Here you have the latest chapter and should you have the hankering to re-read my story you'll find that all chapters have now been edited and should have fewer faults and irritating grammar. That is all thanks to my faithful Beta's without whom I might not have so many of you reading and pushing me to write more.The Story starts here
Buffy debated what to do. She knew that her mom was in trouble somewhere on this labyrinthine maze of a starship. Not because of some sort of mystical sense, but because her mom was the highest ranking officer aboard and would have to get involved with whoever was firing the guns sooner or later, if she wasn't already. She also knew that her mom, Jack and Teal'c would be very stern and frowning with her after she got involved. She hadn't forgotten that she was only twelve years old, but great parts of her personality weren’t. And those parts were warning her that she was unarmed against people with firearms, which meant she was at a great disadvantage.
Her mom had taught her to think things through, and while she was raring to go, the idea of strategizing won out for now. She needed some sort of plan. She was aboard a ship in a heavily secured facility. Now it was under attack -- that meant that someone from the outside was attacking. Those outsiders were probably the reporter and her crew. Her mom really didn't like the reporter, so it made sense that part of that dislike was based on mistrust, mistrust that was clearly well-founded. If she was to have an effect on this situation she needed to know what was going on and where exactly everyone was. A starship like this probably had internal sensors, but she had no idea if she could operate them, or if they had even been installed. So she'd have to do it the other way, through gathering human intelligence. She needed someone to tell her, firsthand, what was happening. Ergo she needed a prisoner.
She moved towards the corridor, prowling slowly and carefully. She passed some building materials, including a trinium bar meant for some sort reinforcement of a weaker structure. It was a bit heavy, but she decided to keep it as a weapon, before moving on.
Jonas saw something change on one of the monitors. While he had been allowed to view the engine configuration, schematics and physical theories for the hyperdrive and reactors because of their association with Naquadriah research, he was not intimately familiar with all the Prometheus systems. Still, as he read what the instructions that slid across the screen would do, he realized that the problem Major Carter had left to deal with seemed to have escalated. He sat down and tried to enter a few commands to stop the ship from locking down all entrances and exits and switching to internal power.
"What are you doing?" The reporter, Julia Donovan, asked, while moving around to stand behind him.
"Someone is trying to lock down the ship. I can't stop them, but I can slow them down," he said, and typed in a few commands after realizing that some of the things he knew would be useful.
Sam was running out of corridors and head-start. While she was armed, so were her three attackers. She spotted a room up the corridor from her. It had no access panel outside, as well as several useful-looking things inside and a heavy security door.
"This way," she heard them yell out somewhere behind her. She turned the corner and pressed the close button. She watched the door close – with painful slowness -- while she held her gun ready. She only caught a glimpse of her attackers before the door slid shut. She looked around the room, until she heard a thunk. She looked back up at the panel and saw that the door had been sealed from the bridge. She was safe but locked in... And that left their attackers in control of the ship, with only Jonas, Buffy, and two probably already overwhelmed airmen to oppose them.
The thought of Buffy being out there on a ship like the Prometheus, alone or with very little protection, didn't fill her with confidence, but rather desperation. She hoped that Buffy would be reasonable and simply try to find a way off the ship before anything bad could happen, but she was afraid that Buffy would not even consider running away. That was not in her daughter's nature.
She looked around and spotted some electronics, a plasma welder and all she'd need to improvise a short-ranged but working radio.
He typed in the final commands and put the starship’s computer into diagnostic mode. He knew that would slow things down, because he had triggered a full diagnostic on the SGC dialing computer quite by accident a few months ago, while learning the systems from Sergeant Walter Harriman. Still, it could be stopped from the engineering console, so he had to expand his plans. He got up and walked around the console to the access port that exposed the Goa'uld technology that was an essential part of the ship.
"What are you doing?" Miss Donovan asked.
"I am removing a control crystal. You see, the crystals are needed to access several of the essential systems on this ship. Without it, this ship can't do much," he said while slipping the crystal out of the Tau'ri-made electronics.
"Would someone explain what is going on?" Julia asked.
"I believe someone aboard is trying to take over the ship... You or your camera crew maybe," he explained.
"Me... Us... No," Julia said and shook her head vigorously in denial. He wasn't sure if he believed her. He had withheld judgment so far, even with Jack spending hours the day before trying to teach him that this Miss Donovan was some sort of horrible person. He hoped that she wasn't, because he had a feeling that she wasn't, and he would hate to think he could misread someone that badly. He wasn't that much at home on Earth yet, but at least he hoped he had become sufficiently acclimated that he was able to judge the general character of Earth humans.
"Of course not," Al the editor agreed, while Jonas hid the crystal in a nook above the wall. No one would notice it up there.
A warm and comfortable familiarity was filling Buffy's body and mind. It was as if all her doubts, thoughts, and even fears were fading by the moment. All that existed was the need to move, listen, and prepare to fight. A part of her she had never dipped too deeply into was being let out of its cage, and she found herself enjoying its presence. It gave her a sense of security, a knowledge that she, and she alone, was the top dog, and that everyone around her was just her prey. She had headed back towards the engineering room, hoping to find out what was going on and maybe link up with her mom and Jonas.
She heard a group of people moving in the corridor up a head. She slowed her progress and grabbed her club closely.
Jonas heard a heavy footstep, and suddenly three armed men entered the room, much as SG-1 would have during a combat situation. He put up his hands, happy that he had done what he could to inconvenience them. He hoped that the rest of his fellow prisoners would hold up to the interrogation about the crystal, at least long enough for the base security to overrun the ship. He watched as Al and Julia copied his move.
