Danger at Cheyenne Mountain

Author:  Orrymain
Category:  Slash, Action/Adventure, Drama, Romance, Established Relationship
Pairing:  Jack/Daniel ... and it's all J/D
Rating:  PG-13
Season:  Beyond the Series - June 5-8, 2017
Spoilers:  None
Size:  137kb
Written:  May 1-3,5,10,18-19, June 5, 2012, January 12-14,21, March 20-23,31, April 1,3-6,8-13, 2013
Summary:  When Jack and Daniel go missing, it's up to their brood to rescue them, with some help from an old friend.
Disclaimer:  Usual disclaimers -- not mine, wish they were, especially Daniel, and Jack, too, but they aren't.  A gal can dream though!
Notes:  
1) Sometimes, Jack and Daniel speak almost telepathically.  Their “silent” words to each other are indicated by asterisks instead of quotes, such as **Jack, we can't.**
2) Silent, unspoken thoughts by various characters are indicated with ~ in front and behind them, such as ~Where am I?~
3) This fic stands alone, but it does reference my other fic(s):  Unexpected Miracle
4) Thanks to my betas who always make my fics better:  Mama Bear, Candice, Irina!

Danger at Cheyenne Mountain
by Orrymain

“School's out!” Jack exclaimed to the cheers of his homeschooled children.  “Some things never change,” he mused as he shut off the tablet computer that contained the day's lesson plan.

“Dad, recess is awesome, but the final bell is always the best part of the day,” Brianna remarked, having heard the quiet rumbling of her older father.

“It was my favorite part of school, too,” a smiling Jack admitted as he picked up some of the homework assignments that the children had turned in during the session.  He looked over at the tomboy and sighed in part lament and part pride.  “Not many more sessions for you.”

“Don't get all sappy on me, Dad.”

“Deal with it,” the father advised his daughter, who would be completing her high school education within the next few months, her graduation coming a bit earlier than had she gone to a traditional high school.

“Want me to fail a few tests?”

“Would you?” Jack asked with widened eyes full of humorous hope.

“No, but I thought it would be nice to offer.”

“That's my girl,” Jack replied.  Putting the papers down again, he walked over to the dolphin loving teenager.  Placing his hands on the girl's upper arms, he leaned forward and placed a kiss on her forehead.  “I'm proud of you, Bri.”

“Thank you, Dad,” the girl responded, moving in for a loving embrace.  “I like to make you proud.”

“Easy to do, Princess.”

At that moment, there was a knock at the front door.  David, who was in the kitchen getting an apple, used the security panel to see who was at the door.

“Hey, Dad, it's the Air Force,” David called out.

“Crap!”  With a nod to Brianna, Jack headed for the front door, opening it to see an airman standing there.  “What?” he barked.  ~Been a while since I've terrified an airman.  Maybe this will be fun.~

“General O'Neill, Sir!” the airman acknowledged while snapping a salute.

“Yeah, fine, whatever,” Jack groused, giving a half-hearted salute in reply.

“Sir, this is for you.”

Hesitantly, Jack took the envelope and began to shut the door.

“I'll wait at the car, Sir.”

Jack's eyelids narrowed downward as a frown formed on his face.  He now knew there would be little opportunity to terrorize the airman.

“Yes, you do that,” the general returned flatly, shutting the door and walking into the living room with his eyes glued to the envelope he held in his right hand.  For a moment, he entertained the thought of taking it into his study and slipping it into the paper shredder.  ~Wouldn't do any good.  They'd just send me another one, and another.  Don't these people understand the word 'retired'?~

“What is it, Dad?” David questioned, his words a bit mumbled from the bite of apple he was eating.

“Where's Daddy?”

“He's in the garage with JD,” Aislinn announced, skipping through the hallway and continuing to the stairs.

“Thanks, Skippy,” Jack told the girl after she'd gone past him.  He headed for the garage, smiling when he saw his soulmate teaching their youngest son about the laundry.  ~Cute.~

“Hey, Babe,” Daniel greeted as he patted a pile of laundry that was on the large table near the washers and dryers.

“Dad, these are the whites,” the five-year-old stated from his seated spot on the table.

“Yup, they sure look white to me,” Jack agreed as he walked over to stand next to his husband.

“Don't mix the whites with these,” the boy instructed as he patted the pile to his right that had colored clothing items in it.

“I'll remember that,” the silver-haired man replied with a smile.  “Son, why don't you go inside and play with your brothers and sisters.”

“No more school?” the boy asked, his schooling having ended earlier in the day.

“All done for the day.”

“Yeah!” JD exclaimed happily, smiling when Daniel picked him up and lowered him to the floor.

As the youngster headed inside, Jack commented, “Another kid ready for laundry duty.”

“Almost,” Daniel acceded.  “What's up?”

After a somewhat mournful sigh, Jack announced, “We have an airman waiting for us outside.”

“Airman?  For *us*?”  Rubbing his thumb across his chin momentarily, he queried, “Uh, why?”

“The answer might be in here,” Jack said, flipping the envelope back and forth in the air.  “It's addressed to both of us.”

“Doesn't that seem ...”

“... unusual,” both men spoke in unison.

With yet another sigh, Jack opened the envelope and removed the paper that was inside.  It was on official Cheyenne Mountain stationary.  Skipping ahead, Jack glanced at the signatures.

“It's from Landry and Hammond.”

“General Hammond?  Jack, he's not even in town.”

“That's what my calendar says, too.”

Reading the note, the lovers shared a concerned look.

“What do we do?” Daniel asked.  ~Doesn't feel right.~

“We go check it out,” Jack answered.  ~But it's hinky, definitely hinky.~

“I guess we can help out, assuming that's really what they need, but what about the children?”

“It should only take a couple of hours,” the general asserted, including the travel time to and from the base in his calculations.  “Jen's home.”

Daniel nodded and trailed his husband inside the house.  A few minutes later, they somewhat reluctantly left their home and headed to Cheyenne Mountain in the car that had been sent for them.

====

“Hey, Sis,” Jeff greeted as he entered the home and almost ran into his sister who was pacing the entranceway area.  “Something wrong?”

Jennifer took her brother by the elbow and headed down the hallway towards the study.

“Jen, what's going on?”

Speaking quietly, Jennifer responded, “I don't know, but something is.”

“Where are Dad and Daddy?”

“At the Mountain.”

“The Mountain?  How come?”

“I don't know,” the worried young woman answered.  “All I know is that an airman showed up and a little bit later, they left with him.  Jeff, they said they'd be back in a couple of hours.”

“Okay, so?”

“So what time is it?”

As the two entered the study, Jeff glanced at his watch and noted, “Ten after eight.”

“Exactly,” Jennifer acknowledged, alarm in her eyes and voice as she steered her brother deeper inside the room, briefly looking behind to make sure none of her other brothers or sisters were nearby.

“Jen, stop sounding like Daddy, and tell me what's wrong,” Jeff demanded.

“They left four hours ago,” Jennifer revealed.  “I called the Mountain, and I can't get through.”

“What do you mean?”

“I get a message that says incoming calls can't be accepted right now.  Jeff, I've never, ever heard that kind of message before, especially when I dial a direct line. Something is terribly wrong.”

~She's right.  This isn't normal.~  Jeff paused, trying to make sense of what he was hearing.  “Does the brood suspect anything?”

“I don't know.  They're playing, but ... JD kept looking at me funny, so I put him to bed a little bit early.”

“Any ideas?” Jeff inquired of his sister.  Before she could answer, he added, “Maybe we should call the police.”

“No,” Jennifer refuted, firmly shaking her head.  “I learned a long time ago that in these situations, we need to rely on ... you know.”

“Other sources.”

“Yeah.”

“Let's make some phone calls.”

“The problem, Jeff, is that we don't have that many options right now.”

Understanding, Jeff nodded and then sat down at his older father's desk.

====

“Jen, where are Dad and Daddy?” Little Danny questioned as his sister tucked him into bed.

“They're at the Mountain.”

“They didn't call us,” the child prodigy pointed out.

“I know, but they know we're home and that we're okay.  They'll be home soon.”

As he turned over on his side, pulling his blanket even more taut, Little Danny sighed, “Always tell us g'night; not good.”

Jennifer smiled in a sad lament as she caressed the side of her brother's head.  She leaned over and gave him a kiss on his cheek and then turned to see Jonny staring at her.  He'd already been tucked in and while his covers warmed his body, his eyes were wide open.

“Go to sleep, Jonny.”

“You should call Grandpa,” the little general suggested strongly.

Sitting down on the edge of the boy's bed, Jennifer replied, “Jonny, don't make a mountain out of a molehill.”

“That's a cliché, Jen.  Dad doesn't like clichés.”

“It's a joke.  He uses them all the time.”

Against his will, Jonny let out with a huge yawn.

“Sleep, General Jonny.  You can order me around tomorrow,” Jennifer promised softly, rubbing the covers over the boy's abdomen gently.

“'Kay,” Jonny agreed, being too tired not to follow orders.

Jennifer rose and looked over at Ricky's bed, happy the Spitfire was sound asleep. She stood there totally still for a minute, full of worry for her parents and uncertainty about what to do. Then she glanced at each of her brothers before quietly exiting the room.

~This is a first I wish I wasn't experiencing,~ the young woman thought as she lamented the disappearance of her parents and the feeling that something was terribly wrong.  ~They'd call; they'd get in touch somehow.~

====

“Any luck?” Jennifer queried Jeff when the two came together again in the living room.

“Nope.  No one I called knows anything, but ...”

“What?” Jennifer interjected when her brother paused.

“It's like we said earlier, we don't have a lot of people to contact right now,” Jeff reminded.

“Maybe we're making too much out of this,” Jennifer put forth hopefully.

“It's not that late, Jen.  There could be a crisis we don't know about.”

“Right, and they know we're here.  I mean, we aren't kids anymore,” Jennifer asserted, trying to convince herself that all was well with her parents.

“We're adults now, fully capable of taking care of our brothers and sisters.”

“Woof!” Bijou interjected.

“Woo,” Katie added, too concerned to even complete her bark of woe and then lying down, placing her head on her paws.

“I don't believe it, either, Katie,” Jennifer sighed, crossing her arms and plopping down on the sofa.  “They'd call, or they'd do something.  Jeff, these are our parents, our very overprotective, extremely alarmist, 'we have enemies who could be anywhere' parents.  I don't care how old we are, they would never, ever not call the brood by now.”

“They'd at least get word to us,” Jeff assented, sitting down in his dad's favorite armchair.  When Bijou jumped up onto his lap and let out a brief groan, the college student responded, “Yeah, I agree -- grrrr.”

====

When the next morning there still had not been any word from Jack and Daniel, Jennifer, who had just graduated from Colorado State University at Colorado Springs, had nothing major on her schedule for the day so was free to devote her attention to the other children. As for Jeff, he was officially still enrolled at the University of Cincinnati, but this past semester he had actually been working for Archonics Ltd. in Colorado Springs and was, in fact, still working for them. He felt lucky that his work as an architect gave him some leeway in his schedule. While he had one meeting with a client that he could not miss in the afternoon, he was otherwise free to tend to his siblings.

All of the children were aware by now that something was not right.  Though they ate breakfast in the hospitality room and then did their morning chores per usual, the mumbling grew in frequency until finally, the brood's determination became so fierce that sitting at home, waiting for something to happen simply was not acceptable.

It was the oldest Munchkin who led the charge as to what the brood should do in order to find their parents.

“Jonny, we can't just show up at the Mountain,” Jennifer asserted.

“Why not?” the little general demanded to know, his hands on his hips and his face stern.

“Come on, Sis,” David urged.  “You and I both have reasons to be there.”

“Yeah!” came a chorus of affirmative responses and nodding heads.

Jennifer and David were still spearheading the Teen Gaters Program, although Jennifer's role as leader of the interplanetary exchange program was in transition somewhat since she was actually no longer a teenager.  Still, both she and David had clearance to certain parts of Stargate Command with regularity.

“We might as well, Sis,” Jeff agreed.  “Maybe something happened before they got there and since we aren't getting through on the phone ...”

The young woman nodded and suggested that just a few of the brood head for Cheyenne Mountain.  That idea did not go over very well, so she decided to just go with the flow.  Locking up the house, she took out her keys to the SUV and prepared to make the forty minute drive to the base with the entire Jackson-O'Neill brood in tow.

====

~Here goes nothing,~ Jennifer sighed inwardly as she pulled the SUV up to the outer gate.

“Ma'am,” the airman on duty greeted as he approached the SUV.

Jennifer pulled out her ID and showed it to the man, who was fairly new to his post.

“What about them?” the airman questioned, nodding towards the younger kids in the vehicle.

“They're my brothers and sisters.”

“I have clearance, too,” David told the guard, holding his ID card outward.

The airman was skeptical and thought the carload of kids was trying to pull a prank.  He refused to give anyone access to the Mountain.  Within a couple of minutes, the children were erupting in complaints.  Jonny led the revolt, actually exiting the vehicle and walking up to the airman with more confidence than many officers had.

“You better let us in or our dad, the lieutenant general, is going to station you at Elmendorf!” the little general threatened.

“Jonny, that won't get us anywhere,” Aislinn soothed.  Then she looked at the airman and stated, “Our dad, *Lieutenant* General Jack Jackson-O'Neill, and our daddy, Doctor Daniel Jackson-O'Neill, are here, and we want to see them.”

Certain some of his fellow airmen were pulling a stunt on him, the guard responded, “Okay, enough games for today.  Go home.”

“Now wait a minute,” Brianna objected, her loud words heard as she got out of the car.

~Gawd, I've lost control,~ Jennifer thought.  Then she sighed, ~Don't kid yourself, Jen.  You never had control in the first place.  Oh well.  If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.~  With that Jennifer also got out of the SUV, as did all of the remaining kids.  As the brood all talked at once, the young woman shouted, “Wait!”  When silence loomed, she asked, “Who has JD?”

“Got him!” Lulu called out proudly, smiling at Chenoa, both of whom were holding one of their littlest brother's hands.

“Thank you,” Jennifer stated with relief.  “Okay, go ahead!”

With that permission, the brood picked up right where they'd left off, their faces firm and their tones direct.

“Mister, you may think you're big stuff, but you're just an airman, and our dad is a general, and he is inside this mountain,” Brianna stated strongly.

“So is our daddy, and he's the most important civilian in the entire world not to be military,” Jenny noted, unaware of how comical her statement sounded, even if it was true.  “You'd better let us in.  They didn't come home last night, and we're worried.”

“Look,” Jennifer interjected calmly as she raised her hands to chest level.  “You saw my ID, and David's.  We grew up coming here because our parents worked here until they retired a few years ago.  Are you really saying you don't know who they are?”

“It doesn't matter,” Jeff interposed.  “Check your logs.  They should have been driven in yesterday afternoon.”

“Right!  Great idea, Jeff,” Jennifer praised.  “Um, I'd say probably around five-ish, but it could have been a little earlier or a little later.”

Deciding he should at least check the logs, the airman reviewed the prior day's entries and came up empty.  He told the children he'd checked the entire afternoon, from 1300 hours to 2100 hours.  There was no Jackson, no O'Neill, and no Jackson-O'Neill entering the complex.

“That doesn't make sense,” David argued.

“No, it doesn't,” Jennifer agreed.  “Call General Landry.”

“Joke's over.  I'm not about to get my butt put in a sling for a bunch of kids.  Get out of here.”

The brood remained steadfast, prompting the airman to call over a couple of the guards walking the perimeter.  At the same time, Jenny noticed a familiar car just coming into view.  It was exiting the interior of the facility.

