October 10 1998, New Earth
Jacob and Selmak had together with SG-1, Jolinar, and Hammond, been debriefed - or more like interrogated - by the Council. It had taken most of two days before Kinsey and his people were satisfied and had finished asking all their questions.
After that, Jacob and Selmak had been given small - but private - quarters, since Jacob no longer needed to stay in the infirmary.
Sam and Jolinar had returned to their own quarters - also private, from when they had been kept under guard. Fortunately, that was no longer the case, but they were happy for the personal quarters, especially right now. They were finally going to blend fully, and that was something they were both looking forward to - and they did not want to be interrupted.
*What exactly is going to happen?* Sam asked, as she crawled down in her bed, and pulled the blanket up over them. *What should I do?*
*Our memories and knowledge - except for what either of us wish to keep private - will merge. We will learn about each other, and see each others experiences. When we wake up, we will know each other better than we know any other. As for what you need to do? Nothing. Relax, and open your mind. I will lead you, and do what needs to be doing. There is a physical aspect to it as well, as I will send more of my tendrils deeper into your mind, now when I no longer expect to leave you for a great many centuries.* Jolinar 'smiled'.
*That sounds... interesting.* Sam took a deep breath and closed her eyes, leaning back into the pillow.
She allowed herself to relax, and her mind was soon almost feeling as it was drifting. She was in a place that felt familiar, but she recognized nothing. Everything around her looked like a slowly shifting, colourful fog. Then she suddenly saw a petite woman with shoulder length, blond hair and blue eyes. She was very beautiful, and Sam immediately knew it was Jolinar.
*I am showing you an image of Rosha, since that is still the image I associate myself with, and I believe you would feel comforted by it.* She smiled at Sam, and held out her hand. *Come with me, and we will learn about each other together, and see some of our memories and experiences. Shall we begin?*
Sam nodded, and took Jolinar's hand. *Yes, I am ready.* She followed her.
October 20 1998, New Earth
"Idiots!" Sam exclaimed, as she slammed the door shut to the small mess hall - were currently only SG-1 was present.
"They said no again?" O'Neill said, more as a statement than a question, really.
"Of course they did!" Sam poured a cup of the substitute coffee, then sat down, taking a drink. She made a face. "I think I miss coffee more than anything else."
"I agree." Daniel gave her a sad look.
"I do not understand why the Council will not let you search for the Tok'ra," Teal'c observed. "They have accepted that the Tok'ra are real, that they fight the Goa’uld, and that they could be a valuable ally. They even hope to receive technology and resources from them in aid. How do they presume this will happen, if you are not allowed to search out the Tok'ra?"
"They are idiots, Teal'c!" Sam sighed. "It's not that they don't want to go look for the Tok'ra, but they don't trust Jolinar - or Selmak - to go off on our own, especially not since it can be for an extended period, given that the Tok'ra are likely on the run. They won't accept that a larger group can't go to the places we need to go inconspicuously, and that Jolinar may have to pretend to be a Goa'uld, which she cannot do with a group of human soldiers coming along!"
"She needs to go undercover?" Daniel asked.
"Yes, Selmak - and a small unit of guards - went to check on one of the secret boxes, which would normally contain information of a Tok'ra outpost. There was no new information. The Tok'ra must still be on the run, and have gone deep secret. The only option is to contact an operative, and even those may have moved or had to flee."
"So undercover it is. I get it." O'Neill nodded.
October 30 1998, Primo
As commander of New Earth, the largest Tau’ri colony, O’Neill would return to Primo once a week for consultations with the Council and the other base commanders. They all reported on their current status, exchanged intelligence, and received the occasional order from the Council.
Teal'c was accompanying O'Neill, as his guard. Kinsey and some of the other members of the Council did not trust Teal'c, since he was not only an alien, but a Jaffa and the former first prime of Apophis. Because of this, Teal'c was not allowed on the Council planet. However, as a base commander, O'Neill had the right to appoint anyone as his personal guard. This meant Teal'c always went with O'Neill to these debriefings, and O'Neill was clearly enjoying sticking it to the Council.
When they arrived on Primo, one of the guards at the Stargate told them that the meeting with the Council was postponed for 'at least three hours', because of 'important business'. They were invited to sit beside the Stargate and wait.
"Here?" O'Neill exclaimed, giving them an incredulous look. "Can you at least tell us why we have to wait in this forsaken place?"
"Sorry, sir. I have not been informed of the reason, only that the Council are not to be disturbed for the next three hours or more." The guard looked apologetic.
