General George Hammond hung up the grey telephone in his office with a sigh. I really don’t need this right now, he thought. Rubbing his temples briefly, he reached out once again for the grey phone and dialed.
“Colonel? Could I see you in my office?”
Scant minutes later Colonel Jack O’Neill tapped on
“General? You wanted to see me?” He was dressed in olive fatigues, apparently
catching up on in-house paperwork today. SG-1
had caught some rough missions lately, and O’Neill still looked tired and
“Come in, Jack. Close the door.”
Something in his tone of voice caused O’Neill to look at him sharply. The colonel stepped inside the office and closed the door gently.
“General? Is this a ‘General’ conversation or a ‘George’ one?” The man’s dark eyes missed nothing, including the small slump of his commanding officer’s shoulders.
“A little of both, I’m afraid. Take
a seat and I’ll explain.”
“Jack, I just got a phone call from an old contact in the intelligence business that has some knowledge of the NID.” He held up a hand as O’Neill started to growl a comment. “Hold on, let me finish. This contact, whose name shall not be mentioned inside this facility, passed on some disturbing news. Apparently there is still an NID team off-world, working on alien technology. My contact is not privy to the Stargate Program, but he picked up multiple pieces of information that support this conclusion when interpreted in light of potential off-world activities.” He picked up a page of notes off his desktop and handed it to O’Neill, mentally apologizing for the sketchiness of the data.
“This is the information I have. I don’t need to tell you that we can’t afford another situation like the fiasco with the Tok’ra, Asgard and Tollan technology. My contact assures me that no one outside of the NID is aware of this project at this time, and we’d like to keep it that way.” He folded his hands together as if in prayer. “You know as well as I that we have enemies that would like to see us both drummed out of the Stargate Program, if not court-martialed for our tactics and resistance to certain political factions. I’d rather not see that happen on both a professional level and a personal level. The members of this command deserve better than to be pawns to a political machine.”
O’Neill slouched in the chair, skimming the document. “General, you’ve heard nothing from our allies about this project?”
O’Neill rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “That implies that this NID team is working only with Goa’uld tech, and not with anything belonging to other allied races. Any hints as to what exactly they’re working on?”
O’Neill sat up straight in the chair. “Sir, I’d like to bring my team in on this.”
“Understood. I’ll update you by close of business today.” O’Neill stood and reached for the doorknob.
O’Neill spared him a grim smile. “Don’t thank me until we have these
bastards in the stockade.” He left
with the sheet of notes, closing the door with a soft click.
“General?” O’Neill’s voice filled his ear. “I think we may have something. Do you want us to come up there?”
“Yes. My briefing room, please. I’m anxious to hear what you’ve come up with.”
He’d been fighting a tension headache all day, waiting for the red phone to
ring to tell him that the latest NID fiasco had become public knowledge among
the Powers in
He tidied his desk and stepped into the briefing room. Moments later, the four members of SG-1 filed
in and took their accustomed seats around the big table. Major Carter pushed a folder toward
“Give me the summary,” he commanded, looking at O’Neill.
O’Neill gestured toward Carter. “Carter and Daniel actually figured out where these bozos are- probably. I’ll let them start.”
Carter took a breath. “Sir, the information that you provided suggests that the NID project is on P2D-119. It fulfills all the criteria given by your contact, including time since SGC survey, relative planetary mineral value, lack of evidence of an indigenous population and acceptable terrain in the vicinity of the Stargate. The planet was initially surveyed by SG-3 under Colonel Makepeace.”
Carter continued. “The planet was deemed unsuitable for exploitation based on a lack of mineral or plant resources near the stargate and a lack of evidence of useful artifacts or sites. It was also disregarded as a potential alpha site due to some extreme temperatures during the winters. However, the planetary year is almost thirty-eight months long, and it is presently late spring. The NID team, if they are aware of the weather patterns, would have well over eighteen months before they would have to either leave or make permanent arrangements.”
O’Neill interjected, “That we don’t know yet. They’ve got to have Gate access from somewhere, and it isn’t here. But we do have a plan for finding them.”
Daniel began, “The difficulty is to set up a mission to P2D-119 without raising any flags. Obviously you can’t gate directly there, since the address would remain in the dialing computers.”
Carter broke in. “I can erase the information, but not until afterward. And the longer the information remains in the computer the harder it is to make it ‘disappear’. Other files would have to be altered, and a skilled analyst could likely uncover the fact that there’d been changes made.” Carter tapped the table with one short blunt fingernail. “No matter where you gate to, there will be a record. I know you have to account for every activation that shows up on the record…”
“So you’ll make sure there’s no record,”
O’Neill chimed in, “That’s okay. For a quick recon like this, a smaller team might be better. And we’d be going covert all the way. If you want to keep the knowledge pool as minimal as possible, that means me and Teal’c.” He patted Daniel on the shoulder. “I’m even leaving Daniel at home.”
