Part Two: Coming to Terms
"Tell me how this happened?"
Laura Roslin, President of the Twelve Colonies received Admiral Adama in her office aboard Colonial One. After the disastrous presidency of Gaius Baltar on New Caprica, the Council of Twelve unanimously impeached him. Elections were held and Laura Roslin took office again.
"Fate," Adama murmured.
"It's too good to be true." Both leaders understood each other perfectly.
"Yes, Madame President," Adama replied. "We need this respite. We need to re-supply. We need to repair the damage to all ships and all systems. Most of all, we need to heal."
"With a speech like that, I'm surprised you don't run for office, Admiral," Roslin said in soft tones with a steely look in her eyes. "Anyway, I'm going to use it in mine. But first things first," the President crooned. "If they are so powerful, will they let us leave or do we have to slip away in the night like thieves?"
"Madame President, where would we go that they couldn't find us? We don't know how they did it this time. We jumped six times. There is no way they could have anticipated where we went. I don't know how to evade people like that. No one does."
"Then find out, Admiral. It's a military matter. That's your job as you are so fond of telling me. I want to know that we can cut and run if we have to without getting caught." Roslin swiveled to look out her window. "There lies the Sirens' Song, Admiral. The irresistible call no sailor can withstand." Swiveling back to face him, she added "and everyone one of them ends up on the rocks, shipwrecked."
"Possibly, and we have no way of knowing until we go."
"Oh, we know, Admiral, don't we? Once our people taste luxury again, they won't trade it for the hardships and the uncertainty. We saw them do it on New Caprica. And that was far worse than a ready made city. They'll do it again in a heartbeat once they see that." She indicated what was out the window.
"We have a window of opportunity. They will not allow us to disembark en masse. They want to do a medical check of each person. And they want to know who each person is before they grant sanctuary."
"What do they intend to do with the ones they don't grant sanctuary?"
In the Atlantis board room, the briefing began with the arrival of Richard Woolsey, the American Representative to the International Oversight Agency (IOA). The senior Atlantis staff attended along with some other representatives from Earth. Present were Major General Jack O'Neill, Atlantis Base Commander; Dr. Elizabeth Weir, the IOA Civilian head reporting to O'Neill; Colonel Caldwell, Commander of the Daedalus; Drs. Rodney McKay, Daniel Jackson, Carson Beckett, and Radek Zelenka; Teyla Emmagen, leader of the Athosian population; Colonels John Sheppard, Cameron Mitchell, and Samantha Carter; and Russian Commander Dmitri Orlov, Commander of the Borodino a Daedalus-class ship. O'Neill called the meeting to order. Woolsey began.
"The IOA and the Joint Chiefs agree, General." Richard Woolsey was good at being the bearer of bad news. "You cannot allow those people to settle in Atlantis."
"But Mr. Woolsey, we have already offered them sanctuary here," Daniel huffed. "Do you have any idea...?"
"Yes, yes, I do, Dr. Jackson. In fact, I said as much. But the current Administration regards Atlantis to be the crown jewel in the whole Stargate Program. I am here to tell you that nothing, absolutely nothing, will be allowed to jeopardize our hold on this treasure." Woolsey looked around at the astonished faces.
"Crown jewel," Jack narrowed his eyes?
"General, you and I know what happened when Ancients we recovered after ten millennia returned to this city. They threw us out. The result was our capture by the Human Form Replicators which call themselves the Asurans. That the city was liberated mostly intact was a miracle." Woolsey looked at each and every person around the briefing table. "That can never be allowed to happen again."
"So what do those fine folks on Earth want us to do, yank out the welcome mat from under them?"
"They are afraid that if enough of the Colonials have the Ancient genes or worse are Ancients, they will be in a position to overrun our operations and take over the city. We've been in that position before when we were too eager to help others before we knew who they really were or what their intentions could be."
"At least the IOA concedes these are 'people.' I wasn't sure," Daniel snarked back.
"Dr. Jackson, you of all people must realize how dangerous it would be to have Ancients back in the city. These people are traumatized in the extreme. Traumatized Ancients or even people with the Ancient genes who can operate the systems here are a threat."
"Daniel, Mr. Woolsey does have a point," Sam agreed. She was after all a Lt. Colonel in the military. "We don't know how far along they may be towards Ascension. We can't afford to have uncontrolled situations develop with them getting special abilities we can't control."
"Thank you, Colonel Carter." Woolsey took up the attack again. "I am here to give you the rules of engagement as stipulated by the President and agreed by the IOA."
Everyone opened their folders provided for the meeting. The bullet point summary provided the cover for the text.
"First, they must be removed to a suitable planet where they can be quarantined. We recommend Arula only 5 light years from here. The Wraith recently culled the planet, which is no longer in a sector of their activities. There is an infrastructure, which can provide housing, sanitation to some degree, and a potable water supply. The fields were planted before the culling and are approaching maturity. And the planet has a Stargate."
"I know that one," Lt. Colonel John Sheppard remarked. "It was one of the more advanced places we've ever found."
"Right, they had electricity and plumbing as I recall," Colonel Steven Caldwell added. "But it was a mess after the Wraith got through with it."
"Their level of development is simple enough that we could fix it," Dr. Rodney McKay concluded. "We would need supplies and some technicians. Thor said they would provide transportation for supplies. We could have it up and running in a few weeks, minimally running."
"My point exactly," Woolsey commented. "That is an adequate venue for processing them and containing them without risking this city. The IOA will send additional medical personnel and supplies to screen them."
"Assuming they will wait that long," Dr. Weir added worried. "They are anxious to get off those ships. I know I would be."
"We could use those ships to defend Atlantis, Dick," Jack added testily. "Didn't any of those brain dead sycophants think of that?"
"We have found some interesting technology on board their ships which suggest a greater capability than those ships actually have." Sam turned to O'Neill, "Sir, we need to get access to their data. The schematics of those ships are available from Thor's scans. But I believe that they have a wealth of data on more advanced ship designs and on their enemy's very advanced designs. Like the Wraith, the Cylons use organic materials to construct their ships as well as themselves."
"Why wouldn't they build a ship that's better than that thing?" Rodney gave a look at Sam all peeved knowing he had the answer. "What no one knows? I'll tell you, because they didn't want to do it. I found out they did it to counteract Cylon viruses from being uploaded into the computers. Something to think about with the problems we have with the Asurans."
"So they do have something to offer," Jack doodled. "Nice to know, Good work Carter."
"McKay, can we retrofit their ships to be worthwhile," Woolsey asked?"
"We can re-supply their armaments. If we have some help, yes we can redesign some of their equipment to take ours. We need the data but we can retrofit their ships depending on what is approved by the Pentagon."
"What about shields, Carter," Jack asked?
