Chapter 4

A Major Walks into a bar- and it hurt.


"Don! Another!" Pierce yelled, raising her glass at the bartender. Elizabeth had managed to storm off the base without being stopped, which she counted as a blessing. But even though she had effectively resigned, she wouldn't put it past MacMillan to have her arrested and jailed for her actions pending her dishonorable discharge. So with that thought in her head, she had resigned herself to getting so blitzed that she wouldn't realize she was beating up MP's until she was thrown in the cell.

"So far, so good" she thought hazily to herself.

"I think you're done, Liz" Don said, eying his customer. "That ain't kool-aid you're drinking."

"No shit." Pierce replied then fished her car keys out of her pocket. She held them up for the bartender to see before tossing them to him. Don deftly caught the keys and placed them in a bowl behind the bar. "And if you get the chance, you can even call the cab. Now, another!" she slid her empty shot glass down to Don sighed and filled the glass, then slid it back to her.

"That's the last one then I am calling you a cab home." Don stated. Pierce lifted her glass in salute.

"Here's to the death of dreams. And to General MacMillan- may he go fuck himself in hell." With that, she slammed the drink back. Dimly she was aware of two men sliding onto the stools on either side of her.

"Here, here!" The first man said.

"Couldn't of said it better myself." Replied the second.

Pierce looked up to her left, where she saw Colonel Mitchell sitting, looking at her with a smile. Slowly she turned her head and saw Colonel Sheppard, who motioned the bartender for a beer.

"Well….you're not the usual MP's." she said after a few moments.

"Do you have any idea how much trouble you're in?" Sheppard asked, taking a swig on his beer. Pierce gave him a withering look.

"You are the freaking last person who should be lecturing my about anything to do with respecting the chain of command" she said pointedly.

"All right, I'll give it a shot." Mitchell put in. "You cussed out a superior officer in front of most of the base."

"Yeah, and then I quit. So?"

"Damn it, Hawkeye! Why are you doing this?" Mitchell asked. "You were one of the best pilots in the squad…"

"And now I can't fly shit!" Pierce exclaimed. "You know what its like to be a grounded pilot! You know how it feels to think that you may never fly again! That's not just a feeling for me, Shaft; that's a reality! And MacMillan rubs my face in it by sending me to teach flying at the academy! I sit behind a desk and teach out of a book…"

"MacMillan's an asshole, everybody knows that!" Sheppard exclaimed. "The problem is that he happens to have friends in high places." He paused and grinned. "But now, so do you."

"Huh?"

"You saved a lot of lives up there, Pierce…" Sheppard started only to have Pierce scoff at him.

"I had a good crew."

"A crew is only as good as their commander." Mitchell pointed out. "Almost everybody in the briefing room agreed with that assessment, excluding MacMillan; but including General O'Neill" he added at her surprised look. "Yeah he's been reactivated. Of course, there was some special dispensation to allow for his relationship with Colonel Carter."

"Didn't know that was possible" Pierce mused with a slight smirk.

"It is when you're friends with the President." Mitchell replied.

"Another interesting fact is that my boss is also friends with the President." Sheppard put in, sliding an envelope across the bar to the Major. She looked at it in distaste.

"Orders? Did you miss the part where I quit?"

"Just look at them" Mitchell replied. "If you like what they say, then you report for duty Monday, no strings, or brig, attached. You don't like it you get your dishonorable discharge."

"You got nothing to loose." Sheppard pointed out, taking a swig from his beer.

Pierce looked back and forth between the two for a few moments then sighed. She picked up the envelope and looked it over, flipping it to the back to look at the seal. She paused as she got a good look at it.

"This isn't the Air Force seal." She said archly. Sheppard shook his head.

"These orders don't come from the Air Fore command" he said, "They come directly from the President." At her look he smiled, "Told you my boss was a friend of his."

Tentatively she opened the envelope and pulled out the letter. The first thing she checked was the signature- President Hayes. The next thing she checked was the orders.

"XO of the Titan?" she said incredulously. "You can't be serious."

"You know the ship, you know the crew." Mitchell pointed out. "The mission that we are about to embark upon could be the most important since the Atlantis expedition. Hell, the mission could end up saving Atlantis! So we need every ship operating at its peak, and that means you on the Titan." He shrugged. "It's not a command, but it's the next best thing. The question is, are you up for the challenge?"

"But what about Captain Chu?" she asked suddenly. "I know what being appointed XO of the Titan meant to both her and the Chinese, I won't take that away…"

"Chu has been reassigned to the Prometheus." Mitchell stated, "As the flagship, it's a much more prominent role, so the Chinese are happy. And she'll be working with O'Neill, who chose it as his ship, so she's happy." He looked at his old wing mate. "So, what does it take to make you happy?"

The two officers finished up their beers and left, leaving Elizabeth with nothing but her thoughts.


The Titan was repaired and returned to its dry dock by the end of the weekend, making room for the Korlev in the Asgard's portable shipyard. The scene on the Titan was the usual controlled chaos of crewmembers bustling around, running status checks on systems and familiarizing themselves with the new equipment that the Asgard had installed on board. Colonel Carter sat on the bridge of the ship looking over a report that Ramsey had handed her when a familiar figure stopped in front of her. She looked up from the report to see Elizabeth Pierce saluting.

