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There's A New God In Town

Chapter 2 

Major Anderson had been right, dawn was downright freaky. The purples and indigoes of the night faded, and for several minutes, the sky above them shimmered and turned the ugliest lime-green Jack had ever seen. He shuddered slightly.

Casey and Daniel stepped out of their tent, both looking up at the odd color. "That's just wrong," Casey grumped.

"I hear that," Zeke Anderson agreed. He poured coffee for both Jacksons. "It doesn't last long, thank goodness."

He'd no sooner finished speaking than the air seemed to glow, and then the sky turned pink, fingers of yellow and orange preceding the glowing disk of the sun as it moved its way above the horizon. Sam had tried to explain about atmospheric conditions, and something about the unusual molecular structure of the layer of ozone that protected the planet from the brutal rays of the nearby sun. None of her teammates had understood what she'd been talking about.

The ruins, what wasn't submerged, were easier to see in the growing light. Two small buildings, one of which had water lapping at the side, nearly to the narrow door.

Casey had brought her pack out with her, and was digging through it. The pilots watched as the members of the two SG teams stood expectantly in a circle around her. With a smile, she tugged free the Ziploc bag that held an assortment of instant oatmeal packets.

Immediate discourse on who wanted what flavor began, growing louder by the minute. Anderson began to snicker when Casey pulled out a packet, and casually dropped the bag on top of her pack. She had the metal bowl that was part of her mess kit, and was heading toward the fire, stepping between Daniel and Teal'c to do so.

By the time the others realized what had happened, she'd already added the necessary hot water, and was eating her oatmeal. Sam grabbed the bag, divvied up the contents, a wide grin on her face. More water had to be boiled, and the six pilots were surprised to learn that there were packets of the cereal for them as well. Each of them cast a glance of appreciation at the slender blonde. Tomorrow if they were still here, they'd be stuck with MREs...but for now...smiles accompanied the first meal of the day.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel aimed his flashlight at the back of the relatively dry building. There were several window openings, but they were small, and close to the ceiling. The room was gloomy and dank.

"Well, any idea what this place was?" Jack asked, glancing around.

"From what I could make out of the text beside the door, I believe this was the quartermaster's building," Daniel replied.

"The who's what? Quartermaster? Are you telling me that this was a military post?"

The young archaeologist nodded. "Looks that way."

Jack began to examine the room with a bit more interest. "Really?"

He couldn't help but smile. "Really. It's possible that this was an outpost of some sort."

"There doesn't seem to be much here," Casey said, shining her flashlight on one of the walls. "No text, not even drawings that could be considered artwork."

"I doubt that aesthetics were the primary concern," Daniel replied. He sighed. "With no other writings, nothing that has survived, there's no way to know for certain what this place was."

"Could there be tablets or scrolls in the buildings that are underwater?" Casey asked.

"If there were, the water would have destroyed them by now."

"Bummer," Casey said softly.

Daniel smiled at his Wife. "Yes, it is. There are markings here that identify this as having been occupied by the Ancients," he said, pointing to the wall beside the door. These were the markings that had alerted the men of SG-12 that the archaeologist should probably take a look at the ruins.

"Let's get our gear on, see what we can find," Jack suggested. It wasn't that this wasn't all fascinating. Okay, maybe not so much for him. And he knew that Daniel was a bit disappointed in not finding more. However, his main objective was getting the rock work done, so that they could move on to the really important stuff. Like flying those F-302's.

"You, Sam, and Teal'c could take the fighters up," Daniel said. He knew his friend well. Jack would push for him to finish his investigation of the ruins as quickly as possible, so that he could do just that.

"We're talking ruins, Daniel. As in unsafe structures that could fall down at any moment," Jack replied. "No way am I letting you and Radar do any snorkeling without backup."

Another smile. "Right."

The three returned to camp. "Just got word from Colonel Ronson," Sam informed her CO. "He'll be joining the war games so that each side is evenly matched. He's on his way."

Jack nodded. "Sounds good to me. Okay, campers, ready to hit the water in five."

The members of SG-1 disappeared into their tents to change into their swimming suits. Sam and Casey donned simple black, one-piece tank suits. In spite of leg openings that were cut high, exposing a fair bit of hip, the swimwear was actually quite modest. The black suits did nothing to hide slender frames, nor to disguise the delightful curves of the women.