“It's Uncle Lou!” Jenny exclaimed just before she darted over towards the oncoming vehicle that fortunately was traveling at a slow speed.  “Uncle Lou, we need you!”

Running around the surprised airmen, the entire brood followed the Spitfire, happy when they saw Colonel Lou Ferretti stop his truck several yards before the security gate.

“Hey, Red.  What are you doing here?”

Twelve voices all began talking at once, sounding like a bunch of white noise to the colonel.

“Whoa, brood!  Put it in park.  I only have two ears and they just don't work when you all talk at once.  Slow down,” Lou urged.

“Uncle Lou, have you seen Dad and Daddy today, or even yesterday?” Jennifer questioned urgently.

“No.”

With a deadly serious expression, Jennifer advised, “Yesterday afternoon, an airman came with a letter for them.  They left, saying the airman was driving them here, but that they'd be back in a couple of hours”

“Uncle Lou, they haven't called or anything,” Ricky revealed, a little sniffle in his frightened voice.

Honking horns behind the Ferretti truck prompted Lou to tell the kids to move back out of the way.  He then pulled his vehicle over to the side of the road and walked over near the guarded entrance to get more information from the obviously very upset brood.

“Jen, are you telling me Jack hasn't checked up on you?” Lou inquired.

“No.”

“Nor the Doc?”

“Uncle Lou, we haven't seen or heard from them since they left with the airman,” Jennifer reiterated.

“And that man won't let us in to look for them,” Jonny informed the Italian officer, pointing at the airman and then giving the man a death glare.

“One sec.  Stay here,” Lou ordered the children.  He walked over to the airman, who was just making note of the last car to exit the base, and stated, “They're going in.”

“Colonel, I don't have the authority ...”

“Airman, *I* have the authority.”  Lou saw the other two guards and challenged, “Don't you have some dirt to check?”

“Yes, Sir!” both men acknowledged, snapping to and returning to their duty.

The younger children giggled, thinking their uncle was doing a nice job of imitating their father the general.

“Colonel ...” the guard began.

“Airman, you're new here.  General O'Neill made this place, along with Doctor Jackson.  You don't keep them out, and you don't keep their children out, either.”

“*Their* children?”

“Slick-sleeve,” Lou began, using the nickname given to any airman of this basic rank level, “don't start.  Don't even think about it.  Sign them in,” Lou ordered.  He turned and, pointing to the SUV, instructed, “Go.  I'll turn around and you follow me.”

“Thanks, Uncle Lou,” Jennifer and a few of the children spoke in scattered rounds.

Just as Jonny turned the corner of the front of the SUV to get in, he turned back, staring sternly at the guard while muttering just loud enough for the airman to hear, “Elmendorf for sure.”

The airman cleared his throat, wondering why he suddenly felt so nervous by a little boy's threat.

~O'Neill.  Jackson.  Wonder what's so great about them?~  As he concluded his log entry, the guard watched the SUV pull behind the colonel's truck.  ~*Their* kids?  Nah.  Not even in today's air force, not part of this elite group.  No way.~

====

With their vehicles parked, Lou and the brood headed for General Landry's office. As they exited the elevator to the 28th floor, Lou was stopped by another colonel.

“Kids, go ahead.  I'll be right in.”

The children rounded the corridor and began to collectively feel a little odd about being there.  It wasn't their physical location, but something was different.  There wasn't the normal level of activity.  Worse, they didn't recognize very many faces and those they did know were more like acquaintances, generally at one of the lower ranks.

“General ... oh, I'm sorry,” Jennifer stated when the man behind the desk looked up.  “We're looking for General Landry.”

“He's not here,” the man responded, staring harshly at the brood.  “And who the heck are you?  Kids?”

Jennifer introduced herself and the children.  She learned that the man was Colonel Frank Kettering.  Apparently, he was in command of the base for a couple of days while General Landry was indisposed.

“You don't understand,” Jennifer pleaded.  “Our parents came here yesterday, driven by an airman.”

“I don't have time for this,” Kettering barked.  “Sergeant!”

A moment later, Sergeant Chris West entered the room.

“Get rid of these kids,” the colonel ordered, waving at the brood as if they could be tossed aside easily, and then leaving his office to attend, supposedly to attend a debriefing.

“But ...” rang out several voices in despair.

“Where's Sergeant Davis?” Lulu questioned West.

“He got lucky.  He won a trip to Jamaica,” West answered.  “This way,” the sergeant instructed.

“We know the way,” Jeff responded as he began to usher the kids out.

“Hey, where's Landry?” Lou asked, confused to see West with the kids and no one else.

“We don't know,” Jennifer sighed.

Hesitantly, the children began to walk out, all processing what had been happening.

“This doesn't make sense,” Jonny opined.

“Uncle Lou, the airman said they didn't even sign in.  How could that be?” Jennifer queried.

“Only if it were some top secret gig, but it would have to be a doozy.  Everyone signs in and out, all the time.  You guys know the rule.”

“No one's here,” Little Danny observed, almost to himself.

“What?” David asked his brother.

“Aunt Sam and Uncle Pete are on vacation with Aunt Janet and Teal'c,” the Munchkin pointed out.

“And we can't reach them because they're on a safari with no phones or computer access,” Jennifer elaborated.

“Sergeant Davis is gone, too,” Lulu stated.  “He helped me.  He's always here.”

“He is.  I don't think I've ever been here when he's not,” Chenoa added.  “Maybe I should have showed my ID, too.  I'm an ambassador!”

“I don't think it would have made a difference, Noa,” Jeff opined, smiling at the young girl who actually was an official Earth ambassador to one off-world nation and as such had clearance in her own right.

“Uncle Lou's here,” Ricky put forth, glancing up at the man.

Lou smiled, but the expression soon faded.  He remained quiet as the brood entered the elevator.  He also noted that Sergeant West had followed them as they'd headed to the elevator.  Not only that, but West was on the radio as the doors closed.

~Hinky; very hinky,~ the colonel told himself.  “I wasn't supposed to be here,” he confided to the children.  “SG-2 was scheduled to be off-world for a few days, but the big shot from the place came down with some local disease.  They said it wasn't safe.”

“Weird,” Brianna expressed as she leaned against the back wall of the elevator.  “Grandpa's fishing, and he said he wasn't taking his cell phone,” she added.

“What about Ice?” Jonny queried, referring to Colonel Marc Reynolds.

“Area 51 on some hush hush thing,” Lou told the boy.

“Paul?” Jennifer brought up with curiosity.

“SG-9 is on a diplomatic gig,” Lou replied about the team that included Colonel Davis.

By the time the group reached their vehicles, they'd reached an odd conclusion.

“It's like someone wanted everyone we know well here gone.  I don't know how they could do that,” Jennifer pondered about the potential conspiracy.

“But it's true, Jen,” Jeff opined.

“Anyone important to us is not here,” Jennifer sighed, admitting the truth of the matter.

“What about Doctor Lam?  She could help us,” David insisted encouragingly.

“I don't think she's on duty,” Lou responded.  “When we had our pre-mission exams, Warner was there, but he was about to go off-shift; said he was leaving for Venezuela for a couple of weeks.”

“Maybe Doctor Lam is here,” David suggested, hoping the family would get a break in the search for Jack and Daniel.

“Wait here,” Lou instructed, turning and jogging back towards the entrance.  When he returned less than two minutes later, he reported that Carolyn Lam was also out of communication range, having been ordered on a mission of her own, no details of which were available.  “I couldn't find out anything more.”

“Everyone's gone,” Little Danny sighed.

“Everyone important,” Jennifer stated again.  “Anyone we would normally call is not here.  I mean, there other people -- Casey maybe.”

“Nah.  Cas and his friend are on a trip somewhere.  They left a few days ago, and believe me, he said he has no intention of spending time on the phone.”

“I know!” Jonny exclaimed confidently.  “Sergeant Siler will help us.”

Lou shook his head and advised the children that the sergeant was on a special assignment at Nellis Air Force Base.  The discussion turned to other family friends at Cheyenne Mountain, such as Nyan and Jeff Cornell.  Yet each person that had any type of close tie to the Jackson-O'Neill family seemed to be unavailable, all for reasonably sound excuses.  Still, it made for an eerie reality.  There was relatively no one to contact or rely on.

“Everyone,” Jennifer sighed yet again.

“Let's go to your place and talk this over,” the colonel suggested in an unusually quiet tone, his eyes cautiously looking to see if anyone was nearby.

With a couple of agreement nods, Jennifer and Jeff made sure their siblings were settled in and began the drive home.

Lou followed the SUV closely since he was more worried than he had let on to the children.  Jack was one of his best friends, and he knew Daniel very well.  He was absolutely sure that the two very overprotective parents would never let their children spend a night alone without one of the extended family being around to check on them, if only by phone.

~Not a chance,~ Lou affirmed in his mind.  ~Something is definitely not right here.  I am not letting the kids out of my sight until Jack and Daniel are found.~

====

Exiting the SUV, Little Danny suddenly ran several yards across the lawn before stopping and staring straight ahead.

“Little Danny, what did you think of?” Jonny asked as he ran and joined his fellow Munchkin.

“Mrs. Valissi is gone, too.”

“That's right,” Jennifer avouched as she came up on her brothers.  “She's in Italy with Robert and Evan this month.”  She sighed again.  ~Everyone is gone.~

“Got an idea,” Lou stated, pulling out his cell phone.  “Maybe that pretty little nurse who likes your daddy is ...” He stopped, smiling nervously.  “What I meant to say is ...”

“He means Marie,” Aislinn told her siblings.  “Nurse Hill *loves* Daddy,” she giggled.

“Yeah, Marie Hill,” Lou affirmed, feeling unnerved by his own comment.

Jennifer stared as Lou's call was connected.  Marie was on duty, but she hadn't seen or heard anything about Jack and Daniel in a long time.  She seldom saw them unless they came to the Mountain for some reason.

“Uncle Lou, your call went through,” Jennifer pointed out.

“We haven't been able to get anyone to answer,” Brianna mentioned, finding the situation to be peculiar.

“I'm going to try again,” Jennifer said, taking out her cell and dialing.  “Listen.”

With the phone on speaker, everyone could hear the same message the children had been getting since the day before.

“Kids, I have a bad feeling about this,” Lou admitted, realizing the Jackson-O'Neill homestead and the children themselves had been targeted.  “Someone may have bugged your house.”

“We have lots of security,” Jenny countered.

“Yeah, but you never know,” Jeff responded.  “Maybe we shouldn't assume.”

“We need some of your dad's friends, but I don't know how to get to those guys,” Lou bemoaned as he tried to come up with the best course of action.

“Uncle Thor,” JD interjected.

“Sorry, JD.  I don't have that kind of pull,” the colonel responded.

“Um ...” Jonny expressed with a cough before following it with, “We can.”

“You can reach the Asgard?” Lou asked in surprise.

The brood exchanged looks, their eyes communicating that they knew they were not supposed to tell anyone about the family's link to the alien commander.

Seeing the stares, Lou cocked his head and prompted in disbelief, “Come on, really?”

“Sometimes,” Brianna admitted with a coy smile.

“You're in contact with the Asgard?” the colonel questioned incredulously.  ~Jack's been holding out on me.  Wow!~

“Well, Thor sort of looks over us when we're away from Dad and Daddy,” Chenoa advised, remembering how Thor's special patch had been given to her one time when things were a little dangerous for the family.

“Cool,” Lou expressed in amazement and a bit of delight.  ~Gonna have to tease ole Jack about this.~

“Anyone have their patch or watch?” Jennifer asked, seeing a lot of shaking heads.  “Okay, we go in the house, but be careful what you say.”

“I'll get mine,” Brianna told the group.

“Why don't we all get our stuff,” Jennifer suggested, leading the way inside.

Quietly, the brood entered the home and each retrieved the special items they'd been given that allowed them to contact the Asgard leader.  Little Danny also suggested they check the answering machine.  There were a few messages, but none of them were from any member of their extended family, nor did they have anything to do with their parents absence.

--

Back outside, Jenny asked the oldest Munchkin, “How come you brought your backpack?”

“Always be prepared, Jenny,” Jonny responded.  “My most important stuff is in here.”

“Now what do we do?” Chenoa queried, looking around at her siblings.

“Jen, neighbors might see,” Brianna pointed out.

“Yeah, but we can't risk being in the backyard, either,” Jennifer stated.

Frustrated by all the talk, Jonny called out, though not too loudly, “Oh, for crying out loud, let's call him already.  Thor, we need you.  It's important.”

“Uh, but discreetly, please.  Our neighbors might see,” Jennifer interjected with concern.

When nothing happened, Lou cocked his head and accused, “You've been putting me on.”

“No, Uncle Lou,” JD refuted, shaking his head.  “Sometimes it takes him a while.”

“Uh, he's not always ... in the area, if you know what I mean,” Jennifer added with a small shrug.

“Okay, maybe, bu....”

Seconds later, the brood and Lou found themselves no longer on Earth.  Instead, they were on an Asgard spaceship.

“Wow, wow, wow!” Lou exclaimed.  “Now this is what I call a ride.”

“Welcome, Colonel Ferretti, to my ship, The Daniel Jackson.”

“Nice ship, Doc,” Lou muttered as he took in the craft.

“Hi, Uncle Thor,” JD called out as he walked up to the tiny gray alien life and gently hugged him.

“Not now, Little Thor,” Thor responded, letting out what could be interpreted as a sigh and then relenting by patting his human namesake on the back.

“Little Thor?” Lou repeated as he turned and faced Jeff, who was the closest to him.

“That's what Thor likes to call him,” the college student explained.

“I knew Thor was part of the kid's name, but ...” Lou trailed off, shrugging.  ~I remember Jack and the Doc including Thor in the name, but who knew Thor knew.~

“What is the problem?” the Asgard leader inquired of the children.

Taking turns speaking, Jennifer, Jeff, and several of the children told Thor about their fears for their fathers and what they had experienced at the Mountain.

Thor went to his main control panel and stared while informing the children of a problem of his own in regards to helping them.

“We have equipped Cheyenne Mountain with a new shield,” Thor announced.

“Hey, I heard about that; it makes us invisible to the bad guys,” Lou stated excitedly.

“Yes.”

“You mean you can't find our parents?” Lulu asked vulnerably, barely keeping herself from breaking into tears.

“I cannot,” Thor confirmed.  “However, I can penetrate the shield.”

“To beam in and out,” Jonny surmised.

“That is correct.”

“So what do we do?” Little Danny questioned.

“We beam in,” Lou answered, his military training kicking in.  “At least some of us do.”

“All of us,” Jonny returned forcefully.

“Little Thor will stay with me,” Thor insisted strongly and protectively.

“Thor's right,” Jeff agreed.  “He's too young.”

“I am not.”

“We will play,” Thor told the child.

JD beamed, deciding it was okay that he was too young.  He loved spending time with his uncle from outer space.

“We need a plan,” Jonny put forth, the youth in full little general mode.

“Wait!” Little Danny called out with a bit of a start.  “What if they are after us?”

“We think the house could be bugged,” Brianna advised Thor.

“And it wouldn't be the first time, either,” Jeff pointed out.

“We don't know who they are,” Jenny noted, completely unafraid of any danger they could be facing.

“What about the zoo?” Little Danny asked in alarm.  “Maybe they'll hurt them to hurt us.”

Thor blinked once and then worked his controls.  Seconds later, Bijou and Katie appeared on the ship.  At first, they were excited to be on the vessel with their humans, but then a stern voice called them to full alert status.

