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Official Episode 2 Mission Wrap Up


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**WARNING THIS POST WILL HAVE SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 2**

Captain Selena Rodriguez sprinted past the 200m mark on the airstrip and began to slow. At the 220m mark she stopped and started walking back, as she caught her breath, checked her pulse and waited 30 seconds to start her next interval. Through the crisp, clear air morning she spotted Oringo, the Unas scout, brilliantly lit by the rising sun to the west as he jogged through the sparse trees to the east. He was carrying a throwing spear. She knelt at the 200m mark and set for the return run.  Her watch started beeping, and within a few strides she was back to top speed. 28 seconds later she slowed as the concrete gave way to the asphalt skirt around the runway. Before she had completely stopped, the ever-present radio clipped to the small of her back crackled. “Rodriguez, this is Ross, over.”

“Major, this is Rodriguez, over,” she gasped between deep breaths.

“Gather your team and report to the briefing room at 0645.  The general has an unusual assignment for you. Over.”

“Will do, sir.  Rodriguez out.”

Rodriguez leaned on her knees a minute, then stood. “Dammit!”  She had been looking forward to at least another 20 minutes, but now she wouldn’t have time.  She keyed her mic. “A’tir. A’tir, wake up!  Over.”

The Jaffa soldier replied, sounding as awake as if he had been up for hours.  “Yes Captain? Over.”

“Wake up the team. We have a briefing in” – she checked her watch – “22 minutes.  And let me know ASAP if you can’t raise Oringo, because he’s out for a hunt. I can chase him down if I have to. Over.”

“Very well, Captain.  See you soon, out.”

While she was waiting she jogged to the empty helipads. By the time she got there, A’tir radioed her to say he’d been able to reach Oringo, who was now on his way back. “Thanks, Rodriguez out.” She turned back toward base and picked up the pace.

As Rodriguez, A’tir, Oringo, Kulera, Maste/Bythal, Lanni and Bervel arrived in the briefing room, Major Bell was already seated at the conference table. General Loyer entered from his office. As the team’s leader and sole Tau’ri military member, Rodriguez came to attention and saluted on behalf of her team, the rest of whom stood respectfully in a semblance of attention. Bell also stood and saluted.  Loyer returned the salutes somewhat absentmindedly.  

“At ease people, please sit. I have a new kind of assignment for you: public relations. I want you to get out into Fondue… I mean Haven, and press the flesh, rub elbows, whatever the kids say these days. Take the temperature of the town. Get to know the members of the Phoenix Alliance and gain a little understanding of cultures other than your own. Enjoy yourself but don’t have too much fun – you’re there to learn, grow connections, and figure out how we can help the settlers better. Don’t push yourself on anybody – be polite and friendly, and if they don’t respond in kind, shake their hand and walk away. Captain, you’ll be expected to follow the usual Leave and Liberty policies.  Any questions?”

Maste spoke up, “Do you have any particular recommendations for activities, sir?”

“I’ll let Major Bell answer that.”

“Thank you general. That’s a perceptive question, Maste.  We’ve noticed several activities have become focal points for the communities within Haven, and for the town as a whole. I would suggest that you try puaoro.” He gave it the correct pronunciation of POO-ah-OH-roh. “At least watch, even if you don’t play. Darts at Natok’s tavern is a great way to get to know some of the less savory elements, the kind we don’t encourage but occasionally find uses for. And there’s a new playground going up! Your muscles there would be much appreciated by all of Haven. There’s poetry in the Aturen quarter – that’s become popular with everybody too. And if you’re into brewing or cooking, everybody’s gotta eat and most people drink, so that’s another option to consider.”

“Thank you Major. Any more questions?”  Hearing none, Loyer continued, “Very well, dismissed. Go make friends and influence people. I’ve got paperwork,” he concluded with a sigh.

 The team changed into civilian clothes (which baffled Oringo, who believed that if a tunic was good enough for one occasion, why not for all?) and headed into town, looking like nothing other than an elite SG exploration team in civvies.

As they approached the center of town they discussed who would undertake which activities.

Rodriguez started. “My mom was a great cook, and I’ve never had time to learn much cooking. I kind of feel like that’s what I should do… but honestly I really want to try puaoro.”

