Author: Karen T
Disclaimer: Not mine, any of them.
Classification: Gen, humor, action/adventure.
Spoilers: Nothing major. Set post-S6.
Notes: Written for the Fall 2005 SG1 Team Ficathon. I was assigned Julie and she asked for SG1 to be off-world, humor, and lots of teamness. Much thanks to Michelle for enduring my VERY late requests for beta help.
P3Z-284 was shaping into your typical meet-greet-and-swap-recipes mission. They arrived on the planet, met the Zzyxes, exchanged pleasantries, turned down their offer of local delicacies (hey, Jack learned his lesson -- eventually), and set Daniel upon them to negotiate some sort of trade agreement. Yep, there was nothing special about this mission, and Jack kind of liked that.
"What?" Jack looked up from the stick he'd been whittling to see a noticeably shaken Daniel walking towards him.
"Brains," Daniel repeated, in the same monotone he'd used before.
"Yeah, I heard you the first time, but I'm going to need some more words. Maybe a verb? Or another noun? Even an article would be nice. How about--"
"They want brains."
Now Daniel had Jack's full attention.
"As in ... monkey?" Jack asked, praying that that was what Daniel was referring to.
"No, human. Or, more specifically, ours."
"You negotiated away our brains?" Daniel had made some dubious pacts in the past, but this took the cake.
"Shh! Could you keep your voice--"
"Is everything all right, O'Neill?" Teal'c interrupted. His face was the picture of serenity, but his right hand was reaching behind him for his staff weapon.
"No, Teal'c, everything's really not. Daniel here has managed to trade away our brains."
"No, I didn't!" Daniel hissed. "And, please, will you keep your voice down?"
"Hey, what's going on?" Back from her investigation of an energy reading a quarter mile away, Carter dropped her pack to the ground and proceeded to unzip the main compartment. "Did we find out what the Zzyxes are interested in trading for?"
"Yeah, our brains, apparently," Jack said, shooting Daniel a glare.
"What? What are--"
"God, will you shut up about that? I told them we couldn't -- and wouldn't -- give them our brains. But they didn't seem too happy about that, and I think we might--" Daniel stopped mid-sentence and looked off into the distance where an incomprehensible chatter was forming. "Oh, no."
"What?" Jack twisted his head to look behind him and saw a group of locals heading towards them. Leading the crowd was the grand poo-bah Daniel had been negotiating with, and the man really didn't look happy. The chatter was growing louder by the second, but Jack couldn't make heads or tails of the overlapping voices.
"Run," Daniel ordered sotto voce as his eyes widened with apprehension.
"They're telling us to run?" Jack asked, confused.
"No, I am. We need to run." Daniel's voice strained and grew increasingly panicked. "Fast. Now!"
The terror in Daniel's voice was all that was needed to get them to throw their packs on and take off in the opposite direction from which the Zzyxes were approaching.
"Sir, do we know where we're going?" Jack heard Carter ask over the pounding of their feet.
"O'Neill, have we upset the Zzyxes? If they engage us in battle, are we to return fire?" Teal'c asked, his staff weapon in hand and pointed behind him as he glanced backwards every few feet or so.
"I don't ..." It was a good question and Jack wasn't entirely sure how he should respond. Daniel clearly felt their lives were in danger, and that was almost enough to convince him to order Teal'c and the others to defend themselves by all means possible. But without knowing for sure what the Zzyxes had said before Daniel told them to run, Jack was hesitant to pull that proverbial trigger. "Maybe we should ..."
He zeroed in on the back of Daniel's head and tried telepathically to get the archaeologist to turn around when an unusual noise to his left caught his attention. It sounded like a low moan -- a beseeching moan, actually -- and Jack slowed down just enough to see if there was someone in need of help hidden amongst the trees. Clammy skin hanging loosely off facial bones came into view first, then a gray, lolling tongue, then wide, vacant eyes. Many wide, vacant eyes, to be exact, and the eyes were getting closer and closer and--
Pushing his legs to move as quickly as possible, Jack caught up with Carter and motioned for Teal'c to join them. Daniel was, thankfully, still ahead of them and sprinting like his life depended on it.
"Sir, what--" Carter started to protest as she slowed to look in the direction from which he'd come.
"No time," he huffed, grabbing her arm and pulling her forward. "We need to find shelter. If we don't--"
"Dammit!" This time the noise came from their right and Jack didn't bother to look over. Raising his P-90, he began firing indiscriminately into the trees that bordered both sides of the path on which they were running. He heard a faint thump -- or thought he did; it might just have been wishful thinking on his part -- when things grew very quiet. Was it possible they'd--
The roar shattered the calm at the same moment their pursuers broke through the trees, and there was no denying it any longer; they were most definitely dealing with a large pack of pissed off zombies.
