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Lines of Ancient began to scroll up the screen. "Whoa," Sam said.
"Can you…uh…can you slow that down?" Daniel asked, trying in vain to read as the text rolled past.
Grabbing the mouse, Sam clicked, on one of the lines. The scrolling stopped. She moved experimentally, learned that she could page up or down at will. "There. Okay, let's go back to the beginning."
Daniel nodded. "Okay, this…this…" he pointed at one of the lines, "is a date. Um…about three months ago, if I'm translating correctly.
"The brilliant Doctor Daniel Jackson make a mistake in translations? Say it can't happen," Casey teased.
"Ha ha," Daniel responded, although his heart battered his ribs faster and harder for a few moments as her faith in him wrapped itself around him like a comforting blanket.
"Okay, anything important jumping out at you?" Sam asked.
"Uh…no." Daniel motioned that he was ready for the next page. For nearly ten minutes the room was silent save for the sound of the four teammates breathing as he continued to read. "Wait," he said, when Sam began to scroll again.
She'd been watching his eyes, knew when he'd reached the bottom of the monitor screen. Sam rolled the mouse slightly. "What?"
"Okay…this is when the device encountered SG-13. 'Unidentified intruders' is what it calls them. Then there's what looks like a bit of program code…um…the word defend is there…" He paused. "Uh oh."
"Uh oh?" Sam echoed. "Uh oh is not good."
"No, it's not good. This is a record of the device activating shields and weapons."
"That's not 'uh oh' worthy," Casey said.
"No, the fact that it activated a long-range communication device is. There must be something in this that can serve as a communicator of some sort," Daniel explained.
"Uh oh," Casey and Sam intoned simultaneously.
"We should warn SG-13," Daniel said.
"At the very least," Casey said, shivering violently.
Because of her proximity to him, Daniel felt the movement of her body. He turned around to look at her. "Casey?"
"Something so…something so bad," she whispered. "Trouble, with a capital 'T'."
"I think we should recommend that SG-13 be brought home. We have hours of images of those ruins, no need for Cam to make redundant copies," Daniel said hoarsely.
"I agree," Sam nodded.
"Do we know the identity of the recipient of the message?" Teal'c asked.
Daniel scanned the lines of text. There. "Um…it's fairly safe to assume that any of Anubis's…er…'lieutenants'…Goa'uld who were loyal to him…were privy to most of what he was doing, right?"
"I dunno, Daniel. Anubis was so paranoid…" Sam said. "Still, it's safe to assume that they at least had an idea or two about what he was up to. Why?"
"Amaterasu was one of those loyal to Anubis, right?" Daniel continued.
"Right," Sam affirmed.
"Well, she just got a call."
"She figures if Anubis was interested in Ancient ruins, there was a reason," Casey mused.
"That's what I'd guess," Daniel nodded.
"Not good," Sam said. "We have got to get that team home now!"
Without a thought about where Bregman and his crew might be lurking, the four raced from the room, heading in a straight line for the elevator. The sooner SG-13 was home safely, the better.
A A A A A A
When the klaxons once again began to wail, Bregman started slightly. "Does this happen…" He paused, turned in a circle, and grabbed an airman who was walking by. "Does this," he waved his hand in the air, indicating the sirens and lights, "happen so often every day?"
"Sometimes," the young man replied. "Some days there's nothing at all." With a shrug, he continued on his way.
A A A A A A
The four teammates dashed into the control room. "Walter, dial up P3X 666," Sam ordered. "Hurry!"
"What's going on?" Hammond asked as soon as he arrived.
"Daniel and I managed to examine the data on that device," Sam said.
"Lots of incredible images. But more importantly, a report of routine activity. When that thing ran into SG-13, it sent out a message."
"I see," Hammond said.
"Amaterasu is probably on her way," Daniel explained. "If so, SG-13 is in big trouble if they're still on the planet when she gets there."
"Communication link established," Walter announced.
Hammond leaned over and grabbed the microphone. "SG-13, come in. This is General Hammond."
Casey was tugging at her lip, her arms around her waist. It was a posture she'd assumed off and on for the majority of the day. Not even the warmth of Daniel's arm around her shoulders could offer the comfort she normally felt.
A A A A A A
On the PX3 666, Dixon watched as Cam took yet more pictures of falling down walls. He grabbed his radio. "Dixon here. Go ahead, sir."
"Colonel Dixon, we have reason to believe the probe you found was being used by the Goa'uld. We also believe it sent out a subspace transmission prior to your disabling of it. I'm ordering you to return to Stargate Command immediately," Hammond's voice said.
"Roger that, sir. Estimate arrival time fifteen minutes. Dixon out," the colonel replied. "Pack it up, Doctor," he called to Balinsky, "We're going home."
Cam looked over his shoulder. The expression on his CO's face stopped the protest forming on his lips. He gave a longing glance toward the ruins he'd yet to investigate, already packing his equipment.
