A/N: This is, you could say, part 2.5 of my Shades of Blue series. The first installment was Midnight Blue, second was Azure. This part will be a little different - you'll see why as soon as you begin reading. It will also be a lot shorter than the other two. If you haven't read the first two parts, I strongly encourage you to do so, for there are many references to them in this story. Good news is that I already finished it - I will be publishing it in weekly or bi-weekly intervals, though, and I am already starting the next and (probably) last installment in the series.
As always, this is a tale I've told to myself hundreds of times in different ways and versions, and this one is just as new for me as it is for you. Writing it brings me immeasurable joy, but I cannot deny that seeing people actually reading these stories, especially those who come back and comment, is equally immeasurably motivating. You folks are the wind beneath my wings (; Please do leave a comment if you've read it, even if it's just to critique me!
I do not currently have a beta so all mistakes are on me.
Please note that the story is supposed to be canonical to the TV shows/movies. I have never read the books.
Disclaimer: I do not own any part of the Stargate universe or franchise and derive no financial gains from writing and publishing my story. This is purely for entertainment.
I encourage you to give a listen to the song from the Epigraph. It's amazing.
Enjoy (I hope)!
She still remembers the time that was uncomplicated
But sure as the sun rise, she's seen things that you'll never see
Losses and heartaches amount to her strength
But oh, how they both take their toll
She's still here fighting
Better know there's life in her yet
Time will take us all, and turn us into stones
It leaves us with regrets and picks apart the threads
Hung over fragile bones
Let her go
I can't let her go
I can't let her go
Her hands tell the story of hardships that we'll never know
Her face is a map of a lifetime on well traveled roads
But those eyes tell nothing of a soul that is spared
A heart that is longing for death
She's still here fighting
Better know there's life in her yet
Time will take us all, and turn us into stones
It leaves us with regret, it picks apart the threads
Hung over fragile bones
Let her go
I can't let her go
I can't let her go
Let her go
I can't let her go
I can't let her go
Let her go, let her go, let her go
Let her go, let her go, let her go
[Rag'n'Bone Man, 'Life in her yet']
Chapter 1, part 1.
The pearly white walls of the narrow corridor looked almost pink in the artificial light of lamps on the ceiling and standing on furniture. Not that there was all that much furniture—some decorative end tables, adorned with a couple plants and a bust of someone Alice should have probably known but couldn't recognize nonetheless, and two plush chairs with intricate wooden backrests were all that could really fit. There were paintings on the walls, too—original masterpieces, surely, though Alice knew little of art and wouldn't be able to tell if they had been cheap knockoffs.
She sat on one of the chairs on each side of the door and sweated silently in her full service dress uniform, complete with a cap, currently resting in her lap. She usually wore men's rounder one instead of the women's version, which was tapered on the sides; she thought it commanded more respect and was generally better recognizable, and since women in the Air Force were allowed to use either option, she chose the one that gave her more authority. She needed it—she was half an inch below five feet four (though she usually rounded it up when asked), slim, with big bright green eyes in a small face surrounded by coppery orange hair, coming down to the chin and tucked behind the ears as it was not long enough to pin in a bun yet—she didn't look the part, and people tended to dismiss her, even just subconsciously. The uniform, the four rows of ribbons on her chest, the pilot wings above them, the men's cap, it all served to add respectability to her meager frame.
Men and women in suits were walking up and down the corridor every now and then. They all threw her perfunctory glances and hurried along; they were used to seeing people in uniform, and in their eyes she wasn't anyone special. They didn't know, of course, who she was or what she came here to talk about. Alice recognized some of them from news clips and an occasional TV program she might have watched when on vacation. More often, though, the place was empty and Alice stared at the rug's light brown and ecru pattern with unseeing eyes.
She started violently when the door next to her opened. A man in an elegant navy blue suit came out, turned to her, and said in a somewhat tired voice:
"You can go in, now."
Alice nodded and stood up, putting her cap under her left arm. She took a deep breath and entered the room.
It was smaller than she had expected. With striped yellow and white wallpaper, cream carpet covering the wooden floor, white doors and windows, reddish-brown hangings and sand-colored sofas in the middle, it looked oddly muted. She only had to look at the hundred-and-forty years old desk and the man sitting behind it, though, to start feeling anxious and tense again.
