All disclaimers in Chapter 1. (Author's notes at end, to avoid spoilers.)


Special Case
by Amanda Ohlin

Chapter Six

Well, the front door was definitely not an option.

Jason peered out of his bedroom door a crack just so he could see the downstairs foyer, where his mother was arguing with a uniformed officer. He shut the door again hastily, locking it. He could hear the heavy tread of military-issue boots coming up the stairs, accompanied by his mother's indignant shouts. Jason hesitated at the sound of Sarah's cries, but she sounded more angry than afraid.

As an afterthought, he swept the objects off his dresser to the floor and started pushing against it with all his strength. The dresser was almost completely blocking the door by the time someone pounded on it.

"Lieutenant Scott! We have orders to escort you to Norfolk! Open up!"

There was a tree outside one of the windows of his room, which had often served as a quick exit down to the ground on the shady side of the house. Jason stuck his head out the window, trying to gauge the distance he would have to jump from the lowest branch. If he could hit the ground unnoticed and make a break through the Taylor's back yard, he might be able to lose them. Might.

"Lieutenant! Open this door! That's an order!"

There were about three more soldiers out front. Jason doubted he'd get out the window unnoticed. His father's truck had pulled up to the curb, and now both John and Sarah were yelling at the soldiers outside his door. John was having a little more success than Sarah, for the pounding stopped momentarily.

The communicator was still lying on his desk. Jason lunged for it.

"--don't care about your damn orders! You've got no right!" John bellowed.

Maybourne's reply was muffled but clear. "Mr. Scott, we have authorization from the Pentagon. That's more than enough."

"I've already called the police!" Sarah cried.

Jason fumbled with the buttons on the communicator before he found the right one. "Hello!" he hissed. "Can anyone hear me?"

There was nothing but static. "Come on," Jason muttered. "Come on."

Something hard and heavy slammed against the door, and the dresser wobbled under the force of the blow. Sarah let out an indignant yelp.

"...this is Andros. Jason, is that you?"

Jason turned away from the door at the sound of the Red Ranger's voice. "Yeah, and I'm in a hell of a lot of trouble. Where are you?"

"On the Megaship. We just got into orbit a second ago. What kind of trouble?"

Again, something slammed into the door. "I've got three Marines trying to break down the door!" Jason hissed. "Can you teleport me out of here?"

"I don't know. We could, but the system hasn't been properly tested--"

With a tremendous bang, the soldiers outside finally burst through the door, shoving the dresser out of the way as they rushed into the room. Jason was nowhere to be seen.

Maybourne shoved past the soldiers to stare at the empty room, pausing as he noticed the open window. "He went out the window," he cursed. "Dammit, why didn't you have anyone stationed there?"

"We did, sir," one of the soldiers said as Maybourne leaned out the open window. There was no sign of Jason.

"Well, he can't have gotten far," Maybourne snapped, regaining his composure as he strode past them and down the hall. "I want to case the entire neighborhood. He's on foot, so he's got to be within a 2-mile radius at most."

The soldiers followed him, but one of them hung back, staring at the empty room. He could have sworn he saw a flash of white light just as they burst in. Shrugging it off, he followed his commander down the hall.

******

"--yet," Andros finished as Jason appeared on the bridge in a flash of bright light, landing uncomfortably on his stomach.

"Well, we know it works now," Ashley joked, helping Jason to his feet. "You all right?"

He stood unsteadily, holding on to a railing. "Feels like half of me fell asleep, but I'll be okay. Thanks."

"You're lucky that's all. We haven't tested the parameters for a direct teleport like that." Andros looked around the bridge accusingly. "Who brought him in?"

Sitting behind one of the consoles, Cassie cleared her throat. "Sorry. That crash on the other end sounded like trouble."

"No kidding. Mom is probably going to have a fit about that door." Jason groaned, clenching and unclenching his free hand to relieve the numb tingling in his muscles. "Trust me, it was worth the risk. One more second and I'd have been surrounded."

"One less minute and you wouldn't have made it," Andros sighed. "We entered orbit only ten seconds before you contacted us."

T.J. rolled his eyes, punching his team leader lightly on the shoulder. "Lighten up, Andros. Everything worked out all right."

"Barely," Andros muttered, but he didn't sound quite so irritated.

Jason was still trying to shake the tingling feeling out of his hand, with little success. "One thing's for sure. I can't show my face in town until this blows over - if it blows over," he amended, sighing. "Man, I heard Colonel Maybourne was a major SOB, but I didn't know it until now."

"We've got guest quarters, don't we?" Cassie asked Andros, who nodded. "You can take one of the spare sleeping quarters. I don't think that's a problem."

Carlos chuckled. "Unless you like sleeping in a real bed."

"Hey, it can't be any worse than base camp," Jason said, relieved.

