Training Exercises

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* TITLE: Training Exercises
* AUTHOR: Redbyrd
* EMAIL: redbyrd (at) mindspring (dot) com
* RATING: PG
* CATEGORY: humor
* SUMMARY: Sequel to Performance Reviews. After their premature return from the Prometheus, SG-3 and Daniel Jackson are assigned to help train some new recruits.
* SPOILERS: Prometheus Unbound
* AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is for Jane, who asked for a sequel to Performance Reviews explaining what happened in the training exercises.
* DISCLAIMER:
The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-I, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.
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"Well, folks, these are the final fitness qualifications. If we don't screw up, next step is SG team assignments." Morrison looked as eager as any of the three lieutenants, even though he'd transferred in from Special Forces instead of being a new officer like the others. All four of them had done the obligatory period of on-base duty before being allowed to qualify for field assignments. Not even the sprinkles that were turning into light rain could dampen their excitement.

"How come SG-3 is here? I thought that SG-7 was running our tests," Lee asked.

"Dunno," Taylor replied. "Captain Satterfield told me we should just be glad we didn't draw SG-1. They're supposed to get really creative." Satterfield hadn't actually told her anything about the tests- they weren't supposed to discuss them in case it led to the trainees second-guessing the scenario, but Katie thought that Satterfield was quietly encouraging her as one of the minority of women trying to qualify for field teams.

"I don't think that SG-1 does a lot of training these days," Morrison told them. "I get the impression that they're right out straight with their regular duties. After all, Dr. Jackson and Colonel Carter are heads of departments as well as having field assignments, and Teal'c seems to spend a lot of time offworld liasing with the Free Jaffa."

Their ordinarily quiet fourth, Lieutenant Kevin Pickett said, "So what is Dr. Jackson doing over there with Colonel Reynolds?"

They turned and looked, and sure enough, there was the SGC's senior civilian strapping on gear alongside Colonel Reynolds and his three Marines. "Damned if I know," Morrison said, sounding surprised.

"Prometheus came back early," Lee suggested. "Maybe they'd already cleared their calendars so they figured it was a good time to get training out of the way?"

"Or maybe the instructors are just trying to keep us off balance," Katie Taylor suggested.

"Well, why don't we go find out?" Morrison led the way toward their opponents in the day's exercises, who had just been joined by Colonel Ferretti.

#

Reynolds kept a half an eye on Daniel Jackson as they geared up, not that he really thought Jackson would stun Collins, but it didn't hurt to be sure. As Ferretti and the other trainees walked toward them, the archeologist said in a low voice. "You know, the absentminded civilian trick is only going to work once, so we might as well use it early."

Reynolds raised an eyebrow. "What do you have in mind, doctor?"

"Tell you once we separate," Daniel said. "But everybody call me Daniel, okay? It'll be better if I look as harmless and inoffensive as possible."

The briefing was fairly simple. The trainees would be divided into two groups, each defending the 'stargate', a pair of goalposts with an electronic keypad in front of it. SG-3 plus Daniel would be trying to pass through one of these before the trainees could stop them, SG-7 would assault the other. The attackers got a fifteen minute head start into the forest while the defenders chose their strategy. Reynolds couldn't help feeling they'd lucked out in the training department. All the people in this group were straight military. They wouldn't have to set up complicated technical problems or strange cultural scenarios. They could stick to straight tactical stuff.

As they headed off into the woods, Reynolds told Collins to lead off and Whitfield and Tsabo to cover their rear. "Daniel, you're with me," he finished, making a point of using Daniel's first name. Once they got out of sight of the 'gate' he motioned the team back together. "Okay, Daniel. What's up?"

Jackson looked at him and said. "I need a 9-mil intar."

"You already have one," Collins pointed out.

"Oh, I think I see where this is going," Reynolds said, drawing and handing over his facsimile handgun with a grin. He watched approvingly while Daniel meticulously checked to be sure it was really an intar.

