- Death-Minor Character
- Canon Divergent
- Fix It
The limo driver pulled up to the outer gate of Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. Liz opened her door and said, “you’ll need to unload the luggage here as you aren’t permitted beyond this point.”
The driver obediently popped the trunk and went around to pull out her bag under the supervision of an airman while she and Sedgwick walked up to the guard shack.
“Good afternoon, ma’am.” A second guard, Airman Sanchez, looked over her badge carefully before handing it back and grinning as he draped Sedgwick’s badge around his neck.
The first guard returned to the gatehouse with her bag as the limo pulled away and said, “Ma’am, your bag will need to remain here until it is inspected.”
Elizabeth glanced at his name tag. “That’s fine, Airman Broyhill. Please have it delivered to General O’Neill’s office when you’re done with it. If you have a pen and pad, I’ll give you the combination…” Elizabeth trailed off as one of the guards waved his hands in her face.
“No need for that ma’am. I didn’t realize it was for General O’Neill. We’ll call them to retrieve it.”
Liz was surprised. “Is that the official procedure? Not to inspect items going to the General?
They shrugged in unison and Airman Broyhill said, “Yes, ma’am, as modified for this command. Anything going to that project skips inspection by us. They perform their own inspections.”
Airman Sanchez said, “Do you know the way, ma’am? Should I call for an escort?”
“While I don’t need an escort, a golf cart and driver would not be amiss.”
They laughed. “Yes, ma’am, We’ll call someone right down.”
Ten minutes later Elizabeth and Sedgwick were on their way down the elevator and being ushered into General O’Neill’s office.
Standing up, he said, “Liz! I didn’t expect to see you until dinner. And you have a companion! Everything okay?”
She shook her head, no while saying, “Just fine, General. Just fine. I needed to make a quick stop in medical to speak with Janet and thought it would be best gotten out of the way before our meeting.”
“Wonderful!” The General clapped his hands together, “Do you mind if I accompany you?” He glared at the paperwork on his desk. “It’d be great to take a break from paperwork hell.”
Liz, grateful that the General had understood her unspoken request, somehow managed to tell him that she’d be happy for his company when what she really wanted to do was scream “Goa’uld!” at the top of her lungs.
He swiped all the paperwork on his desk together and put it in his office safe. That was going to a hot mess to sort out later.
Other than side-eyeing her a few times on the way to the infirmary, Jack kept his own counsel. Janet looked up from a desk in the far corner as they entered the otherwise empty infirmary. “The dog stays outside.”
Liz guided Sedgwick back out the doorway. “Sit. Stay.” Sedgwick obediently sat down and settled in to wait while giving Liz a hurt doe-eyed look. Liz took a moment to make sure the infirmary door was closed and locked, gaining a questioning look from both Jack and Dr. Fraser.
“Hello, Dr. Fraser. I was wondering if you could demonstrate how you check to see if someone has been taken over by a goa’uld symbiote? Maybe on the three of us?”
She almost laughed at how quickly their questioning looks turned knife sharp.
Janet was quick to get up and comply, “Of course. Normally I would perform a neck palpitation. If there was further suspicion, I’d also arrange for either Teal’c or Colonel Carter to see if they detected anything. We do this because the only other methods to detect a symbiote are X-ray or sonogram. We already know repeated X-rays are detrimental to one’s health. And while sonograms appear to be free of similar issues, there isn’t any data at this time on the effects of repeated use.”
She pulled a few folders out of a file cabinet. “If you look at these, they’ll show you what X-rays and sonograms looks like both with and without symbiote.
“Now, since we don’t have Teal’c or Carter available?” She looked to General O’Neill for confirmation and received a nod. “Then we’ll need to use one of these methods. I’d recommend both palpitations and sonograms, starting with me as I’ll be the one to examine both of you.”
Dr. Fraser turned and stood with her back to Elizabeth. Elizabeth reluctantly reached out to touch her neck. She needed to confirm that Janet was symbiote free but also never wanted to feel something more under her fingers like that ever again. With quick and gentle pressure, she verified Janet’s neck had the right contours and didn’t move.
Janet stepped away and set up the sonogram, then ran it along the back of her neck as they watched the picture. Unfortunately, Liz couldn’t understand what she was seeing and a quick glance at Jack revealed his own confusion.
