Leaving Colonel Ferretti out in the hospital hallway talking to another officer, Heasley walked down the hallway that the older man had indicated to him and stopped before the wide swinging doors that featured a sign reading 'ICU. Please call for admittance.' and had an arrow pointing to a phone on the wall. He hesitated a moment, then picked it up, hearing it automatically ring through. One ring, then two, then a woman's voice came over the line. "ICU. Can I help you?" she asked.
"Major John Heasley, I'm here to see Dr Teresa Loring," he stated, trying to keep his voice steady, but it wasn't easy. Ferretti had only been able to tell him that Teresa had been badly hurt, he hadn't been able to give him any real details on how and what had happened. "I'm her foster brother, and on her contact list with the college she was going to..."
"Oh, yes, we're expecting you," she replied cheerfully. "Come in, please, just stay very quiet while you're here."
The phone went silent and he hung it up as the double doors opened into the room beyond. Inside was a spacious room with a line of glass walled cubicles around the two farthest walls and a U-shaped station in the middle of it. At the station, three nurses were watching over the monitors that corresponded with each patient, while another pair of nurses were in different cubicles working with patients themselves. A doctor nearby was taking notes on a clipboard and didn't even glance up as he came in.
A second doctor was at one of the windows, a petite, red head with Major's bars on her collar who turned as he entered, then moved to join him. "I'm Dr Janet Frasier," she told him with a kind smile. "I'm glad you were able to come, Major Heasley. Teresa should be waking up soon and it'll be good to have someone she knows nearby when she does." Her expression grew a bit more serious. "Were you told what happened?"
"Only that she was attacked in Chicago and badly injured," he told her. "How bad is she hurt?" he questioned softly, very concerned about what he was seeing in that room. Teresa looked pale to him, the bruises on her face and neck standing out in stark contrast to the whiteness above her cheekbones. Her hair had been drawn back and put into a blue surgical cap, and a number of tubes were disappearing up under the blankets that covered her. Most worrying to him was the way the blankets were raised over her feet, and the thick tubes that ran up there from two small ice chests under the bed. He had seen that kind of thing before, when a fellow officer had needed knee surgery, but he hadn't had the nerve to ask what it was for. Had her feet been injured? If so, how badly? Would it be bad enough to cripple her, or just be a temporary setback?
"She's got a number of cracked ribs, so don't hug her too hard," Janet warned him, breaking into his thoughts. "Her lungs are fine and the internal bruising wasn't too bad at all, a couple more days and it will all be healed. Her jaw was dislocated, that's why there's some swelling in her face, but it was taken care of first thing after she was taken to the hospital in Chicago." Seeing his expression go from worry to relief and then back to worry again, she reached out and laid her hand on his forearm, giving it a gentle squeeze. "I'm very happy to tell you that no, she was not sexually assaulted. Fortunately, whoever did this, they didn't go that far."
Heasley breathed a sigh of relief. "I was trying to figure out how to ask that..." he admitted.
She gave him a comforting pat on his arm. "That's what the look on your face was telling me, and as her friend, I was sure you were worried. It didn't happen, so you can relax."
Janet took a deep breath, then continued. "Unfortunately, it was her feet that suffered the most damage; her attackers beat the soles of them and even broke a few bones in the left one. The damage may be bad enough to leave her slightly lame, I'm afraid. We did the surgery to get the bones back into alignment right after she arrived last night, and she's on a slow morphine drip for pain. They kept her under heavy sedation in Chicago, so she's been kept under since the attack occurred three days ago."
He nodded, still worried as he looked from his friend back to the doctor beside him. "What else is wrong?" he asked, his expression pleading with her to tell him that was the only damage.
"That's all of it. It will take a few months for her to get over this, but we have plenty of time to let her heal, her job isn't going anywhere. However, I do have to worry about the psychological effects of this attack on her as well. If you can give me any insight on how she's going to feel about what happened, I would appreciate it."
He chuckled, shaking his head as his gaze went back to his friend. "She's going to be mad at herself for letting them take her down, whoever they were. And she's going to want to skin them alive if she can get her hands on them. And I'd be more than willing to help..."
Janet sighed, almost sorry to disappoint him. "Someone beat you to it. We're sure the men who were responsible for her attack were found dead a short distance from the college. We know who they were, and we're fairly sure we know why this happened, they actually got a good amount of information out of the smashed computers in the boxcars you boys helped take care of." She chuckled, hoping to distract him for a moment and let him settle his nerves down. "Good work on that, by the way. Teal'c told me you and your friends did a more than 'satisfactory' job in helping to catch those rogue agents. High praise from Teal'c, I assure you."
"Where is he from?" Heasley questioned. "I've studied a lot about different cultures, and I've never seen or heard of anything that resembles that emblem he's got on his forehead."
