"The Pentagon feels that the Stargate project, while exposing Earth to considerable danger, has yet to produce any practical returns. Now we've been working on a device designed specifically to take advantage of this naqada enhancing effect. I'd like you to take part in the operation."
"What about my duties on SG1?" Samantha asked.
"You've been reassigned."
"What?" Daniel asked with surprise.
"As have you, Doctor Jackson. An archaeologist has no place on a front line unit. From now on you'll work as a consultant, going off world when required." Bauer answered.
"General Bauer!" Samantha's voice was much more forceful and accusing than anyone would have expected from her."
"The decision has been made, Major. Now, I suggest you get to work."
"He can't do this. It's wrong. It's wrong on so many levels. He can't just reassign us. SG-1 is the flagship team for a reason, and not only because we were the first."
Samantha Carter, one of the resident geniuses of the SGC and the world's foremost specialist on wormhole mechanics, was pacing the length of Janet Fraiser's office. Due to her long legs that meant that she took four steps, turned, took for more steps, turned, took four more steps....
"Sam, Sammy, I know he did nothing to endear himself to us, but give the man a chance. I know our new CO does not come over as the most personable of guys, but like every other human being he deserves a second chance. Maybe you just got off on the wrong foot?"
"Jan, I really wish it would be as easy as that. He's not interested in our achievements. He's convinced that he knows what's best. He does not care what we did for this planet in the last years. He has no idea what we're dealing with and yet, he thinks that he knows best."
The blonde major had stopped pacing and looked at her smaller partner. Janet suppressed a smile, stepped into Samantha's personal space and kissed her, deeply.
"I'm sorry, my love," Samantha said.
"Don't be, Sam. I don't say that you're wrong. He certainly has nothing of General Hammond.
"I just received orders to reassign almost a third of my personnel back to the Academy Hospital and other facilities. He thinks that we're overstaffed. I already filed a complaint with the higher-ups, but I'm not sure what good it will do."
"I'm sorry, Janet. I should have considered that SG-1 would not be the only team affected. If anything the infirmary is understaffed. What the hell is he up to?"
"I don't know, Sam, but I still think that we should give him the benefit of the doubt, for now."
"SG-1's been dismantled. Daniel has got a desk job. Teal'c is with SG-3 and Carter's working on some kind of doomsday machine. You know, same old same old." Jack said.
"Are you serious?" General Hammond asked.
"For once, yes."
Hammond tried to play it down. "It's just going to take some time to get used to the man. I'm sure he's very competent."
"Oh, come on, General. I've never met anyone who liked doing what they do more than you. You were good at it. Great. You'll never convince me you just got fed up. I'll never buy that."
"I'm sorry: it's out of my hands, Jack."
"What's that mean?" Jack asked.
"I can't discuss it."
Samantha Carter was pacing. She had managed to keep her calm during the Chinese take-away dinner and even during a lively game of Cluedo. Now, with Cassandra safely tucked into her bed, the blonde could no longer contain her unease.
Daniel kept her abreast with Colonel O'Neill's unofficial investigation of the blackmailing of General Hammond. Involving the former Colonel Maybourne made her slightly uneasy, but in the end she trusted her commanding officer; and if it would bring General Hammond back she was all for it.
"Talk to me, Sam."
"There's nothing to talk about, Jan. I knew he was up to no good and I fucked up."
"Sam, be reasonable. You can't just refuse his orders. You told me that all you had was a bad feeling. He's not worth to risk your career for. You would have risked a court-marshal, and it only would have been a question of time before they would have brought in other personnel. It would only have taken longer. As long as you are part of the project you'll at least have the chance to do something."
Samantha hugged her lover and held her tight. "I'm sorry, my love. I know that you're right, but ever since he first entered the base I can't shed this feeling of unease, and since he handed me the coordinates of the test site the feeling is completely off-scale. The geological survey looks alright, but still? I'm sure that there's something he does not tell me, something he does not want me to know."
"That's the Air Force for you."
"It's not a joke, Jan. I know that the chain of command is there for a reason, and a few years ago I wouldn't have thought of questioning a superior officer, especially not a two star general. A good man died just to procure the naqada necessary to build the damn bomb, and he didn't even flinch.
"Teal'c said that when they arrived at the gate room, he didn't even want to know how Major Waite died. He only was concerned about the damned naqada. This man does not care for his people. He should never have been put in a position of command."
