Title: An Uncomplicated Choice: Epilogue
Fandom:SG1 & SGA
A/N: NO NAGGING
“We’ve been receiving anomalous readings from the outer solar system for the last six months. There had been no set pattern to when the anomaly would show up on our scanners, no matter what we tried.” Carter reported from her spot at the front of the conference hall. What they were talking about was too big for just the main power players at the SGC to know, this was a planet wide event. “However, last night, the signals resolved themselves into this object.”
The PowerPoint projector had been replaced with a holographic projector and that was now showing a very unknown looking ship. Jack studied the lines again and felt something tickle the back of his brain. He knew that thing from somewhere. Since Sam had no clue, even with the databanks from the Asgard and the SGC, that meant it was something out of his own history. And that left the Ancients.
Taking a deep breath, he let the hawk loose among the pigeons. “Colonel, could this be Ancient?”
His Colonel gave him a sharp look before turning to gaze at the lines of the ship again. “The only examples we had of Ancient ships were the Tria and the Hippaforalkus. Both of which are lost to us. The latter due to a battle with the Wraith and the former just disappeared from the space between the galaxies about a year ago. It’s possible that it is Ancient, but who could be flying it?”
“How about the Atlantis Expedition? Or, as they asked to be called in that last transmission, the Lantean Nation?” Daniel asked as he walked up to the hologram and made it spin on its axis until a discrete white on white symbol was highlighted. The sigil that had decorated everything the Expedition had taken with them was there in bas relief.
The explosion of noise, accusations and demands rocked the room for a few minutes and Jack let it. He was studying the ship and crooked a finger at Sam. “This is the real time view?”
“It has a thirty second lag, sir. Since it is compiled from images sent back by four 302’s , there is the transmission time and then the computers have to assemble of the image. But, yes. This is what the ship looks like.” She answered.
“Thank you, Colonel.” Jack muttered as he sat back in his chair.
“Jack?” Daniel of course. No one else had the moxie to interrupt him these days. Three stars on his shoulders and he was quickly moving towards a fourth. Plus there was the whole reputation of being one of the longest serving members of the SGC, SG1, best friend of the Asgard and who knew what else, he wasn’t keeping track anymore. At any rate, very few people bothered to question him on what he was thinking until he was willing to let them.
“So, I am fairly certain that ship isn’t the Tria. And the Hippopotamus one was destroyed, I remember that report in painful detail,” O’Neill told him, voice cutting through the din. Slowly people got quiet to listen to what he was saying. “That is a whole new ship to us. Not of the same class as the other two Ancient ships we’ve seen. If I had to guess, I would say that she is a warship. One that was put back into service by Atlantis.”
“But how? They didn’t have the expertise to build a ship like that. Maybe they could have gotten the Tria back up to snuff, but even that would have been iffy,” The IOC representative from England burst out.
“McKay had the expertise to build a ship from the keel up, if he had the supplies. He sure had the will,” Bill Lee told the room sourly. “He also had Radek Zelenka, Miko Kusanagi and the rest of his science department. If that group of people couldn’t come up with a ship design, then it would be because they were all dead.”
“Not to mention the degrees of all the military members who stayed behind. Not all of them were in anthropology, Mr. Smith-Watson,” Jack’s other Colonel told him. Mitchell was sprawled out in his chair and paying no attention to the ship hovering over his head. His attention instead, was firmly centered on the men and women making up the audience. “Matter of fact, Sheppard had a Masters degree in Math and another in Aeronautical Engineering. I am betting that somewhere on that ship are whole systems that were designed or redesigned by someone in the military.”
Jack was certain of it, himself. The way the sigil was on the ship, but hidden from casual view, just screamed military thinking to him. So did the color. Familiar military thinking. “So, how about we give them a call? Since they came out of hiding and all?”
The explosion of noise that caused made him grin. He loved getting people to come around to his way of thinking.
“So what do you think is going on down there?”
Rodney looked up from his book. Miko had published the story right before they had left for Earth and he had been wanting to read it for the whole voyage but due to circumstances outside of his control, namely his children, had kept him from it. Now, they were in the crèche, he had no shipboard duties and keeping an eye on Earth was someone else’s job. Eyebrow raised in question, he looked at his spouse.
“I mean, we haven’t talked to them in years, what do you think they are doing?” John asked as he paced the length of their quarters.
“Panicking. The XXX is an unknown class of ship, and even if they recognize it as Ancient, they won’t immediately know that it’s from us.” Rodney told him.
“Point. But will they meet us with weapons drawn or will they try and talk?” Sheppard asked.
“What does XXX say has happened since we dropped the cloak?”
John’s eyes took the faraway look he got every time he talked with the City or their ships. Rodney was going to ignore the twittering thing his spouse was doing. Their kids were on this ship, Elizabeth was on the ship and so were most of their friends. Not exactly something to make one breathe easy, while worrying about what the foreign power that they were visiting was going to do.
