Major General William Kleiner gazed once more at the manila folder on the desk. A single layer of white tape sealed it. Inscribed on the tape was 'eyes only.' The usual open, memorize, and then seal back up. He used his finger to break the seal and opened it.
He'd just returned from a meeting with the Joint Chiefs and the International Committee. They'd told him the assignment, they'd told him that he was in charge. The Atlantis expedition had been an experiment, a test, to see if civilian leadership was up to the task of running an expedition to another galaxy.
While Atlantis had been anything but a failure, the civilian leadership had suffered initially. They had not appointed a true military commander, but a military sub-commander. This time would be different. William knew as much.
The orders were the pencil and paper version of his actual orders. They just confirmed what he'd already been told. He glanced up from the desk and into the eyes of General Hank Landry. "I'm ready Hank." William told Hank.
"Good luck William." Hank replied, shaking his hand. "I don't think I'd be crazy enough to go to another galaxy."
"Duty calls. I'm there to make sure we don't make any new enemies." William said, resealing the folder and placing it under his arm.
"We can't afford any more." Hank said. "With the Ori and the Wraith we've more than got our hands full."
"Like I said, it's my responsibility."
"I have full faith in you. When you find a ZPM, reestablish contact." Hank said, opening the door to the briefing room.
Assembled in the briefing room were Doctor Abigail Beckett, Colonel Jana Foster Mitchell, Major Grant Matthews, and Colonel Sean Ritter. They were going to be the people he had to get used to.
Doctor Beckett would be his civilian co-commander. Her responsibilities were the scientists and civilians. He had the final say in anything. Colonel Jana Foster Mitchell was the leader of his exploration team. She was a newly wed to Colonel Cameron Mitchell. The military had relaxed the frat regs and that had been exposed.
Major Grant Matthews was the leader of the marine contingent of the expedition. Air Force officers, even Special Forces members, just couldn't handle combat the way the marines could. Colonel Sean Ritter was the commander of the Orion, the experimental destroyer slated to carry them to the newly discovered galaxy and space station.
As it was, most of the expedition was currently securing equipment and supplies for the trip. They would be in hyperspace almost a month, escorted by an Asguard battleeship and two Jaffa motherships.
"I'm General William Kleiner." William said, sitting down at the head of the table. "By now you've all had time to familiarize yourself with the operation set for this mission. I take it there is no problems with the chain of command."
"No sir." Grant snapped quickly in marine fashion.
"Then here's the final go code." William took a moment to get everyone's attention. "The Orion will leave in twelve hours. All of you are to meet me on the Bridge at that time. Any questions?"
The was silence around the table, the orders spoke for themselves.
"Dismissed." William said, heading back to prepare for his own departure.
The Orion hung majestically in orbit, Sean took a moment to relish the feeling of empowerment provided by the ship. It was a massive destroyer, nearly twice the size of the Daedalus. He glanced over to his side. The marines had been ready first. Something had struck him as familiar about their leader, he hadn't quite been able to place it yet.
"Major Grant Matthews reporting, sir." Grant said, coming up from the side corridor on the bridge.
Then it all flashed back. Grant Matthews, the best friend from high school. The tough guy who always stood up for the underdog. Sean whirled in his seat, ignoring the usual chaos of the bridge for a moment.
"Grant?" He asked, slightly tentative.
"Sean." The response was quick... followed by a sudden relaxation in his posture. Grant smiled. "Doing well for yourself I see."
"You're not doing half bad either." Sean replied. "I expected you'd never survive your first tour... glad to find out I was wrong."
"Well... we won't have any problems." Grant replied.
"Always a good thing. When I heard I was going to be working with marines I got a big worried."
"Most of them are quite uptight. They're good at what they do though." Grant finished quickly.
"Without a doubt." Sean rose from his seat, giving Grant's hand a shake. "Glad your here Grant."
"I am too... sir." Grant replied with a smirk.
Abigail Beckett came next, walking onto the bridge with a smile on her face, her jacket unzipped. "Doctor Beckett reporting." She said.
"Welcome to the Orion." Sean replied, shaking her hand. "I trust your expedition members are settling in for the long journey."
"All accounted for." Abigail replied.
Jana entered, her hair slightly tussled. It was a well known fact that her and Cameron Mitchell, being married, wouldn't leave each other for an indefinite time without a long goodbye. They'd had twelve hours, enough had been said.
"Colonel Mitchell reporting." Jana said, zipping her jacket up as she did.
"Jana." Sean replied, nodding. They'd worked together back at the SGC before, frequently having been off-world on joint team assignments. Enough to develop a close working friendship.
Now all that they were waiting for the General. Sean flexed his fingers. He'd never worked with William Kleiner before, but he'd heard enough rumors about the down to earth general. He wasn't a person Sean wanted above him in the chain of command... but it wasn't his choice to make.
He turned when the next person entered the Bridge, expecting General Kleiner. He was pleasantly surprised to see it was not the General. Far from it. It was his newly-wed wife. They'd been married only days before beginning preparations for the expedition.
Naomi, or Leone... sometimes he couldn't tell was a Tok'ra. But she had been working with him since he'd taken command of SG-5. Friendship became love and was eventually followed by their marriage.
He was extremely grateful that Jana would be there to watch over Naomi. He'd gotten used to being able to watch over her as her team leader for a long time, now things were different. His change in position allowed them to get married, but it also prevented him from going off-world a lot. His main responsibility was to the Orion.
"Not exactly what I had in mind for a honeymoon." She said quietly, only a very short distance from him.
"I'll make it up to you." Sean replied, equally as quiet. There voices weren't traveling but he knew that the bridge crew knew what they were talking about. It wasn't a secret.
"So when do we launch?"
"As soon as the General gets here."
As if on cue General Kleiner entered the Bridge. The General waited, not saying anything while the Bridge crew continued to work, conversing as they did. Sean squashed his annoyance at the General's behavior.
"General on Deck." Sean said crisply, enough to startle everyone into silence.
"Thank you Colonel." William said, moving to stand at the front of the Bridge. "Doctor Beckett, are the civilians ready."
"Yes sir." Abigail replied.
"Colonel Foster, Major Grant, are the military forces ready?"
"Yes sir." Grant replied, his posture straightening to a rigid stance uniform with marines.
"Yes sir." Jana replied, her posture remaining relaxed.
"Colonel Ritter, it's your ship. Take us out."
Sean sat down and began issuing orders. Their journey had just begun...