magibrain: A radiation symbol. It appears to be a little bit on fire. (Default)
[personal profile] magibrain
Title: N is for Nondisclosure
Author: magistrate
Rating: T.
Genre: Introspection, character study... talking...
Beta: You're not cleared for that information.
Continuity: Hopefully canon-compliant! Though it's been a while since I've watched these episodes.
Prerequisities: Meridian, Shadow Play, Homecoming, Fallout, those sorts of ones.
Summary: Kianna Cyr, adjusting.
Disclaimer: This fic may contain confidential or privileged information. Please delete this fic if you are not the intended recipient. The opinions expressed herein are the properties of the characters and not of the Langaran Council. Usually. Questions, comments and contracts can be left in replies or directed to magistrata(at)gmail(dot)com. Thank you for reading!

Author's Note: Thanks to [personal profile] fignewton for dragging me back out of my busy real-world life to rejoin fandom for fic days now and again! Now if I could just be reminded not to write these the day before they're due.

I was going to do a lot more canon review before writing this, but life intervened. I beg indulgence for any errors, either subtle or glaringly obvious.

-

Kianna's Goa'uld had been incisive, precise, detailed in her reports, and punctual to a fault – a model researcher, with the twin exceptions of her taking a Kelownan scientist hostage and her intention to seize the research and enact a coup. Kianna herself had never trained herself into the military discipline that seemed to be required of the people at the Institute, but in the interests of not making a worse impression on her superiors than the Goa'uld had, she was making an effort; she arrived for her first appointment with the First Minister only a couple minutes late.

Which was why she was surprised that the First Minister, a woman with a military sense of timekeeping herself, still had a visitor when she arrived.

Kianna couldn't see who it was through the heavy wood door, but she could hear First Minister Dreylock's voice. "Jonas, it would behoove you to realize that these people are not our allies, however much they might think–"

And Jonas's. "But they are our allies! Or they would be, if we let them be." He had that impassioned tone, that just-look-can't-you-see-the-evidence tone. Kianna was familiar with that tone. But right here, right now, it made her want to slink away into the back passages of the Institute and lose herself in the research materials she had until now only experienced secondhand.

"You can bring this up at the next Institute meeting," Dreylock said, which wouldn't mollify him. Kianna knew that much. The Institute meetings were theoretically a way to allow the researcher's voices to be heard, but served mostly as a way for the government to monitor sentiment. Investigations and quiet dismissals were a more common result than policy changes. "In the mean time, I understand your frustrations, but I do have a meeting. I have to end this one."

A pause. Then Jonas said "Right. Of course. Thank you for your time, First Minister," and there was the sound of papers being shuffled, and the door creaked open. Kianna stepped to one side.

There was the expected jolt of recognition when Jonas stepped out; the expected uncertainty, the expected unease.

"Kianna."

Kianna swallowed. "Jonas," she said, taking her cues from him – still on a first-name basis, it seemed. Anything else, she suspected, would be too far one way or another; too much forced closeness, too much forced distance.

Still, it felt like they were going to go through this dance every time they encountered each other for a while, yet.

"I was just," Jonas said.

"I have an appointment," Kianna replied. Then, after a moment where neither knew what to say, "With the First Minister."

As though that wasn't obvious.

Jonas nodded, looking half like he was relieved to get out of the situation and half like he'd wanted to stay and say something. "Of course," he said. "Later, then."

Kianna nodded. Jonas left.

Inside the office, First Minister Dreylock had come out from behind her desk, and was looking at Kianna. "Researcher Cyr. Please come in."

Kianna ducked her head, and went in.

Dreylock had the same vaguely maternal look to her that Kianna knew full well masked a ruthless political wit, but even knowing it didn't do much to dispel the illusion. Of course, Kianna had the feeling this particular maternal interaction was going to be tinged with disappointment if not outright pity.

"Researcher Cyr," Dreylock said, again, and gestured to the door. Kianna shut it behind her, wondering if the weight was due to its construction, to her body missing the Goa'uld's strength it had become accustomed to, or just to her own apprehension.

"First Minister, I've drafted a copy of my resignation," Kianna said as the door creaked shut. "I know that – given circumstances–"

To Kianna's surprise, Dreylock looked surprised. "Resignation?"

Kianna blinked, gathered her thoughts, took a deep breath and laid them out. Some things were easier that way – just breathe and have out with it, like the last line of a proof. "I had assumed there would be concern over the extent to which I'd been... compromised." The last word came out strained. Dreylock acted like she hasn't noticed.

