Cheyenne Mountain, the present...
As Riley entered the conference room, he was surprised to see the members of SG-1 there, as well as General Hammond and Major Davis. He had not seen much of either Colonel O'Neill or Major Carter since his initial briefing and training almost nine months before. Both had been helpful and supportive, able to quickly bring Riley up to speed on what he needed to know regarding the Goa'uld threat as well as what was expected of him in order to run a team. If they had wondered why he was already being put in charge of a team immediately upon completion of his training, neither had voiced any questions or made him aware of their feelings beyond one or two odd looks. Dr. Jackson, he too saw only infrequently, running into him at odd times, probably from his erratic sleep schedule. Only Teal'c did he see regularly, enjoying the workouts and sparring they did together.
Swiftly brought back to the present by Jack's quick whisper into Sam's ear, he looked over the room. Seeing an empty seat, he stopped, stood at attention, waiting for General Hammond's, “At ease, Captain,” before making his way over to it and seating himself. The hastily whispered conference between Jack and Sam had stopped and both were studying him closely. Riley began to feel a sense of dread as to what this meeting portended.
Jack O'Neill had often presented a facade to the world where he appeared obsessed with humor and action to the detriment of thought. That fooled only those who did not know him. Those who did, knew the keen mind he facetiousness hid. When he saw Captain Finn come in the door, obviously to attend a top level meeting , he was extremely surprised, but it did not make him stop thinking or observing. Riley momentarily appeared surprised, then there was a flash of some indefinable emotion, before hiding it immediately behind a mask of pleasant attendance.
Jack had known from his first meeting that there was something different about Riley Finn, and not just because he had known before meeting him that he was to be put in charge of a SG team immediately upon completing training. He had been too poised, too relaxed, with none of the “I can't believe this is happening” feelings that most newbies suffered through, sometimes stretching out for months. He had been easily trained, assimilating all of the information Sam and Jack had introduced him to almost as if he had already dealt with something similar in his last posting. That ease, coupled with mystery of his background, had made him quite a puzzle.
Jack had been prepared to hate Riley before meeting him, since all he did know about him was that he was black ops, with his previous experience being in NID-directed operations. The scarred man, who nevertheless had a ready smile that transformed his rugged face to a boyishness that made him look years younger, reminded him too much of an over-sized boy scout to allow that. When he had first laid eyes on him, he had thought Riley a typical NID thug. Within five minutes of meeting him, his feelings had done a one eighty and he felt like he had known Riley for years. He had not felt that at ease with anyone for a long time.
The only fault Riley had that Jack was aware of was how private he was about his personal and professional lives before joining the SGC. And you couldn't really fault the guy for that. Jack still knew nothing about how Riley had gotten the scar on his face or those others on his body, some of them quite odd. About the only thing Jack did know after nine months was that he was divorced, had grown up in Iowa, and had a large family still there that he saw infrequently. All of which did nothing to tell him more about the man inside. Turning to the seat next to him, he murmured, “Why do you think Captain Finn is here, Carter?”
Samantha Carter's thoughts had not raced the same way Jack's had upon observing Captain Finn enter the room, but she still had been very surprised to see him. She had not really kept in touch with him after his training beyond the occasional pleasantries exchanged in hallways or in the mess. Riley had been an excellent student, soaking up everything she and Jack had thrown at him like it was already familiar. Thinking back on it, she realized that at the time, she had been extremely surprised and impressed not only with how quickly he learned, but how quickly he had been able to get on both her and Jack's good sides. She had been well prepared to dislike him intensely before meeting him, and Jack had outright hated him, just from knowing of his background with the NID. But she had been extremely surprised at how well their initial meeting had gone, more from how quickly Riley had been able to charm Jack than how much at ease she had been around him. Despite his scarred face, which he did not talk about, he seemed too much like an over-sized boyscout with a personality to match. He was very likable, and even the scar on his face didn't detract from his boyish charm.
She knew he and his team were doing an exemplary job based on the occasional comment from General Hammond, as well as the number of toys he had brought back for her to look over in her lab, before shipping them off to Area 52. Still there was no reason for him to attend a meeting of this importance. After hearing Jack's quiet comment, she whispered back, “He shouldn't have the clearance to attend this meeting, let alone have a reason to be here. Something weird is going on.”
Jack nodded his head, noticing that Daniel also shared his puzzlement about Riley's presence, while Teal'c was his usual expressionless self on his other side. He turned back to face Riley, noticing that despite that flash of emotion when first entering the room, he now possessed his usual poise, the same poise which had puzzled Jack upon meeting him. You would think that this was all old hat to him, he thought to himself.