“Indeed, captain – puaoro is a challenging and honorable sport. I will join you,” responded A’tir.

“I… help build… play-ground,” Oringo stated simply.

“I’ll research brewing… and tasting,” offered Lanni. “Ever since I heard that the pyramids on Earth were built by people fedon beer, I’ve wondered if any of that tradition has made it to the present day.”

“And I’ll engineer some delicious food to go with it,” added Bervel with a wink. He was met with multiple eyerolls in response.

“I’ll join you, Bervel, if you promise to stop making terrible jokes,” offered Kulera.

“That leaves me,” noted Bythal. “I’ll try the poetry. I’ve heard the verses are usually sung – my voice is okay, and Maste can supply the lyrics.”  Her voice shifted to Maste’s tones.  “Do not listen to Bythal, she has a beautiful voice. And I will be happy to compose in the background.”

As they neared the center of Haven they could hear raised voices and see three distinct groups gathered together.  At the head of each group was a single figure.  One was a stout human man in his later years of life, with a greying beard and weathered face. Directly across from the old man was a human half his age.  He wore a scruffy beard and every time he yelled back at the old man a portion of his floppy brown hair coveredhis roguish eyes. While the two humans were shouting and shaking their fingers at each other, the third – a venerable Tollanwith short auburn hair– looked on, annoyance plain on her face.

Rodriguez appraised the scene and stopped walking, letting Phoenix-1 gather around her.

“Alright people, looks like the public relations start with preventing a riot.  I don’t like the looks of this – we’re going to need to wade in there and calm things down.”

Oringo tilted his head, thinking before speaking as he almost always did outside of combat.  “I go…to play-ground.”

Rodriguez started to object, but then said, “You’re right, Oringo – no need for you to get involved.  The playground is the right place for you while we do this.”

Oringo gave a gesture of thanks and assent, and headed toward the playground, giving the arguing crowds a wide berth.

Maste spoke up, “Selena, there are three of them and six of us.  Let’s divide and conquer.”

The team quickly decided who would talk to which leader and waded into the fray.  It took some time to make themselves heard, but the reputation of Phoenix-1 was already growing, so the leaders agreed to speak quietly, and to listen.  The team quickly found out that the issue was water: the river had fallen dramatically in recent days, and the leaders were each concerned about this, but were unable to agree whose fault it was or what to do next.  In the end, Rodriguez promised to start an investigation the next day.  Lanni and Bervel managed to persuade Henare (the young human), and Maste and A’tirmanaged to reassure Palila (the middle-aged Tollan) to wait forthe results of the investigation.  But Lotoda (the old man) was still superstitious the water troubles were a sign his Jaffa slavemasters would return. Ultimately Lotoda was not convinced by Rodriguez and Kulera. When he saw he couldn’tswing the others to his point of view, he threw up his hands and walked away, leaving his followers in confusion.  Everybody dispersed and the team continued to their planned activities.

When Phoenix-1 reassembled at the agreed-upon time that afternoon, everybody had good news: They all felt they had established advantageous relationships with the exact same people who had been leading the near-riot!  Even Rodriguez had received a warm, “Well played,” from Lotoda after her team won their puaoro match.

When there was a pause in the mutual debriefing A’tir filled the silence.  “And now we must discuss the mission we committed to this morning.”

The team headed back to Phoenix Base and requested a meeting with Major Ross and General Loyer, which was granted expeditiously.  They reported their successes and presented the challenge: discover the reason for the loss of water in the river, and – if possible – rectify it ASAP.  The officers gave their blessing for the team to prepare that night and depart at first light the next day.

As the sun rose in the west the next morning, the team headed at a fast march upriver, following a trail along the river’s edge.  At first the trail was broad and made by Unas fishing for tuna-shrimp , but within a kilometer or two it narrowed to a rough game trail.

In late morning the river started surging curiously, at times rising briefly almost to the trail.  By midafternoon Lanni felt confident in her observations.  “The surge is hourly.  We need to avoid low spots while it’s happening.  I’ll keep track.”

Lanni kept the team safe when the next surge arrived on schedule.  Before the subsequent surge, the team was faced with an obstacle: A rock cliff blocked forward progress on this side of the river.  Oringo was able to locate a suitable tree that the team could drag and push across a narrow spot, and he chose well – the tree provided a stable crossing that everybody was able to use without mishap.