Janet printed out a picture from the sonogram and put it side by side with the sample prints she’d shown them earlier. After pointing out the symbiote in the one picture, Liz breathed a little easier as she didn’t see anything similar in the picture of Janet’s neck.
Dr. Fraser then motioned to Liz and Jack to turn around so she could palpitate their necks before running the sonogram probe across them. After demonstrating they were all symbiote free, she stepped back, “Anything else?”
Elizabeth forced herself not to show her relief, not to wrap her arms around herself like she wanted to, and said in as steady of a voice as possible, “My fiancé is a goa’uld. I’d recommend testing the whole base, then having a big party for family and have Carter and Teal’c walk through everyone with a zat at hand.”
“Well, crap.” Jack ran his fingers through his hair. “This isn’t even what you wanted to talk to me about is it?”
“Nope.” Liz popped the p in imitation of Jack and smiled. It felt good to dump this in someone else’s lap. He just gave her a sour look in return, causing her to shrug.
“Okay, enough of that you two. Before you leave, I’ll call Carter down here and confirm she’s symbiote free. We’ll make an excuse to have everyone on base stop in here today before they’re allowed to leave. General, make sure the upstairs guards are first as they’ll need to verify no one uncleared leaves the base. If Colonel Carter or Teal’c can make themselves available, I’ll plan to do this for three days straight. We can pretend I’m looking for evidence of an off-world contagion.”
General O’Neill said, “It’s like I’m not even in charge. I like it. Good plan, Janet. After this check is complete, let’s put our heads together to see what other methods we can come up with for spot checks. I can’t have Carter and Teal’c using all their time as goa’uld sniffers. Assuming Carter’s work allows it, she can work in here from her laptop for the rest of the days while pretending to fix something for you. You can probably expect Teal’c after that.”
Twenty minutes later Elizabeth, Sedgwick, and O’Neill were back in his office.
“So, Dr. Weir. What did you need to talk to me about?”
Tugging on her ear and looking around she said, “What happened to talking over dinner?”
“We can do that too. Although we may have to stop for some food for the mutt if you didn’t bring your own.”
Sedgwick lifted his head and looked around at the word food. Then, apparently deciding none was forthcoming, he lay back down again.
O’Neill jumped up. “Oh, wait! Before I forget, let me have Walter get someone to run a quick bug check. We should be clear but somehow those NID pests keep managing to get some planted.”
Opening his door, he poked his head out. “Walter, I need —“
“Yes, sir,” Walter said, “Corporal Masters is already on his way.”
The corporal entered the outer office as Walter finished speaking and Jack waved him into his office saying, “When you finish my office, be sure to do Walter’s space.”
“Yes, sir.” The corporal started his search, running his detection wand across everything and getting an unexpected beep when he walked by Sedgwick. Three seconds later two separate bugs were found: one in Sedgwick’s collar and one embedded in the clasp of the chain holding Sedgwick’s badge.
Liz and Jack eyed each other as the corporal continued his search, scanning both Jack and Liz at the General’s prompting. Luckily no other bugs were found. Corporal Masters closed the door as he left.
Liz spoke in a slightly stunned tone, “The chain that was used for the badge was supplied by Airman Sanchez at the guard shack. An Airman Broyhill was also there. I left my luggage with them and they were going to have someone retrieve it. Without inspection as they said procedure for this project is to perform their own inspections.”
“Gah!!” Jack tossed his hands in the air in apparent frustration. “What else could go wrong?” Looking up he ordered, “No! Don’t answer that!”
Liz ran her trembling hands down her face. “I came here instead of going to my apartment because I thought it would be safe.” She gave a bitter laugh, “So much for that thought.”
“It is safer, Liz. We have at least a few people that we know aren’t goa’uld. And wanting to bug you is not the same as sticking a snake in you. Now lay it on me. What was the reason you originally wanted to talk to me. We might as well get all the problems on the table.”
She took a deep breath and said, “First, I’d like to apologize for letting it get to this point. I didn’t handle my new world order as well as I’d thought. As a result, I didn’t provide the outpost with the supervision it needed.”
Jack sank back in his chair and closed his eyes for a moment, “What did McKay do?”
