I'd like to give my thanks to novaleebird, phantomliberty, mia66, piecesofyourheart, Ellie Sage, James Axelrad, SVU Chicky and Piper-Jacko06-Butterflygirl. Your words of encouragement were most welcome. Thanks again.
Everybody brace yourselves...this last chapter is a long one.
Olivia was astounded.
Although the journey lasted a brief few seconds, she marveled at the wondrous images of the universe that flashed before her. Stars and distant galaxies whizzed by as Olivia traveled through a series of translucent rings that formed a tunnel through space and time.
'This must be the actual wormhole,' she thought. Olivia wanted to reach out and touch one of those rings, but realized that she had no sense of her body. There was just her thoughts, her bare essence, as Olivia was teleported several thousand light years within the blink of an eye.
Everything vanished in a flash of bright light, and Olivia's vision was now focused on a large concrete room. Her feet stepped down on a metal platform, which led to a ramp with lights on the railings. At the far end of the ramp, on the opposite side of the room, stood a group of people. Olivia recognized Janet, Hailey and Satterfield. They stood next to an imposing older man with a general's rank. Behind them was a large window set in the wall, within was a control room of sorts.
'We're here,' she realized, with growing exhilaration. 'We're on the other side of the stargate!'
"OH, WOW!" Olivia joyfully said, as she exchanged a broad smile with Daniel. "That was really cool!"
"I never get tired of it myself," Daniel said, chuckling. He led both her and Casey away from the gate by their hands. "Come on, we need to move away from the gate before the others--"
Before he was finished, there was a slight splashing sound from behind Olivia. She turned to see O'Neill, Teal'c and Sam step through the stargate as easily as stepping off the subway.
Sam, seeing Olivia's excitement, flashed her a grin. "Fun, isn't it?"
"You kidding? That was great!" Olivia exclaimed. She started moving towards the stargate. "Can I do that again?"
"Whoa, whoa," O'Neill said, as he gently grabbed Olivia. "It only goes one way--this way."
"If you want to go back to the planet, we'd have to shut down the gate and then dial out," Sam explained.
"Oh," Olivia said, disappointed. "That trip is so much fun, it should be at Disneyworld!"
O'Neill waved at the crowd at the bottom of the ramp. "Greetings, mon General!"
"Welcome home, SG-1," the general said, smiling. As they approached him, Olivia saw that he had a kindly face. "And welcome home, Ms. Novak and Detective Benson. I'm General George Hammond, of Stargate Command."
"Oh, uh, permission to come aboard," Casey said, uneasily. "Is that the right thing to say?"
"It is for the Navy," Hammond told her. "But this is the Air Force. Yet you and Detective Benson are still more than welcome here all the same."
"Thanks, General," Olivia replied, smiling. "I see the others have already told you about us."
Olivia was stunned to see Janet, Hailey and Satterfield all shake their heads in the negative at her.
"Actually, Detective Benson, we received a visit earlier today from a colleague of yours," Hammond told her. "A Detective Elliot Stabler."
"Oh, my God!" Olivia said with a gasp. "Elliot was here?! Is he still here?"
"No, he and Detective Munch left some time ago. But not before Detective Stabler gave us an earful." Hammond had a wry smile. "He's quite a persistent gentleman, isn't he?"
"Oh, God, you don't know the half of it," Casey muttered, sharing a smile with Olivia. "He must have been investigating our disappearance."
"And, knowing El, he went wherever the hell the investigation took him," Olivia said, shaking her head in admiration. "Even straight to here, God bless him…."
"How did he know to come here?" Daniel asked.
"Munch," both Olivia and Casey said at the same time.
"Detective John Munch is a conspiracy nut," Olivia explained. "He's a great cop, but don't get him started on his favorite conspiracy of the week."
"Speaking of conspiracies," Hammond said. "I'm extremely glad to hear that we nipped Neith's grand plans of conquest in the bud, Colonel."
"Yeah, well, uh, Neith herself may be out of the picture," Daniel delicately said, "but…um, it's not really over."
Hammond and Janet looked alarmed at this piece of news.
"General, boy, have we got a story to tell you!" O'Neill told him.
"I'm looking forward to hearing it at the debriefing," Hammond said. "Which will be after you've all been checked out in the infirmary."
Olivia sat on the infirmary bed and let out a satisfied sigh. She had glanced down at the clothes that the nurse had given her to wear: green pants, with a black, long sleeved shirt and black army boots. Now Olivia realized why the nurse had asked for her specific measurements while she had been poked and prodded at during her medical examination.
When she pulled the privacy curtain open from around her bed, Olivia saw Daniel, Teal'c, O'Neill, Satterfield, Hailey and Casey all standing by the doorway, speaking animatedly. Sam stood off to the side talking with Janet and her daughter, Cassie. Olivia saw that Casey now wore similar-style clothing in the same color as Olivia, only fitted for her more petite size.
Sam nodded her approval at Olivia's new outfit. "Fit good?"
"Fits great," Olivia replied, smiling. "I love it!"
"I've never heard anybody get so excited at wearing a BDU before," Daniel commented.
"BDU?" Casey asked.
"Battle Dress Uniform," Sam replied. "What we all have on--except Cassie, of course."
Cassie just rolled her eyes, as if the very thought of wearing a BDU was repulsive to her.
"The latest in Pentagon fine fashion," O'Neill jokingly said. "It's all the rage in Milan!"
"Trust me, anything's better than the silly outfit I had on," Olivia replied.
"You wore that silly outfit very well," Daniel told her.
That comment gave Olivia pause. And she noticed the entire infirmary had abruptly quieted down, as everybody stared right at Daniel.
"Just…you know…making an observation," Daniel uneasily added. "Um, that's all…."
"Right," O'Neill said, with a slow nod. "If you say so, Daniel."
Olivia gazed at Daniel with renewed interest, and thought it was funny--and very cute--how he wouldn't make eye contact with her. Then Daniel abruptly excused himself, muttering about how he had to get some research materials together for the debriefing.
As he quickly left the infirmary, Olivia stared thoughtfully after Daniel--until she noticed Casey presently regarded her with a frown. "What?" she asked Casey.
"Nothing," Casey quickly responded, yet the suspicious look she had spoke volumes; as if to say there was something on her mind.
Janet got off the phone and came over to the group. "I've just informed the general that we've all been cleared, and are now on our way for the debriefing."
"Very well," O'Neill said, making a sweeping gesture through the door with his arms. "Ladies? Jaffa? Shall we?"
The conference room itself was massive, with a long table by a row of windows that offered a nice view of the stargate room. General Hammond sat at the head of the table. Daniel wasn't there, yet. And they patiently waited for him--until he entered, with a load of books and computer CDs in his arms. As he got everything set up, Casey--who sat across the table from Olivia--gave Daniel the once over. Then she glanced at Olivia, gave her a thumbs up sign, and mouthed, "Not bad!"
