we won't be SG1 anymore and you'll miss this.' Daniel said brightly.

'Nah,' Jack dismissed the idea with a grin, 'we'll always be SG1.'

Teal'c inclined his head in agreement as the rest of the team smiled at each other.

The wormhole erupted, a swirl of white and blue hanging in mid-air before it was sucked back into the usual shimmering blue puddle.

Jack tugged down on his cap and looked back over his shoulder at the control room towards the reassuring figure of the SGC commander.

General Hammond leaned down to speak into the mike. 'You have a go, SG1. Godspeed.'

The four members of SG1 looked at each other silently; communication flowing between them as easily as though they had spoken aloud. They stepped forward, shoulder to shoulder, and together walked up the ramp and into the Stargate.

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U is for Umbrella
by [profile] elder_bonnie

"I can't feel my fingers."

"Did I not say, 'hey, that looks like a cold, rainy planet, everyone needs to bring extra gloves?'"

"He is wearing extra gloves, sir."

"Extra waterproof gloves, Carter?"

"I thought they were waterproof..."

"Perhaps the gloves were mislabeled when you purchased them."

"Teal'c, stop helping."

"Jack, knock it off. We're all as cold and wet and frustrated as you, but you don't see us resorting to snippiness."

"I think I have the right to be snippy, Daniel. I'm not the one who misread the alien stick figures."

"Hieroglyphs. And I know I read them right."

"Then why are we stranded four miles from the gate? On a rock? With rising flood waters? I was perfectly happy to stay within shouting distance of the DHD, but someone-"

"Sir, it's not Daniel's fault. I wanted to survey the mineral deposits that the UAV registered this morning."

"Fine. Fine. I'll blame both of you. Teal'c, you're off the hook. Brood with me so I feel more justified."

"Teal'c never stops brooding."

".....true."

"Well these are useless at this point."

"You can't wipe the water off of the lenses?"

"I don't have anything dry to wipe them with."

"I might have some bandaging strips in my pack you could use, you wanna check in there?"

"Sure."

"Would you two stop wriggling? The more I move, the wetter I get."

"Sorry, sir."

"The statistical likelihood of becoming further irriguous by such a slight shift in position than what you have already-"

"Teal'c? You are this close to coming back off the hook."

"Sam!"

"What?"

"You packed an umbrella!"

"...I did?"

"Yes!"

"YES!"

"Hey, what are you-"

"Colonel, wait, the wind-"

*schfoomp*

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V is for Vanish
by [profile] da_angel729

Damn it.

I leave to do a quick recon of the area and come back to a crisis.

Just as I enter the room in the temple we're on P4X-825 to study, Daniel and Carter disappear through a hole in the floor.

I wish I could say this surprised me, but I just shake my head and move toward the area of the wall they'd been studying. Even Teal'c looks resigned, with that arch of his eyebrow, as he follows me to the wall.

"DanielJackson and MajorCarter are missing."

"Yeah, Teal'c, thanks," I say, and run my hand over the wall. Nothing. What the hell had Daniel been doing?

"O'Neill."

I turn to see Teal'c, kneeling on the ground. He's holding Daniel's glasses. Great. Now Daniel's blind and they might be injured.

Well, first things first.

"Carter, Daniel, come in."

Nothing. Of course. I wasn't expecting a response, but one can always hope. So I try again, then twice more, and by the time Teal'c opens his mouth, I know what he's going to say.

"Let's look for clues," I suggest before he says anything. Teal'c nods, once, and stands up, carefully putting the glasses in a vest pocket.

Teal'c moves around the room, running his hand along the wall. I walk toward the entrance, eyes scanning the room, willing myself not to panic, and nearly jump when static crackles over my radio.

"Sir, come in."

Carter's voice is so welcome I grin at Teal'c. He just nods his head, a brief look of relief passing over his features.

"Carter! Where the hell are you?"

They are, apparently, in a chamber with no visible way out.

Carter gives me directions to the building they're under and theorises about the radio not working earlier. She's fourteen words into her explanation--seven of which I understand--when Teal'c enters the building in front of me, carefully clearing the room and giving a nod to where I'm hovering in the doorway.

Carter and Daniel are standing, leaning really, against a door that appears crystalline, backs toward us. I can vaguely make out the outline of Daniel's hands gesturing as he explains something.

"You figure a way out yet?"

They both jump, presumably as their radios crackle to life. Now that I can see them--mostly--and they're unharmed, my breathing eases.

"Yes, sir," Carter says, and I can see Daniel's head bobbing up and down in agreement. "We think Teal'c's staff weapon will destroy the crystals."

Teal'c and I look at each other, and before I even give the order, his staff weapon is primed and ready to fire.

"Stand back," I say into my radio.

"Yes, Jack."

Daniel's voice is slightly muffled, but the sarcasm in response to my--admittedly--unnecessary order came through loud and clear. I roll my eyes and move back to the entrance, letting Teal'c have room to fire his staff weapon.

I see Carter pull Daniel away from the door, Daniel still talking. Teal'c fires, and Plan A works. For once.

Carter walks out, clipping her P-90 back to her vest, and thanks Teal'c. Daniel rushes out, nearly trips over the crystals littering the floor, and immediately launches into an explanation.

"Jack, this is amazing! The panel shifted when I translated the line as--"

"Daniel," I cut in. "Are you injured?"

"No, of course not! Just lost my glasses, but you'll never believe--"

"I have them here, DanielJackson," Teal'c says, holding them out, and Daniel blinks at him.

"Thanks, Teal'c," he says, and slips them on.

"Carter, you hurt?"

"No, sir," she says. "Whatever transported us to this room works in a similar manner to the Asgard beaming system. We left one room and appeared in the other."

"Great. Well, kids, let's get out of here before Daniel beams us somewhere we can't escape."

I push Daniel toward the door, ignoring his indignant look, and know Teal'c and Carter are following.

As always.

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W is for Walking
by [profile] jd_junkie

By most mission standards, this one was run-of-the-mill.

Average, green-grass blue-sky planet with average expectation of finding useful mineral deposits and cultural offerings, providing average levels of interest to all concerned.

There was a lot to be said for average, Jack mused, wiping the smeary lenses of his sunglasses before putting them on again to shade against the light of PC7-441's sun.

Average meant none of his team was likely to be shot, poisoned, artificially aged or mind-wiped.

Average meant his civilian wouldn't see his Goa'ulded wife killed by a teammate.

Yeah. Average had a lot going for it right now.

From his vantage point of a handily-placed log on the edge of the clearing, Jack watched his team in action. Carter was analyzing soil and rock samples with her mobile lab, muttering quietly to herself as she wrote her findings in a journal that looked a lot like the one Daniel used. Maybe they'd been buying in bulk and using the savings for areas they considered much more important ... like the latest doohickeys for Carter and the latest reference books that did not have the word Budge on the spine for Daniel.

Carter's customary practice was to set up her equipment a distance from where Daniel based himself, offering them both space to work. Today, she was no more than three feet from the stele that Daniel was studying and video recording. Teal'c stood sentinel over both of them, threat-assessing the hell out of the area around them.

They'd closed ranks and, in Jack's judgment, they'd done it unconsciously.

