Up, Up and Away
by Suz email@example.com
Disclaimer – MGM/Gekko/Double Secret own them.
Spoilers for ‘Redemption, Part 2’, ‘Descent’, and ‘Prometheus’. A ‘Prometheus’ episode addition.
"The radar system on the X-303 is still incomplete. Fly through the lower bay – they’ll never see you coming!"
Jack didn't slow his pace but he did take Davis' words to heart, acknowledging that the guy knew more about the X-303 then he did. He may have had access codes, but actually knowing how it all went together, or what was and wasn't working? That wasn't his job.
That was hers.
And in her absence, Davis'.
Inevitably, as he jogged along the sand, displacing the grains, he could feel some of them worming their way into his boots and through his socks.
Strange that sand could be more persistent and sneaky than even the Goa'uld.
Reaching the car he'd arrived in he flung open the passenger door and climbed inside, pleased to see Teal'c doing the same in the back. The driver still hadn't gone anywhere, so Jack uttered his order:
"Back to Groomlake. Now. Break any speed limit you have to." He wasn't even sure there *were* any restrictions between the X-303 site and the base, but he wasn't about to take the time to find out.
As the wheels spun in the sand, sending small showers of the substance up in the air, Jack pulled his cell out of his jacket pocket and dialled a number he wasn't allowed to keep in its memory. As it connected, he held it up to his ear.
"This is Colonel O'Neill. Get me Hammond."
A few seconds later that familiar drawl echoed into his ear. "Hammond,"
"Sir, it's O'Neill. We need urgent clearance to take one of the deathgliders up after the X-303." They'd been keeping Hammond sporadically updated with the developments.
"I take it the situation remains unchanged?"
"Yes sir," Jack glanced out to the right through the window; the view of the sand rolling by probably would have been pretty spectacular if he'd been the least bit interested. "The X-303 is still in orbit of Earth, but given the fact that they have a Goa'uld on board we don't know how much longer it'll stay that way. We need to get to them before they get the hyperspace engines online." Jack paused, impatient, willing his superior officer just to say 'yes'.
"And no further communication from Major Carter?"
His hand tightened around the phone. "No communication from *any* of our people, sir."
"Very well. I'll make the call; there should be someone waiting for you when you reach the facility."
Not in the least bit relieved, Jack found himself nodding. "Yes sir."
"And...good luck, Jack."
"Yes sir." He hung up, unable to ignore the tone that had been in Hammond's voice; instead trying to focus on the friend seated behind him. "We got clearance."
"That is good news. You must fasten your seat belt, O'Neill. You will be of little use to this mission if this car were to flip over."
Rolling his eyes, Jack yanked his seat belt on. "*There's* looking on the bright side..." When it was fastened, he glanced at the driver. "You wanna go a little faster there, Sparky?"
As promised, there was someone waiting for them as they arrived at the base, but rather than them stepping out of the car, he climbed in next to Teal'c and spoke to the driver. "Take us to hangar four."
When the car pulled away, he turned to face Jack, pulling his hat off. "Major Lewis, sir. I'm to escort you to the hangar and keep you apprised."
"Figured that," Jack muttered, turning in his seat to study the Major. "But please, by all means - apprise us."
Either not recognising or simply unfazed by Jack's sarcasm, Lewis did just that. "The glider is being prepped as we speak. Now although we have been running extensive tests on both since their arrival here - these deathgliders are of a slightly different design than the two you recovered four years ago - neither of them have actually had test flights since your initial use. We don't *think* the water caused any damage but there's no way to know for sure-"
"We understand the risk," Jack interrupted. "And we're going."
"Yes sir," Lewis nodded. "We anticipated that reaction, and the glider is also being fitted with a simple communication system that should allow us to maintain basic contact until you leave the atmosphere. After that, you're on your own."
"Never mind." Jack shook his head, turning away again even though he still thought his words were true. In the end, it always seemed to come down to SG-1.
The drive didn't last much more than ten minutes, which was just as well - Jack's impatience was getting the better of everyone. When his tapping against the door got too much, it was Teal'c of all people who broke the silence and asked him to stop.
Thankfully for everyone else they eventually arrived, and Jack had the door open before the car had stopped moving, stumbling onto the tarmac but managing to save some dignity by not landing on his ass.
He headed immediately for hangar four - which, if memory served, was the very hangar the original X-302 had been in.
Before he'd made it go boom, of course. But that was hardly his fault.
