"Let me ask you a question," Mitchell asked, he and Teal'c now walking back towards the caves while Jackson worked his magic- Mitchell wasn't sure he'd ever lose the urge to grin now that he'd discovered that Daniel possessed literal magic- on the F-302s. "All the years you were fighting the Goa'uld, did you ever just step back and say, sooner or later our luck's going to run out: we're going to get our asses kicked?"
"Never," Teal'c replied.
"Never," Mitchell repeated. "Not once. Even though you were massively outnumbered, fighting an opponent with superior technology and firepower."
"They may have had the superior forces and resources, but we possessed something far greater," Teal'c said firmly.
"Which was?" Mitchell asked.
"A just cause," Teal'c replied, his tone equally resolute. "I had no doubt the Goa'uld would be defeated. Perhaps not in my lifetime, but I knew eventually they would fall. And I have no doubt the same fate awaits the Ori."
"See, that's what I like about you," Mitchell said, smiling over at Teal'c. "You're always positive. Hell, you're probably already past this bug situation, thinking about what movie you want to watch tomorrow night."
"I was considering 'Old School'," Teal'c said.
"'My Boy Blue'," Mitchell countered, only for the conversation to be interrupted by the sound of a loud explosion coming from some distance behind them, a glance back revealing a slowly rising column of smoke.
"The self-destruct?" Mitchell asked, looking back at Teal'c.
"Most likely RL-65 managed to access and trigger the system while devouring the base," Teal'c confirmed, looking thoughtfully at the smoke. "If Daniel Jackson had not apparated us to the base, we would doubtless never have made it in time to recover the F-302s."
"Yeah, on that topic, I've been meaning to ask; how do you feel
about the fact that he's been keeping that kind of talent secret for so long?" Mitchell asked. "I mean, Jackson could have done more than he did..."
"Daniel Jackson has assured us that he would have taken action if he was certain that doing so would have benefited us; I have no reason to doubt his judgement in making such a decision," Teal'c said, looking firmly back at Mitchell. "His stories and the tales of his friends have made it clear that he lacked the experience to remove a Goa'uld from a host via the use of magic, and in all other cases where magic was possible there was a technological and viable alternative method of taking action, which he naturally resorted to in order to avoid forcing himself to relive unpleasant memories."
"Ah," Mitchell said, lost for anything else that he could say to that statement, before turning his attention back to their walk. "Well, let's keep going; we're almost there, after all."
"You have not voiced your own thoughts on Daniel Jackson's secret," Teal'c said, looking inquiringly at Mitchell.
"Hey, Jackson wants to keep some things quiet, he's earned the right after everything he's been through; I just wondered how you felt considering how long he's been keeping the wizard thing secret from you guys, rather than anything else," Mitchell clarified, smiling reassuringly at Teal'c before they returned their attention to their walk.
As they arrived back at the cave, neither man was surprised to see Woolsey and Sam standing near the entrance, Woolsey looking anxious while Sam had the frustrated-yet-calm look that both men knew meant that she was fighting the urge to hit something.
"…the reality is, for the time being, we are stuck here," Sam said, glaring at Woolsey. "Trapped in this cave, surrounded by predatory insects with no way of getting to the Stargate. Now I'm sorry, but I'm going to have a hard time mustering up a convincing pep talk, all things considered."
"I see," Woolsey said, looking grimly back at Sam. "In that case-"
"Hello, campers," Mitchell said, grinning at the two men, Carter and Woolsey turning to look at him and Teal'c with obvious surprise.
"You're back?" Carter said, grinning enthusiastically at them before her smile faltered. "But… where's Daniel?"
"Enhancing the interior space of the F-302s we salvaged from the base before it blew so that we can use them to get everyone off this planet until additional support arrives," Mitchell said, grinning at the shocked expression on Woolsey's face. "It's a tricky manoeuvre, but Jackson seemed pretty sure that he could do it; should be enough to get us to safety until back-up gets here, anyway."