She gave him a look of pure mischief. "No, you wouldn't have," she told him, reaching to open the sliding glass door into the private cubicle where Teresa was sleeping. "I believe Colonel O'Neill is briefing Colonel Ferretti right now, so I'm sure you'll be getting some of your answers soon enough. For the moment, though, let's go in and you can sit with Teresa for a while."
Following her inside, he took a seat beside the bed where he'd be out of the way. "What's the tubes and ice chests for?" he asked.
"To help keep the swelling down in her feet, we wrapped them loosely in ace bandages, then wrapped a water bladder around them," Janet explained. "The chests are full of ice water, which is circulated through the tubes by pumps to keep the bladders full. They're much better than ice packs, we can actually adjust the temperature to keep them from getting too cold and it doesn't put any pressure on her feet. It's very, very effective to keep swelling to an absolute minimum."
"Nice," came a murmur from between them and both looked down as Teresa's eyelids started to flicker open.
"Hello there, sleeping beauty," Heasley murmured softly, getting up and moving closer to take her left hand in his. "How are you doing?"
"Floating," she admitted, toggling her free hand in a 'so-so' gesture before Janet caught her wrist to take her pulse. "Good drugs."
"Slow morphine drip," Janet told her. "We're starting to taper it off now, but you're to let us know if the pain gets bad, all right?"
Blinking sleepily, Teresa tried to nod, then stayed very, very still, only her eyes turning Janet's way. "Don't know you," she murmured.
"I'm Dr Janet Fraiser, and you're at the Air Force Academy Hospital in Colorado Springs. You were medivaced here from Chicago yesterday afternoon."
"Did they... get the ones who did this?" she asked, blinking again, then flinching when Janet set about checking her eyes and running through her vitals.
"Someone did," Janet told her. "Did you see their faces when they went after you?"
"They were masked," Teresa replied. "The three that I first saw wore masks, I don't know about the woman. They got me down, stuffed that rubber ball in my mouth, then pulled a hood or bag over my head..."
That caught Janet by surprise. "A woman?" she asked, wanting to be sure she understood this right. "Are you sure there was a woman there?"
Teresa answered without hesitation. "Three men and one woman; I could hear them talking, though the sound was muffled, distant. Why?"
"The bodies of the three men were found shortly after they attacked you," Janet told her. "There weren't any women with them."
Teresa frowned. "I know that there were four," she told Janet. "And I'm sure that one was a woman, you have to believe me..."
Janet caught her free hand again and began to rub it gently. "Oh, I do," she told the younger woman reassuringly. "It's just we thought everyone was accounted for, and it's a bit disturbing to find they're not."
"Ah," she breathed, her eyes starting to close again. "I'm tired..."
"You should be. Sleep is something you really need right now, but you might want to say hello to your friend first."
Teresa smiled as she turned her eyes towards Heasley. "Hello, John. How long have you been here? Thought you were going traveling?"
"My ticket got canceled, and I was posted here to Colorado Springs. Same group you joined up with, in fact," he told her, lifting the hand he was still holding to kiss the back of it. "Now, you need to get some sleep, it's getting late. If my CO allows it, I'll be around when you wake up again in the morning, all right?"
"It's good to see you again, and I'll behave," she promised him. "Don't think I have much choice."
"Not this time, Silver. I have the feeling this doc would spot your tricks and more if you tried them, so just behave and do what she says."
"I will," came the quiet murmur, then her eyes closed and he felt her hand start to relax in his.
Janet looked at the monitors above the bed. "Good, she should sleep until morning. If you come back in between eight and nine, she'll probably be starting to rouse then, and you can help us get some food into her. I take it she's a reluctant patient?"
"Orphans tend to be, the only people they know they can rely on are themselves. Kevin and Denise are the same way, and try as they might, mom and dad never got them completely out of the habit. Still, she knows she's going to need help, or soon will, and while she won't be happy, she will be cooperative. For the most part."
Janet looked enlightened. "Ah, let me guess; standard reply to the question 'how are you feeling?' is 'I'm fine.'. Am I right?"
"You've run across the mentality before then?"
"Oh, yes. Okay, I know how to deal with her, and I think we need to leave her alone to rest. Come on, I'll show you out." Janet told him, motioning to the door. He followed her out of the cubicle, then out of the ICU ward.
Outside the ICU doors they found Ferretti waiting in a chair that someone had brought him, and he climbed carefully to his feet when he saw the doctor. "Now, here's a sight for sore eyes," he stated, grinning. "Dr Fraiser, it's good to see you again."
"It's good to see you as well," she told him, stepping forward and forgoing military protocol to give him a welcoming hug. "The Colonel told me you were going to be coming back the Academy to work. I'm glad to hear it, though you were one of my most difficult patients."
"Hey, I spent a lot less time in your infirmary than Jack and Daniel have ever managed," he told her defensively, though Heasley could see he was doing his best to keep a grin off his face. "Siler filled me in a few days ago on everything going on, a bunch from the SGC have been helping me clean house."
