O'Neill and the others had left Lohkak with the people of a nearby village. They had also been given the same ultimatum as Lohkak's village had, and upon hearing his story, they had immediately become terrified and made the decision to move.
"It is a common strategy among the Goa'uld." Teal'c observed. "Make an example of one village, but spare a single man to tell others. After that, there are no more trouble on the planet."
"Yeah, I get that, Teal'c, and I'm afraid it's something that's been used a lot throughout Earth’s history, as well, so the Goa'uld are not alone in that." O'Neill sighed. "We ought to be better than that, dammit!"
"Humans tend to revert to, ah, a more primitive state when their surroundings are hard." Ferretti said. "I think it was Daniel who talked about it, some time ago."
"Sounds like something he would say," O'Neill agreed.
"But this quickly?" Cromwell still had a hard time accepting it. "I mean, I get that a lot of bad things have happened during these past months, but still!"
"Well, it certainly looks like it." Ferretti frowned. "Problem is, if this gets out, we're not gonna get many friends in this Galaxy."
O'Neill groaned, thinking about what Jolinar or Selmak would say when they heard about it. Any future cooperation with the Tok'ra would be impossible, if they reverted to barbarism. Something like this could not be allowed to happen. It was wrong, and it would only get worse, if whomever had done it, got away with it.
"We need to find those who did this - and we need to... take care of them," He said, looking unhappy.
"The Council has put together an elite unit to protect them. They are completely loyal to Kinsey and his followers," Ferretti observed. "Kinsey even put his oldest son in charge of them."
Cromwell nodded. "Yeah, I've heard about them. A couple of my boys had a run-in with a few of them the other day. They seem like a nasty bunch."
"We’ll talk to Hammond, he should be back today. If we hurry, we'll have a little time before the meeting with the Council begins." O'Neill decided.
Hammond had been on a tour of all the colonies, since apart from being base commander on the Council world, he was now also the top military commander of all the bases - at least on paper, even if not so much in reality.
He had been away for almost three weeks, looking at problems and issues on all the new colony worlds. It had not yet been a month since the group of refugees had split up and moved out to the ten base worlds, and there was an enormous amount of work to be done. For instance, the Council's planet, Primo, was the only one that came even close to having enough housing for its population.
Hammond was shocked, angry, and bitterly disappointed to hear about the massacre and swore to get to the bottom of the matter. He told O'Neill and the others to make discrete inquiries at their own bases, but cautioned against any action until they had all the facts.
It was, however, a very tense meeting with the Council that day, as none of them could imagine their complete innocence.
A few days later, O’Neill, Hammond, and the others had collected enough information to be fairly sure of what had happened, and who was responsible. Together with Lohkak, they would be able to prove what had happened and also that some of the members of the Council had ordered it and that their elite unit had carried out the deed. After much deliberation, the Council had voted in favour of concealing what had happened.
However, given the current situation, nothing would likely come of it. The Council would keep their power, probably deny everything, perhaps punish some scapegoat, and in any case have O'Neill and everyone else who knew about it killed. Then they could go on to commit other atrocities.
Another way to stop them had to be found.
"If this was on Chulak, I would kill the offenders," Teal'c said.
"Jolinar agrees with that solution, but that's not legal on Earth," Sam told him.
"No, but we're not on Earth any more," Cromwell suddenly said.
"You're not suggesting we take care of this ourselves? Shoot the bastards?" O'Neill frowned.
"Why not? It would solve our problem - several problems, actually, since they've caused nothing but trouble,” Cromwell argued.
"That's true, but..." O'Neill looked thoughtful, but not quite willing to go this far yet.
Sam bowed her head, giving Jolinar control.
"It would most likely be the only thing that can save your reputation at this point. If you do not stop Kinsey and his followers, now, then sooner rather than later others will hear of your peoples misdeeds. The Tau'ri will find no friends and allies - at least none you can trust. The Tok'ra would not ally with someone who is no better than the Goa’uld. The people on Primo may obey you, but they will never trust you - and they have traded with other worlds before, so sooner or later those trading partners will contact them. Your people will either have to kill them all - including the trading partners - or the rumours of your atrocities run ahead of you. Killing everyone that goes to that world has its own set of problems, as that, too, will become known. It is, in fact, a very bad idea to establish a base on an inhabited world, for a multitude of reasons, but I have already pointed that out to you several times."