"Sure if Thor is willing. But even so, just having more ships for search and rescue or planting mines or other such tasks increases our effectiveness." Carter looked at Woolsey. "Mr. Woolsey, their jump technology is different than opening a hyperspace window. That means it is unlikely the Wraith can follow them into the hyperspace corridor after them. In fact if I need to attack a Hive and retreat, I would do it in their ships. We need to investigate whether Ancient technology can track them. Because if we can't it is probable the Wraith can't either. But we don't know yet."
"The Wraith have to be in range to track anything," Sheppard explained. "If we can determine whether the Colonials can target their jumps to just outside the Wraith's ability to scan or track hyperspace activity, then we can lay some traps."
"Sir, if the opponents expect what they know we can do, and now we can do something different we have an advantage at least once if not a couple of times. These ships can jump without traveling through hyperspace. That's a strategic advantage. We don't need a home run. We need a couple of single base hits, a couple of sacrifice flies, and a bunt to win the game," Caldwell weighed in. "If they can just do some local hauling it helps free up our other ships for military defense. We won't have to use Puddle Jumpers to haul freight. Plus, they can shuttle people before the fighting starts. We can track the Wraith, so we have some early warning."
"Actually, we can sacrifice one of their smaller ships to send an automated jump next to a Hive Ship with naquadria enhanced nukes," Carter replied. "Nothing can survive a big payload like that or even two ships for a high enough value target."
"Even so, they are going to get upset." Dr. Weir stated. "We already told them they had to pass medical checks. They aren't happy that our doctors are going to search them. Now you want to blow up their ships?"
"We are planning negotiations. So we have to figure out what our approach should be." Mr. Woolsey explained.
"They are planning to live here." Jack frowned. "What approach would you recommend to tell them they aren't welcome anymore?"
"We have to make the price too high," said Woolsey.
"What are you saying, Dick?" Jack was losing patience.
"We make it appear that they would lose their identities by assimilating with us."
"We told them we have many different groups. We are composed of many nations right here. How do you suppose you can get away with that?"
"You make them swear allegiance to the Earth Alliance. Tell them that they are now part of our military."
"I think they might be willing to conduct joint operations, Dick. Admiral Adama and I have already discussed the possibility."
"Well, I'm not sure we are ready for that. At least have them swear allegiance to Earth before we go running off on operations and certainly before their warships can appear anywhere in the vicinity of Earth. They have to conform to our chain of command."
Jack continued to doodle with deceptive calm, "Didn't we just get through saying those ships could come in handy in case the Wraith attack? Making them swear to anything will just piss them off when they are already willing to work with us."
"Maybe that's a good thing, General," said Caldwell. "We can use it to make them uncomfortable."
"General," Dr. Weir interjected, "we can also tell them that they must accept our laws and traditions. In some sense, we need to do that anyway. If we have different law codes and jurisdictions it will start conflicts immediately. This suggestion can work for us to disturb them."
"I can't believe you are good with this, Dr. Weir," Jack said softly.
"I have met with their leaders several times now. They are one paranoid bunch. I've met some paranoid folks in my time. These are some of the worst. They see Cylons under their beds. The Colonials are so afraid of everything, it will be difficult for them to let go of their fears. If we don't standardize the rules, it will be a continual struggle to keep the peace between us. Besides, we need time to get to know one another before we join up."
"We should take advantage of this, to make them want to be separate," Woolsey concluded. "If we do this right, they will be clamoring for their own planet, where we can contain them. We don't show them how to work the Stargate for a while. We can't let news of Atlantis' existence reach the Wraith."
"We should be able to observe their self-governance in action before we agree to an exchange of ambassadors." Dr. Weir continued on that thought. "It's one thing to have their representatives in Atlantis. Earth is a different matter."
"Let the burden of proof be on them to prove that they are civilized," Colonel Caldwell summarized. "I wouldn't let anyone near Earth unless we knew they subscribed to our moral values. Would you allow North Korea to march their armored divisions into Washington without checking that they are not going to start firing?"
"Well we are not talking about them going to Earth in their ships, Caldwell," Jack said.
"It's not any different here, sir. They can't just barge in here just because they want to," Caldwell insisted. "They can do some serious damage with the nukes they have and their Vipers."
"Our shields can handle what they have," Dr. McKay huffed.
"Yes, but what about the Athosians who live on the mainland, Dr. McKay?" Teyla got angry. "I have seen the power of this explosion. It would wipe out my people. You are not suggesting…"
"No of course not, Teyla," Dr. Weir interrupted.
"And they have dissidents I hear," Colonel Mitchell added. "I've been talking to Starbuck. It seems they aren't so unified after all. Their vice-president is a convicted terrorist who has a new lease on life. He was on the prison ship when the disaster happened. In the chaos, he managed to get himself elected to their governing body and later to the vice-presidency."
"A terrorist," several voices asked at once?
"Yes, it seems this Tom Zarek was convicted to serve 20 years for bombing a populated place. I don't have all the details. But Starbuck hates him. She says he incites trouble to get what he wants. According to her, he has a whole network."
"Oh," Jack too casually inquired?
"Sir, it was in my memo on dissidents and criminals among them."
"Sir, you did read my memo?"
"I may have skimmed it."
All eyes stared at Jack. He shrugged. "So we have factions. What else?"
"Well, their religious leaders want to negotiate behind the backs of their political leaders," Daniel offered.
"You didn't tell me that, Daniel."
"It was in my memo, Jack."
"You didn't read it?"
"My assistant condenses these things into one briefing. I don't know whose information it is. I just get the summary. If I want more, I read it."
"You didn't read it! I spent a lot of time condensing it down to just the priority items as you keep asking me to do," Daniel looked especially peeved.
"Daniel, go to your happy place," Jack admonished. "I'll read it."
"There is a huge religious issue concerning Earth. They insist they have to go there. And they are claiming we won't let them go because we aren't really from Earth." Daniel pursed his lips and pushed his glasses back up his nose.
"General," Dr. Weir decided he didn't know about the religious issues. They have a religious text that talks about Earth as their Thirteenth Colony."
"THEIR 13th colony," Jack murmured?
"If you want to unnerve that segment, then introduce the concept of freedom of religion during the negotiations. They are singularly closed minded." Woolsey suggested. "They want to be sure that their religion is not overwhelmed and no indoctrination will be permitted from our religious groups."
"Sir," Carter asked for the floor. "They actually still worship the ancient Greek deities and pray to idols."
"What?" Jack was amazed.
"I saw one of them taking out a personal set of images. He set them out to pray to them," Carter added. "I asked Starbuck what they were. She said that those were the Deities. She said she prayed to Ares and Athena the gods of war along with Artemis, the huntress."
"Well there's a difference between looking at images to focus your thoughts and actually believing the items are the gods themselves," Daniel objected. "We have religions on Earth that put out statues to help focus the thoughts of those praying."
"No, I asked her. She said that each idol had the essence of the gods within."
