On earth, in the SGC conference room, a few weeks after the Luxian kamikaze attack that destroyed the ancient control chair.
Colonel Mitchell was seriously bored. Leading SG1 had become unchallenging. Big changes had happened during the last years within his team as well as within the SGC, mostly under the influence of the IOA.
First, Carter had been sent to lead the Atlantis expedition in the Pegasus galaxy. A well deserved promotion even if it brought whispers and sideway glances inside the SGC. Not that the Colonel was giving much credit to this kind of gossip.
Then, Teal’c’s left Earth as well, called back amongst his people. In fact, with the almost extinction of the Goa’uld and the end of the war against the Ori’s disciples ; the Jaffa Council honored the former Prim of Apophis with a position a the head of diplomatic relationships with human worlds. Well, that was the official version of it, reality was the Council manipulated Teal’c and his sense of duty into taking the job. Apparently, some crucial negotiation for the economic survival of the Jaffas in the Galaxy failed because of their condescending attitude toward humans. If Mitchell was still disappointed about having to let go of his friend and colleague, he had to confess that having Teal’c has a contact simplified and empowered Earth/Jaffa relationships. Generals Landry and O’neill would very likely agree.
A little after that, Daniel and Vala had been appointed to act as liaisons between Earth and the newly formed government of the Ori galaxy. Anyways, Daniel had been more and more called on various consultations everywhere and notably on Atlantis, which was disturbing SG1’s schedule more than often.
Mitchell’s friends and colleagues had been replaced by very capable men but no one would compete with the old SG1… In addition, exploration missions were fewer and fewer being overtaken by diplomatic and/or protocolar missions thanks to the IOA and its dumb policies, as if stopping exploring could prevent the rise of new or old ennemis…
When Carter came back from Atlantis, she did not come back to SG1. After leading for a while the SGC scientific team which learnt a lot from her expertise of alien technologies, she took the commandement of one of the new F303 : the General Hammond.
After Atlantis’ arrival on Earth, there were talks about fusing SG1 with Colonel Sheppard's team but Ronon and Teila weren’t allowed to. Officially, they couldn’t represent Earth in the Galaxy since they weren’t from it.Truth be told, integrating more “non earthlings” to the SGC’s team would put the Air Force in a position where it couldn’t refuse personnel from other nations. Sheppard choose to stay on Atlantis, today anchored on the moon, McKay too ; Mitchell wasn’t so sorry about that last one.
-“Colonel Mitchell? Colonel Mitchell are you with us?” asked Landry
-“Yes, Sir. Sorry Sir” answered Mitchell straightening but not hiding in any way that he hadn’t paid any attention to the briefing.
-“Colonel, if you aren’t feeling well, I can have you replaced on that mission” said General Landry faking concern.
-“No General” said Mitchell not without irony “Of course not, what do we have today? A diplomatic escort to a Jaffa planet? Astronomic observation? A Commemoration of the end of the Goa’uld oppression? I love it when they do that, all those colors, those songs and most of all those little …”
-“Enough Colonel!” cut Landry firmly even if he was pretty amused, “in agreement with the President and the IOA, General O’neill decided to modify the way we operate”
-“Really?” said Mitchell interested
-“Indeed Colonel” answered Landry “SG teams are from now on reduced at a number of 10.”
As Mitchell's face was falling, General Landry continued before the officer could object
-“NEVERTHELESS, 5 new teams will be created and whereas those new teams will operate from the SGC and therefore under my command, they will follow a schedule prompted by the IOA to which they will directly address their reports”
-“But Sir” began Mitchell
-“THE NEW TEAMS” Landry went on “composed of civilians from all the countries knowing about the Stargate will be shadowed by former SG team 11 to 15 during the upcoming months for security reasons. They will be in charge of protocolar missions leaving remaining SG teams all latitudes for exploratory missions and fight against all ennemis potential or already known”
Mitchell stood up before the General could finish his sentence
-“Sir, that’s… a really good news” said Mitchell sitting again now aware of his mistake.
-“SG1” said the General with a side smile, “you will leave tomorrow at 800 hours for P5X676, planet until now completely unknown to us.”
Mitchell made a fist in victory.
Colonel Mitchell was in a good mood. A real exploration mission! At last! But it wasn’t a reason to lower his focus, not at all. In the locker room he was mentally reviewing the skills and personas of his men.
Dr Simmons, recognized botanist and ethnobotanist spent years studying ecosystem of the Alpha site. With an impeccable record, he was offered to choose his next affectation. To everybody’s surprise, he asked to join an explorative team. Fairly athletic and gifted with good reflexes for a scientist, and civilian with that, Mitchell suspected he was looking for adventure after years bunkered up in a lab. So far, he probably had been disappointed.
Major Davidson was a pure product of special forces. His past affectations were for the most classified. He was an excellent shot, tackled strong and disparead if needed. The sullen looks and taciturn attitude of the bulked man gained him a mediocre reputation but when it came to having his back, Mitchell was pretty happy to dispose of such a force a nature. He even nicknamed him “the asian Teal’c” in one of his reports in an attempt to distract himself from the boredom of their missions. He stopped when he was informed that the good administrative agents of the IOA weren’t responding positively to his sense of humor.
