Briefing Room, Cheyenne Mountain Facility, Colorado. 11:23EST
Colonel Jack O'Neill sat down opposite his ever-faithful companion Teal'c, the former First Prime of Apophis, at the briefing room's central table. At the head of the polished wood surface, General Hammond placed a buff folder full of documents down before clearing his throat, a signal he was ready to begin.
"Colonel O'Neill, Teal'c," he started, his Texas drawl stretching Teal'c out into a 'tulk' sound, "With Major Carter and Doctor Jackson out with SG-7, I'm assigning you two a simple recon mission so you're not stuck in the facility all week."
"Sick of the sight of me, General?" Jack asked, raising his bushy eyebrows.
Hammond ignored Jack's deadpan humour, he was used to it by now, and continued with the briefing. "P9X-23L is a forested world, and MALP images show some signs that the Stargate has been used recently."
"Perhaps the Tok'ra have information on this planet, General Hammond." Teal'c pointed out with his usual degree of monotony.
"Not that they'll share with us," was Jack's predictable response. He was still sore about the Tok'ra's recent reluctance to share any information with them, seemingly presuming the in the Earth/Tok'ra Alliance, aid flowed in only one direction.
"That may be true, Teal'c, but we feel we can handle this one alone." Hammond gave Jack a sidelong glance, a warning to keep his reservations to himself; "All we want you to do is scout around, look for any locals or ruins that we might want to investigate later."
"What if the recent use is Goa'uld?"
"If there are any Goa'uld on the planet," this time Hammond's accent converted Goa'uld into 'ghouled', "You are to return immediately, so we can consider sending in SG-11 or 13 for a strike mission." He looked from Jack to Teal'c and asked, "Any questions?"
Embarkation Room, Cheyenne Mountain Facility, Colorado. 11:44EST
"Chevron Seven locked!" Sergeant Davis called as the rotatable ring stopped on the Earth Symbol, an upturned V with a circle above it, representing the sun over Ra's pyramids. A moment later, what looked like a gush of water erupted from the Naquadah circle, vaporising anything in its path, before settling into the puddle-like event horizon, "Wormhole established!"
"SG-1, you are free to depart." Hammond said into the microphone up in the control room, amplified to fill the entire gate room.
Jack checked over his equipment one last time, he never forgot to bring equipment, making sure the safety was set on his gun and turning to Teal'c, "Piece of cake." Taking inner amusement at his friend's confused frown. He signalled to the control room, and the pair stepped through the Stargate.
Stargate on P9X-23L. Approx 02:00 Local Time
When they re-materialised on the other side, apparently stepping through the pool of 'liquid', they were frigidly cold. Partly due to the awful cold sensation of being put back together atom-by-atom, but mostly because on this planet it was dawn, and it was cold. Freezing cold.
The soft grass surrounding the Stargate was covered in a layer of frost, as was the mud where plant life had been beaten down by heavy feet. The MALP probe stood motionless a few meters from the stairway up to the gate, still recording, its sides covered in dew and its lenses frosted over.
Jack rubbed his hands together and blew warm air onto them, stamping his feet to warm himself up, while Teal'c surveyed the surrounding area.
"Why are all the gates on cold forest worlds or hot desert worlds?" He complained. "We never get any pleasant Mediterranean worlds."
"Perhaps those were the preferred environments of the Ancients, O'Neill." Teal'c reasoned.
"Great. We get rid of Daniel and you become another anthropologist."
"I do not understand, O'Neill." Teal'c gave him his best quizzical raised eyebrow look. "I have neither Daniel Jackson's extensive studies nor his-"
"Forget it." Jack muttered, "The only track heads south. Stargate secure?"
"Then let's rock and roll!"
"Surely it would be more advisable to walk, O'Neill?"
A dirt track on P9X-23L. Approx 03:00 Local Time
Three miles down the beaten dirt track they had found nothing. "Zada, zilch, zero, the big 'O'! Nothing! It's an empty planet!"
