Ace In The Hole

Chapter 1

"This is bull shit and they know it!" Sheppard is angry and frustrated as he slams through the doors of the IOA building striding across the plaza with Colonel Carter following hot on his heels.

"John just calm down, you knew this was going to take time" she replied the beginning of a smile tugging at the corner of her lips.

"Time!... Come on Sam it's been Eighteen months already the bulk of the repairs were completed ages ago, all this waiting around is just crazy" he knew in his heart bringing Atlantis to Earth would be a bad idea but circumstances had deemed it a necessity, the Wraith super hive had threatened Earth directly and it was a threat that John could never have ignored using Atlantis herself was the only viable way of stopping the Wraith at the time.

"You did what you had to do and now this is just part of the game, you had to know this would become a political tug of war" She smiles warmly at Sheppard as she playfully nudges his shoulder.

"Whilst the IOA play there games the wraith are free to regroup and lick their wounds unopposed… we are just wasting valuable time" he sighs finally slowing to a stop head lowered in defeat.

"We will regain the momentum against them believe me it's just going to take time." She gently puts her hand on his arm "and when that time comes The Hammond and her crew will be at your side" At that Sheppard has no choice but to offer a weak smile back.

"Thanks Sam …. but…"

"Colonel Sheppard!" both John and Sam spin around to see a young suited man come sprinting across the plaza from the IOA building. "Colonel Sheppard … oh thank god …. I almost missed you, Mr Dunham wanted to see you in his office Sir before you left"

"Dunham?" Sam enquires.

"Yes Ma'am, he was most insistent that he sees the Colonel before he leave's." The young suit is sweating profusely trying desperately to catch his breath.

"Do you know him at all?" John asks Carter.

"By reputation only… he's the British IOA member, before that he was ambassador to the U.S.A. and U.N. he's a career diplomat, shrewd political player and is highly respected in Washington and London….. General O'Neill has had quite a few run ins with him since becoming director of homeworld" Sam had to smile at the last one anyone that could rile Jack had to be someone worth meeting.

"If you would like to follow me Sir I will escort you to his office" the young suited man turns and starts strolling back to the IOA offices.

"Ok if Colonel Carter tags along?" John shouts

"I'm sure Mr Dunham will let you know if its not" the young suit smirks.

"Come on then…. I'm intrigued now" Carter smiles as she follows hot on the young suits heels with Sheppard casually strolling along behind.

By the time they have passed through security and have arrived at the correct floor John's mood has mellowed, he was a smart guy and deep down he knew that political tensions within the IOA had risen sharply since their return, and the question of Atlantis's return to Pegasus was just part of a much bigger debate going on.

"Colonel ….. Sorry Colonel's" the suit smiles apologetically to Carter "Please take a seat." He gestures to the row of seats outside the office before disappearing inside.

"Adam did you manage to catch him before he left?"

"Yes Sir …. Colonel Carter is with him Sir… shall I send them both in?" they hear the suit ask almost timidly. Then both Sam and John feel a slight shiver run up their spines as the hear the recognisable voice of the Chinese IOA representative Shen Xiaoyi.

"James are you sure about this?" she asks in her usual pleasant tone.

"My dear Shen, You should know that answer yourself by now?"

"Meeting with Colonel Sheppard and Colonel Carter like this will raise a few eyebrows" Both Sheppard and Carter could hear the smile on her face without even seeing it.

"Adam, please show them in ….. And Adam I do not want to be disturbed …..Understood!"

"Yes Sir" the young suit slowly opens the door for both Carter and Sheppard to enter "Mr Dunham will see you now" Carter can't help but smile at the young Adam as he ushers them though the door and closes it behind him.

"Colonel Carter …. It's an honour to finally meet you at last I believe you already know Miss Xiaoyi?" Sam has to admit the man standing in front of her was not what she was expecting at all, she expected to see a chubby overweight bureaucrat lounging in palatial luxury this man was slim and toned and despite his grey hair was very good looking with a casual grace and self confidence she was instantly attracted to.

"Yes …. We have met before, hello Miss Xiaoyi" Sam smiles to the IOA member but quickly returns her gaze to Dunham, who in turn is just staring down Sheppard who has not budged or spoken since they had entered the room.

"Well?" John blurts out "What do you want James?" Both Carter and Shen are a little shocked and surprised at Colonel Sheppard's obvious hostility, and at the fact the two men seem to know each other at all.

"Less of that tone Jonathan… you are still not so old that I won't give you a clout" Dunham is now smirking at the now frowning Colonel Sheppard.

"James I didn't realise you knew Colonel Sheppard?" Miss Xiaoyi was looking more than a little puzzled by now.

"Oh I know him alright" ….. James laughs.

"John?" Sam is now just as confused as John just shrugs and continues to stare at James Dunham who in turn just grins back at the Colonel.

"John, just sit down and drop the petulant child look …. It never worked on me when you were a kid it's not going to work on me now" John just huffs and finally slumps into the empty chair next to Sam.

"Ok what gives between you to?" Colonel Carter's curiosity has reached a peak and can't take anymore, now she can see John smirking in the corner of her eye, John merely turns to Sam offering her one of his trademark grins.

