Jack shook his head as he scrutinized his 'nephew'. To Jack, JD Dunne didn't look old enough to shave let alone be the ATF agent he knew him to be. But even Carter was impressed at how fast the kid was able to hack his way into Maybourne's laptop. There was a lot more information in there than Maybourne had shown them, even the name of the person who had been feeding the NID information on the SGC. Gen. Hammond had been very happy to get that information. Maybourne had been outraged and had threatened to have them all brought up on charges of treason.
Everyone ignored him. Finally Maybourne sat down in the corner and sulked. He knew better than even try to escape. Not only were the two sentinels keeping watch but Teal'c was also watching him . The Jaffa felt a kinship with the two sentinels, equating them to brother warriors and planned to do whatever he could to help them get their guides back. Maybourne knew the Jaffa didn't care for him and he wanted to come out of this operation in one piece. Now wasn't the time to try anything. Anyway he wanted to be in on whatever plans the others made.
As it got later they decided to call it a night and get some rest. There were enough couches, recliners and beds for everyone if they didn't mind sharing the beds for everyone to have a place to sleep. Jack wanted to check on his team and his guests before he retired. As he did so he thought about Chris' and Simon's plan. It sounded good but Jack had his reservations, mainly because he wasn't in charge of said operation. Also because it meant the rest of Chris' team was going to be in on the rescues. How was he going to keep the lid on security with so many new people showing up? The only good thing was that the rest of Simon's people back in Cascade were too far away to join them in time. Still even with SG1 and Maybourne joining them it would be fourteen against thirty, maybe more. Maybourne was coming along so he could bring his people in after the operation was over and do whatever clean up was needed. Also, Jack wanted Maybourne where he could keep an eye on him so he didn't try to pull anything.
One bit of luck was that there had been no sight of anyone watching Standish's family, mainly his Mother. How had everyone overlooked the fact that Standish's Mother was the head of the H&S Co? Maude Standish was giving them her company jet to fly down to Rock Ridge. It was bigger than the one Jim's brother had used and no one so far had connected the two sentinels or SG1 to it. The only trouble was that Mrs. Standish insisted on going along.
The plan was for the jet to make a emergency landing at the airfield in Rock Ridge . While the pilot waited for the company's mechanic to come to fix it, SG1, ATF's Team Seven, Jim, Simon and Maybourne would slip off and hike to the research center. Mrs. Standish argued that someone had to stay with the jet to make sure no one checked the plane out and realized there was nothing wrong with it. Who better than the head of the company demanding no one touch her personal aircraft but her own trusted mechanic?
They didn't have a good counter argument to that and if by any circumstance someone did make the connection between her and her son, she'd be somewhere no one would expect her to be. Maybe not the best plan but Jack planned on leaving Daniel with her.
Daniel had proven his self many time since they first stepped through the gate and yes, Daniel had seen a lot of unpleasant things over the years. But Jack still didn't like exposing him to the nastiness he was sure they'd find at the research center. He didn't like taking the kid, JD or Carter either come to that but the Cop and the Major did have the training to deal with it that the anthropologist didn't. Jack realized it wasn't rational but at times he still wanted to protect those he felt close to from the unpleasant aspects of their life. Daniel and Sam fell into that category and JD still looked like a kid.
Jack went to check on his guests. First check was on Maybourne, he was asleep in a recliner. Daniel was sleeping in one of the bedrooms. Carter and JD were still working, Sam said she and JD would get a nap in before dawn. Right now they were hacking into someone's system and Jack was sure he didn't want to know whose. Jim, Vin and Teal'c were meditating in Jack's den to candle light. Jack didn't know where Teal's had found the candles, he hadn't known he had that many in the house. That left Simon and Chris, Jack wouldn't get any sleep if he didn't check on all of them. He remembered Chris saying something about needing to talk to Simon earlier. He saw them from the backdoor, they were out on the pier, looking out over the water. Pretty much the same way Jim and Vin had been yesterday. He wouldn't bother them.
+ + + + + + +
Chris had found Simon out on the dock behind Col. O'Neill's home staring out over the water. Apparently it was the bosses turn to brood. Chris stood quietly beside the Cascade Police Captain and listened to the night sounds. Simon didn't turn to or even acknowledge Chris being there. But he did began to talk.
"I was a M.P. in the Army, the only action I saw was breaking up fights in the local dives. Learned to put up with a lot of shit from men who should of known better. But even then there was a line I wouldn't cross. And I haven't crossed it, not then and not in all my years as a cop. How do I put that aside, I'm still a cop and I want to see these monsters stand trial and go to jail."
"Chris, you, Jim, Vin have been trained as a Seal and as Rangers to go into this kind of situation and do whatever it took to take out the enemy. Me, I just want to arrest them and put them away forever. But it's not going to be that simple is it?"
"No it's not. The NID have too much they don't want exposed for the Trust to stand trial, even a military trial. They'll let us do the dirty work and then come in and take the bodies and whoever is left alive and the whole mess with disappear. We're lucky that they want to stay on good terms with the Asgard, or we'd probably never had gotten any information out of them." Chris was trying to make Simon understand there was no legal alternative to this problem. "I don't like it either, I'm still a cop too. It would be better if they went to jail as an example to others. But we both know that's not going to happen. You've got to ask yourself what will happen if we don't go in there and stop them. They already destroyed that young couple's lives and want to control our men by whatever means it'll take."
They both went back to looking over the water when Simon, resigning himself to what was to come and his part in it said. "That young man in the photos... Patterson, he's the same age as my son."
+ + + + + + +
When Teal'c spoke of the kel'no'reen , Jim and Vin agreed to meditation with him. Vin wanted to center himself and Jim to try and reach out to Blair whom he knew would try for a spirit walk if the opportunity presented itself. Soon the three were deep in a meditative state.
Jim opened his eyes to the familiar blue landscape. He and the others were standing in a small clearing. Jim looked down at himself and found he was dressed in the fatigues that he had worn in the Peruvian jungle complete with the Chopec bow and face paint. Only this time it was a North American forest and not the jungles of Peru. Vin and Teal'c stood beside him. While Teal'c waited for an explanation as to where he was, Vin looked around and cockily asked.
"I've been to the spirit plain once or twice, but never in a group. You get group rates this way?"
While Jim was dressed in Army fatigues, Vin looked like he belonged in the wild west of the nineteen hundreds. He sported a well worn cowboy hat, dusty boots and with a long rawhide duster. Under the coat he had on faded blue jeans and a home-made shirt. A gun was strapped to his hip. If Jim remembered right it was called a mare' leg. Vin's inner spirit looked more like an Army scout than a cowboy.
Teal'c on the other hand looked like an extra from Star Wars. He had on a long robe of rough looking material. A long stick-like weapon was in his hands. Under the robe there was what looked like chain mail; the symbols of both a warrior and a philosopher, perhaps.
Teal'c wasn't surprised to find himself on a spirit plain, even though it looked nothing like the place the kel'no'reen took him when he was deep in meditation. But then he never expected the Tau'ri spirit plain to be the same as it was for the Jaffa. A roar of a large Earth cat filled the air. Teal'c turn his body to face the direction the sound came from, his staff weapon at the ready.
Jim was about to respond to Vin when the roar of a panther interrupted him. It was answered by the howl of a wolf. His and Vin's spirit animals were close by and judging by the howl so were Blair's and Ezra's.
Teal'c didn't show his surprise when two large earth cats materialized next to the sentinels. He merely raised an eyebrow when two sizeable Earth dogs ran into the clearing and stopped before Jim and Vin. He did shift his staff to cover the larger of the predators.
Jim ran his hand over the head of the panther to show the Jaffa there was no danger from the cats. Teal'c relaxed his hold on his weapon as he saw there was no longer a need to stand at ready. At the same time the wolves morphed into Ezra and Blair.
