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Laney [userpic]
FIC: Search And Rescue: Heroics (48/55) Rated R
by Laney (laney_1974)
at July 26th, 2008 (01:33 pm)
Tags:

current song: Mamia Soundtrack

Series: Search and Rescue.
Title: Heroics
Sequel to: Instinct.
Author:laney_1974
Email: laney@realitiescollide.com
Website: http://realitiescollide.com
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Buffy and Angel people belong to Joss and Mutant Enemy. I'm just playing. Don't sue. The Stargate people belong to Gekko Productions, Double Secret Productions, MGM/UA, Showtime/Viacom.. a hell of a lot of people, if you ask me!
Rating:18 – Just to be safe.
Warnings/Authors Note: Set three months after Instinct. AU. Same as the other fics.

Previous fics in the series and chapters of this fic can be found here



They had to be freaking kidding! "You're not serious, are you?" Faith demanded, glaring at Kawalsky. Her angry tone was enough to stop Gunn on his way to letting the soldiers inside Caritas. Which was a good thing, as far as Faith was concerned, because what Kawalsky had just said was insane. "She's being called back to Colorado?" Faith dragged her eyes away from the major to Red, who looked like some vamp just drained all the blood out of her.

"O'Neill wants her there ASAP."

ASAP? "No way! No freaking way!" Faith snapped. She honestly didn't know how Red could stand it, being told what to do, when to do it, and having no say whatsoever. She could tell, just from the look on Red's face, that she wasn't going to say a damn thing about the order. Red was going to pack her bags and fly back to Colorado… because they needed the military's help, especially now that aliens were involved. Christ! Faith sighed. As much as Red believed they needed the military (and as much as Faith was beginning to believe she might have a point), her going back to Colorado screwed things up… big time. "We don't have time for this shit! I'm not sure if you remembered, but we've got a cult of demons wanting to end the world and they're not going to wait until Red has a chat with your good friend the general."

"Faith has a point," Giles, to her relief, agreed. "Without some sort of physical evidence proving the existence of supernatural beings, Willow's task of convincing your general she's not insane will take time we don't have."

"Shit, they're right," Hayes conceded. "Think about it, sir, you all thought I was crazy when I first told you vampires were real. O'Neill trusts Rosenberg, but I don't think his trust in her is that unwavering that he's going to believe her without proof."

"Not to mention the fact that Rosenberg will have to try to explain this on base," Grogan added, "more than likely in the briefing room."

"Why would that make any difference?" Cordy wanted to know.

"Surveillance cameras."

"Looks like Red's got her work of keeping us a secret cut out for her." Faith groaned. "We're screwed."

"Maybe not."

All eyes turned to Red. "Maybe not?" Faith repeated, the thoughtful look on Red's face made Faith almost hopeful.

"Do you have a plan, lieutenant?" Kawalsky asked.

Red turned to the major and nodded. "It's not much of one, but it might be enough to convince the general, and any teams with him, that I'm not insane… and it should protect my friends."

"I think I know of a way you can get around the camera problem," Giles added.

"Is it something magical?" Red asked.

Giles nodded. "It's a crystal that contains a powerful glamour. In fact, it's one of the most powerful glamours I've ever encountered. Nothing, not even magic, can break through it."

"What about surveillance cameras?" Hayes asked.

"From what I understand of it, the power released from the crystal alters reality, for lack of a better description, which enables it to work against both technology and magic."

Kawalsky looked worried. "It alters reality?"

"Temporarily," Giles assured him. "The glamour will only last six minutes."

"Six minutes," Red repeated. "How does it work? We, ah, don't need a witch to work it, do we?"

"The power of glamour is in the crystal and it is released by a simple incantation. The glamour can be released by a non-magical person, it has nothing to do with the person releasing. All you need to do is say the incantation."

Non-magical person… that was exactly what Red was now. It made Faith wonder how she really felt about it.

Red nodded. "Sounds like a plan. Will it take long to organise? I don't want to keep the general waiting too long."

"Yeah, the last thing we need is for the two lieutenants standing outside the door to burst in and arrest Rosenberg," Grogan agreed.

Cordy's eyes widened. "Arrest? They can't do that!"

"Actually, they can," Red told her. "I've been given a direct order. If I take too much time returning to base, O'Neill may interpret that as my disobeying his order. Given the fact that his two of his closest friends are now missing and the fact that I'm obviously involved in some way, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if he had me arrested. It's not likely, but it's possible."

Faith swore.

