AU DESIGNATION: SG-7 The Crystal City Universe, a Magnificent Seven Stargate SG-1 AU
MAIN CHARACTERS: Seven
Editors' Note: The Neon Gang includes Dori Adams, Sierra Chaves, Dana Ely, Michelle Fortado, Patricia Grace, Dani Martin, Erica Michaels, Nina Talbot, Kasey Tucker, Rebecca Wright, and Lorin and Mary Fallon Zane. Art by Shiloh. This is an open AU. If you'd like to come play, please do!
Colonel Jack O'Neill stopped outside Hammond's office and rapped smartly on the closed door. When he heard the barked "Come" from the general, he pushed the door open and walked in. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
Hammond gestured for the colonel to have a seat, and Jack promptly dropped into one of the leather chairs with a relaxed sigh.
The general fought back the smile that teased at the corners of his mouth. Jack O'Neill wasn't a man who stood on ceremony. "Colonel, I've finished the report you and Captain Carter prepared," he said, gesturing to the open folder lying on his desk.
Jack leaned forward, his expression hopeful. "And?"
"And I think you have a good idea here."
Jack dropped back against the chair, looking more than a little relieved. "It's long overdue, General."
Hammond nodded. "And this is the man you think ought to lead this team…"
Jack nodded. "Yep, definitely the one."
"Says here he quit the military," Hammond pointed out.
Another nod. "With your permission, sir, I'd like to go talk him out of that ill-advised decision."
"And if he can't be talked out of it?" Hammond questioned. "It's been almost two years."
Jack smiled. "Sir, if you heard there was this great big metal ring-thingy and you could walk through it and visit other planets all over the galaxy, you think you could say no?"
"I doubt it," the general agreed with a small smile. "Still, I'd like to see another recommendation, in case he surprises you."
Jack shook his head. "Can't think of anyone else I'd be comfortable with trying to pull this off."
"Being you, you mean?"
Jack grinned. "Well, us… yeah, kind of… you know, what I mean, sir. If this works, we'll have another team that can handle similar kinds of missions SG-1 does. And, to be honest, we need another one. So, does this mean I can get Larabee and bring him to the SGC for the grand tour?"
"It does," Hammond agreed, a sparkle in his eyes. He could use another team like SG-1. "What about these other two team members?"
"Recommendations from Carter and Daniel, sir. You know, people who can do Cartery and Daniely things," Jack said, wagging his fingers at the report. "I'll let 'em know they need to go grab their people, too."
Hammond nodded, another smile tugging. "Just be sure all three of them sign the confidentiality agreement." In all likelihood Lt. Dunne and Dr. Sanchez might very well feel like they had been "grabbed" from the real world and thrust into one that was closer to science fiction. "Very well, Colonel, go see if you can make this happen."
"You won't regret this, sir," Jack said, bouncing up and heading out the door.
"I hope not," Hammond muttered under his breath. On second thought, the idea of another Jack O'Neill on the base was enough to make even the toughest of generals think twice. "God save us all," he muttered, reviewing the report one last time before he signed off on it.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Just under two hours later, Jack climbed out of his truck, parked in a gravel driveway, and walked up the sidewalk to the front door of the sprawling but handsome log home. He paused there and glanced around, enjoying the scenery that surrounded him. The scent of pine trees filled the air, and it was cool at the higher elevation. Large glass windows let the light into what looked to be a living room, or maybe a great room, it was hard to tell.
Larabee's ranch was up in the foothills of the Rockies, somewhere between eight and nine thousand feet, he guessed, and the views were beautiful. The house, two barns, and several corrals were all in good repair, and the horses he could see were handsome. Retirement seemed to have suited Chris Larabee rather well. That might make his errand a little more tricky, but Jack was convinced he would be able to talk Chris into returning to duty. Provided, of course, he could get the man to the SCG. Jack turned and knocked on the door.
A few moments later Larabee stood before him, frowning. "O'Neill," he greeted flatly. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"Oh, just thought I'd drop by for a visit," Jack replied with an overly friendly smile. "I was in the neighborhood, and—"
"Bullshit," Chris said, cutting him off. He shut the door in the colonel's face.
"That went well," Jack muttered quietly to himself, then reached out and rang the doorbell.
"It's colonel now," Jack interrupted. "And this is official business, Lieutenant."
"Not Lieutenant. I'm out of any kind of 'official business' these days, or hadn't you heard?" Chris replied, his green eyes narrowing dangerously.
"Yeah, I might've heard you retired," Jack agreed, keeping his voice light.
"Quit," Larabee corrected him. "Didn't retire, I quit. Now, I have a TV dinner to get back to." He started to close the door again.
"Wait!" Jack yelped, his hand shooting out to keep the door from closingin his face a second time.
Chris glowered at the man.
Jack spread his hands in a placating gesture. "Look, I'm sure you've got a… few hours you can spare for an old friend, right?" The last was added hastily.
Larabee huffed out a breath, realizing he wasn't going to get rid of the man until O'Neill had said whatever he'd come to say. Besides, like everyone else in the special ops community, he'd heard what had happened to O'Neill's son. "Fine," Chris snapped, then gestured for the colonel to come in.
Jack shook his head, grinning, then reached into his pocket and pulled out a radio. He keyed the mike and said, "Okay, come get us."
"What—?" Chris started, but he stopped when he saw the state of the art helicopter coming in to land behind Jack's truck in his driveway. The horses in the corrals closest to the noisy machine tossed up their heels and headed for quieter ground. He wished he could join them, but it was too late now.
"C'mon," Jack said with a grin, his head jerking toward the chopper. "You're going to enjoy this, I promise."
Chris sighed, louder this time, but he reached back, grabbing his keys off the small table that stood just to the side of the front door. He stepped back inside just long enough to set the security alarm code, then locked the door and jogged over to the waiting ride. Moments later, he was in the air.
"Where are we going?" he yelled at O'Neill, who handed him a communications unit to slip on. "I said, where—?"
"Heard ya the first time," Jack replied.
"Well?" Chris demanded.
"To a galaxy, far, far away, my friend."
Chris just shook his head. "This had damn well better be good," he growled under his breath.
Jack just flashed him a cocky grin. The one Chris had always hated, because it usually meant that O'Neill was right about whatever he was on about at the moment. And Chris didn't want him to be right. He wanted to go right on hiding out at his ranch, working like a fiend and trying to pretend the rest of the world didn't exist. But he had a bad feeling that his world was about to get dumped upside down – something O'Neill was good at – and he resented the hell out of it. But he'd let himself get talked into it, so he had no one to blame but himself – and that was something he was good at – damn good.
