"Everything check out, Commander?" O'Neill asked. Two months had gone by since the initial test of the secondary power source. Happy had been surveyed five weeks ago when the second of the two auxiliary power units had been tested. That survey had revealed that the Stargate on Happy lay a few miles outside a bustling town. The UAV had shown a variety of aliens in the town including the human-looking Sebaceans Thor had described. General Crichton and his people had been of two minds about the discovery. On the one hand, they now had hope for a place to trade. With so many species in one place, it was a fair bet the town supported a space-faring civilization which meant the possibility of acquiring a ship to allow further exploration if they couldn't find more addresses to the Stargate. The wide variety of aliens present on Happy also boded well for the exchange of technology. On the other hand, there was no predicting what could happen when they first ventured to the world. They had decided against sending a MALP through in the interests of secrecy. They'd sent the UAV well away from the Stargate before it closed. It was hoped that even if it were found, none of Happy's residents would realize the strange device smashed at the bottom of a ravine had anything to do with the ancient stone ring several miles away. The abbreviated survey and presence of the town had immediately put Happy out of the running for the location of the Mine leaving Sleepy to be the jumping off point for this mission.
"Yeah, we're good to go, sir" Tannen replied as she adjusted one last strap on the FRED unit that would carry their equipment and supplies through the event horizon to Sleepy in only a few minutes. As preparations were made for the exploration of "The Dwarves," Tannen had campaigned for her team to accompany SG-1 on their mission. After listening to her reasoning, O'Neill had agreed with her and given his endorsement of her plan to Generals Hammond and Crichton. The two teams would explore Sleepy together at the same time they set up a base camp. Then while one team was off-world exploring one of the other 'dwarves' the second team would stand guard at camp. When the first team returned from their exploration, they would switch. The first team taking over guard duty while the second explored the next planet. It would take two teams out of rotation at the SGC, and potentially put twice as many people in harms way. However, because the base camp would be guarded and with the second team acting as back-up it would greatly improve the security and odds of success.
One other person had been added to the initial exploration team, or rather two other people who shared one body. The addition of Dr. Mark Greene and his symbiote Lantesh had been made at the the insistence of the Tok'ra High Council. At first Generals Hammond and Crichton had objected not wanting to force their new recruit out of the nest quite so quickly. It was Mark Greene and Lantesh who had changed their mind. The newly joined Tok'ra had some lingering doubts about giving up his former life. Dr. Greene and Lantesh intended to use this month long mission to come to some decisions between them. If by the time they returned Mark Greene wasn't fully committed to life as a Tok'ra, a new host for Lantesh would have to be found, for the Tok'ra operative refused to stay in a host that was not totally committed to being one. To make their case for going stronger, Lantesh arranged for a set of the softball sized telecommunications devices to be brought to the SGC with the strict understanding that if one left Earth, Lantesh went with it.
O'Neill nodded as he checked the straps on Tannen's pack then turned to let her return the favor. Around them five of the other seven travelers were performing the same task for each other. "Where's Daniel?" Jack demanded impatiently.
"Here, Jack" the archaeologist called as he entered the Gate room through the heavy metal doors. He was attempting to adjust the straps on the large pack he wore strapped to his back.
"Turn," Keegan commanded as Jackson reached him. The captain made short work of securing Jackson's pack for the trip through the Gate.
"Carter?" Jack called up to the control room above their heads.
They watched as she leaned down over the microphone and said, "Everything looks good here, sir." She gave Graham's shoulder a pat before turning to the stairs. A moment later, she joined the rest of the exploration team at the base of the ramp. O'Neill hefted her pack from the floor by his feet. Together he and Teal'c helped the major shoulder it comfortably onto her back. They finished the task just as the Stargate whooshed into life.
"Let's go, kids" O'Neill ordered as he followed the heavily laden FRED unit guided by Sergeant North up the ramp.
As soon as their feet touched solid ground on the other side of the wormhole, all nine travelers immediately got to work on their predefined tasks. Carter with the help of Sgt. North began the task of attaching the secondary power source, designated the SPS, to the Stargate while the other SGC personnel spread out in teams of two to reconnoiter the surrounding area. As soon as they had the SPS in position, North and Carter turned to help Dr. Greene in setting up camp. By the time the other six members of their little expedition returned, the tents were up, Sam was setting up the defensive perimeter, and North was taking care of their sanity needs. Dr. Greene had been given the task of breaking out MREs for the evening meal. This first night would be a cold camp because they wouldn't unpack the rest of the equipment strapped to the FRED until the surrounding area was more thoroughly explored.
