B is for Betrayal
He had never wanted to be a leader.
But somehow Jonas Quinn had ended up as the leader of the Langaran Resistance so quickly after the Ori had invaded and become an occupational force that he still wasn't sure quite how it had happened. He still questioned the wisdom of it especially during missions like the one he was undertaking right that moment.
Jonas flattened himself against the wall of the old Kelownan building and peeked out, squinting in the twilight at the Langaran government facility across the square. The guards were minimal; the front door guarded by two Ori soldiers in full uniform with the strange staff weapons that they used. Just like their intelligence had confirmed. He checked his watch.
He was early. There was time before the plan went into motion; his insane plan to take back a piece of Langara. He raised his eyes to the grey sky, his fingers tightening around the gun he held. Sweat beaded under the wool of his black knit-hat and slid down his face. He ignored it, and the way his heart raced, the way worms wriggled in his gut making him nauseous. He moistened his mouth and kept his breathing shallow.
Jack O'Neill wouldn't be nervous, Jonas told himself briskly. Or Teal'c. Or Samantha Carter. He suspected even Daniel Jackson wouldn't feel as nervous as he felt right that minute. The civilian member of SG1 might have had more in common with Jonas than the others but Daniel was a seasoned soldier. They all faced battle with confidence; assurance. He would bet that they had never stood behind a wall questioning their strategy in the final moments before they executed it.
Or maybe they had. Jonas had served with SG1 for a whole year and he knew they weren't quite the fearless legends others would believe them to be. He'd seen them doubt themselves; question their actions and their results. He'd seen them strong and he'd seen them weak. But he just couldn't imagine the Colonel – and he tried to remember again that Jack was a General – sweating copiously about whether he had made the right decision, whether everything was going to come together and the things that had already been put in motion would bear fruit.
He couldn't picture it.
It was just that so much was riding on the outcome of the plan, so many lives, not to mention the future of Langara.
'No pressure then.' Jonas mumbled to himself. He closed his eyes briefly annoyed with his thoughts. He took a steadying breath.
He really wished SG1 was beside him. Or somewhere out there waiting to execute his plan with him or even better their plan because the best plans were always the ones that SG1 put together as a team. Sometimes he saw them like ghosts standing in the room with him or he would catch fleeting glances of them from the corner of his eye. He knew it was wishful thinking. Either that or he was going crazy.
Sometimes he had conversations with them in his head. He wasn't sure that was any saner than seeing them but it made him feel better. Mostly he talked with an imaginary Sam over some aspect of science that he was trying to figure out. Occasionally he'd have Daniel in his head when he was musing over some variant of language or philosophy. Teal'c usually showed up when he needed a pep talk; when he needed a soft 'indeed' to take away the worry. He mostly discussed strategy and leadership with the Jack in his head: he did that a lot lately.
He checked his watch again; checked the guards again. He leaned back against the wall, the brick rough even through the heavy black canvas of his clothes. The sky was darkening into purple; the air chilling. It cooled his heated skin; sharpened each intake of breath until his lungs ached. His feet encased in the heavy combat boots went numb with cold.
Jonas sighed. Jack had made leading look so effortless, like he breathed it, like it was something he was born to do. The gray-haired Colonel – General – would listen to them and to his own instincts, weigh up the risks and make the call. In the year he had spent on SG1, Jonas had learned a lot about leading from watching Jack; how Jack's outwardly tough exterior and his wisecracks hid a freakishly sharp mind that could build a strategy from nothing. How everything Jack did was underscored by the core of loyalty, duty and honour that drove him. He protected his team; would go to hell and back for them, and they would do the same for him. Jonas had nothing but respect for his former leader. There had been so many moments in the time since Langara had fallen to the Ori when Jonas had found himself simply wondering what Jack O'Neill would have done.
He knew one thing for certain: Jack would have fought for his planet against the Ori. All of SG1 had never bowed down to a False God.
'We have no choice, Jonas.' First Minister Dreylock said firmly. Her eyes gave away her fear. They'd been fighting for only a day and the reports of the losses were staggering. They were holding the Langaran Congress with difficulty. If it fell, they'd lose the Stargate and their control centre.
'There's always a choice,' Jonas replied passionately, 'if we give into the Ori, we're...'
'Protecting our people.' Dreylock interrupted.
'We're betraying them.' Jonas argued. He placed his hands flat on the polished table of the conference room and leaned forward. 'We're exchanging their freedom for a life of servitude; of obedience to False Gods. How is that protecting them?'
Dreylock flinched, paling under her carefully applied make-up that hid the shadows under her eyes and the white lines that criss-crossed at the corners of her mouth. 'They'll be alive.'
'Only if they submit to the will of the Ori.' Jonas shook his head fiercely in denial. He stabbed the table. 'This is wrong. I won't be a party to this.'