"And… it's safe?" Woolsey asked.
"It is as reliable as any of the alternatives that we have conceived to deal with the threat facing us at present," Teal'c said, with a pointed stare at Woolsey as though seeking to practically burn his next words into Woolsey's brain. "We are taking all steps possible to cope with this unanticipated attack, and Daniel Jackson has provided us with a means of evading these insects until additional support arrives; I would suggest that we use it."
"Ver… very well," Woolsey said, clearly deciding from the glare in Teal'c's eyes that going along with the Jaffa's suggestion would be the best strategy to ensure his long-term survival at this time. "I'll just… let the others know, shall I?"
"That would be most wise," Teal'c said, nodding in confirmation at Woolsey.
"There a problem we should know about?" Mitchell asked, looking anxiously at Sam.
"If we can get up in the F-302s, and Daniel's plan works… hopefully not," Sam said, looking reassuringly at her friend. "Under normal circumstances, in this kind of situation, the Odyssey
would enact Protocol CR-91 and bomb the planet with something to wipe out the bugs before looking for us, but if we can get up into space we should be safe enough; we may even manage to get picked up before the planet's attacked."
"In other words, all's under control," Mitchell said, smiling at her. "Good to know."
Staring at the now-expanded interiors of the F-302s, the result of care and effort to use a spell that Hermione had only been able to give him a brief refresher on, Daniel nodded in satisfaction at the result.
He'd had to take some time to make sure that the charms would hold- he'd been going through a few 'crash courses' with Hermione and the twins when they'd been able to spare the time to do so, but this wasn't exactly something he'd ever expected to do-, but he thought the final result worked. Knowing that he couldn't do anything to expand the F-302's exterior without affecting its ability to fly, he'd started his work by increasing the space between the seat and the glass cover, expanding the sides only after the seat had 'sunk' to the point where the space on either side could be expanded without interfering with the ship's electrical systems.
With only five delegates and a few soldiers with them, Daniel had expanded the seats to accommodate three additional riders per ship in the secondary pilot's seat, reasoning that Sam, Mitchell and Teal'c would prefer to be alone in the pilot's seat (He had enjoyed his earlier flight, but in a situation like this the delegates would probably prefer the more experienced Sam as their pilot).
Looking at what he'd just accomplished, he was almost relieved that he'd revealed his magic to his teammates for a reason that didn't involve Voldemort's return for the first time; if this mission had happened when he was still acting as Daniel Jackson, he might have been tempted to try and help, but he just wouldn't have had sufficient confidence in his unpractised magic to even try and attempt something like this. The expanded interior space might be a gamble, but it was one that he felt reasonably comfortable attempting; a ship should be on its way to collect them already, so it shouldn't have to hold out for longer than a couple of days at most…
He just wished that finding Voldemort could be as straightforward as this was. He'd tried to attempt a couple of other meditation sessions to regain his original contact with his enemy's mind, but either Voldemort had re-established his Occlumency barriers or what he'd done to find out how Voldemort had come back had been simply a last gasp across a connection he'd long believed had been destroyed when Voldemort was; he'd vaguely sensed that Voldemort was there during his later efforts, but that was about it.
"Daniel?" a familiar voice said, Daniel turning around to smile in relief at the sight of his teammates walking towards the modified planes, Mitchell and Sam leading the delegates while Teal'c brought up the rear.
"Hey, guys," he said, nodding in relief at them before he indicated the fighters behind him. "Well, everything's in order; I wouldn't recommend keeping these like this for longer than we have to, but they should be enough to get us up in the air."
"You're referring to these… expansion charms Colonel Mitchell informed us that you were performing?" Woolsey asked, looking uncertainly between Daniel and the fighters. "I was under the impression-"
"I've had a lot of time to practise my spellwork since I got back in touch with my old friends, and this isn't the time to be asking too many questions about that; can we just focus on what's important right now and get off this planet?" Daniel said, looking firmly at Woolsey. "I get that this isn't what you were expecting when you came offworld, but as it is we're here, the bugs are back there, and this is the only way any of us are going to get off this planet alive, so stop complaining and get inside, OK?"
