Once again, SG-1 sat in conference with General Landry.
"Well, you'll be glad to know that I've decided not to court martial you, Colonel Mitchell," said the General. "Or any of the rest of you, for that matter. Although I really should, based on the flagrant and numerous breaches of security protocols over the last few weeks."
"Like I said before, General," said Mitchell, "it seemed like the thing to do at the time, and for the record I think it's turned out quite well. That doesn't mean I wasn't ready to face the music for it, though. Don't cut me any slack you wouldn't anybody else."
"Good lord, man," said the General. "You've really got to learn when I'm just busting your chops. We've already backdated clearance and NDAs for everyone you let in on our secrets, so you're in the clear. In the meantime, your quick thinking has provided us with a new alliance with a friendly alien race."
"Not to mention helping to save the world," said Daniel Jackson. "Let's not forget that. And the resources we've gained by liasing with both the BPRD and the Council are really helping us make some headway in the search for the Grail. Their libraries of ancient texts are more extensive than I could have imagined."
"In the meantime, the Ori seem to have backed off since late August," said Samantha Carter. "There was no sign of them sending any replacement forces when Odyssey accompanied the Protector back to the Thermian homeworld. That visit by Galactus must have really scared them."
"It's more likely they're getting scared of Earth itself now," said Vala. "After all, not only did we steal their precious Orici from them, but your tiny planet is now being gossiped about all over the galaxy. Earth will soon be known as the planet that kicked the Devourer's ass to the curb." She looked around. "What? That's the correct idiom, isn't it?"
"Um, yes, sort of, but..." started Daniel.
"I believe what Dr. Jackson is trying to say is that the phrase is considered more suitable for the... 'street'," said T'ealc.
"Yes, that's it exactly," said the archaeologist.
"Oh," said Vala. "Alright. Still, that's the word on the galactic street, by my reckoning."
"About the Orici," said Landry. "How is Adria adjusting so far?"
"She's having a difficult time," answered Vala. "But you have to remember she's had no childhood. Everything she's ever known has been fed directly into her head by the Ori, and now that they're no longer there, she's having to learn a lot of things all over again."
"Then you're all satisfied that there's no longer a connection to the Ori? I thought she still retained some of her powers?" The General looked to the entire team for the answer to this one.
"We've run a variety of tests, and she no longer seems to be the conduit for any kind of outside force," said Carter. "What she can still do is because she's simply an advanced human, a few steps short of Ascension on the evolutionary scale. Luckily, there was no self-destruct mechanism programmed into her like the Ori have done with the Priors."
"Her faith in the Ori was completely shattered by her defeat," added Vala. "After all, once you break a promise to a child, you don't regain their trust very easily, if at all."
"Indeed," said T'ealc. "Adria is still very strong with the Force, but I do not sense any malign influences within her. With luck and training, we can prevent her ever returning to the Dark Side."
"Oh, not this again!" exclaimed Mitchell. "T'ealc, just because you're having some weird aftereffects from that chaos in Georgia, does not
make you Mace Windu. You're a Jaffa, not a Jedi."
"While it is true that I am not a Jedi," said T'ealc, "it still remains a fact that I retain the memories and many of the skills of Master Windu after becoming him for a short while courtesy of Willow's spell. It will be difficult to remaster those abilities in this world and form, but I will do so eventually. At this time, I would estimate myself to be at the level of a padawan learner."
Mitchell hit the table with his forehead.
"Although I aspire to be a Jedi and not a Sith," said T'ealc, "I must still say that I find your lack of faith... disturbing." Recognizing the quote, all eyes turned to T'ealc, who put his hand up facing Mitchell and narrowed his eyes in concentration.
"As you have no doubt just given yourself a headache, Mitchell," said T'ealc, "you should probably take a pain reliever. Would you care for some water with which to take it?"
Before everyone's eyes, a water glass near the center of the table slid slowly to a position directly in front of Mitchell's head.
Mitchell looked up. "Okay, he did what now?"
"Alright, people," said General Landry. "I think this meeting is adjourned."
"I can offer no excuses," said General Lane.
"No, General, you can't," replied his boss, Amanda Waller. "Under your watch, all of the so-called supercriminals assigned to you managed to escape, only to turn up in Anaheim and be captured by the SGC. It's practically a miracle that NID was able to regain custody of most of them. Luthor made a fool of you, son."
"I'm aware of that, Ms. Waller. He left a videotape making that fact very clear." The General shook his head. "So, what now? Do I get cashiered, or just shunted to a different program?"
"None of the above, General." Waller's eyes glinted in the shadowed room. "We're just going to have to be more careful in the future. You're
going to have to be more careful, soldier."
She swiveled away to tap away at something on her touchscreen PC, then turned back. "And we're going to make less use of Luthor and assets like him. Too clever by half. Weapons design is a dead end, anyway - we know what kills the Kryptonians, and for lesser threats we already have the weapons we need. I am
bringing in an expert on that side of things, a General Ross. He's had experience with metahuman extermination."
"And the recruitment aspect of the program?" asked the General.
"That will continue, along with research on metagenesis. But the latter will be slow and steady; no maverick geniuses that might turn out to be mad scientists looking to take over the world. You'll continue to recruit metahuman assets, not only from prison but from wherever we can find them alone, and turn them into weapons for us." Waller, nicknamed "The Wall" because of her girth, smiled thinly. "It's called fighting fire with fire, General. I'm calling in an expert on behavior modification techniques, a Colonel Stryker, to aid you in that area. He's been aware of the existence of metas, mutants, superhumans, whatever you want to call them, for quite some time."
"Very well. I remain ready to serve, Ms. Waller."
"I know you do, General. I know you do."
The General turned to leave, but Waller called him back for a moment.
"One more thing, General. On the metagenesis question, continue to pursue the meteor rock angle vigorously. I know we've determined that metahumans existed before the Kansas meteor showers, but this green 'kryptonite' does have some remarkable properties. In fact, I think we might have located your first non-criminal recruit. Here, take this dossier."
The General flipped through the slim folder, scanning it rapidly. "If this is true, this man may have been the first person mutated by kryptonite. Are all these abilities really attested?"
"We've got eyewitnesses, General, and even some TV footage. Supposedly he retired because his powers have faded, but I'm betting that another good dose of kryptonite will recharge him. Probably make him more than a match for Superman."
"General, you are to make your first priority be the recruitment of one Jefferson Reed."
"As you say, Ms. Waller. I don't imagine it will take too much convincing to get a schoolteacher excited about working for Uncle Sam as an accredited superhero. I'll get started right away."
"See that you do."
As the General finally turned to leave, he didn't notice the surest sign that Amanda Waller was getting excited.
He didn't see her eyes flashing gold behind him.