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Title: When Evan Met Astra
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis/Stargate SG-1
Pairing: Evan Lorne/OFC
Rating: NC-17
Author's Notes: Back in 2007 I started playing in a SG-1/SGA RPG as Evan Lorne. That one eventually closed and others started up. In the game there was an OC named Astra Owen who was Evan's former lover. The person who played Astra and I became friends and when she opened her own RPG in 2009 I agreed to continue to play Evan to her Astra. This is the story of how they ended up together.
Summary: The title says it all. This is the story of how Astra and Evan met and fell in love.
Warnings: Mentions of domestic abuse and off screen torture.


While on my way to Hammond's office after my latest mission, I decide go over my report one last time. I've been with the SGC long enough that I feel fairly confident walking the halls while reading my report. Besides, I've done it before and have yet to run into anyone. Until today, that is.

Turning the final corner to Hammond's office, I suddenly find myself flat on my back, staring up into the palest green eyes I've ever seen, my arms wrapped around some of the softest curves in the galaxy, amid a shower of papers.

It takes me a moment to turn my attention away from the plump breasts flattened against my chest and when I do, I instantly wish I hadn't. The woman in my arms is ranting in some language I don't know. Based on the way she's pushing against my shoulders and the angry look on her face she's not too happy to be where she is.

"Next time, I'll let you break my fall," I snap, loosening my grip so she can get up. When she does her knee finds a spot right next to my crotch and I'm not entirely sure it was accidental. Groaning at the pain, I shove her roughly away and curl up into a ball, my hands cupped protectively around my most sensitive area.

"And here I was, defending all Americans," she starts muttering in a thick Australian accent. "Everywhere I go people tell me that Americans are rude and insufferable. But I have always been treated with nothing but respect from everyone I've had contact with since I got here. Until now, that is."

I roll to my knees, then jump to my feet when she picks my report up with the papers she had been carrying. "Wait!" I call, reaching out to grab her arm and stop her from walking away. "You got my report mixed up with your stuff."

She gives me a look that has a shiver of fear tripping down my spine before sticking her nose in the air and sniffing loudly. "Are you calling me a thief, Major?" she demands, her tone so dry it's a fire hazard.

"No, ma'am," I instantly reply. "It's just that you picked up my report by mistake along with all your papers. It wouldn't be that big a deal if it weren't for the fact that I'm already late turning it in to General Hammond."

Spying my report in the bundle of papers she's currently trying to stuff into the notebook she's carrying, I step forward to gently tug it out of her grip.

"Hey!" she exclaims, acting as if I'm gonna make her drop everything.

"This… is… mine," I explain, punctuating each word with a tug on the paper, then breathe a sigh of relief when I manage to liberate it from her grasp without causing her to drop any of her papers.

"Rude. Totally r-u-d-e," she mutters under her breath, along with something I don't understand, while she's turning to continue down the hall, so I just pretend I didn't hear it.

With an indifferent shrug, I resume making my way to Hammond's office, putting the whole encounter from my mind.

"Major?" Hammond questions when I knock on the frame of his open door.

"Just turning in my report, Sir," I say, handing him the report.

He raises a brow. "It's late, Major," he informs me, his tone brooking no argument.

"Yes, Sir, I know and I'm sorry. Doc Fraiser kept me longer than I wanted."

"I hear she had good reason to keep you in 'lock-down' for the length of time she did," he replies with a chuckle.

I fight the urge to duck my head and stare at the floor while scuffing my toe on the carpet but I can't keep the blush from rising up my neck and staining my face red. "Yes, Sir, she did at that." My voice definitely did not break. "It's all in my report, Sir."

God, please let him dismiss me now!

"Very well, Major. I look forward to reading it. It'll be interesting to see how your version of the events compares to those of the rest of SG-10."

"Yes, Sir. Very good, Sir," I respond in my best 'I'm a perfect solider' voice, praying he'll dismiss me now so I can go get drunk and forget I ever heard of P3X-814.

The look on Hammond's face tells me he's fighting the urge to laugh. As if being painted purple, of all colors, and married to the only other unattached member of the team is a laughing matter.

"If that's all, Sir?" I ask stressing the last two words in the hopes he'll catch my desire to leave.

"That's all, Major. Dismissed," he answers amusement still heavy in his voice, with a small salute.

Returning the salute, I do an about-face and leave his office, and the base, as quickly as I can without actually running.

Several days later Hammond calls me into his office.