"Tell me again where we're going?" Larabee asked over the headset.
Jack grinned again. "First stop Cheyenne Mountain. Second stop… Well, why don't you just wait and see, I'd hate to spoil the fun."
"Fun… yeah, right," Chris grumbled in reply, but he settled back to wait and see whatever it was O'Neill had come to show him.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Four hours later, former Navy Lieutenant Christopher Adam Larabee, was standing on a huge stone dais on which an ancient stargate stood sentinel. Beyond the dais, in the near distance, were the ruins of an old city unlike anything one might find on earth. Chris stared at the tumbled down ruins and shook his head. It wasn't possible, was it?
Then he looked up. Above them, three moons nearly filled the cloudless sky. Definitely not possible, he thought. And yet, here he was… Chris glanced around, taking it all in, then glanced over at Jack and asked, "We're really in another galaxy?"
Jack shrugged. "Well… technically… no," he admitted, but then quickly added, "But we're on the other side of our own galaxy, so the far, far away part was true. Pretty impressive, wouldn't you say, Lieutenant?"
"I told you, I quit. You can drop the rank," Chris replied, heading for the stone steps that took them off the dais.
Jack jogged down to join him, giving Chris a slap on the shoulder and saying, "I'm hoping this little fieldtrip might help change your mind about that. Coming back would include a promotion…" He gave the man the onceover. "…since it looks like you've stayed in shape…"
Chris' eyes narrowed again. "Is this your not-so-subtle way of telling me you want me to come back to active duty?"
Jack nodded and smiled. "Yep. I always said you caught on fast, Larabee."
Chris shook his head. "No."
"Now, hear me out," Jack argued. He gestured to everything around them. "This isn't some sci-fi movie, Chris. Stargate Command's out here, right now, exploring planets all over the Milky Way. I told Hammond we needed another team like mine, one that can… think on its feet, give the bad guys a run for their money."
"Take the big risks, you mean," Chris corrected him. But, damn, it was an inviting notion – to travel the stars… see other planets… meet exotic bad guys, and kill them…
Jack grinned, seeing that the man was nearly hooked. "You can't tell me this doesn't get whatever juices you've got left in there flowing, Larabee."
Chris sighed, his gaze sweeping over the landscape again. Damn O'Neill anyway. He'd only worked with the man for nine months, but Jack seemed to know him better than anyone. Well, besides Buck, that is. "Bastard," he growled, honestly considering taking a swing at the colonel.
"And don't think this is a gift," Jack warned him, his expression turning serious. "There are some nasty sons of bitches out here who want nothing more than to turn all humans in the galaxy into their personal slaves."
"All humans?" Chris asked, frowning. "As in more than just us on Earth?"
Jack shrugged and grinned. "Uh, guess I forgot to mention that part, huh?"
"Uh, yeah, I guess you did," Chris replied, already knowing that he was going to end up doing whatever it was Jack wanted him to do, and for that he really wanted to hate the man, but he just couldn't. He knew too well what Jack had lost, and this had to have been what brought him out of his "retirement" as well.
"So, when do I get the whole briefing?" Chris asked with a defeated sigh.
"You only get that if you decide to reconsider your early retirement," Jack told him.
"If I do decide to reconsider my early retirement, I have one non-negotiable," Chris shot back.
"And that would be?"
"I want Wilmington on my team."
Jack thought for a moment, then nodded. "I don't see why that should be a problem, so long as you keep that Lothario on a leash."
Chris nodded, smiling. "Then I guess I'm officially considering it."
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Dr. Daniel Jackson stepped through the stargate at the SGC and, a moment later, arrived at P3X 313. It was a rather primitive planet with a small human population that was still primarily tribal, practicing their somewhat Celtic ways just like their ancestors had, thousands of years earlier on Earth. As he made his way toward the small village that was situated closest to the 'gate, he reviewed the speech he planned to use on Dr. Sanchez.
He was relatively sure it would do the trick. After all, the hard part had been luring Josiah away from his academic work to join the SCG in the first place. Since that time Josiah had been working with the locals on P3X 313, learning their language and culture and mining them for information on the activities and movements of the local System Lord, who had a good portion of the planet's population engaged in mining for him. There was also a small community of Jaffa on the planet, as well, drawn from the warrior ranks of the human population.
There was a rustle in the surrounding woods and Daniel started, knowing there were deadly predators on this world, besides potential human ones. A moment later, Dr. Josiah Sanchez appeared. He was wearing the same leathers as the other members of the Treibh, and was carrying one of their weapons as well. His short grey-blond hair made him look older than he really was, but it was clear he was in excellent physical shape. Something Jack always teased Daniel about whenever they crossed paths with Sanchez.
"Dr. Jackson," Josiah greeted, then quickly spoke to the others in their native tongue. The other Treibh men laughed and made what looked like obscene gestures at Daniel.
"What did you tell them?" Daniel asked, noting the predatory looks a couple of the other men were shooting in his direction.
"Oh, just that you were a weakling who spent all his time reading books and doing women's work," Josiah replied with a toothy grin.
Daniel looked flummoxed. "Oh," he said, wondering if the good doctor had been imbibing too much of the local spirits.
Josiah grinned. "It was that or they would have wanted to chase you all over the forest – to see what you're made of. Of course, if they'd caught you, you would have been considered weak, a woman, and…"
Realization struck Daniel and he nodded. "Ah, I see… Well then, I'm glad you… spared me," he said, glancing nervously at the Treibh.
"What are you doing here?" Josiah asked, walking over and slapping Jackson on the back. The other men quickly lost interest in the pair, fading back into the forest to continue their hunt.
"I wanted to talk to you about a change of assignments," Daniel replied, watching the others leave.
"Oh?" Josiah said, not sure if he was being promoted or punished. He still hadn't gotten his last three reports turned in as of yet, and he was starting to get some downright cranky e-mails from the higher-ups.
Daniel, who was well acquainted with the man's notoriously late reports, grinned. "We're re-manning SG-Seven, and I was hoping you might consider being me."
"Being you?" Josiah asked, confused.
Daniel smiled again. "SG-Seven will be modeled on SG-One, so that would make you… me."
That put a smile on Josiah's face. "Ah, I see. And we'll have an O'Neill and a Carter as well?"
Daniel nodded. "That's the plan. Jack asked Sam and I to pick our… counterpart for the new team, and you immediately came to mind."
