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Learning How To Fly Chapter 3


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Chapter 3

*

“General O’Neill,” Elizabeth greeted the face on the screen with genuine pleasure. She had been hard pressed not to check in with Earth several days early, but if Winchester was telling the truth, such an event would be noticed and draw dangerous attention to the Marine. To protect Atlantis, she had had Ronon shadowing Winchester and some extra corpsman in the infirmary. They were friends, but Ronon’s loyalty was to John Sheppard not the mysterious Marine. “I am glad to see you up and about.”

“I’m good. Are you all good?”

“We are doing well.”

“Weir, I hear that you’re checking out the specs on one of the weapons I sent you.” Jack always did cut to the chase.

It was easy enough for Elizabeth to translate the spy-speak. “I was concerned that I wasn’t informed beforehand.”

“Need to know.”

Elizabeth fought the urge to bite her tongue. “I do need to know. Next time, please give me a bit of a heads up.”

Jack shrugged. “I’ll see what I can do, Elizabeth.”

“Speaking of your weapon, it needs some more ammunition, the experimental kind.”

“Send me the list,” Jack ordered. “I’ll see to it.”

“It’s on the datafile, encrypted.”

Elizabeth watched as Walter handed the general a USB drive. “It’s on there, sir. Only copy.”

Jack pocketed it. “Consider it done.”

“We found the weapon to be most effective,” Elizabeth added. “We’d like the new ammunition ASAP.”

“Understood. I’ll see what I can do.”

*

General Jack O’Neill accepted the data file from Walter, pocketed it and completed his on-base duties of the day. He trusted Walter to remove evidence of the file from the mainframe. So he had the only copy of the ‘mysterious experimental weapon’ he had sent to Atlantis. People –especially the NID and the Trust- would be curious and want the information. He had two different people try to pick his pocket that day, like he was some desk-flier that hadn’t finished some real duty, like he didn’t know that the SGC wasn’t totally secure.

That was an annoyance.

The problem was dropping off the radar to read the files. He knew full well that only one person had the encryption code and he wasn’t about to lead the Trust and several others to the source. He knew that some of the people tailing him had been taught by his teachers.

Jack knew those teachers and the kinds of men that were their students and one thing connected all the others: they didn’t believe in the supernatural. They also didn’t have Carter to cover their tracks. He had two very big edges over his opponents. If he didn’t outwit them, Jack would have to return his shiny stars to the President.

A couple of phone calls later and a spell (since when did he do stupid things like spells and Daniel had better not find out), Jacob Lloy was driving in a rusty old pick-up to the middle of nowhere Nebraska. It took him a number of hours to get to his destination. He walked into the Roadhouse slouching and with a smirk. In that way, he resembled the very young man who had told him to come here. Jack knew better than to be alarmed at all the sharp-eyed gazes following him. Men and women like this could sense fear, but they couldn’t hurt him like others had, so he had no worries.

He walked up to the pretty, feisty brunette (about his age) behind the bar and asked for Ash. She frowned and with the same sharp-eyed glare as her patrons, examined from head to toe. Jack grinned in response and waited.

Finally Ellen (it could be no one else from Dean’s description) yelled, ‘Ash!’

The drunk in the corner jerked.

Ash!” She yelled again.

This time the mullet head stood and swayed. “Ellen?” he asked, blurry.

“Man’s here to see you.”

Jack nodded at this man as if he were one of the lackeys in the Pentagon or as Daniel nodded on a million different planets to a million different natives to keep them from killing SG1. “Jack,” he introduced himself.

“Ash,” the drunk replied. “Who are you?”

Jack grinned for real this time as he held up the USB drive. “I’ve got a message here for you and one that you need to decode for me. You up for it?”

The man shrugged. “I’m always ready, for business or pleasure.”

“No,” Ellen stepped between. “I don’t know you. I want someone else in there with you two.”

Jack thought about it. He trusted that Dean wouldn’t spill the secrets of the universe to someone as visually undependable as the drunk. And he was packing a zat. If it looked at all like Dean was about to reveal some secrets, Jack would zat them and leave them sleeping as he left the Roadhouse. “So be it.”

“Caleb?” Ellen called.

A strong, young (mid-thirties) man turned his head and nodded at her. Ellen waved him over. Caleb was about 5’5”, but muscle-bound. He looked like he had done his share of back-alley bar fights. Jack approved of his clear eyes and steady hands. Why couldn’t this be the computer genius?

Ash waved to a strong young man. “This is Caleb. Not that I can’t take care of myself or anything.”

Jack nodded and let Ash and Caleb preceded him to their destination. Ash led the way up to his ‘Dr. Badass’ room. Jack could smell weed through the closed door.

Calab was watching him with a hunter’s eyes. Jack didn’t mind. He tried to look like he didn’t have several aces up his sleeve. He didn’t convey any of his apprehension at having the man at his back as they entered the drunk’s sanctuary.

Ash walked straight to his computer and the redneck throne-like chair behind it. He held out his hand and Jack placed the USB drive in it. Ash handled the MacGyvered computer as if it was a lover. When the encrypted file appeared on the screen, Ash smiled. “So Dean found a good use for the program he traded for.”

“’Pears so.”

Jack felt a little better when it took Ash twenty minutes of confident keystrokes to unlock the files. There were only two, which was more than Carter could decipher. (She had theorized that two files were inter-coded to increase the encryption.) One was a word document and the other a video file. Ash opened the video first.

Dean appeared on the screen: a wall of Atlantis behind him, though that would be obvious to only one who was familiar with the city. He was grinning.

