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The Colonel's New Toys
The building was small, perhaps thirty feet square. The concrete walls were the same color as the desert that surrounded it. The roof, however, was bright red. Upon Casey's inquiry as to the rather unusual color, she was informed that the building was 'officially' used as a 'spotter' location for practice bombing runs for the various military bombers that held training in the desert, and that the roof color was used as a 'position marker'. The ten foot tall chain-link fence topped with Concertina wire belied the seeming mundanity of the building.
The gate was closed, a tall white pole stood as if at attention beside it. On the pole was a small, weatherproof box; which held a simple, black telephone handset. Jack flipped open the box, grabbed the receiver, and gave his password. Inside, a computer verified the password, and his voice pattern. Which was verified by the guard.
The sound of a lock disengaging broke the late afternoon silence that surrounded them. The gate swung open, and the colonel led his team toward the building. A camera just above the door scanned the faces of the team carefully. A voice then instructed them to hold their ID badges up for confirmation. They did as instructed.
The interior of the building was as nondescript as the exterior. One corner was boxed off, the wide doors leaving no doubt as to the fact that it was an elevator shaft. Two desks faced one another in the center of the room. Each desk held two computer monitors, and one telephone. The men who sat at those desks were armed, and looked to be as large as Teal'c. They were no doubt as well-trained as the Jaffa in hand-to-hand combat.
"We'll need your signatures," the man wearing two silver bars told them. He handed a clipboard to Jack.
"Thank you, captain," Jack replied. "ID numbers, too, kids," he said softly, passing the clipboard to Sam. Watched as each of his team members signed the government document, swearing that they were who they said they were, and that they'd been in the facility on the date indicated. Information that would be entered into the computer, and the sheet of paper turned into confetti, which would then be burned.
Once the team had signed in, the man sitting at the second desk lowered his hand, presumably to activate the elevator from the controls hidden beneath the desk top.
With nods of acknowledgement, the team walked onto the elevator. Accustomed to the depth of the SGC beneath Cheyenne mountain, none of them actually paid attention to the amount of time spent going down. Six hundred and twenty two feet later, they stepped out into what looked like an ordinary hanger...only of immense proportions.
The Prometheus sat proudly in the dock. The ship was comprised of fifteen levels of varying lengths; the bridge located at the top of a 'tower' near the stern of the ship, behind three large, multi-functional paned windows.
"Wow," Casey whispered.
"Yeah," Daniel agreed, as awed as his wife.
"Cool!" Jack grinned.
"Colonel O'Neill!" The team turned as one toward the voice. A man with a large smile and wearing a blue Air Force jumpsuit hurried toward them. He offered his hand as soon as he was close enough. "Colonel William Ronson. Commander of the Prometheus."
"Nice to meet you, Colonel," Jack replied. "My team...Major Samantha Carter, Doctor Daniel Jackson, Mrs. Casey Jackson, and Teal'c of Chulak."
Ronson nodded, shook each hand. "I've heard a lot about you folks. I received word from General Hammond that you're here to help us find out what the hold up is."
"NID," Jack replied immediately.
The commander's face tightened. "Yeah, I've read reports about them, as well."
"Who's working on the hyperdrive systems?" Sam asked.
"Three locals from Area 51, two brains flown in from DC," was the immediate reply.
Four pairs of eyes focused on Casey. "Talk to me, Radar," Jack said quietly.
"One of the two. The three 'locals' don't have a clue what's going on," she replied softly.
"We'd like to talk with these folks," Jack said, turning his attention back to Ronson.
"You bet. I'll give you the twenty-five cent tour. It won't cause as much...talk," Ronson said. "We'll work our way to that section."
"Sounds agreeable," Jack replied. He fell into step beside Ronson, the others following closely.
The group looked around with unabashed interest. There was actually very little activity on the dock itself. Most of the work that remained to be done - checking and double checking that all systems functioned as they were designed - was being conducted inside the massive ship. Besides the Asgard technology scavenged from the Roswell crash, the ship also had a hyperdrive system from an al'kesh too badly damaged to repair. Part of the life support system was based on technology from the Goa'uld ship as well.
"I suppose you've already scheduled time to take up a couple of the 302s," Ronson said, looking over at Jack.