"It is not wise to judge a world too early, O'Neill." Teal'c scorned, "At any moment we could find evidence of-"
"Jaffa Kree!" The sound of twenty pairs of metal boots stamping the ground drifted towards them, along with the shouted order.
"You had to say it, didn't you?" Jack asked, ducking into the brush and pulling up his MP-10. Beside him, Teal'c activated his staff weapon, splitting it's pod-end into two.
Before either of them do anything else, they were both hit by a single zat shock, fired by the Jaffa warrior that had been following them the past twenty minutes.
Unknown Location on P9X-23L. Approx 05:00 Local Time
"Wake up Teal'c. O'Neill." A voice that wouldn't have sounded out of place back on Earth, in England called to them. Teal'c's eyes shot open immediately, he was already conscious, but meditating. With a little nudging and a quick slap, O'Neill too opened his groggy eyes.
"Whichever wannabe God you serve, we aren't going to tell you anything!" He shouted, spitting on the Jaffa's metal boot. From previous experience, Jack knew he served Heru'ur, because of the gold eagle symbol on his forehead.
"You need not to fear us, O'Neill. No more than you fear Teal'c."
"You think I fear you? Well...wait a minute..." Jack took a moment to assimilate all the data around him. While he has been disarmed, he wasn't bound in any way, and neither was Teal'c. Interestingly enough, his 'captor' wasn't armed either. No staff weapon. No zat. "You're traitors too?"
"We are the Tok'Jaffa."
"Forgive me if I'm being rude, but isn't that just a little bit like the Tok'ra? If you were on Earth, you'd be in court so fast your head plate would spin." Jack said pointedly.
"Surely you know that Tok'ra simply means 'Against Ra'." The Jaffa said, "We are Jaffa rebels, fighting to free our peoples from the oppression of the System Lords. We are against the Jaffa Armies. Tok'Jaffa."
"Right. Sure." O'Neill dismissed it. "We really need to get back to Earth...they get real worried if we stay up too late. Sometimes they go as far as changing the Iris Code so we get splattered on the way back."
"Of course. But first, we would be honoured to show you around." He motioned to the silent Teal'c. "After all, it was in your name we rebelled." Teal'c raised an eyebrow, a silent question, "Before you openly turned against Apophis, we had only dreamed of betraying our masters! You gave us another option, Teal'c!" The aging Jaffa looked excited, "We owe all this to you!"
They followed him outside.
Tok'Jaffa camp P9X-23L. Approx 05:00 Local Time
"My name is Kra'tal, I served Heru'ur for over a hundred years before we followed your example."
"You the leader here?" Jack asked, looking around at the collection of dirty tents and dilapidated huts, nothing like the cool underground caverns of the Tok'ra. He got the impression that this resistance movement hadn't been going long, hadn't done much, and wouldn't last long. It was the kind of poor organisation he had seen on Earth, with militias and other private armies.
"Yes." Kra'tal answered. "My wing and I fled from Heru'ur and started gathering other recruits, from other System Lords."
As they strolled across the small camp, Jaffa of all types stopped and stared at them. Serpentine, Eagle and Horus Guards...they even saw a Unas, standing alone at his post.
In the middle of the central courtyard, a large circle had been marked on the dirt floor with rope, about four metres in diameter. Inside it, two young Jaffa were boxing, much like Jack and Teal'c did on Earth. They didn't wear any kind of protection, not even boxing gloves. Jack supposed that wasn't the kind of thing Jaffa normally did. Or Tok'Jaffa - whatever. They stopped and bowed when they saw Teal'c watching them.
"Teal'c," Kra'tal motioned towards the bulkier of the two sparring warriors, "This is Lanef, our most talented fighter."
"I would be honoured if you would fight with me, Teal'c." He bowed low again, his polished head-plate glistening with morning dew and reflecting the dawn sunlight.
"The honour would be mine, Lanef." Teal'c bowed too, but not quite as low.