“I still don’t want to involve anyone outside of SG-1. But I think two people is cutting it a bit close.” He thought for a moment, then came to a decision. Hell, it’s my neck on the block as much as anyone’s. “Colonel,” he began. “How would you feel about having an old desk jockey along?”
O’Neill, Hammond and Teal’c stepped through the gate onto P2D-119. The late afternoon sun slanted across the vegetation,
creating long shadows.
“Okay, head for the tree line. Single file, quietly. Stay
low.” O’Neill gestured toward the greenery
about fifty meters away. He stepped
out on point, followed by
The three soldiers reached the relative safety of the forest’s edge. Following O’Neill’s hand signals, they hunkered down in a small copse of scrubby trees. O’Neill spoke quietly.
“All right. This place doesn’t look heavily used. Even the grass around the gate was tall enough that it’s been recently trimmed by the plume.”
Teal’c said, “There is evidence of a trail from the gate. It has not been used in several days, perhaps a week.”
O’Neill and Hammond both peered at the area in question.
“I missed that, T. Can you follow the trail, but keep us off to the side?”
“I believe I can, O’Neill.” Without
further words the
After several hours of slow but steady progress,
“I believe we have found our quarry.”
“There they are. Not trying to be real stealthy, are they?” commented O’Neill.
“No reason to. They know that
this planet’s been surveyed and essentially discarded by the SGC,” said
“Still…,” continued O’Neill thoughtfully. “You’d think they’d at least post a guard.” He sounded annoyed at the camp’s disregard for military discipline and force protection.
The presumed NID compound was set in a flat, open area at the edge of the forest. Several tents of various sizes and a few pre-fabricated buildings were clustered at one end of a mowed dirt strip, and more tents and camouflage netting covered indistinct shapes nearby. The equipment was obviously of Earth manufacture, with ‘Tent, General-purpose, Medium’ stenciled in large letters across the side of the nearest structure. At least one heavy-duty generator was running in the compound, filling the air with the noise of an unmuffled internal combustion engine. Several Gators, small four-wheeled all-terrain light cargo vehicles, were parked in a staggered line between two of the tents. A large deuce-and-a-half cargo truck loomed in their midst.
As the trio watched, a few people walked from tent to tent, some carrying tools or clipboards. A pair of BDU-clad men wheeled a cart holding a construction of bronze-colored curved metal tubes from one of the smaller tents to one of the larger ones. Another generator was started, adding to the noise level.
“That looks like Goa’uld equipment,” offered
O’Neill shook his head briefly in a negative. “T?”
“I do not recognize it.”
O’Neill checked his watch. “We’ve got about two hours until local sunset. I’m going to scout around and see if these yahoos
have any sort of security arrangements.” He
“I think that’s an excellent idea, Jack. We can observe from here and try to determine numbers.”
Teal’c inclined his head in acquiescence. “As you say, GeneralHammond. Although we may have to move slightly in order to obtain a better view.”
“Just don’t get lost. I’ll be back by around sunset.” With that, O’Neill melted into the forest.
About an hour later
“Jack? What did you see?”
“General, we’ve got trouble.” The seriousness in O’Neill’s eyes conveyed the grim truth.
“Not only are these guys messing around with stuff that I think is way above their heads, but they’re not alone here either.”
“First, they’ve got two entire tents full of Goa’uld tech, most of which I don’t recognize. Some of the things that I do recognize are weapons mounts from Death Gliders or tel’tacs. They’ve got what looks like unrefined naquada and a benchtop smelter. They’ve got an armory tent full of standard ammo and weapons, but they’ve also got cases of grenades, more Goa’uld stuff, and even some air-to-surface missiles.” His voice became even grimmer. “And they’ve got aircraft. Fighter aircraft. Russian fighter aircraft, three of them. MiG-27s, and it looks like there’re Goa’uld weapons on them. ”
There was silence for a long moment.
like trouble, all right, thought
Teal’c interjected, “O’Neill, you said that they were not alone.”
The colonel nodded. “I found evidence that somebody- several somebodies- have been observing this camp in the past few days. Not Earth-based surveillance as far as I can determine: smooth-soled footwear, no clues that would indicate their origin. Just a few areas out in the grass that somebody’s camped in and a bit of abandoned food remains. These guys in the camp are oblivious, too. No guards, no perimeter, nothing. They could be surprised by a bunch of five-year-olds throwing a birthday party.”
“There appear to be approximately twenty-four to twenty-eight of the Tau’ri forces in the camp,” contributed Teal’c. “Several are carrying Tau’ri weapons, either P90s or handguns.”
