RED SUITS AND REPLICATING PROBLEMS
By Lorraine Anderson
"What the hell was that?" Sam said.
"What?" Jack said.
Sam looked up at the Colorado sky. "I, uh..." she looked puzzled. "I..." She stopped. "Nothing."
Jack looked up at the sky. It looked normal to him. Clear sky, a few scudding clouds, a man flying by in a red suit. "Yeah," he said. "Nothing."
"You saw nothing, too," Sam looked at him.
"I wonder if they're tracking the nothing below." Jack pulled out his cell phone and dialed. "Hey, Walter... No, we're not in trouble... Hey, did you detect any... odd objects flying around out here?... No, not Thor. Nothing? Thanks." He closed his phone. "They didn't see anything."
"Maybe he was too low and too small," Sam said.
"So... nothing is now a he, huh?"
"Looked like a he to me."
They whirled around. Jack pulled his gun out. Sam looked at Jack, then at the middle aged man who had come up behind them. He was a dark blonde, medium height, looked like he could have been skinny in his youth, but now had a small stomach on him. He wore a button down white shirt, black pants, and shoes that looked about a size too large.
They heard the beep of a cell phone. "Ralph! Ralph, answer me. You have to take off right away. You landed on Cheyenne Mountain! Ralph."
Ralph looked at them, startled. Jack nodded his head. "Aw, crap," Ralph said.
"'Landed," Jack said.
"Colonel, look at his undershirt," Sam said.
"Yeah? So it's red." He looked again. "You been flying around like superman, Ralph?"
Ralph's laugh sounded a little false to Jack. "Superman? How could I do that?"
"Then how did you get past security?" Sam said.
"Um. I walked?"
Sam caught a glimpse of something past Ralph's head. "Colonel."
Jack whipped out his phone and punched speed dial. "General, there is a genuine UFO coming right for the base. Suggest Protocol B." The UFO stopped straight overhead -
- then Jack found himself on a strange ship, staring at a viewport with Sam and Ralph by his side. At the other side of Ralph was an older, almost elderly looking man who was staring at his cell phone with frustration. "Ralph."
"I'm here, Bill."
"What?" He looked up. "Oh. OH!" He swore a bit. "I never wanted to see these little green guys ever again." He looked at the two military personnel. "Oh." He stuck out his hand. "Special Agent Maxwell, FBI, retired. I'm afraid I must swear all of you to secrecy."
"I thought that was our line," Sam murmured. She took Maxwell's hand. "Major Samantha Carter, Colonel Jack O'Neill, US Air Force. Do you happen to know what's going on here?"
"Only in the most general terms," Ralph said. He looked around.
A new voice came over an intercom. "You are not Asgard."
Jack cocked an eyebrow. "And what gave you the first indication?"
"But you have been touched by the Asgard."
Jack looked uncomfortable. "Wasn't my idea!"
"Who are you?" Sam said.
A door opened. "I come from a race which is a distant relation to the Asgard." A small being walked out, clothed.
"You look like a cross between a human and an Asgard."
"An apt observation. We were."
"I am one of the last of my species.
"Wait a minute," Bill said. "Who the hell are the Asgard?" He looked at Jack.
"The Asgard are the protectors of Earth."
"I thought you were the protectors of Earth."
The alien looked distinctly uncomfortable. "I'm trying to keep you from destroying yourselves. The Asgard are protecting you from outside influences."
"Outside influences?" Bill looked at Jack, then at Sam. "Aren't you going to chime in here?"
"I'd have to swear you to secrecy," Jack said, deadpan.
Bill turned to the alien. "Why are we in Colorado?"
"I have detected a threat to Earth, and I believe you will need the military's help."
"In Cheyenne Mountain?"
He looked at Jack and Sam. "I have reason to believe that there is alien technology placed in the mountain that may help you." Sam looked at Jack.
"And what would that be?" Sam said. "We engage in radio telemetry."
"I don't think so," the alien said.
Jack stared at the alien. "Tell me you are not a Furling."
He smiled. "I am not a Furling."
"Good." Sam stared at him. "You know what I think Furlings look like."
"Ewoks." She muttered.
The alien started laughing.
Suddenly they found themselves in another spot. Jack looked around. "Thor! Buddy."
"It is good to see you, O'Neill." Thor looked at the other alien. "However, I am surprised to see you. We had thought that all of your race had ascended."