"You needed to see me, Sir?" I query, stepping just inside the door. My back instantly stiffens to attention at the sight of Colonel Edwards sitting in one of the chairs in front of Hammond's desk.

"Yes, Major, I do," Hammond replies waving me further in with one hand. "Come in and have a seat."

I do as ordered, perching nervously on the edge of the chair.

"Relax, Major," Colonel Edwards soothes a gentle smile on his face. "Hammond here," he nods in the General's direction, "has been telling me all about you and how you'd make an excellent XO."

I blink at the two of them. "Me? An XO?" I ask in stunned disbelief.

"Yes, Major," Hammond replies, his slow tone indicating that he is, once again finding humor at my expense.

"But…I…" I stammer slumping back in the chair in shocked surprise. "I…never…"

"Never, Major?" Edwards questions, one brow raised in doubt. "I find that hard to believe in a career military man such as you."

"Beg your pardon, Colonel, but I only joined the Air Force so I could fly the best and fastest craft known to man. Something I did in Iraq brought me to the attention of some muckity-muck in DC who decided I was just perfect for the Stargate program," I inform them. "Not that I'm complaining, Sirs. I enjoy the adventure of stepping through the gate very much and am infinitely appreciative of the opportunity," I hasten to add at the expressions on their faces. "But I never wanted to be more than a pilot."

When Edwards' stare turns to steel I just about trip over my tongue to assure him "I am very grateful you want me for your XO, Sir and I promise to be the best one I can be."

"Excellent!" Edwards exclaims rubbing his hands together. "I trust the Major's transfer papers are all in order?" he asks Hammond.

"You know they are," Hammond replies a bit snippily which has my eyebrows rising because I've never seen the General like this.

Edwards doesn't even try to hide the triumphant smile that crosses his face at Hammond's tone. "So, Major," he begins turning to me. "Take the rest of the week off and I'll see you bright and early Monday in the briefing room. Dismissed."

The next several months are…interesting to say the least. Most of my day for the first weeks is spent getting to know Colonel Edwards' personality, how he likes things done and, most important, what decisions I can make on my own and which ones need his final say.

Once I have his way of leading down, and am comfortable with it, I spend the next weeks learning about the men under me. Mostly I spend my time showing them I'm one of them and that they can trust me with anything and everything. I think 'winning' over the men is harder than learning to be at ease with Edwards.

By the time I'm completely settled into my new position as Edwards' XO, a sizable amount of naquadah is discovered on P3X-403. Everything is just fine until three months in.

"God…three months on this rock and I still can't get a decent cup of coffee," Edwards complains with a grimace when I approach where he's trying to enjoy his morning cup.

"Core sample analysis still coming in, but so far ... highest concentration is 2.3 parts per million," I say a bit smugly.

"2.3 parts ..." Edwards says thoughtfully, turning to face me and I nod my head. "Major Lorne, we need enough naquadah to manufacture 303s. You know how big a battle cruiser is?"

"It's… pretty big, Sir."

"Hmm ... if we start mining these deposits right now, today, your great-grandchildren are still gonna be trying to pull out enough ore just to make one." Well, damn. Here I was thinking we'd hit the jackpot when we hadn't.

Before I can even form a reply to that, Lieutenant Menard walks up, excited, carrying a printout. "Colonel Edwards?" He salutes and from where I'm standing next to him I can feel him vibrating in place. I rub my hand over my chin to hide my grin. Won't do for the men to think I'm amused by their excitement.

"Menard ..." Edwards acknowledges him by lifting his cup.

"You're gonna want to see this, Sir. Latest sample analysis shows a concentration fifty times higher than anything we've seen so far ... and-and it's increasing as we go deeper." He pauses to fiddle with his glasses. "This could be the one, Sir!" Menard is like an excitable little puppy. All eager to show off his newest trick.

Edwards takes the printout and looks it over. "Yeah. If this pans out, your great-grandchildren might just be off the hook." He looks up at me, his face as serious as ever.

"Yes, Sir." I can't keep the pleased smile off my face. A smile that Edwards returns.

A couple of hours later the newest member of our team, a Captain Miller, comes running up to where I'm eating lunch. "Major Lorne?" He sounds scared. Being the newest member of our team he has yet to figure out that I never shoot the messenger.

"Yes, Captain?" I put down my sandwich and wipe my hands on a napkin.

Miller takes a deep breath and tells me his news. "Lieutenant Ritter is missing."

"Missing?" How can that be?

