Stargate SG-1 fic: Work of Fiction (2)
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 air inside the art gallery was growing stale and colder by the hour. The lights had long since gone out—the red glow of the emergency exits the only thing illuminating the large space. Kinsey shifted restlessly on the floor. His back was killing him. The constant sniffling and sobbing of the kids was getting on his last nerve. The whole situation was absolutely intolerable. He couldn’t take it any more and got to his feet, his legs stiff from inactivity. Aware that a couple dozen eyes were watching him intently he headed towards their captors.
“Halt!” shouted an impressively large man with a tattoo shaped like a snake on his forehead.
Kinsey looked up… and up… and up. He swallowed hard then put on his politician’s facade. This was what he did for a living after all. “My name is Senator Robert Kinsey and I-”
“Return to your seat.”
Slightly taken aback by the rather rude interruption he continued undaunted. “I want to talk to someone in charge.”
“Go back to your seat.”
“I think there has been a great misunderstanding-”
“Return to your seat or I will be forced to do it for you.”
Kinsey didn’t like the sound of that but he didn’t back down. “The United States of America does not negotiate with terrorists. I suggest you let us-” He didn’t finish the sentence. The man leveled his menacing staff at him. Kinsey stared at it a moment, slightly baffled. Then the man pressed a button and the front opened with a crackle of energy. Panic surged through him and sweat began to dribble down his neck, pooling at his collar. He put his hands up in a universal sign of surrender.
He was backing up slowly, intending to follow the order, when the apparent leader of the group—a man wearing a gold headdress—became interested in the altercation.
“Jaffa,” he called, “bring him to me.”
Without a word the man grabbed Kinsey by the arm and hauled him roughly over to the leader. The gold clad man eyed the senator for some time, pacing around him.
“What is this place?” he finally asked.
Confused, Kinsey only stared. Then he realized what the man had meant. “It’s an art gallery. For displaying rare and unique works of art.” He glanced around at the broken sculptures littering the floor.
“And what is the purpose of such a room?”
“Uh, I don’t know… so people can come and look at them, I guess.”
The man took the information in while he watched the children across the room. “And how many people come to view these artworks?”
Kinsey shook his head slightly, baffled as to where the questioning was leading. “I don’t know. I’d say ask the docent but you took her away.”
The man raised his hand to stop the senator. “How many people live here?”
Kinsey frowned. “In Washington?”
“On this planet.” The leader was starting to sound slightly agitated with Kinsey’s lack of information.
“Uh… there are about six hundred thousand people in the city.” He watched the reaction of the man carefully. He seemed disinterested in that fact. “There are about 6.3 billion people on the entire planet.”
That got his attention. “Six billion?” The man whirled around and his men scurried back, eyes on the floor. Kinsey didn’t look down. He couldn’t. The man’s eyes had just flashed a brilliant white. All he could think of was getting away. He stumbled back, tripping over his own feet just as there was a huge crash overhead raining glass down on everyone.
* * *
The rope slid through Jack’s hand as he broke through the skylight of the art gallery and rapidly descended to the floor below. It was dark. Outside the sounds of a growing gun battle ripped through the humid night air.
All hell broke loose as his men touched down. They only had the element of surprise on their side. Thermal imaging and night vision goggles told them the hostages were lined against the east wall. They had watched from above as one hostage crossed over to the west side where he seemed to chat with one of the invaders. He was now cowering as far from the center of the room as he could get. With assurance that hostages were out of immediate harms way, Jack’s men opened fire catching the enemy soldiers completely off guard. There would be no prisoners. Jack’s job was to assure the safety of the hostages and, if possible, take out “Goldie”.
Jack dove in the direction of the rogue hostage, dodging energy bursts from the enemy weapons, suddenly coming face to face with the guy in gold. He stood absolutely relaxed, hands held behind his back. Too easy, Jack thought as he leveled his weapon on the smug looking man. He opened fire only to have every bullet ricochet off of something invisible. The hostage and several enemy soldiers ducked out of the way.
Not deterred, Jack pulled his side arm and fired, moving forward with each round discharged. The guy just laughed then raised his hand. It was covered in some kind of golden glove unlike anything Jack had ever seen. Before Jack could ponder it further or think of a snarky comment an energy pulse erupted from the palm, sending Jack flying into the far wall with a dull thud.
He realized he blacked out for a moment when someone began tugging his arm. He forced his eyes open but everything was blurry and hazy. It took him a second to realize he’d lost his night vision goggles when he fell and that a young woman, probably in her late twenties, was trying to wake him from his stupor.
“Are you okay?” she yelled, practically in his ear, to be heard over the noise of the fire fight.
He nodded then tried to smile but his head hurt and his back ached from slamming into the wall. “Colonel Jack O’Neill,” he told her over the screech of the energy pulses from the staffs.
She looked rather calm considering the intensity of the situation. “Mrs. Wheeler, Edison Elementary School.”
Jack shook her outstretched hand quickly. “School?” He looked past her and could just make out a group of children huddled behind an overturned display case.
She nodded, her face set with determination. “Fourth grade.”