"They're not Furlings, but they've ascended," muttered Jack.
"I have heard of you, Supreme Commander Thor," said the alien.
"Good things, I hope," Jack said.
Thor looked at Jack, and he subsided. "What are you doing here?"
The alien lifted his chin. "Helping."
"That is ironic."
"I wish these people to avoid our childhood mistakes."
"But you cannot protect them."
"I gave them something to help themselves." He walked up to Ralph.
"This man?" Thor looked doubtful.
Ralph grimaced and unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it off. "No. This suit." He pulled a cape out of his pants.
Jack snorted. "You've got to be kidding." The two aliens, Ralph and Bill stared at him. "Ok, you're not kidding. What is it?"
"A complicated piece of technology. One we've experimented with and abandoned because it's too dangerous."
"Not in the right hands."
"And who determines who is the right person?"
"I find very good men and women." He looked at Ralph. "I'm sorry about ..."
Ralph looked regretful. "All of the things she did... to be killed by an auto accident." He looked at Jack and Sam. "I had this suit many years ago and passed it along to a worthy woman. She willed it back to me until he..." pointing at the alien "finds a new successor."
"Ralph." Bill said. "You could keep it."
"Superman doesn't have middle age spread. And when was the last time you ran after a suspect?"
Bill bristled. "Are you trying to say I'm getting old?"
"Boys," Jack said. "There's a more important question here." He turned to Thor. "Much as I like to see you, Thor, why are you here?"
"I have come to ask for your help."
"O-kay. What is it now? Goa'uld? Replicators?" Thor remained silent. "Don't tell me it's replicators."
"We have lost one of the human replicators. We believe it has come here."
"I told you not to tell me that."
"Not telling you wouldn't make it less true."
"What the hell are replicators?" Bill said.
Jack looked at Bill. "Need to know basis."
Thor looked at Jack. "I believe we need to talk to General Hammond." He manipulated a control, and the six of them were in General Hammond's office.
"I think I'm going to be ill," Bill murmured. "Where are we now?"
"Inside Cheyenne Mountain."
Hammond hung up the phone he was dialing. "Jack? Major? Can you fill me in?" He looked a bit bemused at his suddenly crowded office.
"Well, sir, Major Carter and I were just taking a walk when this," pointing of Ralph, "man landed in front of his in his little red suit, and this," pointing at the alien, "beamed us up into his spacecraft and then Thor beamed all of us up into his spacecraft, and then Thor beamed us down in to your office. Sir."
Hammond looked at Thor. "That is, essentially, correct, General Hammond. We need your help, and you may find it handy to have these two gentlemen involved, involuntary as it may be." He explained about the other alien and the functions of Ralph's red suit. "We cannot detect this kind of replicator on your world. It's emissions are quite similar to your electronic toys."
"It's a X-Box?" Jack said.
"What's an X-box?" Bill said.
Ralph rolled his eyes. "You really need to come to class more often," he said.
"Aw, Ralph, you know how I feel about your juvies," Bill said.
"You like my kids."
"Your kids aren't juvies."
"You haven't been around for a while. Janie is getting to be a handful," Ralph muttered.
Hammond's phone rang. His eyebrows lowered in surprise. "It seems there's a young man at the gate. The guards said the car drove up by itself and the young man was asleep on the back seat."
Ralph and Bill's eyes fixed on the small alien. He shifted uncomfortably. "That would be my summons. It would be your son, Mr. Hinkley."
"Jason? God, Pam must be going wild. Why did you bring Jason here?"
The alien remained silent. "No. No, you can't."
"Does your son know about your... extra-curricular activities?"
"No. God, no. I had to give up the suit before he was born."'
"How old is he?"
"Eighteen. Just graduating from high school."
"More or less."
Thor nodded his head. "I have no objections. I see why he is here."
Hammond spoke into the phone. "Bring him down here." Ralph started to shrug into his shirt. "No, I think you had better leave that off. And let's move into the briefing room. Make sure the blast shield is down."
"Sir," Sam said. "Should I get Daniel and Teal'C?"
"Brief them on the way."
They moved to the briefing room. "If we had cake and ice cream, we could have a party," Jack said. "All we need is the humanoid replicator."
"Jack," Hammond said.
Walter walked in. "Sorry, sir, this visitor wishes to see you."
"It's not a good time, Sergeant."