Daniel shared the puzzlement of his other team members but not to the same degree. He assumed that Riley would have something quick to input before being sent out of the room for the remainder of the meeting, blithely ignoring what a relatively newly arrived officer would have to add to a meeting of this caliber. He had been very favorably impressed with Captain Finn when he had first met him. Going over first contact procedures with him had been a breeze, with Riley exhibiting a startling knowledge of ancient cultures. That coupled with the feedback he had heard from Dr. Hastings, SG-15's attached anthropologist and language specialist, on how much knowledge Riley had of ancient languages, made him an interesting puzzle. The man could read more than a little ancient Sumerian for God's sake! So far, he was the first and only soldier Daniel had known with that distinction.
Teal'c had been the least surprised when Riley had walked in the door. Despite knowing that the attendance of a junior officer was unlikely at a meeting of this caliber, he merely thought that General Hammond had finally shown the good sense to have another experienced warrior present. That Riley Finn was an experienced warrior, Teal'c doubted not at all. When he had first met Riley Finn, Teal'c had challenged him to spar with him, prior to introducing him to the abilities and tactics of the Jaffa, which he would need in order to run a SG team. He had been surprised how quickly Riley Finn had agreed to spar with him. Riley Finn had picked up a quarterstaff and swung it with an ease that indicated more than a passing familiarity with its use. After an excellent workout, where Teal'c had both taken and received several strong blows, he had finally disarmed Riley Finn and leg swept him, before bowing to an honorable foe. Teal'c had wondered if he even had a cracked rib from one of the blows that Riley Finn had landed.
That had led to several more sparring matches in the days and weeks that followed, with weapons ranging from swords to spears to bayoneted rifles, the last weapon one in which Riley Finn had actually bested Teal'c, despite his superior speed and strength. Teal'c had been extremely proud and had taken upon himself not only to teach Riley as much about hand to hand weapons' combat as possible, but to master the new weapon Riley Finn had introduced him to. The one puzzling thing had come when he had asked Riley Finn why he used a firearm with a blade attached when superior firepower usually ruled the day in most modern day combat. Riley Finn had hesitated before briefly stating, “Some things need more than a bullet to take down.” He had not expounded further on the subject.
General Hammond was not surprised to see Captain Finn walk through the door, but that was only because he had been briefed on his presence by Major Davis. Not the why of his presence, just that he would be present. When he had asked why, Davis had said, “I'm sorry, but that is a story that needs to wait until the briefing to be told.” Hammond had not been pleased, not in the least because if he was in the dark, he would not be able to to pull off the infallibility that general officers were known for and that he was known for more than most. The other reason was that he too possessed intense curiosity about Captain Finn's presence here at the SGC. He had been furious when Davis had presented Captain Finn's presence and future command as a fait accompli, even going as far as thinking about resigning as head of the SGC. Major Davis had seen the conflicting emotions on his face and had soothed him by saying, “If after six months, you don't think he is working out, I will pull him, no questions asked.”
Hammond had been taken aback by Davis's confidence, his anger defused. Later, he had seen it was not misplaced. Everything he had observed and heard about Captain Finn had ranged from excellent to extraordinary. Finn had taken his team, each of them as inexperienced as himself, although his second, Lieutenant Miller had shared his odd poise and confidence, and melded them into one of the most effective SG teams since SG-1. Finn had gone into several potentially nasty situations with native peoples who had mistrusted or even hated the Tau'ri, and had them eating out of his hand by the end. He was just one of those guys you instinctively trusted. In just six months of leading SG-15, he had almost as many successes than SG-1 had in the same period when they first started. Finn reminded Hammond of a younger Colonel Jack O'Neill, although he wasn't possessed of quite as much of a sense of humor. His thoughts were brought back to the meeting as Davis began to speak.
“I am glad to see you all here. So let's get this meeting started,” Major Davis said with a smile. He pulled out a stack of documents as well as a clear case containing what appeared to be a DVD. As he began to speak again, he was interrupted.
“Why is Captain Finn here? I thought this was to be a briefing on a potential new weapon that could be brought to bear against the Goa'uld,” said Colonel O'Neill, turning his gaze from Davis to the object of his puzzlement.
Riley had gone still as soon as Jack began to speak, trying to be as below the radar as possible while sitting right across from the others. He noted both Major Carter and Dr. Jackson, nodding in agreement, while Teal'c, remained impassive next to them, his countenance impossible to read. He knew his expression had become even more blank, attempting to hide the bleakness he felt inside at this confirmation of his suspicions.
Major Davis calmly looked down the table at Jack. “All of you want to know why Captain Finn is here for this meeting?”
“I do!” Jack emphasized, not taking his eyes off Riley, seemingly attempting to bore into his brain and discover his secrets.
“I have some flexibility in my orders for this briefing, so that is where we will begin. Just as soon as everyone signs these confidentiality forms..."