One single word to him and Jack found himself maneuvering the hallways with familiar precision. He had arrived about twenty minutes earlier, and after ten minutes of pretty much routine swearing at his computer, it had coughed up his base email. This particular Monday morning he had received a rather cryptic message from Carter that had earned his interest. Well, any email from Carter would...
*So* not going there.
It had been a certain word in her email. He had re-read it three times just to make sure he didn't finally need glasses.
She had *never* used the word "cool" in a memo before. Even the ones she dumbed down for him.
He had tried not to run to the gate room, but when he hit level 28, he couldn't get there fast enough, pushing back the thought that it was going to be some really lame science thing. She wouldn't do that to him. Or if she did, punishment would be severe.
He came to a halt as he rounded the corner.
Sweet merciful crap!
He would never doubt her understanding of the word "cool" again.
At the base of the ramp was a vehicle. A M151-A2 Jeep to be exact. He looked up. A second was hanging from a crane.
Cool! Cool! And COOL!
A figure rolled out from underneath the vehicle on the floor. Sam stood up and wiped her hands on the cloth she had tucked in her pants, then rubbed her cheek with the back of her hand, which only made the grease smudge worse.
Jack did an amazing impression of a deer caught in headlights.
There was no way she could have known exactly how he felt about a woman who worked on cars. It had started with Brenda in high school and ran all the way through to Sam.
Sara! He meant Sara! Really!
He found his voice. "New toys, Carter?" he asked as he walked over to her.
"Yes, Sir. We had to assemble them in here for the obvious reasons. You know, the Marines are practically giving these things away."
"So you spent all weekend playing auto mechanic?"
She grinned. "I wanted to make sure they would be ready to take to PX8 619."
"We get them on a mission?"
"Yes, Sir." Sam smiled broadly. "They're actually headed to the Alpha Site, but I talked the General into letting us break them in a little before we take them over there."
"Sweet!" Jack's eyes glazed over.
"The Joint Chiefs are thinking about establishing a motor pool at the Alpha Site, but for right now these are kind of a trial run. They want to do a feasibility study..."
And Jack had sat around his house watching tv all weekend! He could have been here.
Working on cars.
*Time to go!*
"Fuel will be the biggest problem. We may have to scrap the engine, or maybe get our hands on some of those new Shadows..."
Jack turned around and walked quickly towards the door.
"See ya at the briefing, Carter," he yelled as he retreated.
Sam shrugged and climbed back under the chassis.
"I believe Jonas Quinn is improving."
Ah, Jaffa sarcasm. Jack looked back at the jeep Carter and Jonas were in. How in the world had he talked her into teaching him how to drive? She was going to need a chiropractor when she got back.
"The guy can memorize mothership schematics in twenty minutes flat, but can't drive a car. What's up with that?"
"If you can't find it, then you must grind it, O'Neill?"
"Yeah," Jack snorted as he drove their jeep over a rise, Jonas lagging behind him.
It was a cake mission. The UAV and the MALP hadn't actually spotted anything on this planet, but Carter had set up her sensors by the gate, which officially made it a mission, and then they had taken off for a little joyride. Jack swore that in all actuality Carter had the General wrapped around her little finger.
"O'Neill!" Teal'c pointed.
Jack stopped the vehicle. "Whoa." He keyed his radio. "Hold up, kids!"
Jonas slammed on the brakes. Hard.
Fortunately, Jonas' driving skills already had Sam firmly grasping her surroundings. "Don't mention it. Really."
"Hey, look at that!" said Jonas as he and Sam got out of their jeep and joined Jack and Teal'c. They gaped at the large stone structure.
"This didn't show up in any of our scans," Sam commented. "Must have been hidden by all the natural growth."
Jonas pulled away some of the vines on the wall to reveal some writings. "This is interesting."
"Looks like we got ourselves a little pyramid," said Jack.
"Well, it's not exactly a pyramid," Jonas remarked as he pulled out his notebook.
"Well, yeah. But I was talking about the architecture."
Jack quickly racked his brain. "A ziggurat?" he asked, more than a little pleased with himself.
"No. I think it's more of a stepped pyramid."
Jack looked at him. "Which is...?!"
Jonas flipped a few pages of his book. "Oh. A ziggurat."
Swear to God, he was going to hit the man.
Maybe it had been something he said. Then again... But he had definitely caught the look on Carter's face before she had quickly found the landscape fascinating. He grinned. It begged the question, just how often did she smile at him like that when she thought he wasn't looking? But it was a thought for another time.
Focus, Jack! Focus!
"Is it that tree over there?"
"That is not what I spy with my little eye, O'Neill."
Damn. "How about the one next to it?"
"Well, I think I have a rough translation," Jonas said, walking up to them.
"And? Come on, Jonas. The suspense is killing me," Jack said as he focused on wiping that last little smudge from his sunglasses.
"Well, this place either houses weapons..." he looked uncomfortable.