Shortly thereafter the river split, and the way to go was unclear.  But Lanni suggested waiting for the next surge, and that was the key – the surge came down the main river, so the team continued there rather than diverting to the tributary.

The sun was midway down the eastern sky when the team came upon the source of the surges.  On the upriver side of a bend the river was at a normal level, but at the bend the water dropped to the meager level Haven had been experiencing.  While they were watching, the river suddenly “burped,” with a massive upswelling of water from a point by the bend.  “I check,” Oringo volunteered as he pulled scuba equipment from his kit.  After less than 5 minutes he returned to the bank.  “Tunnel.  You follow…10 meters behind.”

The team grabbed their scuba equipment and whatever gear that could withstand the underwater trip – mostly weapons, radios and flashlights, plus an MRE or two.  A’tir regretfully left his Ma’tok, which meant he would have only his pistol and knife.  Slipping into the water, the rest of the team watched as Oringo went ahead and dove into the tunnel, the current quickly sucking him out of sight.  Then they followed.

They emerged into a small underground cavern, dimly lit by Oringo’s flashlight.  He was sitting on an inclined rock slab that provided a sort of beach swimmers could climb up.  “No danger,” Oringo confirmed as the team clambered onto the rock and started checking their gear.

A metal door confronted the team at the top of the slab. Worked into the door was the image that Rodriguez was able to identify as that of Taweret, the Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility.

“So captain, stealth or C4?” asked Bervel.

“How quiet can you make the explosion?” replied Rodriguez.

Bervel looked at the door’s construction with a practiced eye.  “Not very.”

“Okay, nix the C4.  Maste, you’re up – see if you can figure out that keypad there.”

Maste examined the keypad under the illumination from her flashlight and Rodriguez’s, then reached out and started carefully pressing buttons…but not carefully enough.  A blast of electricity from the keypad was the reward for her efforts.  She and Rodriguez were both knocked flat.

“Captain!  Maste!” cried Kulera as she knelt to check their breathing and pulses.  Thankfully, neither seemed seriously injured.

“Thank you Kulera, we’ll be okay.  But that did hurt,” answered Rodriguez after a minute.  Bythal just held her head, breathing deeply.

At first unnoticed while the teammates were recovering, the door had swung open and stayed that way.  Being the scout, Oringo went ahead while the others helped Bythal and Rodriguez back to their feet and followed after.  The Unas scout found four hallways each 40m long, forming a diamond, with a lounge area in the middle connected by hallways to the eastern, western and northern points of the diamond.  A rounded metal door that appeared to be an elevator was at the northern point.  There were also two doorways along the interior walls of each quadrant, which he did not open.  Everything was musty, damp and abandoned-looking.

Within minutes of being in the facility, Bervel had developed a scratchy cough, probably due to the mold that seemed everywhere.  He hung back to reduce the risk of giving everybody away while the rest of the team checked the rooms. Most of the rooms contained only meaningless garbage and detritus, but one held two dirty Jaffa guard robes.

All was well until A’tir opened a door and was attacked by four giant rats.  Bervel rushed forward at the sound of gunfire to find the battle already concluded: Rats zero, Phoenix-1 four.  But Rodriguez had been bitten, and Kulera took a few minutes to administer first aid.

The team ventured into the lounge area, which they quickly searched.  Lanni found a broken Goa’uld tablet, which Bervelwas able to quickly repair to some extent.  “Taweret wasn’t just a goddess, she was Apophis’ queen,” whispered Lanni.  “Oh no. And she was using this facility to engineer improved symbiotes.”

The team turned toward Bervel, but he refrained from any engineering jokes this time.

Captain Rodriguez looked grimly at the information displayed on the tablet.  “Alright, this changes things.  We’re no longer here about the water, we’re here to get as much information as we can.  We’re taking that elevator down.  If anybody’s here, we’re going to capture whoever we can, and kill whoever we have to.  Safeties off, but keep your fingers off your triggers.”

The team moved to the elevator, trusting whatever technology the Goa’uld had stolen to be functional.  Their trust was rewarded with a slow, somewhat clanky but safe ride to the next level down.