“We haven’t been able to determine a camp leader or the ranks of any
of the personnel,” said
O’Neill looked at
“We don’t have other options, General, unless you want to kill everyone in the camp,” O’Neill said bluntly. “I can do that right now, all by myself. I’m assuming you’d rather have them alive for questioning?”
He could see by the expression in O’Neill’s eyes that the soldier did indeed know.
A touch on his shoulder woke him. Teal’c was near-invisible in the dark and made
no sound as he knelt next to
“GeneralHammond, I will now depart. I should reach the gate in approximately three hours.”
“O’Neill is observing the camp. He will return shortly.”
“Teal’c. When you return, please ask Major Carter to keep this as quiet as possible given the circumstances. She’s still to try to hide the additional activations. And tell her it’s all right to let Colonel Riley in on the game. He’ll need to run interference for me.”
“I shall do so.”
After indulging in a few isometric exercises to warm up his cold-stiffened
“Mostly still tucked up for the night, General. Two up so far, working in
a couple of the tents.” O’Neill
handed the binoculars to
“Feel like a perimeter stroll?”
“You betcha…General.” With a cocky
grin, O’Neill rolled smoothly out of his concealment and to a crouching position.
Fastening his vest and securing his weapon, he stepped into the underbrush
and was gone. Straining his ears,
He zoomed in on the first group he’d spotted.
They looked human, or as close to it as made no difference. They were dressed in earth-toned, loose tunics
and trousers with vests and leggings of something like leather. The vests had pockets bulging with supplies
of some kind. Ammunition?
Are these guys natives, or another race that uses
the gates? The men were all carrying
weapons, rifles mostly, but a few hand weapons were in evidence. The clothing looked almost like a uniform, although
there was some variation evident.
Just then his earpiece crackled. “General? Trouble. The watchers are mounting an attack from the grass.” O’Neill’s voice was rushed but very quiet, as if he were trying to remain undetected.
“I see that. Got a count?” He kept his response brief, not wanting to distract O’Neill from a potentially compromising situation.
“Stand by. I’ll be in touch.” The radio clicked off.
He watched as the brown-clad men seemed to form a rough line in the
grass about a hundred meters from the camp perimeter.
The distance was difficult to determine exactly, since the soldiers
had a good deal of woodcraft and appeared and disappeared in the gently-moving
grass. There was a pause during which
he didn’t see any of the men. The forest
swelled with silence, as if in anticipation.
Then, as if on cue, a fusillade of shots rang out. Within moments, the air was filled with noise
as the occupants of the NID camp scrambled to respond to the attack.
They don’t seem to have a defense plan in place, noted
tall lean figure loped from a tent to one of the prefab buildings, meeting
two other BDU-wearing men and passing out what appeared to be more weapons. The three split up, and seconds later the detonation
of a high-explosive grenade ripped through the air. Other figures were now moving throughout the
camp, but they all looked like NID members; the attackers were hanging back
and staying mostly invisible. Some
NID personnel were still milling about chaotically, apparently completely
unprepared for any attack. Mentally
O’Neill’s voice filled his right ear, still speaking quickly and softly. “General, I count at least forty of the attackers.
Most are in the grass. There are a handful entering the forest; I’m
going after them.” His voice paused
for a few seconds, and
“Yeah? What a shame.” The sarcasm in O’Neill’s voice was unmistakable, even with the scratchy quality of the radio transmission.
“Yes sir. I’ll see what I can do.” Another click and he was gone.
His radio crackled again. “General, I’m headed back your way. So are a handful of the attackers. You might want to find some good cover.”
“Jack, I’m hidden. I’m about thirty meters from the recce spot, in a clump of bushes and fallen logs.”
“Okay. There’s two headed your way. Take them out if you can. They won’t be expecting anything.”
“General, I’m behind you now. Let the first one go by, then take the second. I’ll get the other.”
Then O’Neill launched himself silently out of the tree and onto the
roughly-clad man below. Riding the
stunned man to the ground in a flurry of dead leaves and humus, O’Neill rapped
him sharply behind the ear with the butt of his weapon.
The blow made a dull thud in the suddenly-quiet forest. The soldier twitched and lay still, O’Neill’s
knee pressed between his shoulder blades.
The colonel pulled a zip-tie from his vest and secured the man’s hands,
then pulled his head roughly to one side to insert a gag torn from the man’s
own shirttail. The unconscious native’s
ankles were secured and he was dragged out of sight under a bush.
Moments later O’Neill reappeared. Using
hand signals, he indicated his intent to range further from the recce
Ten minutes later he froze, the hair on the back of his neck standing
straight up. Someone was near. Feeling horribly exposed within the scrubby
It was a native soldier, clad in a crude ghillie
suit. Less than ten yards away, he’d
apparently crept up on
What now? He could certainly
take out the camouflaged soldier, but at the expense of announcing his position. The man was too far away and too alert to sneak
up on, and
Suddenly a flurry of movement to his left distracted both Hammond and
Tossing the rifle aside and yanking the M9 from his leg holster,
“You okay, sir?” he asked quietly, eyes looking for any sign of injury.