It was only eight days since Sha'uri's death and since Daniel had spent 48 hours in the infirmary recovering from the effects of the ribbon device. Carter had retreated to her lab and worked herself senseless, which was the way she usually coped with emotional upheaval on her part or on the part of anyone close to her, emerging only to take Daniel cookies and books.

And Teal'c ... well, who the hell knew? Jaffa did stoicism like no one else. Teal'c had kept his distance from the team in the days since Sha'uri's death and funeral, and from Daniel in particular. Several times, Jack had seen him eating in the commissary and had joined him unasked. Twice, he'd sparred with him in the gym uninvited. But what was going through his mind Jack could only guess at, since Teal'c wasn't sharing.

So, to see three of them now, working within touching distance, to see Teal'c physically close to Daniel, even as he'd pulled emotionally away, filled Jack with the first fluttering of hope for the future of the unit.

Jack already felt vindicated in his strong appeal to Hammond for this mission. Hammond had been unsure about green-lighting it when they already had another lined up in a week's time. MALP readings for the upcoming mission had shown a dark storeroom in a warehouse. A glimpse through a high window had shown airships and smoke from industrial chimneys. Could be interesting. Could also represent the usual dangers.

That was why Jack had pushed so hard for what was little more than a milk run, convincing Hammond that the team needed to get Out There again ASAP, danger-free. Selecting a benign world where they could spend some time as a team made a whole lot of sense. It would also give Jack the chance to evaluate Daniel's mission readiness. If he asked him, Daniel would say he was fine. Jack needed to see it for himself.

Yep. A trouble-free mission was just the thing. Cake walk. Walk in the park.

They had a go.

So, here they were, nearing the end of the off-world jaunt that was designed to help them reconnect. And he guessed it was working, as far as it went. Everyone was doing their thing -- but they were still tiptoeing round the giant gray thing in the room.

Jack checked his watch. Hammond had given them 24 hours and they'd be cutting it fine if they didn't start heading back soon. It was a two-hour hike back to the gate. Normally, they could cover the distance in 90 minutes, but Jack wasn't prepared to push it. He was concerned about Daniel's physical stamina and concerned about the emotional state of all them, himself included.

Sha'uri's death and been sudden and shocking. He ached for the loss of her spirit and fire, something he'd recognized and admired in her from the beginning. It was easy to see why Daniel had fallen for her. Had stayed with her. He ached for Daniel's loss and for Teal'c's pain. He wanted badly to guide his team through this.

Jack had no idea what had passed between Teal'c and Daniel since that awful moment when Teal'c's staff weapon flared and the light died in Sha'uri's eyes, but Teal'c had stayed away from the burial ceremony.

They were grieving in their own ways when they should be drawing strength from each other, which served to illustrate something Jack had long suspected; friendship was no easy thing for any of them. Carter had colleagues, Teal'c had warrior-kin, Jack had a small network of Forces buddies and poker buddies and hockey-watching buddies and Daniel ... Daniel had the three of them.

Comradeship had been hard won in the past three years and Jack hoped that the bonds that held them together, although stretched, would not break.

Jack tapped his watch thoughtfully and geared himself up for the inevitable plea for more time from one or both of the science squad. "Pack it up, girls and boys. Time to go." Jack rose on complaining knees from the log and headed towards his team.

Carter cast a sideways glance at Daniel, as though gauging his response before answering. "Yes, Sir." No arguments from Carter for more time, Jack noted. "I need to get back to run the data through the mainframe, but the mineral results indicate trinium deposits that are, well, pretty exciting, actually. Not Tonane's planet exciting but promising enough." She smiled that "I'm on to something and it's going to take up all my time for the next however long and that's just great" smile and started to pack away her stuff.

"Daniel?"

The man was scribbling furiously in a notebook, checking something on the video recorder as he did so. "Jack?"

"Ready to go?"

"Yes."

"No 'Just another hour, Jack?'"

Daniel looked at him with that aggravating calmness that got under Jack's skin on the wrong day. "No."

Jack tilted his head and squinted. Daniel looked a little pale. He bore that squinched up look that spoke of a headache, and the flat tone of voice and lack of animation was just ... not Daniel.

Daniel gathered up his equipment and stuffed it into his pack before looking at Jack with tired eyes. "I think I'm done here." He held the gaze for a beat, then two, then frowned and looked around before walking over to Sam and helping her stow her gear away.

Jack wanted to believe Daniel was talking about the here and now, but the cold lump that formed in his gut said that part of him at least was afraid of Daniel might actually mean.

Teal'c caught his eye and, though he didn't say a word, Jack caught the clench of his jaw.

Yeah, buddy, you thought that too, huh?

"Good," Jack said, still watching Teal'c. "To the yellow brick road, then."

The route back to the Stargate wasn't particularly arduous. They passed through a small wood , which led onto dried marshland bordered by a fast-flowing stream. They followed its meandering course, Teal'c on point, Daniel following, head down, lost in his thoughts, Jack a little way behind him and Carter on their six.

It was getting very warm. A quick check on the sun's position said it was close to the hottest part of the day.

Jack watched Daniel plodding ahead. He had the air of a man who wasn't really there at all. There in body maybe, but anywhere else in spirit. Jack could only wonder at what he was seeing in his mind's eye.

After a few minutes, Jack dropped back a few paces and matches his stride to Carter's.

"Think he's okay?" Jack asked. Carter sighed. "I really don't know, Sir. He's not saying much. He looks tired."

They walked on in silence for a while, the scrubby marshland giving way to greener, lusher pasture that rolled gently into the distance. Daniel's pace began to slow a little, his stride faltering as the heat increased.

"Getting hot," Jack observed, glancing across to Carter, willing her to pick up his unspoken plea to give him an excuse to call a time-out.

"Yes, Sir. That blister from my new boots is pretty uncomfortable."

It was a gentle lie. Always a handy thing to have in a second in command's armory. Kind of took the heat off the overly-concerned CO when necessary.

"Daniel, Teal'c. Hold up. We're gonna take five. Carter needs to do some running repairs."

They wandered over to the stream. Carter sat down on the grass and futzed with her footwear while Daniel sat close by. Carter was right. Daniel did look tired. And unhappy. Crap.

While Teal'c took a drink from his canteen, Jack splashed blessedly cool stream water on his face. Wiping the droplets from chin, he noticed Daniel writing in his journal.

"Useful mission, huh?" He asked, for something to say.

"Um. Not really, since this is nothing more than a babysitting exercise and we all know it but no one's actually, you know, saying that." He kept writing.

Jack caught the anxious look Carter threw his way.

"Oh, but it's been such fun. Ruins and inscriptions and ... stuff."

Daniel's grip on his pen tightened. "Any unit could have taken this mission. Or none. The nation's tax dollars could have been put to much better use. I know why we're here, but I'm fine. I don't need this."

Jack sensed Carter tensing. These little exchanges could so easily escalate.

The pen tapped on the journal cover, an outward indication of Daniel's unvoiced distress. "I watched my wife die, Jack. Right now, I'm more interested in finding the right words for The Speaking than in securing some pointless mission objective."

Jack bit his tongue. He wasn't going to rise to the bait. "The Speaking?"

Daniel continued to write. "It's an Abydonian tradition. The Speaking will be called by Kasuf when he feels the time is right. He'll pray to the gods for guidance, then those who knew and loved Sha'uri will gather at sunset to talk about her. Tell a favorite story."

