7: Alpha Centauri

Author: Chaoseternus

Chapter 16: Fallout

General O'Neill cursed quietly as he awaited the verdict of the Inquest into the Alpha Prime Mine Disaster he hated inquests. At least most of it was over now; they were just waiting on the verdict. But whatever happened, he was in trouble. It was his turf, his responsibility, his fault.

"Sir?" the softly voiced question made O'Neill look up, to see a tall Lieutenant in an RSS uniform checking a PDA, "latest report from the monitoring teams on the edge of the exclusion zone"

O'Neill nodded his thanks as he took the PDA from the Lieutenant, checking quickly over its contents, radiation levels in the area were finally starting to stabilise at least, they would slowly drop off over, ohh... just the next thousand or so years. And so far no trace of the bacteria had been discovered, which was good, as it meant the bacteria was still within the initial blast radius, and would have been consumed by the blazing heat of the nuclear detonation. If it had been outside the initial blast radius, there was a good chance that not only would the bug have been scattered, blown all over the southern hemisphere, but that the radiation would have triggered a mutation as well. Which as Fraiser had explained to him at great length, would not be a good thing.

At least the good Doctor had been able to figure out the purpose of the engineered bacteria. It was an Asgard killer, designed specifically to target an Asgard body, multiply rapidly within, consuming the host, then spread through the atmosphere to other host bodies. Not nice, he had spent most of last night not getting sleep, or preparing for the final day of the Inquest, but getting on the horn to Thor and explaining to Thor exactly what Doctor Frasier had found.

Thor had been, to put it mildly, unhappy. He dreaded to think what would happen to any Goa'uld vessels that got in Thor's way on his route to Alpha Centauri. O'Neill sighed, so far the doc's had only managed to contain the bacteria within the bodies of the RSG team and the mining team that was infected, they were in stasis pods Thor had left behind for extreme emergencies, their testimony having been pre-recorded.

It would take Asgard technology to save them now, but it would also allow the Asgard to collect samples of the bacteria and see for themselves the evidence of Ra's work.

O'Neill looked up as he heard a faint click, and rose from his seat as the doors to the courtroom, the only one currently built in the Alpha Centauri system opened. The crowd moved, swiftly re-entering the room and filling the seats, trying hard to judge the result by the stony expressions on the faces of the Judges, Senator Pitt, General Hammond, Admiral Thompson, Narim of the Tollan, Bra'tac of the Free Jaffa, Carter / Selmac of the Tok'ra, three Tau'ri, and three off-worlders.

"The Tribunal Has come to its decision" Narim announced as speaker for the tribunal, being the only member permanently in the system, bringing quiet swiftly from the room, "On consideration of the original sensor records of the Deep Scan of the cavern and its surrounding area, we find that the sensor operator was criminally negligent in not noting the anomalies present in the scan, indeed, in discarding the anomalies as irrelevant and cleaning them from the scan"

O'Neill winched, a head on the block already, this was not an encouraging start. That sensor operator would not like the rest of his life, at all.

"With regards to procedures and standards at the mining complex, we find that safety procedures, training, and the manner in which they were carried out was generally to the highest standards"

O'Neill nodded, the emphasis on generally told him they weren't going to get away Scot free on that point, but they were going to get off lightly.

"However, due to the patent inability to bring dedicated rescue personnel and equipment to the mines in a hurry, we rule that no mine in the Alpha Centauri system shall be allowed to operate with only one access point, we order that at least two access points, be they shafts, tunnels or other be constructed before the mine is allowed to enter service"

O'Neill shrugged that off, of the three surviving operational mines, one had two operational access points, and the other two each had a second under construction. That would not have much of an effect, except on survivability.

"We wish to commend the rescue team, in particular Angharad Gwyn, for actions above and beyond the call of duty in the cause of saving their comrades, in addition we wish to commend RSG-1 and Felix Heron's Mining team for courage beyond the call of duty for their actions to assist in the rescue of the minors despite their encroaching illness, thinking not of themselves but of others in what, I am told, is the highest traditions of the Tau'ri militaries involved"

O'Neill nodded, his face carefully blank, but inside he was agreeing fervently. Heroes, the lot of them.

"With regards to the cavern breech, we find Brigadier General O'Neill and Marine Major Franco negligent in not ordering more comprehensive checks then mere atmospheric and visual before allowing the cavern to be entered, we find that several key checks, radiation and biological for example were missed despite clear reference in the restricted procedures manual"

O'Neill sank backwards in his seat, stunned. Negligent, he had been found negligent. Well, at least no one could say the board was trying to protect because all of them, bar Senator Pitt, were friends.

"We find that the decision by Doctor Frasier to deploy nuclear weapons in order to destroy the bacteria was… regrettable, but necessary. However, we are ordering a review of procedures by which nuclear weapons can be deployed for such a purpose, no-one Doctor should be able to say if it is necessary or not"

O'Neill nodded to himself, and turned, catching Doctor Frasier doing the same thing out of the corner of his eye, she at least wasn't arguing.

"With regards to the first ruling, we order that Captain Celeste, formally chief sensor operator aboard Prometheus be held, pending Court Martial.

With regards to the fifth ruling, we order that both Brigadier General O'Neill and Major Franco be fined the equivalent of one years pay.

In addition, we also relieve Brigadier General O'Neill of sole command of the Alpha Centauri system, we order that arrangements be made post haste for a ruling council, drawn from the RSS, SGC, civilian and allied contingents to assume command of the system"

"This Inquest is adjourned"