“I’m fine. You?” His eyes couldn’t miss the bloody graze under O’Neill’s right eye, already swelling.
“A couple of scrapes. Nothing
that’ll slow me down.” Deft hands wiped a blued knife blade clean,
then stowed the weapon in a forearm scabbard.
O’Neill then zip-cuffed
“I saw no other hostiles within two hundred meters of our location. There are only a couple more in the woods; the rest are in the grass on the opposite side of the runway.”
“There’re still two more that could break that cover,” reminded O’Neill.
“Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s
sketched out the approximate locations of the two remaining native flankers
in the forest duff, erasing the lines once
His radio earpiece crackled. “General?” It was O’Neill’s voice, somewhat breathless.
“West bogeys are contained.”
“There were two. I missed one the first time.”
Two clicks of the microphone switch were his acknowledgement.
O’Neill scrutinized the scene for over a minute. “I think the reason the natives are hanging back is because they’re waiting for the flanking maneuver.”
“I agree. I haven’t identified the leader of that ragtag bunch, but somebody’s going to have to make a decision soon. They’re going to realize that the flank isn’t going to happen.”
“What do you think, General?” asked O’Neill. “Will they advance, retreat or send out another squad to flank?”
O’Neill pulled out and focused his monocular just in time to catch five natives fading, single file, from the grasslands into the forest. “That’s going to complicate things.”
O’Neill agreed, “Especially if they have any kind of patrol discipline.” The tested tactic of spreading out a patrol such that each man could just see the man in front and the man behind meant that an ambush of the entire patrol would be impossible for two people.
From the way the native patrol had entered the forest
“O’Neill, GeneralHammond. I have returned with MajorFerretti’s and ColonelDixon’s teams. We should reach your location in three hours.” Teal’c’s deep voice resonated through the tiny earpiece.
“Copy, T. The camp is under
attack from forty or more natives. Use
caution in your approach.” O’Neill
“Acknowledged.” Teal’c signed off.
O’Neill grimaced. “I don’t know
how much good that would do. You’ve
seen them shoot. Adding the two of
us to the mix might just be adding two more redshirts
“Let me go after the patrol. I can take out at least two of them, then fall back and wait for a chance to try again. It’s obvious these guys don’t have anything like radio communications, so any disruption of the plan takes a long time to make it back up to the top.”
“I don’t like that much. You against a five-man patrol aren’t odds I like to bet on.” And I don’t want to send you out there on a suicide mission to save a bunch of traitors from the NID.
“I’ve had worse odds. And I
have the advantage: I know where they are, and they don’t know a damned thing
about me. Especially
that there’s only one of me.” O’Neill
O’Neill nodded. “They definitely need some help.”
“Let’s go, then. Keep in contact.” He clasped his 2IC firmly on the shoulder. “Good luck, Jack.”
“Thanks, George. You too.” O’Neill gave a faint grin and vanished once again into the forest.
“Who the hell are you and what are you doing here?”
“Major General George Hammond. And I’m here to take command of this unit.”
A stunned silence met this declaration.
“The hell you are!” The hawk-faced
man snarled, stepping into
The man was silent for a second, anger in his eyes.
His subordinates, ones that
“How many of you are there?”
“Did you bring help?”
“I didn’t sign up to get shot at!”
The man nodded once, curtly, dislike radiating off him like a heat shimmer on a desert road.
“Name, rank and unit,” demanded
“Lieutenant Colonel Grant Shelton, United States Air Force. Currently seconded to NID,” the man snarled. “Sir.”
“Colonel Shelton, you stand relieved.”
Now ignoring the seething officer,
Six hands were raised, including one of the women.
rest of you are scientists? Or engineers?”
Heads bobbed in the affirmative.
“Technical Sergeant Ken McCann.”
“Sergeant McCann, you and you,” he pointed to another soldier, a slight dark-haired woman who handled her weapon with easy competence, “keep an eye on our friends in the grass and make sure they don’t get any closer.”
Both soldiers looked at Colonel Shelton for permission.
“I’m not going to lie to you. You
folks are in a world of hurt,” began
“All right, listen up.” A hand wave brought silence to the murmuring group. “You’re facing a force of at least forty natives, maybe more. They look as human as you or I. They’re armed with both rifles and pistols, as you’ve probably already noticed. What you haven’t noticed is that they’ve been trying to flank you since dawn, to surround you.” He paused to let the impact of his words sink in. He was getting through to them; every pair of eyes was fixed on him.