Carter gave up on the pretense of soothing her supposedly blistered foot and pulled her boot back on. "What will you say, Daniel?"

He shrugged and kept his eyes focused on the page. "I have no idea. She was my wife and I have no idea."

Carter tied her bootlaces in neat little knots with a precision that Jack admired as much as he inwardly cringed at. Perfectionism was a trait he didn't possess. "You'll find the words," she said gently, smiling at Daniel and reaching out to touch him lightly on the arm.

Jack saw Daniel's slight flinch but didn't think Carter caught it as she reached for her canteen and took a long drink.

"I'm not so sure," Daniel said quietly, his mouth turning up at the corner in a barely-there imitation of a smile. "Every time I think about what to say, all I see is her lying dead beside me."

Teal'c pulled himself straighter, his hold on his staff weapon so tight Jack feared it would snap in two. Jack winced at the thought, and at the awkwardness that was suffusing this conversation. He pulled off his cap and scrubbed a hand through his hair. This journey was proving longer and more arduous than he anticipated, both literally and metaphorically. But at least Daniel was talking now. That was something.

"Well, I thought she was amazing, Daniel. I mean, I know I didn't really know her, but anyone could see she was strong and loved by her people. And by you." Carter often trod where angels feared to. Jack kind of blessed her for that at this moment.

Daniel was looking at her thoughtfully and he smiled again, and this time it was real and seemed to make his face a little less tired. "Thank you," he said, nodding.

"Strong doesn't begin to cover it, Carter. That woman was fearsome and fear-less. Sure wouldn't have wanted to cross her. Kind of scary." Jack shoved the cap back on his head, his mind suddenly full of the woman who had dared to defy the gods and show Daniel the symbol that helped lead them home.

Daniel put this journal on the ground and pulled his legs up, clasping his hands round his knees. He actually laughed, a short, sharp bark of a laugh, and Jack felt the tension in the air ease, saw Carter's shoulders relax, saw Teal'c's stranglehold on his staff loosen a fraction.

"Actually, Jack, scary doesn't begin to cover it. You should have seen her scold Skaara when he sampled his own moonshine to excess for the first time. Or when she left me in charge of the ovens and the bread for her father's birthday celebrations and I became so engrossed in my work on the cartouche that I forgot and burned it all."

Jack swallowed hard. This. This is what he'd hoped for, and waited for, since they'd set foot through the Gate yesterday. For the first time since his wife's death, Daniel sounded animated. Alive. Present.

"She got so mad. Then she stopped and berated herself for sounding so shrill and angry and started to laugh. She never stayed angry at anyone for long. Minutes later, she'd be smiling and joking and loving ..." Daniel frowned then, and turned his head away, fiddling with his glasses.

"I wish I'd had the chance to know her better," Carter said softly. "I know I would have really liked her."

"I wish that, too," Daniel said. He adjusted his boonie strap and stood. "We should get going."

"Daniel Jackson."

Teal'c's voice was softer then usual, and all the more shocking for that. It carried a weight of uncertainty which Jack didn't think he'd ever heard before.

Daniel didn't respond at first, simply placed his journal in his pack and concentrated on closing it up.

Come on ... come on, Daniel ...

"Sha'uri was a brave and noble warrior. She would have been a great leader of her people in the course of time. I am sorry that my actions ended her life and have caused you so much pain. If you wish me to be removed from SG-1, I will understand, for I do not believe that you are 'done here.'"

Carter looked at Jack, who looked at Daniel, who looked at the ground.

Daniel ...

"That won't be necessary." Daniel's voice was flat and pained. But Jack was just so damned relieved that they were talking. "And you're right. I'm not done here. Although a part of me wishes I was. There's something I need to find. Through the Gate. Something Sha'uri ... something I can't think about right now."

Daniel turned to look at Teal'c, who stiffened his stance as if bracing for a blow. "I know I said this before, but ... you did do the right thing, Teal'c. Just ... please don't ask for my forgiveness. It's not mine to give and I'm not sure I have the capacity for that anyway. Not anymore. I think I blame myself for what ultimately happened to Sha'uri more than I blame Apophis or ... you. Perhaps one day I'll get past that and we can talk. Both of us blame-free. One day."

Daniel dipped his head then, and turned away. It had cost him a lot to say that. He played things close to the vest. They all did.

Jack let out a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding. Mission accomplished. Objective achieved. Time to get things moving. To begin to move on. "Saddle up, kids. With luck, we'll be home in time for the chuck wagon."

Teal'c stood where he was, and Jack let him take a moment. He laid a hand on his shoulder as he passed, joining Carter and Daniel as they checked the straps on their packs and prepared for the walk ahead. When the big guy took point, Jack thought he looked more at ease, as though a burden had been eased.

The sun continued to beat down, the grassland rolled out before them and the Stargate beckoned in the distance.

Daniel and Carter walked side by side, talking far more than they had on the outward journey. Jack brought up the rear, his team safely in his sights.

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X is for Xenial
by [personal profile] colej55

The members of SG-1 had spent a rather pleasant day thus far. In fact, the only negative Jack complained about was the heat. While Daniel and Sam made nice with the natives, the colonel and Teal'c mostly stayed in the shade under the trees that lined the perimeter of the tribal encampment. Their traditional walk-around proved to be unremarkable. Come to think of it, everything about the day had been unremarkable and Jack was eager to get home in time to catch a little TV, a few beers, and some early Zs.

Given that it was already mid-afternoon and Daniel had been at it for most of the day, the colonel decided that it was time to start pulling him toward the gate. That alone could take hours if he was having a good time. Not that the team's archaeologist was immature, because he most certainly was a dependable, grown up man, but his enthusiasm for the subject of his study sometimes made him petulant and childish when it came time to leave for home. Jack was hoping that he had learned everything there was to know about this apparently very primitive society and that getting him to say goodbye would be easy.

As Jack and Teal'c approached the village, they observed Daniel and Sam watching the tribesmen stacking wood in preparation for building a fire. Evidently a very large fire. The local women were also busy preparing native vegetables and grinding some sort of grain, most likely for making bread.

"So, did you have a good time, kids?"

"Jack!" Daniel whined in response, while Sam smirked from behind him.

The colonel knew that the eminent doctor approached his work very seriously and, although he enjoyed what he did, he was not out to merely have a "good time". Jack had a tremendous amount of respect for the doctor's intellect and valued him as an important team member, but he enjoyed the heck out of goading him from time to time.

Clearing his throat, Daniel started, "This tribe is not unlike those found in West Africa. It would have been a perfect place for the Goa'uld to harvest them from without being seen because the African jungle can be quite dense and sparsely populated. However, from what I can gather, the Goa'uld haven't visited this part of the planet in centuries and the community has enjoyed a quiet existence. There are other tribes within several day's walk, but they evidently don't interact much."

"That's nice, Daniel. And did we learn anything of use?" Jack asked, turning toward the captain.

"Well, sir, this entire area seems to be remarkably similar to West Africa except that my preliminary soil and rock samples were devoid of traces of naquadah or any other valuable mineral. West Africa is rich in bauxite, titanium, gold, and even diamonds, but the ground contents here, as far as I can tell, seem to be entirely mundane. Of course, further study by a geological team might be warranted."

