StarGate Command, Earth
Level 27, General O’Neill’s Office
Despite all protestations to the contrary, Jack O’Neill knew the value of paperwork and routinely managed to get his daily dose of it done and done on time. He had just never found a way to actually enjoy the task. So when Walter interrupted his sixth straight hour of toiling on the paperwork monster, he was a very, very grateful man. “General O’Neill, sir. We are receiving an emergency update from the Cerberus system. From the array that we think is closest to the Ori galaxy.”
Pen dropped on top of some god-awful piece of boring Pentagon-issued drivel, Jack abandoned his office without a second thought. Paperwork could wait, Cerberus was their galactic early warning slash long distance communications array and it had been stubbornly silent for the last year and a half. Ever since Atlantis had vanished, in fact. Now it was talking to them outside of the occasional status checks, and from the excitement in Walter’s voice, it wasn’t because the damn thing had broken again.
A final spin around the spiral staircase connecting his briefing room to the operations room on level 28 and he was moving quickly to look over everyone’s shoulders. It only took him moments to absorb what the screens were telling him, and Jack had to grip the back of a chair to keep his balance. There was an Ori battle cruiser on its way into the Milky Way galaxy and it had just pinged Cerberus with Col. Samantha Carter’s IDC. It was in fact, the code that Jack himself had given her to use in case she was ever out of touch and had to run to the fallback position they had set up.
“Walter, relay this message, in text, to Cerberus for immediate dispersal: Thera, it’s Jonah. Is it still your honor to serve?”
Fingers moving across the keyboard, Walter typed up the requested message and then paused to let O’Neill confirm it was correct, “Sir, if you would confirm this please?”
“That would be it, Walter,” and telegraphing his approval with a light grip on his aide de camp’s shoulder, Jack nodded for it to be sent. And then waited. No matter how advanced Tau’ri technology had gotten, there was still a lag in communications when you were most of a galaxy away from your target, unless of course, you used a Stargate, but they hadn’t outfitted the platforms with one. When the wait passed ten minutes, and he couldn’t figure out a way to hover without looking like he was hovering, Jack went back to his office and his never ending paper chase. Which had apparently spawned while he was gone because there were more reports waiting to ambush him in his inbox now.
He had managed to immerse himself enough in what he was reading to be startled when Walter burst into his office waiving a piece of paper like it was the answer to everything in the universe, “Sir! We have a response!”
“From your yelling, I never would have guessed Walter, gimme that!” Jack demanded, pen once again dropped onto some random spot on his overfull desk.
With a flourish worthy of any 19th century butler, the paper in question was handed over. Under all the official headers that denoted that the message was coming from such and such a quadrant and thus was super duper TOP SECRET were three important sentences:
No, it is not our honor to serve. Karlin says to change the sheets on the bed, he’s tired. Tor wants to know what’s for dinner?
Heart lighter than it had been in many months, Jack O’Neill sat back in his chair and laughed. “Pass the news Walter and put in an order for the good coffee, SG1 is coming home!”
Washington DC, Earth
The White House, Oval Office
The red phone on his desk was, most of the time, not his friend. Most of the time the phone, and the people it connected him too, were his biggest headaches after Congress and the press. The phone brought him news and hot button situations from around the world that were bad, if not outright horrifying in their scope. So when it rang, Baqer Omidifar looked at it with a frown. Thankfully some smart soul had equipped his version of the phone with caller ID and it was currently reading ‘Project BlueBook’. Feeling a smile cross his face, Baqer picked up his extension, “General O’Neill, to what do I owe the honor of your call?”
Listening to the happy voice on the other end of his phone, the President realized that he actually looked forward to talking to the other man. He was smart, sarcastic, cunning, very, very aware of the people around him and used humor as both a weapon and a shield depending on the situation. During the last high level meeting of his Generals about the various hotspots around the globe, O’Neill had managed to prick and goad every single one of the other Generals into better and more effective moods, just by turning their words a bit sideways and asking ‘dumb’ questions. The tactic had made the other men pause and actually think instead of react blindly to what they were hearing, leading to a more even handed tone to the decisions they had produced. If O’Neill wasn’t so damn effective where he was, Baqer knew he would have tried to get the man a post somewhere in his Cabinet, if only so he could have someone to laugh with at some of the more boring functions.
“That is excellent news! Let me know when they are cleared because I want to meet them. Where are you planning on meeting them?” he asked. When the answer came back as one of the abandoned Beta sites Baqer frowned slightly, but O’Neill quickly explained his reasoning, and after all, he was the General, Baqer was just the President in this case. It all sounded good and what mattered was that O’Neill thought it was safe.
“I will leave the whole thing in your hands then, General. How is everyone on base handling the news?” Baqer was genuinely curious to find out how the rank and file of the SGC had reacted to the news. From everything that O’Neill was reporting, the news had been met with a lot of relief and outright cheers. Always a good thing. Report complete, O’Neill signed off and Baqer slowly put the handset of his red phone back on its cradle. For today at least, his headache had brought him some good news. With a lighter heart, he turned back to his paperwork. Maybe he could get it all finished in time to eat dinner with his family.
Defunct Beta Site
Jack felt the faint slurp of whatever made up the center stuff in the StarGate as he walked out of it. The Halifax had deposited the ‘Gate on P3X-477 in the middle of a large section of fairly flat grasslands that were green with what he had been told were the spring rains. SG teams 2 through 12 were spread out ahead of him in a standard recon pattern and towering overhead was the bulk of an Ori battle cruiser, its white hull glinting orange in the dawn light. Jack stepped off the plinth supporting the ‘Gate and stared up at the enemy ship for a moment before sliding on one of his many sets of sunglasses.
The ship was an impressive sight in and of itself, being huge, white and weirdly donut shaped. But what was possibly even more impressive was how SG1 had gotten it there. Through many different little verbal cues, Carter had assured him, and in turn his bosses, that no one aboard the ship were Priors. And that could only mean that SG1 had figured out a way to run the ship without one at the helm. If he hadn’t had years and years of experience at reading his teammates when they were trying to bluff him, he might have been worried, but the wonder twins had yet to pull a trick this big on him without some form of obvious tell. Of which there had been none, so he wasn’t worried. Really.
With a slight shake of his head to throw off his inner skeptic, Jack raised the radio he had brought with him to his lips and called out, “Hey kids! Time to come home! I’ve got an apple pie waiting for you.”
Eyes straining to see what was if there was any movement from the Ori ship, Jack moved his gaze up and down the section in front of him and kept an ear tuned to the rest of the observers. The engineers he had consulted had given him some idea of where the personnel ramp was on the damn thing and he had positioned himself carefully. It took a long, tense five minutes before there was any motion from the ship and then the ramp started to descend, just where the engineers said it was. The area at the top of the ramp was still in shadow, so pulling off his sunglasses, he looked up. He was just close enough to see who was who when five figures started down the ramp, every one of them the color they should be and not the ashy, washed out look of a Prior. Carter, Teal’c, Vala, Mitchell and finally, Daniel. Who said that code phrases had to be weird or unusual? Sometimes normal stuff worked just fine.