"Not yet," Jack replied. Although like Sam, his palms itched and his stomach quivered at the thought of flying again. He'd read...no, he'd devoured the specs on the craft.
"They're beauties," Ronson told him. "We'll get a flight in tomorrow."
The F-302 was a space-worthy, intercept fighter. It had four different sets of engines: air breathing jets, modified aerospikes for high altitude, a rocket booster, and a hyperspace window generator...a protective feature rather than one intended to take the ship on long range missions. Which meant that in a battle with the Goa'uld, escape was possible, as Goa'uld gliders had no such abilities.
While the Prometheus used the hyperdrive system taken from a captured al'kesh, the F-302 used naquadria to power the hyperdrive window generator. The F-302 hyperdrive engine was more compact, and having been built before the X-303, was the first human built craft capable of hyperdrive. Because of the instability of the naquadria, however, a hyperspace window would only be generated for a very brief moment, thus greatly limiting the F-302's interstellar travel capabilities. Still, a hyperspace jump away from a losing situation was an advantage, no matter how small that jump might be.
Sam theorized that Casey had played a vital role in the development of naquadria for use in the new ships. Often, the seer would make a comment, completely unaware of doing so. During a chat in Sam's office, not long after her arrival at the SGC, the slender blonde had been flipping through the pages of a report from Area 51 regarding naquadah, and whether or not it could be altered, as so many elements could be. The young seer had looked at her friend, and had given three precise and unknown formulas. Casey didn't remember, nor had she been able to explain what the formulas meant, or what they were for. She'd insisted that no one should listen to her, because she'd flunked chemistry in high school. Those formulas had led to the discovery and subsequent production of naquadria.
Using a Goa'uld device found by one of the SG teams, and the formulas provided by the resident seer, the scientists had begun working with naquadah, their intent to simply break it down to its base components. The result had been a radioactive variant of naquadah. It was completely unstable; but with proper controls, the energy provided was immense. It had just been named 'naquadria', after Casey's report of her meeting a Kelownan named Jonas Quinn. Who had told her about the naquadria on his planet. Sam had determined that the Goa'uld who'd controlled that planet at one time had conducted a similar experiment, on a much grander scale. Consensus among the scientists of the Stargate Program was that the Goa'uld had more than likely known that changing the molecular structure of naquadah through intense radiation would result in the more powerful variant.
Because of the new knowledge of Kelowna, and the possibility of being able to mine the altered metal, the president had ordered a diplomatic team to Kelowna immediately. SG-9 had been on the planet for three days. What they'd found had not been encouraging. Because SG-1 had not gone on the scheduled mission a year prior, Daniel hadn't been there to prevent the catastrophic mishap that had left him dead in the reality Casey had 'visited'. Instead, the explosion had occurred, destroying the entire facility. The good news, Major Farnsworth reported, was that the laboratories had been deep underground, and had been sparsely populated at the time of the accident. And Jonas Quinn - who as part of his role of Special Advisor to the High Minister, explored the ethical issues involved with the development of the naquadria bomb - was alive and well, and had managed to convince the leaders of his country to abandon their research into the weapon. They were not, however, interested in entering any mining agreements with a group of aliens who seemed to know more about 'their' naquadria than their own scientists.
Ronson led the team onto a gangplank that connected the dock and the ship. He pointed out the various levels, explained what each was, answered the flood of questions that poured from Sam and Jack.
Starting the tour aft of amidships, Ronson led them through the engineering compartments. Sam and Teal'c carefully examined the engines, and all of the data regarding them. There was no logical reason for the delay. A report that the major very quietly passed on to her CO.
Jack nodded his acknowledgement. "What about the hyperdrive systems?"
"They haven't passed the safety protocols," a voice from the corner drawled. "Until they do, I'm not signing off on them."
The man was average height, average in looks. His eyes narrowed as he examined the visitors. He'd been given reports on the 'famous' SG-1, along with a warning from his superiors that they'd more than likely be snooping around to find the reason for the delays. He'd assured the Director that even if they did arrive, there was nothing they could do to change the paperwork. Without his signature, the X-303 was going nowhere. When the 'office' had enough people in place on the crew, then, and only then, would he sign.