Over the next two days they worked together exploring Sleepy until both Commander Tannen and Colonel O'Neill were satisfied that their base camp was secure. During those two days, they also sent probes to the remaining five planets that hadn't been reconnoitered from Earth. Ruins on the jungle planet nicknamed Dopey had sparked some interest in Drs. Jackson and Prine when the UAV had overflown them. They had sparked groans from the rest of the explorers though as they immediately realized the ruins would be a high priority in their exploration of that planet. It also wasn't hard to realize that the hike to those ruins would be miserable. While Daniel and Lynn argued between them over which one of the two of them was the more qualified to examine the ruins, the rest of the two SG teams just prayed their teammate wouldn't win the argument. The UAV's hadn't faired well on the ice planets Grumpy and Sneezy. High winds on Grumpy had battered the UAV against an ice cliff only minutes after its launch. Rather than risk another, O'Neill and Tannen had agreed that Grumpy would be explored from the ground, first by one of the MALPs and then in person. It wasn't wind that had downed the UAV on Sneezy though. It was the extreme cold. By the time the UAV froze and crashed, it had already completed a fairly extensive aerial survey that had revealed exactly nothing of interest on the planet. By common consent, Sneezy's ground exploration would consist of a mere hour's worth of sample collection.
Over the evening meal the two teams argued good-naturedly about which team would step through the Stargate in the morning and which planet they would investigate first.
"We'll cede Doc's exploration to you, Colonel," Tannen said with a grin. "You and Dr. Jackson are the experts on desert worlds after all. My team will take Happy."
"Nice try, Commander" Jack responded. "You'll take Grumpy. If my team is going to bake in the sun for hours on end, your team can freeze in the wind."
"I'd rather not," North joked good-naturedly knowing it was a fair decision.
"But you will," Captain Keegan ordered his teammate. Really neither team would be disappointed about which planets they explored with the one exception of the planet codenamed Happy. Keegan was willing to freeze for a few hours if it helped them convince O'Neill to let SG-14 explore Happy.
"Deal," Tannen agreed as well. "I'll take Bashful, too, as long as you give us Happy." No one liked working in the space suits.
"My team has more experience with first contact," Jack pointed out.
"And my team will be staying in this part of the galaxy," Sara rejoined. "We should be the ones making contact with the locals."
"She's right, Jack" Daniel agreed causing Jack to grimace slightly.
Teal'c raised a knowing eyebrow at O'Neill. When he looked her way to get her opinion, Jack saw that Sam's mouth was twisted slightly in her attempt to keep the smile off her face. "Carter?" he asked wanting to hear her opinion anyway.
"Daniel will enjoy exploring those ruins on Dopey," Sam commented sidestepping his question and answering it at the same time.
Jack sighed. "Alright," he agreed. "We'll take Doc, Dopey, and Sneezy. Your team can take Grumpy, Happy, and Bashful."
"That just leaves you, Doc" Isaac told Dr. Greene. "You going to stay at base camp or go out."
"I think we'll pass on Bashful," Marc said with a wry grin causing the others to chuckle. "Lantesh thinks we should go with SG-1 to explore Dopey, and your team to explore Happy."
"I suggest we get Sneezy out of the way tomorrow," Dr. Prine said.
"In other words, SG-1 goes first?" Daniel interpreted.
"Age before beauty," Lynn teased.
"I think she means you, Jack" Daniel said.
"Actually, I had Teal'c in mind, but whatever" she clarified.
"You're not getting any younger yourself, Daniel," Sam joked then her expression turned serious as she turned to their newest recruit. "We've been out here two days now, Marc" she said. "How are you feeling about it?"
"About being on another planet or about being a Tok'ra?" Marc asked though he had a fairly good idea she really wanted the answer to her second question.
"Both," Sam answered confirming his guess.
"I'm starting to get used to it," Marc replied.
"But?" Jack asked hearing the hesitation in his voice.
"But I'm not sure I can just abandon my family" he answered. "My daughters need me."
"As my son needs me," Teal'c said. "Yet, I choose to serve the Tau'ri. Even now that my wife is dead, I continue this fight against the goa'uld while others care for Ry'ac. I do this because I wish my son to be free. I desire this not only for my son, but for all jaffa sons and daughters."
"In other words, Doc, the greater good," Jack translated. "Your kids are safe and well cared for aren't they?"
"Yeah," Marc answered though the expression on his face was a bit distracted as he listened to the voice inside his head that only he could hear.
"Your daughters will remain safe only so long as your world remains free of the System Lords," Lantesh told his host. "As a Tok'ra you fight for your daughters in the same way Teal'c fights for his son. Just as your father served to keep you safe."
'And I hated him for years because of it,' Marc reminded his symbiote.
"In the end you forgave him," Lantesh argued. "You will have a long time for your daughters to forgive you as a Tok'ra."