"You have." O'Neill sighed. "As you say, you have made it painfully clear. But I must admit I am beginning to agree with you."
"What?!" Daniel exclaimed. "You can't be serious! You're not actually considering murdering any of the Council members?"
“Normally I would not, but now?” O'Neill took a deep breath. "I must be crazy, but yes, I am. I do realize it’s probably suicide, even here, but I can't let them get away with it, and I can't see any other way out."
"For what it's worth, I'm with you in this, Colonel. I'll help you," Ferretti said.
"Me too," Cromwell added.
"I am at your service as well, of course." Teal'c inclined his head to him. "I believe it is an honourable decision."
"If the man who witnessed the crime is present during their execution, he will attest it to his people, and it may be what is needed to make the people of Primo trust you again. Your credibility will have been restored. I will, of course, assist you in this endeavour," Jolinar declared.
O'Neill looked thoughtfully at all of them. "Thank you... but I think this is something we have to do for ourselves. The... Tau'ri, I mean. There'll always be someone who would complain, if a Tok'ra and a Jaffa helped kill some of our leaders."
Jolinar nodded. "I can see your point. Very well, it will be done purely by Tau’ri. How will you carry out the executions?"
O'Neill slowly shook his head. "I cannot believe I am actually planning this..." He frowned. "There are 13 members of the Council - Kinsey as the leader, and 12 ordinary Council members. Usually, during our debriefings, maybe half of them are present, as well as up to a handful of Kinsey's other close co-conspirators. In order to avoid having to kill anyone innocent, we’ll have to inform them that we are coming to talk to them about alleged war crimes committed on Primo. We’ll bring the witness. Most likely, Kinsey will only have his closest confidantes present, and certainly only those members of the Council who were involved, but it could still be as many as eight or nine people. They’ll be armed, at least with handguns. We’ll not be able to bring anything heavier than that, so it will be difficult to carry out - especially since Kinsey's elite guard will be waiting outside. We must act fast." He shook his head again. "I do not know if it can even be done, unless we involve all the base commanders, and I do not know how many are willing to be involved, and frankly, I would prefer to keep the knowledge of this confined to as few people as possible until it’s over."
"I’m more than willing to help," Ferretti said. "So are several others, I’m sure."
"It should just be the two of us," Cromwell said. "If we're going to burn for this, then I would rather not have a lot of others sharing the blame.”
"We'll be the scapegoats." O'Neill nodded. "I agree. I just don't know how to carry this out in reality."
"Can you use a knife?" Jolinar asked. "The Tok'ra have access to Tollan weapon's cancellation technology. If you use that, only bladed weapons and clubs will work in the room."
Cromwell and O'Neill looked at each other, then nodded grimly.
"Yes - we've worked with blades before. It's... possible," O'Neill said, sounding as if he was being reminded of particularly unpleasant things in his past.
"Good. There should be such a device in the cache where we acquired the valuables we used for buying supplies. We shall go and retrieve it tomorrow, and then you can arrange for the rest." Jolinar concluded.
"So you're claiming we’ve had everyone in one of the villages here murdered, and then burned that village to the ground, in order to get our hands on mineral ore under it? And this...
is a witness?" Kinsey snarled. "Outrageous!"
"The primitive savages did it to themselves, of course!" Samuels insisted. "No doubt, they regularly wage war on neighboring villages."
"We have found valuable ore in the area where several of the villages are located, however if you had cared to check, you'd found they have moved peacefully. They all agree we need that ore, and that it’s to every one's benefit to let us have it," Nichols added.
"Very true," Keffler agreed, smirking a little.
O'Neill glared angrily at the pair which had tortured and experimented on Jolinar and so also on Carter. Soon, he would have his revenge on them.
"Yes, the other villages moved - after being threatened by your goons, and learning about the fate of Lohkak's village!" Cromwell exclaimed.
O'Neill threw a look at the small device that sat unobtrusively on the table beside his coffee mug. As soon as he pushed the small activator in his pocket, it would begin jamming every advanced weapon in the room. Realizing it would not be long before something happened, he took a moment to take in the layout of the room again, and note the location of all the people and furniture.
There was the large table, of course, the one they had brought from Earth. Around it were twelve normal chairs, six on each long side, and then one, somewhat nicer chair, at the opposite end of where O'Neill was standing. Kinsey had been sitting there, but had gotten up during the meeting, being too agitated to sit still.