"Good," Fraiser told him, nodding in a pleased fashion with a smile, then grew more serious. "Now, I would like this young man back in the morning, I'll arrange for him to have a tray with his friend so he can help us get her to eat. Will 0800 be all right?"
"I'll make sure he's free," Ferretti assured her, not even blinking when getting the order from a junior rank officer. "Thanks, doc. For everything."
"You're welcome," she replied, then shooed them both off down the hall.
As they walked away, Heasley glanced back over his shoulder to see her watching them with a pleased look, but Ferretti cleared his throat to draw his attention back. "She's the CMO on the base, and one of the best damned doctors I've ever known," the older man told him. "And O'Neill calls her 'little Napoleon' for a reason. He may grouse and grumble about her ordering him around, but there isn't an officer on the base who wouldn't hesitate to follow any order she gives. Keep that in mind."
"Yes, sir," Heasley told him as they headed out. "Is that who you were talking to, sir?"
"When you went in? Oh, yeah, that was O'Neill. He had some directions for me, and we need to get back to the barracks. The cadets should be moved in by now, and we all need to sit down for a talk."
Heasley considered asking what about, then decided he'd find out soon enough...
"Lieutenant Commander Jordan?" came a call from near the mess door, and a half dozen heads came up around one table. Spotting his target, the sailor headed over to hand the young pilot/electronics engineer a hand written message.
Kevin Jordan gave the note a surprised look as he read through it. "Who did this come from?" he questioned, giving the man a sharp glance. "This isn't a joke, is it?"
The man stiffened. "I was given it direct from the Admiral's hand, sir," he stated firmly.
"Why in the world would he want to talk to me...? Bill, will you take care of my tray?" he asked one of his friends, rising from his seat to head to the Admiral's office.
"Sure, go," his friend urged. "Meet you back at the bunks later, you can tell us what's going on."
"Thanks," Jordan told him, and headed out after the sailor. He was pretty sure he knew where it was, but usually when something came up, it was the Captain of the ship they had to talk with, not the Admiral in charge of the carrier battle group.
It took a few minutes for them to reach the office, and the crewman tapped on the outer door, then stood back for Jordan to go in when the call came to enter. Nodding to him, Jordan stepped through, snapping off a salute to the waiting officers inside. "Lieutenant Commander Kevin Jordan, reporting as ordered, sir," he stated, standing at strict attention since he could see that both the admiral and the commander, who was his aide, were in the outer office.
"At ease, Lieutenant," Admiral Price stated with a smile. "Relax, you're not in trouble. At least, not yet... Come into my office, we need to talk." Turning, he headed for his personal office, the curious young man following along behind him. "Close the door and have a seat, this may take awhile."
Jordan obeyed, sitting stiffly in one of the chairs in front of the Admiral's desk as the older man sat down in his more comfortable seat behind it. "Sir?" he questioned.
"As I said, you're not in trouble, and the reason you're seeing me instead of Captain Thorn is because I'm aware of the real nature of this particular program." He picked up a folder and offered it over his desk. "Your transfer papers, Lieutenant Commander, and a non-disclosure form that needs your signature now, please. Your ride will be arriving about an hour after sunset. Take two days of clothing and any personal items you're worried about shipping in a rucksack. My man will be by in two hours to get the rest of your gear, I'll see to it getting shipped back stateside at our next port. You don't have much more than the usual duffle, I assume?"
"That and a small boom box," the startled Jordan replied, blinking, then looked down to the folder in his hands. Quickly he opened it up and looked over the papers inside, including the aforementioned forms. He quickly took out his pen, read through the forms, then signed them. "Cheyenne Mountain, sir? Isn't that Air Force territory?" he asked, handing them back over for the Admiral to date stamp them. That done, they went right back into the folder as the Admiral answered his question.
"Yes, it is, though there's a very large contingency of Marines at the lower base, which is where you're going to be going." Leaning forward, Price gave him a very, very serious look as he leaned his arms on the desk and lowered his voice. "I know some small amount of what they're doing at that base, Lieutenant. I was on a sub about two years ago that had to deal with the... fallout... from some of their work. What I saw down there... Well, I never would have believed what I saw if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. I asked some questions, signed a lot of papers and got a brief, very brief, explanation as to what we were dealing with on that mission."
"Why would they want a navy man on an Air Force base, sir?" Jordan questioned, confused. "They should have plenty of their own people to draw from for any positions they need to fill there. Shouldn't they?"
"Not necessarily. About four days ago, a call went out through every branch of the military. They're looking for personnel for this base, personnel with very, very specific training. Very rare training, I understand. How many languages do you know, Lieutenant?"
"Sir?" came the startled reply. "Um, eight, sir, six modern and two ancient. Though, of course, no one speaks ancient Egyptian, it's a dead language. We can read it, but we don't know what it sounded like."
