Ilexa Thorn sat in the front of the bus and scowled. Two days and $800 dollars, that is what it would take to fix her poor car. She was good to her car, fed it, washed it, took it for drives in the country... long drives in the country. That was the problem. Her Subaru Outback was supposed to go there and back, and she definitely tried to see how far 'there' really was. On her last test of that theory she had finally found out.
Coming around a tight corner, there was the rock in the middle of the road. No time to swerve, and even if she did there wasn't much of a choice between the cliff edge or the cliff face... run into one or run off the other. So she hit the rock full on and cracked the crank-case. And now she was stuck on the big blue bus the Air Force provided for those who didn't or couldn't drive to the SGC.
"So, what do you do?"
Thorn looked up from her notes and glanced around the bus, was this guy talking to her? She looked him and his two companions over as she brushed a stray hair back from her face. "I'm an expert in R&D," she answered warily. You?"
"I'm an Engineer, and the two Lieutenants there are pilots."
"Pilots?" Thorn asked as the bus hit a small bump in the road, "I thought the SGC was ground ops only."
She watched as the engineer's face freeze for a moment, then he tried to change the subject. " So what's your name?"
"Thorn, Ilexa Thorn."
"Unusual name," one of the pilots remarked from the corner.
"What's yours'?" Thorn asked.
"Major Antilles, Michael," the man replied.
"First Lieutenant Rebecca Andrews."
"Second Lieutenant Seyla Starrider."
Thorn raised an eyebrow, "And you think my name is unusual? Where did you transfer from?"
The man paused for a moment. "We are from Mountain Home Air Force Base..."
"Really? I am from just south of there, well, south-east a bit, I bet you loved that training run up the Sawtooth Valley..." Thorn's voice faltered as the three strangers looked at each other in consternation. Thorn raised her same eyebrow again, no way these were local boys, "Where did you say you were from?"
"So where are you from?" Her eyes narrowed dangerously and she was about to call to the driver when the one claiming to be a major looked at his comrades and shrugged, "We may as well tell her."
"Tell me what?"
"Well firstly, we are not from this planet."
"I'm not, the three of us come from different planets, and we traveled here in a ship. I'm from Corellia, Seyla is from Tatooine, and Becky is from Sluis Van."
Thorn didn't even bat an eyelid, "I haven't heard of these planets before, and I haven't heard of 'offworld travelers' being allowed to wander around the countryside. So either you tell me what you know and how you know it, or you tell it to a few people from Base Security."
"No, I'm deadly serious."
"So am I."
The man laughed and fished out his wallet from his pocket, he took out a military ID and chucked it at Thorn, "See, I'm telling the truth!"
Thorn raised her eyebrow again as she studied the hologram of Antilles... and realized Earth did not have this technology yet. "So you're really from another planet?"
The three nodded.
"And you've told me this why?"
"Want to join?"
* * * * *
The ring transport Thorn was used to. But not the shuttle that they appeared on, that was a surprise. Then she got her first look at the Mon Calimari Cruiser Ashleigh as the shuttle came around the moon. First the rounded prow, then the mid-section, then finally it sloped to the huge engines glowing red in the darkness of the shadow of the Moon. "It just keeps going and going and..."
"Yes, it is pretty big," grinned Antilles.
"You have bigger?" Thorn couldn't help but gulp. Theoretically it was possible to build something that large or larger, but the raw materials needed, and the work to build it, and the crew to man it... "Wow."
* * * * *
This was crazy, plain and simple. Why would a group of people this advanced want her to join their research department? Thorn was glad to know they were here, with the Goa'uld getting all riled up, but seriously? Major Antilles had shown her a chair in what seemed to be the antechamber for the general in charge of the group, then had presented himself to the general's aide. He had disappeared through a sliding door and then the aide had nodded to her and walked through another door and now she was sitting on an uncomfortable chair on a spaceship that was bigger than her hometown was large and oh this is not good...
A tall, dark-haired man stalked into the antechamber, looking at a few pages of shiny paper. When he reached the aide's desk he looked up, then around at Thorn.
"Where'd she go?"
"Um, out that door."