"Holds some sort of destructive force. The writing is next to a lever, which has got to be the way in."
"And if *that* isn't ominous... For crying out loud, whatever you do don't touch the damn thing!"
"Sir, this really might be worth exploring," Carter remarked.
For once why couldn't she say, "You know, Sir, we should really get out of here before the inevitable ass-kicking starts." Why? He looked at her, non-verbally challenging her to give him one good reason.
"Well, it could be a cache of weapons or some new technology."
"Or impending doom. I seem to remember hearing something about destruction. A.K.A. impending doom!"
"Do you really want to go back and tell General Hammond we didn't investigate..."
"Ahh!" He waved his hands in front of him. "Okay. We check it out. Carefully!"
They approached the section of the temple where Jonas had been working. Jonas ran over to the lever while the other three took positions, weapons pointed at what appeared to be the entrance.
"Well, here we go." Jack nodded to Jonas.
The massive stone door rumbled and shook before slowly sliding open. A blast of air rushed out at them.
"Just great! Wonder how many new diseases *that* just gave us? Carter? How are we supposed to tell if it's even breathable in there?"
"My symbiote will make me aware of its discomfort if the air becomes dangerous," Teal'c offered.
Jack thought for a moment. "Better than a canary. Teal'c, take lead."
Jack was getting a bad feeling about this. The hallways seemed to go on forever, not really leading to anything. And they all sloped down.
"Teal'c. Seen anything like this before?"
"I have not." Teal'c held up his hand. They all stopped. "I believe I heard something."
Now Jack heard it too. It sounded like, well, skittering.
Something brushed past his leg.
He swung around, the light from his P90 moving back and forth trying to find what it was.
Eyes. Black, glittering eyes.
Jack felt his team move close to him.
"What the hell is that thing?"
"It looks like, well, Sir, it looks like a little, round, furry monkey...thing."
"Thanks, Carter. Helpful. Teal'c - seen anything like this before?"
The creature rubbed its hands. Paws? Claws?
"I have not, O'Neill."
"Okaaaay. Let's keep moving."
They started back down the corridor.
It was following them and frankly the idea was freaking Jack out. He stopped.
"Shoo! Scat! Get!"
It stared at him.
It continued to stare.
Jack picked up a small pebble off the floor and hurled it at the monkey thing. "Scoot!"
Which in hindsight was a complete and utter mistake. The creature, obviously offended by the whole situation, let out a piercing screech. And didn't look like it was about to stop.
"Somebody shut that thing up!" Jack yelled.
"How?" Sam yelled back.
Jack contemplated pulling the trigger on his P90 and putting an end to its obviously pointless life.
"Sir, maybe it just wants to get past us," Sam suggested.
They lined up on one side of the corridor. No sooner had they done that than the creature bolted past them, screeching as it went.
"Maybe we should follow it, Sir."
"Well, it had to come from somewhere."
He sighed. "Fine."
They followed the horrific sound, laying florescent markers wherever the corridor branched off. Carter was right. Just about the time that the sound disappeared, they found themselves at the opening to an enormous cavern. The centerpiece was a long bridge that stretched the entire length of the space. On the other side of the bridge a building, much in the same design as the upper temple, sat on a large platform. From the looks of it there were more openings behind the building going God knows where. The scale was massive.
"Good place to house weapons. Let's get to that bridge."
The path to the bridge was actually more of a built up ledge that was positioned about forty feet above the cavern floor.
"Careful, people. Lots of loose rocks around here." Jack may as well have been talking to himself.
As part of his never-ending curiosity, something had caught Jonas' eye and he turned quickly to look at it. Too quickly. Sam's reflexes were lightning fast, grabbing his vest to steady him, but her efforts were doomed from the start.
"Shit!" Jack hissed as he watched his two teammates slide down the steep grade. He and Teal'c dropped to the ground, Jack pointing his light down the slope.
He grabbed his radio. "Carter, come in!"
"Here, Sir." She looked up at the light shining above her head.
And he wondered why he was prematurely gray. "Are you hurt?"
Silence for a moment, then the radio came back to life. "No, Sir. Maybe a scratch or two."
"I'm fine, Sir."
"Think you can climb back up?"
"Not a chance, Sir. It's too steep."
Suddenly a horrible sound echoed off the cavern walls. It was distant but unmistakable. Screeching. And a lot of it.
"Teal'c, break out the ropes."
"There will be nothing to leverage ourselves against."
"I know. It's gonna have to be a climb."
They quickly tied ends of the ropes around themselves and threw the other ends down.
Jack keyed his two-way. "Okay, here's the deal. We've got nothing to hold on to up here, so you guys are going to have to do the work. Try not to jerk around too much. And tie your ends around you."
"Sir, if I slip while I'm tied to the rope, I'll take you down with me."
"That's an order Major! You too, Jonas!"
Jack and Teal'c sat down, digging their feet into the ground as much as they could. Jack felt the strong pull as Sam began her climb.