As he walked in he was greeted by a familiar sight: a space ship in the middle of the hangar, surrounded by personnel. He immediately started for the steps that had been wheeled into position by the body of the craft.
Lewis' voice echoed through the large space. "Colonel?"
"What is it, Lewis?" He grabbed the side of the steps and climbed up to the first one.
"The Oxygen masks haven’t been installed yet."
"That's nice; thanks for telling me." He was at the top now, sliding into the rear seat. Though he was more than capable of flying one of these things himself, Teal'c was still the expert and as he wanted to get as much speed out of the glider in the fastest possible time, he was more than willing to let his buddy take the controls.
As soon as he slid inside, people appeared as if to make sure there were no extraneous limbs hanging over the side. He could also imagine one of them holding up a sign that read 'please keep arms and legs inside the carriage for the duration of the ride'.
Someone shoved a couple of zat’s into his hands.
Teal'c was there too, slipping into his seat, flicking switches and pressing buttons already. "Major Lewis was correct, O'Neill. The glider has been prepared. All systems appear to be functioning."
"Then let's get the hell out of here."
Lewis was huffing up the steps. "Colonel!"
"The Oxygen masks haven’t been installed yet."
"You know I heard you the first time. And it just so happens we survived coming out of an ocean in one of these things without an Oxygen mask, so I really don't think it'll be a problem."
"I'm aware of that sir, it's just...it's a safety precaution."
Safety schmafety. He held the younger mans gaze. "Will this or will this not delay our launch time?"
"In that case, we skip it. Teal'c?"
"Activating thrusters O'Neill."
"Woah!" Lewis exclaimed as the glider began to hover, only managing to move away because someone else had the presence of mind to push the stairs he was on out of range – fortunately for him they were on wheels. "Colonel!"
By the looks of things, he was *not* a happy camper. Shame. Ha. Jack had to yell over the mild roar of the thrusters to be heard. "Is that communication system you were talking about up and running Lieutenant?"
Still flailing about on the steps, one of the other geeks answered in his place, yelling from a few feet away. "Yes sir! The controls are on the left side of the cockpit! Simple operation – you should have no problems!"
"Why do people always use the word ‘simple’ when talking about me?"
"I can’t hear you sir!"
"Never mind! Teal’c?"
Understanding the instruction, the Jaffa activated the canopy and it slid securely into place – disconnecting them from the outside world, and seriously cutting down on the noise from the thrusters. "We are ready to depart O’Neill."
"The let’s go."
By now everyone in the hangar – including Lewis – had moved well out of range. The space immediately in front of the hangar had already been cleared, so Teal’c began moving the craft, easily guiding it out of the building and up into the air.
Jack stared up at the sky as they ascended, part of him imagining that he could almost see Prometheus with the naked eye – but that’s all it was. Imagination. Need.
Teal’c had apparently figured out the communication thingy because he was conversing with someone, confirming their position, relaying information. Jack left everything in his capable hands, this one time more than willing to just go along with the ride.
It wasn’t long before they were edging towards space. The deathgliders were capable of incredible speeds. While certainly not possessing hyperdrive engines and not used for interstellar travel, travelling out of Earth’s atmosphere and into space seemed like almost nothing.
Communication was lost when they left the planet behind, as predicted. Teal’c estimated it would take them some five minutes to reach the X-303 – not bad timing, Jack thought.
However, that did mean more waiting.
Teal’c pre-warned him not to tap anything. "We will be there shortly O’Neill. There is little point in becoming anxious until we know the facts."
Dragging his gaze from the view outside the window (which wasn’t that hard. He never would have thought it, but he was *almost* getting used to seeing Earth from this perspective), he studied the back of his friend’s bald head. "Who said I was anxious?"
"It seemed evident," came the reply.
That didn’t sound good. "Well...Simmons and a Goa’uld escaping with our first – our *only* – big hyperspace ship? Wouldn’t reflect well on the next SGC budget, I’m sure."
"No doubt, O’Neill." He sounded amused. He sounded a lot more amused in general lately. "We are growing closer; we should soon be in visual range."
Peering out through the front of the canopy, Jack soon spotted it. "There!" Wow. When it had been rising out of the ground it had seemed impressive enough, but here, amongst the stars, it seemed even more so. He would have assumed the opposite. "It’s big." And it was kinda cool, actually. This was something that’d been made on Earth.
Okay. Enough staring. "All right, Davis said something about the lower docking bay. Do you have any idea where that is? Because I don’t."