"Wells, Bosworth," Dixon said into the radio.
Following the narrow path they'd found, one that seemed to circle the perimeter of the ruins, the two SF's paused. "Wells here," the young man said into the radio clipped to his shoulder.
"Bring it home, boys, we're booking out," Dixon's voice ordered.
"Roger that. Wells out."
"It's about time," Bosworth muttered.
Neither man had taken a step before a staff blast from nowhere impacted on Wells, striking him in the back. He went down, face-first.
Bosworth immediately aimed his P90 in the direction the shot had come from, and opened fire. He straddled Well's immobile body, to protect his fallen teammate. Grabbed his radio. "We're taking fire!" he yelled.
A A A A A A
Daniel was sorting through his pack. He'd promised Casey he'd meet her in the supply room. Knowing that a message had been sent out to a Goa'uld, and that said Goa'uld would be on the way to P3X 666, there was always the chance that the bad guys would arrive before the two SG teams could make it home. As Jack had told him several times, a lot of hell could be traveled in fifteen minutes. It was a fact that SG-1 had experienced several times…none of which he'd ever care to repeat.
"Uh, Doctor Jackson? Hi." Bregman said hesitantly. He stood in the doorway of the office, but made no attempt to enter the room.
"Hey, how's it going?" Daniel asked, before the silence that had fallen could stretch out any longer than it had.
Bregman nodded at the pack. "So, you're packing? You're going on a mission off-… I'm sorry, I forgot the expression."
"Off world?" Daniel said, continuing to fill the pack with two books, and a notebook with notes on Ancient dialects. It was hard telling what else might go wrong…what other Ancient device would be activated, and require his expertise to help shut it off. He'd need reference materials in that case, no doubt.
"Off world? Is that it? So you're going off world?" The journalist slowly entered the office, and stood beside the archaeologist.
Daniel didn't respond. He didn't want to admit that he knew…hell, everyone in the SGC knew by now…that things had gone tits up for one of the teams. Hopefully that was a fact that Bregman and his film crew didn't know.
Bregman pointed to the camcorder beside the pack. "That's the camera you use on missions, though. Right?"
"Yeah," Daniel replied noncommittally.
He picked up the camera, turned it over to examine it. "I've seen hours and hours of your footage. Hours of it. Inscriptions and ruins and…and artifacts," Bregman said quietly.
In spite of himself, Daniel grinned. "Cool, huh?"
Handing the camera to Daniel, Bregman shook his head slightly. "I…uh…I wonder. Uh…if you get the opportunity…um…maybe you could point your camera at some action, you know? Just for a change. Okay?"
"See, that's the thing," Daniel said, the edge in his voice warning Bregman of the line he was about to cross, "When there's action, I…I'm too busy to be pointing a camera at anything. "I'm…you know…running, shooting…translating what the bad guys are saying, that kind of thing. Yep."
Bregman took a step backward, physically and metaphorically. "It's just that…for me. I mean, I've heard a lot about these amazing events. Unfortunately, my medium is visual. I can't tell the real story unless I have pictures. I'm not suggesting you put anybody in danger, certainly not yourself. But…you know…if the opportunity arises, just…you know…take a second and just point your camera lens at something that…you know…moves."
Daniel was obvious about his opinion of the 'advice' when he carefully checked his watch. "Right. I'm not scheduled to go off world for another couple of days…" He shrugged. The look he gave Bregman offered an apology he certainly didn't feel.
"No, no, no, no. If it's there. Shoot it."
"Right," Daniel replied. Hoping he didn't sound as snarky to Bregman as he did to his own ears.
"Just not the inscriptions all the time. Just some action would be good. Action." Backing out of the room, Bregman mimed running. Then he hurried out, and back down the corridor where Rundell and the crew waited. If something was going on, then maybe, just maybe he'd get film of it.
Shoving the camera into the pack more forcefully than necessary, Daniel glared at the doorway. And if Bregman was anywhere near the elevator doors when he got there, he was going to use his pack to deck that son-of-a-bitch. He could always call it an accident.
A A A A A A
Colonel Tom Rundell was accustomed to escorting visiting dignitaries, usually high ranking military officers, through the NORAD facility. He'd been called upon a time or two to accompany Senators from the Senate Oversight Committee through the underground bunker known as Stargate Command. Because of their limited security clearances, none of those assignments had been particularly unpleasant. He was most definitely going to let his superiors know that if any further film-making was to be done in either NORAD or the SGC, he was going on accumulated leave until said film was finished.
He had finally obtained permission for Bregman and his 'posse' to film in the 'gate room itself. He was certain that the journalist would be irritated to learn that he'd not be seeing the 'gate operate, but that film footage taken earlier in the program of the Stargate being dialed, and the event horizon established, would be provided for him.
Waving Shep and James toward him, Rundell pointed to one of the thick blast doors. "Go ahead and get a few shots. Mr. Bregman is on his way," he said.
"Finally," Shep said, with obvious excitement.
