SHIELD Chapter: 6
Disclaimer: If you recognize it, it probably belongs to someone else. I make no profit off of the following.
Constructive Criticism always welcome, flames cheerfully ignored.
A/N: Sorry this took so long to get out. R/L reared its ugly head. Currently I should be able to get some writing done. The next chapter of New Places is about half-way done, and hopefully will be put up next week. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The speaker on Commander Edward Straker’s desk buzzed. “Yes Ms. Eland?” he asked after pushing the talk button.
“There is a Major General George Hammond and a Colonel Jonathan O’Neill here to see you sir.”
So, here it was, he’d been expecting it since Stargate Command had been announced a month and a half ago; he’d been surprised it had taken so long. He’d contacted General Henderson immediately to see what was going to happen; Henderson had told him to hang tight, that he would travel to Washington and get instructions. In the meantime, Straker had commenced a series of investigations as to how the SGC could operate spaceships in and around Earth orbit and SHADO not be aware of them. So far he had not gotten any good answers, nor had he heard back from the General.
“Thank you Ms. Eland, I’ll send Paul Foster to escort them here.”
Ten minutes later, Colonel Paul Foster, Straker’s, fourth in command escorted his two visitors into his office. Straker didn’t personally know General Hammond. But he knew of him, and always thought he had a little more pull in the Air Force than the commander of a special project under Cheyenne Mountain should have, but since he had never had any contact with him, he hadn’t been that curious as to why, now he knew. “General Hammond, welcome to SHADO Headquarters.”
General Hammond took the offered hand and replied, “Commander, we have a lot to talk about.”
Behind Hammond was Jack O’Neill, him, Straker knew. Their work ethic was about the only thing they had in common, the other colonel was sarcastic and Straker found him grating the couple of times they had worked together. A sudden stab of pain went through
Straker, they did have one other thing in common; they had both lost a son at a young age. “Jack,” Straker greeted noncommittally.
“Ed,” he replied coolly.
Retaking his seat, Straker began, “Gentlemen, I have to admit I’m somewhat surprised that it took you so long to get in contact with us, I was expecting you last month.”
“It might have something to do with us not knowing you existed until three weeks ago,” Jack replied somewhat flippantly.
Staker frowned, “The President decided not to inform you of SHADO’s existence?”
“We discovered SHADO’s existence when a rather large explosion was detected between the Earth and the Moon by a training flight of F-302’s,” Hammond stated. “The vessel that exploded was not detected by any of our sensors. We were lucky that the crews of those fighters were not looking toward the blast, or they would have been blinded.”
Staker nodded absently. “The ship was carrying an Earthquake bomb that the aliens that SHADO was formed to fight had planted in England over a decade ago. A couple of hippies had been partying in the house and in a hallucinogenic fog had stolen the detonator from the aliens that were planting it. The male was killed and the female had run in front of my car. She had been badly injured and ended up in a coma for over a decade. When she woke up she managed to give clues that allowed us to retrace her steps. The Aliens had reanimated her boyfriend though, and he had managed to find the detonator and insert it. We found it right after he had armed it and managed to figure out that the bomb was set off by sunlight and we could not access it to try and disarm the bomb, so I ordered it loaded into a cargo rocket and got it out of Earth’s atmosphere before it detonated.”
“Earthquake bomb?” O’Neill asked, that sounded like it had possibilities.
“If it had gone off, it would have set off a large earthquake in England, it might have split the island in half.”
O’Neill whistled, “Don’t suppose you managed to get the specs?”
Staker shook his head, “It was some kind of quintuple explosive; we weren’t able to penetrate the casing to retrieve a sample of the liquids.”
O’Neill was disappointed, he’d talk to Carter, and maybe she could come up with something.
“Now, how were you able to trace the explosion back to us?” Straker demanded, the cargo rocket they had used was licensed to the International Space Agency, any questions should have been referred there, not to SHADO.
