- Character Bashing
- Action Adventure
- Episode Related
John sat up in bed, immediately alert, but careful not to disturb his sleeping Guide. He looked around the bedroom, wondering what had awoken him, then heard the sound of a car coming up the drive to the house. He slipped out of bed just as the bedroom door opened and Jim peered around.
‘We completely forgot about O’Neill coming today,’ he told John, the words barely audible to anyone who wasn’t a Sentinel.
‘Fuck! I’ll go down before they hammer on the door,’ John told him at a similar volume. ‘I want Rodney to sleep as long as possible if he can.’
The two Sentinels, similarly dressed, hurried downstairs and John opened the front door just as the car pulled up at the foot of the steps. Two men got out, and the elder of the two, a grey-haired man in the uniform of an Air Force Major General raised his eyebrows at the sight of two men still in pyjamas at 11 am on a Monday morning.
‘Ellison,’ he nodded to Jim, then turned his attention to John. ‘And you must be Lt Colonel Sheppard. I do hope we haven’t disturbed you.’
John scowled at him and offered his hand, forcing the General to mount the steps to shake it. ‘I’m John Sheppard, and I’ll thank you for keeping your voices down, sir. My Guide and Dr Sandburg were kidnapped yesterday, and we didn’t manage to rescue them until the early hours. It was easily 4 am before any of us went to bed. Come through to the kitchen.’
He led the way into the bright, sunny kitchen at the back of the house and motioned to the table. ‘Have a seat, sir. I’ll make some coffee.’
Jim came to lean on the worktop next to John and watched as the two men made themselves comfortable, both wearing similar expressions of puzzlement and shock.
‘Kidnapped? Rodney?’ the other man demanded. ‘What…Who…’
‘We don’t know who or why at the moment,’ John replied. ‘Mr…?’ He let the sentence hang.
‘Jackson, Dr Daniel Jackson. And this is Jack O’Neill.’ Daniel nodded a greeting. ‘I know Rodney from when he worked at the SGC and in Nevada. How is he? How did you rescue him so quickly?’
‘My apologies, Colonel Sheppard,’ O’Neill said, grimacing. ‘Is there anything we can do to help?’
John rubbed the back of his neck and frowned. ‘I…I’m not sure at the moment. We sort of all fell into bed last night when we finally got home, and I’ve only been awake for a few minutes. I need coffee before I answer any questions.’
‘Have the police been informed?’
‘I called them when we got back last—this morning,’ Jim told O’Neill. ‘We left the two men guarding Rodney and Blair tied up for them to collect. I dare say they’ll turn up as well at some point, berating us for not waiting for them before mounting the rescue.’
‘What did the kidnappers want?’ Jackson asked, exchanging glances with O’Neill.
‘That’s the weird bit,’ John confessed. ‘They didn’t make any demands of us or Rodney and Blair. They just beat Rodney.’
‘Punched, slapped, kicked. He’s a mass of cuts and bruises, but as far as we can see, there’re no bones broken, and he’s not peeing blood. Not as yet, at least.’
‘Shouldn’t you have taken him to a hospital?’ O’Neill asked with a frown.
‘They couldn’t do any more for him than we can here at home, and, to be perfectly frank, I didn’t want him anywhere I can’t fully protect him.’
Jackson nodded as though he understood. ‘And Dr Sandburg? He wasn’t hurt at all?’
Jim shook his head. ‘Not a mark on him other than on his wrists. He’d been tied up; that’s all.’
‘Would you mind going over the whole story, from the beginning, for me?’ O’Neill asked.
‘Why?’ John demanded. ‘What’s it got to do with you and why do you care? You never cared about Rodney before.’
O’Neill flushed and opened his mouth to reply, then sighed and pursed his lips. ‘I can understand why you’d think that, but it is possible that he was kidnapped because of the work he did for us.’
‘Deep Space Telemetry? The worst cover story ever, by the way.’
O’Neill gave a grim smile. ‘Both you and your father have signed the NDAs we sent, and once we read you into the programme, you’ll see how our work could be a reason for his kidnapping, at least. I’m not sure about Dr Sandburg, though.’
‘We think Blair was taken simply because he was in the car with Rodney when they took him,’ Jim explained. ‘We don’t know the full story ourselves as yet, but don’t forget I am read into the SGC and I can’t think why they’d suddenly Take Rodney now. It was a very elaborate plan which involved getting Patrick and David Sheppard as well as John and myself out of the house, and attempting to hack Sheppard Industries to get Rodney to go into the office.’