"Yeah, this will make 'ol Emmett perk up," James quipped.
They'd barely stepped into the room when the inner wheel of the monument-sized circle began to spin. At the same moment, the klaxons that had gone on and off all day once again set up the alarm.
"Holy shit!" James whispered, his eyes wide and glued to the Stargate.
"Yeah," Shep mumbled beside him.
"I'm sorry, sir, you're going to have to leave," said one of the SF's who came racing into the room.
Grabbing each tech by the arm, Rundell backed out of the room. Gut instinct told him this wasn't something as routine as a team leaving or arriving. He could only hope to keep Bregman out of the way, and that damned camera off, during the duration of whatever crisis was about to befall.
A A A A A A
"I repeat, we're taking fire!" Bosworth said. He sounded the slightest bit panicked.
"Son-of-a-bitch," Dixon muttered.
"Colonel, Wells has been hit, bad," Bosworth's voice echoed in the radio.
"Shit!" Cam swore.
The look of horror on Cam's face was probably a reflection of his own, Dixon thought distractedly. "Get to the 'gate!" he ordered the archaeologist. "Evans, this is Dixon, you copy?"
Cam nodded his understanding, left his equipment where it lay as he bolted in the direction of the Stargate. He could feel Dixon behind him, hear the steady slap of leather against the hard-packed dirt of the path.
"What's up, Dave?"
"Bosworth and Wells are under fire. Wells has been hit," Dixon replied breathlessly
"Dial home," Dixon continued, breathing hard. "I have the feeling we're in for one hell of an afternoon."
Minutes seemed to drag to hours as the two men ran toward the Stargate. Twice Dixon had opened fire on movement in the surrounding trees. When the 'gate came into view, the center of the giant circle was shimmering. He keyed his radio. "SG-niner, we're under fire. Repeat, we're under fire."
"Understood," was the calm reply from the SGC.
"Requesting backup, SG-niner, I repeat, requesting backup. We also need a medical team. One man down." Dixon turned to the Major. "I saw six Jaffa. Think I took out a couple of them."
"I'm going back to my men. You hold the 'gate. Balinsky, get back there and tell them what we need."
"What do we need?" Cam asked, leaning forward, hands on his knees as he tried to pull much needed oxygen into his lungs.
"At least a couple of teams. Might not be a bad idea to bring some heavy munitions. There might be more of them out there," Dixon replied.
With a nod, Cam bolted up the stairs and through the event horizon. He stumbled, and nearly fell when his boots hit the ramp of the SGC. "Bad…under fire…Wells hit," he gasped.
Faces in the control room went pale. Having a mission go 'FUBAR' was bad enough. To have it happen when a film crew and a journalist who wasn't shy about voicing his prejudice against the military in general, and the fact that the 'secret program' existed in particular, had all of them wondering just how the following hours would play out. Not one of them believed it would be good…for the personnel under fire from Jaffa; or the SGC, under fire from Emmett Bregman.
A A A A A A
Cam Balinsky stood in the briefing room with General Hammond; visibly shaking. Streaks of dirty brown colored his face where drops of sweat had run through the dust he'd stirred up looking at the ruins. It was obvious he was in shock. He still hadn't managed to catch his breath as he told the general what had happened. "Wells is alive, but he's hurt badly. I don't think he can be moved."
Jack was the first of the team to race into the room. "How many Jaffa?" he asked immediately. If the team was under fire, there was only one reason why.
"I don't know," Cam admitted.
"Five? Ten? A hundred? What?" Jack demanded.
"Uh…Colonel Dixon counted six," Cam replied. "He went back to help defend Wells. He requested a couple of teams, and some heavy 'munitions, just in case there were more, he said."
"Did the Jaffa come through the Stargate?" Hammond asked.
"No, no. They had to come by ship. SG-6 was covering the 'gate," Cam said.
"The 'gate's clear?" Jack asked, surprised.
"They were still there when I left," Cam explained. "The colonel wanted them to hold the 'gate."
Jack looked at Hammond. "Sir-"
He didn’t have to hear it to know what the request was. "Take SG teams 5 and 7, and Doctor Fraiser," Hammond said.
Jack was already moving back toward the door. "Thank you, sir," he called over his shoulder.
Jack paused. Stuck his head back inside the room. "Yes, sir?" Understood from his eyes what Hammond feared. "I know. It sounds like an ambush to me too, but there's nothing else we can do, right?"
Sending men and women into the heat of battle was never easy. But their own men were depending on them. It was the only way for everyone to return home. "Right. Go," Hammond said quietly.