Then came a new sound. A deep rumbling.
Jack swore as seemingly hundreds of monkey creatures began swarming onto the cavern floor. Their screech deafening as they massed towards Sam and Jonas.
Jack started a dead pull. Which was stupid - if the rope slipped, the resulting jerk would probably end up sending both of them down. He just wouldn't slip. He noticed that Teal'c was doing the same thing.
Jack tuned out the awful sound and concentrated every ounce of energy on pulling. And who he was pulling.
"Yes!" Jack yelled as Sam's head finally came over the edge. He grabbed the top of her vest and pulled her the rest of the way up. Firmly on solid ground, he grabbed her arm. "Okay?"
They quickly untied the rope and moved to help Teal'c and Jonas, who was almost at the top. With three of them pulling, Jonas practically flew the rest of the way up.
"Someone needs to teach you how to climb a rope, Jonas."
"Yes, Sir," came the shaky reply.
"Uh, Sir? Where'd they go?" Sam asked, shining her light over the edge. The cavern floor was completely empty.
The rumbling started again, but this time the sound came from a different place. This time it was higher up.
"They're heading for the bridge! MOVE!" Jack started pushing them back towards the temple. He took one last look at the hoard starting to cross the bridge before he ran for his life.
The temple walls echoed and shook as the sound of the creatures behind them filled the air. How far had they walked into this place? Shouldn't they have been outside by now? Just when Jack thought he was going to spend the rest of his now shortened life in the place, he spotted daylight.
Jack and Sam ran to the jeeps, each getting in the driver's seat. Jonas and Teal'c jumped into separate vehicles, taking up positions in the back seats with their weapons. They didn't wait for the creatures to appear, but instead started blasting away at the entrance.
Jack and Sam both floored their jeeps. Hot on their tails, the screeching mass flowed towards them from out of the temple, only slightly slowed down by fire from a staff weapon and a P90.
They pulled ahead of the hoard, but not by much. The gate was only a short distance away so whatever lead they had on the creatures wouldn't stay that way for long. Spotting the stargate as they came over the last rise, Jack gunned it to the DHD, Carter right behind him, both tearing up dirt as they slammed on the brakes.
"Dial it up!" he yelled as they all jumped out of the vehicles.
The dust cloud the herd was kicking up kept advancing.
"Alpha Site?" Carter yelled back.
"Sir! The jeeps!"
"No time! Screw the jeeps!" he yelled as the three men positioned themselves behind the vehicles.
She began punching in the coordinates as the hoard blazed towards them. They could actually see the creatures coming over the rise now. Teal'c started firing his staff weapon, taking out a few. Jack and Jonas sprayed the mass with their P90s and taking out a few more.
"We can see the whites of their eyes, Carter!!"
The wormhole engaged. Sam punched at her GDO, hitting the Code Red signal.
"GO! GO! GO!"
They ran through the gate, Jack taking up the rear.
"CLOSE THE IRIS!" he yelled as soon as his feet hit the familiar metal grating. A loud thump came before the wormhole disengaged.
"Colonel. Report." Hammond ordered as he quickly strode into the gate room.
"We were attacked by *massively* nasty creatures, Sir! We had to ditch the jeeps," he said, looking at his team to make sure everyone had really made it back okay.
Hammond looked up at the control room. "Re-establish contact with the MALP," he ordered.
"Yes, Sir," replied the Tech Sergeant who began to dial up the coordinates.
"I need to see what's going on. As soon as it's clear I want those vehicles back," he said as he led SG-1 up to the control room. "Any idea what attacked you?"
Jack looked at Jonas. "Apparently a destructive force." He switched his gaze to Carter. "Or as I like to call it, impending doom."
She frowned at him.
Yeah, he wouldn't be letting her forget that for a little while.
"Uh, Sirs, you may want to take a look at this," said the Sergeant.
Jack winced as he walked up to one of the monitors. "Oh, *that* can't be good."
Apparently the little buggers were stronger than any of them realized. They watched as jeep parts were torn away, ripped off by their little paw-hands.
"Why the hell are they doing that?" Hammond asked the room.
"Don't know, Sir."
Seemingly as soon as it had started, it was over. Silence descended on the room as the camera continued to point at the space where the jeeps used to be.
"Colonel, my superiors were expecting those vehicles to be delivered to the Alpha Site for a feasibility study," Hammond said in shock.
The creatures started on the MALP.
Sam grimaced. "Don't worry, Sir. It shouldn't take more than a few days for new parts to get here. I should be able to assemble two new ones this weekend."
Jack's eyebrows rose.
"Thank you, Major," Hammond replied, as the transmission went dead.
New jeeps. A lascivious grin tugged on the corners of Jack's mouth. Suddenly he knew without a doubt he'd be pulling duty this weekend. No matter what the roster said at the moment.
All eyes in the control room turned to Jack.
"What? Out loud?"