"Remember Teal'c," Jack muttered, "First rule of Jaffa Sparring: Don't talk about Jaffa Sparring. Second Rule of Jaffa Sparring: Don't talk about Jaffa Sparring!" Teal'c turned his head questioningly, "I'll explain later. Break a leg."
"It would not be advisable to break my-"
Teal'c stepped forward into the circle and stood defensively, legs apart, fists raised. Lanef started to circle round him, like a wolf circling it's prey. Teal'c didn't seem to be taking any notice, but was actually following him carefully from the corner of his eye.
Lanef dived for a quick punch to Teal'c's ribs, but the more experienced Jaffa just stepped back. Lanef missed and was thrown of balance, and Teal'c was able to throw a few light into his disorientated side. Jack could see Teal'c wasn't fighting to win, but to prove he could run circles around Lanef.
The younger Jaffa dropped to the ground away from Teal'c blows and rolled himself away, springing quickly to his feet. He bounced around on his toes, feinting quick blows. Teal'c didn't even flinch.
Lanef dived low at Teal'c legs in what Jack saw as a football tackle, but again Teal'c side-stepped and lightly tapped the other across the back of his neck with an open hand, again just to prove he could have knocked him out if he wanted to. Lanef jumped up a look of furious rage on his face.
"Fight like a warrior or don't fight at all!" He screamed across the ring at Teal'c, "I am not a child, strike me as if I were Apophis himself!"
"As you wish." Teal'c said, before charging at Lanef and landing a blow to his stomach that lifted him up and clear out of the circle. A few minutes later, Lanef was revived by fellow Jaffa, and stumbled back to his tent.
Jack looked around and saw growing discomfort. He couldn't blame them. If Teal'c had could KO their best fighter in one punch, they must be realising they weren't the crack troops they thought they were. He turned to Kra'tal, "Now might be a good time to leave."
Stargate on P9X-23L. Approx 06:30 Local Time
"Goodbye, my new friends," Kra'tal said, grasping both their hands firmly. "I hope you'll come back another time...we could obviously use some instruction in hand-to-hand." He looked to Teal'c, an odd expression of jealousy and awe on his face. "I can see now that Apophis chose his First Prime well."
Jack muttered a farewell and stepped over to the DHD, his hand seeking out the first glyph in a sequence he memorised long ago. The Stargate whirred and then clunked as the first chevron snapped into place. Jack stood back in horror. "I didn't press it yet!"
"Someone else is coming through the Stargate!" Kra'tal exclaimed, "Quickly! Into the forest."
"Well isn't this just a great way to end the party?" Jack said to no one in particular.
"Hapus!" Kra'tal called to a lean and fast looking Jaffa that had come with them, along with another three warriors - Lanef not included. "Run back to the camp and warn them!"
Hapus thumped his chest in a Jaffa salute and sprinted off down the track, while the others activated staff weapons and hid in the growth. A few moments later, the seventh chevron locked and once again, the Gate erupted with a massive blue burst of energy. A few seconds later, four Eagle Guards stepped through the Gate, their large metal helmets bobbing around as if about to topple. They scanned the area through their glowing eyes, passing their staff weapons around the area. Apparently satisfied it was secure, they snapped to attention at the base of the Stargate's stone platform.
Nearly a minute later, another well-armoured individual stepped through. His shaved head bore no crest, his left hand wrapped in what might have seemed, to an inexperience onlooker, to be some form of jewellery.
There was no doubt about it...he was a Goa'uld. Kra'tal stiffened slightly.
"Anyone you recognise?" Jack asked him, very quietly.
"That is Drakenn, he serves Heru'ur." Kra'tal answered, staring at the Goa'uld in fear, "I served under him as a Jaffa Warrior, he was a brutal master. He's been sent to find me!"
"Drakenn...that's almost as good a Zipnnaca." Jack mumbled.
Drakenn stopped on the miniature ziggurat, while an honour guard of a further ten Jaffa marched out of the gate and down the steps, lining up with the other four to form an armoured gauntlet.