Cam scrubbed his hands over his face, smearing the dirt even more. Fought back the tears that threatened to fall. This wasn't the first time that one of the missions he'd accompanied SG-13 on had gone to hell. There had been numerous close calls, but nothing like this…there had never been injuries before, not even minor ones. And it was his fault. Somehow he'd triggered that sentinel…or guard…or whatever it was. And, the only thing that made sense was that a Goa'uld had been alerted. Or maybe even just randomly picked up the message. It didn't matter how it had happened, the fact of the matter was that it had. He'd tripped up booby traps before. That just went with being an archaeologist. But he'd never set off a trap like this one! He certainly wasn't going to sit this one out! That was his team out there! One of his teammates was down…because of his screwup! He was down the stairs, heading for the armory, the thought that he'd not been given permission to join the rescue teams not finding purchase in his mind. SG-13 was still on that planet. He was part of SG-13. That was all that mattered to him.
When the alarms began screaming again, the sound of running feet accompanied the noise. Rundell and two SF's herded James and Shep into a side corridor, out of the way of the main hallway. It didn't prevent the two men from seeing the members of SG-1 as they hurried by, or from hearing the snatches of conversation…
"It's all because I wanted an aerial survey," Daniel said, obviously annoyed at himself.
"It took me too long to figure out how to download that data," Sam argued, castigating herself for her 'failure'.
"None of that matters now," Jack said calmly "Radar, anything to tell me?"
The blonde shook her head. "Sorry, boss." And she was blaming herself for not seeing the trouble to begin with.
Bregman looked up as the red lights began to flash…again. They'd come on briefly…not longer than two or three minutes about ten minutes earlier. He'd ignored them because of the brevity of the 'alert.' How can anyone get anything done with all the deterrent racket and the light show that goes on all time? He hurried toward the 'gate room. Maybe they were finally going to be allowed to film the Stargate in action! He slowed down slightly when he noticed his crew and Rundell standing to the side of the corridor. "What's going on?" he asked, his voice revealing his confusion. "Shouldn't you be in there filming this? I thought you guys were scheduled to get shots of the 'gate?"
Shep shook his head slightly. "We got bumped again."
"Something's come up," James added.
"Something big," Rundell admitted. "You just missed SG-1. They were headed for the 'gate room in full gear."
"You got it on tape?" he asked hopefully.
Shep and James shook their heads. "No-" James started.
That's the last time I go to the bathroom without leaving strict orders to keep that camera rolling on everything, Bregman grumped silently.
"It's unauthorized. It's ongoing-" Rundell said.
"Ongoing activity," Bregman cut in. "I know. But…SG-1?"
"Yes," James replied.
"When I spoke to Doctor Jackson just a few minutes ago, he said he wasn't due to go off world for a couple of days. What's changed?" Bregman asked.
He'd been shocked to see SG-1 racing toward the 'gate room. That surprise had caused him to say more than he ever should have. Rundell stood straighter, tugged at his uniform shirt slightly to straighten it. "I don't know, but it happens all the time," he replied, recovering his calm demeanor.
"But you said it was something big?" Bregman pushed.
"Something big happens all the time, around here," Rundell said coldly. He didn't need Bregman to go on a tangent, demanding to know what was happening. Not in the middle of a crisis!
Bregman turned around when he heard the opening of the elevator doors. "Something's happening right now. Follow me…let's go! Come on!"
The crew reached the corridor junction just as Doctor Fraiser and a medical team, also dressed in combat gear, hurried toward the 'gate room.
"That's the CMO, right? Doctor Fraiser?" Bregman asked, sparing a glance for Rundell, who nodded. He dashed forward, waving that the camera should follow him. "Doctor Fraiser?"
Janet never broke stride. "Sorry, I have to go," she tossed over her shoulder.
Bregman tried to follow as Janet and the medical team ran into the 'gate room. Two SF's immediately blocked his path.
"You're not allowed, Mr. Bregman. And you know that," Rundell said quietly…firmly.
"I…I…" Bregman continued to try to see around the guards. "I just…" He gave a sigh of frustration. How in the hell was he ever going to get a documentary made at this rate?
He waited until Rundell was busy conversing with one of the SF's before turning to James and Shep. "We're going to stick around here. Something is going on, and I'm going to get it on film," he declared determinedly.
The two Air Force techs exchanged nervous glances. Neither were going to jeopardize their military careers for this man's ego…and at the moment, that seemed to be all that was driving Emmett Bregman.
A A A A A A
Majors Wheaton and Andrews had their teams rushing through the 'gate on the heels of SG-1. The group scattered, taking fire the moment they emerged from the event horizon.
Jack grabbed his radio. "Dixon, what's the situation?"
"I could use some help here," Dixon's voice came over the radio.
"No shit," Jack muttered. With a simple hand signal, he led the teams at a run toward the sounds of the battle that raged, just over the slight rise they could see.
"Bosworth is pinned down trying to protect Wells. I had to come back here to help Evans keep the 'gate open," Dixon added.
"Copy," Jack "Daniel, take Radar and Doc-" He stopped short when he realized that Cam Balinsky…filthy, armed with a 'Carter Special' and a glint of determination in his eyes…had followed the teams back to the planet. "And Balinsky. See what you can do about clearing a path to the downed man. Wheaton, you follow with the medical team."
