Title: Z is for Zat
Disclaimer: Nothing you recognize is mine. I gain nothing of material value from this.
Summary: Written for the Jonas Quinn Alphabet Soup as part of April 2010 Gen Fic Day
Z is for Zat
His life at the SGC started with a hesitation. That was the one he would never forget--even when it got fixed later, there was that moment when he'd frozen and...
And. And then, that.
Colonel O'Neill had taken him to the shooting range when he'd first gotten the assignment to SG-1. Major Carter had spoken up for him, and so had Teal'c, but he knew that wasn't why he was there. Jonas spent some time wondering if his place on SG-1 meant that Jack hated Russians more than he hated Kelowna--unlikely, considering what had brought Jonas here--or just preferred the devil he picked over the devil he was assigned. It wasn't a lack of trust in Jonas's abilities, he thought; the colonel just put more stock in trusting people than he did in trusting their abilities.
"Nope," O'Neill said when they'd arrived at the armory and Jonas reached for a weapon--pistol--that he saw most of the personnel carry.
Jonas hesitated again, and then reached for the other one most of the personnel carried--the bigger one--only to be stopped before his hand could reach it as a Goa'uld weapon was pressed into his hand.
"This is a zat," O'Neill said shortly. "It has a longer name that I don't care about. First shot stuns; second kills. You carry this off-world. Don't screw up."
"Yes, sir," Jonas said, and immediately screwed up by priming it while it was pointing at himself and then nearly dropping it in surprise.
It didn't take long to learn how to use it the right way. There weren't many weapons simpler, he supposed, at least from the operator's standpoint. And the first shot didn't kill--Jonas rather liked that part. He wasn't a warrior, and while he was willing to be in order to make up for what he hadn't done, it was heartening to know that there was something he could use as an effective weapon that wouldn't kill someone. He'd hesitate if he thought he had to kill someone.
As it turned out, he hesitated anyway, and on his very first mission.
There were Jaffa bodies lying on the floor of the teltak by the time Jonas managed to get his zat primed and ready to shoot. Teal'c raised an eyebrow at him and put his own weapon away.
Should have been there, Jonas thought as they flew back to Earth's surface, both of them imagining the rest of SG-1 stuck in a mothership. Shouldn't have just stood there. He was always just standing there. He glared at his zat, as if it were to blame for his own errors.
It wasn't cowardice, he found, or at least, not of the sort that feared giving his own life for the team. He could hold his breath until he thought his lungs would burst, knowing there was no way out if he failed...but even as O'Neill gave him a sideways, half-approving smile from under freezing and dripping-wet hair, he knew that one day, it would come to bullets and energy blasts, and on that day, if he hesitated, there would be more lost than himself. Holding one's breath only did any good when one was under water. Holding one's breath was one-way, and exchanging fire with an enemy wasn't.
O'Neill knew that, too. He took Jonas to the range again and taught him to load, hold, shoot, and clean a pistol, and then a P90, but when they went off-world, it was still 'zat only.' Jonas tried not to show how relieved he was.
The next time a threat popped up off-world, he squeezed the trigger without pausing and downed the hostile Jaffa, just as he had been taught. Teal'c gave him a nod that first time. Jonas still twitched a little when Teal'c shot the Jaffa again and killed him.
"He was a sentry--he would have recovered quickly and then alerted others," Teal'c said, though it wasn't quite rebuke--it was more like teaching.
"Oh," Jonas said. "Sorry."
The next time, he was quicker with the first shot and only had to swallow hard once before taking the second shot.
Sam was the one who suggested, one day, that he take an intar instead.
"It feels more like a pistol," she explained. "Most people get a lot more training than you did before they start going off-world. I froze the first time I shot someone in the field."
Jonas glanced at her, wondering if she was thinking about a specific time he'd frozen, but she didn't seem to be referring to anything other than exactly what she had said. "But you shot the person," he pointed out. "Not that I couldn't. I just...haven't. So far."
"Yeah, but for me, it was after four years of training at a military academy and lots more training in practical situations. You'd be surprised at how many trained infantrymen throw their shots in the field--subconsciously, for some, but still. It's natural."
"I wouldn't do that," he said seriously. "I know better than that." Because he knew that, if he did throw his shots, one of his teammates would likely pay the price. Not wanting to kill anyone, enemy or not, was different from being unwilling to if the time came.
"I know," she said. "The thing is, you're holding a weapon. Your natural instinct--the one you're born with--should be to hesitate, and that's an instinct that gets conditioned out of you with training and improving judgment. Intars can be a good aid for that. They train your muscles to act before you can over-think everything." She offered a small smile. "It's the ones who don't hesitate at the beginning, even a little, that we worry about."
The time Jonas brought an intar off-world, the mission turned out to be as peaceful as missions got--he touched his holster once but never needed to draw the weapon. He remembered what Teal'c had told him once, about the sentry he should have killed, and returned to the zat for the next trip. An intar never killed; a P90 often did. The zat gave him a choice, and while he tried not to choose the second shot if he didn't have to, he could when he did have to.
The first time Colonel O'Neill gave him a live firearm to use--not at the range, but in the field--it was because zats didn't work against Replicators.
He didn't hesitate.
As it turned out, it didn't matter, because projectile weapons didn't work on these Replicators, either. Still. He hadn't hesitated. He thought that should be a sort of victory but couldn't be sure whether or not it really was.
"Here," the colonel said, handing him a loaded Tau'ri handgun before their next mission. "More effective than a zat. Don't forget to count your bullets and reload when you run out."
"Right," Jonas agreed, accepting the Beretta and slipping it into his holster. "I won't forget, Colonel."
Despite the ruckus and confusion it caused afterward, both in and out of the Mountain, part of Jonas was relieved that the first thing he'd pointed his pistol at was a translucent bug that resided on another plane. He loved his job, and there were some parts he really loved, but exchanging weapons fire would never be one of those parts.
"This is just standard recon, right?" Jonas asked before their next mission. "No particular threats we're expecting?"
Sam quirked an eyebrow at him while reaching for her tactical vest but said, "Yeah. Just a regular stroll through the 'gate."
Jonas returned a smile at her teasing tone. He checked his vest and his pack to make sure he had everything he'd need for an initial survey if they found anything interesting, then grabbed a zat and strapped it around his thigh.
"You're checked out all standard firearms now, right?" Sam said, watching him. She was clipping a P90 to the harness under her vest. "You can take an M9 if you want."
"Yup," he said. "I like the zat better."
To his surprise, she didn't give him funny looks or seem to doubt his abilities, but rather turned sideways so he could see that she'd chosen a zat as her own sidearm, too. She carried a zat as often as not, he realized in retrospect. "Yeah," she agreed. "It's nice to have the choice."
"Exactly," he said, relieved that she understood, and threw an arm around her shoulders as they made their way out to join the colonel and Teal'c in the 'gate room.