Tearing his mind from less than pleasant images of being slurped and gnawed to death, Jack saw Daniel pointing at a stone building that was fifteen yards away and had a front door that was -- thank god -- open wide. They all rushed towards it as a single unit, and hurtled themselves into the building just as Jack felt fingers grab at the back of his jacket.
"Door!" he shouted the moment he passed the threshold.
Teal'c slammed the door shut and pressed his back against the thick wood, his feet scrabbling to find purchase on the dirt floor as Carter and Daniel lowered the heavy two-by-four that served as a lock. Gasping for air, they stared at the door and waited.
Howls of displeasure came from outside, and they were soon followed by the sounds of clawing, slapping, and punching. But the door remained closed. Jack slumped to the ground, exhaling loudly as he leaned his head against the wall.
Without moving his head, he darted his eyes around and inspected their sanctuary. The building was nothing more than a large, square room, approximately ten feet by ten feet. There were no windows and, judging by the hay piled in a corner, it was probably used to protect surplus hay from the elements. He wasn't entirely sure why a storage building would require such a heavy-duty door, but Jack wasn't about to question that at the moment.
No one said a word until Carter mumbled, "Please tell me those weren't really ..." She blanched at her unspoken words, her expression twisting into something akin to a pained grimace.
"I believe they were, Major Carter," Teal'c said solemnly. He was the least winded of the group, but his posture was somewhat stooped and Jack believed it was the first time he'd ever seen Teal'c so close to losing his lunch.
"But how could they ... I mean, aren't ... Zombies?" Poor Carter looked like her recently rescued brains were tying themselves into knots as they attempted to make sense of their current predicament.
"Oh, I have a feeling Daniel might have some more information on that," Jack declared. "Right, Daniel?"
"They never mentioned zombies!" he insisted. Then his shoulders slumped a bit and he gave an off-kilter, somewhat apologetic half-smile. "At least not specifically. The Zzyses mentioned that a god -- who I assumed to be a minor System Lord -- used to rule over them with an iron fist and kept people in line through witchcraft. They said this god had the ability to kill a man's soul but keep his body alive. I thought we might be dealing with something like Nirrti's DNA machine, but I guess ... not."
"You're a regular Sherlock," Jack sneered.
"But the zombies do explain why the Zzyses were so desperate for our brains," Daniel continued, undeterred by Jack's sullen comment. "They probably figured that giving the zombies our brains would take the heat off them for a while. And when we refused, they got mad and decided to chase us into the zombies' territory."
"Fantastic. That's some inspired negotiating you did." Jack scrubbed at his face with his hands and ran through the options they had at their disposal. It didn't take him very long to do so because they were supremely screwed. "I don't know how much longer that door's going to hold, but I'm thinking we better put our brains to good use and figure out a way to get them and us back home, intact. Anyone have any brilliant ideas?"
If it were possible to hear crickets chirping over the sound of the whining, slobbering zombies outside, then Jack was sure the noise would have filled the room.
"We need a diversion."
Teal'c, Daniel, and Carter lifted their heads at Jack's announcement and Jack tried not to think about how it took them much too long to come up with that idea. It was becoming apparent that the zombies had rattled his team a lot more than he'd initially thought, and that worried him. But he covered up his concern by climbing to his feet and puffing out his chest in an attempt to appear as authoritative as possible.
"Right now, the zombies have us cut off from the gate, and there's no way we can get around them. But if we split up into two groups, Group A can move the zombies away from here and the gate while Group B double-times it to the gate and dials the SGC."
Using a stick he found laying on the ground, Jack etched various geometric shapes on the floor and drew several arrows, all of which converged at the largest circle: the Zzyes' stargate.
"It'll be tight, time-wise," Carter said, her chin practically pressed to her chest as she studied Jack's sketch. "But you're right, sir. This plan might work. Assuming the diversion's a good one."
"And who exactly is going to tackle that task?" Daniel asked.
Jack didn't even pretend to hide the smile that broke across his face when Carter and Teal'c joined him in looking at Daniel.
"No." Daniel shook his head and attempted to back away, but his retreat was stymied when the heel of his left foot struck the wall behind him. "C'mon, this isn't funny. Guys ... Why me?"
"Because your stellar language skills make you the perfect person to go out there and talk the zombies into a stupor?" When that response only succeeded in making Daniel glare at him, Jack tried another tack. "The zombies like brains, right? Well, you have the biggest brains out of all us."
"Sam's got big brains, too," Daniel said, sounding much like a man on the verge of pouting.