"What?!" Olivia said, stunned, as she leaned across the table to glare at Casey.
For her part, Casey merely smiled sweetly back at her.
"Something wrong, Detective Benson?" Hammond asked.
Olivia glanced over and saw everyone at the entire table now stared at her with interest. Feeling like a high school student who spoke out of turn in class, Olivia sheepishly grinned at them and said, "Nothing. Sorry!"
Hammond nodded as he sat back in his chair. "In that case, anytime you folks are ready…."
The debriefing went smoothly, with everyone taking turns telling their point of view of the whole story. Once they got to Olivia's visions, Hammond finally spoke up. "I mean nothing personal against you, Detective Benson," he said, "but how do we know that these visions you've had from Neith's ribbon device can be trusted? Do we know for sure that Neith really has an Asgard Slayer?"
Before Olivia could speak, O'Neill came to her defense. "Olivia also knew from the vision that Neith was about to launch the naquadah missiles. And she was certainly right about that, sir."
"And the incident with Sha're proved to me that the ribbon device is capable of transposing thoughts from the user to the victim," Daniel said. "Neith must have been thinking about Mount Tanis at the time she was using the ribbon device on Olivia; hence, Liv received the visions--the personal memories--that Neith had of her stronghold."
"Which isn't located on P3X-897, I take it," Hammond said.
"No sir, it can never be that easy," O'Neill muttered.
"Liv said it was located on a planet within a binary star system, sir," Sam interjected.
"One of the suns was red, and smaller than the other," Olivia added, in a bid to be more helpful.
"Um, I looked up Mount Tanis--beyond the regular reference to it here on earth--and found nothing about it," Daniel said.
"What's the reference to Mount Tanis here on earth?" Hailey asked.
"Not Mount Tanis, exactly," Daniel told her. "But Tanis. It became the northern capital of Egypt during the 21st dynasty. The chief deities of the city were Amun and his consort, Mut."
Sam glanced at Olivia. "Mut. You saw a woman by that name in your vision."
"Yeah," Olivia replied, nodding. She felt a chill run up her spine when she recalled the coldness within the woman's eyes. "And she was way creepy, too. I don't know, there was just something about her that was just…off, you know?"
"Well, we are talking about a Goa'uld here," O'Neill said. "They can be a pretty eccentric--if not outright crazy--bunch."
"Excuse me, but wasn't Tanis a lost city at one point?" Casey spoke up. "I seem to recall something about that, somewhere."
Daniel nodded. "You're thinking of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, which had Tanis as a lost city, buried under the sand, until it was discovered by the Nazis, who used it to uncover the location of the ark of the covenant. But Raiders got that part wrong; in the real world, Tanis was never really lost. It was eventually abandoned when the city became threatened by a nearby lake that overflowed its banks."
"Still a great movie, though," O'Neill said absently.
"So how do we go about finding Mount Tanis?" Hammond asked.
"Um, as I recall, the only other mention of Tanis--other than on Earth--was in some of the books in the Library Of History on P4X-459," Daniel said. "Otherwise known as Ionia. I wasn't there for very long last time. Perhaps if we paid them a visit again?"
The conversation was halted when O'Neill, who gazed down at the table, abruptly started humming a tune under his breath. After listening to it for a few seconds, Olivia smiled when she realized that O'Neill was humming the theme song to Raiders Of The Lost Ark.
Sam, who sat next to O'Neill, burst into a slow grin. She glanced over at Olivia and slightly shook her head, as if to say, 'See what I have to put up with?'
Even General Hammond stared at O'Neill with a bemused expression on his face, until he gently said, "Excuse me, Colonel?"
"Wha--oh, sorry, sir," O'Neill muttered, contrite. Then his face lit up as an idea occurred to him. "Hey, I think I've got an idea for our next movie night," O'Neill added, glancing around at SG-1. "But, uh, it can wait…."
"That's a pretty impressive library the Ionians have, Doctor Jackson," Satterfield commented, once she had stopped laughing. "I've been there several times myself. Their mythology section alone takes up an entire wing of the library."
"You also think that would be the best place to look?" Daniel asked her.
Satterfield nodded. "The Ionians regard it as mythology, but I've found many references to earth, as well as the Goa'uld, and other planets in that section."
"They must have had prior contact with alien life forms in the past," Teal'c commented.
"Only it was so long ago that it's become myth to the Ionians," Sam added.
"General, if we're going to find Mount Tanis, then I'm convinced that this is the place to start," Daniel said. "And the sooner, the better."
"Indeed," Teal'c agreed. "Neith's Jaffa who guarded the stargate fled through it when her Ha'tak ship was destroyed. The Netian Empire could already have received word of her demise, and may be taking steps to either move or use the Asgard Slayer."
"You've all taken down Goa'ulds before," Hammond said thoughtfully. "And in each case that has occurred, the surviving Jaffa almost always scattered to the four winds, sometimes winding up in the service of another Goa'uld. Yet that doesn't appear to be the case here."
"If the size of that fleet I saw parked on Mount Tanis is any indication," Olivia said with quiet dread, "then it's safe to say that the Netian Empire isn't going away anytime soon."
"Most Goa'uld only have themselves, along with a First Prime, as their main power structure," Daniel said. "But, based on what Olivia has told us, Neith actually had a subservient power base, under the control of Mut. It's very possible that Mut could simply take control of the Empire for herself."
"And even if she doesn't," Janet chimed in, "even if the Netian Empire does break up upon hearing the news of the death of Neith, the Asgard Slayer is still out there, up for grabs."
"Which is all the more reason why we need to find it and either grab it first, or destroy it," Hammond firmly told them. "At the moment, SG-3 is still on P3X-897, overseeing the evacuation of the Disappeared. SG-7 and SG-11 have been sent to back them up. Now I've been informed by Colonel Drumlin that the stasis tubes can be removed from their slots, so we'll be bringing the Disappeared back through the gate while still in stasis. We'll wake them once they're safely here on Earth."
"And what then?" O'Neill asked. "What happens once all those people are awake? What do we tell them?"
"I've been in touch with the President regarding those very same questions," Hammond replied. "He and his advisors are still working out the details, but the plan is to make up some sort of a cover story."
"That's going to be one hell of a cover story," Daniel said. "You've got people who have been abducted from all over the world, sir."
Hammond just gave a slight shrug. "I'm just in charge of the SGC. I take my orders from the President on this matter. And he says there will be a cover story. They want to keep the stargate program under wraps."
"And what about those among the Disappeared who are already awake?" O'Neill asked.
Olivia and Casey both glanced nervously at each other when all eyes fell upon them.
"You two are more than welcome to return to your previous lives," Hammond told them. "Provided you each sign a nondisclosure agreement, of course."