O'Neill took a deep breath, realizing the young man was not at fault. "Okay!" He sighed, looking around. "We don't have to sit here and wait, do we? Can’t we take a walk or something?"
The guard looked uncertain, and gave his colleague - an equally young man - a questioning look. The other man shrugged. "I don't see why not. Just make sure to be back here in three hours, if they should be ready by then."
"Great! Come on, Teal'c! Let's check out this place. Perhaps there's a good restaurant - I haven't had a decent steak in a long time."
"Indeed, O'Neill. That sounds most attractive," Teal'c said.
They were about to leave when the Stargate activated again, and they immediately assumed a defensive position. O'Neill spotted several more of the guards popping their heads out from behind the two guard posts.
After the attacks on the bases, a decision had been made to try a new positioning of the defenses. Before, they had claymores everywhere in front of the Stargate, which needed to be detonated by hand, and the guards were spread evenly behind low dirt mounds some distance away.
Now, instead, mines had been dug down over almost the entire area before the Stargate, with the exception of a path along which their own people and welcome visitors would go. The track was on a straight line, at a forty-five degrees angle from the Stargate. It was clearly marked and could be followed by everybody, even an attacker, but they would be running straight toward a guard tower and into a hail of bullets.
Another tower was positioned to cover the area in front of the gate, but without risking to hit the guards at the other post. They should be able to get any Jaffa or other enemies who strayed from the path, or simply panicked during the attack and ran hither-dither. Of course, the mines would claim the majority, unless there were many enough to clear the field.
Out from the event horizon stepped two men, which O'Neill recognized as Ferretti and his personal guard, lieutenant Olson. He waved at them. "Ferretti! Olson!"
Ferretti smiled as he and his guard approached O'Neill and Teal'c. "Colonel... Teal'c! Good to see you, guys!"
"Ferretti." Teal'c inclined his head to him. "Lieutenant Olson."
"You too. It's been too long since we had the time to sit down and relax...a few beers, pizza..." O'Neill said.
Ferretti nodded. "Yeah, that's true. This base commander business isn't making it any easier."
"Nah, it takes up far too much time." O'Neill sighed, then nodded in the direction of the guards. "They told me the Council has postponed our meeting for three hours."
"At least three hours," Teal'c corrected.
"Aw, man, I'd hope to get back early and get something to eat. Today was crazy, so I haven't even had breakfast," Ferretti complained.
"Then why don't you two accompany us? We were about to go see if the nearest village has something to offer," O’Neill suggested.
"Sounds like a plan. What do you say, Olson?"
"Ah, well..." He looked like he was searching for an excuse, and threw a glance towards the nearest guards post, where a young woman in uniform waved at him.
"But you'd hoped to get the chance to talk to... what's her name... Captain Timmons?" Ferretti grinned.
"Yeah." Olson looked embarrassed.
"Go right ahead. I'm in no danger with O'Neill and Teal'c here. Besides, we're supposed to pair up, you know? The Council want to make sure there's a next generation to fight for a free Earth, or haven't you heard?"
"I thought we were still hoping to win back Earth in this generation?" O'Neill remarked, sarcastically.
They were interrupted by yet another activation of the Stargate, and a short while later, Colonel Frank Cromwell stepped through, followed by a guard O'Neill did not know. He frowned. Cromwell had once been his friend, but after their mission to Iraq, several years ago, they did not talk. O'Neill had ended up spending four months in an Iraqi prison, due to a judgment call made by Cromwell, who had thought O'Neill was dead. True, it had saved the rest of the team, but O'Neill had never forgiven him.
Now they had to meet from time to time, since they were both base commanders, but O'Neill did his best to avoid the other man.
Teal'c and Ferretti both studied O'Neill and his reaction. This animosity was becoming problematic to the work between O'Neill's and Cromwell's base, and Ferretti decided it had already gone on long enough. "Hey, Cromwell!" He waved at him. "The Council has postponed the debrief for three hours! We're going to go get something to eat in the nearest village. Join us, won't you?"
O'Neill gave Ferretti an annoyed look and opened his mouth to say something, but decided against it. They did, after all, have to work together.
Cromwell looked undecided for a moment, then smiled at Ferretti. "Yeah, sure. Why not?"
O'Neill and the others soon reached a well-trodden path and began following it. The track went through the edge of a dense forest, and for maybe 15 minutes they walked through it, the air cool and thick of the smell of growing things. Here and there patches of light came through the thick leaves, and it was very peaceful.
The woods thinned and they came out of the forest and into a hilly terrain. The mountains could be seen in the distance, the very top of the largest one glistening with snow.