The men of SG-1 were wearing black swimming trunks, standard issue for the Air Force. Jack was busy checking the snorkel gear when Casey and Daniel emerged from their tent. He bit back his grin when the pilots did their best not to gawk at the young seer.

Casey stood still while Daniel deftly braided her hair as they listened to Jack give his routine 'don't-touch-anything' and 'keep-in-sight-of-your-teammates' speech. Never noticed the interested looks tossed in their direction. Didn't know that Daniel was well aware of each and every glance, and stood gloating silently that he, and he alone, had the right to run his fingers through that long, blonde silk.

"If it looks like we might be in trouble, feel free to jump right in," Jack said to Deke.

"Understood," the major replied. He and his men would keep watch on the bank that led to the ruins.

Once the team was at the edge of the water, preparations began. Jack had brought along a defogging gel, and he squirted a few drops onto each face mask. Once rubbed over the lenses of the swim masks, and completely rinsed away, it would prevent the masks from fogging up when the difference in temperature, between the water and their faces, was encountered. Once the lenses were ready, the snorkel, or tube, which would be used for breathing, was attached to the side of face mask. Swim fins, longer than those used by scuba divers, were pulled over bare feet.

The water was cool, but not uncomfortably so; although soft gasps went up as the teammates walked into the murky green-brown water. Sam had already speculated that the ruins themselves, along with the moss that no doubt covered the structures, contributed to the color.

Casey took a deep breath. She'd thoroughly enjoyed her time snorkeling on her honeymoon. This was entirely different. She followed suit when the others put the mouthpiece into their mouths. She gave a good puff, making certain that the tube that would provide oxygen was clear. She inhaled through her nose, sealing the mask against her face. She checked the seal, reached back to adjust the strap, making it snug, but not tight. There, that's better.

Daniel already had his flashlight on, and was leading the way to where the tops of walls could be seen just below the surface of the water. When the water was nearly waist high, he dove in, anxious to get a look at the ruins of the Ancient city. He could hear the splashes that indicated his teammates were right behind him.

Visibility was less than four feet in any direction. Jack tapped each shoulder, then pointed to himself. He wanted the team to keep him in sight at all times. Heads bobbed in understanding.

Well this is disappointing, Casey thought. Unlike the clear water of the Caribbean, this water was so murky that she couldn't actually see anything! The Loch Ness Monster could be lurking nearby, and they'd never know it!

Daniel carefully ran his hand over one of the walls, followed it until he found an opening. It was too small to crawl through, probably a window. There was no way to see the interior of the room beyond the beam of his flashlight. He moved on to the next building. The walls on one side had crumbled away, offering a chance to go inside. He looked over his shoulder, waited for Jack to make eye contact.

When Jack moved to Daniel's side, he looked around warily. Nodded his permission when Teal'c, Sam and Casey closed in behind them. Slowly, trying to cause as little agitation to the water as possible, the team moved forward.

Just like the buildings sitting at the water's edge, there were no hieroglyphs, no text, nothing that would explain what the building had been. It appeared to be as empty as the non-submerged buildings as well.

With a shake of his head, Daniel signaled that they should move on. By now he had little hope of discovering anything. If this had been a military outpost, there wouldn't be any decorative text to find. The buildings had been functional. Living quarters might offer more, but so far, he had yet to locate anything that would indicate any occupation at all.

She knew he was disappointed. As they swam side by side, their arms held loosely at their sides, she reached out and laced her fingers with his. Smiled mentally when he squeezed them gently, acknowledging the comfort she was offering.

Four times the team rose close enough to the surface to get a breath of air. Deke Anderson and his men watched carefully, catching the occasional glow from a flashlight.

"Here they come," Lieutenant Baker announced softly.

When they were close enough, the team stood to their feet and waded the rest of the way to shore, pulling off their masks.

"Well?" Deke asked.

Daniel shrugged. "Nothing there. The fact that the 'sign' by the door of that building," he pointed to the closest structure, "identifies it as the 'place of the keeper of things', basically a quartermaster, tells me that this was probably an outpost. There's nothing else; whatever might have been in those ruins when they flooded is long gone."

"Still, if this was an outpost, I think we should take note of the position," Jack said. "There might have been a reason for having it here."

"I agree," Sam said, running a hand through her short, wet hair. "If we do locate other outposts, it might give us an idea of how the Ancients had their colonies set up."

Daniel nodded his agreement. "This does seem to be on the outer fringes of what we believe was their 'territory'. It's possible that this was used as a jumping off point for reaching farther into the galaxy."