"I'm more than willing to concede the Biggest Brains title to you, Daniel."
"Gee, how magnanimous of you."
"Do not worry, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c announced, placing a protective hand on Daniel's shoulder. "I shall go with you, and we shall both do battle together."
"Attaboy, Teal'c. Way to step up." Jack gave Teal'c's back a quick pat before reaching down to unzip his pack and empty out its contents.
Everything they didn't immediately need like extra Powerbars and a spare battery for Carter's laptop -- hey, how'd that end up in his pack? -- he threw into one pile; all extra guns and ammunition went into a second pile. Without having to be asked, Carter, Daniel, and Teal'c divided their belongings in a similar fashion and they were soon left with relatively light packs and an assortment of weaponry spread out before them.
Grabbing a handful of extra clips for him and Carter, Jack gestured for Daniel and Teal'c to arm themselves with everything that was left. "You might not have time to reload, so you'll probably be better off taking as many guns as you can and tossing them once they're empty."
Daniel nodded as he dropped to his knees and began sorting through what lay on the ground. "Run, shoot, drop," Jack heard Daniel mumble, and that's when Jack noticed how Daniel's hands were shaking.
All sarcasm aside, Jack knew how risky it would be for Daniel and Teal'c to fend off the zombies, and he was more than willing to swap places with Daniel. But the truth of the matter was that Daniel was the faster runner while he was the better marksman; it would be suicide for them to switch roles.
"Daniel Jackson will be all right, O'Neill." Jack jumped as Teal'c's warm breath wafted over his ear. "We all will."
"I know. It's just ..." He watched Carter load a 9mm and pass it to Daniel. The two exchanged small smiles as Daniel accepted the gun and tucked it under the waistband of his pants. Neither of them said a word, but it was clear neither of them had to; Daniel's hands were no longer shaking. "You're right, Teal'c. Of course we'll be fine."
The growl wasn't as loud as it'd been when they were being chased, but it was followed by increased banging against the door and that was enough to propel Jack back into action. Pocketing two of the P-90 clips he'd taken earlier, he threw the remaining two to Carter. "I think the natives are getting restless, folks."
"We should probably leave soon, sir. It's getting dark."
"Yeah. Okay, here's the plan." Redirecting everyone's attention to the floor, Jack pointed at his sketch, then at Daniel and Teal'c. "Once out that door, head west and count to thirty before doubling back to the gate. Hopefully that'll give me and Carter enough of a head start. I'll let you know how close we are to forming that wormhole, and when I tell you to, I want you both to drop everything and run like hell to the gate. Carter? Your job is to get to the DHD and dial home. I'll watch your six. Got it?"
"Uh, Jack?" Jack looked over to see Daniel fidgeting with the strap to one of the P-90s slung over his chest. "How are Teal'c and I supposed to get out that door without being mauled to death?"
Coming off the high of his plan, Jack sighed and propped his hands on his waist, the fingers of his right hand bumping into a round object he'd clipped to one of his belt loops. "Ready for the diversion for our diversion?" he asked with a smile as he held up a grenade for all to see.
Once in their respective positions, Jack raised his hand and extended three fingers. "On three. One ..." He pulled the pin from the grenade. "Two ... Three."
In a whirlwind of action, Carter lifted the lock, Teal'c pulled the door slightly open, Daniel fired away at the zombies that lunged for the now open doorway, and Jack tossed the grenade into the ravenous pack.
Teal'c and Carter had just managed to shove the door shut when the entire building shook with a massive boom and they were thrown onto their backs.
It was an anguished cry of pain that made Jack proud.
Motioning for the rest of his team to join his side, Jack eased the door back open and saw smoke, blood, and the zombies fighting over the shattered bodies of two of their former buddies. Apparently nothing says zombie love like eating your friend's brains, Jack mused.
With the zombies distracted, Daniel and Teal'c silently squeezed their way outside and took a second to gird themselves before shouting, "Hey!"
There was a moment of confusion as the zombies turned towards them, their faces smeared red and chunks of torn meat hanging from their mouths. The zombies sniffed; Daniel and Teal'c stayed frozen in place. "Move!" Jack whispered too quietly for Daniel or Teal'c to hear, but he hoped they would still somehow get the message. And just as it appeared that neither man would run before it was too late, Teal'c fired his staff weapon into the crowd and Daniel whooped, "Catch us if you can!"
As he and Teal'c sprinted off with the zombies in fast pursuit, Jack shook his head and made a mental note to help Daniel with his taunting once they were back on Earth. The poor man was in desperate need of it.