"Wow. Oy," went the groans around the table.
"Jack," continued Daniel, "according to their religious texts, they believe that everything that will happen has already happened before and will repeat again and again."
"And, so, therefore, what?"
"Therefore it is pre-ordained that they must go to Earth."
Sighs escaped from around the table.
On the Galactica, President Roslin called a meeting with the Council of Twelve, Admiral Adama, and his senior staff. The subject was obvious. A new direction had to be established. Some consensus would be necessary to present a united front to these aliens. Adama and Roslin knew about the separate approaches made to the Atlantis aliens. It had to end.
"I've called you here because we are stabbing ourselves in the foot even before negotiations can commence," President Roslin gave each person a steely look. "We have let them know how factionalized we are. You have made us look weak at a time we can least afford it. It has to stop. Therefore I am issuing an executive order. All negotiations proceed from my office and nowhere else."
"I want each one of you to listen to what we have determined so far. After this briefing, you will understand why we cannot appear to be weak. Now, open your folders," Adama instructed.
The bullet point summary covered the text. Everyone took a few minutes to read through the summary. Groans could be heard as each one internalized the tremendous capabilities of their 'saviors.'
"If all this is true, we don't stand a chance," the Representative from Virgon said softly. "What did you have in mind? Obviously, you have a plan or you would not call this meeting and tell us all this."
We are dealing with a totally militarized command and top down totalitarian control society," stated Roslin. "They do not have elected bodies. Major General O'Neill rules personally. They permit discussions only within limited options as stipulated by their military leader. Dissent is tolerated only from very few handpicked individuals who are chosen at the commander's whim. We have to recognize that they have very different values. You need to realize what we face before we can make any decisions."
"We have learned that their religious beliefs are as rigidly controlled as their social structure. Their single religious deity forbids anything that is perceived as a competition. Worship of individual gods is frowned upon and regarded as apostasy. They cannot help themselves putting a continuous stream of references into their everyday speech. They do not recognize anyone else's gods. In fact, they are bound and determined to correct anyone who may be going astray from their single religious deity. It is only a matter of time before coordinated proselytizing efforts begin."
"That is terrible, Madame President," said Cassandra the new Priestess. "The Lords of Kobol protect us."
"So say we all."
"So say we all."
"We have noticed that their familial relationships are also very strange. While the male to female ratio is close to one to one, no nuclear family structure has been detected in the city. In fact we can not detect any children there. The relationships between the sexes are as rigidly regulated as all the other aspects of their lives. The hierarchy puts very strict restrictions on who can and cannot pair up."
"That's just not natural," murmured the Council member from Caprica. Heads bobbed in agreement.
"Food and services to the base are provided by a subservient people on the mainland. They are deliberately kept in pre-industrial conditions. And their approach to modern knowledge, education, and military equipment is curtailed. The most probably reason is because their non-conformist religious beliefs. They are ruled by a charismatic leader who holds sway over the populace. Ostensibly, the exchange is that she makes the populace do what the city requires and they keep her in power. She consorts with the higher caste people at the base in exchange for her own comforts."
"Are they practicing slavery," asked Apollo in disgust?
"If not slavery, then something very close to it by all accounts," said one of Adama's senior staff.
"I don't agree," spoke up the Admiral. "I have spent some considerable time one on one with O'Neill. He seems to be a very decent guy. We must be misunderstanding something."
"Admiral, surely you don't deny the distinct impression that they are hiding something big?
"I agree with that assessment. But we don't know what or even if it has to do with military security or just caution. You are right; we have to find out more before we can commit to these folks."
"Starbuck's reports along with your own senior staff indicate their relationship to their major power centers and Earth are severely edited and hidden from us. If there are other species such as the Wraith, there must be more. Their description of the political situation in this galaxy is woefully inadequate. Their goal seems to be to hide the truth."
"O'Neill has told me about a race called the 'Jaffa,' but he says they are not indigenous to this galaxy. He says their leader is his very good friend. He wanted to see how I would react. I guess he was satisfied enough that he also spoke of a peaceful group called the 'Nox,' who also don't live here. He spoke warmly of them and the friendship they have with them. With respect, ma'am, talk to the man, you'll get the impression he's cautious, not duplicitous."
"Admiral, may I remind you they do not appear to have respect or any appreciation of our society, our democratic institutions, or our religious beliefs. They do not trust us. Based on all this we are not inclined to trust them with the future of our people."
"Madame President," Adama began respectfully. She was playing the democracy card again. "We cannot escape these people. With their capabilities, they can find us anywhere. A military solution is not an option. We cannot withstand them in battle."
"Then, Admiral, we have to determine how to put safeguards around ourselves. What are our options? What do we need?"
"Madame President, we need everything. We are so low on ordnance; I doubt we could defend ourselves against someone on our own level. We are low on all supplies. Let's agree that the situation is desperate."
Heads nodded. Murmurs of agreement passed around the table.
"Then, we have to decide if this is a permanent base or is it just a re-supply stop? If it is a temporary base, is it short term with a longer term base which they will choose for us? Or is it a long term temporary base?"
"Our first priority is to get re-supplied and make repairs," answered Adama.
"Fine, we have to know what to decide upon, so, temporary or permanent?"
"I move that this is temporary," spoke one of the Council of Twelve. They took a vote and agreed on temporary.
"Long or short term?"
"It really depends on how long it takes to make repairs," answered Adama. "Best guess at least six months to a year. To do it properly, longer."
"We have to decide if our political situation is stable enough to survive for a year."
"We have to determine what the price for all this assistance is going to cost," added another Council member.
"They say they want knowledge," said Apollo.
"Even if we give them our entire database, they can't utilize it for years," the financial aide stipulated. "The start up times and manufacturing problems they face mean they will want something up front. We don't have anything. So what do we trade? How do we set up a system of exchange? I'm sorry; we can't give them our entire database."
"We should have access to theirs as well," Roslin added. "We need to be granted credit and keep a record of our transactions. Then we need to figure out how we value whatever it is we want to trade whether it be our labor or personal goods."
"We have to find out what they need," said Starbuck.
"More to the point, what do we need to rebuild the ships? Are our ships so damaged we are forced to settle down with them, Admiral?"
"What choice do we have?" Adama spoke with hard sad tones. "I'll repeat this again. They are so advanced that they can find us anywhere and did."
"So either we become indispensable to them," said Roslin, "so we can negotiate better situations; or, we make such a nuisance of ourselves and a drain on their resources that they want to be rid of us."
"We have to determine their vulnerabilities." Apollo thought a moment more and added, "We also need to determine their resources. For that we need a coordinated intelligence gathering operation."
"We need to know who their friends and enemies are." Roslin looked directly at Adama. "People this arrogant must have made some enemies. We need to find out if there is anyone strong enough to stand up to these people and whether or not we want to join up with them or use them to manipulate a solution."