Wow. She knew there were issues between SG-1 and McKay but this was a bit much, “An excellent job.” She bit out. “Doctor McKay has been diligent with both his experiments and his documentation. He and Dr. Zelenka appear to be making great progress. No, the problem is with the life sciences side of the house.”
Jack grimaced and nodded at her rebuke regarding McKay. “It’s just Beckett and Biro right? What could they have done?”
“Besides going through mice faster than —“ Elizabeth cut herself off as the only comparison she could think of at that moment involved hookers and condoms. She didn’t know Jack well enough to speak that freely. Now that Sandra was dead, she didn’t know anyone well enough. Mentally shaking free of that depressing train of thought, Elizabeth said, ”Let’s just say I’m shocked no one here questioned how many mice they’ve been shipping to the outpost.”
Jack pulled out a pad and started making notes, waving at her to continue.
“Worse, both of them appear to have taken being in Antarctica as permission to ignore all SGC documentation and procedural requirements, including safety procedures. And they’ve also tossed all thoughts of ethics in the wind.”
Elizabeth, took a sip from the bottle of water Jack had handed her when they’d entered the office, swishing the water around before swallowing. “I left instructions with Beckett that he needed to have all missing documentation filed and approved by me before either he or Biro will be permitted to continue. Needless to say, he was throwing a hissy fit that continued right up until the helicopter picked me up.”
Jack put down his pen. “And? So? Therefore? I’m sure there’s more on your mind as this appears to have been resolved.”
Liz rolled her eyes at him, “You’d think so. Except Beckett is supposed to be the manager of biological sciences both in Antarctica and here. He was recently promoted to help take some of the weight from Carter’s shoulders.”
“So what has Daniel been doing down there? I would have thought he’d be all up in arms about the rights of mice and screaming at you to fix it.”
“Daniel and I have both been overly obsessed with translating the outpost’s database. We’ve been forwarding translated portions back and forth to each other. He’s trying to find out where the ancients went.”
“And, you? What have you been trying to find?”
Elizabeth grimaced, “How they ascended.”
“Jesus, Liz! Are you crazy? That’s just a cop-out!”
She nodded. “I know. I had it in my head that all I needed to do was figure it out and everyone could be saved. We could all ascend and leave the goa’uld behind. I told you, I didn’t deal well with having my world view torn asunder. Immediately meeting an off-world enemy that’d like to either kill or dominate the whole planet tipped me over into crazy land.”
Jack stared at her for a moment, mouth open. Then, snapping it shut, he said, “I like this you.”
Elizabeth sipped and swished her water again as she waved at Jack’s notepad, “You should probably add something on there about finding a better way, psychologically speaking, to introduce people to the program. Maybe give them some time and have group counseling between each revelation instead of dumping the whole history of the program on them in an afternoon. I suspect you’ve induced PTSD into a whole host of people just by introducing them into the program. And then you left them to deal with it on their own.”
“Ah, no. We have a psychologist available to consult.”
Liz actually had to roll her eyes at that, “Oh, yes. Let’s not forget Dr. MacKensie who is much more interested in documenting the psychological effects of any trauma than actually helping people. He sucks as an actual counselor. You need to get an experienced and helpful trauma counselor on staff, not a research scientist. And try to not to give them PTSD before they can even start.”
“Wow. Tell me what you really think.” At Liz’s glare, Jack held up his hands. “No, this is good. We rarely have someone look at the program as a whole and try to make suggestions to actually improve things. They always seem to try to make the case to shut it down or take it over. Remember your early days?”
And, yeah, she nodded at him. Jack had a point there. She swished another sip of water around her mouth even though it wasn’t helping.
“So, as long as you’re in a sharing mood, what else should I put on my list?”
“Demote Beckett. If he can’t even give me the required documentation for the outpost projects, the chances that he’s reviewing the ones here or at Area 51 are nil. You actually need to hire someone that can do legal and ethical oversight for the whole program.”
She waved him off when he looked at her like she was insane. “We can discuss the whole mess later. Right now I really, really need a toothbrush and some good coffee.”
Jack looked like he got a clue. “Ah. Goa’uld cooties. I totally understand. Go do your thing, come back here around, uhm,” he looked at the clock and eyed the safe containing the mass of paper he’d shoved into it, “four thirty-ish and we’ll resume the conversation over the steaks I promised you.”
