Colonel O'Neill fell in step behind General Hammond as they walked down to the Gate Room.
"Sir, tell me again why we're accepting missions from other worlds?"
Hammond shook his head, "Just last week, you asked me for special permission to go hunt for animals on—"
"Yeah, I know," O'Neill waved his hand uncomfortably, "but honestly, General," he stopped in the hall. "You know how I feel about the Tollans."
Hammond could hardly keep the smirk off his face. "That's right, General," he said as the bay door of the Gate Room opened, "I do."
The siren blared.
"Offworld activation, sir!" Sergeant Harriman announced over the loudspeaker. "Receiving the Tollan IDC."
Hammond nodded. "Open the iris."
The rest of SG-1 arrived as the titanium disc opened, revealing the active event horizon. O'Neill fought to keep a straight face as High Chancellor Travell emerged.
Hammond greeted her cordially. "It is good to see you," he said. "I trust your people are well?"
The severe, superior woman nodded. "I thank you for accepting my request. We are well—it is only one of our allies who has landed himself in somewhat of an adverse situation."
Hammond's smile dimmed. "I was under the impression that the urgent matter was directly related to Tollan-Earth relations."
Travell cast a furtive glance at the personnel watching from the command booth.
"General Hammond," she spoke urgently, "I would greatly appreciate it if we could take this conversation to a more secure location."
The general only studied her for a moment before he nodded, "We can do that, as long as you can guarantee some answers."
Travell descended the ramp and looked at the four humans gathered around her. "Of course, General; once we have excluded anyone not directly necessary to the success of this mission, I will give you all the answers you seek."
General Hammond nodded, "Allow me to escort you to the briefing room. SG-1 will join us, as per your earlier request."
Carter nudged Jack as the two of them followed the general and the Chancellor down the hall.
"Did you know about this ahead of time?" she murmured.
Jack shook his head, "Carter, up till about ten minutes ago, I was looking forward to having a break, what with Teal'c offworld and all."
"You know," Daniel joined the pair, "part of me wishes he were here with us. There's no telling what Chancellor Travell has in mind."
"Yeah," Carter agreed, "or why she picked us."
Jack stopped short and shot her a wounded expression. "I thought we were something special!" he complained.
Daniel shook his head; as if!
Once they were all settled around tge table in the briefing room, Hammond began, "You mentioned one of your ambassadors is in trouble."
Travell nodded, "This mission was originally sanctioned only as an expository visit. He has fallen off the grid many times, and each time, we had to rescue him or wait for him to rescue himself," She frowned at the mention of the irrepressible person.
Jack raised an eyebrow, "And this time?"
"He has resurfaced on a planet called Arnak, in the Orion System," Travell explained.
Hammond frowned with concern. "Arnak?"
O'Neill leaned in. "Arnak?" he echoed, looking in shocked accusation at the woman.
Travell kept a muted expression, "You have heard of it, then?"
Daniel looked around in confusion, "I'm sorry...what are we talking about, here? What is Arnak? Have we been there before?"
Hammond shook his head. "No, you haven't; Colonel O'neill supervised a preliminary survey when we were exploring planets in that area. Arnak seemed relatively secluded from the other planets, and we wondered why."
Carter looked from O'Neill to the general. "What happened?" she asked.
Jack shifted uncomfortably. "We sent a MALP through the gate, and..." He let his voice trail off, and seemed reluctant to finish.
"And what?" Daniel pressed.
Jack rubbed the back of his neck. "Somebody... tripped over it," he answered.
Sam couldn't believe what she was hearing. "That's what happened?" she asked incredulously. "It looked like it had been through a garbage compactor!"
Daniel's face showed more than a little fear. "Tripped over?" he repeated tremulously.
Jack turned back to Travell. "Chancellor, what exactly was your man doing on Arnak?" he demanded.
Travell hesitated. "Officially speaking, he is not our man," she acknowledged. "The current administration saw fit to disavow him some time ago."
Now it was General Hammond's turn to get irritated at the judicious woman. "You told me he was one of your ambassadors on a diplomatic mission gone south," he reminded her.
Travell nodded. "He has often borne the post of High Ambassador in his journeys to other worlds, because of his support for the Tollan ideals—and in return for the continued use of our technology in even his...unsanctioned... missions, such as this one. His last missive seemed to indicate the matter held some importance to Earth's history, which is why we contacted you."
"This ambassador," Carter interposed, "Does he have a name?"
Chancellor Travell hesitated. "He calls himself The Doctor," she admitted.
"Doctor who?" Jack snorted.
Travell smiled. "Who, indeed?"
Daniel made an impatient movement. "Okay, cryptic comments aside, let's get back to the world in question: who or what lives on Arnak?"
Travell turned to him. "I should think it would be obvious: the inhabitants of Arnak are a race of giants."
Daniel's mouth dropped open. "Giants?" he gasped.
Jack smirked at him. "Beanstalks and all, Daniel." He turned back to the Chancellor as Daniel and Carter both attempted to wrap their heads around what they had just heard. "You're saying this Doctor of yours was captured by giants?" he clarified.
Travell confirmed this. "He and two others, Earth-people like yourselves."
This put the mission into a new light; SG-1 looked at each other; what sort of people had contact with other worlds that the Stargate Command didn't know about, and how could they get to those worlds without a Stargate?
Hammond leaned forward and nailed Travell with his steely gaze. "What exactly would this mission look like?" He demanded with a frown.
Travell seemed unfazed. "The Doctor has been captured by the Arnakim; we don't know why, since he acclaimed them as a friendly race upon the initial contact. The Council would like to know if the Doctor has done anything to offend the Arnakim, what the true purpose of his mission would be, and we would ask that you rescue the Doctor and his companions if at all possible."
Hammond nodded and turned immediately to Jack. "Colonel, I'd like you to get a team togeth—"
"No!" Travell cried abruptly. On a questioning look from Hammond, she insisted, "Only these three must go. Please do not involve any more men. Equip them as fully as you deem necessary, but you must not risk any more than this single team."
Daniel nudged Jack and muttered, "Now I really wish Teal'c were here."
Travell slid a packet containing a small object across the table toward Daniel. "You will find a brief history of the Arnakim on this computer chip," she explained. "Use the information to develop a plan and perhaps hypothesize the Doctor's capture before you leave. And please," she met his gaze. More concern than he ever thought possible filled her face. "Do it quickly."
Hammond sighed, "All right, SG-1, I am authorizing a mission to Arnak. You have 24 hours to prepare and learn all you can before reporting to the Gateroom. Are we clear?" He looked from one to the next.
"Yes, sir," they responded together.
Hammond stood. "Dismissed!"
The general escorted the Chancellor back to the gate, while Jack, Carter and Daniel dispersed to do their best to get ready to face a world of giants.