"I don't understand," Casey said, tugging at her lower lip. "They had the Stargates. They could go anywhere they wanted, and have everything they needed readily accessible."

"This outpost might have been constructed before the 'gate," Daniel replied. "The Stargates had to be built. Had to be placed. We don't know how, or when, they did that."

"I get that part. It's just that once a Stargate is built, and put into place, why abandon the settlement...or outpost, as it were? Why go to all of that trouble, for nothing?"

He couldn't help but grin. "Sorry, Case. We'll probably never know the answer to that question. Remember, the Ancients ascended all at once. It's possible that this outpost was in use up until that time."

"I still wonder about that," Casey said, pulling off her fins. "The Ancients were a very advanced civilization. Was ascension what they'd been striving for? Something that they finally achieved as a people...or was it a means of escape? Like, was there a threat that even the Ancients couldn't defeat?"

Jack frowned. He did not want to hear that there could be something more dangerous, more threatening that the Goa'uld, or the Replicators, out there. They had enough to worry about without adding some 'super villain' to the mix. "Couldn't have been the Goa'uld, they came along after the Ancients had done their disappearing thing."

Daniel stared at his best friend. "Well, now I have proof you listen during the briefings," he said.

"Sometimes some of that stuff just seeps in," Jack replied, grinning. "Especially if I'm sleeping while you're rambling on."

"I do not ramble on!" Daniel said with an indignant huff.

Casey giggled. "Yes, you do. I don't mind. Means I get to watch-"

He put his finger on her lips. While he might appreciate the fact that his lips turned her on, it wasn't a fact he wished to share with anyone else. "I do not ramble," he repeated.

Sam snickered. "Actually, Daniel, when you get excited, you do tend to give every detail you can find."

"I always thought that was the entire point of a briefing. To provide as much information as possible, to give us a chance to make informed decisions on what course of action should be taken," he responded dryly.

"Danny-boy, there are some things that just don't matter. As long as you know the details, I'm a happy camper," Jack grinned.

He shook his head. Tried to hide his grin. He knew that he did at times get excited about his finds, and that sharing every bit of minutia seemed so damned important. Because those tidbits were as fascinating to him as the 'larger' facts.

Casey looped her arm with his. "Come on, Stud Muffin. We need to let Jack get into one of those fighters before he explodes."

Jack tossed a grinning glance in her direction. "Hey, I didn't rush Daniel to get finished. He ended the search on his own!"

"Because there was nothing there," Daniel insisted. "Of course, if we'd been able to go into a couple of those rooms, we might have found something."

Sam looked at her friend and colleague. "Is there really a chance of that? We could bring probes in, to take a look."

He shook his head. "I doubt it. Like I said, anything that might have been there was totally destroyed by the water."

Jack dropped his gear on the grassy bank, rubbed his hands together. "Okay, we're going to get into dry clothes, have a bit of lunch, and then take those fighters up."

Dobson and Baker had walked to the Stargate, dialed the address for the SGC, and reported that the ruins had provided nothing in the way of information pertaining to the Ancients. They also informed the general that the 'games' would be starting as soon as SG-1 and the pilots had eaten lunch. Receiving an 'okay', and instructions to relay all communications and data from the mock battle to the SGC as soon as possible, the men closed the 'gate, shut down the MALP, and returned to camp.

 

 

 

Clad in BDUs, their hair as dry as towels could possibly make it, the team joined the others for a quick meal of MREs. Casey grumbled about the suggestion of having sandwiches sent through the 'gate being 'shot down' by an amused General Hammond.

"This is not a picnic," Jack pointed out.

"I know that," the seer shot back. "But if I have to sit for hours in a rust-bucket of a scout ship, bored out of my skull, the least you could do is offer me a decent lunch!"

He immediately held out his MRE, a combination of Swedish meatballs and pasta. "Here. This is decent."

"Oh, you're a laugh a minute," Casey grumped. She dug into her pack, pulled out a Snickers' candy bar. "At least there's chocolate," she sighed.

Daniel swallowed the beef stew he had been eating. "I don't suppose you have anything in there for me, do you?"

She flashed a smile. "There might be."

Sam wiped her hands on her BDU covered thighs. "What about your best friend?"

