"SG-1 Office Pool"
It was a boringly routine week, filled with boringly routine work, and Jack eyed General Hammond with suspicion. "P9X-482? Yes sir!"
"I want you to leave within the hour, Colonel." Hammond turned with a slight smile to Janet standing behind him, and met the doctor's eyes.
Jack's eyebrow rose as he followed the look. There had been many such looks lately, and he couldn't figure it out, but he stood without question, shoved his hands into his pockets, and left the room with the rest of the team.
The control booth was teaming with people, including Janet. Jack couldn't remember there ever being such a crowd gathered to watch them leave, especially recently.
He leaned close to Daniel's ear. "Notice anything weird about General Hammond today?"
Daniel glanced up from the notebook he was studiously writing notes in, despite the fact they hadn't even left yet. He squinted at Jack, blue eyes puzzled. "No?"
"Right." Jack looked up at the control booth from the corner of his eye, and gave a resigned sigh, then led his team through the event horizon.
As soon as the event horizon disappeared in a whoosh, Janet pulled out a clipboard and raised her hand to silence the clamor in the control booth. "One at a time! And, remember, the office pool for the winner is up to a $100 gift certificate for Crabby Bob's Seafood Restaurant and an all expense paid weekend at the local Comfortable Motel."
"I'm going for the classic– Daniel is injured, Jack is injured, Carter is a genius, and Teal'c finds an old acquaintance." General Hammond announced with an uncharacteristic smile of fun and amusement.
"No, it's Jack getting shot or possessed!" shouted a technician.
"Sam is captured." Suggested the sergeant.
"Teal'c meets another long lost lover, mentor, or enemy!"
"Sam must solve a horrendous science problem before they all are blown up!"
The guesses continued wildly as Janet scribbled furiously, trying to keep up with the scenarios and names of the people in the pool. Then she collected the money and placed it in a brown manila envelope, clipping it neatly to the clipboard.
General Hammond cleared his throat. "Now back to work, everybody. We'll keep you posted on the results of the pool."
The room cleared quickly, leaving Hammond and Janet reading through the possibilities on the clipboard and chuckling.
"All right, spread out and check the perimeter. Stay in touch." Jack said, and nodded at his team, squinting into the grey mist of the village square. Teal'c, Samantha, and Daniel passed him, dispersing quietly in the cool fog in different directions. They quickly disappeared from sight. Jack looked around him, at the dark buildings just in view, and the lack of life. Giving a sigh he stepped down from the Stargate's platform and headed for the south wall. Once there Jack secured it, coming to the dismal conclusion that nothing of interest was going to happen on this trip.
Minutes ticked by as Jack waited and paced the southern wall of the unknown village. It appeared uninhabited, and cold, and dark, which made his one eye squint as he glanced around and his head feel pressured. "Boring, boring, boring."
"Colonel, I've secured the east wall. The village appears empty."
"Okay, stay there, Carter, till I hear from everyone."
Jack's radio spoke. "The west wall is secure, O'Neil. I believe this village to be uninhabited."
"Okay, Teal'c. Wait for further instructions. I still haven't heard from Daniel." Jack paced back and forth on the hard gray dirt. Wispy tendrils of fog wrapped around him, leaving beads of moisture on his clothing and face. He tapped his rifle impatiently.
"Daniel? What you got?"
"Jack? The north wall seems… well…."
"Boring. Nothing. Not even anything in the huts to look at. I haven't put down any notes about anything!!"
"Okay, team, report back to the middle of the village."
Jack walked quickly toward the middle of the village and the large empty square occupied only by the Stargate. The other team members appeared slowly through the fog, Daniel wiping his glasses with a bandana, Teal'c and Samantha looking, well… bored.
Samantha appeared to be in thought. "Sir, maybe this was a village planted by the Goa'uld and then harvested or wiped out by them?"
"Hmmmm. Maybe. Well, let's go home. Teal'c?"
Teal'c dialed the DHD as they sent their signal, and turned the malp around to return home.
General Hammond leaned close to the microphone. "Any news, Colonel?" he asked, and waited in disguised anticipation. Next to him Janet found she was holding her breath, and behind them the crowd watched with wide eyes.
"Nothing sir, we'll be home in a minute."
Hammond and the doctor looked at each other in disbelief. A groan rippled through the control room and then down the hall.
"Open the iris." Hammond ordered, his voice thick with disappointment.
Janet slid the clipboard into a drawer and sighed heavily. "No winner today."