Jack swallowed hard. Charlie belonged in the fourth grade. “How many in your class?”
“Twenty-two, but they took three along with the docent after they brought us inside.” She looked a little sick but managed to keep her calm exterior. “I don’t think they’re human.”
Jack finally pulled himself up with a little help from Mrs. Wheeler. “We’ll let the science geeks worry about where they came from. Right now we need to get these kids out of here.”
Together they found his goggles and scurried over to the kids. Several latched on to her as soon as they were behind the case.
“This is Colonel O’Neill. He’s here to rescue us.”
One little boy eyed him. “Are you in the Army?”
Jack paused as he situated the large device on his head. “No, Air Force.”
“Can you fly a plane?”
“Of course he can, he’s in the Air Force. That’s what they do.”
“All of them can’t fly planes. There wouldn’t be enough.”
“How do you know?”
“I just do.”
“BOYS!” Mrs. Wheeler yelled over the two arguing kids. “Save it for later.”
Jack smiled as he surveyed the rest of the room. He could only tell his men by the rapid blasts of fire from their weapons. The enemy staffs threw off a brighter, longer burst of energy. In the far corner was the leader, standing and watching with great interest. Most of his men were now caught up in the fray, apparently certain their master was safe behind his forcefield. And behind him was the last hostage, huddled against the wall.
Jack was still formulating his plan when the main doors burst open. Armored enemy soldiers poured in, weapons blazing. Half opened fired on Jack’s team and the other half were returning fire on the other pursuing Special Forces.
“Great,” he muttered to himself then he motioned for Mrs. Wheeler to keep her kids down. The fighting was mostly confined to the other side of the large room and the kids were relatively safe if they stayed under cover.
The leader’s guards suddenly dropped, taken out by members of the second team leaving Goldie and the hostage completely exposed. Goldie looked agitated by this turn of events. He yelled out something in a language Jack had never heard.
An alarmingly large soldier with dark skin and square jaw turned at the command. His eyes darted from the leader back towards Jack. The other soldiers didn’t hesitate quite as much. They raised their weapons in the direction of the kids. Crap.
Goldie continued to shout. Jack stood, weapon drawn. If he was going out it wasn’t hiding behind a case. He’d take as many with him as he could. That is if he couldn’t just talk his way out of the situation. Hey, it’d happened before.
“You don’t want to do this,” he shouted over the din. Several enemies took pot shots at him that he easily dodged. Slowly he rose again, locking eyes with the largest soldier who seemed to be in charge of the others. Goldie’s Lieutenant. He still looked unsure. Several of the kids started wailing in fear. Slowly he raised his staff and flipped it open. “They’re just kids!”
Jack wasn’t exactly sure what happened next. All he knew was that the big guy suddenly turned and began firing on his own men. Mayhem ensued. Goldie was screaming in a voice that made Jack’s skin crawl. His guards were gone, his own men were firing on each other in the confusion. Jack saw his only opportunity. He leapt over the stone bench he was using as cover and darted across the room. He knew his weapon couldn’t penetrate the shield but he wasn’t sure about hand to hand. It was worth a shot.
They went down in a pile of arms and legs. Despite his diminutive stature the man was much stronger than Jack. They wrestled around some before Jack was pinned. Double crap. Just then the hostage moved, creating a distraction. Catching Goldie off guard, Jack quickly reached down for his knife. It landed squarely in the guy’s side, penetrating deep into his chest.
His eyes flashed white… twice then dimmed. He stopped struggling and Jack tossed him off. Things were getting crazy and it was time to get the kids out. He followed the course of the fleeing older hostage as he made his way back towards the kids and the minimal safety offered by the display case.
“Anyone know a way out of here?” he shouted once he was hunkered down with the class again.
A little girl, her face dirty and streaked with tears, raised her hand.
Jack smiled and pointed at her. “Yes, the pretty little thing up front.”
She ducked her head but answered loudly. “There’s another gallery through the doors over there. I saw an emergency exit inside the room.”
Jack followed her finger and could just make out the outline of the door. He knew the teacher and her kids could only see as much as the firefight illuminated.
“All right, campers, here’s what we’ll do. I’m going to get Mrs. Wheeler and six of you through the door. Then I’ll come back and get six-”
He didn’t finish before the other hostage, an older gentleman in a tattered suit and tie, interrupted. “I’m going first.”
“I’m getting the hell out of here.” He tried to push past Jack.
“Sit down.” Jack shoved him hard to the ground.
“Do you know who I am?”
Jack glared at the sniveling little weasel. Everything about him screamed politician. “I don’t care if you are the Queen of Sheba, you’ll wait your turn.”
The man sputtered a second. It was obvious he wasn’t used to being denied or bossed around. “I’m a US Senator-”
“With all due respect, Senator, sit down and shut the hell up.”
His mouth dropped open at Jack’s audacity. Several of the kids snickered but Mrs. Wheeler hushed them.
“I never. You listen here…”
“Colonel,” Jack supplied, his jaw clenched tight in an effort to control his growing anger.
“You listen here, Colonel, I’m a very important man.”
Jack ignored his blustering and began to organize the kids, choosing the closest five to make the run with Mrs. Wheeler. The senator yanked his arm hard.