Globally he had nothing bad to say about his team, but it never had to face critical situations. Which is probably why he was a little worried about Lieutenant River. Trained by the SGC, he had shown the qualities of a good operative in training and was a good enough linguist ; however, SG1 was his first affectation (string-pulling could really get you anywhere) and so far he had mostly dealt with diplomatic missions, which he seemed to enjoy.
The Colonel entered the Gateroom, the Stargate was already activated and the other members of SG1 were waiting for him to cross. He casually went up the ramp, holding his P90 under his right arm, putting on his sunglasses with the left one and said :
-“Kids, the MALP indicates a sunny clearing in the middle of a wonderful looking forest. Take your insect repellant, buckle up and let’s go!”
He crossed. Davidson followed almost immediately. Simmons and River exchanged a look before going as well. If any of them were entertained by the officer’s attitude none showed any sign of it.
Exiting the Gate, Mitchell stopped for a second to do a visual recon of the site : on the left he spotted a DHD which would allow them to dial home as well as the MALP that had been sent to verify the viability of the planet. On the right was standing some sort of altar made of old branches and rocks which testified of human presence ; it seemed to have remained untended for quite some time. Mitchell thought with a smile that Daniel would probably have been amazed by it.
Davidson, River and Simmons arrived.
-“Well” said Mitchell “there seems to be some sort of path across the forest in front of us, we are here to explore so explore away!”
SG1 started its journey. After 5 minutes, River broke the silence.
-“Colonel, it looks like no one has been here for years”
-“You couldn’t be more wrong” answered Simmons “I can assure you that if no one had come through this trail in the last months, the vegetation would have reclaim much more of it”.
Before Mitchell could finish his sentence, a group of armed men were circling them.
-“...focussed” he finished aiming his gun to the nearest man.
His men did the same. Mitchell was struck by the diversity of their outfits : some were dressed as most of the villager of the galaxy and other were clothed as they were from some industrialized world, unusual. Their weapons were mostly Goa’uld but not all of them.
-“Lower your weapons” yelled a big serious looking guy with dark hair.
-“We are peaceful explorers” tried River “we are here to get to know you better and eventually create an alliance”.
-“After making sure you rule for the ‘good guys’” said Davidson between his teeth “Sir” he added “I can take the one on the right”.
-“Silence” yelled the big guy “Who are you and how did you get the coordinates of this planet?”
-“I’m Colonel Mitchell” answered the leader of SG1 “this is Dr Simmons, Major Davidson and Lieutenant River. We come in peace for Earth”.
At his word, some murmurs were heard in the crowd.
-“And to prove it to you” continued Mitchell “we ARE gonna lower our weapons”.
Mitchell detached his gun and put it on the floor, with a glare he ordered his team to do the same. Davidson wasn’t happy about it but did anyway.
-“Take their weapons and take them to camp” ordered the big guy.
After half an hour of strong walking, they made their way to a camp of around 20 tent. Men were practicing hand to hand combat.The absence of tattoos signified it probably wasn’t Jaffas.
The big guy ordered to put SG1 in an empty tent and before Mitchell could protest he added :
“Watch them, Afron will want to interrogate them himself.”
SG1 waited. Davidson tried to convince Mitchel that an escape by force was the best way to go. The colonel listened and set up a plan just in case but he wanted to hear what this ‘Afron’ had to say.
Davidson had been quiet for about 10 minutes, waiting and ready to act in an instant. Mitchell was entertaining himself by cutting pieces of grass from the ground listening to Simmons explaining to River how fascinating it was to find ecosystems similar to Earth’s on other planets.
Suddenly, a man in his sixties entered the tent.
-“You must be Afron” started Mitchell
-“It is true” answered the man
-“Listen” Mitchell went on “I am..”
-“I know who you claim to be” cut Afron “and if you are indeed Cameron Mitchell of SG1 I can only congratulate and thank you for your victories against the enemies of this galaxy.”
Mitchell was stunned, surprised that this man would know his first name.
-“Afron” said the big guy that was was watching over form outside the tent “they may wear Earth uniforms but according to our intell, the Tau’ri stopped their exploration missions. It can only mean one thing : they are spies, we have to eliminate them and abandon this position.”
-“Calm down Iphor, we won’t kill anyone right now” answered Afron “our compagnons contacted one of our friends who will be able to confirm on infirm their claims. In the meantime we will share our dinner with them.” To counter any protestation he added “If they are our enemies, we will be able to execute them later, even with a full stomach.”
Dinner was small. River tried to engage in conversation with the one called Iphor but the big guy left rather than answer.
Mitchell noticed that beside their apparent hospitality, all of the men and women present were keeping a weapon nearby as if they were used to alway be on their guard.
Once the meal finished, SG1 was lead back to their tent.
-“Sir, we need to take advantage of the dark to escape” started Davidson
-“Well” said River “as you saw they are very sympathique people and…”
-“They are keeping us prisoners!” exclaimed Davidson
-“They don’t seem that bad” interrupted Simmons “from what I could understand it’s a group that frequently changes planets, probably to find food.”