Both Hammond and O’Neill frowned; Staker was not in a position to be making any demands. “Our sensor net did not detect either the ship or the explosion, or rather they did not report they had. One of our technical people came up with the idea that perhaps our monitors had been told to ignore anything having to do with your people. She went digging and found that this was the case. That there was a specific transponder frequency that our sensors had been programed to ignore, not only the transponder, but anything coming from it. I imagine that if you check your sensors you will find similar coding ordering it to ignore SGC equipment and emissions. Once we knew what we were supposed to be ignoring it was a simple matter of looking for things with that transponder setting. We found the Moon base you are using, and the three one man fighters that you are training with. Once we had confirmed what seemed to be going on, we took the information to the president.”
“And he confirmed SHADO’s existence,” Staker guessed. This might not be too bad, if the president had still been covering for them, they might want to keep SHADO intact.
O’Neill shook his head, “Nope, it was news to him too.”
“What?” Staker exclaimed. “His predecessor did not pass on the existence of SHADO to Henry Hayes? Why?”
“It was news to him too Ed,” Jack stated.
Staker was taken aback, “That’s impossible gentlemen. I have a copy of SHADO’s charter in that vault,” he said nodding at the safe door in the far wall, “It has both his and the then Prime Minister’s signature on it.”
Hammond scowled, “I’m afraid Commander Straker, The Prime Minister also has no idea about you or your organization either.”
“You were had Ed,” Jack explained trying to keep the smugness out of his voice, not quite succeeding though.
Before Straker could reply Hammond asked, “You’ve heard of the NID?”
Straker checked himself and replied caustically, “One of the big reasons we are based out of the UK instead of the Nevada desert.”
Hammond went on, “We’ve been dealing with the NID since our inception. A few years ago we have discovered there is a rogue section of the NID they have run a number of operations seemingly without higher authorization.”
Straker looked skeptical, “I assure you gentlemen, there is no way any government agency would be able to lose the level of funding SHADO has in their budget. Not if the parent agency was doing anything else. Plus I have some idea what the NID’s budget looks like. There whole budget wouldn’t support us, let alone some splinter group of it.
“I understand that Commander,” Hammond replied. “In fact the couple of operations that we have caught them at have been relatively low cost, using found or captured equipment that was supposed to be in storage, or hijacking existing equipment.”
“Then how could they be responsible for our funding? I mean the Stargate program obviously has better funding than us, but probably not by much.”
“What all do you have, besides the moon base?” O’Neill asked.
“I’m not sure I can answer that, gentlemen,” Straker replied, wondering if he was going have to have Dr. Jackson prepare a couple of amnesia shots.
Hammond reached into his briefcase and pulled out a sheet of paper and passed it to Straker. A quick read and Straker knew he wasn’t going to have any shots prepared. It was a document from the President and the Prime Minister. It said that he was to cooperate fully with General Hammond and his aids. He was retained him in command of SHADO for now, but he and all of his personal were going to be investigated to see were their true loyalties lay, SHADO, or with person or persons unknown.
“Person or persons unknown?” Staker asked in a hostile voice. “I won’t stand for a witch hunt gentlemen. My people are here fighting a war with an alien race that has been harvesting humans for the last fifteen years. We’ve bled for that fight. This whole conspiracy theory you’ve floated is ridiculous.” Getting a grip on his temper, he went on more calmly. “Besides the moon base and the interceptors you know about, we have a satellite in orbit that acts as a detector and coordinator for our interception system. We have four submarine carriers that patrol the oceans and a ground force for when a UFO gets through or it’s damaged and crashes. There is no way that kind of funding could be hid in a splinter group of a federal agency. We have to be a real black budget item.”
Hammond sighed, “We realize this Commander, and we have no desire to take part in a witch hunt either. We suspect that this rogue element in the NID has outside funding. We know that General Henderson was in bed with several multinational corporations, and we have traced funding for Harlend-Straker Studios to them.”
“That was just a cover, General Henderson and I pretended to retire so he could take over the International Space Agency, and I took over here.”
Jack smirked, “Ed, as far as the Pentagon is concerned, you retired ten years ago. They have you on the inactive reserve list.”