"So let's stop screwing around," Kawalsky said, looking to Red. "What do you need for this plan of yours?"

Faith raised her eyebrows at the question. She would have thought the major would want to know what the plan was before going along with it.

"Sir, I need you, Faith, Angel and as many cells phone capable of recording video as possible."


~ * ~ * ~


Major Evan Lorne knocked on the general's door warily and almost turned tail and ran when he heard the general yell for him to enter. Since he heard his name over the PA, Lorne had been feeling like a first year cadet all over again. Everyone -- everyone -- on the base knew how pissed O'Neill had been when he returned from the Tok'ra homeworld. SG-1 was missing. SG-1 was missing on Earth. Lorne was actually a little surprised that O'Neill was reining his anger in as well as he was.

Although, he suspected that was because the source of O'Neill's fury was still in Los Angeles.

"You wanted to see me, sir?"

O'Neill looked up from the report on his desk. "Take a seat, major."

Lorne felt his stomach fall to his shoes as he sat down.

"Everyone ready to go?" he asked, closing the file.

"Just about, sir. SG teams 2, 3, 37 and half of SG-11 are in Rosenberg's lab. SR-2 is with them." At O'Neill's raised eyebrow he explained. "SR-2 is organising maps of the Los Angeles area for the rescue. The only person we're waiting on, sir, is Colonel Edwards. Colonel Reynold's said he sent a message to the beta site, but he hasn't returned yet."

"That's why I called you here, major."

Lorne frowned. It was? "Sir?"

"As you know, Colonel Reynolds has taken over temporary command of the beta site."

Yeah, he knew that…

"Colonel Edwards has accepted reassignment at the beta site," O'Neill said, leaning forward on the desk to study him. "He's taking over command of the site permanently."

A smile broke out on his face before he could help it, overcome with pride for his C.O. Former CO. His smile faded at the thought. As great as Edwards getting his own command was, the timing sucked. Ferretti had told him that Kawalsky had asked for the four Stargate teams specifically. He didn't want anyone else, and without Colonel Edwards… "We'll be a man down for the L.A. mission, sir. Will that be a problem?"

The general shook his head. "SG-11 won't be a man down."

"We won't?"

O'Neill sighed. "I had originally planned to discuss this issue with you in a less rushed manner. However, our wayward lieutenant has decided to speed things up for me."

Oh? "I'm not sure I understand, sir."

"When Colonel Edwards accepted his new position, he suggested that you take his place as commander of SG-11." Lorne stared at O'Neill in surprise, unable to believe his ears. "It's yours if you want it."

There was no need to even think about it. "Thank you, sir. I'd be honoured."

O'Neill smiled for the first time since he entered his office. Actually, he looked relieved, as though he had been worried Lorne would turn it down. For some reason O'Neill's obvious relief made Lorne feel uneasy. Like with Edwards sudden exodus from SG-11, Lorne's own promotion was, well, it was ill timed. Why was O'Neill doing this now? Why didn't he wait until after the mission to promote him and Edwards?

"You mentioned my team won't be a man down, sir. I take it that you've already selected our fourth?"

O'Neill's smile left his face at the question. "Normally, I'd leave this sort of decision to you, but…" He made a face, but didn't elaborate. Instead, he slid the file he had been reading when Lorne had walked in across to him. "If you don't think your fourth is going to work, we'll talk about it after the LA mission. Until then, however, she's on your team."

Lorne opened the file slowly and his eyes searched the page for the name of the fourth member of his team. When he saw it, he froze. "Sir? Is this some kind of joke?"

O'Neill sighed. "I wish it was."

"Sir, you can't…"

The general held his hand up, cutting him off. "I can."

He looked back down at the file and stared at the name, silently hoping the letters would suddenly rearrange themselves and spell a different name. Any name. The letters didn't move. The name was the same…

Lieutenant Willow Rosenberg.

O'Neill couldn't do this. Well, at least Lorne didn't think he could. He wanted to argue, tell O'Neill that whatever was going through his mind, whatever his reasons were, that this was wrong. Even with the strange goings on at the moment, everyone in the SGC knew how good she was at S&R, why move her to an SG unit? She should be in line for an SR team down the line, not fourth fiddle in his team. He glanced down at the file and found himself wishing (just for a second) that he had turned O'Neill down. "Sir, if I may ask...."

"Why?" O'Neill finished for him.

He nodded.

"She's involved with a civilian member of the SGC."