-“They are running away from something” said Mitchell “they seem organised even if their clothing suggests they are from different planets. It’s suspicious and, as harmless as they try to appear, I don’t want to see their reaction if their ‘friend’ doesn’t like our faces in the morning.”
They waited to be sure everybody was asleep, then Davidson cut an opening through the back of the tent with a knife : apparently whoever searched him neglected his boots. They crawled to a nearby tent and Davidson did the same to it, having spotted at dinner that their gear was stored there. Then they ran in the forest towards the Stargate.
They reached it early morning but Iphor and Afron were already there and the gate was activating. SG1 stayed covert, weapons up.
“Welcome Xadran” said Afron
He was speaking to a tall dark haired man wearing a dark blue uniform. In a flash, SG1 was surrounding the 3 men aiming their P90 on them. After a short moment of surprise, the new guy said :
-“You are indeed Colonel Mitchell member of SG1.”
-“And you” answered Mitchell “are Xadran, member of the Lucian alliance!”
While Iphor and Davidson were in a eying contest, Afron started speaking :
-“Please calm down, you are amongst friends”
-“Friends!” blurted Simmons with uncaracteritisc rage “that man represents a group of terrorists at war against our world. Some of my former colleagues suffered from their last attack!”
Simmons was well disposed to hit Xadran in the face when the gate started activating again.
-“You’ve been followed!” said Iphor to Xadran
-“I…” Xadran mumbled visibly worried.
-“We will settle this later Colonel Mitchell, for now we need to hide” pressed Afron.
Mitchell signaled SG1 who lead the 3 men to cover still pointing their guns at them.
5 men and a women wearing the same uniform as Xadran went through the gate.
-“Find the camp. Don’t take prisoners but don’t touch the traitor Xadran, he is mine!” ordered the woman.
Once they were out of sight Mitchell spoke :
-“What the hell is going on?”
-“I command a contingent within the Resistance Against the Lucian Alliance” answered Afron “and Xadran here is one of our undercover agents. Or rather was”
SG1, Afron, Iphor et Xadran arrived at the camp just a few minutes after the lucian team. The battle was already at its peak. Resistance members were were far more numerous but also caught by surprise.
Mitchell ordered for the camp to be circled. Davidson, hidden behind one of the tents caught a lucian man from behind and squeezed his neck until he fell down. Iphor, not very far from there confiscated an other one’s weapon, they immediatly began fighting. Iphor won the fight under a few minutes. After a brief glare towards Davidson, he joined him along side Mitchell who just shot a lucian in the leg and knocked him out with the handle of his gun. Then, an other enemy tackled him from behind. Both men fell on the ground. Iphor picked up a machete and Davidson a Zat’. They reach their target at the same time.
In the meantime, Simmons had inspected the camp. Mitchell asked :
-“Where are we?”
-“It seems that we got there on time” answered the scientist “there are however at least a dozen of injured.”
Someone appeared from behind a bush, Mitchell aimed his gun before recognising River, dirty, short of breath and his leg hurt. Simmons rushed to support him.
-“Where are Afron and Xadran?” asked Iphor
At those words, Mitchell, Davidson and Iphor began running toward the other end of camp. A bit further, Afron was lying face on the ground and Xadran was cornered against a tree by the lucian woman :
-“Traitor” she screamed hitting him.
Before SG1 could intervene Iphor launched himself at her
SG1, Xadran and Iphor are in front of the Stargate
-“What now?” asked River
-“We will leave, that position is lost for us” answered Xadran
-“Can we offer you shelter?” asked Mitchell waving at the gate
Afron appeared. He looked tired, his face was covered in bruises and he had one arm in a sling:
-“Thank you Colonel but we have friends that will welcome us.”
-“We could be your friends” River went on trying not to put weight on his right leg.
-“Maybe” said Afron “but our leaders will have to decide of that”.
-“How many are you anyway?” asked Mitchell who didn’t expect this group to be big enough to have “leaders”
Afron avoided the question with a smile and waved at the MALP saying :
-“We know your gate is protected, but this device will also us to communicate without crossing, right?”
-“Yes, I will show you” said Simmons leading Xadran towards the MALP.
-“Then ours will contact Earth that way if they deem it appropriate” said Afron
-“Well then, we will be waiting for your call” said Mitchell miming a phone to a doubtful Iphor. “River, dial Earth” asked Mitchell who was very intrigued by this group who at first glance seemed powerless but who’s “leaders” seemed to be doing fine without the help of Earth.
The alarm is blaring in the SGC, a feminine voice says mechanically “unauthorized activation of the Stargate”
-“Well?” asked Landry
-“General it’s SG1” answered Harriman
-“Open the iris” ordered Landry
He bend over to the microphone and said as soon as SG1 crossed the gate :
-“Colonel Mitchell, you are 12 hours late, what happened?”
While River was being taken cared of, Mitchell looked at Landry and said :
-“A first contact, General, business as usual!”
-“SG1 you are going in debrief in two hours!” said Landry
The General turned around and let his relief wash away without beeing seen.The break in exploration missions had at least the advantage of sparing his nerves…