Turning a bend of the path, following it around one of the smaller hills, gave them a full view of a beautiful valley - and the smoking ruins of the village that had once been nestled there.
"What the hell happened here!" O'Neill exclaimed.
"Perhaps a Goa'uld attack?" Ferretti suggested, immediately realizing it did not make any sense.
"The attack was very recent, no later than this morning." Teal'c observed. "If the Goa'uld had attacked then, they would not have left the Tau'ri base undisturbed."
It had been a fairly large village, maybe 3-400 people had likely lived here. Now every building in the village seemed to have been destroyed. Fires were still burning here and there, but in most places it had been reduced to embers. Holes in the ground were scattered over the area, as were walls that had been ripped apart as if by explosions. Dead bodies littered the streets. Frowning, O'Neill bent down to check on the nearest. It was a girl, maybe ten or eleven years old. She was dead, her corpse riddled by bullets.
"Teal'c's right," O'Neill said, looking grim. "The Goa'uld did not do this. We did."
"Why?" Cromwell asked, looking frustrated. "I thought these people were peaceful?"
"They were," Teal'c said, the muscle in his jaw twitching, as it sometimes did when he was very angry.
"We need to report it to the Council immediately, and have them investigate this atrocity! If someone from Earth did this - and I agree it looks like it - then we have to get to the bottom of this immediately!" Ferretti said, enraged.
"Don't you get it? There's no way this could have happened without the Council's knowledge. How do you think they got here? The village is less than half an hours journey from the 'gate! Someone has got to know!" O'Neill exclaimed.
"But why ?" Ferretti shook his head in disbelief.
"I... I think I know why," Cromwell suddenly said, looking unhappy. "One of my people is a geologist by training, and he was ordered to survey the area about two weeks ago. He reported his findings to the Council, and then they sent him back. He had been sworn not to tell what he found, so I don't know for sure, but I'll bet it's something good!"
"Something in these hills or the mountains behind them." O'Neill nodded. "Probably near this village, and the locals didn't want to let anyone dig for ore or whatever, and didn't want to move the village, most likely." He shook his head, sad and furious at the same time.
"O'Neill! Over here," Teal'c shouted, hurrying in the direction where he had seen movement.
The others ran after Teal'c, and just saw someone duck behind the rubble of a wall. Teal'c was after him, and cornered the man, who immediately surrendered.
"Please, do not hurt me!" The young man was maybe twenty, and he looked terrified.
"Relax, son, we won't harm you," O'Neill assured him. "What's your name?"
"Can you tell us what happened here?" O'Neill asked.
"Men came. Men dressed like you!" Lohkak insisted, his eyes still fearful. "They killed everyone! My parents, my brothers and sisters, the neighbors... everyone."
"How many where they? When did it happen?" Cromwell demanded.
"Why don't we take him to one of the other villages first?" Ferretti suggested, when he saw the man back away in fear from the harsh words.
Cromwell nodded. "Good idea. Sorry, I didn't wanna scare you, son, I'm just very angry that my people, the... Tau'ri did this!"
Lohkak slowly nodded. "I will tell you everything."
O'Neill, Cromwell, Teal'c, and Ferretti took Lohkak to the nearest of the other villages, while Lohkak explained what had happened. He was no longer afraid of them, but deeply affected by what had transpired.
Some Tau'ri had surveyed the area around the village about two weeks ago. Cromwell guessed that one of them had been the geologist from his base. They had found something in the hills, some kind of ore, and there was a lot of it just where the village was located. A couple days later, more men had come from the Tau'ri base, and they had asked, then demanded that the villagers move somewhere else and allow the Tau'ri to excavate the hills.
A meeting had been held in the village, and after much deliberation, it had been decided to turn down the people from the Tau'ri base. The village had been there for as long as anyone could remember. It was a perfect place in every way. Besides, the villagers did not believe the Tau'ri would harm them. Their new neighbors seemed peaceful, even if they did carry guns and guarded the Stargate. However, the Tau’ri had fled from a Goa’uld attack on their home world. Something like that should be respected and everyone felt sorry for them. They had also traded some goods, and so, the general opinion were that no harm would come from making it clear that the village stayed where it was.
That decision had been made the day before yesterday, and a delegation had been sent to the Tau'ri base. Today, the attack had come. It had been swift, and there had been no mercy. No one and nothing was spared. The small group of Tau'ri warriors had used their terrifying weapons to fight off the villagers. Soon everyone else was dead, and the buildings reduced to rubble. Lohkak had been spared, but only so that there could be someone to tell the tale to the other villages nearby.
Resist the Tau'ri and die.