“She says that there are four very small, two man ships out there, but their gun ports are cold. All they are doing is transmitting video over herself, so she is spinning lightly, letting them can get all her good angles.” Sheppard reported with a smile.
“I would never have excepted her to be this vain when we installed the AI. I really wouldn’t have.” Rodney muttered. “I am betting the ships are 302’s. They are fast enough to get out here and set up to watch. Did you ever get to fly one?”
“Nope. About the time I would have, we were coming back to Atlantis to save it from the Replicators,” Sheppard admitted.
“Right. Well, they are good ships, but yeah, Jumpers are still better. Even if they have more Apollo class ships, the XXX still outclasses them. The only ship beyond a Wraith Mothership that is in her weight class anymore is an Asgard cruiser and I doubt that they are letting one of those out of their little cloned fingers.” McKay told him.
“Do you think we will be seeing them any time soon?” John asked.
“We can ask O’Neill when we get back in official contact. I know that some of the people who had been on the Daedalus still want to know how the little guy was.” Rodney turned back to his book and in a blatant attempt to derail the questions, raised his reader and turned it back on.
His spouse only chuckled and rested one hand on his shoulder. “I’ll leave you be then. Maybe go bug Jon to see if he has any news.”
“Since he’s acting as Captain this time, it might be a good idea.” McKay muttered before getting sucked back into Miko’s latest masterpiece.
“Unknown Lantean ship, this is General O’Neill of Stargate Command. Welcome home. Wanna come down for beer and steaks?”
Jack ignored the looks he was getting from the various personages surrounding him. No matter who they were, they were in his Mountain and he was not going to greet some of their long lost people at gunpoint.
The voice that came over the radio was vaguely familiar, and Jack made a mental note to ask Walter if he remembered whomever it was. “Is the candle still lit, General?”
Smiling at the code phrase, Jack nodded at the thumbs up Daniel gave him. “Yeah, the candle is still lit. And I’ll be lighting a few more in thanks for you all later.”
“We appreciate that, General,” came a new voice.
Female, cultured and very familiar. Jack closed his eyes and blew out a quiet breath. “Elizabeth. Good to hear from you.”
“General O’Neill. It’s good to hear from you too. Think we can send down some people to talk?”
“Sure. We have some spaces on the Mountain where a Jumper can land if you want,” Jack offered. Despite the SGC’s previous relationship with Atlantis, he didn’t want to push his luck by having the ship enter Earth orbit.
“That works for us,” Elizabeth agreed. “We’ll take a Saturn orbit, if that is okay with everyone down there?”
Jack glanced at Carter and the head of Area 51. Both nodded and General Fredrickson even went so far as to give him a thumbs up. Suppressing a sigh at the people he worked with, Jack passed on the okay to Elizabeth along with the coordinates for landing a Jumper. “We’ll see you all in about four hours?”
“I’ll be sending down some people you know, General. Four hours. XXX out.”
Sighing in relief that the first contact with the Lantean’s had gone so well, O’Neill turned back to look at the room at large. “Looks like we need to get a party organized. Someone tell Walter?”
The laughter that swept the room was bright and full of the knowledge that all was well.
“So, who do you think is going to be getting off that thing?” Daniel asked as he watched the dust kick up from the clearing the Jumper was landing in. There was nothing to see yet, and Jack was completely certain that the little craft was cloaked and had been the entire flight in. He was grateful for the Lantean’s discretion.
“At a guess? Sheppard at least. Possibly McKay. After that, I have no idea. And if they have Weir on there, I am going to wonder about their sanity,” Jack told his lover in Ancient. They had been using the language more and more as a way to talk semi-privately while in the Mountain. There were a few people around who could understand it, but for the most part, it was a safe language to talk in. Goa’uld sure as hell wasn’t with as many people in the Mountain who spoke it.
“This is Sheppard and McKay, Jack. They won’t let her down here until they confirm we aren’t being assholes,” Daniel assured him as he kept his eyes firmly on where the General’s senses were telling him the Ancient ship was.
Jack grunted softly, trying to keep his worry behind his teeth. He was fairly certain that the Powers That Be wouldn’t be too stupid and try anything, but it was better to be safe than sorry at this stage of the game. “I am thinking that we will be seeing their first contact team and a few of the military as well.”
“Agreed. I remember talking to the Pegasus members of Sheppard’s team. They were very astute,” Daniel told him.
“Yeah, they were.”
They both dropped the conversation as the dust finally stopped blowing. When the back hatch of a Jumper appeared out of thin air, Jack stepped forward to do his job as the main greeter and representative of Earth. The things he did to make sure no one died on his watch.
“Colorado Springs has a pound, doesn’t it?” McKay asked as he walked into the conference room attached to the General’s office.