Casey shuddered visibly. "NID. He's the hold up. He has orders from his boss to keep this ship in dock until they have more agents on the crew. Their plan is to highjack the ship, and take it to a planet where they have a base of operations. It's small right now, mostly because they can't get through our Stargate."
The agent's eyes went wide. There was no way that this woman could know about his orders! Only the Director, and the NID officer in charge of 'placing' the agents knew of the full plan!
"Tell me you can see the address for that planet," Jack said.
"Yes, sir. He's done something to the computer...added something...a command...the engines won't function properly until he enters it. The Director is rogue, just like Simmons," Casey added.
"So this is rogue operation?" Jack asked.
Ronson nodded toward one of the guards who stood nearby. "Arrest this man for sabotage. Put him in the brig. Cell 5, for now."
The guard stepped forward, his weapon in hand. "Please come with me, sir."
"Anyone working with him, Radar?"
"Not yet. There're six people waiting in a hotel in Las Vegas," the young seer responded. "They're still waiting for the paperwork from NID headquarters that will 'assign' them to the crew."
"You can't do this!" the man sneered.
"As a matter of fact, I can...um, Lewis," Jack replied, reading the name on the man's ID badge. Probably not the bastard's real name, he thought. "Teal'c, why don't you see to it that Mr. Lewis doesn't give this Marine a reason to shoot him."
Teal'c gave a regal bow of his head. "You will accompany us."
"I have rights!"
"Not here, you don't," Ronson replied. "This is a ship that doesn't exist. On a base that doesn't exist. You're part of a rogue organization, operating outside of the laws of the United States. So, you don't exist."
Lewis began to sweat. If he didn't check in at regular intervals, it would be assumed that he'd been compromised. And if these people didn't kill him, someone from the NID would, in order to prevent him from giving out any information that could be used by the president to shut down the intelligence agency.
"Um...Jack? Better make certain someone is watching him constantly," Casey said. She didn't know the details, only that leaving this man alone wasn't a good idea.
Jack looked at Ronson. "Do you have the manpower?"
"And then some," the colonel assured the visitors.
Ronson looked around at the group of workers who stood wide-eyed and slacked jawed. "I want that simulation run again. And when it's complete, I want it signed off."
"If it passes," one of the scientists replied. "I'm qualified to sign it off...if it passes."
"Carter, why don't you make certain that happens," Jack said, nodding toward the computers that operated the systems.
"If you have a connection to the SGC, we can let General Hammond know what's going on."
"We can go to my office on the dock," Ronson said.
"We'll stay here, boss. Just in case," Casey said, nodding toward Sam, where she stood, already engrossed her work.
"Right. I'll have Teal'c come back this way," Jack said. Then followed Ronson out of the room.
The simulation was run twice, just to make certain that the results were accurate. Sam had found the added code, the command that Lewis had entered, and had easily removed it. Jack had returned, following Ronson, during the last half of the second test. The entire team waited anxiously for the results of that test.
"It's ready," Sam told them, smiling widely.
Jack turned to the ship's commander. "You heard what the general had to say. Let's see how this bird flies."
"This way, folks," Ronson grinned. Through corridors much wider than they had expected to find, he led SG-1 to the bridge.
"Sweet!" Jack exclaimed.
"Yeah, she is," Ronson grinned.
Three chairs sat in the middle of what looked like a narrow room with a large window at one end, which was divided into three panes. When activated, any section could display technical data, receive video and audio communication transmissions, or simply offer a view of whatever lay on the other side. The center chair, obviously for the commander, had several command controls on the wide arms. To the right was the helm, to the left, navigation. Jack dropped into the chair on the right, examined the console. His 'kids' circled tightly behind him, looking over his shoulders. He reached for one of the computer monitors, impressed to find that the majority of the controls were actually activated by touching the various 'buttons' on the screen.
"Uh...sir, do you really want to shove the ship back into the dock behind us?" Sam asked, her cheek twitching as she fought to keep from smiling.
"What? No! I knew that!" Jack responded quickly. He carefully examined the icons, pulled up the schematic for the ship.
"Do you have any clue what you're looking at?" Daniel asked.
"Yes, I do," Jack replied. He studied the layout. Noted the weapons available. The stores kept in supply. Impressive. He closed the diagram, pulled up the crew roster. Nodded again in approval. The best of the best were serving on this ship. Once again his hand moved toward the controls.