“My people have been taking the flankers out, as quietly as possible. The enemy leadership doesn’t seem to have caught on just yet, but it’s only a matter of time.” He continued quickly, not wanting to waste a lot of time talking but knowing he’d have a better chance of cooperation with an explanation.
“When they do realize that they’re losing people, they’re going to do one of two things. They’re going to send a large contingent to flank, a bigger one than my people can handle…or they’re going to stage a frontal assault.”
A timid hand waved. “Why haven’t they charged us already?” asked one of the scientists.
“I’m fairly sure that they thought they could take you with minimal casualties to themselves by surrounding you. As I said, once they figure that’s no longer the case they’re going to launch an all-out attack.” He pinned the military members, one by one, with his eyes. “And if they do that, you’d better put jam in one pocket and butter in the other, because you’re toast.” He paused for effect. “Unless you let me and my people give you a hand. Then you just might- and I emphasize might- have a chance.”
“All right, are we set on the plan?”
The master sergeant nodded, as did his three ‘assistants’, one of whom had been a minor-league baseball pitcher before going to graduate school.
“Ground crew, you’ve got to get the planes uncovered and get us in the air. Once we uncover the aircraft we won’t have more than a minute before the natives figure out what we’re doing. You’ve got to assume they’ve been here long enough to see what you’ve been doing with the fighters.”
The handful of civilian aircraft maintenance engineers nodded their agreement. One of them spoke up.
“The ground power units are already on, so once you’ve started the engine we just have to disconnect them and you’re good to go.”
The senior scientist, a man with somewhat wispy grey hair, reminded, “The energy weapon is not yet completely validated.”
“Understood. Don’t use
it until you run out of conventional ammunition.”
The other two pilots nodded grimly. “I’d rather not get blown up by my own weapon,” said Petrovich in a surprising Southern accent.
“That’ll work just as well. Maybe
better, if your new toy doesn’t perform as advertised.”
Silence. Then a terse “Stand by.”
“I’m coming at you. Let those
guys know not to shoot. Your .” O’Neill’s
voice was tense but quiet.
Several heads nodded. The more-disciplined
soldiers turned back toward the grassland,
His gaze was drawn toward the tree line as O’Neill jogged into view. He was moving quickly enough but
“Colonel O’Neill. Report.”
“Sir, the enemy patrol is neutralized.
No survivors. Our forces still
hold the woods.” O’Neill’s crisp military
delivery and deliberate omission of just where in the woods the unspecified
reinforcements were located solidified
“Very well,” he responded. He turned to the assembled group. “Colonel O’Neill will command the ground forces while Colonel Shelton, Captain Petrovich and I handle the air attack.” From the corner of his eye he thought he saw O’Neill blink at the mention of an air attack, but the colonel hid his surprise well. Sorry, Jack. You’re just going to have to keep playing along. Good thing I know you’ll pick it up quickly.
“Colonel, we’ve lost the ground control radios for the aircraft, so we’ll be out of touch once we’re airborne. We’re going to try and strafe the enemy positions and take a shot at using the weaponry these folks have been working on. I’ve laid out a plan for cover fire to allow us to get airborne and so you can resupply from the armory tent. You have command.”
O’Neill nodded, “Yes, sir. I have command until you return.” He turned to the group in front of him. “You have your instructions for now. Once the aircraft are up, fall back to this position for further orders.” He looked at Hammond, who nodded once.
“Go!” commanded O’Neill, and the personnel sprinted in their assigned
directions as the soldiers lay down covering fire.
Grenade detonations filled the air with noise and dirt, and the sporadic
fire from the enemy soldiers ceased for a brief while.
The dash to the aircraft left him slightly breathless and he cursed
the desk job that had let him get soft. By
the time he reached his chosen aircraft the ground crew had already stripped
the camouflage netting from it and had the canopy open.
Another aircraft had pulled out ahead of him and the third was behind
“…al Hammond, are you up this frequency?”
Colonel Shelton’s voice blasted into his headset.
“I’m up. Are you number one?”
“After takeoff circle left over the woods, then come back parallel
to the runway. Strafe the grassland area from the camp perimeter
out to a couple of hundred yards.”
“One copies,” responded
“Three.” Captain Petrovich’s radio-transmitted voice acknowledged receipt of the orders.
Their voices were professional, giving no clue what the soldiers might
He saw the lead aircraft rise from the end of the runway, then wobble dramatically. Black smoke burst from its engine and the aircraft wallowed to the right, toward the hidden enemy positions.
“I’m hit! Ground fire!” came
“Three. I’m on your . Board’s green. Colonel Shelton went in.” Petrovich’s transmission told Hammond that the captain was formed up on Hammond’s aircraft and that he was mission capable.
“Copy. I’m green. Is my aircraft one of the modified ones?” he asked the other pilot.
