Fandom: Justified/Stargate SG-1
Word Count: ~2000
Warnings: Potential, unresolved character death. Slightly ridiculous premise.
Author's Note: Written for tvrealm's crossover challenge.
Summary: Raylan Givens gets seconded to the Air Force. Not quite crack, but not exactly serious either.
Raylan turned slowly, surveying the rolling landscape, grass-covered and tinged red beneath a too-large sun. And empty, with not a soul in sight. "You know," he said conversationally, "when I was told I was being seconded to the Air Force, this was not what I was expecting."
Beside him, Mitchell snorted. "I can imagine. First time they told me about this, I just about laughed myself out of the room."
It was a lie, of course. The man was military through-and-through; whatever Mitchell may have thought when they told him about travelling to either planets via wormhold, Raylan was pretty sure he'd sat there nodding appropriately throughout the briefing, all straight-backed and yessir. Besides, the whole thing was too outlandish to draw laughter; narrow-eyed skepticism seemed like a more appropriate response. Or at least it would, if he weren't currently standing on what was undeniably another planet.
He scuffed his foot along the ground. The grass was short and dense; not too different from what he'd expect to find at home. The trees in the distance were all of a familiar shape too, though Raylan suspected differences would emerge close-up. Still, it could almost have been someplace on Earth, if squinted and didn't pay attention to the red, red sun and the way it threatened to swallow the sky.
Mitchell slapped him lightly on the back. "Come on. Jackson and Vala are waiting for us."
Raylan nodded and followed. If pressed, he would have had to admit that he was more than a little curious about the alien woman who was apparently the reason he'd been brought here in the first place. Who was considered valuable enough by the Air Force that they'd gone to the trouble of reading a Deputy U.S. Marshal into an incredibly classified program, and all that despite the fact that she'd apparently been the one to get herself into this mess in the first place.
Not that Raylan would necessarily have acted differently in her place. At least from what he'd been able to piece together about how she ended up here.
There was a single road leading away from the gate; more of a footpath than a road, really. Well-worn but unpaved, and just barely wide enough for a small wagon, if the weather were dry enough to allow it. Mitchell set a quick pace, not that Raylan could blame him. The Air Force could move fast enough when it wanted to, but even with the president on their side, it had still taken three days to get approval for Raylan to be seconded to the program, and another two days after that to get him oriented. If his people had been sitting in an alien prison for five days, Raylan thought he'd be hurrying too.
It was maybe twenty minutes before the town came into view. It was more advanced looking than Raylan had expected, considering the state of the road. The houses were all made of wood, but the boards didn't look hand-hewn, and the roads in the town were at least cobbled.
Mitchell eased up on his pace once they hit civilization, but he didn't dally either--just headed straight for the center square, ignoring the eyes tracking their path through white lace curtains. Raylan stayed in step with him, side-by-side, and kept his gun hand free. They'd insisted he wear the standard SGC uniform, but they'd let him keep his own holster after he'd pointed out--at length--the many disadvantages of being forced to adapt to a new one (and a whole new style) in this kind of situation. Not that he didn't appreciate the efficiency of military thigh holsters, but that wasn't really what this was about.
He was glad he'd won the important fight. He still missed his hat, though. The military cap he had on now just wasn't the same.
The welcoming committee that he'd half-expected to see at the gate was waiting for them in the square, along with two figures in the same black uniforms that he and Mitchell wore.
"You guys okay?" Mitchell asked, and Raylan could see him scanning them for injury, not trusting their answer.
"We're fine," the man--Jackson, presumably--replied.
"Oh yes," the woman said, lips curling sarcastically. "There's nothing I like more than five days spend in a dark, dank dungeon. Does wonders for the figure." Her eyes skipped over Mitchell and slid to Raylan as she spoke, sharp and perceptive and evaluating. Weighing him. He studied levelly her in return. They'd told him in his hurried briefings that a lot of aliens looked human...were human, for all intents and purposes, apart from the bit where they were from other planets...but he'd only half-believed them. Vala, however, proved it. If he'd passed her on the street, he wouldn't have given her a second glance. Or at least not for that reason. The same held true for the welcoming committee, all of whom, apart from their ornate and colourful clothing, looked as if they'd be at home on in any city in America.
One of them stepped forward. "This is your champion?"
"Yeah," Mitchell replied, just a little challengingly. "This is Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens." Raylan noticed that his hand was hovering unobtrusively near his gun too. He wondered what would happen if it came to an full-on shoot-out. Nothing good for their side, he thought. Not when the locals had the advantage of numbers and familiarity with the terrain. And only one road back to the stargate, and he'd bet his good boots that there were booby traps along the way. He'd certainly have set traps in their place.
