Page Ninety Seven

Author's Note:
I just want to give a big hug and a huge thank you to my Daddy who helped me plan the particulars of SG-1's roadtrip. My family's been doing this for awhile, but I'd never really thought about it from Dad's POV. He was invaluable. So thanks, Daddy. :)

* * * * * *

Alarm claxons blared throughout the SGC as Lt. Simmons hurried to the control room, listening intently to the voice in his ear.
"The iris is stuck! The computers can't open it any further!"
Graham entered the control room, sounds assaulting his ears as he slid into the computer chair, trying to figure out what had gone wrong.
"What's happening?!"
Graham only turned enough to acknowledge the General's presence before continuing his evaluation of the problem.
"Sir, the iris won't fully open. It's locked up."
"Well get some people in there and pull the thing open if you have to. That team'll hit it otherwise!"
"Yes, sir."
Graham mentally kicked himself for not having issued the order sooner.
It was such an obvious course of action.
"Maintenance crew to GateRoom for manual opening of the iris."
Three SFs ran up to the General.
"Sir, if we're just pulling on it, the men already in there should get started while the maintenance crew is on their way."
The General nodded, obviously appreciating the security guard's suggestion.
Graham kicked himself again.
He'd thought of that.
Why hadn't he said it out loud?
Daniel had said he needed to learn to assert himself.
So why couldn't he just open his mouth and...
"Sir!"
Graham looked up from the computer screen in horror as blood dripped down the iris.
He jumped up and ran behind the General as they entered the GateRoom.
The defense detail that had gone up the ramp to help the maintenance crew were covered in the blood as well as the parts of the first two teammates that had re-materialized and fallen onto the men below.
Graham swallowed and looked away as the leader of SG-7 died, his head and upper chest all that had made it through.
Another teammember arrived, more blood sliding down the iris as the stunned personnel stood there, unable to move as they were sprayed and the iris finally fully opened.
The last teammember came through, obviously badly wounded.
She barely touched the blood-slickened ramp, clutching her chest before her foot went out from under her.
Graham was shaken out of his paralysis and jumped forward to keep her head from impacting the ramp.
His hand went under her head, and he gulped as blood came out her mouth.
"Medic team to the GateRoom!"
Graham barely heard the intercom as two Jaffa stepped through the Gate.
The men on the ramp dived down to give the remaining defense detail still at their posts clear aim.
The Jaffa went down, getting only a couple shots off before multiple gunshots ripped through their armor.
Graham silently thanked Col. O'Neill for his advice on SGC bullets being enhanced by any Gate metals that would strengthen the bullet casings.
Most of their bullets would slice right through Jaffa armor now.
Graham felt the blood spray again as the iris was closed, sticking a bit and then finally sealing shut.
The General was furious, his voice deadly quiet.
"Simmons, let the med. team take her. You get up there and you find out just what happened here. This is not going to happen again."
"Yes, sir."
Graham wished from the bottom of his heart to see Capt. Carter's blond hair beside him at that moment.
He sighed, knowing that SG-1 was off-duty for awhile and he wished them luck even as he headed back to the control room.
"Lt.?"
"Sir?"
Graham turned to look at the General, realizing for the first time that they were all soaked with their comrades' blood.
"Get cleaned up and changed first. Quickly, but do it first."
Gratitude was in Graham's eyes as he nodded with a "Yes, sir." and headed to the shower room.

* * * * * *

Daniel shot concerned glances back at the miserable Jack in the backseat.
He looked awful, but refused to elaborate on what was wrong except to mutter "I hate Amber" like his personal mantra.
Daniel pulled the Bunny up outside the automatic doors since he could see Cassie joining Amber and Janet inside.
Within a few minutes, the girls, all carrying a bag, appeared and piled in.
Daniel saw how miserable Jack and Amber both looked, as well as the sympathetic glances Janet was sending their way and he didn't need Jolinar's most likely explanation to pop into his head.
He'd taken Sex Ed and was rather well educated.

