Chapter 1 – Oops! (In Russian)
Harry Maybourne gazed at the stargate as a team of four men and two women prepared for an offworld mission. It wasn't their first, but they weren't any of them so experienced that they could treat it with comfortable familiarity. All the faces were serious, though not grim, and several of the younger team members had an air of quiet excitement about them.
He stood behind the control console, arms crossed. Unlike the SGC, here there was no glass separation between the gateroom and the control room. They were simply on a raised platform set back from the gate aways. There was a young woman seated at the console, and Dr. Svetlana Markov, in charge of today's activities, stood to his left.
"Final check," she said in a clear voice that filled the room. "Do you all remember the time windows for your possible return?"
"We do, doctor!" the team's commanding officer called, and the other team members nodded.
"Very good." Markov nodded, then, turning to her own left, said, "Connect the DHD. We have a forty minute window."
Lt. Grishnovich nodded and made the requested energy connection. Dr. Markov stepped away from Harry's side and began to dial the gate coordinates. Before she was halfway through, though, the gate came to life of its own accord. A couple of the junior officers below started forward after the kawoosh subsided, but were checked by their commanding officer.
Dr. Markov stood up straight, staring in astonishment as Lt. Ivanova announced, "Incoming wormhole. There is a radio transmission." An energy blast came through the gate as she spoke, and everyone ducked.
Eyes wide with alarm, Markov shook her head. "We have no teams offworld at this time. Disconnect the DHD. Hopefully that will kill the wormhole."
Harry had leaned over the console, looking at the frequency of the radio transmission. As Grishnovich bent to obey Markov's command, he snapped, "No, don't!"
"What is it?" Markov asked, waving Grishnovich to wait. Another energy blast hit the wall behind them. "Maybourne?"
Without speaking, he reached out and flipped the switch that allowed the audio signal to come through. It started in mid-sentence. "– under fire! Repeat, we're coming in hot!" The sounds of energy weapons in the background told them that the fire fight on the other side of the gate was far worse than the few shots they'd received so far here. Another blast caused them all to duck.
"Who is that?" Markov asked, her brows knitting.
"That is Daniel Jackson," Harry replied. "I knew it was someone from the SGC, but I had no idea it was Jackson!"
"Bojemoi!" Markov breathed, eyes wide.
Daniel's voice crackled forth again, high with anxiety. "We're pinned down under hostile fire guys! Can you hear me? I need that signal!" He kept on like that, the way Jackson was wont to do.
Harry turned to Markov. "You know who Dr. Jackson is," he shouted. Occasional blasts were still flying through the gate. "If he dies because you don't let them through . . . because you shut the gate down –"
"What signal does he need?" she asked urgently. "Do you know it?" He nodded and her eyes went distant as she seemed to consider the situation for a moment.
Jackson's words broke off in a cry of pain. Maybourne didn't much like the archeologist, but the truth was that Earth needed him in the war against the Goa'uld. They couldn't afford to lose the only man who could readily translate just about any language he heard. "Well?" he demanded of Markov, who still looked undecided.
Jackson began to speak again, his voice very tense with pain and panic. "Now would be good, guys," he said. "Wendy's down with some kind of gut wound, Sumner's been hit in the shoulder, but he's still up. Harvester's been hit, but not badly I don't think. My leg –" He broke off with a yelp.
"Make a decision," Maybourne demanded. "But the gate can stay open for thirty-eight minutes, and I'm not sure you can shut it down with things going through."
"He is right, doctor," Ivanova said. "Once the gate is open, it is self-supporting. It does not need energy from us."
"Jones!" Daniel yelled, the sound almost overloading the speakers. "Get down!"
Markov's eyes flashed. "Give them the signal," she said.
Harry shoved Ivanova away from her post and typed rapidly. A moment later, the first of the refugees came through the gate. It was a pair of soldiers carrying a third, unconscious, between them. She had a wound on her left side that was bleeding sluggishly. At a nod from the Russian team's commander, two of the younger officers ran out of the room. The others had raised their weapons and the soldiers stopped, eyes wide with astonishment.