Her mouth had hardened. 'Then leave.'
Stealing away through the hidden passages under the Congress building; he had already been underground when the formal announcement had been made to the public.
Jonas checked the time.
Errold would have reached the secondary location, Jonas mused. His research assistant was a lingual and diplomatic genius. He reminded Jonas of himself when he had been young and filled with hopeful optimism. Errold had walked out on their government with Jonas; had been beside him ever since. Jonas sometimes worried that he'd filled the young man's head with too many stories of SG1 and saving the world but Errold had proven that he was more than capable and they definitely needed someone with his skills. Errold knew how to get their message to their people; how to make contacts; how to get what they needed, when they needed it.
It was Errold who sifted through the intelligence the Resistance cells gathered and who made the connections. It was Errold who had pieced together the information on the capture of the Orici by Earth; her disappearance since despite the Prior's reassurances that she was alive, and the growing discontent in the Ori soldiers. It was Errold who had declared that the time was ripe for making a statement.
Jonas had agreed, which was why he stood waiting in the cold and the dark with time on his hands and thinking too much about his days on SG1, about the plan, and about all those crazy enough to follow him.
His former research assistant had found him in his hiding place in the naquadria mines on the third day after the public capitulation to the Ori along with others who had heard of his nascent rebellion. He'd been shocked, Jonas recalled wryly. They had parted ways after everything that had happened with Anat, the Goa'uld that had possessed Kianna. The painful truth was that he had fallen in love with Anat not with Kianna; that it had been Anat who had fallen in love with him. His one and only conversation about it with Kianna before separating had been awkward, not least because Jonas felt some lingering guilt over his physical relationship with her. Kianna had told him there was nothing to forgive; that she knew he had believed her willing and consensual. But she hadn't met his eyes and she had requested reassignment.
It had been a surprise to see her and yet not. Anat had held Kianna's body and soul in servitude to her for over a year; Kianna had learned everything she had needed to know about being a slave; she had been unwilling to bow down before another False God.
It stunned Jonas how quickly they had moved past their history to work together against the Ori. As impossible as it had seemed they had become friends. Kianna was a good scientist and she had the benefit of the Goa'uld knowledge and abilities that her experience with Anat had left her with. She was brilliant. She had been responsible for putting together the technical solution that would make his plan work.
It would work, Jonas reassured himself.
He blew out a breath and watched the thin stream of white drift away into the night. He moved to loosen his stiff, cold muscles; to prepare. There wasn't much time left.
Commander Terra had set the explosives to detonate in synch with the assault on the Congress building and she had warned him that there could be no change to the timer once set. Jonas had to be ready. He sometimes wondered why Terra, the most senior officer of the Langaran forces left alive, hadn't pressed the issue of leadership. She was a pocket-sized powerhouse with dark auburn hair and flashing hazel eyes, and she knew how to fight and fight well. He'd seen her command her troops and they all followed her willingly. They would have followed her again in the wake of the execution of the senior officers and all other soldiers unprepared to fight for the Ori. Many had melted away into the shadows and joined the Resistance that day.
Terra's style was closer to Sam's than Jack's. If Kianna sometimes reminded him of Sam, his fellow scientist, Terra reminded him of Sam, the military leader who had taken him under her wing. Other times though, Terra reminded him of Teal'c; an accomplished warrior who had followed Jack because he believed he would gain freedom by doing so. It scared Jonas that Terra might see him the same way.
Errold; Kianna; Terra: his team.
They wouldn't let him down and Jonas wouldn't let them down regardless of whether he wanted to be a leader or not.
His watch hummed against his skin; a silent alarm for him to begin his approach. He slipped back into the shadows.
Jonas recognised the corridor he was being marched down. It led to the former office of the First Minister of Langara. He knew from their intelligence that it had been appropriated by Jereb Kal, the Ori overseer stationed on Langara. Three of the soldiers surrounded him. They had captured him within moments of his assault; the explosions they had planted for a distraction apparently not enough to mask his entry. Either that or they had been warned. He rather thought the latter given the way it had seemed that they had been waiting for him. Someone had betrayed them.
He glanced towards the Ori soldier on his left and the one on his right; another kept pace behind him. They were all masked by the helmets; all held their weapons securely. His own hands were restrained behind his back. His left cheek stung where he had been hit; his lip was bleeding. He figured there would be bruises on his arms and legs from where he had been tackled. He was quite proud of the fact that he hadn't made it easy for them. Terra had taught him a few new tricks to add to those he had learned from SG1.
They stopped by the large ornate door and the guard to his left rapped sharply on the gleaming polished wood. A call to enter came briskly from the other side.