Exiting the elevator, the team spread out.  While they couldn’t see everything, it appeared likely this floor was a diamond similar to the floor above, but bigger – 60m per side rather than 40m, and with three doors along each interior wall rather than two.  Rodriguez signaled to work down the northwest hallway, checking the rooms as they went.  Bervelcontinued to trail at the rear, trying to suppress his coughs.

The rooms contained little of value – a nonfunctional Ma’tok resting on an empty crate, some tools, and puddles.  But as the team approached the western point of the diamond they could hear an argument in Goa’uld.  Checking around the corner, Oringo spotted three Jaffa in what appeared to be a control room at the center of the floor.  They were distracted by their argument and their Ma’toks were not close at hand.

Hearing Oringo’s report, A’tir had an inspiration.  After gaining approval for his plan from Rodriguez, he rushed back upstairs.

A’tir shuffled along the cross-corridor toward the control room, wearing one of the filthy robes they had found on the level above, and leaning on the Ma’tok from this level.  With his other hand he hung onto the wall as if for support.  As he came closer to them, the Jaffas’ arguments became more audible. They were obviously demoralized, feeling frustrated, abandoned and hungry.  “Brothers!” groaned A’tir.  They didn’t hear him so he shuffled a few steps closer.  “Brothers, help me!”  This time the argument stopped and the Jaffa came running.  A’tir fell to the floor, apparently in great distress.  “In the name of Taweret, I thank you!” he cried loudly.  That was the signal – the rest of the team rushed into the corridor to take the unarmed Jaffa prisoner.  “Hands up, brothers!  We have you,” said A’tircalmly from the floor.

While all weapons remained trained on the prisoners, A’tirgot up and explained quietly to Rodriguez that what he had overheard made him think he could convince the Jaffa to change sides.  “Very well – talk,” Rodriguez agreed.

A’tir managed to convince the demoralized Jaffa to abandon their false god and join the cause of the Free Jaffa.  They would have to prove themselves, but could expect fair treatment and eventual freedom.  His offer of MREs helped too.

Speaking around a mouthful of peanut butter squeezed straight from the packet, one of the Jaffa informed A’tir that there were two more recruits in one of the nearby rooms.  He suggested a ruse – A’tir would pose as a senior Jaffa come to evacuate the facility.  The Jaffa offered his own – clean – robe and armor to help complete the deception.

Everything went as planned.  Standing in the doorway of their bunk room, A’tir ordered the two recruits to come immediately.  “Leave your Ma’toks, you will need your hands for carrying.”  As soon as the recruits entered the hallway, Oringo joined A’tir in detaining and completely disarming them.

With the Jaffa secured in the now thoroughly searched bunkroom, and Lanni and Kulera guarding, Bervel got to work on the computer.  He quickly found a wealth of information about Taweret and the base…including the fact that Taweret was dead, drowned in her sarcophagus on the lowest level.  While he attempted to shut off the inflowing water that was been incrementally flooding the facility, A’tir went to inform the prisoners of their false god’s fate, out of respect rather than to gloat.

The Jaffa were devastated.  In their outpouring of grief A’tirheard an important fact, and returned quickly to notify Rodriguez and Bervel.  “The guards sent a long-range distress call a few days ago.  It failed before they received a response, but….”

Rodriguez’slips tightened.  “This is not good.  We need to report this ASAP.”  The others nodded agreement.

Within 30 minutes the team was back on the riverbank with the prisoners, shivering in the chill of the night.  “Let’s move, people!”  The team marched as fast as they could while maintaining an eye on the captured Jaffa, and Rodriguez radioed back to Phoenix Base to report the situation.

The team tried to push hard on the return, but were slowed somewhat by their prisoners. After marching all night they arrived back at the forest’s edge in mid-afternoon.  They were greeted by USAF miliary police in Humvees, ready to take the prisoners into custody.  Major Bell stepped forward.  “Come with me please,” he ordered, gesturing to the prisoners.

Before the prisoners complied, A’tir clasped them each on the shoulder and looked them in the eye.  “Go with these soldiers, brothers.  You will not be mistreated.  For a brief timeyou will be prisoners of the Tau’ri, but soon you will join me asFree Jaffa.”

