Sequel to: None
Category: Romance, Hurt/Comfort, Adventure
Season: post season 8 (story is canon from 1-8, unless stated otherwise in A/N)
Spoilers: season 1-8
Pairing: S/J 'established'
Warnings: Language, sexual insinuations and situations.
Summary: Jack got another star, Carter changed states, Teal'c left the planet and Daniel's moving to another galaxy… One goes missing which has an impact on all of them. The former flagship team of Stargate Command is eventually reunited and joins forces with Earth's allies in their quest for answers and end up hunting down one of their old enemies.
Disclaimer: see profile
A/N: I don't have a beta, so any mistakes are my own. I wouldn't mind feedback and/or constructive criticism or just a comment to let me know why you (don't) like it.
Awards: Won Best Alternate Reality (in Het Fic Jack and Sam) in the 2011 GateFic Awards; Nominated for Best Hurt/Comfort and won Best Villain in the Sam & Jack Multimedia Awards 2014!
"Enter," Hank Landry called out without looking up as someone knocked on his office door. He heard the door open and, after signing the paper he'd been reading, looked up to see Colonel Reynolds standing at attention.
"Sir," Albert Reynolds said, waiting to hear why he was summoned to his CO's office.
"At ease, Colonel," Hank waved him down and leaned back in his chair. "I know that I put SG-3 on stand down, with Lieutenant Johnson just being out of surgery and the rest of your men in need of some down time as well."
"Yes Sir," Albert nodded, wondering what his commanding officer was up to. Lieutenant Daniel Johnson had fallen off a ridge on their previous mission and was still recuperating from his surgery and Penhall and Mooney had taken their families to the mountains to enjoy their down time.
"Unfortunately," Hank sighed and watched the Colonel in front of him cringe in anticipation. Sometimes he really didn't like being in charge… "We have heard from the Free Jaffa – Teal'c actually – that they may have located Ba'al or one of his clones. The Tok'ra have confirmed that there is a good chance one of him was aboard the mothership. I know," he held up his hands to stop the Colonel from trying to speak up, "that your men have deserved their downtime and I don't plan on recalling them."
"Thank you, Sir," he was grateful, fearing that the long deserved break would have been interrupted once again.
"However, at the moment SG-3 is the team I am assigning to this mission."
"Sir, I don't understand."
"With SG-1 disbanded," Hank looked down at his paperwork, "and Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell wanting to be on the team… he's a rookie when it comes to the SGC, Colonel."
"I want you to take him on the next mission, together with Lieutenant Hailey."
"With all due respect, Sir," Albert swallowed uncomfortably and shifted on his feet, "SG-3 is a Marine unit and they're not Marines, nor is either of them experienced enough."
"I know that, but you're not a Marine either," Hank smiled at him and shook his head. "But it worked a few years ago, with Lieutenant Morrison who will also be accompanying you before he's heading back to Atlantis."
Satisfied, considering he knew Morrison was more than capable as he'd served under Major Wade, Albert nodded. "Yes Sir, when is the debriefing?"
"At 1600 hours, Colonel. Dismissed."
"Sir, are we confident Ba'al is on this particular planet?"
Albert Reynolds tried to keep himself from rolling his eyes at the question from Lieutenant Hailey, for the umpteenth time that briefing. "The Free Jaffa were following one of his ha'tak vessels when it dropped out of hyperspace," he patiently explained. "For a moment, the ship seemed to be inoperable and a ring transport to the planet was witnessed by Teal'c before the ship took off and they pursued."
"So, all we know is that it was a ring transport which could have contained anything?" Jennifer Hailey asked, incredulous. Realizing her mistake, she added a belated "Sir" as the other men in the room scowled at her.
Taking a deep breath, Reynolds gave her a tight smile. "Yes, Lieutenant, that is all we know, which is why we are proceeding with caution," he emphasized the words. "Major Thompson has talked to the Tok'ra and they confirmed they had one of their operatives aboard the ship and that there were at least two Ba'als present."
"And after the transport? Sir."
"We don't know, they took off before the Tok'ra could confer with their operative."
Clearing his throat, Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell looked around the table. "Sir, how can we be sure this is the right way to proceed? There could be anything lying ahead."
"Excuse me," Lieutenant Morrison smiled awkwardly, glancing at his – temporary – CO. "Am I correct to assume this particular planet doesn't have a gate?"