Jonas held his breath as he entered. The room had changed. The portraits of the former dignitaries of Langaran history had been removed; the walls had been redecorated with gold wallpaper that brought back memories of Nirrti's boudoir. The carpet under his feet was plush red and his boots sank into it leaving an imprint behind.
The decor distracted him momentarily from the occupants but the Ori soldier behind him pushed him forward and Jonas forced himself to focus.
The Prior stood by the tall rectangular windows looking out into the night sky. His back was to Jonas but he wore brown monkish robes and carried the ubiquitous staff. He could see the hair was grey and he caught a distorted reflection in the glass of the mottled face. A shiver ran down Jonas's spine and his eyes moved hurriedly to the second occupant: former First Minister Dreylock sat on the uncomfortable looking gold sofa in the far corner.
She still held the title but she was little more than an administrative puppet for the Ori. Their eyes met and Dreylock jerked her gaze away quickly, her hands smoothing over the green skirt of her suit. He could see her fingers twisting nervously across the material.
There were two soldiers by the desk. One kept his attention on the plans they were reviewing but the other looked up, a tall man with blond hair and a sneering expression that reminded him a little of the ill-fated Herak, Anubis's First Prime. Jonas recognised him as Jereb; the Resistance had pretty much made it their mission to make his life hell. The other soldier he was unfamiliar with; a dark-haired bearded man with a serious face who seemed completely disinterested in Jonas.
Jonas halted in front of the desk and gave a small wave with his bound hands.
Jereb stalked around the desk and slapped him hard across the face.
Jonas rocked back. The violence wasn't unexpected but it hurt all the same. He saw Jereb raise his fist again and tensed waiting for the blow.
'Jereb.' The other soldier behind the desk declared quietly without looking up. His words had the ring of authority.
Jereb dropped his hand reluctantly. 'But, Commander Tomin...'
Jonas huffed out a breath. So the Commander of the Ori army was on Langara. He schooled his face to show none of his satisfaction.
Tomin finally raised his head to look at Jereb firmly and Jonas caught a glimpse of dark sombre eyes before they fell back to the plans. 'I thought you requested our presence to show us that you could contain the situation here not merely to beat up some Resistance fighter.'
Jereb nodded sharply. He glared at Jonas with outright hatred. 'You are Quinn.' His expression gave away that he couldn't believe that Jonas was the head of the Resistance movement.
Jonas smiled, ignoring the twinge when his lip protected. He didn't speak, preferring to neither confirm nor deny who he was.
'Not talking?' Jereb turned briskly to Dreylock. 'Is this him?'
Dreylock looked almost panicked. Her eyes flew to Jonas's apologetically before they dropped away again. Her voice was little more than a whisper when she spoke. 'I'm not sure.'
He had changed so it wasn't unreasonable that Dreylock didn't recognise him, Jonas considered sadly. He'd lost weight; food was scarce. He was whipcord lean; bone covered by mostly muscle as he trained every day with Terra. He'd cut his hair; shaved it close to the skull. It was easier to maintain.
'You're not sure.' Jereb said mockingly. His lips curved upward in a cruel smile as he stepped up to Jonas. 'Did you really think you could take this building? That we wouldn't know of your plan to acquire the Stargate?' He stepped closer to Jonas. 'You're a fool.'
Jonas held his tongue. Antagonising captors had been Jack's schtick not his.
'We know all about it.' Jereb continued, seemingly happy to gloat without input from Jonas. His pale eyes glittered. 'We know every detail of your attack and we have sent the Stargate away to safety.'
Jonas averted his eyes; stared at the floor. Terra had been right; they had moved the Stargate.
'Your people aren't as loyal as you think.' Jereb circled Jonas slowly. 'Which do you think betrayed you? Your loyal assistant? The woman who was once a Goa'uld? Or the soldier?'
Jonas refused to rise to the bait. He couldn't let Jereb's accusations of betrayal burrow under his skin and poison him. He knew his team. None of them would betray him. They were all committed to their cause. He looked over at Tomin who watched him carefully with serious dark eyes.
Jereb smirked. 'Or was it someone else? Maybe you'll never know who it was that gave you away.'
The door burst open behind them and a running Ori soldier stormed in, stumbling into a salute as he came to a stop.
'What is the meaning of this?' Jereb shouted. 'I'm in the middle of interrogating the prisoner.'
Jonas raised his bound hands and raised his eyebrows. 'Don't mind me.'
'Sir, this report came in from the transport unit; it was marked urgent.' The soldier cast a look in Jonas's direction before showing Jereb a slim column of paper.
Tomin stretched out his hand before Jereb could react and Jereb nodded at the soldier to hand it over. The soldier bowed.
'Dismissed.' Tomin said softly.
Jonas watched as the soldier bowed sharply and left immediately. The large doors closed with a dull ominous thud.