The smile widened. She took a bite of her candy bar, started to hand it to Daniel to hold, frowned, and instead left Teal'c in charge of protecting her treat. She dug through the pack again, and produced another large plastic bag, this one stuffed with various candy bars. She pulled out the 5th Avenue bar that Daniel loved so, and handed it to him. The Three Musketeers went to Sam. There were half a dozen Twix, which the men of SG-12 laid immediate claim to. Teal'c had a preference for Heath bars, which she had, just for him.

"Uh, Radar, you wouldn't happen to have a Milky Way in there, would you?" Jack asked hopefully.

"I don't know, boss. I had to eat an MRE for lunch. It was supposed to be an enchilada."

His cheek twitched. "Uh huh."

"Not sure that's really what it was."

"Okay."

"Now, I'm no expert, but it tasted more like a tamale. And a chicken one at that. It was supposed to be beef. I ask you, how can anyone confuse a cow and a chicken?"

"I suppose it would be difficult," Jack allowed.

"But, because you're my boss, I suppose I could see if there's anything in here for you." With a grin, she tossed a Milky Way candy bar at him. She looked over at the pilots. "I didn't know what you guys liked, so I just grabbed one of each from the check stand," she said apologetically.

"No problems," the pilot who took the bag from her replied. He reached in and grabbed a candy bar, passed the bag to the man sitting beside him. Who did likewise, until all of the pilots were munching away on the unexpected and thoroughly appreciated treat.

"If this scout ship has no engines, just how in the hell are we supposed to get to it?" Daniel asked.

Sam smiled. "I've rigged a power source that will give you just enough power to get you into orbit."

"You mean it's here?" Casey asked, wide-eyed.

"Right over there," Sam replied, pointing to where the F-302's were lined up with precision.

"I don't see it," Daniel said, squinting over his shoulder.

"That's so we don't bolt and run straight for the 'gate," Casey quipped.

"No doubt."

"I promise, it's safe," Sam grinned.

"I want a money back guarantee on that," Casey countered.

The pilots chuckled. Listening to the premier team of the SGC as they bantered back and forth, comments that would be considered unkind by anyone who didn't know them, and know who they were, making it difficult to remain quiet.

As soon as they had finished eating, camp was broken down, and everything sent back through the 'gate. Once the war games were over, the pilots would return to the Prometheus, and that ship would head for Earth, and begin patrolling space near the First World, protecting its blissfully unaware occupants from invasion by any Goa'uld foolish enough to test the Asgard and the terms of the Protected Planets Treaty.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Colonel Ronson radioed that he was approaching the planet. SG-12 settled in beside the 'gate. They'd be in charge of relaying reports and messages from the ships to the SGC via the Stargate. Messages could be sent directly, but the distance from Earth to the planet designated as P9Y 432 would make any such communications awkward, as it would take a full ten minutes for each message to arrive at its destination. With the men sitting on the steps of the 'gate beside the MALP, radio communication between them and the ships that would be above the planet could be sent in a matter of seconds.

Jack pulled Daniel aside. "There're two parachutes in that thing. If there's trouble, get the hell out of it."

"And if there isn't trouble until we get into space?"

The older man grinned. "Then get your asses into the escape pods."

"Escape pods? Are you serious?"

"Stole them from that downed Goa'uld ha'tak," Jack replied.

"Stole them?"

"They're supposed to be in Area 51."

"I can handle the fact that they're not," Daniel said.

"Hey, I'm not taking any chances," Jack said seriously.

"Thanks, Jack."

He nodded. Nothing more needed to be said. Daniel was aware that there were 'safety devices' available if they were needed. Both had gone a long way to easing his discomfort at using a ship as badly in need of repair as the 'appropriated' scout ship.

The pilots and SG-1 walked to the runway. "Oh, you have got to be kidding!" Casey declared, her dismay visible on her face.

The ship was badly battered, rusted where there weren't black marks from being fired upon. It looked as decrepit as they'd been told.

"Are you sure that thing's safe?"

"Positive, Casey," Sam said reassuringly. "The Prometheus towed it here when the fighters were dropped off."

"Towed. As in not moving under its own power. I'll bet no one was on the damned thing during that time!"

"Actually, there was," Sam replied. "To make certain that it didn't break free of the tether."

"Tether?" Daniel asked.

"The scout was put into the bay with the fighters," Sam explained. "But we really did want to make sure that the environment was secure, and that life support worked properly. So when they moved out of the solar system, a tether, about three miles of specially woven nylon rope, was attached to it and it was 'dropped' from the hanger bay."

