Well, I can't say that the past couple of days haven't been interesting... and it is hard to believe that it's only been a couple of days. A couple of days ago I was debating whether or not I should try to contact my brother, today my whole world seems to have been turned upside down and I can see that my sentinel is in full paranoid mode. Knowing better than to try to argue with him when he gets like this I ask:
"So, what's the plan, big guy?"
"Yes, the one you have already devised to keep us safe."
"Is it that obvious?" he asks.
"Do you really want me to answer that one?"
"Not really, he says before going on. I think for the next few days we should wait and see, though we should also be careful and try to keep our own routine unpredictable. Other than that I think we should keep on living our lives, at least for the time being."
"And after a few days?" I ask, knowing what the answer to that question is going to be.
"I'm still not sure. I'll have to make some arrangements, he explains. I'm afraid that if we don't hear from O'Neill in less than a week we may have to disappear.
"To Peru?" I ask.
"That could well turn out to be our best bet in the long run. We would be welcome there and the Chopec have no contact with the outside world... the problem is that with my background that may be a little too obvious. Following us into the jungle would be difficult but if someone were to pull it off then the Chopec could well find themselves overpowered and I'd hate to put them in danger."
"Yes, but even if we don't head for Peru we may still end up jeopardizing the Chopec if someone believes that's where we are hiding, right?"
"Yes, and that's going to be a problem, though at least if we are actually there we may try to keep them safe, otherwise trouble would find them out of nowhere."
"If we have to go," I add, reminding him that we are talking about a possibility here, not a certainty.
"So, do you really think it will come to that?"
"I'm not sure. I don't think that would be the case if this whole thing were up to O'Neill but the problem is that my request is not going to be an easy one for them to grant."
"Because the military doesn't usually hire formerly military personnel in a civilian capacity, at least not directly, he explains. That is a matter of policy and the truth is that if they don't agree then we can't stay, it would be too dangerous."
"Because we would be doomed to spend the rest of our lives looking over our shoulders?" I ask.
"In other words, unless they say 'yes', we are going to have to disappear?"
"I'm sorry, chief."
"Not your fault, big guy, though I've got to say that this whole thing sucks... big time."
"Yes, well..." he trails off and I can see that he is really worried about something... and I really need to figure out what that something is.
Realizing that this is not the time for games I decide to cut to the chase and ask, "what is it, big guy?"
"It's just that I feel like I'm betraying Incacha's memory here," he explains. "He called me the Sentinel of the Great City and now I'm going to have to leave Cascade. How am I supposed to be the Sentinel of the Great City if at the first sign of trouble I'm willing to turn my back on that same Great City?"
"You are not betraying him, he would have been the first one to tell you to go. A wise man must know when to walk away from a battle he cannot win."
"I know but still..."
"We still don't know that O'Neill won't call back, I remind him. Maybe he'll be able to pull it off."
"It doesn't really matter, chief. Even if O'Neill calls, even if he agrees, we would still be leaving Cascade."
"Have you ever considered the fact that maybe you are looking at this whole thing from the wrong perspective?" I ask, not knowing what else to say.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you are looking at it as a betrayal but you could also think of it as being promoted, I point out.
"Yes, at first you were the Sentinel of the Chopec and you looked after Incacha's tribe, then you became the Sentinel of the Great City and your tribe grew to include hundreds of thousands of people... now --if O'Neill calls back-- your tribe will grow again. If O'Neill calls back your tribe will grow to include our whole planet. In a way it will include both Cascade and the Chopec. You won't be betraying any of your duties, they will simply be taking on a different form," I explain.
"Protecting the whole planet, both Cascade and the Chopec... and everything in between? That would be a bit much for a single sentinel, don't you think?"
"Maybe, but you won't be alone," I remind him.
"So, how are you dealing with all of this, chief?"
"I'm not sure... I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the concept of a stargate and the fact that we may actually end up getting involved with something like that. It is mind boggling... not to mention more than a little ironic," I say with a smile, trying to distract Jim from both his paranoia and his misplaced sense of betrayal.
"Ironic?" he asks.
"Yes, don't you see? This whole thing started because of Naomi," I remind him.
"I'm afraid I'm not quite following you here, chief."
"Think of it this way: it was my decidedly anti-establishment, anti-military mother who accidentally pushed me to become a cop when she released my dissertation and forced me to turn my back on my chosen profession as an anthropologist. That was the first part of this whole story and now it turns out that it was also my peace-loving mother who wrote me the letter that caused me to look into Daniel's background and thus set this whole thing in motion. In a way you could say that my mother's letter may well end up forcing me to join the military, even if it is not in an official capacity. You've got to admit that that is more than a little ironic... I mean, we are talking Naomi here!"
"She's not going to be happy about this one, is she?" asks Jim and I'm relieved to see he is fighting to keep a smile off his face at the thought.
"Nope... and to make matters worse there's no way I can tell her the truth about why I'm joining the military in the first place because this whole thing is so hush-hush. Somehow I suspect that all of her non-violent beliefs are going to be seriously tested when she finds out... or, to put it simply, man, she's really going to have a cow!"
"You know how you keep saying I'm way over protective, chief?" asks Jim, pretending to be thinking things through.
"Yes..." I say with some suspicion, wondering what he is up to.
"Well, I think after all these years the time has finally come for me to prove to you, once and for all, that that's not true."
"What do you mean, Jim?"
"When you tell your mother... you are on your own, buddy," he explains.
"Some Blessed Protector you turned out to be," I mock growl, though the truth is that having to tell Naomi about this one is not something I'm looking forward to... far from it.