Jereb watched impatiently as his superior read the report. 'Sir?'
Tomin folded the paper and placed it on the desk. He looked from Jonas to Jereb and back.
'The Resistance has taken the Stargate.' Tomin reported.
Jereb's face went red. Then white. And back to red. 'Impossible!' He snatched up the report and read it for himself. His jaw dropped open and he snapped it shut again. 'Commander, we took every precaution, every...'
'You were betrayed.' It was the Prior who spoke.
Jereb rounded on Jonas. 'Where's my Stargate?'
Jonas lifted his lips in a facsimile of a smile. 'It's not your Stargate.' The taunt had Jereb taking a step toward him.
'The Stargate is of no matter.' The Prior turned away from the window and faced them. 'It has been rendered inert by the will of the Ori.'
'Then my plan has still succeeded.' Jereb claimed pompously. 'We have the Resistance leader and once we execute him the Resistance itself will die.'
'Leave us.' The Prior said.
'Prior...' Jereb began to protest even as the three guards who had escorted Jonas filed out and Dreylock stood.
'Do not make me repeat myself.' The Prior stated coldly.
Jereb paled and bowed. He shot Jonas another dirty look before he left.
Dreylock cast another worried look towards Jonas before she too scurried from the room.
Jonas was alone in the room with the Prior and Tomin, who evidently believed the instruction didn't apply to him.
The Prior gestured out to the view beyond the window. 'This planet has potential.'
'You mean you find our naquadria interesting.' Jonas countered. He was mildly surprised when no-one protested at him speaking.
'It is unusual.' The Prior conceded. He stared at Jonas emotionlessly and Jonas felt his skin crawl under the inhuman gaze. 'You are the expert on the naquadria.'
Jonas pursued his lips and didn't respond.
The Prior walked away from the window towards him. 'I know all about you, Jonas Quinn.' He began to circle him slowly. 'I know all about how you betrayed your planet and ran to Earth. How you have betrayed them again by turning away from the Ori and encouraging others on this path of non-belief.'
'I haven't betrayed my people.' Jonas stated firmly. He looked at Tomin instead of the Prior. 'I've protected them from accepting False Gods who would promise them nothing but lies.'
'Foolhardy are those who do not follow the path.' The Prior intoned soullessly.
Jonas raised an eyebrow in a fair imitation of his Jaffa friend. 'Truth is the beginning of the path.'
The Prior stopped and glared at him furiously. 'You dare quote the Book of Origin?' He stamped his staff down on the carpet. 'To me?' he pointed his staff at Jonas. 'I could erase this entire planet with but one word.'
'But you won't.' Jonas said confidently. 'The naquadria explosion that would result might tear this planet apart but it would take out the whole solar system with it including any Ori ships.' He grinned. 'By the way, how's the Orici these days?' Maybe Jack had a point about antagonising his captors; it was fun. Kind of.
The Prior's hand tightened on his staff and Jonas held his breath but the blue crystal didn't glow. The anti-Prior device that Sam had given them and which Kianna had added an amplifier to before hiding it in the ventilation system of the building must be working, Jonas thought with relief.
Evidently, the Prior was beginning to realise his powers were defunct. He lowered his staff back to its vertical position and his eyes briefly flickered towards Tomin as though to assess whether the soldier had realised the Prior's sudden impotence. 'I am done here.'
'Yes, you are.' Jonas agreed cheerfully.
The Prior scowled at him before turning to Tomin. 'I will return to the ship. Kill him.'
Tomin frowned. 'Prior, there is still intelligence that we can obtain from him and to kill him will simply make him a martyr.'
'Tomin!' The Prior growled. 'I grow weary of your questioning my orders! Question him and tell his people he was nothing more than a simple Resistance fighter of no import! His death is the will of the Ori!'
Tomin waited a beat before he lowered his gaze. 'Hallowed are the Ori.'
The Prior swept out. The doors banged shut behind him.
'Alone at last.' Jonas said quietly into the tense silence.
Tomin walked around the desk and stood in front of him. His gaze narrowed in on Jonas. 'You planned this.'
'Yes.' Jonas agreed, unsurprised the other man had worked out his plan.
'You knew Jereb's arrogance would cause him to be overconfident that he knew everything, that he would send the Stargate away.' There was a hint of admiration. 'And you knew he would not be able to resist capturing you.'
'I have a friend who loves fishing.' Jonas explained lightly. 'He always says you just have to use the right bait.'
Tomin gave a sad smile. 'Was gaining the Stargate worth your life?'
Jonas lifted a shoulder. 'It's not just the Stargate that we wanted.' His eyes met Tomin's. 'I wanted to talk with you.'
Surprise flared in the dark depths. Tomin's nostrils flared. 'Talk?'