She stopped in the middle of the room, straightened up to attention and saluted. The man stood up and returned the salute with appropriate gravity, and then walked around the desk and reached out to shake her hand. The guy in the navy blue suit announced her from a few paces away.
"Captain Alice Boyd, sir."
"Thank you, Mike, that will be all," he dismissed him with a nod and then turned back to Alice. "Hello, Captain, how are you doing?"
Alice had to swallow hard before she was able to unstuck her jaws and reply. "Good afternoon, Mr. President. I am very well, thank you. It is an honor to meet you, sir."
"Please." He waved towards the two sofas facing each other and sank into one of them. Alice sat down on the other, her back straight and rigid, the cap again in her lap. "How's the shoulder?"
She flexed it reflexively, feeling a distant pang of pain and stiffness. "It's alright, sir. It healed up very well, all things considered. It will be a few months until it's back to one hundred percent, but that's quite normal with these kinds of injuries."
"Yes, I understand that this wasn't your first time." He gestured to her ribbon rack. "That'll be a second device to your Purple Heart, won't it?"
She nodded and cast down her eyes, not really knowing how to respond to that or what to say next. Thankfully, he wasn't the least bit thrown by her silence.
"When General O'Neill told me you'd be coming here yourself, I was thrilled. I am always eager to hear from and meet the brave men and women serving in the Stargate Program. I read each report with avid interest, though of course I cannot read them all, much as I'd like to. They are truly fascinating. I can't quite comprehend how it must feel to be out there and face those dangers day in and day out, of course—but I can't deny that it makes for one captivating read!"
She looked back up at him, feeling it would be rude to stare at the carpet for a prolonged period of time, and smiled, unsure if he expected her to say anything to that, but she kept her silence.
"I permitted myself the indulgence of reading up on your file, too, I must say," he continued, undaunted. "Graduated high school at fourteen, college at nineteen. Commissioned to first lieutenant at twenty, became one of the very few female fighter pilots and went on to fly an F-302 by twenty-two. PhD at twenty-six, and then joined the Atlantis expedition to be a Jumper pilot, a scientist, and a member of a recon team. And all that before the age of thirty! That's quite the resume. How in the world do you manage to do it all?" He shook his head, but he didn't seem to require an answer because he went on after a short pause: "And now this. I've heard, of course, an abridged version of what happened from General O'Neill, but I'm really looking forward to hearing the full story from you. By the way, General O'Neill was very disappointed that he couldn't be here today." He patted the place next to him, as if to indicate that's where O'Neill would be sitting if things were otherwise. "I wanted to invite my Chief of Staff or the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the very least, but O'Neill assures me it's best if the story is not shared with anyone without an immediate need-to-know. Do you agree with that?"
He sprung up the question on her quite unexpectedly, so she had to swallow again. "Yes, sir, I do."
"These restrictions are somewhat frustrating," he noted with a sour expression.
"Yes, sir. Nevertheless, they are necessary."
"Right." He suddenly stood up and Alice jumped to her feet, too. "Would you like something to drink before we start, Captain?"
"Yes, thank you, sir. A glass of water will be appreciated." Her lips were dry like sandpaper.
"Nonsense, I'm not going to have you drink water," he protested. "It's not like you're on duty, right? A glass of whisky, maybe?" He stood next to a small cabinet that hid a little bar inside, with many different bottles.
"No, thank you, sir, I'd rather have just the water." Was it rude to refuse alcohol from the President of the United States? She didn't know the protocol, but she disliked whisky and anyway it wouldn't help her chapped lips.
"Alright, if you say so." He poured a glass from a pitcher and handed it to her. He had whisky for himself.
"Thank you, sir." She sipped the water, feeling the coolness spread over her esophagus like a balm. It felt really good.
He sat back down and Alice followed suit. For a short moment they didn't talk, concentrated on their drinks.
"So, Captain. I want to hear it all, as it happened. Where do you want to start?"
She had had it all figured out, but now drew a blank on what exactly she had wanted to say and how. It was almost like giving a speech in a debate club back in high school—all of the pretty, carefully chosen words were gone, leaving her with the only choice: to improvise her way through this.