An hour later, after showering and brushing her teeth vigorously, Liz was lying in a guest room bed with Sedgwick, still a bit freaked out. She’d been forcing herself not to think about her relationship with Simon. But now that she had the downtime she couldn’t do anything but think about it. Was any of it real? Had the goa’uld been in control the whole time? Had he been snaked because of her? Or because of all the powerful people on his patient list? He didn’t see a lot of government people but he had many industry executives and just plain wealthy people on his patient list.
She hugged Sedgwick closer, thinking how eager he was not just to see her, but to leave Simon. He’d stayed just beyond Simon’s ability to reach him. Was it a coincidence? Did he sense the goa’uld? Had it done something to him?
Sedgwick licked her face and settled his head into the crook of her neck, giving comfort where he could.
Liz woke a half-hour later feeling refreshed and newly determined to get a handle on both the outpost and the snaked Simon mess. Opening her door to find her suitcase resting right outside, she tugged it in and put it aside. She could have it scanned for bugs later. It was time for her to make her list so she and Jack could compare notes later.
Grabbing her laptop bag she and Sedgwick headed off to the cafeteria. While many of the military smiled at seeing her dog with a badge around his neck, it was only the civilians that actually stopped to pet him. She made sure to nod politely to everyone, getting a few surprised looks in return. She had been too self-absorbed during her tenure here to pay much attention to the base staff and their reaction showed that. No time like the present to start making a good impression.
Later that evening – Jack O’Neill’s House
They’d had dinner, and, yes, Jack grilled a wonderful steak. They were now headed down to his basement.
“You need to check out my foosball table. Makes for much easier conversation.”
As soon as the basement door closed behind them, Jack pulled out a metal ball and pressed a button. “For privacy, never fails and confuses the heck out of everyone trying to spy on me as to why they can’t bug my basement when I’m home.”
They climbed down the steps after Sedgwick who had run down them like he was going to find a bone at the bottom. Jack motioned her to have a seat in one of the lawn chairs while he got two beers out of the mini-fridge. He held one up in her direction and she shook her head, “It goes to my head too fast and I need to stay sharp for this conversation. Any water in there?”
After they were both settled and Jack had put down a beer spiked bowl of water for Sedgwick he asked, “Which tangled mess do you want to start with?”
“Simon.” Liz took a sip of bracingly cold water, very appreciative of how cold he kept that mini-fridge. “There’s no way I can see him again. I plan to break up with him via email.”
“Wow. I’d say that’s pretty cold, but he is a snake.”
Liz snorted. “I was planning to do it anyway, this latest development though…” She shook her head, “I can’t chance being near him and having a symbiote put in me. But I’m afraid what will happen to Simon. Is there a way to remove the symbiote?”
“The Tok’ra have the ability, but we’ve never been successful and getting them to help, well, it could take a while.”
“If the symbiote was put in him to get close to me, we don’t have a while. Once I break up with him, Simon will likely be dead.”
“You think that they might not have been targeting you?”
She nodded, “Simon’s patients are extremely wealthy and many are political powerhouses. If this is part of a longterm plan to take over earth, they may have considered contact with me a bonus.”
Jack’s bottle thudded as he managed to drop it upright on the floor. Although, with the way Sedgwick was eyeing it, it might be tipped over soon anyway. Liz sat back to enjoy the show as Jack got up to pace back and forth in front of Sedgwick, oblivious to the way the dog inched his way closer to the bottle. She was having a hard time not laughing despite the seriousness of the conversation. Jack finally noticed that and waved his hand at her, “What’s so funny?”
Liz nodded at Sedgwick who was in the process of nosing over the bottle. It clanged against the cement floor spilling a little beer before Jack managed to swipe it up. Leaving Sedgwick to lick up the bit on the floor.
Jack sighed, “Well, at least the dog has good taste.” He wiped off the mouth of the bottle and took a sip at the now slightly frothy mix. “Okay, I’ll let the President know. We’ll have to decide how to deal with that possibility.”
Liz hesitated and Jack asked, “Did you have an idea?”
She grimaced. “The symbiote poison. If we can’t save people from the symbiotes, it may be best to use it periodically on sensitive groups. I know I would rather be dead than a passenger in my own body. I just wasn’t sure if there were any long-term effects on people that don’t have the symbiote or how long it hangs around as we wouldn’t want to kill off any allies.”