"So, what you're both telling me is that we've spent the day sweltering in this heat just so Daniel could enjoy a sunny afternoon conversing with the natives about loin cloths and such?"

Evidently, Daniel took offense at Jack's remark because he folded his arms tightly against his chest, put his foot down more firmly, and scowled as he seemed to prepare to defend his work.

However, Sam, probably not wanting to witness another of the colonel's and Daniel's famous arguments, spoke first.

"I wouldn't have put it quite that way, sir, but I think we know enough to say that there is little of immediate value to the SGC here... although the indigenous culture is interesting."

"Well, then, I say we gracefully make our exit toward the gate. I hear a tepid shower and some cold beer calling my name."

The colonel was hoping that his team members had had enough of the suffocating heat and were ready to leave. However, he could already tell by the look on Daniel's face that he had found something that piqued his interest. Jack fully expected him to launch into one of his typical speeches that would be an attempt to justify their staying longer.

"Um... The chief of the tribe has invited us to stay for dinner. Apparently, there is some sort of ritual and a huge feast and we are to be their guests of honor. In fact, they have prepared a special hut where we can cool off and rest until it's time for the festivities to begin."

"Daniel, I'm dying here and I really think it's time to go home."

"But Jack, we have the opportunity to perhaps witness tribal rituals that haven't been seen in centuries. What could it hurt to stay for dinner? By then, the sun will have gone down, it will be much cooler on our walk back to the gate, and you'll have had a nap and won't be so cranky."

"Watch it, Daniel. I'm still your boss."

The colonel knew that the remark was made in retaliation for his earlier insinuation that the doctor's work lacked depth and he took no offense. In fact, he enjoyed the verbal sparring as long as it didn't get out of hand. Besides, it seemed to amuse the troops -- even if Teal'c didn't show any outward signs of enjoyment other than an occasional subtle twitch at the corners of his mouth or a rare, terribly glib statement that made Sam giggle.

"A nice nap and dinner, you say? Well, in that case, I suppose we could stay a little longer, but nobody's getting drunk and that's an order. Furthermore, Daniel, you are to make it clear to the chief that we have to leave right after the meal. No hanging around to watch the floor show."

***


When the archaeologist returned from speaking with the tribal leader, they were escorted to a nearby hut. Once inside, Daniel must have felt the need to prove himself because he plunged into the possible history of their hovel.

"This appears to be similar to the typical dwellings of the tribal people in the Liberian interior. It's called a rondavel, which is a circular, one-room mud-and-wattle thatch-roofed hut devoid of windows and having a single low door."

"Yes, Daniel, I see that and thank you so much for the lesson in primitive architecture. Now, if you don't mind, I think I will avail myself of one of these lovely grass mats and have a snooze. Wake me when dinner's ready."

With that, Jack eased himself to the ground, sprawled out on a woven pad, and covered his face with his baseball cap. After a few moments, he raised his hat and said, "I suggest that the rest of you do the same, as the heat has zapped our energy and it's a long hike back to the gate. Teal'c, since sleep isn't your thing, can you keep watch?"

"I can, O'Neill."

"Then it's settled. Nap time, kiddies."

***


The colonel wasn't sure how long he had been asleep when he was awakened by Sam. Daniel and Teal'c were peeking out of the cloth flap that served as a door to their hut.

"Uh, Jack?"

"Yes, Daniel?"

"I'm not sure I like the looks of the dinner preparations."

Rolling over onto his side and leaning up on his elbow, Jack replied, "See... this is exactly why I don't like overstaying our welcome. What's wrong? You're disturbing Carter's beauty rest."

Sam thought she saw the tiniest smirk cross Teal'c's face.

"Well... um...," the archaeologist stammered, still peering through the crack.

"For cryin' out loud! Out with it, Daniel!"

The colonel then crawled over beside the other two members of his team and had a look outside for himself. The tribesman had moved a very large cauldron over the fire pit. Additionally, men dressed in animal skins, resembling leopard hides, were also wearing huge claws and teeth made of metal. They were dancing around the pot.

"And that means what?"

"I'm not sure how to say this tactfully, so I'm just going to be blunt."

Jack's stomach did a flip and he got that itchy feeling on the back of his neck because Daniel, being a skilled diplomat, was normally very careful in his choice of words.

"When the tribal chief said that he wanted to have us for dinner, I thought he was inviting us to join him for dinner. Judging by the leopard men dancing around the fire, I now believe that what he actually said was that we are to be dinner -- quite literally! See that pile of stones outside of his tent? I think that represents the number of people he has eaten."

"Oh, that gives me comfort, Daniel. Is there anything else I should know?"

Presumably because he was nervous, the archaeologist began to give a rather detailed, rambling history of cannibalistic rites based on what he was observing. The colonel let him talk, hoping he would tell them something that would reveal a tactical weakness they could exploit in order to execute their get away.

"Their practices seem to be a cross between several West African cultures. For instance, the stone pile outside of the chieftain's hut could correspond to a ritual indigenous to some of the early Fijian tribes where each stone marked an enemy eaten by their leader. One tribal chief in Fiji is said to have consumed 872 people and to have made a pile of stones to record his achievement. In fact, the ferocity of their cannibal lifestyle deterred European sailors from going near Fijian waters and that's how Fiji became known as the Cannibal Isles. However, in Sierra Leone, the rituals of the leopard men date back to the early 1600's. They would wear leopard skins and fashion claws and teeth out of iron with which to shred their victims. Evidently, the prime object of the Human Leopard Society's hunt was to secure human fat with which to anoint the Borfima -- a magic elixir. Human blood and intestines were brewed to make the potion, but the potency depended upon its being frequently supplemented by human fat. It supposedly gave them superhuman powers and enabled them to transform themselves into leopards. However, since none of us is particularly overweight, I can only surmise that they intend for the older men to eat us to improve their virility. As you can see, most of the human leopards are mature and most likely past their prime. I suspect that they intend to devour our flesh in order to increase their virile powers."

"Daniel, did I just hear you correctly?" Jack asked incredulously. "We're supposed to become the human version of the little blue pill?"

Taking in a long breath after his nervous rant, Daniel replied, "Um... yes, Jack. I think they intend to serve us for dinner as part of a fertility rite."

Taking off his cap and scratching his head, the colonel responded, "That's all very fascinating, but how does it help us escape?"

"Uh... I guess it doesn't," Daniel replied with a somewhat forlorn sounding tone.

"Is there no point in this happy ritual where everyone would be so busy that they wouldn't notice us disappearing into the night?"

"O'Neill, I would imagine that the men I have observed are guards watching our hut so that their quarry does not escape."

Before turning back to Daniel, Jack had a look for himself and he also saw at least four tribesmen armed with spears staring directly and unflinchingly at their location.

"Great, just great! Daniel?"

"Well, I haven't really studied the fine points of the various cannibalistic rituals and, given that we are on a foreign planet rather than on earth, who is to say that they haven't made up their own variations?"

"So, what you're telling me is that you have no idea how this is going to play out."

"I'm sorry that my misinterpretation of the dinner invitation got us into trouble. I never would have suggested that we stay if I'd even remotely suspected something like this would happen."

Daniel had once again wrapped his arms tightly around his chest and was staring at his feet -- a previously observed sign of his nervous contrition. The colonel knew that this wasn't the time for accusations of blame or hurt feelings, as he wanted everyone to be sharp and attentive to their surroundings so that they could seize any opportunity to flee.