Daniel wrapped his arms around himself, the gun in his right hand tucked into his left armpit and concealed between his arm and his body. "How's that?" he asked. "Can you see the weapon?"

They shook their heads. "The posture doesn't look too unnatural?" Daniel asked.

"Not for you," Reynolds replied. The others nodded.

"So," Daniel said. "I'll just go back to the parking lot for whatever it is I forgot and see if I can get behind them."

Whitfield laughed. "You don't really expect them to fall for that, do you, sir?"

The archeologist gave him a flickering smile. "Actually, I do. Everyone knows I'm too nice and easygoing to play such a mean trick."

Reynolds grinned. He'd heard about a group of trainees who'd just stood there like sheep while Daniel stunned them at point-blank range a few years ago. Apparently they couldn't take Daniel seriously as a bad guy, even when he was pretending to be a goa'uld. This was going to be amusing. "All the same, let's put a couple of snipers in the trees and see if someone doesn't show themselves while distracted," he said.

They waited a scrupulous sixteen minutes, and then Daniel picked his way back over the muddy ground, arms folded.

#

The trainees had chosen their defensive positions and settled in to wait. "They'll probably just let us stew a few hours," Morrison warned. "Wait for us to get careless. Staying alert for an hour is easy. Staying alert all day is a lot harder."

"Then what's that?" Lee asked, as someone walked toward them, the loud cracking of twigs audible before anyone came into sight.

Taylor aimed her intar-P90 at the figure, recognizing Dr. Jackson. He didn't do anything threatening, however, just plodded toward them, fastidiously avoiding the wettest patches of ground. He had his arms wrapped around himself as though chilled. As he came a little closer, he spotted her. "Stand down, Lieutenant," he called. "I'm just headed back to my car."

"What's going on?" Morrison asked.

Jackson sniffed. "Forgot my antihistamines. If I don't take them I'm going to be coughing and sneezing all day." He muttered something under his breath about ungodly hours of the morning.

Taylor looked uncertainly at Morrison. "Sir?"

Morrison looked at the unthreatening figure and shrugged. "Sure. Whatever."

Jackson more or less ignored them all, taking the straight line past them and the makeshift gate toward the parking area. Taylor looked back at the trees to make sure Jackson wasn't a diversion for an attack when she heard a choked exclamation from Morrison and intar fire behind her. She turned to see Morrison and Pickett down and Jackson calmly shooting Lee. She stood and swung her weapon, trying desperately to aim before he got to her. Then everything went black.

#

Reynolds was already trotting back toward the 'gate' when Daniel radioed the all-clear. SG-3 joined him in securing the trainees, then they walked over to the 'gate', 'dialed' and walked ceremoniously back through the goalposts. "Close the 'iris'," Whitfield said grinning. "Damn, that was too easy."

Reynolds switched to the other team's frequency. "Ferretti, this is Reynolds. We're back at the 'SGC'. What now?" He grinned at his team while he waited for the reply. Ferretti was the one in charge of this set of exercises, despite the unscheduled addition of the higher-ranked Reynolds.

There was a pause, then Ferretti's voice came back with a hint of irritation. "What, already?"

"Yep," Reynolds said. "Hey, we're good."

"At least as long as they're not in super-soldier suits," Ferretti shot back. The five men winced. "Okay, wake the kids up, go back to the briefing area and hang. We'll make our assault shortly, do a joint debrief, then knock off early.

Daniel looked at the dripping woods and the four trainees just beginning to stir on the ground. "Hopefully tomorrow it will dry out a little."

#

Taylor woke with a blinding headache, feeling cold wet ground underneath her face. She raised her head, finding her hands were bound with plastic ties, her weapons were gone, and SG-3 was standing watching them critically. Morrison glared at Jackson as he sat up. "That was a stupid trick."

"I was the enemy." Jackson pointed out calmly. "You knew I was the enemy, knew I was armed, and you turned your backs on me."

"Your gun was secured in its holster," Morrison snapped.