"That makes sense, ma'am," Adama sighed. "I'll see if I can find out."
"Fine, we have an external plan. So now we have to deal with internal issues." Roslin directed everyone to that section of the briefing folder. "Under which conditions can we allow our people to come into contact with the aliens?"
"Which portion of this briefing is classified?" Apollo realized that the civilians were not accustomed to such matters.
"Most of it for now," replied his father. "We don't need to poison the atmosphere before we have to."
"We must calm our own people. They can not get off these ships before they pass medical quarantine," the Doctor said. "This requirement is not negotiable. We would do the same thing." Heads nodded. Some people shrugged.
"We have to consider taking the city," Roslin's eyes grew hard. "I learned my lessons on New Caprica. Draw up contingency plans. If we can get into their systems we can overwhelm them by sheer numbers in an emergency."
"We must organize enough to do that," said Vice-President Tom Zarek. "We must find people willing to pretend to collaborate with them as we had pretenders among the Cylon administration. Lt. Gaeta did everyone the greatest service providing copies of plans and intelligence."
Zarek nodded in appreciation to Lt. Gaeta, who glowed. So many people had given him a hard time after the rescue for being Baltar's right hand. In actuality, he had been a key element of the resistance passing on vital information straight from the President's desk.
"We need more. We need a whole secret society that can find out their secrets and enable us to discover a defense. We need every ounce of intelligence on this galaxy and how they access Earth."
"We need to determine how they access Earth from another galaxy," Apollo added. "Make that a priority. If we can do it too, we may be able to contact Earth leaders who may not be aware of this secret program. They may be willing to grant us sanctuary if they knew what's going on out here."
"Pillow talk is a very effective tool," Zarek stated simply and made some notes. He hadn't collaborated with the Cylons on New Caprica and so wasn't impeached along with Baltar. At the execution pit, he and Roslin came to a meeting of the minds. Zarek was competitive with Roslin but he respected her. In fact, he abdicated in her favor allowing elections to ratify her presidency. In return, he was her V.P.
Roslin banged her hand on the table startling everyone. "Only those authorized by my office are to engage in these activities. The answer to all inquiries is 'speak to the President.' Don't make me look like a fool going behind my back. And Mr. Zarek, whatever incidents of discontent are threatening our united front, I am holding you responsible. Sit on them." Roslin gave him a stern ferocious look.
"I resent the implication, Madam President. I am the Vice-President and,"
"Feeling guilty, Tom?"
"No, no of course not, why should I?" He huffed.
Roslin gave him a look and proceeded. She knew Zarek was up to his old tricks in new directions.
"These people are some kind of totalitarian military society. That they could keep such a monumental secret and devote the resources of Earth to secret military ventures is appalling. They seem polite enough on the surface, but they act like fascists. Their military runs the civilian affairs, which is against everything we believe. We must prepare to resist them in every way we did the Cylons, only this time we've had practice."
"In other words, keep smiling, get what we can, find out all we can, then we can plan a proper resistance." Adama looked at his staff. "Each one of you knows what is at stake.
"We need to be saved from our saviors. Play your part," ordered Roslin. "They are hiding something, something big. I feel it in my bones."
"I look fat," Major General Jack O'Neill concluded as he stood sideways in his mirror.
"Sir, you look fine," assured Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter. "Good as ever."
Jack gave a small rueful smile.
"You look stunning, Colonel."
"Is that ANOTHER decoration I see, hmmm?"
"Oh, just a little thing I picked up along the way." She grinned back.
"Here, allow me," Jack reached out to straighten the blue ribbon with the medallion hanging from her neck. It didn't really need adjustment. Jack was delighted she had been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, America's highest and rarest honor for people who have served in the Armed Forces. In his opinion, it was about damn time too.
"We are going to be late."
"We can't be late. Nothing happens until I get there."
Sam took in the fine figure of the Military Commander of Atlantis Base. He was always in form. A natural metabolism that efficiently utilized his calories helped. The man aged well, too well for any mere mortal. He was like fine wine, only getting better with time. His silver hair and taut skin did not show his 55 yrs. With all the times he had been in the Sarcophagus, most of his ailments had been alleviated. The rest were fixed by his good buddy, Thor-Supreme Commander of the Asgaard Fleet.
Jack shrugged and put on his dress blue coat and tie. He had sent for Carter to have a look at the Colonial's technology. It was an excuse. McKay was competent enough. Yet, she should be here considering she had saved his ass more times than he could count... and came up with the McKay-Carter Gate String. To construct the Gate String, the Daedalus collected unused Stargates to string them between the two galaxies. In the center, a hub allowed a Puddle Jumper transport to switch between galaxy specific Stargates. Once at the hub, the travelers would exit one galaxy's type of Stargates and begin the journey again in another galaxy's Stargate.
Oh well, one reason or another, O'Neill decided. I'm a two star general and so I can have my way on this.
Teal'c would be introduced another time so as not to spook the Colonials. They were plenty spooked already. One more look for good measure and he strode out of his quarters to deal with another day of problems in the Pegasus Galaxy and politics back on Earth.
At least I am not stuck in Washington behind a desk. That sucked!
Reaching the Control Room, the military personnel came to attention. The civilians simply greeted him. He spent most of his time with them and knew each one well. O'Neill didn't like his desk in Atlantis any more than he had any other desk, spending as little time behind it as possible.
"At ease," O'Neill commanded. The troops went back to what they had been doing. "Ready for the big day, people?"
"What big day would that be, Jack?"
Daniel smirked. He loved to jerk Jack's chain. Dr. Daniel Jackson had come into his own over these many years. Long past were the days of uncertainty and blissful ignorance. He had seen too much and done too much. In fact, Daniel was a leader in his own right now. Though not military, everyone from Major down deferred to him in battle if a senior officer was not available. The archaeologist had commanded space ships including the Odyssey in battle and made his mark. Today, Jack needed him for his diplomatic skills.
Diplomacy was really the purview of Dr. Elizabeth Weir, the civilian head of the Atlantis Expedition. The IOA, a multinational oversight agency funded the Expedition for the most part. She was the IOA's choice for their representative, approved by the President of the United States (POTUS). Although she ran the civilian operations in Atlantis, for military matters she had to defer to General O'Neill. And ultimately, he was here because of the military necessities. Whatever the reasons for the IOA funding and oversight, effectively, Jack was in charge.
For the ceremonies and negotiations, Jack needed Daniel for internal politics and as his aide de camp. Daniel knew he had to keep Jack from saying something terribly undiplomatic. Jack did not suffer fools gladly. So, Daniel was there to smooth the wrinkles of the General's gruff and direct speech. It was a given that that's how things worked.