"You've done archeological work, I understand?"
"Yes, sir, I have a bachelor's degree in archeology. It was a kind of family hobby."
Price nodded. "Yes, and that's the reason why you're being transferred to Colorado, Lieutenant. The Lower Cheyenne Mountain complex is hunting for ancient linguists and archeologists, as well as anthropologists and historians. And your name came up on their search engine."
"I'm... needed here, sir," Jordan told him, not sure he really liked the sound of this. He had a lot of friends on this ship, and he loved flying for the Navy.
Leaning back in his chair again, Price considered his words carefully. "I'm going to give you a little hint here, Lieutenant; this isn't the only war that we're fighting. There's another war, a very secret war, being fought under that mountain in the middle of the US. I don't know the details, and I probably couldn't tell you even if I did know, but I do know it's going on. This isn't a cakewalk posting, you could very well find yourself in for the fight of your life. They're looking for the best and brightest from any branch of the military now, and from what I heard, they want you, and they want you badly." He smiled. "Besides, I think when you see the bird coming for you tonight, you'll change your mind fast. You're born to fly, son, and if you play your cards right, you could be flying one of the most unique fighter crafts in the world."
"If it's that special, sir, why don't we have it here for the war?" Jordan questioned, his curiosity growing.
"I asked that question too... International treaty drawn up a couple months ago says this craft can only be used for one purpose, and one purpose only. This war isn't it. I don't think I want to know what it's really made for, but you may be learning. Now, go get packed and make your goodbyes, your ride should be here in a little over two hours."
Jordan nodded, considering his next question as both men rose to their feet. "What did you see down there, sir?" he asked.
Price hesitated a long moment, then spoke, very softly. "A spaceship, Lieutenant. But not one like anything that we ever made. And if you ever tell anyone I said that, I'll deny it. Dismissed."
More than a little stunned, Jordan left the office and headed for his bunk area, mulling over what the Admiral had told him. He couldn't believe what the officer had revealed. Surely he was mistaken...
He spent the next two hours packing his gear with his friends' help, sharing what little information he could with them about why he was leaving and where he was going. He didn't say a word about what the Admiral had told him, though, about the mission he had been on and what he had seen; that had to have been a joke.
Knowing it was likely a fighter of some type coming for him, he kept his bag small and packed most everything else in his duffle bag for shipping. A box was found for the stereo, so he didn't have to worry about it for the return trip, and he turned it over to the sailor when the man arrived to take them. He had changed into his flight gear for the trip, and was heading for the flight deck with his friends when word came over the intercom that all cameras were to be removed from the deck area. No recording devices were to be above deck or in the con tower for the next hour, or they would be thrown overboard. All off duty and unnecessary personnel were to stay clear of the flight deck as well. It was a surprising order, and made a lot of people wonder what was going on. "Your ride?" Bill Thomson asked, curious.
"Maybe. The Admiral did say it was something unusual and very unique. And there's got to be a reason why it's only coming in after dark," Jordan figured as they reached the door onto the deck. It was one of those rare quiet times on the aircraft carrier, the evening flights either still out on missions, or in for the night, so he had a few quiet moments to say his goodbyes before heading up the last flight of stairs to the deck itself..
Price nodded as Jordan joined him on deck. "Good to see you're punctual, Lieutenant Commander. Call came in a few minutes ago, and we should be getting something very different on deck in just a moment. This bird is stealth to the extreme, so we have no idea where she's going to be appearing from. No tail hook, though, and we were told she won't need our catapult system to leave."
"VTOL sir?" Jordan asked as he started scanning the horizon. After all, anything this secret was going to be really different...
"No idea," Price admitted, looking towards the sky, then he held up his hand to get his attention. "Hold on. Listen."
They both paused, silent, and then slowly started to look up into the night sky above them.
Dark and sleek, the wedge shaped ship came down out of the heavens like a fire bolt, the only light on her was the afterburner glow as it slowed, leveling off and circling the carrier before lining up for its landing. The strange aircraft almost seemed to hover in mid air as it slowly approached to set down gently on the end of the ship, then roll towards the waiting officers.
The pair slowly began to move forward, keeping a careful distance as they tried to get a better look at this strange craft, but with most of the lights off, their view was rather limited as the hatch began to rise. Jordan caught movement out of the corner of his eye, and turned as Captain Thorn came to a stop beside him. "Good luck, Jordan. Hope you get a chance to find out more about that bird, because I don't think the rest of us ever will."
"It's been a pleasuring serving with you, sir," was the Jordan's reply as Price stepped forward to meet the exiting pilot. "But I have the feeling my life's about to get a lot more exciting."
"You're probably right," Thorn agreed as they walked to join the admiral as the pilot stepped to the ground, his moves rather slow and deliberate.