"At the beginning, I think," she replied, putting the glass on the table next to the sofa. "It was mid-March—on Earth, at least—and I received a request—an order, really—to take a Jumper through the Stargate back to the SGC. Doctor Lee and his team were working on something on the one that we'd left at the Groom Lake after we had re-installed the Chair at the UN facility in Nevada—but they needed another Jumper for testing. I got it there without problems, went back to Atlantis, and a few days later returned to the SGC to take the Jumper back. Only when I emerged on the other side, it was immediately apparent that it was no Atlantis…"
The back of the Jumper had barely cleared the event horizon when the front end hit something solid and the entire ship jumped back an inch or two before Alice got it stabilized. It was very dark, but in the bluish light coming off the Gate, Alice could see black walls pressing down on her from every direction—and then the Gate flickered and went out, plunging her into total darkness. She engaged the floodlights, but they were so bright that she had to squint to look around.
It wasn't a room—it was a cavern, and the walls were made of stone that looked like it had been melted into a solid black mass. The hole was just long enough for the Jumper to fit in, and as wide as the Gate—and, in fact, Alice realized it must have been created by the kawoosh, the unstable vortex extending out when the Stargate had been activated. This meant that there must have been a little space between the rocks, or otherwise the event horizon couldn't have formed and the Gate would not be opened. The Jumper was now suspended in the middle of the cavern, pointed upwards, although of course the inertial dampeners and artificial gravity made it indiscernible inside.
How did she get here? Could it be that Harriman had misdialed the address? But that wasn't possible. Atlantis address was programmed into the computer, Harriman wouldn't have been choosing the symbols manually. That meant there must have been a glitch in the system—or perhaps a hack? Either way, it resulted in Alice ending up here—wherever here might be. Moreover, she had no way back. The Jumper had a DHD of its own, of course, but it wasn't configured for Milky Way Gates, and even if she somehow managed to change that, she was still stuck in a cavern only big enough to fit her Jumper. If she opened up the Gate, she'd be swallowed up by the kawoosh and instantly vaporized.
She tried the radio, but it was silent; not surprising under god knew how many tons of rock, not to mention that it was probably an uninhabited planet. A volcanic one, perhaps, judging by the fact that the Gate was buried in solid stone. Either way, she was on her own—and she couldn't exactly wait for a rescue, either. If the SGC realized they had sent her astray, they would try to reestablish the wormhole, and that would end up in her being vaporized, as well. She had to do something—and the only course of action available to her at this time was also a very risky one. Nevertheless, she didn't think she had any choice.
She took a deep breath and braced herself. The Jumper's weapon port opened and a single drone shot out, burrowing into the rock above; a number of smaller and bigger debris fell onto the front window, and Alice squinted again, expecting it to break any moment—but it held up. She counted breaths while the drone pulsated like a firefly in her mind; and then suddenly she felt it burst out into the open. She willed it to go back down and widen the narrow corridor it made on its first passage; more rock fell onto the front window, but the path was now almost wide enough for the Jumper to pass. Alice commanded the drone to turn around again and then followed carefully, almost rendered blind with the windshield obscured by the debris. It took quite some time, but finally she managed to fly out of the narrow corridor made by the drone and into the open air.
She righted the Jumper, so that the gravity helped the rocks slide off the window pane. She noted with alarm that there was a little crack on the right side of it, but it was either still hermetically sealed, or the air on this planet was breathable, for she did not feel any difference. She rose up higher, killed the floodlights—for it was daylight—and started looking around.
The area immediately beneath her looked like a crater after some big explosion—or maybe a meteor hit. She remembered reading a report about a similar thing that had happened to O'Neill in the early days—the Gate had been similarly buried, but Colonel Carter was able to build a particle accelerator that broke through the initial layer of melted rock covering the event horizon; the unstable vortex then made a cavern and Teal'c went through to try and unbury the Gate. That whole thing was caused by a meteor shower—but what had happened here?
The crater was huge—at least twenty miles in diameter, maybe more. It took her a moment to notice that what lay beyond didn't look like your typical volcanic planet, or one devastated by a rain of meteors. In fact, the horizon was all green with trees, coming up high, almost to Alice's level. Mountains, she realized, and began slowly spinning around to see if they were encircling the entire crater—and then stopped dead.
Those were not trees—nor mountains, nor deserts, nor any other natural terrain fixtures. Covered with debris and dust, and partially destroyed and crumbling, but those could only be houses. Hundreds upon hundreds—and even some higher buildings, though nothing like the skyscrapers of L.A. Alice frantically engaged the HUD and looked at the readings with disbelieving eyes.
