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His Father's Eyes

 

Chapter 3

Michael Graham, Junior was certain he'd taken a turn into the twilight zone. When Major Ferretti had stopped at the local transit barracks, he'd assumed that he was to check in there temporarily. That hadn't been the case. Five other pilots had arrived the day before, and had spent the night there. The five pilots had been hustled from the barracks. Two of those pilots, along with their luggage, had joined him and the Major. A second jeep had arrived, and the remaining pilots and their luggage had joined that driver. The two jeeps had then continued up the mountain, past two security stops - where each of them had had to show ID and their orders; toward the low building known to the world as NORAD.

Marched inside, they'd been led to a windowless room. Each of them had been handed a file. Inside were half a dozen different forms, from change of address (the new AFPO was already filled in, listing a Cheyenne Mountain post office box number, much to his surprise) to dispersing update requests to medical release forms. And a psychiatric evaluation questionnaire. Jay groaned mentally. He hated those 'what does this ink-spot look like' tests. He was always certain that whatever answer he gave, it was the wrong one. He did his best to respond to the questions with answers that would make him sound sane…and stable. The most surprising forms, however, were the non-disclosure forms. Six of them, to be exact, each more detailed and binding than the last. Slowly, he raised his hand.

"You got a question, Junior?" Ferretti asked.

"Yes, sir. Are we going to be part of a some secret program?" Jay held up the forms.

Ferretti's face remained impassive. He reached out and snagged the forms from the young pilot's hand. "These particular non-disclosure forms are air tight. And aeternus. That means eternal. You sign these, you're bound 'til the day you die. Make sure you can deal with that. If not, leave the folder on the desk, you'll be debriefed, escorted top-side, and reassigned elsewhere."

Jay swallowed. Noted the almost panicked look on the faces around him. Then wondered if the same gleam of determination filled his eyes as those of his fellow pilots. "No problem for me, Major."

Ferretti handed the forms back. Watched with amusement as each pilot filled out those particular forms were before anything else in the folder.

Jay carefully read the terms. Felt his heart begin to pound harder with each form. This was BIG. This was IMPORTANT. He filled out every line, dotted every 'i' and crossed every 't'. Because he was burning with the need to be part of this very special place. Instinct had told him his life was never going to be the same.

Ferretti checked his watch. "Okay, boys, time's up," he said, grinning broadly. "Shove everything back into the envelope, make sure your name and serial number is on the front and correct, and pass 'em over."

The pilots obeyed, daring to glance at one another as they did so. All of them were feeling more than a little worried. Whatever their new assignment was, security was tight.

"Okay, we're goin' for a little ride. Then I'll explain just exactly what you're going to be doing," Ferretti promised.

This guy is enjoying this way too much, Jay grumped silently. He tossed an irritated look at the Marine.

"Got somethin' you wanna say, Junior?" Ferretti asked, having caught the young pilot glancing in his direction with something akin to annoyance. Which only had the Marine laughing silently.

Jay jumped, wondered if Major Ferretti had read his mind. "No, sir!"

Ferretti studied the young man for a moment, then chuckled. "Uh huh. Let's go, fly-boys."

The grizzled Marine led the six young men to a waiting bus. "You might want to just forget everything you were ever taught. Because by the time I get finished with you, you'll know what the truth is. And the truth ain't pretty."

Once again nervous glances were exchanged. Boot camp had been as much a psychological exercise as it had been physical. They'd learned to eat, sleep, walk, talk, and think 'military style'. Instinct told each of them that what they were about to experience would make boot camp seem like summer camp in comparison.

The bus took them further up the steep mountain road, then into a tunnel. And stopped beside the largest blast door any of them had ever seen.

"Holy shit!" Jay muttered. He'd seen pictures of the door, but never dreamed he'd be seeing it in person. And just why the hell was he here? He was a pilot, damn it! When Ferretti glared at him, he slumped slightly into his seat. Then followed his fellow pilots, each of them carrying their duffel bags and flight bags, as Ferretti led them off the bus.

