PART 1: THE MISSION
At 0500 on a very rainy, early autumn Colorado morning, 27 levels beneath Cheyenne Mountain, a rather bedraggled, sleep deprived General Landry paced his office, listening to a genuine SGC legend giving him his marching orders.
"They're not going to like this, you know."
"I was thinking the same thing myself, Hank. Frankly, I'm expecting some fairly strong words and at least one or two 'oh, for crying out loud' complaints from a certain Ambassador."
"That would be insubordination, George."
General George Hammond, Ret. snorted at the last comment. "Jack and I have been friends for a long time. He was always a little insubordinate. Now he's older and more insubordinate. Seriously, Hank, Jack O'Neill is fiercely protective of his family and I'm not at all sure he is going to agree to this. But I have direct orders from the president that we are to make all reasonable accommodation for the needs of our off-world allies on this one".
"Then, George, I suppose it's up to us to see that he does agree. As you said 'the orders come from the highest levels'. We simply need Ambassador O'Neill and Colonel Carter to help our allies in a mission of 'vital importance'. I think they'll understand. If nothing else, Colonel Carter's curiosity will get the best of her."
"It's in your hands, Hank. Good luck. After all you are still the commander of the SGC and Sam's commanding officer. I'm simply the presidential advisor. Make the call. I'll do my best to be at the mountain tomorrow for the briefing."
Hank Landry ended the call with a half-hearted "thanks for your support, George" and a deep sigh. He didn't look forward to persuading Jack O'Neill to take on this mission
Things had certainly changed in the years he'd been CO of the SGC. When he'd first taken this assignment, at the behest of one Major General O'Neill, Jack O'Neill and Samantha Carter were just taking the first steps towards a personal relationship. Now they were a settled married couple, with four kids, no less! Sure there were always the betting pools, but four kids? Who would have thought it? Within a year of their marriage the twins, Jacob and Grace, were born. Four years later, Jonathan (Jon), made his appearance. And finally, to everyone's great surprise, Beth was born, just 3 years ago.
Although Hank Landry had never been as close a family friend as George Hammond, he'd visited the O'Neills on several occasions. From those visits, he'd developed a keen appreciation for the depth of devotion so evident between Sam, Jack and their children. Having known Jack O'Neill as a fellow officer for several years before the man's second marriage, he couldn't help but marvel at the change that had befallen him. It was obvious to anyone who could see that Jack O'Neill was a man who appreciated his good fortune and valued his family above all else.
It had been nearly 8 years since Jack and Sam went on a mission together. After all, there were the children to consider. Although gate travel appeared to be safer with each mission and the Goa'uld and Replicators were pretty much under control, there was always the risk that one or both of them wouldn't be coming home. It had been tacitly agreed, long ago, that they'd never risk leaving the children orphaned.
And yet, on this rainy October morning, Ambassador Jack O'Neill was awoken by a persistent ringing sound. As he reached over his still sleeping wife to silence the offending phone, he was surprised to hear a slightly harried Hank Landry on the other end.
"Jack, I'm glad you're home. We have a situation here".
"Hank, its 0600 on a Saturday! Of course I'm home! Beth kept us up most of the night with a miserable cough and here I am talking with you. What's going on?"
"I need you and Sam on base ASAP. The Asgard want to talk with both of you. Thor insists it can't wait and can't be anyone else."
"That's what I get for being Ambassador to the Asgard – awoken at inhuman hours ...by inhuman 'people'". Jack reflected silently that when he accepted the diplomatic position 4 years ago, he'd anticipated somewhat more regular hours which would allow him to maintain access to the SGC but also spend more time with his growing family. Maybe it was time for Plan B.
By now Sam was wiping the sleep from her eyes and moving closer to cuddle into Jack's side as was her habit upon awakening.
"Hank, we'll do our best to be there in about an hour, but we'll need to get the kids settled. Any idea how long we'll be at the mountain?" By now Jack had sat up in bed, eliciting a soft groan from Sam, still only half awake.
"Jack, it could be awhile. Both you and Sam should be prepared for some time off world."
"Hank, what's going on?"
"I don't want to discuss this over the phone Jack. Suffice it to say, we've all got orders on this one and we'll discuss it here in one hour ".
General Landry hung up, satisfied that the O'Neills would be at Cheyenne Mountain as soon as safe provisions were made for their children. He was well aware of the priority both Ambassador O'Neill and Colonel Carter placed on the safety and integrity of their family. He'd always respected that and hoped that the current situation would not force them to make impossible choices.