"It was Colorado Springs." The memory colored Alice's voice with emotion. "I have seen it often enough from above to recognize the terrain. But it was impossible—I had just been there half an hour before, and the crumbling buildings I saw from the Jumper looked like they had been in that state for a long time." She paused and looked at the President. His eyes were opened wide and he listened in rapt attention, forgetting the drink in his hand. "You can imagine, sir, how confused and panicked I felt at that moment."
"No, I don't think I can." He shook his head, remembered his whisky and took a sip. "I don't think anyone can who hasn't been in a similar situation. Which is not a big number of people, from what I understand."
Alice nodded. "But it wasn't the first time something like this happened to a member of Stargate Program, and although these particular reports are heavily classified so that I never personally read them, I couldn't help but overhear some mentions of these events during my time on Atlantis. Why, I myself spoke with survivors from an alternative reality that had fled their Ori invasion straight into ours. Still, it took me quite a while to put two and two together. I guessed that somehow I had been transported into a parallel universe, though of course, for all intents and purposes, the Stargate itself shouldn't be able to send me astray in such a way, but we've seen stranger things happen."
"I bet you have." The President nodded. "And what did you do?"
"I stayed in one place, deliberating on my options, for too long." She could almost taste the metallic twinge of panic on her tongue again, feeling her heart picking up the pace. It was the first time she was recanting the story in such detail—at the President's own request, otherwise she wouldn't have needed to come in person—and she was having problems remembering it without reliving it. "All at once my Jumper was shaking, the console flashing red, and I realized I was under attack…"
The training kicked in and before any conscious thought came bubbling up to her brain, she was already putting the Jumper into a spin, avoiding further damage. The HUD was suddenly full of pulsating red dots, and she recognized their signatures before she could even see them through the window: Darts. The fuck are Wraith doing here?! But there was no time to speculate now; she had to act.
She pulled up and turned around to look at the fleet of the small alien fighters coming onto her like a plague of locusts. There was no way in hell she was going to be able to deal with all of them—but if she could fight off the four or five at the spear of the attack, she would have time enough to cloak the Jumper and flee. If she did that without getting rid of the first few oncoming Darts, they'd be able to take her down even just by shooting blindly.
Without wasting any more time, Alice commanded the Jumper's weapon ports to open once more and fired four drones. Never before had she tried to control so many of them at once, but there was not enough time to do it one by one now. It gave her a strange feeling, like her mind was stretching and flexing, and she concentrated hard, dividing her attention between the drones and her Jumper. While the projectiles flew towards the oncoming hostiles, she made a tight one-hundred-and-eighty degrees turn and sped away. Two of her drones found their marks immediately, and she saw two of the red dots on her HUD flicker and disappear; now, with only two more missiles in play, it became easier to control them, and she disposed of the other two Darts almost just as quickly. The Wraith fighters really had no chance against a Jumper flown by a skilled pilot—except there was still a real swarm of them on her tail, and if she didn't escape, she'd end up exactly like the Ancients had—overwhelmed by sheer numbers. She marked a turn to the right, cloaked her Jumper, and immediately broke left. Then she dropped towards the ground like a rock, only stopping when she was literally a couple yards above the treetops, and there she hovered, unmoving, for a long while, observing the dots on her HUD zigzagging here and there, apparently trying to find her. Eventually, after what felt like at least an hour but turned out to be only ten minutes, they gave up and flew upwards, disappearing into the cloud cover.
Alice took a deep breath, relieved. Her Jumper got a few hits in the initial attack, but it seemed like nothing vital had been damaged; she was still alive, even if her situation was very precarious. This reality was clearly dangerous. She wondered what kind of chain of events could have led to this eventuality. Perhaps here the Super-Hive had not been defeated? Maybe, instead, it had destroyed the Cheyenne Mountain from the orbit—or, possibly, the SGC had initiated a self-destruct when they had been overrun by Wraith? And now the Wraith hovered somewhere above the city, making sure Earthlings didn't try anything funky like unburying the Gate to seek help with their allies… and probably doing regular trips down to feed, too, she realized with horror. Colorado Springs was clearly empty—she hadn't seen any movement there, and the buildings looked uninhabitable, nature already starting to reclaim its ground at the edges of the town. But what about the rest of the country? What about Los Angeles? She couldn't know if there was an alternative version of herself in this universe but if there was… was she even alive? Was her mom? Was Jake or Aaron?
