Chapter 14- Preparations
Stargate Command, Cheyenne Mountain Complex
Returning the salute from the airman after the gate was raised, Harry had trouble not smirking at the airman's admiring gaze as he watched Harry pull away in his Aston. Harry was surprised at all of the changes he could see around him. It appeared that extensive remodeling, and even some new buildings were in the process of being completed.
Several people had suggested setting up training schools for both the SGC, and the now under construction fleet assets. Their arguments, which Harry fully supported, were that traditional training combined with crossover training would just not be enough to fully prepare the men and women that would soon be protecting this world. Furthermore, Daniel and Harry were both eager to point out that when, not if, but when other nations became involved in the program, the personnel from those nations would also need to be trained and that if they were trained alongside SGC personnel, that it might do a lot to bridge the gap between the different nationalities. That's not even considering the growing complaints from the few high ranking Navy personnel in the know about the manning of the US's next "fleet."
They are more than a bit miffed at what they perceive as the Chair Force encroaching in their territory, and that since the space fleet is truly considered a fleet, that it belongs in Navy hands. For the time being, level heads have won out, and plans for members of both service branches to be trained side by side for what will likely develop into an entirely new military branch in of itself have been formed. Consequently, both Daniel and Harry believed that the earlier a dedicated training center was established to train up everyone on the continually evolving off world procedures and advancing technologies for both ground and space operations, the better off the program as a whole would be in the future. Considering the very large reorganization that the SGC will likely face in the near future, the time to get these new training schools built and operating, let alone planning the curriculum to be taught, is quickly diminishing.
After entering the tunnel of the main complex, Harry pulled into the parking area and entered an empty slot. As he locked his car he thought back to his brief time in Washington and his arrival back at the springs. His time in Washington ended up being a lot more fun than he thought it would be. Dinner with the first family and Leo was refreshingly informal, and consisted of easy banter, random facts and some fun intellectual debates. It was hardly surprising to Harry that both the First Lady and Zoe were both highly intelligent.
The day after dinner Harry had the pleasure of being shown around Washington by both Charlie Young, the President's personal aid, and Zoe. Harry truly regretted never being able to see the sights of his homeland and hoped that at some point in the future he had a chance to truly experience the sights of England that he was denied as a child by first his guardians, and second, the war. Nevertheless, Harry came away from his trip to Washington with two new friends in Charlie and Zoe, possible winter house guests in the form of Zoe and a couple of her friends for a winter break ski trip and a return invitation to DC. So long as he could avoid any formal ceremonies, he looked forward to his next visit.
The real surprise came when Harry arrived at his ranch property. He had been planning on building a new home on the 500 acres he owned since the existing farm house was rather rundown. With the help of Siler, Dr. Lee and surprisingly Sam of all people, Harry had been able to design a nice 5 bedroom house that could be easily expanded if need be. One of the best features for Harry was the large underground garage and workshop he had planned. From the ground floor, the attached 4 car extra deep garage would look like any other, however, instead of a parking bay, the fourth stall was extra wide and would be a ramp down to a large underground garage and storage facility. Harry wasn't quite sure what he was going to do with all of the space down there or with the two bedroom apartment above the garage, but thought it better to have too much than too little since making it a bit bigger only involved digging a bigger hole.
While the old farmhouse had been torn down and the new foundations for both the house and the garage were in the process of being poured, Harry had left instructions to leave the large red barn about a 100 meters from the site of the new house alone for the time being. That decision proved to be a smart one as not 5 minutes after arriving to meet the contractor on the site, Harry witnessed Hedwig flying out of the top barn window to greet him. After reconnecting with his oldest friend, Hedwig began to repeatedly bob her head back toward the barn. Following her directions, Harry discovered he had become an uncle. In a nest built in the attic of the barn, Hedwig had hatched five children.
Harry still had trouble believing Hedwig had become a mother. He really hoped that her children inherited her intelligence and that his longtime companion was happy. Regardless, he hoped her motherly duties didn't prevent her from going on their daily runs. I'll just have to make more of an effort to visit her and the kids in their new hidey hole thought Harry.
After passing through another checkpoint and pressing the call button for the elevator, Harry spotted the recent modifications made to this level. While the new emergency shield emitters, security sensors and blast doors were well hidden, being one of the principle engineers on the project made it easy to spot the new security upgrades. He was really looking forward to seeing the new garage, hanger and expanded gate room. While it would take four more months until the
fighter and gate shuttle were ready for flight testing, the garage was ready for use and several highly modified ATVs and trucks were in the final testing phases before deployment. The real issue with both the fighter and the gate shuttle is going to be trying to figure out a way to remote dial the gate. That, and finding a good planet to gate to should they not have the time for the slow approach necessary to not crash into the control room. At the moment, someone will have to be on the ground in order to dial home. Maybe the next time the Asgard are around someone can request a more complete dialing program to improve gate safety. While the treaty prevented the Asgard from aiding in any technological development, Thor, the sneaky little bugger he is, just might be willing to slip in a remote dialing program if the right hints are provided.
After changing elevators on level 11, Harry exited the elevator on level 19. It was then he bumped into a waiting Sam.
Harry smiled at his friend. "Major."
"Harry, good to see you back. How was Washington?"
"It was surprisingly laid back to tell you the truth" replied Harry. "You headed to the mess hall?"
Sam was quick to respond. "Yes, I'm meeting up with the rest of the team down there. You coming?"
"Yeah, I just have to drop some stuff in my office and report in to Hammond. I'll see you down there in a few." answered Harry.
Stargate Command, Commissary
"Hey guys." greeted Harry as he took at seat at the table. "What's up?"
"Lieutenant, is that anyway to greet a superior officer?" responded Jack with a mischievous glint in his eye.