‘And making sure Miko was away for the weekend,’ John added. ‘She’s the SI computer wizard,’ he explained to O’Neill and Jackson. ‘Both my father and I thought it had something to do with his work on Zero Point Energy at first, but as it turns out, it wasn’t about anything.’
O’Neill and Jackson exchanged glances again. ‘Zero Point Energy?’ Jackson repeated.
John narrowed his eyes. ‘An expansion of his Nobel work. And I just said it wasn’t anything to do with the kidnapping. Why are you so interested in it?’
‘Because it’s something our scientists have been working on for a good few months,’ O’Neill admitted. ‘Since McKay and Zelenka were nominated, in fact.’
‘So it might have been about it, and the kidnappers were…what? Softening him up before questioning him?’
‘It is possible. As you know yourself only too well, Colonel Sheppard, people who want information will go to any lengths to get it.’
John watched him for a moment then turned, abruptly, and busied himself pouring coffee into mugs. ‘Have a look in the cupboard by the ovens, Jim, would you? Nancy usually keeps some cake in there.’
‘Dare we when she’s not here to give permission?’
This comment brought a smile to John’s face. ‘If we tell her it was for Rodney, she’ll be fine with it. She adores him.’
‘Is Nancy Mrs Sheppard?’ Daniel asked.
‘She’s our housekeeper, but she’s been here since I was a baby. Dad told her we’d fend for ourselves today. She was as worried as any of us over Rodney and Blair and was up waiting for us when we got home this morning.’
O’Neill got to his feet to help with the cups of coffee while John set a second pot of coffee brewing. He’d just switched it on when he heard hurried footsteps in the hall. He swung around just in time to prevent his father from punching O’Neill in the face.
‘He’s the one responsible for Rodney’s mistreatment and very likely his kidnapping, John! You can’t do it, but nothing is stopping me!’
‘I’m perfectly capable of fighting my own battles.’
‘He could have you up on charges if you did it.’
‘He could have you up on charges with the police! Dad, General O’Neill is just trying to help. For Christ’s sake don’t hit the poor man.’
‘Hey! There’s nothing poor about me,’ O’Neill retorted. ‘I can fight my own battles as well. If you want to punch me, Sheppard, bring it on.’
Daniel got to his feet and stood between the two men. ‘There’ll be no fighting anyone, either of you.’ He pointed to the chair Jack had been sitting on. ‘Jack, sit! Dr Sheppard, sit over there!’ He pointed to the chair on the other side of his own seat. ‘It’s like having a pair of kids,’ he muttered, sitting back down between the two angry men.
A glance at Jim showed he was having trouble keeping a straight face as well, and John shook his head as he placed the tray of coffee in the middle of the table while Jim added a plate holding slices of cake.
‘Not that either of you deserves any,’ Jim said, his mouth twitching with laughter as he sat down next to Patrick.
O’Neill and Patrick gave him almost matching scowls causing him to burst out laughing, John and Daniel joining in a few seconds later, making Patrick and O’Neill scowl even more, but it lightened the tension in the kitchen almost immediately.
‘I think I needed that,’ John admitted, wiping his eyes.
‘Me too,’ Daniel agreed and tilted his head on one side, watching John. ‘Colonel Sheppard, can we start again, please? We’re very sorry for everything that happened at both Stargate Command and Area 51. Will you allow me to explain what we do there and why you had to sign NDAs a couple of inches thick?’
‘Wait a minute. Area 51? I thought that was just mythology. Are you telling me it’s real? And what the hell is Stargate Command? Stargate?’
Daniel nodded a smile on his lips despite the unexpected situation. ‘Want me to start at the beginning?’
‘Yes!’ John told him adamantly while Patrick began to look interested instead of angry.
Daniel began to describe what the programme was and how it started while John and Patrick listened with mouths agape.
‘And Rodney worked with alien technology and went through the Stargate?’ John asked when Daniel had finished.
‘He certainly worked with alien technology, but I don’t think he ever went through the Stargate,’ Daniel replied. ‘His work was much more theoretical although we do have some scientists at the SGC who work off-world.’ He paused for a moment and frowned. ‘After Rodney, Dr McKay, left the Programme we discovered several misuses of power by Maj—Captain Carter, one of which was keeping away any scientists who she saw as threatening her position at the SGC, Rodney being one of them.’
‘She deliberately kept him away from where he’d be most useful?’ John demanded.
Daniel nodded. ‘I’m by no means excusing what she did, but the former head of the SGC did tend to rely on her for answers to any questions he might have, including who should be brought to the SGC to work in the science department.’
‘General Hammond was a damn fine commander, though, in spite of his tendency to believe what Carter told him,’ Jack commented.
