STARGATE SG-1: Operation Checkmate

Summary: When General O'Neill is incapacitated, Carter finds herself in over her head as a helpless puppet to a mad man...

Season: 8

Pairing: Jack/Sam (suggested)

Spoilers: New Order, Lockdown.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in Stargate SG-1. Please don't sue me!

Author's Note: Seriously have NO idea where the heck this one came from! (Other than the deep dark recesses of my mind – scary place!). It's a bit different from what I usually go for (genre wise), so I apologise if it's pants, but I thought I might as well give it a go. And don't worry, I haven't completely forgotten about my other series. Please R&R as always. Thanx. Enjoy!

WARNING: Strong Language!

Operation Checkmate: Chapter 1 – Opening Gambit

"Close the iris!" Sam screamed as soon as she felt the metal walk way beneath her. She heard the barrier slide into place as she tumbled down the ramp and came to a halt beside Daniel.

Teal'c was still on-guard, she noticed, with his staff weapon pointed directly at the shielded gate.

There were about a dozen heavy thuds against the iris before the event horizon whined and failed, leaving the gate room once again quiet and without its ever-present blue shimmer. Teal'c finally relaxed as a medical team swarmed in to assess their latest collection of bumps and scrapes, none more impressive than the deep gaping wound that ran across Daniel's shoulder.

"What happened, Colonel?" Jack asked from the control room.

Sam blinked at him for a moment – still finding it unusual to be addressed as 'Colonel'.

"There was an ambush, sir. Ba'al's troops were waiting for us at the village. They had already slaughtered most of the villagers there. I don't know how they could've gotten there so soon," she replied as one of the medical officers inspected the broses on her arms and face.

"Get yourselves cleared and cleaned up," Jack ordered them. "We'll debrief at 1800."

Sam nodded her acknowledgement and followed her team out of the gate room, but not without noticing the way the General was favouring his left arm. As she headed towards the blast doors, she saw him flex his fingers, as if trying to regain lost feeling in them.

000

By the time the briefing was due, Sam was the only one in her team fully cleared, medically. So she made her way to Jack's office to debrief on behalf of her team.

As she entered his office, Jack was stood still flexing his left hand, almost nervously. She tapped on the door, alerting him to her presence.

"Sir, are you alright?" she enquired.

Jack looked at her quizzically for a moment before he realised what she was referring to.

"What, this?" he said waving his left arm at her. "Sure. Just giving me a little jip, that's all. Must have slept awkwardly on it or something."

Sam creased her brow slightly, not sure that he was being totally honest with her. She soon dismissed her concerns, though, as he turned their attention to the mission debriefing.

"Like I said in the gate room," Sam started. "Ba'al was waiting for us in the village. He must have had a spy there since SG-4's preliminary contact with the Mytomin people, that's the only way he could have known about the treaty.

She carried on talking, explaining every move her team had made on the planet, as if it ha been a game of chess. Each side advancing until SG-1 had lost and been forced to retreat.

But Jack didn't hear much of her explanation. He was suddenly overwhelmed by a sudden sense of dizziness. Sounds became distant echoes in his head that merged and muddled into one massive din. The colours and lights around him seemed to bleach and bleed into one another, making it nearly impossible to focus on anything. Soon, it became difficult for him to even breath, as if his shirt was suddenly three sizes too small and was restricting his lungs.

At last, he doubled over in agony as a sudden sharp pain erupted in his chest, as if he had been stabbed by a thousand white-hot needles.

"Carter," he managed to gasp as he pushed his chair away from his desk in a futile attempt to free his lungs.

Sam stopped mid-sentence. "Sir?" she said looking at the General, suddenly alarmed by the ashen complexion of his skin.

He collapsed onto the floor.

"Sir!" Sam exclaimed, rushing to his side. "Sir!" she shouted again, checking his vitals. Even with the limited training she had in field medicine, she was completely at a loss to what was happening.

As she gradually began to panic, she tried CPR, but it was useless. He simply wouldn't revive. His pulse was weak and erratic and his breathing was shallow and raspy. Finally realising she couldn't do anything for him; Sam grabbed the intercom telephone from the wall.

"Medical team to General O'Neill's office! Repeat! Medical team to the General's office!" she shouted, half panicked by what was going on.