"Of course your Colonelness, I forgot to bow and prostrate myself in your presence." Harry responded to Jack's humor eliciting a smile from Sam, and a small snort from Daniel.
"So long as you don't forget in the future." responded Jack in a tone that was eerily reminiscent of Kinsey.
"So, heard you guys have a mission today. Anything interesting?" Harry asked as he dug into his eggs and bacon.
Unsurprisingly it was Daniel that responded with enthusiasm. "The images from the malp indicate that the entire civilization was destroyed with the exception of one building. I'm hoping that we'll find evidence of what happened on the writings the malp picked up outside of the standing structure."
Sam, having just finished swallowing a bite chimed in, "I'm also interested in the composition of the building, considering the pictures indicate it was untouched by the surrounding destruction. What are you up to today?"
"Unfortunately it looks like I'm going to be spending the next month or so catching up on the progress of the x-project and project Prometheus. The recent breakthroughs provided by the Chronus Hatak, while welcome, is causing us a lot of extra work redesigning or improving previously designed systems. Regardless, I'm hoping to be caught up by then so I can try and get on an SG team. Can't let you all have all the fun now, can we?" responded Harry.
The thought of all of the paperwork Harry was describing brought a look of disgust to Jack's face. "Well, you enjoy all of that paperwork. If you survive I might even let you tag along on some of our missions if you can prove your still up to it. Need to make sure those Lieutenant bars haven't made you too soft or too much of an idiot."
Accepting the challenge for what it was, Harry responded, "You're on Jack!"
Stargate Command, Briefing Room
Walking into the briefing room later that day, Harry couldn't shake the feeling that he was being watched. As he sat down at the table, exchanging nods with Teal'c, Jack, Colonel Reynolds and General Hammond, he responded to Jack's unasked question, "Doc Frasier thinks she's just exhausted and overworked while Sam keeps trying to argue that she feels great. Regardless, the Doc can't find any reason for her to have passed out so has given her instructions to take it easy and to come back if she starts speaking in alien languages." Harry was looking straight at Jack when he finished so it was no surprise to the rest of the group to hear Jack's immediate complaint.
"Hey, that only happened once, and it wasn't even my fault."
"What can you tell me about what Major Carter was examining?" queried General Hammond in a clear attempt to keep the meeting on track.
"Oddly the structure was built about four hundred years ago, whereas the civilization may date back as far as three thousand," responded Daniel.
"Why is that significant?" Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds asked while taking notes on his laptop.
Daniel contemplated his answer for a second before answering, "Well, it may indicate the society developed in relative isolation and was only later influenced by something that suddenly led it to leap to a more advanced technology."
"A Stargate." Stated Hammond.
"Exactly." Daniel confirmed before continuing, "Which means it's likely they either discovered it or figured out how to use it just prior to building the device. It would seem to me that these events led to the cataclysm which ended their society."
"Somehow." Jack parroted in a dissatisfied tone, and Harry couldn't help but internally agree that not knowing why the civilization ended while this devise survived was quite unsettling.
Daniel, seeing his friends wary response tried to ease his concerns. "Well, from what we know of the Goa'uld, they'll often attack a planet that's threatening technological advancement."
"I'm sorry," interrupted Hammond before Daniel got into full swing, "but I haven't heard anyone say exactly what the device is."
"Uh, well, we're still just speculating" answered Daniel, "I mean, it could be a deep space observatory for all I know."
Jack couldn't help throwing in, "Or a big honkin' space gun Sir." with a hopeful grin.
"It's likely the Goa'uld would have taken that" countered Daniel with a frown.
It was at this point that Major Carter returned from the infirmary exchanging a nod of greeting with Hammond and smiles with Daniel and Harry as she sat across from Daniel, next to Harry. Having heard Hammond's last question, and the following responses, she threw in, "well whatever it is, the power core is missing. I was able to determine that much before I uh…"
As Major Carter trailed off, Colonel O'Neill deciding she needed a bit of ribbing threw in, "Dozed off?"
Harry, not wanting to be left out, and wanting his friend to take better care of herself contributed with "met the sandman?"
Attempting to avoid further comment, Sam decided to just move on, "The engineering of the device is extremely advanced. It's going to take some time to decipher."
"You're saying that the power core to the device is missing?" asked Reynolds.
Seeing the Major's surprise at the source of the question, Hammond stated, "Major, you know Lieutenant Colonel Reynolds."
"Of course," Sam replied, because she did know him rather well. As a major, he was one of the higher ups at Area 51 when it was still under the purview of the NID. After the big reveal, as some in the SGC called it, he was one of the few higher ups at Area 51 that came out of the scandal with a clean record, and his career, and freedom for that matter, intact. Since then, he had been doing a great job as one of the supervisors for both the x project and project Prometheus and as a consequence, earned back the respect of many people that had originally grouped him with the rest of the NID.
"He's been transferred from Area 51 and will be leading SG16 during its long-term analysis of the planet," concluded Hammond.
Accepting the information, Sam continued, "Oh. Well, as I was saying, I believe that a naquadah generator could be modified to interface with the…"
Jack, wanting to reign in his second in command, interrupted her. "Carter, 16 is on the case."
Seeing her about to object, and wanting to keep the pace of discovery on this obviously dangerous device slow, Hammond stated, "Once I've heard someone conclusively tell me what the device is, I will decide whether we should try to find a way to turn it on."
"Of course sir. Request permission to join SG16's assignment, Sir" Sam asked, wanting to continue studying the puzzle that was the device.
Hammond, taking Dr. Fraiser's order regarding Major Carter seriously, answered, "Denied. Dr Jackson will be assisting in the translation of the alien language until SG1's next mission while Dr. Lee and Lieutenant Potter will be available to consult with SG-16. Otherwise, SG-1, you're all free to take some time off. Dismissed."
