Cheyenne Mountain Air Station, CO
Doctor Daniel Jackson was wrapped in thought during what he guessed would be his only quiet time of the day. Quiet moments were not exactly a luxury that he had had an ample supply of lately or that life at the SGC provided. He knew that outside his office was a building momentum of preparation, planning and movement. The SGC was going to war again. He could only commiserate with his thoughts as everyone hustled about doing their individual jobs. Jackson never fully appreciated what a machine the United States military was until a crisis erupted. It was then as if a colony of ants had gotten a new job. Everyone involved then went into overdrive.
As an idealist, Jackson detested conflict and believed in fostering cooperation and understanding among peoples, races and the like. As a veteran pragmatist however, Jackson had compartmentalized much of his idealism a while back. Years of traveling through the gate and experiencing what there was to be had in the universe had tempered his passions somewhat. That wasn't to say that he subscribed to Locke's opinion of life: nasty, brutish and short. However, he knew better than most that it wasn't wine and roses either.
Even though Jackson had stridently argued for the Earth to assist Langara, doubts were still nagging him. Why should a private from Topeka, Kansas be fighting and maybe dying on a planet that until recently, he didn't know existed, against aliens impersonating some childhood nightmare? Jackson believed with all his heart that the government needed to be preparing the country, and by cooperation with other governments the world, for the eventual day when the truth about the universe would be made public. The potential fate of the Langarans could eventually be the fate of Earth, and Jackson was determined to make sure that didn't happen. He didn't want to see some of America's best and brightest die, but at some point a stand had to be taken. In the previous decade, Jackson and his colleagues had taken more stands for Earth and the United States than he could reasonably count. Now, he reasoned, others would step up to be counted.
Goa'uld, Replicators, Aschen, Wraith. The laundry list of adversaries just seems to grow. Will it ever end? When the program had started in earnest, Jackson had hoped that the SGC's teams would be the vanguard of a new day that included meeting new friends in the galaxy and developing innovative scientific advancements. To some extent that had happened. Abydonians, Tok'ra, Langarans, Asgard. Jackson couldn't help but be a little disappointed though, that his idealism hadn't born more fruit, so to speak.
While Daniel Jackson was in his office philosophizing about life and the SGC, others were knee-deep in the more immediate matters of the day. Two levels down in the conference room, Brigadier General O'Neill was learning how generals usually fight wars: from the rear. He didn't like it.
O'Neill was still in shock at the report from Carter and McNulty. No casualties in the initial assault! The Rangers had also shot down five Death Gliders using the Stinger man-portable surface-to-air missile.
"Do we have any idea if Nimar knows who he's fighting here? Or does he still think the Langarans are alone?" That was the $64,000 question and O'Neill was desperate for an answer.
"Sir, if they know about our assisting the Langarans, they haven't shown it." The speaker was Captain Pete Varnum from the 7th Rangers' operations staff. Varnum had just gated back to Earth with the AAR, or After-Action Report, on the first contact with Nimar's Jaffa. "They were definitely playing all the usual Goa'uld tactics. We expect they'll take another shot at the gate soon, followed by another assault on the capitol. If that fails, then all bets are off."
Colonel Glyndon looked over at O'Neill. "That's correct sir. At some point, Nimar will pull back and bombard Langara. We need Prometheus there ASAP." The President had finally given the order sending Earth's first fully operational battle cruiser to Langara. She was also carrying a company of Marines and two SG teams. Their mission would be to board the Goa'uld vessels if they needed to.
O'Neill looked over at his operations officer, Colonel Henson. "What's her ETA to Langara Bill?"
"18 hours sir. We should get a revised ETA from Colonel Ronson soon."
"Alright, we need to begin moving the reinforcements through the gate. Captain, are Colonel's Carter and McNulty ready for them?"
"Yes sir. We'll take whatever you can spare."
The reinforcements O'Neill was referring to were significant. Russia had contributed a battalion of airborne troops. In addition, the SGC was sending a medical detachment and its combat engineer squadron along with tons of supplies. The British were sending a platoon of Special Air Service commandos who'd been training to work at the SGC and a company of Royal Marines eventually tabbed for the Atlantis mission.
O'Neill was scheduled to talk to General Maynard in a few minutes. There was no way in hell that he was going to continue running this little war from Earth. He needed to have his boots on the ground with his people. He planned to make his case to Maynard and the President.
Carter was not happy. Things were too quiet. In the few hours since the initial assault, there had been very little activity on the Goa'uld's part. No massive bombardments or Jaffa assaults. Random attacks by gliders had been it. In some ways, it was good. The lack of activity was giving the defenders valuable time to strengthen defenses and consolidate. But it was also giving them a lot of time to dwell on what might be coming, especially the Langarans. Colonel McNulty was keeping his Rangers busy, not that they needed the encouragement. Carter was standing in the gate room when Commander Varan walked over.
"Are you alright Colonel?"
"Yes, I'm fine. Why do you ask?"
"You looked rather concerned. I thought maybe there was a problem."
"No, no problems. I'm just tired of waiting for the Goa'uld to make another move. We'd almost be better off with them attacking, that way we'd know what they were doing."
"I'm going to ask an interesting question Colonel. I hope you won't take offense when I ask: Why are you here? This isn't Earth's fight. We're ecstatic to have you but I'd like to know why. You hardly know us yet you'll fight to the death against a fierce enemy with us."