"Um, boss, I don't pretend to know anything about space ships, but what does ASD mean?" Casey asked. His finger hadn't actually hovered over that specific 'button', but she couldn't resist joining her teammates in teasing their CO.
"Auto-self-destruct," Sam deadpanned. Casey burst into giggles.
Jack tossed a frown in her direction. His finger moved on.
"O'Neill, is it wise to arm the weapons at this time?" Teal'c asked calmly.
"Oh, for crying out loud!" Jack jumped up from the chair, just as the smart-alecks behind him exchanged amused glances. His eyes narrowed. He had the feeling that they were yanking on his chain. He'd flown damned near every type of fighter jet the US owned, and had tried his hand at a captured Russian Mig as well. He'd flown a Goa'uld glider, for pete's sake! There was no doubt in his mind that he hadn't been wrong about the thrusters and stabilizers!
Ronson bit back his chuckle as he watched the antics. General Hammond had warned him that SG-1 didn't always behave as one would expect. True, the team commanding officer and second-in-command were Air Force officers. O'Neill had been special ops, and was rumored to be somewhat of a loose canon at times; and Carter was so damned intelligent she was spooky. Toss in a brilliant archaeologist/linguist, a seer, and an honest-to-god alien warrior, and well, they were bound to be a bit eccentric. He also knew, as anyone associated with the Stargate Program was aware, that SG-1 had saved planet Earth, and the galaxy, on several occasions. That warranted a bit of leniency toward their penchant for tomfoolery.
"Sir, we're ready to launch," an airman reported, saluting smartly.
"Good." Ronson slid into the captain's chair. His bridge crew, Major Erin Gant, helmsman, and Major Peter Delouise, navigator, took their places.
Jack led his team to the back of the room, where they stood in front of the large star chart, the same type that graced the window between the briefing room and General Hammond's office. He glanced at it, noticed that the stars flickered and changed just a bit as the navigator entered the coordinates for the course they would take. He poked Daniel's shoulder, pointed toward the flickering points of light on the glass.
Daniel grinned. Jack was like a kid with a new toy. Neither man had any idea that there were other 'playthings' waiting for them when the Prometheus reached her first destination, a planet that had been deserted by the Goa'uld millennia before, and where the Tau'ri of Earth had found an abundant source of titanium and iron ore.
"Colonel, with your permission," Ronson said, acknowledging Jack's position as second-in-command of the SGC.
"By all means, permission granted, let's go!" Jack declared.
Casey giggled. "A bit excited, are we?"
The older man rolled his eyes. "You'd have to be a fighter pilot to understand."
"Hey, I drive a car. Doesn't mean I want to drive a train!"
"There is no comparing a car and a train," Jack retorted.
"Exactly," Casey nodded.
Daniel snickered at the look of momentary confusion on Jack's face. "I think she meant-"
"I know what she means," Jack snorted. He leaned toward the slender blonde. "Smartass."
"Hey, I wasn't the one trying to touch things I knew nothing about!"
Both Sam and Teal'c made strangled sounds as they listened to the exchange, and struggled to control their laughter.
"I knew exactly what I was doing," Jack replied, scowling at the two who continued to pretend they weren't listening.
"Right. You found reverse, self destruct, and weapons. I'm impressed," Casey said drolly.
"I repeat, you're a smartass."
The Prometheus slowly rose from the dock where she'd been created, moving up through the massive, retractable roof of the hanger hidden within the belly of the desert. Cameras located throughout the area, part of the security measures to keep unwelcome visitors away, were recording the event for posterity.
When the ship had completely cleared the dock, and was hovering some ninety feet above the desert floor, Colonel Ronson gave the order to take the Prometheus into standard orbit. Shields that had been activated as soon as the sub-light engines came online prevented any of the satellites that watched the Earth from even noticing the giant craft as it moved ever higher.
Slight vibrations in the floor were the only indication that the Prometheus was moving away from Earth's gravitational pull, and into the upper atmosphere. It was a breathtaking sight to see the view out of the forward windows change from blue sky and high clouds to the inky black of space, with the wide sprinkling of bright stars.
"Wow," Casey said softly. She stepped closer to Daniel, laced her fingers with his.
"Welcome to space, Major," Jack whispered to Sam. Who tossed a smile at him.