Harry couldn't help but shake his head as Carter got up and continued, "Sir. With all due respect I feel fine. There's absolutely no reason why I shouldn't be allowed to help."
Wanting to put an end to the inquiry, Hammond concluded in a firm tone, "Major, I have no doubt that your technical expertise will be required at some point down the line. But until Dr Fraiser advises otherwise, I'm ordering you to take it easy."
To further emphasize his point, Hammond turned and entered his office leaving Sam alone in the conference room with Harry and Jack.
"Take it easy?" Sam responded to the General's closed door.
Seeing Sam's look, Jack responded, "Yeah. You've been a little tense."
Sam immediately denied the statement. "Tense? Me? I'm not tense. Am I...?" as the question trailed off of her lips, she turned back to the Colonel, "When did you first notice?"
Not able to resist the opportunity, Jack threw in, "As we met." When Carter turned her head and saw Harry nodding, she seemed to deflate slightly.
"I've always just thought of myself as very focused" she responded with a rather pensive look.
Seeing the pensive look, Harry tried to reassure her. "You are very focused Major, that is definitely true, but sometimes, you become too focused for your own health."
Jack, being his blunt self, got right to the point. "It's called working too hard. You're going to crash and burn."
"I really don't have that much else to do, Sir, besides, I like my work."
"Well Carter, find something. Take up…golf. Fly a kite, knit something." With those parting works, Jack left Harry and Sam alone in the briefing room.
Hearing Sam quietly state, "I…I'm fine. Really,"
Harry pointed out, "I know that, and so do you, but you really should take better care of your body. You know sleep in, engage in other projects you enjoy besides your experiments. You're always welcome to help out Siler, Dr. Lee and I on our restoration projects, or I'd be willing to give golf a try with you, or you could pick up a musical instrument." Seeing Sam's thoughtful look, Harry decided to go for broke. "Sam, I think Jack, and everyone else, knows how much you enjoy what you do, but they also know enjoying it doesn't make it stress free. Do something you like where there is no stress involved, like that motorcycle you rebuilt a while back, something you do for you."
After seeing her nod, Harry concluded, "Well then, I'm off. A few more things to wrap up here, then I need to check in with my contractors. If I don't see you later, enjoy your time off. I should be around the next couple of days so give me a call if you get bored."
"Goodnight Harry" a still thoughtful Sam replied as Harry retreated from the room.
It wasn't until after he was on his way out of the mountain did Harry realize that the feeling of being watched dissipated after he left the briefing room.
Stargate Command, Dr. Jackson's Office
When Harry entered the room, he found both Daniel and Teal'c hard at work trying to piece together the mystery behind the lone surviving structure on the otherwise destroyed planet. The longer he thought about the possible reasons for this structures survival, the more unsettled he became.
"Find any more pieces to the puzzle?"
Daniel started a bit at the sound of Harry's voice, indicating he had probably been focused solely on the book he was referencing. Teal'c on the other hand merely bowed his head slightly in Harry's direction, indicating that the warrior had immediately noticed his entrance.
After a minute of thought, Daniel responded, "We've found a few, but for every answer we get, more questions come up."
"Any news on Sam? Last I heard, the code 3 team has come up with nothing." Harry was very concerned for his friend. Having encountered a human looking entity at her home that had knowledge of not only the stargate, but the planet they had just returned from, she followed standard base procedures and contacted the SGC. Now, everyone else was beginning to wonder if this being truly existed since according to Sam, it could become invisible and pass through solid matter. Harry on the other hand, found the story believable, and was quite surprised others didn't as well considering the SGC's contact with the Tollan, a race that had the technology to pass through solid matter, and the Nox, a race that could make things invisible. Overall, Harry found the fact people were so quickly turning on Sam rather disturbing considering his own abilities with invisibility.
Daniel frowned at Harry's question, clearly not happy about the trouble surrounding his teammate, but it was Teal'c who responded. "O'Neill said he would inform us of any new developments."
As if Teal'c's comment had summoned him, Jack appeared at the door.
Proving he had heard Teal'c's comment from a moment ago, Jack preempts questions by giving his brief report. "Absolutely no evidence of her secret friend at her house, so Hammond ordered a psych evaluation."
This answer surprised everyone as Teal'c voiced his confusion. "Do you believe Major Carter has become mentally unstable?"
Jack's face twisted into a brief grimaced and was quick to correct Teal'c's misconception. "No more than the rest of us. What have you guys got?"
Despite the issues regarding Sam, Daniel was eager to share his findings. "It looks like that thing on 636 is actually a weapon."
Jack's knee jerk reaction brought a smile to Harry's face. "I was right?"
"It is a weapon of great power O'Neill" commented Teal'c.
"Big and honkin'!" grinned the Colonel.
Clearing his throat to get everyone back on track Daniel continued, "From what I've been able to decipher, the people on 636 were developing along a similar technological timeline to earth. They had just discovered their stargate when what they called the threat from the skies came."
"Goa'ulds" Jack pointed out.
"Yet somehow they suddenly managed to build themselves an incredibly advanced weapon to defend themselves" Daniel finished.
Jack's snort brought everyone's attention to him. "It couldn't have been to advanced." At everyone's stare, he continued, "The place was a disaster, it obviously didn't work."
Harry couldn't help but agree with the Colonel's observation. The entire civilization was destroyed, so something obviously went wrong. However, Daniel's next statement surprised both Harry and Jack. "Well, actually it did. The monument outside the device tells the story of how they destroyed the threat from the skies and the men who built the weapon were heroes."