For the second time he blinked in surprise. He'd heard rumours, but he hadn't believed them. Still… "Sir…"

"Her entire military background, including some relevant information about her life prior to her joining the Academy, is in that file." He gave Lorne a sympathetic smile. "Be grateful it's not the file Carter assembled before she went to LA. That file is worse."

O'Neill leaned back in his chair and studied him.

"Read her official file and then tell me I'm wrong for removing Rosenberg from SR-1."

~ * ~ * ~

Willow held the sword up in front of her, inspected it carefully, and then slipped it into the duffle bag before picking up the next sword. She wondered what O'Neill's thoughts were going to be when she showed him the weapons she wanted to use for Colonel Carter and Teal'c's rescue. Actually, she wondered what his thoughts were going to be about a great many things. She was dreading this, she really was. There was no doubt. She was going to have to come clean to the general about everything, probably to the Stargate teams they had recruited as well. Even though she knew she hadn't broken any regulations keeping quiet about her past, there was a part of her that wondered if O'Neill was still going to punish her for keeping this quiet. God, who was she kidding! O'Neill was going to come down on her like a tonne of bricks! There was no way, no way, O'Neill was going to understand her need to keep this quiet. It was an apocalypse…. He wasn't going to understand her silence. Never. Not even if her 'plan' to convince O'Neill she wasn't insane worked. God, her life was over!

"Do you need help with anything?"

Daniel's gentle question brought her out of her thoughts. She turned to see him watching her with an expression that made her heart ache. Instinctively, she looked to see where her team was. She was relieved to see they were with Angel and the others on the other side of the room. For some reason, she felt awkward about being alone with Daniel. Well, not really awkward per se, but she was on duty now, even if she wasn't in Colorado, and it felt wrong talking to Daniel when his expression was so… personal. She could see on his face that he wanted to talk to her before she returned to Colorado and his expression left no doubt as to whether he wanted to discuss something as her superior or as her… boyfriend.

"Will, are you okay?"

She put the sword into the bag and nodded. "I'm fine."

"Fine?" he repeated, clearly not believing her.

She shrugged. "A little nervous. Giles is taking a little longer than I would have liked…" Okay, so that was a bit of a lie. To be honest, she was hoping Giles would be another hour. She did not want to go to Colorado.

Daniel placed a hand on her arm and she found herself glancing towards her team again. "Are you sure you don't want me to go with you?"

The question almost made her laugh out loud. Was he insane? "I've told you this before, Daniel. I can't hide behind you. I'm going to lose face with O'Neill enough as it is. If I take you along with me to take the brunt of his anger, then I may as well resign."

He shook his head. "You wouldn't be hiding behind me…"

"This is my problem, Daniel." She could have done a million things differently to avoid this and it was time to accept responsibility for everything. She had been hiding behind people, guilt and fear for too long. "Besides, I think I'd prefer you here. Giles and Tara will need your help. Finding a way to stop the last ritual is more important than this."

He didn't look happy at the prospect but he nodded. "I just… I just wish I could do more to help Sam and Teal'c. Willow, if Jack doesn't believe you and he decides to send a team to rescue Sam and Teal'c without you, without your knowledge of demons, we could lose them. We could lose more people."

Willow felt a stab of guilt. She had been so caught up in trying to find a way to handle this situation without exposing her friends, that she hadn't thought about how Daniel would be feeling about his friends, his family, being in so much danger. She reached out and took his hand. "I'll make him understand," she promised. "He'll listen... even if it means calling you from the base and letting you convince him."

"Your plan should work. It has to. Jack couldn't possibly believe that we had enough time to fake something like that," Daniel said. "Jack should know we wouldn't fake something like that."

"It's not the faking that I'm worried about," she confessed. "I'm worried he'll think it's a genuine foothold situation." There were so many ways this could go horribly wrong. Although… "You know, I didn't think about it at the time, but Percy told me that Colonel Carter and Teal'c weren't too shocked when he told them demons were real. He said one of the things that made him believe they were genuine was when Colonel Carter claimed I rescued her from demons. Well, he said the word demon and she agreed."

Daniel made a face. "She couldn't exactly tell him who the Weathermen really were."

"Yes, but she would have had to know something, done research into my background, to know who to look for. They never would have found Percy if they hadn't." She frowned as another thought occurred to her. "Percy said she mentioned Cordy by name as well. I've never mentioned Cordy to her. They know something and whatever they know it's probably safe to say that the general is aware of it, too. That might make it easier." Or harder. "No matter what, Daniel, I promise you I'll save your friends."