Janet looked over the directions on the paper Daniel handed her.
They looked easy enough, but she'd never driven to Florida before, so she was curious at the time frame mentioned.
"Daniel, we should get gas before we leave."
"Yeah, the Texaco over there'll do. While we're there, Jack can go over the route with us since he's not going to be driving."
Janet smiled ruefully, agreeing with Daniel completely.
Until that glaze did something other than show up, she wasn't trusting Jack or Amber with anything that would endanger the group, either.
Amber popped out as Daniel turned off the engine.
"I'll fill it up while the three of you talk."
"Thanks."
Amber slipped Jack's credit card through and then started pumping the gas.
Jack stepped out, biting back a groan at the roiling sensations in his gut, and over to where Janet and Daniel had spread a map on the hood.
Cassie tossed Janet a highlighter on request and she handed it to Jack to outline the route on the map.
"How are we doing this?"
Jack replayed his mental image of Amber and was met with her image of him.
She'd had more practice, but he'd seen more action so it became a mental contest who could kill the other one in the most grotesque manner possible.
She'd skinned him before tossing leeches on his body.
He'd tossed her in bowl of burrs and then into romic acid.
"Have either of you driven a long ways like this before? Vacation or something?"
"No. We always went by plane and then rented a car when we got there."
"Not in America."
Jack smirked at Daniel's reply, imagining trips in other countries as a child.
Sometimes he envied Daniel.
**Something's happening in my head.**
**What? I'm not feeling it. Psychosomatic?**
**No...at least I don't think so...not that that's coming from a reliable source or anything.**
Jack cocked his head, thinking about Amber and the trip.
**Want me to send Janet over?**
**No, I'll be okay. It stopped when the cramps died down.**
"Well, this is an experience everyone must have at least once."
"Lay it out for us."
"Okay, I worked it out before we left. It's about 1870 miles from Colorado Springs to Kissimmee and the speed limit'll be 70mph most of the way since we'll be on interstates. With you two alternating as drivers and Teal'c taking over occasionally, we'll make good time. I prefer Flying J as a gas station when travelling. They tend to have the better gas price and they're all 24-hour places. Most of the gas stations we'll be using have fast food places inside, since they're truck stops and travel centers as well."
"So we're sleeping in the Bunny?"
Jack winced, but decided that just like the SpyBook, he'd have to live with it...much to Amber's almost gothic amusement.
"Yeah. There're rest stops along the way and of course we'll be stopping to eat. Besides general snacking, unless someone's just starving, I'd rather eat in a restaurant. That gives us time to stretch our legs, a change of scenery, and an automatic bathroom stop. Should cut down on unscheduled stops."
Janet held her tongue, waiting for him to go on, but not missing the twinkle in his eye.
She was getting a bit concerned with the pallor of Jack's skin, not knowing how bad Amber's periods usually were.
"If we eat at McDonald's or Burger King for breakfast...hot and cheap, we can get a cold lunch somewhere or even, if we need to make up time for an unscheduled stop, assemble sandwiches in the car. Again, I'd rather not, but if we need to, we can. Then, a hot meal in a restaurant...not fast food."
"Sounds okay so far."
"If you have questions, I am in the vehicle, Daniel."
Daniel wrinkled his nose at him and gestured back to the map.
Janet, however had a thought.
"Are we going to do the three meal thing or just eat every four hours or so and whoever's hungry eat?"
"Umm...why would we do that?"
"Daniel, with us trading off on the driving, one of us should be resting while...unless I'll be allowed to sleep while Sam's eating?"
Jack frowned at Janet, wondering how far this was going to go.
"I don't have to tell you what'd happen if some UFO-happy civilians see your eyes flash and hear that voice. So don't act as if I'm being out of line with this."
Janet started to retort, but was interrupted by Daniel.
"Janet, you and I have to work out a system with Jolinar and Sam. To tell the truth, it'd be nice if Jolinar could practice driving, too, since she now knows how and just needs practical application."
Jack looked from one to the other.
"Just use some common sense, okay? Don't flash the eyes and don't talk."
"Fine."
"Yeah."
Jack sighed and took the highlighter, drawing a line on the route.
"Okay, I'm going to do this by gas tank."
"Huh?"
"How far we'll be going on one tank."
"Ah..okay."
Jack unfolded the paper he'd written everything on.
He remembered most of it, but wanted to make sure.
"Cheyenne Mountain to Trinidad is about 3 hours, I planned this from the mountain since I wasn't sure whether we'd get roped into going back there or not. The rest are all runs between gas stations. Trinidad to Amarillo is almost 5 hours, Amarillo to Oklahoma City is 5 hours, Oklahoma City to Russellville is 5 hours, Rusellville to West Memphis is 4 hours, West Memphis to Temple is 7 hours..."
"Isn't that cutting it a bit close?"
"The Voyager gets decent gas mileage, but yeah, the gage'll be cutting it a bit. I'm willing to do that, though, because I refuse to buy that Alabama crud when I can buy cheap Georgia gas. It's the cheapest in the country."
Daniel smirked.
"Okay, please continue."
"Temple to Valdosta is another 5 hours and then Valdosta to Kissimmee where Viv lives is 4 hours. We'll still have enough gas to putt around for a bit before filling up again."
Janet looked again at the highlighted line with the little circles denoting where they were filling up.
"Sounds easy enough. This'll be different."
"Oh yeah. Lots of adventure. You get to see a side of America you never see any other way."
"Jack...I think that's more because of personal preference than because America hides it from us."
Jack grinned, beginning to enjoy the prospect of this trip and not just the fact it was taking him away from all the conspiracy crap at the SGC.
"Well, this time of year, it's going to be very hot, very crowded, and very expensive. Anything we can do to streamline things will be appreciated."
"So why aren't we flying?"
Daniel watched Jack pause and the look on Amber's face as she got back in the Bunny made it clear he was consulting her.
"Nope, still won't work. Amber gets sick in planes and, well...Daniel she's on her period. Even I don't want to go in a plane right now. That air sickness, though, was why I changed the plan in the first place after talking to Hammond."
"Does that mean you'll be sick, too?"
"Considering I feel like puking and just hiding in a hole right now because of Amber, probably. I'm hoping we'll cure this before that becomes an important issue, though."
Janet capped the highlighter and rolled the map so she could just unroll it while they were going.
"I think since most of this looks like it'll be straight driving, I'd like Sam to try some of it. That'll give us a fourth driver to switch with."
Jack went quiet, waiting to see if Janet would add anything.
When she didn't, he sighed.
"Keep your head down when you switch and it's only where no one can hear her talk. If we stop or hit a rush hour anywhere, she stops talking in case sound travels."
"Fine."
Janet knew he was trying to be fair, but couldn't stop her resentment of it.
Sam stretched, finally waking up.
*Daniel's driving the first stretch, so I'll let you be in charge while I sleep, but don't do anything really strenuous, okay?*
*I'm allowed out?*
*While we're moving.*
Janet quickly explained the setup while Daniel got the vehicle started.
He checked to make sure everyone's seat belts were fastened and then they were underway.
Sam looked over the miniature map Janet set up, listening to Janet's explanation.
She put Sam in charge, creating her bed and forced herself to slow down her thoughts and almost meditate so she could rest.