"Which would explain why the Gao'uld did not take the weapon" Teal'c concluded.
"Hey, I saw that planet. If the Goa'uld didn't get them, who did?" asked Jack.
Daniel's frown made Harry's unease with this entire mystery increase. "We're not sure."
"I think before we consider anything else we need to put all of the facts down, both unknown and known." Harry broke in after seeing everyone's grim look. Putting his words to action, he walked over to one of the chalk boards in Daniel's office. "First, we know that some members of this society built this highly advanced weapon that is capable of easily destroying Goa'uld ships." As he was speaking he wrote BIG HONKIN SPACE GUN in the center of the board before circling it, bringing a slight smile to Jack's face, and a small snort from Daniel. Writing about 2 feet above the first circle Harry continued, "we know before this weapon was built this civilization was at around earth level of tech." As he finished writing 'Earth level of tech', circling it, then connecting it with a line to the space gun, Daniel jumped in, picking up another piece of chalk.
"Something happened that gave them this massive jump in technology." Daniel punctuated his words by drawing a line from the connecting line off to the side and writing 'stargate discovery' with a question mark next to it. Daniel then wrote two feet below 'BIG HONKIN SPACE GUN', 'civilization destroyed except for weapon'. "After the completion of the weapon, they defeated the threat from the skies, and then were somehow destroyed." As he finished up his summery he wrote between 'Space Gun' and 'Destroyed', 'Defeated possible Goa'uld invasion' with another question mark next to it.
As Daniel finished his writing, Harry wrote 'Maj. Carter's Close Encounter' on the left hand side of the board and then below it he listed 'Says from 636', 'can learn a new language overnight', 'can turn invisible' and 'Can pass through solid matter'. As he finished writing, he turned to the rest of SG-1 and asked, "So, as I don't believe Major Carter is hallucinating, and I doubt you believe so as well, who have we met that is capable of turning invisible, passing through solid matter, and learning English overnight? More importantly, who do we know that is capable of building such an advanced weapon that is capable of wiping out an entire civilization?" After seeing the Colonel about to jump in with the obvious answer, Harry cut him off, "Other than the Goa'uld since we've already established they probably weren't involved, well other than getting blown up." Harry concluded seeing a nod from Teal'c and then more reluctantly, Jack.
"The Nox can turn invisible, and we know they are highly advanced." Jack threw in half heartedly to get the ball rolling.
"You know the Nox would never destroy a civilization, just look at the fact that they decided to revive Apophasis' First Prime." Daniel quickly responded.
Teal'c nodded and confirmed, "They value all life, and find the taking of even one life distasteful, regardless of whether the life taken is an evil one. Furthermore, neither them, nor the Tolan, would share any of their technology in the first place with a more primitive society."
As everyone turned thoughtful, Harry himself was reviewing everything he could recall of the SGC's mission reports he had reviewed. Daniel's gasp brought everyone's attention to him as he moved to the board and wrote under the column listing what is known about Sam's encounter 'Oma'.
Colonel O'Neill immediately saw the connection. "She definitely had the power to cause that level of destruction considering her destruction of Apophis' Jaffa and Hatak."
"And," Daniel added, "She could turn herself invisible and move through solid matter since she was made of some type of energy."
Seeing the possibilities, Harry saw just one flaw with their line of thought. "From the reports I read on your encounter with her though, she and that monk of hers were all about philosophy and meditation. I can't really see her giving people a weapon and then destroying them afterwards despite what she did to Apophis' Jaffa."
By the look on Daniel's face, he was already prepared to address Harry's concerns. "We know that Oma is not the only of her kind, just look at the monk that became just like her after his corporeal form was killed. From what Sam said, the being indicated that his natural form is not what she saw, that he was incorporeal. If we make the assumption that there actually is an alien being and Sam is not hallucinating," here Daniel pauses at Jack's dark look, and Harry's raised eyebrow, "which we are assuming, then it might be a being similar to Oma, the question then becomes, why was he on that planet to begin with, and does he or his people have anything to do with the weapon or the civilization's destruction."
As Daniel trails off, Jack hops up from his perch on Daniel's table and starts to leave the room. After realizing that Teal'c, Harry and Daniel were just watching him walk out he turns at the door, "Well, are you guys going to come with me to try and explain this to Hammond? God knows you would probably do a better job of making your arguments than I would."
As Jack watched everyone pass him by, he added, "I can see myself, you Daniel, or even Harry being labeled the crazy one, but Carter?" Shaking his head at Jack's comment, and seeing where he was coming from, Harry hoped they would be able to sort this puzzle out soon. Sam was not only one of the brightest minds in the program, she was also one of his better friends.
The meeting with Hammond went better than Harry expected. He knew the General had known Sam a long time, especially given the General's relationship with Sam's father, but from what Harry could gather from the man's comments, he was getting quite a bit of pressure from above to make something of this weapons discovery, not to mention, to write off Sam's sudden hesitation regarding powering the weapon. It all seemed a little suspicious to Harry considering the rapid progress of the X program, let alone the new proposals being developed for a satellite sensor net and ground based defense grid. Regardless, maybe some of this pressure was being exerted from elements of the former NID that have so far escaped justice.
Many of the members of the NID had been cleared of wrong doing, and have subsequently been assigned to various agencies like the CIA, FBI and NSA, let alone the few with knowledge of the Stargate that have since become part of the SGC's growing earth based logistical arm. However, only about a quarter of those affiliated with the NID that slipped quietly away after Kinsey's press conference have since been caught. Unfortunately, those caught so far have been low level grunts. Consequently, a few formerly high ranking members of the military and or agents that had significant and powerful contacts in both Washington and in business have so far remained elusive. The pressure on Hammond had to be coming from somewhere, and considering Leo's and the Joint Chief's satisfaction with the program's current pace of development, it had to be originating from elsewhere.
