A/N: For those who have waited….and waited…and sat around…and waited…and quite frankly I would be shocked if such people still exist waiting for this story
Chapter 11 – Preparations
Hammond stood in front of the Briefing Room, staring at SG-1 as they sat at the table – in particular, at his Colonel. The other members of SG-1 tried to avoid direct eye contact with either of the two men.
"Colonel O'Neill, would you kindly explain to me why I have a group of international fugitives camped outside in my yard?" Hammond asked in the special tone of mixed frustration, annoyance, and disbelief he reserved for his second's antics. "Especially after we have spent considerable time and effort trying to locate Daniel's 'lost people'."
"They got a really good group rate?" Jack asked innocently.
"Colonel, I don't believe you understand the seriousness of the situation. You have lied to your superior officer concerning the whereabouts of a people that could have vital information to the protection of this planet!"
Jack opened his mouth to say something, and then appeared to think better of it.
"Do you have something to say in your defence, Colonel?"
"I was just going to say, sir, that technically I didn't lie. No one ever asked me if I knew the location of the Shiriti'ai."
Hammond looked about ready to explode. Luckily for Jack, there was a knock on the door. An apologetic Sergeant entered the room.
"Sorry to interrupt, sir, but you wanted to be notified when a representative of the Shiriti'ai was decided," he said, standing aside to allow a middle-aged woman wearing Eastern garb to enter into the room. Jack smiled, recognizing her as the woman who had visited him years ago right after he had killed the Puranas. Immediately, the woman made her way to where Jack was sitting and knelt before him, grabbing his hands, and placing a few kisses on them. Jack shifted uncomfortably at the display, but did nothing the stop her.
Standing the woman turned to General Hammond and gave a small bow.
"Thank you, General, for allowing us to remain close to our Sruti. I am Ushala, I speak for the Shiriti'ai if that is your insistence."
Originally, the Shiriti'ai refused to speak through anyone other than their Sruti. Daniel spent several hours trying to explain that since their Sruti was a member of the United States military, it would be a conflict of interest for him to act as their liaison. He wasn't getting anywhere until Jack himself told the Shiriti'ai to select a representative from amongst themselves – then saying something in a language that Daniel didn't even recognize as being similar to any language on Earth he knew of.
"I'm sorry, but we don't have much time for diplomatic niceties. We're working on a limited timetable here, and one of my people, Dr. Daniel Jackson, believes you may have the solution to our problems."
Ushala turned to Jack before answering, "What is it that we have that could be of service to you?"
Hammond gestured for Daniel to continue.
"Throughout your entire history you have been persecuted, but despite the hostile neighbours and historical changes you have developed relatively unaffected. In fact, whenever a situation becomes particularly dangerous your group completely disappears off the face of the planet. Over ten years ago, after the death of your leader, your group disappeared again into a place you call 'Sanctuary'. Trackers, surveillance equipment – nothing worked. It is my belief that your people have access to advanced technology that allows you to shield yourselves."
"If we had such technology, how would it be of use to you?" Ushala asked slowly, her expression unreadable.
"We have a piece of technology that allows us to travel to other worlds, and we use a metal shield to protect ourselves from any hostile forces. But one of our enemies has discovered a way to penetrate that shield, and we need a new method of shielding to protect ourselves. If you do have shielding technology, we could use it to protect not only ourselves but the entire planet," Carter said.
Ushala considered this.
"If what you say is true – why are they not here now, while your protection is gone?"
"We are employing a temporary measure, but its only going to hold out for another twelve hours before we become vulnerable again. We've run out of options."
"I must speak with the Sruti, before speaking further," Ushala stated, leaving no room for argument. Hammond acquiesced and the two were left in the room alone.
"Why are you here? What has happened?" Jack asked in the sacred language, the same one that had Daniel searching for its origin. The Colonel was reasonably sure there was no one spying on this conversation, but he wasn't going to be taking any chances. Ushala looked at Jack, surprised that he would use the sacred language, but answered in kind.
"We have received a message from the Puranas."
"Do you know where he is?" Jack asked excitedly.