"Sure," Reynolds agreed. "That's why he was holding the second one." He looked over at the three lieutenants. "The people you were guarding the gate against have escaped. We're to return to the briefing area and wait for the other team to debrief."

The mud-splattered trainees got sheepishly to their feet. "Look on the bright side," Reynolds said. "At least you'll get out of the wet early."

It was two hours before SG-7 and the other batch of trainees rejoined them. From their expressions, they hadn't done any better than Taylor's group. Katie's headache was better after three aspirins, a bottle of water and a cup of coffee. And at least SG-7 had gotten a little muddy in the process. The clean unruffled appearance of SG-3 compared with the disheveled trainees told its own tale.

Ferretti looked over the damp and unhappy group. "Okay, ladies and gentlemen, what have we learned here today?"

Morrison muttered, "The archeologist is not harmless."

Ferretti raised his eyebrows and looked at Dr. Jackson. Jackson returned a half-shrug and a grimace. Ferretti coughed unconvincingly to cover a snort of laughter. "Okay, then, maybe we'd better start by reviewing what actually happened."

#

They were still griping about it on the third day of the exercises. The previous day's exercises had been more or less 'normal'.. they'd even managed to inflict a couple of 'casualties' on SG-7. SG-3 had had a couple of minor 'wounds' working with the other trainees, but no fatalities yet. Today their quarry was again SG-3 and they were out for revenge. "I can't believe the whole team was taken out by a civilian," Lee said with disgust. "And it was stupid. That could never happen in the field. We knew he wasn't really a Jaffa."

At least Morrison had gained some perspective in last couple of days. "They have a point," he said philosophically. He reiterated what Ferretti and Reynolds had made unsympathetically clear in the debrief. "Not taking a known enemy seriously is stupid. In the right place, at the right time, anyone can kill you. It doesn't matter who he is."

"They want us to question our assumptions," Pickett said thoughtfully. They looked at him, but he fell silent again.

"And he didn't take out the whole team," Katie said dryly. "I got shot in the back by a sniper when I exposed myself trying not to be shot by the civilian."

"We're never going to live it down," Lee moaned for the hundredth time.

"I'm not so sure about that," Katie said. "I bet when we hear some of the past history, other people have fallen for that sort of thing. Remember, Satterfield warned me that SG-1 did creative training scenarios."

She thought of the other team's experience yesterday. In their scenario, Jackson had played an innocent bystander who didn't speak English. He'd babbled at them unhelpfully in some language they didn't understand, trying to make himself understood in sign language. The trainee team leader, Lieutenant Templeton, had nearly stunned Jackson before they'd realized he was trying to warn them about SG-3. They'd gotten away, but Templeton said he almost regretted not shooting Jackson anyway. Apparently the clueless native routine had been really annoying.

"But this isn't even all of SG-1," Lee protested.

Morrison signaled for silence as they got closer to the area where they thought SG-3 was hiding. Taylor's respect for his woodscraft had grown exponentially over the last few days. They crept forward on silent feet. The wet leaves shifted under their feet, but didn't make much noise. Today they were pursuing 'enemy warriors' into the brush and retrieving an 'important piece of equipment' they had stolen. The Marines and Reynolds were pretty good, but Jackson wasn't quite as quiet as the rest, making them easier to track than they would otherwise have been. Morrison froze and they all waited.

He signaled that he'd heard something, and motioned Lee and Katie forward and to the right. Katie slipped quietly through the brush, catching a glimpse of the camo-clad figure and a glint of glasses. He seemed to be looking away from her, crouched in hiding. She signalled the rest of her team.

As Morrison and Pickett advanced, two apparently undisturbed patches of the forest floor suddenly grew muzzles and they dropped in a hail of intar fire. With an ambush behind her and Jackson ahead, she backed hurriedly toward the nearest piece of cover, only to be seized from behind and held with a combat knife to her neck. "Drop the weapon, Lieutenant," Reynolds hissed in her ear. In a real situation, he'd already have cut her throat. She dropped her P90-intar, and watched helplessly as the man she'd thought was Jackson neatly picked off Lee, while Jackson and Tsabo got up out of their hollows, brushing leaves off themselves.