 

 

 

They'd already had to sign in twice, once 'topside', and once upon reaching sublevel eleven. Major Ferretti had been joined by a huge black man on that level, who sported the weirdest tattoo he'd ever seen, right in the middle of his forehead. The damned thing looked as if it were solid gold! The two were speaking too quietly for their conversation to be overheard. Jay was curious, but not enough to risk moving closer to the two men.

"What you're about to see," Ferretti said, turning to face the men as they followed him to the elevator, "is something that damned few people have seen. The President of the United States knows about our little facility. The Joint Chiefs know. A handful of senators on an oversight committee know…although they aren't given the skinny on everything, only as much as their clearances allow. The people who work here know. That's it. You're among a privileged few, gentlemen. Damned good men and women have died doing their job here. Do your best to earn your place among us."

The fact that the Marine's voice had dropped slightly, softened just a bit, had Jay's heart battering against his ribs.

"Sir, what the hell is this place?"

Jay was glad that someone had asked the question. It was on the tip of his tongue, he'd taken a breath to ask it twice himself. Dude, you're a freaking coward! he berated himself.

Ferretti grinned. "Resident Seer calls it the Rabbit Hole. Watch out for the Queen of Hearts!"

Seer? Did he really just say 'resident seer'? Jay shook his head mentally. He'd heard about hazing and pranks pulled on new arrivals, but this had to be the mother of all jokes!

As soon as the doors to the elevator closed around the group, the black giant not joining them, Jay noted, Major Ferretti's grin disappeared.

"Back in 1928, some archaeologists were digging around in Giza. That's in Egypt," he clarified, quickly scrutinizing each pilot; looking for any signs of disbelief, cynicism, boredom, or any other such unacceptable attitude that might be reflected on any of their faces. His gaze was met with nothing but open curiosity. "An archaeologist by the name of Professor Charles Langford found a monument there. He and his team had no idea what it was, other than one hell of an artifact, so they stored it away in a nice secure warehouse.

"Then, in 1945, a group of scientists decided they wanted to know just what they had. Truth was, they were looking for a weapon to use against the Nazis. There was an accident, a guy was - well, they thought he'd been killed. So, it was locked away again."

At this point, glances had been exchanged. That there was actually no disbelief was surprising, Jay thought, considering what they were hearing. However, he had absolutely no reason to doubt what the major was telling them. Especially not when he was in the elevator of a top secret facility!

"Fast forward to 1995…around the first part of the year. Doctor Catherine Langford - her father was the archaeologist who found the 'monument' - persuaded President Clinton to allow her to reopen investigation of the 'artifact'. She got the go-ahead, and since this missile silo was sitting empty, with the nicely public NORAD sitting right above it - useful for deflecting any questions that might be asked about the project, they decided this was the perfect place for figuring out what they had, and keeping John Q. from finding out about it. Doc Langford and her group had already been at it seven months, and she was getting a bit antsy. Ya see, she'd been given a time limit. If her team of experts hadn't figured it out by the end of that year, the 'monument' was going back into storage, and you can bet there wouldn't have been another attempt made. At least not for a decade or two. Then she heard about a whiz kid, a really smart archaeologist who had a couple of strange ideas, mainly that the pyramids were landing pads for spacecraft, so she recruited him for the project. In two weeks Doctor Daniel Jackson had figured out what it was, and what it could do. Hell, he even had the basics on how it worked. So, what had been the 'Stargate Project' became the 'Stargate Program."

By this time, the group was standing just outside the blast door of the 'gate room. Ferretti waved the men into the room.

"That, boys, is the Stargate. It can take you through a stable wormhole to any other 'gate in the galaxy. In just about a second."

"Bullshit," one of pilots muttered.

"Did you say something, boy?" Ferretti demanded, marching to stand in front of the pilot who had been foolish enough to voice his disbelief.

Before the young pilot could respond, the klaxons began to wail, red warning lights began to flash, and the security team for the 'gate room rushed in, pushing past the gaping pilots to take up positions in front of the huge ring. The pilots jumped, two of them tripping over each other in an attempt to move back toward the safety of the concrete wall behind them.

"IDC confirmed," a voice echoed overhead.

The iris twisted, disappeared, and exposed the shimmering event horizon. The blue light that seemed to emanate from that watery-looking surface reflected eerily on the concrete floor, and on the faces of the armed men who waited patiently at the foot of the ramp, which led up to that huge stone circle.