Today of all days, Jack depended on Daniel and Dr. Weir to make sure things didn't get off track. He didn't need any unfortunate incidents. First contact was problematic at best. Rescuing over 40,000 refugees had those folks spooked and the folks back home frantic. In the center of the whole mess stood a very calm man about six feet two in the dress blues of a Major General of the United States Air Force. And that was freaking out the members of the Gate Alliance back on Earth.
So the IOA rushed to send Richard Woolsey as their representative until a delegation could be put together. In other words, they were too frightened to come before the situation was secured. His appointment was redundant because Dr. Weir was appointed by the IOA. What the IOA failed to appreciate was that the three top people greeting the new aliens were all American.
Of the Gate Alliance Treaty members, Russia was the only one with a representative at the day's proceedings. Russia had to content itself with having Commander Orlov, captain of the Borodino, present. His presence gave the Russians a sense of superiority. In the eyes of the other Treaty Members, they were partners with the Americans, already participating in battles against real aliens. Let the other member nations tremble in the dark. The Russian people were a courageous people.
"Are we ready, General," Dr. Weir came up and asked him?
"Are you ready, ma'am?"
"As I'll ever be, I've never rescued 40,000 people from another galaxy before."
"Oh pshaw, you'll be great." Jack grinned a little. "Between you and Daniel we can probably avoid all out war this time."
"Don't even think that, sir," Weir sighed. "They are here. Now we have to deal with each other."
"Not really," Jack answered as he picked an imaginary piece of lint off his sleeve. "The Asgaard will intervene if they get nasty."
"Yes, about that, when do you want to tell them about Thor?"
"Oh, phhhhhfffftttt, never?"
"We both know that's not an option."
"Then, not right away, ok?"
"Ok, but we have to careful. Someone can blurt it out."
"Has everyone been briefed about that?"
Colonel Carter nodded having conducted the security briefing. "Yes. We had an all hands meeting late last night. I told them to let us handle such a sensitive disclosure. These people are afraid of us enough. Don't make it worse."
"Sweet, to the point, why don't more people do that?"
"Learned it from you, sir," Carter suppressed a smile but cocked her head mimicking him. "What?"
Both smiled at each other and waited. Soon the signal from the Colonials indicated they wished to land. The Atlantis control room directed them in with an escort of F-302s. O'Neill had offered the transport beam but the Colonials were not ready to have their molecules scrambled.
For political reasons, the Colonials wanted to arrive under their own power. Actually, their press had arrived hours ago to set up and transmit the historic greeting for the fleet. It wasn't necessary since Atlantis could have broadcast the events for them. Once some of the techs compared notes, adjustments were made for the exchange of communications. Nevertheless, they had to do it themselves. Politics are the same everywhere. Appearances had to be maintained.
Jack and Elizabeth strolled at the head of the procession to the landing area to wait for the leader of the Colonials. After contacting the SGC, Jack even requested that Earth send a red carpet for the event. The new McKay-Carter Gate String between the two galaxies meant trips each way took about 30 minutes. With Puddle Jumpers going back and forth, the Air Force even managed to scrape together a minimal band. It was difficult to find musicians with the appropriate clearance. So, some of the Atlantis civilians helped. The rest was supplied from the Officer's Club amateur band members at Peterson AF Base in Colorado Springs. They added to the festive ambience.
"I want to see the looks on the President's face when she finds out she is eating something baked on Earth this morning." Daniel smirked to Jack.
"Bunting?" Jack's head swiveled around.
"Yes, Chief Harriman sent it along with the band and the carpet," Carter answered from behind.
"Yes, I didn't think of it. I just don't have the decorating gene."
Jack saw the IOA representative approaching. Both men knew each other very well having been captured by the Asuran Replicators and tortured for days. A new level of respect passed between them.
"General, Doctor," Woolsey nodded to both and took his place.
Colonial One landed. Once the doors opened, the band, for lack of other instructions, played "Hail to the Chief." Normally it was reserved for POTUS but this was a president too. Anyway, it was a simple tune and about all the band was prepared to play so it would have to do.
"Was that really necessary," Woolsey complained to O'Neill?
"Who knew," O'Neill answered? He felt a tug on his sleeve and looked around to find Daniel shoving a package of something at him. Irritated O'Neill tried to ignore it. So Daniel poked him hard in the back and shoved the bouquet of roses under his nose. Jack startled and managed a weak smile. "Thanks," he whispered. "Where'd you get these?"
Inside the transport, President Roslin steeled herself to meet these people. The shock of seeing the floating metropolis sent her mind reeling with the magnitude of the situation. The city was larger than the Capital on Caprica. Starbuck reported that it also doubled as a space ship. Although Roslin had been shown pictures, seeing it was completely different. The only thought racing through her mind as she adjusted her jacket for the tenth time was the question, 'what have we gotten ourselves into?'
"Ma'am, we have to go," Adama whispered to her. Her attention came back to the present. Then he exited and saluted as she stepped out. She took the lead and walked down the red carpet with the band playing some repetitive tune slightly off key.
All the representatives met in the middle. The band died down. Major General Jack O'Neill knew how to play this. He offered his hand which she took and then gave her the flowers. Their eyes met appraising each other. Jack left only what he wanted her to see on his face, geniality. Roslin knew that was exactly what he did. Then the other two representatives were introduced by the General. President Roslin presented her Admiral, William Adama, and her new Vice-President Tom Zarek.
The six leaders stood for photographs in various configurations. Then General O'Neill and President Roslin took the lead to the podium to make welcoming speeches. Jack prayed Thor wouldn't beam him up in the middle of his speech. Jack had warned him about snatching him in front of people today. For now, Thor was content to monitor the proceedings from the O'Neill II.
Afterwards, the group walked inside for a tour. All the diplomatic niceties observed, the group headed to the Control Room for a demonstration of the Stargate. One of the teams with Starbuck was at the Alpha Site waiting for the signal. O'Neill took Roslin to the ring and let her examine it and the wall behind it. Then he asked her to stand with him on the staircase to the Control Room. He didn't want an accident with the Stargate's vortex. The Control Room staff dialed the Alpha Site to send the signal and a team through.
When it disengaged leaving no one behind the Stargate, the Colonials gasped. Stifling a frown, President Roslin was certain it was a trick done with mirrors. A few minutes later, the lights came on. The wave of the kawoosh formed, startling the visitors. Out popped a Puddle Jumper. The same team that left moments before exited the PJ with more people. The visitors were struck dumb. Roslin understood the power of this thing as did her nefarious political rival, the Vice-President. Adama saw this demonstration on his last visit. He observed the look on Zarek's face and knew it meant trouble.
Exiting the Jumper were Colonel John Sheppard and Captain Kara Thrace, aka Starbuck. Both officers saluted the two leaders and received a salute back. Then applause rippled through the throng. It was symbolic that someone from each side came through together.