“Bijou, Katie, you must protect your zoo,” Thor ordered the beagles.  “You understand?  Your humans have work to do, but they are concerned about you and the other animals.”

“We love you,” Little Danny nearly cried as he kneeled down to hug the precious canines.  He smiled when he received some loving licks.  “Thor is going to help us.”

“Thor, maybe we could use Aunt Sam's house,” Jennifer suggested.

“I will shield the home, but we must get all your animals together,” Thor announced as he began beaming animals inside Sam and Pete's home.

“Don't forget the fish,” Ricky reminded.

“And Bogey,” Jonny stated about his beloved lizard.

“Strawberry and Shortcake,” Aislinn and Jenny called out in unison about their guinea pigs.

“Ptolemy.  She needs her whole cage, Thor,” Little Danny put forward.

“Bagel and Cream Cheese,” Aislinn reminded, referring to the two rabbits that were part of the zoo.

“And Calico and Mittens,” Lulu added, smiling as she thought about the playful feline members of the family who were beamed over when they were in the middle of a game of tag.

The list went on to include all the critters in the zoo, including a bird with an injured wing that Little Danny was nursing back to health.

“Thor, don't forget Andie!” Little Danny called out suddenly.

“What is an Andie?” the commander questioned.

“She's our neighbor's dog,” Brianna explained.  “She lives next door to us.”

“But Mrs. Valissi is visiting her son and we're taking care of her dog,” Lulu explained with concern.

“Andie is a beautiful dog,” Brianna opined.  “She should be in Mrs. Valissi's backyard right now, probably by the pond.  She likes it there.”

“Yeah,” Little Danny agreed.  “She visits our house a lot.”

Thor touched his controls, centering in on the canine he had just learned about.  He remained silent as he proceeded with his task.

“Jen, you do know they are going to destroy Aunt Sam's house, don't you,” Jeff whispered to his sister.

“I'm sure Thor is sending them in their cages.”

“Is he?”

“Um ... sure.  I'm not so sure, but Uncle Pete will send Dad the bill if there's any damage.”

“With Hot and Chocolate running around, it's going to be one big bill,” the young woman mused about Chenoa's two Shetland ponies, allowing a brief moment of levity amid the seriousness of the situation.

“Holy blowing his stack,” Jeff chuckled in a Jack-like way before growing serious again.

“Did you make sure they have food and water?” Ricky questioned.

“The zoo is secure,” Thor announced.

Over on the side, Ricky quietly asked his twin, “Jenny, why didn't Uncle Thor just shield our house?”

“Because it's bugged, silly.”

“Oh,” the boy responded with a frown.  ~Don't get it, but okay.~  A thought occurred to him, prompting him to ask another question.  “But how do we know Aunt Sam's house isn't bugged?”

“We don't, but the bad guys are after us, not Aunt Sam and Uncle Pete.  The zoo's safer there.”

Ricky shrugged, somewhat unconvinced.  He thought about raising the issue to the rest of the brood, but just then, another voice spoke up.

“Excuse me, Thor, but I think I should ask this,” Jennifer began a bit timidly.  ~He's the Asgard leader.  He has to know the pets need their cages.~

“What did you want to ask?” the alien inquired.

“Did you send Bogey and, uh, well, all of the pets in their cages?”

“Ut oh,” Brianna reacted, getting a bad image in her head of zoo stew.

“Of course,” the Asgard responded.

“Calico doesn't have a cage,” Lulu pointed out.

“Neither does Mittens,” Little Danny added.  “They're cats.  They only have cages when we travel.”

“Hot and Chocolate would hate being in a cage,” Chenoa sighed unhappily.

“The zoo is secure and content,” Thor promised.  He then looked determinedly at the beagles, who sat focused at the commander.  “Bijou, Katie, you are the leaders.  You know what to do.”

“Woof!” came the response times two.

The children all gave the beagles smiles, hugs, and words of support, after which Thor beamed them into the Shanahan home that was now cloaked and unable to be penetrated by any earthly force or weaponry.

“They are safe,” Thor declared as he faced the children.  “I have eliminated all listening and monitoring devices within a five-block radius of your home ...”

“Maybe we should keep the zoo at home,” Jennifer unintentionally interrupted a bit hesitantly, considering all the work Thor had just gone through to transfer them.

“Yeah, that's what I thought,” a somewhat proud Ricky opined, smiling a tad proudly at his sister.  Whispering, he added to the other Spitfire, “See!  I told ya!”

“If the bad guys come looking and find the place in lockdown, they'll know we're onto them,” Lou responded.

“The colonel is correct which is why I left the listening devices inside your home working.  I have also created a program that will mimic the sounds normally made by the animals.”

“Great idea, Thor,” David praised.  “The bad guys will think they are home.”

“Your zoo will be safe at Colonel Carter's residence.”

Jennifer nodded, understanding the need to leave her house as somewhat of a lure to whoever was responsible for the current situation.

“Now we need a plan,” Jonny reiterated.

“I think we should go over this one more time before we do this.  Is there anyone we can think of who could help us?” Jennifer queried, looking mainly at her siblings.

“Aunt Sara and Uncle Mark are the only ones not on vacation,” David replied.  “Even Cassie and Dom are gone.”

“Yeah, it's a little odd how Dominic won that two-week trip to Italy that had to be taken now,” Jeff noted.

“We should call Aunt Sara” Lulu opined.

“We can't,” Jenny refuted.

“Why not?”

“I heard Dad talking to her yesterday.  She's not feeling well.  Uncle Mark was going to take her to the hospital.”

“Jenny, why didn't you tell us?” Brianna questioned with annoyance.

“Because then we had school, and then Dad and Daddy left, and I didn't get to ask Dad what was wrong, and then he and Daddy never came home, and then ...”

“I get it,” Brianna interrupted.

“Okay, we're on our own then,” Jennifer concluded.  ~Gee, I hope Aunt Sara is okay.  I wish I could check on her.~

“Gather round, kids,” Lou instructed, kneeling down onto his haunches as he prepared to develop a game plan and possible rescue scenario with the children.

====

“That's our best shot, brood,” Lou opined after a plan had been devised.

“You don't sound convinced, Uncle Lou,” Brianna put forth.

“Too many strangers walking around the base.  It makes me nervous,” the colonel admitted.

“We need backup,” Jonny asserted thoughtfully.

“Jonny, we already talked about that.  There isn't anyone,” Aislinn negated.

“He's right, though,” Lou concurred.  “We need a diversion.”

“I know someone,” the oldest Munchkin spoke confidently.  He reached into his backpack and pulled out a little book.  “Thor, I need to make a phone call.”

“What is a phone call?” the Asgard asked.

“Jonny, who do you want to call?” Little Danny asked curiously.

“Mister President Hayes.”

As Lou chuckled at the concept of the Munchkin calling the ex-President of the United States, the brood responded with only a bit of skepticism.

“Do you think he'd help?” Jenny contemplated.

“How could he help?” Chenoa inquired.

“He'd be our diversion, Noa,” David answered.  “He could have the bad guys scrambling.”

“They'd have to do whatever he said,” Jeff added.  “He's not in office anymore, but he still has a lot of power.”

“They wouldn't dare antagonize him,” Brianna contended with a nod.

“But we don't know where he is,” Ricky pointed out.

“Maybe he's ... here,” Jeff spoke, hesitating when he saw the flash of light that accompanied the political figure as he was beamed aboard The Daniel Jackson.  ~Thor doesn't waste time,~ he thought.  Smiling, he greeted, “Hi, Mister President.”

Hayes looked all around, acting stunned, but not feeling anything but a bit of surprise.

“Thor, isn't it?” the President said as he addressed the Asgard commander.

“Greetings, Mister President.”

“Hank.  I'm out of the president biz,” Hayes replied with an air of amusement.  “Well, imagine meeting all of you here,” he remarked as he looked over at the Jackson-O'Neill children.  Then he heard the snap to and turned to face Lou.  “And you are?”

“Sir, Colonel Lou Ferretti, United States Air Force, commander SG-2, Stargate Command, Sir!”

“At ease, Colonel.  Don't wear yourself out,” Hayes replied lightheartedly, returning the salute in a playful style.  “We've met before.”

“Yes, Sir, at the big Jackson-O'Neill anniversary shindig a few years back.”

“Great party.  Good to see you again, Colonel.”  Hayes walked around the bridge, admiring the advance technology in his view.  “Nice ship.”

“It's Daddy's,” JD spoke up proudly.

Seeing Hayes' questioning look, Little Danny explained, “He means it's named after Daddy.  It's The Daniel Jackson.”

“Nice, very nice.”

“Mister President Hayes,” Jonny began, stopping upon seeing Hayes' hands go up in the air.

“Jonny, just call me Hank.”

“But you're the President.”

“I *was* the President.  Now I'm just people, like you all are people.  Call me Hank.”

“Okay, Hank.  We need your help.”

“I knew I wasn't here just to inspect the ship,” Hayes replied teasingly.  With a nod, he asked, “What's the story?”

Once again the children told the tale of their missing fathers, including how their extended family were mostly out of town, their inability to dial into the Mountain, and their experience when seeking out Jack and Daniel earlier in the day.

“Sir, we need a diversion, and it looks like you're our only hope,” Lou told the political leader.

“What do you want me to do?” Hayes prompted, more than willing to assist in the endeavor.

“We have a plan,” Jonny advised his powerful friend.  “And I think it just got better.”

====

“Jen, I'm not sure this is smart,” Jeff opined as he stood in the entranceway of the Jackson-O'Neill home.

“Dad and Daddy will be home soon,” Jennifer responded.  “We overreacted, Jeff.  Talking to Uncle Lou was the best thing we could have done.”

“Yeah, he calmed us down.”  The young man sighed, “I guess with our family history it's easy to make a volcano out of pit fire.”

Jennifer chuckled, “I haven't heard that one before.”

“I just made it up,” Jeff laughed lightly.  “Okay, I have to get my meeting with the client and run a few errands, but I'll be home in time for dinner.  Who's cooking?”

“Bri, with an assist from David and Jenny.”

“Well, Bri's turning into a chef, but I'll watch out for the part that David and Jenny make.”

The lighthearted banter continued for another minute or so, with Jennifer eventually walking outside with Jeff as he made his way toward his truck.

“Jeff,  be careful,” Jennifer warned when the two stood by driver's side door.

“I'll be okay, Jen.  I really don't like this, though.”

“Uncle Lou is right.  Jeff, we made such a scene today and that was the wrong thing to do.  We brought attention to ourselves.  We should have known better.”

“I sure hope he's right.”

“Thor agreed with him, and he is an Asgard commander.  He told us to remember what he learned from Aunt Sam a long time ago.”

“Yeah, dumb it down, but I still don't like the little ones being part of the dumbing down process.”

“They can handle it.  We all can, Jeff,” Jennifer affirmed with confidence.  “It's the best thing, right?” she prodded, wanting her brother to be on board with the decision.

Jeff let out a groan as he looked down and jingled his keys.  Dumbing it down meant pretending everything was normal when everyone knew nothing was normal.  Worse, it left his siblings vulnerable while he was off working.  He didn't like it, but being a Jackson-O'Neill meant being able to pull off covert operations.  It was like acting, and he'd had plenty of theater experience in high school, especially when it came to the production angle.

“Okay, we'll play the hand out,” Jeff agreed.

With a nod, Jennifer assured, “I'll take care of the kids.”

“Jen, they're going to have a hard time pretending everything is okay.”

“Maybe, but they'll do it.  We're the brood, and our parents have taught us well.  We have their ...”  The young woman laughed, albeit a bit nervously.  “Jeff, is it possible to say we have their blood even when we're adopted?”

Jeff pulled his sister in for a hug, acknowledging, “I feel the same way.  We have their blood, Jen, in spirit and in love.”

“Sometimes, Jeff, I can't believe how poetic you are.”

“Chely likes poetry,” the young man chuckled in explanation, thinking about his high school sweetheart.

“And you like Chely.”

Ignoring the comment, Jeff inquired, “Jen, are you sure Thor did okay with replicating the zoo sounds.  Maybe we should have brought the zoo home from Aunt Sam's.”

“Too risky, Jeff, in case something goes down.  This way we only have to worry about ourselves.”

“Okay, well, I'd better go.  Keep an eye out for Uncle Lou.  He's worried, so he might stake out the house before nightfall.”

“I know.  To be honest, I'm glad he's going to be close by tonight.”

“Me, too.  See ya later.”

As she watched her brother pull out of the driveway and go on his way, Jennifer rubbed her forearms, warming herself while at the same time gathering strength for what might await her as the afternoon and evening progressed.  The plan was to make the enemy, whoever it was, believe that the children were settled and not taking action to go after their parents.  Hopefully, the relatively normal day would convince anyone listening in that things were status quo within the family home.  Then tomorrow they would strike, hopefully when those responsible for the disappearance of Jack and Daniel weren't prepared.

~I wish Bij and Katie were here, though.  They may be small dogs, but are great protectors.~

====

With Jeff going about his business and the rest of her siblings doing their best to both play and do homework without mentioning the absence of their parents, Jennifer proceeded with the next part of the plan: a phone call to J-O Enterprises.  She knew from looking at the calendar that Daniel had planned to go into the office that afternoon for a few hours and that Jack was supposed to go in the next day.

“Hi, Karissa.  This is Jennifer.”

“Hey, Jen, I was just about to phone your father.”

“Which one?” Jennifer laughed, willing herself to sound as jovial as possible during the phone call.

“The cute one with the sweet disposition.”

“Not the growling bear?”

“Not until tomorrow,” Karissa retorted.

“Actually, that's why I'm calling, Karissa.  Dad and Daddy were called to Cheyenne Mountain and I think it's for some hush-hush thing.”

“There's no such thing as being retired for your parents, is there?”

“Not when it comes to the Mountain,” Jennifer responded.  “Anyway, I'm not sure when they will be ... free, so if they have anything important scheduled, you might want to change it.”

“Jen, I really need to talk to Jack or Daniel about a situation with one of our clients; it's pretty important.”

“Maybe you can call Megan for advice,” Jennifer recommended about the woman who now headed J-O Enterprises' office location in the east.

“No chance I could get a hold of one of your parents for even a few minutes?”

“I don't think so, Karissa.  If things change, I'll make sure they call, but ...”

“... But I'd better handle it myself.”

“You know what they say ...” the young college student began.

“Jen, I don't get paid big bucks.”  Karissa chuckled as she added, “But I do love the fringe benefits.”  A second later, she exclaimed, “Oh, I have another call.  Thanks for the heads up, Jen.  Talk to you later, and tell that little cutie he owes me a phone call.”

“Is that Daddy or Little Danny?”

“Very funny.  Bye!”

“Bye,” Jennifer spoke, sighing as she disconnected the call on her end.  ~I hope that sounded okay.~

====

The afternoon continued on without incident.  Finally, Jeff returned home and it was time for a scheduled activity in the front of the home.  The kids separated into various parts of the yard, a few groups participating in different games or actions.  Now equipped with a communication monitor that would allow him to participate, Lou Ferretti, who had just checked his Monstermobile for any signs of tampering or listening equipment, heard his name and instantly sat down in his vehicle.

“Jen, I'm here.  What's your status?”

Kneeling down in the front yard, Jennifer was in a circle that included Jeff, Jonny, Chenoa, and Little Danny.

“Everything seems to be okay.  Uh, Jeff just got home, and we're all in the front yard.”