Each guide stood in front of his sentinel revealing their spirit forms. Jim looked at Blair and smiled. Blair was usually dressed as a Chopec shaman when he was on the spirit plain, which was a little more than a broadcloth, paint and feathers. This time he had on a pair of frayed blue jeans along with the paint and shaman's adornment. Catching Blair's eye he asked.
"Chief, what's with the jeans?"
Looking a little self-conscious Blair answered. "I didn't want to embarrass the children." Then smiled back at the laughter he saw in Jim's eyes. "All right I didn't want to go around half naked in front of strangers. I'm not a kid any more." It felt good to banter with his friend. Jim didn't look too bad... concerned...worried but in one piece, Simon was taking care of Jim. Blair relaxed a little.
Vin and Ezra checked each other out. Each was relieved that the other seemed alright. It was their attire that finally got their attention off each other's well being.
"Vin, Ah am well aware of your predilection for the wild and woolly west, but taking it to the spirit plain seems a little...."
Vin interrupted. "Ez have you looked at yourself?" Vin added with his own smile at his guide's attire. "You shouldn't be throwing bricks if'en you live in a glass house. I've seen less colors on a peacock."
For the first time Ezra took his attention off his sentinel and took in his own state of dress and laughed. He was dressed in a western cut dress coat, the kind riverboat gamblers used to wear. While his pants and hat were a sober black, his coat was a deep red. His vest was embroidered with every color imaginable, and the shirt had ruffles of all things. The conformable weight of a sidearm on his hip felt right as did the weight on his arm. Straitening his arm out he activated a spring loaded sleeve rig that deposited a derringer in his hand. He smiled, delighted at his find. Looking over at Vin he asked.
"Do you think ..."
"Sorry Ez, don't think Chris nor Travis would go for you wearing one."
"Guys" Blair called out to the other sentinel and guide pairing. Vin and Ezra rejoined Jim, Blair and Teal'c leaving the rest of their discussion for another time. Blair and Ezra exchanged information with the sentinels and Teal'c.
"We must not linger here, a Goa'uld on Earth is a danger the SGC must be made aware of." said Teal'c
"Agreed, Ez, Blair you need to be ready tomorrow night." Vin told the guides. "We're coming to get ya."
Jim reached over and smacked the back of Blair's head. "Try not to get the bad guys too mad at you. I want you back in one piece."
"That goes for you too Ezra." Vin told the southerner as they stepped apart to return to their bodies as the blue forest faded.
+ + + + + + +
The next day had the two guides being taken to the laboratory to begin working with Lamarr. Once they got a good look at Joe they were appalled by what the scientists had done to the man. Joe's body was covered with scars, some old and a lot new. They wanted, needed to help ease Joe's condition. Lamarr wanted his lab rat back for testing. The sentinel was no longer in a deep zone but didn't respond to every stimulus Lamarr exposed him to. The young man was in obvious pain and the guides did their best to help him shut down the senses giving him the most trouble, easing his discomfort and relaxing tensed muscles.
Lamarr wasn't happy with the results but Blair convinced him it would take time for the sentinel to get used to having a guide again. While Ezra had the best interactions with Patterson in getting him to respond to him, it was Blair who came up with ways for Ezra to connect with the broken sentinel. Together they double talked Lamarr into believing that both of them were needed to bring Patterson back.
By late afternoon all three were exhausted and needed to rest. Even Lamarr agreed that enough was enough and ordered the guards to take the guides back to their cell. He would monitor Patterson who was in a deep but natural sleep for the first time in weeks. There were readings on the sentinel to take that would occupy him for the rest of the evening.
Ezra and Blair were put back into their cell. Fatigued both men fell onto their bunks and quickly went to sleep.
+ + + + + + +
The same morning H&S company's jet with the company's owner on board left Denver Airport and headed back in the general direction of Virginia. The plane made several stops along the way, none of which was unusual for either the aircraft or the owner. The company jet was often used to pick up or drop off supplies for the different organizations that worked for H&S as well as picking up employees and dropping them off where they were needed.
Maude Standish kept apprised of her company's doings and those that worked for her by dropping in whenever the mood struck her. By the end of the day her jet had picked up several people and they now were on a little used national guard airfield outside of Albuquerque putting the finishing touches on their plans.
Jack sat in the front of the plane on a large and confortable seat, his back to the cockpit as he thought over their plans. It had been ingenious using the civilian jet. He had a bit of trouble following the path of the jet today as it crisscrossed the country and doubled back. He doubted the Trust would of been able to even if they had been tracking it. After landing and spending a small amount time with H&S staff, a new flight plan would be filed just before taking off. Jack and Sam had taken a hand at the controls to give the pilots a break. But only after convincing the Captain that they were still qualified to fly. Captain Bart was an old and trusted friend of the Standish's who had been with H&S for years. He took his responsibilities seriously and wouldn't turn his plane over to just anyone.
From where he was sitting Jack could take in the whole passenger section of the jet. Maude Standish along with Josiah Sanchez were sitting a little to his left. Ms. Standish was a beautiful woman, intelligent too. Jack could understand the ATF agent's Sanchez interest in her. Jack had always been attracted to intelligent blondes himself. Even though Sanchez kept close to Ms. Standish throughout the day, the profiler had been studying the members of the SG1 as well and Jack was sure the man had come up with come interesting conclusions. Probably too close to the truth for comfort. The rest of the ATF team had made a good impression on the colonel as well.
Each had willingly dropped everything to go after their missing team member. They already knew the names of the people they were meeting and being skilled investigators Jack had no doubts that they already knew everything they could find out about him and his team by the time they had boarded the plane that morning.
They were ATF...cops, they were investigators that knew how and where to dig. How to gather small bits of information and how to put those bits of information together to get the whole story. Better still, they knew how to keep their mouths shut. Not once did any of them give any indication that they knew what Jack and his people did nor had they asked any questions of them. They would make a good SG team. not that Jack had any chance of taking them away from Larabee's leadership and the ATF. Jack smiled to himself. the Trust and the NID had made themselves some dangerous enemies when they grabbed Standish.
Jack looked back at the rest of the personnel on the plane. Team Seven sat throughout the plane getting to know SG1 and SG4 . Gen. Hammond had sent them equipment he thought they might need for a night assault. He had used trusted off duty personal (SG4 was in-between mission at the mountain) to bring the supplies. When SG4 had learned there was a Goa'uld on Earth, they had volunteered to come along.
Chris and Simon hadn't minded, glad for the extra help. The sentinels only comment was for them not to get in the way and to keep up. The plan was for Jim and Vin to lead the way to the research center through open countryside between the airfield and the center, then to take out the sentries around the perimeter clearing the way in for the others. Sam would tap into the satellite dish, phone lines or any open wire hotspots to hack into the center's computers taking control of them and take down the security system. Team Seven would overpower any guards they came across. Once the security system was down they would take control of the barracks and maintenance building. At the same time the sentinels and SGC's teams would storm the main building. The sentinel would go for their guides taking out anyone who got in their way. The SGC teams were to takeout the guards and secure the building. Hopefully they would take the Goa'uld alive. But it wouldn't be leaving the center alive, not without being in custody.
Jack felt the jet's engines warming up. They'd be airborne soon. In less than an hour they'd be approaching the Rock Ridge airport and sending out an urgent call for help. With any luck everything would go off as planned and he and the rest of the team would be back at the mountain by tomorrow night. He leaned his head against the seatback. Nothing ever went that easy for his team but he could hope.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra and Blair woke when the guard brought them their evening meal of MRE's. Again Blair shook his head at Ezra's unspoken question as to the need to eat the less than pleasing meal. After eating and disposing of the wrappers, Ezra voiced a question.
"What is your opinion of Mr. Patterson's condition?"
Blair sighed and looked at the ceiling of their cell gathering his thoughts before answering. He got up and went to sit beside the Southerner, hoping to keep their conversation from being overheard.