Whitfield joined them and casually passed Jackson's glasses back to him. Clearly, Whitfield was perfectly capable of moving silently through the forest when he wasn't impersonating a clumsy civilian. Jackson cleaned his glasses on his shirt, looked at them critically and set them back on his nose. They waited several minutes for the others to wake from the intar blasts, and then trekked back to the rendezvous point. Taylor had to admire how cleverly they had lured the trainees to walk into their ambush.

Special Forces-trained Morrison shook his head. "You took a chance tying up half your force like that," he said to Reynolds.

Reynolds laughed. "Not as much as you'd think. Tsabo and Jackson are the least stealthy. So letting them hide in a stationary blind actually helped us a lot."

"Besides," Whitfield gibed. "I think Daniel wanted a nap. These early mornings don't agree with him."

The others laughed, and Daniel Jackson smiled. "Hey, don't knock it. It worked on Apophis."

"The ambush?" Collins said. "When was that?"

Reynolds grinned. Taylor guessed that he'd knowingly reused an old tactic.

"Oh, years ago," Jackson said. "On the Nox world. We'd only just found out about goa'uld personal shields, and anyway the Nox had confiscated our weapons. We laid an ambush and tried to take Apophis and three of his Jaffa hand-to-hand."

Taylor felt her eyes going a little wider as she realized this was one of the famous SG-1's exploits and was instantly irritated with herself for being impressed. When she glanced at the junior members of SG-3, she was a little comforted to see Collins and Tsabo looking a little awestruck themselves.

"So what went wrong?" Reynolds asked. "Obviously you didn't get him."

"Oh, we got him," Jackson said. "But the Nox stopped us. They don't approve of violence."

"Even against the Goa'uld?" Lee asked.

Jackson shook his head. "Not against anyone. They told us that, but we didn't listen." The corner of his mouth turned up briefly. " 'The very young do not always do as they're told.' "

#

It was the last day of training and at least it had stopped raining, though the ground was still fairly wet. SG-3 was looking forward to getting the exercises over with. At least they wouldn't have to be involved with the individual trials. Those would be run next week at the Alpha site. These days they only occasionally disrupted the SGC proper for training scenarios. Reynolds made sure everyone knew their roles and was ready to execute the plan. "Any questions?" he asked his team.

"Yeah," Collins said. "How come Daniel's the one who gets to sit around drinking coffee while the rest of us skulk through the bushes?"

"I'm going with my strengths," Daniel said blandly.

The Marines laughed and looked at their CO. "Ten bucks says Taylor's the one who gets doped," Reynolds said. "Speaking of your strengths..."

Daniel raised an eyebrow. "Why is that?"

"Ferretti says you've got fatal charm," Reynolds explained. Then it occurred to him to hope nobody repeated that remark. There were several women on base perfectly capable of wiping the mat with Reynolds in the gym if they decided he needed more respect.

Daniel shook his head and looked at the Marines. "And here I thought I wasn't Ferretti's type. Don't take that bet," he instructed lightly. "Because if I have a choice, Taylor is the one I'm going to dope. I have to hide the body, and she's got to be at least thirty pounds lighter then the rest of the guys."

Then again, Reynolds thought, maybe he did understand why Daniel earned the big bucks in the world of galactic diplomacy. In three sentences, he'd taken the sexist sting out of Reynolds' words and turned it into just another line of casual banter.

The men laughed and made a few other joking remarks, but Daniel refused to rise to the bait. At the appointed time, they spread out and set their plan in motion.

#

"We got one!" Lee said triumphantly, prodding Daniel Jackson ahead of him toward the camp. Jackson strolled amiably to the fire with more the air of a guest than a captive, and made no objection to having his hands and feet bound with plastic ties. Once he was secure, Lee returned to his post leaving Katie to watch the prisoner.