"What the hell is going on?" Julia asked her supposed camera men, sounding irritated rather than afraid.
"Shut up... God, I have wanted to tell you that for over a year. Thank God, we can finally break cover," the camera man said.
"Smith, come in." The blond man who looked like he was in charge had a radio, and a female voice had just come from it.
"Smith here, go ahead," the man replied into his radio.
"We have a problem. The computer has been tied up with some sort of full diagnostic. I need you to shut it down," the voice replied. Jonas reasoned that the voice meant that the female technician, or whatever she was supposed to be in the faux camera crew, was on the bridge.
The irritated-looking man walked around to the console and tapped in a few commands. He seemed too familiar with the Prometheus technology to not be part of some sort of insider operation. Sam had warned him about something called the NID that would at times try something like this for reasons the SGC wasn't entirely sure about.
"The controls are frozen," one of the armed camera crew men said.
"If you don't close that program, I'm not going to be able to activate the security lockdown and we're gonna be overrun and put down by the security team within a few minutes, when the first check-in fails," the voice over the radio reported.
The group turned towards them. He tried hard to avoid looking like he knew something and started to think about possibilities. Maybe he could offer them a way to honorably and safely surrender. The SGC would probably only detain them. Then Julia's editor Al stepped forward.
"He removed... this control crystal," Al said after walking over, unhindered, and gathering up the crystal from the overhead nook he had hidden it in. Apparently, there had been one more interloper, and Jonas started to fear that maybe the entire news crew was pitted against him, Sam and - oh, dear - Buffy, who had thankfully not been with them when this had all happened. He wondered about that for a moment. He wondered where the nice young girl had actually gone.
"Al, what are you doing?" Julia asked.
"It must link the computer and the alien systems," Al said, while messing around at the panel Jonas had taken the crystal from.
"Al, what the hell is going on?" Julia asked more insistently, and took a step forward. One of the crew men pointed a gun at her head. Jonas reached out and gently pulled the reporter back, as she was being ignored by Al anyway. Unfortunately, no one was distracted enough that he could attempt an escape, and -- in an effort to seem non-threatening to the news crew -- neither he nor Sam had brought any personal firearms for the tour.
Buffy nodded grimly to herself. It was a hostage-taking. She wasn't too comfortable with those. Especially with what sounded like two or three armed men, a woman talking over the radio, and that bitch - according to her mom - reporter's editor helping them. She didn't have a chance of freeing the prisoners in this situation . . . at least, not if she wanted to get out alive. Worse, they knew she was aboard, so she didn't exactly have the drop on them either. Thankfully, it was a big ship to run around in, and she swore she'd lead them on a merry chase when they came for her.
She wondered what would happen next. In the movies the next thing the hostage-takers did was make demands, and if they were serious they'd sacrifice a hostage or make some bomb threat. She'd have to find the bomb, too, so she could lead Jack, Teal'c and any other soldiers that would be coming to their rescue to it... Maybe her mom could have helped, but given the earlier sounds of a gunfight and the capture she had stumbled on, that had probably been her fighting. She wanted to go look for her mom, but she had no idea where her mom could be. It would have to go on her list of things to think about and do later. But for now, as much as she wanted to fight, she had to wait and be patient. She almost gritted her teeth, as she settled in to listen a bit more.
"There we go," the female voice over the radio said, after the man at the console had tapped in the commands she had dictated to him.
"What's happening?" Julia asked, looking from Jonas to her editor.
He studied the information flowing across the screens all over the entire room. "They're activating the hyperdrive generators," he said and looked towards his captors. It was clear that they knew enough about the ship to also know that the drive wasn't done yet. Sam was Earth's primary hyperspace expert -- although the Tok'ra help they were expecting would soon be there to replace her, because Sam had hundreds of other projects, her post at the SGC, and Buffy to take care of, as well.
Julia frowned and said, "Is that a good idea? Do they work? And we're also still on the ground."
"Actually, it is a very bad idea to turn them on in an atmosphere, as they're meant for outer space. In fact, what they are doing looks more like they're trying to create an overload... deliberately," he explained and stared at the leader, the man called Smith, who had noticed them talking. He was talking to a larger audience than he’d expected.
"I don't understand," Julia said.
"The hyperdrive generators create an enormous amount of energy, enough to power this state for a month, according to a phrase often used by Major Carter. However, if this energy is not channeled into the actual drive and used to create a hyperspace window, it can cause some serious problems," he said.
"You mean it could explode," Julia said, finally realizing what was going on.
"With enough force to turn the entire state of Nevada into a smoking crater. The subsequent dust and ash clouds would blot out the sun over the continent and lower the temperature globally for years to come," he said, noticing that the hostage-taker and budding terrorist leader called Smith was approaching.
"That's right, but I wouldn't worry about it. As long as our demands are met, it won't come to that," Smith said.
"What demands?" Julia immediately asked, changing into the tone of voice he considered her reporter tone. It was different from her regular way of speaking.
"You're not the people we're giving our demands to. In fact as soon as possible, we're moving you to a storage hold, from which you’ll be released in a day or two," Smith said and moved away, ignoring Julia even as she took a step forward.
Smith stopped as if remembering something and looked around. "Al, where is Major Carter's kid?" the man asked.
"I don't know. She left when the Major started telling us about the engines. I think she was bored... Why was she so important anyway?" Al asked. Jonas listened intently.
"The Colonel wants her here. Our information about her blood-work makes him think he needs her for something where we're going... Anyway, we need to find her," Smith said and activated his radio.
"Jones, are the internal sensors operational?" Smith asked.