Casey nodded. "Okay. I'm convinced. If I die in that thing-"

"You'll haunt me," Sam grinned.

"I'll make your life miserable," Casey promised, her grin as wide as that of her friend.

"I'm going up first, to make certain that the scout ship makes it to the programmed coordinates," Jack said. "First sign of trouble, Space Monkey, into those pods. Prometheus will come and pick you up."

"Right," Daniel replied.

"Everything is programmed into the computer. All you have to do is power up the generator that's in the cargo hold. As soon as you're strapped into the seats, there's a switch that will activate the computer," Sam told them. "Flip it into the marked 'on' position, and the ship should fly itself."

The archaeologist nodded. If anyone but Sam had been telling him the procedure, he'd have told them to take a flying leap, that no way was he trusting his life to something that they hoped would work. Sam was damned good at what she did. And she was a perfectionist. If she said the scout ship would work, that the power source would get them into orbit, then it would.

Giving the pilots a thumbs up, the couple disappeared into the alien ship. Jack had reached his fighter by this time, and the sounds of the engine warming up split the air around them. With a wave, he taxied by the scout ship, and the other waiting fighters. He turned, and used the entire length of the runway to achieve speed and began gaining altitude. As soon as he'd disappeared into the bright afternoon sun, Daniel started the generator.

"Here goes nothing," Casey said softly, a bit nervously.

He wrapped his fingers around hers. "Sam took care of this herself, Angel," Daniel said calmly.

She nodded. "Let's go."

He flipped the switch. The craft began to shimmy and shake as the whine of the engines grew louder. Just when he was convinced that the damned thing was about to blow up, ready to grab Casey and bail out, the ship began to rise from the ground.

It took less than ten minutes for them to be in position. The ride hadn't been smooth, but it hadn't been too uncomfortable, either. Once they were 'locked' at the coordinates that had been preprogrammed in, using the gravity of the planet nearby, they listened to the chatter as the other pilots took to the air, and broke free from the hold of the small planet not far to their left.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Casey settled back in the seat. Glanced at Daniel. "So, have you ever really piloted one of these things before?"

"Nope."

"Then it's a good thing Sam had those computers preprogrammed, right?"

He grinned at his Wife. "Right." His fingers moved over the console in front of him. "We're ready whenever you are," he said quietly.

"Roger that, Scout One."

Casey rolled her eyes as Jack's voice acknowledged Daniel's message. "Why couldn't we have a cool name? The pilots all have cool nicknames. There's Lurch and Turbine and Aztec and Torch and Odie...did you know that's a reference to the dog in the Garfield cartoon?"

Daniel smiled. "I do now."

"I don't think I want to know what Nasty did to earn his nickname," the slender seer continued. "Jack and Sam have cool nicknames. Sam is 'Pacer', because she always paced before a mission; she said the other pilots used to tease her about wearing a rut in the ready room floor. And then Jack is Spiderman. All I could get out of him about that was something about his fighter and a spider on the control stick."

He snickered.

"So why didn't we get a cool nickname?"

"I suppose it's because we haven't earned it."

She crossed her arms over her breasts. "That totally sucks."

It was impossible not to laugh. Casey could focus on the oddest things. It was always entertaining when she did. He still had no idea where, or why, the placement of the spare tire on the jeep had caught her attention. He thought perhaps it might have to do with her perception that the tire was 'in the way' when opening the back hatch. While technically that wasn't true, the lock was easily accessible, and the door swung open with little effort, for his Wife it was, and that was all that mattered in her world. When he had offered to remove it, and place it in the storage well, she had shaken her head, and insisted that they'd have no place for their emergency kit if he did that, other than in the space where she put groceries. Which, she had declared, wasn't large enough as it was when she did the shopping for "casserole day", the name she had given any day she dedicated to preparing the casseroles that filled the freezer. When he pointed out that putting the back seats down would provide all of the room she needed, her response was a roll of her green eyes.

"Scout One, we're going to do the fly-by now," Jack's voice informed them.

"Right," Daniel replied.

"Aren't you supposed to say 'Roger'? And why 'Roger'? Why not 'Alfred' or 'Pickford' or 'Daniel' even?"

"I have no idea," he replied truthfully, still grinning. Military 'lingo' wasn't his specialty. He knew more about it now, of course, having worked with the military for six years. But the reasons for the jargon weren't something he was even interested in. It just...was. He supposed that most of the men and women who wore the uniform of their country had the same attitude toward the acronyms and phrases that identified places, equipment, missions, even people.