That prompted a full-fledged laugh from the anthropologist and linguist. Josiah had been one of the few colleagues Daniel had worked with who had taken his work seriously, and who had offered honest criticism of his papers, even when the journals refused to publish them. Daniel would be forever grateful for the support Sanchez had given him, and that was why he had recruited him for the SGC. They needed open-minded scientists who could accept and adapt to whatever they were dealing with.
"Well, in that case, how can I say no?" Josiah asked after he'd thought about the proposal for a moment. "But what'll happen to the project I have going here?"
Daniel thought for a moment, then asked, "Can your assistants pick it up? If not, tell me who you think can and I'll do my best to recruit them."
Josiah paused, his forehead wrinkling as he thought again for a moment. "Yeah, I don't see why Cara and Finn can't continue, they know everything I do…"
Daniel nodded. He knew Josiah was referring to Doctors Cara and Finn MacLeod, who were the two co-researchers stationed on P3X 313 with Josiah. "Great. We'll need you back the day after tomorrow for a meet and greet with the rest of SG-Seven, ten o'clock."
Josiah nodded, then frowned. "Guess that means I have to get my reports caught up by then, too, huh?"
"Probably wouldn't hurt," Daniel agreed, nodding. He was trying not to smile.
Josiah sighed loudly. "I was afraid you were going to say that."
"Can't be that bad," Daniel offered.
"I suppose… By the way, how much paperwork is this new position going to require, anyway?"
It was Daniel's turn to laugh.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Captain Samantha Carter made her way down the long hallway toward the laboratory where Lieutenant JD Dunne was working with Dr. Bill Lee on his latest project. As she got closer to the door she could hear raised voices.
She smiled. She'd had several potential candidates to pick from, but when Jack has suggested they create a SG-1 type team, Lt. Dunne was the one who had immediately come to mind when she considered someone who had her blend of military training and science background.
Dunne was bright, creative, innovative, and he had a strong desire to please, which might or might not be a good thing. Only time would tell. She knew she had the same tendency, but she'd learned to put it on hold when she needed to, which was most of the time. Still, Dunne had done well in all of the simulations they had devised for him and the other young recruits they were grooming for future SG teams. In fact, he had the highest overall score of all of the current trainees.
But it was Dunne's out-of-the-box thinking that had made him her first choice for SG-7. That and the way he had handled himself when he'd discovered an error in Dr. Lee's latest algorithm. He hadn't gloated – too much – and that had also won him points in Sam's book.
Just before she reached the door, it burst open and Dr. Bill Lee stormed out, shaking his head.
"Everything all right, Doctor?" she asked.
"Yes! No! That—" Dr. Lee stopped and took a deep breath. "Yes, everything's fine," he said. "I was just so sure that my latest calculation was right…" he sighed heavily. "Lieutenant Dunne found another…"
"Error?" Sam asked, trying to look supportive.
"Error," he agreed, looking crestfallen. "So now it's back to the drawing board…"
"I'm sure you'll get it figured out in no time," Sam encouraged him.
"…nothing more than a kid…" was all she heard as he continued on down the hallway to his own office, his head shaking, his shoulders slumped.
Sam smiled, then reached up and knocked on the door. It was yanked open and JD barked, "What now!?" Then his eyes rounded like saucers, and the blood drained from his face. "Captain Carter! Sir! Uh, ma'am. I— Dr. Lee— The staff weapon resistant armor— I—"
"At ease, Lieutenant," Carter said, trying hard not to smile. "Do you have a minute?"
"Yes, Lieutenant, you."
"Uh, sure. I mean: yes, ma'am."
Carter entered the lab and took a seat on one of the work stools. "Lieutenant, Colonel O'Neill tells me you've completed your situational training for off-world team placement."
"Yes, ma'am," JD responded, looking more than a little pleased with himself. "Last week." He was vibrating with excitement. Could this be it?
"Lieutenant, SG-Seven is being re-staffed and—"
This time she did smile as she echoed, "Yes, Lieutenant, you."
"Really?" JD asked, then immediate added, "Ma'am?"
"Really. I know you'll still be working to finish your doctorate."
"Both of them," JD corrected. "But I've passed my comps for both, so it's just the dissertation writing that I have to complete, then the defense. I'll be able to do that, right?"
"Between missions," Carter said, nodding. "It probably won't be easy, but—"
"That's okay, ma'am," JD interrupted. "I don't mind. I— I just can't believe I'm really going to be going off-world…"
"Sooner than you think," Carter told him. "So be sure to get whatever needs to be wrapped up completed, or passed off to other technicians. If you need any help with that, let me know."
"Thank you, ma'am," JD said, smiling. "When—?"
"You'll meet the rest of your team the day after tomorrow."
"That soon?" JD squeaked. "I'd better get busy…"
Sam smiled again, watching as JD threw himself into the work, suddenly oblivious to her presence. She wondered briefly if that was how she looked when she was caught up in a project, then decided she'd rather not know.
She slid off the stool and let herself out. She had a good feeling that she'd made the right choice.
Glancing back at Dunne, she wished she still had that level of energy.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
The morning following his trip off world, Chris walked up the sidewalk to the townhouse where his former second-in-command now lived. Given the neighborhood, Buck must be doing all right for himself. That or he'd moved in with another in a long string of girlfriends.
Chris knocked on the door and waited. A few moments later the door opened and Buck grinned, looking more than a little surprised.
Wilmington looked scruffy. There was no other word for it. He was wearing a white tank top, with an old T-shirt over it, the sleeves cut out. His hair was unruly, and he had a beard growing in, albeit rather haphazardly.
"Hey, ya ol' dog!" Buck greeted, reaching out to grab Chris in a hug as he pulled him into the townhouse. He kicked the door shut behind them. "What're you doing here, stud?"
Chris pushed the man back to arm's length, then shook his head. "Damn, Buck, you're downright disreputable."
"Me?" Buck countered, blue eyes twinkling with merriment. "Naw, I'm just a little rough around the edges; always have been. You know that."
Chris quickly glanced around at the pale violet walls of the living room, complete with matching tasteful art hanging in just the right places. "So, I take it this is your latest conquest's townhome?"
Buck wagged his eyebrows. "Sure enough," he replied, but his expression quickly turned serious. "Chris, there something wrong?"
Larabee shook his head as he walked over and sat down on the floral print sofa. "Nope, just have a proposition for you."
That put a lecherous grin back on Buck's face. "Now, stud, you know I don't swing that way."
"Fuck you," the blond replied, shaking his head. A serious Buck didn't last long, unless they were in the middle of a firefight, or there was damn good reason. "I had a visit from Jack O'Neill yesterday."