"Holy shit," Jay whispered.

Several seconds passed, the sirens continuing to scream overhead. Two men appeared, walking out of the shimmering pool of watery light and onto the ramp in front of the Stargate. Two more men followed. They were all dusty, and looked tired.

"Welcome home, SG-10," another voice echoed. "Briefing in one hour."

"Those men were on…" Ferretti paused. "Hey, colonel, what planet were you on?"

The colonel in question turned around, his eyes narrowing as he took in the six young men who stood gawking open-mouthed at the 'gate. He gave a grin. "PX8 59R."

"That's the computer designation that was given to the planet. At least half a dozen planets are visited every week," Ferretti explained.

"Is this for real?" the pilot standing beside Jay asked. Jay noted that there was a slight quaver in the man's voice.

"More real than you wanna know," one of the gate room Marines muttered, pushing past the group to secure his weapon on the way out of the 'gate room.

"In a couple of days, you'll be walking through that Stargate to a lovely place we call Hell. You're gonna love P7R 093." The grin Ferretti gave was almost maniacal.

Jay shivered slightly. Twilight Zone. I am so definitely in the Twilight Zone.

"But first, you need to make out your wills. Can't have you getting killed out there without doing your paperwork first. Then you have about a dozen more forms to fill out," Ferretti informed the group. "This way."

Jay fell into step with the others. Hadn't they filled out enough military forms in that NORAD office? They'd been standard forms, similar to what he'd filled out at his arrival at boot camp. For a few minutes, he thought he'd been assigned to that facility.

Ferretti led the men back to the elevator. Up to level twenty-four, and into one of the classrooms. When the pilots were seated at the available desks, he held up another group of folders. "These are just standard will and last testament forms. Fill them out, I'll sign 'em as your witness, and you'll be good to go."

"Ever met any aliens?" one of the pilots asked, watching as the Marine major scratched his name on the appropriate line on the form in front of him.

Ferretti chuckled. "First alien I met was a kid named Skaara. Then we met up with some really bad guys. Teal'c, the big guy I was talking to on level eleven, is a bona fide alien. Raised on a planet named Chulak. He was First Prime to a Goa'uld named Apophis. Goa'uld, by the way, are the nastiest bad guys you've ever run into. Arrogant sons of bitches. They're determined that one of them is going to conquer and rule Earth. We're just as determined to see that it doesn't happen." Once again Ferretti was leading them to the elevator.

"No shit?"

"No shit, lieutenant. We've met lots of folks out there. Most of them were taken from good ol' planet Earth by the Goa'uld…can't remember exactly, think it was like ten thousand years ago or something like that."

"You mean aliens have been here?" Jay asked, his blue eyes wide with disbelief.

This time Ferretti laughed out loud. "Let's see…the Asgard, the Ancients, the Goa'uld, that we know about, anyway."

If aliens had really been on Earth…Jay felt himself sway slightly. My god, what if Mom and Dad really had met aliens? For the first time in decades, his firm skepticism of the story his parents told began to waver.

 

A A A A A A

 

Beth Meyers smiled brightly as she handed over the folder that contained the weekly reports for the archaeological department. "Hello!"

General Hammond smiled in return. "Hello, yourself."

"It seems like it's been ages since we've had a chance to have a cup of coffee together," she said, her gaze dropping to the top of the general's desk. If not for the nightly phone calls, she would have been concerned that the general had lost interest in her - they hadn't actually been able to spend time with one another for almost a week. And the last time they had been together, they'd spent the entire weekend together. She frowned mentally. Had she done something, said something…or maybe not done or said something…that had cooled his feelings for her?

"I was just thinking the same thing," Hammond said, his smile going wider. "If you don't mind waiting while I sign a few things, we could go up to the commissary and have lunch."

"I don't mind at all," Beth replied. She settled into one of the chairs directly in front of the large, walnut desk. Her heart was pattering against her ribs, relief washing over her. Something about his expression told her that George was as anxious for 'face time' together as she was.

"Are you going to be busy Friday night?" the general asked casually, as he moved the pen with practiced ease over several forms.

"Not at all."

