The Obvious Answer – General Jack Year Three - Part Three
"Good morning, sir." Walter greeted me with his usual enthusiasm. I'm afraid I didn't
"What's good about it?"
I'll give him credit - he continued without so much as a blink.
"I'll arrange to move your first three appointments up, General. That will leave the
pre-mission briefing with SG-1 for 1000 hrs. Would you like me to get you a coffee
I sat down at my desk, moving slowly in the hope that I wouldn't exacerbate my
headache. "Thank you, Walter, that would be excellent." He moved to the door, but
halted as I continued. "And I'm sorry. I didn't get much sleep the last couple of days."
He smiled gently, in that knowing way he has. "That's okay, sir. I'll get that coffee
I watched his retreating back, thinking how grateful I was for understanding staff.
I had woken on Sunday morning feeling as if I hadn't slept a wink, with vague
memories of a restless night and the sense there was something wrong. As the day
progressed the uneasiness got worse rather than better and by the time I headed back
to bed I was so keyed up that all I managed was a light doze, waking at every dog
bark or the sound of traffic going past outside. But I didn't have the sort of job where I
could call work and tell them I wasn't coming in - not without a damn good reason -
so here I was, sitting behind my desk being totally unproductive.
Picking up the top document on the pile, I got to work.
"Good morning, O'Neill."
I eased into my chair at the head of the briefing room table just as Daniel came
hurrying into the room, his hands filled with papers. "Oh, hi Jack. Sorry, am I late?"
He gave a quick glance at his wristwatch. "Only a minute or so - good."
"Can we get on with this now?" My abrupt words cut across anything else he was
about to say, and he subsided, giving me a sideways look as he slid into his seat,
placing the papers on the table in front of him.
"Got out the wrong side of the bed?"
Teal'c frowned and opened his mouth, but shut it just as quickly at my irritated glare. I
wasn't in the mood for a discussion of semantics.
"PSX-259. Mission objective - determine reason for recent Goa'uld activity on the
planet. Personnel - SG-1. Comments anyone?"
"We go, we spy, we come home?"
Ignoring Daniel, I rubbed the bridge of my nose and pulled the pitcher of water
towards me. "Any comments worth hearing? Colonel?"
Carter quickly turned her attention to her folder. "The natives reported the presence of
a Goa'uld and a small number of Jaffa several miles from the gate. They didn't use the
gate, so must have arrived by ship." I restrained my impulse to say 'd'uh' and took a
sip of water. "We have been visiting this planet fairly regularly for the last two years
and there has been no sign of Goa'uld activity in that time or for at least fifty years
prior to our arrival."
"So, any theories as to the reason for the sudden interest?"
"The Goa'uld have made no contact with the locals, O'Neill. Their interest seems to lie
in the ruins in the mountains several miles to the west of their village."
"Have we investigated these ruins?"
"Yes." Daniel jumped in quickly, taking over from Teal'c, turning a page and reading
from it. "SG-8 did a thorough survey of them. I've looked over their report and can't
see anything of significance. They seem to be ruins of an early native village,
somewhat similar to remains found on outlying islands off the coast of Scotland."
"And the Goa'uld? Do we know which one it is?"
Daniel shook his head. "No, the ..."
"Excuse me, General O'Neill, there's a call coming through for you from the
President." Walter was already across the room and opening my office door before he
had finished speaking.
"Wait here." They acknowledged my orders with nods. Daniel stood and headed for
the coffee pot. I wished I could take the time to grab one as well. Who knew how long
the conversation I was about to take might last. At least it wasn't hockey season, so
the idle chit chat could be cut to a minimum, I wasn't in the mood for idle chit chat,
even from the President.
I picked up the receiver, making myself comfortable behind my desk as I did so.
"Good morning, Mr President."
"I'm glad someone thinks so, General O'Neill."
I winced. Oh dear - it seemed I wasn't the only one to get out on the wrong side of the
bed this morning. There was an ominous silence on the other end of the line as I
desperately searched for some sort of response, before finally hitting on the only
possible choice - directness.
"Is there a problem, sir?"
"You could say that, General. Perhaps you could explain why I am being used as an
intermediary between yourself and the Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet?"
"I asked President Hayes to speak with you on my behalf, O'Neill."
Unless the President had taken up impersonation as a hobby, the conversation had
suddenly become three-way.
