Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate or its characters.
Title: The Return of King Arthur
Rating: T for violence, language, and allusions to sex
Season: Post "Moebius," set between Seasons 8 and 9.
A/N: Inspired by the scene in "The Quest, Part 2" where Merlin believes that Sam is Guinevere and the rest of SG-1 are Knights of the Round Table. This story is based upon and incorporates some aspects of Arthurian mythology. It complements Seasons 9 and 10 of SG-1, but it has nothing to do with the Ori storyline of those seasons.
After a few one-shots, this is my first major story. As of right now, updates are planned for every week or so. Reviews and constructive criticism are welcomed and encouraged. Enjoy!
Chapter One – The Prophecy
"Well, after eight years, I can still honestly say - this is different."
General Jack O'Neill stepped away from the Stargate and onto the soil of P8X-579 – God, it felt good to be off world again! Pulling his P-90 up, he flicked on the flashlight in order to illuminate the small cavern into which he and SG-1 had emerged. With the four bodies and the customary MALP occupying the space, it was very cramped indeed, and with her nose stuck in one of her gadgets, Colonel Samantha Carter very nearly collided with him.
"Yes, sir. The MALP did indicate that we're inside of a man-made cavern inside of some kind of mountain."
Jack took note of a faint light coming from behind where Teal'c's imposing figure was stationed. It signaled the exit out of the long, narrow cavern.
"For what reason would the Stargate be placed within a mountain?"
"Perhaps the inhabitants only recently discovered it and dug it out. Like on Nyan's world." Daniel Jackson conjectured, referring to the alien refugee who still worked as his research assistant.
"Bedrosia," said Teal'c helpfully.
Jack mentally rifled through eight years of memories before something clicked. Oh yeah. That was a fun planet. Tiny, electric cages. Pawns in an ideological war. Big, honkin' needles. Jack shuddered and told himself it was just due to the chill in the dark cave. He remembered the needles.
"I don't think so, Daniel," Carter said. "There are no signs of recent human activity, and the inside of the cavern shows some signs of erosion where rain water has trickled in."
"There is no sign of the Dial Home Device," Teal'c observed.
The light from Carter's P-90 danced around the cavern as she turned to answer the Jaffa. "No, the MALP didn't find any evidence of the DHD, but I brought a naquadah generator and laptop with a dialing program so we can dial out manually."
"What do ya say we take this conversation out into the sunlight, shall we?" Jack began moving toward the mouth of the cavern. The rest of his team followed.
Crap. Carter's team.
This wasn't his mission. This wasn't his team. Carter was SG-1's team leader. He was just along for one last ride before his reassignment took effect, and he had to be in Washington in a week.
Not that he'd told them that yet. He'd only found out himself 24 hours before. The unassuming envelope had ended up buried within all of his other paperwork, and it probably would have remained there if Walter hadn't found it and left it on top with a post-it note that said, "General, you really need to read this one."
Damn the omniscient little sergeant. Jack would have preferred living in ignorance.
He'd followed up the transfer papers with an immediate call to the Pentagon.
"George, I thought I told you I was on my way out." He had hoped that it didn't sound like whining.
"I know, Jack, but it's my turn first. We can't afford to lose you right now."
"I've already handed in my resignation." The Stargate program could either include him as a civilian or not include him at all.
"Which the President promptly tore in half and threw away." Damn it, Hayes. Jack pursed his lips together to keep from maligning his Commander-in-Chief. When he didn't speak, Hammond continued.
"Jack, I have more than an inkling about why you want out," Hammond's voice was soft, paternal, but it brooked no argument. "But we've considered all of the possibilities. There is simply no one else that can match your knowledge or experience to oversee this program."
So his was the only name on the short list. Jack was happy for General Hammond; God knew nobody deserved a quiet life more, but the whole situation was crap.
They'd defeated the Replicators, the Goa'uld were on their way out, and Carter had dumped the Shrub. Things had been looking up, even if he hadn't pushed her to define their relationship while they fished on his dock. She was still too raw from recent events, still grieving over her father and her ill-fated engagement, but they'd talked enough to know that their long-buried feelings were still mutual and still very present. He still couldn't understand what a woman as brilliant and beautiful as Samantha Carter saw in him, but his heart soared when he realized that if they played their cards right, the changing galactic situation may open up an opportunity for them.
Kerry had placed that trump card in his hands, and he was more than willing to play it, if only the President had accepted his resignation. But he didn't, and as the new Head of Homeworld Security, he'd be overseeing the SGC, the 302 Program, Area 51 – Carter would remain in his chain of command no matter where she was in the program.
He shoved the thought away, resolving not to think about it. He breathed deeply and savored the distinct feeling of being on a new planet, a slight tingle leftover from the trip through the wormhole still radiating through his core.
Here, finally off world again, it was just too easy to slip back into their former team dynamic. At least, it was easy for him. He had to remind himself that while he was being "the Man," the rest of his team had become their own team. It had a different feeling – more streamlined, efficient; Carter had done a great job over the last year.
Of course, they were missing his particular je ne sais quoi, but that was about the only rebuttal Jack could make against the niggling little voice that said they didn't need him at all.
He slowed his steps and pressed himself closer to the cavern wall, allowing Carter to move ahead of him. She moved passed him with a swiftness that said that while she knew she was leading this operation, there were no hard feelings for his slip-up.
Stepping outside, Jack quickly donned his sunglasses. The sunlight was fierce. Once he could see, he took note of the landscape. They were standing in a large field covered with golden weeds that reached nearly waist high. Beyond the field stood the tree line of an obviously dense forest. Turning around and looking upwards, Jack found that the Stargate really had been located within a mountain, though it was the only one in sight.
"Sam. Over there." From Jack's left, Daniel gestured toward the tree line, where several faint, white lines of smoke trailed into the air.