'Just talk.' Jonas agreed. 'I knew Jereb would invite you to the party. He would never miss the opportunity to show off.'
'You've wasted your time.' Tomin said stiffly.
'Have I?' Jonas wondered. 'My sources say that you're questioning the Prior.' He waved with his tied hands towards the door. 'I've seen it myself.' He paused. 'There are rumours of disagreement over scripture especially since the disappearance of the Orici.'
'I am faithful to the Book of Origin.' Tomin's lips set in a stubborn line.
'I can see why.' Jonas said.
'You've read the Book.' Tomin said with surprise.
Jonas nodded. 'It's a good book. Very similar to other religious texts I've read.' He wet his lips. 'I know it doesn't say anything about massacring those who do not believe.'
Tomin's eyes fell to the floor and he sat on the edge of his desk, folding his arms over the top of his armour. 'You sound like my wife.'
'You mean Vala?' Jonas questioned.
Tomin's head snapped around sharply. 'You know her?'
Jonas gestured with his head at his top pocket.
Tomin slowly reached forward and extracted the contents: a single photo with the current formation of SG1, Jack and Jonas. It had been taken on Jonas's last visit to Earth just before Langara had fallen. Tomin's fingers gently traced over Vala's features.
'I have no picture of her.' Tomin said.
'I only met her once.' Jonas admitted. 'But I think she had a point; what true God requires worship through force? Through death and destruction?'
Tomin gestured at him with the photo. 'You're asking me to betray my Gods!'
'You're not betraying them!' Jonas argued back defiantly. 'They're not Gods. You would be betraying nobody.'
Tomin looked back down at the photo; his face white with tension.
'Aren't you betraying yourself in continuing the lie?' Jonas continued softly. 'I know something about that. I once believed in my government; I once believed in my work so much so that I was willing to lie and let a good man who had saved my life and many others die with his name and reputation ruined so that the work could continue because it was important to the government's safety.'
He could tell that he had Tomin's attention and ploughed on. 'But then someone talked to me and made me realise that I had to tell the truth, and when I did I saw the truth that my government was more interested in killing than defending itself; that they didn't care about the good man who would die even though he had saved us all. I did the right thing and told the truth and isn't that the point?' Jonas took another breath. 'The Book isn't wrong: truth is the beginning of the path.'
There was a long silence and Jonas held his tongue.
'Even if you...you are right, the Prior would know.' Tomin shook his head. 'There is nothing I can do.'
Jonas made a face but nodded understandingly.
Tomin moved off the desk and he made to give Jonas the photo back.
'Keep it.' Jonas offered. He had others that he had rescued from his office before he had left.
Tomin held it to his chest and gestured at him. 'I can't help you escape from here but I won't kill you.'
Jonas smiled a wry acknowledgement.
'Guards.' Tomin called out as he slipped the photo into his armour.
The doors opened and Jereb walked in with two other soldiers wearing full armour including their helmets.
'Transport him to the prison.' Tomin ordered. 'The Prior says he's not Quinn.'
Jonas almost laughed at Jereb's outrage.
'But, sir!' Jereb protested.
'We don't need a martyr.' Tomin said firmly. 'We can execute him in good time but as far as everyone is concerned this is not the leader of the Resistance.' He stepped up to Jereb. 'Do I make myself clear?'
'Yes, sir.' Jereb straightened.
Tomin held his gaze; his eyes hard and his face stern. 'Good because if I hear that this prisoner has been executed before I personally give the order, you will be summarily executed.'
Jereb swallowed hard and Jonas saw the edge of ruthlessness in Tomin that had made him the leader of the Ori army.
'Hallowed are the Ori.' Tomin said politely stepping back from Jereb.
'Hallowed are the Ori.' Jereb intoned faithfully. Jereb nodded briskly at the two soldiers and they stepped either side of Jonas. One of them touched his elbow and he allowed himself to be pulled away. His last view of Tomin was the Ori commander bent over the plans as he had been when Jonas had originally entered.
The guards followed Jereb through the corridors towards the back staircase. At the top, Jereb paused, holding his hand up so the guards came to a halt. He looked at Jonas and down the concrete steps. He smiled suddenly.
Jonas felt his heart begin to pound with concern, reading the other man's intention to throw him down the stairs. 'You're really going to risk it?'
Jereb's smile widened. 'Accidents happen.'
'Sir.' The young guard piped up nervously on the left of Jonas, drawing both of their attention. 'Our orders were to transport the prisoner.'
Jonas held back a breath as he recognised the voice as Errold.
Jereb glared at the soldier. 'You are my soldiers. Loyal to me.'
'Actually, no,' said the soldier on the right, revealing herself to be a woman. 'We're loyal to Jonas.'