"Commander, I've seen first hand what a Goa'uld is capable of. I've witnessed cruelty and atrocities I hardly thought were possible. My people are just taking their first small steps in this universe, just as your people will soon. If we are all to live in some peace in this universe, we all have to stand up to the cruel and despotic forces around us. I'm pretty secure in saying that's how our leaders feel. We're not going to run out on someone at their darkest hour. Honestly also, I know my government wants to negotiate for the naquadria. Should Nimar get the naquadria, it would help him strengthen his position among the Goa'uld."
"I appreciate the honesty Colonel."
Carter and Varan continued talking for a few more minutes while troops scurried around them reinforcing positions or relieving other soldiers from their posts. American and Langaran soldiers mostly spent the time swapping stories and comparing various sports. The Rangers were trying to convince the Langarans that baseball, the NFL and beer were the greatest things in the known universe.
The quiet of the bunker was disturbed by the sudden activation of the stargate. Everyone manning the defenses jumped to their positions with renewed urgency. Carter keyed her tactical radio:
"Sierra Gulf One to Ranger Six Actual, BLACK HOLE, I say again BLACK HOLE!"
"Ranger Six Actual copies!"
Ranger Six Actual was the radio call sign for Lt. Col. McNulty and BLACK HOLE was their pre-arranged call sign for stargate activation. Carter knew it was very likely to be the SGC dialing in but no chances were taken. Langarans and Americans tensed for the wormhole. It arrived with its tell-tale sound:
Carter looked over at a Ranger communications specialist manning a headset. He caught her gaze and shook his head; no signal from the SGC. For a few moments the wormhole sat there, not disgorging anyone or anything. Suddenly two Jaffa warriors carrying staff weapons appeared through the wormhole and seemed to walk forward matter-of-factly as the wormhole disengaged. They didn't look concerned at all. The sight actually surprised Carter so much that she was momentarily speechless. A Ranger lieutenant commanding the first line of defenders didn't have that problem:
"DROP YOUR WEAPONS NOW!"
To call the look on the faces of the two warriors shock would be an understatement of gargantuan proportions. They weren't expecting this reception. Their men should have taken the facility hours ago. Both looked at the force in front of them with a mix of shock and annoyance. They weren't entirely sure what they saw. Soldiers in a form of camouflage uniform with some sort of helmet. Their faces were painted the same black-brown-green colors of their garb. No matter, more worshippers for Nimar… The lead Jaffa spoke:
"My lord Nimar claims this planet and its inhabitants will bow before their god!"
"DROP THOSE FUCKING WEAPONS NOW!"
The second Jaffa raised the head of his staff weapon slightly as if he planned to point and activate it. This potentially hostile move was greeted in kind. The warriors head exploded, showering the lead Jaffa in blood and brain matter, courtesy of a .50 caliber round from a McMillan sniper rifle fired by a Ranger on a catwalk. The lead Jaffa was frozen. He had never seen such cold-blooded defiance from "primitives" before.
"UNLESS YOU WANT SOME OF THAT, DROP YOUR STAFF WEAPON NOW!"
The Jaffa thought the better of it and gently bent down and laid his staff on the platform. Two Rangers moved toward him with their M-4's pointed at his chest. The first lowered his weapon and forced the Jaffa to the floor, where he bound his wrists with flexi-cuffs. Carter could only shake her head. And behind Door #2…
Two hours later, the stargate activated once more. This time however, the SGC's signal was received and the reception was somewhat warmer. Carter, McNulty and Commander Varan looked up to see BG O'Neill leading men through. O'Neill walked down the platform and smiled at the assembled group.
"Hi gang, I hear the neighborhood's going to hell.
Carter could only smile. Good, old Jack… "Yes sir, the new neighbors aren't playing nice. I see you brought some help."
"Yeah, this is Colonel Arkady Vasilev, commander of 1st Battalion, 18th Guards Airborne Division. The battalion is Russia's contribution to our little party."
Introductions and handshakes were made. Colonel Vasilev looked all business. O'Neill got right down to it. "Alright, I need a sit-rep and then, Commander, I need to see the First Minister."
"Of course, General."
Two intelligence officers from the Rangers' operations staff were trying to strike up a conversation with their newest guest, the Jaffa who had wisely laid down his staff weapon at the gate. It wasn't going well…
"There's no harm in giving us your name. Exactly how would we use it against you?" 1st Lt. Anthony Tomassini, a native of the Queens section of New York City, had interrogated a lot of people in the last couple of years. Taliban, Al-Queda, Iraqis. He had dealt with an entire litany of ruthlessly dedicated and fanatical types. It may take time, but he knew he'd break the Jaffa's psychological barriers.
Tomassini found at an early age that he was a natural listener. A devout Roman Catholic, Tomassini would have most likely become a priest if he wasn't soldiering on another planet. His uncle, a Dominican friar, believed he was made for the confessional, listening to others pour themselves out. Everyone he knew or met felt they could confide in Anthony Tomassini. And they felt better for it in the end. He was now putting his immense skill to work on a man who, like Earth's Taliban extremists, viewed unbelievers as nothing more than highly verbal cattle. Tomassini had seen the look before and knew what to do with it.
"Are you afraid you'll offend your lord and master by giving me your name? I only wish to show the proper respect by using your name. I can't believe that would offend your master."
"He is not only my master, he is my god! You will submit!"
Bingo, got you talking. "Let's talk about your god…"
To be continued…