Disclaimer: I do not own the characters of Stargate, or any elements of the show. I did create this storyline however. Sequel to "A letter, or two".
AN July 2006; Ok, so I've been gone for a long time, and working on several other things. But this story still lingers in my mind and shall not be forgotten. I promise this will be finished some day, just bear with me if you have the patience and a fondness for this story. Chapters 1 to 9 are adjusted for easier reading, and this chapter is all new. Hopefully in the same line of storytelling as once began in... Thank you all! Mu-sanNo more
Trees, bushes, roads and fences passed by, but Jack didn't really see any of it. He was sitting in the back of the government issued car, driven by the MP that came to escort him to the airport. The Colonel sat in the front, leaving the backseat all to himself. Which thankfully gave him the opportunity to stretch his legs, if only for a little.
With his arm resting on the window Brigadier General Jack O'Neill was tired of being Brigadier General Jack O'Neill. After almost countless years of service, mission for the Airforce, white, gray and black, and the rollercoaster ride that had been his time at the SGC, he was tired of it all. From an early age his father had taught him that life wouldn't be easy, and that he needed to be strong to face everything head-on. It was a philosophy that went extremely well with the military lifestyle. And looking back on it, things had never been easy. Sure, things had gone well at times, and he certainly turned out a natural military man in more ways than one. But the setbacks and difficulties had been…overwhelming.
Overwhelmed. Yeah, that sounds like how I'm feeling, Jack thought. Overwhelmed.
The car stopped in front of the small airstrip. The sudden lack of engine sounds and vibrations broke Jack's concentration. He looked out of the window and saw a small jet standing ready for take-off on the runway. He sighed deeply but softly and grabbed his briefcase. His hand rested on the door handle for a second, before he schooled his face into an emotionless mask.
'Time to face the music.'
- ∞ -
It had taken Sam over an hour to finally get to Cheyenne Mountain. After the last tears had burned their way out of her eyes she had tried to start the car and drive away, but her hands had kept shaking too badly. An agonizing half hour she had spent to calm down again, willing her mind not to dwell on things she could impossibly figure out at this moment. When she finally could insert the car key into the contact without missing it several times she drove to the SCG, intent on finding out what the hell had happened and how to fix it.
The guard at the sign-in post could tell her that Daniel and Teal'c had arrived a while ago. She quickly hopped into the elevator and went down to the locker room. Somehow changing into her military garb helped her push certain…personal developments to the back of her mind, making it far more bearable to deal with the mess they were in. She resolutely avoided looking at Jack's locker, the same one he had been using in his Colonel years.
In the conference room she found Daniel and Teal'c, both occupied in their own way. Daniel was pouring over several files and folders, his glasses slid halfway down his nose and his brow wrinkled in concentration. Teal'c was standing at the observation windows, looking out into the Gateroom. His hands clasped behind his back he struck a somewhat relaxed posture but she could see the Jaffa warrior was anything but relaxed. Frustration and anger rolled from him in waves if you knew what to look for. And she did.
"I am glad you have arrived, Colonel Carter."
Inwardly she smiled. Teal'c hadn't even turned.
"Sorry I'm late, there…was a holdup in traffic." She almost cringed at her excuse, but managed to keep a straight face. Not too sure about her voice though.
Upon hearing her voice Daniel looked up in surprise. "Sam, hey. When did you get here?"
"Just now. I hit some traffic."
This time she sounded a little surer, the excuse already practiced. Unfortunately Daniel wasn't completely focused on anything else but the folders in front of him yet.
"Traffic? We didn't see any traffic…"
"Perhaps instead of discussing traffic we can begin to free O'Neill."
Teal'c had again not turned, but his words certainly hit their intended target. Sam now knew Teal'c hadn't bought her excuse one bit but was willing to let it slide in favor of getting things underway. And she wholeheartedly agreed with him.
"What you got there Daniel?" she asked him.
"Oh, right, eh," Daniel responded a little distracted, shuffling the papers in front of him, "these are the testimonies of SG-6 and 8 about our rescue mission on Dimasq."
Sam perked up a bit at that. "Anything in there that can exonerate the General?"