There was a pause, then the reply came, "No, they haven't been installed yet."
Smith looked around, then said, "Al, you and Anderson will stay here. Michaels, you're with me. We're looking for the kid"
Buffy vacillated for a moment as she heard two sets of footsteps approach. She was tempted to set a trap and fight, but she had no idea about her mom's situation or their armaments compared to hers. She decided on a different course, and left her position, heading for an intersection near the mess, where she would have two escape paths and a room to hide in. They'd come looking for her, so she had to figure out a place in the mess hall or kitchen to hide in. She also considered what they were doing. The hijackers were threatening the entire state, maybe the planet, but it sounded like it was just a part of a bigger plot. Buffy wondered if she could figure out enough of the ship’s systems to shut down the generators. She figured that it was probably pointless to try and, worse, could give away her position.
All of a sudden she felt a slight hum of power go through the ship, unlike before. It would seem they had gotten the engines running and the power was starting to build. She felt a bit proud of her mom for just a moment. After all, a lot of the technology in the engines had been made with or by her mom.
She arrived in the area where she intended to make her hideout and chose a place to hide in the still-under-construction kitchen, with her club in hand, waiting and thinking.
Jack was beyond irritated. He had been against the whole thing all along. He had wanted them to just pull an op, retrieve all the evidence, and incarcerate the reporter for being offensive to the human gene pool or something. But no, Davis had to come up with his nice and diplomatic little idea of a taped tour. And he had even gotten Sam to bring Buffy, after Jack had made an end-run around him and convinced Sam to leave the girl out of it. They would have been able to stop any leak about Buffy using legal means. But no, it hadn't gone down that way, and now he was sitting in this ass-hot car, driving through the desert with Teal'c, who had been glum and almost seething ever since learning what had transpired.
Teal'c was taking his vow to protect Buffy very seriously, and although the stoic guy hadn't said anything, he was half-convinced that Teal'c was only a few thoughts away from asking for permission to talk to his Jaffa cohort and call in a small squad of them to go in and rescue Buffy, Sam and Jonas. Of course, realistically, that wouldn't be permissible or smart, but he sensed that Teal'c was considering something at least like that. He pulled up to the small command post.
He walked towards the clearly not-happy Major and yelled out his anger, "Major Davis! What happened?"
Davis had the grace to look apologetic as he explained, "At approximately 0900 this morning the X-303 was put into lockdown mode. At 0910 we received a radio communication from a male person inside the ship, informing us that they had started the hyperdrive and set it to charge. They're threatening to let it and the reactors meltdown, thereby causing a massive explosion that would destroy the state. They also reported that they had hostages."
"I don't believe it! I do not believe this!" He yelled and was nearly angry enough to kick up the sand.
"We're measuring the energy given off by the prototype, and the readings confirm that an overload is building," Major Davis explained.
"This was supposed to be the most secure facility on the face of the planet. Beyond even the Stargate Command complex. What the hell happened?!" he cursed, while his mind showed him images of Jonas, Sam and Buffy dead on the decks of the unfinished starship, killed because of a mistake made by the man in front of him. It wasn't exactly calming him down.
"We think it was the camera crew, sir," Major Davis said after seeing something in his eyes.
"Did anyone bother with a background check? I bet that reporter is behind this," he said.
"Yes, sir! And they were clean, sir! The chief cameraman was even a decorated Marine, having been on tours of duty to both Iraq and Somalia. Every member of that crew has been with the news network for well over a year, sir!. This plan has obviously been in the works for some time, and I believe even the leak of information to Miss Donovan has been carefully planned," Davis explained.
"You think?" he deadpanned, still too irritated to feel like being helpful.
A younger female officer ran over. "What?!" He barked.
"Sir, we're receiving a transmission from inside. It's from the hijackers," she said.
They ran over to the command post. "Patch it through," Davis said and grabbed an earphone. Jack stayed further back and took another one. He'd let Davis negotiate, just in case it would be useful not to have their opponents in the ship know they were also dealing with him. This all stank of NID, and that meant he had to be clever.
"This is Major Paul Davis, US Air Force. Go ahead," Davis said.
"I assume, by now, you've confirmed the status of the hyperdrive. So you know we're not bluffing," a male voice reported.
"What do you want?" Davis asked.
"You're currently holding two prisoners we want released into our custody: Colonel Frank Simmons and Adrian Conrad. You have exactly two hours to deliver them, or we blow up your ship and the rest of the state with us," the man explained in a tone that told Jack that -- at least until the last moments -- this man would not budge or negotiate. He knew jokers like this. They always had to be almost mortally wounded before the gung-ho stupidity drained from their minds; they were convinced of the rightness of their plan, whatever it was, and were not going to deviate. At least he feared as much, especially if this was a soldier of the NID.
Davis put down the headphone and glanced towards him. "What do you think, sir?" he asked.
"They're not going to negotiate, and we don't have time for anything like big, either. It's gonna take over an hour to bring the prisoners here, so we don't have time to work out much else. It’s pretty clever, really. Exactly what I expect from the NID... Get the prisoners, Davis. We need to buy time and find a way aboard," he said, and thought things through for a moment. This had been in preparation for over a year. Which very neatly matched with the capture of Simmons in the first place. This was probably a contingency plan that would leave Simmons free and aboard the Earth's only self-built starship. With the inclusion of Conrad, and maybe Buffy too, it meant that Simmons had a full set of cards for some sort of endgame – though what that endgame was, he still had no idea. Assuming that his suspicions were right, of course.