As he made his way up the front path to Sam's house behind the rest of SG-1, Harry concluded that he should probably give Major Davis a call once this was settled about his suspicions. That, and they really needed to help Teal'c learn how to blend in better. His civilian clothing currently consisted of black jeans and cowboy boots, black cowboy shirt with white embroidery, silver neck ornament and to top it off, a classic black Stetson hat.
The sound of Jack knocking on Sam's door brought Harry out of his musings. Sam's surprised look as she opened the door and her quick glance over her shoulder confirmed to Harry that not only was something up, but that something was likely in her house at the moment.
"Colonel! Guys, what are you doing here?" Sam asked after regaining her composer.
It only took Harry a moment to realize that he was not the only one to realize something was going on. The sight of Jack pushing past Sam into the house and her startled yell asking what was going on was cut short when they all arrived in the living room finding it empty.
"What the hell! Why are you guys barging in here like this! It's bad enough to have some quack asking me questions as if I'm nuts, but to have you guys crashing into my house acting as if I'm committing treason is just too much!" As Sam finished her tirade, a properly chastised Jack realized what his forced entrance looked like.
"Relax Major, we just had some thoughts regarding your visitor, and seeing how you were acting when we answered the door, we thought he might be here" responded the Colonel.
As Harry was watching the byplay, the feeling he felt the other day in the briefing room returned. Harry could have sworn he was being watched right now. It wasn't until he felt the slight mental probe that he realized the being that Sam had encountered was still in the room.
"You do know it's impolite to try to read someone's mind without permission!" If Harry's initial statement hadn't already brought everyone's attention to him, his follow up statement definitely would have. "Can you please show yourself? We only wish to ask you a few questions. We mean you no harm."
It was at that point that movement in the opposite corner of the room caught everyone's attention. It appeared to be a man. He looked to be around 5 feet 10 inches with shaggy dirty blond hair and a small goatee. He was dressed in a greenish colored sweater over a white tee shirt and he had an expression on his face that seemed to be both shy and astonished at the same time.
"How could you tell that I was here and what I was doing?" He asked with confusion. "You shouldn't have been able to, not unless you were a fellow ascended, and I know you aren't. Who are you? What are you?"
After thinking carefully how to answer him, and seeing the curious looks thrown his way by the others, Harry decided to see if answering some of the being's questions might help them get some answers as well. "My name is Harry Potter, and on my world, there was a mental discipline designed to protect one's mind from intrusion. What's your name, and what exactly are you and why were you on the planet we designate as P4X-636?"
Harry's answers didn't seem to fully satisfy the being, but as he looked first at Harry, and then at the other's in the room, his gaze lasting the longest on Sam, he responded.
"As I was just explaining to Samantha, my name is Orlin. This is what I looked like before my Ascension. I was on Velona, the planet you call 636, for several hundred years. "
After hearing the word ascension from the being, Daniel got really excited. "I think we've met another of your kind. Her name is Oma, have you heard of her?"
Orlin appeared slightly surprised at hearing that. Turning to Daniel after a moment of thought, he responds, "No, I haven't heard of her."
This didn't seem to deter Daniel as he continued, "She was on a planet called Kheb. She would help people who came reach ascension."
"Ah," interrupted Orlin."She was probably banished like me."
Everyone in the room with the exception of Daniel seemed to pick up Orlin's wistful confession of his own banishment, but Daniel couldn't get past the fact that Oma, a being he had entrusted his beloved wife's son with, might be an outcast. "Banished? Why would she have been banished?"
In response to Daniel's question, Orlin's expression turned firm. "Breaking one of the most sacred rules of our kind: Do not accelerate the natural ascension process of those beneath. I am guilty of breaking the same rule, though in a slightly different manner. The humans of Velona were under attack from the Goa'uld. I was prohibited from interfering, but I couldn't just watch them die."
It was then that Daniel realized why the weapon was so different from everything around it. "You told them how to build the weapon."
"Communicated the knowledge, yes. They saved themselves" replied Orlin.
"But not for long." Interrupted Carter.
It was Orlin's sad look and quite reply that surprised everyone in the room except Sam who seemed to not hear the sadness in Orlin's reply. " No."
"Well, you were right to try." Sam Commented.
Orlin's vehement response seemed to surprise Sam. "You're wrong. It was a horrible mistake. Shortly after they used the weapon to defend themselves, they started to plan the conquest of other planets using the technology that I gave them."
Finally seeming to get to the bottom of this mystery, Harry jumps in, "So what happened?"
Orlin's simple reply shocked everyone, even Teal'c given his double raised eyebrows. "The others."
"The others of your kind destroyed the planet? You have got to be kidding me! Well, they interfered too, isn't that breaking their own rule" Jack sarcastically pointed out.
Orlin, either missing the sarcasm in Jack's voice, or not caring about it, responded matter of factly, "As a collective, they decided it was necessary to prevent a disaster that I was responsible for. I was forced to live on Velona after that as my punishment."
"You couldn't have known" Sam commented to the group as much as Orlin.
"That's why the rule exists. My interference led to the creation of a weapon that would have been used to conquer others. Choices have consequences, many of which can be unforeseen. As an Ascended, our choices tend to have far greater consequences, hence our strict rules."
Orlin's explanation was both reasonable and very troubling to the group. Everyone there could understand that actions have consequences. They just needed to look at the consequences of some of the decisions they themselves have made while off world. But to know that these people would destroy a civilization as a punishment was chilling. It was Major Carter's final question that seemed to pull everyone out of their thoughts.
"So. What now?"
