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A Star to Steer By

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Jack hurtled through the 'gate, very glad that the area was clear of anything other than birds, trees, and the DHD. He hesitated at the DHD and, just for a second, considered disengaging the connection.  Then he shook his head and looked up as the first soldiers stumbled through the wormhole, disoriented and shivering.

"C'mon, get clear, more guys comin' through!" He gestured them over, grudgingly impressed that as soon as they found their feet, their guns were up and ready to take on any too-inquisitive squirrels, or whatever the local equivalent was. This was supposed to be a safe location, a reasonable escape-hatch destination, should things go pear shaped.

Watching handful after handful of soldiers hurtle through the gate with more grace than several rookie teams he'd seen, Jack was pretty sure things were very, very pear shaped.

Last man through was the snake, who staggered like a drunk before collapsing right on the dais. Jack had a moment to gape before Rex started spasming, body twitching and arching like he was being shocked with a live wire.

Three guys holstered their weapons and pelted over, yammering at each other the way medics do.

Jack was staring down the barrel of every other weapon.

His hands were already skyward, but damn if he didn't itch to close the 'gate and scramble the signal elsewhere, even as he was keeping an eye on the still twitching goa'uld, who'd mostly graduated from spasms to puking up who the hell knew what.  At least the three medics were getting him clear of the mouth of the ‘gate, not even their near-panic enough to make them forget the danger it now represented.

"Fellas, if I don't close the door, we're gonna have some really angry guests, real fast."

One of the guys in yellow snarled at him, pointing at a few soldiers who swung around to face the gate. "I don't know what game you're playing at, but you've already pulled two fast ones on Captain Rex, and I'm not about to let that be three!"

"Look, I'm not trying for any funny business, I just don't want more Jaffa crawling up — damn!"

The 'gate rippled, a handful of snake-helmeted Jaffa sprinting forward with staff-weapons blasting. A second wave was already coming through as most of the soldiers swung around and returned fire, the medics hauling their General to cover even as they were blasting away too.

Jack figured closing the 'gate was worth the risk of getting shot. He slammed the center button, barely waiting for the shimmering event horizon to dissipate before punching in new coordinates. Anywhere but here, anywhere but here, his mind chanted, even as he tried to scope out the damage. Two guys were down, one motionless enough that he was either dead or zatted. Several guys were wounded but ignoring the hell out of their injuries.

By the time the ring spun up and whooshed open, the Jaffa were all down for the count. Jack had enough time to congratulate himself before someone grabbed his shoulders and shoved him away from the DHD, someone else knocking his legs out from under him. He had his hands on his head before his knees hit the ground.

He was honestly more than a little surprised that nobody took the clear and easy shot.

It creeped him the hell out too, since once again these new not-exactly-Jaffa were displaying a military discipline the Goa’uld never seemed to encourage, and the very nature of that "throw more Jaffa at the problem" mentality made survival so much easier. This was very bad news.

Hell, several of the soldiers were methodically going around making sure that the Jaffa were actually dead and not faking. Efficient, disciplined, and above all, scarily competent. Jack wasn't sure even Teal'c would have been that thorough, back in the day.

He saw the General stagger upright with help of one of his men, who assisted him over to where Jack was waiting to find out what the hell they did with prisoners. Instead of pulling out some kind of ribbon device, Rex glowered at him. "What the entire fuck was that? Trap didn't work well enough? Or were you hoping– "

"Whoa, whoa whoa! Look, I don't know what happened there! I've seen more Goa’uld travel through the gates than I ever wanna think about, and that back there was a first! I don't know what makes your squirmy little friend special but most hosts stride through there like they own the place."

The guy at Rex's elbow practically growled at him. "You really think any of us are going to buy that?"

"Hell if I know, but it's the truth, so I figured I’d try that first. Want me to make up a lie instead?"

That made the guy pull back a little, sputtering. Rex in the meantime was tilting his head, eyes distant even as he winced at the movement. He put his hand to the back of his neck, looking for all the world like a newscaster trying to get a better signal from the idiot on the other end.

"Hold up," he declared, distracted. "Waxer, give me a second." The guy at his elbow subsided, but didn't look happy about it. "General says he's —" He broke off with a snort, rolling his eyes a little. "Like hell you're fine." He paused, then shook his head in disapproval. "Okay, General says he will be fine; he just needs some downtime. The damn circle did a number on his system." He moved his hand slightly, like he was trying to fine tune a radio to the right station. Then he made a face, looking pretty disturbed for a moment. "Interfered with his connection to the Force, somehow." He nodded as if acknowledging new orders and removed his hand to look at the troops. "He got zotted, but he's coherent and awake."

The guy next to him — Waxer, apparently — nodded. "So we're taking orders from your ugly mug, then?"

Someone behind Jack uttered a quiet, uncomfortable snicker. "Hey, we resemble that remark."

Neither of the two seemed to hear the comment, and Rex nodded. "Unless the General wants something else when things have calmed down, yeah. Waxer, you're in charge of details until I get to know everyone." Jack could almost feel a ripple of relief go through the soldiers at having a clear chain of command reestablished. Then Rex turned to look at him. "You didn't know what would happen when we went through?"

"I really didn't, I swear."

"We believe him?" someone asked incredulously from his right.

Jack sweated for a long moment at the host looked at him. Then Rex nodded. "…for now. Let him up."

The pressure on his shoulders disappeared, and gun muzzles lifted. Jack dusted off his pants as he stood. "Well, while you're believing me, that thing has a time limit." He nodded towards the stargate, watching as several of the group slid sideways to keep a clear bead on him. "As soon as it shuts down, they'll be dialing back in. I thought we could skip worlds until we lost 'em, but– "

Rex shook his head. "Yeah, not happening. We're not taking General Kenobi through another round of that. How long do we have?"

"About thirty minutes."

The host nodded. "Then we've got half an hour to get the hell away from this thing. Let's move."

Jack put on his most innocent, 'I'm just a rube from Earth who wouldn't harm a fly' smile. "I don't suppose you'd just let me head home now, would'ja?"

'Waxer' whipped around from where he was already directing guys to helping the injured. "You are kriffing unbelievable. You almost kill the General and you think you can just– "

Rex held a hand up to his second in command, shutting the tirade down before it could start. Even with everyone glaring at him, Jack couldn't help but envy the man. That was skill, and oh if only he could shut up various folks back home with that kind of ease.

Yup, still scared shitless of fighting these guys.

Rex shook his head, still giving Jack one hell of a look. "I appreciate that you got us out of there, but in the end, we still got stuck on an unknown planet through unknown means by some guy who likes playing language games. No. You're coming with us."

Jack shrugged.  It'd been worth a shot. He didn't like the way several guys looked like they'd be happy to enforce that at gunpoint, but he could always look at it as a chance to gather more intel.

This was such a great day.