Daniel looked at little disappointed. "Actually, there isn't much in this at all. Both damning and exonerating," he quickly added at the fall of Sam's face. "The basic facts of what happened on the planet are in here, but as far as I can tell there isn't anything in here that could really fuel the charges against Jack."
Sam frowned. "So…what Daniel? There is nothing we can do from this end for General O'Neill?"
She caught the flash of annoyance in his eyes at her use of Jack's title constantly, even amongst the three of them. But he chose to address something else.
"Sam, I'm not too concerned about what is in these reports. It's the things they left out that concern me."
At this she blinked twice before speaking. "What do you mean?"
Daniel cast a quick look at Teal'c who still wasn't moving. "Sam, remember how Teal'c told us they had an audience with the ruler of Dimasq, Sultan Garan Yasmak?"
She nodded. "Yeah, they subdued him and got the information of our whereabouts."
She couldn't see why Daniel was rehashing this. His next words however opened up a whole new line of questioning.
"Do you know how Jack did that? Teal'c told me just now. Sam, Jack held a gun at the Sultan's head and threathened to kill him, after already shooting him in the leg. Now I know we've done bodily harm and death threats to our enemies before, except this time no one of both teams mentioned it in their reports."
So say she was confused would be an understatement. "Daniel, what's your point?"
He dug under a few folders and extracted a thin folder, which bore a striking resemblance to the one Jack's had given them. Daniel handed it to her and she quickly scanned the front text. And blanched.
"Sam, nothing in the testimonies could have been the reason of the charges made against Jack, SG-6 and 8 are behind him all the way. But this proves that Washington knows what happened there, and they didn't get it from the reports."
She heavily sat back in her chair, the folder still clutched in her hands. Daniel's words had made her head spin there for a second, and now it was racing a thousand miles a minute to make sense of it all. How the hell can this be happening! She lowered her eyes to look at the folder again, but the words hadn't changed.
'In addition to the previous charges, specified…in accordance with the UCMJ…O'Neill is hereby charged under article 124, maiming of another person. The accused will be punished as the court-martial directs…Oh my God, Daniel's right. They're charging Jack with everything they can think of, based on field information kept out of the official reports.'
'The charge of desertion alone can break his entire career, but this many charges will stain his person even if he is acquitted.'
'This cannot be happening, not after everything we went trough! Not after all we accomplished, what he accomplished, what he sacrificed! Not now I have his letter…'
Snapping out of her daze she looked across the table at Daniel. He was looking back at her with a concerned look on his face. Heck, even Teal'c had now turned to them to watch her. Mentally cramming everything back into tight iron cages again she straightened in the chair and placed the folder on the table.
"We're not giving up on him Daniel. Somehow Washington got hold of information about the mission, and we're going to find out who provided them with it."
She stood up and strode into Jack's office with confidence. Acquire your target and let nothing stand in between, her father had taught her a long time ago. Now she could definitely use that attitude. The stakes were too high to fail. She picked up the phone and requested the presence of Colonels Freeman and Saunders. Coming back to the conference room Daniel was looking at her expectantly.
She planted her feet firmly on the ground and put her hands on the table, leaning a little forward on them. "Daniel, we're getting to the bottom of this. SG-6 and 8 were with Teal'c and the General, so they can tell us precisely what happened. We're hearing from each of them, and we're finding how the information got leaked to Washington."
Daniel blinked a couple of times, no doubt a little surprised by her sudden change in attitude and posture. Teal'c however calmly walked to his usual chair, sat down and folded his hand on the tabletop.
"An excellent decision, Colonel Carter."
She gave Teal'c a small smile, glad he was on her side. And she nearly sighed with relief when Daniel pushed his glasses back up his nose and rested his hands on top of all the files.
"Okay, where do we start?"
- ∞ -
The flight had been tedious. The Colonel and MP escorting him hadn't spoken to him, part respect part fear. It gave his some satisfaction his scare-factor was still very much alive and kicking, but he wished he had something else to occupy him. Where's a yo-yo when you need one?