"Good. Why don't you drop by the house. Around seven or so?"

Beth's heart began to beat faster. A rush of anticipation filled her, had her nearly gasping with desire. "I'd love to come by. Should I bring anything?"

"Nope. Just yourself." Hammond looked up and gave her a wink. "And that beautiful smile of yours."

She blushed prettily, lowering her eyes, his words warming her to the core.

Signing the last form, Hammond closed the folder. "You know, a plate of pasta sounds good."

"Yes, it does," Beth agreed. Wondered if pasta was on the menu for the day in the commissary.

"Think anyone would take notice if we slipped out to Olive Garden for lunch?"

She couldn't help but chuckle. The local restaurant had been advertising enticing lunch specials for the past three days, on both radio and television. "I'd be more surprised if half the people on the base aren't going to do the same thing."

Hammond chuckled as well. "Any chance to eat somewhere other than the commissary is to be taken."

"For all the complaining, the food isn't that bad," Beth admonished.

"No, it's really not. But still…pasta," he grinned.

"I'm not arguing," she chuckled again. "You know I love a good plate of spaghetti."

"Let me get my jacket."

Walter chose that moment to knock on the door. "I'm sorry, sir," he said apologetically, poking his head into the room. "There's a problem with supply."

Hammond sighed. "Can it wait until after lunch?"

Walter glanced at Beth, then pushed up his glasses. "No, sir. Several crates of ammunition are being held up in delivery - they're still sitting in DC. Apparently one of the supply officers in the Pentagon saw the requisition, and is demanding to know why NORAD needs such a large shipment of ammo. He won't release the crates until he's been 'satisfied' with a 'legitimate answer'."

The general ran a hand over his face. "I'm sorry-"

Beth held up a hand. "I understand. Maybe we can have coffee later."

"I'd like that," Hammond smiled.

"This is none of my business, I know," Beth said, her brown eyes twinkling, "but according to Daniel, not many people in the Pentagon know about us. If this officer doesn't have clearance to know about the SGC, certainly his holding up a shipment of necessary…goods…is nothing short of a disciplinary offense, am I right?"

"I believe you're correct, Doctor," Hammond smiled. Couldn't help but chuckle mentally. Beth was as disappointed at not being able to have lunch together as he was. And she was just as willing to see a head or two roll over the interruption. "I'll see to it that this particular officer is made aware of that fact."

"Good." Beth smiled at Walter, gave a small wave, and disappeared into the corridor. She'd find a way to spend time with George today, if it meant locking the two of them in a storage closet somewhere!

As soon as they were alone, Hammond waved the staff sergeant to follow. "Has General Jacoby spoken with anyone regarding this shipment?"

"Not yet, sir," Walter replied. "He called and said that he'd leave the butt-chewing up to you."

His jaw set firmly, his expression leaving no doubt as to his state of mind at that moment, Hammond headed for the elevator. He'd make the call from NORAD itself. No sense giving some snot-nosed Pentagon officer a call-back number that he didn't have clearance for.

The NORAD commander wasn't surprised when the OIC of the SGC entered his office. He agreed that calling from a less 'secret' number was in the best interest of the SGC.

General Hammond looked over the paperwork that had arrived in lieu of the expected shipment of ammunition. Which, he thought irritably, would probably be needed today! Once he found what he was looking for, he made a call to the Pentagon.

Forty minutes later, one captain of the United States Air Force was sent to General Vidrine's office to explain just how he'd come to even see a requisition request for NORAD, and why he'd thought he had the power to not only question that request, but detain the shipment as well.

The delivery was promised to arrive as soon as the crates could be loaded onto a C-130 and the plane in the air. Walter estimated that it would be nearly eight p.m., local time, before the shipment would arrive.

Hammond could only hope that nothing was needed before then. The request had been for a larger supply that usual, given that several of the teams had been in fire-fights with Jaffa a dozen times during the week.

With the situation as under control as possible, Hammond bid General Jacoby a good day, then returned to his office. He'd just have Walter bring him a sandwich later. A thought which made him sigh silently.

 

A A A A A A

 

"Doctor Jackson, may I speak with you for a moment?"