Janet took the wind out of Samantha's ire by kissing her throat. She pulled her down on the couch. The tall blonde instinctively snuggled in Janet's arms but there still was enough tension running through Samantha's body to power up half of Colorado Springs.
She knew that Samantha was right: the new leader of the SGC had no regard for life. Every single one of General Bauer's decisions had been extremely short-sighted; and if they continued on this path they would alienate all of their allies.
"We just have to believe that everything will be alright and that he will see the error of his ways, hopefully before we find ourselves in real trouble."
Samantha snuggled closer and whispered, "I'm not sure if it's worth it any longer."
Daniel rushed into the control room. "We have to stop the test."
"Why is that Doctor?" General Bauer asked.
"The aerial survey shows evidence of an old Goa'uld mining operation, now even though it's probably been shut down for several thousand years there could still be significant amounts of naqada present on that planet."
"My soil samples indicate only minute traces." Bauer said.
Warning lights flashed in Samantha's mind, but she tried to stay calm. "The geological survey I read said there was none."
Bauer tried a weak semblance of a command voice. "We're not stopping the test."
"I don't think you realise the implications of this... Or maybe you do." Samantha said horrified."
"Are you making an accusation, Major?"
"You knew all along didn't you? You were hoping for a chain reaction with the naqada in the soil. Sir, that entire planet could be destroyed."
"That possibility has been considered. Most worlds occupied by the Goa'uld have a high incidence of naqada. This could be a very effective weapon against them." The General said with a superior expression on his face.
Samantha's voice had grown cold. "There's only one problem, Sir. When that bomb goes off we'll still be connected to that planet by an active Stargate, and we've seen radiation, gravitational effects, even time distortions translated back through an outgoing wormhole."
"According to my intelligence we should be able to get just enough information before the Stargate is destroyed and the wormhole disconnected." The General said.
"Who provided this intelligence?" Samantha asked.
"That is not your concern."
"Sir, we've seen the Stargate survive a direct hit from a meteorite. The truth is we have no way of knowing what will happen." Samantha objected.
"A risk assessment has been made and deemed acceptable. End of discussion."
Janet tried to focus on her never ending paperwork but her eyes continuously found the time indicator in the lower right corner of her computer screen. The bomb had just been launched. Only a couple of minutes later, her phone rang.
"Janet, it's me. I want you to leave the base, get on the next plane to the east coast. Grab Cassy and your parents and get as far away from America as you can. The bomb caused a chain reaction with the naqada deposits still on the planet. We gained some time by closing the iris but we can't shut down the Gate."
"Of how much radiation are we talking about, Sam?"
"Too much. I'm glad that Cass is already with your parents. Please go. Bauer just ordered to evacuate the control room, but he refused to call a general evacuation order." Samantha said.
"Then I will. It's my prerogative as CMO. I'll meet you at the secondary control room on level 16."
"Janet, please go. It's too dangerous."
"Sorry, Sam, if this really goes belly-up, I want to be with you."
Samantha, General Bauer and a couple of others had just reached the secondary control room.
"The iris is holding but it's starting to heat up." Samantha said.
"How long before it loses integrity?" The General asked.
"I'm not sure. It's possible that we turned that planet into a giant ball of super heated plasma. It could power the gate for months." Samantha said.
"We'll have to set the auto destruct." Bauer said.
Teal'c cautioned, "The Gate on the other side survived the explosion, would not ours as well?"
"But at least it would be buried under a million tonnes of rock."
"That wouldn't stop it from pumping out radiation. Eventually the heat is going to melt through that iris." Samantha said angrily.
Less than fifteen minutes later, non-coms and officers were on their way out of the mountain and Janet stepped into the secondary control room.
"What the hell were you thinking, Fraiser? I'll have you court-marshalled for this unauthorised behaviour. Everything is under control."
Janet looked at the commanding officer of Stargate Command with disdain but her voice stayed calm and polite.
"With all due respect, General Bauer, as long as I am the CMO of this base, I will decide when an evacuation is necessary; and radiation pouring in through the Gate is just about the best reason I can think of."
Janet then stepped behind Samantha who was seated in front of the monitors and put her hands on the blonde's shoulders. Her eyes once again were focused on the clock counting down the thirty-eight minutes before the Gate theoretically would shut down on its own.