Curiosity ruled the event. O'Neill gave Roslin a tour of the Jumper. And then he left Sheppard to conduct the tour of the Jumper for the rest of the Colonial notables. After they were finished, O'Neill gave Sheppard the nod and the Jumper cloaked. Gasps filled the audience. O'Neill led Roslin back to the Jumper and let her put her hand on the invisible craft. They went inside, disappearing from view. More murmurs of apprehension passed through the Colonials until Roslin reappeared with O'Neill. Then everyone wanted to try it. Nearly an hour passed as the group played hide and seek in and out of the Jumper.
Roslin caught Adama's eye. A look passed between them. These people were formidable. Use extreme caution.
O'Neill seemed to enjoy himself immensely. It was fun to be the ones with the superior technology for a change. Nevertheless, O'Neill's true talent was observation. He didn't miss a thing in that exchange between the President and the Admiral.
Well, we'll be cautious too. I know that look. The look between those two wasn't about caution. It was pure fear. Desperate people do desperate things.
To break the mood, he approached President Roslin and offered her his arm to enter the dining hall for the State Dinner. She had been warned that he would, as was their custom. Still she hesitated. O'Neill smiled down at her and whispered.
"It's just an arm, ma'am."
She smiled that fixed smile public people have perfected. Then she took his right arm with her left hand. She waved at the cameras and let him escort her in. Together they led the procession to the tables. Inside the doors, Roslin stopped dead. It had been so long since she or any of the Colonials had seen such abundance. All the tables were laden with flowers, elegant place settings on fine linen, and crystal stemware. Silver epergnes held tiers of exotic fruits and candies high above the place settings. The aromas wafting through the hall made her mouth water. And it made her want to cry. She had no doubt that the people of the fleet were weeping right now with joy.
In the past two days, Atlantis had sent food stuffs and medicines to the fleet to alleviate the rationing. Some people refused to eat it believing the items to be poisoned or laced with drugs. Most people ate it anyway. When nothing bad happened, even the suspicious ones had to relent. The Colonials still wondered what they would be required to do for this bounty. No one believed that an exchange of knowledge was sufficient.
In any case people were chaffing at the bit to get off the Colonial ships. After years in cramped quarters without sufficient water to really bathe or clean clothing, they had had enough. With all that bounty and a beautiful planet down there, tensions grew as people realized their leaders were being extremely cautious. Whispers became grumbles which became murmurs and then out right demands to get the hell off those tubs.
Vice-President Tom Zarek knew it. He had incited much of it through his network of cronies. He saw what Atlantis had to offer. He wanted it offered to him, all of it. He casually assessed the gathering in the Atlantis dining hall with satisfaction. Never a man to think small, his thoughts percolated with all sorts of plans. None of them included the current administration. From his point of view, forty thousand Colonials could certainly overwhelm the few Earth Colonists already here. It was a matter of shear numbers and timing.
The dinner went well. To symbolize the breaking of bread together, Jack offered a loaf of bread to President Roslin. She broke the loaf in two, handing off one side to Adama and the other to Jack.
"I hope it is still fresh enough. I had it sent from Earth this morning."
A myriad of emotions played across her face before she regained control. That was the point. Jack was a master at inciting an opponent to reveal what they didn't want to reveal. He wasn't disappointed in the reaction.
"Fresh enough, General, but then you knew it would be." She laughed lightly.
What an arrogant man! Here he is with all this bounty and he's rubbing my nose in it.
In a pique, she ate lightly not recognizing much of the food. Jack noticed.
"Oh yes, um, Madame President, what General O'Neill is saying is he tried extra hard to please and delight you. It is symbolic that we brought this all fresh from Earth."
Jack gave Daniel a look of gratitude. He was about to tell her to shove it. She was in "high priss" today. He hated prissy women. He'd heard she'd been a school teacher before the disaster. As a minister of education, she was the only one left in the legitimate government so she became President by default. According to Mitchell's report, she was one tough cookie behind that façade of a school teacher. But it didn't stop her from being prissy today.
"Well, so you say. We have only your word that all this came from Earth, don't we now?" She smiled an insincere politician's smile.
"We have only your word that you are refugees and not part of an invasion fleet." Jack answered softly with steel in his voice. Yeah, take that Ole Prissy Woman.'
"What Jack is echoing is everyone's concern over integrating so many new people into this city."
"Oh I know exactly what the General is saying, Dr. Jackson."
At the next table, Jack noted with some amusement that the Vice-president was hitting on Carter. She had that look on her face. The look that said, 'I've been ordered to talk to you.' The body language said she wasn't happy. Glancing at some of the other faces, Jack continued his observations. His eyes missed nothing. Mitchell and Starbuck were having an animated conversation with some of the F-302 pilots. Jack sighed wishing he were at that table.
"Heavy thoughts, General?"
"Such a deep sigh, I was wondering what could mar such a happy occasion."
"Oh just the passing of youth," Jack indicated the pilots' table.
Their laughter punctuated the otherwise discreet tones in the hall. Jack caught Adama's eye. They both exchanged the same look, remembering their younger days. More shrieks of hilarity came from them. Roslin too got caught up in their glee.
"So I was running out of air and had no choice," Colonel Sheppard paused to catch his breath. "There I was stuck in the void between two galaxies and this Wraith Hive Ship is going to explode. I had to do something, so I parked on it."
"You 'parked' on it?" Starbuck was laughing herself to tears. "Ok, I give, and then what happened?"
"I captured it." Sheppard grinned.
"Oh right, you captured it. C'mon, tell it all."
"Ok, there was a little help. You see there was only one problem with the ship. It was full of Wraith. And the Daedalus was damaged leaking air like a sieve," Shep could really tell a story. "We had to get over there because they had the only air around for millions of light years."
"Spinning yarns, Colonel?" Colonel Caldwell decided to check up on the table talk on his way to the restroom.
"I was just telling them about the time I, that is we, captured a Hive Ship."
"I see. Well, I'm sure there will be plenty of time to tell that particular tale later. I need you to do something about the next presentation."
"If you will excuse me, ladies, gentlemen, and Starbuck."
"Oh cut to the quick," Starbuck laughed. "I'll get you for that, Fly Boy."
"I hope you will," bantered Shep right back at her. "Fly Boy, eh? It's been a while since I've been called that." He stood up and left with Caldwell.
"Ok, what did you really need, Colonel?"
"Sheppard, it isn't wise to tell them those kinds of stories. Need to know. And they don't need to know everything we found out about the Wraith all at once."
"I know that," Shep replied. "I was going to omit that part and get to the part where Rodney was all gooey from being in the cocoon."
"It's also something they don't need to know today. Later," Caldwell remonstrated. "Remember the briefing. They are spooked enough."
"Right, I'll be more discreet," Shep agreed. With a smirk he added, "Oh, come on, they already know about the Wraith. But I'll tone it down."
Both men entered the men's room not noticing that they had been overheard by Dee on her way to the ladies room.