"Let's just say I may be new to the political game Sam… but I do have a few connections of my own" Says John as he finally smiles at James Dunham who nods in return.

"I have asked you here to explain what happened at the IOA vote today, and although I know it's a slight breach of the IOA protocols I think in this case it's fair, Mr Coolidge should have done his homework a little better …. If he had done a thorough background check he would have easily found out John's mother's maiden name was Dunham" James finally smiles warmly at the Colonel sat opposite him.

"You're his uncle…." Shen finally smiles "But James the other IOA members are not going to like this when they find out"

"Screw them, my nephew is being shafted after the job he has done… I don't think so Shen" Miss Xiaoyi simply smiles and offers a small nod allowing the others to speak.

"John, the IOA vote to return Atlantis to the Pegasus galaxy ended in a 3-2 defeat but it was how the members voted that should rattle your chains, Richard Woolsey really went to bat for you and we kind of thought it was in the bag but in the end …. "

"Coolidge and the US voted against Atlantis's return, didn't he?" John simply sighed, he knew Coolidge was a piece of work but this had just confirmed it.

"We knew both Russian and French IOA members where dead set on keeping Atlantis on Earth to bolster our defence but when Coolidge sided with them… well what can I say…" James knew John well enough to know the emotions going though him at the moment though he also knew that his nephew would have those same emotions buried deep inside.

"That's crazy why would he do that?" asks Carter looking slightly confused "I kind of thought …. No offence Miss Xiaoyi that if any government tried to block Atlantis's return to Pegasus it would be the Chinese."

"And why Colonel Carter would you think that?" Shen smiles as she enquires politely "Sam you are a smart woman and you have seen and fought the wraith first hand ….. If the wraith ever came too Earth which nation has the largest population and what area on this planet is the most densely populated?"

"You see Colonel Carter the US and European population is small fry compared to the Asian continent with almost half the worlds population packed into a small belt from India round to China it makes a much easier target for the wraith" James just shifts slightly to face Carter directly as his nephew listens on quietly "The Chinese government is desperate to take the fight to the wraith and keep them as far away from its people as possible our current Prime Minister happens too agree but it seems that Mr Coolidge and the Russian President have been whispering in President Hayes ear and for the moment Atlantis is going no where"

"I have to admit Mr Dunham…" Sam starts

"Please… call me James" he smiles a dazzling almost Sheppard like smile and the family connection in an instant is obvious.

"Oh God … please Jay no flirting or do I have to have a word with Joanna?" John chuckles

"Joanna and I divorced four years ago Jonathan… and I'm just being nice!" Sam can see that James is not enjoying his nephew cramping his style and has to smile at the obvious similarity between the two men.

"As I was going to say … James" Sam smiles at him politely regaining his attention "I don't see what good knowing the vote is going to do?"

"It is more like knowing the full picture Colonel Carter" Miss Xiaoyi smiles "We may not be on the front line but we to are all trying to protect Earth"

"But there in lies our problem Shen" James finally sits back like a man who has just won the argument without her even knowing they were having one "So long as we see it as just protecting Earth are we truly stepping up to the plate so to speak, time and time again the SGC has fought to protect not only Earth but countless other worlds across 3 galaxies so far… but now a few political opportunists are tying the SGC up in red tape under the guise of the IOA….. It's becoming a joke"

"He's right" John finally sighs "We can cut and run pull up the drawbridge fortify Earth but that would be making the same mistakes the Ancients made …..Running instead of facing the problems and tackling them head on"

"So what happens now?" Sam merely vocalising her thoughts than asking anyone directly.

"We will work to change the vote, whilst in the mean time both the Chinese and UK governments have agreed to throw their full backing behind Operation Pegasus" James offers Shen a curt smile as she politely nods for him to continue "If the SGC can not officially face the wraith head on because the IOA has them tied up in red tape then our governments have authorised us to offer John the full backing and resources at our disposal including putting the Sun Tzu, Yun Zhou, Ark Royal and if she is finished in time the Adaris …" John looks at his uncle with a questioning glare "Her Majesty apparently liked the name when she read one of your reports"

"The Queen of England reads our mission reports?" Carter sits there astonished and open mouthed, James can't help but grin at the Colonel, all the things that SG-1 had done, all the times their team had almost single handily saved the planet and the women before him showed nothing but humble humility if only more people were like this maybe the world would be the better place they all dreamed of.

"Even with three possibly four 304's without Atlantis to act as a base of operations it's going to be hard if not impossible to pull off, re-supply and repair would be a bitch I cant see how it could work?" John sighs shaking his head at Sam.

"Since when have you liked to do things the easy way Jonathan? like I said officially the SGC knows nothing about these plans yet … but I can assure you that key US personnel are behind us… just not publicly?" James smirks at his once again frowning nephew he could see the cogs in John and Sam's mind turning "Besides John, you above anyone else should remember what I taught you … always look for the ace in the hole" Colonel Sheppard suddenly smiles as he finally realises things might just go their way for once.