Ash pressed play.

“Hey Ash. If Caleb or Bobby isn’t the hunter that Ellen assigned for your protection –you wuss- change it over now. Caleb is preferable.”

Ash grumbled and glared at the two men smirking at him.

“So, have O’Neill print out the list and give it to Missouri. She’ll be able to find everything if she doesn’t already have it. I stored most of my experiments at her house. Caleb, O’Neill needs a tail. Because he got jumped –again- Ash’s fool proof identity for me wasn’t nearly good enough. And now you owe me, ‘cause I paid for fool proof. Caleb, I’ll have something new to trade for every time you keep O’Neill out of trouble. He knows about our side of the tracks, but doesn’t have the in-depth stuff. I managed to talk him into a tattoo, but not much else. It would be a bad thing if something got their hands on him. Thanks, Caleb, Ash, I’ll see you later.”

“Man,” Ash breathed. “Dean’s getting a governmental research lab? Better hope that the demons don’t hear that gossip.”

Jack didn’t like that Ash said that out loud. He didn’t like Ash realizing it at all. He glanced once at Caleb to see if he was a current danger, but the short man was glaring at Ash as well. So Jack pulled out his Zat and rendered the man unconscious. Jack pulled the man out of his chair.

“Help me get him out the back before Ellen sees him.”

Caleb snorted. “It’d be best to tell her. She’ll catch us and deliver an ass full of buckshot before we get him out to the parking lot.”

“Fine,” Jack sighed. “I’ll go tell Ellen and you put Ash into my truck.”

“I get the heavy lifting?”

“You’ve got the better knees.” Caleb lifted the druggie with envious ease. Jack frowned. “So where is Missouri that I need to meet up next?”

“Kansas.”

“Of course.” Jack picked up Ash’s computer and powered it down. It should come with them. Jack glanced around, making sure that he didn’t even leave fingerprints behind. It was ‘clean.’ Time to go.

*

Once Jack and Caleb explained that Ash’s loose lips would endanger Dean, Ellen reluctantly agreed that Ash should be shipped out. Caleb promised to be involved in his final destination. Luckily, Jack always carried around the SGC disclaimer papers in case of an accident. Caleb signed fast enough that Jack wondered if Dean had prepped him for this. On top of getting Ellen to agree with his plan, Jack also finagled a fun date-date out of her with the excuse that he would update her on Ash’s health once he was at his final destination.

Jack called the Antarctica infirmary (‘cause he trusted the doc there) and told him about all the drugs currently in the drunk’s system and then asked for the best way to keep the man out of commission for a week. The doc hemmed and hawed for a while before giving Jack answer. Daniel was in Antarctica with the doctor and butted in on the conversation. With eyes that promised Jack that he was going to spill all of this at the earliest opportunity, the geek suggested using an Ancient stasis chamber. Teal’c showed up to take the drunk off Jack’s hands and the general thought that the hard part of this trip was over.

Then he knocked on a door in suburbia Lawrence, Kansas. A big, colorful African American woman opened the door and glared at him.

“You’re late,” she said. Then she tilted her head. “You poor dear, you do live in interesting times, general.”

Jack was dressed in civies. There was no way she should have been able to guess his rank. His first thought was ‘Dean should have warned me.’

“Where’s the fun in that?” Missouri Moseley asked. She smiled at Jack’s riding partner. “Caleb.”

“Ma’am.”

“This will be good for you. You’ll be less of a pawn. You will make a difference there.”

Caleb took the psychic’s words in stride. “Good.”

Missouri turned her attention back to Jack. Jack was ready for her this time. He kept his mind on one track, the easiest one he knew: Name, rank and serial number. Name, rank and serial number. Name, rank and serial number.

“Very well,” Missouri waved Jack into her house. “I won’t pry. You are very good at protecting your thoughts.”

“Practice, ma’am.”

“I imagine so.” She smiled, “here’s a question I rarely have to ask: why are you here?”

Jack handed over the sheets of paper that they had printed out at a copy shop in town. “Dean said that you’d be able to gather this.”

Missouri scanned through the papers. “That poor boy, so far from home and anyone who knows. Caleb, there’s two trunks at the bottom of the basement stairs. They’re all packed and ready to go. I’m going to have to go shopping. He’ll need fresh herbs. He’ll also need some encouragement. How good of a cook are you?”

Jack blinked. “Ma’am?” He liked to cook, especially if it was on a grill.

She apparently had read the answer in his head. “I have cookie dough in the fridge. The cookie sheets are in the cupboard to the right of the stove. I should be back by the time the last batch of cookies are out of the oven.”

Missouri grabbed a bright red and orange scarf and her purse which Jack bet was as heavy as some of his mission packs. Then she was out the door. Jack looked at Caleb.

The easy-going man shrugged. “Fresh cookies. Dean owes us something.”

Jack agreed. “And if we eat them before Missouri gets back, she won’t hit us with a wooden spoon.”

Caleb laughed. “We can hope.”

*

Dean looked at his bank account e-mail with surprise. It contained four hundred dollars more than expected. McKay must have wired the money into it with the very first minute of the wormhole opening to Earth. He had paid his bet and made sure that Dean knew. Dean hadn’t expected that. McKay went up in his estimation.

*

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
amanofmydreams
May. 21st, 2010 06:33 am (UTC)
hehe, rock on. Just kinda rushing to the next one, I promise a longer reply next time but I love the interaction of Jack and the Supernatural world, he kinda fits in really well.

Also thanks for adding Caleb! I miss him even if he wasn't a giant character he was loved by the boys.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )