I just realised I've never crossposted this here, though it's been over at gatchfanfic for over a decade. Posted as-is, so the style may be a bit different from the other things I've posted recently.

G-Force don't feature heavily, though team members do appear.

This is set after "Best Laid Plans", but a while before the end of the TV series (and therefore a LONG time before the events of Replacements).

My universe is non-canon in several respects, and if you haven't read my other fic you may be confused by some of the references.

Thanks to my husband for beta-reading.

Any and all comments are always welcome.

"Last item," Anderson intoned. "Force Two candidates."

"Nothing new," Grant sighed. "Shayler here, Andianov in Russia. Some promising preliminary results from one of the new Academy kids, but we've seen that before and been disappointed. Recommend we discuss again next meeting."

Beside him, Chris Johnson was sitting forward, waiting his turn impatiently. As Grant finished, he jumped in. "No."

"No?" Grant raised his hands in exasperation. "Chris, I know how badly G-Force need a backup team, but we simply can't magic up a jump-pilot from thin air. That talent's given, not learnt."

"I know that! But we have two strong candidates now, and if we don't move fast we're going to lose one of them. Shayler's running out of time to be implanted successfully."

"He doesn't look fully mature," Anderson said mildly.

"Or act it," Grant muttered.

Johnson ignored him. "No, he doesn't look more than sixteen. Don't let the blond curls and the lanky build fool you, though. He's older than G-2, and these latest blood tests suggest we've got one month, two at the most, before the window for implantation closes. We have to act right away."

"We've been over this. We can't sensibly use a single newly implanted teenager. He's way too far off G-Force's current level of competence to be useful as a backup, or even to train with them. We can't let a new implantee work on one of the other teams, he'd never be able to hide the augmentation well enough. It just won't work."

The doctor met Grant's stare. "It would, I think, be worse if we found ourselves a jump-pilot in, say, three months, and then Shayler's implantation failed."

"Conjecture," put in Ivanov for the first time.

"Look." Chris sat forward again, irritation rising in his voice. "We have two potentials right now. Only two. We've been looking for over two years. You're talking about throwing one of them away because he might get frustrated if we can't use him right now."

Grant was on his feet. "That is not -"

"Gentlemen." Ivanov's quiet voice cut through the argument in a way no shout could have. "Doctor, when would you say we need to implant Shayler?"

"I'd recommend as soon as possible. Within a week if it can be managed."

Anderson nodded. "Get everyone ready to move on the medical side. I'll see to his induction."

Grant glared. "You're surely not going to do it? We've discussed this so many times! We need a whole team to train together."

"We don't have one, and fate just forced our hand." Anderson glanced across at Ivanov. "Having their early training separately didn't harm G-Force, after all. Sometimes things are meant to be. At this rate we're never going to have another team. It's time to reconsider, and bring in the candidates we have."

"Should we also consider implanting Andianov?" Ivanov asked. "It is easier for two to train together."

Anderson shook his head. "Not on this accelerated timescale. He's younger, and he's not here. I don't want to implant anyone within a couple of days of bringing them to ISO USA. Let's deal with the urgent one first."

Grant was still finding objections. "This is Rick Shayler we're talking about. The kid's a liability! Don't you remember what he was like in the Academy? He was on the verge of expulsion, more than once. You want to give him an implant? I wouldn't even give him a security clearance."

"So that's what your problem with Shayler is." Anderson looked almost amused. "Yes, I do remember. A couple of student pranks which were designed to embarrass and had no impact on security. What was it he reset your sig file to?" Anderson stared down his deputy. "I've had Nykinnen put him on a couple of black level computer problems, with our best IT technicians watching every keystroke on a hidden camera. He's completely reliable where security's concerned. He passes all the black zone checks. We've already determined he's a suitable candidate physically and mentally. We will do this. Always assuming Shayler agrees."