‘I don’t disagree, but it’s almost as though he had blinders on where she’s concerned. We uncovered a lot of irregularities after she went to Siberia.’
‘Where he wanted to send Rodney and Radek?’
‘To be fair, it was Carter who tried to order Dr Zelenka to go, not General Hammond, and he only tried to send Rodney because Sam told him he was the best man for the job,’ Daniel explained.
‘Jim told me she was demoted and sent to Siberia in his place.’
Jack nodded. ‘She’s back now and at Area 51 where the new CO is keeping a close eye on her.
‘Why don’t you just get rid of her?’ John asked. ‘She’s done some pretty horrendous things by all accounts.’
‘She knows too much about the programme,’ Daniel replied. ‘And she is a good scientist.’
‘She’s saved Earth on several occasions,’ Jack added. ‘She might have done some terrible things to other scientists, but she is exceedingly smart. Not in McKay’s league, or even in Zelenka’s if what I’ve heard about him is correct. I doubt she’ll ever be in line for a Nobel, f’rinstance, but she is a talented scientist.’
‘Just lacking in honesty and scruples,’ Patrick commented sourly. ‘I certainly wouldn’t employ her.’
‘She’ll never leave the programme,’ Jack said quietly. ‘I don’t know if she realises it as yet, but we can’t trust her anywhere other than under our eyes.’
John nodded. ‘Okay, so, Carter is under surveillance. It doesn’t explain why you wanted to see my father and me, though, and why you’re reading us into the Stargate Programme. What else have you got to tell us? Is it anything to do with my blood being stolen or the anonymous letters we’ve all been receiving?’
‘Letters and blood?’ Jack asked carefully.
John and Patrick exchanged glances.
‘Eight vials of blood were taken from me when I was unconscious in Bethesda,’ John explained. ‘I thought that was why Dr Fraiser wanted to see me. To give me an explanation.’
‘Eight vials?’ Daniel repeated. ‘Over what period?’
‘A week. They placed in the general part of the hospital so my blood could be taken without anyone asking too many questions as they would in the S and G wing.’
‘It wasn’t until I kicked up one hell of a fuss that they moved John to the Sentinel and Guide wing where they should have originally put him,’ Patrick added. ‘A Dr Elizabeth Weir instructed one of Bethesda’s military administrators, Commander Roberts, to make sure she could get hold of as many blood samples as they could manage.’
‘Elizabeth Weir?’ Jack repeated. ‘Wait. How do you know this?’
‘I asked one of my staff to hack into the Bethesda computer system,’ Rodney told him, walking stiffly into the kitchen and causing both O’Neill and Jackson to exclaim at his cuts and bruises.
‘Rodney! What the hell did they do to you?’ Daniel demanded.
‘Gave me coffee and cake, what does it look like!’ Rodney snapped and pushed Jim out of his chair so he could sit next to John and lean on him. ‘I woke up, and you weren’t there,’ he said to John plaintively.
John tucked an arm around him and pressed a kiss to the top of his head. ‘Sorry, babe. I didn’t want our visitors to wake you up by banging on the front door. How are you doing? Should you be up yet?’
‘I smelled the coffee.’
‘And that explains it all,’ John teased, pressing another kiss to his head before standing up to get another cup. When he turned around again, Rodney was sipping from his cup and grinning at him over the rim.
‘I’m not sorry!’
John laughed and took over the second pot of coffee he’d made. ‘I half expected you’d turn up, so I made a pot just for you.’ He didn’t miss the looks O’Neill and Jackson exchanged. ‘What?’
Daniel smiled at Rodney. ‘You look happy. Beat up but happy.’
‘You sound surprised.’
‘I am, a little. You were always so wrapped up in your science whenever I saw you at Area 51 and never seemed to take much notice of what went off around you.’
‘Oh, I knew what was happening around me, I was CSO of Area 51, after all. I just kept my head down when anyone from Colorado turned up or when Landry appeared.’
‘Why?’ Daniel asked.
Rodney narrowed his eyes. ‘You really don’t know?’
‘Know what, McKay?’ Jack demanded.
‘Hey! Watch how you speak to him!’ John told him, his eyes hard. ‘Sir.’
Rodney patted his arm comfortingly. ‘The SGC treated, still treat for all I know, Area 51 like poor relations. My staff had their work stolen by the DOD, were ignored for significant posts, and Landry treated everyone like his personal slave. Unless you were willing to kiss his ass, you never got anywhere. Any work which looked as though it might prove interesting or profitable would get transferred to Colorado. I made dozens of complaints to both the SGC and the DOD but was ignored. We occasionally got bits and pieces of broken tech but nothing that might prove interesting or usable, and we were lambasted for not coming up with new ideas and solutions to the problems you people caused off-world.
