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Fanfiction: Broken Wings, Chapter 19

For author's note and disclaimer see Chapter 1

Sam tried not to laugh at the faintly disgusted look on Jack's face as he watched Rodney and Daniel bickering over the computer in the corner of Daniel's office. Sam looked around briefly taking in the homey clutter of ancient objects and breathed in the scent of dust and parchment; ink and age.

Jack sat on a stool watching the two men; his arms were crossed over his green BDU shirt. She nudged his elbow with hers as she slid onto the stool beside him.

His dark eyes met hers and warmed affectionately; his whole body loosening almost imperceptibly with her presence. 'You OK, Carter?'

'I'll be glad when General Landry's back and I can fully concentrate on the Hammond.' Sam admitted with a tired sigh.

Jack's gaze flickered back meaningfully towards Daniel and Rodney. 'I can't say I blame you.'

'How're they doing?' Sam asked quietly.

'I think Daniel's winning the argument but as I have no idea what they're arguing about…' he gave a shrug. 'Why did I have to be here for this again?'

'You wanted to find out the intelligence on the Lucien Alliance as soon as Daniel and Rodney got the contents of the laptop recovered.' Sam reminded him.

'Right.' Jack's head tilted towards her; his eyes crinkling at the corners. 'Any sign of the five we have in custody cracking?'

'Davis and Reynolds are still in with them.' Sam reported crisply. 'Nothing yet though.' She chewed her lip thoughtfully. 'They're all too calm given the situation.' She sighed. 'I think I might ask Teal'c to come back for an hour; see if he can get anything out of them.'

'I could have a go.' Jack offered casually.

Sam shook her head, smiling. 'I don't want to give them the impression that they're that important that they merit the Head of Homeworld Security.'

Jack huffed but she could see the gleam of approval in his eyes.

Sam turned her thoughts back to the issue at hand. By all accounts, bar Anne Teldy's injury, the trap had been a success, but Sam wondered if it would be enough to put off another attack, and she couldn't help the feeling that they were missing something. They were still trying to trace the missing members of the cell including the seventh mysterious unidentified member who was somewhere on a boat in the Southern hemisphere. They hadn't gotten anything out of the operatives and their only other sources of information were the cell phone and the shot up laptop that the tech guy had been using at the coffee shop. At least, John and Cam were planning to take the precautions they had previously, using the earpieces and changing their destinations regularly.

She tuned into Daniel and Rodney's stream of chatter. Rodney had managed to get through the encryption on the hard drive – that was good – and they were arguing about the contents of the folders – or lack of content.

'Daniel, Rodney,' Sam raised her voice so it would carry across the room, 'what do you mean there's nothing in the folders?'

'Exactly that!' Rodney turned to her without missing a beat, his finger pointing back at the computer. 'There's no data. The laptop is clean.'

'Deleted?' Sam asked, frowning.

'No; clean.' Rodney emphasised waving a hand at it. 'There's nothing on it.'

'Maybe it's encrypted.' Daniel offered again, sitting down.

Rodney glared at him. 'I got through the encryption. There's nothing there apart from the jamming program.'

'If you'd gotten through the encryption, there'd be something.' Daniel huffed out, folding his arms over his chest as his blue eyes glinted mutinously behind the panes of glass.

'It's clean! That's why there's nothing there! How many times do I have to say it!' Rodney snapped, his cheeks flushing red with frustration.

'We should get some popcorn.' Jack murmured in Sam's ear.

She struggled not to smile but she knew if she did, Rodney would think she was laughing at him. She stood up instead. 'Daniel,' she began, 'if Rodney says he got through the encryption, he got through the encryption.'

'Thank you!' Rodney stated loudly, sending a smug look in Daniel's direction.

'So, we have a clean laptop set up only with the jamming program.' Sam stated, turning it over in her mind. Her eyes met Daniel's across the room as they both came to the same conclusion.

'Of course…' Daniel began excitedly.

'It makes sense.' Sam agreed, moving over to stand beside them.

'What?' Rodney asked, his gaze darting to Daniel then to Sam and back again.

