The world , when it ended, ended not with a bang or a whimper, but with a great deal of confusion, miscommunication and a serious case of WTF?
No matter what we did, no matter how we tried to prepare, none of us were ready for that day. The guys at the SGC, the ones out on Atlantis, hell those of us who had just been tagged and told to keep our eyes open, we were clueless. None of us had it right. And when it all went to shit, all we could do was try to catch up.
There is a lot of stuff I regret about those two hours I had on Earth after I got my call. A lot.
T – 48 Hours (Roughly)
Cheyenne Mountain Base
Daniel Jackson was not having a good day. There had been no coffee at home, Jack was back in DC, the coffeemakers at the Mountain were serving government bought sludge again and his annual physical had been move up. His day just got worse when the Asgard early warning buoy that Thor had placed for them reported an incoming Ori fleet.
“Walter? Do we have numbers on the hostiles?” General Landry asked.
“Flight Control at Nellis reports twenty-five Ori battle cruisers incoming, General. We are scrambling the fleet. ETA is forty-eight hours out.”
Daniel watched as Landry digested the news. This was his first major up close and personal test as the head of the SGC and the archeologist wondered how he would do. Because he found himself rather… unimpressed with the General as the leader of the SGC. The man had no fire, no flash and he was far too in love with the rules. The Ori plague they had been gifted with had shown those traits to be deep weaknesses since Lam had taken over the response as the base CMO.
When his input had been ignored for the third time, Daniel decided that he had had enough. “General Landry, unless you need me to help with the battle plans, I need to get my people together to go over our evac plans in case one is called.”
“You have a go Doctor. We will keep you updated on the status of the fleet,” Landry said, relief coloring his voice. Daniel for some reason made him uncomfortable.
“Sam, Teal’c, Mitchell, Vala. Talk to you later.” Daniel said as he stood up from the main conference room table and headed out. His lab had coffee and the departments under him knew to keep a pot brewing for him. With a fleet forty-eight hours out, his people had a laundry list of things to do to get ready if the enemy wasn’t stopped. Most of his departments had just wrapped up a round of experiments or translations the week before and were spooling up for the next big push out of the exploratory arm of the SGC, so they were basically clear. Going over the list of things to do and things to push off, Daniel got into the elevator and quickly punched the button for his floor.
As soon as the doors opened, Daniel grabbed the first member of his team and ‘requested’ that they pass on the message that he wanted to see everyone in the main lab. No exceptions. One pit stop at his lab for a cup or two of perfectly brewed java and he was much more ready to face the day. Filling his travel mug with the last of the pot, he made his way to the main lab. It was full and all of his scientists were chattering about what might be going on to their neighbors. Lurking outside the door to try to get a handle on the rumors, Daniel was surprised that no one had guessed the reason.
When he stepped into the room, it got quiet. Daniel wasn’t quiet as unknowing as he projected, but this level of respect and outright awe didn’t sit well with him. Even if it was useful at times. Right now, the lack of sound would be helpful. “Flight Control out of Nellis has a massive Ori fleet coming this way with an ETA of forty-eight hours. We are going with the most recent forty-plus hour evac plan. Please make sure that every step of the protocol happens this time folks. This is not a drill.
“Nyan, get the personnel list for Atlantis and start prepping phone numbers. Sabers, get the lists for our people and do the same. Michaels, Knox and Andrews, get with the people in charge of the ‘tagged’ and starts the prep work there. Miko I need you to update our targets for supply liberation, our last prep day was four months ago and stuff will have been moved. Also someone get with the hard science folks. McKay recently turned his hand at turning our Asgard transporter beams into a heavy-duty collections device that doesn’t require reintegration before storing the product. It costs some serious power, but with a ZPM tied into a ship, we have can divert enough naquadah generators to deal support the memory banks. Finally someone research where Kona and Columbia stash their good coffee beans, because if we have to do an evacuation of this planet, I am not doing it without coffee. So, now that you have your assignments, you have an hour you get them done and then go home and pack your gear. Any questions?”
For once, his department was quiet. Daniel took the time to look each member in the eye, trying to get a read on all of his people. These people were the ones who had lasted at the SGC for years, people who could roll with the random insanity that the gate sparked and he was very sure they could make it through today. Even knowing that it might be one of their last night’s on Earth.
“Dr. Jackson, sir.” Miko Kusanagi raised her voice so she could more easily be heard by everyone in the room. Daniel had no clue why she was with his department for her rotation back to Earth, but he was grateful that she was there, never-the-less. “I would like to add to the looting lists, please. Dr. Weir and Dr. McKay both sent me back with requests ranging from ‘needed’ to ‘want’. I think we need to work on filling both sets.”
“I think that is doable Dr. Kusanagi. Please get with Dr. Miller in the hard sciences lab to make sure that we aren’t covering the same ground. For that matter, please go with them and get that set of looting lists made up. I know that Sam keeps an updated list of needs and wants posted in the main lab. For those of you looking for the supplies, please remember toilet paper! Last training cycle one of the teams forgot it and I don’t want it to be us this time! I do not want to be the one to experiment with the Ancient version of a bidet!” Daniel finished with a hand wave. Most everyone in the winced at the thought and then laughed. Obviously that would not be something that they would look forward to either. “Dismissed people!”
Everyone broke to take care of their assigned jobs and Daniel head back to his office. One of his first tasks would be to actually pack the mess. Or at least, get it ready to be beamed out and stored. There was too much necessary knowledge in the room to leave it behind. His books at home, while nice, weren’t quiet as important and he had all the originals at the SGC anyway. He no longer had fish, so there were no pets to worry about either. His fridge had been empty this morning and as for clothes? Well, he mostly wore uniforms. So his packing would be pretty basic: All his linens, his minimal civilian wardrobe, his power suits and he needed to make a stop at the local sex store. He was not leaving without a few goodies.