"All the amazing things I've seen," Casey said, shaking her head, "and I won't be able to tell anybody anything about it? That'll suck!"
"Welcome to our world," Daniel said.
O'Neill leaned forward. "Daniel, this library on…what's it called, again? Icarus?"
"Yeah, whatever…this library, is it a lending library? Can you take stuff out and bring it back?"
Satterfield had a shocked look on her face. "No sir! Everything must be read right there, within the library itself. They're very strict about that."
"To the point where the library even has its own armed security force," Daniel added. "What are you driving at?"
"My point is that I'm not sure I want Olivia to go back home just yet," O'Neill told the room. "We still need her."
Olivia gave O'Neill a stunned look.
"Thanks to Neith implanting her memories within your brain, you've become the best expert we have on what Mount Tanis looks like," O'Neill told her. "If we find any descriptions, or even images, of Mount Tanis at the library, you can check it out for us right there."
"You did say you wanted another chance to go through the stargate, Liv," Sam said with a shrug. "Well, here's your chance."
"Wow," Olivia thought, still feeling overwhelmed at the thought of going back out there again. She had been looking forward to going home, to New York City, with Casey. But a part of Olivia had also been somewhat depressed that this whole venture had to end. Despite the dangers she had faced, despite the sheer terror she had felt, Olivia still had the time of her life being with Sam, Daniel, Teal'c and O'Neill, and she wasn't sure she wanted it all to end just yet.
"I take it you have no problems regarding this arrangement, sir?" O'Neill asked Hammond.
"If you need Detective Benson for this mission, then I'm fine with it. Since we're in a race to find the Asgard Slayer, time is of the essence here. And having her on site will save a lot of time." Hammond glanced at Olivia. "But we have yet to hear your opinion about this idea."
"Yeah," Olivia said, nodding her head slighty.
O'Neill gave her a strange look. "Ok, when you mean, 'Yeah,' are you agreeing with the general in that we haven't heard your opinion yet, or…."
"Yeah," Olivia absently said. She suddenly shook her head. "I mean: yes. I'll come with you to this library. If you guys really need me, if you think I can be of help, then I'll be more than happy to go."
"Thank you, Detective Benson," General Hammond said.
"Yeah, thanks, Liv," Daniel said.
"Welcome aboard," a grinning Sam told her.
Teal'c smiled slightly as he nodded his thanks to Olivia.
"Thanks, Liv," O'Neill said.
Yet when she glanced at Casey, Olivia saw that, although she was smiling, Casey's eyes were tinged with sadness.
Elliot pulled the car over on the side of the road and switched off the engine. It was a deserted road that ran through the middle of the deep woods. He could still see the Cheyenne mountain in the distance through a break in the trees.
"You sure you want to do this, Elliot?" Munch nervously asked from the passenger seat.
"What other choice do we have, John?"
"Go home," Munch said.
Elliot shot him an angry glare. "Go home? You mean just give up? This from the conspiracy nut, the guy who's always ranting about the government…."
"That's right, Elliot, I'm always ranting about the government, not trying to break into one of their high security facilities," Munch said. He pointed at the mountain and added, "This place will be more heavily guarded than Fort Knox. I doubt you'll even get inside before you're grabbed."
"If I get grabbed," Elliot corrected.
"C'mon, Elliot, who are you kidding? Look, I miss Olivia and Casey just as much as you do, but what you're planning here won't lead to anything, nor will it help them."
"I won't know unless I try," Elliot said, as he got out of the car.
"If they catch you, you'll be at their complete mercy," Munch warned him. "They could very well make you disappear, Elliot."
Elliot ignored him as he went to shut off his cell phone--but just then, it began to ring. He checked to see who was calling, and when he saw it was Kathy, Elliot took the call. "Kathy?"
"Yeah, Elliot," his wife said, sounding fatigued. "Listen, the baby's sick. He's been throwing up all day. We brought him over to the hospital."
The news struck Elliot in the gut like a sledgehammer. Feeling weak in the knees, he opened the car door and sat back down. "What happened? Is he all right?"
"The doctor says it's just the stomach flu," Kathy replied. "But they're still keeping him overnight, just in case. We can take him home in the morning."
"Oh, thank God," Elliot said with relief. When Munch made a 'what happened' gesture with his hands, Elliot said, "Elliot Jr. has been throwing up. Kathy took him to the hospital; it looks like he'll be fine."
"How's your case going out there, Elliot?" Kathy asked, a plaintive longing in her tone. "When do you think you can come back?"
It was at that point that Elliot made the descision. His wife and his baby boy both needed him right now, and here he was, about to go running off into the woods on a suicide mission to penetrate a government installation. As much as he hated to admit it--even to himself--Munch was right; there was nothing further they could do for Olivia and Casey right now.
"The case is a dead end," he told Kathy. "We're coming back, ASAP."
"Great," she said, sounding relieved. "Listen, I have to go, now. I'll call you later, ok?"
"Got it, love you."
"Love you, too, Elliot."
Elliot switched off the phone, shut the car door and turned the key in the ignition.
"You're making the right choice, Elliot," Munch said.
"Then why do I feel so crappy about it?" Elliot grumbled, as he they drove off. "I can't shake the feeling that we're abandoning Liv and Casey."
Munch didn't have an easy answer to that.
"Do you understand why I'm doing this?" Olivia asked.
Casey nodded. "I do. But that doesn't mean I like it."
They were in Casey's room--which was essentially a square block, with a basic bed and no windows. Olivia learned that Stargate Command was housed in Cheyenne Mountain, under several hundred tons of earth, which didn't offer a great view of the landscape. Olivia's room, which looked exactly the same as Casey's, was right next door.
Casey gloomily shook her head. "I guess I'm still finding all of this hard to accept. It's like I've found out that the life I've been living was just the tip of the iceberg, and that the part which I've never seen is a hundred times more scary than I've ever imagined. And here you are, diving right back into it!"
"The Asgard are the only thing that's standing between earth and total destruction," Olivia said. "If they go down, then so do we, Casey. Finding this Asgard Slayer as soon as we can is of the utmost importance. And if I can truly help in this quest, then how can I say no?"
"I know," Casey replied. "And I admire you for taking this on, you know that. But I just wish it didn't have to be you who had to go."
"I'll be very careful," Olivia promised her.
"You'd better," Casey said, with a slight smile. "Because I won't be around to pull your fat out of the fire this time!"
"I know," Olivia said, as she smiled broadly at that. "I'll be with SG-1; they're just going to have to pick up the slack from you in watching my back."
Casey frowned when she thought of something. "Hey, we've signed those nondisclosure agreements. So what the hell am I going to tell everybody back at the precinct about where you are?"
"I'm still wondering what the hell you're going to tell Elliot and Munch about where you've been all this time," Olivia said. "Especially dealing with this gag order."