Markov was on the phone beside him, making some kind of a report in rapid-fire Russian. It was too fast and there was too much noise for him to understand her, but he imagined she was asking for instructions.
Two more figures emerged from the gate, Jackson with a nasty burn on his leg, the other man supporting him. Jackson looked about ready to collapse, but his eyes widened like blue headlights when he saw where he was, or rather, where he wasn't.
The last man through the gate was Colonel Sumner, running backwards. Not immediately recognizing the lower-ranked officers, Maybourne hadn't been sure before, but this appeared to be SG-8. Sumner ran backwards, firing through the gate as he came out, then he yelled, "Close the iris!"
Then he turned and stopped dead, facing the guns of the Russian gate team. Not lowering his own weapon, he stared around the room. "What in the hell . . ."
When the signal finally came, Daniel let out a call to the others. Jones and Harvester, Wendy's arms slung over their shoulders, went first. She was still unconscious, and her side was bleeding in a way that made it clear that she was in shock. Andy Myers came up to Daniel's side and helped him move away from the DHD, which he had been clinging to for support. They ducked as an energy bolt flew overhead, going through the gate. Thank heaven for the blast doors that protected the computer equipment.
"We're the last, colonel!" Andy shouted as they approached the threshold of the wormhole. Then they were through and Daniel stared about him in shock. He was used to facing squads of troopers holding weapons on him when he came through the gate, especially in a hot entry situation, but this wasn't the SGC and those troops weren't American military. He knew he'd dialed the right coordinates, so where the hell were they?
Behind him, Colonel Sumner came through the gate, calling for the iris to be closed. Daniel wondered if they had an iris. Another blast came through the gate behind them, then the gate closed down. Daniel wanted badly to sit down, nearly overwhelmed with astonishment and pain, but sudden movements might set off the fellows with the guns.
"What in the hell?" Sumner demanded behind him.
At that moment, Daniel caught sight of a face that only added to his utter perplexity. Harry Maybourne? The NID colonel had been missing ever since Jack had uncovered his smuggling ring. What on earth was he doing here? For that matter, where was here?
Beside Maybourne there was a woman talking on a telephone, her eyes very serious. She kept nodding, and Daniel wondered what she was being told. Fire when ready? Shoot to kill?
"Jackson?" Sumner asked in an undertone. "You sure you dialed the right address?"
"Pretty sure," Daniel replied in the same quiet voice.
Sumner just pursed his lips and looked sour. He lowered his weapon slowly and turned his attention towards the platform directly in front of them, where Maybourne was standing. Daniel caught the slight change of expression that betrayed his recognition of the former NID operative. Before Sumner could speak, though, the woman on the platform put down the telephone and looked up towards them.
Raising her voice, she spoke loudly in accented English. "Please surrender your weapons." The Russians? How did the Russians get the gate? He shook his head. That she was Russian didn't mean that this was Russia or that it had anything to do with any government.
Daniel looked at Sumner, knowing full well that Jack would expect him to check before complying, even when complying seemed like the only logical option. His weapon wasn't even particularly threatening to their hosts, since it was still in its holster, and they'd probably shoot him if he reached for it like he meant to use it.
Sumner stepped forward, his weapon still down, but held firmly. "Before we do that, would you mind telling us where we are?"
The woman stared at them, tight-lipped, and said, "I am sorry, I cannot." Daniel saw Sumner's jaw tighten angrily. "Please, we wish to get you all medical attention, but we cannot take you further into the facility with your weapons."
Harvester and Jones had already lowered Wendy onto the stretcher and had covered her with the blankets the soldiers had offered them before backing off. Daniel turned towards Sumner who was still glowering at the woman on the platform. "Lt. Colfax could die if we wait much longer, sir," he said quietly, nodding towards Wendy.
Sumner glanced towards him and gave a slight nod. "Very well," he said, shifting his weapon in his hands so that it could be easily taken. The soldiers came forward then and relieved them of their weapons, and Daniel winced and grunted when one of them jostled him. As soon as Wendy Colfax was clear, the medics darted forward and carried the stretcher off. The rest of them took a little longer as they patted them down.