'But if that's true…' Sam murmured, ignoring Rodney's rolling eyes.

'Then we have to assume…' Daniel continued as Rodney slumped against the computer table with a muttered 'why me.'

'Hey!' Jack yelled, grabbing all of their attention. He leaned forward. 'Anyone want to tell me what's going on?'

Sam blushed as she realised she'd ignored him. 'There's only one reason why they'd use a clean computer…'

'Clean meaning they sent it out to the dry cleaners?' Jack interrupted without apology.

Rodney straightened. 'Clean as in the laptop was brand new.' He explained. 'The operating system was installed today.' He suddenly frowned at the monitor and began typing rapidly on the keyboard.

'OK,' Jack said slowly, 'so they brought along a clean laptop which means…'

'That they knew there was the possibility that they could get captured and planned for it,' Daniel finished, 'which means it's very likely that they must have had a back-up plan for taking Mitchell in the event that we took down this group.'

'They must have another cell.' Sam suggested. 'One that Lovell didn't know about.'

'Well, tactically that makes sense.' Jack agreed, leaning forward over the bench. He raised a scarred eyebrow. 'If Lovell was the handler for this cell, that leaves the seventh member we can't find as the big enchilada.'

Daniel winced but nodded. 'Who probably has another team waiting in the wings ready to deploy.'

'But if we find him,' Jack waved a hand at Sam's hard look, 'or her,' he allowed, 'then we could take down the whole operation.'

'I'll check on the satellite trace. Daniel, can you inform John and Cam because they need to know…' Sam said, beginning to move back to the door.

'Wait!' Rodney ordered. 'I've found something.' He glanced over his shoulder. 'The jamming program isn't a jamming program.' He paused. 'Well, it is a jamming program but that's not the interesting thing.'

They all looked at him expectantly.

'Rodney?' Sam prompted; annoyance surging through her.

'Right.' Rodney moistened his lips and gestured at the computer. 'There's an uplink instruction to the Odyssey's beaming program embedded in the code but not activated.'

Sam's eyes snapped to his. 'The Odyssey.'

'Yes.' Rodney looked over at her with tired eyes. 'Reading this, I think the call must have been confirmation that someone on the Odyssey was prepared to accept the uplink.'

'But why?' Daniel asked, frowning.

'The beaming technology,' answered Rodney promptly. 'I think they planned to uplink to the Odyssey and use the beaming technology to transport everyone in a specified radius.'

'So, if Sheppard hadn't hit the laptop…' Daniel began in horror.

'They would have beamed everyone within the coffee shop to who knows where.' Rodney completed.

'They have to have someone on the Odyssey.' Sam said with a dry mouth. Her eyes shifted to Jack. 'We need to lock the ship down.'

Jack nodded sharply and jumped off the stool. 'I'd better go call Vidrine.'

Sam nodded briskly. 'SG3 and SG13 can go to the Odyssey and take control of the lockdown protocol. I'll get Teal'c here to talk with the guy who had the laptop; he might know who his opposite number is.'

'I should head up there too.' Rodney said. 'You're going to need someone do a full system check.'

'Sounds like a plan.' Jack noted.

They were at the door when the alarms sounded. Sam ignored the flash of anxiety that streamed through her as she ran for the control room, beating the others there.

'Report!' She ordered.

The technician, Andrea, waved a hand at the monitor where the red-headed Colonel Morrow stared out at her with a sneering expression. 'It's the Odyssey, ma'am. They're using the emergency channel.'

'Colonel.' Sam said shortly, feeling Jack take up residence at her elbow; Daniel hovered just behind as Rodney ushered Andrea away from the computer much as Sam would have done herself if she wasn't in command.

'Colonel.' Morrow tensed as he took in Jack. 'General.' His eyes slid back to Sam and he didn't bother to hide his irritation at having to talk with her. 'Approximately, thirty minutes ago, there was some kind of explosions in engineering. I have two dead; four others are injured. Both our ability to transport using the Asgard beam and most of our communications systems have been compromised.'