To Willow's surprise, Daniel seemed more upset by her promise than happy. Although, come to think of it, it really wasn't a surprise. If she were really honest with herself, she was relieved Daniel was staying here. She didn't want him to be an active part of the rescue. She wanted to protect him. She wanted him safe, as far away from the front line as she could get him. God, she didn't even want Tara to heal him when she tested accessing the power in the crystal. With a broken leg he had to stay behind.

Daniel was probably wishing the exact same thing for her. For the first time since her 'relationship' with Daniel began, she wondered if they were making a mistake. Actually, she was wondering if karma really had it out for her. She had been so damn careful. For seven years she kept herself as distant from people -- including her friends from Sunnydale -- she hadn't dated or even made close friends outside her team. For seven years, Willow had made sure she had nothing to lose and she had been safe. Now she had everything to lose. Everything was at risk and she thought she would choke on the fear from it. The last time she had felt this way, she had… panicked. With Oz.

"I love you." The words caught both of them by surprise. She had already said them once, well twice including the shower (though she wasn't sure if that one really counted), but this was the first time she had said it when she wasn't… falling apart or on the rebound of falling apart. "I love you." She said it again, because she had learned the hard way that you didn't hold things, feelings, back when there was an apocalypse.

"I love you, too."

He took a step towards her, but stopped when Faith called out to her from across the room.

"Red! Giles is back!"

~ * ~ * ~


Lorne leaned back against the chair and sighed, silently wishing he'd never opened the file.

"What's in the file is not exactly 'public' knowledge," O'Neill explained. "SG-1 and SR-1 are aware of Rosenberg's history as is Hammond and General Kerrigan at the academy. For obvious reasons, Rosenberg prefers to keep her connection to the Sunnydale Massacre a secret, so I'd appreciate if you didn't mention anything to the rest of your team until Rosenberg gives the okay."

He nodded.

"Rosenberg hasn't showed any signs that her past affects her ability to do her job." He made a face. "Unless, of course, you consider her passion for saving people. She takes more risks than I should allow, but Kawalsky has managed to keep her in line most of the time. I'm not sure he'd be able to stop her crossing the line if Daniel was the person she was trying to save."

He got it. He understood why O'Neill was removing her from SR-1. The general was pissed as hell at her, but he was looking out for her… and the SGC. O'Neill didn't want Rosenberg to be in a position where she had watch someone else she loved died. O'Neill didn't want to put Rosenberg in a position where she had to choose Daniel's life over another. Lorne almost groaned. Of all the people she had to get involved with, Rosenberg had to choose the one who kept on dying. "Will she mind you telling me this, sir?"

"Hammond told Rosenberg when she started at the SGC that we'd only share this information on a need to know basis. Being her C.O. falls into that category."

A feeling of dread washed over him. As much as he understood O'Neill's motivations, a part of him wished she wasn't on his team. She loved her team and he didn't want to break that up. He sighed, then frowned as a thought occurred to him. "Sir, you said the file I read was Rosenberg's 'official' file. I take it you have an unofficial one?" And didn't that bother him.

There was a moment of hesitation before he answered. "It's unofficial because nothing in it is relevant to Rosenberg's military career." He leaned back in his chair and studied Lorne thoughtfully. "However, since I'm pretty sure Kawalsky is not being exactly honest with us about the foothold situation, I might be wrong about that."

There was so much wrong with what O'Neill had just said he wasn't sure where to begin.

"If it was a genuine foothold situation," O'Neill continued. "I seriously doubt Kawalsky would call Ferretti on his cell, nor would he request the teams Rosenberg went above and beyond to save. This has something to do with her."

Lorne had nothing to say to that because the thought had crossed his mind as well and now, given what he'd learned, it worried him a great deal. "Do you think the situation is somehow connected with the massacre, sir?"

"They never caught the people behind it," O'Neill stated.

He shook his head. "But sir, if it's not a foothold situation what will you tell the president? I assume he knows that we've been called to LA?"

A troubled expression came over O'Neill's face. "He knows we have a foothold situation and he knows SR-1 is intimately involved. I don't know how he knew, but the president guessed Rosenberg was at the center of it. He ordered me to put her back on active duty and for Pendergast to bring her here ASAP. He also ordered all teams to remain on standby until Rosenberg briefs us on the foothold situation. I'm not sure what the hell I'm going to tell him if I'm right and Kawalsky is lying through his teeth."

Lorne frowned and found himself wondering if his expression was now as troubled as O'Neill's. "Maybe we're wrong, sir, and it is a foothold situation," he said, although he knew he didn't sound all that hopeful.