"You don't seem very upset at being captured," she observed, carefully setting a couple more sticks on the sluggish flames and swinging the pot over it. It was nearly dusk and the air was still chilly and damp, though at least the rain had finally stopped.

The current scenario called for them to be lying low near the gate, staying out of sight, but not letting anyone else pass through in either direction. There was a chance that SG-7 would come through to 'reinforce' SG-3, so they were keeping several people on watch to try and cover all approaches. A weather report predicting snow- which the trainees were keenly aware wasn't an invention for purposes of the exercise- had led Morrison to instruct them to keep a fire going to warm the team members up as they rotated watches. Katie was somewhat guiltily aware that SG-3 had no such luxury. Jackson seemed to be on the same wavelength.

"Hard to object to sitting beside the fire instead of lying on my stomach in an icy puddle," Jackson said. "If they knew you had a fire, all the guys would be begging to be captured."

"It's spoiling your perfect record," Katie said.

He laughed softly. "My perfect record? You must be joking. I'm best known for winding up in the infirmary, following some wacky near-death experience. More a matter of bizarre luck than any kind of planning." His tone was wry and self-deprecating, inviting her to share the joke.

Katie couldn't resist smiling back. He really was awfully nice. "I meant in the training exercise."

"Oh, the training exercise." He pushed his glasses back up his nose with his bound hands and shrugged. "They're supposed to try and give you some idea what you might face-" he pointed up, "out there. It's really not a contest."

Katie was sure the Marines didn't see it that way, but Daniel seemed perfectly sincere. She swung the boiling water off the heat and measured instant coffee powder into the cup. He followed her movements wistfully. "You know, I'd kill for a cup of that."

She looked at the pleading look in his blue eyes and his bound hands and hesitated. "I don't suppose it would do any harm," she said finally. She made a second cup and handed it to him. "There's no cream or sugar," she warned.

"Black is fine," Daniel said, accepting it gratefully. He turned the conversation to the project she'd been assisting on back at the SGC and she soon found herself chatting easily.

When Morrison returned he rolled his eyes at the guard chattering amicably with her prisoner. Katie glanced from Daniel to him a shade guiltily. "The water's hot," she offered as she slung her weapon around her neck and headed out to stand guard with her teammates. As she glanced back she heard Daniel say something unintelligible to Morrison and the captain refilled his plastic cup.

#

Reynolds watched closely through the field glasses as Taylor headed out to her watch. While she was hardly petite- she was as tall as Colonel Carter- she wasn't nearly as heavy as Morrison, who stood three inches over Jackson's solid six feet. Looked like Daniel was going to have to move a heavyweight after all. He hoped. This was an atypical plan for SG-3. Reynolds probably wouldn't have thought of it if they hadn't had Daniel with them. "They're changing the guard again," he reported. "Taylor's going back on watch. Morrison's in."

"Damn." Collins said. "Guess it's a good thing I didn't take that bet, isn't it?"

Whitfield said. "Unless she keels over as she arrives at her post."

"I hope not," Reynolds said. "The others might notice."

Whitfield groaned. "Well, he won't get Morrison. That means another two hours before they change watches and four before we can move." If they hadn't gotten a signal from Daniel by then, they'd go ahead and execute the attack anyway.

"Suck it up, soldier," Reynolds advised unsympathetically. "It beats being shot at by real enemies."

They waited through the next two hours mostly in silence as the light faded away. Reynolds wished they'd been able to get a vantage on the enemy camp, but they were lucky to be able see as much as they could. Of course the night vision goggles helped. Especially since the trainees didn't have them. Virtually all of the scenarios were designed around the SGC troops being isolated, outnumbered and frequently outgunned. It was all too typical of what they were likely to see in the field.