T -28 Hours (Roughly)
SGC, Science Labs
There hadn’t been much for Daniel to do once his departments had signed off on being ready. Everyone had brought in their bags and boxes, all carefully labeled and set aside in an area, waiting for them to either pick them up, or for a ship to come beam them away. Now, they were just waiting. After the fifth time breaking up a rubber band fight, Daniel had directed his people to start downloading everything they could by way of entertainment. He had a sneaking suspicion, since he had seen Miko talking to the group he had assigned, that there was going to be a lot more than he expected on the various hard drives. Most of it very illegal too. Not that he cared.
The fleet from Earth had gone out hours before and Daniel was not with them, nor was he with the official ‘Flight Control’ out at Nellis. Landry had specifically ordered him to stay behind since he ‘wasn’t a soldier’ and due to his specialties ‘obviously couldn’t contribute’ to the battle. Daniel wanted to scream since he had been on a Gate team from the beginning and had more battle experience than the General did. Both Sam and Cam gave him sympathetic looks and rolled their eyes at the man’s blindness, but he outranked, so they had to at least look like they agreed. The painful lessons in diplomacy over the years helped him and he bit his tongue.
Landry had tried to set one of the other on duty Colonels as temporary head of the SGC and no one had the heart to tell him that his orders were going to be ignored. Daniel had been functioning as the de facto 2IC for the Mountain’s civilian side for years and everyone listened to him. Jack, Sam and Teal’c had rammed those lessons home to the military of the SGC and they had learned their lessons well. Dixon was taking care of the military members and had sent out several teams to pack up the houses and apartments of anyone who lived off base. His wife and kids were already at Area 51, waiting at the staging area to either be sent out to Atlantis or to go home.
Since he was the most senior civilian stuck in the Mountain, he had been the one to start the most general of plans for receiving VIP’s for evac through the Gate. For the first step in the plan, any and all of the world leaders that came to the Mountain were going to be going to the main Alpha Site at Icarus Base. Since there was nothing scheduled for the next month, the VIP’s should be safe enough there and would still get a good idea of what the SGC was trying for with their exploratory arm. And if the world went to hell, the VIP’s would be out of the way and not asking what the hell they were doing. His ability to tolerate shit like that was going down the older he got.
Anyway, since very few of those same world leaders would have a need to go any further into the SGC than they had to, the straight line entrance from the elevators to the Gate had been kept clear. Daniel had also been nice enough to send all the fresh food out to Icarus so he could load up the bases freezers with enough ice cream to make a Ben&Jerry’s shop jealous. Not that he was going to tell Icarus what he had put in the place of all the hotdogs and hamburgers that they had been shipped, he had steaks to hide in with the ice cream too. For good measure, he had his people buy a good half-dozen ice cream makers too. If nothing else, they could make sorbet.
With that final purchase, Daniel found that his lists for the science corps were done and he turned his attention to the rest of the Mountain. Dixon reported that all the military members were accounted for and their gear was being stored in the motor pool parking lot. Housekeeping services had topped off all their lists and had packed away anything that wasn’t immediately needed for the making of minimal meals or keeping thing clean. Medical was also as packed as they could be, while still being ready to handle emergency surgeries. The armory had gone through their supplies and, after issuing all the qualified personnel their sidearm’s, extra clips and assault rifles, had packed away everything. The records and storerooms clerks had spent the previous twenty hours putting transponder tags on each and every crate or object under their control.
And finally, Dixon and the soldiers under his command who had been left behind were being very proactive when it came to his safety. While Daniel was fine with the thought of being safe, the level of paranoia they were displaying was making him very nervous.
The folks in the medical research departments under Lam had packed up the Tretonin factory the SGC had put together and had it ready to be shipped out to Dakara. If there was no news out of the Fleet within the next four hours, Daniel was going to order the equipment to be shipped out with the Jaffa that Carolyn had been training. When Landry found out, the chances of him being happy about that decision were really close to nil, but Daniel didn’t care. A quick call to Jack had gotten the whole decision cleared and all Col. Dixon asked was if Daniel and the Jaffa needed help getting the equipment through the gate. They didn’t, but the thought was appreciated.
What wasn’t funny was being the only person of sufficient rank in the Mountain to deal with the politicians coming their way. Dixon was ducking it for all he was worth and given how blunt the man was, Daniel was feeling okay about letting him. While he might have to be the 2IC for the soft sciences, he had not signed on for this. Jack, when he got back from dealing with the President and all his sycophants, was going to owe him so damn much for this bullshit.
T -23 Hours (Roughly)
Six Light Year Outside of Sol, To The Galactic North
“Apollo we’ve been hit pretty bad. Damage control has us at 40% of nominal. Potemkin is not responding to hails and the Pyotr is a bit busy trying to get behind one of the inner monsters.”
“Roger that Daedalus. We are moving to target that big bruiser on your six. Get clear please.”
“We will. God speed and grace Apollo.” And Abraham Ellis watched as the Daedalus worked to get themselves out of the rat trap the Tau’ri fleet had managed to get trapped in. He could only follow her progress for a few moments before he lost her engines in the massive light display before him.
