The Lesser Evil
"Okay, big guy, what's bothering you?" asks Sandburg as soon as we are alone in the truck. I was caught somewhat off guard when he broke his talk with Daniel off to suggest that we should get something to eat but I guess he wanted an excuse for us to talk... well at least he got outvoted four to one so now we are heading for a steak house rather than a vegetarian restaurant.
"I think we may be in way over our heads here," I say, knowing that we have a ten minute drive at most. The colonel and company are basically following us but I know I can't afford to take too much of a scenic route here, not without rousing some suspicions.
"What do you mean?" asks Sandburg, looking rather worried.
"Well, I just realized something... remember how last night we were talking about the fact that Daniel and company most definitely don't work on anything having to do with deep space telemetry?"
"Yes, and Daniels already explained that to us, even though I have to admit that I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of a stargate," he says, shaking his head.
"That's the thing, we got so excited with the realization of what it is that they really do for a living that we forgot the other half of the story."
"What other half?" he asks.
"The one having to do with how the three of them are part of a combat unit. Why would meeting and greeting aliens require a combat unit in the first place?"
"Oops. We never really thought about that, did we?"
"No, but the way I see it there's only one possible explanation for that..."
"And that is that those aliens aren't necessarily friendly, right?" he finishes for me.
"Exactly. And seeing how the colonel and the others work for a secret military project, one that may not have the level of accountability more visible ones have, we could easily end up finding ourselves dragged into it, whether we want to or not."
"Sorry," I say, realizing that Blair is not military and will probably need more of an explanation than that. "It's just that if there's a secret war going on the people fighting it don't necessarily have to worry about such trifles as public opinion and that means that they can afford to conduct themselves in a less than ethical fashion because the level of oversight in that regard is likely to be minimal. Projects that operate on a need to know basis all too often also operate above the law and they may end up basically policing themselves and if things are bad and they really need whatever edge they can get..."
"Then that would make them particularly dangerous and it would also render us unusually vulnerable because they could literally make us disappear without a trace, right?" he asks, sounding rather worried.
"You've got it... and to make matters worse they already know we know what they are involved with. That means that they can come after us without having to worry about the possibility of tipping their own hand, so we've already lost one of our main tactical advantages here."
"That's not good... but Daniel wouldn't do that... or at least I don't think he would," he says, even though he doesn't sound particularly convinced.
"I don't know, chief. It may not be that simple... and in the end it probably wont be up to him. It's true that your brother sounds like a decent enough guy and the same goes for Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter but as soon as they go home they are going to have to report what happened here to whoever it is that they answer to and that is the unknown we can't really afford."
"So what do we do?" he asks.
"I don't know, I really don't know. If we had thought about this last night I would have said that we should be very careful in how we approach them but I'm afraid it's already too late for that."
"And what about trying to learn more about what they are up to in the first place? I mean, I couldn't help but notice that Daniel wasn't exactly telling us everything."
"That could help us get at least a better idea as to just what it is that we've walked into and where we stand. The problem is that they are good, very good... especially O'Neill."
"How good are we talking here?"
"When Daniel was telling you about what he is involved with I was tracking the colonel's vitals, I explain. I could tell that he was on edge and clearly unhappy with the whole situation but there were virtually no outward signs of distress. The thing is that somehow I don't think they are going to slip and your brother may have been willing to tell you about his own experiences but he was also obviously determined to keep the role of the military well out of it."
"So, you noticed that too, uh? But what about listening in on them?" asks Blair.
"They already know I'm a sentinel," I remind him.
"Yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they are aware of what a sentinel can do. In fact I'm kind of counting on them to underestimate you here," he points out with a smile.
"It's worth a shot I guess. After all, it's not like we have anything to lose, not any more."
"So, any ideas as to what the possible scenarios are here?"
"The way I see it there are four ways in which this whole thing could possibly play out. The best case scenario would be for them to go their way while we go on with our lives without them trying to drag us into whatever it is that they do. A second option would be if they were to ask us to join them while being willing to take 'no' for an answer. The third option, and this is where things start to get ugly, is that we could basically find ourselves being forced to join them, whether we want to or not. Worst case scenario is someone coming after me trying to figure out what makes me tick and if there's anything they can do to duplicate it," I say.
"Okay, so how do you propose we handle this?"
"I guess it would depend on how it plays out, though we really have to be on our toes here. Case one, we wouldn't really have anything to handle. Case two, we listen to what they have to say and decide where do we go from there. Cases three and four we go under... and oddly enough I suspect case two may turn out to be a better option than case one in the long run."
"How come?" he asks.
"Because it's the only one that would enable us to walk away knowing where we stand... case one would basically leave us looking over our shoulders for the rest of our lives, fearing that they would come after us eventually."
"Yes, well, it's not like case two offers much of a guarantee if they decide that they don't like our original answer, is it? I mean, if we say 'no' what's to keep them from turning to options three or four anyway? In fact that would basically rule out option three and push us straight into option four territory," Blair points out.
"And that's exactly why I say that we hear them out in option two. Its not so much because Im eager to join them but because it may give us a chance to join them on our terms."
"So you are saying that if they ask us to join them, we should?" he asks, and I'm not particularly surprised by the fact that he sounds anything but thrilled at the thought.
"No, I'm saying that we may want to listen to what they have to say because it may be the safest option in the long run, because it may well turn out to be the lesser evil. Besides, depending on what it is that they are fighting, there's a chance that joining them could actually turn out to be the right thing to do," I explain, even though I'm not really all that convinced about that.
"In other words, we wait and see?"
"It's not like we have much of a choice here, at least for the time being... though maybe we should try to get ourselves some answers before we find ourselves in it any deeper than we already are, so we should probably make that wait, see and listen," I correct.
"Do you think it may already be too late to be worrying about that?" asks Blair.
"I dont know, chief... maybe, but I dont think we have anything to worry about, at least not right away. Whatever the fallout from this thing ends up being I can pretty much promise you that it wont become apparent until after Daniel and company have gone back to Colorado so you may as well enjoy your time with your brother here," I say, knowing how much Blair wanted this.