Dessert came. Jack loved this part, the part when people discovered chocolate. In his opinion, chocolate should be a tactical weapon taught at the Academy. The rich gooey chocolate cake was warm with ice cream on the side. Servers brought a whole cake to the head table to cut.
Murmurs of alarm passed through the assembly at the sight of the nearly black cake. They died down when Atlantis people were happy it was chocolate. Explanations still didn't suffice until the Jack took the first bite. Roslin was not to be outdone. She could be fearless. It was cake after all, no matter how disgusting looking. With that first bite, her eyes flew open wide with surprise. Involuntarily, she grunted a 'good.'
Jack leaned his head on his elbow gazing up at her. He couldn't help grinning.
"I told you so."
She's a nice looking woman for her age. Too bad she's so stressed and…prissy.
The coffee came. Most of the Colonials didn't like it until cream and sugar were added. Tea became the popular hot drink for them.
"A drink made with roasted beans." She took another sip. "It doesn't taste like beans. It smells better than it tastes. Why is that?"
"I wish I could explain it. One of our scientists can do that ma'am." Jack sent for the explanation.
"I have found many things smell better than they taste," Roslin began cautiously. Jack did not react. "In fact, wouldn't you agree General that many things are not as pleasing as they first appear?"
"Yes, ma'am," Jack replied. "One time, we were on P4x-666 where Daniel wanted to translate some text on a column." He chuckled. "Daniel did the proverbial thing to 'stop and smell the roses' so to speak. That flower looked great but Danny there was sick instantly."
"Thank you for the image, Jack." Daniel wrinkled his nose, shaking his head, and pointing to his plate. Spreading his hands out in a gesture of 'what were you thinking?'
"What?" Jack tried to look innocent at him.
"Well caution is a good idea. We have a saying that one should look before one leaps."
"We also have a saying, 'don't run with… scissors'." Jack gave a weak smile, trying to look smug enough to pull it off. Roslin looked confused.
"Well, I'm sure you must have many stories like that, General. Only," Roslin paused playing with her food. "Only, I have learned that caution between people is a good idea. How many times does a young couple meet and think the other one is just the right match? They fall headlong into the throes of love, throwing caution to the wind."
"Daniel," Jack rumbled sarcastically. "Is that a metaphor?" Daniel started to reply, but Jack cut him off. "You'll have to excuse me, ma'am. I'm just not as slick as you political folks are. I'm a military man. I appreciate straight talk."
"Alright then, what would you say if I did not want to stay here?"
"Here, as in Atlantis?"
"Yes, what if I wanted to go on to Earth."
"Well, ma'am, that's a problem." Jack knew the subject would come up, just not this fast.
"Oh and why is that?"
"We've explained that. But just for fun, I'll do it again. Earth would be thrown into turmoil if you folks showed up."
"This," Roslin gestured to the room in general, "is a very big secret to keep. In my experience, such secrets come out when you least want them to."
"Yes, we've thought about that too. So far, we have managed." Jack indicated Daniel should jump in.
"Yes, ma'am, it is a secret that will come out," Daniel began thoughtfully. "We think it best if you stay with us for a while. Maybe in a few years the secret will be told. Then, perhaps those who want to move on can go to Earth. Or, they may want to go to one of our colonies on another planet. Or they may want their own planet either here or in the Milky Way."
"So we can't go to Earth because of your politics. We can't leave Atlantis because you say the Wraith will attack us. It seems we have been effectively captured?" Roslin made a small moue and poked at her cake.
Jack watched Daniel protest. Jack got pissed. So he cut to the chase.
"Wait a minute. We just saved your asses," Jack hissed. "Lady, you want to go, don't let the door hit you in the ass. If the Wraith get you, my hands are clean."
"What General O'Neill means is that we offered you a home with us. Offering someone sanctuary in one's own home is not 'capturing' anyone."
"No, Daniel. It means she's free to leave right now. But I'm not bailing them out this time." Jack glared at Roslin, put his napkin down on the table and got up to go. "Dinner is over."
President Roslin put a hand on his arm stopping him. She looked up at the stern face of a general and knew she had overstepped.
"Now General, I'm sure there's only a misunderstanding. My choice of words was…unfortunate."
Jack leaned over and whispered, "Ma'am. I say exactly what I mean. You want to leave?" He gave a head jerk towards the doorway, "Go."
Roslin whispered back, "call it what you will, we both know what this is. But I'll keep your offer in mind."
She smiled for the cameras and laughed as if he had told her a private joke. Only O'Neill wasn't laughing.
"I need some air."
He stalked off. Admiral Adama saw the exchange and had a pretty good idea what had happened. He excused himself and went after O'Neill.
"A minute, General?"
Jack turned in place with his eyes to the ceiling and then faced Adama with both hands gesturing wide. "And what do you want?"
"I want to talk to you man to man."
Jack looked at him impatiently. Both men were exasperated, but not with each other.
"I don't care what she said. Let's forget about what happened. We are talking about two generals that have come into contact. Put yourself in my shoes and tell me what I need to be told to be comfortable. You know our situation. You know what we need. Tell us the conditions for your help."
Jack cocked his head without answering. But he was listening.
"The only thing we have is our honor. I cannot prove to you that we will keep our part of the bargain. But I will give you my word that I will uphold my end if you will give me your word you'll help. I need the word of a general. I don't care about anything else. No treaty, no voting, no council."
"So none of that rigmarole," Jack was impressed. Adama just cut to the chase. Impressive.
"Our handshake is as good as it gets."
"You'll get our offer in six hours."
"You know what we need. Come with something reasonable and we'll work it out. We are not politicians. We are not playing games."
Both men were satisfied and shook hands on the agreement. They nodded curtly in respect. Jack activated his headset.
"O'Neill. Daniel, meet me in my office now with Woolsey."
"You rely on Dr. Jackson. I still don't understand his position in all this."
"He knows me," Jack said with meaning. "You can't ask for better than Daniel."
"Saul Tigh is like that for me."
"Let me get them started. Enjoy the dinner. Elizabeth went to a lot of trouble to bring all that from Earth today."
"You're not kidding, are you? You brought it from Earth?" Jack nodded. "Today?"
"Yes Bill, especially the bunting. We wanted to please you."
"You did, Jack. You did."
A few minutes later, the three men gathered in Jack's office. He told them about his talk with Adama. Woolsey was impressed and pleased. He had come to respect Jack very much. With his legal mind and Daniel's finesse, the three crafted the outline of a document. Jack left them to flesh it out before they called in Weir for her expertise with treaties. After she took a look, they called in Colonel Caldwell since he would have to judge the logistics as the Daedalus would be doing some heavy hauling. After five hours, Jack came back to read the document and make his changes.
"Can you sell this, Dick," Jack queried Woolsey?