"Yes, Sir, missing," he confirms with a nod.

"How long? And from where?" I demand, getting to my feet, my lunch forgotten.

"He was taking some scans of a clearing to the south. He didn't return for chow and we can't raise him on his radio."

"Has anyone been to his last known position?"

"Yes, Sir. There were signs of a struggle and tracks leading off into the woods."

"Gather as many men as you can and start a search and rescue," I bark orders, marching toward Edwards' tent. "I'll inform the Colonel." This is a conversation I am so not looking forward to.

Pausing just outside Edwards' tent, I take a moment to collect my thoughts and figure out exactly what I need to tell him. "Colonel?" I call and wait for permission to enter.

He glances up from the report he's reading and waves me inside. "What can I do for you, Major?"

Clearing my throat, I settle into parade rest with my hands clasped behind my back. "Captain Miller just informed me that Lieutenant Ritter is missing, Sir."

His eyebrows climb his forehead. "Missing?"

"Yes, Sir. He was surveying a clearing south of here and when he didn't return for chow and didn't answer on his radio, Miller went to check on him and found signs of a struggle and tracks leading off into the woods. I told Miller to gather some men and begin an S&R."

"Very good," Edwards praises and dismisses me by returning his attention to the report he had been reading. "Is there anything else?" he asks when he notices I have yet to leave his tent.

Shifting slightly because what I'm about to suggest just might have me stepping over the line of what advice I'm allowed to give. "Permission to speak freely, Sir?"

"Of course, Major."

"I suggest we ask the SGC to send SG-1, if they're not currently off-world or grounded. They have more experience with S&R than we do. Especially Colonel O'Neill."

"This is true. But if I recall correctly you were involved with several successful S&Rs in Iraq."

I duck my head to hide the blush and grin that always pops up at hearing a superior talk about my past missions, well the successful ones that is. "Yes, but from the air, Sir. O'Neill has experience searching from the ground."

"I picked you as my XO because I trust your judgment, Major. If you think we need SG-1, then ask Hammond to send them."

"Very good, Sir."

While heading to the MALP to call the SGC for our scheduled check-in, I rehearse what I'm going to say. Stopping in front of the DHD I dial Earth and watch the wormhole bloom to life. Once the event horizon has settled down to crystal blue ripples, I activate the radio on the MALP and request to speak with Hammond.

"Major Lorne," Hammond brings my attention back to the present. "How are things?"

"Well, Sir, things could be better. We found extremely large deposits of naquadah."

"I consider that very good news, Major. Why do you think things could be better?"

"Well, Sir, one of the men, a Lieutenant Ritter, is missing. We have evidence of a struggle and him being dragged off into the woods. We've searched about as much as we can but we're not trained in S&R. Colonel Edwards would like to request the help of SG-1, if they are available."

"If I remember correctly, Major, you were involved in S&R in Iraq," Hammond reminds me, causing me to grimace.

"Yes, Sir, I was but that was from the air. I was the pilot. I'm just about useless on the ground."

Hammond chuckles. "All pilots think that way, son. You're in luck. SG-1 is just coming off a forced three day leave. I'll tell O'Neill to have his team suit up and they should be there within the hour."

I give a brief nod, knowing he can see it even if I can't see him. "Thank you, General. I'll inform Edwards that they're on their way." With a brief salute, I cut the transmission and head back to Edwards' tent.

SG-1 (minus Carter) has arrived, over an hour past when Hammond assured me they'd be here, to help search for the missing scientist. Menard comes running up to where we're standing, talking about the S&R efforts so far and salutes. Edwards throws him a sloppy salute in return. He once told me he doesn't like to be saluted all the time but Menard must not have gotten that particular memo because he salutes every time he sees Edwards.

"Colonel Edwards?" Menard pants, handing Edwards a piece of paper before he scurries away.

Edwards takes the paper and barely glances at it. "I'm glad you're here, Jack. We're not trained for search and rescue. And Ritter's been missing now for three hours."

"I assume he's got a compass and a radio?" O'Neill can be one hellava snarky bastard but I guess he has to ask.

Realizing that O'Neill has no idea about the problems we've encountered on this planet, I enlighten him as respectively as I can. "The planet has peculiar electromagnetic properties which make a compass useless and severely limit the range of our radios."

"He's a good man and we need him back. Especially now, we think we may have discovered a significant deposit of naquadah." Edwards apparently didn't take too kindly to the implied insult the Colonel dealt our man.