‘My staff were bullied and belittled by the military stationed at there, and there were two sexual assaults on my staff that I knew of. Heavens knows how many more went unreported. It just wasn’t worth it as nobody ever bothered to investigate or if they did, it was just brushed under the carpet. Did no one ever question why there was such a high turnover of staff at Area 51?’
O’Neill’s face had grown paler and paler as Rodney’s litany of wrongs continued. ‘Jesus Christ!’ He muttered when Rodney had finished. ‘Why didn’t anyone ever tell me this? Tell anyone?!’
‘Did you just hear what I said, O’Neill!’ Rodney demanded. ‘Nothing’s changed, has it? You people still don’t listen!’
‘Rodney!’ Daniel held out a hand as though to touch Rodney’s arm, then withdrew it. ‘He didn’t mean it like that. None of us knew. Truly. Don’t you think we’d’ve done something if we did know? That I’d’ve done something?’
Rodney shook his head. ‘How could we know? Several of us made complaints, and nothing was ever done. Why should we believe you’d be any different, Jackson. Area 51 was the forgotten step-child of the Stargate Programme. Has it changed? Really?’
O’Neill rubbed his hands over his face. ‘We’ve – I’ve done my best, McKay. Landry was asked to retire, and we put a new guy in at Area 51 although the whole scientific programme comes under Dr Lindsey Novak now, SGC and Area 51. All complaints are handled within a week, sooner if possible, and quite a lot of the Air Force and Marine personnel who were based in Nevada have either been discharged or sent back to the big Air Force or Marine Corps. I wrote to every civilian who left either facility between when we set up shop and you leaving to apologise and to offer them their positions back if they wanted. I wrote to you, as well. We’ve done the best we possibly can, and we’re still trying.’
O’Neill kept his gaze on Rodney until Rodney finally nodded. ‘Okay, fine. I believe you’ve done your best, O’Neill. Now, you were asking about John’s extra blood tests, and I told you I’d asked one of my staff to hack into Bethesda. What can you tell us about this Weir woman and a geneticist called Carson Becket and why do they appear to have dropped off the radar? Are they off-world?’
O’Neill swore fluently and creatively. ‘They’re both based in Antarctica at present,’ he admitted at length. ‘Long story short, we’ve made a massive number of discoveries since you left, McKay We know who actually built the Stargates for instance.’
‘We call them the Ancients,’ Daniel added. ‘They came to the Milky Way and to Earth between thirty and fifty million years ago we think, and seeded the galaxy with Stargates. Then, somewhere between five and ten million years ago, there was a devastating plague on Earth, and most of them left on a city-ship called Atlantis.’
‘A city what?’ John demanded while Jim and Patrick looked astounded.
‘A city-ship,’ Daniel repeated with a smile. ‘A city that’s also a spaceship.’
‘Blair and I weren’t told about that,’ Jim commented.
John stared at Daniel Jackson. ‘I know you’re telling the truth, but you have to admit it a flying city does sound rather far-fetched.’
‘John.’ Rodney rested his hand on John’s arm. ‘ It might sound far-fetched, but the Stargates are real. I’ve seen one, and I worked on the technology of the gatebuilders for over three years. I’ve never heard about Atlantis or the Ancients, but I do believe what Jackson’s saying.
John sighed. ‘Okay, Dr Jackson. Carry on, but tell me where I come into it.’
‘I…we believe you are descended from the Ancients.’ Having delivered his bombshell, Daniel sat back and sipped his coffee.
John’s mouth fell open again, and he started at Daniel. ‘I’m what?’
Rodney snapped his fingers several times. ‘The blood tests on you and Laura Cadman. The ATA plus plus. Is that what you’re talking about, Jackson?
‘Who’s Laura Cadman?’ O’Neill asked.
‘First of all, am I right about the ATA plus plus?’ Rodney asked.
‘Ancient Technology Activation gene,’ Daniel explained. ‘The plus, plus I suppose is because Colonel Sheppard has an unusually strong ATA gene. Now, who’s Laura Cadman?’
‘She’s a Marine Captain and a member of my Recon team,’ John explained. ‘We suspect my whole team was tested while we were in Landstuhl, but only the results of Cadman and myself proved positive. Does that mean she’s also descended from the Ancients?’
‘Yes, although I’m guessing her gene isn’t as strong as your own,’ Daniel replied. ‘And we need to test your father and brother as well, Colonel.’
