"Open the gate!" Colonel Jack O'Neill bellowed. He had to; the din of battle filled the air, explosions tearing into the ground around him. He raised his P90, hopping back a few more steps as he took aim, firing into the treeline his team had just retreated from. Beside him, Teal'c leveled his staff, loosing a blast at a Jaffa showing his face. On his other side Major Carter held a pistol in both hands, taking shots of opportunity; it cracked as she took down another Jaffa.
Daniel Jackson, for his part, had raced down the side of the hill to the Stargate, ignoring the firefight entirely. He stumbled over a rock at the base of the hill in his haste, nearly colliding with the small Dial Home Device in front of the gate. With barely a pause to collect himself, he began stabbing at the keys on the device, frantically trying to dial Earth. The chevrons lit up, each one locking itself into place with more deliberation than O'Neill would really have preferred just then.
The gate finished locking in the fourth chevron just as Teal'c called out, "Glider!" A second later, the Goa'uld fighter skimmed over the tops of the trees and out into open air, its blasters firing in rapid succession at the SG-1 team. The three combatants dodged the shots cleanly, but Jackson, his attention on the gate, wasn't so swift to move. The blast chewed a furrow in the ground at his feet, the shockwave throwing him forward against the DHD. O'Neill risked a quick glance behind him, but Jackson was already regaining his balance. The gate locked in the fifth chevron as O'Neill turned back to the fight.
The team reached the base of the Stargate, taking up crouching positions and firing into the mass of trees. The glider was moving fast; it would be some time before it could swing around for another volley, and the suppression fire the team was laying into the forest prevented the Jaffa from advancing for the moment. The Stargate continued its steady rhythm, the final two chevrons locking into place with satisfying sounds.
O'Neill let out a whoop as the Stargate flared to life, his fierce grin lit by the vortex. He waved furiously at the others, shouting, "Go! Go! Go!"
Teal'c and Carter turned to run up the steps, but Jackson hesitated. "Jack, I don't think-"
"Don't think! GO!"
Jackson grimaced, but sprinted up the steps with the rest of the team. One by one they vanished into the watery surface of the gate. O'Neill threw himself forward and into the gate, barely avoiding an energy blast that splashed against the stairs. The sound of battle ceased abruptly, and O'Neill traveled.
O'Neill found himself tumbling out of the Stargate, rolling along the floor until he fetched up against a body. "Sorry," he mumbled, shaking the grogginess from his head as he sat up.
"Quite all right, Colonel O'Neill," came Teal'c's steady voice from the gloom.
"Yes sir." "Ow. Yeah." "Indeed."
O'Neill peered around at the darkness as he collected himself. "This...isn't SGC," he finally concluded.
"That's what I was trying to tell you, Jack." Daniel let out a grunt as he pushed a backpack off him to the floor and got to his feet. "That blast jostled me pretty good. I think I dialed the wrong number."
"Wait. You knew you weren't dialing Earth?"
"I thought I was dialing Earth," Jackson corrected. He found his glasses on the floor nearby and slid them back into place. "But when the blast knocked me off my feet, I accidentally hit a key without seeing it. It was in the right area, so I took a chance and kept dialing. If it was right, great. If it was a dead address, I wouldn't have lost much more time than it would have taken to start over again. And if it was a wrong address, well..." He shrugged. "Better anywhere else than there."
"All right, all right." O'Neill fumbled for a moment before producing a glow stick from a pocket. He snapped and shook it before holding it up. The sickly green chemical light fell across a large cubical room, the Stargate and DHD at one end. The light didn't reach to the other end of the room, but now that his eyes had had a chance to adjust O'Neill could see the faintest traces of moonlight outlining stairs going up. "Can you dial SGC from here? ...Hey. Daniel. You hear me?"
"I, uh... I've never seen these symbols before."
O'Neill looked over his shoulder. Jackson and Carter were hunched over the DHD, and they weren't moving. He grunted and moved to stand beside them, peering down. Deadpan, he offered, "I have." Both looked up to stare at him. "On a box of Lucky Charms."
Jackson shook his head and traced his fingers over the DHD keys. "Most Stargates use glyphs to represent constellations, and most of them have a pretty recognizable set of stock symbols, usually with a few differences by location. But this...a heart? A rainbow? A smiley face?"
Carter gestured to one. "That sort of looks like Pegasus."
Jackson peered closer. "You're right. Looks more like a horse than a constellation, though."
"Maybe these represent constellations in this system?"
"In full color? With a little smiling cloud at the end of the rainbow?"
"So..." O'Neil didn't bother to keep the impatience out of his voice. "What, you can't dial out?"
"We'd be dialing blind!" Jackson waved his hands helplessly at the cutesy pictographs. "I have no idea what these are supposed to represent and I don't know where to even start."
O'Neil exhaled, then nodded. "All right. There's some stairs leading out. Teal'c and I will recon. You two look for clues here."
Jackson glanced around the dimly lit but clearly empty room, then simply looked at O'Neill. Carter spoke up instead, her gaze traveling around the room. "There doesn't seem to be anything here but the gate, and it doesn't look like anyone but us has been in here in a long time."
"Look anyway," O'Neill snapped, then looked at Teal'c and jerked his head toward the stairs. The big man silently followed O'Neill up and out.