Removing his helmet, the man shook out his silvering hair, then gave the waiting group a salute. "Colonel Jack O'Neill, USAF. Admiral Price, isn't it?" he asked, looking the man straight in the eye. "I remember hearing about your work up in the Bering Sea. Good work, sir, getting the rest of my people out of that situation early last year... I appreciate it."
"A pleasure, Colonel, though I was rather surprised when I found out that you were in charge and not the general on site."
"Major General Carter is retired, sir. And he was working with my team on loan, as it were." O'Neill's brown eyes flickered past Jordan to the Captain. "Captain Thorn, I hope you don't mind the Air Force stealing one of your crewmen."
"I admit to being curious about why an air force base needs a navy pilot on it, but I have my orders, as does Lieutenant Commander Jordan. Tell me, though, what kind of bird is this? I haven't heard of anything at all like it."
"It's called the X-302, and don't bother trying to look it up, sir. All you'll get to start with is a lot of confusion, and if you persist, you'll get some personnel showing up on your ship to give you a lecture on not asking too many questions."
"Does this aircraft have anything to do with the rescue we did in the artic, Colonel?" Price questioned.
"Quite a bit, sir, and that's all I can say on the matter. If it weren't for certain situations back home in Colorado, I wouldn't have been allowed to bring this baby out, but even I have to do some flying time to keep my wings. I had to get Presidential permission, but he went for it, and here I am."
"Presidential permission?" Thorn questioned. "You got to be kidding..."
"Not at all, Captain, not on this issue. And I hope you warned your crew about cameras and staying below deck, because if any pictures show up anywhere of this aircraft, there would be major repercussions of the most unpleasant."
"They were warned, Colonel," Price assured him, giving Thorn a warning look as the captain bristled at O'Neill's comment. "Tell me one thing, though, are you always this outspoken?" he asked, a bit of humor in his voice to show that he wasn't mad at any rate.
O'Neill gave him a dry look. "No sir, I'm being polite. Usually, I'm much, much worse," he assured them. "After you save the world a few times, your CO tends to let you get away with some sarcasm now and then. Lieutenant Commander Jordan, are you ready to go?" he asked, shifting his attention to Jordan as he held out his hand for the man's bag. "I'll stow that while you say your goodbyes to the officers here, but make it quick, we got to be back in Colorado before sunrise or it'll be a long trip from Broom Lake. I'd much rather park this bird at Peterson, less trouble."
Jordan nodded. "It'll just take one minute sir," he stated, handing over the bag, then turning back to the officers. A fast round of salutes and handshakes with the captain and the admiral, and he was ready to go. He followed O'Neill's directions to get settled in the second seat, noting that it was more chair-like than he was used to, with no connections for his pressure suit. In fact, he realized as the canopy came down, O'Neill hadn't been wearing a pressure suit...
The few necessary hands on deck cleared out the way as O'Neill talked to the main con, and a moment later he turned the odd plane to head for the back of the carrier. "Understand you're quite a pilot yourself, Jordan. Hold on, you're in for the ride of your life..."
With only that warning, the craft turned again and headed down the flight deck, dropping off the end of the deck with a slight lurch, then turning to shoot straight up into the night sky. Caught by surprise by the move, it took him a moment to realize something very strange was going on. Raising his hand, he frowned in bewilderment, surprised at how easily he could move. "This is impossible," he murmured half to himself.
"Oh, that," O'Neill's voice cut in, interrupting his thoughts. "Inertia dampeners, they cancel out G-forces completely. We'd be pulling about twenty-two gees right now if it weren't for them. One of the nicer pieces of technology we've been able to adapt for our uses."
"Adapt?" Jordan asked, not sure he really wanted to pursue this line of conversation. He looked out the window and gasped. "How high are we?"
"A little under 80 thousand feet and climbing," O'Neill told him. "We'll be in low orbit in a moment for a counter-revolutionary flight to the states. Will take us about a half hour to get in position for our decent into Colorado Springs, so just relax and get comfortable."
"Yes, sir," he replied, settling back and looking over the instruments in front of him. Some of them he understood very well, but a few left him mystified. 'Weapons Power Charge'? 'Life Support Power'? Was this a plane or a space ship? "How high can this bird go?" he asked.
"The prototype was somewhere out in the Oort Cloud when we finally lost track of it last year. The pilot and I were lucky to get out of it alive when we got close to Jupiter. And no, I'm not kidding you. Believe me, there is no where as cold as deep space is, and I damn near froze to death in Antarctica once so I would know." Reaching into his flight suit, O'Neill drew something out and passed it back over his shoulder. "Tell me what you think of this."
Taking what he quickly realized was a picture in hand, Jordan leaned slightly forward so that some of the instrument lights could show him what it was of. When he saw the very odd pyramid he couldn't believe his eyes as he realized it was like nothing he'd ever seen. "Sir, that's impos..."