Thanks to the efforts of Caldwell and his crew, the ship he was aiming for blew, washing the heavens with enough energy to dazzle a star. As soon as Ellis and the Apollo killed one Ori ship, there was another and another and still they kept coming. The next time he had a second to look around the battle, there was no evidence that the Daedalus was still alive. But there was evidence that the Tau’ri, that Earth was losing. Of the seven ships that had left Earth with, only two were still fighting. The others were only dead hulls, and a quick look at the sensor feeds showed that there was no one left alive on those ships.
“Comms! Get me Flight control”
They were fighting for their lives now in so many ways, and Abe knew, knew that his ship and her sister ship the Pyotr Veliky were doomed unless they could get out of the trap. The Hammond, the Potemkin, the Korolev, the Odyssey and the Daedalus, were all gone. And given the way the Ori were being so aggressive, the chances of survivors had gone away the first time he had seen an Ori battlecruiser shooting escape pod.
“Sir, we have Flight Control, General O’Neill is on.” The Lieutenant who had taken over the Comms position called out.
“Command, this is Apollo. Come in please.” Ellis said. He had most of his attention on the information that his sensors were telling him. Pyotr was starting to redline, and that could not be good. Tapping into the inter-ship communication array that Colonel Carter had set up, Ellis called out to his fellow captain, “Markov, what is your status?”
The Russian was obviously in pain when he came back, but still had his sense of humor, “Oh, just hanging about, my friend. I would suggest when we clear the road that you get on your way. Something tells me that you will be needed.”
Before Abraham could respond, O’Neill was on the line, “Apollo, Pyotr, you need to break it off and head home. We are calling you back.”
On the screen before him, Colonel Abraham Ellis watched as his friend, his ship and all of his crew took out another Ori battlecruiser. And died.
All he could do was make sure that their sacrifice wasn’t in vain. The fire of the Pyotr’s death hadn’t even had time to fade before he had taken the Apollo through and run for Earth. They were the only ship to survive and the Ori fleet, though bruised, was still heading towards Earth.
T -24 Hours
Washington DC. NCIS Headquarters
The screaming “WAKE UP!” of a cell phone that he kept on him at all times, but was not his official NCIS issued one woke Tony DiNozzo up out of the first sleep he had gotten in three days. It also woke his team up. They were hot on the tail of a Marine who had stolen his kid out of school and hightailed it to someplace unknown. Abby was crunching the evidence and until she came up with a clue they could use, Gibbs had let them sleep.
“Huh?” Two am was not the best time of his night.
“DiNozzo. This is O’Neill. Wake the fuck up,” growled an annoyed voice on the other end of the phone.
There were only two men on the planet who Tony would wake up and be coherent for without complaint. One was looking at him with a question on his face from his desk and the other was on his phone. Phone? Oh. SHIT. “General? Why are you calling me at 0200?”
“Remember when we told you that there might come a day when we would come calling? Well we are calling now. You have about two hours to get your stuff together and gather everyone you wanna take. This isn’t a drill. I need you and your team on the ground now to help keep this from getting out of hand.”
He had heard of people feeling like they had a ball of ice in their guts, and had thought he had experienced it. This proved that he hadn’t. “Two hours? We can do that. We’ll be waiting”
“Good man.” Tony could hear the tired relief in the General’s voice. In the background, there were shouts and sounds of equipment and people being moved quickly to new locations. “Two hours. See you then.” And the phone when dead.
God. He wanted to puke. But… “Boss? I need you to trust me on this.” Tony said as he started dialing Abby. “We have two hours, less than that actually. More like an hour and forty-five. Go get everything you want to save, call Jackson to tell him to standby and pack for a trip that does not include coming back here. Ever.”
Abby thankfully was still up and had apparently gotten her own call from Colonel Carter. One less person to tell then. “Abby, tell Ducky and have him get here ASAP. Palmer too. We got the call from O’Neill.”
“On it.” Was all she said. He could tell she wasn’t in the lab anymore, it was too quiet.
“DiNozzo? What is going on?”
“When you were in Mexico on your vacation a few years ago, Abby and I had a case out in Colorado Springs. Ziva and McGee weren’t invited at the time, since their clearances weren’t high enough. Long story short, we got our perp, but we also go read in on a program that is totally insane. They left us a parting gift, if ever the world was going to go to hell, they would do their level best to take us with them and anyone we grabbed for the ride. So I am asking the three of you to trust me and go home, pack for leaving forever and get back here in as close to ninety minutes as you can.” Tony explained as he grabbed his keys.
“But…” McGee tried to object, DiNozzo knew. One look at his face and he must have seen something that cleared everything up. Tony wasn’t playing any games now. “Ninety minutes? And whoever we can get here?”
The fear in his voice made Tony pause, “Yup. Your sister is here, right?”
“Yeah. She is.”
“Better wake her up then and have her start packing. Only what you can carry. Which means that typewriter yours is likely staying.” And looking around, Tony saw that Ziva, who had said nothing to disagree with him, was already gone. Hopefully she would be back in time. Hopefully. Gibbs was heading towards the stairs and Tony took off after him. They were the faster method and he had wasted enough time.
After the Sea Hawk he had gotten an apartment that was a lot smaller and a lot closer to the Yard than his last one. With the smaller place had come some severe downsizing. Tony now found himself oddly grateful that he had so much less stuff. All his movies were in flip cases, his music and favorite videos were on a huge Ipod, and he had backed up his computer files to a portable hard drive. Entertainment taken care of, Tony moved onto his clothes. All his practical clothes, the comfortable stuff, his bedding, a few pillows, his toiletries went into an oversized sea bag and he was done. Two super-sized suitcases, two duffels and his backpack. Looking over his apartment for anything that he forgot, he stopped at the pictures of his team and family. If he was never, ever likely to come back, those had to go to. Pulling the now irreplaceable bits of paper out, he carefully stored them in a book in his backpack.