"He is in a great deal of pain, we only helped him help lower the level of it. He's only still alive because of Lamarr's interference. He's weak, weaker than Lamarr wants to admit. Patterson's body is shutting down, it's no longer able to deal with the damage Lamarr has inflicted on it." Blair said this to Ezra "As for his mental anguish you'd be better at answering that question than I am."
Ezra was quiet for a moment. "While he had some moments of clarity today they didn't last long. His mind is deteriorating along with his body. On some level he knows his wife is dead, Ah'm sure of it. He doesn't understand how or why but he knows time has been passing. More than Lamarr has been telling him and that she wouldn't had been gone this long if she was alive."
Blair gave him a long look. This was something new from the empath. But before he could ask if this was a new talent Ezra continue.
"Ah'm picking up confusion, fear and despair. Hatred whenever Lamarr comes close to him. Ah may be reading more into what Ah'm picking up than what's there. But Ah have a feeling that Ah'm not. Also Ah'm picking up another presence as well, like when one of our spirit animals is near. Does any of this make sense to you?"
Blair slowly nodded his head. "There was a collie watching over an injured bobcat in the lab the first time they brought Patterson out. I saw it just before all hell broke out when that guard tasered you and Patterson broke free of his keeper, then they disappeared."
"He's not going to be alive much longer is he?" asked Ezra.
"What if we can get him out of here...?"
Blair shook his head, between his first aid training and his shaman knowledge he knew it was a only a matter of time before Joe Patterson died.
"Is there anything we can do for him now?" asked Ezra not comfortable with leaving Joe in agony, either physical or emotional.
Blair searched his conscious before answering. In the end there was only one choice he could make. For Joe Patterson was a member of Blair's tribe merely by being a sentinel and as his shaman Blair would do his best for Joe in spite of Lamarr's interference. Even under Lamarr's constant attention to the body which housed Joe's spirit , he wouldn't last much longer...maybe a week and he would be in pain the whole time. Without Lamarr interfering...a day... maybe hours. Blair needed to take care of Joe and help him find his way to the light if that was what he wanted. Turning to Ezra he said.
"I'm going to go into a deep meditation state and try to make contact with Joe and Beth. If they want I will help them find their way to the light."
Ezra merely nodded, "What can Ah do to help?"
"Watch my back and don't allow anyone to interrupt what I'm doing."
They rearranged the bunks again to block the door to their cell and placed the blankets on the hard cold floor. Ezra kept watch as Blair centered himself and entered a deep meditative state that allowed him to be free of his body. Blair's spirit in the form of the wolf leaped from his physical form as his spirit rose free. The wolf checked on Ezra and found him studying the space were he was standing. Ezra didn't see him but somehow Blair knew the empath was somehow sensing him.
Blair wasted no time and walked through the bars of the cell. He headed off to find the damaged sentinel, to do what he could for him. The collie joined the wolf and he followed her back through the building to the damaged bobcat. The collie laid down beside the cat and whimpered up at Blair. Before him the spirit animals changed into the forms of their charges. Beth cradled her husband in her arms.
"Please help him." she begged of Blair.
Blair morphed into his human form and kneeled down beside them.
"Beth, I need you to call out to him and coax him back from where he's hiding from the pain."
Puzzled, she look at Blair. "I've tried when I first got here, he doesn't respond. All I've been able to do is watch." she was almost crying in despair as she hugged her husband closer to her .
"Joe was badly hurt and was told you were alive. He didn't understand at the time they were lying to him. Please try again, talk of your life together, your childhood, everything and anything the two of you shared together."
Beth started talking, slowly the body on her arms became animate as she got through to her sentinel. By the time she had gotten to tales of their time in college brown eyes stared up at his wife, first bewildered then with understanding.
"Oh my Beth." It was Joe now who was sitting up hugging his crying wife, they were together again. For a while all they could do was hold on to each other, it had been so long. Finally they turned to Blair. It was Joe who asked. "Now what?"
"That's up to you, you have a choice to make. You now know for sure that Beth is dead. She has been waiting for you all this time."
"Am I dead?" Joe interrupted. he wanted to know, not upset but wanting to be sure of his facts. He was still holding tightly to his wife. Beth seem happy within the circle of Joe's arms as she leaned against his chest. She had her husband back and she wasn't going to let him go anywhere without her.
"No," Blair told him. "Your body is being kept alive by Lamarr. But even he can't do so for much longer. The choice I was talking about is.. . do you want to stay till your body is no longer able to be kept alive or do you want to leave now."
"I don't understand?"
Blair waved his hand around indicating the area around them. This is the spirit plain... a place where for you at least... are between life and death. From here you and Beth can go on..."
Before Blair could finish a bright light started to surround Joe and Beth. They understood and had made their choice. There was nothing here to hold either one of them any longer. They were back together, a happy healthy bobcat and collie stood beside the pair as they faded from sight. The gray wolf got to his feet, he had stayed and made sure the sentinel and guide were safely on their way, now it was time to return to his mortal body.
+ + + + + + +
The H&S Co. jet made a dumpy landing at Rock Ridge airport, it was all for show as Captain Bart hadn't made a bad landing in years. The local air controller and his assistant/night guard had driven their jeep down the runway to meet them as they rolled to a stop at the end of the landing field next to the last and smallest hanger.
"You folks all right? What's wrong, you distress call said your electrical system was going out." The air controller called out as soon as Captain Bart and his copilot opened the door and came down the stairs. The lights were off inside the plane, all the air controller could see were shadows as the pilots worked. Once satisfied that all was in order Captain Bart turned to the controller and answered the man's questions.
"Started having trouble with the internal lighting systems and didn't want to risk with the engines. Got the company CEO and her son on board and didn't want to take any chances ." Captain Bart smiled at the controller, "Sure was glad to see your lights, didn't want to risk flying on to the next airport."
"Hell I turned them on as soon as I got your distress call. We've got a pretty could mechanic here, if you want I can get him to come in from town and take a look at your plane."
"Well if it was just me I wouldn't hesitate but the CEO doesn't like anyone but her personal mechanic to touch the jet. Something about insurance and not trusting anyone else." Captain Burt tilted his head in the direction of the stars and added in a lower voice. "And as long as she signs the paychecks, she gets whatever she wants. If you know what I mean."
Just then a regal blond woman made an appearance at the top of the stairs. "Captain, Captain Bart have you called Jethro yet? Oh and have them run a extension cord out to the plane. I want the lights back on in here. As quickly as you can, don't let them dawdle." A young man came and stood beside her and said.
"Come back inside Mother and let Captain Bart do his job." Leading the woman back inside.
"Who was that?" asked the Controller.
"That's the CEO and the man is her son. It's his birthday and momma wanted to take her darling boy to the coast for dinner." The Captain said the last with distaste. "We wouldn't be here if she'd let me do a thorough preflight check before leaving Atlanta."
The assistant/night guard spoke up, he hadn't taken his eyes off the open doorway since the Captain and copilot had opened it. "You sound as if you don't like them much."
"Like I said she signs the checks for H&S Co." Captain Bart thought he had given the teams long enough to exit the back of the plane but to be sure he asked the Rock Ridge's attendants.
"You guys got a land line I can use to call Jethro? I left my cell on the plane." At the men's nods he added. "I wouldn't mind helping you figure out how much to charge the boss lady for this emergency landing if you want," smiling at the airfield support team as they gave him a ride back to the tower.
Inside Maude and Daniel watched the three drive off. The copilot return from the rear end of the plane and reported. "Everyone has gotten off and I didn't seen anyone out there but our people and they didn't stick around long."
"Then all we can do is wait." Daniel sat next to Maude with his gun in his hand. It was going to be a long night.