"Major O'Neill?" Buck questioned. "That Air Force banty rooster?"
"That's Colonel Rooster now," Chris responded with a grin.
"What'd he want?" Buck asked, looking curious and suspicious at the same time.
"Invited me back to active duty."
"SEALs?" Buck asked, finding it hard to imagine Chris would even consider it.
"Not exactly," Larabee hedged.
"Stud, that sounds like a woman saying she's slightly pregnant," Buck countered, his curiosity now fully roused.
Chris chuckled. "Yeah, I know… I'm officially considering his offer, but I told him I'd only do it if you were on my team."
"Hell, Chris, it's been almost two years since we left the teams," Buck replied. Almost two years since the news had reached them that Sarah and Adam had been killed in that car crash. "I'm not in that kind of shape anymore."
"Hell, Buck, neither am I, but we can change that."
Buck's eyes narrowed as he realized Chris was actually serious about this. "You're really going to do this, aren't you." It wasn't a question, he could see the truth in Larabee's eyes.
The blond nodded. "And you will too once I show you what Jack showed me."
That shifted Buck's curiosity back to suspicion. "Oh?"
"What are you doing today?" Larabee asked him.
"Got a construction job I should be at," Buck replied, glancing at the clock. "Why?"
"Why don't you call in sick, then come down to the Springs with me, let me show you something you won't believe."
Buck drew in a deep breath. He trusted Chris, had for a good portion of his life, and there wasn't a reason not to this time. Besides, he hadn't seen the man this animated about anything since the death of his wife and son. O'Neill must be into something really… something. He nodded slowly. He'd missed the action, and the rush that came with it, and so had Chris, even if he wouldn't admit it. So, whatever it was O'Neill was after, he wanted to be part of it, especially if it meant he and Chris were back to working together again.
Of course Marcy might not be too happy about it, but he'd cross that bridge when he got to it.
"All right," Buck agreed. "Show me what's got you so fired up."
Chris grinned, green eyes sparkling with promise. "I will. And trust me, you're not going to believe it."
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
The next day, Chris and Buck found themselves seated at a conference table. General George Hammond took a seat at the head of the table. Jack was sitting next to Chris, torturing a paperclip, and across the table from them were Captain Samantha Carter, Dr. Daniel Jackson, and Teal'c – a Jaffa, one of the warriors who usually fought for the Goa'uld. At the end opposite Hammond sat a young Air Force lieutenant in his blues, and a man in his mid-forties with short, gray-blond hair. He was dressed in jeans and a pullover sweater, Birkenstock sandals on his feet.
Hammond cleared his throat, getting everyone's attention, then leaned forward slightly, asking, "Everyone has signed their new confidentiality agreements?"
Four heads nodded.
"Good," the general stated, then added, "As you know, you are all here to form a new SG team, SG-Seven, that will be undertaking regular off-world exploratory missions. I don't have to tell you how dangerous that can be if you've read the materials you were provided…"
It was clear from the nods that the four men had all read the mission reports that had been provided from various SG teams, and that they understood the dangers they might be facing.
Hammond nodded at Chris, saying, "Lieutenant Commander Larabee will be SG-Seven's operational commander," Hammond explained, his gaze on Dr. Sanchez and Lieutenant Dunne. "Lieutenant Wilmington will be his second-in-command…" He looked to Chris and Buck, adding, "Commander, Lieutenant, I'd like you to meet Lieutenant JD Dunne, and Doctor Josiah Sanchez." He shifted his gaze to Sam. "Captain Carter."
Sam nodded and picked up the introduction explaining, "Lieutenant Dunne is a recent graduate of the Air Force Academy. He's a gifted astrophysicist and computer engineer. He's ABA—"
"AB-what?" Buck interrupted looking from Carter to JD and back again. He grinned at the pretty blonde captain.
"All but dissertation," Carter clarified, ignoring the man's twinkling blue eyes. "By the time your team is fully operational, he will have completed a joint doctorate in both fields."
JD smiled shyly, pleased by the recognition, but his cheeks still colored a rosy pink from the fact it had come from Captain Carter. She might be just a mentor to him, but he still thought she was the smartest, most beautiful woman he'd ever met… besides Casey Wells, of course.
Daniel picked up the conversation, saying, "And Doctor Sanchez is a former Army warrant officer who left the service and returned to school, earning doctorates in both cultural anthropology and linguistics. His areas of specialty are ancient middle-eastern and European cultures, mythologies and languages. He's fluent in Goa'uld."
Josiah nodded at Chris and Buck. "Happy to meet you both," he said. "And looking forward to working with you."
"Warrant Officer," Chris repeated, holding Josiah's gaze, "that mean you know how to fly choppers?"
Josiah shrugged, adding, "I figure it's like riding a bicycle – you never really forget – but I've let my license lapse." He looked from Chris to General Hammond, and then to Daniel, before he added, "Gentlemen, after reading the mission reports I'd like to suggest one more member for this team."
"And who would that be, Doctor?" Hammond asked.
"Doctor Nathan Jackson," Josiah replied. "He was an Army medic I served with, but after his enlistment was up he went back to school and finished a doctorate in astrobiology. He has a strong interest in cryptobiology, which might come in handy for this work."
That had both Carter and Daniel looking intrigued. "Sir," Carter said, addressing the general, "I'd like to take a look at Dr. Jackson's file. He might make a valuable addition to the team."
Hammond nodded his approval. "Be sure to share it with Commander Larabee," he said, glancing between the two. "The two of you can make the final call."
"Absolutely, sir," Carter replied, flashing Chris a small smile.
Larabee nodded at her.
"So, boys," Jack cut in, already bored with the meet and greet, "why don't you go… get acquainted? Tomorrow Teal'c and I will put you through some simulations."
JD groaned softly, then turned bright red when O'Neill glared at him.
"Simulations?" Buck questioned, frowning as he noted the kid's reaction. He'd been afraid coming back to the military might mean having to do endless drills again. It wasn't something he was particularly looking forward to doing again.
"Just some things you're going to need to know in order to fight the Goa'uld," Jack assured him.
His gaze sweeping over Teal'c, Chris agreed, "Looks like we might need it."
"Indeed," the Jaffa replied with a slight tilt of his head.
Buck huffed out a quiet breath, knowing he'd let Chris drag him into the deep end once more.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
The four men were driven to a military safe house in Colorado Springs. It was large enough to ensure there were no nosey neighbors, but not so ostentatious that they felt completely uncomfortable.