One by one the F-302's flew in front of the scout ship. Daniel and Casey watched carefully, going over the check list of what they were to look for. Each ship hovered in front of them, then turned and rotated, giving them a chance to visually examine every part of the craft. The maneuvers also gave the pilots a chance to learn just what their ship was capable of, and a few moments to become accustomed to the fact that they were in space, and able to perform the most amazing of feats.

For nearly an hour the pilots did nothing more than fly the fighters, giving them a chance to push the engines. Short jumps had been programmed into the computers, taking the pilots through hyperspace. When they had all returned to the vicinity of 432, each of the men had a greater idea of the capabilities of the craft they were piloting.

In spite of the temptation to pull his Wife into his lap, and indulge in a bit of necking while they waited, Daniel managed to keep his eyes on the monitors in the console. "Prometheus is here."

Visible only by their scanners, the ship settled into orbit above the planet, waiting for the games to end, and to take the pilots and the F-302's back to Earth, to begin patrolling the space near the home of the Tau'ri. The mock battles were about to begin.

"This is Spiderman," Jack's voice said. "Let's play, boys and girls."

Colonel Ronson was piloting one of the ten fighters, and responded. He and four others were the Tau'ri. Jack, Sam, Teal'c, the pilot who had accompanied them against Mehen's gliders, nicknamed 'Odie', and the pilot known as 'Torch' would be the attackers. Because of his experience leading such attacks, Jack had placed Teal'c in command of the group. There had already been a brief meeting, where the Jaffa had outlined the most basic Goa'uld maneuvers for the four pilots...three of whom had minimal experience against that particular foe.

The two groups moved to the coordinates from where they would begin. The Tau'ri would presumably stumble upon the Jaffa ships during their supposed routine patrol.

For nearly fifteen minutes it seemed as if nothing was happening. "Holy shit!" Casey exclaimed, jumping visibly when one of the fighters, number six, if the scanner wasn't deceiving her, raced by overhead. Following close behind was number one. She grinned. "Jack will have him nailed in three seconds flat," she predicted.

"Maybe," Daniel allowed, checking to make certain all of the equipment Sam and her techs had spent nearly a week installing in the small scout ship was recording as intended. "Remember, pilots, when a kill has been confirmed by the computers, you go home," he said.

"Copy that, Scout," Jack's voice said. Casey was certain she could hear the smirk she knew was on his face.

Whether Jack had been prepared for the pilot in front of him to turn or not, Casey didn't know. But just as suddenly as they had appeared, the two fighters returned. She was straining to follow them with her eyes. There! Just as Teal'c had done, Jack pulled his fighter into a roll, and came up behind the hapless number six.

"Guns, guns, guns," Jack's voice announced.

Daniel checked the computer. "We have a hit. Number six, turn off your right engine, it was just hit."

"Copy, turning off right engine," the pilot, 'Nasty', replied.

At the speeds involved, Jack had flown by the other ship before being able to assess the damage.

"If I were Nasty," Casey said, sipping coffee from a thermos, a 'gift' from Sam, "I'd pretend I was really badly damaged. Get Jack to come close enough to check me out. Then I'd blast him."

"Sneaky," Daniel grinned.

"And predictable," Casey sighed. "Well, if you watch movies on Earth, anyway."

Two more ships flew past, too quickly for the computer to register immediately what the numbers were, to know who was piloting.

"Guns, guns, guns," Teal'c's voice intoned.

Once again Daniel checked the computer. "Number seven, you are now dead."

"Well, shit!" a voice exclaimed. "That totally sucks!"

"Take it home, Aztec," Colonel Ronson said.

"Guns, guns, guns," Nasty called out.

Casey began to laugh. "See, Nasty watches the same movies I do!"

"Number one, you are now dead," Daniel informed Jack, grinning broadly.

"Radar, you'd better not be laughing." Jack growled.

"Right, boss. No laughing," Casey responded. Then burst into giggles again.

Even though the distances being traveled were measured in the millions of kilometers, the speeds the F-302's were traveling had them pirouetting around one another, like carefully choreographed dancers against a backdrop of diamond encrusted black velvet. The 'war games' would be over in a matter of minutes.