The kitchen yielded a partial bottle of bourbon, another of whisky and two bottles of good vodka. Those got carefully placed into various places in his luggage and so did a bottle of wine. His Nonna’s recipe book went into the backpack too as did a full flask. He had a feeling he would need it. A quick check of his watch and it had taken him an hour to get this far. He carefully wrote out a letter to his landlord and lied, saying that he had been called away on a case, he would be back in a week or so. That would keep things calm on that front. He hoped.
Car loaded, Tony started back to the Yard. He had one quick stop to make… There was a 24hour Safeway the way in. He was going to pick up some vacuum sealed coffee bricks. Because he wasn’t going to be a cast-a-way with Gibbs without some.
T -23 Hours
Midway, Void Between Galaxies
Rodney McKay was having an excellent day. The McKay-Carter Gate bridge was officially up and running, his ‘Sunday’ was fishing free, there was hot coffee on Midway and new sensor data to pore over from the instruments placed out in the middle of the extragalactic nowhere. Even better, when he had gotten in, his email had let him know that Sam had sent him confirmation that his design for aborting an Asgard transporter beam right before integration had worked. Well, worked on inanimate objects at least. The less said about the mice, the better.
Rubbing his hands in glee, Rodney thought about what that little change was going to do to the Daedalus’s cargo holds and tried not to chortle. Oh, thank you Star Trek for the idea! Face split into a grin that would normally make his coworkers check him over for possession, Rodney got lost in the new data he was harvesting. After all, the stars had been one of his first loves and who else got an opportunity like this?
When the Gate opened and people started coming though, Rodney had checked the schedule. Atlantis wasn’t expecting to get a new influx of people for another six weeks. A quick look at the faces coming through showed that one of the new hoard was someone he knew, if only vaguely so, “Lee? What in the hell are you doing here?”
Bill Lee, one of the many theoretical scientists in the Mountain wasn’t perhaps the greatest source of information, but Rodney was not going to complain. The man actually had news that was worth the effort to talk to him. “The Ori. They won and the Jackson has ordered the SGC to start evacuation. He isn’t waiting on the Presidential okay. Everyone is getting grabbed. Even the ‘Tagged’. O’Neill’s already started.”
“Stackhouse!” Rodney hadn’t even moved, just turned his head and bellowed at the top of his lungs. The Sergeant was nice enough to come running. Rodney didn’t even let him catch his breath before he started firing orders. “Dial the Gate and get Elizabeth on. The SGC is evacuating and we are the main fallback position. Therefore, she needs to start clearing everything and anything out of the hallways around the Gate room and tell her she needs to expect at least ten thousand if not more people. Also supplies for the same. Once she has that information, send all of these people through and strip Midway of anything useful and everything that is not nailed down. If you have time, pry up the nails and send them through too.”
Hand hovering over his earpiece, Stackhouse nodded at what he was hearing, “Markham is passing the information along. Dr. Weir wants to know if there is anything else she can do?”
Keying his own comm, Rodney tuned in to hear Elizabeth trying to talk to the SGC. They didn’t have time for this. “Elizabeth, this is McKay. The SGC does not call this level of evac unless they have no other choice. Let everyone through, pick his or her brains then and expect the Gate to be busy for the next thirteen or more hours. In addition, get Sumner’s Marines together to form a bucket brigade. They will know what I mean and we are going to have to move many, many tons of supplies around the people coming in.”
A quick tap to his comm shut her protests off and Rodney grabbed his laptop and shut it down before stuffing it into his mission back before putting it on. Making his way over to the Milky Way side of Midway, Rodney watched as a veritable flood of people, luggage and important crap came through the Gate and milled around for a moment before they were moved to the Pegasus side. From the look of things, the worse case scenarios were all in place and being followed. This was not the way he wanted to get back to Earth.
Thirty-five minutes after the flood had started, the Gate shut off. The address for Earth was easily and quickly dialed in and then, “Walter? This is McKay. I am coming through and then you can start shipping people through again.”
Rodney tapped out his GDO code and nodded when the return signal came though. The shield was down. He headed through the gate at a dead run. They had no time to waste.
Nellis Air Force Base
Jack O’Neill was not a man who routinely craved a drink to help him deal with his day, but today, he really wanted a big drink to help make what had happened more palatable. Earth had just had its ass chewed up, spit out and then handed back to it. So, so fucked.
His hand was rock steady though as he picked up the red phone at on the command desk at Flight Control. “This is Major General Jack O’Neill. I need to speak to the President. Now.”
The secretary on the other end of the phone didn’t argue, for which Jack was duly grateful. There were several clicks and then, “General O’Neill, this is Hayes.”
“Mr. President, it is my sad duty to inform you that our fleet has been defeated. Only one ship had been confirmed as surviving, the Apollo. We do know that the fleet destroyed seven Ori battlecruiser’s outright, and heavily damaged the rest. However, the Ori fleet is still heading this way. We estimate their ETA at twenty-two to twenty-four hours before they reach Earth.”
“Oh, damn. We lost?” Hayes asked with a sigh. Jack could hear the deep breath as the President calmed down. “Is it certain that the Ori will come to Earth?”
Jack felt the dull burn of hopelessness. Taking a deep breath, he pushed it back. He didn’t have time to give in. “It is certain. When we sent the fleet out, I ordered them not to fire first. As soon as the Ori ships came out of hyper, they were firing. No mistake there.”