“Anything suspicious?”

“I don't see anyone, Uncle Lou,” Little Danny replied.  “Lulu threw the ball over my head and I ran down the block after it.  I only saw cars that belong here.”

“Ash and I played hopscotch for a while and we didn't see anyone who doesn't live here,” Chenoa stated with certainty.

“Good job, but keep your eyes peeled.  I'll be in the neighborhood in a couple of hours.  This gizmo of Thor's is one neat job.  Just remember the code word if you need help.”

“Indigestion,” Chenoa chuckled.

“What are you going to tell Aunt Caroline?” Jennifer asked curiously.

“Same as always, need to know,” Lou answered.  “Carry on, kids, and don't worry.”

“Easier said than done,” Jennifer lamented to her siblings after the connection was severed.  “Okay, go play for a few more minutes.  Remember, when we go back inside, we have to act normal.”

The group broke up, feigning laughter at a joke that was never spoken, and casually joined their other brothers and sisters as they played.

====

Next up on the agenda was a phone call from Jennifer to Sara O'Neill Wilson, Jack's ex-wife who was very much a part of the Jackson-O'Neill extended family.  Everyone was concerned about her after Jenny's earlier revelation that Mark Wilson, Sara's husband, was taking her to the hospital.  After a bit of a rocky start in the days after Jennifer was adopted by Jack and Daniel, she and Sara had become especially close.  The young woman could not let more time go by without checking on her surrogate aunt.

Unfortunately, when Jennifer called the Wilson home, all she got was the answering machine.  A call to Sara's cell phone resulted in nothing but a voice mail message, so Jennifer ultimately rang Mark's cell phone and also got a recording.

“Uncle Mark, it's Jen.  I just wanted to say 'hi' to Aunt Sara and haven't been able to get in touch with her.  I'm thinking of you both.  Um, give me a call when you can.”

That was all Jennifer dared to say.  It sounded as normal as she could make it, and she consciously said nothing about her missing parents or Sara's medical problems. Still, she was worried.  Sara had occasionally had a few medical scares in the past.  Luckily, she'd gotten through all of them successfully.  Jennifer prayed that her aunt would get through whatever was happening now, too.

~I hope she's okay.~

====

Late that night, Jennifer had just finished triple checking the doors and locks.  She was headed for the kitchen to take one more look outside via the security monitor that was hidden beneath the blackboard.  Hearing the sound of little feet, she diverted from her original intent and moved toward the sound.  Where the hallway entered the large recreation room, she paused, smiling at the growing assemblage of Jackson-O'Neill children.  Quietly, she watched as the Munchkins, the twins, and the Curly Tops joined hands.  A second later, David emerged from the stairway that led from the room to the home's second level.  Only seconds behind him was Brianna, carrying a yawning but awake JD.

“Sis, I thought you were going to bed,” Jeff called out from the steps that led up to his bedroom.

“I was, but ...” Jennifer didn't finish her sentence, motioning instead toward their siblings, all of whom were now holding hands.

“Come on, Jen,” Jeff urged, reaching out and taking her hand to lead her inside the room.

JD reached out for Jennifer, who smiled and took her place between the youngest family member and Jenny.  Ricky tugged on Jeff's shirt, causing him to stop and take his brother's hand on his right and Little Danny's on the left.

Knowing the house was still bugged, whatever was said had to be vague and not centered on their worry.  It was Little Danny who finally chose to speak.

“Dad and Daddy tell us that as long as we're together, we're unbeatable.  We're the brood, their brood, and we love them,” the prodigy began.  “They aren't here tonight, but they'll be home soon and we'll get lots of hugs and kisses then.  This is our circle.  Daddy calls it our circle of love and wher...” he paused, realizing he needed to change his words, “...and we know that he and Dad know how much we love them and miss them and want them to come home just as soon as they're done with their business.”

“Let's sing our song,” Aislinn suggested.  She smiled brightly and encouraged, “They always hear us because we're in their hearts like they're in ours.”

With that, the children sang a very special song called “Celebrate Me Home.”  They'd first sung it years earlier when Jack had been injured and was missing.  Since then, it had become one of the family's anthems, a symbol of their love and how no one would ever be forgotten or lost to them.

When the song was over, Jennifer wiped away a tear and took a big breath to try and conceal her emotion.

“Okay, brood, back to bed.  Dad and Daddy are going to be so mad at me when they get home if you guys are all cranky because I let you stay up so late.”

“They won't let her have any ice cream,” Jeff teased though his facial expression matched that of the others -- fearful and uncertain.

“Night,” Brianna whispered, hugging her older siblings, picking up JD, and then following the younger ones up the stairs.  “I'll make sure they all get back to bed okay.”

“Thanks, Bri,” Jennifer acknowledged, leaning into her brother's shoulder for comfort.

Jeff put his arm around Jennifer and massaged her arm lovingly.  They smiled at each other and then separated with Jeff going up to his room and Jennifer to the kitchen to finally check the security monitor.  Both young adults doubted they would sleep much that night.

====

The next morning, Jennifer awoke to find a text message from Mark.  He told her Sara was in the hospital having some tests done, but not to worry.

~Easier said than done, Uncle Mark,~ Jennifer thought.

Jennifer didn't have time to fret much about her aunt, though, as she needed to prepare breakfast for her siblings and then proceed with the plan to find Jack and Daniel.

~This could be a very long day.~

====

After breakfast, the children prepared for the challenge ahead of them.  Dressed in dark colors, they gathered in the recreation room.

“Reading time, kids,” Jennifer announced for the benefit of their unwanted listeners.  “There isn't going to be any school today ...”

An eruption of planned cheers interrupted the young woman's words.

“... but you have to finish your literature studies by reading the books you started this week.  No noise.  Think of our house as a library.  If everyone gets done without disturbing the others, we'll have a treat.”

“Ice cream?” Jonny asked.

“You got it, but that's only if you can manage to stay quiet while everyone reads,” Jennifer stated.

“That'll be tough,” Ricky chimed in.

“We can do it,” Little Danny said encouragingly.

“Take your seats,” Jennifer instructed, though the children didn't move.  “The time starts now.”

On cue, the brood was beamed aboard The Daniel Jackson where they reunited with Lou Ferretti.  A final review of the plan was conducted.  Thor also handed out special communication devices with a new tracking chip in them.

“Our scientists have not had suitable time to test the reliability of the tracking.  There may be flaws,” the Asgard advised the group.

“Flaws?” Lou questioned with a skeptical look.

“When the need is dire, Colonel Carter continues to advise us to ... dumb it down.”

“Use us as guinea pigs, you mean?” Lou prodded.

“They may work.”

Lou laughed sarcastically and then responded, “Hoping so, Thor.”

“There is one more thing,” the Asgard stated.

“Hate those one more thing things,” Lou teased.

“With the devices, you may only communicate with me.  They will not allow you to contact each other.”

Lou let out an utterance that showed his displeasure at that while the kids simply continued studying the items.

“Jennifer will be the liaison.  If you find something, tell me.  I will beam her to your location temporarily.”

“Assuming the devices work,” Lou interjected, looking away after the tiny commander's gigantic glare.

“They will work,” Thor stated.  “Be precise in your communication.  Unfortunately, I will not be able to reply.”

“Thor, why'd you give these things to us if they don't even work?” Lou whined in question.

“It is the best I can offer at this time, Colonel Ferretti.”

“It's better than nothing,” Little Danny agreed.  “Thank you for helping us, Thor.”

~Just like his daddy, always the diplomat,~ Lou mused silently.

With the devices in place, it was time to put the plan into action.

“Stay in tight, talk in whispers, and try to avoid the security cameras,” Lou urged at the end of the review.

“JD, take care of Thor,” Jeff told his littlest brother.

Immediately, JD took Thor's hand, the two appendages being roughly the same size.  Thor let out what was an Asgard version of a sigh, but let the little boy temporarily keep the hold on his hand.

“President Hayes is due to arrive within the next twenty minutes,” Lou noted as he checked his watch.  “Personnel will be scrambling.”

“It is time,” the alien announced.  He looked at his namesake and advised, “I must have my hand, Little Thor.”

“Okay,” the boy agreed, releasing it.  “Can we play now?”

“We shall ... play momentarily.”

Thor checked his controls and proceeded to engage the appropriate ones.

“Wish us luck, Thor,” Jonny called out.

“Luck” came the reply.

“Thanks!”

====

The new Asgard cloaking shield placed over Cheyenne Mountain essentially protected the base from being scanned.  To any alien race of equal or less technology to the Asgard, it would seem to be nothing but a regular mountain among thousands on Earth.  However, while it kept the activities and people from being monitored, it would not prevent any race from accessing the Mountain if they knew what it really was.  Thus, Thor was easily able to beam in Lou and the children to various locations since he already knew the layout of the facility and had all of the necessary coordinates.

The group operated under the assumption that Jack and Daniel were not being held in any of the logical places where people looking for them might search.  In fact, they had decided to check out some locations that were on the upper levels of the Mountain, space technically under the control of NORAD and not part of Stargate Command.  Lou had made several suggestions, as had many of the children.  Thus, with key locations pinpointed, Thor had begun the beaming process.

“Cool!” Jonny exclaimed in a quiet excitement after he materialized.  “I'll take point,” he advised his team.  “Stay close to the walls.”

“Jonny, that won't matter if they see us,” Aislinn sighed.

“That's why we stay close to the walls, so they won't see us.  Don't you ever watch TV?”

“No.  I play with my dolls.”

“Girls!”

“Hey!  I'm a better racer than you, Jonathan Jackson-O'Neill, and you remember that.”

“We're not racing, Ash.”

With a grouse reminiscent of her dad, the young girl replied, “Of course, we're not.  Can we please go find Dad and Daddy now?”

~Girls!~ Jonny complained inwardly.  ~Good thing she's my sister.~

~Boys!~ Aislinn spouted mentally.  ~He's just jealous.  I can plan strategy as good as he can.~

“Ash?”

“What?”

“Let's work together, okay?” Jonny suggested sincerely.

With a smile, the female Munchkin agreed, “It's a plan, but there's a problem.”

At that moment, the sound of fast moving feet were heard.  Quickly, the children scurried away, ducking inside what turned out to be a storage room.  As the steps got closer, the trio moved further back in the darkened closet-like room.

Jenny, who was the youngest member of the group, squatted down in a corner.  Her right hand fell to her side, brushing against several unfamiliar objects.  She remained quiet and didn't dare make a sound.  She was too afraid that the men now making some shuffling sounds with their shoes not far beyond the door might come in.

After a couple of minutes, the steps resumed, their pace swift until they completely disappeared from view.

“Whew!” Jonny expressed, using his right hand to wipe his brow.  “That was close.”

“Eeks!  This room is filthy.  Don't they clean it?” Jenny asked.

“It doesn't look like anything important is in here,” Little Danny commented, though he also realized it was a bit difficult to see through the darkness.

“What's this?” the redhead wondered after her hand swiped against a tube.  She grimaced at the dirt that covered the near-empty container.  “As...” she struggled to read in the light-deprived space “...tra.”  Shaking her head, she corrected, “No, it's an 'o'.  Astroglide.  What's that?”

Both Jonny and Little Danny shrugged.  It was the latter who then suggested Jenny leave the tube where she found it so they could get on with their task.

“Okay.  Maybe it's like oil for the planes,” the little girl put forth.

“Prob'ly,” Jonny agreed, using slang as his brain engaged in more serious concerns.  “Let's go.”

“But there's a problem,” Aislinn reminded. “I'm supposed to be with Ricky.”

“Oh crap,” Jonny responded as his eyes widened.  His sister was right.  “Thor, Ash is with my team.  She's supposed to be with Ricky.  Ricky's all alone.  Thor, fix it.”

“Please,” Little Danny added over his special Asgard device.  To his brother he stated, “Jonny, be nice to Thor.”

“I am being nice, but Ricky's all alone.”

“He's one of us.  He'll be okay for a few minutes.”

Jonny just groaned, happy when a moment later, the youngest Munchkin disappeared.

“Hope Thor beamed her to the right place this time,” Jonny put forth.

“He did,” Little Danny stated positively.

“Of course he did,” Jonny replied, hopeful but not feeling as certain as his brother was while also sounding very much like his older father.

====

Several floors above, Aislinn was happy to be united with her Spitfire brother.

“You okay?”

“I was worried about you, Ash.”

“I'm okay,” the Munchkin acknowledged.

With that, the team of two began their search, walking quietly along the corridor.  As the minutes passed, they hadn't seen or heard any personnel in the area.  In fact, it was eerily silent.  For the next ten minutes, they covertly checked out any room they'd come across.  Then they came to a larger room that intrigued them both.

“Daddy must love this room,” Ricky surmised.

“Books.  Lotsa books,” Aislinn commented while nodding her head in the affirmative.  She motioned for her brother to follow while also putting her fingers to her lips in a shushing motion.  ~We probably shouldn't talk so much.~

When the children reached the back corner of the room, they noticed two chairs side by side.

“Ash, look!” Ricky exclaimed, albeit his voice was not much more than a whisper.

The girl gasped as she ran to the chair and kneeled down to the floor.  Carefully, she reached beneath one of the chairs, her hand going all the way to the rear until it was about to touch the wall.

“It's Daddy's,” Aislinn noted.  She tapped the special communication device she'd been given and then whispered, “Thor, it's Ash.  Ricky and I are in a big room full of books, and we found something.”

Aboard his ship, Thor contacted Jennifer.  A few seconds later, the young woman found herself standing next to the Mess Hall.

~Yikes!~  Quickly, Jennifer scurried to a less conspicuous spot than the entry to the food area.  “Ah, Thor, I'm with food, not books.”  A moment later, she was just feet away from her siblings.  “Bingo!”

“Bingo?” the Asgard echoed.

“Ah, yeah.  I'm here now, Thor.  Thanks.”  Looking at the children, Jennifer asked, “What did you find?”

“Look!” Ricky answered, his hand pointing at the white object.  “Little Danny gave those to Daddy for Christmas, remember?”

Jennifer took hold of the white item and smiled.  At the young prodigy's request, she'd embroidered a pair of glasses as a monogram of sorts.  What made it humorous was that one lens of the glasses was cracked.  Daniel was known, after all, for going through more glasses than anyone else on the planet.  They were always getting damaged, especially back in the day when he was frequently on mission recons and such.

“Good job.  This puts Daddy here for sure,” Jennifer told her siblings.

“Jen, is that blood?” Aislinn queried with a bit of a quiver.

Examining the other end of the handkerchief, the oldest of the Jackson-O'Neill children gave a nervous smile as she looked down at the Munchkin and replied, “They're okay, Ash.  We just have to find them.”  Resolving within herself not to get overly worried about the red stain that she felt was blood, Jennifer bobbed her head as motivation and suggested, “Let's keep looking.”

“You're supposed to be in another spot,” Ricky pointed out.

“I think I'd better stay with you.”

“But, Jen, it's a big mountain.  You have to check your area,” Aislinn argued.  “We'll be okay.”

Reluctantly, Jennifer nodded her agreement and seconds later, Thor beamed her back to her original search area.

====

On Level 7, Chenoa and Lulu marveled internally about all of the food products stored at the base.  Everywhere they looked, foodstuffs could be found.

“I guess they eat a lot here,” Lulu finally said to her fellow Curly Top.

“They work hard; get hungry,” Chenoa rationalized.

The two girls quietly walked the area, looking at everything while not being sure what they were looking for.

“We don't make very good detectives, Noa,” Lulu sighed after several minutes had passed.