+ + + + + + +
Dr. Lamarr had been monitoring Patterson's vital signs since the visit from the guides. He told himself that the subject was getting stronger, no matter what his machines were telling him. The guides presence had brought an increased awareness from the sentinel. Lamarr was sure the subject was responding to basic stimuli now. Dr. Lamarr dismissed Sandburg's theory about guides and all that other nonsense the man had been spouting. Lamarr's need to know how to control and used sentinels was more important than anything else. He was already planning his next experiment when suddenly there was a surge in the equipment monitoring the subject, then they suddenly went silent. Rushing to the table where the motionless man was strapped down, Dr. Lamarr checked for signs of life, yelling for help as he started CPR but it was of no use. His subject was dead and nothing they did to the body would bring him back. After thirty minutes Dr. Lamarr gave up. Angrily he left the chamber and headed for the room were the guides were being held.
+ + + + + + +
Simon was glad he had taken up running along with his weekly visits to the gym. He was able to keep up with the military personnel and the younger men of Chris' team. Though the older ones didn't seen to be having any problems keeping up, Sanchez seemed a little grim faced but determined to maintain the pace. The pace was kept at a steady trot even over the rough terrain. He was thankful that Gen. Hammond has sent along night goggles and ear radios. He could see where to put his feet without falling on his face.
Chris kept an eye on his men. No one except Nathan and JD carried anything but their guns. Nathan had his medical supplies in a backpack and JD his electrical stuff in small pack on his back as well. Both had their hands free in case of trouble. Other than one comment from Buck that it seen like old times the lady's man was intent on the mission, even Samantha Carter's presence didn't waver the man's concentration. Chris kept an eye on Josiah. The older man was in great shape and other than a determined expression he seemed alright . After the mission all of them would need some down time.
Jack's team and SG4 had set a ground eating pace after leaving the airfield. Still they were hard pressed to keep up with the two sentinels. It came as a bit of a shock when he realized that the sentinels were not only leading them cross country and over the rough ground but taking turns circling around and checking their rear guard. Thankfully the ATF team and Captain Banks didn't seen to be having any trouble keeping up. Jack hadn't been sure what kind of physical condition the other men had been in and had worried if they could maintain the pace. He shouldn't had bothered, they were doing just fine. Soon they crouched down just outside the fence behind the research center waiting in the darkness. Jack almost jumped when Jim tapped him on the shoulder, not bothering with the radio he whispered into Jack's ear.
"Vin and I have taken care of the guards on the periphery outside the fence. Now we're going for the ones inside. Follow us in when the electric goes out." With that, he disappeared.
+ + + + + + +
Ezra was helping a tired Blair onto one of the bunks. The time spent with Joe and Beth helping them on the spirit plain had left him exhausted. He was just sitting down when Lamarr and three of the guards suddenly burst into the room. Lamarr stood back as one of his guards opened the door of their cell. The other two walked in, grabbing Ezra and throwing him across the cell into the bars away from Blair. Then they turned their attention to Blair. Ezra tried to get between them and his friend and was again thrown back into the bars, harder this time. Only now the guards added blows to his guts and a few to his head to keep him there. He started to slip to the floor, but forced himself to regain his feet when a guard pushed him back against the bars and held a taser against his neck . One of the guards stood behind Blair holding his arms pinned against his side as Lamarr walked into the cell.
"What did you do?" Lamarr demanded of Blair as he backhanded the guide across the face.
Blair's head spun to the side and his lip split. He carefully moved his head back around to look Lamarr in the eyes and asked.
"What are you talking about?" Again Lamarr hit him.
"My subject is dead."
Blair managed to stand on his own two feet as he answered Lamarr. "Can't say I'm sorry to hear that, what you have been doing to him was evil. No one should have been treated that way, Specially not a sentinel and in case you've forgotten, his name was Joe Patterson."
Lamarr stood back and motioned for the remaining guard to step forward. He was one of the guards Blair and Ezra had gotten the best of the first night they had been imprisoned. He looked far too happy to be there. Ezra tried to move only to be pushed back by his guard pressing him roughly against the bars with one arm while pressing the taser firmly against his throat. Blair was held upright while the guard beat him. Suddenly Ezra was free though falling to the floor. But it wasn't his hoped for rescuers, instead Faxes stood in the doorway holding his guard in the air, shaking the man like a wet dog.
"I told you no harm was to come to the guides." With that he threw the man hard to the floor outside of the cell. He turned to the two remaining guards and ordered them out and to take that trash with them. They dropped Blair and quickly disappeared taking the unconscious guard with them. Lamarr was livid as he turned to face his colleague.
"How dare you, I am in charge here and I will have answers to how they killed my subject."
Faxes laughed, his voice deepened and his eyes started to glow. "You have never been in charge here or anywhere." as Raxar came forward. Lamarr's eyes went wide as he backed away from his colleague, falling over his feet as he tried to back farther away.
"You're one of them, you can't be....guards help me... He's a Goa'uld."
Raxar reached out and grabbed Lamarr's white coat and pulled him closer, enjoying the fear he saw in Lamarr's face.
"Fool, I replaced all the Trust's men here with mercenaries. I pay them well with the Trust's money, but they answer to me... they obey only me." Raxar hit Lamarr before throwing him out the open cell door, the scientist hit the floor hard and lay there unmoving. Raxar then turned to Ezra.
"Are you alright?" Raxar gently picked Ezra off the floor and placed him on one of the bunks, checking him for damage. "You will live, the bruises will fade before I present you before the System Lords." Satisfied, he turned to leave but stopped when Ezra asked him a question.
"Why are you so concerned about ma welfare...what makes me so special for your kind?"
Raxar smiled down at him, "Little empath, we have technology that will allow us, through you, to experience the emotions of others as we do what we will to them. Their pain or joy, despair, every pleasure they can experience, even their deaths are opened to us, even heightened. As you experience their emotions so will we. You might even be used as a host to one who has become addicted to such things or a System Lord might try to give your abilities to one of his symbiots through having you as a host for it. There are many who would be willing to pay a great deal for one such as yourself and I will be the recipient of it all."
Raxar stepped from the cell making sure his prize was safely locked in his cell. Raxar picked up Lamarr's body by the back of his coat and dragged him from the room.
+ + + + + + +
Jack wondered how the sentinels planned on getting over the electric fence but didn't get the chance to ask. Jack radioed a member of SG4 who was about a half a mile back. He was on top of an electrical pole waiting for the order to cut the line. Order given, the electric lights of the center faltered then went out. They had a few minutes of opportunity to get over the fence before the backup generator got the electric back on. Quickly they climbed the fence and were on the other side before the hum of electrical current returned to the fence.
So far everyone was safe and accounted for. From here on in the two groups were going to separate. On Jack's mark they split up and moved out. Team 1, the cops were going to secure the barracks, maintenance and any personnel they came across as they secured their targets. Team 2, the SG teams were headed for the main building. Carter would stay with Team 2 till they got to the satellite dish in back of the main building. Once there she would tap into the signal either from the satellite dish or any open source and take over the center's computer. Maybourne's intel said it controlled all the security systems. Sam smiled to herself, JD had showed her some interesting programs he had on his computer. Using both his and her laptops linked together no firewall had a chance against the two of them.
+ + + + + + +
Jack would've liked to know where the sentinels had gotten to when he spied a guard leaning against a tree watching the building. As he crept closer he realized the man hadn't moved since he'd spotted him. The guard was dead, his neck neatly broken. If you didn't know better you would have thought he was just resting there. Major Wicks from SG4 came up behind him and checked out the body also. "Neat, no mess, these guys are good."
Jack just shook his head and then tapped his radio. "Team 1: Guardian Angels are taking out the sentries, don't be surprised if you find one."