"Is Nick in?"
Who is Nick? The General? "Yes, I believe he is."
The man paused and his eyes narrowed. "You believe he is, what?"
"I believe he is through that door." Thorn motioned with her head.
"What do you say to a person who is wearing this," he pointed to the metal square with red dots on his lapel.
"Yeah, they are when you think about it." Thorn and the dark-haired man both jumped when another man entered the room. "Don't pick on the lady Viper, she's a civilian and Tau'ri besides."
The second man grinned at her as she stared at him, she asked, "how did..."
"So why is she on this ship?" The dark-haired man asked.
"Nick will want to interview her. Cat was talking about getting a Goa'uld expert up from the SGC, and here she is, so what's the problem?"
Suddenly shouting could be heard, even through the durasteel door of what Thorn assumed was supposed to be a soundproof room.
The second man grinned again. "Well, I had better be off. Glad to meet you Ilexa, I will see you around." Then the man was out the door and gone.
The first man shook his head, "being re-assigned to NRI has really gone to his head. And check out that accent, he thinks he is James Bond."
"How do you know about James Bond?"
"This is a state-of-the-art, New Republic capital ship," the man said with obvious pride in his voice. Then he smirked at her and raised his eyebrows, "and we do get Showtime." He plopped the sheaf of paper? It didn't sound like paper, and Ilexa doubted it was, but whatever it was, he set it down on the aide's desk and turned to her again. "Don't wander without an escort, don't touch anything, and memorize New Republic rank insignia... fast." With that the man walked out.
Thorn watched him leave, then shrugged to herself, "Why do I feel like Alice in Wonderland?"
"What?" General Fel exclaimed, "You told a civilian we exist, you've only been here two weeks and already you've compromised security. Telling a civilian."
"Sir, I, er, brought her with us as well."
"Brought her with us, General Fel, sir."
"Firstly Captain Antilles, you're in no position to do such a thing, and if you carry on like this, you never will be!"
"Never-the-less, I will meet this Ilexa Thorn, and decide for myself whether she will be a security risk."
"She'd, er, she'd like to join Rogue Squadron."
"Very well, if I deem her suitable, have her submit a request for admittance, dismissed"
Mike snapped a quick salute, spun on his heel and marched out of Nick's office.
* * * * *
The door to the general's office slid open and Antilles came out, followed by a second man. This had to be the general, or Nick. What did Antilles call him? General Fell?
Major Antilles stopped at her side as she stood from her chair. He turned to the General and said, "Sir, I would like to present you Doctor Ilexa Thorn. Thorn," Antilles turned to her, "I would like to introduce you to the commander of our operations, General Nick Fel."
"Doctor, if you would please step this way, I would really like to ask you a few questions. Major, don't you think you should be seeing to your new assignment, getting caught up on paperwork, that sort of thing?"
The Major's face froze and he turned and walked away as Fel ushered Thorn into his office. She glared at Antilles retreating back, but stepped into the room and waited for the General to return to his side of the desk. He waved her to a seat, then took his own.
"Some unknown major tells you he is from 'outer space' and you believe him?"
"He did have all the clearance codes to get into the SGC, he had a military ID that has an actual hologram on it, not the strange double image stuff we have on earth, and the two people that were with him never disputed him. When he listed out what planets they were from, they even nodded."
The General gave a quiet snort of laughter. "Pilots are not necessarily the best of actors, but their timing is surprisingly perfect."
"So you are looking for a Goa'uld expert, or as much as there can be one around here."
Fel raised a brow, "yes we are, and your resume just happened to be part of the folder that was sent up by General Hammond. So since you are here, let me tell you what the job entails..."
* * * * *
"It is with great pleasure that I invite you to join the now combined New Republic and Earth force of Rogue Squadron," Fel looked towards Thorn and waited.
"Thank you General," she was dressed in a New Republic dress uniform, but wearing no rank insignia.
"Welcome to the New Republic, Captain Thorn."
Thorn saluted and held it until Fel returned the salute, then everyone snapped to attention and saluted their commanding officer.
Mike walked over to Thorn, "Now, I think, you owe me a drink."