“We ... Lulu, come here,” the young Ambassador beckoned as she knelt down on her knees.

Lulu hurried over to her sister, sliding down onto her knees as well to get a look at what had captured Chenoa's attention.

“You think Dad did that?”

“Uh-huh,” Chenoa responded with a nod of her head.  Tapping her communication device, the youngster reported, “Thor, we need Jen.”

Thor, who was monitoring all of the communications on the special devices while also trying to keep JD occupied, immediately beamed Jennifer to the girls' location.

“You know, all this beaming around takes some getting used to,” Jennifer commented with a bit of an exasperating gasp.

“Just as long as Thor doesn't beam you inside a wall,” Lulu noted.  “I saw that on TV once.”

“Thanks, Lulu,” Jennifer groaned.  “What did you girls find?”

“Dad wrote this,” Chenoa stated, pointing downward.

Jennifer leaned over to examine the find.  Amid the stacked boxes of foodstuffs was one that had a slew of punctures in the cardboard.

“If Dad did do it, he probably doesn't have any nails left,” the young woman suggested from her observations.

“Jen, who else would poke a box with the word 'loops'?” Lulu asked.

Jennifer straightened and backed up to get a better look at the area, comparing it to other parts of the floor.

“From how these boxes are stacked, it looks like someone made a little cubbyhole, a place to keep Dad and Daddy concealed.”

“Jen, where are they?” Chenoa sniffled.

Jennifer bent over and embraced her blonde sibling, swaying with her slightly.

“We're going to find them, Noa.”

Lulu joined in the hug, making it a three-way embrace.  For roughly thirty seconds, the three let their hold comfort them, even as their determination strengthened.

“Okay, we have work to do,” Jennifer began.  “Are you two ready to keep looking?”

Two nods were the answer to the question.  Moments later, Jennifer was again returned to her prior location while the Curly Tops continued their search as well.

====

Outside Cheyenne Mountain, a long black vehicle approached the security gate.  Seeing who was inside the limo, the guard immediately reacted, allowing the car inside without question.  As it disappeared inside the tunnel, the guard phoned his supervisor with the news.

Like wildfire, the word that President Henry Hayes was on site for an unexpected inspection spread.

====

“David!” Brianna exclaimed in a raised whisper.

Quickly, the two teenagers ducked behind a door, narrowly escaping being discovered by an oncoming captain.

“Bri, why is there so much activity on this floor?” David questioned after the officer had passed by.  “Uncle Lou said it's mainly used for storage.”

“Or when there's a huge-honkin' medical emergency, as Dad would say,” Brianna added as she caught sight of another military man walking the adjoining corridor.

“And there isn't an emergency right now,” David pointed out.

“Yes, there is.  Our parents are missing,” Brianna retorted.

Unable to shake the weirdness of the enhanced military presence, David rephrased his concern, saying, “Bri, there shouldn't be so many people here.”

“I know.”  The tomboy motioned to her brother and the two made their way further down the corridor.  She let out a tiny gasp when two airmen were heard.  “Over here.”

Evading detection by mere seconds, the siblings scurried under a long rectangular table.  They felt far from secure, however, since anyone looking down could easily see them.  After the airmen passed, they hurriedly made their way to where some room dividers were stored.  This allowed them to crouch down and watch some of the movement without being detected.

One voice began to loom over the others until only one man could be heard.  The brother and sister were unable to see him, but they could see the personnel standing together, their backs to David and Brianna.  However, before the two could make out what was being said, another man bolted into the room, ran up to the speaker, and whispered something into his ear.  This caused the speaker to address the group again, only he wasn't talking loudly.

“Change of plans.  We have visitors.  We can't risk the cargo being discovered.  West, take them to Level 24.  I want two men inside and two outside, minimum and *no one* gets on that floor, understood?”

“Yes, Sir,” the sergeant acknowledged before selecting several men to accompany him.

--

“Where are they going?” Brianna wondered.  ~Crap!  I couldn't hear what the man said.~

“To get our parents,” David answered, having made out a bit more of what the man had said and interpreting the 'cargo' to be Jack and Daniel.  “We have to follow them.”

“How?  They'll see us.”

The question was a sound one, and the teens were uncertain of the outcome.  Still, they managed to creep along the rear area unseen as they trailed Sergeant West and his team.  So far, this was the closest the children had come to finding their parents.  Brianna and David knew they couldn't afford be caught,  neither could they risk losing sight of those they were following.

====
 
“Thor, beam us to another floor, please,” Little Danny requested after his team had thoroughly finished their search of their first assigned level.

Soon, the children found themselves in a locker room, one like those used by SG-1 that included a shower.

“Ah, Thor, we're in a room with a shower.  Are we supposed to be here?” Jonny questioned, not recalling that type of area being on their scheduled search list.

A moment later, the trio found themselves near a wall of electronic-like wires.

Jonny spoke over the special radio, “That's it, Thor.  Thank you.”  Looking at his siblings, he warned, “Be careful what you touch.  This has all the Aunt Sam stuff on it.”

“Aunt Sam stuff?” Jenny echoed, uncertain what her brother meant.

“The computer mainframe,” Jonny answered, motioning at the computer grids that looked like walls to him.

“Uncle Lou said the MALPs are stored here, too,” Little Danny recalled.

“Shhh!” Jonny ordered in his little general mode.  “Sergeant Siler's men could be here working on them.”

With great caution, the children began to look around.  They noted only two personnel present thus far, both of whom were by the elevator.

====

“President Hayes, what a surprise,” Colonel Kettering greeted, having gone to Level 11 to meet the former leader of the western world before he could go down to Level 27.

“And you are?” Hayes asked curtly.

“Colonel Frank Kettering, temporary base commander.”

“I see.  Eager to impress?” Hayes asked about the abnormal welcoming at the transitional level of Stargate Command.

“Sir, we didn't know you were coming.”

“Something to hide?”

“No, Sir, of course not.”

“Good,” Hayes smirked.  “I'd like a tour of the entire facility.”

“Sir?”

“We'll start with the Mess Hall.  I'd like a cup of coffee.”

“Mister President, if I might suggest you return when General Landry is back ...”

Cutting off the man's words, Hayes commandingly spoke, “Maybe I'll have one of those famous cups of Jell-Os.”

“Jell-O?”

“General O'Neill praises them highly.  You do know the general, don't you?”

“I've heard of him.”  Seeing Hayes' demanding stare, Kettering hastily added a “Sir” to the end of his sentence.

All of a sudden, the elevator doors opened.  Kettering's mouth flew open nearly as wide as a slew of trusted political allies who had knowledge of the Stargate stepped out.

“I hope you don't mind.  To save time, I brought some of my associates.  We'll tour different levels.”

“Excuse me a moment, Sir,” Kettering stated in a panic.  Gulping, he said as an excuse, “I'll need to get more men to ... lead the tours.”

“Very well.”  Hayes grinned and walked over to a corner.  He pretended to look up at the walls.  Quietly, he spoke so that he could be heard over yet another Asgard communication device given to him by Thor prior to Hayes' arrival at the Mountain.  “Foothold, Commander Thor.  No doubt about it.”

====

Lou and Jeff had been searching the more active levels of the facility.  Both blended in more easily than any of the other searchers could, especially since Lou had the eldest Jackson-O'Neill son put on an airman's uniform nicked from the laundry area.

“Hayes must be here,” Lou surmised from the increased urgency he was seeing of the personnel.

“They're really scrambling,” Jeff observed of the many militarily-clad people who were now fast walking or even sprinting.

“Let's pick it up,” Lou suggested, not wanting to stand out from the others.

====

“Jonny, the elevator!” Little Danny called out in an elevated hush.

The little general turned and saw the doors open.  His eyes widened.

Jenny started to call out, but Little Danny grabbed her, putting his hands over her mouth.

“We can't, Jenny, not yet.”

“But it's Dad and Daddy,” the girl responded, her voice muffled because of the hand in front of it.

“Shhh!” Jonny ordered again.  “Stay calm.”

“Are you afraid?” Little Danny asked his sister as he removed his hand.

Standing up straighter and with eyes focused and stern, “No, of course not,” was the response from the determined redhead.  “I'm just happy to see them.”

“Thor, we found Dad and Daddy,” Jonny reported.  “Lots of people here now.”

“Don't mess up the beaming, Thor, or we'll get caught,” Jenny warned the alien, crouching down even lower as more personnel stepped out of the elevator.

~They're gonna get it for hurting our parents,~ Jonny vowed inwardly, noting the scars of battle on both of his fathers.

It took a couple of minutes, but soon the rest of the searchers were there, all except for Lou, Jeff, and the Curly Tops.  For some reason, they hadn't been beamed to the same location as the others.

“I hope they're not inside a wall,” Ricky whispered, not realizing he was echoing the same sentiment Lulu had earlier in the search.

“We can't wait any longer,” Jennifer pointed out after a couple of minutes.  “When President Hayes leaves, we'll lose our advantage.”

“I wish Thor could talk to us,” Aislinn lamented.

“He said the devices weren't completely finished,” David reminded.

“Yeah, the Asgard did their best,” Little Danny acknowledged.

“What do we do now?” Brianna asked.

“We get our parents!” Jonny stated strongly, ready to put into action everything he'd ever learned from his parents and their friends.  “What do we know?” he asked, mimicking his older father.

“We know Dad and Daddy are with the MALPs,” Aislinn answered.

“There are at least two guards in with them and two more outside the room,” Jennifer added.

“And two by the elevator,” Jenny reminded.

Jonny looked around, ideas forming in his mind as he remarked, “There's no one by the mainframe.”

“You don't even know what the mainframe does,” Aislinn chided.

“Little Danny does,” Jonny pointed out.  “He's the best one of us with computers.”

“But I've never seen it before.  It's just wires.”

“You'll think of something,” Jonny asserted confidently.  “Jen, Bri, stay with Dad and Daddy.  Let us know if anything changes.  Jenny, Ricky ...”

Just then, the Curly Tops were beamed in, appearing within feet of the elevator guards.

With open mouths from their surprise, the two girls hurried for cover, grateful that nearby there were three large crates full of parts for the MALPS that had not been taken to their intended destination inside one of the maintenance bays.

“Ash, go get them,” Jonny ordered.

With a nod, Aislinn covertly made her way to where her sisters were.  It took a minute, but she was able to successfully get their attention, waving them over to her location and leading them to the others without the guards being the wiser.

“Whew!” Chenoa sighed.  “Thor beamed us to the Gate Room.  We almost got caught.”

“We had to hide behind it,” Lulu added.

“We're glad you're here,” David told the two girls.

“Yeah, we need you,” Jonny admitted.

Quickly, imitating his younger father's rapid speech pattern, Little Danny updated Chenoa and Lulu and what they were doing.

The little general took over again at this point, instructing the Curly Tops, “You two stay here and keep watching the elevators.  If anyone else comes, tell us.  Everyone else, with me!”

Jennifer couldn't help but smile.  She easily recognized the strength of her younger brother's words, not to mention his commanding force.

~Dad's gonna be so proud of him,~ the young woman thought before feeling the tug of Brianna's hand on her arm.  With a nod, the two females moved in as close they could.  ~Here we go.~

====

“How do we get in?” Aislinn asked as the group stood outside the locked area that housed the computer mainframe which ran Stargate Command.  A padlock prevented access to the actual housing of the gadgetry.

“Easy,” Jenny answered with a smile.  With a bit of a plop, she sat down on the concrete floor and removed her right shoe.  Smiling, she detached a small pick she'd placed there before leaving home.  “Give me a minute,” the redhead requested as she moved to the locked gate.

“Where'd you get that?” Ricky asked his twin.

“Aunt Sam gave it to me.”

“That makes sense,” David chuckled.

The kids waited, their eyes glued onto the redhead's efforts.

“I did it!” Jenny exclaimed, quickly putting her hands over her mouth.  “I can't wait to tell Aunt Sam!”

“Hey, let me,” David stated, moving forward to open the chained metal door, believing he could do so in more quiet fashion than his younger siblings.

“Stay here and watch our six,” Jonny ordered Aislinn and Ricky while signaling for Little Danny, Jenny, and David to follow him.

====

All of a sudden, the elevator doors opened.  Muttered words were heard in the surrounding area.  In a flash, one of the guards hastened toward the bay where Jack and Daniel were being held.

“I'll go warn Jen and Bri,” Lulu volunteered.

“No time, Lulu.  I hope they're watching,” Chenoa sighed, full of worry.

--

“Jen, duck!” Brianna warned, catching a glimpse of the oncoming man.

The sisters listened as an order was barked out.

“Steele, Mitchum, Kettering wants you up on 19.  Pick a lab and look like you know what you're doing.”

“Why us?” Steele asked.

“Hayes brought half the Senate with him.  If we don't make this look convincing ...”

“Yeah, yeah, okay, we're coming.”

--

“Cool!” Brianna exclaimed with a smile after the guards had vacated the area.

“Now there's only two inside with Dad and Daddy,” Jennifer remarked.  “Let's go.”

====

In one of the bays where maintenance was normally done on the MALP units, Jack and Daniel sat side by side with their hands tied behind their backs on the cold, hard floor in frustration.  Their two guards were impatiently pacing the room, neither paying all that much attention to their captives or even the door.  This was fortunate for Jennifer and Brianna as the two stealthily approached the open door.  Brianna knelt down with her sister hovering above her.  Cautiously, they leaned to the side so that each could see inside.

Inside the room, Jack was watching the guards, looking for an opening anywhere that it might occur.  He felt peering eyes on him and shifted his eyes toward the door.  His blood pressure shot up immediately even as his heart rate increased.

**Daniel?**

**What?**

**What would you say if I told you our kids are here?**

**Jack, this isn't the time to be ...**  Daniel turned to look at his husband and stopped mid-communication.  His eyes locked onto Brianna's.  **... funny.**

--

Jennifer smiled at her parents and then tapped Brianna's shoulder, a sign for them to back away.  They walked several yards to the end of the corridor and then took positions so that they could see if the guards exited.

“They know we're here now,” Brianna stated.

“Which means they're going to try to get out of there themselves,” Jennifer opined, knowing Jack and Daniel would want to protect the brood as much as possible.

--

**Jack!**

**Thinking is your job, Daniel.**

**This is military: that's your specialty.**

**Technicality,** Jack responded while working extra hard to try to untie the rope that bound his hands.

**Jack!**

**I'm thinking!  I'm thinking!**

====

Jonny was getting frustrated since no one had figured out what to do with the computer mainframe.  At the same time, he was thinking about the guards at the elevator.

“Jonny,” Lulu began as she approached the area.  “One of the guards at the elevator left.  We heard him say he had to go to Level 19 with the others.”

“Great!” the little general replied.  “Now there's only one guard there to worry about.”

“We need another distraction,” David put forth.

“Lulu, get Jen and Noa, but tell Bri to stay and look out for our parents.  Hurry!” Jonny ordered.  He looked at the others and said, “I have an idea!”

====

The brood's plan was set in their minds.  Now they just needed one thing.

“Little Danny, hurry!” Jonny pleaded.

“I don't know what this stuff is, Jonny,” the prodigy responded in a bit of a whine.  “What if I choose something important?”

Jonny glared at his brother as if to say everything there was important.  Then he let out a groan.

“Maybe we can just beat it,” the oldest Munchkin spoke sarcastically.

“Yeah, okay,” Little Danny agreed.

“Huh?  Danny!”

“Fine.”  With a sigh, the middle Munchkin ordered, “Stand back.”