"Nonsense." That was brusque, no-nonsense, and probably forced. "On the contrary. We're all excited to learn what insights you may have gained during your ordeal."

Kianna blinked again. Strange how that hadn't occurred to her, but now that she thought about it, it made sense; the Kelownan government probably wouldn't let her retire if she did want to. Not when she could hold the secrets to Goa'uld technology that could further their superiority over the Andari and Tiranians.

And, in the governmental accounting, perhaps the SGC.

And Kianna didn't try to think about whether she did want to resign.

Dreylock gave her a moment, then said, with the same forced brusqueness, "Of course, you will need to complete the internal screening again, seeing as you technically didn't the first time." She looked at Kianna closely, then said, in a slightly lower voice, "You do know the correct answers to give them?"

Kianna straightened her back. "Of course, First Minister," she said. "My only loyalty is to Kelowna."

Dreylock nodded, satisfied. "As soon as you complete the contracts, then," she said. "Feel free to return to work."

-


The screening was more like a recitation – which all the scientists and screeners knew, but which no one ever pointed out. It served more as a way of making sure all the scientists knew what was required of them than of any real gauge of their sentiments.

And still, after knowing this for all this time, Kianna still fought the pause she felt at the question, "Under what circumstances, if any, is it permissible to share the your research outside the hierarchy of your command?"

-


Kianna's clearance came quickly, and the formal assignments back to her old lab and old partners were nothing if not expected. She'd already been on the team dedicated to the most valuable projects rated most valuable to the military; where else could she be put, with the knowledge of the Goa'uld?

She was relieved to find the lab empty when she walked in. The clutter was familiar, if not precisely homely; she preferred to keep a tidy space and loose hours.

Still. It was something.

She wandered over to look at the blackboard. In the days that had passed between the DUEV mission and her re-confirmation, it seemed like the lab had been in limbo; even the odd tangential scribbles in the margins were sparser than usual.

"Hey."

Kianna's first instinct was to freeze, but her second instinct was vestigial: the Goa'uld's insistence Don't betray yourself. Act as though nothing is out of place. She turned around to see Jonas in the doorway, arms full of books, hesitating before coming in.

"It's your lab too, you know," she pointed out.

Jonas glanced at the office, then gave a shallow chuckle. "So it is." He raised his eyebrows, gave a half-shrug and stepped inside, setting down his books. While he did so, they shared an awkward silence.

Jonas dispelled the silence, though not the awkwardness, by turning to Kianna and saying "So. ...how are you doing?"

Kianna swallowed back a bitter taste, and looked down at the woodgrain of the long table. "I don't know," she said, and noted that her voice still had that carryover calm. Don't betray. "How should I be feeling?" She caught the unconsidered implication of the question, and pulled it back. "Has this happened before?"

The Goa'uld inside her hadn't known of any others. But then, she wouldn't have, would she?

Jonas's chuckle came back, brief and uneasy. "No. I mean, not in Kelowna. Not to my knowledge."

"Of course," Kianna said.

The silence came back. Awkward and persistent.

"Kianna," Jonas said, and she looked up at him. The calm she felt was entirely artificial, sitting like a dense weight on her diaphragm, and she could feel a scrabbling panic beneath it and couldn't tell whose self-control was keeping it shoved down.

"I don't know," she said. "I don't know how I should act around you, and I don't know how you should act around me. I don't expect you to know, either." One hand came up to her sternum; the other followed it, worrying the web between thumb and forefinger. "So. I guess we just start working, then? Formulate and test our hypotheses. The way it's always been."

Or not. Jonas looked at her, pained-amused, and Kianna looked back to the table again.

Then, after a few more moments, Jonas broke the silence. "...let's go get lunch?"

-


The Institute's cafeteria wasn't exactly luxurious, and by the time they picked up tins of soup and ration bread – a dense, unleavened mass that probably made it onto the menu as a not-so-subtle reminder that science had suddenly become the backbone of the Kelownan military apparatus – the odd looks of the other scientists and staff had unnerved Kianna enough to make them retreat back to the lab again. They sat among the books and equipment, at haphazardly-cleared spots along the table, crumbling the bread into the soup and eating.

After a bit, Jonas made an odd noise. Kianna quirked her head at him.

"I was just thinking it's not that good," Jonas said.

Kianna frowned at her soup. "I hadn't noticed," she said, honestly – the Goa'uld ha treated Kelownan food as an obligation, a way to intake the necessary calories to sustain their combined biological functions, and the thought of evaluating food on the merits of its taste was a distant concern for Kianna. She had other things occupying her mind.

