Jack and the Beanstalk
A/N: Disclaimer, spoilers, notes on the minor AU issues, and relevant backstory points (from the first story in the series) are listed in chapter 1.
Jack O’Neill was having a weird dream. He knew it was a dream, because Danny was Ascended again, but hanging around being all cryptic, and dressed really weird like Oma Desala. Really like Oma Desala. Even wearing that stupid dress Oma pretended to wear when she wasn’t even solid. And Sam was wearing her hair really long, like one of the alternate universe Sams, with a lot of makeup, and acting flirty. And helpless. Which was completely not his Sam. And he was trying to climb a beanstalk to the stars, but the giant at the top of the beanstalk kept pouring oil down the stalk and yelling, “It’s canola oil! It’s good for you!” And the giant was Teal’c, only ‘Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman’ sized.
And then Danny was shaking a weird little bell and saying, “Wakey wakey!” And the bell just kept ringing.
Oh. It was the phone. He sat up in the bed and grabbed it off his nightstand. “O’Neill here.”
“Jack, it’s Hank Landry. Sorry to wake you up at this time of night, but I really need your help.”
Crap. He blinked a couple times and then made sure the phone was on ‘scramble’. “Okay, go.”
“We need to find out about a scrubbed project. The DRI. No idea what it stands for, but Hailey thinks the ‘I’ is for Initiative. Ran for about a year in Sunnydale, California.”
“You mean it got dropped into the Sunnydale Crater?” Jack asked.
“No, it got scrubbed three years before then,” Hank said. “Head researcher was Dr. Maggie Walsh. Deceased. Lead officer was Colonel MacNamara, also deceased.”
Jack quipped, “That’s a lotta ‘deceased’ there.”
Hank said, “They’re claiming a forty percent casualty rate. In one year. On American soil. Highest ranking survivor was one Riley Finn, now in Spec Ops. And it looks like it was NID, running covert with Army patsies out front.”
Jack growled. “Should’ve guessed. Still… forty percent? What the hell were they doing? Even Maybourne couldn’t kill off forty percent of his men in one year.”
Hank said, “That’s just it. They scrubbed so thoroughly we can’t find anything. We can’t even find out what DRI stands for. And we have a small crisis thanks to Anise-”
Jack managed not to choke, even if Sam had given him a heads-up hours ago.
“-and it turns out the person she ran into – or vice versa – just happens to be mixed up with whatever happened to the DRI. So anything you can find out in the next eight to ten hours would help us a lot.”
Jack smiled a little. “And you’ll owe me.”
Hank said, “Jack, after all the crap you’ve pulled…”
Jack laughed and signed off.
He wasn’t laughing two hours later.
He had been ditched, lied to, dodged, stalled, and generally given the runaround on the DRI. It hadn’t been that hard to find out who to call. But he was Homeworld Security, and a freaking two-star general asking a question related to national defense. You weren’t supposed to say ‘kiss off’, or much ruder words to that effect, to Homeworld Security! Even some of the NID people he thought were semi-trustworthy couldn’t or wouldn’t talk about it. Okay, the NID tended to run rogue ops so far off the books that pretty much everyone else in the whole agency was in the dark.
He had even found Riley Finn’s current commanding officer, a two-star running out of Fort Bragg. And the fact that the guy was up at this hour meant someone had some Spec Ops forces running somewhere. Jack knew that without thinking about it. But said two-star stalled his butt off about Riley Finn, and Finn’s former assignments, and Finn’s current work.
The guy finally said, “Look O’Neill, I understand you’re DHS, and you’ve got a pretty wide purview, but this is outside that. I can’t tell you. I’m not supposed to tell you, but on top of that, I mean I literally cannot tell you.”
“Oh, what, your head’ll explode if you talk to me about this?” Jack snarked. He was usually nicer to other two-stars who he was trying to get intel out of, but this guy was really getting irritating.