They waved Andy away and Daniel swayed on one leg while they examined him for hidden weapons. He looked up at Maybourne who was gazing intently at him. The minute their eyes met, Maybourne looked away. Daniel watched him, but Maybourne turned his back on him and walked out of the room.
When the folks patting them down were satisfied that both he and Andy were clean, Andy returned to hold him steady. "I can walk," he muttered.
"Like hell you can," Andy replied.
"Colonel Stanislav, please take our guests to the infirmary," the woman said.
Colonel Stanislav appeared to be the older man who had continued to hold his weapon on them while the others had retrieved the weapons. "Da," he said. "Follow me." He gestured at the rest of his party to take up the rear as he led them out of the room that held the gate.
Daniel followed, grateful for Andy's help despite his protest. His eyes scanned the walls and the uniforms of those around him, and he began to believe that they might really be in the hands of the Russian military, which didn't make sense. The Russians could not have gotten the gate. He just didn't believe that it could have been achieved in the space of three days. Politics could be insane, but not quite that insane.
Following Sumner's lead, they didn't talk much among themselves while the medical staff saw to them. They gave their names, which were a little hard to conceal anyway since Maybourne was here and their surnames were written on their chests. Daniel wasn't sure what else they could say. All of them had to be reeling in similar states of complete shock. Sumner did ask what had happened to Wendy Colfax, and was told that she'd been taken into surgery.
Daniel, aware that he was likely the only one who could understand them, listened to the talk he heard amongst their hosts, but they were only talking about the medical issues the group of them presented.
At one point, he had to translate the instructions a nurse was giving to Aaron Harvester, because she didn't speak English and he didn't speak Russian. Daniel didn't know what to think. The situation was unreal.
Once their injuries had been seen to, Colonel Stanislav approached Colonel Sumner. "Sir, we must move you to a more secure room now, but I am sure that you do not wish to leave your injured lieutenant alone. I have arranged for a hospital room with two beds for Lt. Colfax and Lt. Jones." Sumner looked at Tamika Jones, raising his eyebrow. "Will I have full access to them?" he asked.
"Within reason," Stanislav said.
"Can I at least see where they are being taken?" Stanislav agreed and the rest of them waited while Sumner went with Jones, Stanislav and a nurse. He and the Russian colonel returned a few minutes later, and the soldiers led them down the hall to a room that resembled one of the brig cells at the SGC. Two bunk beds against either wall, a table in between, and some storage space at the foot of the beds. There was a door in the left wall that presumably led to the restroom facilities, whatever those were. Daniel had been given a cane to help him walk, but Andy stayed right beside him as they walked into their prison.
Andy helped Daniel onto one of the lower bunks with his leg propped up slightly. The pain medication they'd given him was making Daniel's head swim. Sumner pulled a chair over to the side of the bed and sat down. "They say anything of interest, Jackson?" he asked.
Daniel shook his head. "Not really. They were just talking about what was wrong with us. Nothing of any use."
"How is this possible?" Harvester asked, sounding baffled. "It makes no sense. Where are we?"
"Wherever we are," Sumner said, "we should really avoid the risk of being overheard. I'm sure the walls have ears."
"They have a DHD," Andy said abruptly, and Daniel looked at him in surprise.
"They have a what?" Sumner asked incredulously.
"I saw it when we were in their gate room. There's a DHD up on that platform."
"Where would they have gotten a DHD?" Harvester shook his head. "That's impossible! I don't even see how we could be on Earth. There's only one gate, and I don't really think General Hammond gave it up."
Daniel shook his head. His mind had gone into overdrive while the others talked. "There were two gates," he said thoughtfully. "One of them was destroyed, we think, when Thor's ship blew up and crashed in the Atlantic."
"No," Sumner breathed. Andy nodded slowly, and Harvester looked disbelieving.