“Negative, sir. Mine and Colonel Shelton’s. Yours is stock -27J with a full load-out of 30mm cannon and Kerrys.”
“I’m going to fire a couple of Kerrys from max range, then I’m going to thump them,” he sent. Hopefully the Russian missiles would take out some of the enemy soldiers, although the weapon wasn’t meant for use against ground troops. Thumping, or breaking the sound barrier just over an enemy’s head, might also be a deterrent to an enemy that appeared to be behind them in terms of technology. “I’ll come back around and use the rest of the Kerrys on the second run, then switch to cannon.” He paused, adjusting the targeting computer for the missiles. “Are you still Mach capable with the Goa’uld weapon?”
“Affirmative, sir. Max speed Mach one-point-two, though.”
“Starting attack run. Follow
Two clicks acknowledged his transmission. He knew Petrovich would stay on his wing and follow his lead. He accelerated to 700 kilometers per hour and lined up on the target, swinging the wings back into their supersonic configuration. Five kilometers out he released the missiles, watching as the weapons sped away from his aircraft with their characteristic trail of white smoke. He saw them hit, exactly where he’d aimed them just outside the compound, and pulled the Flogger into a near-vertical climb as he lit the afterburner.
G-forces pressed him firmly into the chair webbing as he guided the craft up to 10,000 meters. Looping over backwards, he pushed the stick forward at the bottom of the loop. He was too high to see the camp itself and allowed the targeting computer to guide him back around. Careful, he warned himself as he leveled the aircraft. Don’t accelerate too fast or you’ll break Mach before you get there. Breaking the sound barrier at a specific geographic position was difficult, since the speed at which the aircraft traveled near Mach One meant he was covering over twenty kilometers of ground per minute. He mentally did the calculations as the targeting computer counted down the distance, and held the powerful aircraft at 0.95 Mach as he approached 350 meters altitude. At two kilometers out he leveled the wings, pushed the throttle to maximum power and counted. Five…four…three…two…
As the compound flashed below him the aircraft became eerily silent, the only noise the quiet rushing of air around the fuselage. He’d left the noise of the engine behind. Perfect timing, George. You haven’t lost the touch. He pulled the Flogger up sharply, allowing his speed to drop back below Mach one as he rolled the MiG-27 back over the camp at 2,000 meters. There, he thought. They just got a pair of sonic booms, maybe four if Petrovich’s timing was right. That should rattle their cages a bit.
He swung the ground-attack fighter back around and checked his fuel, cutting the afterburner. Enough fuel to finish the job. He brought the wings back out to the extended position as his speed dropped. Reprogramming the targeting computer to fire the remaining air-to-surface missiles, he pointed himself toward the enemy. He released the missiles at three kilometers out and banked sharply away from the camp. No point in letting them have a shot at me if I don’t have to. The next runs are going to be the hairy ones, low altitude and slow. He switched his weapon from the now-expended missiles to the 30mm cannon, bringing up the targeting sight. Firing two rounds into the air to check the weapon, he rolled the aircraft back toward the enemy emplacements. Lining up on the camp, he saw thin smoke plumes rising from three craters bunched at the edge of the camp. Looks like the targeting computer works as advertised.
He keyed his radio. “Three, two.”
“Three.” The response came instantly.
“Still green. I have enough ammo for one more strafing run, then I’ll try the Goa’uld weapon.”
“Copy. Starting my strafing runs now.”
“Trying the weapon now,” came Petrovich’s
disembodied voice. Out of ordnance,
“Got a problem. The
weapon’s overload-“ Petrovich’s voice cut off abruptly. A ball of fire filled his viewscreen,
tongues of orange and white flame licking toward the ground. As the conflagration faded,
He spotted Jack kneeling behind one of the big generators and changed
his course to intercept the colonel.
“General. Good to have you back.” O’Neill’s businesslike tone belied the welcome evident in his eyes. “Any problems?”
“Glad to have made it. I’m fine, no injuries, but the aircraft is toast. You saw that the others went down, I’m sure. How did we do?” He eyed the area, noting the distinct absence of enemy gunfire.
“I think you did them some serious damage, sir.” O’Neill indicated the blackened grass where the enemy had been entrenched. “Fire dropped off significantly after you thumped them, and nearly disappeared after the strafing runs. We’ve only heard one or two weapons since the second fighter went down.”
“One of the ground crew was taken out before you got airborne. Two scientists were killed during the initial reentrenchment. About six or seven injured, one seriously, from either gunfire and shrapnel, plus a couple of likely perforated eardrums in idiots that didn’t listen when I told them what you were going to do with the aircraft.”
“That’s better than I expected, given the odds.”
“Even better, T called. He’s only about a half-hour out. They’ll be coming in from the woods as we did.”
