Harry Flies Again
AN: It's not as long as it could have been, but considering how long it took I thought you'd appreciate this sooner rather than later; the next chapter should conclude this section of the story if all goes as planned...
Looking out at the darkening landscape spread out in front of the cave, night having set on the Gamma site planet as they waited for some kind of sign of the bugs they'd been running from earlier, Daniel cursed his poor luck.
What was it about SG-1 which meant that any mission they went on would almost invariably result in the worst possible outcome taking place? He could probably count on one hand the amount of times they'd gone on a mission where absolutely everything had worked out according to plan; some missions might only include minor variations to what they expected to happen, such as some ruins turning up more interesting information than what they'd expected to find, and then there were the missions like this when everything seemed to go wrong.
If it wasn't for the fact that they'd still dealt with this kind of problem during the year when he was ascended and Jonas was on the team in his place, Daniel would have wondered if it was something to do with him; as it was, he just chalked it up to the kind of bad luck that had created someone like Voldemort in the first place and left it alone.
The cave had now been set up with various small lanterns as they ate what rations they'd managed to grab during their escape, but with the delegates and the military stuck for solutions to their current situation, Daniel was left with nothing else to occupy his time but to continue his earlier conversation with Shen, walking over to where the clearly-shaken delegate was sitting. With no other immediate openings to start the conversation, he handed a food bar to her, which she registered with a faint smile.
"On the bright side," Shen said, a slight tremor in her voice the only sign of her fear at the situation they were currently in, "I was worried that my report would make for a boring read."
"So," Daniel said, looking solemnly at her as he passed her the bar, "I'm guessing that we're going to lose points for this particular... incident."
"To be honest with you, my report is a mere formality," Shen said after taking the bar. "Ultimately it'll have no bearing on my government's plan of action in regard to the Stargate Program."
"Ah," Daniel said, giving Shen a brief glare as he took in what she'd just said. "And this is after
my last little speech?"
"You made some... interesting points, but-" Shen began, with the start of a firm tone in her voice as she looked at him.
"God, it's the goddamn Ministry all over again," Daniel said, sighing as he sat back on the ground and stared up at the ceiling.
"Excuse me?" Shen asked, looking curiously at him, even if she appeared to be less shocked than she had been at the previous interruption.
"It's like what I said during our talk in the commissary," Daniel said, looking resolutely at Shen. "You and your government are thinking of nothing
but improving your own reputation by being the one to control the Stargate program; does the fact that you won't have any of the connections we've come to rely on when dealing with our most dangerous threat ever mean anything?"
"Are you implying-?" Shen began, glaring at him.
that you don't have the time or resources to deal with this kind of situation and it would be a mistake for you to even try; I'd say the same thing if it was any other government in the situation," Daniel said firmly. "Besides, the last time I checked, the Gate Alliance Treaty prohibits us from using offworld-acquired technology in purely Earth-based conflicts unless we're absolutely certain that not
using it will only result in greater death on all sides; if you're worried that we'll eventually just turn against you, I'd like to remind you that we have been recruiting an international spectrum of scientists and soldiers to ensure that something like that can't
"Treaties can be bent-" Shen said.
need to have faith that certain people won't allow that to happen," Daniel said firmly. "People and governments can be flawed, but there are also those who are genuinely trying to do the right thing just because it's the right thing rather than looking for the right thing to benefit themselves; I've got a close friend in a position of power back in England who I can guarantee shares my views, and she's worked in politics ever since we both left school."
After giving her a chance to process what he had just said, he sat back down alongside her, looking at the Chinese delegate with a reassuring smile. "Like I said earlier, I'll do what I can to argue in favour of your country getting more out of the treaty than you do at the moment, but we've survived this long because the SGC as it presently exists has done a lot of work to get us to this point; you aren't going to get everything we've set up over the years just because you gain control of the Stargate and may
acquire a few pre-existing operatives."
"I... see," Shen said, looking at Daniel with that unreadable expression that the vast majority of capable politicians seemed to be obliged to learn (Umbridge was the only real exception that Harry had ever encountered; even Fudge could make himself look convincingly sympathetic, but Umbridge tried too hard to be 'nice' that she was obviously putting it on).
"Like I said," Daniel said, trying to sound less harsh as he looked at the Chinese representative- she was primarily thinking of her country's reputation and status rather than just hers, after all-, "I'll do what I can to argue in favour of giving you access to more of what we've discovered through the Stargate; I just... well, you're not ready to set up your own Stargate program with the galaxy in its present state, and there's too many other factors to make it practical for you to set up your own program while shutting down ours even after this crisis is over."
Shen simply stared silently back at Daniel after that last statement, but the slightly contemplative, questioning look in her eye as she studied him was enough for Daniel at the moment.
Maybe he hadn't convinced her to completely abandon her pre-existing views, but he'd made her think about what she had been planning previously; when dealing with the likes of Shen, that alone was a victory.
"We have heard nothing from the Gamma site since we left," Teal'c said as the group of delegates and soldiers sat around their small campfire a few hours later, attempts to contact the Gamma Site via radio having met with failure and the delegates increasingly dishevelled after the day's activity. "I fear we must assume the worst and plan accordingly."
"Yeah, I was thinking the same thing," Mitchell said, looking grimly around at his teammates.
"We cannot remain here indefinitely," Teal'c said. "Eventually this position will be overrun."
"Yeah, we need to get as far away as possible," Mitchell said, before he looked over at Daniel. "Could you make one of those 'Portkey' things-?"
"No," Daniel said, shaking his head.
"Just 'no'?" Sam repeated, looking at him in surprise.
"I did some research regarding how to make portkeys after I started working at the SGC- some can be activated by a verbal command if you know what you're doing and I thought that it could be a useful trick if the situation turned ugly-, but all of them depend on using the natural magic in the environment around them to coordinate the path to their destination," Daniel explained. "Even if we're correct with the assumption that magic is discorporated naquadah, there's just not enough of it on this planet, and it would probably be too rigid to direct me anywhere anyway."
"How about that apparation thing?" Mitchell asked.
"Possible, but it's too difficult for me to take too many people at once, and I could only make so many journeys before I ran out of energy anyway; considering how out of practice I am, I wouldn't like to risk it," Daniel replied, before he shrugged slightly. "Besides, where would I take anyone? The Stargate's still in the Gamma site, so we can't even try to escape that way without just jumping straight back into danger, and there's nowhere else for us to go-"
"But there is
somewhere that we could wait
," Sam said, snapping her fingers as a thought occurred to her, the scientist smiling as she looked at Daniel. "When we were talking about magic, you mentioned one spell that could increase the internal space of an object so that it was bigger inside than outside?"
"Yeah..." Daniel said, looking uncertainly at her. "Where are you going with this?"
"The F-302s," Sam said, smiling at him. "If they're still intact back at the base, we can use them to escape; a few... expansion charms?" She paused to look at Daniel, only continuing when he had nodded at her in confirmation that she had used the correct term. "With a few expansion charms on the cockpits, we might have enough space to get everyone here out of range of the bugs."
"Maybe even make it into orbit to wait to get picked up?" Mitchell suggested, shrugging when he noticed the others looking at him in surprise. "Hey, if we had a chance at stopping those things, I'd be all for it, but I think we're all agreed that we don't have enough raid to take out that many carnivorous insects right now?"
"Point," Daniel said, sighing slightly as he looked at the cave entrance. "Numbers are always a problem when you're dealing with insects; it was one of the main issues we had with Aragog..."
"Who?" Sam asked.
"Hagrid's pet acromantula; haven't I mentioned him?" Daniel asked, looking curiously at his friends.
"Uh... you mentioned a giant spider he tried to raise as a kid; does that have anything to do with it?" Mitchell asked, after a moment of thoughtful silence as he tried to remember the story.
"Well, long story short, even if part of the problem Ron and I had when we ended up walking into Aragog's nest on our first meeting with him was their sheer size, the numbers we were up against were also the problem," Daniel explained, nodding in confirmation of Mitchell's recollection. "We could stop some of them, but the numbers would have eventually stopped us... well, until his dad's flying car saved us."
"Your friend's dad had a flying car?" Mitchell said, looking at him in surprise.
"It was only for a brief period; he lost it after an incident in my second year and was never able to replace it," Daniel explained, before he returned his story to the present. "The point is, the F-302s are definitely our best bet at survival, and I should be able to apparate Cam and Teal'c there; all we can do then is keep moving and hope for the best."
"Hope?" Mitchell said, his initial amusement replaced by scepticism at this news.
"Hope that the bugs haven't already rendered them useless," Daniel clarified.
"Point," Mitchell said, nodding grimly at the archaeologist/wizard before he stood up and shrugged. "Well, we should probably get going before anything else goes too wrong..."
"Indeed," Teal'c said, looking briefly at the delegates before looking at Sam. "Good luck, Colonel Carter."
"We'll be back soon," Daniel said, looking at her in apology for leaving her with the delegates, once again wishing that he could share what he really felt about it- he could put them aside sometimes, but when faced with something this risky he just wanted to be able to tell her the truth- before he turned around and headed out of the cave with Mitchell and Teal'c.