"We need to halt the study of the weapon until we can find out from the others if we'll be punished in a similar manner for using any knowledge we discover" Harry responded, getting a nod from Jack.
Making his way over to the phone Jack asked, "How do we get in touch with these others to find out if we're allowed to study the device?"
Orlin looked uncertain as he contemplated the question before he responded "You don't. I will have to break my banishment to bring the matter to their attention. Return to your base, dial the planet and I will return there. If the weapon is still intact tomorrow you will have your answer."
Seeing the frustration on Jack's face, the questions on Daniel's face and the anger on Sam's face from Orlin's response, Harry steps in, "We understand Orlin, but tell your people that the wholesale destruction we have seen them commit as punishment for another's actions disturbs us greatly, especially considering they likely killed many innocents to prevent the actions of a few and to punish one."
With a slight nod at Harry's response, Orlin turned into a glowing white light before he disappeared all together. As he picked up the phone to call the SGC, O'Neill quipped to the room, "Well that was certainly different."
Teal'c's "Indeed" did little to settle Harry and Daniels minds. Seeing his surrogate older brother looking at him Harry comments, "Somehow I don't think we've seen the last of the Ascended, or their punishments despite their rules of noninterference."
"I agree Harry, the fact that beings exist with not only the power but the indifference to extract such punishments on entire civilizations makes me fear what else they are capable of."
Daniel's response to Harry's comment brought Sam out of her musings. "We'll just have to do our best to steer clear of them I guess."
Harry's snort and sarcastic reply of "considering our luck, that's a real possibility" brought about a snort from Daniel and a raised eyebrow from Teal'c. It was at that moment that Jack rejoined the group after finishing his call to Hammond.
"The General said he would take care of the recall and that we'll have a full debrief tomorrow at 0900. That means we have the night off gentleman and lady. So, what are you guys up for? Pizza and a movie maybe?"
Surprising the entire group, it was Teal'c who responded after placing his Stetson hat atop his head to cover his tattoo as they moved toward the front door of the house, "I have read of a place where humans do battle in a ring of Jell-o."
Jack's response of "sweet," combined with Daniel and Sam's looks of exacerbation did a lot to raise Harry's mood. This was his first encounter with an ascended, and if this was anything to go by, he doubted he'd ever fully get along with such a group considering their wanton disregard of innocents when delving out their brand of justice. Regardless, Harry knew the best he could hope for at the moment was that their noninterference rules would hopefully limit any possible future interactions with them. For the time being though, it was time to get back to work building Earth's first interstellar space vessels so he could hopefully soon get out there exploring on an SG team.
Level 19, Harry's office
He was finally done. After two months of long days, short nights, briefings and updates, Harry finally felt like he was caught up with the goings on of his pet projects. Considering what passes for normal at the SGC, these past two months have been relatively quiet. A day after the SGC's recall of personnel from Velona, SG-1 returned to the planet to find the main emitter and most of the circuitry of the weapon destroyed. After a few moments, Orlin appeared to them, explaining that the others would allow them to keep what they have learned from the weapon so far, but would not let them study the device further. He then went on to thank the group since his recent actions to this dilemma acted as an appeal to his punishment, so he was allowed to return from exile.
After Orlin's goodbye, and SG-1's return to earth, Harry immersed himself in his projects with the hopes of soon catching up and being able to join an SG team. That did not mean he didn't keep up with goings on at the SGC. SG-1's encounter with a new species was both exciting and scary considering the being's ability to manipulate the memories of those it comes into contact with as a defense mechanism. Furthermore, only a week later, it was only luck that Harry was around to stop Sam from overriding some of the gates safety protocols that prevented them from being able to dial an address on SG-1's mission schedule.
While Sam was initially angry that Harry convinced the General to not let her override the lockouts, she eventually forgave Harry after he got her to both start hypothesizing why the lockouts might be in place and recognize how much they still didn't know about the Stargate. That, and the fact that Harry recognized the address from the copy of the Asgard Protected Planets Treaty he read, convinced General Hammond to not only update their systems so that Protected Planets are identified as such in the computer system, but to also make note to ask the Asgard both why such an error message occurred and if the Asgard could give them a complete Stargate dialing program to prevent potential accidents like the team's previous trip to 1969 a few years ago.
Of course, Cassie's sudden illness and Nirti's resurfacing might have also been one of the reasons for Sam's quick forgiveness. While the situation with Nirti was stressful, and Harry was unable to get Hammond to go back on his deal with the former system lord, they were able to confiscate some of Nirti's old lab equipment and data from Cassie's old planet in addition to another of Nirti's invisibility devices. Regardless of what was gained from the arrangement, Harry still felt queasy thinking about what Nirti might be up to with her evolution experiments. That combined with Shaka, Daniel's Unas friend starting a war for the freedom of his people after Daniel and Jack freed him from slavery left Harry taking both men out to O'Mally's to try and cheer them up.
But now, he is finally caught up and soon he will get the chance to go off world regularly with SG-1 if Jack keeps up his end of the bargain. Harry had just received his wings just last week and was now checked out in both the F-5 and the F-15 aircraft he had been flying in to commute to the Prometheus site in Utah. With his wings Harry hopes to be eligible to learn to fly the 302 when the first production run is in full swing. The first prototype of the 302 is still about a month away from initial flight trials. The only major hold up, other than adapting some of the new alloys procured from the dome civilization and the more efficient power plant designs due to what was learned from the Chronos Hatak, is the completion of the fighter's avionics and software package. As things stood now, both Harry and the Joint Chiefs were extremely pleased with how the final product was taking shape.