"Let's check out the sensor array," Ronson said. "Tell me what's out there."
Other than a few nearby satellites, no one expected the scans to reveal anything. The navigation officer looked over at his commander. "Sir, long range scans reveal two ships. One is of definite Goa'uld design. The other is an unknown."
Ronson turned to look at Jack. "Were you expecting company?"
"Not this soon," Jack replied immediately. "Radar?"
Casey closed her eyes. Moved forward of the ship, past the moon. Raced past Mars. Oh, hell, there they were. She shuddered when she felt him. "Tem!" she whispered. The other ship...she shook her head, 'returned' to the Prometheus, and opened her eyes. "Tem and Mogba."
"Together?" Jack asked.
"I have no idea," Casey replied quietly, missing the smiles that tugged at the lips of her teammates. She sounded exactly like her husband.
Jack looked at Ronson. "We're cloaked, right?"
"That's right. Less to try to explain to the astronomers, professional and amateur," he replied.
"Let's see how well the cloak really works," Jack said. "Let's keep those ships from getting too close to home."
Ronson nodded. "Plot a straight course for Mars. Best time."
"A jump could have us there in three minutes, twelve seconds," the navigator replied.
"Might as well test those engines for real," Ronson responded. "Jump when ready."
A A A A A A
Mogba watched the scanners. The Goa'uld ha'tak was in front of him now. "Slide in behind it. Stay cloaked, and close. We'll look like a shadow if they have scanners that can read through our cloaking device."
The helmsman obeyed instantly.
"Arm all weapons," the bounty hunter said quietly.
A A A A A A
"Kebu, there is a ship behind us. I only saw it for a second, but I know it's there," the young Jaffa working the scanners whispered.
The First Prime frowned. "We must do what must be done. Follow my lead."
The Jaffa, named Bek, nodded.
Kebu approached Tem, one hand on the knife sheathed on his hip. "My Lord, there is a ship that follows us."
Tem stood up, strode to the scanners. "Show me!"
Bek looked at Kebu, slightly panicked. He'd seen only the flash of warning, before the vessel, which apparently had an older version of a cloaking device, had become nothing more than an 'echo' of the ha'tak.
"It is here, My Lord," Bek said, his voice shaking slightly. "It is using this ship to hide itself from you."
Tem frowned. "I see nothing."
Kebu stepped closer. "Look again, My Lord." His hand pulled the knife from the leather that protected it, and buried it in the side of the Goa'uld.
Tem lurched backwards, his eyes glowing. "I will kill you for this! How dare you touch your god?"
"You are a fool, Tem. We are Jaffa. We will not follow a fool." Kebu nodded again, and three staff weapons whined as they charged. "We will take this ship, and we will find one who is worthy of our loyalty."
Bursts from three directions burned the body nearly beyond recognition. On Kebu's order, the body was taken to the nearest airlock, and released.
Tem, the son of Ra, was no more.
"Quickly, take us away from here," Kebu ordered. He'd heard the rumors among the Jaffa of Ares. Perhaps this Ba'al would be a master whom they would be able to serve with pride.
A A A A A A
Mogba and his crew were left gaping as the ha'tak sped away, then disappeared into hyperspace. The ship had been moving back toward deep space, away from the First World. What was going on?
"I'm picking up a craft approaching the fourth planet that circles the nearby star," the navigation officer reported.
"No, sir. I have never seen a ship such as this."
No doubt it was a Tau'ri ship. It was time to learn if the infamous SG-1 would work with him, or if he would be forced to seek them out and capture them. "Contact them."
A A A A A A
Major Gant looked over at Colonel Ronson, her eyes wide. "Sir, I think we're being...hailed."
"Let's hear it, Major," the colonel replied. He glanced over his shoulder. He and his crew knew the basics of the Goa'uld language; it had been a requirement for being assigned to the Prometheus. All of them continued to learn, taking lessons from one of the linguists from the SGC. She wasn't, she informed them, as fluent as Teal'c, or Dr. Jackson, or even the archaeologist's wife. He was suddenly glad to have all three of them on the ship with him. "Doctor, I'll leave any conversations up to you."
"Right," Daniel replied. He moved to stand behind the major.
"...knowledge. I repeat, this is the Golden Dragon. We seek to communicate with you. Please acknowledge."