They raided the kitchen, deciding to grill steaks on the back deck. Before long all four of them were seated outside, each with a bottle of beer, while they waited for the meat to cook.
"Hell, kid, you don't look old enough to shave, let alone graduate from the Air Force Academy," Buck said as he passed by JD, mussing his hair with his fingers as he did.
JD sighed. He was used to the age reaction. He had always looked younger than he really was. But the hair thing was a pain in the ass. "I entered the Academy when I was seventeen, and I graduated three years ago, then went straight into a dual doctoral program at MIT. I finished my coursework and comps in three years. All I have to do now is finish writing my dissertation and then defend it. And I'll be twenty-five on my next birthday, so I'm not a kid… Lieutenant," he added.
"That's captain to you in Air Farce speak, Lieutenant," Buck teased him back. "I'm a Navy man."
"Squid, you mean," JD returned, then reddened as he remembered that Larabee was Navy as well. "Sorry, sir," he added quickly.
Chris just shook his head. He could see where this was going already. Buck was everybody's older brother, especially the newbys.
"Congratulations on your soon-to-be-completed academic work," Josiah said, raising his bottle to toast JD, and cutting off the inter-service razzing before it could get really started.
"Thanks, Dr. Sanchez," JD replied.
"Josiah," he corrected.
"So, when do you think we'll get the green light for off-world missions?" Buck asked the others.
"Soon as Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c think we're ready," Chris replied.
"You were already working off-world, weren't you?" JD asked Josiah.
The older man nodded. "Strictly anthropological and linguistics work, not what they're prorposing now; I was just a humble researcher."
"Yeah, right," Chris said with a snort. "Going native on a planet of tribal warriors battling a minor Systems Lord… sounds like research to me."
Josiah offered him a toothy grin. "Well, Commander, the best way to understand a people is to live among them, become one of them. Kicking a little Goa'uld ass along the way was just a perk of the position."
JD grinned. "Hope we'll be doing that pretty quickly, too."
"Thought you'd rather be fiddling with some kind of gadget, not kicking alien butt," Buck teased the youngest member of the team.
"You have the right gadget, you can kick butt more efficiently," JD told the ladies' man sagely.
"Amen, brother," Josiah agreed, nodding.
"And I have to tell you guys, Colonel O'Neill's simulations are… tough," JD cautioned. "They're really real – lifelike, I mean."
"That's okay, kid," Buck assured him. "Me and ol' Chris here, we're used to butt kickin', aren't we, stud."
Chris just nodded, watching the on-going interactions and deciding he was impressed with his team. They might not be SG-1, but he sure as hell planned to do as much damage to the Goa'uld as possible. And he had a feeling these men were just the ones to help him get the job done. "All right," he interrupted them, "steaks are almost done. JD, go grab some plates and silverware."
"Got it!" JD said, hopping up and immediately heading inside.
"Buck, I saw some bagged salad in the fridge," Chris added.
"I'm on it," he replied, rising and ambling into the house, hollering, "Hey, kid! Where's the kitchen?"
"I'll see what else I can find," Josiah offered. "Besides, someone needs to play referee with those two."
"Good luck with that," Chris said as he watched Josiah head into the house as well. He smiled, feeling a little less like an empty shell for the first time in a long time.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Sweat dripped down JD's forehead as he concentrated on getting the Goa'uld container open. He had accidentally triggered a failsafe and the device was counting down to detonation. That would destroy the device they had been sent here to retrieve…
Josiah was kneeling at his side, translating what appeared on the small screen set just above the lock. He was having a little trouble with the translation, too. Evidently the language was shifting between two rather obscure ones.
All around them the cacophony of battle raged.
"Crap," Josiah hissed.
"It's armed a secondary device," the older man said. "The first countdown has been overridden… We have less than three minutes."
"Oh shit!" JD yelped, his fingers flying on what passed for a keyboard on the container.
"Any progress?" came Chris' voice over their ear buds.
"Almost there," JD replied.
"The sooner the better," Chris replied. He and Buck had established overlapping fields of fire from a position above the two men and were so far holding off the Goa'uld assault, but it was only a matter of time before they worked themselves into a position, catching he and Buck in a crossfire.
Just behind JD and Josiah, and directly beneath Chris and Buck, sat a disabled Goa'uld transport ship, and Chris was worried the attackers might be able to use that to catch them in that crossfire.
The Goa'uld attack picked up in intensity just as Chris heard, "Got it!" from JD. "Failsafe is deactivated… I have the device."
Chris and Buck continued to rain fire down on the ones moving in on their position in the warehouse. They had what they had come for, but they were trapped inside the building.
"Reactivate it," Chris instructed over his comm.
"What?" JD asked.
"You heard the man," Josiah replied. "Reactivate it."
"But it'll blow—"
"Now, JD!" Buck snapped.
JD did as ordered. "Okay, it's rearmed and counting down."
"How long?" Chris asked.
"Fifty seconds and counting," JD replied, his chest getting tight with worry.
"Fall back to the transport – now," Chris ordered, he and Buck moving in perfect sync as they jumped from cover, falling onto the top of the transport, then sliding down the sides of the ship to land on the floor of the warehouse. Fire from Josiah and JD held back the attackers long enough for Chris and Buck to dive into the transport vessel.
"Close it!" Chris yelled as they were charged hostiles.
Josiah hit a button on the control panel and the transport hatch slid closed. Two seconds later there was a tremendous deafening blast from an air horn and confetti exploded into the air from the container.
Chris grinned. "You snakes are toast!" he hooted.
Josiah punched the button again and the hatch opened. SG-1 was standing next to the container, removing their ear protection as the confetti continued to rain down on them.
"Don't you know better than to play with the big bangs?" Buck teased O'Neill.
"Yeah, well, you're alive, but the device is blown up, too," Jack said a little too smugly.
"Nope!" JD crowed. "I got it out!"
Carter smiled. "Great job, Lieutenant."
"I needed Josiah's help with the language," JD admitted. "Guess I need to spend some more time on that."
"Yes, you do," Josiah agreed. "But it wouldn't have helped you this time."
"Nice defensive position," Jack added, nodding to Chris.
"Guess that means you owe us all a cold one," Buck said, wagged his eyebrows at O'Neill.
Jack smiled. "Guess I do. Nice job, gentlemen."
Teal'c nodded his agreement.
"Any trouble with that particular dialect?" Daniel asked Josiah, grinning.
Sanchez shook his head. "I recognized the blend – first dynasty Egyptian, and a modern Coptic derivative? Sneaky, Daniel, very sneaky."