The guy just stopped talking. Now that was weird. And disturbing. For a couple reasons. Finally, the guy said, “You’ll have to go higher than me to find anything on this. And you won’t like what you find. If I could give you some advice, it would be: give up. Don’t try to find out anything else. But I know you won’t listen.”
So Jack had gone over to the top Pentagon brass, and chewed his way through the duty officers, and finally got through to some higher-ups who really didn’t like getting awakened in the middle of the night. And that had gone even less swell.
Which was why he was now on the phone to Ed Walton, the chief of staff for the President of the United States. And when you called the CoS for the POTUS in the middle of the night, you were really pushing your luck. The thing was that Jack was planning on retiring before long and he already had his papers ready to turn in, so there wasn’t a whole heck of a lot they could do to him. At most, they could refuse to give him that promotion to three-star as a parting gift when they finally got rid of him. Not that he needed the promotion, since all it would mean was a little more income every month, and even more annoying invitations to fancy events he already didn’t want to attend.
The other thing was that the POTUS knew who Jack was, and what Jack did, and why the SGC was the most important group in the entire Department of Defense.
Ed said, “Look Jack, it’s the middle of the night. This better be important.”
Jack frowned but said, “I wouldn’t call if it wasn’t important. I need to know about a joint NID / Army project called the DRI, headed by Colonel Robert MacNamara, deceased, and lead researcher Dr. Maggie Walsh, also deceased. Along with a whole truckload of other deceased from the project.”
Ed said, “The DRI? Want to tell me how you found out about a black ops project that’s been buried and scrubbed?”
Jack said, “It’s come up in connection with the SGC. You know the ‘visitors’ they have on occasion?”
Jack went on, “This is one of our friends, with General Jacob Carter’s current assignment.” That was enough to tell Ed what was going on. This might be a secure line, but that didn’t mean Jack needed to use words like Tok’ra out loud. “She used ‘advanced’ technology to leave the base, and she ran into someone outside our purview. Said someone has a connection to the DRI, and we need to know if that means he’s a threat, or an NID agent, or an NID agent who’s a threat, or maybe even someone who can keep his mouth shut.”
But Ed insisted, “Jack, I really can’t talk about the DRI. The best I can do is ask the Chief if he can talk to you about it.”
Wait! Was Ed talking about waking up the President in the middle of the night for this? How serious was this DRI stuff? Because this was sounding like SGC level material, and he couldn’t even think of what could be outside the SGC’s purview that would be that critical. The SGC had handled intragalactic menaces, intergalactic threats, and even a couple interdimensional invasions. What the hell was left?
Ed checked, “You’re in your office?”
“I am now,” Jack admitted. He’d started calling around at home while he got dressed, and he’d had one phone call in the car on his way in, but he was making all his secure calls from his office.
So Ed Walton hung up on him and had him sit on his hands for twenty minutes. And then the red phone rang. That meant the President was calling on a secure line kept separate from the regular telephone systems. That wasn’t good.
He answered, “Yes, Mister President?”
“Jack, Ed came and told me you’re pressing everybody and their mother about the DRI. And he said the causality was an SGC issue. I’m going to have to ask you to stand down on this.”
He insisted, “But sir-”
“No, Jack. The DRI has to remain Need To Know for some very important reasons. Just like we wouldn’t tell anyone on their side of the fence about the SGC. Some things have to remain compartmentalized. So I’m going to ask you to stop prying. Now what level is the SGC’s crisis?”
Jack admitted, “It’s still level blue.”
The President made a snorting noise. “All right. If your problem moves up above level yellow, you can call me back directly and explain in detail. And if you really need to know what was behind the DRI, I’ll make sure you get a personal briefing from a trusted source. And let me tell you from personal experience, it will be a briefing that will make you regret you ever asked. I didn’t sleep well for a month after I was briefed. Good night, Jack.”
Jack stared at the phone in his hand. Christ. This mess really was just like trying to climb a giant beanstalk. While a giant poured canola oil on his head.
And now he needed to call Hank Landry and tell him what he hadn’t found out. Great.