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The debriefing hadn’t gone well. They reported everything that had happened to General Hammond, but Jessica could tell by the look on Hammond’s face something was seriously wrong.
"Doctor Watson, I want you to report to the infirmary for your post mission physical."
She glanced at Mitchell as she stood. "Yes, Sir." The fact that Colonel Mitchell was not dismissed hadn’t escaped her attention.
Once she had left and closed the door, Hammond said, "Colonel Mitchell, given these latest developments, we are in an extremely difficult position here."
"Sir, I will not pimp out a member of my team," Mitchell said in a strained voice.
Hammond looked at him silently for a moment, before picking up the phone and asking for Captain Spencer to report to the briefing room. He entered a few minutes later.
"Captain, I want you to tell Colonel Mitchell what you reported to me earlier."
Spencer didn’t know what was going on, but he could tell something was wrong; the tension in the room was obvious. Clearing his throat nervously, he asked Mitchell, "Are you familiar with P3X-403?"
Mitchell searched his memory. "The home world of the Unas."
"It’s also the site of a huge naquadah mine." Spencer said.
Mitchell nodded. "One capable of producing somewhere around 53,000 metric tons, if I remember right."
Spencer shifted from one foot to the other. "Going by the scans from the MALP, the deposits on Nanda make the amount on P3X-403 look like it would fit in a grocery bag."
The subsequent silence was deafening. Spencer glanced at General Hammond, then continued with his report. "Given the purity level, the quantity of naquadah on Nanda is more than all the other mines we have access to, combined."
Whatever was wrong, Spencer knew it wasn’t good. Mitchell looked like he had just been kicked in the stomach.
"Thank you Captain Spencer. Dismissed." Hammond said.
Mitchell and Hammond stared at each other as the enormity of the situation became apparent.
"Son, if it were up to me, we’d lose the gate address to that planet, as well as any record of ever being there. Unfortunately, it’s not up to me. The President was notified when we received the report regarding the purity of the naquadah. He was also told of the findings from Captain Spencer’s scans. By now everyone who knows about this program has been briefed about Nanda, including the IOA." General Hammond ran his hand across his forehead, briefly rubbing the tense muscles. "The President will be here in a couple of hours. SG-1 is due back shortly and will be reporting on the Tok’ra situation. The best thing I can offer you is a short meeting with the President. Hopefully you can come up with an alternative to the present situation. Otherwise, I see few options open to us."
After being dismissed, Mitchell made his way to the infirmary for his physical. Jessica had already completed hers and left, for which he was grateful. His thoughts were racing, trying to come up with options. He didn’t want to have to tell her how bad things really were, until he had something to offer in return. Finishing with his checkup, he headed to the locker room. While in the elevator he leaned against the wall, his head tilted back, staring at the ceiling. What in the hell was he going to do if he couldn’t figure a way out of this?
Jessica had run into Spencer on her way to the locker room.
"Hey Watson," Spencer called out as she rounded the corner.
"What the heck happened this morning on Nanda? I got called into the briefing room with General Hammond and Colonel Mitchell, and things were not looking good."
Jessica looked down at her feet. "We were going over the papers detailing the trade agreement. Brojorn decided he wanted to add something at the last minute."
Spencer liked Jessica because she was always upbeat and friendly. He could tell by her demeanor something was bothering her—a lot. "What was it?"
Jessica let her breath out in a sigh. Glancing down the hallway, she said, "In addition to the things we agreed on, he wanted me to spend the night with him."
Spencer groaned. "Colonel Mitchell lost it, didn’t he?"
Jessica shrugged her shoulders. "He didn’t punch him out or anything, though he did tell him where he could shove the trade agreement. We left pretty quick, and reported in to General Hammond."
Spencer ran the events through his mind. "Did General Hammond mention the MALP findings to you?"
Jessica looked up at him. "No, he didn’t." She noticed that Spencer looked away quickly. "What did you find?"
Spencer looked just about everywhere except directly at her. "Well, it just confirmed there was a large naquadah deposit."
Jessica could feel that sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. "How large?" At first Spencer didn’t answer. "Spencer, how large is the deposit?"
"Big. Combined with the purity, the biggest one we’ve ever come across."
"Son of a…" Jessica ran her hands over her face.
"Hey, everything’s gonna be all right. They’ll work out something." He took a couple of steps backward. "I, I’ve got to get to the lab."
Jessica waved him off and went to the locker room. She had gotten clearance to take the rest of the day off, so she changed into a white T-shirt, jeans and a brown jacket, pulling her hair into a ponytail. Taking the elevator to the surface, she made her way to her car and drove home. She just needed some quiet time to think, to figure a way out of this mess they found themselves in.
Mitchell adjusted his dress uniform as he headed to Jack’s office. Hammond had called and notified him of the President’s arrival, and given him a time for his meeting. This was not something he was looking forward to, since he had about as many alternatives as he had had when they had walked through the gate that morning. Hammond opened the door just as he walked up and motioned for Mitchell to enter, closing the door behind him. The President was seated at the desk, and the President’s aide was fixing him a cup of coffee.
"Mr. President, this is Colonel Cameron Mitchell."
The President stood and after they had exchanged salutes, he extended his hand. "Colonel Mitchell."
Mitchell reached out and shook his hand firmly. "Mr. President."
Sitting back down in the chair, the President said, "I hear you had a bit of difficulty in the negotiations on Nanda."
"Yes, Sir. We had agreed to the terms negotiated the day before, but when it came time to sign the agreement, their leader, Brojorn, wanted to add to the terms."