"So," Mitchell asked, after they'd been walking for a few minutes and were out of visual sight of the cave- they didn't want to apparate too close to the cave in case a delegate saw them and started asking why Daniel hadn't done that for them earlier-, their last message from current guard Airman Walker confirming that all was well back there, "shall we?"
"Just hold on tight," Daniel said, placing a hand on both mens' shoulders and focusing on the first destination...
After the familiar unpleasant feeling of being sucked through a massive pipe had passed, the three men were standing on a hill overlooking the gamma site, the base still looking comparatively undisturbed despite the chaos that either had or was waging inside it.
"So, what's the plan?" Daniel asked; in a situation like this, focusing on what he could do was more important and practical than thinking about who he hadn't been able to save.
"Depends," Mitchell said, looking back at the wizard (For this moment, Daniel's wizarding training was more important than his archaeological background). "Can you actually do those... size charm things you and Sam were talking about, or were you just saying you can potentially do them without knowing
you can do them?"
"I can," Daniel said. "I had a quick crash-course from Hermione in how to do them a few days ago- she prepared a few bags for us using those charms when we were hunting horcruxes-; it won't be as impressive as what she did, but I should be able to fit the remaining delegates and personnel into three F-302s."
"Three?" Mitchell said. "But we've only got two pilots... oh, hold on-"
"It's not like you're putting a rookie in a combat situation; all I have to do is get them from A to B," Daniel said, looking firmly at his friend. "I know they're not exactly broomsticks, but I can do it."
"You believe that you are capable of flying such a craft, Daniel Jackson?" Teal'c asked.
"I've gone over most of the plans and I've gone flying with Sam and Jack on a few occasions; I won't be doing anything too elaborate, but I'll be able to get it where we need to go," Daniel said.
"OK," Mitchell said, nodding in understanding as he looked at the base once again before turning back to his teammates. "We get to the hanger, get into the F-302s, and bail out as fast as possible; judging by the amount of bugs that were there last time we were inside and the lack of news since then, I think it's safe to assume that anybody left there isn't in any state to be helped."
"Simple, but effective," Teal'c said.
"Glad you approve," Mitchell said, before he looked back at Daniel. "OK then, Jackson; let's go."
Nodding in agreement, Daniel once again placed his hands on his teammates' shoulders.
Reappearing in the hang on the wings of one of the F-302s, Daniel was glad to see that his intuition had been unnecessary; apparently the hanger had gone into lockdown early enough during the bugs' initial 'break-out' that they hadn't managed to enter this part of the base yet, even if it meant that nobody had been able to retreat to the hanger for safety either.
"Nice aim," Mitchell said, nodding in approval at Daniel before he looked at the fighters around them. "So, do we do this here, or get them out first?"
"Considering that this base has a self-destruct and we're dealing with rather complicated charms, I'd go with getting everything out now and worrying about the charms later," Daniel said.
"Sounds fine to me," Mitchell said, glancing at the other F-302s in the hanger bay before he turned and literally ran across the fighter they were currently standing on, jumping off its wing to land on the wing of the next fighter along.
Daniel had to give the man credit; it was an unorthodox way of going from fighter to fighter, but it got the job done.
As the lieutenant colonel headed for the cockpit of the fighter he'd jumped on to, Teal'c followed his example and quickly jumped on to the nearest F-302 on their side of the ship, leaving Daniel to get into the cockpit of the F-302 that he was currently standing on. Having run a quick pre-flight check, Daniel started the ship's engines and flew out of the hanger, Mitchell and Teal'c's F-302s just ahead of him, the old instincts that had served him so well over his years of playing Quidditch aiding him in his search for new heights as he flew through the air away from the gamma site, his friends in the lead.
He might wish that he'd been able to save some of the staff in the gamma site, but even magic couldn't perform miracles; sometimes, all you could do was accept what opportunities you had and leave everything else to cope on its own.
"Jackson, this is Mitchell
," Mitchell's voice said.
"Yes?" Daniel replied, activating the radio himself.
"We're heading for the mountains; Teal'c recalls some kind of clearing in that area from when he spent some time surveying this area where we can settle down and let you do your thing
," Mitchell explained. "He's fairly sure they're not too far from the caves, either; should cover everything, wouldn't you say
"Sounds like a plan," Daniel said, nodding in understanding; with the bugs' apparent difficulty travelling through rock, moving the F-302s to the mountain would give him more time to work while Teal'c and Mitchell went to collect the delegates.
It would be a challenge, of course, but it was at least one that he felt he could manage; he'd need the time to get the charms right, but once he'd sorted the first one the rest should be fine...