...sible..." Heasley stated, shaking his head at the picture they'd been given to look at. "Where in the world was this photo taken? If there was a pyramid that complete, everyone would know about it..."
Carlson leaned over to look at the picture himself. "Then it would stand to reason that either the pyramid isn't on earth, or it's a well doctored photo."
Heasley shook his head, starting at the picture of a completely intact pyramid surrounded by impossibly high dunes. "I've never seen anything like it. The style definitely Egyptian, but they never made them with entry ways like that."
More people leaned in to look at the large photo, Ferretti sitting at the end of the long table in the study area for the barracks they were now sharing with a dozen or so Air Force cadets. All of these young men and women were going into the SGC, and it had been decided to move them all in together for safeties sake. General Kerrigan was supposed to join them here shortly, but in the meantime Ferretti had given them something to look over. "It's not a touched up photo, that's what that pyramid really looks like, and that's what the area around it looks like."
"Looked like," Kerrigan stated. "You are showing them the pyramid photos, right?" he asked, waving everyone down as he came to the table and sat down beside Ferretti. "It's not there any more," he told them gently when Ferretti nodded. "The entire area was destroyed last year."
Ferretti's look was one of shock as he realized what Kerrigan was saying, and what it meant to the people who had lived there. People that he had known... "The village?" he asked, going pale.
Kerrigan shook his head, pouring the colonel a glass of water. "Destroyed. I never heard how big the blast was, but I was told the pyramid was hit from orbit."
"Damn, and if it blew the gate..." Ferretti murmured, a painful look crossing his face. "I remember Carter's comments on that, and something that happened once; nothing would be left for hundreds of miles around the pyramid."
"You know what happened two years ago to Dr Jackson?" he asked gently. "He left for a year... I heard that that's what happened to the entire village."
Ferretti's look turned to one of relief. "Oh, thank God," he murmured, rubbing at his eyes for a moment with the heels of his hands, then made himself turn back to business. He took a deep breath, slowly let it out, telling himself there would be time for grieving later, then pulled out picture two. "What do you guys think of this one?" he asked, sliding it across the table to the gathered crowd.
"No way..." one young lady exclaimed, turning it so that they could all see the picture. "That's got to be touched up. Some sort of special effect..."
"I took that picture, and I really wish this was a joke, but it's not; the guy on that ship killed a lot of good friends of mine. The head honcho's name was 'Ra', and he was a nasty son of a bitch."
"Ra, as in the Egyptian sun god?" Morgan asked, frowning, while Heasley started laughing, burring his face in his hands to muffle the sound.
"Yep, that was him. As Teal'c likes to say, he's a 'dead, false god' now," Ferretti told them. "Heasley, what's so funny?"
Heasley wiped away tears. "At his last seminar, Dr Jackson was heckled by a couple of archeologists. One of them made a comment about pyramids being a landing pad for space ships. How did Dr Jackson take the irony of that comment?"
"We were to busy dealing with the situation we found ourselves in for him to give it much thought. But Daniel's a man who can appreciate irony, so who knows. Here, I know you read Egyptian..." Drawing out a third picture, he slid it down the table.
"Interesting. Cover stone?" he questioned, quickly scanning over the picture and the writing on it. "What was it covering, and what is a 'stargate'?" he asked.
Ferretti grinned. "That is the million dollar question," he stated, pointing his finger at Heasley as he drew out the last two pictures. He pushed one down the table, showing the great double ring of the stargate. "What do you think it is?"
One of the cadets leaned forward to look at the picture with a frown. "What is that thing made of?" she asked. "I haven't seen a metal like that before."
"Nope, that's the only thing on the planet that's made of it," Ferretti told them. "Or, at least, that's the only thing we currently know of, though there might be some trace elements of it here and there in some of the artifacts we've brought back. Still, that's definitely the biggest piece."
"I have no clue as to what these symbols mean, though I think there's some of them on this cover stone," Heasley stated.
"Looks like something off a star chart," another student supplied, pointing out several and naming the constellations they seemed to match.
Ferretti looked at Kerrigan, who was definitely pleased. "Smart group," he stated.
"We only send the SGC our best," the General replied.
"Would hope so," Ferretti stated, and slid the last picture, this time of the active stargate, down the table, smiling as he watched jaws almost hit the table top when people saw it. "Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of Stargate Command."
Entering the ICU early the next morning, Heasley had to muffle a yawn as he headed for the cubicle where Teresa had been the night before, then paused, realizing he wasn't the first one there. Dr. Fraiser was already there, talking with the same tall, silver haired Colonel that he'd seen talking to Ferretti the evening before, and his natural reaction was to stop and come to attention as the pair turned to face him. The man waved him off, though, before his back hit the proper pose. "At ease, soldier, I don't stand on formality. Especially not in a hospital."
Fraiser smiled. "Colonel Jack O'Neill, meet Major John Heasley," she stated. "Major, go ahead, Teresa is awake, but in a good bit of discomfort at the moment. I've given her something for it, but it will take a while for that to kick in."