"Roger that Team 2, already have." came back Chris. Chris had always known how dangerous Vin was. He had read Vin's Army record when he had hired the ex-bounty hunter. But seeing the evidence of those words made real was startling. Vin was so easygoing most of the time. Chris couldn't remember a time the Texan had lost control of his temper around him or any of the seven. Maybe this was why. It was all to easy to kill and Vin wouldn't, couldn't give in to that temptation.
Buck tapped him on the arm, it was time to get in position and wait for the signal that the security system was down. They had already checked the maintenance building and found it empty, not surprising this late at night. That left the barracks. Simon and Josiah had the front door covered. While Buck and Nathan stood watch over the back door, JD and Chris waited for the signal that the security system was off before climbing to the roof. The military had given them a fast acting knockout gas and they were going to dump it into the air conditioning system on the building's flat roof before going in. They all had gas masks on and security ties to restrain anyone they found inside. It was one thing to take out a dangerous guard on duty, but it was another to kill one in his sleep. The security ties would restrain the mercenaries till Maybourne's people showed up. The plan was to dump all the mercenaries in the main room of the barracks after they'd been tied up. Buck, Josiah, Nathan and JD would stand guard till the NID took them off their hands.
+ + + + + + +
Jack's team had come across two more bodies. While the others got into place, Sam had taken position beside the satellite dish, with her head bent over her equipment and her hands dancing over the keys. One thumbs up, she was in. Soon she would have control of the computer system and them the security system was coming down.
+ + + + + + +
An ashen faced Ezra sat unmoving as he tried to get his mind around what the Goa'uld had told him. For the first time since learning he was a empath he was afraid... very afraid. It was one thing to brush against someone and pick up his/her feelings. But to be forced to make his way into someone's mind and broadcast those feeling for the Goa'uld's entertainment.... Worst to experience those emotions first hand as if they were happening to him left Ezra terrified. As an undercover agent he knew there were some very sick people out there. He didn't want anything to do with something that would expose him to anything akin of it.
A moan from the floor pulled him out of his trauma. Blair was awake, Ezra checked him over before trying to move him. The senior guide's side was tender and was already turning black and blue. Broken ribs were a very real possibility.
Ezra pushed one of the bunk against the wall. Placing the pillows and blankets on the bed before he helped Blair up on to it he put him into a sitting position with the pillows supporting him. He hoped the arrangement would help Blair breathe better with cracked ribs. Blair smiled at him and said.
"Thanks Ezra." Blair had been watching the Southerner as Ezra helped him onto the bunk. "You might want to sit down yourself, you don't look so good." Blair patted the space beside him, Ezra was way too white. Of course after Raxar enlightened him about what Goa'uld did with empaths Blair didn't blame him. He would have to talk with Ezra later about what Raxar had said.
Ezra sat down slowly, he had his own set of bruises covering his body. But he didn't think anything was broken.
Blair looked up and said. "You know guys, I wish you would hurry up. I really tried to keep from angering the crazy man but he wasn't buying it." Looking over at Ezra he asked "Know any good stories? You know to pass the time. I do, but I don't think talking right now is too good an idea." Blair had wrapped his arms around his middle as he leaned against the wall behind him trying not to breathe too deeply.
For a moment Ezra though Blair had lost it, then it hit him, Vin and Jim were nearby. Talking would give the sentinels something to track their location with. It would also give him something else to think about other than what Raxar had told him. And it might get Blair's mind off his discomfort. Ezra racked his brain for an anecdote of some kind to tell. There was one, even if it did touch on a painful period in his life.
"If you're up to it, Ah'll tell you the tale of the Act of the Redneck Terrorist."
"The Act of a Redneck Terrorist?" repeated Blair with a raised eyebrow and almost smiled. He was in pain but not to the point of giving in. Bruised, maybe cracked or broken ribs, hell nearly everything was bruised and most of his body hurt but it would soon get better. Jim was close enough for Blair to feel him, it wouldn't be long now till they were free and the madman and the alien were taken care of. Till then a distraction, a homing beacon to their sentinels from their guides.
"What was the Act of the redneck terrorist?" Blair asked again.
Ezra got comfortable on the other side of Blair, he too was beginning to feel his sentinel getting closer. He felt his mood lighten with that knowledge no matter his discomfort or fears. And so he began his tale.
"As Ah'm not sure the statue of limitations has run out on this act. Ah just say what Ah about to divulge is merely a tale of fiction, a fairytale if you will."
"Of course," Blair answered. Knowing full well what he was about to hear was about something personal. From what Blair knew of Ezra's history he hoped the story had something to do with what Ezra had done to get back at the assholes in Atlanta. He tried to get comfortable on his bunk, trying to find a place where the bruises the guards had given him wouldn't ache as much. At least for the next few minutes he could forget about them for a while.
Ezra began his story. "To understand why the redneck committed this act of terrorism you must know something about him. For one, he was young and doing a job he enjoyed with a renowned law enforcement agency. He did his job well...too well if the talk in the break room was any judge of what his co-workers thought of him. Also this tale of the redneck takes place in the south. In one of the most beautiful cities in the most blessed and warmest regions of this great country."
Blair interrupted. "You don't like the cold either?"
"No, but its where ma family is now so that's where Ah am." Ezra's thoughts wandered to the six men who were closer to him than most of his blood relations . Especially one of them, his sentinel.
"The redneck terrorist?" Blair prodded to get Ezra's mind off his missing friends.
"Yes the misadventures of our redneck who had the good fortune to be stationed in a charming metropolis of the South. It was only at his place of employment was there discontentment. But he did his job skillfully and put up with the stupidity of his so call superiors. Unfortunately he made the mistake of following the appropriate regulations and reported the misdeeds of one of them to his supervisor. After which his life was made a living hell, his life put in danger, his good name destroyed. All for not being willing to turn a blind eye to the wrong doings that were going on around him. Those who at one time he had called friends abandoned him to his fate, he was all alone in his misery." Ezra sighed and seemed to pull into himself.
Blair spoke up and reminded him "The redneck is not alone any more."
Ezra smiled, no he had six brothers now who would never abandon him and so went on with his story. "While our redneck contemplated on what to do next a deadly warrior dressed in black came and offered him a job, much to the panic of the supervisors who wanted the redneck out of any job like the one he held with them or dead. They tried to intimidate the warrior to keep him from hiring the redneck."
Blair choked back his laughter as he tried to imagine anyone trying to intimidate Chris Larabee. His side hurt from the laugher but it was worth it.
Smirking Ezra went on. "The warrior glared them all in to submission and told the redneck the choice was his. Of course the redneck decided to go with the black clad warrior. The warrior took the redneck out to lunch and told him he would take care of all the paperwork and he didn't have to ever go back to his last place of employment ever again. The warrior would expect to see him in the place of snow and cold as soon as the redneck got everything arranged with his personal belongings."
"But the redneck wanted to get back at the ones who treated him so badly, who had nearly gotten him killed." Ezra's voice was bitter as he made this statement. He took a deep breath then let it out, letting go of his anger with the air from his lungs. He went on with his narrative "So the redneck decided to go back and clean out his desk and do one last thing before leaving never to return to his former employers."
Ezra looked over at Blair. "On the way back from luck he made a quick stop at a convenience store and picked up a few things. The guards who safeguarded the buildings where he once worked made a great show of inspecting his briefcase and box he had gotten to take his personal belongings from his desk. They hoped to embarrass him but they found nothing strange or dangerous with what he was carrying and allowed him through the checkpoint. But they did have a message for him from his superiors to see them before he left."
"He didn't have a lot to gather up and it all fit inside the small box he had gotten from the convenience store. He took the box and his briefcase with him as he got on the elevator to the top floor of the building to face his superior one last time. After an hour of belittling him and threatening his welfare if he ever spoke of what went on within the organization the supervisor allowed him to leave. On the way back to the elevator he made a stop at the restroom. Once inside one of the stalls he opened his briefcase and took out two large bags of a common southern snack and dumped them down the toilet. After flushing he replaced the empty bags in his briefcase, washed his hands and left. Left the building, left his old job, left everything he knew to follow the black clad warrior and for the chance at redemption." Ezra went silent as if he had finished his story.