"Can you reply?" Daniel asked.
"Yes, sir, all I have to do is activate the transmitter."
"Well, let's say hello," the archaeologist said. He waited until Gant nodded her head. "This is the Prometheus. What are you doing in this sector?"
Casey tried to bite back her giggle. Shrugged her shoulders when Daniel glanced at her. "How 'Star Trek' can you get?"
Jack snorted, Sam snickered, and Teal'c became suddenly fascinated by the ceiling.
"Smartass," Daniel whispered.
"I am Tieel Mogba. I seek to bargain with those known as SG-1. Where will I find them?"
The archaeologist started; his eyes narrowed. The words of Daniel's translation hung in the air, surprising all of the occupants of the room. Jack moved to stand beside the his best friend. "Find out why he wants us."
"He wants us to hand over to Ba'al," Daniel growled softly.
"Probably. But isn't it a bit unusual for a bounty hunter to be so...obvious...about who he's looking for?" Jack asked.
Daniel frowned. Nodded at Gant. Watched as she pressed one of the dozen or so symbols that were flashing on the screen in front of her. With a smile at her, he put his finger over the same symbol. "Just what business do you have with SG-1?"
"We have a common enemy, and I wish to offer them the opportunity to destroy this enemy."
"This could be our chance, Jack," Casey said softly, watching the face of her friend and commanding officer as Daniel translated once again. "I can't 'see' anything clearly, but I do know that this will save that man's life. And that's something we need to do."
"Why? It's that bastard's fault Ba'al had you," Daniel snapped, his irritation obvious.
"Because what happens now will have repercussions later," Casey replied. She moved to Daniel's side, grasped his arm with both hands. "Sometimes, our worst enemies can become our strongest allies."
"Are you telling me that this guy could be helping us?" Jack asked.
She shrugged slightly. "If not today, then in the future. Maybe. He doesn't deserve to die. Not the way Ba'al intends."
"Sure he does! He's a damned slave trader!" Daniel exploded.
"Not by choice," she argued calmly. "Out here, a lot of people do what they have to do in order to survive. The Goa'uld have made life a very difficult proposition for a lot of people, Stud Muffin. You know that as well as I do."
Daniel closed his eyes. Struggled to control the rage that was racing through him. Struggled against the part of him that understood...and agreed...with what Casey was saying. Longed to give in to the part of himself that wanted only one thing: to kill Mogba. "He kidnapped you," he ground out.
"Yes, he did. But you brought me home," Casey said softly. "Karma, Daniel."
One hand remained firmly around his arm, the other reached up to cup his cheek. It was impossible not to press his face against her soft skin. "I hate this."
"I know. But we're SG-1."
Daniel stabbed his finger against the monitor. "If SG-1 agrees to meet with you, how do we know we can trust you?"
"According to my sensors, your ship is much larger, and more heavily armed. I have no doubt you could destroy my ship with little effort. What would it profit me to have my ship destroyed?"
Jack glanced at Ronson as soon as Daniel had translated. "How heavily is he armored?"
"It's hard to say. There doesn't appear to be much, but then, we've never seen a ship like his, so we could be looking at torpedo tubes, or plumbing," Ronson replied honestly.
The team commander studied the young seer. "Radar, you're sure about this?"
"As sure as I can be. Nothing definite...just...feelings," Casey admitted.
"Good enough," Jack said...after a long, tension filled moment. "If this gives us a chance to take out Ba'al, I say we should take it."
"I suggest we talk to General Hammond," Sam said quietly.
Jack nodded. "Daniel, tell'im we have to think about his offer."
"We'll consider your offer."
"Do not take too long. The offer is only good for another hour."
"We'll get back to you." Daniel turned away from the console and crossed his arms over his chest. "We have an hour to decide."
"Let's contact the general, and see what he has to say about this." Jack nodded at Major Gant, who very quickly had communications open with the SGC...
"...The thing is, sir, Radar seems to think this is a good idea," Jack said, ending his report on what had transpired during the time since the last check-in.
"I see," Hammond's voice replied. "I'll leave this up to you, Colonel. I have no problem with you taking the opportunity to deal with Ba'al. If Casey believes this is a mission you should undertake, then I suggest you do so."