"Yes, sir," Leon Wheaton, the new commanding officer of SG-5, replied.
With a nod of understanding, Daniel turned to Cam. "Where are they?"
"This way," Cam said, already running in the direction where he'd last seen Wells and Bosworth. His teammate was wounded, possibly dying…because of him. He'd get the medical team to Wells, or die trying!
They'd barely taken half a dozen steps before they found themselves taking fire from two directions. Daniel had been directly behind Cam, Janet on his heels. The appearance of the Jaffa had split them from the rest of the group.
Whirling to look behind him, Daniel could see his Wife with the men from SG-5, as well as two armed medics. Without a second's hesitation he backtracked, firing at anything that moved among the trees that surrounded them. He barely noticed that Cam and Janet had dropped to the ground where they'd been standing, firing at more Jaffa.
Casey had dropped to the ground as soon as she realized she was taking fire from two sides. Damned goons anyway, she grumbled silently. She rose up far enough to send a reply with her P90. That Daniel was immediately by her side prevented her from feeling panicked about the situation.
Major Wheaton dove into the grass beside Casey. "Figured you needed a bit of backup," he grinned.
"You figured right," Casey said, opening fire when three Jaffa exposed their positions. She turned to Daniel. "You and Cam go on. We'll cover your rear."
He opened his mouth to argue. One look at her eyes, and his protest died on his lips. He had to go, her eyes told him. He hated that look…the one that seemed to come from her very soul…the one he could never argue with. He gave a sharp nod of his head.
"Make sure that you're the only one…um…near…Janet," she whispered. "If anything happens…"
"Right. I'm immortal," Daniel replied. He also had more battle experience than Cam. A thought that did nothing to calm the pounding of his heart. He took the time to drop a kiss on her lips, then crawled to where Janet and Cam waited. He grabbed the back of Cam's shirt, hauled the redhead to his feet and shoved him into the lead.. "Let's go!"
Jack looked over his shoulder. "Did you bring it?"
The sergeant nodded. "Yes, sir."
Both men ducked as staff blasts churned up the dirt near them. "Well, if you get a chance, take a couple of minutes of film. If that little bastard wants to know what it's all about, let's show him, shall we?"
Another nod, and the SG-7 team member pulled a small camcorder from his pack. He turned it on, sat it on a rock beside him, aimed the lens in the direction of the most action, then began firing.
Jack had located Dixon, and ran in that direction. Minutes later he dropped down beside the CO of SG-13.
"Hi, General. Thanks for coming!
"I was told you said there was six Jaffa! Where'd you learn to count?"
Any response was interrupted by another barrage of fire. An al'kesh swooped from overhead, dropping a load of bombs, getting dangerously close to the positions from which the SG teams were laying fire, preventing any advance by the Jaffa.
"The ships didn't start coming down until you radioed you were through the Gate," Dixon said.
Teal'c swung his staff weapon and fired on an approaching Jaffa. Jack rolled to his side at the exchange, taking down the Jaffa's companion.
"Something tells me they're throwing this party in your honor. You got that ammo?" Dixon asked.
Jack reached into his pack, pulled out extra magazines of ammunition, and handed them to the colonel.
Major Evan's voice came over the radio. "General O'Neill, our position is being compromised. We're not gonna be able to hold this 'gate for long!"
Jack keyed his radio with one hand, fired a hail of armor piercing bullets with the other when three Jaffa took it into their minds to try to flank him. "It doesn't matter. We're not gonna be able to hold this position for that long!"
"Colonel, I need more time to stabilize this patient. He can't be moved yet!" Fraiser's voice protested.
Sam was crouched behind a rock just a few feet from Jack. "Sir, we've gotta fall back!"
One of the men from SG-7 loaded the bazooka he carried. He fired in the direction the majority of the staff weapon blasts were coming from. The screams of wounded Jaffa as they were hit by fiery metal and rock shards filled the air.
Jack had his P90 ready to fire when movement in his peripheral vision caught his attention. He scanned quickly. Well, those boys were going to try to outflank the SG teams. Not on my watch, assholes. He rose up, moved forward slightly. Low bushes made for lousy sighting. He stood up, ready to fire. Never saw where the staff blast came from before it impacted his chest, throwing him backwards.
Teal'c had noted what was happening, preparing to assist…he watched in horror as Jack fell.
"Jack!" Sam screamed, scrambling to reach him. "Jack!"
Another al'kesh, or perhaps the same one, doing another pass, dropped another load of bombs, much closer this time.
Dixon grimaced as he looked at where Jack was lying, his chest smoldering, then returned his attention to the battle that raged around him.
"These jerks are totally ruining an already bad day," Casey complained, firing at more movement to her left. There was no chance to dwell on the fact that Janet was on the planet, and that someone near her was in danger. The only thought that found purchase was that they were all in danger!
"I hear that, ma'am," Major Wheaton replied. He fired toward his right. "I think we might be surrounded."