She shook her head, reminding herself that such speculation was pointless. She had sometimes thought about the alternative reality where Father Lawrence and his people had come from—wondering if there was a version of herself there, too, which had not survived the plague—but it never could lead to anything. Now, however… well, she would perhaps know in a few hours—if she began suffering from the entropic cascade failure, she'd have an irrefutable proof that there was another Alice Boyd, still alive, somewhere in this reality. And if not—it could be that her other version was dead, or never existed; or even that the two universes were so close to each other that the effect would be negligible.
She had bigger problems to consider. She had no idea how it was possible for the Stargate itself to fling her into this parallel universe, and she had to find a way to get back. But how? The Gate was buried under a mile of melted rock. Sure, she had made a corridor that led straight to it, but it wasn't exactly a good place to stay for any prolonged period of time, not with the Wraith hovering just above, and she doubted she could find a way to get back very quick. Not to mention that she had no idea how to reprogram the DHD in her Jumper to work with the Milky Way Gate—or if that was even possible. She had to find help, she reasoned, but where exactly was she supposed to look? Clearly, the SGC—or whatever this reality's version of it was called—was no more, as evidenced by the crater where the Cheyenne Mountain was supposed to be. What were her other choices? Groom Lake, she supposed, or the new UN facility near the Area 51. Or, she realized, she could go straight to the people who run the Stargate Program—the Homeworld Command in the Pentagon, Washington D.C. She figured sooner or later she'd have to stand before General O'Neill—or his equivalent here—and ask for help to get back.
Without thinking much more on the subject, she mentally kicked the Jumper into gear and rose high above the city, and then above the clouds. She took a careful look around, but there was no sight of Darts or any other Wraith activity. They must have had a ship somewhere on the low Earth orbit, but she couldn't see it from where she was. So, instead, she plotted a course and sped eastwards. The thick cloud cover spread before her until the horizon for almost all of the flight, which took less than ten minutes. Only at the very end she finally saw the clouds thinning, and eventually giving way to a magnificent view of the limitless sky touching the equally infinite-looking ocean.
Still cloaked, she slowly dropped towards the ground, seeing the bluish-green ribbon of Potomac that divided the district into three distinct parts, then recognizing the big green patch on the right as Arlington Cemetery, and eventually spotting the grey pentagonal building that was her target. The Jumper was still too high up to see much of anything except the general shape of the place, but the lower it went, the more Alice realized that there was something wrong with it… the ringed walls weren't regular like they should be, the outline more jagged, as if interrupted… and then, finally, she realized with horror that it wasn't a building anymore—it was the ruins of one. Huge gaping holes made it look like Swiss cheese, and there was debris everywhere, thick dark dust covering the once green center.
The Wraith had wiped the Stargate Command off the surface of the Earth; why did she think they would have spared the Pentagon? It wasn't just a place where most important military decisions were taken—it was a symbol. In her own reality, it had gotten seriously damaged a few months before when the Lucian Alliance had attacked—the news had been discussed at length in Atlantis. But this… this was a complete destruction. The symbol of American military might—reduced to a pile of concrete and ash.
With her heart beating hard, panic rising again, she turned the Jumper around and flew away, across the river, over the Lincoln Memorial and its Reflecting Pool, towards the white spire of the Washington Monument that still pointed skyward like it always had. The sight calmed her a little, but she swerved left, over the Ellipse, to make sure that at least the White House still stood in this reality—and indeed it did. It looked intact, too, and Alice was so intent on it, flying over it in circles, that it took her a minute or two to actually notice the surrounding area and realize that something was wrong. Very wrong.
Alarmed, she dropped the Jumper even lower, hovering no more than fifteen feet over the ground now and looking at the E Street, always closed to traffic but generally open to pedestrians and cyclists; the road was full of people, positively bursting at the seams, overflowing into the Ellipse on one side, and onto the President's Park on the other. Alice looked at it with disbelieving eyes, her mouth going dry, a weird buzzing in her ear. This couldn't be true. Surely, she had to be imagining it—didn't she? It was simply impossible…
It was impossible for all of them to be dead.
"All of them?" The President repeated, his voice rising half an octave in surprise. "Dead?"
"Yes." Alice's eyes were trained on him, but she wasn't seeing him. She was remembering the sight, a familiar sense of doom hanging over her, and a trickle of cold sweat running down her back under the uniform's shirt and jacket. It had nothing to do with the temperature, though. "Just… thousands of bodies: men, women, children… all wearing cold weather clothes, their faces blue and purple, putrid, decomposing, clearly lying there for a long time…" She paused and blinked quickly, trying to get the vision out of her eyes.