“So what are our options with the Ori? What can we expect them to do?” Hayes asked.
Jack controlled the urge to roll his eyes and ask if the President even listened to his reports. The man spent the whole of his day in meeting after boring ass meeting, so he could forgive the forgetfulness. “The options with the Ori are simple. Convert or Die. They don’t have a middle ground. As for what we can expect? I would say that Earth can expect ‘conversion by the sword’. Given our history, it is bound to be a bloody thing.”
“Bloody is an understatement. The Middle East will be hell on earth.” Hayes muttered. “Do we stay and fight? Alternatively, do I order you and the SGC to put an evacuation plan into place? Something that I am firmly convinced that you have prepped, right?”
The hand Jack had holding the red phone tightened and he winced. Dear god. Evacuating a whole planet. There was no way in hell the SGC could do it, but they did have plans in place to save as many people as they could. “Stay or go, Mr. President, is up to you. However, I can tell you that we will need a minimum of twelve hours to save as many people as possible. We will also be doing a fair bit of looting. In addition to liberating a lot of cultural items. Fair warning, the Louvre is not going to be having a very good day. Neither will the Smithsonian.”
“Joy. When will we know for certain about the Ori fleet’s intentions?” the President pressed.
Jack took the time to fully think through what was coming. If the enemy fleet kept on their current course, they would be running over Earth in a minimum of twenty-two hours, give or take a few minutes. And that meant they had far less time to reach a decision. Well at least officially. There was no way that Daniel was going to wait for the official go ahead before he started pinpointing the supplies they would need. If he hadn’t started already. Jack knew that he was already sending people through the gate in an effort to spread the news and minimize casualties. “We have a max of ten hours before we need to make a final decision. This also means that you have ten hours before you need to decide if you want to go through the gate or stay here on Earth.”
“Right. Ten hours to try to get my advisors to agree on something and inform our allies in the know as to what they hell is coming.” Hayes said with a wry note to his voice.
Better the President than the General, O’Neill thought. There was no way on the planet that he wanted to get in the middle of that mess. He had enough of his own. “Yes, Mr. President. I will keep you informed as to what is happening with the fleet and when the Apollo drops out of hyper in four hours, I will get Ellis debriefed and try to find out what the hell happened out there.”
“Understood. While I might not like the message, General, I thank you for calling to let me know.” Hayes hung up the phone with that comment and Jack set the receiver back onto the cradle closing his eyes for a moment. Running his hands over face and hair, he decided that really wanted to get that drink. God, he hoped that Daniel remembered to pick up the whiskey. Every barrel of it.
T -22.5 Hours
Six hours into the biggest clusterfuck of his career and all Jack O’Neill wanted was a beer and some peace and quiet. Especially after he had finished his call to the President. He wasn’t going to be getting either anytime soon though.
Name after name on the list of the ‘Tagged’ was being called and family grouping after family grouping was being beamed over by satellite to a waiting area at Area 51. DiNozzo and his team were proving to be invaluable in wrangling the multitudes. Since people were (mostly) being called up in the middle of the night, they were being provided temporary places to rest while the final organizing push to the logistics of transporting ten thousand was hashed out. Jack had already said his thank you to the memory of General Hammond for making the disaster drills mandatory. Without them, this whole thing would have been an even bigger mess than it currently was.
His calls to his ‘Tagged’ covered the whole of the US. Hawaii, LA, Las Vegas, Miami, Washington DC (no politicians allowed), and New York. It was a hell of a diverse group, but he had been the one to work with all of the groups represented, so he got to break the news. Cops, CSI’s, Feds, lab monkeys and doctors of several stripes. Professional skeptics, smartasses, and puzzle solvers. Jack had a horrible feeling that the refugees they were shoving through the Gate were going to need it.
Carter had left the contacting of her scientists to his team as well. She and McKay (and wasn’t he glad that surly bastard had been on Midway when they had started shoving people though!) were busy making the insanity he was orchestrating actually work. Each group of the ‘Tagged’ were being shoved through the Gate as quickly as they could be and if they could carry their gear, they did. Otherwise it got labeled and thrown through when the bucket brigades got to the pile. From last report, they had managed to empty out the SGC’s storerooms and were working on the crap that Daniel was finding.
For a man who was as upstanding and decent as Daniel was, he and Mitchell were hell on wheels when it came to ‘stocking’ for their new reality. From the reports Jack had gotten out of Landry, the Terrible Twosome had managed to liberate warehouses of MRE’s, toilet paper, duct tape, coffee, dried and canned goods and many, many more things. Elizabeth had to be shitting bricks over what was being tossed through the Gate, but he didn’t care. There was more being taken care of in a method that would make that lady even more unhappy. Later.
Vala Mal Doran was having a lot of fun with one transporter array and was robbing everyone. Jack had turned over the rescuing of cultural artifacts to her after listening to Daniel and his geeks during one of the monthly war games at the SGC. They had figured out a way to strip the planet of everything that would be needed in under twenty-four hours. He had accelerated the timetable to twelve thanks to McKay and his unexpected arrival. Jack blew out a breath of air and made himself a promise to actually thank the fucker.
“Danny? How goes the looting?”
“You do know I am really, really fucking busy, right? Mitchell? We need to find out where Sears, Penny’s, Levi’s, Carhartt and the like store their stock. Add in the underwear folks, socks and boots. Plus the guys at Tide, Downy and Ivory. Because I sure as hell don’t want to smell some of the Marines after a day through the Gate. I think that Miko can get us that information…” Jackson said to an obviously busy Cameron Mitchell from the sounds of semi-cheerful bitching he was hearing.
