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A Dish Served Cold

By Cathook

Action / Other

Chapter 1

In some ways stepping through the Stargate was exactly like one would expect. The 'puddle', as they called the event horizon on a daily basis, looked like water and for a brief moment coming out of it felt just like surfacing from an underwater swim. The plunge took your breath away, just a little bit. The more you did it you got used to it, and Daniel felt it a lot less than he'd used to. He suspected that eventually he would be able to walk through the 'gate like Teal'c did; looking completely at ease. I wonder how many times it takes. How many times has he stepped through the 'gate in his long life?

He let the thoughts and questions wash over him, like sensation washed over him in the first seconds of stepping out of the 'gate. Perhaps it was getting picked apart and put together again on an atomic level that accounted for the feeling of his senses returning, even though he hadn't actually had time to notice they were gone. The transportation was instantaneous, Sam always said, or at least so close to it that the difference didn't matter. It was mindboggling to conceive that in the fraction of time it took to step through the naquada ring, his body was deconstructed to its smallest constituents, transported millions of light-years across the galaxy, and then put together again – each time without flaw or even the slightest feeling of it being done. All he had to do was step through and there he was, on another planet.

On this particular trip his senses returned with the sting of ice on his face and the smell of snow in the air. A moment ago, back in the 'gate-room under Cheyenne Mountain, he had been sweating in his heavy winter camouflage parka. Now he was glad for it because the biting chill nipped painfully on every uncovered bit of skin. He pulled up the muffler scarf over his nose and hurried to slip his hands into his thick gloves.

Beside him on the Stargate platform Sam, Jack and Teal'c were doing the same, making sure to cover everything they could against the cold. When he was done Jack plodded through the deep snow to the MALP that sat a few yards away from the platform. He pulled out four sets of snow shoes, and after putting one pair on he dug out a long rope as well before he returned to the platform. While the rest of them put on the snow shoes he tied one end of the rope to a karabiner on his belt. He measured up a few feet and tied Sam to the rope as well, continuing with Daniel and finally Teal'c so that they were all connected like a chain gang.

The rope was a safety measure. The wind was calm right now, but it could kick up without a warning and at an instant throw them into a whiteout. If, or rather when, that happened it would be too late to tie up. Before they even knew it one of them could be lost to the drifting snow. Better safe than sorry, Daniel thought as he tightened the knot on his belt. He saw Jack check and ready his P90 and his hands subconsciously, almost instinctively, wandered on to mirror the colonel's movements. He wondered absently when he had learned such skills and comfortability with a weapon. He knew he hadn't had it before he joined the Stargate program and that Jack had taught him sometime in those early years of SG-1 – but when exactly did it become so natural?

He liked to think he hadn't abandoned his aversion to violence, but sometimes he suspected that was just something he liked to tell himself. The fact was that somewhere along the line every fiber of his body had stopped objecting to the idea that shooting their way out often was the only logical solution. He wasn't quick to it, like the military types, but the gun was not an alien thing in his hands. And that was not a very comfortable thought. He forced his mind away from it and toward the task at hand.

They'd come to P8C-374 to learn the fate of a research team stationed there to study what seemed to be a planet wrapped in an ice age. A couple of days ago the research team had missed their weekly check-in with the SGC, and after a few failed attempts to make contact from the Earth side General Hammond had decided it was time to investigate. A UAV had been sent to the planet to get some aerial images of the research station, some six miles from the 'gate. There had been no signs of an attack or disaster, and there seemed to be nothing amiss except for the fact that there was no sign of the research team either.

So here SG-1 were, trudging across the blinding white expanses with no idea what awaited them but very much determined to find out what had happened at the research station. The General hadn't ordered them to go. Someone had to, that was true, but SG-1 had actually been on their way to take some leave. It had been rough lately – though 'lately' perhaps wasn't the correct term. As the absolute first line team they had never had such a thing as an easy time. Less rough now and then maybe, but to be honest it had been some kind of degree of rough for them every since the reopening of the Stargate almost seven years ago.

They didn't mind, precisely. If they had, they would each have had opportunities to quit, or get a transfer. They'd earned it, what with the umpteen times they had saved the planet. But they didn't seize those opportunities; they just watched them go by with a little wave. It had crossed Daniel's mind to wonder if perhaps they were all a bit masochistic to stay on through it all. In the end though, it didn't come down to liking the torture. It was just worth it for the things they achieved. The planet was safe – for the umpteenth time – and the discoveries they made each day were simply mind-blowing.

Consequently when the SGC faced another threat to some of their people, SG-1 immediately volunteered to go on the search and rescue. Hammond would have preferred to send another team, an opinion he forcefully and miserably imparted on them, but there was none available that was as qualified as SG-1. They had insisted on going and assured him that they didn't really need the time off. And he had let them go; knowing that even though he was their superior there was no way he could dissuade them once they'd decided.

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