"How significant?" Teal'c is usually the silent muscle to O'Neill's mouth but not today.

"Well, we won't know that until we complete our analysis," I answer, hoping we can stop talking soon and get on with finding the missing scientist.

Edwards deems my answer not enough and adds, "The Pentagon wants battle cruisers and F-302s. We find the rocks."

"And we find the rock ... finders." O'Neill really has a quirky sense of humor but it failed him this time and he shares a chagrined look with Jackson.

Edwards turns to me and we share a similar look before he says, "There you have it. Um ... Major Lorne will show you where Ritter was last seen ..."

"Yes, Sir. If you'll follow me ..." I instruct and begin leading them out of camp, the sound of the resonance scanners echoing in the background.

Unfortunately I lead them right past a line of crates that are covered with a tarp. Jackson demands, "What's this?" When I turn around to see what he's talking about I see he's pulled back the tarp and is looking at the tools lying on top of the crates like they were his favorite toy and some bully had borrowed them and then returned them broken. I walk back to stand beside Jackson. Not fully grasping what it is I did wrong. But I'm sure he'll tell me. "Artifacts?" he turns to look at me and I feel like I just kicked his puppy.

"Yes." I really want to say 'Here's your sign' but don't think the joke'd go over too well right now.

"You found all this and you-you didn't contact me?" he asks, aghast that anyone would do that.

"We were going to ..." I try to explain.

"They've been moved." He talks over me.

Is he dense or something? Just how long has he been working with the military that he doesn't get that when things are in the way you move them. "Well, they were in the way." I speak slowly as if to a child.

In the mean time, O'Neill has walked back to stand behind me. At this point he steps forward and puts a hand on Jackson's shoulder. "Daniel... go to your happy place." He tells him in a soft soothing voice that tells me he's worked with the scientist long enough to know just how to calm him, although Jackson doesn't look like he wants to let it go. O'Neill pats Jackson's shoulder then turns and gives me a look of warning. "Go," He orders.

I turn and begin leading the way again.

When we get to where Ritter was doing his scans, I look through his surveying scope, hoping to see something but I never was much of a surveyor.

"Lieutenant Ritter was recording elevations and mapping the surrounding area." I walk over to where O'Neill is standing looking out at the treeline. "When he didn't show up for chow, we got worried and went out looking for him, Sir. Uh ... sent up a couple of flares ... hoped he'd see 'em, get his bearings ..." Being around Colonel O'Neill has always made me nervous and now is no exception. In fact right now I feel like I could throw up.

"Is it normal for guys to wander away from camp?" The Colonel has his arms crossed over his P90 in what I can only describe as an overly casual posture.

I don't know what to tell him. Shrugging I offer some suggestions. "Well, he might have been placing markers ... you know, multiple sightings, some up to half a mile ... you get turned around." I turn around when I hear Teal'c emerging from the treeline.

"Teal'c?"

"The ground is extremely firm, O'Neill," The Jaffa informs us.

"No tracks?" O'Neill asks, although I'm sure he already knows the answer.

"Not in the immediate area. However, there is considerable damage to the underbrush moving off in several different directions."

Then over the radio, we hear Jackson's excited voice. "Jack, come in."

O'Neill clicks his radio. "Yeah. Go ahead."

"I've got ... something ... see." There's so much interference that the transmission is garbled.

"I'm not reading you ... say again."

When Jackson responds the second time we can hear him clearly. "I said, I've got something here you need to see."

"All right. On my way." He turns to Teal'c, the two Marines Edwards sent with us and myself and orders, "You guys keep looking. I'll be back." Teal'c bows his head in acceptance of the command and I nod, then turn back to face Teal'c and ask what his instructions are.

"I believe we should investigate in a different direction."

"You lead, we'll follow," I say and fall into step when he turns to enter the forest again.

Before we really have a chance to look around, O'Neill's voice comes over the radio. "Teal'c, come in."

"Proceed O'Neill."

"Find anything?"

"We have not," Teal'c informs him.

"Well, heads up. Daniel just found evidence a Unas might have been in the area."

Teal'c turns to look at me and raises an eyebrow. From what I know of him it's the closest he'll ever get to saying 'we are so screwed'. He turns back around and says into his radio, "Acknowledged."

We soon find a clearing with several 'scarecrow' type structures that appear to be made of various Jaffa weapons, uniforms and sticks. It's a frightening sight. Teal'c moves to a rock and picks up a necklace of bones.