“Yeah, my first reaction is hell, no. But if the alternative is having the goa’uld secretly running the country, I’ll add it to things for the president to consider. In the meantime, I’ll be going to see him in person and taking Carter with me. Let’s leave that now as there is nothing more you or I can do at the moment and go back to the Outpost issues.”
Elizabeth shrugged. “Not much more to say about that other than Beckett needs to be removed from a management position and you need someone that can do serious oversight.” Liz reached down into her carrying case and pulled out a couple of sheets of paper.
Jack looked at them. “A resume for Taro Yamaguchi?”
“Yes. He’s an ethics and compliance consultant. He mostly specializes in the biomedical field but he has engineering and law degrees and is well known for being incorruptible. He was used as a consultant during a treaty negotiation I did a few years ago. If you could even hire him for a month or two each year to inspect the whole program, you’d likely weed out a lot of issues before they escalated.”
“Okay, I’ll put him on the list for a security review while I think about the costs and benefits of creating a new position. That said, you know Daniel is eventually going to figure out where the ancients went.”
Liz smiled. “I know. I already let the president and the IOA know that I want leadership of whatever exploration that results from the outpost research.
“Uh-huh. And how are you going to deal with ethics off-planet if you aren’t able to do it yourself.”
Liz shrugged. “I’m thinking about it. But I can’t come up with any real answers until or unless it actually happens and we know how the exploration is going to be done. For all we know, we’d be able to use the resources at the SGC.”
“Oh,” Liz added, “I expect Beckett will be complaining to the IOA soon if he hasn’t already done so. I had McKay shut down his and Biro’s experiments and lock them out of their labs until further notice. I told Beckett he needed to provide all the missing documentation and a plan for bringing the experiments back into compliance before I’d authorize McKay to reopen the labs.”
Jack did a spit take. “Yeah, okay. That’s going to stir up a huge hornet’s nest as a lot of people want the ATA gene therapy.”
“That’s great but he’s killing mice right and left as he tests new ideas on them and I have no idea whether it’s necessary testing or not as I can’t get an answer of what the tests were for. Worse, Biro is experimenting with the virus that killed the ancients and her lab safety protocols are a joke.”
“That might just be you not understanding the science.”
Elizabeth shook her head, “You misunderstand. I didn’t say I couldn’t understand it. I said I couldn’t get an explanation. When I asked for it he said, and I quote, “Now lass, here in Antarctica the rules are a little different. We don’t need to document things to the same level that we do in the states.”
She had imitated both his accent and his condescending tone and when she finished Jack was staring at her, his bottle frozen halfway to his mouth.
She nodded at him. “Like I said. Beckett no longer has any management responsibilities at the outpost. If you don’t pull him out of management here and get someone in for the whole program, I’ll look for someone else to oversee his and Biro’s work at the outpost.”
“In the meantime,” she continued, “I expect to be called before the IOA in the next day or so. Can I count on your support on the Beckett issue.”
Finally finishing off his beer, Jack nodded. “Definitely.” He grimaced and said, “I’ll tell Carter she has to take oversight of the biological sciences back until we find another solution. I just hope she doesn’t kill me. Between that and making her a goa’uld sniffer these next few days, she won’t have much time for her own work.”
After a few seconds of thought, Jack added, “You’ll need to document the whole issue with Beckett so we can officially reprimand and demote him. I suggest we get that done tonight because it’s already been days since you left Antarctica and I can’t believe he hasn’t already raised a fuss about the lack of lab access.”
“Okay. So are we done here for tonight? If so I’d like to go back to base for the night so I can write my Dear John email and write up the official reports on the Beckett situation for the IOA.”
“We’re done. Let’s take this one for a walk,” he said, motioning toward Sedgwick, “and then I’ll drive us both back to the base for the night. I think it’s safe to say we could use a little extra security until we better understand the goa’uld situation.”
Wednesday, May xx, 2004 Stargate Command
When Liz went to the cafeteria for breakfast, Jack joined her, letting her know that the preliminary security check for Taro had come back okay and the more in-depth report should be available within 48 hours. Elizabeth just raised her eyebrows and didn’t comment on the speed. Instead, after finishing breakfast, she took a couple of marines that Dr. Fraser had just cleared as guards while she supervised the packing company she’d arranged to come out that day. There was no way she’d be staying off base for a while.
