Jackfic Fiction Archive Story

 

Fine Weather For Shooting General Jack Year Three - Part One

by Flatkatsi


Series Info: Part One in the General Jack Series - Year Three

Fine Weather For Shooting

"This is going to be a fun day - I can just tell."

Daniel's enthusiastic tone had me smiling secretly, but as I turned to face him, I schooled my features to appear as impassive as possible. This was the first time my team had watched me shoot in a competition, and I was a little nervous. SG-1 were on downtime after some hazardous missions, not to mention the `shackles' incident, and once they had found out what I was doing there was no stopping them - they had insisted on accompanying me.

After being passed through the checkpoint at the Academy gate, I dropped the others off and continued on to the main administration block to check in with General Kerrigan before joining the team. Carter, Teal'c and Daniel were planning to hook up with me later for lunch.

I was shown into Kerrigan's office, where I found him sitting behind his desk, a pile of reports in front of him and a frown on his face. For a second I wondered if I had been transported into my own office at the SGC, the mess looking eerily familiar.

"Morning, Jack." He began to stand, but then the smile on his face changed to an expression of concern. "What happened to you?"

"Training accident."

He waved me to a seat. "Jack, I'm sorry, but you have to come up with something a little better than that now you're the man in charge. Not a lot of generals do training."

"Would you believe I tripped over a file?"

"No." He shook his head, smiling. "Want to tell me what really happened?"

I thought for a minute and decided to come clean, after all there were very few people I could talk to outside the SGC, and Brian Kerrigan was one of them.

"It's a staff weapon burn."

He grimaced. "Ouch!"

"Yes, not pleasant, especially if I bump it."

"You can use the arm though?"

"No. Can't do a thing with it. Damned annoying really. Makes the paperwork twice as hard, and I have to keep asking people to open jars for me. Doesn't do my image much good at all."

He had his mouth open like one of those little fish Daniel used to keep. "I thought you were competing." He pulled a sheet of paper out from the pile and pointed at the list I could see on it. "Your name is here."

"I am shooting."

"But you're right handed!"

Why did people feel compelled to point that out?

xxxxxxxxxx

"You're up second, sir." Morley glanced up from his list, obviously expecting a comment, but I just nodded my agreement. The sergeant was doing the right thing by having me compete earlier than usual. He had scheduled the team's newest member first, the young airman from NORAD, and the injured member next - me. Lieutenant Hong was in my regular spot as the last to shoot.

With still a half hour before the start of competition, I moved off to the side of the area, searching the crowd for my friends.

That was when I saw him.

Ramsey was standing only about ten feet from me, a young man in cadet uniform beside him. We both spotted each other at the same time. Our gazes met and my pulse raced as I felt the same revulsion I experienced every time I laid eyes on him. The memory of his hands on me, touching - it was still as vivid as it had been all those years ago, and I swallowed, the foul taste of bile burning my throat. He looked away first and I watched him bend his head towards the boy as if to whisper something. He was a good looking kid, just the sort Ramsey liked and my stomach churned slowly as the implications of the scene registered. I took careful note of the cadet's appearance - dark hair showing beneath his cap in the regulation Air Force cut, an average height and slightly stocky build with the muscular look of someone who worked out regularly. I knew I'd recognise him again and would be able to describe him to General Kerrigan as soon as the match was over. No way was I going to leave any kid to Ramsey's less than tender mercies. The boy was looking at me at the same time as I was looking at him, and I wondered just what Ramsey was saying about me. Not the truth, that's for sure. Well, there was nothing I could do right now - time for that later. I didn't hang around - I turned my back on them and went looking for SG-1.

Outwardly I kept calm, but inwardly I was seething.

"Jack - over here!" A waving arm attracted my attention from amongst a group of assorted Air Force personnel and I walked over.

Daniel, Carter and Teal'c had found a spot from which they could watch the competition in relative comfort, two large leafy trees shading their seats. I wove my way through the crowd to finally reach them. The day was a little chilly despite the sunshine, and Carter had chosen to wear jeans and a warm sweater rather than her less comfortable uniform. Both men were dressed similarly to her, except Teal'c wore a hat that, for once, didn't make him look like a giant, and rather scary, clown. His plain blue ball cap concealed his tattoo and shaded his face from the rather bright light.

"How long before you're up?" Carter asked as I took the vacant seat they had kept for me.

"I'm shooting second, so I haven't got long." I scanned the crowd around us as I spoke, catching a glimpse of . . .

"Second? Don't you normally shoot last?"

I blinked at the question and lost sight of my quarry. Irritated, I turned to look at Daniel, feeling a surge of annoyance. "As you have taken great pains to point out several times, I am not at my best right now." My right arm lifted slightly in the sling as I spoke, an unconscious movement that I couldn't prevent. I winced at the sharp pull of tight skin.

"Are you okay, sir?"

Despite hearing the concern in Carter's voice I still couldn't help snapping back. "I'm fine, Colonel."

She stiffened and nodded, and Teal'c glowered at me. I didn't have time for this crap - I had to get myself into the right frame of mind to shoot, and having my team offer asinine comments was not helping. I stood.

"I'll see you during the lunch break."

I had already turned away when Daniel spoke again. "Is there something wrong, Jack?"

Did he have a death wish or something? I gritted my teeth and spun to face him. "Apart from you stopping me from preparing, no - absolutely nothing. Now, if you'll excuse me. . ." I stalked off, feeling their gaze on my back as I crossed the grounds. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Ramsey in a huddle with a group of men, but I resolutely kept my eyes off him, heading for the competitors' area.