"I'll tell them the truth. That I've been abducted by aliens," Casey said stoically. Then she cracked a smile. "You think they'll believe that?"
"I know Munch probably will!" Olivia said, as she and Casey shared a laugh.
After the debriefing broke up, O'Neill went by the cafeteria to check on their cake selection. He was pleased to see the base bakery had been busy while they had been gone: there were no less than three different kinds of cake to chose from. Deciding that cake was much better when shared, he went looking for Carter.
Walking through a corridor that was just outside the gate room, O'Neill found himself facing a traffic jam of sorts. At least two dozen stasis tubes, each containing the slumbering form of one of the Disappeared, were backed up down the corridor.
O'Neill nodded in greetings as he came up to Major Lyman, who stood signing a form for an airman. O'Neill grimaced at the sight of a young boy lying prone in one of the tubes. 'The sooner we get these folks out of these things, the better,' he thought. "Major, Lyman, I see you've already started the evacuation."
"Yes, sir," the Marine said. "This is just the first batch of them. General Hammond wanted to start moving them out, so that they'll be clear before any Goa'uld force shows up, looking to see what happened to Neith."
"Good idea. How many of the Disappeared are there in total?"
"About a thousand," Lyman replied.
"We have room here for that many?"
Lyman shrugged. "That's the airman's problem, sir. I have to get planet-side and bring more back. "
The airman, a beefy fellow with the rank of specialist first class, nodded at O'Neill. "Don't worry, sir. We'll just stack them up vertically in storage for the time being. We should have the room to squeeze them all in."
O'Neill gazed at the sleeping face of a matronly woman in a bathrobe who slept in the stasis tube next to where he stood. He couldn't help but wonder about her family, and that they were no doubt worried sick about her. He then thought about the young boy whom he had just seen; a boy whose parents must now be extremely distraught over his well-being.
"They're human beings, airman," O'Neill said solemnly. "All of them are people with loved ones who miss them very dearly--they're not cargo. Make sure you don't forget that, huh?"
"Yes sir," the airman assured him. "Don't worry. We'll treat them with plenty of TLC. Doctor Fraiser will have her people monitoring them at all times."
His encounter with the Disappeared left O'Neill feeling somewhat depressed. When he found Carter in her lab, she initially glanced up from her laptop with a smile--until she noticed his glum demeanor. "Hello, sir. What's wrong?"
He told her about the disheartening sight of the Disappeared being stacked up like so much merchandise inside a warehouse. "It's just wrong," he said. "It shouldn't be like this…."
Carter nodded in sympathy. "I know what you mean, sir. It's a hard situation. But then, they shouldn't have been abducted by Neith in the first place. She was the one who caused this situation."
O'Neill nodded in agreement. "You've got a point there, Carter."
"And we're doing everything we can to fix it. They'll all be back home with their families soon enough. Hopefully none the wiser."
"Not as wise as you are, that's for sure," O'Neill told her. He loved how she shyly turned her head away just then--Carter never could handle compliments, even when they were well-deserved.
Yet once she turned her head, O'Neill's spirits dropped when he saw that damned reddish mark on her neck--the remnants of the strap which held her captive on Nacre's lobotomy table. That damn mark kept reminding O'Neill how uncomfortably close he'd come to losing her.
O'Neill glanced out the doorway over his shoulder, making sure they were alone. Then he said, "Come here."
He drew Sam into a tight hug, to which she responded with equal enthusiasm. When they parted, Sam had a slight smile on her face as she asked, "What was that for?"
All the thoughts that raced through O'Neill's mind just then--the fear of losing her; of just wanting to hold her and never let go--jumbled into a wordless mess in his throat. And he discovered that all he could say was: "Do you really need a reason?"
"No," Sam replied, as she stared meaningfully into his eyes. "Um, sir…I mean, Jack…I just wanted--"
"Colonel O'Neill, please report to the gate room," Sgt. Harriman's voice sounded on the base intercom. "Colonel O'Neill to the gate room."
'Perfect timing, Walter,' O'Neill sullenly thought. 'Just perfect….'
"You were saying?" O'Neill asked.
Now it looked as if Sam was the one who was tongue-tied. She gave him a feeble little shrug. "Uh, it-it can wait…sir."
O'Neill got the annoying feeling that he was missing something--that a golden opportunity had just passed him by. "Some other time, then?"
Carter nodded. "Yes sir."
O'Neill gestured to the intercom that had just called him. "I've got to go. But I've noticed that the cafreteria has much cake to offer. Would you care to partake some with me, later?"
Carter flashed him one of her brilliant smiles. "Yes, I'd like that, sir."
As he strode down the corridor, on his way to whatever new crisis required his attention this time, O'Neill ran into Olivia. She was just on her way out of the cafreteria with her base escort, a young female SF by the name of Naomi Duvall.
"You sure you don't want anything, Naomi?" Olivia asked the woman. "You didn't eat at all."
"I'm fine, Detective Benson," the SF assured her with a grin. "Really."
"You can call me Olivia, you know. Hell, you can even call me Liv, if you--"
Olivia was interrupted when Duvall, seeing O'Neill, abruptly snapped off a salute. "Colonel, sir."
"At ease, airman," he told her, as he gently pulled Olivia away. "Just need to borrow Liv for a moment."
"Yes, sir," Duvall said.
"I can't talk much; I'm on my way to someplace, but I just wanted to thank you again, Liv, for deciding to come with us," O'Neill said, when they had some privacy.
"Oh, I'm extremely flattered that you asked," she replied. "And I promise to stay out of your way!"
O'Neill grinned. "Are you kidding? I've seen you in action, and you can handle yourself very well. So if the moment calls for it, then by all means, Liv, get in the way all you want!"
Olivia laughed at that. "Thanks!"
She was still laughing when O'Neill left her in the corridor with her SF escort. O'Neill entered the gate room to see General Hammond and Colonel Drumlin standing there with Sartor, Liandra and Luanda.
"Hey, kids!" O'Neill said, genuinely pleased to see the Kelori family again. "I see you finally made the trip through the gate, huh?"
"Yes, it was most…exhilarating," Sartor said, still looking somewhat dazed.
"Colonel O'Neill, Sartor and his people have decided to take up Colonel Drumlin's offer to move them to another planet," General Hammond said. "They're here to go over the list of suitable worlds that we have available to them. But they've personally requested if you could be present to help them make the selection, since Colonel Drumlin has to head back planet-side."
'There goes my little cake-date with Carter,' O'Neill grimly thought. Yet he was careful not to let this disappointment show in his expression. "Yes, sir, I'd be honored." He gestured towards the door. "After you, folks."