"Yes ma'am," Heasley told the pair, nodding to them as they let him pass. He managed to hold off another yawn until he was past them, then had to give in to it. He heard O'Neill chuckle behind him, then speak softly to Fraiser. "Those are going to be spreading here in a few," the man said. "I'm about to come down with a case of them myself."
"That's what you get for spending the night out flying," Fraiser told him. "You're going to head home now, I hope?"
"For a few hours of sleep, yes. Hammond says he doesn't want me on base until after 1."
"Good. Then get out of here and go get that sleep. I'll make sure your pilot is properly escorted out of here, and gets some shut eye himself. Talk about jet lag..."
Walking into the cubicle, Heasley came to a sudden stop as he realized he wasn't the first person here. Beside the bed was the last person he expected to see, dressed there in his navy whites. But sure enough, it was a familiar face that turned his direction. "Hey, John, Teresa was just telling me you're here."
Stepping forward with a grin, the two men clasped wrists in a familiar greeting. "Kevin? But last I heard you were in the Med."
"Was until last night. Just flew in about two hours ago, we landed just before sunrise," Jordan told him, grinning. "And boy, are my arms tired..."
"Flapped them all the way across the Atlantic?" Heasley asked, picking up on the joke.
"Nah, Pacific. The colonel let the earth's rotation take some time off the flight."
Heasley nodded, then paused as he realized something. "Wait a minute... Colonel O'Neill flew you over?"
"Yeah, he's an interesting guy. Not bad tempered, really, but completely lacking any awe of the upper brass. Why?"
"I saw him here about nine o'clock last night, and it's just before eight in the morning now... You mean to say he got to a plane, flew half way around the world, picked you up, then flew back in less than eleven hours?" John asked. "What was he flying? A space shuttle?"
There was a soft laugh from behind them, and Heasley turned to see the doctor looking quite amused. "You're good," she told him, leaning against the frame of the sliding door. "Lieutenant Commander, you can fill him in later, right now you two need to concentrate on Teresa."
As Fraiser came in to check her patient, John turned his attention to woman in the bed beside him. "Silver, you awake?" he asked gently.
Teresa smiled at him while the doctor dealt with IV bags and added more medication. "Morning," she told them softly as she opened her eyes. "I had been wondering if I'd dreamed seeing you in here last night."
"No, I was around," he assured her. "How you feeling?"
"Sleepy, like Kevin," she told him as Jordan muffled a yawn of his own. "A little nauseous. I think we all need more sleep."
"I think you're probably right. We were up until two in the morning with a mission briefing," he confessed, giving Janet a measured look. "You work at Cheyenne?" he asked her.
The brunette smiled, still marking things in Teresa's chart. "I'm the SGC's CMO," she told them. "I know all about what the two of you were informed of last night. It's a lot to take in, isn't it?"
"I still can't believe about half of it," Jordan told them, sharing looks with Heasley, then looking down at Teresa. "They tell you about where we're going to be working, Teresa?" he asked her, reaching to brush back a loose lock of silver hair."
"Wasn't the chance," she told them, watching them out of the corner of her eye. They had braced herhead the night before to keep her from straining her still sore jaw. "Attack came before I could learn anything." She paused for a long, long minute, her eyes drooping closed. "Why did they do this?" she asked softly. "They said they didn't want me taking the job. But why?"
"They had their own plans, and thought your presence would interfere with them," Janet told her gently. "Don't worry about it right now, you're safe, and they can't reach you. That's why you were brought here to begin with."
"I just wish I understood more of what they wanted from me. They didn't ask me anything, just said it was nothing personal, and started beating me..."
"Don't think about that," Heasley told her quickly, moving around to the other side of the bed to take her hand, so that he had one, and Jordan held the other. "Right now, you just need to do what the doctor tells you and rest. Everything will heal, and you'll be fine, you'll see."
Janet went out, and returned a few minutes later with broth and tea for Teresa, two nurses following with heartier breakfasts for the two men. Unfortunately, it turned out that anti-nausea medication was necessary for Teresa as well, as lifting the head of her bed a few inches brought on a dizzy spell. The two men chatted with her until it passed, gradually working the bed higher until she could sip the tea by herself and insisted they eat.
They both did, catching her up on what they'd been doing and how they'd ended up there, but leaving out anything about the nature of what they'd found out about the job. It wasn't something she needed to deal with right now, and neither man was sure that this was the place for it either. When they were done eating, and she was lying back down again, Janet reappeared to chase them out. "There should be a place for you over with the other SGC personnel, Lieutenant Commander," she told him. "I would recommend a few hours of sleep, then get up, or you'll never get over your jet lag."
"Yes ma'am," Jordan agreed, yawning again. "God, I need a shower, shave, and some sleep, not necessarily in that order..."