"Yes, we have several trackers with us in order to locate the Puranas, but that is not all." Ushala reached inside her cloak and handed Jack a device. He looked at it closely, surprised to see that it looked similar to a ribbon device. Sliding it on his hand, Jack knew instantly that it was a weapon. As his revelation was mirror on his face, Ushala continued, "For as long as our people can remember, the Shiriti'ai have avoided violence, but for the first time the Puranas has given out a call to war. All our people all well versed in its use, and we are prepared to use our knowledge on your orders. "
Jack O'Neill's mind whirled with the possible implications of this. Liam would never ask for the Shiriti'ai to kill unless there was something bigger going on than a simple NID abduction. Could this have something to do with the Goa'uld threat? Mentally, Jack shook himself and started to prioritise. First things first, they had to rescue Liam.
"Inform the General that only the Puranas has the authority to relinquish technology. Tell him that Liam Stanton is the Puranas and that is why you have come to the United States – to rescue him. Admit that you have that ability to track his location, but avoid mentioning any technology; make it seem like a natural ability."
"Do you not trust your own comrades, Sruti?"
"I trust General Hammond and SG-1 with my life, but someone very high up saw the mission reports of Liam's visit here and put two and two together. I don't want to make the NID anymore interested in the Shiriti'ai than they already are."
Ushala regarded Jack for a moment, a fond smile on her face and complete trust in her eyes. Jack avoided her gaze; uncomfortable with the trust the Shiriti'ai had placed in him. Hopefully, George had the same trust in him.
Liam Stanton lifted a weary head as he heard footsteps walking towards his cell. He glared at the Goa'uld who stood staring smugly at his prisoner, ordering the guards to leave them alone.
"I thought you would like to know your precious flock has arrived at Cheyenne Mountain. It seems they have run to O'Neill for help – it was quite a surprise when I heard from our agents that O'Neill has been concealing their whereabouts all these years. What I am curious about is why you saved Jack O'Neill from my mistress when he was the one who assassinated you?"
Liam remained silent.
"No matter. In less than twelve hours the SGC will be forced to terminate the wormhole and either bury the Stargate or leave themselves vulnerable to attack. And with all their attention focused on the Stargate, they will be unprepared when Lady Kali's modified ships attack. Of course, with no access to the Stargate, they'll have no means of contacting their allies. Even if their allies should arrive, with no advance warning they will fall quickly under Lady Kali's might."
"Nothing can stop us now."
The Goa'uld turned and left, leaving the Puranas alone with his thoughts. Head bowed, the guards never noticed the small smile that crept on his face.
Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime, but he'll still need a fishing rod. Knowledge without the right tools is only worth half of its true value. And I have handed Jack a very effective fishing rod.
General Hammond sat at his desk looking over strategy and contingency plans for gate burial when Colonel O'Neill entered the room. Seeing the look on Jack's face, he already knew what his Colonel was here for.
"Colonel, we have less than ten hours remaining before all hell break's loose and you want me to sent troops to rescue a spiritual leader that I'm still having a hard time believing has been reincarnated as a twelve years old boy. I just can't do it."
"General, none of the Shiriti'ai have the authority to even tell us if they have shielding technology. Besides, I think the Puranas knows more about what's going on than we do," Jack said, trying to convince the General.
"Why do you say that?"
"Because the Puranas would never put the Shiriti'ai in danger without having a damn good reason – and saving his own life isn't one of them, sir."
General Hammond regarded his second-in-command with interest. It was no secret that O'Neill trusted very few people and those he did were because they had earned it. Despite what he had said, Hammond was more inclined to believe that Liam Stanton was the reincarnation of the Puranas because of the faith O'Neill seemed to be placing in him. But Hammond was walking a fine line as it was with the upper brass.
"I'm sorry, Jack, I just can't spare the manpower."
"Then I request a leave of absence."
Hammond stared at Jack in disbelief. Noting Hammond's response Jack continued saying, "Otherwise, I'll have to tender my resignation."
"Colonel, I will not be blackmailed," Hammond said furiously.
"It's not blackmail, sir. Look…I can't tell you how I know it, but the only way we're going to get out of this situation is if we have the Puranas at our side," Jack said passionately. Hammond knew that when Jack was in this frame of mind, there was nothing he could to stop him – so his choices were to either let Jack go or wait for him to disobey orders and go.
"Alright, Colonel, you have a go but I can't spare anyone else."
"Oh, that's okay, General. I have some back up."
Hammond watched O'Neill leave, wondering what he had meant by that, and stared blankly at the paperwork in front of him. Right now Earth was between a rock and a hard place and he couldn't see anyway out of it. Their only hope was that one of their alien allies were contacted by the Tollans or Jack somehow manages to pull a rabbit out of his hat.
A/N: YES! It's done! ::doing a jig:: The chapter from hell is over with!