After they received a check up from Doctor Fraiser, Sartor and Liandra began the process of finding a new world for the Kelori--which was a long and tedious one; yet it was such an important decision that O'Neill didn't want to rush Sartor and Liandra. Luanda had initially busied herself with looking around the conference room, but once that lost its luster, she sat in one of the conference room chair and looked bored.
O'Neill excused himself to give Carter a call and inform her that the cake date would have to be postponed for another time. She was more than understanding, and when O'Neill hung up the phone, he gazed at poor Luanda, who appeared on the verge of falling asleep out of sheer boredom.
He promptly made another call to Janet Fraiser. "Is Cassie busy?"
When he explained the situation to her, Janet said, "I have to come up and meet with General Hammond anyway. I'll bring Cassie with me."
"Great, thanks." O'Neill hung up the phone and resumed his work in helping Sartor and Liandra to find a new world. By this time, Luanda was just about to fall asleep--but she abruptly perked up when Janet arrived with Cassie. Launda and Cassie had met earlier in the infirmary, and they had hit it off. Sure enough, once Cassie grabbed a seat next to her, she and Launda immediately began chatting animatedly.
They were still talking up a storm when Janet came out of Hammond's office and retrieved both Cassie and Luanda. She checked with Sartor and Liandra to see if it was ok to take Luanda down to the cafreteria, and they said it was fine.
As Luanda left the conference room with Cassie and Janet, O'Neill overheard her ask Cassie: "Could I meet this Hannah Montana?"
With Luanda in good hands, the search for a suitable planet appeared to go much faster. Hammond came out of his office and offered whatever help and advice that he could give. Eventually, Sartor and Liandra settled on PX6-354, which was a lush world, without sentient life, that was rich in forests and good growing soil. O'Neill had been there with SG-1, and he could confirm for them that it was a very good choice.
Once that was settled, it was time for Sartor, Liandra and Luanda to return home. Although he was exhausted--it had grown very late in the evening--O'Neill agreed to walk them back through the gate. After gearing up again, the stargate was dialed, and O'Neill returned with the Kelori family to their soon to be former home.
Once on the other side, O'Neill was stunned at two things: the sight of a long line of stasis tubes, all waiting for their chance to go through the gate. He was heartened to see the Kelori working alongside the SG teams in transporting the tubes. And the other stunning sight was a large number of Kelori who fearfully sat waiting for the return of Sartor, Liandra and Luanda. As soon as they appeared on the platform with O'Neill, the Kelori jumped up and ran towards them. When Sartor informed them all that a new home had been found, there was much celebration.
"Looks like you've got the situation well in hand, Sartor," O'Neill told him.
"Yes, for now," he replied, looking harried. "But there is much packing to do, and with Revlon gone, we still need to find a new leader."
O'Neill glanced at the sheer reverence with which the Kelori regarded Sartor. "You know, Sartor, it seems to me that your people have already found their new leader."
When O'Neill gestured at him, Sartor was stunned. "Me? Oh no, O'Neill! I am much too humble a man to assume such a role!"
"Sometimes it's the humble men who make the best leaders, Sartor," O'Neill said. "Remember that. Keep it in mind if your people ask you to lead, because I think you'll do great."
Bidding them farewell for the time being, O'Neill stepped back through the gate with the next batch of the Disappeared. Once he was back in his quarters at the SGC, he quickly stripped off his gear and collapsed in bed.
When Sam awoke the next day, she was stunned to see the collection of stasis tubes that were backed up in the hallways of the SGC. Arriving in the control room, she found Hammond and Sgt. Harriman.
"This is the last of them," Harriman told her, as they watched the last remaining stasis tubes being brought through the gate.
"From this point on, SG-3 and the other teams will start escorting the Kelori through the gate to their new home on PX6-354," Hammond told her. "Colonel O'Neill worked well into the night helping Sartor and Liandra to sort through our database."
"I take it he's sleeping in, then, sir?" Sam asked.
Hammond nodded. "It's still nighttime now on P4X-459, so you won't able to access the Library Of History for another several hours, anyway. I figure SG-1 could use a short rest until then. Doctor Jackson and Lt. Satterfield are doing some research at the local university, just checking to see if there's any more information on earth about Tanis. I don't know where Teal'c is right now."
"Teal'c is in a sparring session with Sgt. Siler, sir," Harriman said.
"You have some free time, now, as well, Major," Hammond said. "For the next six hours, at least. SG-1's not scheduled to go off-world until 1400 hours this afternoon."
Sam nodded. "Yes sir. See you later, then."
She left the gate room and made a beeline for Olivia's quarters. When she answered the door, Olivia looked slightly nervous. "Is it time?" she asked. "Are we leaving now?"
Sam explained how the time difference between here and P4X-459 meant that their departure time would be delayed until 1400 hours. "That's two o'clock this afternoon," she said.
Olivia nodded as she glanced at her watch. "So we still have some time."
"I know we'd promised each other that we'd have a lunch, or a brunch," Sam said, smiling. "But would you settle for a breakfest chat, instead?"
Olivia returned her smile. "Yeah, that's sounds great! I guess we'll hit the cafreteria?"
But Sam shook her head. "Actually, there's a great little place in town that I was thinking about. The food's much better."
"You know, Colorado Springs ain't that bad," Munch said.
Elliot just nodded as they strolled along the main drag. They still had a lot of time before their plane left, and had decided to spend a few hours looking what what sights there were to see in this Air Force town. Kathy had called him earlier to let him know that Elliot Jr. was fine and back home. Yet Elliot still couldn't wait to get home and hold his littlest one in his hands.
"I mean, granted, it's not the City," Munch added. "But, for what it is, it's still not a bad place. It's sort of cheerful, even--in a military-hive-mentality kind of way. Where else can you see this many people in uniform having so much fun?"
When Elliot didn't reply, Munch asked, "You want me to shut up? Because I can tell I'm not doing a good job at cheering you up, here."
Elliot was just about to suggest to Munch that shutting his yap would be a good idea--until he realized that it wasn't fair for him to take the frustrations of the case out on John. "Nah, don't mind me," he said. "Talk away, John."
Munch pointed down the street. "Oh, look, a bookstore! Let's check it out."
"Sure," Elliot said, not really caring. Although, deep down, he knew he made the right decision yesterday, Elliot still could not let go of the notion that he had deserted Olivia and Casey. He still kept trying to think of ways of getting the Air Force to talk; because Elliot knew--he just knew--that he was close to the truth there in Cheyenne Mountain.
'Some way or another, I'll find out what happened to Olivia and Casey,' he swore. 'I'm not gonna rest until I find them, or get some answers.'
"Elliot?" Munch asked. "You coming in, or what?"
Elliot had been so lost in thought that he never realized that they were now standing in front of the bookstore until this very moment. "You go ahead, John. I'll wait for you out here."
"You sure? They might have some good baby books inside."