"What is it?" I ask. I've never seen anything like it.

Teal'c looks like he ate something that didn't agree with him. "The Unas wear these to prevent the Goa'uld from burrowing into their necks."

I have a feeling we've really put our foot in it this time. This whole area looks like it's sacred to the Unas.

"I believe these figures are intended as a warning to stay away," he continues, examining one such figure.

I walk further ahead on the trail of 'scarecrows' and look at another. When I turn around, I find one with Ritter hanging on it. Teal'c joins me and I have to really struggle to not vomit.

"Lieutenant Ritter ..." Teal'c says needlessly. And that's all it takes for me to lose my lunch. I rush to the edge of the path and toss my cookies in the bushes. It's not like I've never seen a dead man before so it must be the brutality with which he was killed.

Back at camp, Ritter's body is placed into a body bag and prepped for transport through the gate back to Earth.

Edwards is understandably pissed and starts barking orders. "All right! I want extra ammo for everyone. Keep your eyes open and stay in radio contact."

Jackson turns from the aerial map of the area and demands, "What are you intending to do?"

Edwards gives him a 'Were you dropped on your head as a child?' look. "These things killed one of my men and strung him up like a scarecrow. What the hell do you think I intend to do?"

I may never have actually met Doctor Daniel Jackson before this but I have seen him around the mountain, plus everyone at the SGC knows who he is, but I never thought of him as such a bleeding heart pacifist. I mean, I know he's always trying to talk the military in O'Neill down but I never thought he'd counter a Colonel's orders after an enemy had killed a man. "Well, you may have, unknowingly, provoked them."

His statement gives Edwards pause. "We didn't even know they were here. How the hell could we have provoked them?"

Jackson turns and points to the aerial picture behind him. "If this mine extends as far as your estimates say, then this other entrance would be well within the tunnel network. It's an alternate entrance to the same mine. Now, it has to be something about this area ... this mine. They don't want us here."

"The feeling's mutual." Edwards' military side is showing and so Jackson does what he does best and turns to O'Neill, who just happens to outrank Edwards.

"Jack?" he pleads.

O'Neill turns to Edwards and tries to soothe his ruffled feathers. "Look, I know he can be a little..." he falters as he tries to find the word and settles on just waving his hand around, "but he's usually right about this stuff."

Edwards stands his ground. "My orders are to determine the potential of this sight as a mining operation. Until those orders are rescinded, I'm going to do whatever it takes to ensure the safety of my people. So, are you going to help me secure this area, or not?"

O'Neill decides the best thing to do in this situation is to help us fight and we all go off into the forest, armed to the teeth. The battle is short but brutal and both sides have losses. Colonel O'Neill, almost being one of them, is saved by Jackson's knowledge of the Unas' language. O'Neill orders us all back to Earth to have our injuries tended to. While there, Edwards discusses with Hammond how to 'deal with the Unas problem'. Jackson manages to get them to agree to let him bring in another Unas he's had dealings with in the past.

When we get back, the camp is in ruins. Many objects have been burned and are still on fire.

"Looks like the Unas had a little party while we were gone," I state the obvious, stepping around debris.

Edwards knows when to admit he was wrong and this is one of those times, but he does it with a bit of snark. "You're right, Doctor Jackson. They're much more advanced than what I thought. They have command of fire. Major Lorne, as soon as this place is cleaned up, I want you to get a resonance scan analysis of the lower mine shafts."

"Yes, Sir." I turn and signal to some men to follow me and we begin cleaning up the area.
= = =
Teal'c and I are talking quietly about how I don't get enough practice at staff fighting when Jackson and Chaka return to the camp. "Doctor Jackson ... how'd it go?" I call out seeing him headed our way.

"Well, I figured out why they attacked us. It's this mine ... it's sacred to them." He doesn't even stop, just blows right past Teal'c and me. I follow him as he continues to walk toward Edwards' tent. "Most of their ancestors were worked to death by the Goa'uld while they were mining it," he says over his shoulder. "It's a wonder they didn't attack us the minute we set foot on this planet."

"Doctor, look ..." I try to interrupt and tell him what we've found.

"Now I told them I'd speak to my superiors on their behalf." He just talks right over me. "Sacred burial grounds are protected on Earth from industrial development. I think the same rule should apply here. We have to leave."

We get to the communications tent and I finally get a word in edgewise. "We got the results of the resonance scan. The deposit is over 300 meters in length and almost completely solid." I show him the image on a computer screen.