"Understood," Woolsey said, after a moment's pause as he glared at the archaeologist.
"Good," Daniel said, before he looked over at Sam and Mitchell. "Uh… could you talk to the rest of the delegates? I think they'd take any plan you tell them about better than anything I'd say right now…"
"Sure," Sam said, smiling at him in understanding before she turned to look at the rest of the delegates and the remaining additional soldiers. "OK, so we're proceeding with the assumption that RL-65 can't get up here any time soon and Odyssey
will be arriving before the next couple of days have gone by; if we can get out of the atmosphere and set up position in a geostationary orbit over the gamma site's former location, we should be in a good location to get picked up by their sensors when they get here."
"And we're all expected to fit in those
?" Shen said, looking sceptically at the F-302s.
"I've… used a few old tricks to make some modifications," Daniel said, shrugging slightly as the delegates looked at him. "It wouldn't be practical to use this long-term, but it'll hold out for our current purposes."
"I object to-" the British delegate began, looking at Daniel with an expression that reminded him of Fudge's attempt to protest about Dumbledore's suggested courses of action after the Triwizard Tournament when
"You make voice your objections to Daniel Jackson's use of his previously-undisclosed talents and past history once we are safe, or you may be left here and be killed by the insects or the toxins; I will be content with either scenario," Teal'c said, shooting a firm glare at the British delegate. After a moment's pause, the other man apparently conceded Teal'c's point, and simply stood up and walked over to one of the ships, allowing time for the rest of SG-1 to help the delegates into each F-302 before boarding them themselves. Daniel found himself in Sam's F-302 with Woolsey and Shen, leaving Mitchell with the other delegates while Teal'c took the soldiers.
After the pre-flight checks were completed, the F-302s took off from their makeshift runway- straight and flat enough to make a reasonably comfortable take-off- even if they wouldn't be using it for that purpose on a regular basis even if they rebuilt the gamma site-, followed by as rapid an ascent as possible to leave the planet's atmosphere. In a matter of minutes, the three fighters were in deep space, their pilots moving them into geosynchronous orbit over the gamma site's former location before turning the engines off.
"All right," Sam said, turning around slightly in her chair to look at Daniel as he sat in the middle of the expanded rear seat, "how long do you think we'll have to wait until these… charms become ineffective?"
"I don't know for sure," Daniel said. "I know how long these can last when a professional performs them, but I'm a bit out of practise, and the fact that we're keeping them active away from Earth introduces an x-factor that I'm not sure about. Even if we're right about naquadah being basically solidified magic, there's only so much power we can rely on before we drain the naquadria core; it's not like we can know
how much energy they'll need to create something like this."
"Are you saying that we might-?" Shen asked.
"There's nothing to worry about," Daniel said grimly. "Even in a worst-case scenario, there's no way we'll just run out of a power all of a sudden; we might be a bit uncomfortable if we have to wait here for too long, but we can make it work."
"And how do we wait in the meantime?" Woolsey asked.
"Twenty Questions?" Sam asked, looking at her friend and the two delegates with a slight smile, the suggestion obviously an awkward one even as Daniel acknowledged the lack of alternatives she could have suggested instead.
Once he was back on Earth, Daniel had to admit that he had never been more relieved to be back on solid ground; that whole experience had been the most uncomfortable situation he'd ever been in that didn't actually involve anyone who'd wanted to kill him. Shen and Woolsey were only colleagues at best, he and Sam felt uncomfortable sharing most of their more amusing or personal anecdotes with the two IOA delegates in such close proximity, and neither of them had anything they particularly wanted to discuss with the IOA members, so they were left just sitting around and waiting out of a lack of anything to say to each other. After they were picked up by the Odyssey
, Mitchell had confirmed a similarly low opinion of the social situation he'd found himself dealing with in his F-302 for the same reason; Teal'c was the only one who'd had a relatively comfortable time, talking relatively casually with the soldiers in his ship about some recent missions.