The thought wasn't much comfort to Marc, but in that moment he understood his father perhaps even better now than those last few months of David's life. He finally understood that while his father was glad for their reconciliation, even if it had never happened his father still would have had no regrets about his years of service to the Navy. Marc's decision was made. He felt Lantesh's pleasure and approval through their bond. Along with those emotions, Lantesh expressed the beginnings of a plan to make their joining easier on Marc. Marc nodded to himself and his symbiote. "Lantesh and I are going to stick it out," Marc announced, "but he's got some ideas that are not going to make the other Tok'ra happy."
"Oh?" O'Neill asked, his curiosity obviously peaked. "Do tell," he suggested.
"Jacob serves as the Tau'ri liaison to the Tok'ra," Lantesh said aloud as he took command. "I am going to ask the Council to allow me a similar position among the Tau'ri after our assignment with General Crichton's project ends." Greene's head dropped for a moment as Lantesh returned control of their body to his host. "And with that, I think I'll turn in," Mark announced rising from folding camp chair on which he sat. He nodded to the others as he picked up the chair and headed towards the two man tent he would share with their medical supplies and the borrowed Tok'ra communications device.
The next morning as Greene exited the tent he found Colonel O'Neill tending a small propane stove as Teal'c and Sgt. North unpacked and assembled one of their UAV's. "Morning, Doc" O'Neill greeted him. The colonel grabbed a cup waiting beside the stove then poured steaming black ambrosia from the small coffee pot on the burner. This cup he handed to Mark then picked up an already filled one to take a sip. "Daniel without coffee is scary," he explained with a smile. The caffeine addict in question stumbled out of his own tent and towards them a moment later. "Morning, Space Money!" O'Neill greeted the half-asleep archaeologist.
"Coffee, Jack" Daniel demanded blinking at his friend through half-opened eyes.
"Here, ya go" the colonel said placing a steaming cup in the younger man's hand. "Carter's breaking out the parkas. I want to head out to our winter wonderland in an hour, Daniel."
Jackson nodded his understanding as he sipped from the steaming cup in his hand. He lifted a hand to wave as he saw the other two members of SG-1 walking towards the campfire each carrying a mountain of cold weather gear in their arms. Carter handed Daniel a parka and a pair of insulated pants while Teal'c handed a matching set to O'Neill. From the two still occupied tents, they heard the sounds of the other team stirring.
"Get your team up, Sara!" Carter called to the other woman as she dumped her own set of arctic wear on the ground beside an empty camp chair. "It's your turn to cook breakfast." Sitting down in the chair, Sam untied her boots.
"Sam?" Daniel asked. "What are you doing?"
"I'm putting on a second pair of socks," she informed him. "I hate it when my feet get cold."
"Would you have preferred the space suits?" Greene asked jokingly.
"Yes," O'Neill and Carter replied in tandem. "And you'd say the same if you'd ever gotten trapped in an ice cave in Antarctica," O'Neill continued after trading a wry look with his 2IC.
The nine explorers shared a light breakfast before SG-1 finished preparing for their first jaunt through the Stargate.
"Daniel, dial 'er up!" O'Neill ordered as he finished zipping up the front closure on his parka. He slipped on the face mask, and cinched his hood closed as the first of the Chevrons locked into position. "Keep the fire burning, Tannen!" he ordered when the final Chevron had locked and the Stargate burst into activity.
"Yes, sir" Sara confirmed. "And we'll have some hot cocoa waiting for you when you get back."
"I'd prefer a hot tub, but that'll do!" Jack quipped just before he stepped through the event horizon. The 'Gate shut down moments later, leaving Tannen's SG-14 to wait and worry.
It hadn't been quite an hour when the inner ring of the Stargate began to spin announcing the imminent return of SG-1 to base camp. Hence, the cocoa wasn't quite done when they stepped through bringing some of the snow and cold with them. "We went. We collected. We froze our asses off! We left," O'Neill announced as he walked down the stone ramp that lead from the platform on which the Stargate stood. "Now where's my cocoa?" he asked.
"Coming right up, sir!" Isaac North told him as he poured boiling water from the pot hung on a tripod over the fire into four mugs. As soon as he'd filled the mug, the civilian member of SG-14, Dr. Lynn Prine emptied a package of cocoa mix into each and quickly stirred it with a spoon. The mugs were then handed one by one to the four members of SG-1 who gladly sipped the restorative drink while they let SG-14 help them remove their arctic wear.
"We found nothing of interest there," Dr. Daniel Jackson informed them through chattering teeth.
"Couldn't even collect soil samples," Carter added.
"That's because we were on a freakin' ice plateau!" O'Neill complained as he warmed his hands with the heat from the mug.
"Yes, sir" Carter agreed with a smirk as she allowed Dr. Greene to check her hands and feet for signs frostbite.
Tannen chuckled as O'Neill grudgingly allowed Greene to check his hands and feet. "Two down. Five to go," she commented watching Greene struggle with the most recalcitrant member of SG-1.