"Yeah, I'm getting that feeling," Casey admitted. If she'd had time to think about the situation she'd have been terrified. She didn't. Her focus was on taking out as many Jaffa as she could, holding out long enough so that everyone who belonged to the SGC were able to get to the 'gate. Which wasn't going to be long if something didn't happen soon.
"We're moving toward the 'gate," Daniel's voice came over the radio.
Thank the gods and goddesses, Casey thought, firing almost continually. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Wheaton slam another magazine of ammo into his weapon. She'd barely had time to process the thought when her own weapon ran empty. Rolling to her back, she reached for her pack, and saw two Jaffa approaching. Fingers fumbling for her Beretta, she let out a scream of fright.
Wheaton whirled and fired, barely taking out the Jaffa before they were able to shoot.
A panicked cry echoed over the radio. "Oh, god! Medic! I need a medic here!"
Her heart stopped cold. For a moment she didn't recognize the voice…there was so much noise…staff weapons blasts scorched the earth beside her…the constant roar of P90s and MP5s…the bark of the bazooka…more cries of panic…Daniel! That had been Daniel! Oh, goddess, what happened?
"We have two wounded here," one of the medics declared. "One fatally."
Four more Jaffa were approaching. For a moment, she was certain the end had come. Time slowed to a crawl…each second seemed so very long…Would her body be left where she fell? Did she have a GDO so she could get home when she revived in three days? What were the dialing coordinates for the Alpha site? What if those bastards took her to Amaterasu?
"We got 'em," another voice declared. "Clear a path, guys, we're on our way."
"Let the SGC know we've got more wounded. We need three gurneys," Dixon's voice ordered.
"Dialing now," Sabotti replied.
A A A A A A
"Sir, I figure five minutes, ten at the most, and we can say he's had his tour of the 'gate room," Rundell said.
Hammond frowned. "Colonel, I have five teams in a hot zone right now. They could be back at any moment."
"I understand, sir," Rundell nodded.
The general looked over his shoulder. No doubt the journalist was lurking just out of sight, waiting to get into the 'gate room. "Walter, give Bregman the penny tour. Make it quick."
"Yes, sir," the sergeant replied. He followed Rundell into the corridor.
Bregman was pacing the width of the hallway. He looked up expectantly when Rundell walked toward him, one of the control room techs beside him. "What's the good news, Tom?"
"Technical Sergeant Walter Harriman is going to give you a very…brief…tour of the 'gate room," Rundell replied.
"That's excellent. Thanks…uh…Walter?"
"Uh…yes, sir," Walter replied. "This way, please."
James had the camera up and on his shoulder, already taping as the group once again moved into the 'gate room. He panned as quickly as he could, they could always slow the film down to make it appear less 'hurried'.
Bregman walked over to one of the mounted guns. Ran his hand over the cold metal. "That's .50 caliber, right?"
"You get really shaken up if you don't know what you're doing," Bregman added.
"Uh, no. Actually, our guys are trained to handle that kind of torque."
"I’m just kidding," Bregman grinned. His attention was caught by the large computers that sat in a small 'alcove' near the control room window. It was obvious that when the protective shield, which he could just see above the window, was lowered completely, it would protect the computers as well as the control room window. "What is…uh…Can you explain how this operates?"
"Sure," Walter said, a smile on his face. "Our guys like to play 'Space Invaders" when there's not much going on." He turned and smiled at the camera.
"Ha ha ha. Very funny," Bregman said, obviously not amused.
Walter shifted nervously at the response. "No, obviously, I'm kidding."
"I know," Bregman replied.
"Certainly it would be completely inappropriate for any airman to play video games while on duty," Walter continued seriously.
"Yeah, I got it, okay? Can we move on?" Bregman's irritation was palpable. He pointed to a device on the far wall. "What's that?"
Harriman led the crew toward the device. "This is…uh…the manual override for the iris."
Bregman narrowed his eyes slightly. "Are you kidding? Is that a joke?" he asked suspiciously.
"No," Walter replied. "I'm serious."
Another device nearby had Bregman examining it. "How does this…uh…" The inner wheel of the Stargate began to spin. "Get that! Get the camera on that!" Bregman shouted.
"Incoming wormhole!" Walter yelled toward the control room, running toward the exit as the first chevron clanged into place.
"What does this mean?" Bregman demanded to know.
"We have to leave now," Rundell said. He blocked the camera lens with his hand, doing his best to push the men out of the gate room. When it appeared that James wasn't taking the hint, he made a slashing motion across his neck.
Bregman didn't miss the silent command. "No! No! Keep shooting!"
"I can't do that!" James argued. He started to put the camera down, only to have Bregman grab it from his hands.
"Then I'll do it!" Bregman declared, waving the camera around, trying to film the still active Stargate. The arrival of security teams made moving nearly impossible.
Hammond's voice echoed into the chamber. "Remove that camera crew! Now!"