"I see it," Carter answered before glancing down to read her instrument. "I'm not getting any kind of energy reading. Whoever made those fires are probably fairly primitive technologically."
"So what's the plan, Colonel?"
Carter smirked, and Jack knew he was forgiven. "We make contact with the locals, sir."
"Elegant in its simplicity!"
Carter took point, and her team followed behind him, picking through the waist-high weeds in a single file line with Jack bringing up the rear. By the time they reached the tall pine-like trees, they could follow the trail by the pungent aroma of meat cooking over fires. Jack thought it smelled like something akin to venison and wondered what other kinds of animals lived in the forest. So far, they had only heard some small songbirds. Oh, and he'd almost stepped on some kind of rodent that looked like a squirrel with the skinny tail of a rat.
"There." Teal'c's voice caught his attention, and Jack looked in the direction that his finger was pointing. A ray of light shone through the dense forest, signaling the way out. Carter adjusted her path and led them to the edge of the forest. She stopped where the trees ended in order to survey the area, and Jack couldn't help but take in a breath.
Beyond the trees, the world spread out in a rolling, green field dotted with pink wildflowers. A narrow stream ran through the field and along its banks sat a small village. The smoke stacks rose above the houses, and even from a half a klick away, Jack could see dozens of people mulling about. Beyond the village, a narrow dirt road led away into an open countryside that went on for miles. The rays of the planet's sun shone brightly, casting a soft glow and creating a landscape reminiscent of the paintings his ol' Aunt Muriel hung in her living room. What was that artist's name? Kinky … Thomas Kinky… that sounded about right. It was nauseatingly beautiful.
Together, they stepped out of the forest and into the field toward the village. As they came nearer, a loud shout arose from the settlement. An older woman stood on the outskirts of the town and pointed very emphatically at SG-1. A mass of people, all dressed in shabby, homespun clothing, hurried over to the woman who raised the alarm. Jack increased his hold on his P-90, and he could sense Carter beside him doing the same. Daniel stepped up on his other side, ready to communicate with the overly excited villagers who began rushing away from the town and directly toward them. They certainly didn't seem to have any hostile intentions, in fact, their faces shone with delight and they jabbered in excited voices. Like a mob, the men, women, and children clustered around the surprised foursome, still yelling and reverently reaching forward to touch their BDU jackets.
"Daniel? What's going on?" Carter had to raise her voice considerably to be heard above the crowd.
"No idea!" he yelled as one enthusiastic little girl with curly, blonde hair grabbed onto his arm and refused to let go. She looked up at the archaeologist, smiled a toothless grin, and asked, "Are you a knight?"
One man moved through the crowd, gently pushing the others aside until he came to stop in front of SG-1. He was tall, with short, slightly graying brown hair, and while his clothes were not extravagant, they seemed to be a cut above those of the other townspeople. He raised his arm high above his head, and the villagers came to a silence and the little girl reluctantly untangled herself from Daniel's arm.
"Welcome!" The man, obviously the leader, smiled at them and then held an arm to his chest. "I am Trevor Lyall, the mayor of this village of Ancelin. You came through the Gateway?"
"The Stargate, yes," Carter answered. "We're explorers from a planet called Earth."
At the confirmation, the townspeople's excited babbling began again, and Trevor Lyall breathed a sigh of what could only be relief. He ran a hand through his hair and Jack could only just hear him whisper, "We have waited for so long."
The members of SG-1 stared around in confusion, waiting for someone to explain the unusual reaction of the villagers to their presence. More often they were met by hostiles or people frightened by their appearance. Very rarely was SG-1 ever welcomed as heroes before they did anything. Still, Jack thought he'd take this option.
"Why don't we find a place where we can talk more," Carter said.
Broken from his reverie, Lyall jumped back into his leadership role. Jack was surprised to see the man's relief replaced by a nervous energy. "Of course!" he exclaimed. "You need to come inside before anyone else sees you!" He turned and pushed through his people, making a path to the village.
Jack cast a look back at the others. Carter's eyes narrowed in confusion and Teal'c seemed disconcerted about the man's sudden change of emotion. Daniel simply shrugged and began to follow Lyall.
As they walked toward the town, the villagers trailed behind them like a train of teenage girls following the high school's star quarterback. Lyall led SG-1 through the small settlement and stopping at a building located on the perimeter of the central town square. Before ushering them inside, Lyall addressed the mob with urgency. "Go back to your lives and do not act any differently!"
The villagers dispersed quickly; their joy and laughter ceased and they quickly returned to their duties as if nothing had occurred. The little girl who had tugged on Daniel resumed playing with her little friends, and the adults went back to tending their homes. Lyall entered the room after SG-1 then pulled the curtains over the window, plunging the room into a dim light. "Forgive me," he said. "It has been so long; many people had almost given up hope."
Daniel had already moved to the other side of the small space, obviously the mayor's administrative office, in order to examine the extensive collection of books and manuscripts lining the room. "Hope in what?" he asked.
"In the Prophecy," Lyall, still rather flustered, answered. Jack raised his eyebrows and cast a glance at Carter behind him. It was never good when there was a prophecy involved. When he turned back, Trevor Lyall was kneeling in front of him with his head bowed. "We are ready to do anything to ensure your throne is returned to you, my lord."
Okay, now this really had gone too far. Jack rolled his eyes. "That's enough," he said, gruffly. "Get up." He reached down and grabbed the man's shoulder in order to help him to his feet.
Lyall's dark eyes registered surprise. "There is no need to fear, my king. We know who you are."
"Who am I?" Jack returned.
"You are Arthur, the rightful king of Camelot."
Four pairs of eyes stared at the mayor as if he had grown another head.
"Oh, for cryin' out loud…"