"I insisted." Young Jack O'Neill walked in.
"I thought you didn't want to see me again," Colonel O'Neill said.
The younger man pursed his lips. "I was kidnapped by my car. It parked itself, and my security was still good, so I came in." The group looked at the strange alien. "Stop me if you've heard this one before."
"We've heard this one before," Colonel O'Neill said.
"This ought to be fascinating," young Jack muttered. He sat down, then looked up. "Hi, Thor. Who's your buddy?" The briefing room remained silent. "Has my status been revoked?"
"General Hammond," Thor said. "I am willing to indulge the ..."
"Let's wait for young Hinkley to be brought in."
He came in, escorted by a young guard. "Dad. Uncle Bill! What..." His voice died. "Dad, what are you wearing?"
Ralph looked down and blushed. "Something I had never hoped to wear again," he muttered. "Jason, this whole story may be more unbelievable to you than to everyone here." The two aliens moved from behind the standing men to show themselves to the young man.
"Holy..." Jason stopped, looked at his dad. "... cow."
"Pretty much what I've been saying for the past 20 some years," Bill said. "Only my language is more salty."
"Hush," Bill said.
Teal'C and Daniel walked in, followed by Sam. Teal'C raised an eyebrow at the crowd, then sat down in his customary seat.
"Both eyebrows, and he's going to purse his lips," Young Jack said in a stage whisper. Daniel looked at the man and obviously resisted making a reaction.
"Jack." He said.
"Daniel." He looked around. "The gang's all here.".
"How do you get away with talking in this crowd?" Jason said.
"Kid," young Jack said. "You'll never guess." He looked at Thor. "Then again, maybe you will."
An aide brought in three non-disclosure agreements. "I strongly suggest all of you sign this. What you are about to hear is considered top-secret. Should any of you attempt to disclose anything, everything you say will be denied and you will be discredited." He smiled. "Trust me, you wouldn't be believed, anyway."
Jason frowned. "I can't wait." He signed.
Bill and Ralph signed without comment.
"Mr. Hinkley. Mr. Maxwell. Colonel. Major. Thor. Um... "He looked at the other alien. "I'd like you to recap everything to do with this suit and with the current threat.."
One by one, the group recounted their story. "I believe," Thor finished, "that this replicator is somewhere in the United States."
Jack opened his mouth. "Well," Bill said. "That narrows it down."
Jack glared at him. Sam grinned. "So how do we narrow it down further?"
"I believe," Thor said. "That's where our friend's suit comes in."
"Me?" Ralph said.
"It does say something in the instructions," the alien said, "about narrowing down the source of an electronic field."
Bill looked at Ralph. Ralph looked back at Bill. "Did you have...?"
"Naw. She was just much better than you."
Ralph laughed. "I saw her fly. I don't think so."
"Instructions never came up." He colored.
Ralph sighed. "The fact is," he said to the alien, "we lost the instructions twenty five years ago."
A silence fell over the world. Jason snickered. Young Jack smiled. "Figures, Dad." He turned to the room. "He's always losing his glasses on his head and his pencil on his ear." He started laughing. "I would have loved to see you with that curly hair and the red suit. It's funny enough now."
Bill shook his head. "Not now, Jason. Look, do you have something that this replicator owns?"
"We have a piece of a replicator," Sam said. "Will that help?"
She left the briefing room. The briefing room was silent. "So," Jason said to young Jack. "What's your story?"
"That would be classified," he said.
"You look like his son," Jason said.
"In a manner of speaking," the Colonel said.
Jason raised his eyebrows. "A clone?"
The Stargate Command crew looked at Ralph. "Did I tell you that he was very, very smart."
"Takes after his mother," Bill muttered.
"Gee, thanks, Bill."
Sam came back in and handed a metal piece to Ralph.
"They're robots?" Bill said.
Thor considered. "In terms you can understand, I would say that they're just complicated machines."
Jack looked at Bill, who was looking vaguely insulted. "You don't want to start him going."
Ralph was concentrating on the part. "I'm seeing a blank wall with what looks like rivets."
"That would be a replicator ship," Jack said. "Can you concentrate closer to home?"
"Just a second... I'm seeing a steak house. A man is behind the bar. There's a flower shop across the street."
"Not helpful," Jack said.
"JJ's House of Blooms. One 'o' has burned out."
Sam looked at the group. "That's downtown!"