Half a dozen of the armed security team surrounded the crew, forcing them toward the door and into the corridor.
Bregman raised one hand in obvious compliance, lowering the camera. But he aimed the lens behind him, and kept the film running. He recognized Colonel Carter's voice as he moved as slowly as the guards would allow him to move.
"We are under fire and have several casualties, sir," her voice echoed eerily. "We're coming in hot!"
"Receiving SG-1's iris code, sir," Harriman said, his voice echoing in the gate room as well.
As soon as Bregman and his crew had cleared the doorway, the blast doors swung shut. He surreptitiously checked to make certain the camera was still filming.
"Medical team to the 'gate room," Hammond's voice called out over the intercom.
"This way, sir," Rundell said, trying to pull Bregman out of the way.
Not more than three minutes later two medics ran through the corridor. The blast doors opened to allow the men inside. "What have we got?" one of the medics called out.
Rundell pulled at Bregman again. "We have to clear this area," he insisted.
Three empty gurneys were wheeled toward the 'gate room, past the crew - who watched with mixed emotions of excitement and shock. Doctor Werner, the doctor who had finally consented to give an interview and discuss the infirmary, raced past as well; paying no heed to anyone who might have been in the corridor.
When Bregman refused to move for the third time, Rundell glanced down, noted that the red light on the camera was on. With a look of utter disgust, he bent down and flipped the switch.
"Hey, sorry about that," Bregman said, although it was obvious he was anything but apologetic.
Rundell continued to glare at him.
"Here," Bregman said, shoving the camera at James. "Take the damned thing."
Pushed into a side alcove, the film crew waited to see what would happen next. James carefully checked the camera, although he refused to examine any images that Bregman might have caught. "In the future, sir, could you leave the camera work to me?" he asked. He was just as irritated as Rundell at Bregman's actions.
"Yeah, all right, I'll leave it up to you," Bregman muttered. He didn't have to be told he'd not get a chance to even touch the camera now, let alone operate it.
Five minutes passed…then ten. Bregman saw Colonel Carter heading toward them, followed by half a dozen others who were obviously returning from…wherever they'd been. They were dirty, and looked…stunned. "All right, I'm gonna leave it up to you. Here she comes. Turn it on! Let's go!" Bregman noted their hesitation; snapped his fingers impatiently. "Hey! Let's go!"
James and Shep both looked at Rundell.
"No! Don't look at him!" Bregman demanded. "We're clear to shoot here. Now come on! Just follow me. And bring that…bring the sound!" After making certain that his orders are being followed, Bregman trotted toward Sam.
Sam was walking hurriedly, tears on her cheeks. There hadn't been room for her on the elevator…not with three gurneys, half a dozen medics, and two doctors. She understood the need for expediency. But she was going to be in the infirmary when Jack arrived, come hell or high water. She'd take the freight elevator rather than lose time taking the stairs.
"Colonel, what happened?" Bregman asked.
Sam waved a hand, motioning the man away. "Please," she said.
"No,' Bregman said, "I know that at least one person was injured back there. All I want to say is-"
"Leave me alone!" Sam demanded angrily, her voice choked with tears. "And shut that damned thing off!" She shoved past the crew, leaving them blinking in shock. James turned off the camera and lowered it slowly.
"No, I just wanna say how-how sorry I am…" An SF blocked the journalist at the intersection of the corridors. Bregman watched as the colonel and those with her disappeared into the large, freight elevator. The looks on their faces…the shock…the grief… In that moment he realized just what the SGC was. The SGC was the frontline in a war that Earth was in no way prepared to fight…not yet. These people were the first defense against an enemy that was far superior in terms of technology, and perhaps in numbers as well. In spite of the odds, for almost eight years they'd managed to hold off that enemy. They'd managed protect Earth from invasion. But there was a cost for those victories. The war against the Goa'uld was suddenly real to him. With very real consequences.
Looking over his shoulder, he realized that James and Shep were still standing several feet away, and that the camera was hanging from James's hand. "Why is that camera off? You don't know what you're doing here. Maybe I know what I'm doing here. These people are risking their lives for us! I want to see what they're going through, even if they don't want us to! And I want other people to see it! What do you think they're doing out there? Protecting and defending secrecy? That's the world of Mao, the world of Stalin, the world of-of secret police, secret trials, secret…secret deaths! You force the press into the cold, and all you will get is lies and innuendo! And nothing, nothing is worse for a free society than a press that is…that is in service to the…to the military and the politicians, nothing! You turn that camera off when I tell you to turn it off! You think I give a damn what you think about me? You serve the people? So do I!"
Half a dozen SGC personnel had gathered, drawn by the sound of the shouting. They listened to the tirade, their expressions revealing nothing of their thoughts.
Bregman glanced around, then stormed toward the elevator. James and Shep quietly followed. Rundell brought up the rear, almost apologetically.