"Look, Daniel, it's not your fault. We just seem to have some sort of perverse gift for finding ourselves in off-the-wall situations. Right now, the only thing we need to be thinking about is how to get back to the gate. Ideas, anyone?"

Sam was the first to speak up. "Like Daniel said, this is a simple mud hut. And although it appears to be solidly built, he and Teal'c could probably dig an escape hole out the back where it wouldn't be seen. We could then sneak off into the forest behind us and make our way back to the gate."

"Good thinking, Carter. Teal'c, Daniel... get out your knives and start gouging hard and fast. Carter, you and I will watch for a tactical advantage. If nothing else, we could barrage them with grenades and then make a run for it."

Daniel immediately voiced his objection.

"Just because their tribal rituals don't fit into our social mores, that's no reason to eradicate them."

"What part of they intend to eat us don't you understand, Daniel?"

"Still, if there's a non-violent way out of this, I think we should take it."

"Okay... we'll use ordnance as a diversion first and as a weapon only if necessary. As far as I can tell, they've just got spears, but I'd rather not find out that they're laced with poison. Just the thought makes my butt burn!"

As Jack and Sam quietly discussed tactical manoeuvres and options, Teal'c and Daniel put everything they had into chiseling through the tough wall. Meanwhile, the dance around the fire began to approach the level of frenzy.

"Guys," Jack said with a tone that said, I think we're about to be in deep trouble, "the situation is heating up here. How are you coming with that hole?"

"We have broken through, O'Neill, but it will take a little more time to enlarge the opening."

"Okay, that's a start, but dig faster. Carter, when feasible, you're out first. If necessary, lay down cover fire while the rest of us crawl through. Teal'c, you big hunk of muscle, you'll go last so Daniel and I can pull you out if it's a tight squeeze. We'll improvise after that, but the prime objective is to get to the gate together and in one piece. Understood?"

Each team member replied in their own way and all went back to their appointed tasks.

Several minutes later, the colonel whispered, "Daniel, get over here and make it snappy."

The doctor quickly crawled over next to Jack and snuck a peek out of the hut's flap.

"Uh oh, that's not good."

The leopard men were wildly clawing at the air and snarling loudly while the rest of the tribe clapped and chanted, spurring them on.

"I don't think this part of the ritual is going to last much longer. It looks like they're just about ready for the kill."

The colonel responded, "So, if we're going to get out of here, we have to go now."

Daniel nodded in agreement, as he appeared to swallow hard at a lump in his throat.

"Teal'c, how's it looking back there?"

"I believe that you and Captain Carter can crawl through easily, but you might have to assist Daniel Jackson and me."

"Okay. Carter, you'll make a one-second recon and then go if it looks doable. I'll follow and pull Daniel through. He and I will then help the big guy. Weapons on ready, but please don't shoot yourselves or each other on the way out. Everyone clear?"

All nodded as they clicked the safeties of their guns into the off position.

"Ready, Carter? Go!"

Sam completed a cursory assessment of the situation, and then quickly made her way out of the hut. She crouched low a few feet away, giving her the best vantage point without being seen. Next, the colonel emerged.

"How's it look?" he asked in a hushed voice.

"I think they're still dancing around the fire, sir."

"Good." As Daniel's head appeared in the opening, the colonel said softly, but with authority, "Daniel, give me your hands."

He complied and Jack unceremoniously yanked him through the hole, his belly scraping hard along the ground because the brilliant doctor didn't think to flip over onto his back.

"Teal'c, feet first," the colonel next whispered toward the hut, knowing that the broadest part of the hulking Jaffa was his shoulders.

They only had the massive warrior part of the way out of the makeshift exit when Sam said, "Sir, you had better hurry. The dance has changed again and I really think they're ready to come for us."

Jack and Daniel pulled hard, but Teal's was still wedged firmly against the hole's solid mud sides.

"Teal'c we have no choice and this might hurt," Jack muttered more to himself than the man still encased by the hut. "Daniel, on three. One, two, three!"

With an audible grunt, the two men gave a mighty tug and, when their teammate finally popped free, they both landed hard on their derrieres. However, all three men quickly recovered and assumed fight-ready crouches.

"Daniel, Teal'c, head for the gate. Carter and I will lay down cover fire if necessary. You know the drill. Daniel, dial home. Teal'c, make sure he gets there safely. Don't wait for us -- we'll be right behind you. Now go!"

SG-1 took off running through the forest. Stealth wasn't as much a concern as was quickly circling around to the trail that led to the gate. Otherwise, they would never make it there in time because the dense, bushy undergrowth was slowing their progress.

They had only just made it to the pathway and covered a few hundred yards when they heard yelling and screaming coming from the village. Evidently, the tribe had discovered that the main course of their evening meal was missing.

Although Jack wasn't one for belief in superstition and such, the bush near the village, now alive with human leopards in pursuit, seemed to be imbued with something supernatural, a spirit which was striving to bridge the animal and the human. It gave him the creeps and heightened his sense that their only chance for survival was to be at the gate before the natives caught up with them.

"Run harder!" the colonel ordered.

He knew that it was more than a mile to the stargate and that it was unlikely that they could continue to run full out the entire way, but he hoped that knowing that their being pursued by an angry mob armed with spears might be enough to add extra speed to their flight. Unfortunately, they were only three-quarters of the way there when the first spear went whizzing by.

"Sir," Sam yelled, as they continued to run, gasping for air with their lungs on fire.

"I know, Carter. Let's try some weapon bursts to see if it backs them off."

Sam and Jack both paused for a moment to shoot a quick rifle spray into the air above the natives before they took off at a run again in an effort to catch up with Daniel and Teal'c.

"That should stop them or at least slow them down. Let's go!"

Their tactic worked at first, but it wasn't long before another set of spears narrowly missed them.

"Carter, keep going. I'm going to lob a grenade." Knowing that she would want to hang back to cover him, he added, "That's an order, Captain."

"Yes, sir."

Jack deftly pulled the pin on the bomb, threw it behind them on the trail, and then took off running again, barely missing a beat. Evidently Sam, disobeying his command, had slowed her pace slightly because he caught up to her almost immediately.

"Okay, let's push it!"

Although they were exhausted, they sprinted as hard as they could. By the time they reached the clearing around the gate, Daniel was already dialing amidst another hail of spears that were falling just short of their position.

All four team members crouched low behind the DHD to catch their breath while the gate burst into life. Sam then entered the GDO code.

"Daniel and Teal'c, you're first. Then Carter. I'll provide cover fire. Go, go, go!"

There was still a substantial distance to cover between the DHD and the blue, shimmering wormhole. Daniel and Teal'c dashed off. Jack and Sam followed while facing toward their attackers, again shooting in their general direction, but not straight at them. Just as the first two members of SG-1 neared the dais, spears began to rain down upon them. Their best chance of getting through the gate without being skewered was to make a flying leap and hurl themselves through.

The entire team crashed down upon the gate ramp in a jumbled heap, arms and legs intertwined. Several native weapons accompanied them through and landed on the grating and nearby floor with a wooden thud. Other spears could be heard pecking at the now closed iris.