Jack screwed up his face. "You're kidding."
"Makes sense. It probably senses the Stargate."
"So, people, we go downtown," Hammond said.
"Discretely, I hope," Daniel said.
Young Jack and Jason peered into the Flower Shop, then looked at the Tavern across the street. "You know," Jack said, "your Dad in a red suit is not exactly the most discrete sight in the world."
"Yeah, well, your clone-Dad as lounge lizard is kinda creepy."
Jack looked non-plussed. "He's not my Dad. And," he turned away. "I have to agree." He studied his reflection in the window, and an odd look came on his face.
"And I agree about my Dad." He looked away. "I kinda wondered how come my Dad was friends with a federal agent, but they would just look at each other and smile. I didn't know my Dad was Superman."
"I heard Bill mutter that he was barely Superman."
"I can imagine." He looked at Ralph and Bill up the street. "I'm glad my friends can't see this."
"I can't figure out why you were brought in." Jack mused.
"Yeah. That's puzzling me, too."
"How old are you?"
Jack laughed ruefully. "Older than I look."
"Somewhat older," He looked Jason up and down. "Remember the non-disclosure agreement? Don't tell even yourself."
"I'm only going to say this once. I am Colonel O'Neill's clone, with all of his memories."
"Did I say something? I'm sure I didn't say anything."
"I... see. That explains a lot."
"What explains what?"
"Whatever you say, Sarge."
"Wrong service." A ghost of a smile on his face. "Anyway, I wonder if that alien has something in mind?" He looked pointedly at Ralph.
Jason looked disgusted and distressed at the same time. "You have got to be kidding."
"Makes sense. I have the security clearance. If you have the suit..." He looked at the pair down the street, trying to look discrete and failing entirely. "The Air Force does hire civilians, if you don't care to join."
"Daniel and Teal'C are examples. And we could send you to college, if that's what you want."
Jason looked stunned. "Before I was kidnapped to Colorado, I was working at McDonald's and starting Community College."
"Just a thought. That may not be his idea at all." He sighed. "And I don't have the authority to offer anything. But I like to think I still have influence."
Jason shrugged. "You're presuming I'm going to get the suit."
"Yeah." He looked across the street. "Somebody moving."
"I wish we knew who we were looking for."
"Thanks. Like the one Teal'C and the Major followed."
"We ruled her out, didn't we?"
"After they broke into her house and caught her on the pot." He peered across the street. "Woman coming out."
"Follow, don't engage," came a beep and a voice from the cell.
He punched the button. "Yes, Uncle Bill," he drawled.
"Wait for the military to get back."
"Just follow my GPS," Jason said. He closed the cell phone cover. "Uncle Bill is now asking Dad what a GPS is."
Jack looked back and smiled slightly. "Old men."
The pair ambled after the woman. She was middle aged, and appeared to be weaving a little. She walked down one street, then another, then suddenly ducked down an alley. "Stay cool," Jack said.
A man emerged. "We're following him." Jack said.
"It's a machine. Changes shape."
The man looked backward, then started walking faster.
"So why doesn't it change into a car or something?"
"It's a replicator, not a Transformer." Jack said sarcastically, then stopped. "You do have a good point."
The man stopped at a street corner, then looked back at the pair. He continued looking as the pair walked up. "You are following me."
"Moi?" Jack said.
"Are you of Stargate Command?"
Jason looked at Jack. "Why? Are you Buzz Lightyear?"
"I am a replicator. I am Nine."
Jason snickered. "Nine is tall, blonde, and buxom."
The replicator transformed into a tall blonde woman with a metal piece over her eye. "Is this what you mean?"
Jason nodded, gulping.
"I, too, have watched your TV."'
"Ok," Jack said. "Now transform back before you cause somebody to run into a light pole."
"Why? He wished to talk to that person Nine."
Colonel O'Neill's voice came over the telephone. "You've stopped moving. Do you need help?"
"Just to get Jason's jaw off the ground."
"Is he all right?" Ralph broke in.
"He's fine. His hormones are acting up."
Jason shut his mouth. "Sorry."
"Transform back, and we'll talk."
Nine shrugged, and turned back into a nondescript male. "I need asylum."
Jack's jaw dropped.
"We can't." Colonel O'Neill said flatly.
Hammond sat back. "Opinions."
