Stargate SG-1 fic: Work of Fiction (1)
This story is the first in a planned series inspired by the [info]writers30days challenge. This is prompt: writer’s choice #1 and eventually I’ll use all 15 prompts. The stories take place in an alternate reality that is much different than our own but still has our favorite group of intrepid explorers out there… exploring. Oh, and Kawalsky, too.
Work of Fiction
[#1 of The Great Ring series]
by jennickels (aka Jen Connelly)
In an alternate reality the Stargate was thought of as nothing more than a curious artifact from ancient Egypt set on display outside the Smithsonian. Their world was about to change.
don’t own… wish I did, but I don’t. No infringement intended.
The day dawned like any other. The sun rose slowly over the Capitol dome casting a dull pink hue to the normally gleaming white marble. Slowly the shadows of the National Mall shrank back revealing a natural setting amongst the buildings of The Smithsonian Institute in downtown Washington, D.C. Nature began to wake, venturing out of the tree line—small animals scurried about in search of their morning meal, a group of birds preened on a bench, a stray dog sniffed at a trash bin.
The dog, finding the can emptied by grounds crew the night before, moved on. It trotted along the manicured path, checking each bin, sniffing benches and occasionally marking his territory even though this particular dog has never been here before.
Up ahead he eyed something interesting. The path veered off into the grassy patch off to the side, across the street from a large building. Partially hidden by trees it gleamed in the sun that managed to break through the cover. The metal circle stood two stories high, sitting on a pedestal made of granite with benches carved into the sides at even intervals. More benches surround the object, but facing it. This spot was a favorite for tourists and locals alike looking for an interesting photo op or a shady place to have a quick lunch in the summer.
The dog approached cautiously, sniffing the air around the pedestal. It felt charged, causing the fur on his back to stand on end but he wasn’t afraid. He could smell the animals that came before him and they weren’t afraid either. He lifted his leg, ready to lay claim to this magnificent object, when—SNAP—a snare locked around the neck of the unsuspecting dog. He struggled briefly but in vain before being hauled away by animal control leaving the circle to maintain it’s vigil over the Mall greenlands undisturbed.
His 10am meeting with Senator Brigham ended rather abruptly with a call from the man’s mother-in-law. Apparently his wife was officially in labor. He didn’t see the fuss. It was their seventh child after all. But, then again, Bob Kinsey didn’t see the appeal of having children. He only had one himself, long since grown, and that was just to get his wife off his back. About the only thing the little germ-harboring, snot nosed, greedy brats were good for was garnering votes. The American people were a sucker for a dedicated family man.
Which made it mildly amusing and quite a bit ironic when Senator Kinsey was asked to speak to a group of grade schoolers visiting the Smithsonian about family values and staying in school… or some other such nonsense. He would just read the speech prepared and be on his way. But since he had time to kill he decided to take a little stroll from the Capitol over to the museum. It had been awhile since he’d last found himself with nothing to do. He should have stayed in his office.
He found himself shanghaied by a group of 4th graders from a local elementary school on a field trip. He’d rather deal with a group of sniveling politicians over a group of sniffling, grungy nine year olds any day. But he couldn’t avoid them when their docent recognized him inside the Art Gallery and waved him over. Politics was politics and these were future voters. At the least they’d relate their meeting of the Senator to their parents who were voters now. So he reluctantly went over and met Mrs. Wheeler and the two dozen or so kids from Edison Elementary School, shaking each sticky offered hand and smiling broadly at their upturned faces. Now he was following them from room to room keeping up polite conversation with the cretins—er, children and answering their inane questions.
Daniel Jackson leaned back in the very uncomfortable folding metal chair and rubbed at the back of his neck. His allotted space in the small, independent book store was no bigger than the table in front of him. He was crowded in on all sides by shelves and stacks of books, a large sign advertising his book signing blocked most of his view out the large front window. He listened for the little bell over the door to ring but it didn’t happen very often. It was early, the owner had told him twenty minutes ago.
He sighed. His agent insisted it was the fringe element that bought his books and this was the perfect place to meet and greet those people. He glanced down at the table still laden with numerous copies of his newest book, To There and Back, number three in a series. His novels never made it to the New York Time’s Bestseller list but he wasn’t Stephen King. He was okay with the small group of loyal fans that continued to support his efforts. They just didn’t seem to get up early on week days.