Jereb spun around, his hand reaching for his weapon but it was too late. Terra shot him point blank with an Ori staff weapon. Jereb's chest armour took most of the blow but it sent him reeling backwards, teetering on the edge of the staircase before he fell down it, bouncing from one step to another until his head slammed into the far wall of the landing with a loud crack.
Jonas didn't wait. He skipped down the steps and crouched over Jereb. The Ori soldier's eyes were wide open and sightless; dead. He sighed.
'We can't afford to leave him here.' Terra said quietly as the others arrived by his side.
Jonas stood up. 'You have Kianna's zat?' It was one of the few Anat had left behind.
Errold handed it over. Jonas took it and opened it. His jaw set as he fired into Jereb three times. The body disintegrated. He had berated Tomin for massacring innocents but he had killed many Ori soldiers in the skirmishes between the Resistance and the Ori soldiers. It left him as it always did with a hollow feeling in his gut. He turned angrily to glare at his team-mates.
'What are you doing here?' he demanded. 'You're supposed to be with the Stargate.'
'Beta team is with the Stargate.' Terra replied defiantly. 'You didn't think we'd leave you behind, did you?'
Jonas had no reply; the urge to yell competed with the more pressing urge to get them all to safety. He pulled a face. 'We should move.'
Terra nodded. 'Ring rooms; Kianna is waiting for us.'
They walked through the building swiftly, keeping the pretence of Jonas being their prisoner, until they came to the ring room. Terra stunned the guards there with the zat before they could even question their presence.
Terra raised the communicators Kianna had devised. 'Kianna, we're in position.'
'So am I.' Kianna responded. 'Activating rings now.'
The rings dropped down and a white light filled Jonas's vision. When it cleared, they no longer stood in the ring room but rather the hold of a Goa'uld cargo ship. It had been Anat's; Kianna had remembered its existence three months before and they had discovered it cloaked in a field on the outskirts of the city.
'We're cloaked,' Kianna called over her shoulder, 'but we should leave.'
'Go!' Jonas ordered.
Errold reached for his hands to untie him and Jonas stood patiently while his bonds were cut. He massaged his sore wrists.
'They did quite a number on you.' Terra noted. She had taken off the helmet to reveal her heart-shaped freckled face. She tsked briskly as she examined his wounds. 'You should never have gone in alone.'
Jonas sighed; it was an old argument. 'Casualties?'
'Maisie and Todd.' Errold informed him. 'They were both shot in the ambush for the Stargate convoy.'
The loss of their friends had them all take a moment of remembrance; of grief. Jonas closed his eyes. Had it been worth it? Had his plan been worth the loss of life? He opened his eyes again. 'And the Stargate?'
Errold ran a hand through the shock of blond curly hair that he had released from the Ori helmet. 'In transit to the new base, Jonas.' He clapped Jonas hard on the shoulder and Jonas winced. 'We did it!'
'Let's not get too excited.' Jonas cautioned, even as a glow of satisfaction loosened the knot in his stomach. 'We still have to get it to work.'
'We'll get the Stargate to work.' Errold said optimistically. He grinned. 'We can do anything.'
Kianna shot an amused look over her shoulder at their youngest member. Terra rolled her eyes. Jonas finally let out a quiet breath; tiredness swamping him in the wake of their escape and the end of the mission. He couldn't wait to climb into a bed and sleep.
They had achieved their goals: they had taken back the Stargate and they had talked with Tomin. And, even if it hadn't been in his plan, his team had saved him.
It had taken them five days and Kianna working almost non-stop before the liberated Stargate and the DHD would work. It was another time her Goa'uld knowledge had come in useful and he could see the stress of remembering in her eyes as she nodded at him. He wondered how many more times they would need her knowledge and she would give it before she broke.
He stared up at the silver Stargate with its etched symbols and amber chevrons. It was a symbol for them; a hope that they would make it through the occupation of the Ori forces. He glanced around. The military missile base was on the outskirts of the city and long abandoned. Terra had known of its existence. They were deep underground; the upper levels had been left in disarray to continue the deception that it was disused, but the Resistance had made the lower levels their new home. The Stargate resided on the lowest level, lowered through a missile silo funnel by a winch attached to the cargo ship. Their surroundings were austere; grey and concrete but it felt like home to Jonas.
Jonas was just pleased that their activity in getting the Stargate into place had gone unnoticed with the furore that had happened in the city following his seeming disappearance from the Congress building along with Jereb. There were rumours of miracles and magic in the general populace, and Errold was keeping it going. The tide was turning against the Ori.
'When you're ready, Jonas.' Kianna prompted as she took her place beside him.
The rest of the gate room – the few guards they had posted including Terra, a couple of other scientists and engineers Kianna had working with her, and Errold looked at him expectantly.