Quite frankly, it had been a great relief to see Odyssey
emerge from hyperspace and allow them to board before it bombed the planet below them; the F-302s might have still been large enough inside to hold them in relative comfort physically, but their psychological state would have had trouble if they'd had to remain cooped up like that for much longer.
Still, as Daniel sat at his usual seat in the SGC briefing room, along with the rest of his team, General Landry, and Mr Woolsey, he was once again glad to be home after a harrowing day's work; life on SG-1 would never be reliable, but at least he could always be sure that he'd have an interesting time.
"All delegates have returned to their respective countries and duties, none the worse for wear," Woolsey said, looking over the report in front of him before looking back at the group around him.
"What kind of fall-out should we be expecting from all this?" Landry asked.
"Surprisingly minimal," Woolsey replied. "You may face an official reprimand, but the IOA recognizes the fact that these were circumstances beyond your control."
"Good," Mitchell said, looking around at the rest of the team.
"Of course," Woolsey added, prompting a frustrated groan from Mitchell, "I should go on record as noting that my British colleague, Mr Chapman, resents the fact that the British government have yet to receive any official acknowledgement of their assistance in recent events-"
"I have been informed by Minister Granger that the affairs of the Ministry of Magic and the affairs of the British government are generally only indirectly affiliated with each other," Landry said. "Should the occasion arise where compensation is demanded or obligated, you may assure Mr Chapman that we will of course recognise his country's contribution to our defence, but until then I am dealing directly with Minister Granger concerning the British wizarding world's contributions to our efforts, considering that she is their duly elected leader and representative as well as being a friend of Doctor Jackson."
"And before Chapman says anything else," Daniel said, looking firmly at Woolsey- the Chinese probably felt more comfortable making him a public offer considering their greater power on the world stage, but that didn't mean that Britain wouldn't think about making an offer or two themselves-, "you can tell him that I applied for and received American citizenship when I first came to this country almost two decades ago, and my only ties to Britain these days are those I have with my friends, who are perfectly comfortable with me as Daniel Jackson; if he attempts to use this revelation to argue that Britain deserves more credit because I was born there, you can tell him that I'm not legally British any more so what I do has no bearing on Britain and can't be used as a bargaining chip even if I wanted to be one."
"I shall… keep that in mind," Woolsey said, swallowing slightly before he turned his attention back to the rest of SG-1. "I acknowledge that it may seem like they do an inordinate amount of complaining, but- off the record- the IOA has nothing but praise for the job you're doing here. Just don't let it go to your heads."
"We won't," Daniel said firmly.
They'd all seen the consequences of power gone mad too often for them to ever
let that happen to them…
"Well, I'm heading back to Washington," Woolsey said, sliding back in his chair and standing up as he adjusted his jacket. "Thank you for the tour; it was an… eye-opening experience."
With those words, he turned and left the briefing room, leaving SG-1 alone with Landry.
"While you were gone, we received reports that two more planets have been hit by these bugs," the general said. "R&D are working on solutions that target these insects without harming other plant and animal life."
"Any news on the Death Eaters?" Daniel asked.
"Nothing definite, but we're keeping an ear to the ground," Landry said, his expression becoming more solemn as he looked at the group around him. "I thought I'd lost you there; nice to have you back."
With nothing else to say to that statement, SG-1 just smiled in response as Landry left the room, leaving Daniel to look over at the others.
"So," he said with a slight smile, "we, uh, still doing movie night?"
He might want to continue his research into some of the Grail-related material they'd discovered- he had a feeling that he was getting close to something with his latest theory-, but after everything he'd been through, he'd prefer an opportunity to unwind in a relaxing environment before he had to do something that intellectually challenging…