Of the ordinary Council members, only five were present - Samuels, Richardson, Willis, Nichols, and Keffler, the last of which stood to the left of O'Neill, only maybe eight feet away. Samuels stood on the opposite side of the table, compared to Keffler - and maybe seven or eight feet from Cromwell, who was beside O'Neill. Lohkek was behind him, and O'Neill hoped he would stay there, as he would only be a liability in a fight.
Yes, these people they could handle, O’Neill decided. The only ones that worried him were Wilkins and Jones, who stood near Kinsey, looking mean. They were very well trained, and members of Kinsey’s elite guard. They would know how to fight with knives and defend themselves against them - and they carried both a knife and a baton, aside from their firearms.
"Lies!" Samuels insisted, angry at Cromwell's statement.
"No, it is not lies! Your people killed my parents and siblings!" Lohkak shouted, angrily, suddenly leaping at Samuels who cried out.
Keffler drew his gun. "Keep your dog in place, or I’ll put it down!" He glared evilly at Lohkak.
O'Neill grabbed hold of Lohkak and regretfully pulled him off Samuels. "Sorry, you'll have to wait, son."
"But he deserves to suffer!" Lohkak insisted, furiously.
"I couldn't agree more, but sadly, there's laws against that."
"My youngest son, and two of my grandkids are still on Earth! Primitives like this Lohkak don't understand the danger my family could be in!" Kinsey said angrily.
"Listen, I'm sorry about your son and grandkids, but you did get your wife, your two other children, and five of your grandchildren off Earth! Most people here have lost almost everyone they loved and cared for, so I don't think you'll be getting a lot of sympathy - and Lohkak has lost everyone." O'Neill pointed out, rather harshly.
"So what if we killed the villagers?" Keffler said, suddenly, turning to his allies. "Who cares if they know. Everyone should be able to understand why we did it. We need the ore more than those stupid primitives need that village! Why couldn't they just have moved it when we told them to? Then they'd all still be alive! It's their own fault they’re dead."
"You admit it?" O'Neill looked surprised.
"Yes, why not? We need the ore to be able to fight the Goa'uld. The rest of these miserable people don't know any better, but we had a civilization, and we'll get it back. We'll get Earth back!" Kinsey exclaimed.
"Fools! Don't you realize you're behaving just like the Goa'uld? How do you think we'll get anyone to help us, if we're behaving like those we say we wanna fight?" Cromwell shook his head.
"Jolinar assures me the Tok'ra won't assists us, that's for sure. Not that I blame them!" O'Neill added.
"And we'd care why? We don't need those snakeheads!" Samuels said. "We're better off without them. Who knows if we can trust them anyway, right?"
Kinsey's goons, Jones and Wilkins, nodded, clearly agreeing with what Samuels said.
"You're an idiot! What do you think you're own people will say when they hear about it? I don't think they'll all be so ready to commit genocide in the name of our planet!" O'Neill scoffed.
"Who says they'll hear about it? Sometimes, there are things that needs to be done, even if the people are not ready to hear about it," Willis, one of Kinsey's strongest supporters, said, pulling out her weapon.
Richardson, on the opposite side of the table, found his gun also.
Keffler, Kinsey, and the rest of their group took out their weapons as well.
"Oh, that I agree about." O'Neill smirked, as he pushed the button of the small device in his pocket. The weapon canceller on the table blinked once, signalling it was active.
"Take them!" Kinsey yelled.
"Surrender at once, or you’ll be shot!" Samuels said, holding his gun to Cromwell's head.
"You cannot win - you're hopelessly outnumbered!" Keffler added, looking gleeful as he stepped up close to O'Neill.
"That's what you think!" Cromwell smiled. "Your weapons won't work anymore - no advanced weapons will work in here."
"Only these," O'Neill said, drawing his knife at the same time Cromwell did. They quickly evaluated the opponents - eight men, all together, likely only four of them with any kind of real fight training. It was possible - they had done it before.
Keffler made a grab for O’Neill’s knife hand, but he quickly pulled his hand back, and Keffler caught only the blade. He cried out, crouched over and cradled his injured hand. O'Neill hit Keffler hard over the nose, pulled his head back, and slit his throat, ear to ear. Keffler dropped dead to the floor.