"Ezra!" Blair said in exasperation, "What did y... the redneck flush down the toilet?"
At Blair's question a smile tugged at Ezra's lips. "Jerky, beef jerky to be exact. A common snack that most southern boys and girls grow up eating and still do as adults . The guards would think nothing of seeing it in any briefcase they checked and in all probability saw it often enough as not to take note of it at all."
"Jerky?" asked a puzzled Blair, "What would that do...." Blair let his sentence trail off as he thought about it, he thought about it out loud. "Dehydrated meat in different sizes...get tossed into the toilet and flush... ...travels through pipes...it absorbs the water and starts to swell... pipes that have to have some bends in them or connections...gets stuck some where along the way..." Blair smiled as he gets it. "and backs ups the plumbing!"
Ezra added "Add to that it was Friday afternoon so it had all weekend to absorb water and catch what little was going through the pipes. Setting itself firmly in whatever space it got caught in. And since it started from the top floor there must have been a lot of chances to get caught somewhere along the line maybe even more than one place."
"So it did work?" Blair asked hopefully, but he was pretty sure of the answer by the smile that threatened to break out on Ezra's face.
"Yes. Ah kept in contact with a few people from the area and they told me the end of the redneck's story."
"Well?" demanded Blair
"The backups started Monday and it got worse, by Wednesday it was backing up into the floors. It took four plumbers to find and extract the mess. The stench was appalling, an unnamed source called the health department and they closed the building till the problem was fixed and the floors disinfected."
Blair laughed out loud holding on to his bruised ribs, forgetting for a few moments their situation and the mad men who held them prisoner. Their sentinels were very close now and soon they be free and back where they belonged.
+ + + + + + +
On the roof next to the air shaft that fed air into the building's air conditioning units, Jim and Vin worked quietly but quickly to dismantle the screened coverings. They had been able to bypass the building's alarms and were entering even as Carter gave Team 1 and Team 2 the OK to enter their buildings. For the sentinel the building must be made secure and the Goa'uld threat eliminated for the safety of the tribe. In this case the safety of the planet came before even the safety of their guides.
They could hear their guides, glad that the pair was in good spirits but distressed at the pain that laced their voices. They quickly made their way through the top floor, the apartments of the senior staff were empty. Having heard the security systems were off they opened the door and headed down. On each floor of the building they stopped and checked for any sign someone was there and dealt with anyone they found. They monitored the sounds of battle from below as The SG teams took out the guards and support staff.
Where was the mad scientist and the Goa'uld? Jim and Vin were on the ground floor heading toward the location of Team 2 when Jack popped out of a doorway his gun at ready, aimed at the men.
"We've secured this floor and the first sub floor. All we've found so far are the guards and a dead body on a table in a lab. Probably Patterson's, it isn't pretty. There's no sign of the main unfriendly. Find anyone upstairs?"
"No" Jim passed Jack with Vin right beside him, ignoring the Colonel..
Jack watch their backs disappear . "Rrrighttt" he said shaking his head. He wasn't used to people dismissing him, he was after all a full Colonel in the United States Air Force. Tapping his ear radio he ordered. "Wicks, secure the building, Teal'c you're with me." Jack and Teal'c followed the two sentinels down the stairs to the second of the sub floors, where they found Vin and Jim standing outside one of the rooms one on either side of the door. Since the two sentinels weren't paying any attention to the other rooms on the floor, Jack assumed there was no one hiding in them.
"Nice...you waited for us." Jack and Teal'c took positions next to them. Jim looked over at them and mouthed. On three, holding up a finger, then two, at three they all crashed through the door. The two high went to either side of the room, the two low rolled across the floor and took up positions in a defensive stand. All four of them held their weapons on the men standing with their back against the bars of the cell. Inside the two guides were huddled as far away from the two as they could get in their prison cell.
+ + + + + + +
It didn't take long to secure the barracks, once the gas was deployed it worked quickly and thoroughly being passed through the ducts of the building's air conditioning system. Team 1 went through the building securing the personnel they found. Most were in bed already asleep. But a few were found slumped in chairs or on the floor. Once they had all of the sleeping staff in the lounge of the barracks, Chris and Simon walked out the front door and look toward the main building, leaving Buck, JD, Nathan and Josiah to keep an eye on things
The sound of gun fire made them uneasy. Chris yelled back into the building. "Buck you and the others keep watch on the prisoners, Simon and I are going to check on the others."
"You want backup?" called out Josiah
"No, you help Buck keep our friends under control." Turning to leave he found Nathan at his side. "Nathan?"
"It's been over seventy two hours, Ezra can't go that long as a prisoner without pissing off his captor." Nathan gave Chris his 'I ain't taking no for an answer' look. "Besides, the military didn't bring a medic along to treat the wounded. I'm needed over there."
Simon had already started walking, "Chris let him come, were wasting time." All three headed out toward the sound of guns being fired.
By the time they got there all the excitement was over. They found Wicks and his team keeping watch over their prisoners. A few of the mercenaries had been injured. Thankfully none of SG4 had been hurt. With surprise on Team 2's side the personnel inside the building had gone down quickly or surrendered. Maybourne was on the phone making arrangements for the NID to come in and take over. Major Carter was doing what she could for the wounded, she was happy to seen Nathan and his medical supplies.
"Glad to see you, I could use a hand here." Sam told Nathan as he started to enter the center's lobby where the prisoners were being held. "Be careful, they're not happy about being in custody."
Nathan smiled and put away his guns. Sam was about to ask why when Nathan pulled out one of his many knives and sent it flying through the air piercing the arm of one mercenary who was about to pick up a lamp. Whatever the man had been planning on doing with the heavy object was forgotten as he held onto his bleeding arm. The rest of the criminals decided they'd wait for a better opportunity to escape.
"Think I'll take care of that one first." said Nathan
Sam smiled, Chris Larabee's men kept impressing her. They wouldn't have any more problems with the soldiers for hire after that object lessen.
Chris and Simon had been talking with Wicks. As soon as they learned where their friends were they headed for the stairs, neither one wanting to trust the elevator. While the upper floors were secured, Wicks had no idea what was happening on the sub floor. He was sure the Colonel would be able to handle anything down there. Besides, he had been ordered to stay here and stay he would till O'Neill returned. Chris and Simon had no such orders, not that they would have obeyed them if they had.
They found a standoff in progress in the room were Ezra and Blair were still being held prisoners. Faxes held Lamarr's battered body in from of him as he tried to get in the cell with the two guides. Ezra had jammed a bar from of one of the bunks between the door to the floor. So far it had kept the Goa'uld out.
Faxes wasn't giving up. He had one arm wrapped around Lamarr, gun in that hand. The other arm was twisted behind him as he tried to get into the room with the guides. He knew the sentinels wouldn't let their guides be harmed even with a symbiot inside of them. He hoped to bargain for his life with that of one of the guides. He was unsure about the Jaffa and the SG colonel.
"Give it up." Ordered Col. Jack O'Neil, his money was on the guy holding the gun as being the Goa'uld. "You've got no where left to run."
Lamarr was whimpering, "Please, please don't let him possess me...please." over and over he whimpered.
Vin hadn't taken his eyes off the man standing closest to the bars. He hadn't acknowledged Chris when he came into the room. Vin was concentrating on taking the shot. He didn't know who was who and he didn't care, these were the men responsible for taking his guide, for taking Ezra. As he stared at them he realized the one in back with the gun had something in him, like Teal'c but different. Vin had his gun even with Faxes' head, only a few feet away, it would be an easy shot.