Sam let out a huff of breath. They'd been too late working it out, she realised. The Alliance operative aboard must have suspected they'd be caught and arranged something to distract them while they escaped.

'Unfortunately,' Morrow continued, 'I regret to inform you that the incident occurred shortly after we received a communication from Colonel Sheppard asking for an immediate beam-out.'

'Sheppard requested a beam-out?' Rodney turned to her hurriedly. 'Sam, if John was worried enough…'

She gestured for him to shut up for a moment; they needed to get all the facts.

'Was the beam-out successful?' Sam asked Morrow.

'No.' Morrow said.

Which meant that Cam and John had been left to face whatever attack had prompted the request alone.

'Rodney, we need their co-ordinates now.' Sam ordered swiftly.

Rodney tapped onto the computer and she realised he was accessing the Atlantis network for the sensor readings.

'Colonel…' Morrow began, evidently annoyed that her attention was no longer on him.

'Just a moment, Colonel.' Sam said without looking. She repressed the urge to shove Rodney away and complete the search herself. It was his friend in danger too, she told herself briskly; and he had more experience with Atlantis' computers than she did.

'Oh God.' Rodney said, his fingers freezing on the keyboard.

'What?' Jack asked impatiently.

Sam read the results over his shoulder and felt her heart stutter. 'The Atlantis sensors aren't picking them up any longer.' Her mind whirled through the possibilities; the Alliance wanted Cam alive so they had to be alive; she had to hold onto that thought. She placed a comforting hand on Rodney's shoulder. 'Rodney, how far extended are the sensors?'

'North America.' Rodney answered immediately. His eyes widened as he realised what her question inferred. 'You think they've been transported outside of the States.'

'Which means that they must have been transported before the beaming technology was put out of operation.' Daniel stated, catching on fast to Sam's own conclusions.

'And they probably did that deliberately so we couldn't follow them.' Sam said grimly. She turned back to the monitor. 'Morrow, we need the last known beaming coordinates from the Odyssey databank.'

'The explosions took out our systems.' Morrow shot back. 'And both my beaming technology experts including Novak are in the infirmary.'

Sam swivelled again. 'McKay, pull together whoever and whatever you need. You're leaving in fifteen minutes in the puddle jumper with SG3 to get to the Odyssey. I want you to get me those coordinates and fix the communications and beaming technology.'

'On it.' Rodney was out of his chair before he finished the sentence.

Sam nodded to Reynolds who had stayed out of the way in a corner of the control room and he left to organise his team. She motioned at Andrea.

'I want call in checks with the protection details on Mitchell's family and fiancée now.'

'Yes, ma'am.' The technical moved away to the phones; Daniel followed after her.

Sam straightened her shoulders and looked determinedly at the monitor. She knew Morrow was going to have a fit over the order but that wasn't her concern. 'Colonel Morrow, as of now the Odyssey is on lockdown. Nobody leaves; secure the 302 bay and ensure all are accounted for. Doctor McKay will be with you shortly along with SG3 to help fix the beaming technology and SG3 will help you with the lockdown security protocol. Is that understood?'

Morrow bristled as she knew he would. 'You don't have the authority…'

'Actually, I do as acting commander of the SGC and the Stargate programme.' Sam replied mildly but firmly. Her eyes glinted dangerously. If Morrow disobeyed her order she'd have him arrested, put in the brig and she'd give the command to Lieutenant Colonel Marks. She only wished she could do that anyway.

'Very well but I want to formally protest.' Morrow snapped.

'Your protest is noted.' Sam said coolly. She nodded to terminate the communication and the monitor went blank. She let out a small sigh of relief and brought up Rodney's search results again, backtracking to the last known coordinates. It was the Sheppard's airfield.

'I want the second puddle jumper prepped and ready to go now. SG13 and 24 need to be topside in fifteen minutes to head to those coordinates. I'll be joining them.' She pointed at the monitor and the aide she had ordered ran off to execute it.