Straker tried to get a grip; it was impossible that he was working illegally all these years and never suspected it. That everything he built was someone’s plaything, the lives they’d touched, damaged, was not done with any sanction at all.
“My people believe they were operating with full sanction,” Staker began, he might be done, but he wasn’t going to let his people take the fall with him.
“Which is why we are using an outside specialist with a unique piece of equipment,” Hammond assured him.
“Who?” Straker asked.
“The Universe’s second most annoying alien,” O’Neill told him, clearly unhappy with this individual. O’Neill looked at his watch. “That should be long enough if someone is bolting.”
Hammond nodded and taking what looked like a cellphone off of his belt he pushed a button and asked, “Colonel Prendergast, did you pick anyone up?”
“Four General, we are tracking them now,” came the reply.
“Very well, go to Phase Two.”
“You were a distraction?” Straker snarled, he hated when people played games with him.
“Not entirely,” Hammond replied as he replaced the communication device. “I also wanted to get a read on you. Colonel O’Neill vouched for you, said he couldn’t imagine you in anything dishonest, but I needed to be sure. You passed, but you are still going under the Zartac detector, just to be sure.”
Seeing Staker’s confused look Jack took pity on him, “It’s a super lie detector. Actually it’s a device to detect programed assassins, but it works as a fool proof lie detector. I’ve been through it, not fun.”
Staker’s phone buzzed. Seeing it was Doctor Douglas Jackson, who would not call in the middle of meeting if it wasn’t important, Staker asked his guests to hold on and answered it. “Doctor Jackson, I’m in the middle of a meeting.”
“I know commander,” Jackson replied in an Eastern European accent. I think you and they might find something interesting down in my lab.”
Only because he knew and trusted the Dr. Jackson did Straker suggest they adjorn to his office. Arriving there they found Dr. Jackson, SHADO’s chief psychologist, and science officer waiting for them. “Through here gentlemen,” he said without preamble.
In his office were three people. Straker recognized them as two members of the cafeteria staff and file clerk. All were unconscious. “Doctor Jackson, what is the meaning of this?” Straker asked, clearly on his last nerve.
“These are the other agents of the Trust that were on staff at headquarters,” Jackson replied.
O’Neill looked at the SHADO scientist hard, “Others?” he asked.
“I was assigned to SHADO Control to make sure that no one got suspicious about where our funding came from, to allay concerns of the senior staff that what we were doing was necessary, and to report back to my control what was going on in and around SHADO, as the Chief Psychologist everyone told me everything, making it child’s play to keep track of things.”
“Why are you telling us this now?” Hammond asked.
“Because SHADO’s cover has been blown, when that happened, my orders were specific. I was to activate a self-destruct device that is concealed in the base. It would have flooded the facility with nerve gas and cause the reactors of Moonbase and all of the Skydivers to melt down, it also would have detonated an EMP device to insure all of SHADO’s computers were wiped.”
“Why didn’t you?” Hammond asked.
“Because I desire to live,” was the simple reply. He nodded to the unconscious agents in his office. “They knew I knew about Larry,” he nodded at a stocky brown-haired man who was lying face down on the floor. “My control and I both pretended I didn’t know about Steven,” he said about the black haired man sprawled on chairs in front of his desk. “They didn’t realize I knew about Cynthia, she was to kill me after I had activated the self-destruct. I saw the General and Colonel being escorted to you, and I realized I would be expected to fulfill my assignment. As I said I had no desire to die, so I quit. I have a good deal of information on the Trust that I would be more than happy to pass on to your interrogators in return for consideration when it is decided what to do with me. While I doubt you will get anything from me that will directly lead to a prosecution, it will give you numerous starting points.”
“What exactly is this Trust you mentioned,” Staker asked, sick that he had been played for the last ten years of his life.
“It is a consortium of multinational companies, which are hoping to use information gleaned from alien technology for their own profit. They state that they are doing it for the betterment of mankind, but that is just window dressing, I believe anyway, I never met any of the leaders.”
Straker turned to Hammond and said, “You mentioned a Zartac Detector?”