Willow was aware of everyone's eyes on her as the General explained the who, what, where, and how. She knew what they were doing, they were trying to gauge her opinion on the mission by her expression.
Years of training enabled Willow to keep her expression completely blank.
Plus, it was hard to judge a rescue mission without all the cards being on the table. Willow refused to let Dr Jackson, Teal'c, and Colonel O'Neill to see exactly what she thought of what she was hearing so far.
It didn't look good.
That's not to say the mission was a lost cause, far from it, all it meant was that it wouldn't be easy. From a S&R standpoint, the fact that two and a half days had passed since Major Carter, and SG-37, went missing was bad news. The longer the person was missing, the harder it would be to find them. But that wasn't what had Willow worried most. What worried her was that the planet was an array of elemental forces which would severely hamper their rescue attempt,
and make survival of the missing a lot harder.
SR-2 and 4 had gone through the gate to locate them and had come back unsuccessful. SR-2 and 4 were excellent at what they did, the fact that they hadn't been able to get anywhere in two days – not a good sign.
While Willow had her instinct… it was getting to them before it was too late that had her troubled. Willow would be able to lead them in the right direction, but if they were bombarded with storms… Willow would be lucky if they didn't spend the entire time looking for each other.
Things really didn't look good.
There were other things that would go against them as well. If Major Carter, and SG-37, were dead. Willow wouldn't be able to locate them as easily. Her magic used the essence of a person to locate them, it wasn't a fine art or anything, but Willow had learned the hard way that if the person was dead, the only way they'd find them was by luck.
That was why Willow studied their destinations so hard. It was silly, but Willow hated leaving anyone behind, alive or not. So when her magic couldn't find someone, she did it the hard way.
This mission was going to be difficult.
It was going to be even more difficult with so many people breathing down her neck. It made her a little, er, a lot nervous to be here with SG-1 and Disaster Davis. She could already feel mounting pressure build and that was just from trying to ignore their gazes.
Anyone would be nervous. SG-1 were the best, the elite – legends. This was the first time Willow had been in a room with them like this. Willow had worked with Major Carter, but she had been more in awe of Major Carter than anything. Her mind was – well, being with
the Major made Willow feel so inferior. She was brilliant but nice as well.
Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c were just plain scary. Dr Jackson was… well, her opinion of him was based on a personal basis, not professional. She was, however, intimidated by his intelligence.
They must be going out of their minds with worry. She would if it were her team member missing. SG-1 was the closest unit in the SGC.
Willow would go as far to say they were even closer than SR-1. The premier team had been together since the program had been reinstated. Dr Jackson and Colonel O'Neill went back even further, but the entire team, SG-1 was the longest team to ever remain intact.
Colonel O'Neill even called them his kids.
They were kind of like the three musketeers. All for one and one for all. If one was in trouble… they'd all dive into the fray. Now one of them was missing.
And it didn't look good.
When the hell was SR-1 getting here? Willow hazard a guess that this was why she was being briefed. SR-1 were probably on their way back from their Tok'ra mission. That meant she'd have to be ready with her assessment by the time they arrived.
It was procedure for all S&R rescues to be assessed before a team was sent through. As a rule, Willow, because of her instincts, was the assessor for SR-1. The assessor decided if a rescue was possible. So far Willow had signed off on every mission, though the last mission Willow had dropped the ball.
They had been successful but it had been close and bloody. The mission scared the fuck out of her, if anything had happened to her team… Willow would have lost it.
As it was, the aftermath hadn't been pretty. Willow slept for sixty hours straight when she got to LA and, when she woke up, she had been less than receptive to Giles and Angel's probing questions. She had been freaked when she left the base and Angel was able to smell her
fear and anxiety.
Yep, when she went back to LA she was going to be hounded by four very worried friends.
If she went back.
There was always an if now. Every time she went through the gate, there was a chance she wasn't coming back. This mission held the same risks. From what the General was describing, the planet was completely unsafe. Why did they send a team through to a planet like
that? It was inhabitable. How did they expect to mine there? Naquadria was not worth human lives.
Willow would need to speak to the other SR teams before making the assessment. Pentagon, SG-1, aside, Willow was not risking people on a planet that was that dangerous.
Willow sighed, nothing was ever easy. No matter what she decided, people would be at… why was everyone staring at her? Wow, that was professional of her. She completely zoned out on everyone… right in front of the General.
Nice move, Rosenberg.
"I'm sorry, Sir," Willow apologized.
The General raised an eyebrow. "Something concerning you, Lieutenant?"
"Nothing I'd like to discuss now, Sir. It's a little too early for me to…"
"Lieutenant," the tone Colonel O'Neill used sparked fear in her, "if you have a problem, spit it out now. Carter is trapped on that hell hole, we don't have time for damn protocol. Let's cut the bullshit. What's bothering you?"
The man intimidated the shit out of her. Willow had heard about the O'Neill temper, but never had she been on the brunt of it – in front of an audience. She understood the reason behind his anger but that didn't make it any easier. Willow would be the same. Wasting time before S&R bothered her too, but in this case, she thought it was necessary.
"Jack!" Dr Jackson snapped at the Colonel. "You're not helping."