She had finally rigged together a workable radio that could at the very least reach into the military band used by the local security force. At least, if she remembered it right. She switched it on and spoke into the microphone she had salvaged from the wall intercom: "This is Major Carter. Can anyone hear me?" She waited for a reply, then switched to another nearby frequency.
Buffy was getting tired from being tense. It was strange, trying to keep everything focused and ready, and after a while it became almost meditative. "Breathe in, focus, don't let your concentration drift, let it take in the world around you, breathe out, relax for a moment," a British voice called to her from distant memory.
Suddenly there was a shift, and she felt almost like she had stepped out of her body. There was a song in the air, a threnody of sorrow that slowly faded into the sound of a deep drum. She felt like she was running through the halls of the Prometheus. To her eyes it looked like this very ship. Each step seemed to age her. She passed room upon room, each door hiding a memory she didn't remember. She opened one and saw two scenes, each similar but different, played out before her eyes. She was standing proudly next to her mom and the rest of SG-1 on the bridge of the Prometheus. A gray alien in a chair appeared. Words were exchanged. She was enveloped in white light. After a few moments, the Grim Reaper walked onto the bridge and reached for her mom. The scene faded, showing her looking grimy but unbeaten, tired but resolute, running towards the storage room she had found earlier. She jumped inside and swung the door shut. There was another white flash and she saw herself writhing in pain on a plain turfed in small metal bricks, then nothing. A voice, her old voice, said, "It is your choice this time."
Buffy shook her head and looked around. She was still in her hiding place in the kitcehn safe for the moment. Had she just had a vision like Irene had warned her about and her older self had suffered through many times? She couldn't recall ever having a waking one before, but maybe her patchy memory was just not telling her everything. Anyway, it had been disturbing, indicating a tough choice to be made on her part. A choice between fighting with her mom and SG-1 now, but letting them go alone towards what looked like certain death, or hiding, keeping them safe and being rewarded herself in pain. She knew she should have had some sort of trouble choosing -- at least according to her therapist, who kept insisting that she couldn't keep putting everyone else ahead of herself -- but she didn't think it was hard. In a choice between her pain and death and her mom’s or even SG-1's pain and death, she'd always choose to suffer on their behalf. It was just what you did for family and friends. It was natural to her. Besides she was tough, she'd survive... At least, she'd try to.
But she couldn't keep hiding, either. Maybe if she stayed away from the bridge, her mom, and Jack -- wherever he was -- then she could fulfill the second part of the vision. Maybe she could free Jonas and the reporter from the hostage takers, or take a chance and shut down the engine. Anyway, that meant getting off her ass and going back on the prowl.
"Where is she?" Smith said, after storming into the engine room for the second time in an hour.
"I've told you. I have no idea. I am afraid that, while we know each other, I am not an expert on Buffy Summers," Jonas replied. He watched at the man stalked over to their guard.
"Listen, be careful, alright? If you hear something strange, handle it with care. That kid is a menace. She's been trained in nearly every martial art they have an instructor for in the Colorado area, and she could break you like a twig. Also, she knows how to think in a fight and plan one as well, so you two stay on guard. She's not above seriously hurting someone to free these two and stop us. Don't let her get the drop on you just because she is tiny, young, and a cute kid," Smith told their guard and Al.
"She can't be that bad," Al argued.
"Listen, mister, you're a civilian and you're not privy to my sources. I have seen the evidence. Fear her, and your head will be in its right frame of mind," Smith said.
"What about Major Carter?" Al asked.
"She's sealed in a chamber on another deck. She can't do any harm," Smith replied.
"No, I mean, can't we use her and the intercoms to get the girl to surrender? That way we can all calm down, and this will all go a lot smoother," Al suggested.
Smith seemed to study the editor for a while, then said, "We can't get in to her, either, but we don't have to. We just have to make the kid think we have her mom."
He activated his radio. "Jones, patch me over to the internal coms. I want as much of the ship as you can arrange to hear me speak," Smith said.
"Go," the female voice replied.
"Buffy Summers Carter, I know you're aboard this ship... Listen, I know you're not a simple little innocent. But you're not in a situation where you can surprise us. We know all there is to know about you... I want you to surrender to me in the engine room within ten minutes, or I will shoot your mom... Not fatally, the first time, but I bet you know what the second shot does," Smith said, and paused as the message echoed out all over the ship.
Buffy's voice replied over the intercom, "Listen, dick-wad, I am not an idiot, either. I know you don't have my mom, and there is no way I will just surrender. If you want me, you have to come and get me... I am waiting out here in the darkness, Mr. Smith."
"So much for that idea," Smith said and looked around the room. He wasn't looking all that surprised; apparently, he had expected Buffy to be wily. However Al and Julia didn't look like they quite believed the exchange they had just overheard.
"I was right, that is not a normal child," Julia whispered.
"She is a genius, that's all," Jonas said, echoing the so-called party line.
"Can anyone hear me?" Carter's voice came out over the speakers. He looked up, as did Teal'c, who had been preparing their weapons for whatever would happen next.
"Repeat... this is Major Carter. Is anyone reading this?" Carter said again.
He walked over and took up the headset, speaking into the microphone, "Carter, this is O'Neill. What's your status?"
"I'm locked in the storage room on deck seven," Carter replied. He waved to a soldier to bring him the schematics of the Prometheus.
"What happened?" he asked.
"It was the TV crew, sir. They brought in several weapons... including a zat. They've taken control of the bridge and engine room. However, I just heard an exchange through the door. Apparently, Buffy is still free and on the run within the ship," Carter explained.