Jack was really very happy to hear that his buddy was thinking about underwear, because he wasn’t too sure how mu… “Danny! Don’t forget the stuff for Sam and Vala as well. I have to go and get the next group up and moving. How are we storing all of this stuff? The bucket brigades can’t move all that!”
“Right. Cam? Don’t forget the stuff for periods, bras and please God, raid Hershey’s too. We are going to be using McKay’s workaround. Once the Apollo gets in, we will have them beam everything up. The satellites are proving their worth right now. There are a LOT of empty warehouses all over the planet now.” Smug oozed over the airwaves and then the radio was off. Jack really, really hoped that Danny raided Hershey’s. Carter was dangerous without it.
Rubbing his hands over his face, Jack blew out another deep breath and looked at his list again. Time to start picking everyone up. Punching in a phone number, he took a deep breath and took his list back up. “Lt. Commander McGarrett? Is your team ready for pick up?”
Time to get back to saving what he could. Time to save people.
“Sheppard? Where in the ever living hell are you?”
Major John Sheppard, USAF looked at his phone in confusion. He knew that he hadn’t given the General his phone number and yet, here he was calling him. A quick glance at his watch showed him that he hadn’t overstayed his leave and he wasn’t on call for any meetings that he knew of…
“Sheppard!” O’Neill barked out, sounding much more impatient.
Instincts that had been beaten into him at the Academy kicked in and John answered quickly, “General O’Neill, sir? I’m in Virginia at home, sir. Why do you ask?”
“Virginia? You’re from Virginia? Why did I not know this? Never mind. We are going to need you back in Antarctica and our hole in the ground in about sixteen hours. We have some incoming playmates that need a stern talking to.” The General ordered.
John checked his watch again in confusion. It had taken him over twenty-four hours to get home from McMurdo. There was no way that he was going to be able to get back to the Outpost in less than that. Moreover, his flights out had been specially chartered too. “General? How in the world am I going to do that?”
There were words being spoken in the background that John couldn’t hear, but the voice sounded like Dr. Jackson. Whatever the conversation was, it took a few minutes and then the General was back on the phone. “Sheppard has anyone taken the time to explain to you about our less than friendly neighbors and what happens when they come by to have an explosive visit?”
He had to think about that whole sentence for a moment and then it snapped into place. Less than friendly neighbors did not mean the penguins down south; it meant the aliens that they were at war with. And that meant that he was being recalled to sit in the defense chair at the Outpost and per the protocols he had skimmed, his family was going to be really exposed to his new job.
His dad was not going to be a happy camper.
“Yes sir, they did. I take it my family is going to be taken care of?”
John could practically hear the nod over the phone. “Yup. Daniel says that your dad is Patrick Sheppard? That makes things easier. He is one of the contractors we have for the X-303’s and 304’s. That should make the whole reveal thing a lot less dramatic.”
He couldn’t help it; he had to shade his reply with a fine level of sarcasm, “As you say, sir. Do we have time to get stuff ready to leave? And how are we leaving?”
There was a snort of amusement on the other end of the phone, “Nice, Sheppard. Yes, you have time to get ready. I would say that we will be ready to pick up you and your family in about twelve hours. So get cracking on what you want to bring. Daniel just found your family on the internet. You can’t bring the horses. Sorry.”
“We’ll manage. Thank you for letting me know. Where will we be ending up, sir?” John said dryly. If he was going to potentially evacuate his family from the planet Earth, he wasn’t going to be bringing a horse with him for it. No matter how much his brother might pout.
“You are going to Atlantis. Pack for the ocean.” And the phone went dead.
“Dad! This isn’t a drill, okay? General O’Neill was very firm that our ‘less than friendly neighbors’ were coming by to have an ‘explosive’ visit. He isn’t saying that just to mess with you, it means that things are bad! Can you please just get ready? And why didn’t I know that you were working for the SGC?” John asked.
Patrick Sheppard looked at his eldest son and tried not to laugh at the slightly petulant tone of the question. He knew that John understood the need for secrets and wasn’t actually all that upset about him not telling him, just more peeved that he had missed something. “Because you and I both understand all the meanings of ‘classified’, and how to keep stuff under that label? Even from family? Besides, if this had happened before you were exposed to the SGC, you would have gotten notice to come home. Or if there was no time, they would have beamed you out.”
Eyes alight, John turned away from his packing to stare at his father. “Beam? Like Star Trek? Transporters are real?”
“Yup. Totally real and very cool. We should be able to get to the Mountain without a hitch so long as there is a ship in orbit or they start using the emergency transporter satellite they have up. And if they are positioned right, they should be able to get you down to Antarctica pretty easily. Do you want us to keep all your gear with us?”
“If you could please. I will have a ready bag with some basics, but I have no idea how long I will be down there. Dad, if I can turn on stuff in that outpost…”
“Then your brothers or I might be able to as well.” Patrick completed the thought. He hadn’t been around any of this Ancient technology that he knew of while he had building X-303’s out in Nevada, but then again, he hadn’t been looking for any either. Now that he knew, he was going to corner Jack as soon as possible to see what they could do to test his family. Apparently the ATA(?) thing was deeply valuable, which meant so were they.
“Right. Since we have the time, do you think we should pack a few suitcases of goodies? Like coffee and chocolate? There is no telling what the SGC will consider important survival supplies.” John asked with a small grin.