"Major Elizabeth Pierce, reporting as ordered Sir."

Slowly, Carter stood and returned the salute. "At ease," she ordered, and Pierce put her hands behind her back. Sam eyed her for a few moments before she spoke.

"I know why you did what you did. I know that MacMillan's been messing with you and your career. And I know that if he hadn't pushed you that last inch, you never would have exploded like that. You're a good officer, Elizabeth. This crew respects you, and so do I. I wanted you on this ship, so here's the deal: You ARE the XO of this ship. You do your duty, you help me understand this ship, this crew, and you help us complete our mission. And if you ever, ever, step out of line with me like you did before, I will snap you back so hard you'll think you're a first year cadet. Do you understand, Major?" said Carter with cold seriousness

"Yes, Ma'am"

"You're the XO of this ship, but you'll also be handling navigation, just like Chu. The console has changed a bit; you may want to familiarize yourselves with them; dismissed major."

Pierce saluted again, then moved to the navigation console and sat down behind it. She stared at the redesigned board for a few moments before her hands started to instinctively move over the controls.

"Sublights…Hyperdrive…autopilot…all looks similar," she thought to herself. "Wonder what this baby can do now…" she looked over to see Ramsey looking at her with a grin.

"What?"

"If I had known that all it took to get appointed XO of this ship was cursing out a superior officer, I would have done it years ago."

"Shut up, Ramsey." Pierce shot back lightly before turning her attention to the board once more.


It took a little over two weeks for the Asgard to finish repairing and upgrading the human fleet. General Hammond spent the time repopulating the fleet and selecting personnel that would be assigned to Avalon, should it be found. Once that was done, it was up to the SGC and the individual ships commanders to find a place for all of the new personnel and equipment in the fleet. Three weeks after the defeat of the Wraith Hives the combined Earth, Asgard and Jaffa fleet assembled in orbit around Earth in final preparation of making the trip to their first stop, Atlantis.

"I can't believe I'm actually going to finally be going." An excited Daniel Jackson said, nearly bouncing on the balls of his feet on the Titan's bridge. Through an unspoken agreement the members of SG-1 had decided to travel with Colonel Carter on her first command.

Mitchell snorted. "My grandma always used to say 'don't count your chickens before they've hatched.'."

"And what's that supposed to mean?"

"It means, Dr. Jackson; that you should celebrate after you set foot on the city."

"Indeed." Teal'c added. "There are many ways for our arrival to be delayed or impeded."

"With all due respect, sirs, I'm never late on my runs." Pierce said from her position at navigation. "All boards are green, Colonel. We are ready for departure."

"Very well Major," she turned to Cassie, who was manning communications. "Cadet, signal the flagship that we are ready to depart."

"Yes, sir" Cassie replied. "Prometheus, Titan. We are ready to depart…"

"Sir, all ships have reported in." Lieutenant Tembers reported from his place at the communications board on the Prometheus. The flagship of the fleet had been through a lot over the years, defending the planet from the Goa'uld, running rescue and escort missions, and expanding Earth's military influence into the deep reaches of space.

Three years later, despite the technology upgrades afforded to it by the Asgard, the BC-303 was an obsolete ship. But it was Earth's first ship, and thus held a special place in the hearts of several high-ranking officers.

One of which decided, if they were going to pull him out of retirement, he was going to choose it for his flagship.

Major General Jack O'Neill stood at ease behind the command chair where Colonel Pendergast sat. He was content to stand back and let the man run his ship- he had enough of the bureaucracy of command in Washington.

"General O'Neill, all ships reporting ready. Would you like to say anything?"

Jack looked at the man blankly for a moment. "Huh?"

"Well, we're about to embark upon the most important mission in the history of the fleet, probably" the Colonel explained. "I thought you might want to say something. You know to inspire the troops."

"Right" O'Neill replied. "Open a channel to the fleet."

"Channel open, sir."

The speakers flared to life on the Titan as Jack O'Neill's voice sounded out.

"Attention fleet, this is General O'Neill" he started. "Colonel Pendergast has remarked that I should say something deep and inspiring on the eve of this historic mission…"

There were a few moments of silence; Carter couldn't help but smile.

Some things never change…she thought.

"Yeah, I got nothing."

Something's really never change…

"Anyways, I think that the most appropriate thing I could say right now would be the Sheppard's prayer Alan Sheppard's prayer that is: Dear lord, please don't let us fuck up."

Pierce let out a snort of laughter, and even Ramsey was having a hard time maintaining decorum.

"Well, that's about it. Set your courses for Atlantis; let's go find another city the Ancient's managed to loose; Prometheus out."

"Yup, I'm inspired." Mitchell quipped. Teal'c merely raised his eyebrow.

"Indeed."

"Alright then; Major, take us to Atlantis." Carter ordered, sitting back in the command chair.

"Yes, Ma'am" Pierce replied, moving the Titan out of orbit. Taking point in front of the other ships the Titan surged forward, activating its hyperdrive. In a flash it was gone, followed by the remaining Earth, Asgard, and Jaffa ships as the fleet headed to Atlantis.

And hopefully, if everything went as planned, to Avalon.