"Maybe," O'Neill replied, not sounding all that hopeful either.

~ * ~ * ~


"Have you got everything?" Giles asked, handing her the crystal to put in her bag.

Willow nodded and hoped to God her expression looked more confident than she felt. It was time to leave and she was shit scared. "Are you sure the crystal is going to work without my magic?" It was her biggest concern.

"It will work," he assured her, although she noticed he looked a little worried too.

She zipped her bag up and stood upright, looking searchingly into her mentor's eyes. "Giles? What's wrong?"

The incredulous look on his face made her mouth twitch. "Aside from the fact that you're about to reveal our existence to the military and we have no way to protect you?" he asked dryly.

Oh, that. "I'll be fine."

He raised his left eyebrow.

"Giles, I'll be fine. I wasn't lying before. I do trust these people with my life."

"It's not the people in your command that concerns me, Willow. I understand how the military works and I know that your general has to answer to someone. What concerns me is someone outside your command finding out the truth about us, all of us. Can you guarantee your safety and ours from people outside those you have chosen to trust?"

Willow wished like Hell she could say yes to that question, but she couldn't. "No."

"Willow…"

"It's the end of the world, Giles." She glanced towards her team to make sure they were well out of hearing range. The only one who was close enough to maybe hear their conversation was Daniel. "If we can't take risks, when can we?" As she said the words, her stomach tightened. It was one thing to expose her friends to O'Neill and four Stargate teams, but it was a completely different thing to expose them to people outside the SGC. People who could stop her friends from doing what they needed to do.

Giles gave her a sad smile. "I just wish you didn't have to face this alone."

"You are right, Giles, there is a risk this could all go wrong and you could find yourself fighting both demons and the military. That's why I was thinking that, regardless of what my plan to rescue Carter and Teal's is, you need to make sure you stay on track with stopping the demons. Don't wait for me or any of the teams to come and help. We have the same goal, but our roles are different. If, for whatever reason, something goes wrong and I don't come back in time… do what you have to do. If things go badly with O'Neill, and he doesn't believe me or if involving the military will make things too dangerous for you, I won't come back and you'll have to do this without the additional military support."

He nodded. "Agreed."

"With the military involved you're going to need to take extra precautions." She hesitated, not sure how to phrase what she wanted to say next. "Giles, if I come back in time and the military helps stop the demons… no matter how things appear, how friendly they are or how well it goes, I want you guys to disappear as soon as you defeat the demons."

He gaped at her. "I'm sorry?"

"I know it seems extreme, but it's the only thing I can think of that will keep you safe. The military can't detain you and I can't promise they won't try. You guys have to scatter and go into hiding just in case the military screw us over. I'm defunct now, no one can access my power but Angel and Faith, even you Giles, are at risk - I don't think we should take any chances." She hesitated once again. "I won't be able to talk freely, Giles, and if one of my superiors give me an order I have to follow it."

Giles eyes widened in alarm. "We won't be able to trust…"

"Anything I say or do," she finished for him. "I need you to assume, you all to assume, that I've been compromised. Don't trust a word I say to you. You'll need to act as though you do, but don't trust me. If we're screwed over, the military can't suspect that I'm helping you." Not until after her friends had disappeared. "To be honest, I don't think things are going to be like that, but just to be safe… you need to go into hiding. If everything's all right, I'll come and find you. If I can't come to you, Daniel will."

"How will you find us? Your powers…"

"Tell Daniel where you're going. It's probably safer if I don't know until after the fact," she explained.

"Are you sure it's safe to tell Daniel?"

She nodded. "Daniel's not military. He's not bound by the same rules as the rest of us. Nor is he intimidated by the military. You can trust him. In fact, he's the only one you can trust."

Giles reached out and put his hand on her shoulder. "Willow, you do know you don't have to do this. Regardless of the order, you don't have to leave. We can protect you."

Her heart filled with warmth. "I know, but it's the end of the world. We need the Prometheus."

Giles didn't look happy, but he didn't argue.

"Giles, there's one more thing I need as well."

"Oh?"

"I need you to promise that if things do go bad, regardless of whether it's during Colonel Carter and Teal'c's rescue, during the last ritual or with the military, that you won't risk everything to save me. Keeping…" The lump in her throat was making it difficult to talk. "Keeping this world safe is the most important thing. Don't risk that for me."

Instead of replying, Giles surprised the hell out of her by pulling her into a tight embrace. "We'll do everything we can to make sure we won't have to make that choice."