She quickly returned to Jack's side, determined to find something she could do to help him.

"Jack, come on. Don't quit on me!" she muttered as she tried CPR again.

The medical team arrived in record time and quickly took over from Sam. All she could do was watch on as they quickly took him away to the infirmary.

000

12 hours later...

Sam's front door closed behind her and she leaned heavily against it, weary from the last two days' events. Or more accurately, last night's events.

She had followed Jack to the infirmary after his collapse and had then waited on tenter hooks to be told that he had suffered a severe myocardial infraction (better known as a heart attack) and was unlikely to regain consciousness for a few hours. At least, Dr Brightman had been half way through explaining all this to her when the claxons sounded again and the good doctor rushed to his side just in time to confirm that his condition had gone from stable to critical as he had slipped into a coma.

From then on, Sam had sat by his side, desperately hoping for some glimmer of change in his condition. But all that happened was she was pushed out of the way a few times when he briefly flat lined.

In the end, Dr Brightman had had to have her escorted from the infirmary with orders to go home and get some rest. To which Sam had insisted upon being notified as soon as there was any change in him either way.

Sam gazed around her hallway, surprised to find she was actually relieved to be home at all. There was still a great part of her that wanted to be with Jack, just in case.

She made her way into the kitchen, determined to find something to occupy her mind with for as long as possible. When the phone rang on the breakfast bar beside her, her heart nearly leapt out of her throat. For a second, she didn't want to answer it in case it was Brightman telling her the worst.

After a dozen, ear piercing rings, Sam finally picked up the receiver.

"Hello?" she said cautiously.

"Hi, is Albert there?" said the man on the other end of the line. His voice was slightly hoarse, but seemed pleasant enough.

"I'm sorry, sir. There's no-one here by that name, you must have the wrong number," Sam replied cordially.

"My apologises ma'am," he said and hung up.

Sam smiled – for the first time that day. There was something calming in the stranger's voice that set her at ease a little.

A few moments later, the phone rang again. This time, it didn't panic her so much.

"Hello?" she answered, more lively than before.

"I'm looking for Albert?" said the same, calming voice on the other end.

"I'm sorry. He's not here. You have the wrong number again."

The man paused briefly.

"Is this 555-7413?" he asked.

"Yes it is," Sam replied, slightly unnerved to hear her own phone number read back to her by a complete stranger. "But there must have been some mistake. There's no-one here called Albert."

"My mistake, sorry ma'am." With that, he hung up.

Sam was puzzled. She knew it was an easy mistake to make, taking a number down wrong, but even so, the man had somehow seemed unconvinced by her assurance that 'Albert' wasn't there. She waited by the phone for a few moments and sure enough – not even a minute after she had hung up – it rang again.

"I'm sorry to bother you again, ma'am," said the same male voice on the line. "But are you sure Albert's not there? I really need to talk to him."

"Yes I'm sure! Given that I'm the only person who lives here!" She didn't appreciate being talked down to like this, especially by someone she had never seen before. She didn't wait for his reply before hanging up, hoping he would get the point that she didn't want to be disturbed like this every two minutes for the rest of the day.

The receiver hadn't been back in its holder for ten seconds when it started ringing for a forth time.

"Look pal!" she began, anticipating who it would be. But he cut her off.

"I don't appreciate being hung up on, Samantha. You'd do well to learn that fairly quickly." His calm polite tone was now replaced by a rough malicious one that sent a chill through Sam.

She froze on hearing her own name.

"How did you –?" she started on a breath, but he cut her off yet again.

"I've had my eye on you for a while."

Sam began to feel her blood boil at the sound of his voice. She was furious at herself for being so easily taken in by his act.

"And all that nonsense about Albert?" she spat, growing more and more angry with each passing second.

"Well, you'll work that one out soon enough," he said.

Sam bit her teeth together, trying not to totally lose her cool until she was sure she had the upper hand.

"I think someone's been reading too much John Grisham," she said through clenched teeth.

The man – whoever he was – let out a low, but hearty laugh at her comment. The sound of which made her skin crawl.

"It's nice to see some of the General's wit has rubbed off on you Samantha," he said, still highly amused by her comment. "You know, I'm surprised they let you work together, given your eh... history."

Sam's eyes narrowed. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"I'm sure you'll figure that one out in time too," he assured her. There was a slight air of hopefulness in his voice, as if he really wanted her to know who he was.