Patrick grinned back and patted his son on the arm, “You are thinking too small. We need to hit a liquor store and then Home Depot and maybe a grocery store. The geeks over at Area 51 damn near live on coffee and chocolate, so I know that they have those two supplies covered. But fruit and decent vegetables? I think we can stock up on some nice heirloom seeds for trade goods. And maybe a fabric store. Hmmm… We have how long?” he asked as he walked out of his son’s bedroom.
“Less than twelve hours, dad.” John said as he followed his dad out. This was going to be an interesting trip at least.
Washington DC, USA
Henry Hayes was a career politician who had made or helped make some of the hardest decisions in US politics for decades. But the decision that O’Neill had just dumped in his lap, to stay or to go, was one that no one would ever want to deal with. Evacuating Earth. Leave seven billion people to a fate that many would see as one of the worst of the worst. How in the hell was he supposed to make decisions like this? Pinching the bridge of his nose, he held the pressure for a five count and then reached out to open the intercom to his personal secretary.
“Mr. President?” she asked promptly.
“Mary, get me the VP, Joint Chiefs, Secretaries of Defense and State and my Chief of Staff. Quietly. For a meeting in thirty minutes.” Hayes ordered. He would need to time to puke, clean up and maybe have a drink. Terrorists were nothing compared to this.
“Yes, Mr. President. Should I have the coffee ready?” she asked.
“Sure. Gimme ten and then I’ll be ready to take care of regular business until the meeting. Oh, make sure to get Lt. Colonel Paul Davis out of the Pentagon here too.” He ordered before closing the line and heading over to the Presidential bathroom to lose his breakfast. Fortunately, his Secret Service detail knew the score and weren’t calling for a doctor. Losing one’s breakfast should be a private thing after all.
A quick clean up of his face, tooth brushing to deal with the taste and he was back sitting at his desk, trying to lead the latest Senate bill on ways to increase jobs. Since the words mostly swam on the page and made no sense, either he needed to hire someone to read this crap for him or he really needed that drink. After trying to actually read the bill for five minutes, he set it aside. Closing his eyes, he leaned back in his really comfortable chair and tried to think.
His mental musings were interrupted by his secretary escorting the people he had requested in. Kinsey, his useless fuck of a VP was looking particularly smug and Hayes once more wondered when he had stopped tolerating the man and started loathing him. If events had been different, if the Ori fleet hadn’t handed Earth their asses, he would have found a way to run again without him. Public perception be damned, because the man was personally and morally bankrupt.
“Gentlemen please sit. I just got some information from Project Bluebook.” Hayes said with a wave of his hand to the seating arrangement in the center of the Oval Office. “So I want you all to sit and listen to me for a few minutes.”
Laying out the updated situation took only a moment. Kinsey, who had been smugly certain that Earth’s ‘God blessed’ forces would win the day, was looking quite green around the edges. The other man was at a coward and Henry was sincerely certain that, when the choice of stay or go was given, Kinsey would choose to go. And the chances of him wanting to let anyone else escape with him were slim to none and slim had just left the building.
“Now that we all have the basic information…. Colonel Davis, can you tell us how the Ori normally go about taking over a planet?”
“Yes, sir, Mr. President.” Davis agreed. Turning to face the Joint Chiefs, Hayes was rather impressed to see that the Lt. Colonel was comfortable with his position. “When the Ori pick a planet to ‘convert’ they typically send in a Pryor out to proselytize among the population. If that doesn’t work, which it often doesn’t, they send in a tailored plague after duly warning the populace. Once infected, the people are allowed to suffer, perhaps die and in general regret that they didn’t take the Pryor up on the offer of Origin.
“After some unknown threshold has been reached, the Pryor comes back and ‘cures’ the populace and offers Origin again. Normally this is enough and the population falls into line. On the rare occasions where these steps don’t work, the Ori get aggressive. They are firm believers in ‘conversion by the sword’ and they will bomb a planet back into the Stone Age to get the populace to accept them and start worshiping them. Earth can pretty firmly expect the latter to be what we are up against.”
“Why? Why do you think that Earth will be bombed?” the Secretary of Defense asked.
Davis was grim when he looked at the man who was his boss. “Because we’ve already had chances one and two. We’ve had the proselytizing Pryor come by. He lit himself on fire and was rather less than impressive, but he did serve as a good warning for what was to come. The plague was a super-flu that we were gifted with last winter. We managed to get a cure for that at the last minute and so we are down option two. The last option then is by the sword. So. Things will be bad, and it will get worse, quickly.”
“God will keep those heathens away from Earth and protect us as He protected his chosen Christians in the past.” Kinsey declared with all the fervor of a confirmed true believer. “After all, He has protected Earth from the scourge before and he will protect us again.”
Henry leaned back in his chair and decided that he just didn’t care about the fallout. “Robert, you are a douche-bag. God had not a damn thing to do with keeping this planet safe, the men and women of the SGC are responsible for that. But since you feel so strongly that God will keep you safe, you can stay and lead whatever people you can get to follow you.”
His gaze was level as he looked at his VP. The other man was squirming, trying to find a way to press his agenda, to make the President see his way. Henry rather meanly decided that if they really did evacuate, Kinsey was staying behind. With a big red bow on his stupid ass if he could manage it.
Clearing his throat harshly, Lt. Colonel Davis drew the rooms’ attention to him. “Mr. Vice President, faith in the Christian God, while and admirable thing is not going to keep the Ori away from Earth.” Davis said icily. His face was set in stone as he continued, “Our fleet was not enough to keep the Ori away from Earth and they paid to delay them with their lives. And with those lives they gave us the chase to ask: Can the SGC save upwards of ten thousand people besides the family members of the SGC staff and the family of the ships crews? Who do we pick? Do we have the right to do so?”