A A A A A A
In the chaos of the evacuation, trying to get the medics and the wounded through the 'gate first, without becoming wounded themselves, Daniel and Casey had found themselves separated, fighting on opposite sides of the 'gate. He'd had a glimpse of her twice, as she stood beside Teal'c, firing her P90 with vengeance. It wasn't until he reached level twenty-one, and found her in the hallway with the other teams, that Daniel knew for certain she was safe. Just seeing her standing there brought a wave of relief so strong that his knees nearly buckled as it washed over him.
"Casey?" he said softly, approaching her slowly. He grimaced when she turned around. Her eyes seemed to take up the majority of her face. Which was far too pale. Tears stained her cheeks. Guilt filled those beautiful green orbs.
"I didn't warn him," she whispered hoarsely. "I couldn't see it…not him…and then…and then…I didn't see any of this! Jack was shot, Daniel, and I didn't see it!" Her hands fisted in the front of his BDU shirt as she clung to him, barely remaining on her feet as her emotions roiled. "And…and…I saw the darkness…but not enough…I didn't warn him! I didn't see it and I didn't warn him!"
Daniel pulled her into his embrace, and held her tightly as she began to sob against his shoulder. He still hadn't had time to process all that had happened, and in the final moments of leaving the planet, his concern had been for his Wife. But now… His own eyes filled with tears.
"I'm so sorry," Casey cried, her fists clenching the sleeves of his BDU shirt.
"No, no it's not okay," she replied. With a hiccup, she began to sob again. "It's all my fault! It's my fault! Oh goddess, I killed him! It's my fault!"
She was practically screaming from the pain and guilt that consumed her. Daniel scooped her into his arms, heading directly for the infirmary.
Janet looked up from where she stood, checking Jack's chest. "What's wrong?"
"My fault," Casey continued to cry. "Cam died and it's all my fault."
"Let's get her sedated before she works herself into a seizure," Janet said calmly. She glanced over her shoulder at the nearest medic. "Get me a saline drip. Twenty cc's of Lorazepam. Daniel, put her in the bed over there."
With a nod of acknowledgement, Daniel carried his distraught Wife to the bed in the corner. Gently laid her on top of the sheets. "It's not your fault, Angel," he whispered, smoothing locks of golden silk from her face.
"Yes it is," she replied. Then began to cry harder. "I didn't see it! I looked, and I tried so hard…but I didn't see it! Only that damned dark place…I didn't see it! Oh, god! I killed Cam!"
Jack looked over from where he lay, being examined by Doctor Werner, concern etched on his face. "Doc, is she gonna be all right?"
Janet gave a wan smile. "As soon as she gets a bit of rest, and has a chance to calm down. It won't be easy for her, she's going to hold herself singularly responsible for what happened."
"We'll just have to try to get through to her, I guess," Jack said with a sigh. Radar could grab hold of guilt and hold it so tight it was nearly impossible to pry from her grip.
Janet quickly inserted a catheter into the back of Casey's hand. "Honey, you have to calm down," she said softly. Nodded when the medic put the I.V. bag on the stand beside the bed.
"I killed Cam, Janet. Just as if I'd shot him myself," Casey sobbed.
"Oy," Jack murmured. It was never easy for Radar when any of the SG teams ran into trouble that she'd not 'seen'. This was going to be far worse. She'd seen the trouble coming, but hadn't been able to identify the person in danger…or the scope of that danger.
Sam hurried into the room. Seeing Jack conscious, with no blood or wounds visible, she gave a tiny sob of relief and nearly flew to his side. "You're okay!"
He smiled up at her. "I'm fine, honey," Jack replied. "Sore as hell, but you can tell Lee that his invention works."
She smiled through her tears, then glanced over at the bed where Casey continued to cry inconsolably, Daniel hovering over her, holding her hand. "What's wrong?"
"She's blaming herself for Balinsky's death," Jack replied.
"Oh, no," Sam whispered. It would take the entire team, and probably weeks, to convince the seer otherwise. Casey's tender heart, her predisposition to blame herself for what she considered 'failures', would always make such situations difficult.
Janet looked at Daniel. He looked like he'd been through hell and back. What they'd witnessed…she shook herself mentally. Her training was in full control…she still had work to do. A glance around the room, and she realized they were all wearing shell-shocked expressions. "Daniel, you should probably lie down as well."
He shook his head. "I'll stay with her," he said softly.
"I gave her enough to knock her out for at least four hours," Janet replied. The medication was already working; Casey was beginning to drift into sleep.
Daniel rolled his shoulders. As the head of the department, he should be the one to inform the others. He gave a slight nod of his head. "I'll be back in an hour or so."
Knowing that he had no intention of resting, and trying to argue with him was pointless, Janet nodded her agreement.
Putting one foot in front of the other perfunctorily, Daniel made his way out of the infirmary, heading for the elevator. He slid his ID card through the reader without actually realizing he'd done so. Stepped into the empty car. Pushed the button for level eighteen. And did his best not to scream out his own grief.
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