Plans are put in place to arrange a meeting with the rogue military and set up a trap...
Ok John, so the head is still attached to the body... just... Groaning, he rolled over in bed and hung his head in his hands. And rememebered why it was so important not to overindulge in the alcolohic delights of this galaxy as unfortunately they brewed their own particular alcohol with no regard for percentages, government warnings or human beings and their seeming lack of control.
It was going to be a long day.
Three coffees later and he still sat in the mess. subconsciously waiting for Dani to arrive, preferring to avoid her today, but acknowledging that approaching this particular apology early in the day would make the remainder of the day seem a little less bleak. He saw her hesitate when she entered the mess, slant a stormy gaze in his direction, straighten her shoulders before grabbing a cup of coffee herself and joining him.
Ok, so there was a small smile on her lips... that was a good start. “I'd ask how you were feeling, but it's clearly written in both your body language and that rather hangdog look on your face.” Her smile widened just a little, and he thought to himself if she gets a little pleasure out of my misery, then maybe she'll not focus on the... other... thing that happened last night...
“Yep sweetheart! An undercover mission that went a little awry... best laid plans etc etc. And about last night... I want to apologise...” His eyes searched hers now, looking for a clue as to how she was really feeling.
There was warmth in her gray eyes, so he heaved a sigh of relief. Yeah, he had wanted to kiss her, and the urge had been a pretty strong one, but sometimes it paid not to give in to your urges until you were sure they were not going to get in the way of the bigger picture. But damned if he could remember what the bigger picture was.
“It was a kiss John... that's all – and I overreacted so I should be the one apologising.” She put her good, uncasted hand across the table close to his. “Friends?” Just that for now Dani, sure... but later, we'll see... The thought flickered like smoke across his mind, but he made himself smile at her and picking up the hand she offered, have it the required shake, but could not resist bringing it up to his lips to give it a small kiss. “Sure, Dani – friends it is...”
Ronan flopped down in the empty seat beside John accompanied by Teyla and a massive pile of food that defied any normal human being to consume it. But Ronan had the appetite of more than one healthy man. “Hey Ronan – ready for our meeting today?”
Ronan chose not to mention John's lack of sobriety the previous night, but the twinkle in his eye showed John that it was not forgotten. Teyla however, held no such compunctions. “You look as you did the night you had too much Ruus wine to drink. You are feeling unwell this morning John?”
“A little under the weather Teyla, nothing I can't handle. Did Ronan tell you about our meeting today. We've made contact with the group we think is doing a little independant war contracting in the galaxy... we're hoping we can follow the trail to lead to the higher ups, the group on earth that is reponsible for their formation.”
“Are you not worried about being recognised when you go to this meeting John? How do you know that they have not been given intel on the people from earth who reside in Atlantis so that they can avoid them.” Teyla was concerned that their plan had not been given careful consideration.
“We have it covered Teyla. I'm going in as a Satedan with Ronan... we've got a cover story in place and as far as they will know, we are from a small country where a group of Satedan's settled after their planet was destroyed, up until now we have enjoyed a relatively peaceful existence with the neighbouring settlement, but a disagreement over mining rights has necessitated a more extreme minded mediator to come in and resolve our problems... and so forth...”
Teyla was nodding. “A good plan John, but what if they insist on being given the coordinates for your planet – they may wish to send their own reconaissance team in prior to their mediation.”
“Got that covered too Teyla – rememebr P2R398?” Teyla thought back briefly, then recalled the small farming community that had had problems with their crops the previous year. The Lantian's had sent in their scientists to determine that a bacteria growth was affecting their whole crop supply for the year and had worked to find a herbicide that would work against the offending bacteria. They had effectively saved their entire crop and they now owed Atlantis a debt of gratitude.
“Elizabeth is contacting them this morning to advise them that we need that favour... she is going to establish a cover story with them. There is a suitable area for mining there, so it will appear authentic if they send in a team to scout – and I would expect them to do so, particularly as they are military trained.”
Teyla looked a little concerned. “Are you worried that you are endangering these people by exposing them to this group. If things get out of hand, then the people of this settlement could get hurt. They are not fighters, and would suffer greatly at the hands of someone who is.”
Dani was getting a little agitated, and now spoke up. “These men... this man, that I was involved in – I can't believe that they would go to these lengths? What do they achieve by doing this? And why out here, in another galaxy?”
John realised that he had yet to release her hand and had been softly rubbing the back of it with his thumb. He now took it down to this lap, this gesture however, brought a frown to Teyla's face and he knew he would have to face her questions and possibly recriminations later.
“Money Dani, will be the motivating factor. That, and power. Small scale wars such as what they intend to incite, cannot really be done on earth without someone stepping in to stop it. We are one planet, with many governements and limited resources. Out here... it is limitless for them. Resources that we can only dream of on earth, artifacts, technology – it is endless and they do this for payment, working for a group who's greed exceeds the planet they live on. And by the way... Elizabeth had a communication from General O'Neill last night and he confirmed that at least ten military officers have fallen off the grid in the past six months and their families think they are involved in a normal black ops – but all have received large payments of money in that time and their friends and families when interviewed confirm that they have undergo dramatic personality changes. Gate travel and promoting galaxy wide war is a heady thing it would seem.”
Major Lorne had just walked past with his breakfast, and sitting down to join them, caught the tail end of John's explanation. “I've just come from the control room Colonel. Elizabeth had the list and photos of all the military personnel that are confirmed on the suspect list. She wants us all to go through the photos carefully, memorise faces. And Colonel... one of them? Air force major. Major Ray Larson... ring any bells?”
“Crap!” John ran a hand through his hair and he felt Dani squeeze his other hand lightly. “We did a mission together in Afghanistan before I got involved in the stargate programme. I haven't seen him since I left earth... damn it! He's a decent guy, with a family, kids...why the hell would he compromise what he has?”
“What sort of security clearance does he have Colonel? Does he know about the stargate programme – would he know you're out here?” Lorne put down the toast he was about to take a bite of.
“Ordinarily, I would say no – to the clearance thing anyway. But whoever this group is, they do have clearance, whether it's official or unofficial clearance, so the soldiers that are contracting to them must be privy to the same information. I'm hoping that doesn't include a list of personnel who are in the stargate programme, or we could have problems. Especially if he is the one we are meeting today.”
“You want backup today Colonel. Put a team on the planet before they arrive?” Breakfast forgotten now, Lorne sat forward eagerly.
“Could be tricky Lorne... they'll do doing the same thing I'm sure and the gate will be guarded – if anyone other than the two of us comes through, there'll be problems. Unless....”
“What is it Colonel – you've got that look in your eye... the one that says I get to do something really cool...” Lorne grinned now – life with his commanding officer was generally far from dull, his something unordodox plans and solutions for problems were a constant source of excitement and this was certainly what he had signed on for when he came to the Pegasus Galaxy.
John couldn't resist a short laugh at the delighted look in his subordinate officer's eyes. “Down, boy... but you're right, you will get to do something cool. Take four marines with you, take a jumper, they'll be watching the stargate but not the skies... cloaked of course, and set it down well away from the meeting place and give us a bit of friendly cover should things go south.”
“Onto it Colonel...” quickly finishing his toast, he took his tray, flipped a quick salute and left the mess. John released Dani's hand and stood up also. “Ok Ronan, I'll be needing some attire my friend, something more “Satedan” in design, then we need to go and check out those pictures. Dani, come with us to look at the pictures also – they may be others that you recognise.” He reached again for her hand, pulling her up and out of the mess with him. Teyla shook her head slightly. He had no idea he was heading down a path not of his choosing at the moment.