Earth had ships, he'd been told. Interstellar battleships that could travel between worlds in far less time than Einstein ever dreamed. Alien tech. Hybrid ships. And not one of them close enough to make it to this world before the deadline. Random chance, really, that this address happened to have led a planet on the other side of the galaxy. Or as other side as one could get from Earth. Bad luck that a member of the front-line team had broken the local rules before they had a chance to learn what those rules were
At least the locals had taken the time to explain before they hanged her.
Raylan still wasn't quite sure how the Air Force had found him, except that he suspected they might keep a dossier on everyone they thought might eventually be useful to them. A bit of a disturbing thought, that, for all that he was a Federal.
He also wasn't quite sure what he was doing here, except that when offered the chance to travel to another planet, he'd realized there was no way he could refuse. And, if he were pressed, he'd have to admit that there wasn't much keeping him on Earth these days.
Once upon a time, all he'd dreamed about was getting as far away from Harlan as was humanly possible. He thought he'd finally succeeded.
"We must wait until the sun is high," the leader of the welcoming committee intoned.
"Of course we must," Raylan said. He wished again for his hat. If he was going to live the cliché, he ought to be allowed to embrace it fully. He wondered idly which member of the welcoming committee was the local champion. The champion had given them a demonstration, Mitchell said. She was fast. Too fast for him, and Raylan had had to admire the man for knowing his own limits. For admitting to them. There weren't a lot of people who could do a quick draw properly, but that didn't stop a lot of men from trying. And dying in the process, especially if Raylan was the one they were drawing on.
He suspected the Air Force would have preferred to send in combat soldiers and a full rescue operation, except again, their hands were tied by having only one point of entry. Sentries and booby traps and Raylan was sure that Jackson and Vala would both have been dead before a single soldier reached the town. Was sure Mitchell had told them as much. And they'd listened and called him in instead.
"So are we going to head away from the town a bit for this?" Raylan asked. He gestured toward the wooden houses that surrounded them. "Seems like someone could get hurt if we start shooting in here."
"Then that's God's will," said one of the women, making a gesture that Raylan interpreted as the local equivalent of crossing herself.
God's will. The whole justification for this process in the first place. Trial by combat, gunslinger style, and let the guns reveal who God considered righteous. Or at least that's how Raylan interpreted Mitchell's explanation of the situation. There was a clarity about the whole thing that appealed to Raylan, even as the lawman in him itched at the lack of due process. It was one thing to put down a man who was drawing down on you; it was something else to let skill with a weapon determine guilt or innocence. Especially when the lawbreaker wasn't even the one wielding the gun.
Raylan kept half an ear open as Jackson and Vala bantered with Mitchell about the local food and conditions in the local jail--which sounded to him pretty much like every other jail he'd ever seen--but the bulk of his attention was on the locals, watching for a sign that the moment was close. He flexed his hand a few times, making sure there was no stiffness, and studied the faces of the people present, trying to determine which was his opponent.
"It's time," one of them said at last, and led Raylan away from the building toward the center of the street.
"This whole thing is ridiculous, you know," Jackson said as everyone took up their position, but his tone was resigned, and Raylan suspected that he'd already had and lost this conversation a few times before.
The woman who stepped out to face him had been standing near the back of the group. She was one of the people he'd pegged a possible, which made him happy. If he could read that much, alien or not, he might stand a chance.
"Are you clear on the terms?" asked the heavyset man who'd taken position between them. Raylan dubbed him the Speaker since he was apparently the voice of the committee.
"You call the time, we both shoot, whoever's standing afterward is the winner," Raylan said. "If that's me, we all get to leave. If that's her, our teammates die."
"One shot each," the Speaker said. "And it's only Ms. Mal Doran who dies if you lose. Doctor Jackson was kept as surety, but he'll be allowed to leave along with Colonel Mitchell regardless of the outcome."
"Good to know." Raylan shifted his weight from foot to foot, testing his footing. His eyes were on his opponent, who was standing a good imitation of forty paces away. The distance, he'd been told, was determined by the severity of the crime. "What happens if we're both still standing?"
"Then you shoot again. If you go three rounds without either of you being hit, then it will be considered a draw, and you'll all be free to leave. Ms. Mal Doran will not, however, be permitted to return."
"Just so you know," Vala said, "I'm perfectly okay with that. In fact, I'd be happy to promise that right now if you want to call this whole thing off."
This drew no more than a patient glance from the welcoming committee. Another argument that had undoubtedly been repeated and lost over five days of waiting.
The Speaker waved off the rest of the welcoming committee, who lined up along the edges of the buildings, relaxed and eager.
"Good luck," Mitchell said with a light touch to Raylan's arm, and then he walked over to join them.
The Speaker stayed closer, but still out of range...assuming they aimed well. From his pocket, he drew a red handkerchief. Raylan shook his head in wonder. They'd told him that Earth culture had been replicated on different worlds, but this seemed a little silly.
The Speaker raised his arm. Raylan kept his hand hear his gun and watched the Speaker out of the corner of his eye, giving the rest of his attention to his opponent.
The handkerchief fell.
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