Samuels had been holding his gun against Cromwell's head, and now tried to club him with it, when it did not fire. Cromwell quickly moved out of the way and hit Samuels behind the knees, making him stumble. Before he could right himself, Cromwell had grabbed his head and pulled it back, slitting his throat.
Nichols panicked, and pushed Richardson aside, as he ran for the door. However, before he could reach it, Cromwell threw his knife, catching him in the neck and felling him.
Furious, Willis, Jones, and Wilkins all rushed at O'Neill and Cromwell, who both grabbed another knife from their belts, as they prepared themselves for the attack.
Willis reached them first, and tried to club O'Neill over the head with her machine gun. While she had some experience fighting, it was nothing compared to O'Neill, and he easily side-stepped the attack. He swirled and hit her hard in the stomach, then used his elbow to knock her head back, before he disemboweled her with his knife.
Jones was upon him before Willis's dead body had even hit the ground. He tried to hit O’Neill over the head with his baton, but at the last moment, O'Neill managed to deflect the strike and it hit him on the left shoulder instead. The punch was still powerful enough that O’Neill stumbled and sagged. He allowed himself to fall completely to the floor, and quickly slit the Achilles tendon of his opponent. Jones cried out as the injury brought him tumbling to the floor. O'Neill took this opportunity while the other man was incapacitated, and stabbed him, twice, making sure he was dead.
He gasped from the pain in his shoulder, and fell back for a moment as he tried to sit up.
Meanwhile, Cromwell had finished off Wilkins, who was bleeding out on the floor. He threw a look at the two remaining enemies in the room - Kinsey and Richardson - who both stood at the other end, looking scared. They panicked at the same time, almost falling over each other and the chairs, as they tried to get to the door first.
Cromwell grabbed his last throwing knife and sent it flying towards Kinsey, who had almost reached the door. It caught him in the back, and he fell to the ground with a gurgling sound, dying. Richardson stared at him and then at Cromwell, in abject terror, before he fell to his knees.
"Please... I beg you... don't kill me!" Richardson beseeched him.
Ignoring the cries for mercy, Cromwell bent down and retrieved the knife from Kinsey and dispatched Richardson cleanly and efficiently. After checking that their enemies were indeed dead, he went over to O'Neill who was still lying on the floor. Behind him, some feet away, stood Lohkak, clearly shocked by what had happened.
O'Neill groaned a little as he propped himself up on the elbow of his good arm and looked at Cromwell. "Ya know, I thought the plan was to keep Kinsey alive so he could testify?"
"Yeah, well..." Cromwell shrugged apologetically. "He's still got two more supporters from the Council, who wasn't here today." He gave O'Neill a hand and helped him up.
"That's true... I thought that was too bad before, but maybe it's a good thing. We'll arrest them, and then Hammond can do a trial or something... for us, too, I guess." He looked ruefully at the many bodies. "I had really hoped I never would have had to do something like this again!"
Kinsey's two remaining supporters - one of which was a Council member - had been arrested and put in a cell, awaiting a new Council that could decide their fate. The remaining six members of the Council had chosen Hammond to lead them. It was a job he had not wanted to begin with, but now when he had seen what could happen, he had decided to take it, keeping also his position as base commander of the Council world, Primo.
The remaining about 30 members of the Elite Guard Kinsey had put together had been split up and divided equally between the ten bases, which should hopefully keep them from doing anything too stupid. They had also been demoted to manual labour, and were under observation. If they did anything wrong, they would face charges of treason, immediately.
However necessary the actions of Cromwell and O'Neill, and however much Hammond agreed with what they had done, they had to be punished.
Letting them do something like this, with no sanctions whatsoever, would set a dangerous precedent. The choice of punishment, however, was something Hammond could take care of himself, as they were officially under his command. Also, here, on the run from their homeworld, and mostly under military command, his mandate was much wider than it had been on Earth.
After some deliberation, he decided to demote them from their positions as base commanders, and reinstate them to their former ranks and positions. O'Neill was given command of SG-1 again, and Cromwell got a team as well. The guilt of Kinsey and his associates had been beyond question, and given the current situation, they might very likely have been condemned to death anyway. O'Neill and Cromwell had just carried out the sentence without getting the order - an indiscretion for which they were now being punished.