In a burst of impulsiveness, Little Danny began to pull out wires.  Then he grabbed a tool and simply threw it at the circuitry.  Sparks flew everywhere as wires began to dance about.  The children backed away until Jonny motioned for them to get into position.

Sure enough, as Jonny had predicted, the remaining guard at the elevator heard the sizzling from the mainframe and left his position to investigate.  As soon as he rounded the corner, the brood jumped him.

“Jen, stick it in his mouth!” Jonny ordered as he kicked the man in the knees.

Promptly, Jennifer took David's handkerchief and stuffed it into the man's mouth to prevent him from screaming and warning the others.

“Sorry,” Aislinn stated as she used one of Teal'c's defensive moves to down the man.

The children's maneuvering worked perfectly.  Using rope from Jonny's backpack, David tied the man's hands and feet.  Then they worked together to pull him into a storage closet that had several high racks full of supplies inside of it.  Next, using a bit of a relay system, Jonny, Aislinn, and David used duct tape to strap the guard to one of the tall racks.

“If you try to move, the rack will fall,” Aislinn warned the man.  “All those heavy containers will fall on you.  We don't really you to get hurt, but we have to save our parents.”

The man squirmed and attempted to talk, but it was pointless.

“Don't worry.  We'll send someone back for you later,” Chenoa told the bound guard.

As the brood began to walk out, David took note of something and called out, “Hey, look at this.”

“Grab some,” Jonny instructed excitedly.

====

**Daniel, what do you think they're doing?** a concerned Jack inquired about the children.

**I have no idea, but I'll bet they aren't doing nothing.**  Daniel sighed inwardly, anxious to be free of the ropes.  He just knew the children would try to rescue their parents.  **Any luck?**

**These things are friggin' tight,** Jack replied, his wrists bleeding a tad from his efforts.  **You?**

**I think my hands are about to fall off.**

**My gut tells me we need to be ready to move soon,** Jack told his lover.

**No matter what, Jack, we have to protect our children.**

Jack didn't reply to the obvious sentiment.  He knew perfectly well that when the time came both he and Daniel would do whatever they had to in order to ensure the safety of the brood.

====

“David, Bri, go,” Jonny whispered.

The youths made their way down the corridor, stopping when they reached the doorway.  David slowly leaned forward, catching a glimpse of his parents.

**Jack!**

**I see him!  I see him.**

David's head inched forward, looking for the guards he knew were inside.  Once he saw them and determined it was safe, he hurried past the doorway, safely getting beyond it.  Brianna kept her focus on her brother, following him when he signaled it was okay.  Moments later, David nodded to his siblings that he and Brianna were ready.

“Ready, Jenny?” Jonny whispered.

“Ready, Jonny,” the Spitfire answered.

“Go!” the little general commanded.

The redhead followed the same path as her older brother had, sticking close to the wall and then stopping at the doorway, only at the minute, she simply stood, looking back at her brothers and sisters.

Jonny nodded to Jennifer, Lulu, and Little Danny, who began the process of emptying the cans of motor oil they'd found on the storage racks when securing the elevator guard.  Slowly, the growing flow of the black liquid made its way down the hall, causing the surface to become slick.  Then the Munchkin looked at his siblings, wanting an affirmation they were all ready.

“We're not supposed to throw things at people,” Aislinn remarked.

“Ash, they've got Dad and Daddy.  We have to do what we have to do,” Jennifer whispered as she put down the last of the oil cans.

“They can punish us later,” Ricky put forth as he held some unknown part of a MALP that he'd collected from one of the crates that had been near the elevator.

Indeed, after leaving the guard in the storage room, the next part of the plan had been to open up the crates and grab whatever was inside that could be used as a weapon.  With the floor mostly oiled, all of the children now held some mechanical part in their hands that could hopefully be used to take down the guards.

“Okay, here we go,” Jonny advised, taking a breath and then giving his Spitfire sister the 'go' sign.

With a nod and a brief look over to David, Jenny simply walked two steps and turned the other way.

**Jaaack!**

“Hello!” the little girl called out, smiling and waving, looking as much like any onstage version of Lil' Orphan Annie ever had.  “I want to play.”

Giggling, Jenny turned again and ran out the door, only she went back to where she'd been, practically hugging the wall to avoid the oil.

“I'll get her!” one of the two guards shouted.

The guard ran out the bay and then swore profanities as he instantly slid, falling hard to the floor.  The brood quickly began their barrage of mechanical parts, keeping the guard down and distracted.

At the same time, Jack and Daniel stood and, still with their hands tied, flung themselves toward the other guard who had heard the shout and was looking toward the door and not at his captives.  The guard was thrown forward, landing on the floor near one of the MALPs.

“Go Bri!” David shouted as he hurried inside the room, the tomboy on his heels.

Armed with a fire extinguisher, David instantly began spraying the guard while Brianna went to her parents and using a Swiss Army pocket knife that Jonny always carried in his backpack worked to free her dad.

Jack sprung up and ran to the guard whose hands were raised to try to deflect the powerful spray of fire-killing powder.

“Hey, pal.  I have a present for you,” Jack spat just before landing a firm punch into the man's jaw.  Shaking his hand as he watched the guard collapse onto the floor, unconscious, the general smiled.  “That felt good.”

Meanwhile, Brianna finished cutting Daniel's bindings.

“Thanks, Sweetie,” Daniel spoke, patting her on the head before running out the exit.

“Daaaa...”

Daniel's shout was heard.

“...ddy.  Oh,” Brianna sighed with a grimace.  “Daddy.”

“Daniel?” Jack called out, turning to run out the door.

“Dad, no!”  The tomboy heard the unhappy voice.  “We didn't think about them doing that.”  With a sigh, Brianna shrugged as she looked at her brother.  “Oh well.”

--

“Daddy!  Dad!” exclaimed the individual voices of the other members of the brood.

“Oh, for crying out loud,” Jack whined.

Covered with oil, Daniel began to laugh, as did Jack.

“Kids, you're crazy,” Jack told the brood.

“We're just like you, Dad,” Ricky retorted.

Jack and Daniel exchanged a look, after which, Jack responded, “Like I said, you're crazy!  Report!”

As the parents stood up, Jonny began his report, beating Jennifer to the first word by two seconds.  Jack listened as he grabbed hold of the injured guard, pulling him up.  With Daniel assisting, they returned to the bay where Brianna and David were still watching over the second guard.  As Jonny continued to fill in the couple, Jack and Daniel tied up the guards.

When Jonny finished, Jack patted the two guards on the head and said, “Let's see how you boys like being tied up.”

“Wanna duct tape them to the wall, Dad?  I have more duct tape!” Jonny exclaimed with a huge grin.

“Thanks, Son, but I don't think they're going anywhere,” Jack replied, noting that the two men were now tied to one of the uncharged MALPs.  He nodded for the children to leave the bay, leading the way back toward the elevators.  Then he smiled as he took hold of Lulu's communication device.  Innocently, he leaned forward and greeted, “Thor, old buddy, thanks for the help, but *where is my son?*”

“Jack!” Daniel chastised.

“He'd better not be in a wall, Daniel,” Jack bellowed.

“Dad, that's just on Star Trek,” Little Danny sighed.

However, as if on cue, Jeff and Lou appeared.

“That's better,” Jack spoke into the device.

“Wow, that was weird,” Lou stated as he looked around.

“Dad, Daddy!” Jeff exclaimed, running over for a hug.  “Uh, you two are ... oily.”

“And you're ... wet!  Where have you been?” a relieved Daniel questioned.

“Everywhere, I think,” Jeff answered.

“I'm not sure, Jack, but I think we spent some time in a water tank up on 11,” Lou guessed.  “Looks like we weren't needed, Jeff,” the Italian said with a grin as he looked at the children.

“Well, we're not home yet,” Jack responded, leaving the levity behind.  “We still have to get out of here.”

“Don't forget Mister President Hayes!” Jonny reminded.

“Move!” Jack ordered, taking just a second to share a private look with his husband, one that spoke of love and relief that their kids were safe.

====

Curious about the extent of the damage to the computer mainframe was, Jack led the group to that area.  Using caution since they were soaked in oil, he took only a few steps inside and was followed by his husband, who had motioned for the kids to stay back.

“Jack, this looks significant.  The computers can't be functioning accurately,” Daniel opined from his view of the damage.

“Security system must be on the blink,” Jack added.  “Sweet!”  With a smile, he ordered, “Let's go!”

As they headed for the elevator, Daniel commented, “Jack, we just can't go waltzing around the base with our children.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Well ...”

“Daniel, our son just spent a half-hour in a water tank,” Jack snarked.  Seeing the stare, he knew he'd lost the battle.  “Thor, get us on 19, somewhere without water.”

“Ja...ck.”

In less time than it took Daniel to say his lover's name, the entire group found themselves in an empty lab on Level 19.

“Now that's what I call a beaming success,” the general praised.  He moved swiftly to the open door and looked out into the corridor.  Turning back, he closed the lab's door.  “Kids, stay here with Daddy.  Uncle Lou and I ...”

“Let's rethink this,” Daniel interrupted.

“Daniel, our kids ...”

“... just saved our lives,” Daniel completed, causing the children to all smile.

“Someone needs to stay with them,” a tight-faced Jack replied.

“Lou can stay with them.”

“Don't you think it would be better if one of their parents stayed with them?” Jack countered.

“Sure.  You stay, Lou and I will go,” Daniel responded with a sarcastic smile.

“Daniel.”

“Jack.”

“Daniel.”

Lou looked over at the brood and shook his head, while the children soaked in the normal banter of their fathers.  That is, until the little general took control.

“Dad!  Daddy!  Dad!  Daddy!”  Frustrated, the Munchkin barked, “Attention!”

Jack didn't exactly snap to, but he did look over at his namesake, just as Daniel did.

“Can we please go find Mister President Hayes now?” Jonny asked, his eyes communicating that they still had business to attend to before life could return to normal for real.

The parents looked at each other and shared a quick chuckle.

“They've gotten us this far, Babe,” Daniel sighed.

“Stay in tight.  Pretend we're the Family Von Trapp: one long line,” Jack ordered.  “Lou, take the point.  We need arms.  Daniel, keep the young ones in front.  I'll take the rear.”

“You just wanna watch my six,” Daniel teased his soulmate.

“Been a while, Love,” Jack admitted.

“Be careful,” Daniel warned softly, his eyes speaking of their forever.

====

Ducking in and out of labs a couple of times, the group made it to the armory undetected.  It helped that most of the personnel were now distracted by the malfunctioning systems on the base in addition to the presence of Hayes and his entourage.

Jack, Daniel, and Lou stocked up in weaponry, with the parents eyeing their children the entire time they were arming themselves with Zat'nik'tels, Barettas, and other items.  The eyes on them were overpowering.

**Daniel, we could use some help.**

**Intars: Jen and Jeff,** Daniel responded.

“Jeff, Jen,” Jack called out.  “Take these.  All they do is stun your target, but it can give you enough time to get away.  I'm taking the point.  Jeff, you follow me. Lou, take the rear.  Jen, behind Daddy.  The rest of you are going back to Thor's ship.”

“Dad!” Jonny whined.

“No!” Jack instantly negated.

“But I'm trained!” Jonny argued, having now gone through years of gun and weapons training with SGC's head of the gun range, Colonel Vincent Giardini.

“I said 'no'.”

“But, Dad, you need me!” Jonny insisted.

Jack just stared at the sandy-haired boy, seeing a mirror image of himself.  How long could he deny that Jonny was every bit the boy he'd once been?  Still, there was no way he was going to allow his children to be in this kind of harm's way.

~Not a chance in Hades!~  Jack leaned forward and barked into Jonny's device, “Thor, get my children out of here -- now!”

When nothing happened, Jonny couldn't help but smile.  His dad, however, was not amused.

“Thor, I said 'now' ... please.”  The general's less than sincere smile faded, replaced by a frown.  “Thor?”

“He said there were flaws, Dad,” Jonny snarked, unable to hide his smile at the latest developments.

“Oh there are gonna be flaws all right, only they're gonna be all over his little ...”

“Jack!” Daniel interrupted forcefully.

“What?” Jack snapped at his husband before realizing that was not a smart thing to do.  “Daniel, I'm sorry, but what are we gonna do here?”

The communication from here on went back to the special, never explained ability that the two soulmates had to speak with each other through thought.  As the brood watched, the conversation played out in the minds of the parents.

**Why don't we leave them here?** Daniel suggested.

**And what if Kettering's men show up?  Daniel, if they take our kids ...**

**I know,** Daniel sighed.

**So?**

**So ... choiceless?**

**Maybe ...**  Daniel struggled to find a way to safeguard the brood without leaving them.  **Jack, give Jonny an Intar ...**

**Daniel!**

**Hear me out!**

Meanwhile, the children were all looking at one another.  While none said a word, Jonny was tapping his right food against the floor, Jenny was shaking her head, and Jennifer and Jeff were trying not to chuckle at such a serious situation.

**Jack?  He's proven himself,** Daniel reluctantly told his husband.

**I can't believe you're saying that.  Daniel ...**

**Look, he's growing up.  They all are, no matter how much we try and keep them babies, they aren't.**

**They aren't adults yet, either.**

**Jonny gets an Intar, and they stay here.**

**I don't like this, Daniel.**

**Neither do I, but he's a crack shot.  It's the only chance we have to get out of here.  Jack, we need to find President Hayes.  If whoever is responsible for this realizes we're gone, they could go after him.**

Jack growled, something the kids felt was a good sign.  With body language that told of his displeasure, Jack grabbed a weapon and turned to his namesake.

“Don't misuse this,” Jack told his son, steeling his nerves as he handed Jonny an Intar.  “It's still a weapon.”

“I know.  Colonel Giardini has let me used it a lot.”

“Right,” Jack sighed, having actually witnessed Jonny practicing with an Intar a few times.  “Protect your brothers and sisters.  That's your focus.  Understood?”

“Understood, General Dad!”

“You're going to stay here and ...”

“No, I'm going with you,” the defiant Munchkin insisted.

“You're staying right here!” Jack ordered as sternly as he'd ever commanded anyone.

“You can't make us stay, Dad!” Jonny returned forcefully, although he gulped right after.  “We'll just follow you,” he added with a quieter tone, as result of the general eyes he was seeing.  “We saved you,” the Munchkin reminded, blinking one time, his head slightly bowed as he took one step back.  Then, though, he straightened and put forth, “I can help you.  You need me, Dad.”

“Jonathan Charles Jackson-O'Neill ...”

“Wow, full name,” Aislinn whispered in a gasp to Jenny.

“Whoa!” Jenny exclaimed.

“Jack!” Daniel interjected, following it with a sigh of resignation.  “We're wasting time we might not have.”

“You follow Jeff,” an angry Jack ordered, putting his son in a crucial front position, which was one of the hardest things he'd ever done.  Once again, he leaned forward and tapped on the communication device.  “Thor, if you're back with us, please beam up my ch...”

“Thor, belay that almost order,” Little Danny interrupted.

“What the ...”

“I'm going, too!” Little Danny proclaimed.

“Daniel!”

“What are you looking at me for?” Daniel uncharacteristically responded.

In a show of unity, the rest of the brood all stood behind the child prodigy.  Even Jennifer, Jeff, and Jonny walked over to join their siblings.

“We're the brood,” Jenny stated determinedly.

“We stick together,” Aislinn added.

“We can do this,” David opined.

“As a family,” Brianna put forth.

“Kids, that's a nice sentiment, but this is not fun and games.  Those men have real guns and ...” Jack began.