He glanced down at his watch: 12:13pm. He’d been at this for three hours with only a handful of signature given. Time for a break. Standing by the free coffee near the cash register, he stretched feeling a muscle in his back twist in protest. He almost didn’t notice the odd woman watching him from the magazine racks. He frowned into his Styrofoam cup. She looked familiar. Her short blond hair framed a plain face but she had large blue eyes that seemed to take in the entire room at once.
A little unnerved, Daniel tossed his cup and headed back to his table taking a detour through the overloaded stacks of the store. He thought he lost the woman in the sci-fi section after he ducked behind a life-sized cardboard cutout of Darth Vader exclaiming the benefits of the dark side—something about cookies. He double backed to the table only to find her paging through a copy of his book. He sighed in defeat.
“Can I help you?” he asked with a little trepidation as he sat down.
She glanced down at him over the edge of the book. Now that he was up close he remembered where he’d seen her before—at a sci-fi convention in California the year before. She had been at his booth and followed him around until he called security. She had disappeared before the burly men showed up. Only his luck to end up with a crazy stalker. His agent told him a stalker was a good sign for his book.
She must have noticed his discomfort because she carefully placed the book back on the table then, with eyes darting around, leaned in close. “We need to talk.”
Oy, Daniel thought, he was so going to end up tied up in a closet or something.
Kinsey eyed his watch for the umpteenth time. Just two minutes since the last time he looked. But it was 1:30pm now and he could easily excuse himself to make his way to the conference room for his speech. The sticky fingered mob of youngsters spread out around him, looking at the large object on the pedestal amongst the benches. He was about to open his mouth to inform their teacher of his prior engagement when the docent, a pretty little red-head, began talking about the historical layout of the museum. He groaned.
“What’s that?” a boy asked, pointing up at the object in the center of the grassy patch outside the Art Gallery.
The docent smiled. “Good eye, Tyler.”
She gathered the class closer so they could all hear. They looked up at the giant metal ring. Kinsey hated the thing. It was a monstrosity and had no place marring the National Mall. He’d staunchly been against it’s addition but the American people liked novelty and it was installed in front of the Art Gallery. It should have stayed in moth balls in the bowels of The Smithsonian in his opinion.
“This is the ‘Great Ring,'” she told them once they were all paying attention. “It was uncovered in Egypt in 1928 and brought to the United States during World War I. It sat in storage for a long time before a resurgence in interest and it was finally installed here at the Smithsonian in 1984. There is a great debate about its origination but there is no doubt that it’s an amazing find.”
“What does it do?” asked a little doe-eyed girl in pigtails.
“It doesn’t do anything,” answered a boy.
“It’s just a statue,” said another classmate, “like the one of Abraham Lincoln.”
“My dad says aliens built it.”
“Well, my mom said it’s a portal to another planet.”
“That’s stupid, Erica.”
“No, it’s not. My mom said-”
Kinsey groaned. Mrs. Wheeler raised her hand and the class quieted down with a grumble. The docent climbed onto the dais and looked down at the kids, one hand caressing the monument.
“No one knows for sure what the Great Ring is for. Some say it had religious significance for the ancient Egyptians. Others think it was some kind of calendar because of the symbols around the outer ring.” She ran her fingers over the etchings. “They seem to represent the constellations.”
“The stars, dummy.”
“Adam-” warned Mrs. Wheeler.
“Told you it was aliens.”
The docent laughed. “Yes there are some people that think aliens built the Ring. There’s even a series of books based on that theory. I bet that’s where Erica’s mom got the idea.”
As the kids began arguing over the Ring again Kinsey made his way to the teacher and began to give his apologies before heading to his meeting. A loud clunk interrupted him before he got three words out. The kids fell silent instantly. An even louder grinding noise fill the air around them and the ground began to vibrate.
“What’s that noise?” asked one of the girls, sounding slightly hysterical already.
Kinsey and Mrs. Wheeler turned in unison towards the Ring.
“Oh, my god,” the senator mumbled as the ring spun then stopped, lighting up one of the chevrons on the perimeter.
* * *
In a coffee shop across the street from a tiny book store outside of Vancouver, BC, Daniel Jackson listened to the blond woman explain her reason for stalking him. When she was done he took a long sip of his latte before finally speaking.
“I’m not really sure I understand, Major.”
“Sam,” he started again, “I don’t know what you want from me.” Honestly, she sounded a little off her rocker, especially for a military officer, if that’s what she really was. You want to believe those called to protect the national security would be a little less… well, crazy.
She smiled. “Just to answer a few questions.”
“About my books?”
“About how you came up with the idea for the books.”
“I don’t know what to tell you. They just came to me.”
Sam frowned. “You used to be an archeologist, right?”