Daniel couldn't help finishing out the train of thought. "And there has to have been a DHD in Egypt. We always assumed it had been destroyed, but what if it was just found at a different point in time? Without knowing that it was only part of the mechanism, someone could have taken it elsewhere, just as Dr. Langford's father took the gate."
"Surely we would have heard about it," Harvester protested. "A major find like that?"
"Like the whole world heard about the gate?" Daniel asked innocently. Harvester grimaced.
"No, it makes a lot of sense, Dr. Jackson," Sumner said. "But I don't see what it gains us."
Daniel sighed. "Not a whole hell of a lot," he said, shrugging.
"What I don't understand is why we're being held prisoner," Harvester said.
"Would General Hammond give foreign nationals free run of the SGC?" Andy asked and Harvester made a face at him.
"We're not precisely prisoners yet," Sumner said with emphasis. "We are being detained. When governments have to talk to each other, it can take time. They should let us know our status soon."
There didn't seem to be anything much to say to that. Daniel glanced at his watch and noticed that it was ten minutes past their check in time. The SGC was just becoming aware that there might be a problem. They'd open a gate and try to call them in another five or so minutes, and then they'd send a MALP. Would there still be Jaffa milling about? There would undoubtedly be evidence of the fight, shell casings, blasted trees and rocks . . . blood . . . and there would be no signs whatsoever of SG-8 or their borrowed archeologist.
What could they think but that they'd been captured or killed? He hoped the Russians were already contacting the American government, but given the secrecy they had to be operating under, he somehow doubted that they were going to made the decision quickly. There would no doubt be layers of red tape to wade through.
How many days would pass before they contacted the Americans and told them that all six of them were alive, and most of them were well? In the meantime, the SGC would be searching for them. After all, they never left a man behind. Would they call Jack? He wasn't even due back from his fishing trip until Monday, and he typically turned his phone off if he could get away with it.
Hours passed without anything happening, and eventually Daniel fell asleep. The sound of a door shutting woke him and he leaned up on his elbows, hissing a little at the twinge from his leg. The drugs were evidently still pretty strong in his system because it was only a twinge. Squinting, he scanned the room. "Where's Sumner?"
"They've taken him to see Colfax and Jones," Andy said. "I guess the surgery went okay."
"That's good." Daniel sat up and slid back to lean in the corner, trying not to wince. "Is there anything to drink? My mouth tastes vile."
Andy brought him a cup of water from a pitcher on the table, then sat down in a chair against the wall between the beds. Harvester was sitting on the opposite bed leaning morosely against the wall.
"How long has he been gone?" Daniel asked, once he'd had a couple of swallows.
"You woke up just after he left. How's the leg?"
"I'll live," Daniel said. "You in any pain, Harvester?"
The other man snorted. "Oh, it hurts all right, I just don't care."
Daniel nodded. "Know the feeling." He leaned his head against the wall. "How long was I asleep?"
"Two, three hours," Andy said.
They sat in silence for several minutes until Daniel said, "I don't suppose either of you has a deck of cards or something?"
"Nope," Andy said. "We already went through that series of questions. We are singularly boring people who brought nothing whatsoever along to entertain ourselves with."
"I could conjugate Greek verbs," Daniel said musingly.
The other two stared at him, blinking. "That might be fun . . . for you," Andy said with half a grin.
"But we'd have to kill you," Harvester said, and Daniel chuckled.
"You sound like Jack," he said. "He always gets a little irritable when I start conjugating things."
"You've done that?"
Daniel shrugged. "A time or two."
"How about twenty questions?" Andy said. "Harvester, come up with something."
Daniel listened while they played. About half the time, he had no idea who they were talking about even when they gave the answer. It was soothing, though, to have them talking rather than sitting silently.
They went through a couple of rounds and then some guys came in with dinner. They acted like they didn't understand the questions Jones and Harvester put to them, but Daniel, speaking Russian, asked, "Where is Colonel Sumner?" One of the men looked up, but neither answered.