Jackson grinned and shrugged. "It's not supposed to be easy. Goa'uld would have been easy."
"That wasn't Goa'uld?" JD asked, looking relieved.
"Not this time," Carter replied. "But next time it will be, so get to work on your translation skills."
JD nodded. "That was fun," he said, bouncing on his toes, riding the adrenaline rush that was coursing through his body. "Can we do it again? I think I figured out a faster way to bypass the security protocols and disarm the backup failsafe."
Buck wrapped his arm around JD's shoulders and gave him a shake. "Tomorrow's soon enough, kid!"
"And tomorrow we're not taking it so easy on you either," Jack told them.
"You call this easy?" Chris asked. "Hell, O'Neill, I thought this was the dumbed down version you use for the jet jockeys who can't find their ass with their hands."
"Ya think, huh?" Jack responded. "Well, next time it'll be the one we use for the squid who don't know a—"
"Now, Colonel, Commander," Josiah interrupted, just as Daniel said, "Jack, Commander Larabee—"
Jack and Chris both looked ready to fight for a moment, then they laughed.
"Come on, Larabee," Jack said, slapping the man on the shoulder. "Let's go debrief."
The others watched as the two men walked away, already arguing about what had gone well and poorly.
Teal'c glanced over at Daniel and asked, "What is a 'squid,' Daniel Jackson."
"They're a kind of…"
"Cephalopod," Carter offered. "A large marine creature with eight arms and two tentacles."
"They're a kind of mollusk," Daniel added.
Teal'c just looked confused.
"Kind 'a like an octopus, but with a torpedo body," JD added. "The giant ones can warp their tentacles around a ship and pull it down into the briny depths. Bet they could suck your brains right out of your head, too, if they wrapped their tentacles around your head and bit you with that honkin' beak—"
"Oh, way too many horror movies, kid!" Buck lamented sadly, shaking his head. "Come on."
"No, really. Their beak can exert enough pressure it could crack your skull and…"
SG-7 left, leaving Carter and Daniel standing with Teal'c.
"Ignore everything JD said," Sam suggested. "That kind of thing only happens in the movies."
"Although there have been reports of giant squid attacking scuba divers, and small boats," Daniel added thoughtfully.
Teal'c sighed softly, deciding he would look up the creature for himself. But he somehow doubted that Commander Larabee or Lieutenant Wilmington resembled a large, multi-legged sea creature that devoured boats.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Dr. Nathan Jackson had no idea why he he'd been asked to go to Colorado Springs. But he'd gotten a call from the Air Force, so he'd packed his bag and made arrangements for his classes at the University of Arizona to be covered by other faculty or graduate students.
The flight from Tucson to Colorado Springs went quickly and he was met by an airman holding a sign with his name on it. The young woman had escorted him to a waiting vehicle and had driven him to Cheyenne Mountain.
He was asked to sign a confidentiality agreement, then taken down far too many levels for his comfort level. But when the elevator door slid open he was greeted by the sight of an old friend.
"Josiah!" Nathan exclaimed, stepping out of the elevator and into a quick hug from his old friend. "What are you doing here?"
Josiah smiled. "Don't you worry, Nate, it'll all be explained in short order. Flight all right?"
"Fine," Nathan replied, following Josiah down a long corridor and up a flight of stairs into a conference room.
"Have a seat," Josiah said, indicating the far end of the table.
Nathan sat, watching as Josiah joined three other men. They were all dressed in green fatigues. He didn't recognize the shoulder patch insignia, but he had to admit that he was curious.
Across from Josiah and the others sat four more soldiers, one a pretty blonde woman, and one a hulking Black man with an odd gold tattoo on his forehead.
"Dr. Jackson, thank you for coming," the blonde said with a smile.
"Sure," Nathan said, "but I still have no idea why you invited me here."
"That was my idea," Josiah said.
"Doc, it's like this," Jack cut in, "how'd you like to study reallife alien life forms?"
Nathan's eyes rounded and his mouth opened. "Alien life forms?"
"Yep," Jack replied. "Disgusting snake-like sons of bitches that crawl into peoples' heads…" He glanced at Teal'c. "…And bellies. No offence, Teal'c."
"None taken," the Jaffa replied.
"Is this some kind of a joke?" Nathan asked, confused.
"It's no joke," Daniel told him. "Look, why don't you let us give you the grand tour, I think that will explain why we asked you here."
Nathan nodded, too stunned to do anything else. He had the awful feeling that his orderly world was about to be turned on its head.
And he was right.
By the time the "tour" was over, including a brief introduction to the Goa'uld larvae in Teal'c pouch, he was hooked as securely as any fish ever had been. He couldn't wait to get started.
"Where do I sign?" he asked, eyes bright with excitement. It was a look SG-1 was used to seeing.
Josiah smiled. "I knew you'd want to be a part of this," he said, clapping Nathan on the back.
"Oh, hell, yeah," Nathan said, then frowned. "But what about my research, and my classes?"
"Your classes will have to be reassigned," Carter told him. "But I don't see why you couldn't continue doing research here. Daniel and I both do."
"JD and I do as well," Josiah added.
"'Course nothing on the Goa'uld will ever get published," Jack warned the man.
"Still, working with real alien life… I'm in, definitely in."
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Over the next four months the five men continued an intense training regime that Jack and Teal'c personally fashioned just for them. It pushed each of them to their limits – physically and mentally. While all of them were in good physical condition, the training brought them closer to their peak levels. Josiah and Buck grumbled the most about it, but they never slacked off, knowing that their lives might depend on it. They reviewed additional mission reports individually and as a team, they familiarized themselves with alien and SCG technology, and they worked with their more seasoned SG mentors to hone their mission-specific skills, and they tried to master the Goa'uld language, some with more success than others.
Jack was delighted to see that the varied personalities that made up SG-7 were blending well, complementing one another. Wilmington had taken Dunne under his wing, and Nathan and Josiah, already good friends, quickly became a force to be reckoned with. Larabee rose to the occasion, too, stepping into the leadership position just like Jack had known he would. Having Buck on the team had only aided in the transformation, the man's wit and battle savvy making him as valuable an asset as any of the scientists.
Even Teal'c was pleased with SG-7's collective prowess. And that was hard-won praise for anyone to garner.
As a result, the team was given the go-ahead for their first mission exactly five months after Jackson had joined the team, a mission they accomplished with aplomb, and no serious injuries. As a result, General Hammond declared SG-7 fully operational, and they entered into the regular SG team rotation, visiting off-world planets, and fighting the Goa'uld wherever they could.