"Damn," he whispered. He'd rather have had Buffy in a controlled or safe environment, like with Carter -- or even in the hands of the hostage takers. On her own, the girl was apt to take action and try to free the hostages. They had tried again and again, but he was sure they'd never be able to break the kid out of that particular habit, especially given her abilities. He almost shuddered, reminding himself that Buffy and Sam didn't know that Buffy had taken the life of her would-be kidnapper back on Chu'lak. Thankfully, Teal'c had only shared that knowledge with Jack. It had rattled him a bit, but he was slowly realizing that even while she was only twelve, Buffy would never be an ordinary civilian. Teal'c was onto something when he said he saw future greatness in Buffy. Of course, like any sane person, Jack would never suggest she become a soldier, but he was trying to face up to the idea that it might be inevitable.
"Major, the hijackers are demanding that we hand over Adrian Conrad and Colonel Simmons. We believe very strongly this is a rogue NID operation," Davis told Sam over the radio, while pointing out to Jack where Sam was located.
"Carter, is there any chance they could get that ship off the ground?" he asked, considering again Simmons' involvement.
"It’s not finished, sir. It’s unarmed, and it could lose structural and environmental integrity if they try," Sam explained.
"Will it fly?" he asked again.
"Yes, sir," she finally admitted.
Davis pointed out some notes on the schematic and said into the microphone on the table, "Major Carter, the sub-light engine control relay is right above you on deck eight. If you can get to it and sever the connection, that would ground them for sure," Davis explained.
"I have a plasma cutter in here, but it will take a while for me to cut my way through the Trinimum alloy door," Sam replied.
"We have less than an hour before they blow the ship. We're going to hand over the prisoners to buy you more time and forestall their actions. For now, they are contained anyway," Davis said.
"Carter, I think that they brought Buffy there for a reason. I don't know what, but when you’ve cut that connection, I suggest you find her and take her into your custody, while we plan for the next step," he said.
"Copy that, sir," Sam replied.
Jonas was trying to think of a way to knock out the guard, whom he thought had the only weapon, until he saw that Al had a gun, too. Julia turned towards the man she had probably considered a good friend and asked, "Al, why are you doing this?"
"They're paying me," the man admitted, seemingly without shame, which told Jonas that he really didn't like that man.
"We're supposed to be friends... We've known each other for years," Julia said.
"They're really paying me a lot," Al said.
"Hey, you know there are only two ways off of this ship?" Jonas remarked to the guard and Al, "Hand-cuffs, or a body bag, and the greater a threat you present the greater the chance of it being the latter."
"Don't worry your head about our fate. We have everything under control... Besides, who says we want to get off at all?" their guard said, and smiled at his confusion.
He thought about it. If they didn't want to get off, it meant that they wanted to stay, which probably meant they wanted to move the ship somewhere else. It wasn't easily done, but still any country on Earth -- even many of Earth's corporate entities -- would pay through the nose for the ship, regardless of its origins. There was even the possibility they'd try to get out of the Solar system with it, even if, according to everything he knew, the ship really wasn't able to go to hyperspeed just yet.
He watched as Davis arrived with Simmons. Teal'c had Conrad ready in another van, parked close to the one Davis had just gotten out of. Jack wasn't liking the plan. The latest update from Carter had reported only slow going – apparently, their armor-plating was really solid, as if that was much of a surprise.
"That man is probably the most annoying person ever," Davis said while heading for the command post.
"When you move him out of the truck, make sure he doesn't see either me or Teal'c. The snake won't care enough to report about Teal'c, but Simmons might change whatever his plans are if he sees us," he said.
"Sir, I believe Simmons intends to attempt to fly out of here," Davis suggested.
He mulled it over, "I think you might be right. We really need to find a way aboard."
Teal'c walked over, "Adrian Conrad is in custody. His parasite is unusually quiet," the big man said.
"Major Davis just suggested that Simmons would try to fly the X-303 out of here... Got any ideas on how to get in there?" Jack asked. The big Jaffa raised an eyebrow as if to indicate that if he had then he'd have said by now. "Guess not. Me neither," he said.
They watched as Davis radioed the hijackers and told them to expect their company. They had considered trying to assault them, but the hijackers were probably just going to use an airlock to admit the prisoners and never appear physically within their sights, so he had decided against trying that.
Buffy scooted up the ladder and came up onto deck 7, closer to the bridge. She moved down the corridor carefully, almost holding her breath. She was getting tired from moving around and having had nothing to eat in a while. She spotted an alcove where they'd probably be putting a door to a room on the other side of the wall soon and settled there to take a breath. She had barely breathed out before she heard the steps of someone approaching.
Smith had been there when Simmons had originally extracted Conrad and the alien in his head from the hospital, back during the kidnapping attempt. He hadn't known then, as he did now, why Simmons wanted the girl so badly. Other factions in the Trust had just wanted her for experimentation, but Simmons had known about that cache of artifacts left by some semi-mythic race of aliens called the Ancients. Somehow, the NID had acquired intel about the cache and where it could be. The alien parasite had confirmed Simmons’ suspicions about the girl when they had discussed how to get the cache open. Apparently, most Ancient devices were protected against tampering, often by only allowing people with Ancient DNA to use them. Over the ages the Goa'uld had learned about that and even knew that certain of their followers carried the traits, but not who they were. Simmons had theorized that the girl might have the genes after her DNA repair by another Ancient device, but an investigation had been impossible, without an original sample of Ancient DNA.
That had all changed during Simmons’ incarceration. The SGC had found an Ancient a few months back, and their agents in the NID had smuggled out the SGC medical department findings and matched them with stolen samples of Buffy Summers’ DNA. The fragments and genes were sporadic, but she had them, and so he had amended the original plan to have the girl join them on the ship, so that his boss would have his key when they reached their destination.