Teresa's eyes were closing, and Heasley bent to kiss her cheek. "Get some sleep, we'll be back later," he assured her softly, then motioned Jordan to come with him. Jordan said his own goodbyes, then the two men left Teresa in Janet's care, heading out of the hospital to get Jordan settled for a nap.
Janet watched them go before turning back to her patient. "How are you feeling?" she questioned gently, then smiled. "And don't bother telling me you're 'fine', I'm all too familiar with that reply, I hear it all the time."
Teresa sighed. "I don't feel fine," she admitted. "My feet really, really hurt. And the drugs just make me floaty, they don't take the pain away..."
"I was afraid of that," Janet said. "All right, I'm going to try you on something different, but it's going to take a little time to set up. Until then, I'll give you a sedative so you'll sleep, all right?"
Teresa hesitated, then slowly nodded. "All right."
Sorting through files and reading through reports just in from the SGC, it took Davis a moment to realize that the young captain he'd sent for was waiting patiently in his doorway for permission to enter. "Captain Drew, come in, take a seat," he told her, sorting out a folder from the large stacks in front of him. "I need you to make a run up to Alaska," he told her, handing the file over. "Check in with the local ACE base, then find Major Denise Rivers. Her orders and transfer papers are in that folder. She'll be allowed to finish her current project if she's out in the field, but we want her in Colorado ASAP."
"How soon, sir?" Drew asked, taking the folder. "Is there a time frame for this?"
"No more than a week, and warn her to stay quiet about the transfer. Someone has targeted at least one of our new candidates for the SGC, and I don't want anyone else hurt."
Drew gave him a concerned look. "Hurt, sir?" she asked.
"Yes, a civilian. She was badly beaten, they're not sure she'll be able to walk again," he told her. "She was an excellent field prospect, but now... Well, she may make it to the new base, but definitely not out into the field. At any rate, warn her, and look out for yourself out there. I don't think the people responsible are still out there, I think we caught them all, but we don't know for sure. And since you work in my office..."
"I could become a target. I understand sir, I'll be careful," she assured him, taking the files she'd need as well as the travel packet he was offering and making sure everything was in order.
"Hopefully you'll be back in a day or two, captain. Have a good trip," Davis told her, giving her a salute and watching her leave before turning back to his work.
Since her travel plans indicated she had 4 hours to catch a plane, Drew headed home to change out of her dress blues and into something a bit more comfortable to travel in. She had plenty of time to get to Andrews air force base for her trip across the continent.
Drew read through the file on Major Rivers on the flight, noting the woman's doctorate in engineering and her masters in archeology and philology...
It was a commonly thought that Dr Jackson of the SGC was a linguist. And he was, really, since he was a fluent speaker of over thirty languages. However, while he had a Masters degree in linguistics, his third doctorate was in philology, the study of ancient writing systems. Looking through the other files she had, she found that of the 'group' Davis was pulling together, only Major Rivers had any sort of education in this field.
Leaning back in her seat, Drew looked over the four files she had. Rivers, Heasley, Jordan and Loring... They were a ready made SG team, all they'd need is some off-world experience and they could handle the archeological needs of the SGC very well.
She scowled down at the records, three of which she wasn't suppose to have. Fredricks had sent them to her a week ago when they first started hearing about the group, and other than to tell him about Teresa Loring a couple of day later, she hadn't heard from the man since then. Rumor in the office had it that a rogue group had been taken out not far from the SGC. If that was the case, then she had to hope that no one gave her away and they'd managed to destroy the computers. Otherwise, she could have MP's knocking on her door to arrest her for treason any time now.
The irony of it all was that they weren't traitors. They were fighting to protect earth just as the SGC was, they just didn't have the resources to do it right. And the SGC wasn't doing the best job it could and should be doing, bending to the will of alien 'allies' instead of taking anything and everything they could possibly use to protect the planet, by force if need be.
And the powers that be couldn't see the problems within the SGC itself, the signs of burn out and fatigue that had to building up in the forces stationed there. As far as she'd been able to tell, some of the teams, especially SG-1, had been fighting non-stop for almost seven years. Yes, they got the occasional long weekend, but two or three days off at a time, especially since most of those down times seemed to correspond with injury reports, didn't constitute a real vacation.
It was a recipe for disaster.
Considering her options, Drew put the four files away into her case and turned her attention to looking out the plane window. She had a lot of decisions to make, and needed themmade before landing. Would she keep on the path she'd chosen, or go back to being the good officer and let her superiors worry about what happened in the SGC?
And trust they didn't cost the human race more than the planet could afford...
I am so very sorry for the long delay on this chapter, but RL has been throwing the family some major curve balls, and I've had a hard time consintraiting on the chapter. Fortunately, we're over the main part of the problems, and I have chapter 12 started already, so hopefully you won't have to wait so long for it...
Reviews, as ever, are welcome...