JD completed his dissertation and defended it; the celebration following the defense more like a bachelor party than a graduation party. Josiah and Nathan each started their own research projects, and JD rejoined Dr. Lee, working on lightweight body-armor that was staff-blast resistant, when he wasn't off-world.
Life for SG-7 settled into a somewhat predictable routine…
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
One Year Later
"You want to put a what on my team?" Chris demanded, adding a belated, "Sir."
General Hammond was able to maintain his poker face. He had known the recommendation wasn't going to go over well with Larabee. Jack had outright refused, then threatened to retire if Hammond pressed the issue with him. And that meant Larabee was going to be stuck dealing with it instead. It was a shame he couldn't tell the Commander that. It might shift the man's ire from him to O'Neill, where it rightfully belonged.
"As a show of good faith," Hammond said, his voice calm but resolute, "the President has agreed to place a Tok'ra operative on an SGC team, to ensure the continued cooperation between the SGC and the Tok'ra."
"And you picked my team why, sir?" Chris asked, trying to rein in his temper. The last thing he wanted on his team was a goddamn snakehead – Tok'ra or not.
Hammond drew himself up in his chair and focused his best general's gaze on Larabee as he said, "Commander, we have to put him somewhere, and after careful consideration, it was decided he had the best chance to succeed with SG-Seven."
Chris huffed out a frustrated sigh. "Succeed… in what, sir?"
"In becoming a working member of this command!" Hammond barked, loud enough to put an end to Larabee's tirade.
Larabee sighed again, but this time it was in defeat. He was beaten, and he knew it. "Who is this… Tok'ra?"
"Shabouh. He was a highly placed operative in the court of Ahriman, one of the mid-level System Lords. His intelligence has allowed the Tok'ra to stay ahead of the political machinations of the System Lords while they established several fallback bases."
"What happened?" Chris asked suspiciously.
"His cover was blown; he barely escaped with his life," Hammond supplied, wishing himself that the Tok'ra had shared a little more of the details on how, exactly, that had happened. He didn't want a screw-up on one of his teams.
"And the host?" Larabee asked. "Who is he?"
"Shabouh was unable to save his host after his discovery. The Tok'ra asked us to find someone who would be willing to serve as Shabouh's new host. Given the success with General Carter, we agreed. He was provided with another host, a former NID agent, Ezra P. Standish. Agent Standish had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, and was dying. He agreed, and here we are."
"Great… What's the P stand for?" Chris asked, only mildly curious, but it beat landing on Hammond and going off like a grenade.
Hammond shrugged. "You'll have to ask him yourself, Commander."
"And you're sure you can't stick this snakehead on some other team? Sir," Chris asked hopefully, but he could already see the answer in the general's eyes.
"Absolutely sure, Commander," Hammond replied. "He'll be arriving tomorrow, at thirteen-hundred. I'd appreciate it if you and your team were there met him in the gate-room; see to it he's settled in visitor quarters, and then deliver him to the infirmary so Dr. Frasier can clear him for active duty."
"Yes, sir," Larabee replied on another sigh. He didn't like it, but there was absolutely nothing he could do about it. They were going to be stuck with a no-account NID agent and a snakehead… Wonderful, just fuckin' wonderful.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
The following day SG-7 stood at the foot of the gate ramp, waiting for their newest team member to arrive. They were all dressed in green fatigues, and carried no weapons, something Chris was sorry about.
The alarm bleated once as the gate became active, but then fell silent; this was not an unscheduled off-world activation. They watched as the chevrons engaged, one after another.
"Should be interesting," Nathan said.
"Might give us some insight into the Goa'uld," Josiah said.
"They have some pretty advanced technology," JD tossed in.
"Yeah, and they live in other people's heads," Buck concluded.
That had all of the others looking squeamish.
"NID isn't really on our side," JD worried. "What if this Standish guy is still working for them?"
"Hammond wouldn't have agreed to him joining the team if that was the case," Chris said. "But we'll be careful."
Buck grinned. "Meaning?"
"Meaning he doesn't go anywhere or see anyone without one of us being there," Larabee finished.
The kawoosh leapt from the ring and, a moment later, the event horizon shimmered inside the metal ring. They waited for several long seconds before a dark-haired man stepped through. He was of average height and weight, and was wearing black jeans, a dark black and charcoal flannel shirt, and a worn black leather jacket. There were no weapons in sight, or any suitcases, duffels, or other gear.
He flashed them a jaunty smile as he proceeded down the ramp. "Good day, gentlemen," he greeted them, his voice carrying a soft southern accent. "Am I to assume that you're the welcoming committee?"
"Something like that," Larabee replied dryly, looking like he'd just sucked on a particularly sour lemon. "Lieutenant Commander Chris Larabee," he said, extending his hand. Standish shook it and shook. "Commander of SG-Seven, the team you've been assigned to."
Standish frowned. "SG-Seven?" he echoed. "I was told I would be joining SG-One."
"Not gonna happen," O'Neill said as he walked up to join them, a smile on his face that turned Larabee's expression even more sour. Jack owed him, big time and he had every intention on collecting.
"Now see here—" Ezra began, but he was immediately cut off by O'Neill.
"Hey, just be glad we agreed to this at all," the colonel snapped. "I'm just here to officially welcome that sna— uh, Shabouh, to the SGC."
Ezra's eyes glowed for a moment and then the Tok'ra said, "Thank you, Colonel O'Neill, although I am disappointed that Ezra and I will not be working with you and the other members of SG-One."
"Yeah, well, you'll do just fine on SG-Seven." Jack glanced at Chris, adding, "Commander, why don't you get… Shabouh here settled in, then take him to the infirmary for a look-see."
"Infirmary?" Ezra asked, his voice having returned to normal. "I can assure you, Colonel, I'm in perfect health."
"Standard procedure," Chris stated. "Now, if you'll follow me."
It was not a request, and Ezra sighed softly as he followed after the blond commander, hoping that the rest of SG-7 was easier to deal with. He checked them out as covertly as possible as they proceeded to the quarters he'd been assigned. None of them looked overly excited about his arrival.
"You have any gear?" Larabee asked as they entered the small quarters.
"Yes, of course," Ezra replied, walking over and sitting down on one of the chairs in the room. He lifted his hand. The ring he wore on his index finger was a dark tenné set in heavy gold. He concentrated and, a moment later, an amber-colored light discharged from the stone, extending four to five feet in front of Standish. When it disappeared, five obviously full suitcases were setting on the floor in a neat row.