The delta shaped fighter craft definitely took some if its design cues from Star Wars which wasn't too surprising considering Melnik and Aven's love of the Jedi. The arrow shaped craft measures just over 26 meters in length and 14 meters in width with a retractable wing design that enables it to travel through the Stargate while in flight with just half a meter of clearance on all sides. The fact that this retractable wing design also drastically decreases storage space requirements for the fighter in both ground based and carrier based situations definitely won some hard earned kudos from the navy brass in the know about the program. As things currently stand, the current capital ship design designated as a destroyer carrier with a designation of DC 303 could house a total of 8 squadrons consisting of 12 fighters a piece, 4 in the dorsal bay and 4 in the ventral bay. In addition to the 4 squadrons per bay, each bay would house an 8 craft shuttle squadron. The shuttles were designed to fulfill many different roles, from search and rescue, personnel and cargo transfer and scanning platforms, to insertion and extraction of ground personnel. Some rather ambitious scientists at area 51 along with consultation from Major Carter were even working on a viable cloaking device for the shuttles so they could be used for covert operations. They are far from having a viable prototype, but the initial science and concepts are both sound so Harry was hopeful they would succeed in time.
However, no matter how many Generals salivated over the possibilities brought about by the cloaking device, the first priority of the R and D division was currently the completion of the armaments for the fighter, shuttle and DC 303. Scientists and engineers are currently working at a frantic pace to complete the anti fighter and anti capital ship missile designs and prototypes in addition to the recently tested plasma weaponry. Nevertheless, much progress had been made, both with the cargo ship hull laid down in the Prometheus Shipyard's first bay, and on the newly laid down hull of the first DC 303 in the second bay. Due to the rush to complete the second bay of the yard to begin construction on the first warship, the third, fourth and fifth bays were respectively 4, 8 and 10 months from being ready for use. That said, completion of the overall shipyard was still a good 9 months ahead of schedule with Prometheus Alpha's yard about 8 months away from completing its first birth and laying down its first hull.
With the culmination of some of these long term projects, it was quickly becoming apparent that the US will be unable to supply the necessary number of people to both build and crew these new assets while maintaining the secrecy of the program. Consequently, with the drastically increasing personnel needs of the SGC, for construction, off world operations, logistics, mining and now the soon to be created space fleet something had to be done soon. The email Harry received last week from Major Davis telling Harry about the Joint Chiefs finally supporting Harry's proposed first international program expansion was expected if the Joint Chiefs experienced half the number of headaches General Hammond has had with trying to staff the SGC's expanding operations. What did surprise Harry though, was Major Davis' request for Harry to assist with the initial introduction and briefing.
Harry's impending departure for Washington was the main reason Aven and Melnik were currently sitting at the small conference table in Harry's office watching Harry pack several devices Harry intended to use during the presentation into a roller suitcase.
"I still don't get why they want you to be part of the briefing" Aven states. "You are only a Second Lieutenant and didn't I over hear Daniel saying that several heads of state would be at the meeting? I mean, considering your people's tendency to use rank to indicate one's importance, I would think most politicians would consider anything said by a Second Lieutenant insignificant."
Harry looked up at the two boys, seeing both of them with inquisitive looks, taking a moment to consider his reply before stating "At first I thought the same thing. But then after spending some time thinking about it I realized one of the reasons they might want me there is the fact that while I was not born in this Earth's England, I was born on another Earth's England, which might make the politicians realize that we're serious about the whole international cooperation aspect of the proposal. That and Major Davis probably thought my previous experience dealing with high level government officials from my own universe might give me a leg up over other potential aids."
"But your assignment to him is temporary right? I mean, you will come back soon, right?" Melnik asked plaintively.
Staring at the two boys for a minute, Harry can't help but wonder what's behind their concern. They weren't nearly as concerned when he left for BOTs, that's for sure. Granted, they said they would miss working with him, and miss their movie nights and excursions to various cultural outings and sports events with him, their minders, and depending on the outing, various members of the SGC. But neither of them had used that tone of voice or that look before. Both boys still had another 12 months before their Averiums so that couldn't be it. As he pondered this, Harry thought he might have narrowed down the reason behind their sudden sadness. "You guys aren't just worried about losing me as a shield from Rodney McKay, are you?"
With a slightly guilty look, Aven responds, "When you're not around, he tends to try and take over things. Granted, Bill and some of the other scientists and engineers do a good job of keeping him in check, but they aren't quite as good at getting him to play nice with us instead of looking down his nose at us and asking 'When is your nap time rug rats, so I can actually get some decent work done?'"
Harry snorts at Aven's surprisingly good imitation of McKay. "I'm sure you two will be fine. Just try to keep in mind that while he's a pain in the ass, he's at least a smart pain in the ass which is a lot better than some of the other scientists we do a lot of work with. That, and remember to always keep a lemon in your pocket for when you really need to get him out of your hair."
Melnik's surprise at the last bit of advice, showed in his voice. "A lemon? How is that supposed to help?"
Breaking into a chuckle, Harry explained, "McKay's terrified of citrus due to some allergy or something. I don't know all of the details, but Sam told me that a lemon is one of the only ways she gets him to leave her alone when he starts to hit on her." Smiling at the devious looks on both of their faces, Harry knows he'll hear about some prank involving Rodney and lemons before he returns from his 5 day trip to Washington. Zipping up his roller suitcase, and placing it next to a duffle at the door to his office, Harry turns to the two boys, "How about we see what kind of pie the commissary has before I have to head out to catch my transport?"
The Oval Office, The White House, Washington DC
Walking into the West Wing for the first time was definitely interesting for Harry. He couldn't help but compare it to the few times he had been in the Ministry of Magic back home. While most of the passing conversations he had overheard at the Ministry involved Wizards and Witches either complaining or acting as if the world will come crashing down if cauldron bottom thicknesses were not immediately addressed, people here moved around with purpose discussing various social and economic policies that could help numerous members of their electorate. It was before 8am on Monday morning and already many of the offices and cubicles were already filled those hard at work serving in this administration.