For a second, he froze. What if it didn't work? What if they could never make it work? He glanced at Kianna who looked back at him encouragingly. She'd keep working until it worked; just like Sam.
He took a deep breath and pressed down on the first symbol. He watched the Stargate light up in response. He held his breath through the rest of the Earth address that was so familiar to him. The wormhole erupted violently before it settled into a rippling blue puddle. A cheer went up from the assembled group and Jonas placed a hand on Kianna's shoulder.
'Good job.' He said sincerely.
She flushed with pleasure and handed him a communicator. From the corner of his eye, he saw Errold hug her and Terra sling an arm around her.
Jonas pressed down on the send. 'Stargate Command, this is Langara. Security code Alpha-Omega-Tango-Four.'
There was a long pause and Jonas could feel everyone holding their breath as they waited.
The speaker crackled. 'This is Stargate Command, Langara.' A woman's voice flowed out and the room broke out into a babble of noise again. 'We're happy to hear from you.'
'Sam, is that you?' Jonas radioed as Terra whistled to regain silence.
'It's me, Jonas.' Sam sounded choked up. 'We thought...it's just good to hear your voice.'
'I know the feeling.' Jonas said with a huff of laughter.
'Do you have the safety word?' Sam asked.
Jonas raised his eyebrows, his lips twitching. 'Cake.'
'Mister Quinn, this is General Landry.' The gruff overtone of the SGC commander sounded out into the room.
'General, sir.' Jonas said politely, conjuring up the picture of the portly man with his brush of brown spiky hair and piercing eyes that went with the voice. 'On behalf of the Langaran Resistance and as a former ally, I'd like to formally request your help.'
'What do you need, son?' Landry asked.
'Supplies. Food, medicine, weapons.' Jonas said. 'As much as you can spare.'
'We'll send a MALP and a team through shortly.' Landry said.
'Understood.' Jonas said.
'SGC, out.' Landry replied quickly.
The wormhole winked out.
'MALP?' Errold frowned, only understanding the term from Jonas's many tales of his year with SG1. 'Why would they send a MALP?'
'Because they want to make sure Jonas is not under duress before they send a team through.' Terra explained.
'It's standard procedure.' Jonas added.
Terra nodded approvingly. She looked over at him. 'You'll use your office to debrief and discuss further requirements?'
Jonas grimaced but nodded. The room was cramped and uncomfortable but it was practically the only private place in the base.
The wait was excruciating. Mixed emotions skittered through him. So much hope; so much anticipation filled him. He hoped SG1 would make the trip but he couldn't let himself believe it. He'd missed them all so much. He paced restlessly despite the look Terra shot him which clearly told him to stop.
Finally, the Stargate lit up again.
Kianna stirred from her position by the DHD. 'Incoming wormhole.'
Everyone watched as the MALP made its way through and the camera swept the room. Jonas waved and attempted a smile but his emotions were too close to the surface.
A few moments later the blue puddle shifted and two men stepped out. Jonas recognised one as Colonel Cameron Mitchell, the SG1 leader but it was the Jaffa who had Jonas moving forward without conscious thought.
He warmly clasped Teal'c's forearm and Teal'c's other hand landed on his shoulder, his dark eyes drinking in the sight of Jonas with unhidden happiness. Jonas's looked over his old friend and noted the new lines that were carved into Teal'c's heavy features and the streak of grey through his hair. He couldn't speak to greet the Jaffa; his throat had closed up as relief and joy rocked him.
'Jonas Quinn.' Teal'c said softly.
'Jonas.' Sam's quiet prompt had Jonas finally tearing his eyes away from Teal'c and belatedly realising the rest of the team had stepped through.
The Jaffa released him and Jonas stepped forward into Sam's embrace; his arms locked tightly around her.
'Sam.' Jonas managed to say her name all too aware of how he shook in her hold.
'I know.' Sam whispered in his ear. Her voice was thick with tears. His own tears threatened at the hint of hers. She gave a smile and released him and he let go of her reluctantly, absently aware of the wormhole winking out.
Daniel stepped forward next and Jonas accepted the handshake and manly hug; using the moment to wrangle his swirling emotions back into place.
'Hey.' Jack grinned and before Jonas could react he pulled him into another brief hug. Jack let him go just as quickly, patting him on the shoulder. 'Jonas.' He gestured with his cap. 'I like what you've done with the place.'
The familiar irreverence had Jonas smiling. 'I didn't expect to see you, General.'
Jack shrugged but his eyes gave away his pleasure at being there. 'I was in the neighbourhood.'
Jonas looked at each of them again and nodded an acknowledgement at Vala Mal Doran and Mitchell who were both smiling, evidently happy for their team-mates at the reunion. 'It's so good to see you all again.'