Of course, it hadn't gone as easily as that, he mused. She had wandered off during the tour and now she was out there in a large ship. Running loose. He had to capture her -- something that was a thankless mission on a good day, with a squad at your back -- and it seemed he wasn't having a good day. Slowly, he tried to get up again. But his legs felt like Jell-o under him.
He hadn't seen her coming. He had been heading back towards the bridge when the brat had hammered some sort of metal pole into the back of his thighs. He hadn't even suspected she was nearby, until it was too late. He had gone down, and seconds later a blinding-fast kick had knocked him out and apparently moved him a few yards to the other side of the corridor. His world seemed to sway as he got up.
"Shit," he cursed as he braced himself against a wall. His walkie-talkie was gone, as was their only zat. That left them with their back-up assault rifle and four guns. It also left Buffy Summers with a zat and access to regular communications. He had to capture her soon, or Simmons would have his ass.
"Smith, you okay?" Michaels asked as he came running up.
"No, let's move the prisoners to a holding room. We need the manpower to get the girl. Oh, and hand me your spare gun; it seems the kid got mine," he said and took a heavy step. His legs protested, but he gritted his teeth and pressed on.
"Simmons and the alien just came aboard," Michaels said.
"Good, then we can get this bucket of crap off the ground and into a much safer position," he mumbled.
They went on for a while, until Simmons called in over the radio, "We're getting ready to take off. Get our passengers stowed away."
She was a bit proud. Her little accidental ambush had worked. She had been catching her breath in an alcove, when the apparent leader of the hijackers had just happened down the corridor, heading past her. Not having a big plan she had just taken him down the best she could, while not using her full strength to avoid any fatal injuries. Too bad someone else had been approaching before she could seal the guy into a room. She had decided to hit and run, this time. Still, she had scored a zat and a radio, which she knew she could only listen to if she didn't want her mom and everyone else to think too much about her.
She decided to work her way back towards the engine room and free Jonas. She was sure she could take out two guys, especially having a zat and going up against one pro and one total amateur. She knew she was mostly running around almost aimlessly, but at least moving around so much in the ship had given her a good mental layout of its construction.
She heard movement approaching from behind. Two sets of footsteps this time. She jumped into another ladder shaft down to the deck below, a maneuver only made possible by her size.
Jack looked up as one of the soldiers cursed. "Major, they're getting ready to take off," she reported to Davis.
"Thank you," Davis said and turned towards him, "She's running out of time."
"What do you mean? She could still disable the sub-light engines when they reach orbit," he said.
"Deck seven isn't pressurized, the airlocks for that part of the deck weren't going to be installed until next Wednesday. She'll be dead before they reach orbit," Davis explained.
He looked over at Teal'c, who was looking at them, lost in thought.
There was a crackle from the radio, and Simmons' irritatingly smug voice came out of the speaker, "Major Davis, this is Colonel Simmons. We'd like to borrow your little ship for a short day-trip... So if you'd be so kind and retract the roof."
"We'll get right on that, Colonel, however the hydraulics weren't meant to be used just yet and we're having trouble with them," Davis lied.
"Nice try, Major. You have 30 seconds to retract the roof or I will order the overload of the hyperdrive. Simmons out," Simmons' voice cut out with a crackle.
"Do it, Major," Jack said.
"O'Neill, I have an idea. Are the hangar decks of the Prometheus functional?" Teal'c asked.
He looked at Davis.
Sam finished the cut and pushed out the heavy armor plate. It landed with a heavy bang. Just as she edged past the still glowing edges of metal and back out into the corridor with her gun ready, there was a change in the tone of the ship. It was the sound of the sub-light engines, which she knew very well worked. She also had a mental flash of the work schedule of the ship, and the words airlock installation deck 7 flashed in her mind, along with a date next week. She started running.
Buffy felt the engines, which were close by, come to life with something like a roar, to her ears, as white-hot plasma powered through tubes nearby. They were really getting away now. She needed to find her way from the deck she had escaped to over to the engine room again.
They were bumping along as he drove them, as fast as their vehicle could survive, towards the nearby airbase and his objective: the X-302 project. Teal'c, next to him, was looking happy to finally be doing something, or maybe the Jaffa was enjoying a moment of glory for having come up with their plan to fly aboard the X-303 using the hangar bays that were still without sensors. Just in case, they were going to bring two X-302s, so that they could squeeze together for a later evacuation, should it be needed.
With a roar, the Prometheus rose like a small grey object in his rear-view mirrors, as it shot for the sky with a speed that would have left the NASA shuttle pilots green with envy. He hoped Sam had made it out and to safety. He really, really hoped so, or Simmons would suffer the consequences. Accidental misfire. Yeah, that sounded good to him.
"You guys get up, you're moving to a different room," Smith said as he walked in looking bruised and ruffled. Jonas immediately remembered the tales he had been told of Major Carter's daughter and the earlier exchange over the intercom.
"Listen, no matter what place on Earth you go, the US will find you," he said.
"Dude, I told you to shut up about that," the guard complained and moved in as if to strike him with his gun.
"We're not staying on Earth, or in orbit. We're going to use the hyperdrive," Smith said.
"The hyperdrive is not operational. We haven't finished setting up the parameters for its field projectors, and Major Carter hasn't even finished the equations to calculate the power-to-speed ratios yet. I can't help you with this," he said when the guard looked at him curiously.
"No, but I can," a man with the voice and bearing of a Goa'uld said as he strode in.