As they entered the event horizon, SG-1 noticed a strange orange ripple in the blue. Then they were in the grasp of the wormhole and vision blurred, their bodies yanking and a feeling of cold all around. As they came striding out the Gate on the other side, following the malp, they all paused.
Jack stumbled to a stop, his dark eyes wide. "Whoa! Hold on boys, something's funny around here."
They all stood looking at the same village they'd just left. Only this time, it was occupied.
"Sir, this isn't possible. We dialed in the coordinates to home."
"Carter, did you notice the color shift in the Gate as we entered?
"Yes, sir. Perhaps there was a power surge? Or…." Samantha pulled out her instruments and began running diagnostics on the DHD and Gate, muttering to herself.
A small group of locals walked toward them and Jack, Daniel, and Teal'c stepped cautiously forward. Jack prepared himself, and began to extend his hand in greeting.
"Teal'c!!" A young man stepped forward and grabbed Teal'c's arm. "I haven't seen you since we were in training."
Teal'c returned the embrace, his face lighting up. "Sha'gheer! I had believed you dead when we gathered the Jaffa to rebel. How is it that you survived?"
"It was nothing
short of a miracle, old friend. I entered the Gate with nothing but
death behind me, and I stepped out here." He gestured expansively
around at the village. "I have been here ever since."
"Why have you not returned to help our cause?" Teal'c's eyebrows drew down.
Sha'gheer sighed softly. "I have been unable to dial out. The Gate will not activate."
Jack's eyebrows lifted. "Oh, great!" he exclaimed, and turned. "Carter, we have a problem!" He strode back to speak with her.
Daniel was to the side, speaking to different people, all dressed differently. It was as though dozens of cultures had been thrown together in this one place. As he spoke with them, his blue eyes were growing wider and wider with excitement, and he was scribbling furiously in his notebook.
"Jack! All these people are from different worlds. Aaand… I think we may have a problem here. I'll keep asking questions, see what I can find out."
Jack looked back at Daniel from where he stood by Samantha. "Okay. Don't wander too far, huh?"
Teal'c spoke quietly with Sha'gheer, his brow pulled down and dark. A moment later he stepped back to Jack's side. "O'Neill, I will walk through the village and check the perimeters as I do so. Sha'gheer has offered to escort me."
"Okay. Stay in touch."
An hour later, Jack's radio spoke. "O'Neill, we seem to be enclosed in a containment area."
Jack clicked his radio's button. "What the heck does that mean?"
"The village walls are now reinforced by a shield and are impenetrable. Sha'gheer says this is for the protection of the inhabitants. Creatures that resemble raptors patrol the land beyond in great numbers."
"Oh, lovely." Jack grimaced, shifting his weight to one foot.
"Sir," Samantha jogged to his side, slightly out of breath. "I think I've found the programming anomaly that is causing this Gate to randomly lock into other coordinates and pull them here."
Jack turned to Samantha. "Can you fix it?" he asked dryly.
She tilted her head to the side and stared at the DHD. "I should be able to, but it'll be the classic programming nightmare."
"At least there's no bomb about to go off, huh?" Jack grinned delightedly, suddenly no longer bored.
Samantha smiled back, the twinkle in her eyes matching his, and turned her attention to the wires and paraphernalia in front of her.
"O'Neill, I believe we have a problem." Teal'c's voice was urgent.
Jack grabbed his radio, and felt a surge of adrenalin. "What now?"
"The village perimeter shields seem to be weakening."
"Oh, great. The raptors are going to join us soon? Lovely!" He turned. "Carter, we need to hurry!"
Daniel suddenly appeared in the square from a narrow street, leading groups of people. "Jack! Teal'c and Sha'gheer are helping me gather the people to escape through the Gate before the shield walls go down."
At that same moment Teal'c ran into the square. "The south gate is about the fail. Many raptors are pacing just outside as if they can sense the weakness. We must be ready!" Without waiting for Jack to reply he raced off again, raising his staff weapon.
Jack checked his own weapon and ran after Teal'c. At the outer wall the power shield flickered off and on, especially over the domed gate. A large raptor paced on the other side, growling, and then– just as the shield flickered off– it hit at that moment and entered the village. It gave a loud and terrifying roar, and charged the only prey in its sight. The staff weapon flared in time with the firing from Jack's gun and the raptor fell, dead.
Then the shield on the gate went out and stayed out.
"Here they come!" Jack shouted.