Kinsey looked like he wanted to launch into a tirade, but Henry did not want to hear it. He had heard enough out of the man. Then something Davis had said caught his attention, “I understand from reports that the SGC has files on people they call the ‘Tagged’?”
Davis nodded in agreement. “There are. People all over the science communities, some law enforcement members, and a number of people in various versions of the arts. All of these people have had some type of experience with the SGC and the madness that it brings. They were all given minimal information on what might happen if they got called and agreed to it. No one on our lists will be left behind if we can manage it.”
“Where will they go?” asked one of the four Joint Chiefs.
The Secretary of State looked grim, but mostly satisfied at the same time. “Atlantis.” She took a deep breath and pushed on, “We found the main tower complex three years ago in Pegasus and sent out a minimal expedition out. The returns on that investment have been very impressive. Dr. McKay and Lt. Colonel Carter just finished stringing a gate-bridge that should allow us to dial out without browning out the country. It will work well enough to evacuate everyone we can shove through.”
Henry could feel the headache building and pinched the bridge of his nose in a bid to stave it off. “So. Stay and fight? Or go and pray that Earth can bow its stubborn neck long enough for us to rebuild and kick the Ori’s asses forever?” he asked as he looked at each of his advisors.
“Stay!” Kinsey said loudly. He had a light of fanaticism in his eyes and Henry could only guess that the whole event had caused the man to snap. It looked like there would be no forcing Robert to stay behind. If he decided that they were to go, he was not going to be leaving any of the VP’s Secret Service agents behind to guard his insane ass.
The look on the Secretary of State’s face was peaceful when he looked at her. “Go.” She said in a firm voice. Hayes was certain that she was thinking about her daughter. Political lion that she was, she was a mother first.
“Go.” Agreed the Secretary of Defense. When Henry cocked an eyebrow at him in question, the other man shrugged. “If Earth can’t throw them off, we are going to need someone to ride to the rescue on the white horse. Might as well be the SGC.”
Each of the Joint Chiefs were just firm with their stated “Go” as if there were no other choices available.
Nodding lightly to himself, Henry Hayes, 44th President of the United States of America made his decision. “Go. Lt. Colonel Davis, please inform General O’Neill of the decision and start getting things together on this end. We will be having some people to send out very quickly.”
T – 20 Hours
Steven McGarrett was quietly, competently, totally, freaking out. The call from General O’Neill had not been a welcome thing at all. Moreover, realizing what the call meant for his beloved Hawaii was even worse. Thankfully, the call had come in the afternoon and they had a fighting chance to get everything together.
Chin and Kono had been the first two he had told. O’Neill had been very firm, friends, family and the stuff they could basically carry. Nothing more and there was no way he could bring the whole damn island. But he could slip out a warning by letting the Kalakua clan know what was coming, and they would do what they could to keep at least some of them safe. From what Chin had said while he was packing, the Kalakua Clan had decided to hedge their bets and send some of the most vulnerable off with his ohana. The thought was terrifying in ways that being a SEAL was not.
Right after he got through with Kono and Chin, Steve had tackled Danny. For the first time ever he had managed to shout down his partner and get him to listen. When Danno had left, Steve had prayed to whoever was listening that Rachel would be agreeable to coming along with Grace. He might not like her Britishness, but she was important to his partner and if no Rachel, that could mean no Grace. Which would mean no Danno. God.
It took him less than an hour to pack his life away. Thirty-five years and it all fit into some seabags, a half full trunk (the trunk he would finish filling at a supermarket) and his backpack. Not much of a life. The truck was running and it was the work of a moment to load it all up. A quick spin through the house and everything he wanted to save was already packed. He really hoped that wherever they ended up had an ocean.
“Oh, God.” Steve put his head down on the Marquis stored safely under its tarp. He was taking his ohana to another planet. The Air Force was going to other planets; he was abandoning his home to whatever was coming down the pike and… “Suck it up, SuperSEAL,” he muttered to himself.
He didn’t have the time to have a breakdown yet. There was still too much to do. Pulling up the strength of will that had gotten him through BUDs, Lt. Commander Steven McGarrett looked at his family home one last time and then climbed into his truck and headed out.
“Rachel, we don’t have time for this. Steve said something big and dangerous is going down and he wants everyone at H50 headquarters. Can you please skip whatever event you have with Stan and be there?” Daniel Williams asked as he quickly packed his belongings into two duffle bags. Steve had ‘suggested’ that he use those who anything that could be folded and stuffed and save the suitcases for the more breakable stuff. Since SuperSeal had done the whole packing thing a few times, Danny was willing to take it on faith. He had already packed all of the stuff he was holding for Grace, and he would get the rest of her stuff before he picked her up.
“No.”Rachel was absolute and Daniel could hear the steel in her spine snap too, “I will be perfectly safe from whatever bug has bitten Commander McGarrett and cause you to go along. The Governor’s Mansion is quite safe. Now you have Grace for the weekend, so you need to go and let the two of you get excited over whatever the Commander has planned.”
Eyes closed at the wave of proactive grief that washed over him, Danny listened as Rachel hung up and let the connection die into a dial tone. When the phone began beeping at him, he pulled in a deep breath that sounded like a sob to his own ears and started packing again. Steve had said to pack for forever and Danny was taking him at his word.
When he slid into the seat of his car, Daniel Williams was as calm as he had ever been. He had a daughter to pack for and then pick up from school. He might not be able to save her mother, but there was no way he was going to fail Grace.