'Sam!' Daniel slammed down the phone. 'Mitchell's parents are at the farm but Amy is missing. Teal'c said she'd retired to her bedroom and they didn't see her leave.'

'She was probably beamed out.' Sam muttered. 'Get suited up. We're leaving. Once we're dropped off at the airfield. You can take the puddle jumper and retrieve Teal'c and Ronon; meet us back there.' She moved to finally look at Jack. 'Can you handle the President for me?'

'Just the President?' Jack quipped lightly.

'You need to call General Vidrine too, and probably someone should update Richard and General Landry.' Sam said, already walking towards the staircase.

Jack sighed as he placed a hand on the small of her back. 'Why do I get all of the non-fun jobs?'

'Because you're the boss.' Sam smiled at him despite the worry pressing down on her and she appreciated his touch. It was as much as they allowed themselves on duty but it helped ground her.

She left Jack in her office and made for the private locker room she had access to as the acting head of the SGC. She changed quickly, aware of the deadlines she had set everyone else and was pleased when she was only a minute late climbing into the puddle jumper.

She acknowledged the teams and Daniel with a nod as she made her way to the passenger seat at the front and gave the order to lift off.

Daniel moved to the seat behind her. 'You know there is another reason why the sensors wouldn't be picking up Mitchell and Sheppard any longer.'

Sam's lips tightened. She knew that if they were dead their signatures would have blinked out. 'I know.'

'So…'

'So, we have to check but Rodney needs to be focused on finding them.' Sam admitted. She had to see for herself whether they were dead or not. She didn't believe that they were – not really. The Alliance wanted Mitchell alive to lead them to Landry and the spy too much, and acquiring John a bonus. But there was the possibility…

'Someone had to give away their location.' Daniel mused out loud, scratching the line between his brows. 'You think it was Amy?'

'The za'tarc test isn't a hundred per cent reliable,' Sam blushed as she remembered how they'd found that out; the ordeal of realising that the za'tarc test had discovered the unspoken truth about her feelings about Jack and his for her, 'and really it's not good at detecting certain types of brainwashing.'

'Or she's not brainwashed and she simply informed them herself.' Daniel said.

'Well, we're assuming Cam told her where he and John were headed.' Sam shook her head, sending the loose strands from her French plait flying. 'I can't see Cam doing that. She might still be an innocent in all this and they've taken her to blackmail Cam into doing what they want.'

'Which leaves the employees involved in arranging the airfield clearances at Sheppard International as the possible traitors.' Daniel said. 'They had to have known.'

'Maybe but it's likely if they did that they didn't understand the implications of leaking it.' Sam sighed. 'Or it could have been a lucky guess that Cam would stop in Colorado because it's home. We'll know more when we get there.' She shifted restlessly. 'We should have considered the possibility of more than one cell.'

'I'm not sure it would have made a difference.' Daniel commented. 'We took all the reasonable precautions we could; so did Mitchell and Sheppard. There's no way we could have predicted the Alliance getting a foothold on the Odyssey and turning the beaming technology against us. Honestly, I'm surprised that they haven't got it themselves since Ba'al had it.'

'Ba'al never liked sharing.' Sam pointed out dryly.

'Ma'am, ETA two minutes.' The Sergeant interrupted.

'Run full scans.' Sam ordered and frowned as the results snapped into holographic view above the control panel.

Dixon inched forward and grimaced. 'It looks abandoned.' He paused. 'No life signs.'

'How do you want to play this, Colonel?' Sam asked. Dixon had years more experience than she did and she was happy to acquiesce to his plan.

'SG24 can secure the perimeter; my team and you can take the hangar.' Dixon suggested.

'Agreed.' She snapped a look at Major Doyle, the leader of SG24, who answered 'yes, sir' smartly back. She turned to the Sergeant. 'You need to collect Teal'c and Ronon from Kansas. Stay cloaked and don't let anybody see you.'

'Yes, ma'am.'

Sam gave a sharp nod. 'Let's do this.'

They landed on the airstrip; light from the runway casting them in broken shards of light and shadow. There was a swell of air as the cloaked jumper took off again.