Little Danny suddenly removed his communication device, which was the only way Thor would know who to beam up, and placed it on the floor.  He gently kicked it forward so that it was now several feet away from him.  In solidarity, the rest of the kids followed suit.

Jack looked at his husband while complaining, **He is *so* your son; can't follow orders.**

**Yeah, well, I wouldn't talk,** Daniel replied, a slight nod aimed in Jonny's direction.

**Yeah,** Jack acknowledged in a light mental tone as he turned to look at Jonny again.  He couldn't help but feel a bit of pride in his son.  In fact, he felt great pride in the entire brood, even if it was turning him even grayer by the second.  Somewhat frustrated, however, Jack curtly called out for his husband's opinion on the brood's rebellion.  “Daniel?”

Daniel reviewed the group of eleven children, all standing together, refusing to go to safety.  Normal parents considered sane, rational, and logical would no doubt force them to remain where there were and then return to The Daniel Jackson as soon as Thor was able to perform the beaming process again, but then the Jackson-O'Neill family had never been society's version of normal.

“Well, like you keep on telling me, Jack, they're our children, and unless you want to tie them all up to the table ...”

“Oh for ... ” pointing at the communication devices, “kids, put those back on and ... and let's move,” Jack commanded.

Victorious, the children did as ordered and lined back up.

As she did so, Brianna took out Jonny's Swiss Army knife, prepared to use it if necessary.

On the same wave length as her older sister, young Jenny leaned over and retrieved from her shoe the pick she'd used earlier to unlock the gate.  It was sharp and might help if there were a fight.

“Anyone want my marbles?” Jonny asked, thinking they'd be great for throwing at any foe the group might come upon.

“Me!” Aislinn exclaimed.

Jack shook his head in disbelief as the group's departure was delayed again while Jonny opened his backpack and retrieved his disposable marbles.  He handed them to Aislinn.

“I have some rocks, too,” the little general stated.

“I'm a good rock thrower,” Ricky called out, taking possession of the rocks.  “I'm the best at making them skip across the water,” he reminded his siblings.

Once again, Jack gave the order to move out.  Only just as they began to walk, Little Danny ran out of line over to the Intars.  He looked over at his bewildered parents, his eyes hesitantly begging for their permission.

Daniel stared at his namesake, knowing exactly what he was feeling.  The archaeologist looked at his husband and cocked his head slightly.  He knew his son's feelings very well.

“Take it,” Jack permitted with a voice of mixed inflection.

With that, Little Danny took possession of the Intar.  As he did so, Daniel walked over to him and crouched down.  Little Danny had on a few occasions gone with Jonny to the gun range .  The boy had confided to him that he wanted to support his brother, just like Jonny did for him in other things.  During a couple of those trips, Daniel knew the Munchkin had used an Intar.

“Let's do a review.  This is how you use it,” the father told his son, quickly going over the weapon's operation.  “Just squeeze the trigger.”

“It just stuns, right?” Little Danny asked, already knowing the answer but wanting reassurance from his daddy.

“Right.”

“I love you, Daddy,” the vulnerable child declared.

“I love you, too,” Daniel said, hugging his son.

“Gotta help Jonny,” the little boy explained into Daniel's ear while still in his daddy's embrace.

“I know, Danny, I know.”

Releasing his son, Daniel took a sad breath as he stood and watched the sensitive child return to the line, this time stepping ahead of a couple of his sisters until he was right behind Jonny.

~Gawd, they're just like us.~

Jack smiled at Daniel, not needing to hear his Love's thought to know what he was thinking.  Fate was playing out one of its cards, the children mirroring the parents.  It was beyond their control.  It's just the way it always had been and always would be.  The time of denial that maybe the boys would follow another path was long gone.  Somehow, they'd always be there, at each other's side, and the rest of the brood would be there, too, if needed.

~Nope, not normal,~ Jack bemoaned, though then he smiled for a second and praised, “Thank the heavens!~

“Dad, Daddy, I bet I could use one of those, too,” David stated.

Handing the Swiss Army knife to Chenoa, Brianna offered up, “Me, too.”

“And me,” Lulu said with a bit of a gulp.  “I could.  I know I could.”

Jack looked at Daniel, both men's eyes declaring great uncertainty.

“It only stuns them.  That's what you said,” Lulu reminded.  “Stunning's okay, if it saves President Hayes.”

This time, Jack instructed the three children on the use of the Intar and prayed none of them had to actually fire the weapon.  All of the children had fired guns in the past and he was grateful that it wasn't something any of them liked.  Still, they'd done well.  Even Chenoa had hit her target, but right now the little ambassador seemed content to just hold Jonny's prized knife.

A few seconds later, with the children all ready for battle, Jack led his family, including Lou, out into the corridor and the threat that awaited them.

====

“What the blazes is going on?” Kettering shouted at a group of military men outside Landry's office.

“We don't know, Sir.  Everything just started to go wacky several minutes ago,” one man responded.

“I want these systems back up *now*!” the colonel insisted with force.  “Where's Hayes?”

“Level 25, Sir.”

“Keep him there!”

“But, Sir ...”

“I said keep him there!”  Frustrated, Kettering added, “Double the guard on the cargo.”

====

“Hey, that's O'Neill!” a Marine called out from an adjacent corridor.

“Wish you hadn't said that,” Jack stated before firing his Zat gun, causing the man to collapse to the floor and become incapacitated.

Three other men heard the incident and headed in its direction.

“Kids, get back!” Jack ordered as a firefight ensued.

Positions scrambled.  Instinctively, Jack and Daniel were at the front, exchanging fire with the three men.  Lou was covering the rear with Jennifer and Jeff struggling to keep the brood in tow, especially Jonny, who wanted to be at the front with his parents.

Lou suddenly found himself similarly engaged in battle with two men.  What he didn't see was a third man coming from the opposite side.  Fortunately, one of the kids noticed.

“Oh no you don't!” Jenny called out.  “I need those,” the spirited youth said to Aislinn, taking the marbles.  Before anyone could react, the fearless redhead ran to the opposite side of Lou and began throwing marbles at the approaching man.

Seeing Jenny's movement, Jeff started to run after her, but it was Jonny who sped in front of him and opened fire.

“I friggin' missed,” the boy whined.

Now alerted to the presence of the other man, Lou shifted and shot him.  Then he returned his focus to the first two men and quickly took them down.

“Get back over there,” the colonel ordered the children in a no-nonsense tone.

Up front, Jack successfully took out two men, while Daniel got the third.  Both looked back and realized something had gone on, but they didn't have time to get the full story.

“I need my marbles,” Jenny said, making a motion to go after them.

“Hold on, Red,” Lou stated, grabbing the girl firmly.  “We always go forward, not back.”

“But we might need the marbles.”

“No time,” Lou negated while shaking his head.  “Back in line.”

Jenny sighed, though she did as instructed.

Lou looked forward and saw Jack's nod of gratitude.  The general didn't know exactly what had gone down, but he did know that just as in the front, there were dead bodies at the rear.  It was not the place for his little girl to be.

The general nodded, his order to move out a silent one full of emotion.

====

Safely at the elevator, Daniel queried, “Where to?”

“I wish I knew.”

“Pick a number,” Jack told Chenoa.

“Hmmm ... twenty-three.”

“Twenty-three it is.”

It wasn't scientific, but it was as good as anything.

“Dad, what's on Level 23?” Lulu questioned.

“Carterland.”

“Huh?”

“Power grids and electrical ... gizmos,” Daniel clarified with a smile.

“Ooooh,” Lulu expressed.

====

After a check of Level 23 had proved fruitless with only a handful of personnel even seen, the group re-entered the elevator.

“I think we can skip Level 24,” Jack stated.

“Been there,” Daniel chimed.

“Done that,” Jack added, pushing the button for Level 25.

When the doors opened, Jack saw two armed men turn and aim weapons towards him and the others.

“Daniel!  Lou!” Jack exclaimed.  Suddenly, several other personnel were running toward the elevators and pulling out weapons.  “Fan out!”

Fire erupted.

“Take cover!” Lou shouted out to the children as he pointed to a bend in the corridor.

As Jack, Daniel, and Lou shifted positions, firing at the enemy, the children ran to different locations.

“Get in there!” Daniel shouted at the brood, pointing to one of the VIP rooms.

Instead, Jonny took a big breath and fired his Intar at a man, determine not to miss a second time.  His eyes widened when the man fell to the ground.

“I did it!” the eldest Munchkin exclaimed, although it wasn't an excited shout at all.

“Jonny, watch out!” Little Danny called out.  Seeing his brother focused on the man he'd stunned, the prodigy realized Jonny had stopped watching the other attackers.  Having no choice, he fired his weapon, too, a tear falling when he saw a man fall from being hit.  ~Don't like guns or Intars.~

“Thanks,” Jonny told his brother.  “Follow me,” the little general commanded, having regained his focus.

**Jack.**

Daniel's communication had been one of sorrow, a soft calling of his soulmate's name.

**I saw it!  Crap!**

Determined not to have any of his other children actually fire a weapon, Jack left his cover and started firing in all directions.  Seeing what his lover was doing, Daniel did the same.  From yet another angle, Lou also followed suit.  It was loud and confusing, but finally, the invaders of Stargate Command on Level 25 were taken out.

“Daniel, the kids,” Jack ordered as he and Lou began to check over the fallen.

Immediately, Daniel gathered up the children, ensuring they were all uninjured.

“Daddy, I shot two,” Jonny said, his voice a bit more vulnerable than was usual.

“Are you okay?”

“I'm your son,” the boy answered, his eyes showing both the strength of his dad and the compassion of his daddy.

Daniel nodded and embraced the little general, feeling proud, scared, and sad all at the same time.

“Are they okay, Daddy?” Little Danny asked, wiping away a tear.  “I think I shot three.”

“They're okay,” Daniel assured, bringing the Munchkin in close, making it a three-way hug.

In the end, the only other one of the children to actually fire a weapon was Jeff, who downed two men.  Ricky had also dispatched all of Jonny's rocks, which had helped to distract some of the attackers, allowing his parents and Lou to gain the upper hand.

“Jack, Daniel, welcome to the party,” Hayes greeted, appearing from one of the VIP rooms.

“Sir, it's good to see you,” Jack greeted, shaking the man's hand.  “We're not clear yet.”

All of a sudden, men began disappearing.

“What the ...” Jack began.

“It must be Thor,” Daniel surmised.

“Hey, I'll bet Little Danny knocked out the shield when he banged up the computer mainframe,” David put forth.

“Good job, Son,” Daniel praised his namesake.

“And way to go, little gray butt!” Jack exclaimed happily.

====

As had been guessed, the shield had been disabled by the disruption in the computer mainframe.  Thor had subsequently beamed all non-trusted personnel to the stockade on Level 16, sealing off the floor to prevent them from leaving.  At the moment, the Jackson-O'Neills and President Hayes were in the conference room outside of Landry's office.  Medical personnel had checked on the visitors, but had been waved off by Jack and Daniel, both preferring to wait for either staff members they knew or else tend to their injuries, which they deemed minor, at home.

“Mister President, the rest of your party is ready to leave,” an advisor informed the former United States leader.

“Thank you, Ken,” Hayes responded.  He looked at the brood and smiled.  “You kids always keep life exciting.  You have my number.”

“We don't need your number, Mister President.  We have Thor,” Aislinn giggled.

“That you do,” Hayes acknowledged with a bright expression.  Walking over to Jack and Daniel, the man gave a nod as he spoke, “Always a pleasure, gentlemen.”

“We can't thank you enough, Sir,” Daniel offered up as he reached out to shake the man's hand.

“Love your ship,” Hayes teased, leaving Daniel rather speechless.

“They blew mine up,” Jack interjected sarcastically.

“I remember,” came the reply.  “Next time we get together, how about we do it on that yacht of yours; see if we can survive the open seas.”

“Name the date,” Jack agreed, shaking Hayes' hand.

“Kids, stay away from the bad guys,” Hayes called out to the brood.  Pointing to Jonny, “And that means you, too, General Jonny.”

In a sudden outburst, Jonny ran over to the man and threw his arms around him, saying a very emotional, “You helped us save our dad and daddy.  We love you, Mister President Hayes.”

The unexpected wave of emotion caused Hayes to become emotional himself.  He returned Jonny's hug and quickly found himself surrounded by Jackson-O'Neill children, all calling out similar sentiments.

“Thank you.  I love you all, too.”

With his arms still around the man, Jonny looked up at Hayes and smiled.  He saw a smile directed at him again, along with a nod.  Then he released his powerful friend and took a step back.

His emotions under control again, the little general snapped to, delivering a strong and sturdy salute to the nation's one-time commander-in-chief.

Hayes returned the salute, turned, and began his walk out, pausing only for a second to give Jack and Daniel one more look as he opined, “He'll make a fine general one of these days.”

“Thank you, Sir,” Jack acknowledged.

Just before he was completely out the door, Hayes pointed over at Lou and called out, “Nice job, Colonel.”

“Sir, thank you, Sir!” Lou replied happily.

At that point, the klaxons began to blare, causing JD to jump up and down excitedly.

“Can we go watch?  Can we?  Pleeeease,” the youngster pleaded, wanting to be in the gate room.  “Ka-wooooooosh!” the boy giggled.

“Is that Paul?” Aislinn wondered aloud as she hurried to the big window to look down at the Stargate.

“Yeah, let's go,” Jack permitted, knowing it was SG-9 returning after having been recalled from their diplomatic mission in lieu of the current situation at Stargate Command.

As if nothing bad had happened at all over the past few days, the family headed for the gate room to greet the returning SG team.

====

“Hi, Jack,” Sara greeted after seeing the caller ID pop up on her cell phone.

“Hey, Funny Face,” Jack returned, using his nickname for his ex-wife.  “How ya doin'?”

“It turned out to be nothing, Jack.”

“Nothing doesn't land you in the hospital, Sara,” the man refuted sharply.

Chuckling slightly, Sara explained, “It turns out I'm a bit Anemic right now.  I probably haven't been taking care of myself the way I should.”

“Where's that husband of yours?”

“Jack!”

“He's supposed to make sure you take of yourself.  *He's* supposed to take care of you.”

“Jack.”

It was a simple word, softly spoken, one that reminded the general that he had once failed to take the care he should have with Sara.

“Everything back on point?” Jack inquired, his emotion calmed slightly.

“Yes, Jack,” Sara responded gently.  “Really, I was pushing myself with the thesis.  You know how tough that gets, especially when you have deadlines.”

“Yeah.”

“Thank you, Jack.”

“For what?  I haven't done anything.”

“Yes, you have.  You care.”

“Always, Funny Face,” Jack promised, letting a moment of silence pass before continuing.  “You up for dinner this week?”

“We'd love it.  Call me in a couple of days, okay?”

“Sara?”

“Yes?”

“Love you.”

“I love you, too, and give my love to Daniel and the kids.”

“Will do.”

“Is she okay?” Daniel asked as soon as his husband ended the call.

“Anemic.  We'll get the details when they come for dinner,” Jack answered, relief in his voice.  He pulled Daniel in for a hug, lamenting, “It's been a long few days.”

“We made it through ... again.”

Alone very briefly in a small office opposite of Landry's, Jack and Daniel continued to hold each other, not saying anything more, but just letting the embrace speak of their emotions, that they were together, that their kids were safe, that the bad guys had once again been defeated, that Sara would be okay, and that there was plenty of love in their family to share and experience.  The love would never die.