She was sorting through her bathroom cabinet when Simon’s voice arguing with the guards registered.
“Crap.” She got up and walked out to the entryway with Sedgwick at her side, being sure not to get to close to the door. “Simon, what are you doing here?”
“What do you mean what am I doing here? You fucking broke up with me over email. Don’t you think I deserve more than that?” She got a couple of disbelieving looks from the guards and the packing crew.
Liz nodded. “You do. You deserve a lot more than that. But as you can see my security level was raised and visiting you in person wasn’t an option.”
He tried to step forward, only to have the SGC guard step in his way. “I’m sorry, sir. You aren’t permitted inside the apartment.”
Liz sighed and ran a hand through her hair. So much for her unruffled Elizabeth exterior. “Look. I’m sorry, Simon. I was planning on breaking up with you in person when this mess happened. I don’t know what else to say.”
“You could actually tell me why.”
Liz looked around the guards and packing people causing Simon to give a sharp laugh. “They already know you dumped me. Airing a little more of our dirty laundry out isn’t going to make much of a difference.”
“Okay. You know how you said you missed me while I was gone? And I said I missed you too? What I didn’t say was that I didn’t even think about you until I was already back and realized I had missed relaxing with you, having dinner with you and spending time with you. I didn’t miss you while I was gone the way someone should miss their fiancé. I realized I love you but I’m not in love with you and somewhere along the way I got the two confused.”
Goa’uld Simon gave an excellent hurt act. Liz knew she would be overwhelmed with guilt if she hadn’t felt the snake. That left her feeling totally pissed off at the emotional manipulation it was attempting while at the same time she was fighting the guilt that she couldn’t rescue Simon. Hell, she didn’t even know if Simon even liked her at all. Or if she had a clue what his real personality was like. For all she knew, that damn snake had been in charge their whole relationship and she just hadn’t noticed.
The thought made her gag slightly, which from the sympathetic looks cast at both her and Simon, seemed to pass for whatever emotional angst she should be feeling when breaking up with someone.
Simon just stood braced in the doorway looking gutted. Yeah, no, that guilt trip was not going to fucking work.
“Look, Simon. I’m very sorry. But I can’t change how I feel.”
Simon looked like he was about to cry. “You took off your ring.”
Liz nodded. When the heck did goa’uld learn to act so much like humans? Did this mean that the Tok’ra were really just an alternate faction that tried to enlist earth human’s in their civil war? Holy crap. No. Carter had one that left her alive when it died. Focus, Liz. Focus on the present.
She looked at him as sympathetically as she could manage by pretending it really was Simon, “I didn’t expect you to drive down to see me, so I dropped it in the mail.” And, yeah, that just lost a whole lot of the sympathy vote in the room as a lot of the men gave her that “you did what?” look.
All except Sedgwick that is. He obviously sensed something dangerous as he pressed close against her and growled softly. One of the guards noticed the change and looked sharply at Simon, backing slightly away from him to give himself more room to react to any violence.
“You mailed it? You returned your engagement ring through the US postal service?” Simon acted like he couldn’t believe what she said. “Wow. Yeah, I guess I’m better off without someone as cold as you.” With that, he finally turned and left.
Fucking snake. She was cold? He was a damn reptile. She ignored the guards and packers and did an about-face back to the bathroom, determined to have this place packed up and moved tonight. No way did she want that snake able to trap her into another public conversation. Not with the way it could manipulate people so easily. This was going to create enough bad gossip that it would fucking mess with her command ability. And since when did she think in expletives all the time? Fuck. Fuck. Fuckity. Fuck.
Okay. Deep breath. Profanity is a sign of a lack of creativity. Yeah, no. It feels creatively good. She tossed some old makeup in the waste bin. The problem with profanity is people stop listening when you swear. Nods. Okay. She’s good. Moving on. Time to focus on packing.
It was lunchtime when Liz finished up and she was able to check her email. And there it was. The IOA wanted to meet with her to discuss the status of Antarctica. It looked like she was getting on a plane back to D.C. tomorrow morning.