"Yes Morrison," Albert nodded, glad someone was finally paying attention and ignored Mitchell for the moment. "Which is why we are gating to a nearby planet and will be 'borrowing' one of the alkeshes that Major Thompson has secured there for us."
"Correct Sir," Ryan Thompson chimed in, nodding. "My team has secured two alkeshes, but one will probably be enough for this mission. We were in the vicinity when Teal'c contacted us from aboard the mothership pursuing Ba'al."
"And he's the one who thinks Ba'al was being transported down to the planet?" Jennifer asked, barely containing her excitement because she knew the Jaffa's reputation – had met him a few times, actually – and that he would not mention such a thing without being reasonably sure.
"Yes, he sent a few of the Jaffa down to the planet, but had to call them back because another ship, belonging to Ba'al," Ryan Thompson looked around the table, making sure everyone was paying attention to his story, "dropped out of hyperspace and started to attack."
"They said there were indications people were there," Albert added, a bit hesitant.
Catching on, Cameron Mitchell squinted at his CO. "But…?"
"The Jaffa were unable to secure the area and do a thorough sweep," he replied in a soft tone. "However, there were traces of naquadah-"
"Sir?" Cameron interrupted him. He'd been reading a lot of reports during his recovery but had never come across information suggesting the Jaffa used technology – from whatever planet or race – to detect traces of naquadah.
Sighing, Albert Reynolds turned to him. "Yes, Mitchell?"
"The Jaffa told you that?"
"As a matter of fact, yes," he replied, getting slightly frustrated. Having one new team member under his command was hard enough – it happened on occasion – but this briefing was getting tiresome. They'd started over two hours ago!
"How reliable is that information, Sir?"
"Considering Teal'c was the one who provided it," Ryan glared at the newcomer. At the moment he could care less that Mitchell was a rank higher, did he not know Teal'c's reputation? "I'd say pretty reliable."
"Sir, do we have their data?" Jennifer looked at her superior officer, wondering why he hadn't shown them yet. Ever since meeting Samantha Carter during her time at the Academy, she'd been prepping to get to the SGC and now that she was finally a first lieutenant, had gotten the opportunity to tag along with SG-3. She'd been going off world since she'd graduated from the Academy and became a second lieutenant – after completing several SGC training scenarios – but so far she had only been assigned to scientific teams. Of course there were a handful of occasions in which she was doing recon and always carried weapons, but she wanted more recon missions, like she had been shown when first learning of the program.
"Er… no," Albert grimaced. "There isn't any data."
"Again, Sir," Cameron tried, "how can we be sure this is not a trap?"
"Colonel," Landry said in a disapproving tone, "the Free Jaffa are our allies and Teal'c would never betray us."
"Nor would Rak'nor, Sir."
"Rak'nor?" Emy Morrison questioned Reynolds. He'd been busy in Atlantis and even though the name sounded vaguely familiar, he couldn't place it.
"He is one of the Jaffa who worked with Teal'c and Bra'tac to establish a new government for the Free Jaffa."
"Wasn't he the one who betrayed Teal'c and nearly got him killed?" Cameron recalled from one of the reports.
"That was years ago, when he was still afraid to stand up to the Goa'uld," Ryan explained, knowing Rak'nor was a good man. "He actually saved Teal'c's life and has been with the Rebel Jaffa ever since."
"Anyway," Albert rolled his eyes, wanting to get it over with. He knew everyone of his motley collection was more than capable, otherwise they wouldn't be here, and just hoped they would be able to get along long enough to pull of this mission. "Rak'nor was the only one of the group of Jaffa sent down to the planet that isn't relying on tretonin to keep them alive and he was the one who sensed the naquadah."
"It took them a few minutes to assemble a team to go down," Ryan Thompson chimed in, having heard first hand from Teal'c. "By that time the signal wasn't very strong and they didn't have enough time to find the source."
"We know the landscape consists of mostly caverns that reach underground and that's probably where the people went which would make it a lot harder to pinpoint a specific point or person, right Hailey?"
Jennifer bobbed her head. "That is a fair assumption. What about the atmosphere, Sir?"
"Doctor Lee has been studying the data Major Thompson's team provided and has come to the conclusion that the caverns might very well harbor more people, because the scan couldn't penetrate and the atmosphere seemed to interfere with it as well. However, even a faint trace of naquadah can be picked up with one of Colonel Carter's old gadgets because of the unique signature the element emits," Albert Reynolds concluded, looking around the table. He hoped this team would prove to work, but would have felt more at ease with his own men.