"Jaffa," Drakenn started in his magnified, echoing Goa'uld voice, "KREE!"
The fourteen Jaffa of his honour guard snapped to attention...so did one of Kra'tal's men. The young recruit responded to years upon years of programming, snapping to attention as soon as he heard those two words.
"Aww.... Nuts!" Jack cursed as the other Jaffa, having no other option, sprang up from their cover and tried their best to utilise what element of surprise they had left.
The seven Jaffa with their backs to the group - Jack, Teal'c, Kra'tal and his three warriors - fell easily, single shots from the four readied staff weapons, two shots from Kra'tal's Zat, or several hundred bullets spewed rapidly from Jack's MP-10.
By this time, Drakenn had already activated his personal force field, and stood before the Stargate, letting his seven remaining Jaffa take care of this minor annoyance. Pity about the seven he had already lost, but he could always find more. Once he cleared out this pitiful band of rebels, Heru'ur would be generous and give him legions of Jaffa to command. He might even let him keep his spy - the once called Lanef - as his First Prime. His force field flashed and he turned round to see bullets ricocheting from the armour of his nearest Jaffa onto his shields. The problem soon corrected itself - the bullets finally pierced the armour and killed the Jaffa. Good news short term, bad news long term. His Jaffa were falling. They had killed one of the rebels, the stupid one that stood up and gave them away, but he'd lost nine Jaffa by this time. This wasn't going at all as he had expected.
Jack crouched down again and signalled Teal'c to follow him through the brush. They circled around to the other side of the clearing, going behind the Stargate. Teal'c quickly dispatched two of the remaining Jaffa, before Drakenn saw them. Enraged, he fired off a pulse from his Ribbon Device that knocked the pair flying into the forest. He turned back towards the Stargate - this attack was over, he needed more Jaffa - just in time to see Kra'tal launching himself a his throat. Drakenn recognised the Chau'va straight away and raised his hand, capturing Kra'tal in an energy beam before he could strike.
Jack crawled back through the brush and started firing at Drakenn - no way was he going to stand by and let Kra'tal get killed - but his bullets were deflected by the force-field. Teal'c, however, saw what Kra'tal was doing. Very slowly, the old master drew out a short, sharp knife from somewhere in his armour, and thrust it up between two plates on Drakenn's armour, up between two ribs and into his heart. The aging Jaffa dropped dead, leaving the knife's golden handle protruding from his former master's armour. He dropped down onto his knees, but before his body could fall face-first into the dirt, his Goa'uld Symbiont shot out from his neck like a missile, straight towards Jack.
Like a flash of lightning, Jack pulled out his Zat and fired three times across the rapidly decreasing space between him and the serpent. Its long purplish body absorbed the perfectly aimed blasts - then disintegrated, leaving no trace behind.
"Why do they always try and take me?" Jack complained.
"Perhaps because you are the only human here, O'Neill." Teal'c said, checking all Drakenn's Jaffa were dead.
"Okay. Good point."
The two surviving Tok'Jaffa were hunched over their master's dead body, willing him to pull through. But it was no good. Unless they had a sarcophagus nearby, it was a hopeless gesture.
Only moments later, a force of Tok'Jaffa lead by Lanef rushed through the forest, but found themselves too late. Lanef walked over to his Drakenn's body. "This is a sad day," he said, "For the Gods!" He leapt up, and dived through the still-active Stargate.
Realising they had been betrayed, a hail of Zat and staff blasts poured through the Gate after Lanef. A moment later the Gate shut and they would never know if their betrayer lived or died.
Briefing Room, Cheyenne Mountain Facility, Colorado. 17:16EST
"Yes, sir." O'Neill said, answering to General Hammond, "We helped them give Kra'tal and the other fallen Jaffa a decent burial."
"And I presume you offered them any help they might need in the future?"
"Of course, sir."
"Then let's hope this is the beginning of a long-lasting friendship."
"Let's also hope," Jack added grimly, "That we find Lanef. I'm going to enjoy killing him."