Amidst their grunts and groans of pain, Teal'c said glibly, while lying atop of his teammate, "Daniel Jackson, I thought that you had assured us that these people were quite xenial."

Although it hurt to laugh, Jack couldn't help himself when the doctor growled breathlessly, "Shut up, Teal'c, and get off of me."

Yep, there was nothing quite like the Jaffa's perfect comic timing at Daniel's expense and Jack loved it!

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Y is for Yule
by [profile] q_d_o_g

The first year was a cautious occasion, everyone still finding their footing around one another. Teal'c was mostly curious about the traditions of 'This Strange Earth Festivity' and Daniel spent most of the night translating Jack's somewhat confusing remarks to the Jaffa, explanations getting increasingly more detailed the more 'Holiday Spirit' he partook in. Sam looked for the most part like she was trying to toe the line between being indignant on Daniels behalf and not laughing too outlandishly at the Colonel's ridiculous made-up mythology of Christmas.

***


The second year all caution was out the window, and she didn't even try to stifle her amusement at her strange teammates. Teal'c decreed that he would prepare a traditional Chulak-ian feast to commemorate the occasion. Jack and Daniel spent most of the evening glued to the Playstation Jack had bought 'for when Cassie came over', stopping briefly when Teal'c announced dinner was served, and again when Sam returned from paying for the pizzas.

***


The third year General Hammond's family went out of town, and he joined them for Christmas, bringing with him a spectacular eggnog recipe. Teal'c wore a paper crown that came out of a bon-bon that Jack delighted in repeating the joke from, in various incarnations, over and over into the night until the General ordered him to stop. Daniel spent the night with a sad smile on his face, his mind on a planet a couple of thousand light-years away. Jacob and Sam stopped by briefly, before they left for San Diego, the excitement over spending the holidays with her long estranged brother's family evident on the young Major's face.

***


The fourth year they were off world over Christmas, hidden underground, with no memory of the tradition they were missing. They thought about celebrating when they got home and realised the date, but before they knew it they were off on another mission, and it didn't seem so important. They eventually exchanged presents over pie in the commissary, 3 months too late and with little fanfare.

***


The fifth year, Cassie, and Janet, insistently invited them all over to join them for the holidays. The Fraiser house was littered with homemade Christmas decorations, tinsel adorning every doorway and banister in sight. Teal'c and Jack got caught under the mistletoe near the staircase, and narrowly avoided an undoubtedly awkward situation by catching a giggling Cassandra and each planting a kiss on her cheek. Daniel spent the evening with his hand attached to his new digital video camera, documenting everything, under the guise of 'learning how to work it', with Carter throwing technical instructions at him, along with occasionally impressed-sounding statements about its specifications no-one else could really translate. By the end of the evening, three quarters of SG1 were asleep by the fire.

***


The sixth year, Daniel wasn't there, and it was Teal'c who spent the evening explaining traditions to a befuddled off-world-er. Jonas was his usual enthusiastic self, sampling anything and everything he could find. Except for the rum-balls that Sam had conjured up, Jack had confiscated them when he first realised exactly how much rum she had used. The bowl sat on the top shelf of his fridge, and everyone pretended not to notice the dwindling contents as the night wore on.

***


The seventh year was a bit surreal. Janet and Cassie and General Hammond all crammed into Jacks living room along with SG1, sneaking furtive glances at Daniel over the top of steaming mugs, immovable grins plastered on their faces.

***


The eighth year, they didn't celebrate together. Jack sent Reynolds home to his family, and spent the evening in the SGC, bent over his desk reviewing paperwork. Jack doing paperwork, which in itself would have once been considered a true Christmas miracle. Sam and Cassie lay in bed and watched 'It's a wonderful life' and tried alternately to both think and not think about Janet. Teal'c disappeared off-world, taking the rare downtime to visit with Bra'tac, Ry'ac and his new family. And Daniel was somewhere, hovering on the edges of their hopes, drinking coffee in a diner in the sky.

***


The Ninth year, Jack flew in from Washington in the morning, just in time to breeze through the mall and pick out a few gifts. Sam was heard grumbling how she wished there were 'about 15 more of me here now, to help clean up' after Teal'c and Daniel used her kitchen to create a feast to rival those served on PX6-5X2. Cam spent most of the evening with a kind of disbelieving grin on his face, at once grateful to be included in the tradition, and still a little in awe of it all.

***


Ten years after that first Christmas, when yet another eager alien would question them, they would stumble on exactly how they had started spending the holiday as a team. Sam would smile and say she really couldn't recall how she came to be there that first year, just that she was sure it had something to do with Daniel. Daniel would laugh and tell how Jack had forced him out of his lab and into the grocery store the night before, stating that it would be happening and that would be that. Jack would insist that Teal'c had been so confused he felt he had to help him experience the holidays 'properly the first time'. And Teal'c would close his eyes and nod his head regally, stating a distinct memory of the then-captain Carter professing the desire to spend the evening with their company.

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Z is for Zeus
by [personal profile] eilidh17

"Whichever way you look at it: a gilded cage is still a gilded cage."

"I'm not asking you to throw yourself at it, Jack, just... touch it."

"And get myself thrown clear across the room again? Are you nuts?"

"Clear across the room would imply that you flew beyond the opposite side of the containment field, which clearly you didn't, and besides, the field flared when you made contact with it so clearly it's reacting to your touch."

"It's a force field, Daniel! Of course it reacted to my touch! Carter, wanna take over here?"

"I think what Daniel means, sir, is that this isn't like other repelling fields we've come into contact with."

"Like Boch?"

"That's one example, yes, or the field the Bedrosians trapped us in. This one..." Sam stepped closer to the barely visible electric field and held her hand out, just shy of touching it. "This one is different."

"How so?"

"Most force fields are designed as barriers to contain or repel specific objects."

Jack shook his still numb hand as a show of support to her theory. "Yeah, got that loud and clear."

"They're not designed to be lethal, though, or it would negate the purpose for having them. Why go to the bother of trapping something or someone, only to have them die the moment they come in contact with the field?"

"My hand doesn't agree with you, Carter."

"It's not dead is it, sir?" she said deadpan.

"Just get to the point."

"My point, is that when you came into direct contact with the field, besides stunning you, which in this case I think is a subconscious reaction to an impending electrical jolt--"

"Are you saying I subconsciously knew to throw myself across the room because I was about to be electrocuted?"

"I'm saying your mind was expecting to be repelled by the field and your body reacted to the contact."

Jack knotted his brow in confusion. "It zapped me, Carter."

"Yes," she agreed, "but your reaction may not have been in direct proportion to the amount of electrical discharge."

"Would you care to test that theory with a practical demonstration?"

"No, sir, but while you were busy being zapped, the field flared. Okay, so that's what generally happens when positive pressure is applied to a force such as this, but it flared for longer than I'd expect. Considerably longer."

"So while I was busy writhing on the floor in agony, you were?"

"Watching the field, sir."

"Right. Gotcha."

"I believe it was the writing illuminated by the field that Daniel Jackson and Major Carter were most interested in," Teal'c offered, stepping closer to the barrier.

Numb arm seemingly forgotten, Jack clambered to his feet and sidled up to Teal'c. "Writing, you say?"

"Yes," Teal'c grumbled.

"And you didn't recognize it?"

"Ah, hello?" Daniel interrupted, waving a hand at them. "Linguist here."