Daniel looked up at the sound of the voice. He glanced at Casey's desk, and frowned slightly when he realized she wasn't there. When had she left the room? They'd returned from lunch not more than thirty minutes prior, and she'd been busy with the database… His attention moved back to the man waiting just inside the door. "Of course, sir."

The general looked around, then nervously rubbed his hands together. "I'm sure that Casey has told you that Beth Meyers and I…" his voice faded as his cheeks began to glow red.

"Actually, Beth told me," Daniel said quietly. He chuckled inwardly at the general's obvious discomfort. "It's not the topic of any conversations around here."

"That's good," Hammond replied, offering a weak smile. He stepped further into the room. "Casey told me that the Big Boys will offer Beth-" He broke off, then waved his hand in a circle.

"Yes, sir. She told me about the download she had concerning the…er…situation," Daniel said.

"I didn't think I'd ever love anyone else. When Betty died, part of me died with her," the general's voice was soft. "I never even looked at other women. I'd been married to the love of my life, I couldn't expect lightening to strike twice, now, could I?"

"I suppose not," Daniel allowed, his own voice soft.

"Then, one day I went to the commissary for a break. Beth…Doctor Meyers…was sitting at a table all alone. So, I got a cup of coffee and joined her. Before I knew it, we'd been talking for over an hour."

Daniel smiled at the mental image the words created.

"I love her, Daniel, and by some miracle that I won't question, she loves me," Hammond continued.

"You're going to ask her to marry you," Daniel surmised.

"Friday night. But…I want her to make a fully informed decision. I'm going to tell her about…about…about our secret."

"That's only right," Daniel agreed. Then, in a flash of understanding, he realized why the general was standing in his office, declaring his love for Doctor Beth Meyers. "You want Casey and me to be there."

"Actually, I'd like all of SG-1 to be present. If she hears it from all of you…"

Daniel nodded his understanding. "Of course, sir. We'll all be happy to help you."

"I've invited her to my house Friday evening, at seven. If you and the others could arrive at around six-thirty?"

"We'll be there, sir, I promise," Daniel said.

The general glanced at Casey's desk. He'd intended to speak with the slender seer. Not willing to take the chance of not making the arrangements in time, he'd opted to speak to the person available. Somehow, the conversation with Doctor Jackson had been less…embarrassing. "Thank you, Doctor."

Daniel returned the general's nod, then smiled wider as the older man disappeared into the corridor. Casey was going to be unbearably delighted with this turn of events.

 

A A A A A A

 

Sam nearly jumped out of her skin when the communication orb on her desk began to glow, and a slight humming sound vibrated it across the top of two folders. She grabbed it, just as a familiar face came into focus. "Tieel?"

The man frowned, then recognition filled his one good eye. He smiled, revealing his large, yellow teeth. "Ah, Major Carter."

"Actually, it's Colonel Carter now," Sam smiled.

"A promotion? I'm impressed," Tieel grinned.

"I thought we were supposed to call you," Sam said, cutting to the heart of the matter.

The grin disappeared. "What I learned, I thought you should know immediately," Tieel said quietly.

"Okay. If you can give me a few minutes, I can get everyone together," Sam offered.

Tieel shook his head. "I am not completely safe here. I will tell you what I have learned, and then call again when I am in a secure place."

"Fair enough," Sam replied.

"Chaahk has been very busy. He's managed to gather the Jaffa of three fallen Goa'uld system Lords. Ares, Bastet, and Morrigan."

"Morrigan has been killed?" Sam gasped. The Tok'ra had very little information about Morrigan…this would be a 'scoop' for the SGC.

"By Camulus, if rumors are true," Tieel responded. "How Chaahk has managed to do this, I do not know. I only know that he now has half a dozen al'kesh. Still only one ha'tak. Even so, the addition of the smaller ships only makes him stronger."

"True," Sam said, biting at her lower lip.

"Morrigan had a stash of weapons, which now belong to Chaahk. And it seems that he is moving in to claim her territory. He wasn't fast enough to do so with Bastet. Word is that Camulus, Olokun, and Pelops have taken what belonged to her."

Sam shook her head. "Wait, Pelops? We thought he was dead."