Pickett disappeared, and Morrison didn't come out. "Hel-lo." Reynolds said. "I think he's done it." He waited another two minutes, his team watching him alertly, and then motioned them in. As they opened fire on Lee and Taylor, Daniel came hustling out of the camp and shot Lee in the back. Thinking he was Pickett or Morrison coming out to join the defense, they hadn't even turned around. It was all over in seconds.

#

As the debrief finally got underway, Taylor wasn't sure whether she wanted to die of embarrassment or be grateful that Jackson hadn't doped her. Morrison was obviously wishing for a third option, like strangling the archeologist where he stood. They'd had to wait two hours for him to wake up, groggy and furious. He flushed dark red as Jackson explained how he'd doped his own coffee and then switched cups without Morrison noticing. The quick-acting sedative had sent Morrison deeply asleep and Jackson had used Morrison's combat knife to free himself. He'd disarmed the other man, secured him and dragged him out of sight, then replaced the cut plastic ties to that it looked like he was still bound when he was actually free. Then he'd waited for the next man to come off watch.

Pickett stoically told them what happened next. "I came in and Dr. Jackson was alone, apparently still tied up. He told me Morrison went out to take a piss. When I turned away, he shot me."

"You didn't think Morrison leaving was suspicious?" Ferretti asked critically.

"Yes, sir." Pickett said, his jaw slightly clenched. "Dr. Jackson was very plausible, sir. I was suspicious, but not soon enough."

"I was holding a gun out of sight," Jackson put in, miming bound hands holding a weapon between his knees. "I didn't give him time to ready his weapon." He didn't even look smug, Taylor thought. More sympathetic, really.

"So where was your mistake, Lieutenant?" Ferretti asked. His lips twitched slightly, and Taylor was sure he and the other senior officers were going to be having a hearty laugh over this after the debriefing.

Pickett got even stiffer if that was possible. "I should have kept my weapon at the ready as I entered camp and pointed it at Dr. Jackson at the first sign there was anything out of the ordinary. I shouldn't have assumed the camp would be secure."

"Anybody else?" Ferretti invited further comment from the trainees.

Taylor raised a reluctant hand. "I shouldn't have given Dr. Jackson the coffee in the first place."

"No, you shouldn't," Reynolds agreed. "Handing a cupful of boiling liquid to a prisoner in throwing range is never a good idea." He studied her expression. "So why did you do it?"

Taylor looked away feeling unbelievably stupid. "Because I knew it was a training scenario, and Dr. Jackson wasn't really an enemy. We had secured him. It seemed petty to drink coffee in front of him when he was already neutralized. Or so I thought." She swallowed. "I should have remembered the first day, sir. You'd already warned us that you'd use the fact we know it's a test against us."

Ferretti and Reynolds exchanged a serious glance. "I think you're missing the point, Taylor." Ferretti said, "Anyone else?"

Taylor stared helplessly back at them. What did they want? She was painfully aware that Jackson was considered very attractive by a substantial number of the female personnel on base. But he hadn't flirted with her. Heck, that would have made her suspicious. He'd just been pleasant and friendly, the same as he had all week. Nice.

"Why Dr. Jackson?" prompted Ferretti. "Why not Reynolds or Collins?"

Katie gritted her teeth. If anybody mentioned female hormones, she was going to hit something.

Morrison was the one who broke the brief silence. "Because he's the civilian. We wouldn't expect it of him."

"Closer," Reynolds said. "And?"

Pickett's mouth dropped open, "We didn't challenge our assumptions."

Ferretti smiled. "Go to the head of the class, Pickett. Which assumptions?"

"We thought, we've thought all along that Dr. Jackson would be, ah, less capable, because he's not military. But he's been part of a military team for what, seven years?" Pickett looked at Jackson with dawning respect. "It was stupid of us not to realize that he'd be just as dangerous as a soldier. More dangerous, because we consistently underestimated him."

Daniel Jackson took a sip of his coffee, his expression bland. "If it's any consolation, Lieutenant, I've used that trick a lot. Even goa'uld have fallen for it." He shrugged. "The benefits of having a reputation for being harmless."