Harry was happy to have Major Davis and General Hammond at his side, leading him through the busy halls since during Harry's last visit to the White House, he had only seen the residence. As they turned into a corridor that seemed to curve up ahead, they made a quick left into an outer office where Harry was quick to spot Charlie Young sitting at a desk shuffling through a mountain of papers and bound reports.
"Charlie, good to see you again" Harry states pulling his large roller case up next to Charlie's desk as Charlie stands up noticing him, the General and Major Davis. Major Davis was quick to make his way to the tall woman at the desk across from Charlie's.
After shaking Harry's hand, the question immediately on Charlie's mind was voiced. "Harry, I'm surprised to see you here. You aren't here to see the President, are you? The only thing on the books today is this mystery meeting that has everyone curious."
"I'm here to support Major Davis and General Hammond. How are you doing? Classes going well at Georgetown?"
Charlie frowned slightly at Harry's non-answer but perked up slightly at the question. He and Harry had talked a lot about the ad hoc nature of their college educations and Harry had offered him a lot of great suggestions for ways to speed up his slow progress towards his degree. "The two classes I'm taking now are actually going really well. Also, the head of the Political science department approved my credit request so long as I complete a 20 page paper based on a topic from a list he provided. I think he is really looking forward to reading an insider's perspective on some recent policy decisions considering his list. Thanks for that suggestion by the way it should help speed things up a bit." Charlie concluded. "You let Zoe know you were going to be in town? She's going to be disappointed if you can't get away for a quick meal or drink."
"Really?" asked Harry. While he enjoyed hanging out with Charlie and Zoe on his last trip, and Zoe did express an interest in making a trip out to Colorado in early January with some friends for a ski trip, Harry had not heard anything one way or the other, and assumed she had changed her mind.
Shaking his head at Harry's look of surprise Charlie replied, "Yeah, she is looking forward to that trip in January. I think she really likes the fact you don't treat her as the President's daughter, unlike pretty much everyone else she sees these days."
"If you can get the time off you should come out with your sister. The house should be finished by then so there will be more than enough space." Harry responded.
"I'll keep that in mind." Charlie responded as the tall woman began to usher the group into the Oval Office. "If you're free tonight I can give Zoe a call about drinks?"
"I think I can break away for a bit tonight, I'll give you a call when I find out. See you in a bit." Harry concludes the exchange as he follows the others into the office pulling his large roller along behind him.
Entering the Oval Office, the seat of the American President, was an experience Harry would never forget. In this office, the leader of the free world made decisions that had the potential to affect every person on the face of the earth. The impact of these decisions has only increased in magnitude due the Stargate and the plans that were going to be implemented later that day.
"Gentlemen!" President Bartlett greeted them as he came out from behind his desk. "Today's the big day. You wouldn't believe the assurances and promises I had to make to get everyone to agree to not only the meeting, but to the secrecy as well," opened the President. Harry spotted Leo McGarry and the Chairman of the Joint chiefs entering from a side door that Harry guessed connected to Leo's office.
"I have no doubt that those attending the briefing will both appreciate being the first included but will also understand the need for the secrecy behind this meeting sir." General Hammond responded to his commander and chief.
After spotting Harry and the large case he was pulling behind him the President's eyes lit up as he asked "Is that it?"
Coming briefly to a position of attention that was quickly waved off by the President, Harry responded, "Yes sir, we had some assistance from the Tokra and the Orbanians making the necessary modifications and I have no doubt the summit's attendees will all enjoy getting a firsthand look into the inner workings of the SGC."
The President nodded as he motioned everyone to be seated. "We have just less than two hours to polish off any kinks or voice any final concerns," opened the President. "We only have one shot at convincing them of the importance of this endeavor and of our vision for how we think everything should move forward. While I know we need the infusion of personnel, and while they are some of our closest allies, we will have a long ways to go to smooth over the ruffled feathers this will cause."
Responding to the President's concerns, Hammond stated, "We have put together a solid presentation and argument in addition to outlining their importance in several current and future projects. There is little else we can do to soften the impact of this revelation. We can only ensure that we follow through on our promises if only to certify our commitment to the interests of the planet as a whole, not just the American people."
The President stood after the General finished in a signal that this morning's check in was over. As everyone stood in response to the President's movement, the President shook hands with Hammond, Major Davis and finally Harry himself as he concluded, "well let's hope this step goes smoothly so we can hopefully use this experience as a blueprint to future disclosures."
After nods in agreement and farewells, Harry followed Hammond and Davis out of the Oval office to go set up for what Harry considered the main event. Passing Charlie on his way out Harry quickly set up dinner with him and Zoe for the next day thinking that he'd better keep tonight open to make sure this meeting brought about the beginnings of something great for Earth, and not the beginning of the end of the world everyone feared.
A/N: Credit to AlexMcPherson for the general idea for the fic, and credit to the show for used dialog...hope you guys enjoyed this chapter. It took a lot longer than my previous ones to write since I went through several versions I wasn't happy with. This one is a bit slow but it sets up the next chapter which is also a bit slow but necessary for the future….Sorry to everyone for the long wait for this chapter…I have the next chapter ¾ written so you all will not have to wait another 3 years for an update. Don't worry, I'm definitely not abandoning the fic...real life just gets in the way sometimes…Thanks to all of you reviewers, in all honesty, they really help to motivate me and push through the more boring scenes needed to keep the flow of the story.
Anyway, looking forward to the reviews...while this chapter wasn't betaed I'm hoping my next will be. Ciao