Firing echoed throughout the village. The twenty or so villagers crowded tightly behind Daniel, who stood at the stairs to the Stargate, holding his machine gun between them and the fallen shield.
Samantha mumbled to herself as she reassembled boards and replaced crystals.
"Any time now would be good!" Jack bellowed in his radio.
The event horizon roared to life as Samantha tapped in the last chevron. "I'm sending the malp through to be sure it's sending us home, sir!" She yelled back, and sent the signal.
"It's SG-1's IDC, Sir."
"Open the iris." Hammond said, and yawned. Other personnel wandered into the control room, none of them looking hopeful. The malp rumbled through and then stilled, and they waited as the horizon shimmered with just the malp waiting there on the ramp.
"General Hammond, sir?" Samantha's voice suddenly sounded over the COM link.
"Yes, Captain Carter."
"No time to explain now sir. Request permission to bring about 20 refugees through with us, facing imminent destruction sir!"
General Hammond gestured with his head and soldiers ran for weapons and poured into the Gate room, surrounding the ramp with guns held ready.
"Permission granted, Captain."
"Thank you, sir!" The sounds of firing echoed behind her words.
General Hammond turned off the communicator and stared at the event horizon with a small smile. "Come on, free weekend." He murmured under his breath.
Jack and Teal'c and Sha'gheer backed up slowly from the wall, firing at the mass of invading raptors. Some raptors, seeing their members at the front falling, broke off from the group and disappeared sideways into the village.
Jack muttered something under his breath, then began to hurry their retreat toward the Gate.
Daniel and Samantha were rushing families through the Gate as fast as possible. Suddenly, a raptor shot out from behind a hut with a roar, and hooked claws grabbed Daniel by the shoulder and yanked him back. He yelled in pain, shooting sideways, but unable to aim as he was dragged back. Samantha spun around, whipping her gun up to her shoulder, aimed carefully and shot, dropping the raptor. There was an exclamation as it fell on top of Daniel.
Jack, Teal'c, and Sha'gheer appeared, backing slowly toward the Gate, forming a triangle with their backs together.
Samantha had dropped to her knees beside Daniel and was frantically pushing at the raptor, trying to roll it off of Daniel who was lying, pinned, unable to move.
"Colonel O'Neill! I need help! The event horizon will close if we don't use it soon!"
Jack looked around, thinking quickly, and then grabbed his hat off his head and threw it through the event horizon. Running, he dropped to Samantha's side and began pushing the raptor with her. Slowly it began to slide free. Suddenly the raptor rippled and contorted, then its head jerked, snapping at his face.
He fell backwards. "I thought this thing was dead!" He yelled, grabbing for his gun. The raptor threw itself at Jack, who shot wildly. Teal'c fired his staff weapon, the blast singing the hair from the side of Jack's head and hitting the raptor in the face.
Sha'gheer ran to them, grabbing Daniel's shirt with one hand while Teal'c, Jack, and Samantha grabbed whatever else they could, and together they pulled him to his feet and propelled themselves towards the shimmering horizon.
As they disappeared a single raptor charged after them, the horizon rippling as it passed through.
In the Gate room, the refugees were being questioned and moved away from the ramp. Suddenly, the blue horizon erupted. Jack fell through, blood streaming down the side of his head where the staff blast had grazed him. He was supporting Daniel, whose shoulder was torn and bleeding badly, limping as he staggered down the ramp at Jack's side. Samantha ran through, carrying her equipment, cords and wires dangling from her hands and her gun swinging from her shoulder. Teal'c leapt through, side by side with his old friend, Sha'gheer. All, for a moment, seemed well, until raptor appeared behind them, roaring and snapping just before it was shot down in a stream of fire as Jack, Daniel, Samantha, Teal'c, and Sha'gheer threw themselves to the ground, ducking as bullets whizzed over them.
When the commotion had died down, and blessed silence once more reined in the Gate room, General Hammond's voice sounded over the speakers.
"Report to the infirmary, all of you." General Hammond spoke gruffly, with a strange, tight sound to his voice. SG-1 slowly and painfully pushed themselves off the ramp and to their feet, and Jack wearily yet chipperly saluted, obviously pleased with the mission.
"Yes, sir." As he started to follow his team, Jack eyed the control booth suspiciously. It almost looked as if General Hammond had just high-fived Dr. Frasier, and was now clapping.
Jack shook his head, then winced and touched his head injury. He must be more addled then he thought.