====

Once enough verified SGC personnel arrived on base, the Jackson-O'Neills departed.  Meanwhile, Thor uncloaked the Shanahan home and removed all of the listening devices in the Jackson-O'Neill residence.

As soon as the family arrived home, the first order of business was to retrieve their pets.  As that was being done, a quick survey of the animals' temporary living quarters was being made.

“Eww!” Jack remarked with a crunched face.  “Carter's not gonna like this,” he said as he walked around the Shanahan home a few hours later.

“Get out the checkbook,” Jennifer chuckled, seeing a broken vase and an area rug that was definitely beyond cleaning.

“Our zoo did all this?” David mused, returning a family portrait of the Shanahans to its upright position.  ~Cracked glass: add that to the bill.~

“Well, unfamiliar surroundings,” Daniel surmised.

“They were worried about us,” Little Danny interjected as he hugged Bijou and Katie.

“Yeah.  They had anxiety attacks,” Aislinn agreed as she and Jenny picked up the cages that held their beloved guinea pigs.

“Lots of anxiety,” Jack groaned.  “Okay, cleanup starts tomorrow at 0800 hours.  All hands on deck.  We'll ... oh man!”

The children giggled, unable to suppress their laughter.

“Well, Babe, when ya gotta go, ya gotta go,” Daniel teased about the poop his husband had just stepped in.

“You know, I'd pay to have this cleaned up, but how would we ever explain how it happened?” Jack asked rhetorically as he wiped down his shoe.  Not really upset at all, he then instructed, “We'd better bring Gili home with us so she doesn't hurt herself in this mess.”

“I'll get her, Dad,” Jeff volunteered, going into the kitchen where he'd seen the Shanahan's Bernese Mountain dog lapping up some water a minute before.

“Where's Andie?” Daniel called out about Mrs. Valissi's dog as he looked around.

“I've got her,” Brianna responded while patting the dog near the front of the house.  “She seems fine.  Should I take her home, Daddy?”

“Is she upset at all?”

“Maybe a little nervous, but not much.”

“Jack, I think we should keep an eye on her, too.”

“We're a dog hotel tonight,” Jack chuckled.  “Home we go!” he sing-songed a moment later, watching carefully as the family exited with the zoo, ensuring that no human or critter was accidentally left behind.

====

“Daddy, sit still,” Brianna ordered as she tended to one of the cuts on her father's forehead later that night.

“Sorry.”

“Be glad I'm not Aunt Janet,” the teen chuckled.

“She has a point,” Jack interjected, grimacing from the medical care he was receiving for his own cuts from Jennifer.

Jack and Daniel had both been beaten initially as they'd fought being taken captive, but other than that, they'd been held without further harm, except for their wrists when they had tried to unbind their ties.  Both felt very lucky.  With their daughters having tended to their injuries, it was time for the parents to speak with their children about all that had happened.  The question of where to start was easy.

“Jonny, Little Danny, come with us,” Jack requested softly, motioning for the boys to leave the rest of the brood gathered together in the recreation room.

“Wow, are we going up to the Aerie?” Little Danny asked about the highest roof deck at the family home, a space usually regarded as a special place just for his parents.

“Yes,” Daniel affirmed.

The four set down on the deck in a circle, the parents next to each other and opposite their specific namesake.  They enjoyed the peace and quiet for a minute or two, all looking up at the brilliance of the sky.  The stars were out, shining brightly.  It was a pleasant evening and a perfect time to share the night together.

“You wanna talk to us about what happened, huh?” Jonny spoke, interrupting the silence.

“We ... we want to make sure you're okay,” Daniel confirmed.

“You were both very brave, and Daddy and I couldn't be prouder of you, and the rest of the brood,” Jack told his sons.

“How do you feel about what happened?” Daniel asked the boys.

Jonny and Little Danny both looked at the other without saying a word, prompting Daniel to speak a bit further.

“Listen, it's really important to be open about what you feel.  I ... used to keep a lot inside until Dad convinced me that it was okay; more than that, that it was important to face my feelings.  It helped that he was willing to listen.”

“The truth is, kids, I was the one always hiding my feelings.  I had to be the big strong Air Force guy, male bravado and all that crap,” Jack admitted.  “I didn't heal over Charlie or ... a lot of my nightmares until Daddy was there to listen and help me understand that I could forgive and forget.  You two have a tight bond.”

“Very tight,” Daniel interjected.

“If you're going to be a real team, when you get into jams like today, ya gotta tell the truth and then face it together.”

Daniel smiled and confided, “Dad and I spent a lot of time on the roof deck, laughing, crying ... ”

“... getting drunk,” Jack admitted, giving his husband a “have to be truthful” expression.

“Missions are tough and we needed a release.  We were lucky because we had each other.”

“Just like the both of you have each other,” Jack stated like the given that it was.

Daniel reached out and took one hand from each of the boys as he continued, “You're growing up, so fast, and you've already faced more than most of your friends ever will.  Whether you're in the Air Force or running J-O Enterprises, or ... or doing whatever your hearts want, in the future, just like today, trust each other, even with your deepest secrets, darkest fears, and greatest joys.  It's important.”

As soon as Daniel released their hands, the two boys instinctively embraced.

“I was scared for you, Jonny,” Little Danny admitted.

“I was proud of you for taking an Intar, but ... but I didn't really want you to use it 'cause I know you don't like guns,” Jonny replied.

“It was up to me to watch your six.”

“You did, too,” Jonny sighed.  He looked at his older father and confessed, “Dad, I stopped paying attention.  I ...”

Seeing his son lower his head, Jack reached over with his hand, using two fingers to lift up the boy's chin.

“How did it feel when you shot that man?”

Shyly, Jonny admitted, “At first, it was like a game, only then it wasn't.  You know how JD says his heart drops to his feet sometimes?  That's how it felt.”

“I want you to remember that, Son, and never forget it.  All you did today was stun the enemy.  Someday, depending on your choices, you may wound or even kill someone.  It's never fun, it's never pleasant, it's never easy, I don't care what he's done or who he's hurt.  Harming someone else, taking a life: that's serious business.  It's not a game.”

“I kept seeing that squash on Plantacia,” Jonny confided, recalling a demonstration Jack had given him several years ago when the youth had, without permission, taken hold of a weapon belonging to a member of Stargate Command.

“That's a good visual to keep,” Jack responded, maintaining eye contact with the boy.

“I still like guns,” Jonny told his parents, “but for a minute, I didn't.”

“You didn't like what they can do,” Jack helped the youngster to clarify.

“Yeah, that's it, Dad!”  More assertively, Jonny continued,  “I want to keep learning about weapons and how to use them right.”

“That's okay,” Daniel replied.  “You can keep going to the gun range.  We're okay with that.”  He shifted his eyes to his namesake.  “Danny?”

It hadn't escaped Little Danny's notice that several times during the day he'd been addressed without the use of the “Little” in front of his given name.  He knew that meant his parents were thinking of him more as a grown up boy and not a child.

“I have to do what I have to do, Daddy.  I hate guns.  I hate anything that hurts people, even if it's just stunning them, but ... we had to get you back, and I had to cover Jonny, and I had to protect the brood.  I don't like it, but I'd do it again.”

“But how do you feel?” Daniel asked softly.

“Horrible,” the prodigy admitted, thrusting himself into his younger father's arms.  “It's like someone shooting the animals.  It's not right.  People shouldn't hurt each other.”

“No, they shouldn't,” Daniel agreed as he held the boy, soothing him with loving caresses on his back.  “Unfortunately, the world isn't a perfect place and people get hurt, sometimes by other people who feel nothing and live in hate.”

The parents continued to talk with their sons, starting an even more open dialog on all that had happened that day and in the past.  Then they watched as the two boys hugged again, promising to always take care of the other as well as their other siblings, no matter what.  Then the Munchkins headed down the steps to rejoin their brothers and sisters.

“What do you think?” Jack asked as he stood behind his husband, the two watching as the children carefully made their way down the ladder.

“I think we can't fight destiny,” Daniel answered in a hushed tone.  “Jonny's determined to join the Air Force, and I'm not sure Danny's gonna let him go alone.”

“There's that,” Jack acknowledged.  “At the same time, Danny's determined to go to Harvard, Yale, and Oxford, the Jackson trifecta,” he mused.  “Jonny's gonna tag along, get that education in spite of himself.”

“And how do they do all of that?”

“That's not for us to figure out, Daniel.  They'll separate when they have to, be there for each other when needed; they'll make it work.”

“Military officer and civilian.”

“Both part military, both part civilian, a joint venture,” Jack corrected.  “That's what they keep telling us, isn't it?”

“Yeah, over and over, that they are the product of both of us,” Daniel sighed.  “Jonny sees both sides.”

“It took me decades to do that, to feel and think at the same time on a mission and not just do what the man said because the man said to do it.  He's going in right, Angel,” Jack put forth, his hands now warming his soulmate's upper arms.

“And Danny knows how to protect his world.  It's just ...”  With a hint of sadness, Daniel continued, “He's me without the baggage, only he's even more ... sensitive.”

“He'll be okay.  You're tough, and Danny is, too.  He's learning, just like Jonny is, and together ...”

Daniel smiled as he turned to face his husband and complete the sentence with, “they are unbeatable, loyal and loving brothers to the end, no matter what they face.”

“That's what it's about, making sure they go in with the right tools,” Jack pronounced.

“Exactly,” Daniel concurred.  “I love you.”

“Ah, Angel, what you do to me,” Jack replied, expressing his deep love with a tender yet passionate kiss and embrace.

“Hold that thought, Babe.  We still have lots of talking to do tonight.”

“Who's next?”

One by one, Jack and Daniel spent special time with each one of their children, discussing the uniqueness of this latest ordeal.  They also vowed to follow up with each of them periodically as time passed, as the memory settled, and as the harshness and reality of the event took hold within the brood.  They were especially concerned about Lulu, who had undergone such a troubled and abusive past before joining their family, and so spent extra time with her.  Fortunately, she sounded emotionally healthy, but to make sure they contacted her psychologist who spent some time with the girl on the phone.  The professional then assured Lulu's parents that their daughter was fine and had a healthy slant on the events of the day.

“I'm glad we had her cleared,” Daniel told Jack after the conversation ended.

“We'd better talk to Jeff.  He took a man down,” Jack pointed out as he stood up from the sofa located in his study where Lulu's conversation with her psychologist had taken place.

“He's probably still on the phone with Chely,” Daniel noted, having seen their son on the phone with his girlfriend off and on all night long, even though Jeff was usually talking to her from a chair in the rec room, not really wanting to be apart from his family and yet wanting to hear the comforting sound of the young woman who warmed his heart.

“He can take a break,” Jack stated forcefully.

“Babe, he needs her more than he needs us right now.”

“Oh crap, Daniel, I'm barely used to Jen being engaged,” Jack groused.

“You know it's coming; it's just a matter of time,” Daniel replied quietly about Jeff and Chely.

“Then we get a break, a nice, long, years and years break,” Jack determined in his best parental voice.

“Right, Babe, unless Con can convince Bri ...”

“He can't build a dolphin tank in the middle of South Carolina,” Jack snapped as he thought of Brianna's long-distance boyfriend, Conway Bell.

“We've seen stranger things,” Daniel maintained.

“Daniel, I said years and I mean years.”

Chuckling, the younger man replied, “Whatever you say, Jack, but I do think our children might have something to say about it.”

“Not while I'm alive!”

“Calm down, Jack,” Daniel soothed, placing his hands on his lover's chest.  “I'm sure it'll be a while.  Bri's the only other one with a boyfriend, and that relationship has a long way to go.”

“I love you, Angel.”

“I love you.  Why don't we talk to Jeff tomorrow?  Let's get the kids to bed and then *we* can go to bed.”

“Sleep?”

“Eventually,” Daniel responded with an alluring look and two quickly raised eyebrows.

“I love how you think.”

“Most of the time,” Daniel laughed, leaning forward to capture a kiss from his husband.

The two headed into the rec room to rejoin their family for another scoop of ice cream and more hugs and kisses.

====

Finally, the children were all in bed and their parents had individually made one more check on each of them to ensure the kids were feeling okay.  Even so, Jack and Daniel were prepared for nightmares or whatever might come that night or in the nights that followed.  Their kids were brave, sometimes too brave, and they were still young, too young to have to deal with all they had over the last couple of days. There could easily be unknown side effects of the ordeal in the future.

There were still many questions to be answered about the foothold situation at Cheyenne Mountain.  As yet, Jack and Daniel knew nothing except they'd been lured to the base and immediately upon entry, beaten and taken captive.  They'd never been told why or by whom.  Rather, they'd simply been bound, sometimes gagged, and otherwise kept under wraps.  Even as they returned home, true SGC personnel and government officials were questioning the invaders in the hopes of learning their true identities and the purpose of the takeover.  The interrogators also sought to learn how they went about getting rid of the majority of regular base personnel.  It could take weeks, even months, to learn the truth of the situation.

“A few years back, we'd still be at the base,” Jack noted as he fed Ptolemy a little treat well after the bewitching hour had struck.

“Missed you,” the ultra intelligent bird confessed.

“Yeah, I missed you, too, Ptolemy,” the general admitted, using the hyacinth macaw's real name in lieu of calling her Polly as he normally did.  “Have another.”

“Thank you.”

“Blasted bird could be smarter than me,” Jack complained as he stood up.

“Smarter.”

“Okay, that's enough.  Back inside your cage, Polly.”

“Jack want a cracker.”

“Just get inside your cage,” Jack told the beautiful bird.

“Goodnight,” Ptolemy squawked.

“Goodnight,” Jack responded in a chuckle.

“Night, Ptolemy,” Daniel added as he went into the kitchen.  Knowing his lover was behind him, he stated, “I'm glad we're not at the Mountain.  Let them solve the puzzle this time.”

“Where are the girls?” Jack questioned, looking around.

“Boys' room.  Bij has Jonny, Katie's with Little Danny,” Daniel advised.  “Both have one eye on Ricky.  Calico is with Lulu, Mittens has Ash covered,” he added with a slight laugh.  “Andie is with Bri, Gili is with Jenny.”

“That'll fill up the bed,” Jack mused lightly since Gili was such a big dog.  Then he returned to the prior conversation.  “That's not like us, to sit back and let someone else figure out what happened.”

“No, no, it's not,” Daniel acknowledged with a deep sigh and acquiescent expression.

Silence loomed for a minute until finally Jack suggested, “Let's wait for Carter to get back before we dig into it.”

“We're going to, aren't we?”

“It's what we do, like it or not,” Jack put forth.

“Fate; destiny.  I wonder what it is,” Daniel pondered verbally.

“It's a curse,” Jack joked as he put his arms around his Love.  “But it's a blessed curse.”

“Yes, it is,” Daniel agreed, sealing the affirmation with a kiss.  “Jack ...”

“After you ...”

Whatever the answer to the mystery was, Jack and Daniel had to be a part of it because it involved not just them, but their family.  Was someone still after them personally at this late date in the game, even with Jack retired and both having only loose ties to Cheyenne Mountain at this juncture of their lives?  If so, they had children and a slew of animals to protect, and they would do just that, as they always had.  Of course, now their children were older and becoming a more active part of the process, something that both disturbed them while also filling the men with pride.

For now, though, the soulmates went upstairs to fulfill their physical need and want, to show that their nation of two was stronger than ever and that their forever still had a very long way to go.

~~Finis - Finished - Done - The End - But is it ever Really?~~

Feedback Welcome - click here to email the author


real time statistics
Makeup Sample