The Jaffa appeared wary, but knowing it was too late to change their path now, climbed into Humvees for transport through town and back to base.

Bell invited the team to throw their gear in the back and get in two more Humvees, then sat in the passenger seat of the vehicle carrying Rodriguez.  Half-turning to speak with her, he said, “Good job, Captain, welcome back.  The debriefing will include the Alliance Council representatives, so it’s not happening til 0900 tomorrow.  Get cleaned up and grab some chow and rack time.”

Rodriguez drifted off in the back seat, but only for a minute or two.  As they drove through Haven, the people in the street saw Phoenix-1 in the Humvees and started cheering, jarring her awake.  She could see Lotoda, Henare and Palila standing together next to Natok’s tavern, grinning and cheering along with the rest.

The next morning the clean, rested and fed team arrived punctually to the debriefing.  Major Ross seated them along one side of the conference table.  They were briefly introduced to the individuals seated opposite: Ry’anne, the Free Jaffa councilor;Tolii/Sulo, the Tok’ra councilor; Hatana, the Aturen councilor;and Ambassador Ashlee Kelly, representing Earth.

The major began the meeting with a bombshell, relating SG-1’s discovery of Tretonin on Pangar, and the dire situation the Pangarans faced with the loss of their drug supply.  “Theunfinished research you’ve just discovered could lead to a synthetic Tretonin.  This could save millions of Pangarans, and free the Jaffa forever.”

Ry’anne briefly looked elated before caution won out.  “But what of the distress call, Major?” she asked quietly.  Her fellow councilors, brows knit, nodded in agreement.

“What’s done is done, and we’re preparing contingency plans in case the call was heard.  But we can’t abandon this opportunity on the chance that it was heard.  It’s already been several days since the call went out, and we’ve seen nothing on long-range sensors.”

The councilors briefly huddled in a whispered conference.Turning back to the table, Hatana steepled her fingers and leanedforward.  “I sincerely hope that you are correct about the lack of response, Major, but you know the Goa’uld facility’s fate is not up to the Tau’ri military.  The Alliance Council will vote, and the majority will decide.  The vote will be held in one week…unless a fleet of Ha’taks appears in our skies first.”

The non-Tau’ri councilors stood and filed out, ending the formal meeting.  Ambassador Kelley waited til they were gone, then blew out a long breath and glanced at the major, who nodded his go-ahead.  The ambassador stood – a blind mastadgecould have sensed her coiled energy. “Okay, Phoenix-1, you see how it is with the Council.  Major Ross informs me that you’ve established friendly connections with influential individuals in the various communities in Fondue.  You will earn my thanks if you can get those connections to influence their councilors to vote to keep the Goa’uld base intact.  Please do whatever you can.”

Over the next couple of days, the team looked for opportunities to talk to their community contacts without appearing forced.

Rodriguez and A’tir came upon Lotoda at the puaoro court, coaching some youths in the sport.  They took advantage of a break in the action to quietly discuss the situation with the crotchety old man, who proved surprisingly easy to win to their point of view.  “I will speak of this with Ry’anne.  But now you must help me train these Cha’tii!”  The rest of the afternoon was spent running around the puaoro court, having a wonderful time getting sweaty and bruised.

Oringo, Maste and Lanni were walking past the playground when they spotted Palila supervising the construction of a sandbox.  They redirected their steps, and were able to convince her with some effort.  “Okay, I’ll talk to Tolii.  But no promises.”  The three tried to lock in her vote by helping complete the sandbox frame and carting many bags of sand to fill it.  Her warm thanks made them think they succeeded.

Bervel found Henare playing darts one night at Natok’s.  Over beers – paid for by Bervel – and money lost to Henare in the game, plus vague suggestions about the possibilities for increased trade both over and under the table, Bervel managed to convince Henare to talk to Hatana.

No Ha’tak fleet appeared, and the day of the council meeting arrived.  Phoenix-1 lined the back wall.  General Loyersat at the end of the table where the councilors presided.  When the vote came, it was unanimous: Keep the base and exploit whatever information and resources it contained.  General Loyercaught the team’s eyes and winked – a job well done!

Episode Wrap-Up Written By:

Stephen Runyon

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