‘I’m not sure I’m happy about having my blood tested by you people,’ Patrick said. ‘Or my son’s. You don’t have a particularly good track record with my family’s blood, do you?’
‘No,’ O’Neill admitted with a sigh. ‘But if it makes you feel any better, there’s no blood test involved this time. Show them, Danny.’
Jackson delved into his briefcase and pulled out a small round metal object. ‘Mr Sheppard, will you take this from me, please? It won’t hurt you. We just want to test your reaction.’
‘Go ahead, Mr Sheppard,’ Jack said, nodding. ‘It won’t hurt you, I promise.’
Slowly, Patrick stretched out his hand and took the ball from Daniel, swearing when it suddenly lit up.
‘Dad?’ John demanded. ‘Are you alright?’
‘Yes, yes, son. I’m fine, but…’
‘Take it from him, Colonel,’ Daniel said quietly.
John plucked it out of his father’s hand, and the ball glowed even brighter. ‘It’s…It’s some kind of entertainment device,’ John murmured and bent his head to study it. ‘If I press…’ The ball suddenly opened out in the palm of his hand like a flower, and a tiny hologram of a dancer appeared and spun around while soft music played. ‘It’s like a music box. I…I think it’s a kind of aid for a child. To help them sleep. It’s amazing.’ He managed to drag his eyes away from it and looked at the shocked expression on Daniel and Jack’s faces. ‘What? What is it?’
‘Plus, plus indeed,’ Daniel breathed. ‘You couldn’t get it to do more than light up, Jack.’
Rodney reached out and took it gently from John’s hand and watched the dancer spin. ‘You realise we may have to rewrite the entire history of music if…when the Programme is declassified, don’t you?’ He looked over to Jim and held out the ball. ‘Take it from me, Jim. It won’t hurt you.’
‘Will it work for me?’
‘I think so. I have a theory about this ATA Gene, but I need more empirical information.’
Jim took it from him, a little hesitantly, and watched the dancer. ‘Blair will adore this.’
‘Blair will adore what?’ a new voice demanded.
‘What will I adore?’ a second voice asked, and David and Blair entered the kitchen, looking at the visitors in surprise.
‘I forgot they were coming,’ David admitted.
‘We all forgot they were coming,’ Patrick told him and quickly made some introductions.
‘I’m starving,’ Rodney suddenly announced. ‘Is there anything else other than cake?’
‘Don’t you worry, Master Rodney. I’ll get some food on the go as soon as you all clear out of my kitchen,’ Nancy announced, bustling into the room.
‘I told you to take the day off,’ Patrick protested.
‘And who’d do the cooking then?’
‘I can cook,’ John told her. ‘You know I can. You taught me before I went away to college.’
‘And I’m sure you’re an excellent cook, Master John. Now, clear out everyone and give me space to work.’ She stopped moving for an instant and stared at the empty plate on the table and the empty cake tin on the work surface. ‘Is that the cake I made yesterday?’
‘Yes?’ John said hesitantly.
Nancy narrowed her eyes and opened her mouth to reprimand him when Rodney spoke up.
‘I was hungry, Nancy. You know what my blood sugar’s like. I’m sorry.’
Nancy almost melted into concern. ‘Oh, Master Rodney. It doesn’t matter. I made it to eat, and I can easily make another one. Now, can you wait until I’ve cooked breakfast, lunch…a meal of some sort?’
Rodney nodded. ‘Of course. The cake helped. This is General O’Neill, and Dr Jackson by the way. This is Nancy, the mainstay of the Sheppard family.’
Nancy nodded to O’Neill and Jackson while John and David scowled at Rodney.
‘Suck-up,’ John muttered, and David nodded in agreement.
‘Come on then, everyone,’ Patrick stood up and motioned for the guests to follow him while John and Jim excused themselves to get dressed.
They reconvened over brunch on the terrace overlooking the creek since the sun was shining.
‘Can you fill us in about the kidnapping, please, Dr McKay, Dr Sandburg?’ O’Neill asked politely.
‘How much do you know?’ Rodney asked loading his plate with food.
‘Just that you and Dr Sandburg were kidnapped and you were beaten. That they didn’t ask you any questions but may have been softening you up to be questioned later.’
‘I’m pretty sure they weren’t expecting me to be there,’ Blair admitted. ‘We were driving along, and a car suddenly pulled out of a gateway right into the side of the car, and two men jumped out and dragged Rodney out of the driver’s seat. They didn’t even notice me at first, not until I shouted something stupid like ‘stop’. At first, I thought they were going to leave me behind, but they bundled Rodney into the other car and came back for me. They blindfolded us, but we could still hear them.’