"Look, what do you want?" Sam asked eventually. "Is it money? Intel? What?"

"What's the rush love? You expecting a call or something? Don't worry. Our boy Jack won't be checking out anytime soon. I can assure you of that."

Once again, Sam froze. Whoever she was dealing with was three steps ahead of her still and she didn't like it – not one bit. He knew too much about her and about her work.

"I'm just sorry it all came to this, is all," he said wistfully. "But, hey! Sometimes you have to sacrifice a few pawns in the opening gambit, eh Samantha?"

Sam clenched he teeth again at the thought of Jack being little more than a pawn in this man's 'game'.

"Just tell me what you want, so you can get the fuck out of my life!" she hissed at him. She didn't care that he still held dominion over the proceedings. She just wanted him gone.

"Samantha, really," he said placidly, "is that sort of language really called for?"

"Listen asshole! I don't know who you are, but my patience is just about running out. So either get to the point, or get gone!"

He said nothing.

"What do you want damnit!" she shouted.

She heard him smile at the fact that he was getting to her.

"Oh, nothing at the moment," he answered her at last. "Just the promise of your future co-operation."

"Co-operation?" she repeated. "Forget it!"

"You sure you don't want to think about that, maybe before you need a new toaster?" he taunted.

"What?" she queried at his final comment.

No sooner had she asked, the toaster on the counter beside her exploded, sending shards of metal and plastic flying in all directions. Tongues of fire licked towards the ceiling leaving a circle of black on whatever they touched.

"Shit!" Sam exclaimed, dropping the phone to douse the flames. As she brought the blaze under control, she heard his dreadful laughter emitting from the receiver.

"You bastard!" she said picking up the phone again. "You think that was funny?!"

"Honestly?" he provoked further. "Yes. Now! What about my request. Care to reconsider?"

"Never!"

"You sure?"

"Positive!"

"Too bad."

Sam braced herself for another kitchen appliance to blow. But nothing happened... inside, anyway.

From outside – across the street to be exact – there came an almighty blast that ripped through the air like thunder. Sam rushed through her house to the front window in time to see Mrs Wilson – her eighty year old neighbour – being thrown out of her own house as it exploded with such force that it made the whole street shake. Car alarms wailed up and down the road. People began emerging from their houses to see what the disturbance was.

Sam clasped her hands over her mouth in shock.

In all the chaos and commotion outside, she was completely still. Numbed in the knowledge that the incident had been set as a demonstration to her.

Reluctantly, she picked up the phone once more.

"If you think you can use scare tactics like that to gain my co-operation, you must be crazier than I thought," she said quietly, her voice full of venom that shock was preventing her from shouting out.

"It got your attention, though. Didn't it Samantha?" He seemed completely unaffected and undeterred by the fact that he had just killed an eighty year old woman.

"Why are you doing this?" she demanded, breaking at last. "And how for that matter?!"

"Well, which is it to be, Samantha? How or why?"

"Both!"

"No, one or the other."

"Fine. How?!"

"Machines," he answered simply.

"What?!" She was confused. Not only by the brevity of his answer but by how any of this had anything to do with her.

"You of all people should know that any electrical appliance – like you toaster or Mrs Wilson's fuse box – can be re-wired in such a way that it'll eventually blow." He paused to let this reality sink in before he continued. "Which is why I think you'll go for my new offer."

"I wouldn't bank on it!" Sam replied as tears fell down her cheeks. Despite what she was saying, somehow she knew she wasn't going to be able to get out of this the way she wanted to.

"Now, Samantha. Don't be unreasonable. You've seen what I can do. So here's the new deal... Either you co-operate with me in my latest project, or I kill Jack."

"You wouldn't," she said weakly.

"Think about it, Samantha," he patronised. "Jack's in a coma. All nicely hooked up to lots of lovely machines. And there's a button right next to me with his name on it!"

Sam screwed her eyes shut as tears began to fall harder down her face.

"Going once..."

There was no way out that didn't Jack in danger.

"Going twice..."

He had her just where he wanted her.

"Alright," she whispered. Defeated. "What do I have to do?"

000000

Author's Note: So what do you think? I'll keep going with this (and everything else) just as long as y'all review! Have a nice day now!