Most of our team had assembled by the time I got there and were doing a last minute check of their weapons. I collected my gun case from the storage area and sat quietly, giving them a final going over while half listening to the cheerful conversation around me.

What was he doing here? Was it just a coincidence or had he known I'd be here? Surely not - he wouldn't dare after we spoke in Washington. He. . .

"How's the arm, sir?"

I looked up, startled to find Morley bending over me. I had been so preoccupied that I hadn't even noticed his approach.

I conjured up a reassuring smile. "It's fine thanks, sergeant," I glanced at my watch, seeing I still had fifteen minutes before the competition began.

"That's good, sir," he paused as if uncertain, then continued. "Airman Matthews is a little nervous and I was wondering if you'd mind having a word with him. I would, but I have to check the rest of the team."

Matthews was standing near the door, looking out at the crowd. I nodded to Morley and, after carefully locking my gun case, walked over to him. I stood beside him silently for a few moments, trying to pick out any familiar faces in the crowd.

"How're you doing, kid?" I didn't look at him, still staring at the people milling around on the grass.

"Fine, sir."

I hadn't expected any other answer.

"Nervous?"

I felt him turn towards me, but I kept my eyes on the scene in front of me. I spotted a black parka - was that him?

"A little."

Finally giving my full attention to the young Airman, I took a good look at him. Despite the chill, he was sweating slightly, dark patches showing under his arms.

"I know there's no point in telling you not to be - it's natural. Your nerves are jumping and you feel that every eye is going to be on you." He nodded and I continued. "And you'd be right - they will be. But you have to channel that energy and focus it, use it to help you block out everything except the target." He looked dubious, so I went on. "You were picked for this team because we know you are capable, but Morley also knows you're inexperienced so he's put you up first. And he put me second. Why might that be?" I waited as the kid pondered my question. I knew when he had worked it out by the way his eyes shifted from mine. "Yep - that's right - because I'm shooting with my left hand. Just how well do you think I'm going to do? Let's face it, I'm only here to make up the numbers. If the sergeant had any other choice I wouldn't be here at all. Now, Airman - do you really think people are going to be watching you, or will their attention be focused on the general with his arm in a sling who thinks he can still shoot?"

He didn't know whether to answer me or not, his lips turning up in a tentative half smile. I shook my head. "You know the answer, Matthews. Now go get yourself a drink of water and take a few deep breaths. You'll be fine."

"Thanks, sir." He left to obey my orders, and Morley gave me a quick thumbs up as Matthews walked by him. I nodded back and went outside, moving swiftly around the back of the small hut to get some privacy. I needed to take my own advice and take a few deep breaths.

I had to focus if I wasn't going to let the team down completely.

There was a small group of trees over by a nearby redbrick building, and I headed for them. I still had at least ten minutes before the competition started and a good thirty before I had to be ready, but I wanted to be there to support Matthews. I only passed a few cadets heading for the match, probably been held back for some reason, and reached the trees within a couple of minutes. Once under their shade I rested my back against a large thick trunk, shut my eyes and took a deep breath.

For a second I felt like Lya of the Nox - at one with Nature. Only for a second.

Then a large fist hit me straight in the solar plexus and, as I doubled over, another grabbed me by the injured arm and swung me into the very tree I had felt so friendly towards just a second before.

Hot, very minty breath puffed into my face as a voice whispered into my ear. "General Ramsey says hello."

With that I was left to drop unceremoniously to my knees, gasping as footsteps retreated. By the time I was able to look up all I could see was the silhouette of two men against the patch of sky that showed through the foliage.

I used the same, now much too familiar, tree to lever myself up and ignoring the dull ache in my guts, I shrugged off my jacket, unhooking the sling as I did so.

Spots of bright blood showed through the bandages already.

Crap - Janet was going to be so pissed.

God! I shut my eyes tightly and kept them shut as I rode out the pain. Not Janet. Never again would Janet be upset with me. And all because of that bastard Ramsey and the information he had given the Goa'uld. My head spun and I held onto the tree for dear life, determined to stay on my feet until the dizziness stopped. At last I felt stable enough stand up straight, my stomach complaining at the move.

I realised time was passing swiftly. There was nothing I could do about Ramsey until after the competition. I tightened the bandages awkwardly with one hand and manoeuvred my arm back into the sling. Every movement set my teeth on edge, but I got it positioned and my jacket back on, not without a few choice curses that would have had a hooker blush.

I left the trees as if nothing had happened. No way was I going to give the bastard the satisfaction of seeing any weakness. Something must have shown in my face, however, as Morley hurried towards me, giving me a searching look, as soon as I approached the spot where he was standing. The competition had already started, and Matthews was firing off the last few rounds in the slow-fire section, his face a study of concentration.

"General O'Neill, I was getting worried, sir." I knew he was just itching to ask where I had been.

"Sorry Morley, I got held up by an old acquaintance."

"You don't have long, sir." I could see he was getting really concerned as we both watched Matthews step back, having completed his round.

"I'll get my pistol." I turned and quickly jogged to the team hut, almost breaking into a run as I heard my name called, every step jarring my already throbbing wound. I grabbed up the case and put my hand on the door to push it open again knowing I only had a minute at the most to reach the range.

Then I was engulfed in white light and I faded away, leaving only an anguished cry of protest behind.

TBC