* * * * * *

"Are you telling me that it was just a computer virus? Nothing and no one tampered with it...it just...happened?"
George knew his voice was rising in volume, but he couldn't help it.
The last teammember had died on the way to the infirmary, a narrow, bladed weapon later found stuck through the top of her mouth into her brain.
Dr. Warner had been surprised she'd been alive when she came through the Gate in the first place.
White rage at the senselessness of the four deaths gnawed at the General, making him sick with the helplessness he felt right now.
"Yes, sir. When the new software was installed, a small virus was uploaded. It was only a fluke that it got into the iris program, sir. It wouldn't have mattered when the iris was opened, it would have reacted the same way. It's been cleansed from the entire computer hard drive now. Lt. Simmons is over-seeing the installation of some new virus detectors that Capt. Carter was working on before she...left, sir."
George bit his lip hard enough that he tasted blood, but didn't stop the action.
He could still taste the blood from those soldiers and it was ripping him up inside.
He barely managed to grow out a dismissal to Sgt. Siler before motioning the exhausted man from the room.
They'd gone over every inch of the iris just in case something else had also impeded its progress, but nothing had been found.
Sometimes he really hated being in command.
"Sir?"
George looked up at Siler's question.
"If you don't mind, sir. I know it'll use more power, but I think we should have the iris open and close at half hour intervals whether a team is scheduled to return or not...just so we can catch a problem before this happens."
George nodded, swallowing the trickle of blood in his mouth..
"Good idea. Start it now."
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."
Siler closed the door behind him, very grateful it wasn't his office he was leaving.

* * * * * *

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