When the last of the zombies disappeared into the trees, Jack crept outside and signaled for Carter to follow. The sound of gunfire was growing faint and he tried not to focus on the subtle changes in discharge, which signaled how Daniel was switching from one weapon to another. He knew exactly how many guns Daniel and Teal'c had brought with them, and they were moving through them much too quickly for Jack's comfort. But he forced himself to hold back the panic bubbling in his chest as he tiptoed away from the building, mindful to move much like a mouse: fast and quiet.
Daniel and Teal'c would be fine, he assured himself. He and Carter would make it to the gate, they'd dial home, Daniel and Teal'c would make it back just in the nick of time, and they'd all be drinking beers at his house before the day was over. It would happen. It had to.
He crouched behind the nearest rock and followed the path of Carter's finger to find the planet's DHD and gate. He'd been afraid the Zzyxes would be guarding the gate to prevent their departure, but no one was in sight.
With one last scan of the area in front of the gate, he turned his back to Carter and kept his eyes peeled on the path from which they'd come. "Go. I've got your back." He listened as her feet raced over dried leaves and waited until she began dialing before he keyed his radio. "Daniel?"
"OH MY GOD JACK HAVE YOU DIALED THE GATE YET?"
Clamping a hand over his radio, Jack grimaced and held his breath. But he heard nothing other than muffled gunfire, Daniel's ragged breathing, and Teal'c imploring him to run faster. "Carter's working on the gate," Jack whispered. "Start making your way back here. Hopefully we'll--"
This time, the gunfire he heard was most certainly not coming from his radio. He spun around to see Carter running away from the DHD, her P-90 releasing a steady stream of bullets.
"Behind you, sir!"
He snapped back around -- probably giving himself a nasty case of whiplash in the process -- and saw two groups of zombies converging on him. Dammit, he and Carter were surrounded.
His radio crackled. "O'Neill, we are near. Is the--"
"Get out of here!" Jack yelled as he tried to fire his weapon with only one hand. "Our position's been compromised! We weren't able to--"
"They're practically on top of us, Jack! There's nowhere else we can go!"
"Jack, we'll be there in-- Ahh!"
"Daniel? Teal'c, what happened to--"
"I only need to press one more symbol, sir! Cover me!"
"Wait, Carter, I--"
"O'Neill! Daniel Jackson has--"
"Wai-- Get off me!"
"No! Stop! I--"
Three sets of eyes were glued to Jack. "And we all become zombies," he said solemnly.
A blanket of silence fell over his backyard as Teal'c stared at him, unblinking, Daniel stared at him, blinking a lot, and Sam stared at him, shaking her head in disbelief.
"Don't you get it? We become zombies!"
"Yes, we get it, sir, but ..." Carter hesitated and exchanged a sidelong glance with Daniel.
"Doesn't make a lot of sense," Daniel finished for her.
"Yes, it does," Jack insisted.
"Okay, what doesn't make sense?"
Jack watched as Carter and Daniel exchanged a whole lot more glances, then Daniel and Teal'c, and finally Carter and Teal'c. Perhaps he shouldn't have shouted his last question the way he did, but ... zombies! How could something with zombies not make sense?
"Well, sir, the ..."
"Oh, just spit it out, Carter."
She narrowed her eyes, then said, stiffly, "Fine. I thought it was too convenient the building we hid in had an inside lock. If it's used to store hay, as the you in the story assumed, then why would the lock be on the inside?"
"And wouldn't that grenade have damaged the door when it exploded?" Daniel asked.
"Yes!" Carter jumped excitedly in her seat and pointed at Daniel. "I was wondering the same thing!"
"And that building appearing out of nowhere to provide us with shelter was a bit odd."
"Okay, okay!" Jack waved his arms in front of his chest, almost as if he was swatting away all their critiques. "So there were a few plot holes. But you liked it, didn't you, Teal'c?"
Teal'c regarded Jack gravely for a second before saying, "I would not have allowed Daniel Jackson's brains to be eaten."
Jack sat back in his seat and rolled his eyes in exasperation. "All right, you win. The story sucked. Now get outta here. Barbecue's over."
"Are you going to sit here and pout, Jack?"
"No, but I'm going to bash your head in and eat your brains myself if you keep up that attitude," Jack retorted.
Carter snickered as she rose from her chair and helped Daniel out of his. "Thanks for inviting us over, sir. Dinner was a lot of fun."
"It was indeed most entertaining, O'Neill."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." He pretended to dismiss their comments, but the compliments pleased him.
"But next time?" Daniel prompted.
"We should just play Scrabble like I suggested instead of trying to tell scary stories."
Jack shooed them out of his yard and could hear Carter and Daniel laughing as he began picking up empty beer bottles and dirty plates. Poor zombies, he commiserated. They're just so underappreciated these days.