Willow pulled herself back so she could see his face. "No choice, Giles. No exchanges. I know the Mayor turning into a demon wasn't a real apocalypse, not like this one, but don't… don't do that again. Ever. I don't care what the reason or what the choice. Don't come for me."

Giles studied her for so long that she began to shift uncomfortably under his gaze. "What if we can save you without a risk to anyone else?"

"If there's no risk to you or anyone else, then I have no problem," she said. "I know it's a lot to ask, but I've got enough blood on my hands Giles, I'm not sure I can live with more."

It was the last few words that convinced him. His entire body tensed and the look in her eyes was so pain-filled that she wondered if she was having as much trouble breathing as she was. "You have my word."

It was time to go.

~ * ~ * ~


Jack looked at his watch and then at Lorne as the major reread Rosenberg's file, feeling somewhat guilty for the position the major had unwittingly accepted. Jack was beginning to believe Rosenberg had the same penchant for trouble Daniel did. Christ, this entire situation was a mess. Whatever the hell situation Rosenberg had found herself in, Jack severely doubted his ability to keep it under wraps (and he had no doubts believing that that was what Kawalsky wanted all of them to do). It was going to be impossible, especially since the president had taken a rather deep interest in this situation.

Not that the president didn't usually take a great interest in 'foothold' situations, he did. What was making Jack a little uneasy was how effortlessly the president had connected Rosenberg with the attacks in LA, regardless of her appearance on the news. As far as Jack knew, the president had never seen Rosenberg nor had any of the Joint Chiefs.

Jack had been careful to keep her name out of it when he rang the president to tell him what was going on. He had mentioned SR-1, specifically Kawalsky, but not Rosenberg. Jack had been surprised at hell when the president asked if Rosenberg was in LA and, when Jack had confirmed her presence there, the president had called her back to base. Call him paranoid, but that just didn't seem right.

Sighing, Jack glanced at his watch again.

"Something the matter, sir?" Lorne asked.

Oh the answer Jack would have liked to give to that question. "Rosenberg is running a little late. She should have been here by now."

She should have been here long ago.

~ * ~ * ~


Even though Willow was search and rescue, her experience with both the Prometheus and beaming technology was somewhat limited. Most of the rescues SR-1 had been a part of consisted solely on 'gate travel. Only on a few rare and exceptionally precarious situations did the Prometheus come to their aid. So, it was this lack of experience with beaming that Willow blamed for her initial lack of reaction. When she materialised into the room it took a moment for her brain to kick in and realise that something was Seriously Wrong. But once her brain did kick in, the bag she was holding dropped to the floor with a loud clatter and (in what Willow was now considering a normal occurrence) the blood drained from her face.

This was not the scene she had been expecting to see.

Actually, Willow hadn't been all that sure what she would be faced with when she reached her destination. She had imagined being beamed into O'Neill's office to face his wrath alone, she had also imagined being beamed into the briefing room to face all four of the Stargate teams. This, however… This was something that she didn't -- couldn't -- have anticipated.

"Lieutenant Rosenberg, thank you for joining us."

Snapping out of her stupor, Willow jumped to attention and saluted the eight men sitting around the table in front of her. None of which, she noted, were General O'Neill.

"At ease, lieutenant."

Slowly, she lowered her arm and continued to stare at the men in shock. This couldn't be right. "I'm sorry, sirs, but I think there's been a mistake. I was told to report to General O'Neill." Even as she said the words she knew that there wasn't a mistake. They had referred to her by her name.

As though they knew who she was.

But that wasn't possible. It couldn't be. She recognised seven out of the eight men (although she had never met any of them) and there was no way the seven men she did recognise should know her or even know of her. Okay, that wasn't quite right. One, maybe two, of them should actually know of her existence, thanks to her work at the SGC, but not all of them. There was no way she should be here with them now. No way.

"There's no mistake, lieutenant," came the reply. "I apologise for the lack of warning, but I ordered Colonel Pendergast to beam you here instead of to the SGC."

Her stomach plummeted.

"Take a seat, lieutenant."

Willow hesitated, then somehow forced her muscles to obey and sit down. She knew she couldn't disobey an order from this man of all people, but the fact that she was here made her falter. This was something they seriously did not have time for… but she was powerless to do anything.

She was powerless to protect her friends.

Willow wasn't stupid. She knew why she was here and what this meant. It didn't mean she actually understood everything that was happening, but she did know what this truly meant.

They knew.

"Lieutenant Rosenberg, is there a problem?"

"No, Mr President."