He looked up at her in surprise and nodded.
She blushed slightly, embarrassed at knowing an intimate fact about the author. “I’ve done a little research.”
“How little?” Daniel felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up.
“I know your parents were Egyptologists and they died when you were young. And that you majored in archeology and anthropology at the University of Chicago but never finished your doctorate degree,” she said with a sheepish smile. Daniel just stared with his mouth open. She continued. “And that your thesis was rejected as absurd in it’s premise. It eventually became the foundation for your first book, Ring of Death.”
Daniel rubbed at his jaw in an effort to keep it from dropping again. After a moment he took a deep breath. “I still don’t understand-”
“I think, Mr. Jackson, your books are closer to the truth than you know.”
He raised both eyebrows at her, his glasses sliding down his nose. “Really?”
“I’m just wondering where you got the idea from. Why you took such a leap of faith when writing your thesis knowing you’d potentially be laughed out of academia?”
Daniel rested his arms on the table, his hands cradling his cup. It had been a long time since he’d defended his cockamamie theories. No one had taken him seriously. His agent—actually his college roommate—thought they’d make a great fiction book, though. Now here he was pushing his third book and working on his fourth in his spare time. Daniel had long since forgotten his humble roots.
He’d just finished the Reader’s Digest version of events when a woman ran into the coffee shop. “Turn on the news,” she demanded, panting, “there’s been an attack.”
Sam went white as a sheet. “Where?” she asked, going to stand near the TV. Daniel followed, feeling more than a little confused.
“In Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian.”
The barista was still fumbling with the remote. “Who would attack a museum?”
“They say it was aliens. Like War of the Worlds or something.”
Sam gasped as the TV popped on and the news blared frightening video of armored men pouring out of one side of the Great Ring at the Smithsonian. If the news ticker along the bottom or the constant chatter of commentary from the anchors wasn’t so frantic Daniel might have believed it was all a hoax, an elaborate prank with, admittedly, great special effects. But he could tell by the looks on everyone’s faces this was real. His cup slipped from his hand, spilling the brown liquid all over his shoes.
“Oh, my god,” he whispered.
The phone rang. Jack ignored it. It wasn’t the first time that night. It rang for a long time but eventually quit. Jack grunted then flipped the cap from his beer bottle at the offending device sitting on top of the TV. He was not in the mood for interruptions. He wanted to be left alone with his beer and the perfectly good pity-party he had going. No one was going to ruin that.
He practically chugged the entire bottle before looking down at the papers sitting next to him on the motel bed. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand before picking them up. He’d already read them six times. Several beers hadn’t made them any more bearable.
“Dissolution of Marriage,” he mumbled. Just a fancy lawyer way of saying divorce. Jack downed the last of his beer and let the bottle drop to the floor with the others next to the bed. The phone started ringing again as he opened his fifth bottle. He ignored it again.
With a sigh he forced himself out of bed, bringing the papers with him. He tossed them on the small table and stared. The phone rang again. Geesh, didn’t they get it yet? He didn’t want to be bothered. He had gotten as far as the J and A in his name when the TV made an alarming beep, catching his attention. Sports Center was replaced by some news cast. He didn’t recognize the anchors but they looked flustered.
“We bring you breaking news from the ESPN News Center,” said the male anchor. “An attack has been made on Washington, D.C.” Jack dropped his pen and dove over the bed to get to his phone that was ringing again. “We take you live to aerial coverage of the Smithsonian Institute.”
“O’Neill,” he nearly shouted after he finally got the phone opened.
“I don’t want to hear it, Colonel. Just get back to base—double time.”
“I recall you said something about forced leave last time we spoke.”
“Don’t get cute, Jack. Just get your ass back here before I change my mind and have you court martialed.”
“Yes, sir,” Jack said to the dead air as the general hung up. He stood frozen to the spot in front of the TV for several mesmerizing seconds, the news flickering before his eyes. Hundreds of soldiers wearing large armored heads that looked like snakes flooded from the Great Ring on the National Mall. He remembered the Ring from previous visits to the museum. Charlie especially liked it because they let you climb on it and touch it. He said it made the hairs on his arms tingle.
Teal’c peered around the room in the large building. He had never seen anything so extravagant and yet so utterly pointless. The walls were covered in framed renditions of every day objects and natural scenes. Several large boxes were filled with random items and there were gleaming pedestals with marble busts just staring into space. Wasted space, he though. Even for the Goa’uld. They had immediately divided the room, tossing the busts and pedestals out of the way so they had an unobstructed view of the entire space.