“Excellent. With any luck we just may get these folks back to Earth and into custody without further incident.”
“Given how close our reinforcements are, I’d prefer to stay put until they arrive.”
“I agree. We’ll stand fast for now. If there are any of those enemy soldiers still out there I’d hate to invite them to take another shot at us. When Colonel Dixon’s and Major Ferretti’s teams arrive we’ll have some of them scout the area.”
“I could…” O’Neill began.
O’Neill touched his side gingerly, a faint smear of blood coming away on his fingertips. “A bullet caught me just below the ribs. It’s just a graze and torn muscle. It bled a bit, but it’s mostly stopped. It’ll keep until we get back.”
“Colonel Dixon’s got that young sergeant, Mendoza, on his team. He’s a medic. Get him to take a look at you when they arrive.”
“He’ll need to triage the wounded first. That scientist, Hunter, is pretty bad off. Sergeant Ferrus is doing what he can with the first-aid bag, but he needs to get real medical attention pretty soon.”
“Jack, in case you hadn’t noticed, you are
one of the wounded. I’m not about
to see you denied care in favor of a bunch of NID traitors. You will have your wound looked at when the
SG teams get here,”
“Yes, sir,” O’Neill said in resignation.
As if he could’ve said anything else, thought
“GeneralHammond, we are approaching your position from the
woods.” The radio earpiece transmitted
Teal’c’s welcome bass rumble. O’Neill
was speaking with a small knot of NID scientists, but he looked up and met
“Understood, GeneralHammond. We will maintain vigilance. Teal’c out.”
O’Neill was moving between each small knot of NID staffers and soldiers,
his gestures indicating that he was warning them about the approach of friendly
forces. He received nods in return. Satisfied that his 2IC was taking care of communicating
They were there less than five minutes from Teal’c’s call. Dave Dixon trotted up to
“Sir, reporting as requested with nine personnel from SG-13 and SG-2.”
“There were also some prisoners taken. Get with Colonel O’Neill and have him show you where they’re located.”
“Yes, sir.” After pausing
another moment to apparently make sure
The SG teams moved among the NID contingent, relieving them of weapons. A pair of men with medic bags also circulated,
treating the wounded. O’Neill, Ferretti
and a young soldier
For the next half hour or so
“Yes, Sergeant?” He greeted the soldier.
“General, I wanted to check with you and make sure you weren’t injured.” The medic was eyeing him clinically.
“No, Sergeant. I’m not injured. Have you seen Colonel O’Neill? He took a hit.”
“No, sir. I’ve not seen him since he left with Major Ferretti and Sergeant Triplett.”
“Find him, would you? Never
mind, give me a moment.”
A hiss of static, then O’Neill responded. “Checking out our prisoners. We’ve got them at our recce site.”
“Right away, sir. I’ll
just let Colonel Dixon know where I’m headed.” The sergeant loped off, and a minute later
A few minutes after that, Teal’c and the Ranger reappeared. The
“GeneralHammond, we have investigated the area. There do not appear to be any remaining hostiles in the area. There is evidence that several warriors survived the attack, but their spoor indicates that they have departed toward the distant hills.” Teal’c’s posture was relaxed, his staff weapon nonetheless held at the ready.
“Thank you. That puts my mind more at ease.” He glanced around, then flagged Dave Dixon down. The colonel trotted over.
“What’s our status, colonel?”
“Just about ready to move out, sir,”
“Have we gotten any information from them?”
“No, sir. There seems to be a language barrier.”
“Bring them, then. We’ll give the linguists a crack at them and try and figure out why they attacked the camp. Teal’c, I’d like you and Corporal Sauers to maintain a scout patrol during the transit.”
Teal’c nodded solemnly. He stepped
“Roger that, sir,” acknowledged
“Colonel. Any luck with the hostiles?”
“Nada. They speak something none of us have ever heard.” O’Neill shook his head in frustration. “Maybe Daniel’s gaggle of tame linguists can figure them out.”
“They’ll certainly have a crack at it. Did Sergeant Mendoza find you?” He carefully avoided looking at the colonel, knowing how prickly the man got about being injured. Instead he watched as SG-2 chivvied the NID scientists into a ragged line and got them pointed toward the gate.
“Yes, he found me. I’m fine,
and he even put another bandage on it.” The
mild exasperation in O’Neill’s tone convinced
“Good. Why don’t you stay back here with me for the trip back, and we’ll let Dave, Lou and their people handle the rest of this.”
“Whatever you say, sir.”
As the expanded group made their way through the forest
back toward the gate,
“Jack, you did a good job back there. I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome, given that it was just you and I.” He paused to step over a fallen log. “Where’d you learn your woodcraft? I know it wasn’t in basic, at least not Air Force basic.”