Jim was thinking much the same as Vin. These men had harmed the guides, there was no greater crime. Jim had recognized the Goa'uld and was going to make sure it didn't escape from this room. He ignored Simon and Chris when they entered. Jim kept watching the Goa'uld, it looked like it was getting nervous. The man was about to make some kind of move. He kept glancing back and forth between him and Vin, when suddenly there were two more people in the room. Sam and Nathan had followed Chris and Simon down as soon as they finished with the last of the wounded.
With an inhuman cry Raxar shot Lamarr and tossed him toward Jack and Teal'c. Both sentinels fired as one shooting the Goa'uld in the neck, all but tearing the head from the body. Everyone but the two sentinels gave a sigh of relief that didn't last long as Jim yelled,
"Shut the door."
Teal'c shut the door and everyone but Nathan started to look around the room. Puzzled Nathan asked. "What's going on, it's over now isn't it?"
It was Sam who found a way to answer him. "There's a parasite loose. It's about six inches long and it burrows into the human body quickly. It looks like a cross between a snake and a winged worm. It makes it host unbalanced and homicidal. If you see it kill it."
Nathan joined the others hunting the parasite. Jack and Teal'c went over to the vents and closed what they hoped was the only escape route for the snake. Carefully Sam and Nathan began checking under things. Vin and Jim wanted, needed to get to their guides. Jim reached in and removed the bar that was keeping the door shut. Opening the unlocked door to the cell the sentinels walked in, they had to check on their guides before doing anything else.
Blair was glad to see Jim even though he knew the mother hen from hell wasn't far away. Better that than the Goa'uld any day. Blair was too tired to understand how he knew but he just did that the snake wasn't in either of the two sentinels. The day's activities were beginning to catch up with him as he started to slip down the wall. He and Ezra had been pressed up against the far wall of their cell to keep as far away from Raxar as they could. If the snake had decided to leave his host some time in the stand off they hadn't wanted to be to close. Strong arms caught him and started to guide him toward the bunk when he remembered.
"Check the bed first." he requested as he relaxed for the first time in three days, safe at last.
Ezra eyed the paired coming close to them warily. He had gone through a lot today and wasn't up to his usual standards or abilities. Still his sentinel seemed alright. Vin had that look about him that said super mother hen mode coming on. No Goa'uld inside of Vin, Ezra didn't pick up any of the unpleasant sensations he had around Faxes. After the last few days Ezra was going to let Vin mother hen for at least two whole days before complaining.
Vin was so glad to see Ezra he reached out and grabbed his guide, needing touch to reassure him his guide was alright. Ezra flinched when Vin touched his back and again when Vin laid a hand on his chest to steady him when he became wobbly.
"Nathan get in here, Ezra's hurt." Vin yelled.
Jim had check the bunk before setting Blair down on it. He tried not to get angry as he ran his hands over his guide's body. There were bruises everywhere, especially on Blair's right side where the skin was turning black and blue. Jim could feel the ribs under the bruising, two cracked ribs and deep bruising around them. His guide would be very uncomfortable for the next few weeks. No major bones broken, only cuts and bruises. Jim was thankful, it could have been worse.
Nathan had been making his way over to the cell as he searched for the parasite Sam told him about. He was just inside the doorway when a pale gray something caught his attention from the corner of his eye. Without thinking he pulled one of his knives and threw it, pinning the whatever to the wall next to Blair Sandburg's head.
Jim grasped Blair and pulled him away from the wall and was out of the cell in one movement. Vin had seized Ezra at the same time and was standing beside the senior sentinel before he knew that he had reacted, leaving a bewildered Nathan standing just inside the cell alone. Nathan looked over at the creature he had just killed and started over to take a good look at it when Sam took his arm and steered him away .
"You don't want to get to close to it." she told the healer. "We will bring in a hazmat unit to take care of the remains."
Nathan was no fool so he didn't ask any of the question that were burning inside him. He wanted to get home to Rain and he wouldn't be able to do that if he was locked away somewhere in the name of national security. So he allowed himself to be lead away to rejoin the others without asking a single question.
Upstairs in the lobby Blair and Ezra were both laying flat on two couches and were being checked over by their sentinels again in case they missed something the first time. Both guides were demanding to be let up. No, they weren't saying they were fine but they didn't need to be immobile either, thank you very much. Reluctantly their sentinels let them up but kept close as Nathan and Sam checked them out.
Buck, JD and Josiah came in the front doors and rushed over to their friends. Buck took the time to fill Chris in on their prisoners.
"Maybourne's people must have been watching the place. Maybourne showed up with his own group of soldiers and they took over guard duty. Not that we cared, it got us over here sooner."
Chris nodded, "The NID gets the clean up duty. As long as we got Ezra and Blair back that's all that matters."
Simon added a silent amen to that and then asked. "Does that mean we're free to go?" he asked.
"Not yet Simon I need to talk to Maybourne." said Blair from the couch Jim had deposited him on.
Jim was standing between Blair and everyone else, hovering over his guide in a protective stance. Vin was doing the same thing only he had allowed Nathan to stay to monitor Ezra's condition. The rest of the seven were close by to stop anyone from interfering with the sentinels need to protect their guides. The SG teams had wisely stood back out of the way.
The doors opened and Maybourne walked in with his own small group of soldiers. He wasn't about to be manhandled again. Heading straight for the area where Ezra and Blair were resting. "I need to debrief..."
That was as far as he and his men got as they were disarmed and forced onto their knees when they got too close. SG4 took over watching the doors to keep them from being interrupted from any more NID people. Jack shook his head and looked down at Maybourne.
"You never learn do you Maybourne?"
"Look, all I need to get is their perspective on what went on here, a full debriefing. Is that too much to ask? And there's all of Lamarr's research to be dealt with." said Maybourne from his position from the floor.
"Let him up," said Blair "I need to talk to him about Patterson anyway."
Maybourne was allowed to set on a chair next to Blair. Jim leaned against the edge of the couch between the NID agent and his guide. Maybourne took one look at his men kneeling on the floor and decided not to protest the arrangements. Before he could ask his first question Blair spoke.
"All of Lamarr's research is worthless." this announcement shocked Maybourne.
"But he had a sentinel to work with, how...why?" Maybourne wasn't sure he believed Sandburg.
"Patterson was damaged, he had short tern memory loss. He couldn't retain what he learned from one day to the next. All Lamarr succeeded in doing was torturing the man for two years. What Lamarr wouldn't accept was that each sentinel is an individual, each has their own talents and skills. Each has their own ways of doing things. No two of them will react the same way to a situation or stimulus. A lot of that has to do with how they learn to deal with their senses. All you have from Lamarr's work is how one sentinel reacted to stimulus, not how he learned to cope with them. This doesn't come close to hypothesizing how a group of sentinels would react to the same situation. That's if you could get a group of sentinels to agree to get together to be exposed to the same stimulus. I personally don't think you could get that to happen." Blair looked over at Ezra and saw the younger guide nod his head slightly, agreeing with him.
"Agent Standish and I are willing to write up reports for you, of all we experienced here." (with the one exception about Ezra being an empath and Raxar's reaction to that information) "On the condition," Blair made sure he had the SG1 attention as well as NID agent's . "That both Mr. and Mrs. Patterson's bodies are returned to their family for a proper burial."
"But how do we explain where they were for the last two years?" said Maybourne," It wasn't an unreasonable request but... "Let alone explain the condition of Joe's Patterson's body.
"Ah sure you can think of something, specially if you seal the caskets." Ezra said from his couch. He was tired and he hurt. All he wanted was to go home or at least get back to Denver. "Ah'll write up ma report as soon as Ah'm feeling up to it, which isn't now."
Ezra looked over at his fellow guide and teacher to see if he agreed. Blair agreed alright and said so when he spoke to the group at large. "Lets get out of this place and go home."
