“Why am I gearing up to participate in something as boring as treaty negotiations again?” Jack asked Daniel as he was putting on his combat BDUs in the locker room.
“You’re an added bonus, Jack. Besides, Sam thought you’d welcome the distraction after the fiasco with the Russians and Kinsey…”
“Oh yeah, talk about a distraction… Sitting through endless meetings and politely smiling to everyone seated around the table…” he huffed.
“No, actually, we took care of all that for you. What you will attend is the actual closure of the negotiations, the signature of the mining treaty, and the trade agreement… They need sulfur, we need naquadah… After that, there’s a celebration planned…”
“Sweet!” he growled sarcastically.
“Well, if you want to blame someone, go blame Sam!” Daniel resumed in an aggravated tone,. “I for one did not want to put you through that!” he said, dramatically.
“Oh, I will, don’t worry… But please note that I do appreciate the distraction… after all, last time I went off world, we got back with an Ancient ship; I’d have preferred white sand beaches with blue waters or a fishing pond, though,” he smirked.
Daniel rolled his eyes as Jack exited the locker room and headed down to the gate room.
Sam was already there, pacing, while Teal'c was his usual stoic self.
Jack swiftly entered the room through the blast doors, followed by Daniel, as the gate started rotating. Sam straightened, almost as if to stand at attention, but an annoyed look from Jack made her relax slightly.
“Alright, kids, let’s go!” he said, climbing up the ramp as Sam quickly fell in behind him.
Teal'c looked at Daniel questioningly, but the latter shook his head, rolling his eyes, making the corners of the Jaffa’s lips curb slightly up. They started up the ramp as Jack and Sam reached the event horizon.
“And… cut!” a voice said as Sam and Jack stepped down the ramp.
‘What the…’ Jack thought, disbelieving as he faced a crew of cameramen, microphone holders, and other film technicians instead of a squad of SFs – which would have been still strange, but which he would have understood better.
“Thanks, Rick, Amanda, we’re done for now…” a man wearing shorts and with earpieces hanging around his neck said as he stepped down from what appeared to be the main camera’s seat.
“But we…” Jack was interrupted by Carter’s hand on his arm and the warning look in her eyes as he turned toward her touch.
A man approached him to take his P90 — despite the mission being entirely diplomatic, it was standard procedure to go off world fully armed. Jack clung to it, earning a surprised look from the man.
“Hey, I need to bring it back to armory!” the technician said.
“Sir, I think it’s best if…” Sam murmured as the rest of the technicians left the place. She unhooked hers and gave it to the man.
“It’s stuck, wait a sec…” Jack said, fiddling with the hook of his P90 on his vest.
Soon, they were rid of their basic equipment, including vest.
Awkwardly standing at the foot of the ramp, they were gently ushered out through the blast doors which led behind the set of a studio.
“Carter?” Jack asked in hushed tones, frowning.
“I don’t know, Sir,” she said in a low voice. “Let’s… let’s get out of here; we’ll find a way to get our P90s back…”
Jack knew better than to say anything else. They exited the building and faced a parking lot with tens of trailers parked in lines in front of them.
“Carter, is this place what I think it is?”
“I think so, yes, Sir. I think we’ve just stepped onto a movie set or TV shoot…” she replied.
“Good; that means I haven’t gone crazy, we both have,” he said, shaking his head in disbelief.
“The only explanation I can think of is a solar flare or a cosmic magnetic surge that interfered with the wormhole,” she resumed, scanning the field of trailers.
“Yeah, well, you know me and astrophysics…” he mumbled, his eyes everywhere, too. “Hey! Isn’t that Daniel and Teal’c?” he asked, pointing at two men dressed in civvies and chatting enthusiastically as they exited the trailer area.
Sam frowned, observing them. “They definitely look like them, but there’s something…off…” she said thoughtfully.
“Like the fact that Daniel doesn’t have his glasses, which we both know he can’t see without…”
“… or the fact that Teal'c doesn’t have a tattoo and, from what I can hear, seems to speak English with Americanisms and contractions?” she continued. “I don’t think it’s them, Sir…”
The man resembling Daniel waved at them from afar before heading with his partner to the building they had just left. Jack responded, smiling, and resumed his walk with Sam toward the trailers.
“Okay, now what?” he asked aloud.
“Now we try and find as much information as we can about this world,” Sam said pragmatically.