Upon arrival in Washington he spotted a car with yet another MP besides it. His annoyance at the people behind this all was growing. Where the hell did they get the nerve to treat him like a flight risk? Like he would jump out an active wormhole the second the Colonel had handed him the charges. While the thought had its merits, despite popular belief Jack O'Neill did follow orders. And never turned away from the consequences of his actions. How…unpleasant they might be.
Jack took one last look out the window before leveling a glare in the Colonel's direction. He saw the man shrink back an inch.
"Our transport is waiting outside."
He would have rolled his eyes at the obvious statement, but decided to simply pick up his stuff and walk right past the Colonel and head straight for the exit. An inward smile did form when the Colonel and the MP both scrambled after him, clearly not expecting him to move so quickly. Stepping out of the plane Jack took a deep breath. Smog and the stench of politics. Yep, this was Washington all right.
The Colonel pointed him in the direction of the awaiting car.
"This way, sir."
Deciding to make the man squirm a little more Jack merely tilted his head a fraction of an inch. "Are you giving me an order…Colonel?"
To see the officer blanch was satisfaction enough for him. "Please, sir…"
Taking pity on the guy Jack started walking towards the car. But stopped in his tracks the moment a sleek black car drove up to them and stopped right in front of the other car. Its windows were tinted and Jack couldn't see who was inside. His instincts coiled slightly in anticipation, but when the door opened and a familiar face stepped out he relaxed.
"Colonel Griffins? I'll take it from here, son."
Jack smiled at the newcomer and turned to the Colonel. "Thanks for the ride, Colonel." He gave the man a friendly pat on the shoulder before heading towards the newly arrived car. Closing the door behind him he almost laughed at the completely stunned, surprised and confused look on the faces of the Colonel and MP's. 'Not exactly what you'd expect, I'll give 'em that.' After the driver pulled away from the airport Jack turned to his 'rescuer'.
"Moonlighting as a prisoner escort? I know a General's pay isn't all that great, but come on George, you can do better."
George Hammond chuckled at Jack's joke. "Well it spices things up just a little bit."
Jack turned his smile more serious. "Thanks, George."
The older man nodded curtly. "No trouble, Jack. I was coming to get you anyway to prepare your defense. I've set up a meeting with an excellent lawyer who's agreed to take your case."
"What about disclosure and 'need to know'?" Jack asked.
"All taken care of, she's briefed on the most important elements. You just need to remember to stick to the pertinent facts and not expand too much on the SGC's activities."
Jack subtly raised an eyebrow. "She?"
George gave him a grin. "I thought you liked women, Jack."
With a soft groan and roll of the eyes he sat back on the backseat. "I knew that one would bite me on the ass one day."
- ∞ -
"So General O'Neill never gave you the order to omit certain facts from the reports?"
Sam glowered a little at Daniel. 'No of course not Daniel, he'd never do that and you know that darn well.' Fortunately Colonels Freeman and Saunders shared her sentiment.
"No, he did not," Freeman answered, "We knew it was an off the record mission, and so assumed that not everything needed to be reported. We wrote down everything we thought was important to explain the action."
Daniel frowned a little. "And we're grateful for that, but aren't you supposed to report everything, especially when actions are stepping over moral boundaries?"
She intensified her glare at the archeologist. 'What the hell are you doing Daniel? Playing the devil's advocate just because you feel someone needs to?' "Daniel…," she said in a warning tone of voice.
This time Saunders took over. "Doctor Jackson, General O'Neill did what was needed, no more. If he had been out of line we would have intervened. Because that is the way the General expects us to conduct ourselves here. We knew what we were doing, and we supported the General all the way."
Daniel sat back in his chair and nodded. "I know, and I'm sorry. I just needed to ask, if only once."
"Now that we're all on the same page," Sam interrupted, "we need to find out how the prosecution got the information."
Freeman and Saunders shared a look, before Saunders nodded and turned to Sam. "Ma'am, we can vouch for most of our boys. We know they respect the General immensely and would never rat on him. However, we're not too sure about the new recruits."
With a new frown Daniel looked to Sam. "Didn't Jack review them himself?"
She nodded. "He did." After shifting several folders she found the files of the three newly minted members of the SGC. She handed one to Daniel, another to Teal'c, and opened the last one herself. "One of these men isn't telling us the truth."
- ∞ -