The President looked revolted and fascinated at the same time. "Why? How?"
"Those were my own questions, too." She nodded, then reached out for her glass, took a little sip, just to wet her dry lips, and put it back down. "Later I found out, but at the time I was just as confused. Physically sickened by the sight, I flew over them, along the E Street… and the line stretched over to the 15th Street and further on the Pennsylvania Avenue… Maybe it was morbid curiosity but I felt I had to find out just how far it went, so I followed it through the Avenue… the Freedom Plaza full of bodies, every single block overflowing with them, inside the dried up fountain at the US Navy Memorial Plaza, and around the Peace Monument, all the way to the Capitol Hill… thousands upon thousands of human bodies, just lying there, rotting in the high sun…" She had to stop; her voice cracked and failed her and for a moment she was unable to continue. She felt as nauseated now as she had been then.
The President didn't push her; he seemed to be disturbed by the visual she had painted for him, trying to work through it. They lapsed into a long moment of silence. Alice was taking deep breaths, trying to stave off the panic that threatened to overwhelm her. Name five things you see, she told herself, half-closing her eyes, just enough to not see the President's disgusted face and to shield herself from the bright light of the lamps. The thick rug was dark cream color. The eagle on the seal of the president in the middle was looking right, towards the olive branches. The low oak table between the two sofas was empty, except for the two glasses, hers with water and the President's with whisky. Her low heeled black leather pumps contrasted clearly with the muted décor. She took one more deep breath and then looked up, opening her eyes fully.
He was watching her closely. "It's not easy to go back, is it?"
"It was pretty horrible." She reached for her glass and took a big gulp, draining it. She put it down on the table, but the President immediately took it, stood up and went to pour her more water. She scrambled to stand up, but he waved at her.
"Don't be ridiculous, stay seated," he ordered and thirty seconds later he was back with her glass. She thanked him quietly and took another small sip. "Please, continue."
She nodded. "I freaked out. I didn't understand what I was seeing. It couldn't have been done by the Wraith. They leave an empty, dry husk behind when they feed—and if they decided to attack from space, there wouldn't be much left to be seen, it would be another crater in the ground… This made no sense. Not that I was thinking very straight at that moment. This wasn't my reality, but a sight like that… I don't know. It completely threw me off. I didn't even notice before I was up in the air again, speeding north. Before I knew it, I was over Baltimore and I was dropping down. I had to know—I just had to make sure that what I'd seen in Washington wasn't… that other places were okay." She paused for a moment, remembering how much her heart had fluttered with apprehension as she went lower and lower, at the same time afraid to look and feeling compelled to. "And in a way—it was better. No dead bodies in sight—but also no living ones, either. The streets were empty. There were cars parked on the curbs—some just standing in the middle of the road, abandoned, too—but no people. Windows were dark, doors closed, storefronts' glass shattered and insides pilfered. Frankly, it made me think of all the post-apo movies my brother made me watch with him." She smiled nervously and then shook her head. "It was better than Washington, but at the same time… I mean, for a moment I was scared I was alone there. Like, totally alone—the only living human on the whole planet. But then I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and I went even lower to see. It was a man—an actual living person in this abandoned world. It wasn't until that moment that I realized I had been clenching my jaws. I relaxed and felt the panic bubbling just under the skin abate a little. I wasn't completely alone!" She closed her eyes, remembering the relief washing over her at that moment. Without opening them, she continued: "I followed the man from above, unseen, for my Jumper was still cloaked. He was running through the streets as fast as he could, laden with an apparently heavy backpack, cradling something in his arms, and he kept looking over his shoulder, like he knew he was being watched. He finally reached a door in an alley and went inside, disappearing so suddenly that I almost lost him. I decided it was time for me to get down and find out what had happened. I figured, whoever he was, he at least could supply me with that information, if nothing else. So I landed the Jumper in another alley, and prepared to leave. I didn't have any gear on me—I hadn't been expecting to need any, after all it was supposed to be a simple hop from SGC to Atlantis. But all our Jumpers are at least partially stocked at all times, even those that are to be used for research only. I grabbed a tactical vest, a P90 and a Beretta, and finally stepped out from the Jumper…"