They emerged after a short climb into what looked like a ruined tower. The moonlight was brighter here, shining through gaps in the walls. Stairs led up around the inside of the tower, but large chunks were gone, making it impossible to climb to the top. Half the roof had caved in in any case, a pile of rubble blocking the only doorway out.
O'Neill bypassed the door entirely, walking out through a gaping hole in the wall right next to it. The night air was crisp and cool, a gentle breeze rustling the trees all around. They had walked into the courtyard of what looked like some kind of medieval castle. It was only barely recognizable; the forest was well on its way to reclaiming the old grounds. It could have been spooky, but instead there was only a sense of peaceful retirement about the place. O'Neill didn't trust it. "Anything on the old Teal'c radar?" he murmured.
"I do not sense anything hostile, Colonel O'Neill," came the reply. The Jaffa hesitated, then added, "It seems very...relaxing here."
"Yeah, well, this isn't the time for it," O'Neill muttered. "Let's get back inside and secure this position. We're not going anywhere until the sun's up."
The next night, they made camp once more in the abandoned tower just outside the gate room, leaning against the sturdiest walls. The moon hung high in the cloudless sky, large and full. Its light fell on the castle, reaching through the holes in the tower to settle around SG-1. O'Neill found the gentle light somehow reassuring, which unnerved him. He eyed the moon suspiciously, then turned back to Jackson who had been telling him...something. "Sorry, what?"
"I was just saying that there's nothing around here. No texts, no artifacts, no writing on the walls." Jackson shrugged. "It looks like your basic run-of-the-mill European castle, though without any of the fortifications. It's almost...well, like something out of a fairy tale or children's book. It was meant to look pretty and impressive, and that's about it. If anyone used to live here, they packed up and moved out long ago." He hesitated again, frowning in thought. "In fairy tales, usually castles like this are set pieces. Places where the climax of the story happens and the villain is faced down, and then they're never mentioned again. Like they never had a purpose but for that one meeting."
O'Neill stared at him blankly. "Interesting. I don't see how that helps us. But interesting." He cocked his head to the other brainiac. "Major?"
Carter could only shrug too. "Didn't have much more luck than Daniel, sir. The place was wiped clean, although..." She frowned. "A couple of rooms showed some disturbance in the dust. Very faint, but something happened here in the past year. There's a sculpture in what I think was the main hall that looks like it may have held something at one point, but the dust had been recently disturbed there, too."
"It's...difficult to say. It looks like there was scuffling going on, but here and there I saw what looked like hoof marks. There were definitely horses here." She shook her head. "No footprints, though."
O'Neill nodded. "Teal'c?"
"I surveyed the surrounding area as you requested," the Jaffa rumbled. "I discovered a chasm to the north with a rope bridge leading across. Beyond that, I found nothing noteworthy."
O'Neill pursed his lips. "All right. The Jaffa haven't followed us yet, so I doubt they're going to. Tomorrow we go find civilization, or locals who can help. You know, standard procedure."
Jackson cocked a thumb at the door down to the gate room. "If this world was held by a Goa'uld, or someone with knowledge of Stargates, this place would be secured. None of them would let it just linger here all on its own. We might not be so lucky this time."
O'Neill made himself comfortable against the stone wall, the light of the moon as good as a blanket. "Come on, Daniel, you've been on enough missions to know better. There'll be a nearby group of locals who are somehow human. One of them will be 'guarding long-forgotten knowledge' or something like that. Probably oppressed by some thug they want us to get rid of. Hell, they'll probably speak English too." He covered a yawn with his fist, letting his eyes sink shut. "Teal'c, you're on first watch."
"Shouldn't we have found a village or something by now?" O'Neill complained as he vaulted a fallen log. After the team crossed the bridge the following morning, they had encountered nothing for the last hour but deep forest, thick with gnarled trees and overgrown vegetation.
Jackson began to speak, but Teal'c cut in first. "I hear water. Up ahead." The team hurried forward, eventually clearing the treeline. They came upon a small river, the water flowing steadily along.
As the others knelt on the bank to refill their canteens from the clear water, O'Neill paced a few steps along it. He froze, spotting a long, huge shadow slithering away from them underneath the river's surface. "Ooookay, guys." He turned back to the others, waving a hand downriver. "We're going to follow the water that-away. Folks usually build towns along the river, right?"
"Yeeeeah, probably," Jackson admitted, frowning at O'Neill. "But we're not going to cross?"
O'Neill shook his head firmly. "Occupado. Keep an eye out for a thin spot in case we need to."
Hours passed. At one point they did find a series of stepping stones across the river, but even after crossing they continued along the water. O'Neill was just about ready to call a break and re-evaluate their options when they spotted the edge of the forest. Open plains lay beyond the treeline, mountains and cliffs visible in the distance. It was a clean, lush plain, unmarred but for the ribbon of water running through it. And there was nothing O'Neill could see that indicated civilization. He thumped a nearby tree with the side of his fist in frustration, looking back at the other three. "Well, I'm out of ideas. You guys see anything? Trails, junk, arrowheads? Souvenir stands, gas stations?"
Teal'c and Jackson shook their heads. Carter began to, but froze, looking out into the plain. "Sir, something's coming."
Disclaimer: Any and all SG-1 and MLP:FiM characters and trademarks are the property of MGM and Hasbro respectively, and I make no claim on them. All other characters are my own creation.