Carter looked up from her hands. "As much as I hate to admit it, I concur, sir. While I believe that I was convincing the replicator Five that humanity was a better way, I also believe that leaving any replicator on Earth posts too much of a threat."
"What would you recommend we do with it?"
Thor transported into the room. "Forgive me for eavesdropping, General Hammond. We will take him."
"I'd rather think that blowing him apart would be the better option," Jack muttered.
Thor looked at Jack. "If destruction is warranted, we will not hesitate to try to 'blow him apart', as you say. But he seems to be cooperative, up to a point. We will find a place for him."
"Which still leaves us with another problem, one that I believe is yours as much as mine."
SG1 and General Hammond looked at each other.
"Your other involuntary guests. I hesitate to take my fellow space farer with me. I have been talking to Mr. Hinkley and Mr. Maxwell..."
"I'm sure they loved that..." Jack muttered.
"And his intentions, while meddling, are benevolent."
Daniel ducked his head, then looked up at Thor. "As are yours on any number of planets."
The little alien smiled slightly. "Agreed. Do you wish us to make sure he's banned from this system?"
Hammond shrugged. "I will recommend that the little guy be welcomed as an alien envoy. But he must remember that he cannot contact just anyone. The Stargate program is still a secret."
The other alien appeared. "You may stay," Thor said. "But I must warn you not to interfere with Stargate Command's efforts, and, if you can, cooperate with them."
Hammond raised his hand. "But, Thor, should we need his help, may we contact him?"
The other alien answered. "I'm afraid not, General. Unlike Thor, my ship has no defensive capabilities, and I am not the expert on technologies as Thor is. I'm afraid that while I know enough to run my own technology, my personal capabilities are limited."
"In other words," Jack said. "You can run the television, but you can't build it."
"Somebody like me!"
The alien looked vaguely discomfited. "However, I would like to continue my efforts to 'keep the peace' on this planet, so to speak." He looked around. "You still need help."
"With Mr. Hinkley and Mr. Maxwell?"
"I'd be willing to keep going," Ralph said, after they were summoned. He looked at Bill. "But..."
Bill looked disgusted. "Yeah, yeah, don't point it out, I'm getting a little old."
Colonel O'Neill grinned ruefully. "Me, too"
"He's been having problems with his heart."
"That, I don't have. Just the knee."
The alien put his hand on Bill's shoulder. "While I appreciate your willingness, I was thinking about another team." He gestured to Jason Hinkley and young Jack O'Neill.
"Oh, no. No, no. Not Jason."
Jason looked amused. "Dad, I am over eighteen."
Ralph looked at him. "You don't seem surprised. Did he already talk...?"
"No, Dad, but Jack here already floated the notion."
"He did?" O'Neill echoed. "Why - are you smarter than I am?"
Jack smiled knowingly. "Do you want me to answer that?"
"Um... no." He gestured at the alien. "Well, you don't need my permission."
Ralph grimaced. "And you don't need mine, darn it."
"But I will still ask your advice."
"Your mother is going to kill me."
O'Neill cleared his throat. "I'll talk to General Hammond about putting your son on the payroll, paying for college, that sort of thing. After all," he gestured at Jack. "He is."
"Hey, after all I've done for this place?"
"You didn't," O'Neill said. "I did."
The colonel shrugged.
SG1 watched the Hinkleys, Maxwell, and Jack O'Neill and a young officer board the elevator. "Why," said Colonel O'Neill, "am I nervous about leaving the fate of the world in the hands of a couple of 18-year-olds?"
"Because you've seen Animal House too many times?" asked Teal'C.
"Teal'C!" Sam grinned at him.
Teal'C smiled slightly and inclined his head.
"Jack, young Jack is not 18."
O'Neill screwed up his face. "He went back to high school, for Pete's sake!"
An alarm came from the elevator. "Peters?" O'Neill said into his intercom to the escort on the elevator. "What's your status?"
"Everybody's disappeared from the elevator!"
Hammond came on the line. "I just got the word that they got another ride home. Stand down, Peters."
The team grinned at each other. "Well, at least Jack won't be bored any more," O'Neill said.
"Indeed," said Teal'C.
"Incoming wormhole," Walter yelled over the intercom.
Daniel looked at the elevator. "I think... I envy them." He ran after the other three, shaking his head. "On the other hand," he muttered, "Red is not my color..." He shivered and concentrated on running.