‘They mentioned just dumping Blair at the roadside,’ Rodney added in between mouthfuls of bacon and eggs. ‘But one of them called someone and then took us both to that warehouse.’
‘My blindfold had slipped a little, so I could see we were in a business park of some sort and I could see the name on one of the other Warehouses. That’s how I was able to tell Jim where to find us. I knew once he was close enough, he’d be able to sense me.’
‘How did you tell Mr Ellison?’ O’Neill asked.
‘I…we met on the spirit plane, and I was able to tell him where we were,’ Blair said uncomfortably.
‘The spirit plane? What’s that?’
‘It’s somewhere Sentinels and Guides can access mentally,’ Blair explained. ‘Can we talk about it later, perhaps? What matters is I was able to give Jim a message so he could get close enough to me to sense me.’
‘Which I did, and John could sense Rodney too, despite the newness of their bond,’ Jim added.
Blair raised his eyebrows. ‘Already? Wow!’
‘But we still don’t know why you and Rodney were taken, and that’s worrying,’ John said. ‘It means we can’t be certain the danger’s over.’
‘But the two men from last night are in custody, aren’t they?’ David confirmed.
Jim nodded. ‘And I called again while I was dressing. The Chief’s sending someone out to get statements from us all later.’
‘But you recognised one of them, didn’t you, Rodney?’ Patrick reminded him.
Rodney nodded. ‘I’m pretty sure one of them is a former Marine. I remember him from Area 51. He was one of the worst for picking on the scientists, but I can’t remember his name if I ever knew it.’
‘We took some photographs,’ John said suddenly. ‘I’d almost forgotten.’ He dug around in his pocket, pulled out his cell phone and brought up the photos. He held it out to O’Neill. ‘Do you recognise him?’
O’Neill shook his head. ‘I’ve seen him, but I don’t know his name. He was based in Nevada.’
‘Stackhouse might know,’ Daniel suggested. ‘Our driver,’ he told the others. ‘I’ll go and fetch him. He jogged out of the room, reappearing a short while later with Stackhouse. ‘Master Sergeant Stackhouse, everyone. Stacks, do know who this is? It’s okay; everyone’s read into the Programme.’ He held the phone out.
Stackhouse took it and frowned. ‘Kevin Baker. Used to be based at Area 51 Never made it past PSC and he left after one tour with us. He never stopped talking about his daddy who was a Senator or something.’ He looked up. ‘Why’s he tied up? Not that I’m arguing, he probably deserved it.’
‘He kidnapped and beat up Dr McKay,’ Daniel said quietly.
Stackhouse looked over at McKay and smiled. ‘Hey, Dr M. You look well, apart from the bruises. We all missed you after you left Area 51. You were one of the good ones.’
‘One of the good ones?’ Jack repeated.
‘Sure. Oh, he yelled at us, but he yelled at everyone, not like Dr Kavanagh who only yells at people he thinks he can bully. Dr M was all about equality.’
‘Thanks, Stacks,’ Jack nodded then glanced over to Patrick. ‘Is there anywhere Stackhouse can get a coffee or something?’
Patrick nodded and gave Stackhouse instructions to find the kitchen and Nancy, then turned back to O’Neill. ‘Where does this put us? We’ve got a definite link between your Programme and the kidnappers. What now?’
‘I’d prefer it if we can keep the local police out of it as much as possible,’ O’Neill replied. ‘I’ll call the Governor and Police Chief in a while and tell them we’re dealing with it ourselves. I can probably involve NCIS if necessary since Baker was a Marine and I can certainly blanket it with National Security. The locals won’t want to touch that!’
‘Fair enough, but is Rodney still in danger?’
O’Neill hesitated for a moment. ‘My gut says yes,’ he said at length. ‘I’d be happy to have him come to the SGC. We can protect him there.’
John shook his head. ‘No offence, sir, but I’m not sure you can. You’ve already admitted one of your former Marines helped kidnap Rodney. I’m not happy about letting him go to the SGC.’
‘Hey!’ Rodney scowled. ‘He is right here!’
John laughed and hugged him gently. ‘We know. We can hear you. And if I’m around, which I intend to be from now on, I can protect you myself. We made a mistake and let them separate us, but it won’t happen again. If you do want to help, sir, why don’t you try and find where Baker went to after he left your programme? And the guy who invited us to the Golf Tournament. What was his name, David?’
‘Jeff Briggs. I’ll write down what details I can remember about him but I’ve spoken to Miko, and she says she can’t find any trace of him. His cell is switched off, and he’s not been seen for a couple of days.’