Edwards walks up and smugly says, "53,000 metric tons ... we're not going anywhere."

I don't think Jackson takes the news all that well. He goes back to the gate and calls the SGC to tell them about his meeting with the Unas, then goes back to talk with the Unas leader again.

Edwards has stepped up patrols of the area without Jackson's knowledge. One young soldier is a tad nervous and misunderstands a Unas' intentions which brings the rest of the Unas out of hiding.

We've all made it back to the camp, though the Unas' roar continues to be heard in the background.

"Colonel, we have to get out of here right now." Jackson tries to reason with Edwards.

Edwards isn't O'Neill and so doesn't really trust Jackson's opinion. "I don't buy it."

Jackson waves one hand toward the surrounding hills. "Are you hearing this?"

"A population that large would have been seen by aerial scans." Edwards is as stubborn as a mule.

"Unas live primarily underground in caves where aerial scans don't detect them." Jackson is getting desperate in his need to get Edwards to listen to him.

Teal'c speaks up. "Our position will be overrun."

Jackson is clearly frustrated. "I was this close to working on an agreement with them. They just want to be left alone."

Chaka gets Daniel's attention. "Dan'el!"

Chaka and Daniel stop to look in the direction of Iron Shirt. The soldiers take up defensive positions and aim their weapons. Iron Shirt raises his arms and roars.

Jackson doesn't want any blood to be shed and orders, "Hold your fire!"

Edwards, ever the military man, insists, "If they attack, we will defend ourselves!"

They look back at Iron Shirt and suddenly he is joined by a lot of other Unas. Suddenly there are Unas everywhere on the rise in front of us. The roar grows even louder. Iron Shirt lets out a long loud wail and all the others quiet down. Then just a low rumbling can be heard.

Several soldiers move to take up defensive positions, though their attempts will most likely be futile.

Edwards knows when he's out manned. "You're right, Doctor Jackson. Let's get back to the 'gate."

"No, it's too late. If we move now, they'll run us down," Jackson tells him.

Iron Shirt takes a leap. Then he begins walking down the rise, alone, to the camp.

"What's he doing?" Edwards is nervous about this turn of events.

"I don't know." Guess Jackson doesn't know everything.

Iron Shirt keeps coming and tension among the soldiers rises.

Jackson glances over his shoulder at Edwards. "Don't do anything stupid ... He's giving us a chance."

"A chance to do what?"

Iron Shirt walks to within a few yards of Daniel. He stops and makes a few hissing sounds. "To surrender," Jackson says.

"Surrender? Not possible," Edwards scoffs.

"Don't do it, Colonel," Jackson snaps.

Edwards lowers his weapon and Daniel takes a step forward. "Kor Asek ... 'Uman a ta ka keka."

"What are you saying?"

"I'm saying we don't have to kill each other." He makes the sign language word for 'friend'. "'Uman a te a ka naya. We can be of the same tribe. A ka naya ko keka Onac. Together we can bring death to the Goa'uld."

"Tak!"

"Trick?"

"Dan'el ... cho' ee' che. 'Uman ko keka Unas."

Jackson looks at Edwards out of the corner of his eye. "He's saying that ... while we talk peace, Humans kill Unas. He doesn't believe me. We have to show respect. We have to get down on the ground."

Chaka is already starting to kneel.

"On the ground? There's no way I'm gettin' down on the ..." Edwards is used to being Alpha male and as such it goes against the grain for him to show submissiveness to anyone.

Jackson turns his head and talks to Edwards while trying to not offend Iron Shirt anymore than we already have. "Colonel, this is the way their social order works! We have to show submissiveness to show that we're not a threat, that we're not challenging them! We have to get down on the ground and that is all that we have to do."

Daniel, Chaka and Teal'c take a knee. Iron Shirt looks at Edwards.

"Colonel ... everyone, please?"

Edwards looks around once more at the large contingent of Unas and then kneels down. All of us follow his lead.

"Benna ..." He turns to roar at his followers. "A benna! A tar 'Uman!" There is a low rumbling from the Unas. Iron Shirt turns back to Daniel. "On-or."

"Honor. He understands. Cho' ee' che ... Kor Asek." He motions for Iron Shirt to sit.

Iron Shirt kneels down. Jackson opens a vest pocket and takes something out; from where I'm sitting I can't really see what it is. When he holds up a burning twig I figure out that it was a lighter. Iron Shirt pulls off his bone necklace and tosses it on the ground between him and Jackson. Jackson nods.