Ashley narrowed her eyes. "First things first. You'd better get to the infirmary."

"I'm fine--"

"Don't argue," Andros interrupted, cutting Jason's protests off. "You just survived an untested transport. Besides," he admitted, "there's no point in arguing with Ashley."

******

"Hold it right there, Maybourne!"

Maybourne's self-satisfied composure, which he had just gathered up again, crumbled at the sight that greeted him on the Scott's front yard. There were three new vehicles as well as several police cars pulled up front, surrounding his men. And coming right towards him were General Hammond and Colonel Jack O'Neill. Jack was smirking, and Hammond was holding official orders. "General," Maybourne acknowledged, managing a half-hearted salute.

"At ease," Hammond said coldly. "As of now, your earlier orders are revoked."

"On whose authority? My orders come from the Pentagon, General."

"Mine come directly from the President himself," Hammond replied. "Lieutenant Scott is to be released and will return to duty at the SGC once his prescribed vacation is over."

"Sir, this is a special case. The lieutenant's condition is such that it requires further testing," Maybourne protested. "The information could be invaluable--"

"Forget it, Maybourne, you've lost," Jack gloated.

"Colonel O'Neill, please." Hammond frowned. "Several of the people who supposedly signed your orders don't seem to know a thing about them. Care to explain?"

Maybourne was utterly speechless, and Jack grinned. "You know, for some reason the words 'court-martial' come to mind," he added in a lower voice. "If the right people noticed, and we did a little more digging, I think you'd be looking for a lawyer. So here's the deal. Let the kid go, and we'll think about letting you go."

"I-I don't have Lieutenant Scott," Maybourne stammered. "He's missing from the premises. My men are casing the neighborhood, but we haven't found him."

"Missing from the premises," Hammond echoed. "I suppose that might have something to do with the bedroom door your men kicked off its hinges earlier?" Maybourne did not reply. "Very well, then. Call your men back. We'll conduct a search ourselves."

Just as Maybourne thought things couldn't get any worse, he felt a tap on his shoulder. Sarah Scott was standing there, glaring at him. "I asked these gentlemen about compensation for my son's bedroom door. They told me to talk to you."

Jack didn't even bother to hide his glee at the pained look on Maybourne's face.

******

Jason rubbed the palms of his hands together, grateful for the warm friction of skin against skin. "Told you I was all right."

"Mmm-hmm. You are now that I ran the neural stimulator on you." Ashley smiled triumphantly.

"Details, details."

"Now that the emergency teleportation system's been properly tested," Andros remarked, "that shouldn't happen again." Ashley started looking around her worriedly. "What's wrong?"

"Just looking for some wood to knock on."

Carlos started laughing, and Cassie sighed. Andros just looked perplexed.

Ashley was saved from explaining as the lift doors opened and T.J. entered. He was wearing civilian clothes, having just come from scouting out the situation in Angel Grove. "What's it look like down there?" Carlos asked.

"Not good," T.J. replied. "They're casing the entire neighborhood. Questioning people. A couple of uniforms were interrogating Tommy when I left."

Jason sighed. "Great."

He didn't say anything more, and Ashley put a hand on his shoulder, concerned. "What is it?"

"I don't know," Jason admitted, staring at the floor. "I'm not sure this was the right thing to do. But now..." He stopped and sighed again, letting his shoulders sag. "What do I do now?"

"Nothing," T.J. advised. "It's getting late, we're tired, and I'm hungry. I say dinner and bed before we do anything else."

"If you can call what the Synthetron spews 'dinner,'" Cassie retorted.

T.J. shrugged. "I can handle it."

"That's not saying much," Ashley told Jason, who smiled in spite of himself.

"That's enough," Andros interrupted, trying not to smile. "T.J.'s right. We all need to get some rest."

The other four Space Rangers stared at him. "Is this the Twilight Zone?" Carlos muttered. "Did Andros actually encourage break time?"

"I'm leaning towards the Pod People explanation," T.J. replied.

"Very funny. We're going to need all the rest we can get." Andros leaned back against the bulkhead. "Tomorrow we set course for Aquitar."

******

"No sign of him at all?" Sam asked. "It's been over 48 hours. Surely someone must have seen something."

"I'm afraid not, Major," Hammond said. "None of the people questioned had the slightest notion of where Lieutenant Scott could have gone, and our teams turned up nothing."

Jack scowled. "I don't like it. I swear Maybourne had something to do with this. Why didn't you just throw the book at him when you had the chance?"

"I would have if I could, Colonel. Those two signatures weren't conclusively forged, but their authenticity was merely in doubt. I was unable to contact the signers to determine if they truly did sign the order."

Daniel gaped. "You were bluffing."

Hammond leaned back in his chair. "In a manner of speaking, yes."

"I know I'm impressed," Jack remarked.