"Commander Thor seems to think his life is at risk if he approaches you directly,
General. Now, would you care to explain to me just what in hell he means?!"
President Hayes' voice had risen dramatically as he spoke, ending on a shout. I held
the phone away from my ear, my headache spiking into seriously dangerous territory -
the run and hide in a small dark place sort of territory.
"I'm not absolutely sure, sir. Commander Thor is an always welcome guest at the
SGC." I smiled as sincerely as possible into the phone. "In fact, I look forward to
seeing him." Just how true that was, I wasn't going to let the President know. "I can
only imagine it's been a misunderstanding."
Boy, was I looking forward to seeing my old buddy Thor.
I rested my forehead on the desk, cradling the receiver under my chin and closed my
"I am concerned, O'Neill, that you will carry out your threat to nail my..."
I leapt into the conversation with an enthusiasm that I hoped was believable.
"Why don't you beam me straight up, Thor. I'd love to visit with you. It's been too
long since we had a proper talk."
"Yes, General O'Neill, why don't you and Commander Thor talk? Then I'd like a
complete report, including a full explanation, on my desk within twenty-four hours."
There was a pause, before President Hayes spoke again. "Do I make myself clear,
General? Or should that be Airman?"
I lifted my forehead and thumped it lightly on the desk. "Yes, sir. I'll have it for you,
"Good." There was an audible click on the line, and without further comment the
President of the United States was gone and I was left with my good friend Thor. My
knuckles tightened on the handset as I lifted my head slowly.
"Would you prefer it if I came to the SGC, O'Neill? You seem to have a problem with
my beaming you up."
Even knowing he couldn't see me, I couldn't help nodding. "I think that would be
I had barely finished speaking when a flash lit up the briefing room. I sat, phone still
in hand, trying to see through the window.
There was Thor, in an already animated conversation with SG-1.
I was out of my office in seconds, the dull thud of the receiver being dropped ignored.
"Thor! Buddy!" I opened my arms wide in welcome.
Didn't work. The little grey alien hopped sideways and hid behind Daniel.
"Ah..?" Daniel looked over his shoulder in surprise, moving as he did so. Thor moved
with him. All I could see was one large eye peering at me.
"What's going on, Jack?"
"My skin is not slimy, O'Neill."
They both spoke at the same time, but it was Thor's words that seem to register. Teal'c
raised a very perplexed eyebrow, giving me a look that demanded answers. Carter
moved over to the now seemingly joined at the hip Daniel/Thor combination and
dropped down to one knee.
"Is there something wrong? What can we do to help?"
Yeah - that's right - side with the alien.
"I believe O'Neill is upset with me."
"Jack?" One word, but it held a world of accusation. Yes, Daniel was definitely good
"I'm sure General O'Neill isn't angry with you, Thor."
I smiled slightly. It was nice to see Carter was prepared to give me the benefit of the
"He tried to shoot me." I swear Thor was playing this for every ounce of sympathy he
could get. He sounded like a little kid who's puppy's just been kicked. I could see
Carter melt right in front of me, her eyes going wide and a hand reaching out to touch
the grey slimeball on the shoulder.
"O'Neill?" This time it was Teal'c. He fixed me with a glare that would disintegrate
"It's a misunderstanding." I did my best to look benign. "Thor beamed me up just
before I was about to compete. I was carrying my pistol and I naturally asked to be
sent back as quickly as possible." I bent down, trying to see around Daniel. "Come on,
buddy - you know I'd never hurt you."
Thor blinked twice, slowly, and cocked his head to one side, then sidled out from
behind Daniel. Carter stood, but didn't step away. Now I had four pairs of accusing
eyes all fixed on me.
"What?!!" No one spoke. "Look, I've already got the President on my back. I don't
need you three as well." I copied Carter and dropped to one knee, looking the Asgard
straight in the eye. "I admit I was very angry when you beamed me up, and I
apologise for that, but I've asked you to please be more careful. It could cause all sorts
of problems if you transport me out of a public place."
Thor nodded solemnly and took a step towards me. "It is true, you have asked that of
me. It is just that I am not used to having to deal with beings who do not know of our
existence. I also apologise, O'Neill."
I felt suddenly light, as if a burden had been lifted from me, and couldn't help
Then I tried to stand up.