"Well?" Jack cocked his head at Daniel. "What did it say?"

"I don't know--what I mean is the field didn't stay visible long enough for me to get a clear enough look at the writing. It looked like Greek, though."

"Greek?"

"Or..."

"Or?"

"No. No. I'm pretty sure it was Greek."

"You don't sound sure."

"I said the field didn't stay visible long enough for me to be totally certain, but I thought I saw the name Zeus among the scrawl."

Teal'c caught everyone's attention with a low, unintelligible grumble.

"Something on your mind, big guy?"

"That would depend on whether we have stumbled across one of Zeus' domains or merely a temple bearing homage to his past deeds."

"Good deeds?"

"He was a Goa'uld."

"Ah," Jack replied with a raised brow. "Light in the good deeds department."

"Zeus was the offspring of Cronus, and a Goa'uld known for his many erotic escapades, among other personal endeavors."

"Which kind of fits the profile we have of him from ancient times on Earth," Daniel started. "He was regarded as the king who presided over the universe and assigned many of the lesser gods their various roles, although his stature varied depending on whose account you preferred: Homer or Hesiod, just to name a few. Basically, he was the god of the gods; responsible for a litany of godly and heroic children."

"Wasn't he the father of Aphrodite?" Sam asked.

"So history says, yes. Helen, Apollo, Athena, and Minos can all trace their lineage back to Zeus and his many favored consorts."

"Many consorts? Wasn't he supposed to have been married to Hera?"

"Again, it depends on whose account of Zeus' deeds you prefer to follow. Commonly, Hera is thought to have been the mother of Hephaestus, Hebe and Ares."

"So, our boy Zeus was a bit libidinous," Jack smirked.

Daniel shrugged. "Just a bit." He turned to Teal'c. "There is one thing I'm curious about though: Our history has Zeus sired by Cronus and his consort Rhea. I take it Rhea wasn't a Goa'uld or this would make Zeus a harcesis."

"Rhea was indeed a Goa'uld. She was a queen in the employ of Cronus and tasked with providing worker symbiotes for his expanding army. However, at various times of need, she was also asked to produce heirs for Cronus, selecting only the most intelligent and worthy human slaves from whom to harvest the code of life. The experience was said to be most pleasurable for the slaves, until they outlived their usefulness and were put to death."

Daniel winced at the implication. "Well, that explains Zeus but what about all the children he sired? Another queen?"

"No. It is more likely that Zeus simply took advantage of Cronus' queen while he was engaged in battle and then had those symbiotes implanted in the most faithful of his human slaves, claiming them as his children in much the same way Cronus did."

"I bet that went down well with Cronus."

"Indeed."

"Well, you play god and look where it gets you. So," Jack drawled, "lovin' the history lesson, but where does this leave us, besides in a six foot by six foot gilded cage?" He waved a hand at the barely discernible field that surrounded them. "Not that I'm not enjoying the company."

Daniel ran his gaze over the length and breadth of their prison, at times reaching out towards the force field, before pulling his hand back. "The only way I can even try and read the writing on the... wall, is for one of us to keep contact with the field for longer."

"My arm is still numb from the last time."

"Which makes you the most likely choice, Jack."

"Why?" Jack squawked.

"Because I think Sam is right and the field isn't intended to harm anyone. I get the feeling this is a game, probably a puzzle of some type that we're supposed to solve in order to gain our freedom."

"That I understand, but playing sacrificial bunny was not in my job description."

"Suck it up, Jack."

"Sir," interjected Carter. "It makes sense that it would have to be you. We need Daniel to translate the wall and me to continue working on another means of escape should he fail."

"And Teal'c?"

"If this is a Goa'uld force field then it is unlikely to respond to my touch."

"Let me guess: You don't you want to test your theory either?"

"I do not." Teal'c battled to suppress a smirk.

"Right. Here, take this." Jack shrugged his pack and unclipped his P90, handing it to Sam. "I'd hate for my ever increasingly numb body to slip and flip the safety." Stepping up to the barrier, he numb left arm dangling uselessly by his side, he shook out his leg as through preparing to land a kick.

"Ah, Jack?"

"What now, Daniel?"

"I don't think kicking it is a good idea, at least, not yet."

Jack turned to him, face set in a scowl. "And why would that be?"

"Because hopping around on one leg is so undignified and you still have one good arm."

"Oh, right. Okay." He turned back to the field and reached up to touch it. "You're sure about this, Carter?"

"Yes, sir."

"Pinky swear?"

"Um, if I have to."

"Good enough for me." Jack didn't sound convinced, but closing his eyes tightly, he leaned into the field. The barrier flared brightly, sparks of light dancing over his hand and up his arm. His eyes were still closed tightly, pain creasing his face as he visibly tried to shake off the urge to pull away.

Behind Jack, Daniel was hastily scribbling down notes in his journal as the brilliant streams of Greek text hung suspended in the air around them.

In the next instant the field dimmed and Jack staggered back, unable to catch himself as he went down, landing on his butt and flopping down onto his back. Momentarily dazed, he groaned his general dissatisfaction before prying one eye open. "Did ya' get it all?"

Daniel chewed on the end of his Bic, reading over his notes. "Uh, no."

"You have got to be--"

"I'm sorry, Jack, there was just too much for me to get down."

"And you didn't think to do an on the spot translation without taking notes?" he grouched as Sam knelt beside him, taking his pulse.

"You'll live," she pronounced with a pat to his shoulder. "How's the arm?"

"What do you think, Carter?"

Sam raised her hands in resignation and made a hasty retreat.

Jack, arms clearly unresponsive, struggled to sit upright and finally accepted the pack Teal'c wedged behind him. "What did you discover, Daniel?"

"Well, this is definitely a puzzle."

"I thought we knew that?"

"Never hurts to confirm these things," he replied with a dismissive wave of the hand, preoccupied with his notes.

"Don't make me come over there!"

Daniel stopped chewing on his Bic and slid his gaze from Jack's arms to his face, a small smile tugging at his lips. "And do what? Arm wrestle?"

"Not funny."

"Look, best I can tell, the top half of the wall pays homage to Zeus: Zeus the all powerful, Zeus the mighty, Zeus the bringer of thunder--you get the idea."

Sam peered over Daniel's shoulders at his notes. "So this is a temple to Zeus?"

"Ah, no, he built it, or rather, he had it built."

"How can you tell?"

"Because after the several passages that go on and on about his might and the glorious era he ushered in for his people, the many lesser gods he sired, that type of thing, he signed his own name."

"Oh, we are full of ourself," Jack quipped.

"I don't know whether you've noticed, but the Goa'uld tend to be rather ego-maniacal when it comes to bolstering their profile."

"Really? Do tell!" Jack oozed sarcasm. "What's with the puzzle?"

"Well," Daniel frowned at his notes, "that's the problem. The barrier didn't stay lit long enough for me to get to that part. I meant there was a reference to having to solve something, but that's as far as I got before you stepped away."

"Oh, no, no, and no. I'm not touching that damn thing again!"

"Sir, we need to know what the rest of the writing says."

"Yeah, I get that, Carter. It's the whole touching thing I don't like. Hey, here's an idea, what about pushing a pack into the barrier?"

"I don't think that'll work, sir. This force field is clearly made to contain biological life."