“Okay, well, here’s some information for you: we’re probably in Canada, according to the license plates here, and those trailers have names on them with a schedule attached to the door,” he said, waving at the door with “Amanda Tapping” on it.
“Which means they have a Canada here, too…” she nodded, then resumed. “Amanda Tapping?” she repeated. “Didn’t that man call me ‘Amanda’ back in the gate room?”
“I think so… Do you think it’s...?” he trailed.
“At least it’s worth a try…” she shrugged. “What’s her schedule?”
“Hmmm, let’s see…” Jack said, his finger hovering over the plastic holding the schedule. “She’s on the set today until…”
“What?” he asked, dumbfounded.
“How do we know it’s ‘today’?”
“Good point…” he said, looking down.
“I think I saw newspapers inside…”
“You wanna go back in?”
“Well, that’s the only way to know exactly what day it is,” she said, wincing a bit.
“And then what?”
“Then we sneak into an unoccupied trailer and try to find a computer.”
“How do you know they have computers in this world?”
Sam sighed. “I saw a technician with a laptop…”
“Ah, there you go… Okay, here’s what we’re gonna do. You stay here; I’ll go back and find a newspaper, or at least what day it is. You have your lock picking set with you?”
Sam smiled, tapping her left breast pocket. “Never leave home without it…”
“Good girl!” he smiled in return. “You wait for me, okay?”
He scanned the area before jogging to the door they had exited moments before and re-entered the building. As he stepped inside, he almost bumped into a fifty-ish man with long curly hair.
“What are you still doing here?! I thought you’d already left!” the man exclaimed.
“I, er… I forgot something…” Jack replied apologetically.
“That’s a first! Wednesday, 5:20 pm, and Richard Dean Anderson is still on the set!” he joked. “You held the plane?” he resumed, on the verge of hilarity.
“Dang! I hadn’t realized it was already that late! I gotta go!” Jack exclaimed.
“Yeah, I thought you would!” the man still joked. “You’re lucky, traffic is exceptionally light today!” he shouted as Jack disappeared through the door in a hurry.
He crossed the area between the studio and the parking lot quickly, and re-joined Sam, who was still waiting next to the same trailer.
“That was fast!” she exclaimed.
“I ran into someone,” Jack explained.
“So you didn’t get any newspaper?” she said, disappointed.
“No, but I have all we need. I was mistaken for a ‘Richard Dean Anderson’. It’s Wednesday, and we’d better set our watches to 1720… Oh, and that Anderson guy is probably on a plane –or close to– as we speak…”
Sam smiled slightly. “Then we have to find his trailer…”
“Lead the way, Colonel…” Jack said, nodding his head.
After checking several trailers, they finally found the one they were looking for. Sam managed to unlock it, and they stealthily crept inside.
Jack toured one side quickly as Sam checked out the other. The mini fridge was almost empty and the trash bin was full; the bunk had been lain upon as the crumpled blanket testified.
“The guy has just left, if my instincts are right, and a cleaning lady should be here soon to clean this place…” he said thoughtfully.
“Well there’s a TV, a telephone, and a printer, but no computer…” she said dejectedly.
“But you saw one on the set, right?” he asked, an idea suddenly forming inside his head.
“Here’s what we’re gonna do: obviously, I’m out of the picture since I’m supposed to be Anderson, and Anderson is gone. You, on the contrary, are supposed to be Amanda, right?”
“From what it appears, yes,” she replied, trying to guess what his plan was.
“Go check her schedule and see when she’s out or on set. When she’s out, check her trailer and see what you can find. According to Anderson’s schedule, he’s not back until Monday, so if we’re discreet, we can establish our base here once the cleaning lady has done her work. I’ll wait outside for that in the meantime and stay hidden. Do you think you can manage that?”
“Yeah, it’s well within my abilities,” she smirked.
“I’m not finished…” he smirked in his turn. “Remember where that laptop is?”
“I guess I can find the guy if he hasn’t left,” she nodded.
“Then go find it, borrow it, use the fact that people are mistaking you for that Amanda woman, I don’t know, but get that computer over here,” he said, his voice in command mode.
“Yes, Sir,” she replied automatically.
“Now go, Colonel!”
She checked that the way was clear and disappeared quickly through the forest of trailers. Jack followed her out and crouched underneath the trailer, cursing his knees in the process.