Thursday, May xx, 2004 Baltimore-Washington International Airport
At 10:20 am, Liz and her new shadow got off the plane at BWI and were picked up by a limo for the drive into D.C. Jack had arranged for Sedgwick to stay at the SGC and loaned her Corporal Hayes, the Marine that actually took notice of Sedgwick’s reaction to Simon.
At noon she was waiting patiently outside the secure conference room that the IOA was using.
At 12:15 pm, she calmly pulled out her phone and started making notes about subjects she needs to research to better understand the science at the outpost. She needs things to give her an overview and makes a note to get subscriptions to magazines intended for the layperson, to call the local universities and see what undergrad texts they recommend and to send an email to McKay asking what subjects she’d be best investing her time studying.
“Dr. Weir.” She looked up at 12:25 pm to see an expensively suited, highly polished man waiting for her attention. “They’re ready for you now.”
As she put her phone away and methodically gathered her things together, he gave her a slightly disapproving look. No doubt he was annoyed that the wait did not appear to bother her and that she wasn’t flustered and hurrying when he called her in.
He stopped when he noticed her guard shadowing her. “Dr. Weir. I’m afraid you’ll need to go in alone. This is a secure meeting.”
Elizabeth just looked at him calmly and said, “The corporal is my guard and goes where I go. He has clearance for the program and the general has made him aware of the consequences of gossip.”
She stood calmly and waited. This was a game she was quite familiar with and no one this green would get her to blink first.
Liz followed him into the room and found the IOA all in a half-circle on one side of the conference room table, with a single chair on the other side. Classic intimidation move.
As if she didn’t even notice the imbalance, Elizabeth nodded to Corporal Hayes as he unlocked the cuff holding her carry bag to his wrist and handed it to her. She left him standing at parade rest by the door as she walked calmly over to take her seat. She then opened the lock on her carry bag and pulled out a bottle of water which she placed carefully to her right, a couple of Manila folders which she placed to her left, and a spiral notebook and pen which she placed in front of her.
The table set up to her liking, she folded her hands in front of her and looked inquiringly at the IOA members.
Representative Shen Xiaoyi sneered at her and asked, “Are you ready, Dr. Weir?”
Elizabeth hid her shock at Representative Shen Xiaoyi’s attitude. Shen Xiaoyi had always been Elizabeth’s biggest supporter on the IOA. “I am.”
The other representatives weren’t adept at hiding their reactions. Dr. La Pierre, the French representative, actually sniffed at Shen Xiaoyi and said, “Please forgive the lack of etiquette of my fellow representative, Dr. Weir. We’re delighted you were able to make time to meet with us.”
“Of course,” Elizabeth said. “I’m at your service.”
Shen Xiaoyi snapped out, “Then why are you hindering vital research?” and slapped her hand down on the table.
“Representative Shen Xiaoyi, I’m afraid you have me at a disadvantage as I’m unaware of the research to which you refer.”
“The ATA gene research, of course. Don’t act so innocent. You know you shut it down and took Beckett — our primary geneticist! — off the experiment.” Even though Shen Xiaoyi was confrontational and rude again, the other representatives appeared in agreement this time and looked to Elizabeth for answers.
She calmly replied, “I believe you have been given inaccurate information. If you’ll bear with me, I can explain the current situation and the corrective actions being undertaken.”
All the representatives except Shen Xiaoyi relaxed slightly and looked more open to what she had to say. Item One: Get the audience less antagonistic. This time by indicating she’d give them what they wanted. — Check.
“As you all know, finding the genetic key to ancient technology is a very high priority. I myself am very much looking forward to finding a solution. After all, just being stationed at the outpost puts me at a disadvantage as I can’t even open and close my own office door.” She gave a slight laugh, inviting them to laugh with her. All of them except Shen Xiaoyi at least smiled. Item Two: Get them to smile. — Check.
“And, I’m sure you’d agree that if the experiments aren’t efficient, then we need to reexamine how they are being performed so we can achieve our goals sooner.” They all looked interested and 5 of the 7 members nodded in agreement. Item Three: Get them to agree with something — Check.
Liz was careful not to let her feelings of triumph show, but she knew the changes should be an easy sell from here. After all, sales, confidence games and politics were just different faces of the same coin.