"Now we can negotiate." Daniel moves into a sitting position.

"How long do we have to kneel?" Edwards complains.

"As long as it takes." Jackson nods to Iron Shirt. Iron Shirt hisses back.
= = =
"A cha' aka, Dan'el," Iron Shirt says with a nod.

"A cha' aka, Kor Asek," Jackson replies. He picks up the necklace and stands, turning to speak with Edwards as Chaka moves to talk with Iron Shirt. "Well, I think we've got ourselves a deal."

"And what deal would that be, Doctor Jackson?"

"Well, we've agreed not to desecrate their sacred ground anymore."

"We have?"

"And in exchange-" Jackson and Edwards turn to watch as Iron Shirt tries to figure out the lighter. "-the Unas will honor their dead by helping defeat their ancestors' killers, the Goa'uld."

"And just how are they going to do that?"

"They're going to work the mine themselves."

"What? Did you propose this?"

"No, actually, it, uh, was Iron Shirt."

Iron Shirt has now mastered the lighter and is very pleased with himself.

"Okay, let me get this straight ... the Unas are going to mine this deposit and turn all the naquadah over to us?"

"That's right ..."

"Can they, uh, work a jackhammer?"

"I think you'll find they are very intelligent and can learn. You treat them with honor and respect and, uh ... and you'll find out what kind of allies they can be."

"O'Neill was right about you. You are a pain in the ass ... but, well worth it." He gives Jackson's shoulder a little tap. Jackson turns to join Chaka and Iron Shirt. Iron Shirt proudly displays his burning twig.

"Ah ... Dan'el." Jackson nods and then looks at Chaka.

"Aka ..." Chaka bows his head ala Teal'c.

Once the threat of the Unas is solved, Jackson takes Chaka back to his home world. It takes Edwards several days before he's comfortable having the Unas in and around the camp. That's not to say there aren't times when I wish Jackson hadn't left and taken Chaka with him. The Unas prove to be extremely quick learners and soon we can communicate, if not perfectly, then definitely with more ease than when we first discovered their presence on the planet.

Several months later, I'm back on Earth for scheduled leave, aka ordered by my mother, when O'Neill, who has since been promoted to General, calls me into his office.

"Sir?" I knock on the frame of his open door.

He looks up from the file he's reading. "Lorne. Have a seat." He motions me in and to one of the chairs in front of his desk.

I can't for the life of me figure out why he would want to see me. My last eval with Edwards went very well so I know there's not a problem with the way I perform my duties. Settling nervously into the same chair I occupied when Hammond told me I was being transferred to Edwards' team, I do my best to not let O'Neill see the effect he has on me.

Unfortunately he doesn't seem inclined to put me at ease and returns his attention to the file on his desk, leaving me to figure out how to not squirm. I'm a Major in the United States Air Force, not some punk high schooler who's been caught by the principal smoking in the boy's room.

Finally he takes pity on me and sets the file aside. Stacking his hands on top of his desk he leans forward, catching my eye. "I'm about to give you an opportunity of a lifetime, Major," he begins, a smug smile curling his lips.

Knowing what he has in mind, I try to find the words to tell him thanks, but no thanks. I've never wanted any kind of command, which is why it took a Colonel and a General to convince me to become second in command of a gate team. I've been quite happy for the past year in my semi-command position, Edwards is very easy to get along with, but I don't want, or need, the headache that comes with command. "With all due respect, Sir-" I try and head him off.

"No, hear me out, Major," he interrupts, one hand raised, palm out. "I understand you're one of the few who is more than content to stand behind the guy giving the orders but I feel you need a push. I've been watching you for a while now and I can see something in you that would make an excellent team leader. You're designation will be SG-20 and you'll be the team that goes back to planets where Daniel finds something of interest so you're going to need an archeologist and linguist." He pauses and his smile grows into a grin. "Out there on the table," he jerks his head in the direction of the briefing room, "are two piles of personnel files. One with the scientists that have worked with Daniel and therefore know what he'll expect of them and one with all the available Marines. You need to pick two Marines and one scientist. You have two weeks. Dismissed." He picks up another folder and begins to read it.

Blinking at this sudden turn of events, I stand and make my way to the table and the piles of file folders. Sitting down in one of the chairs I idly wonder if O'Neill told Edwards before this or if he's leaving that up to whoever he picked to replace me.