The President took a sip from his cup of coffee. "He developed an interest in…" he looked at the paper in front of him, "…Doctor Watson?"
"Yes, Sir. An interest of a sexual nature. He wanted to use the trade agreement to explore that interest further."
"I take it Doctor Watson did not return his interest."
"No, Sir. Given the unique abilities of the Nandanian leader, I felt at that time we were at risk, so we suspended negotiations and returned home."
The President sat back in the chair, his hands folded in front of him. "Colonel, I understand it’s a difficult situation. I also understand your instinct to protect the members of your team. However, we are at a critical point in our battle against the Goa’uld. It is imperative that we fortify our defenses, especially given the latest intelligence on the Goa’uld’s activities. The size of the resources on Nanda would play a pivotal role not only in our ability to increase our defenses, but possibly put a sizable dent in Goa’uld forces." The President glanced at his watch, then stood. Looking Mitchell in the eye, he said, "You have my blessing to try and find a suitable alternative that would satisfy the Nandanian leader, but in the end it boils down to this—we need that naquadah. Do whatever it takes to secure those mining rights."
Mitchell saluted a final time. "Yes, Sir," he replied grimly.
Jessica had spent the rest of the day at home, replaying the events in her mind over and over, trying to come up with a solution. Her frustration level had slowly risen, especially when she recalled the events involving Mira and Aylen. There had to be something she was missing, but so far she had come up with nothing. It was almost time for her to take a shower and turn in for the evening when there came a knock at her door. Glancing at the clock, she frowned. It was kind of late to be getting any visitors. Looking through the peephole, she realized her evening was about to get worse. Squaring her shoulders, she opened the door.
"Doctor Watson, I’m Senator Kinsey. I need to talk to you about an important matter."
Though she hadn’t met the senator in person before, she knew him well from what she had heard about him at work. Resisting the urge to tell him to take a flying leap, she opened the door wider. "Come in." As Kinsey walked past her, she noticed another man standing just off her front porch.
Kinsey turned and said, "He’ll be staying outside. I wish to speak with you privately."
She closed the door and followed Kinsey into the living room. "What do you need to talk to me about Mr. Kinsey?" She felt a small degree of satisfaction as he visibly bristled at her use of ‘mister’.
"Well, if good news travels fast, bad news travels faster. I was notified today that you screwed up the negotiations with the Nandanians."
Jessica’s eyes narrowed. "I did not screw up the negotiations. The Nandanian leader made an unacceptable demand."
Kinsey slowly raked his eyes over her. "I can understand why he wanted what he did." Jessica opened her mouth to tell him where he could stick his understanding, but he raised his hand, cutting her off. "While his request may have offended your delicate sensibilities, you are now employed by the SGC as a member of one of the elite teams, teams who make sacrifices in order to obtain the technology and weapons we need to defend Earth. Sometimes you have to do things you find unpleasant in order to fulfill your duties to your country."
"Don’t you stand there and lecture me about my duties to my country, you ass! I know enough about you to realize you don’t give a damn about other people, just about what benefits you and you alone." Jessica had been beating herself up all afternoon, she didn’t need any reminding from Kinsey.
"Listen here," Kinsey said, getting in her face. "That trade agreement has got to go through."
"Why? Are you going to try to take credit for it? Use it to further your political career?" Bingo. The tic that started twitching by his eye was enough to let her know she had hit the nail on the head.
Kinsey took a breath, smoothing his hands down the front of his suit jacket. "We need the naquadah, Miss Watson. Pure and simple. I don’t care if you have to fuck half the male population on Nanda to acquire it."
"Get the hell out of my house."
Kinsey walked to the front door. With a hand on the knob, he turned back to her. "You are a member of SG-7; I suggest you remember the responsibility that goes with that position. If you don’t, you’ll leave me no choice but to see to the arrangements myself."
As soon as he cleared the doorway, Jessica slammed the door behind him, locking it. To say she was furious would have been a huge understatement. Stomping through the house, she went into the bathroom and turned the shower on, then into the bedroom where she grabbed her pajamas. She was cursing under her breath the entire time, trying to resist the urge to throw something, anything. Stripping her clothes off, she stepped into the shower. As the water poured down over her, the tight hold she had had on her emotions broke. The tears came, evolving into sobs that wracked her body. She hated being used, being part of a situation that was spiraling out of her control, the sense of guilt she felt—the guilt of letting down her team, failing in her objective. Thinking of Aylen just made her cry that much harder. By the time her tears were spent, the water had cooled. She finished her shower quickly. Drying off, she pulled on her pajamas and then made her way into the bedroom. She was completely exhausted, and crawling into bed it didn’t take her long before she fell into a restless sleep.
Back on Nanda, Brojorn sat out on the balcony, staring at the stars in the sky, a frown on his face. His thoughts were interrupted by the appearance of Natya beside him.
"I hope you have not come to lecture me," he said irritably.
The woman crossed her arms, looking down at him. "You were asked to repay the favor. You have failed to do so."
"I have not failed anything. There is a reason why I’m doing things the way I am. You want them together; I am ensuring it will happen."
"Do not fall short in this, Brojorn. We in turn are repaying a favor by this request. Things cannot proceed until it has been accomplished." With that, she disappeared.
Muttering about impatient women, he turned his thoughts back to the situation at hand. He had not anticipated the depth of Jessica’s distress, nor the imminent interference of this Kinsey character. This last incident made him decide to move up the time line a bit. He felt there was enough pressure already to cause Mitchell to capitulate to his next request.
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