A/N: Thank you to AstraPerAspera, who makes me better.
The air was fresh and crisp, the sun obscured by the white billowing clouds. The giant stone ring broke the silent morning with a roar as its red lights flashed and a great wave exploded out of its centre before being drawn back in to settle into a calm glowing pool.
The pool rippled and Colonel Jack O'Neill and the Jaffa, Teal'c, emerged. The Colonel moved to the right as he descended the stone steps, his MP5 raised, scanning the area for any possible threat, while Teal'c did the same on the left, his staff weapon held securely in both hands. Major Sam Carter and Dr Daniel Jackson followed their team mates only fractions of a second after, the Major holding her weapon at the ready. They weren't entirely sure what they would find on this planet. The MALP readings showed that the area around the Stargate had definitely been used and there were other indications that this planet was inhabited, but nothing to indicate Goa'uld. They were given the go ahead to explore the planet and make contact with the natives if they found any, but Colonel O'Neill, while not objecting to the mission, had made it clear that he had a bad feeling about it. He'd ordered them to keep on their toes even before they'd entered the 'gate room to embark.
Sam had worked with the Colonel long enough to trust his instincts; he had almost a sixth sense about these things. So she descended the steps from the Stargate quickly, eyes and ears alert. She knelt on one knee, her MP5 raised covering their twelve o'clock, Daniel going to his knees behind her as the Colonel and Teal'c moved carefully around the other side of the Stargate platform.
She didn't move from her position, her eyes constantly shifting as she scanned the tree line a short distance away, until she heard the Colonel's gruff voice.
"Clear." He said quietly, but enough that his team would hear.
Sam looked around to see him strolling back toward her, the point of his MP5 toward the ground. She rose smoothly to her feet, lowering her own weapon, but still keeping her eyes on the trees. With only the occasional exception, and Sam resisted the compulsion to flick a glance at Daniel who had moved away from her and was looking around, SG1 had become a smoothly operating team. The Colonel rarely had to throw orders around and knowing he had information to collect and decisions to make, she watched their position.
"This area has not been used in some time," Teal'c pronounced. Pointing to some markings in the gravelled earth he continued. "These tracks are many days old."
"Can you tell if they used the 'gate T'?" The Colonel asked, his eyes raking over the tree line once, before leaving her to continue the watch as he spoke to Teal'c.
"I can," Teal'c replied.
A quick glance showed her Colonel O'Neill staring at Teal'c momentarily, trying to figure out whether or not he was joking and Sam pursed her lips to keep her grin back. "And…did they?"
"They did not O'Neill. These tracks continue passed the Stargate without pause, it does not seem to be a heavily travelled area."
"They may not know what the 'gate is, sir," she said, without ceasing her watch.
Daniel was poking around the Stargate platform, "I don't see any markings or alters or anything that would normally indicate Goa'uld worship."
"Alright Carter, which way?" He asked, stopping next to her and digging in a vest pocket for his lucky cap.
Sam flicked her chin in the direction of the forested area ten meters away, "The MALP readings indicate life signs directly to the north sir."
His gaze shifted back to the trees and he jiggled the cap over his head before he took up his weapon again.
"Ok kids, let's go. Teal'c take point, Carter you got our six. Keep sharp."
Sam nodded and moved to the rear as they headed toward the forest. Daniel caught her eye and raised his eyebrows at her, glancing at Colonel O'Neill's back in question. It was obvious to her that he didn't understand why the Colonel was being so cautious when they had no reason to think there might be trouble.
Sam could only smile at Daniel warmly. No matter how often SG-1 managed to get themselves in trouble with the natives, Daniel still expected a nice warm greeting. He always assumed the best of people, trusting them until they proved untrustworthy. The Colonel operated on the opposite principle: expect the worst and don't trust them until they prove they can be trusted. And then only to a point. Sam suspected there were very few people the Colonel did truly trust. But she just shrugged at Daniel as she took her position, concentrating on her surroundings, keeping her eyes and ears open for any threat.
The thick forest was set on the side of a small but fairly steep mountain. Their progress was slow but they hadn't encountered any signs of life yet. Which as far as Jack was concerned was a good thing, no natives meant no hostiles. They were reaching the top of the steep slope when in front of him, Teal'c raised his fist. The team froze, waiting, and then sank to their knees when Teal'c swept his hand down; Jack almost winced; obviously he'd jinxed himself, which was ironic considering they were surrounded by a whole lot of wood.
He approached Teal'c, crouching silently. Teal'c nodded his head in front and the two men crawled on their bellies to the crest of the forested rise. There, laid out before them, was a huge body of water - practically an ocean - that stretched out to the horizon and as far to the left and right as they could see. On its bank and stretching out into the water itself was a small city. The structures were all made from some sort of stone and rose out of the murky water. Jack pulled out his binoculars to get a better look. Most of the city was actually in the water itself, the buildings stretching five or six levels high, with wide stone balconies all around the water level at each building, each connected with three or four bridges. Wooden barges were gently moving through the water under the bridges, in canals throughout the city. Jack could see large sails behind the city and figured there must be a dock there and large sailing ships, obscured by the buildings. He turned to wave at Sam and Daniel who were still waiting behind them.
Daniel crawled up next to him and Jack handed him the binoculars, while Carter slithered in by Teal'c, placing her own binoculars to her eyes.
"Wow!" She exclaimed. "Well, they look human."
"This is incredible, look at the architecture!" Daniel said excitedly.
"Yes, reminds me of Venice." Jack said mock dreamily, covertly catching his Major's amused smirk in the corner of his eye and resolutely ignoring the warm feeling filling his chest at the sight.
"What is that offensive odour?" Teal'c asked.
Jack agreed, rubbing at his nose. "Yeah, it is a little ripe."
"It's a swamp," Carter replied, still gazing through her binoculars. "Or at least some of it is. There are parts where the water seems stagnant."
"There does not seem to be any military presence O'Neill," Teal'c observed
"They seem like peaceful people to me Jack, just going about their business. Is that a rice field over there?"
"I don't see any signs of high technological advancement, sir."
"Well let's go say hi shall we," Jack said rising to his feet, the others following quickly.
The hike down the other side of the mountain was easier, the trees much sparser here, and this time the Colonel walked with Daniel, Sam and Teal'c a few paces behind. With boots squelching in the mud, they approached the town. Sam moved a few more inches to the right so she could get a better view past Daniel. A large archway was set on the marshland that acted as an entry onto a wide bridge. It led to the first buildings where quite a few people were milling around, but their activities stopped abruptly when they caught sight of the four strangers. Their clothes were simple, made of some sort of organic weave of creams and browns.
"Okay Daniel, you're on," the Colonel said.
"Hello," Daniel opened, waving a hand at the surprised observers. "Hi. We're visitors. Can anyone show us where we can find one of your leaders?"
Every one of them fled.
"Way to clear a room Daniel."
"They're probably just not used to strangers."
They entered through the archway, the people on the bridge staring at them with wide eyes. Daniel was waving and smiling, saying hello, but none of the them would approach or allow themselves to be approached.
Teal'c noted the way they all shuffled as though ready to run and quirked an eyebrow at Sam, but it was she who voiced it.
"They seem a little jumpy," she said quietly.
"Indeed," Teal'c replied.
Sam's eyes momentarily left the people standing to the sides as SG-1 strolled down the middle of the walkway, to study her Commanding Officer. The Colonel was uneasy. She could see it in every line of his body and in the way he gripped the MP5 against his chest, the butt lodged into just at his armpit – relaxed and sure but ready to use it in a moment's notice. Her gaze returned to her surroundings but her hand shifted slightly on her weapon as she walked, her thumb caressing the safety.
There was another archway that marked the end of the bridge and the entry onto one of the large balconies.
Jack felt the people's eyes on him. He didn't like this. His gut was telling him there was something seriously wrong. He just hadn't figured out what it was yet. His skin crawled and the hairs on the back of his neck prickled as they passed under the second arch.
As soon as their boots hit the pale stone path large iron gates he hadn't noticed slid out of the arch itself and slammed shut behind them. He had his weapon raised in an instant, as did Carter and Teal'c he noted, but strangely there were suddenly no natives to be seen. Then he heard it - a low pitched whining noise - and they all froze.
"I don't know, sir." Carter reached into her vest for one her gadgets, still holding her weapon ready. The sound was getting higher and louder. "I'm getting high energy readings sir, but I can't pinpoint the exact location."
"A weapon?" Teal'c asked.
"I can't say. Possibly."
"Well we're not hangin' around to find out," Jack said as he tried the large gate, knowing it would be locked. His eyes darted around the area, searching for any other means of escape, and found only the buildings. "Let's go."
He ran for the nearest, his team at his heels, but they hadn't made it more than a few feet before the noise became deafening. They were forced to press their hands over their ears as they kept running. It didn't help. Jack felt like his brain would explode inside his head and fought the natural urge to scream in counterpoint to the pressure in his ears. Daniel stumbled and Jack grabbed at his elbow and shoved, propelling him onward.
He turned to check on Carter and Teal'c behind him when a blinding flash of light hit him. He felt himself fall to the ground and dimly heard Daniel's grunt of pain next to him before it all went dark.
A/N: Reviews? I'm not to proud to beg. :P