"The fact remains that two days have passed and Lieutenant Scott has seemingly vanished," Hammond continued. "While we intend to continue to search for his whereabouts, business must go on as usual here. One man, no matter how extraordinary his situation, cannot take precedence over the other responsibilities that this program has to fulfill."

"General Hammond is right," Teal'c added. "Perhaps Lieutenant Scott will appear again in time."

Hammond nodded. "Thank you, Teal'c. For now, though, there are other developments that I'd like SG-1 to tackle..."

******

The two young people sat side by side under a tree in Angel Grove Park, looking up at the stars.

Katherine Hilliard sighed, leaning against Tommy's shoulder. "I'm sorry I missed all the excitement. If my plane wasn't delayed--"

"--you'd have probably been interrogated too," Tommy finished. "Don't be sorry. You didn't miss anything worth missing."

She brushed a lock of blonde hair out of her face. "It's not that I envy you an interrogation, Tommy. I suppose I... wish I could have been there. For you. For him."

Tommy wrapped an arm around her. "Me too."

They didn't speak for a few minutes, gazing at the night sky in silence. "Think he made it?" she asked.

He didn't answer immediately, squinting at the stars. Perhaps it was his imagination, but among the uniform pinpricks of ivory white, Tommy thought he could see a small speck of red and blue crossing the dark expanse above them, preparing to leave orbit.

"You know," he finally told her, "I think he did."

The blue-red speck disappeared into the night.

******

Light-years away, someone else was contemplating the stars. Hatmehit stood at a window of her citadel, glaring balefully at the sky. Not even the stars were alone in the black expanse; if one bright speck of light appeared in the dark sky, there was always another to be found nearby. Which, of course, was nonsense to anyone who knew better. The planets and stars were spread apart by vast distances too far for the human mind to comprehend.

Well, she wasn't human. But some of their notions were quaint, almost poetic, if you didn't take them too seriously. Still, no amount of logical reasoning or silly fantasy could change the undeniable truth. She was alone.

Part of that had been her doing, of course. Banebdjetet was an irritation politically, yet... as a husband, as a lover, he was unmatched. It was almost a pity he had to be a traitor. And the System Lords, in whose name she had contrived the deed, thanked her with isolation. She had done it to uphold the stability that they perpetuated, in accordance with their interests as well as saving her own skin. But the patriot had been shunned by her own people.

It had taken an immeasurable amount of scheming to acquire a new consort, of a breed comparable to her former love. Hathor had been all too eager to give Tal'mek over to her keeping - he was of the same spawn as her first love, with the genetic knowledge of that clutch. There was a price, of course, but it had been worth it. Then a group of humans had walked right into her little trap, and one had the audacity to disguise himself as one of her warriors to free his comrades. The host had strength, strength that Tal'mek would thrive off of. It was perfect.

But fate, or whatever humans called it now, had played a cruel joke upon her. Her quarry had escaped. Many of her slaves had been lost. Her consort - the one she had hoped to rebuild a life with - was dead.

There was a secret cache within the mountain nearby; a reserve for times of crisis. She could see the dormant battleship now, and row after row of Death Gliders in its hangar bay.

Hatmehit was tired of hiding. Lying in wait for someone to stumble into her trap was getting dull. How many centuries had it been? Surely the System Lords had forgotten her by now. Forgotten she who had eliminated a Tok'ra thorn in their side. Forgotten she who had once stood up to Ra himself in a battle of wits. Forgotten she who once ruled the rivers.

A smile wormed its way across her features as she thought of her hidden army.

Perhaps that wasn't such a bad thing.

*******

The End

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Author's Notes:

I've got good news and bad news. The bad news: this *is* the end of "Special Case." Before you start screaming at me and throwing things, I got to this point and realized just how long this fic was getting, and I was only at the halfway point in the plotline. I didn't want another behemoth fic of "New Blood"-proportions.

For those who are familiar with the sequel, "Full Fathom Five" ... well, it's the reason for my delay. (That, and a three-week long battle with home networking when I had no Net access.) Going over this last part, I realized the big story snags were mainly in FF5 - certain people were out of character, and certain details were being realized FAR too soon. I also need to go through and outline a game plan for the sequel - the cast gets split up into at least four different groups, and I need to figure out the logistics and plausible reasons for certain people to be in certain places at the right time.

So now I'm working on rewriting THAT sucker - at the same time, I'm working on two other fics, one of which is "So This Is Christmas," the fourth fic in my Bloodlines series. (I have been threatened with countless varieties of torture by people who've been waiting for that fic even LONGER than they've been threatening me over FF5.

*sigh* If anyone wants a bunch of insane creativity demons who give out too many story ideas and too little inspiration to implement them, let me know. It's a wonder I haven't gone completely over the edge yet. :)

--Mandi