‘Right. You find him, and you find out what Beckett and Weir are up to, and we can talk again. Until then, we’re not going anywhere.’
‘Colonel Sheppard,’ Jack began.
‘No, General O’Neill. All the bad stuff that’s happened to this family stems from your SGC. Carter, Fraiser, Baker, Weir, Becket, they’re all connected to your base. I’m not putting my family into more danger by taking them into your stronghold. I’m not putting Rodney and the rest of my family in any more danger.’
‘He has a point, Jack,’ Daniel said quietly.
‘I could just have you all beamed out of here by the Prometheus,’ Jack snapped, ignoring Daniel.
Jim laughed. ‘You do that, and you will have a battle on your hands, O’Neill. John and I would try and take that ship apart between us, and I’ll pull every single Sentinel and Guide out of any government organisation there is. You think they’ll be loyal to you when they know how you treated us? How you’ll probably treat them? Just try it, and we’ll see.’
‘And don’t forget I can build bombs, O’Neill,’ Rodney added. ‘Bombs in things you wouldn’t even recognise were dangerous.’
O’Neill rubbed his face with his hands. ‘Okay, okay. Enough with the threats. How about this? I have a cabin in Minnesota. It has three bedrooms and a lake for fishing. Why don’t I have the Prometheus beam all of you there? I promise there’ll be no funny business. I have a pretty good gun cabinet there so you can arm yourselves and with Ellison and Colonel Sheppard, you’ll have plenty of notice if anyone comes close to you.’ He watched them mull this over. ‘Alternatively, you can fly to Chicago and drive from there if you’d rather you did it under your own steam. You’d have a car that way too.’
‘I…I think that’s a good option, actually,’ Jim said slowly.
‘I’d rather stay here and keep an eye on the business,’ David said flatly. ‘Radek and Miko are still looking onto the attempted hack, and we can stay in contact by phone.’ He glanced at O’Neill as he pulled a face. ‘You don’t have a phone there?’
‘It’s meant to be my private retreat. Why would I have a phone? I could supply you with some nifty little radios you could use to contact Prometheus, though, if you wanted?’ He pulled one out of his pocket and dropped it into McKay’s open hand.
‘Who designed and made these?’ Rodney demanded.
‘Colson Industrials, why?’
Rodney sniffed. ‘We could probably do a much better job, but I suppose Alec Colson didn’t do too badly.’ He looked up at O’Neill. ‘Can I keep this one?’
O’Neill sighed. ‘I guess so, but I want first refusal when you design a better one. I’ll pay properly for it and make sure the patent’s registered to you, don’t worry.’
Rodney nodded, his fingers already busy taking the tiny radio apart. ‘Hmm. If I…’
‘Rodney!’ John poked him. ‘Put the toy down and focus on what we’re talking about. Would you agree to go to O’Neill’s cabin?’
‘Huh? And ow! Beaten up and bruised, remember?’
‘Yes, yes, go to O’Neill’s cabin. I heard you. I’ll need my laptops and my large tool kit though. And maybe—’
John sighed. ‘Make a list, McKay. Write it down, and we’ll make sure Radek packs it all up.’
‘Then thank you, General,’ Patrick said formally. ‘We will accept your offer. We can take our plane to Chicago, and it can stay there until we need it. Can you give us directions?’
‘How about I come with you and get a lift home to the SGC via Prometheus?
‘General, were you all beamed here? Car as well?’ John asked suspiciously.
‘Umm yes? It seems such a waste of time to fly somewhere when we can be beamed.’
‘When did the Stargate Programme get beaming technology?’ Rodney asked suddenly. ‘You were nowhere near that point when I left. Ring tech, yes, but not beaming technology.’
‘The Asgard gave it to us after we saved their skinny asses from the replicators,’ O’Neill explained.
‘Asgard?’ John asked.
‘Little grey guys. Look like the Roswell greys you’ll’ve seen on TV. That probably was an Asgard actually. Turned out one of them had been kidnapping Earth humans to try and solve their cloning problem.’
Daniel grinned suddenly. ‘Loki created a clone of Jack about a year after you left, Rodney. There was a problem though, and he appeared as a teenage boy. None of us would believe him when he said he was Jack, but he had all of the real Jack’s knowledge up to the point he was created.’
‘A clone?’ John demanded. ‘You were cloned by an alien without your permission, General? And you want me to agree to join the SGC?’
‘Loki’s back with the Asgard now and Thor’s keeping a close eye on him, so there’s nothing to worry about,’ Jack replied, waving a hand.