"I'm sure I can. The dollar cost to supply and maintain 40,000 people for a couple of years is under a $100 million. Figure 80,000 man years direct plus delivery and some extras are peanuts by comparison to what we can get. It's too small an amount even to be a line item in the budget. Securing the capital for the cost to repair the ships and the infrastructure will be more difficult. I estimate we need at least $40 billion. But Thor said the Asgaard will help. Part of the investment will be offset immediately by the new weapons and technology we acquire. The rest will be offset by trade with the Colonials for non-military information, medicines, and technologies. We can spread the effort over two or more years. I can sell this no problem."
"Remind the IOA that these ships significantly improve our security here. We don't have that kind of production capability for years. With the ship losses we've sustained recently, their firepower and transportation helps plug a big hole." Jack made a notation. "I'll ask Thor what he can contribute."
"Ok, I'll get this revised. Give me fifteen minutes," Weir told Jack.
"Somebody call him in," Jack requested.
A few minutes later, Adama knocked on Jack's door. He felt apprehensive. The conversation with Laura Roslin had been heated, to say the least. In the end, she realized they had no choice anyway. They were stuck until the ships could be repaired and re-fueled. Then they both went to view some video of Wraith eating humans, destroying a world, and more video on their ships. Laura was sickened. Adama held it in. These folks weren't kidding about the Wraith. Their situation was dire indeed.
"Come in, Bill."
Jack stood up and moved to the comfortable chair next to the sofa in his office. Adama moved to the other one and angled it to face Jack. He sat down and got comfortable. He hoped this was a good sign if Jack wanted to do this in a more relaxed manner. It sent the right signal.
"Bill, before we start I want to say I think we put together something very good for everyone. Win-win," he waited for Adama to acknowledge the concept.
"Go on," said Adama."
"You saw the video of the Wraith feeding?"
"Um, yes, so the main issue is to control any information about this base and keep it top secret.
"Cooperate." Jack paused assessing the reaction, so far so good. "We can protect you as long as you keep our secret. People from other planets cannot be told about us. It will get back to the Wraith. So, your leaders must agree to keep this information classified. No one can know where you get the help."
"You can count on me, Jack."
"Then here's the deal in a nutshell. We want to locate your people temporarily on a nearby planet. The population was wiped out by the Wraith. Fortunately, they are no longer in this sector and are not expected back. We can track them. The reason we picked this world is because it is so close and is ready for habitation.
As a sign of good faith we will give you access to the Gate network, providing you let us know about the traffic through it. We won't try to stop you. We just need to know where you go and to whom you speak. The same applies to your ships. You give us the manifest. We don't want to track you. We just want to know. We are not going to patrol your skies. Just keep the agreement. We want a team watching the Gate at all times. We are concerned about who might show up. Our teams won't interfere. But our secret is too precious." Jack saw that Adama was not so happy with that condition. "We don't have to share the Gate system, but we want to show we are respecting your autonomy."
"You would do that? Teach us to use the Stargates," Adama was pleasantly surprised? "I'm impressed, Jack." They exchanged glances of appreciation. Jack went back to the list.
"We will help with the repairs to your ships. I don't know how long that will take. We don't know what you need. Give us a briefing. Tell us what you need. If we can tell you where to get it here, we will. If we have to bring it from Earth, we will. If we don't know, all our teams in both galaxies will be informed. They will be told to look for it.
In the meantime, we will supply you for two years after which you should be mostly self-sufficient for the basics. Supplies will be delivered to a third planet where you will pick them up. Under no circumstance are you to come here by ship. The Wraith could track you accidentally. All travel here is to be by Stargate, by permission.
We want to put an Iris on your Gate so you can control who comes and goes. If you close the Iris anyone in transit will die on the way in. If the Wraith send a scout ship through, you close the Iris so more don't get in. We have weapons that can shoot down a scout ship."
"Good to know." Adama looked thoughtful.
"We will provide you with briefings as soon as you are ready. But we shall conduct them with you on that planet. We call it Arula. You can call it whatever you want. In six months, you will establish a permanent liaison office here."
"Two months, Jack."
"Hmm, fine, two months," Jack conceded the minor point. He knew he had to give up something. "We have negotiated many separate military alliances and trade agreements with various peoples. If you are having difficulty getting something with a trading partner, we will help."
"How do we pay for all this?"
"Upfront you give us any weapon that can defend against the Wraith, Cylons, or our version we call Replicators. That means all related documentation, too. No holding back. The rest of your information we can acquire through fair trade to offset what you owe or to create a balance with us. Let the others work that out.
Upfront, you agree to a mutual defense pact. If the Wraith or the Replicators come banging on the door, then we help each other. We will operate as two separate military forces, coordinating the defense against a common enemy. After you settle in, we can think about some joint exercises."
"I need to know you won't leave us stranded there."
"We won't abandon you. We are talking about making a sizable investment in you folks. Your senior staff will have additional talks with Woolsey, the representative from the Oversight Agency, Dr. Weir, and Dr. Jackson. You will select your delegation to send to Earth. They will go with Mr. Woolsey and Dr. Weir."
Adama startled slightly not expecting that request to be granted so easily.
"Moving on, there has to be a decision resolving your prison population. We can't maintain them here and we don't want them getting loose." Jack spread his hands. "That's the deal, Admiral."
"Fair enough," Adama stood up, extending his hand. "You have my word."
The two men shook on it. Adama read the paper to check it, and signed for the receipt of them, accepting his copies.
"I was right about you, Jack. Let me go talk to President Roslin."
Jack watched him go, knowing that she wasn't going to be happy.
Once in the room with President Roslin, Adama handed her the summary of the terms.
"You signed this without even talking to me?" President Laura Roslin said gritting her teeth in hushed tones.
"Actually, we shook hands on it." Adama sighed. "You gave me the orders, ma'am. I performed."
"You exceeded your authority. Didn't I tell everyone that all negotiations had to go through my office?"
"And then you decided we had to make them give these very concessions. It is a military matter. I am within my rights. I had to protect the fleet."
"What do you think I am trying to do? We are not like them. The military is subordinate to the civilian government." She went back to the items on the two pages. "We can not appear to be divided. The least you could have done was to show it to me first."
"I told O'Neill to give me his best and last offer. I gave my word I would do it. He did. There was nothing to negotiate."
Roslin shook her head and sneered. "They get to monitor everything that passes through our Gate? What are they the hall monitors at school? I'll tell you what they are. They are our keepers."
"It provides nearly everything the council decided we wanted to achieve. You can nitpick it but there it is. Now, do you ratify it or do I have to resign?"
She stared at him, incredulous. She could not have him resign now. He knew it perfectly well. He would resign if she asked, obeying the law. Then, the Fleet would mutiny. They would follow him into hell and had. Adama had backed her into a corner. If she retaliated later, it would be petty.
"Okay, Admiral, you won this one."
But I won't forget it, Roslin thought. Adama could see it.