Ookay. Colonel O'Neill chews her out for not speaking her mind, and Dr Jackson defends her.
Colonel O'Neill ignored him, his attention focused completely on her. "Lieutenant, is something concerning you?"
"A few things, Sir," Willow maintained eye contact, rather difficulty. His gaze was as intimidating as his tone. God, she didn't know where to start. "To be honest, Sir, the entire mission
is concerning me. I'm not sure what SR-1 can do that SR-2 and 4 haven't. The planet is extremely hazardous. Even if we manage to find them, getting back to the gate is going to be difficult."
"We're aware of the difficulty of the mission, Lieutenant," O'Neill informed her. "That's why we've called you in."
Um… excuse me? "Sir?"
It wasn't the Colonel who answered, but Major Davis, "Lieutenant, you're the best we have in Search and Rescue. We're hoping that your natural talents will succeed where SR-2 and SR-4 failed."
He flipped open the manila file in front of him. "You record is next to perfect. There have been two missions where you've gone in after other SR teams and succeeded where they failed."
Oh… oh shit. Maybe SR-1 hadn't covered for her as well as she thought. Damn! "Not me, Sir. SR-1. We went in and succeeded." What she wouldn't give for them to be with her right now. They would be backing her up in a heartbeat.
Willow was really beginning to hate that word.
"According to the mission reports, ninety percent of the time it’s been you who was responsible for finding the locations of various SG teams," Davis looked down at the notes. "Your last mission for example…"
O'Neill cut him off. "Davis, we're all aware what happened on the last mission. We don't need a reminder. Rosenberg, this is how it is. SR-1 have the best success rate for locating people, you're the only member of SR-1 currently on-world so you're it."
She was it? What did he mean by that?
"Rosenberg, do you think you can find Major Carter and SG-37?" the General asked her outright.
Could she find them, yes. "I would need all mission reports, MALP telemetry, and maps of the planet, but yes, I think I can find them."
"Thank god!" Dr Jackson exclaimed.
"Anything you need, Lieutenant, it's yours. You've been given a carte blanche for this mission. It's extremely important to all parties involved that you succeed." The General told her.
Oh good, no pressure. "When will SR-1 be returning from the Tok'ra?" she wanted to know.
Everyone stared at her.
"They're not," Hammond informed her. "They're in the middle of the mission, we can't recall them without exposing their positions."
"SG-1 will be accompanying you on this mission."
Whoa! Hold up! Stop everything!
No… oh no. No way in hell. Nope. Not a chance. Were they kidding? They weren't assigning her to SG-1!!!
Please god, no. Not that, anything but that.
Her face must have betrayed her, because O'Neill glared. "You have a problem with that, Lieutenant?"
Hell yes! "General Hammond," she turned to the commander of the base. "With all due respect, SG-1 is a combat unit. Wouldn't it be better assigning me to one of the other SR units?"
"I'm aware of that, but SG-1 have requested to accompany you and I have no objection."
"Sir," she wasn't going down without a fight. "I know of SG-1 reputation and I'm not saying they would slow a rescue mission down, it's just, they're a little close it…"
So very much not the thing to say.
O'Neill looked ready to take a swing at her. "So if your team was missing, you wouldn't be the first person through the gate?"
Yeah, throw logic at her. "Point taken, Sir. I honestly mean no disrespect but this mission is a rescue and SG-1 primary function is a field unit. They're not aware of the new techniques that we use in S&R. Colonel O'Neill may inadvertently give me an order that would slow us down."
She was digging her own grave here.
Willow could think of nothing worse than being assigned to SG-1. They intimidated her too much, she'd choke. The pressure… no, this mission was going to be difficult enough without being apart of SG-1.
Colonel O'Neill was the second in command of this base, he was going to make her life a living hell because of this. Not to mention Dr Jackson being angry at her, and then Teal'c… oh god… Willow risked a glance at the Colonel.
Why did he look so smug?
"Lieutenant, I don't think you heard the General correctly," he even sounded smug. "We're being assigned to you, not the other way around."
The General nodded. "I'm not sure you realize just how important this mission is."
No, but she was beginning to get it.
"The President is extremely eager to find the location of the SGC team and the Naquadria mine," Davis said his piece. "The amount of Naquadria on the planet will give us the opportunity to develop technology that will help us defeat the Goa'uld. The Deathgliders you fly, Lieutenant, are possible only because of the Naquadria."
Ah… she really didn't give a rat’s ass about the Naquadria mine.
"What are you saying, Sir?"
Did she really want to know?
"You'll be given everything you need in order to succeed on this mission. As I said before, anything you require will be available without question." Hammond stated.
He continued. "As Colonel O'Neill and Major Davis pointed out, you're the best we have in Search and Rescue. Your fears about the suitability of assigning SG-1 to the mission are viable, and if SG-1 were leading the mission, then I would take your concerns under
consideration. These are extreme circumstances, and the Pentagon has agreed with Colonel O'Neill's recommendation."
Her heart stopped.
"You will still have to report to Colonel O'Neill but unless a combat situation occurs, you will be in command of the mission."
She had been wrong.
So, so, very wrong.
There was one thing worse than being assigned to SG-1 for this mission.
And that was it.