An aircraft, looking like an unsuccessful mating between an old-style prop-plane and a chopper, whirred overhead. Assorted SG-teammates pointed the muzzles of their M249s skyward but it just cruised on by, like all the ones before it. Presumably it was some kind of recon plane.
Two of the Nisirian soldiers tried to take advantage of the momentary distraction. They surged to their feet, one grabbed Zoey Tibbets, five foot four in her combat boots and a hundred odd pounds including gear. The other picked on the equally dainty Dr. Jenner. Zoey promptly elbowed her assailant in the solar plexus, shifted weight and hurled him over her shoulder to land with a heavy thump at her feet. Lee Jenner was even more economical kicking backward over her shoulder, the toe of her small but sturdy boot striking her captor right between the eyes. He dropped like a rock.
Jack, hunkered down in front of Sargon Ulmesh, didn't so much as stir. "Well that was dumb," he remarked conversationally to nobody in particular, then turned his attention back to Daniel. "You were saying?"
"I think he's in command," his geek answered, raising his voice to be heard over Ulmesh tongue lashing his subordinates.
"Ya think?" said Jack.
"I'd call that confirmed," Father Tarrant agreed dryly.
"ANYWAY," Daniel continued, dividing his glares impartially between Jack, the Padre and the prisoner. "His name is Sargon Ulmesh and he's a senior military officer. According to him they had Elliot in custody but he escaped last night."
Jack broke into a broad grin. "That's my boy!"
"No." Everybody turned to stare at an almost formidable, Scholar Ashptim. "I won't let you do it, Kevin. You know what they'd do to you!"
"Maybe, maybe not," he replied. "Mr. Lugal, I understand you're a newsie cameraman?"
"Yes," he said blankly.
"Happen to have your camera with you?"
"No," Lugal said, with slowly dawning comprehension. "But I can get it."
Mrs. Sunun was onboard too. "Let me get my slate." She darted up the stairs, followed by her son.
Kevin turned back to a bewildered but still determined Ashptim. "Sir, the first thing they taught us in crisis psychology was that it isn't danger that makes people panic it's lack of information. Right now your people have no info and they're going ga-ga -"
"Nuts," Kevin corrected himself. "I mean they're panicking. The cure is more information."
"Publicity," said Lugal.
"Right," Kevin agreed, grinned and spread his arms. "I don't look like much of an alien threat now do I?"
"So basically Mr. Ulmesh here is saying his people are running around in circles and shooting anything that moves over a kid fresh outta the Academy," said Jack.
"A kid who apparently escaped from their version of high security with embarrassing ease," Daniel pointed out.
"Hey, I didn't say he wasn't good. Just that these folks seem to be overreacting just a tad."
"Does the date 31 October 1936 mean anything to you?" Lee Jenner inquired.
Daniel nodded energetically. "According to Force Leader Ulmesh his people are engaged in a cold war with the other major power on this globe, meaning lots of tension -"
"And paranoia, I get it." Jack looked up from their little huddle at Steve Castleman. "Talk to me."
The junior colonel crouched down to join the rest of them on the ground. "They got everything from howitzers to cap pistols trained on our perimeter. My guess is they'll blast the hell out of a falling leaf much less anybody who tries talking to them."
"Damn." Jack chewed his lip.
"I could give it a try," Lee offered, displaying her ribbon device. "I'd keep my shield up."
"Shield won't stop a shell, ma-am," said Castleman.
"Yeah, but they may not shoot at a girl - uh, woman." Axsel Reilly said over his c.o.'s shoulder.
Dr. Jenner was not offended. "That's what I was counting on."
"They shot at Sheftu, a seventeen year old kid," Jack pointed out. "Forget it, Lee."
"Just a suggestion." She shrugged.
Jack blew out a frustrated breath. "How in hell are we going to get these people to talk to us?"
It was a rhetorical question but it got an answer, from Reilly. "Sir, did you ever see a movie called The Day The Earth Stood Still?"
Steve Castleman rolled his eyes. Lee nodded energetically, big surprise. Jack gave Reilly the eyeball. "No."
He opened his mouth. "Keep it short, Axsel," Castleman growled.
Reilly closed his mouth, thought, then said; "Okay, ignoring the entire and very good plot the alien gets the earth people's attention by a citywide blackout of all power."
"Except for planes in flight and hospitals," put in Lee.
"We can't be that selective," Reilly told her. "On the other hand our field won't extend for more than say a square mile."
"Wait a minute," Jack raised a hand for attention. "We got a gadget that'll do all that?"
"Yessir. It's based on Thor's Hammer, you remember, from Cimmeria?"
"Like I was there," Jack and Daniel chorused. They looked at each other.
Reilly forged on; "Anyway, SG-7 collected the bits and back engineered a suppression device that would do the trick."