Smiling ruefully, Elliot waved at him. "I've helped raised five babies already, John. Trust me, there's nothing new a book can tell me now."
Munch went inside the bookstore while Elliot leaned up against a lamppost, waiting for him. There was an outdoor café right next door, and Elliot thought about getting a coffee.
He strolled by several people who were seated at the tables out front, and was startled by something. There were two women at one of the tables, both talking intensively. One of them was a pretty blonde in a dark jacket--but the other, she looked oddly familiar. She sat with her back facing Elliot, and her hair was the exact same style and color as that of Olivia's.
'No, don't be crazy,' Elliot told himself. 'You've been so obsessed with this case, that you're now starting to see Olivia everywhere you go. Be reasonable; that can't really be--'
Yet once Elliot got a good look at the woman's face, his mouth dropped open in shock. "Oh…my…God…."
"Oh, wow," Olivia said, shaking her head. "What happened with Sha're is so sad!"
"Yeah, Daniel's had it rough," Sam agreed. "And then, on top of that, his ex-girlfriend becomes a Goa'uld…."
Olivia gasped in shock. "What?! Oh please, tell me you're kidding, Sam."
"I wish I was," Sam replied with a heavy sigh. "But no. Her name's Sarah Gardner, and she was taken by the Gou'ald Osiris. She's still out there, somewhere, causing havoc. And I can't imagine what it must be like for Daniel to--"
Sam stopped speaking when she saw the man standing on the sidewalk, staring at them intently. Actually, he stared right at Olivia, and then muttered, "Oh…my…God…."
"Excuse me, sir," Sam said, in her best, professional, don't-mess-with-me tone, "can we help you?"
When Olivia turned and glanced at the man, she let out another sharp gasp. "ELLIOT?!" she shouted.
"OLIVIA?!" the man shouted back.
"Oboy," Sam muttered dismally. "We should have stayed at the base…."
Munch left the bookstore with his purchase in hand. It was a book that had new revelations on how the beef industry might actually have been behind the cover up at Roswell. It was a new theory, one that he wasn't familiar with, but Munch always tried to have an open mind.
Yet his 'open mind' couldn't quite prepare Munch for the sight that greeted him on the sidewalk in front of the café. Elliot stood there, tightly hugging a dark-haired woman who looked a lot like Olivia.
'No, check that,' Munch thought, as he got a better look at her. 'It is Olivia!'
Stunned, Munch started walking towards them--but was stopped by a pretty blonde, who said, "Pardon me, sir. But this is private business. Please step away."
Munch glared at her. "Who the hell are you?"
"Major Samantha Carter, United States Air Force," she said. "Now, please--"
"Air Force?!" Munch exclaimed, glancing back and forth from her to Olivia. "So you were behind the Disappeared all along! What, are you bastards keeping them all hostage in that mountain base of yours?!"
Major Carter just stared at him as if he were crazy. "WHAT?!"
"What happened to you?" Elliot asked softly, as he stood close to Olivia and gently held her head in his hands. "God, I've been so worried…."
"Oh, Jesus, Elliot, how I wish I could tell you," Olivia whispered.
A tear of joy rolled down her cheek and Elliot wiped away it for her. "Why can't you? What the hell happened, Liv? Are you all right?"
"I'm fine, Elliot, really. And Casey, too--she's fine as well," she assured him. "But, we've been a part of something that's so vast…it's so much bigger than anything we've dealt with before. Even if I could tell you, I wouldn't know where to begin. And, I'm still very much a part of it."
Angry shouting distracted them, and Olivia turned to see Sam standing off to the side, arguing with Munch.
"Just drop the act, sister," Munch yelled at Sam, as he stepped towards her.
"I'll drop you if you take another step towards me," she warned him.
Munch laughed bitterly. "You hear this, Elliot? And she claims to be just a scientist researching deep space telemetry! Hah! Yeah, right! Caught you in another lie!"
"Hello? I've just said I was with the United States Air Force!" Sam shot back. "That makes me a military scientist, right? Hence, I have combat skills! Duh!"
"Hey, hey, c'mon," Olivia said, as she and Elliot came over and broke them up. "Take it easy."
"You know her?" Munch asked Olivia, as Elliot gently pushed him away.
"Yes, I do," Olivia said, standing beside the still-livid Sam. "This is Samantha Carter. She's all right, John. Sam, this is John Munch."
"Detective Munch has a very vivid imagination, Liv," Sam said, as she took a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself down.
"I can't believe that you're friends with one of the Men in Black, Liv!" Munch cried at her.
Sam shook her head. "Excuse me, but do I look like a man to you? Maybe you should take off those shades. You'll see better."
"I see everything just perfectly, sister!"
"I swear," Sam muttered to Olivia, "if he calls me 'sister' one more time…."
"Munch, you're not helping this situation at all," Elliot said. "Just calm down, all right?"
"Calm down?! Elliot you were right! Cheyenne Mountain is behind the disappearances. I should have let you sneak into the place last night. Hell, I should have gone in with you!"
Olivia was surprised to hear this. "You were going to storm the base?" she asked Elliot.
"Yeah," he said, looking somewhat embarrassed. "But I didn't…long story."
"Perhaps we could all continue this conversation at the base," Sam suggested.
"Why?" Munch asked. "So we can be properly interrogated?"
"No," Sam calmly replied. "I just think it would be better to have this conversation in private, that's all."
"She's right," Olivia said, as she glanced around at the curious crowd of people that had gathered around them. "We should go someplace more private for this."
"Sure, why not," Elliot said. "If it means we'll finally get some answers."
"Yep," General Hammond muttered, as he gazed out the two-way mirror. "That is one tenacious son of a bitch, all right…."
O'Neill and Carter stood with him as they watched Olivia and Detective Stabler in the meeting room. It was located on the public-access level of the Cheyenne Mountain base, well above the secure and super secret Stargate facility. Stabler had left his message in a room similar to this one just across the hall yesterday, and now he sat speaking quietly with Olivia. Meanwhile, John Munch nervously paced back and forth in front of them, with an anxious expression--as if expecting to be fed to the lions at any moment.
On the table was a cheap tape recorder that was placed there by Munch; it kept playing the selected works of Beethoven just loud enough to mask the conversation between Elliot and Olivia from any prying ears--not that Hammond, O'Neill and Carter wanted to know what was being said anyway.
"This Munch guy looks like he's quite the character," O'Neill commented with a smile.
"Oh, you have no idea," Sam said, with a pained expression on her face. "I'm really sorry about this, sirs."
"You have nothing to apologize for, Major," Hammond told her.
"Yeah, Carter, you couldn't have known this was going to happen," O'Neill added. "Talk about dumb luck though, huh?"
"What are we going to do, sir?" Carter asked Hammond.
"Not much we can do, but let them go," he replied. "Perhaps now that he's seen Detective Benson is alive and well, Detective Stabler will stop breathing down our necks."
