Like most of the doors in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, the door to the room adjoining the briefing chamber was made of thick. Hung on the inevitably massive hinges needed to support the weight of steel measuring several centimeters thick, it was made to block all sound from escaping. Unlike the door to the conference room, however, the door was tiny by comparison, seemingly smaller than the standard size of a door. Tiny and usually locked. It was a room that people usually did not use and one that most went out of their way to either deny existed or politely ignore. Yet as Major Thurman reached the door, she heard voices from the other side, obviously raised.
"I stand by my assessment. SG-7 needs solid members and..." said a feminine voice.
"Your concern is noted, Doctor." a baritone voice cut in, unmistakably masculine. "But we do not have personnel to waste and the positions are final."
Seemingly automatically, Thurman's fist rapped the door and she had to swallow a curse. It wasn't often that she felt regret at the deeply ingrained training that she received, but in this instance it was clearly to her determent. Firmly pushing away the thought, she felt the reverberation caused by voices on the other side again, this time much lower, followed by the signal to enter.
Pushing the door open and quickly closing it behind her, Thurman saw that there were only two occupants: General Hammond and Doctor Fraiser. The latter had the expression of breathlessness and being caught out while the latter had adopted a neutral look. Stepping forward smartly and tucking her officer's cap under her arm, she saluted and said, "Major Thurman reporting as ordered, sir."
The general nodded as he rose to his feet and replied, "At ease, Major. Thank you for coming. I called you here so we could speak before you addressed SG-7. I know they are already assembled in the conference room."
He waved to one side of the room. Though largely nondescript as most would assume, consisting as it did of only a pair of desks, one of which Hammond was sitting at, and a few chairs, the majority of the room was barren concrete. The only exceptional item was a small data server linked to a wide screen television. Undoubtedly noteworthy when it was installed, to say nothing of how painful getting it into the room intact would have been, the monitor was several meters squared. It was put in, Thurman assumed, to replace the one-way glass that would have given a view of the conference room on the other side. This left a wall of sound-proof concrete where a thinner material might have allowed sound to pass through. The major reflected that it was not the only possible breach that the designers should have paid attention to. Currently it showed the conference room with its long wooden table and chairs occupied by five people.
"Not much to look at, are they, sir?" remarked Thurman as she stepped closer to the screen. She didn't turn around, but could feel the general frown as he replied, "They are the best we can offer right now, major, and we need new teams in the field."
The major nodded in a way that implied that she was considering that thoughtfully. In reality she knew it before the general spoke; she had just been testing the waters. Resurrecting a dead military group wasn't unheard of, but she knew that they were doing it now because they were planning to draw in more people and a roster of teams with holes in it after just one year of operation would be bad for morale, even if in her opinion it kept people on their toes.
"Here are their files." said Dr. Fraiser, stepping forward and handing them to Thurman as she turned away from the screen. There were no lights in the room on, but the light from the monitor was enough as she flipped thorough them. She had already seen them, of course, but the doctor probably wasn't told that; a lot of things in the Stargate Program were on a need-to-know basis and there were some things even the Chief Medical Officer was better off not knowing. Or not qualified.
"First Lieutenant Popertue will be your second-in-command," said Fraiser, "A good man, I hear. Solid, dependable."
"He comes recommended," added Hammond, "A good mind for combat operations."
Thurman nodded, but thought, A family man, his file says. That's a liability, but they don't want to admit that; nobody ever does. Closing the file, she set it on a nearby desk and turned to the next.
"Technical Sergeant Mari." she murmured.
"She passed all her fitness exams with flying colors," said Hammond, getting a nod that Thurman felt on the edge of her vision rather than saw, "And she has proven herself capable in negotiations."
"A welcome addition, sir." replied the major, but thought, A daddy's girl playing the diplomat. And a Kerig coffee drinker to boot: her blood is probably just as watery. Laying the file on top of the last, she barely concealed her grimace at the third file. Or perhaps not.
"He comes recommended too, major. I know how you feel about people like him..." began Hammond.
"A jokester, sir." she replied.
"Just so, but he isn't much worse than the colonel."
"On paper, sir."
"Or in person. Your team needs a heavy weapons expert."
She didn't reply to that. There was nothing else to say. The sole consolation is that he wouldn't last long. Their kind never did. The third file followed the others. A glance at the fourth file brought her eyes back up to face the general's.
"The ensign is..."
"Still assigned to your team." said Hammond firmly, "I noted your objections, but I believe it for the best."
"A major, a lieutenant, two sergeants, and an ensign." she said, stressing the last.
"Yes. I have full confidence that it will not cause any complications."
"No more than expected, sir." she affirmed stiffly.
She put aside the last two files without opening the last one. It had been invigorating reading the first half dozen times, but only in an academic sense. She had seen Ambri work under Fraiser too many times to question it, and the team did need a field medic. But did it have to be Ambri? she thought. Cruel gods.
Turning back to the screen, she said, "So there were no Jacksons to spare." It was a statement more than a question, but Fraiser answered anyways. "None, though not for lack of trying. Replicating what Daniel can do is... difficult."
"If not impossible," agreed the general, stepping into Thurman's peripheral vision to look at the screen as well. "Though we could use them."
Silence fell between the three as Janet joined them and Thurman felt the tension pulse in the air. There was a lot more riding on the success of SG-7 than either of them were willing to admit to her at that moment, even if they had spoken freely of it before. A team destroyed, now raised from the ashes. Nobody up the chain was suggesting to shut down the Stargate Program before: if they still were, they were doing so very quietly, but that didn't mean that the critics had all gone away. There were calls for the the general to resign or else be reassigned. SG-1 had saved the planet, but only under the chief operating officer's nose and that stung his ability to command in the eyes of the upper echelons. The rank and file were more grounded on the general's side, even SG-1, and that was kept things stable. But now the critics were after the structure of the operation itself, questioning if larger deployments might not be preferable to elite teams. That put a burden on all the teams to prove their worth, but SG-7 alone would prove the long-term viability of the design. If it failed, restructuring would follow and with the strength cut out from under him, the general would be at risk again.
Now that responsibility lay on Thurman. Nobody outside the upper echelons of the SGC knew exactly how she ended up being chosen for the lead role, but most of the garrison swore to her that they agreed with it. She was promoted to facilitate the paperwork and the new command, leaving her grappling with a new rank along with her new role in the Stargate Program. The biggest issue was that she had expected to select her own team and fully intended to draw most of those from the garrison. As it turned out, that decision was also out of her hands.
"So... are you going to go meet them?" asked the doctor after a moment.
"Not yet." replied Thurman, gesturing to the small server. She knew it recorded everything that happened in the conference room, which she could use later. "Let them talk. I want to know the lay of the land." Glancing at the door, she added, "After all, we don't yet know how all the pieces will fit together."