"How do you know?"

"Because inanimate objects don't generally have the ability to read. Most of the Goa'uld traps we've come across have been designed for life forms to trigger and find their way out of, if indeed there is a way out."

"Are you saying we don't have a choice here?"

"Unless you'd prefer to stay in the hopes of being rescued, no."

"Not when I really need to pee."

"The Tau'ri possess extremely small bladders," mumbled Teal'c.

"You know what they say: small bladders, big--"

Daniel's, "That's okay, Jack, we get the picture," was quickly followed by a harried, "Sir," from Sam.

Jack dropped his chin to his chest and groaned. "Okay, so we have at it again. Daniel, any chance you can read quicker this time?"

"Any chance you can tough out the discharge a little longer?"

"Touché."

***


From his position, propped up on his pack, both arms and one leg totally useless, Jack pondered the last few hours' events with a modicum of barely restrained anger. Carter finished checking his pulse, declaring him sufficiently numbed in most of his extremities, in dire need of hair smoothing products, but none the worse for wear. Truth be told, he had been able to maintain his contact with the barrier for a fraction longer with each attempt, and besides the lingering numbness, the only part of him protesting was his tingling teeth... and the growing need to relieve himself.

"You do realize I'm pretty much out of body parts here. Can't exactly kick the barrier with my spare leg and stay upright at the same time."

"I've been thinking about that." Daniel sat cross-legged in front of him, journal open and balanced on one knee.

"Any pearls of wisdom you'd like to share?"

"Uh, well, we'll have to push you into the barrier while you're laying down."

"That's a terrible idea!"

"It's all I've got, sorry." Daniel picked up his journal and continued mulling over his notes, seemingly nonplussed to Jack's fate.

"Carter?"

"Sorry, sir, I have to agree with Daniel here."

"One of you two is going to have to try this."

Teal'c turned away from the barrier and squatted down beside Jack. "Major Carter and I have both touched the force field but with no result."

"You have?"

"Yes, sir," Sam chimed in. "While you were napping after your last attempt. The barrier flared but the writing didn't light up."

Daniel looked up from his journal again. "It's either keyed to ignore Goa'uld physiology or the cage serves some sort of ceremonial purpose."

"Like? There must be something in all the notes you've made."

"Well, other than a meticulous record of his many godly attributes and achievements, no, not really. I was fairly certain this was a puzzle to be solved, I mean it makes sense that it might be, but I'm not so sure now."

Jack drove the heel of his only working leg into the floor in frustration. "So I've gone through all of this for nothing?"

"I wouldn't say it's for nothing, Jack. The picture Zeus paints here is one of an unchaste Goa'uld who preferred the company of his many concubines over whatever role Cronus had for him. From what I can tell, his carnal pleasures weren't just restricted to one sex either."

"Whoa! TMI, Daniel!"

Daniel waved to the room beyond their force field prison. "All of this used to be some sort of reception hall or greeting place. I'm guessing this is where Zeus held court and ruled his domain from."

"Big domain?"

"No idea," he said with a shrug.

"Cronus did not consider Zeus a threat to his rule. It is unlikely he ever rose to a position of any great power." Teal'c rocked back on his haunches and rose to his feet. "The Jaffa under Cronus' rule were under no illusions as to the punishment they would receive at the mere mention of Zeus."

"So why didn't Pops just kill him off?" Jack asked.

"Of that I am unsure."

Daniel closed his journal and slid his way over to the barrier. "One more attempt should be enough. I get the feeling everything we need to know is contained in the last few paragraphs of text."

Jack looked up at Teal'c. "You do know you'll be carrying me out of here?"

***


He could feel no pain, which was a blessing. Eyes closed with the pretense of sleep, Jack took himself back to Charlie's birth and the epidural Sara had all but screamed at the medical staff to give her. He could see the sense in it now. There was something to be said for a body numbing bliss that chased away all your aches and pains, even if it was only temporary.

"Huh!"

Jack cracked open one eye and squinted at Daniel. "You huh'd?"

"Ah, I thought you were sleeping?"

"I thought you were working on getting us out of here?"

"Oh, I am. I can."

"So what was the 'huh' for?"

"I just realized something."

"Important? Something worthy of a memo perhaps?"

Daniel reached for his back and pulled out his digital recorder. "Forgot I had this."

"You're kidding me? So I went through all of this for nothing?"

"I wouldn't say all of it, no, just maybe some of it." Daniel smiled tightly and shoved the camera back in his pack.

"I doubt it would have worked anyway, Daniel," Sam rubbed her eyes and peeked out at him from behind her fingers. "I can't tell without any proper diagnostic equipment, but there's a good chance that whenever the colonel activated the field, the discharge would have disrupted the camera's functions."

"So I don't get to kick his butt all the way back to the 'Gate?"

"No, sir."

"Nuts."

"On the upside, I think I've worked out how to get us out of here," Daniel announced.

"And about time! Please tell me it doesn't involve me touching that damn barrier again?"

"Not you, no, Jack. It'll have to be me this time."

"Oh, well..."

"What did you discover, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked.

"That sometimes a gilded cage is exactly just that."

Jack tried to hurry him up with a few rapid nods. "Meaning?"

"Basically, new concubines to Zeus' court have to pass through this point before meeting their god."

"So this is like some sort of indoctrination point?" Sam suggested, her brow knitted in confusion. "Then why the force field?"

"I have no idea, but I get the feeling the technology that drives this must be malfunctioning, because if this is an initiation of some sort, then why bother stunning the initiate? Doesn't make a whole lot of sense." Daniel waved to the space the writing usually appeared when the field was activated. "The barrier is probably meant to be interactive, with the user initiating different portions of the text by touch. Kinda like reading at your own pace."

"And when they're finished with one portion of the wall, they light up the next?"

"Right, Sam." Daniel frowned at the barrier. "Zeus clearly loved the sound of his own voice, or in this case, the tales of his own achievements. Each initiate is supposed to be immersed in his history before being allowed into the court."

"How do we shut down the initiation?"

"What happens when you reach the end of something you're watching?"

"You hit stop?"

"Exactly. At the end of the very last line of text is the Greek word, stamata, which means to stop or end. All we have to do is touch the word and the barrier should drop."

"As easy as that?"

"Pretty much. And as neither you nor Teal'c can interact with the barrier, and Jack is fully immobilized, it's up to me to shut it down."

***


The event horizon fluctuated briefly as it released SG-1 and they stepped out onto the 'Gate ramp. Above in the control room, General Hammond had been briefing SG-2 for a search and rescue mission when the call of an offworld activation and the grinding rings of the Stargate alerted them to incoming travelers.

"Medical team to the 'Gate Room!" Hammond ordered as his premier team ambled down the metal walkway, Colonel O'Neill hoisted across Teal'c's shoulders in a classic fireman's carry, and Doctor Jackson with his arm in a makeshift sling.

Jack tilted his head to the side and smiled up at the general. "No need for a medical team, sir."

"Are you okay, Colonel? Doctor Jackson?"

"We're fine! Feeling no pain at all. Not a thing, sir!" he called out, then lowered his voice to a whisper for Teal'c's benefit. "Infirmary, James, and don't spare the horses."

"I am not James!"

Hammond shook his head in bemusement, marveling at how interesting SG-1's debriefings tended to be.

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