Their prisoners—three adults and about two dozen children—sat against the far wall. Teal’c ignored them as best he could. Instead he turned his attention back to his god, Apophis. He was agitated; Teal’c could tell. And when his lord was agitated people got hurt. His gaze drifted back to the children huddled against each other, obviously terrified.
“Teal’c!” Apophis bellowed, his voice echoing off the tall, smooth stone walls of the room.
“Yes, my Lord.”
“What is taking your men so long?”
Teal’c didn’t dare look at him in this state. Eyes on his hand gripping his staff weapon he answered, “I do not know.” Apophis clicked at him. It was an unacceptable answer. “I will find out, my Lord.” He bowed deeply and turned to leave. He didn’t even make it to the door when one of his Jaffa stumbled in.
“They are strong,” he mumbled before falling to the ground either dead or passed out. It didn’t matter to Teal’c or to Apophis. It was another failure. This mission was not going according to plan.
Apophis’ eyes glowed bright white. He stormed over to the motionless body. “Useless,” he yelled causing the children to yelp in surprise and fear. With a flick of his wrist he used his hand device to toss the already battered man into a wall. He slid down and landed with a thud. Teal’c just stared with a neutral expression. Another pointless death.
Teal’c scanned the room again. This world was beyond abnormal. When they arrived they were surprised to find a group of children just milling around the Chappa’ai. They looked completely shocked by the arrival of the Jaffa but stood motionless, gawking. It had been apparent they had never seen a Jaffa before. They were easily rounded up but then more people appeared and ran screaming from the grassy area. The first wave of about fifty armed Jaffa were all that made it through the Chappa’ai before soldiers showed up. Teal’c knew they were soldiers by the way they held themselves. And they were armed. That was when he made the decision to remove his god from the danger. Apophis insisted his new toy, a personal shield, would protect him but Teal’c was not taking any chances.
The sun was now setting outside. He could see the shadows growing along the floor from the glass top of the building. They’d been hiding in here like vermin for many hours. Teal’c hated it and he knew his lord detested it. He had been mistaken when he thought his troops would be able to retake the Chappa’ai easily. The people of this planet proved most persistent.
* * *
The plane pitched violently to one side. Jack gripped the straps of his seat to keep from sliding off. The big transport plane was hurtling towards Washington at 300 plus miles per hour. Inside: two teams of highly trained Special Forces from all branches of the military. When the plane finally finished bucking Jack pulled himself to his feet. All eyes were on him and he hated giving speeches. So much for his quiet Friday night.
He cleared his throat. “All right, men. You’ve all been briefed on the situation. Don’t ask me any questions because, frankly, I don’t understand it myself. Who and what we’re dealing with isn’t important. How we deal with them is. In approximately-” he glanced at his watch, “-forty-five minutes we will be over Washington.
“It’s been decided the element of surprise is our best bet for taking these… whatever they are. That’s why they called us. We’re the best of the best. We’ll jump from 10,000 feet and land on the roof. I don’t have to tell you how difficult and dangerous this mission will be. Local law enforcement and the National Guard are engaging the enemy already. They are stronger, faster and a hell of a lot harder to kill than us. Don’t play the hero.
“Our main objective is to take out their leader who is holed up inside the Art Gallery across from the Great Ring. Intel says there are about two dozen hostages with them. Team one will assist the locals in subduing the forces on the outside. Team two are with me and we’re going through the skylight.”
“How do we know which one is the leader?” asked a Marine.
Jack smiled. “Apparently he’s the one with the giant gold helmet shaped like a snake. I don’t think subtle is in their vocabulary.” That got a few chuckles. “Here’s the kicker, though, kids,” he continued eying the group of men, many of them long grown out of the term “kid” in any sense of the word, “these guys have some kind of laser gun. Real sci-fi stuff. And “Goldie” has some kind of invisible shield around him.”
“Forcefield? Seriously, Jack, are you screwing with us?”
Jack smiled at his old buddy, Kawalsky. He looked amazing relaxed. Jack knew that looks were deceiving.
“Wish I was. This is stuff straight out of that Jackson guy’s novels.”
Several eyebrows shot up and he heard murmurs followed by snorts of laughter run through the men.
“What? I read.”
Kawalsky got up and patted his shoulder. “Sure you do, Jack.” His eyes twinkled with amusement.
“That’s Colonel O’Neill to you.”
“Yes, sir!” Kawalsky gave him a sloppy salute before returning to his seat, all seriousness again.
Jack shook his head at his friend then changed gears, too—it was time to go to work.