“I’m going now!”
“Haven’t you ever heard of women and children first?” With that Jack shoved him back down. “You wait for the last group and so help me if you don’t… I’ll shoot you myself.”
The senator looked ready to spit nails until Jack carefully checked the clip in his sidearm with great flourish. The man backed down, moving to the end of the line of kids.
“Ready?” Jack asked. The kids looked up at him with equally terrified but determined faces. Mrs. Wheeler took a deep breath, her face set, then nodded. She and the kids linked hands. Jack could see them shaking but he knew they could do this. They’d survived so far. With one last reassuring nod, Jack darted out into the open space and ran for the door. No one seemed to notice him so he signaled twice with the flashlight on his weapon. Mrs. Wheeler and the kids took off, crouching low but moving quickly. They darted through the door and lined up along the wall, panting. Smiles broke out on the kids’ faces at the sight of the emergency door across the room.
Jack told them to stay low then went back for the second group. A couple minutes later all nineteen kids and one irate Senator were safely in the room. Jack radioed that they would be exiting through the emergency door then wished them all luck.
“You’ll regret this,” the senator yelled. Jack just snorted. Pompous politicians. There was a reason he hated Washington.
Sam’s phone started buzzing as soon as she turned it on once the plane hit the tarmac. Twenty-three messages it told her. She dialed her voicemail while she gathered her bag and grabbed her new friend.
“I still don’t know why I’m here,” Daniel said, following her to the terminal.
“You were the one that predicted this,” she told him with a smile over her shoulder.
“I wrote a science fiction book about aliens invading. That’s nothing new.”
“You don’t think it’s kind of odd-”
“It’s just a coincidence.”
“Really?” She stopped short causing him to almost run into her. “After what happened…”
“I’m just a writer, Sam.”
She snorted. “You envisioned this happening from actual archeological records. That’s something, Daniel.”
He sighed. “If you say so.”
Sam turned to face him at the door to the taxi run. “Aren’t you excited to have your theory proved? Now you can go stick your tongue out at all your colleagues that laughed in your face.”
Daniel chuckled. “I guess that would be fun.”
Sam headed out the door until she realized Daniel wasn’t behind her. He looked up with wide eyes. “What?” she asked him.
A smile broke across his face. “I’m going to be a millionaire.”
* * *
Jack stood in his dress blues on the stairs of the Capitol building. Above, the president stared out at the National Mall, much of it in ruins from the invasion. Then he addressed the nation.
“Yesterday morning dawned just as every morning before: people went to their jobs, children boarded buses to school, mothers went shopping, third shift clocked out and crawled into bed. It was just another morning.
“Yesterday afternoon our history was re-written in a way unimaginable just hours earlier. The Great Ring, so long a testament to the tenacity of the human spirit, opened and let through a monumental evil never before seen on this Earth. I had always left the idea of aliens to the science fiction writers. Daniel Jackson seemed to have it right in his first novel, Ring of Death, when he wrote, ‘the people of Earth would be caught with their arrogance up and their guard down because who would dare attack from such a benign object as a ring.’
“I wonder if he knew how close to the truth he would hit. Our eyes are open now; we are humbled. We know that we, the people of Earth, are not alone in this universe and that not every being out there is friendly. We only have to look at our own earthly history to understand that.
“Last night we took back our world from the would-be invaders. The brave men and women of the Washington Police, the National Guard and our military stood together and beat back the attackers. Lives were lost and heroes made” He nodded to the line of uniformed men and woman around Jack. “Once again we are forever in the debt of our brave soldiers and law officers.”
A murmur of approval swept the crowd until it rose to a full on cheering, pierced with whistles and shouts of approval. It died almost instantly when the President raised his hand to continue.
“This is not the end. This, my fellow Americans… my fellow Earthlings is just the beginning. We stand at a great precipice—on the other side out future as members of a galactic society we never imagined just days ago. In the words made famous by another science fiction great, it is now time to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before.'”
The crowded shouted and laughed in response. Jack tuned out the rest of the speech. The President had a tendency to be wordy, especially when the audience was eating it up. He looked out over the crowd, at the nervous and expectant and hopeful faces. In the front row Mrs. Wheeler and her class—all twenty-two—beamed up at him. Their parents had already thanked him completely earlier in the day. Jack felt his face flush slightly. He didn’t want to be a hero. He just wanted to do his job… whatever that might be in this new galactic society.
* * *
The evening tried to close in around the object standing tall and graceful and silent in the middle of the grassy field. But numerous powerful flood lights pushed back the night. The ring gleamed in their harsh illumination but remained still.
No dogs ventured close, no birds perched, no homeless camped at it’s base. The entire Mall was quarantined, yellow tape and heavy concrete highway dividers blocking it from public access as a large flatbed truck pushed up the street. An enormous crane was already in place.
The entire world watched as the Great Ring moved from its dais onto the truck to be whisked off to an undisclosed location. One by one the lights snapped off and the night overtook the quiet Mall. Tomorrow would dawn on a completely changed world—one where aliens weren’t just science fiction any more.