"Yeah, great idea," Jack said. "Thing is we're not connected to base."
"They're not on-base," Reilly said triumphantly. They've been running trials on P3X-984."
"All right, we'll give it a try." Jack got up, brushing off his knees, glanced at Castleman. "By the way, your little geek got tackled by a prisoner."
The junior colonel glanced at Zoey. "Did you kill him?"
She rolled her eyes. "No, Colonel Daddy."
"That's my good girl."
Lugal had gone to get his camera. A visibly jittery Mrs. Unat stood near the door, a shawl draped over one arm and a big bag hanging from the other.
Mrs. Sunun was on her knees to give her son the full benefit of her maternal eye, gripping him firmly by the shoulders. "You're going to the shelter with Mrs. Unat and you're going to stay there!"
"No he won't. He'll give her the slip and go where the action is." Mother and son stared at Kevin, he grinned and shrugged. "I was eleven once myself, and not all that long ago." He dropped to his haunches next to Mrs. Sunun. "Tell you what, Bil. Why don't you go with Scholar Ashptim, he may need a supporting witness." The boy's face brightened and Kevin turned to the mother. "He'll be safe with the scholar, nobody's gunning for him." She gnawed her lip then nodded.
Mrs. Unat gave a gentle snort. "All I can say is if you're the alien, Mr. Lakamar, then our people are making a huge fuss over nothing!"
"Not quite nothing," Kevin admitted, getting to his feet. "But definitely overreacting."
"To put it mildly," Ashptim said grimly. "Come on, Bil." To Kevin: "I'll go straight to the deputy."
"It'll be better if I'm expected," Kevin agreed. A horn sounded outside. "That'll be our ride."
SG-7 walked out of the puddle; Major Holloway, Sergeant Lenhart and something on a sledge with the mad scientist twins hanging over it like it was their baby taking its first steps.
"So that's our new toy," Jack said to Holloway and she nodded. "Does it work?"
She shrugged. "Pretty well, the field's limited but they're working on that."
"Good men, so – how's it work?"
Mad scientist one opened his mouth but Sergeant Lenhart cut him off. "Throw the switch, press the red button and you're good to go."
Jack beamed, "Now that's what I Like to hear! You taking notes, Carter?" He left his second sputtering and went to join Daniel and Ulmesh. "Okay, plan A is in motion. How about plan B?"
"The Force Leader here is fairly sure he and his men won't be shot at if they signal before coming out," Daniel answered.
Jack's eyebrows rose. "Only 'fairly'?"
"He thinks his people are panicking and panicked men might do anything."
"He's right there." A hum came up from the machine behind them. "Okay, we just put out their lights. That'll make them either consider opening communications or go for an all out attack. Try and see it's the first will you, Daniel?"
As a newsie cameraman Lugal rated a company car. Kevin had gathered that personal vehicles were something of a rarity on Nisir - at least inside the cities. Lugal handed a sheaf of plates to Kevin in the back seat. "The latest stills from inside the park.
Kevin squinted at the black and white images. "Got a higher resolution?"
"Uh, never mind." 'I forgot, these people don't have digital imaging.'
I would deduce a fairly primitive level of computer technology. Lantash agreed.
"At least three teams in the first wave," Kevin mused to himself. "Teal'c's hard to miss and that's definitely Sheftu so we got SG-1 and 13...not sure who the third is...Whoops, that's gotta be Captain Sinclair leading the second wave, these folks are in trouble now!"
I agree. Lantash said grimly. The Tok'ra would probably never forget the havoc wrecked by SG-4 when Earth fell into the Timeloop last year. The Goa'uld wouldn't either.
"Trouble?" Mrs. Sunun asked worried from the front seat.
"I mean you've got some of our heavy hitters there in your park," Kevin answered. "God knows what they may come up with -"
At that moment the car engine died, Lugal pressed the starter without result. The approaching trolley had stalled too which seemed like a funny coincidence. Passengers started climbing out, in the cab the driver could be seen working away at something. Then people started coming out of the buildings on either side of the street. Kevin got out of the car. "What's going on?" he asked the people on the sidewalk.
Heads shook and shoulders shrugged. "Some kind of blackout," a man said helplessly.
A woman came out of the nearest store. "The phone lines aren't working either Mr. Shams.
"Or the radio," contributed another man.
"Add in car engines," said Lugal emerging from the driver's side and opening the passenger door for Mrs. Sunun.
"I can't raise central," the trolley driver complained, joining the growing crowd. "The engines just died...it doesn't make sense!"
Everybody agreed with that, the discussion became general.
'What do phones, internal combustion engines and radio all have in common?' Kevin asked his other half silently.
They all operate by an exchange of energy. It sounds to me like somebody has engaged an energy dampening field.
"Damn," Kevin said softly, impressed. "I didn't know we could do that!"