+ + + + + + +
After commandeering transport from the NID, they headed back to the airfield. Quickly everyone boarded the jet and they took off for Washington State to get Simon, Jim and Blair back home to Cascade. Then it was off again this time they were headed back to Colorado. Captain Bart landed his jet at the Air Force base that served the SGC. They were on the ground only long enough to be refueled and to speak to Gen. Hammond on the phone promising him a full report later in the week. While the NID would be getting a written report the General would get his in person. One to introduce him to Ezra and as a way of a thank you for all his help.
Then it was a short hop to Denver and home. Maude fussed over both of her boys as she now called them (for she now included Vin as part of her family) the whole way. Vin took it all good naturedly if a little shyly at first at all the attention Maude was giving him. Once the plane set down in Denver she had one last conversation with them before letting them off . She wasn't going to go with them.
"Ah remember how Paddy and Patrick needed time together to get over a difficult search and rescue mission, finding a lost child in the state park. To have their heart to heart talks about what they went through." Seeing the looks of horror on both their faces at her choice of words she laughed. "Sorry, for such manly men as yourselves, you would have man to man talks. But you do need to talk about the last few days. And you won't be able to do that if Ah'm hovering over you. So Ah'm going back to Virginia for a few weeks and will return after you get back into your regular routine." With that she kissed them both on the cheek and sent them off with the rest of the seven. But she did have a word with Chris and Josiah before they left.
"Gentlemen, Ah expect you to take very good care of my boys." She gave each of them a hard stare to let them know she meant every word of what she was about to say next. "Ah make a very dangerous enemy, specially to those who harm ma family. By the next time we see each other Ah will have found a way to keep our boys safe."
"Maude," Josiah started to object.
"Maude that could be risky." Chris spoke up. "For them as well as you."
"Ah have some powerful friends in Washington DC, as do the Ellisons." Maude seeing their surprise explained, "Ah met the Ellisons at a business seminar last year. When we discovered we both had family in law enforcement we compared notes and became friends. William may be semi retired but he still has connections as does Steven. Before we're through the NID will not trouble our families again."
"Maude.." again Josiah started to say something. But Maude stood on tip toe and silenced him with a kiss.
"Ah know now to be careful, you two take care of our boys and Ah'll let you know what Ah find out." with that Maude got them off her plane, waving good-by from the door as they drove off.
+ + + + + + +
Chris demanded they all go out to the ranch, somehow it felt safer with open country around them, where they could see someone coming at them. Reaction was setting in and Chris found he was still shook up over the fact that the Trust had been able to take one of his men in broad daylight and no one had been the wiser. If it hadn't been for the bond between sentinel and guide they wouldn't have learned what had happened till after Maude and Josiah had woken later in the day.
For the moment Chris needed to have his men, his family were he could keep an eye on them and know that they were all home, safe and reasonably sound. The whole team needed some down time to reconnect with each other. He would call Travis in the morning and ask for some time off for the whole team. Hammond had told him that the SGC had worked out a way to explain any time the sentinel/guide would miss helping out the SGC program. But that was a problem for another day. Chris was just happy that his men were home for now.
Later that night Chris found Vin sitting on the back porch of his ranch house staring out into the darkness, everyone else had gone to bed. He handed the Texan a mug of coffee and they sat in silence and enjoyed the peaceful evening.
Inside the National Intelligence Building, Shelly Levis straightened her desk, she had been the secretary/assistant to the Director of NID for a number of years and seen many strange people and things for that matter go through the doors of his office. But never had she been told not to stop them and announce their arrival to the director before allowing them in. Still she would follow orders as always. Ms Levis had been hired not only for her skills as a secretary but the ability to keep her mouth shut and follow orders no matter what she thought of them; a talent more important than her black belt, high IQ or keeping the Director's life running smoothly.
She hadn't been too surprised when two well dressed men of military bearing suddenly stood before her. She only nodded and pressed the silent button that would open the doors to the Director's office. Only once the doors had closed behind them did she allow herself to shiver in dread, there was something cold and lethal about the pair that for the first time since she took this job did she question her safety within the NID's walls.
Director Schwinger stood to greed the men he hoped would agree to work for the NID. No matter what Maybourne said, they couldn't be as bad as he led on. So he had made them an offer he was sure they would accept. The NID did after all supply them with information that got them back their guides.
"Detective Ellison and Special Agent Tanner I've been expecting you. I heard your guides are safe and back in your territories. I do hope this means you'll be taking us up on our offer and work for us."
Neither spoke as they entered, Jim Ellison sat in the comfortable looking chair in front of the Director's desk laying his briefcase across his lap. Vin Tanner walked around the office checking for listening devices and cameras with his sentinel abilities. Completing his inspection of the room he stopped by the desk and took out a small device from his coat pocket. Laying the apparatus down on the desk, the device started glowing with a silvery light. After that he positioned himself where he could have a full view of the room.
The Director sat down uneasily and waited. He stared at the device Tanner had sat down on his desk, it looked familiar, akin to Asgard technology, but the Asgard didn't share much of their technology with humans... how? ... why? Schwinger suddenly felt sick, for one brief moment he thought he'd gained the upper hand over those jackasses at Stargate Command. It would had been a major coup in his career to have been the one who had brought the Sentinels on board the NID. A clicking sound brought his attention back to the man sitting across from him.
Ellison had opened his briefcase and pulled out a thick folder, tossing it onto Schwinger's desk. Schwinger slowly pulled it over and started to look through it. Jim who had been monitoring Schwinger's heartbeat and breathing smiled coldly at him as Schwinger's blood pressure shot sky high as he read the information before him. The document chronicled his life. Everything was there from his date of birth, school records, medical records, the name of every woman he cheated on his wife with and where. His career in the military before joining the NID, everything he had done since then, what he had done over the years to obtain the position now held. It detailed the lengths he went to in order to get under age hookers to blackmail a US senator. If any of this was made public he was a dead man.
The senior sentinel spoke, "I see you recognize Asgard technology. That device is on loan to us from them. It will keep any recording device from working while we are here." Jim smiled at the now frightened man sitting across from him. "I will make this short, neither Tanner or myself are going to join or work for the NID. Nor will we allow any of our family, friends or anyone else to be used to blackmail us into working for you." Jim leaned forward and was pleased to see Schwinger back away from him in fear.
"If for any reason we or our guides are hassled by any member of the NID or any rogue group such as the Trust or any other group that has or had ties to the NID we will destroy the heads of this organization. Publicly or privately their lives will be forfeit. The NID will no longer have any secrets "
"You can't....." Schwinger cleared his throat and tried to pull himself together. "Your country needs you.... These aliens endanger the whole planet, with your skills you could safeguard..."
Jim cut him off. "We do intend to help when needed. But only under the command of General Hammond or Colonel O' Neill. With that Jim closed his briefcase and stood, walking to the door where he turned and watched the room. Vin picked up the silver device and replaced it in his coat pocket. He then joined Jim at the door and together they departed, leaving a very shaken man behind them.
On the way to the elevators they stopped at the men's restroom. Once again the device came out and Jim opened his briefcase. Pulling out two jumbo bags of a common snack food, Jim took one bag and tossed the other to Vin who smiled at the sight of it. Each open a stall door and dumped the beef jerky into the toilet bowl, waited a few minutes, then flushed.
Ok, I know the Trust didn't show up till 8.07 Affinity, but they make such good bad guys and if one Goa'uld as in 4.14 The Curse, have been hibernating in a canopic jar why not more. The Trust didn't seem to be getting anywhere till the Goa'uld infiltrated their group.
The tale of the redneck terrorist story was based on a real situation that happened at my place of employment. The drains started to back up one day and no one could figure out why. The smell was awful and my store manager had to call in four different plumbers before the problem was solved. We were told later they found a large mass of jerky blocking one of the pipes. No one had any idea on how it got there. Fortunately for me I was on vacation the next week when they tore out the plumbing to get the mess out.