Consoling himself with the fact that he hadn't been in a dog fight in over ten years, not counting the real fight he'd been in a few days prior, Jack was heading toward the Prometheus. Ready to do a fly-by over the scout ship, just to make certain Radar wasn't laughing at him, he turned in that direction. And felt his heart drop to his feet.

 

 

 

Casey whirled around when the unmistakable sound of a ring transport filled the air in the small craft; the bright light casting shadows around her left her gaping as it faded away. "Oh, shit!"

Daniel turned as well, watched as four Jaffa stood, staff weapons aimed at them. Aw, hell! This mission was supposed to be a cakewalk! Where the hell did these guys come from? As if in answer to his question, one of the alarms on the console beside him began to whine. He absently reached over to shut it off. The warning that another ship was in close proximity. Gee, ya think? he groused silently, noting with almost detached amusement that he was beginning to sound like Jack.

"Daniel?" Her hand automatically went out to him, the need to know he was there almost physical. His fingers wrapped around hers, squeezed gently.

"Just do what they want," he murmured soothingly; hearing the fear, the terror, in her voice. "We'll figure a way out of this when we aren't in danger of being blown to bits."

"Kree lok'nel!" one of the Jaffa growled. Two of the four raced forward, grabbed the still shocked man and woman, jerked them to their feet, and searched them for possible weapons. One found the tube that contained the Hathor-serum. [Search (them) at once!]

"What is this?"

"It holds the effigy of my god," Daniel lied smoothly. Nearly collapsed with relief when the man grunted and shoved it back into the thigh pocket of his BDU.

The scout ship was small. Too small to afford any room to fight. There was no way to get out of this, he thought, as he watched the Jaffa who had searched his Wife pull her toward the ring transport. The warrior behind him jumped in order to remain close as Daniel surged forward. He would not allow the bastards to take her, not without taking him as well!

 

 

 

Jack stared in horror as the Goa'uld warship uncloaked directly above the scout ship. When the obvious stream of light that indicated a ring transport in progress connected the two ships, he barked out an order, then set the F-302 for an intercept path. He had to get to that scout ship, and prevent whoever had just ringed aboard from leaving.

When the cockpit around him began to glow, he glanced to his right and then to his left. He was caught in something...a beam of some sort. Holy Hannah! He pushed the throttle forward, expecting to feel the ship jump away from that intrusive, very bright light. There was no response. In fact, he was moving sideways, toward that damned ha'tak. Oh, this is so not good! And when the hell had the Goa'uld come up with this little bit of technology? Knowing that his time was limited, he began to erase the computer. There'd be nothing for the sons-of-bitches to take from the ship's memory.

Bay doors opened near the base of the pyramid-shaped craft, and the F-302 was pulled directly toward that gaping black hole. Well, shit!

The bright flash of an explosion caught his attention for a few seconds: he watched with mounting fear as the scout ship disintegrated. Please, he thought, praying to whatever real gods were listening, don't let Daniel and Casey have been on that thing!

When the fighter had cleared the bay doors, the ship was caught by what felt like a conveyor, similar to what was used in a car wash to move each vehicle through. Very similar in function as the belt that moved jets into position on aircraft carriers, he thought, only peripherally aware of the irrelevance of his musings. He watched with trepidation as he moved closer to where at least a dozen Jaffa stood waiting.

Fingers moving over the keyboard with speed that belied his self-declared computer illiteracy, Jack programmed the now purged computer to respond only to his code. It was a small thing, but damn it, he'd take his advantages where he could.

The Jaffa gestured that he should get out of the fighter. Now, he could sit there, and ignore them. And probably be blasted with a staff weapon for his trouble. Wished with all of his heart that the weapons had been armed with more than intar-type ammunition. He'd blow this damned bay and those assholes to kingdom come. The only thing that would do any sort of damage like that would be the auto-destruct. There wouldn't be enough pieces of the F-302 left to put back together. Six hours. That was the longest amount of time he could key in. It would have to be enough. He had to know if Daniel and Casey had been captured. Had to know that they were alive. And then the three of them could make their escape. Six hours, his brain chanted. Six hours to find them, and then get the hell out.

Keeping his hands out of sight, he keyed in the last command. Flipped a switch, and then opened the canopy. He raised his hands, noted that the Jaffa stepped back only far enough to allow him room to drop down onto the deck of the hanger bay.

It was no surprise to grabbed, and roughly. "Hey, take it easy! No need to prove you're in charge," he grumbled. His arms were yanked behind him, iron manacles clamped around his wrists.


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