"Not dead, no. He had left the galaxy, rumor has it he had planned to build a great Empire of his own in another place. I do not believe he succeeded, as his return has been made very…quietly. Also, very recently."

Great. How many other Goa'uld left the galaxy to strike out on their own, only to come back to the Milky Way? "Will those three take on Chaahk?" Sam asked, pushing aside the disturbing thoughts of other Goa'uld making a 'come-back'.

"I doubt it. They are busy squabbling among themselves. It is possible they are not even aware of his presence," Tieel replied.

"I don't suppose it would do any good to inform them?" It was a pleasant thought: get word to other Goa'uld and let them fight Chaahk.

Tieel smiled grimly. "No. From what I have learned, he is much older than they. To that end, they would hesitate to move against him. When the time is right, Chaahk will demand their loyalty, and he will most certainly receive it."

"And if they capitulate, it will make him all the more powerful," Sam sighed.

Tieel nodded. "I must go now. But know that Chaahk will not be taken down as easily as he might have been but a few weeks ago."

"Thanks. I'll pass the information on," Sam promised.

"I will contact you soon."

The orb went dark.

"Well, shit!" Sam exclaimed. She barely resisted throwing the orb.

"What?" A familiar voice demanded to know.

She looked at the doorway, then smiled. "Just got a call from Tieel Mogba."

Jack nodded. "Okay. Thought we were supposed to call him."

"He wanted to make sure we had this intel right away," Sam said, heaving a deep sigh.

"Crap. Guess we should get the team and go find the general?"

"I guess so. You'd think we wouldn't be so surprised when dead Goa'uld pop back up," she groused.

"I don't wanna know," Jack said firmly.

"Oh, yes you do," Sam argued. "Come on. I know Teal'c is in the gym."

"I'll have Walter call the Jacksons," Jack said. He put his arms around his wife's shoulders. Could feel her trembling. Whatever had been said, it had been enough to scare her. That was never a happy sign. Sam Carter wasn't easily spooked, not even by the worst of the Goa'uld. His worry increased when she paused, then dashed back into her lab to grab the communication orb.

"He said he'd call as soon as he was in a safe place," Sam explained, when she saw Jack's frown.

"Oy," he muttered beneath his breath. Definitely not a good thing. If the little weasel had contacted them while he was still at risk, the news could only be bad.

 

 

 

Daniel and Casey hurried into the briefing room. "What's up?" Daniel asked, as he settled into 'his' chair.

"Tieel Mogba called," Jack replied.

"He what? I thought we were supposed to call him in-" Daniel checked his watch. "In about two hours."

"He wanted us to have what he'd found right away," Sam said quietly.

"Not good," Casey murmured.

"No, not good," Sam replied.

"What did he find?" Daniel inquired.

"Seems Chaahk has been a bit busy," Sam said. "According to Tieel, Camulus killed Morrigan. Chaahk has swept through and collected her Jaffa, as well as those of Ares and Bastet."

Daniel nodded. "I remember seeing a few of Ares' Jaffa when I was there."

"He has a ha'tak, and a few al'kesh…and possibly the entire weapons stash that Morrigan had. He's got Jaffa, and if he found that stash, they're well armed," Sam explained. "Tieel says he's going to be more difficult to take down than he would have been a few weeks ago."

"And if we wait any longer, he could start attacking Goa'uld, and building his army up even more," Jack sighed.

"Or worse, forcing them to capitulate to him," Daniel said. "If he does that, he'll be as powerful as Ba'al."

"There's more," Sam said, her eyes moving around the table. "It seems that Pelops is back."

Daniel's eyes went wide. "I thought he was dead!"

"We all did," Jack grumbled.

"Apparently he left this galaxy, looking to build an empire. Didn't work out, according to Tieel, and he very quietly came back. His return has been fairly recent, too. He and Olokun and Camulus are taking what belonged to Bastet…Chaahk wasn't fast enough to get in on that. However, Chaahk is moving in on what belonged to Morrigan." Sam paused, shook her head slightly. "If we don't take this Goa'uld out now, we might never get the chance again."

Daniel shuddered. "He's one of the oldest Goa'uld…he remembers the power the Goa'uld held when they worked together. If he demands the allegiance of the minor System Lords, he'll be able to restore the Empire."