"Come on, let's give this alien some peace to work," Smith said, and together they were guided out of the engine room.
Sam was absolutely sure that she hated tiny spaces, but still it was all apart of the job -- especially now. She moved carefully through the air duct towards the junction box at the end of it. She needed to cut the cables in there, so that the sub-light drive would stop working. She made a mental note to have the Prometheus upgraded with a few more back-ups for those cables, when she got back home. It would never do for the ship to be taken out by a single lucky hit or simple sabotage.
She slid the box open and took the cable-cutter she had luckily put in her pocket earlier out. She cut the wires and, to make the sabotage complete, shorted a few more of them by pushing the ends together. The resulting sparks told her that her job was done. Now she needed to find her kid.
The two X-302s glided towards the at-drift starship. They slid elegantly into the lower bay, past the force field, and made a soft landing. He got out, while picking up his P-90 and zat from the backseat. Teal'c joined him at the airlock, similarly equipped. They were going hunting.
"Sir, if we don't get control back, our orbit will decay and we'll crash back to Earth," Jones reported.
Smith watched Simmons turned towards them, "It has to be either Carter or her kid. If it’s Carter, then eliminate the dear Major. Oh, and if it’s her kid, then wound it -- but not fatally. We only need it alive for a day, tops. After that the little freak is just another body-bag waiting to be carried off the ship."
He didn't mind that at all. After the treatment the kid had given him, the thought of shooting her along with the Goa'uld would give him a great sense of closure once they were done with the mission. They had all known that the hostages couldn't be allowed to leave alive, anyway. By the end of the trip they would know and have seen too much to be permitted to live.
As he left, he heard Simmons command the alien over the radio, "How long until we have hyperdrive?"
"This technology is very primitive. I am working as fast as I can. I know about your little failure to control the hostages, but I will compensate for your flaws, Colonel," the alien replied.
"...I will compensate for your flaws, Colonel," Buffy heard a Goa'uld say. She had to stay back. If she approached and it wasn't distracted, it would sooner or later feel the remnants of her short possession by a parasite years back.
Still, she needed a plan. The thought of being launched into deep space with an alien, the hijackers, and her family, friends and some guests as hostages wasn't exactly rating high on the happy list. She decided to go with frontal assault. If she took out the Goa'uld, then maybe sabotaged the hyperdrive with a bit of violence, they might just be stuck long enough to allow Jack to send up a Goa'uld shuttle, or something with help.
She took a breath, let her body and instincts guide her movements, and ran inside.
The Goa'uld turned towards her and said, "You." But before it could say more she had already fired the zat and rolled sideways. By the time she had spun around to review the entire room, the Goa'uld had collapsed in his chair. She debated killing it, but she couldn't get herself to kill the man caught inside the possessed body not when he was defenseless.
She looked for some way to disable the engine.
She saw him moving down the corridor. She decided against shooting one of the hijackers, because of the chance his friends were close. And besides, she wasn't exactly carrying a full clip in her gun anymore. She moved slowly and carefully closer to him. Before he could do anything, she hammered the hilt of her gun into the back of his head. He dropped prone, moaning.
"That must be a family trait," the man who had the bearing to be the leader of this bunch said while stepping into view. She had stepped into a trap.
He levelled a zat at her, while the last of the male hijackers smiled smugly at her. She noticed two outlines behind them in the gloomy corridor, and only her training kept her from smiling. There was the simultaneous sound of zats firing.
The two men dropped and lay there, out cold. Jack fired his zat at the moaning man at her feet. "Let's get them stowed somewhere," Jack said.
She opened the engineering console and found something that looked vital, as well as not easily replaceable. It was some sort of alien crystal. A lot of the Goa'uld and Ancient technology was based around these, so she guessed it had something to do with the engines. She unplugged it, just as she heard the sound of metal against metal. Her zat, which she had put down on top of the console, disappeared from view.
"Die, wench," the Goa'uld roared, and a harmless zat shot impacted the place she had just been.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," she berated herself mentally, while zig-zagging her way out into the corridor. But the Goa'uld somehow managed to keep up. It seemed all that jazz about the parasite healing you was very true and more effective than she had realized.
"Drop the crystal, and you may yet live," the Goa'uld yelled. But she ignored him. She spotted another of the ladder shafts with an open door. She jumped into it headfirst, preparing herself for the impact.
She landed hands first and felt her arms scream with pain from the landing. She tumbled down and lost her breath for a moment. A zat shot flew down into the floor next to her. The charge sent tingles through her skin. She forced herself back up, shaking off the temporary dizziness. Her opponent slid down the ladder like a fireman down a pole. She ran into what looked like the guts of the engines.
The corridor whizzed by. She noticed a sign on a pipe. It meant flammable and the number was the pressure rating. She picked up her pace and tried to see if there was some sort of valve or opening. She found what she was looking for. There was a place where a smaller pipe went off from the main one. She grabbed hold of it and tugged with all her strength. She heard the metal protest and groan. She put her feet against the wall and tugged with all her body. There was a roar, then the pipe broke loose and a torrent of some sort of reddish toxic-smelling liquid pumped out, as if from a garden hose. She poured it all over the floor, aiming the stream towards the corner from which she could hear her assailant coming.
The Goa'uld slid around the corner and she lifted the stream so that the liquid covered him. The man coughed and protested. The pressure relented, probably as automatics around the ship detected the breech and sealed off the delivery to this section. She didn't care, however. She ran forward towards her enemy. The only thing in her mind now was to win. She wasn't considering much else. The Goa'uld lifted his zat. She kept her posture low. He fired.