When only three minutes were left General Bauer ordered them to leave the room and the base. "Let's get out of here as long as we can. Since you're sure that the self-destruct won't work, the only thing left to do is to hope and pray."
Samantha stiffened in her seat and Teal'c instinctively blocked the door.
"There is something we can do," the blonde major said. "We can break the connection to the other Gate by overloading our own by directing the self-destruct of the base solely towards the Gate."
"Then let's do it, and set the timer to ten minutes after the thirty-eight-minute window." Bauer said, suddenly regaining confidence.
"There's only one problem, Sir. The self-destruct has to be set manually and to redirect the power flow at least one officer is needed to control the power flow. At least if we don't want it to explode in our faces. I'll need a second officer to initiate the self-destruct."
"I'll call Colonel Reynolds down to assist you, Major."
Samantha, Janet, Daniel and Teal'c looked at the man as if he had just sprouted a second head. They had suspected that the general was an authoritarian bastard but now he had also revealed himself to be a coward. There was no doubt in any one of them that General Hammond would have been the first to volunteer.
"Teal'c, please, let General Bauer pass. Sam and I will do it."
The man was out of the door before she had even finished the sentence.
"Daniel and you should get out of here. Daniel, please make sure that the truth about what happened today gets out. Tell Cassy that we love her."
Samantha whirled around in her seat. "No, Janet. Cassy needs you."
"She needs you too, Sam, but we don't have a choice."
At thirty-eight minutes and forty-two seconds the Gate shut down. Samantha arranged for the rest of the personnel to return to the base. She then pulled a piece of paper out of one of the desk drawers and wrote her resignation letter. Without comment Janet followed suite.
"I can't let him do any more damage, Janet, but I don't want you involved."
"What do you have in mind, Sam?"
"I'll block the Gate, and before you object: yes, I know that I'll probably go to jail for it. Stargate Command can't be run like any other base; and as long as they don't accept that, there won't be any more Gate travel."
"They only would have to build a new dialling computer, Sam. It only would delay them."
"Not necessarily, Janet. If I do it right, they will need much more than a new dialling computer."
"Sam, please reconsider. Do you really think that this is worth not only your career but also your freedom?"
"This is not about me, Janet. And yes, it's worth it. The SGC is too important to be left in the hands of people like Bauer."
"Then let's do it, Sam. I'll be with you, all the way."
When General Hammond returned to his office the next morning he found a pile of resignation letters on his desk, all of the civilian staff and about a third of the military personnel, among them those of Samantha Carter, Janet Fraiser, Daniel Jackson and Teal'c. To make matters worse Master Sergeant Siler had just let him know that the Gate was not operational at the moment, and that neither he nor the other technicians had any idea how to solve the problem.
A knock on the door brought him out of his contemplations.
"General, it's good to have you back." Jack said.
"Thank you. I hear I missed a bit of excitement while I was gone."
"You'll have to ask Carter about that one, Sir."
"I'm looking forward to the debriefing."
"As am I."
"Jack, what do I owe you for this." General Hammond asked.
"Continued latitude, patience and understanding. So just be yourself Sir." After a short phone call with the recently escaped former Colonel Maybourne, he added, "General, about what you owe me?"
"Anything I can do."
"Well nothing right now, but one day I may ask you to buy back my soul." Jack said. "So, what's with all these pieces of paper on your desk? This one looks like Carter's handwriting."
"Resignation letters, all of them. It seems that more than two thirds of our personnel, military and civilian, decided that they don't want to work for General Bauer. They resigned. And for some reason the Gate no longer works. Neither Siler nor anyone else I was able to recall since I arrived this morning were able to get it back in working order."
"Did you get a hold of Carter, Sir?"
"I tried her home phone and her cell but there was no answer." General Hammond said. "Doctor Fraiser also has yet to report back to duty. I would be grateful if you and Teal'c or Doctor Jackson could pass by and tell them to report back to duty - and make sure to tell Major Carter that she is needed to repair the malfunction of the Gate, ASAP."
"Sir, will there be anything else?" Jack asked.
"Yes, let her and all the others know that I consider everything that happened during my absence as not having happened, including the resignation letters."
"I'll make sure that they'll get the message, General."
"Dismissed, oh, and Jack, tell Sam that she did good."
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