"I do not, O’Neill."
Ah. Well. This was...typical. Jack sighed. "You know, we probably should have actually figured out a plan before we came storming up here."
"I was merely following your lead."
"Wait...are you trying to shift the blame?"
"It does not require ‘shifting’. It is clear where the fault lies. You were extremely anxious to reach-"
"Teal’c..." He did *not* like where this was going.
"-the vessel." Oh yeah; definitely amused. "I believe I see a point of entry on one of the lower decks, O’Neill."
What the hell? Anything to get away from Jaffa teasing. "Sure. Go for it."
Teal’c zoomed closer towards the X-303, controlling the deathglider with such ease and expertise that Jack seriously thought a few times that they were going to collide; even though Teal’c obviously knew what he was doing.
They moved slowly into what definitely was the docking bay, passing through a force field that evidently performed much the same function as the ones on the Goa’uld motherships – letting smaller vessels in while stopping the air from escaping.
Hearing no alarms and seeing no evidence whatsoever that they’d been noticed, Teal’c lowered the glider until it thumped softly onto the metal floor, and deactivated its systems.
"Nice," Jack murmured as Teal’c confirmed the air was breathable and slid open the canopy.
Nonetheless relieved when he was able to take a huge breath, Jack climbed out and slid carefully down the side of the deathglider. "Here," He whispered to Teal’c, throwing him a zat as he pressed the button on his own one once, preparing. "Davis said the sublight relay thing was on deck eight, right?"
"Then that’s where we’re headed." He moved around the docking bay, investigating every corner and potential hiding place. He came up empty, and met Teal’c’s gaze. "And we’re gonna get there by avoiding deck seven."
He couldn’t think about deck seven. He wouldn’t.
As it turned out, avoiding deck seven meant using the access tubes. Cursing the God of Fate – he just knew there had to be one, although he didn’t know his name. These were the situations where Daniel would come in handy – he also cursed his knees, which objected loudly to the inhuman treatment. "Whoever built these things didn’t design them for the elderly."
"That seems likely O’Neill, but I believe we have reached our destination." Teal’c had been crawling in front, but was now stepping into a larger space.
Thank God! In reality he really hadn’t been in there that long, but his knees had made him aware of every second. And not that he was paranoid, but... "You sure?" He asked, reaching the end of the crawling space and sticking his head out.
Teal’c, now standing, pointed to a door that had the words ‘DECK EIGHT’ printed on it.
"Ah. Never mind."
So far there was no sign of Carter, but there was no sign of Carter’s body, either.
Jack decided to take that as good news.
He and Teal’c stalked along the corridor, employing a pattern they’d perfected over the years. If Carter *had* achieved her objective – or was still trying to achieve it – this would be the easiest deck for her to come on to.
And if he knew his Major...
Noise. Scuffling. Words.
A zat gun being activated, but not shot.
Teal’c heard, he knew he had, so both increased their speed as they tried to pad silently through the corridor.
Then he saw them; three men. They looked human (no doubt the camera crew), and Jack instinctively raised his arm bringing Teal’c to a halt. The guy in front was holding out a zat gun, pointing it at someone he couldn’t see.
For a moment Jack hesitated; he didn’t know the situation, he didn’t know what was going on or who was being pointed at.
But he kept watching the guy with the zat. He didn’t fire immediately, although it was clear he was going to. He just lingered, enjoying himself, deliberately stringing out the moment and taking pleasure from it.
And suddenly there was no doubt in Jack’s mind.
With a glance at Teal’c he nodded, and they both fired.
All three men crumpled, hitting the deck – literally. Feeling some small satisfaction he still couldn’t feel any relief at all until he stepped around the corner and-yes!
There she was.
Her expression of concern smoothly transformed into one of pleasure. She smiled, moving towards them. "It’s good to see you guys." Bending down, she plucked the bad guy’s zat out of his grasp, pausing a moment just to glare at him for good measure.
"Likewise," Jack responded, wanting to say more (as usual) but not knowing how to say it without sounding cheesy, melodramatic, or regulation threatening (as usual). So he settled for the one word answer; his usual route when he didn’t know what to say.
Teal’c also greeted her and they shared a kind of half-hug, half back-patting thing.
Jack tried not to watch.
And as all three of them began dragging the bad guys towards a storage space, getting them out of the way, Jack couldn’t help but think that he could feel the sand in his boots again.
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