Jack glanced at his team. Took note of Daniel's mutinous expression. "We'll come up with a few ideas, and let you know what we decide."
The link was disconnected, and Jack turned to face his 'kids'. "Is there somewhere private where we can discuss this?" he asked Ronson.
"The briefing room. I'll take you there, myself," the commander replied, rising to his feet. The team fell into step behind him.
Daniel took a quick mental tally. Jack and Casey were all for this mission. He was dead set against it. Sam and Teal'c seemed uncommitted at the moment. If he could convince them that he was right, then more than likely Jack would back down. Teal'c would be the easiest. All he had to do was keep mentioning Ba'al, and Casey as his captive, and Mogba as the reason. That would be all it would take to stir the Jaffa against the bounty hunter. Sam, was iffy. Maybe if he were to throw in how devastated he'd been during Casey's absence...he shook his head mentally. Danny-boy, you are developing one hell of a mean streak, he thought, wearily conceding to his conscience that before Casey had entered his life, he would be the first to demand that something be done to try to help the man, regardless of what he had done. But Casey had changed all of that. His need to protect her far out-paced his need to be a humanitarian. His need for revenge, for all that she had suffered, was more driving than his need to find allies. He heaved a sigh. Knew deep in his heart that he would give in...to Casey and his conscience. To do otherwise would be to become too much like the enemies he despised.
"Daniel?" Jack asked, glancing over at the blonde man.
"Nothing. Just trying to figure out how we can deal with this Mogba and not wind up double-crossed."
"Don't know that we can," Jack replied.
"I'll see that you're not disturbed," Ronson said, giving the team a smile. He closed the door to the briefing room as he left.
The room was average-sized; there was ample space at the front for one person to stand and give a presentation. And enough around the large table that even with all of the chairs occupied, it would not be difficult to move around.
Jack grabbed two chairs, swung them over to Daniel, grabbed two more. Sam grabbed a fifth one, and when they were seated in a circle, facing one another, the CO took a deep breath. "Okay, regardless of how I sounded out there, I have some doubts about this," he admitted.
"I'm not so sure I like it, either," Sam said.
"It is highly likely that this bounty hunter will deliver us to Ba'al, and then flee, leaving us with no means of escape," Teal'c said.
Daniel nodded. "I know I should feel sorry for him, but I can't. Not after what he put Casey and I through, put all of us through."
Casey was tugging her lip between her teeth. "There's a reason we need to do this," she said softly. "I can't see it, I don't have any details to offer. I just know that it's important that this man live."
Four faces frowned at her. "I need more than that to go on, Radar," Jack said quietly.
"SG-1 always escapes. There's always a rabbit to pull out of the hat, that magic that the team is blessed with. I believe there's a reason for that. All I know is what my heart is telling me," Casey replied. "And it's telling me to meet with Tieel Mogba, and face Ba'al."
"What about taking Ba'al out, is that going to be possible?" Jack asked.
"I don't know," the young seer replied honestly. Then grinned broadly. "But it'd be fun to just bug the hell out of him for a few hours, if we can't."
Daniel snickered loudly. It was impossible not to laugh at the look of pure mischief that filled those green eyes. "I'm not crazy about this."
"I don't think any of us are, Daniel," Jack said, watching Casey carefully. "But if Radar says we need to do it, then we probably should."
"I suppose so."
"Going in blind means not having any clue what we'll be facing," Jack continued.
"That's not entirely true," Sam corrected. "We have a basic idea what's going to happen."
"Yep, all of us taken prisoner. Probably put into separate cells. Escape won't be easy," Jack pointed out.
"True. But we've managed to do it before," Sam replied.
Jack and Daniel exchanged frowning glances. "Okay, no matter what happens, escape is the word for the day, got it?" Jack asked, watching to make certain that each member of his team fully understood. Even if it meant going alone, he expected each of them to do their damnedest to escape, as soon as it was possible. "Let's see how Mogba wants to do this."
When SG-1 returned to the bridge, Colonel Ronson knew immediately that they would be agreeing to meet with this bounty hunter. The determined expressions on each face were enough to tell him that no matter what happened, SG-1 would prevail. Because, he thought, watching as Dr. Jackson contacted Tieel Mogba, they were SG-1. And SG-1 always came home. No matter what.
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