John turned to Rodney. ‘Did you know about the Asgard?’
Rodney nodded. ‘I’ve never met one, but I’ve heard about them. We hoped to have one come and advise us when we were building Prometheus, but it didn’t pan out.’
‘An Asgard called Hermiod is helping build the Daedalus as we’re integrating an Asgard hyperdrive as well as Asgard shields and beaming technology into her from the beginning rather than afterwards as we had to do with Prometheus. We’re hoping he’ll stay on as a liaison for a while afterwards,’ Jack told him and turned to Patrick. ‘You were invited to bid on parts of the Daedalus as well, Mr Sheppard, but I think you were still pissed at us over the treatment of McKay and you refused to even look at the proposal.’
‘Do you blame me?’
‘No, no I don’t, but now you’re read in there could well be a few contracts to follow, especially as Alec Colson is being stubborn over some of the parts he’s supposed to supply for the Daedalus. Would you consider tendering for them now if there were offered?’
Patrick glanced at Rodney then back to O’Neill. ‘Only if my head of R and D approved.’
O’Neill rolled his eyes. ‘C’mon! What do I need to do? Walk across burning rocks? Would that satisfy you that I’m sorry for the way McKay was treated?’
‘Are you sorry?’
‘Mr Sheppard. I was hauled over the coals by the President of the US and the Prime Minister of Canada to say nothing of Ellison and Sandburg. The position of every single Sentinel and Guide in the employ of the Government was reviewed, and all government departments were told to investigate claims of bullying and intimidation.’
‘You should have been doing that anyway.’
Yeah, maybe we should, but when the President of the USA is forced to make an official apology to the Prime Minister of Canada, every single one of his senior people gets an ass reaming. Including me and I’d only been in post for three fucking days!’
John burst out laughing, quickly followed by Daniel and Jim, and soon all the men in the room were wiping away tears of mirth.
‘All you need to add, Jack, was ‘dead, and never called me mother!’ Daniel told him, hiccuping from laughing so much. ‘Talk about overdramatising.’
‘It wasn’t very funny at the time,’ Jack retorted. ‘I didn’t even want to be made a general. It means I’m ‘the man’ and I’d spent my whole career sticking it to the man.’ He glanced over to Rodney. ‘I am truly and honestly sorry for the way you were treated at the SGC, though, Dr McKay. Some awful things came out after you left and I don’t know if anyone ever told you.’
‘I got the gist of it,’ Rodney admitted.
‘And would you consider coming back to the Programme now? I’m pretty sure Novak would stand down to let you be CSO if you wanted.’
‘I wouldn’t take it from her, and I wouldn’t leave SI unless Patrick was happy about it,’ Rodney replied promptly. ‘He built a whole new section of his company to accommodate me and helped me when everyone else seemed against me, apart from Jim and Blair, of course. I wouldn’t go anywhere without his or their approval, and I wouldn’t go anywhere without the team I’ve built up. And John of course.
‘Well, we came here to ask Colonel Sheppard to join the SGC given the strength of his gene, so that’s not an issue, and we’d take on your team as well.’
‘You’ve already refused to employ two of them because they failed the background check.’
Jack frowned. ‘Who and why?’
‘Miko Kusanagi because she was caught hacking a newspaper and has a class B misdemeanour on her file.’
‘Okay. Who else?’
‘Peter Grodin, an Englishman. He got himself addicted to prescription drugs while he was at Cambridge even though he’s clean now. Carter refused to even consider him because of that, but I suspect it had more to do with the fact that his mother is a black South African.’
‘Why would that make—Oh. Right.’ Jack scrunched his nose up a little. ‘It’s not the first time I’ve heard that about Carter, I’ll admit, even though she seemed fine with the different people we met off-world.’
‘The more I hear about Captain Carter, the more I dislike her,’ Blair commented idly. ‘And I’ve never even met her.’
‘She’s a woman to whom the adage ‘beauty is only skin deep’ can be applied with accuracy,’ Rodney told him. ‘I admit I fell in lust with her the first time I saw her, but it only took a few moments to realise the attraction was entirely misplaced.’ He shuddered. ‘I had a lucky escape.’
‘And you’ve got me now,’ John added and turned to O’Neill. ‘What exactly would you want me to do at the SGC? And what about my team?’
‘We always need personnel there so we could probably take your team as well. Let me have a look at their files, and I’ll see what I can do. Do you think they’d be interested?’
John laughed. ‘Turn down spaceships and travel to another planet? What do you think? How many people actually turn you down?’
O’Neill glanced at Rodney. ‘Only one person so far.’