Grabbing a folder off the pile to my left, I flip it open and instantly find the Marine I want for my 2IC; Captain Johan Ames. I then sort through the rest of the files putting aside those who have a higher rank than Ames, most of who, for whatever reason, have a higher rank than even me. Seriously, what was O'Neill thinking giving me files on men who outrank me? I can't possibly be the leader of SG-20 if one of the men outranks me. Shaking my head at that, I begin looking for the third member of my team.

Several minutes later I have three possible candidates: Lance Corporal Bear Blackthorne, Second Lieutenant Mark Travis and Private First Class Joy Morris. I set them aside with a note to ask Walter to have them report to me within the next couple of days and begin going through the pile of scientists.

I've set four files into my possible pile when Jackson enters. "Major Lorne," he greets in a tone that tells me he was looking for me.

"Doctor Jackson," I greet him back with a nod of my head.

He takes the seat in front of me and pulls the remaining files toward him. He shuffles through them quickly. A frown settles on my brow. "Um, Doc? Just what are you doing?"

"Just a minute, Major," he responds in a tone I recognize from when he was last on P3X-403. It's a tone that tells me he's not really listening.

I sit back in my chair, drumming my fingers on the table. Hearing muffled laughter; I look to my left and see O'Neill standing in the doorway to his office, one hand over his mouth and his shoulders shaking. Narrowing my eyes, I turn back to see Jackson holding up one file.

Handing it over he tells me, "Here's your archeologist, Major. She's my protégé and second only to me in knowledge of Ancient ruins and languages."

Taking the folder from him, I flip it open. Ignoring the picture, because it has no bearings on whether or not she'll be a perfect fit, I scan her profile: Doctor Astra Owen, Australian, degree from Oxford, divorced, no kids, comes from an Australian Air Force family, has a twin brother who also works at SGC and has been at SGC almost as long as I have. Whistling softly at her credentials, I look up at Jackson. "When will she be available for an interview?"

"I believe she's off-world with SG-9 at the moment," Jackson begins.

"They're scheduled back at 2000 hours tonight," O'Neill interjects. "Give her a day to rest up."

I nod in agreement. "That's fine. Day after tomorrow, say 1100 hours?" I turn back to Jackson. As her supervisor, he'll be the one to pass along the request. He nods and gathers the files of the ones I didn't choose.

"Did ya have to meddle, Daniel?" O'Neill asks sauntering into the room and picking up the files I've set aside as possible candidates. "I can save you some time here, Major," he says doing some meddling of his own. "Corporal Blackthorne is much better qualified than these other two."

"Stop meddling, Jack," Jackson chides standing up and pushing O'Neill out of the room.

"I'll ask Walter to send your three choices in to talk to you tomorrow. How far apart would you like the appointments set?"

"An hour? I plan on talking to them for anywhere from fifteen minutes to half an hour."

"Sounds good." O'Neill side-steps Jackson's attempts to shove him through the door to his office. "We'll make the first one for 0800 tomorrow?"

His question reminds me I'm supposed to be back on P3X-403 at 0800 in the morning. "Um, General?" I call, standing up. "Colonel Edwards is expecting me at 0800 tomorrow."

"Not anymore he's not," O'Neill replies.

"So you told him I'm getting my own gate team?"

He rocks back on his heels, a smirk crossing his face. "Nope."

"So, what? You're going to let Lorne's replacement tell him?" Jackson demands, slapping O'Neill's arm with the back of his hand.

O'Neill shrugs. "What? I'm the General. I can let someone else do the telling of bad news, if I want."

"Let me, please, Sir," I request. "Edwards was very good to me and I'd feel guilty not telling him myself. I can take my replacement, show him around, make sure the men know to respect him same as they did me."

"Alright," O'Neill gives in. "I'll have Walter set the interviews up for day after tomorrow starting at 0800. I expect you back here at 1900 tomorrow." He points a finger at me, then lets Jackson turn him around and push him through the door, closing it behind them.

That settled, I gather the files I didn't choose. "I'll get those, Major. If you want to just leave them for now," Walter pokes his head in to inform me.

"Very good, Sergeant." I begin to walk out of the room before remembering. "General O'Neill has the names of four people I need to meet day after tomorrow to discuss them joining the new gate team I'll be leading."

"Yes, Sir. Very good." He begins gathering the files.

"Thank you, Sergeant," I tell him, exiting the room and heading to the locker room to take a shower before I turn in for the night. As is my habit, I'll be spending the night in my on-base quarters so I don't risk oversleeping and being late to step through the gate.
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