"What about Casey Novak?" O'Neill asked.
Hammond frowned. "What about her, Colonel?"
O'Neill slowly turned towards him and said, "General, I've got an idea…."
"I can't believe you came all this way for me," Olivia said. She almost got teary-eyed at the very thought of what Elliot went through for her. "I'm so damned lucky to have you as my partner, Elliot."
"Yeah, well, if I was really as half as good as you think of me, I should have come after you yesterday," Elliot replied, looking ashamed. "But I didn't…."
"I got a call from Kathy. She told me that Elliot Jr. is in the hospital. He's fine," Elliot added, before Olivia could freak out. "It's just the stomach flu. But when Iheard that…I just couldn't do it, Liv. My family needs me. I'm sorry…."
Olivia was herself saddened, but not because Elliot didn't come after her, but because this moment had revealed something that she had long suspected. She reached out and gently took his hands in her own. "It's just like you said, your wife and baby needed you, Elliot. And they still need you, now. So don't feel bad, sweetie; you made the right choice."
"But I left you in the hands of these--"
"These people are not the problem, Elliot," she told him. "They've been absolutely wonderful, and have helped us--no, actually, they saved us."
"You and Casey?" Elliot asked.
"All of us," Olivia said. "The Disappeared."
Munch angrily strode over. "These people are Black Ops, Liv! You can't trust them!"
"But they're not the ones behind this," Olivia insisted. "They saved us all, risking their lives to do so--and one of them gave his life in the process. And the sad thing is the public may never know about him, or his sacrifice."
"If they're a bunch of shining knights in armor, then why can't you talk about what really happened to you?" Elliot asked. "Why can't you tell me who really abducted the Disappeared?"
"Because the world really isn't ready to handle what really happened," Olivia said. "And this program, it needs to be kept under wraps in order for it to work effectively. It's still overwhelming for me, and I'm still involved with it!"
Elliot leaned forward. "Look, Liv, if these people are forcing you to do anything--"
"No, they're not, Elliot, I swear," she said. "I've been asked for my help, and I've gladly given it, because it's something that's really worth it. These people are involved in something that's far bigger than all of us. They're fighting an enemy who's a hundred times more powerful, and scary, than anything we're used to dealing with."
"What? Terrorists?" Munch asked derisively. "Like those supposedly dangerous eco-terrorists the government had you spying on?"
Olivia shook her head. "Like I've said, I can't tell you. But you guys are detectives, surely you've both wondered how the hell could somebody abduct people from their locked homes in the middle of the night--with the locks still in place?"
"I've wondered if they were abducted by little green men…." Munch started to say--then stopped when Olivia abruptly began to nod her head. "Olivia, what the hell are you saying, here?"
"I didn't say anything," she innocently told him. "You came up with that idea, not me."
"Good God, Liv," Elliot, stunned, said softly. "Have you any idea what you're implying here?"
"I didn't imply anything," she very gently, but firmly, told him. "Understand? You never heard me tell you anything"
Munch shook his head. "Olivia, no, you can't just--"
"John, John!" Elliot snapped, waving him off. "She's said all she can say. Now back off, huh?"
Shaking his head, Munch leaned up against the wall, muttering under his breath about how the Men In Black always managed to win.
"You are coming back, right?" Elliot wanted to know. "Once you're done doing whatever the hell you're supposed to be doing with these people?"
"Yes, I am," she assured him. "I don't know how long it will take, but I'm certainly planning on coming back."
"You'd better," Elliot jokingly said, "or else I'll still come looking for you, even if it means chasing you down on Pluto!"
"I'd believe it," Olivia said, giving him a hug.
The door opened just then, and Colonel O'Neill entered. He paused and waved his arm out, allowing Casey to come inside. She had a big smile on her face when she saw Elliot and John.
As Casey joyfully hugged both Elliot and Munch, Olivia saw that Hammond and Sam also entered the room with O'Neill.
O'Neill grimaced at the tape recorder, which was still blaring Beethoven. "Hey! You mind turning that off?!"
Munch quickly shut off the tape recorder and put it back in his suit jacket pocket.
"Are we allowed to speak to Casey, as well?" Elliot asked the General.
"You can take her back with you," Hammond replied. "Provided Ms. Novak returns to New York quietly, without any publicity. The New York City District Attorney has been contacted by the Pentagon in regard to this matter."
"I've already signed a nondisclosure agreement," Casey informed Elliot and Munch.
"Signing away our civil liberties, Casey?" Munch muttered in disgust. "Nice, real nice…."
"I just want to go home, John," Casey wearily said.
"Um, Liv," O'Neill said, gesturing at his watch. "Hate to rush ya, but we've got that 'thing,' remember?"
Olivia nodded. "Yeah, sure."
"Oh, God," Casey abruptly said, as she grabbed Olivia's arm. "Listen, you take care of yourself out there, ok?"
"I will," Olivia promised.
"That goes for you two, as well," Casey told Sam and O'Neill. "Please be careful out there."
"Always," O'Neill said with a smile. "Thanks, Casey. You take care, too."
Before she left the room with Sam and O'Neill, Olivia gave Elliot one more look. "See you, Elliot. Give Kathy and the kids my love."
Elliot nodded. "I will, Liv. Hey, I still have no idea what you're doing, but whatever it is: just be careful, huh?"
"Count on it," she replied. "Give my best to everybody back at the One Six."
Then she left the room with Sam and O'Neill. "It was nice of the General to let Casey go home," Olivia said.
"It was actually Colonel O'Neill's idea," Sam said as they got into the elevator. "He felt the SGC needed to earn the trust of Detectives Stabler and Munch--and the only way to do that would be if we allowed Casey to go back with them."
"Thanks, Jack," Olivia said.
O'Neill gave her a modest shrug. "Just thought it was the right thing to do. The General agreed." When the elevator opened on the SGC level, they got out. O'Neill turned to the women and said, "See you in the gate room in ten minutes. Liv, Carter will walk you through the stuff you'll need."
Olivia went with Sam to the women's locker room, where Olivia put on a basic green BDU with a black shirt and boots. The part when Sam became really helpful was when Olivia put on the vest. Sam made sure it fit Olivia snugly--then she coached Olivia on how to wear the twin gun holsters, one for her regular bullet gun, and the other for her own zat.
Once she gazed at herself in the full-length mirror, Olivia couldn't help but smile. With her dark brown hair tucked up under a cap, Olivia felt as if she were back undercover--this time as a soldier.
"You look good," Sam said, now also fully clad in her own BDU gear and cap. "You know, I've got to say, Liv: now that I've met Elliot, it's easy for me to understand what you see in him. He's quite a guy."
"You mean what I saw in him," Olivia corrected. "Past tense."