'Likewise.' Mitchell drawled. He gestured at the two FREDs that had apparently travelled through while Jonas had been greeting the others. 'Supplies.'
'Including,' Jack reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a banana. He handed it to Jonas with a smirk.
Jonas took it and smiled, waving it as his former team leader. 'You have no idea how much I've missed these.' His eyes were on his old team-mates and not the fruit though.
Jack's smiled faded, a serious look entering his brown eyes. 'So, we should talk.'
Jonas nodded. 'This way.' He exchanged a quick look with Terra and she signalled she would see to the supplies.
They squashed into the office as best they could. Jack had taken one visitor chair, Sam the other. Mitchell stayed by the door; his hand on his weapon. Teal'c remained beside Mitchell. Daniel and Vala stood at the back of the room.
Jonas elected to sit on the front of his desk as he filled them in on the Resistance; on the mission to liberate the Stargate.
'How was Tomin?' Vala was the first to speak when Jonas fell silent. Genuine concern seeped through her attempt to keep her comment flippant.
'He's OK.' Jonas said. 'I think he could be ready to come over.'
'Really?' Jack questioned with his usual cynicism.
Teal'c raised his eyebrow. 'It is not easy for a man to betray those he believes are Gods.'
'Maybe not,' Jonas conceded, 'but Tomin's not happy with the Prior and the Prior's not happy with him. I saw that with my own eyes.' He gestured toward Vala. 'I also think whatever you said to him the last time you saw him got to him.'
Vala ducked her head.
'Honestly?' Jonas continued. 'I think the guy just needs a way out.'
'It's useful to know.' Daniel commented. 'Tomin could be a very powerful ally.'
Jack looked around SG1 and Jonas hid a smile as Mitchell immediately straightened at the silent signal.
'We should probably head out and help your folks with the supplies.' Mitchell said.
The others smiled at Jonas, Teal'c inclining his head as they filed out after Mitchell, and Sam briefly stopping to squeeze his arm.
Jonas shook his head as the door shut behind them, leaving him and Jack alone. 'You have to teach me how you do that.' He commented as he folded his arms across his chest.
'Seems to me you're doing OK.' Jack said mildly. 'Getting the Stargate back and your little jaunt to talk to Tomin took some doing.'
Jonas basked in Jack's praise; he knew the other man didn't give it unless he meant it.
'You really think talking with Tomin will make a difference?' Jack asked sceptically.
Jonas made a face. 'You talking to me made a difference.'
Jack held his gaze for a heartbeat before the older man pushed out of his chair and wandered over to look at the city map that covered one wall. 'You've got a lot of cells.'
'We have more people coming forward every day.' Jonas said.
'You need to be careful.' Jack warned, pushing his hands into his pants' pockets. 'You'll get infiltrators in among the genuine article.'
Jonas nodded. 'We know.' He got up and walked over to the map. 'We've isolated all the cells from each other to minimise the risk of identification and impact if one of them is discovered.' He sighed. 'We're doing the best we can.'
'We can help you with strategy.' Jack offered. 'We have experts in guerrilla type warfare.'
'That would be great.' Jonas said.
Jack looked at him and Jonas resisted the urge to shuffle under his careful regard.
'What about you?' Jack asked eventually. 'How are you holding up?'
'I'm fine.' Jonas said quickly.
Jack just stared him down.
Jonas felt the flush travel across his cheeks and neck. He suddenly felt like it was his first day under Jack's command again. He spun away and paced back to the desk. 'I never wanted to be the leader.'
'And yet here you are.' Jack said lightly.
'Here I am.' Jonas looked up to the cracked ceiling; his eyes followed the line of damp from one side to another. 'I don't know what I'm doing. I don't know if I'm making the right decisions. I've...' his voice cracked, 'I've lost people.'
'It happens.' Jack said softly.
'How do you do it?' Jonas asked, turning around and looking at Jack. 'How do you handle it?'
Jack didn't flinch at the question. 'You do the best you can; that's all you can do.'
Jonas rubbed the back of his neck. 'I'm not sure I can do this.'
'Jonas.' Jack said with some exasperation. He rocked back on his heels and held Jonas's gaze fiercely. 'You already are.'
The words meant more to Jonas than he could have imagined. They warmed him; comforted him. He nodded jerkily. He looked at Jack desperately. 'This is real, isn't it? You're really here?'
Jack took hold of his shoulder, grounding him in reality. 'Really here.' He let go. 'And you're really a leader.'
Jonas took a deep breath. He had never wanted to be a leader but he was one. And his team might not be SG1 but they were good and they were his. Suddenly, he couldn't wait to show them off; to tell Jack about their accomplishments. He straightened. 'Come on.'
Jack motioned at him questioningly with his cap.
'I want to introduce you to my team.' And for the first time in a long while, Jonas grinned happily.