O’Neill looked at him askance, apparently trying to decide if
“You’re good at it. Better than
just about anyone I’ve seen. The only
ones that come close were an Army Ranger group I spent a few days with in
O’Neill eyed him with new interest. “You were with a LRP in
They walked for a few dozen meters in silence.
Then O’Neill remarked, “You were pretty good out there yourself for
a jet jockey, General. You looked like
you’ve had some experience of your own in ground combat.” He looked meaningfully at
“I know what you mean. What
about the MiG? Exchange tour
“I have a few hours in -27s,” admitted
“Cool,” said Jack, and stumbled.
O’Neill waved him off. “I just
tripped.” But then he swayed noticeably. He was also breathing
“Colonel O’Neill seems to be having a little trouble, Sergeant.”
O’Neill sat against the smooth bark of the tree, eyes closed. “I’m okay. I got a little dizzy for a second.” He opened his eyes. “I’m good to go.”
“Whoa, wait a minute here,” protested O’Neill.
“I can walk. We’re only a few
minutes from the gate.” He looked entreatingly
O’Neill winced as the dressing was tied. “Ow! Geez. Take it easy there.”
“Hold fire, Colonel,”
His attention was diverted by Mendoza, who was re-checking Jack’s vitals
after removing the IV catheter and fluid bag.
The medic made another notation on the casualty card and looked over
his shoulder at
“All right, son. We’ll give
that a try.” He levered himself off the log and joined
“Absolutely. Let’s get out of here.” O’Neill declared, looking better than he had previously. “I’m allergic to stretchers.”
They made it to the gate without further incident, much to Dave Dixon’s
obvious relief. At
“Sergeant, would you please escort Colonel O’Neill to the infirmary?
“Yes, sir,” acknowledged
Colonel Riley, up in the control room, reached for the microphone. “Welcome back, General,” he said, smiling. “I’m glad to hear you’re over your flu.” Mild amusement was evident in his voice. “The Joint Chiefs would like to hear from you once your sore throat has resolved.”
So that was the excuse his people had come up with. Whatever
smiled back at his determinedly-loyal soldiers.
“Thank you, Colonel. I’m feeling
much better now and will probably be able to speak with them later today,”
he said. “In the meantime, I think
I’d better visit the infirmary for an, ahem, check up. You three are welcome to join me at your convenience.” Not waiting for an acknowledgement,
The next day
“How are you feeling, Colonel?” he asked. Jack was sitting in bed, on top of the covers, wearing scrubs and socks. An IV line was still taped to one hand, but he looked reasonably rested and alert. A handheld video game was nearby on a table, next to a plate with a piece of pie and a fork.
“Peachy. Doc said I should be able to go home tomorrow.” He fidgeted with the IV line until Daniel slapped his hand gently. “I could go home today, really.”
“Janet said another day of IV antibiotics, sir,” reminded Major Carter.
“Yeah, well, what does she know?” muttered O’Neill.
“DoctorFraiser would appear to know a great deal about healing, O’Neill,” stated Teal’c.
“Whatever. What’s happening with the NID, General?” O’Neill asked, changing the subject.
“Good. Every NID slimeball we catch is a slimeball off the street,” declared O’Neill. “What about the natives? Or whatever they were,” he amended.
“Dr. Jackson will be able to tell you all the details, but basically
we’re still at the ‘Me Tarzan’ stage of communication.”
Daniel looked dyspeptic at the description but didn’t gainsay his words.
Jack, eyeing Daniel, carried on addressing
“Figures,” commented O’Neill. “Damn things look like they’re built out of some kid’s abandoned Erector set. But they seem to fly pretty well, considering.”
“Both the President and the Joint Chiefs send their congratulations
on a job well done,”
O’Neill waved the proposed commendation away. “Just my job, General. You know that.” Teal’c, predictably, remained silent.
“Nonetheless, it was a job well done. I wanted to pass on the congratulations from higher up.” He stood, brushing the wrinkles from his blue uniform trousers. “I have to get back to work. It seems that a great deal of paperwork has accumulated during my absence. Take care, Jack, and listen to what Dr. Fraiser tells you. Come see me when- and only when- she releases you for duty.” He nodded to the rest of SG-1. “Major Carter, Teal’c, Dr. Jackson. Good day.” He stepped out of the infirmary and strode toward the elevator, still relishing his adventure. I just might have to go through the gate again sometime, he thought. After all, the teams shouldn’t get to have all the fun.
Plot bunny assigned:
Time frame: Any
The scenario is Jack and
Jack or General Jack, whichever works itself into your plot the best. The
why and how is up to you but we must see Jack and George in action together.
We know from canon that Jack has some special ops skills but what is in
career. Let the two of them have a rip roaring adventure, face danger as
brothers-in-arms, and strengthen that bond of friendship that we've seen
develop over the years.