"Whoa!" JD yelped. "How'd you do that? What is that? Can I see it?"
Ezra held up his hand, stopping the youngest member of the team from approaching. "It's something Shabouh discovered in his wanderings. We have no idea how it works, but it can store a fair amount of… necessities."
"You have anything else stored in there?" Larabee asked, suspicion clear in his voice.
"Nothing but a few personal items, I assure you," Ezra replied, trying to look as innocent as he could manage.
But something about the man's silky voice made Chris even more suspicious, but there was little he could do about it at the moment. He'd have to have a talk with Hammond first, then, with luck they would confiscate that ring.
"And how long will I be forced to endure these drab surroundings?" Standish asked, glancing around at the Spartan quarters.
"This is it, Standish," Chris replied, a small smile drawing his lips tight as he saw the man's horrified reaction. "Can't have a… Tok'ra running loose out in the world, now can we? I mean, what would happen if you were… mugged? Ended up in a hospital?"
Ezra looked worried. "You mean to say that I will be living here?"
"Yep," Larabee replied, suddenly feeling a little better about the situation.
"Unless you're topside with one of us," Josiah added, seeing the panic that was about to erupt in the former NID agent.
"Oh, thank God," Ezra responded, then drew himself up with a self-martyred expression. "Now, I suppose we must go visit your medical staff?"
"Yes, you must," Buck agreed, grinning. "This way, Ez."
"Ezra," Standish corrected him.
"Whatever you say… Ez," Buck replied as he led the way out.
Standish rolled his eyes and stood his ground as Larabee and Wilmington left.
"Nathan Jackson," the astrobiologist said, extending his hand to Standish. "I'm looking forward to working with you, both of you. I have a lot of questions…"
"I'm sure you do," Ezra replied, trying not to look disenchanted by the prospect. "But I'm assuming they can wait until I'm settled in, can't they?"
"Sure," Nathan replied, disappointed but willing to wait – a day or two.
Ezra's gaze shifted to Josiah. "And Doctor Sanchez, I presume?"
Josiah nodded and shook the man's hand. "I have questions, too."
"Yes," Ezra said, trying to smile, "I'm sure you do."
"Lieutenant JD Dunne," the younger man said. Adding as they shook hands, "You sure I can't borrow that ring for a day or two?"
"Quite sure," Ezra replied, starting for the door to his quarters feeling a little trapped.
"And that was Lieutenant Commander Chris Larabee and Lieutenant Buck Wilmington," Nathan told him.
"Yes. It should be an interesting assignment," Ezra replied, trying not to look like a man heading for his execution. He watched as the two Navy men continued on down the corridor without them.
The other four moved around him and followed after them, getting to know one another a little better as they did. Maybe, just maybe, this might be all right – if he could win their trust.
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Six months later
SG-7 took their usual seats around the conference table, General Hammond waiting until they were settled before he started by saying, "Gentlemen, your mission tomorrow has been scrubbed. Something else has come up that takes precedence."
"Sounds interesting," Buck muttered to JD, who nodded, his attention on the general.
"Dr. Joseph Tyler and his team have been working on PX1 313 with the local inhabitants, who have been resisting the Goa'uld for several years now. Tyler believes the planet was once home to an advanced race, and that the Goa'uld brought the current inhabitants there thousands of years ago, long after the original civilization had either left or died out. The locals have been able to use some of the ancient crystal-based weapons left behind by that race to effectively fight the Goa'uld, who have used the stargate to acquire access to the city, and the population. However, as of his last contact, Dr. Tyler reported that two Goa'uld ships are now orbiting the planet. They have warned the city's inhabitants that if they do not surrender, they will come under attack and be destroyed."
"And you want us to stop that?" Larabee asked, wondering what in the world Hammond was thinking.
Hammond shook his head. "No, Commander, I want you and your team to ensure Dr. Tyler and his people make it safely off the planet with the ancient artifacts the locals are allowing them to bring with them."
"And if the Goa'uld start shooting?" Buck asked.
"Then you have a go to do whatever it takes to ensure the safe return of our people and those artifacts," Hammond told him. "You'll be talking along a small tactical nuke, in case you can find a way to get it on board one of the ships."
That put a small smile on all of SG-7's lips.
Chris nodded. "We'll see to it we don't waste a perfectly good nuke, General."
"Just so we're clean, Commander, your primary mission is the safe return of Dr. Tyler, his team, and the artifacts. If you can do some damage to the Goa'uld once that's accomplished, help the locals, then by all means, do."
Chris nodded. "Understood, sir."
"Dr. Tyler will be contacting us tomorrow at O-seven hundred," Hammond added. "If the gate's clear, we'll dial it up and you'll leave then."
Chris glanced at his men, saying, "We'll meet at O-five hundred to eat, gear up, and review."
The others nodded their understanding.
Hammond handed Chris a thumb drive with all of Tyler's reports. The team would spend the remainder of the day going over those reports, and familiarizing themselves with the layout of the city and the surrounding terrain. Strategies and options for extricating the scientific team would be developed and discussed, contingencies created, and plans made. It was the best they could do until they were on the ground.
"Very well, gentlemen, dismissed," Hammond said, rising and leaving the room.
"I'll see if the level-fifty conference room is available," JD said, heading out behind the general.
"Nathan and I will go get some coffee and munchies," Josiah offered. "I have a feeling this is going to be a long day."
Chris nodded his agreement. "Buck, see if we can borrow that three-D analyzer so we can get an aerial view of the city and the terrain between it and the gate."
"On it," the ladies' man replied, following Josiah and Nathan out. "Hey, fellas," he called to them, "be sure to get some of that Danish!"
"You're just askin' for a sugar crash," they heard Nathan scold him.
"And me?" Ezra asked Chris.
"Does Shabouh know anything about this ancient race?" Chris asked.
"No, Commander, I'm afraid I do not," the Tok'ra replied. Ezra's eyes returned to normal as he added, "But that planet is in an area of the galaxy the Goa'uld and the Tok'ra have made little use of."
JD came back in, announcing, "Conference room is available, I'm going down to get the computer system booted up."
"Let Nathan and Josiah know on your way; they're in the mess hall."
"Yes, sir," JD replied, gone again.
Chris looked at Ezra and said, "Let's get the conference room set up, see what we can come up with."
"After you, Commander," Ezra replied with the sweep of his hand. "Sounds like an interesting planet," he added.
"Aren't they all?" Chris replied as he led the way out.
Continues in The Crystal City
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