She jumped and grabbed the pipes running along the ceiling. Suddenly there was a roar and she felt like someone had just blasted her with hot air, while ripping the air from her lungs. Sweat instantly covered her body, while below the floor and the Goa'uld was covered in liquid flame. The Goa'uld screamed in intense pain, and only then did Buffy realize that she had just killed a man.
The fire suppressing system started to seal the corridor, and so she shimmied her way towards the closing bulkheads, fighting to make it out in time.
"Why aren't we ready yet?" he heard Simmons yell.
"Sir, there is no response from the engine room," a female voice replied. He signalled Carter that he and Teal'c would go in first and secure the room, she'd cover them. The woman nodded. They had decided on securing the bridge before looking for Buffy, who they hoped was securely locked away with Jonas or had hidden somewhere on the ship.
"How is the hyperdrive?" Simmons asked, sounding worried.
"I don't know, the computer says it’s operational, but given that we have no idea if it even knows the difference between operational and non-operational, I can't say," the female responded. He motioned for Teal'c to advance.
They ran into the room, just as Simmons was about to say something. "Sir," the dark-haired woman yelled.
Simmons turned, firing. The former Colonel was walking his fire towards Jack. There was a single burst of fire, and the man tumbled back, looking totally surprised. Not too strange, considering he hadn't had three bullet holes in his head moments earlier. There was a zat discharge, and the dark-haired woman was downed by Carter. He looked over at Teal'c, not really all that bothered by his actions, but still wondering why the Jaffa hadn't used his zat instead of the P-90. Especially since Jack had given his own zat to Carter.
Teal'c stared back at him for a moment, then looked around the bridge, probably wondering – as he was – where they'd find the Goa'uld. "Let's call out the Goa'uld; they're usually arrogant enough to rise to a challenge," he said.
Sam nodded and went over to the intercom controls and activated them. "This is SG-1. We now have control over this ship. Surrender now and you will not be harmed," Sam said.
There was a long pause while they waited. "Mom, Mom, it's me. The Goa'uld... He's dead," Buffy said, not sounding all that happy about the fact. He winced and looked over at Teal'c, who seemed to be considering how to react. He wasn't sure Sam had understood, yet, what to make of Buffy's comment.
"Get up to the bridge, Buffy," Sam said into the intercom.
"I guess we'd better go find Jonas, too... Oh and the reporter and her editor... I wonder how they all figure into this," he said.
There was a series of blips and cracks from a console. Sam went over and sat down. "Sir, a large object just appeared over our ship," she reported. An image appeared on the screen in front of them. It was an Asgard Cruiser, probably the biggest Asgard ship he had ever seen.
She realized that she had made her mom and the rest of SG-1 aware of her. She remembered her vision. Maybe this was the time of her choice. She looked down at herself. She was grimy, teary, and tired. She looked like when she had hidden in the shielded storage room. Maybe that was it. She had to decide now. Go to the bridge and leave somehow, or hide. Her legs started running before her head had decided. She headed for the storage chamber.
He looked around at the sound of the Asgard teleporters. Thor himself had come over, seated in what had to be some sort of Asgard command chair. "Thor, buddy, good to see you," he said.
"I am glad to see you as well. I owe you a great debt of gratitude for rescuing me from the grasp of Anubis and an ignoble death trapped aboard his ship," Thor said.
"Think nothing of it," he replied.
"O'Neill, I have come to you with a grave request. I am glad to see that the ship we had detected you building has come so close to completion that it can fly. The Asgard homeworld has become overrun by the Replicators, and we fear that their next target will be this galaxy, especially this planet, given your significance in our recent victories against them. Now we have need of you and this ship," Thor explained.
"Not good news. We're in a bit of a situation ourselves, at the moment," he said, seeing in his mind’s eye the mountain of paperwork, frowns, and upset phone conversations that would follow if he took the Prometheus off on some mission now.
"Thor, buddy, there is no way. We have civilians aboard, we're unarmed, and we have neither the supplies nor the engine power to reach your world, which as I recall isn't even in our galaxy," he said.
"We will remove the civilians from your ship, we will provide the weapons and supplies, as well as move you as close as we're able to our homeworld," Thor offered.
"I am sorry, but I can't just take this ship on an intergalactic mission. It isn't mine. I'm not allowed," he tried to explain.
"The Replicators will soon consume our galaxy. As I said, yours will be next," Thor said. He understood that, he really did, but that still didn’t mean he could just go off and do what Thor requested. The angry protests would start with Hammond and move up the chain of command.
"I thought we were too primitive for the Replicators to consume," Sam said.
"Yes, but eventually your natural resources would be required for the Replicators to expand, which remains their primary objective. If we don't stop them now, your extinction will be guaranteed," Thor explained.
"I know. Ours, as well as that of any other planet we know of," Sam agreed.
Teal'c brought Jonas up onto the bridge. "Hi... Did all of the Asgard escape?" Jack asked, turning his attention back to Thor.
"Most. A great battle was fought to allow most of our population to escape into the void between our two galaxies. They are now waiting to hear your response and hoping for success," Thor replied.
"My response," he said.
"You are our last hope; we have done all that we have been able to before coming to you with our problem," Thor explained.
"I still have to ask for permission, and we need to make sure everyone else is off the ship," he said.
"I will arrange it immediately," Thor said and moved the control stone on his chair.
Buffy slammed the door closed and sat down, out of breath, which was something of an effort to provoke, even for her. She was sure she had broken several of her own records to get there. She felt a slight tingle for a moment but it passed. She hoped she had done it right and her mom would be safe.