They left and Daniel started to get up to get his food, but Andy said, "No, Daniel, stay there." He brought him the tray and Daniel ate while the other two continued to play twenty questions. They were almost finished with dinner, and Daniel was reasonably sure that they were talking about Sylvester Stallone, when the door opened, and they all fell silent.
Sumner walked in looking sour and irritable. The door closed behind him and he stood in front of it, eyes distant with thought, mouth tight with annoyance. "How is Wendy?" Daniel asked.
"Lt. Colfax is fine. She's sleeping now, but I was there when she woke up from the anesthesia. The blade went in pretty deep, it seems, and she was bleeding from various organs. They think they got all the leaks."
Daniel leaned his head back against the wall, relieved. One of the Jaffa who had surprised them had thrown a knife at Wendy. She'd gone down like a stone. Getting her to the gate hadn't been easy.
"So, what are they going to do with us?" Andy asked.
"I couldn't get anyone to answer that question," Sumner said. He walked over and sat down. "I was with Jones and Colfax all the time that I was gone."
"They have to send us home," Harvester said. "Don't they?"
"I'd think so," Daniel replied. "The question is, when?"
"When, indeed," Sumner said dourly.
Harvester settled back on the bed, looking distressed, and Andy said, "So, does he act in action films?" Sumner gave him an incredulous look, and he grinned. "Twenty questions, sir. So, Dave, does he act in action films?"
Harvester grimaced and shook his head. "Yes," he said. Andy nodded and looked thoughtful. Daniel closed his eyes, glad that at least one of them was capable of cheer at the moment.
All was right with the world. The sun was shining through the trees, the birds were chirping, and he had a bucketful of fish. Admittedly, a very large one had gotten away, but that was always the way of fishing. He hadn't managed to get anyone to come with him for this trip, but he was enjoying the solitude.
As he approached the cabin, he saw that there was someone on the dock. Someone in an Air Force uniform was shying rocks into the water, making them skip. Jack walked up. "So, you trying to scare the fish?" The young man turned around, and Jack recognized Sgt. Hanes from the SGC. He was pretty sure that Hanes was a junior assistant to Carter's geek squad. "Is the world coming to an end?" he asked, walking out onto the dock with the younger man.
"No, sir," Hanes replied, looking nervous. He opened his mouth to speak, but Jack didn't let him talk.
"I'm on vacation," he said.
"I know sir," Hanes replied, "but –"
"Which means that I don't work."
"Yes, sir, but –"
"And that I don't expect to see anyone from work."
"I know that, sir, but Dr. Jackson –"
Jack rolled his eyes. "I don't want to go on some archeological expedition. Vacations don't mean digging to me. They mean sitting around on my –"
"Sir, Dr. Jackson is missing!"
"– rear end drowning a –" Jack broke off, staring at the young man, who gulped. "What did you say?"
"Dr. Jackson is missing, sir," Hanes repeated.
Jack opened the top of his bucket and dumped the fish out into the water. "Where?" he asked.
"Where is he?"
Hanes looked startled. "He's missing, sir," he said.
"Yes, but where did he go missing?"
Hanes looked around uneasily, as if expecting to see eavesdroppers among the trees. "I can't really say, sir. It's classified."
Jack blinked and thumped the bucket down on the wooden boards by his feet and turned to stride towards the cabin. Hanes followed him. Hurriedly, Jack grabbed the bare minimum and stuffed it into a duffel. Hanes stood by the door, his hat in his hands, playing with the flap of navy blue fabric. Jack turned around. "Ready?" he asked.
Hanes nodded and put his hat on. Jack locked the cabin behind him and followed him to his vehicle. He'd call the rental company from the base and have them come out and get the truck he'd rented. "We're going to the airfield in Barnwell," Hanes said. "There's a plane waiting for us there."
"Good," Jack said, tossing his stuff into the trunk when Hanes had opened it. "Hop in," he said, gesturing towards the passenger side. "I'll drive."
Gulping, Hanes did as he was told. "Do you need directions, sir?" he asked once they were underway.