“Yup. Why?” O’Neill asked. He had a hunch that the grouchy Canadian was looking for something. Given that he knew he had lobbied to get his cat as his personal item before being turned down, Jack was fairly certain what the man was looking for had fur.
“Because I managed to convince the xeno-biologists to let us get a few cats and a few dogs,” the scientist told him calmly.
“If you get them from the pound, they’ll be fixed.” Jack told him, voice trailing off as he raised an eyebrow in question.
“I know,” McKay agreed with a shrug. “We can get around that if we want to.”
“I don’t want to know,” Jack muttered. From the way Daniel perked up, the archeologist was interested in whatever McKay was going to use to get around that problem.
“Fine with me,” the grumpy bastard told him with a smug smile.
“What type of cats are you looking for?” Sam asked as she sat down at the table. Jack kept an idle eye on her as she set up her spot at the conference table. From her actions, she wasn’t worried and even seemed relaxed. Taking a deep breath, the General tried to relax. The Expedition weren’t there to make waves, his scientists weren’t expecting to get shown up and Carter wasn’t tense around anyone. All good things.
“Kittens are fun, and I am sure we will get some, but I want a young adult for us. The facility says they have several that fit what I am looking for,” McKay told her as he fussed with his own supplies.
Jack craned his neck slightly to look at the scientists setup. Instead of a legal pad and pen, McKay had a pad that was gently backlit, a stylus and his laptop. The part of him that liked to play with tech toys was itching to try the pad out to see what it could do. The greater part of him that reacted to Ancient tech wanted to touch it.
“We can get you one of your own, General.” Sheppard muttered as he sat down at his spot close to the scientist from Atlantis.
“Sounds good,” Jack told him before he rapped his knuckles against the conference room table. “Ladies and gentlemen, this meeting is called to order.”
The room got quiet and Jack stood up. Even after thirteen years as a General, he still hated making speeches of any type. “Welcome to Stargate Command. It has been a number of years since some of you have been here, but you are welcome all the same. For those of you who are from Earth and have never been here, I hope to hell you have been through our orientation program because we will be putting out a lot of information and I for one, will not stop to explain. Colonel Carter, the floor is yours.”
Jack sat back and ignored Carter’s presentation. The information disseminated was familiar and he let it fade out until it is nothing more than a hum. He was more interested in what their audience was doing. There were a total of twenty people squeezed in at the expanded table itself and half again that many parked in chairs set up against the far wall of the room. Most of those at the table were aware of the program, and he was certain that they could contain the General who had crashed the party. The rest of the audience was a mixed bag of Atlantis folks and more imported assholes. Who were taking notes on the background that his Colonel was passing on. He was going to owe Carter so damn big for doing that. Maybe letting her go enter a space race again?
“This is nothing new to us, Colonel. What we are looking to know is how they got here,” the Chinese representative from the IOC interjected in a lull.
From the sharp glance Carter threw her way, Jack was certain that the Colonel wasn’t happy that someone had interrupted her PowerPoint presentation. Thankfully she wasn’t as wedded to them as Daniel was, but still. Jack relaxed back into his seat and raised an eyebrow at Sheppard, tacitly surrendering the meeting to the younger man. Recognizing the signs, Carter sat back down and dropped the projector remote in front of the Lantean.
The look the former Colonel gave him was faintly peeved and Jack let a small smirk light his eyes before he nodded at the younger man to take the wheel.
Sheppard stood up and swept his glance around the room. Jack could tell by the relaxed line of his shoulders that the other man was used to speaking in front of an audience, no matter how unexpectedly. Given what he remembered about him, Jack had to wonder when he had learned the skill.
“Several years after Atlantis declared independence, we found references to a recycling yard in the Ancient database. The yard had been in place for most of the time the Ancients had been in Pegasus and had been in use until shortly before they abandoned the city. Thanks to an unknown set of engineers and maintenance people who dropped the facility into a proper stasis, we have all the spare parts we need to repair the damage the city’s systems have accumulated.”
The former Colonel, now General took a deep breath and nodded at McKay. The scientist slid an inch thick, pearlescent disk into the center of the conference table. The Lantean General looked at the disk and Jack could feel the instant the little bit of tech came online. The holographic view of a star field circling their heads was a good clue as well. The view rotated and Jack spotted a number of something’s moving across the image. Staring a bit harder, he realized that they were looking at an asteroid belt. One that was a lot larger than the one in the Sol system.
“This is what it looked like when we gated in,” Sheppard told the room. Jack tracked one large asteroid as it moved across the screen. There was nothing to use as a size reference for several long seconds before a jumper flew close to the space rock. O’Neill was well aware of how big the versatile little crafts were and the asteroid made the Ancient machine look like a Lego next to it.