Sam's smile faded. "Oh, you mean it's--"
"I'm moving on," Olivia said sadly. "Um, to make a long story short, Elliot recently made a very important choice--and it was the right one, Sam, it really was. But it also made me realize that I really need to get on with my life, y'know?"
Sam nodded. "Yeah. I do."
As they strolled down the hallway towards the gate room, Olivia asked, "What about you guys? Anything happen on that front?"
"We almost had a cake date," Sam said wryly.
"An almost-cake date?" Olivia said, with mock-astounishment. "Oh, Sam, you've got to tell me all about it first chance we get!"
As they entered the gate room, Sam burst into giggles. "Holy Hannah, I can't believe I'm even telling you these things!"
Olivia stared at her in amazement. "Did you just say 'Holy Hannah?' Oh my God, that is so adorable!" When she saw O'Neill, Daniel, Teal'c, Hailey and Satterfield all standing before the platform, watching her, Olivia pointed at Sam and just said, "She is just so adorable!"
"We kinda like her," O'Neill jokingly muttered. He gestured at the airman who stood waiting for her. "Go get your stuff, Liv."
Olivia went over and retrieved a zat from the airman. But when he gave her the handgun, Olivia was stunned to see that it wasn't the standard issue Barretta.
It was a Glock.
"Oh, wow," Olivia said, smiling, as she holstered the weapon. It felt good in her hand.
"I knew you preferred the Glock nine," O'Neill said. "So I called in a favor with the armory."
Olivia smiled at him. "Hey, thanks!"
"Not that you'll need it on this mission, Liv," O'Neill told her. "It's just going to be a simple research gig--nice and boring, no big deal."
"Oh, yeah, great, Jack," Daniel muttered in disgust. "Just great…."
"What?!" O'Neill asked him, frowning.
"That's what you said just before we went through the gate to P3X-897," Daniel said. "'Nothing to worry about,' you told us, 'it's just a little recon mission on a unimportant ball of dust. No big deal!' And then we went through and met Neith and her hordes! And now you're doing it again…."
"Chevron one encoded!" Sgt. Harriman called from the control room.
"What?" O'Neill asked. "What am I doing, Daniel?"
"You're jinxing us," Daniel told him. "Again!"
"Chevron two, encoded," Harriman called.
"Lieutenants Hailey and Satterfield," Sam said, as she and Olivia joined the group. "Didn't know you were joining us."
"Satterfield's knowledge of the Library is pretty extensive, so I wanted her to come, too," O'Neill said. "And, since SG-12 is off duty, I figured, why not have Mini-Carter come along as well?"
"Chevron three, encoded!" Harriman said.
Sam shot O'Neill a wide-eyed look. "Uh, sir--"
"Hailey! I meant Lieutenant Hailey," O'Neill quickly said. "Sorry…Daniel's got me all messed up with this jinx business."
"Oh, yeah," Daniel muttered to Teal'c. "Now he's blaming me…."
Hailey merely shook her head at O'Neill with a slight smile on her face. "Not to worry, sir." Then, with a glance at Sam, she added, "In fact, I consider it to be a huge compliment."
"Chevron four, encoded!"
"Aw, that's cute," Olivia said to Hailey. She gestured at Sam. "She really is quite adorable, isn't she?"
"Liv, I should warn you, I'm now armed, " Sam jokingly said. "So you'd better knock it off."
"Right, sorry," Olivia said quickly.
Then they both glanced sidelong at each other and smiled broadly.
"Chevron five, encoded!"
"You'd better knock it off, too," O'Neill told Daniel.
"I'd just wish you'd stop jinxing us just before we walk through the gate," Daniel said. He turned to Teal'c. "I mean, is that too much to ask?"
Teal'c looked thoughtful for a moment, then he shrugged his massive shoulders.
Daniel frowned. "Is that a yes or a no?"
"Indeed," Teal'c replied, with a slight smile.
"Oh, you're playing with him," O'Neill said, grinning, "you wacky Jaffa, you! And they say you don't have a sense of humor, T!"
Teal'c regarded O'Neill thoughtfully. "Who is 'they?'"
"Chevron Six, encoded!" Harriman called off.
"Look, it's gonna be all right," O'Neill assured the group. "You'll see. It's just a simple research mission. I mean, what can possibly happen, right?"
"Oh, jeez," Daniel said, shaking his head.
"Might as well smash a mirror," Hailey muttered under her breath.
O'Neill glanced at her. "What's that, Lieutenant?"
"Um, nothing, sir!" she replied with a cheerful smile.
Satterfield leaned in towards Hailey and anxiously asked, "Is it too late to go back for our combat helmets?"
"Chevron seven…encoded!" Harriman said.
With that, the stargate came to life with a great flourish of its event horizon. Olivia marveled at the sight of the thing. 'No matter what happens, I am so lucky just to have been able to witness something like this,' she thought.
"Good luck, SG-1," Hammond told them over the intercom.
"Ok, kids," O'Neill said, as he put on his sunglasses. "Let's go find the Asgard Slayer."
O'Neill, Teal'c and Daniel were the first to go through the gate, followed by Hailey and Satterfield.
Satterfield glanced at Hailey and began giggling. "Mini-Carter…heh!"
Hailey pointed at her. "Do not start with me, Grace…."
Then they vanished into the shiny brillance of the event horizon, leaving only Sam and Olivia on the platform.
"You nervous?" Sam asked, as they strode up to the gate.
"No," Olivia replied. "Oddly, I feel a good kind of excitement. It's like no matter what happens, I'm ready for it."
"We still partners?"
"That we are, Sam. And, like before, as long as we're partners, I've got--" Olivia paused, thinking. "How'd you guys say it? Oh yeah: I've got your six."
"Same here." Sam smiled broadly at her. "Good to have you on the team, Liv."
Then they both stepped through the stargate together, headed for their next exotic destination amid the stars.
The End...for now.
A/N: The Satterfield character never had a first name. She only appeared in one episode of Stargate: SG-1, Proving Ground, where everybody only referred to her by her last name. So, I gave her the name Grace--the same first name as the actress who played her, Grace Park.
Although I am deaf, I can still hear music (thank God!), and have listened to the soundtrack albums of the Lord Of The Rings while writing this. The grand, sweeping marches and haunting themes helped me to aim high while writing, and I'd like to thank composer Howard Shore for creating such wonderful music to write by.
I would also like to thank Kathleen Ritter for her great book Stargate SG-1: The Ultimate Visual Guide. Although I'm a huge fan of the show, and thought I knew evrything I needed to know about it, this book was still extremely helpful in looking up Goa'uld phrases and other important stuff concerning the Stargate universe.
I'd also like to thank Mariska Hargitay and Amanda Tapping for the wonderful job they do in playing Benson and Carter.
There will be a sequel to this soon. What, did you think the Netian Empire would go away so easily?