"Been to this airfield a time or two, sergeant." Hanes fell silent and Jack drove as fast as he could without being stopped. "So, where was Daniel?" he asked after several minutes of silence.
Hanes was gripping the handle above the door far more tightly than was strictly necessary. He cleared his throat. "I really don't have many details, sir," Hanes said. "General Hammond just sent me to fetch you."
Translated, that meant that Hanes didn't want to be the bearer of bad news, for fear Jack would kill the messenger. It also meant that he wasn't going to get any useful information until he reached the base. Ignoring Hanes' reaction, he put on some more speed and made it to Barnwell in record time. When they got there, he chivvied the pilot and Barnwell tower to get things moving.
Once they were in the air, there was literally nothing he could do to speed the trip up – short of evicting the pilot and ignoring air traffic control. He started fiddling with whatever caught his attention, the zipper on his duffel, the tray table in front of him, the angle of his chair, till he thought Hanes was going to crawl out of his skin.
As soon as they were on the ground, Hanes led Jack to the car. Without a word, he climbed into the passenger seat and endured the ride in stony silence. Jack left him to deal with the car and hurried past the intake folks, barely nodding when one of them called after him that he was expected in the general's office. As if he wasn't going to go straight there anyway.
The people he passed on the way either pretended not to see him or nodded without speaking. Given how loudly he'd stated his intention of not returning to the base until the last minute of his leave was over, that was a little unusual. It only heightened his anxiety.
Hammond was waiting for him, clearly having been alerted to his arrival. "Come in, colonel," he said as Jack approached the door to his office. "Have a seat."
"What happened?" Jack asked without preamble. "The last time I saw Daniel, he was telling me he'd rather play with his rocks than go fishing. How did he go missing? Where the hell did he go?"
Hammond's expression was uncommonly serious as he sat down. "P(string)," he said.
Jack's jaw dropped. "Offworld? He disappeared offworld?"
"SG-8 found some very old ruins there on their recon, and they requested Dr. Jackson."
"And you let them take him?" Jack demanded incredulously. "Haven't I said – eighty times or so, I'd swear – I don't want Daniel going out with other teams. Do you remember what happened with SG-11?" Jack remembered himself abruptly. "Sir."
"Sit down, Jack," Hammond said. Jack sat down in the chair across from the desk and waited for the general to go on. "There was no sign of intelligent life on the planet, and no sign of recent Goa'uld presence. It seemed like a simple archeological expedition."
"I take it something changed?"
Hammond grimaced. "They missed a contact time and didn't respond when we tried to call them through the gate. We sent a MALP and it was fired on by Jaffa."
Jack clenched his fists. "Whose Jaffa?" he asked.
"It looked like Cronos. The MALP transmission didn't last very long. We're not even sure why they were on the planet, there was no sign of anything they'd be interested in."
"How long ago was this?"
"About six hours," Hammond replied. "Major Carter should be sending a UAV right about now."
"Damn it!" Jack stood up and turned around, glaring at the back wall of the office.
"Sir?" Jack turned toward the door at Carter's voice. "Um . . . sirs," she amended. "The Jaffa are gone from the gate. There's no sign of them anywhere in the vicinity."
"Did you pick up any sign of a ship in orbit, major?" Hammond asked.
"No, but that doesn't necessarily mean there isn't one. The UAV wouldn't pick up something on the other side of the planet."
"Permission to run a recon, sir?" Jack said immediately.
"Jack," Hammond said repressively.
"Sir, we need to go find out what happened."
"Jack, I already had one team disappear on that planet. We don't know why."
"There were Jaffa, sir. I think that offers a pretty good explanation."
"Well, I'm not sending another team until I can be certain I'm not just sending you to be shot." Jack started to say something else, but Hammond shook his head. "Not yet."
Recognizing a dismissal, Jack left the office, Carter falling in beside him. "We'll get him back, sir," she said.
"Assuming he's there to be gotten back," Jack said, then strode off, leaving her behind. One of these days Daniel's luck, or whatever it was that had preserved him thus far, was going to run out. He just hoped this wasn't one of those times.