"Vala certainly fell for it," Collins said, smirking. Taylor wondered who Vala was.

Lee muttered the phrase Morrison had coined earlier in the week. "The archeologist is not harmless."

Ferretti chuckled. "People are not always what they seem, Lieutenant." His expression turned serious. "And when you're dealing with alien technology, even people you think you know can be compromised. They can be programmed, brainwashed or goa'ulded. You've read about those kinds of incidents in mission reports and seen a few scenarios along those lines this week." He glanced along the tables. "You'll get your next duty assignments on Monday when you report to the SGC. Dismissed."

Taylor rose with a sinking feeling in her stomach, wondering if that next assignment was going to be washing test tubes in the geology lab.

#

Reynolds shook his head as he followed Ferretti into the briefing room back at the SGC the following Monday. He wasn't going to confess it to his Marines, but it felt damned good to be warm and dry again. The predicted snow had only been a dusting in the higher elevations, but the training camp had been bloody cold. And it was only September.

General O'Neill and Daniel Jackson walked in together. Ordinary team members weren't involved in the final personnel evaluations. When Jackson and Carter participated in training exercises, however, they always sat in on the reviews because of their department head status. And, Reynolds supposed, because O'Neill and Hammond before him valued their opinions. He turned to his fellow team leader. "You have a real sadistic streak, Ferretti," Reynolds said. "Why didn't you tell them they passed instead of making them wait all weekend?"

Jackson topped off his coffee before sitting down. He looked a lot more comfortable warm and dry as well. O'Neill answered Reynolds' question in an unsympathetic tone. "Because I want them to spend the weekend thinking about what they did wrong in the training, not in frenzied speculation about what adventures they're going to have offworld," the general said.

Ferretti added, "Besides, they haven't been through the final test yet. They won't really have passed until they've done that."

O'Neill gave Reynolds a mildly approving glance. "I heard you kept them on their toes." Reynolds relaxed a fraction, though Jackson scowled at their CO over the top of his mug.

"Dr. Jackson was a big help in that, sir," Reynolds said. "They kept underestimating him."

O'Neill met Jackson's eyes, looking amused. "Yeah, people do that."

"And you underestimate the depth to which my desk is buried," Jackson said briskly. "Can we get on with this?"

"You should have thought of that before you went haring off to the Pegasus Galaxy," O'Neill retorted. Ferretti rolled his eyes, then straightened as O'Neill glared at him. But grinned while he did it. The others wisely kept their expressions neutral and stayed out of the middle of that one.

Reynolds had to suppress a smile. O'Neill and Jackson arguing was just one of those constants of their corner of the universe. If it wasn't about Prometheus, it would be something else. Or nothing in particular.

The meeting settled down and they went through the detailed evaluations of their recent charges. Toward the end of the meeting, Reynolds watched the general and his senior civilian consultant. Jackson was gesturing emphatically as O'Neill challenged something in his report. The general might not go through the gate any more, but in some intangible yet very real way, he was still part of SG-1.

Reynolds had learned a lot about SG-1 in the last six years. For example, just when you were absolutely convinced you'd finally stopped underestimating them, they still had the ability to surprise you. He snapped back to alertness as O'Neill concluded the meeting and pushed his chair back, then stopped to fish a piece of paper out of his pocket. "By the way, Daniel, you'll never guess what I found on the bulletin board in the rec room."

Jackson gave him a suspicious glance. "Oh?"

O'Neill slid the paper down the table, Reynolds choked and Ferretti just laughed out loud. Reynolds wondered if it was one of his guys or one of Ferretti's who had decided to share this tidbit with the rest of the SGC. Daniel Jackson gave the general a look that was part embarrassment and part amusement. "Very funny, Jack."

In neat block printing, the paper read. "Very important tip. No matter what it looks like: THE ARCHEOLOGIST IS NOT HARMLESS. "

*end

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