“There is nothing controlling the orbits of anything out there but gravity itself. Even the asteroid that the recycle yards main installation was build in has been free floating for the last ten thousand years. That was found to be a major part of the problem we faced when we started to explore. Any files that we pulled were useless for locations since nothing was where it had been before. The computers on the installation, which we named The Junkyard Dog have given us a treasure trove of engineering specs and repair logs, even if they are useless for inventory location,” Sheppard told the room. “What information that has been deemed applicable to the SGC, will be passed on.”
“How do you know what information is applicable to us?” the uninvited General asked, voice deeply suspicious. Jack kept a lazy eye on him while looking at the Chinese rep. She was interested in the information too.
McKay looked up from his laptop and glared. “It hasn’t been that long ago since Atlantis was a part of the SGC, General. And unless your designs have drastically changed in the last six years, most of my scientists are well acquainted with what you have. What we are giving you will help you advance your ships to help defend Earth.”
“But not enough to attack Atlantis,” the General, Perkins Jack remembered, presses.
The glare the Canadian sends him was positively poisonous and Jack could feel his mouth twitch in a barely suppressed smirk. “No, we aren’t going to give you people anything that will let you out gun us, you moron. So don’t even bother to ask. And before you get your panties in a knot, O’Neill has been asking for weapons since we got back in contact. I like him a hell of a lot more than I like you and I still haven’t given him the big ass space gun he asked for.”
Perkins sat back and Jack made a note on his pad to have Carter and Walter look into the man. He wanted to know how in the hell the man had gotten into the meeting since he hadn’t been on his admittance list. The new President was making some discrete waves as she settled in, and he wanted to make sure she didn’t make the same mistakes as her predecessor had made out of ignorance.
“Thank you, Dr. McKay,” Sheppard told the CSO of Atlantis without a shred of mockery in his voice. “We had a major stroke of luck when one of our Jumpers was in the right place at the right time and saw a flash of light where there shouldn’t have been. The light was caused by a shield being hit by micrometeorites and snapping into full power to keep them from destroying a set of almost functional ships.”
Sheppard looked at the Ancient projector and the scene changed to an obvious recording. The voices on it were unknown to Jack, but he was able to follow the action well enough. The Ancient text at the bottom of the screen was a running update on the Jumpers status, and the General was impressed with how long the little ship had been searching without a break. He was also impressed with the sensor readings on the shield that had protected the ships.
“Are the specs for that shield in the information packet you prepped for us?” Jack asked as the video faded out. He had a few hundred applications for it, if it was.
McKay nodded. “The shield is incredibly useful and when it is on standby, is also incredibly efficient. We’ve also included the stasis field generator we found on the space station. Over the last few years, we’ve tested it to the limits and found that it works well on perishables and supplies that can’t handle absolute zero.”
Carter perked up at that and Jack couldn’t blame her. Their ships were great at getting supplies to the various bases scattered throughout the galaxy, but very few of the supplies were fresh due to the difficulty of shipping them. Shipping them through the stargate, while feasible, was still expensive in terms of energy used on the sending end. Thus a stasis field that could keep food fresh was a godsend. Depending on how it could be structured, there was a lot that they could do with it.
“What about weapons?”
Jack looked over at the wall of spectators and suppressed the urge to growl. Tracking the voice, he saw that it was one of the men who had come with the party crasher. “Colonel, that isn’t something we are going to discuss at this time.”
“But, sir!” the Colonel tried to protest after a quick glance at his boss.
“Last I knew, Colonel, when a three-star General tells you to drop something, you did,” observed a voice to his right. Jack sat back and watched as Danny flipped a page in the book he had been given by McKay.
The Colonel turned an interesting shade of puce and Jack felt his mouth twitch. Daniel rarely got to play with morons anymore and he was perfectly willing to let him have this one. When the moron in question bristled at how the good doctor was ignoring him, Jack snorted out a quiet laugh. From the tilt of his lovers head, he knew his slip had been heard.
“Doctor, I know you are an academic, but even you must understand that we need weapons to fight our enemies out there. Ones like the Lucien Alliance, the remnants of the System Lords or even the dregs of the Ori fleet,” the Colonel informed Jackson, obviously trying to inform the ignorant.
“Given that I’ve been on the front lines of this war since before there was an SGC and you only found out about the program a month ago, I would really suggest that you don’t try to tell me what we need,” Daniel’s voice was still mild, but every experienced SGC hand winced. Dr. Jackson was not one to be screwed with. He wasn’t quite as antiwar as he had been when Jack had first met him, but the anthropologist rarely reached for a gun first. But when he did, he was very certain it was needed. “Earth and the SGC have done very well with what we’ve been given. If the Lanteans are willing to give us weapons in this fight, fine. But we aren’t in a position to demand a damn thing, Colonel. And I would suggest that you remember that.”