My right knee gave out and I was suddenly propelled forward, automatically throwing
out my right arm to halt my downward progress. The sling popped open and my arm
screamed at me just how damn stupid I was as it gave up trying to hold my weight and
collapsed. I ended kissing the briefing room carpet, butt in the air as if I was
Thor's quiet words were just the icing on the cake. "There is no need to bow before
I rolled on to my side, clutching my arms and looked up to find general hilarity from
my troops, so I just lay there, waiting until I was no longer a laughing stock.
"Allow me to assist you, O'Neill." Teal'c bent and took my good arm, his eyes slightly
moist as if he was on the verge of tears. I didn't think they were in sympathy with my
pain. Much though I would have loved to ignore his large hand, I was in no position
to refuse his help, so I grasped it. Letting Teal'c take most of the weight, I finally
reached a vertical position and limped over to the table. Daniel pulled out a chair and
I fell into it.
"I'm glad to see my pain brings you so much pleasure."
I raised a hand, stopping Carter's attempt at apology in mid flow. "Don't worry,
Colonel. I doubt I could have kept a straight face under the same circumstances." The
image of General Hammond, ass up on the carpet flashed across my mind and I tried
to conceal a snigger.
It was a losing battle. I started to laugh, cradling my arm and flinching with every
movement of my body. For some reason that just seemed to make the whole thing all
the more amusing and before long Carter and Daniel were laughing along with me.
"It did look funny, Jack," Daniel managed to gasp out, between loud chuckles. "But I
think we better get you to the infirmary."
"Indeed. Perhaps we should request a gurney?" Teal'c wasn't laughing outright, but I
could see he was a hair's breadth away from doing so.
"No! No gurney. I'm fine."
"Fine if you're a vacuum cleaner, sir." Carter leaned forward and plucked some carpet
fibre from my shirt, then dissolved into another fit of giggles.
"Besides, we don't even know what Thor wants yet," I pointed out. "I'll go get my arm
seen to as soon as we've finished here. Promise."
The little Asgard had been standing silently, watching us, and I wondered what he
thought of the situation. It probably just confirmed his opinion that we were a very
young, if not insane, race.
"Thor?" I invited him to speak as the others took seats around the table.
"It has recently come to our attention that humans have established an outpost in the
I don't know what I expected, but it wasn't that. I nodded.
"One of our ships noticed that an Ancient city, previously unknown to us, was being
utilised by them. The commander of the ship did not wish to make his presence
known until they were identified. Are they known to you?"
I nodded again. "Yes, they're from the SGC. Unfortunately we haven't got regular
contact with them. The ZPM's we have are already running out of power so we have
to limit their use."
Thor blinked. "ZPM's? I do not know this term."
"ZPM stands for Zero Point Modules." I could tell by her excited smile that Carter
was about to launch into an explanation that would make my eyes glaze over, and I
barely restrained a groan.
To my profound relief, Thor nodded. "Ah, now I understand. We are unable to utilise
the devices you call ZPMs as they are incompatible with our technology. As a gesture
of goodwill the Asgard would be happy to take any supplies and personnel you wish
to send and deliver them to your outpost and in return we would welcome the
opportunity to carry out research in the city."
There was a gasp from Carter's side of the table. I turned to her inquiringly.
She was looking stunned. "Inter-galactic."
"The Asgard ships are inter-galactic, General. Their home world isn't even in our
I thumped my hand on the table. "Son of a bitch! You mean to tell me we could have
hitched a ride to Atlantis any time? We just had to ask?"
Thor nodded. "Yes, that is correct. Why did you not tell us your people were in the
I shook my head, seeing looks of disbelief around the table that I'm sure mirrored my
own. "We didn't think of it."
I looked at the clock on my office wall and wearily blinked away the fussiness of
profound tiredness from my eyes as I began to type again. The report on the screen in
front of me was a fine exercise in creative writing and it had taken me several hours to
compose, my stock of vague phrases and evasions having been completely used up
within the first few paragraphs. I could only hope the revelation that we had only
needed to ask the Asgard to help contact Doctor Weir and the rest of the personnel in
Atlantis would be enough to push the incident at the Academy to the back of
President Hayes' mind.
I saved and sent. It was almost midnight, but I found myself strangely reluctant to
head for bed.
I pushed my chair away from the desk and stood, swaying a little. The doctor had told
me I needed to rest my knee, but that it should be fine by the morning.
I headed for my quarters, shutting my office door behind me.