Sam aimed her P90 and crept forward alongside Dixon to the hangar door. They rested against the wall. Sam felt her body humming with the usual adrenaline and took a calming breath as she watched Dixon's hand signals; go on three; he'd go high, she should go low. She nodded and kept her eyes on his hand as he counted down.

The team moved like a well-oiled unit into the darkened hangar; the flashlights on their weapons the only light. They scoped out the corners and the hidey-holes, swiftly and with purpose; Sam swallowed hard as her light caught on the bullet holes adorning the plane. She kept her mind focused and blank, refusing to give into the small tremor of terror of what she would find inside, as she opened up the door. It took less than a minute to check that the plane was empty too.

They were gone. There were no bodies. It looked like the guess that John and Cam had been transported out was correct. She breathed out a shaky breath as various calls of 'clear' came from around the large space. She called out her own and heard Dixon order one of his men to find the lights.

The sudden brightness made her wince. The carnage looked worse in the harsh fluorescents; the plane had been shot up badly. Very badly. But not the cockpit, Sam realised as her brain got past the concern. She moved back inside the plane and checked the cockpit. Nothing. Sam inched back out and made her way over to Dixon.

'We have three bodies out back; two mechanics, who are both stripped to their underwear, and a guy who looks like the manager.' Dixon informed her briskly. 'It looks like the Alliance took over the airfield, allowed them to land, waved them in here and then…' he thrust his thumb towards the wrecked plane. 'Shame too because she's a beauty. Sheppard's going to be pissed.'

Sam's radio crackled. 'Perimeter is secure, Colonel, but we have a car at the gate with four individuals claiming to be from Sheppard International's security. They claim they were dispatched following the triggering of hidden alarms.'

'Roger that; send them through and I'll talk with them. Out.' Sam motioned at Dixon. 'I want a forensic search of the premises. Let's see if they left us any kind of clue.'

'Yes, ma'am.' Dixon agreed and walked away to order his team.

Sam went out to greet the approaching car. She held her weapon loosely but firmly. She didn't want to shoot them if they were actually Sheppard International employees. Jack would have gotten their presence at the airfield cleared with the President but legally they were on very shaky ground being there at all.

The black SUV pulled up; three men and a woman climbed out. The driver, the woman and the other man who had been in the back seat hung back. The guy who had exited from the passenger seat made his way to her; tall, in his forties, dark hair cropped short – and he was holding a cell phone to his ear.

'My boss wants to talk to you.' He said, extending the phone.

Sam nodded. He grinned at her. She took the phone with her free hand, keeping hold of her weapon with the other – a move not lost on the guy in front of her.

'This is Colonel Carter.' Sam said formally.

'This is David Sheppard.' John's brother snapped back. 'What the hell is going on?'

Sam sighed and moved away from her audience. 'There was an incident at the airfield when Colonels Sheppard and Mitchell arrived. I regret to inform you that three of your employees have been killed in the crossfire. We're here to investigate.'

'I want to speak to my brother.'

'I'm afraid your brother is missing at the present time.' Sam replied with a wince.

'He's missing! Who took him? Was it the…people your Major Davis informed me about? Is there a rescue…there is a rescue plan, right? You're not just going to leave him and…'

'Mister Sheppard,' Sam broke into the panicked babble, 'all I can tell you is that we're going to do everything we can to get John back. The rest is classified.'

'Please.' Dave said immediately. 'He's my brother. I can't…I need to help. Don't you have a brother? Or a sister?'

'I have a brother and yes,' Sam forestalled his argument, 'if he was missing I would want to be involved.' She debated it briefly before she sighed. 'I'll have someone come and brief you fully, but in exchange I need your full cooperation. It's likely the information about your brother's whereabouts was leaked by someone in your organisation.'

'You'll have it. If you could please pass the phone back to Mr Kelly.' Dave replied in a calmer tone.

'Thank you.' Sam walked back to Kelly and gave him the phone. She stared up at the night sky. They would find the two men; they would. She only hoped it wouldn't be too late.


Chapter 20

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