"Ba'al isn't going to sit back and let that happen," Jack argued.

"No, but if enough of the System Lords are allied with Chaahk, Ba'al won't stand a chance against them," Daniel pointed out.

"And if Ba'al can't stand against Chalk, we sure as hell can't," Jack said.

"Then I guess we'd better go take him out," Casey said softly.

General Hammond watched the young seer for a moment. "Can you see anything?"

"Not yet." Casey tilted her blonde head slightly, her gaze slightly unfocused. "We're going to have to hit him fast and hard. He's already approached Amaterasu, suggesting a truce. She…she's really afraid of him."

"He's cruel," Daniel agreed. "He won't hesitate to torture other Goa'uld to get what he wants."

"It is common for Goa'uld to kill one another, but torture is rarely used," Teal'c mused.

"Rules of the Empire. At least, the rules that Ra put in place," Daniel surmised. "I don't think Chaahk bothered with those rules, if he was even still around during Ra's reign."

"Indeed. Chaahk, however, will not hesitate to rebuild the empire according to his own desires," Teal'c said.

"Especially if he's older than Ra," Sam murmured.

"Or even a contemporary," Daniel added.

"Like I said, we'd better take him out," Casey sighed.

"We'll take the Daedalus," Jack said. "It has all the upgrades. There are ten new F302s in the hanger, or so Colonel Mitchell informed me. The question is, do we have pilots for them?"

"Major Ferretti just took five pilots out for their training mission," Hammond replied. He glanced at his watch. "They've been off world for less than four hours."

Jack frowned. "I hate to take them out before they're ready, but from the sounds of it, we're gonna need every able body we've got."

"I agree," the general nodded. "These are trained Air Force officers. They won't be the first group to get their experience in the heat of battle. I'll contact Ferretti, have him and the pilots return ASAP. Those pilots will join you on the Daedalus."

"Thank you, sir," Jack sighed. He looked at each face of his team. Saw the same determination he felt pulsing in his veins. "We're ready, sir."

Hammond nodded his agreement. "As soon as possible, General."

"I suggest we ask Tieel to join us," Daniel said. "He might be able to gather more intel for us on the way."

Jack frowned slightly. "You're sure he's trustworthy?"

Daniel smiled. "He snuck into Chaahk's stronghold to get me out. He contacted us with this information as soon as he had it. I'd say that's earned our trust."

"He's thrilled to be working against the Goa'uld, instead of for them," Casey added. Tapped her temple when Jack raised an eyebrow.

"Okay," Jack sighed. "Let's get to the Daedalus. Then we'll call our bounty-hunter/spy, and set up a place to meet."

"Best time, people," Hammond said, his voice low. "I want those children located and returned to their homes as quickly as possible, and this Chaahk taken out completely."

"We'll do our best, sir," Jack replied.

"I know you will," Hammond said, giving a short nod.

Jack rose from his chair. "Let's go, campers."

"I get first shot," Casey declared, as she lead her teammates into the corridor.

"Why?" Jack asked, curiosity in his voice as well as his expression.

"He kidnapped Daniel."

"Right," the general chuckled. "Okay, Radar gets first crack at this snake."

Before Daniel could move away from the table, General Hammond reached out and caught his arm. "You haven't said anything to them-" he nodded toward the door, "about Friday, have you?"

"Not yet. Haven't even mentioned it to Casey," Daniel responded.

"Don't say anything. Not yet. If you're back in time, then I'll expect SG-1 at my home by six-thirty."

"If we're not?"

"Then I'll put off proposing until the team is…available. I want Beth to have all of the pertinent information about me she'll need to make her decision."

Daniel nodded his understanding. "You have my word."

"Thank you, Doctor."

Hurrying to join his teammates, Daniel bit back a smile. General Hammond was the most honest, straight-forward person he knew. It wasn't surprising that he wanted Beth to know all of his 'secrets' before agreeing to marry him. Beth was a straight shooter as well. She'd tell the general exactly what she felt. What she'd say about their secret…how well she'd accept it, was the only variable. He had to admit more than a bit of curiosity as to how she'd handle the news that the man she loved was Immortal. And so were five of the people she worked with.


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