But then she looked up, and saw the look Jonas wasn't even trying to hide, and her frown deepened. "Can you not – you're looking at me like I'm an interesting ethics problem."

He looked chastised, in the way that said he wasn't really ashamed but he'd toe the social convention that required him to act apologetic. "Sorry. It's just – not that I'd ever imply that you were, but..."

Kianna sighed. "But I am." She cracked off another piece of bread.

"But your existence does not reduce to what happened to you," Jonas said. Kianna tried a shrug, and found it to be an odd, almost convulsive motion.

"Except in the eyes of the people who decided to let me continue my research here," Kianna said. "Or start my research here, I guess. My research."

Jonas thought for a moment, fumbling for a way to reassure her. It was odd; Kianna felt like she half-knew him, but only in the sense that she would know someone in one of the great novels: she knew how he would react in situations she didn't initiate, react to words she wouldn't say. But layered into that knowledge was tactile memory that belonged wholly to her body, but not to her. She shook her head before Jonas could come up with anything.

"You had an argument with the First Minister." Strange, that the woman with the alien in her head had a better meeting than the rising star of naqahdriah research. Or maybe not so strange; for all the government's talk of pardons, she knew how much they still thought of him as their traitorous, prodigal son. Better kept here where they could keep an eye on him.

"Yeah," Jonas answered, and stuffed another spoonful of soup in his mouth. "Same argument we've been having," he said, around the food.

"What's your reasoning?" She glanced up, then looked down. Broke up a crumble of the bread with the side of her spoon. "I'm not skeptical. I just want–"

"To hear my reasoning, yeah," Jonas said, and a brief, convulsive smile ticked Kianna's lips. The Goa'uld had been intel-seeking, true, but the tone of the conversations they'd had were similar enough to work with.

Jonas chewed for a moment.

"It's simple enough," he said, at length. "I think we need to share our research, work with the scientists of other nations, and of Earth. They think we need to keep as many secrets as we can."

Kianna smiled again. "Didn't they make you go through the screening?"

"They made me recite the right answers, yeah," Jonas said. "But what are they going to do? I mean, they can't dismiss me. Much as I hate it," and his voice took on a warm amusement, "there are certain advantages to having your government fear you and your associations with a more technically advanced power."

"But they don't see the wisdom in collaboration."

"No, they don't."

Kianna quirked her head. "Why do you?"

"Why?" Jonas asked. He drummed his spoon against the tin bowl, then shrugged. "Because I think that our results are reproducible. I think that now that the Andaris and Tiranians know that naqahdah can be converted into naquadriah, they will devote all possible resources to obtaining naqahdah and producing naquadriah. Even if we have the majority of the known veins of naqahdah, we've already seen how easy it is to smuggle naqahdah and naqahdriah out of our facilities and to stockpile it – I can't imagine that Andari and Tiranian spies wouldn't have taken advantage of that already."

"You think that because they have the resources, we should share the knowledge?"

"Well, yes, but you're coming at it the wrong way," Jonas said. Kianna raised an eyebrow, and Jonas relented. "Point taken; I'm framing it the wrong way. How's this." He exhaled. "Andari and Tiranian naqahdriah capabilities are a foregone conclusion. The only question is how long it will take them to acquire those, and how they'll feel about us once they have."

"And a spirit of collaboration is going to serve us better, politically, than a spirit of competition," Kianna said. Jonas nodded.

"Exactly. But for all we've made token gestures of sharing the research related to the naqahdriah..."

"No one is fooled."

"Right."

Kianna swallowed down a few more spoonfuls of soup. Now that she thought about it, it was bland, the bread dense, the indeterminate legumes overcooked to the point of mush. Maybe if they'd gone earlier in the day, it would have been more palatable. Or undercooked to a different point of unpalatability.

The Kianna Cyr the Goa'uld had acted as had hewed to the party line: mistrust and paranoia. She'd been the darling of the cabinet and the institute's directors for more than one reason. "I'd like to say that this kind of secrecy isn't sustainable," she said. "But then, from what I know of the Goa'uld..."

"Well, the Goa'uld are different," Jonas said, and it stuck her how much more he probably knew about them than she did. She had the memories and knowledge of one stuck in her head, with all its attendant presumptions and delusions.

She felt a sudden, sharp stab of resentment, at that.

"Naturally unimaginative," Jonas went on. "Paranoid and mistrustful to a fault. I doubt they'd be capable of meaningful collaboration."

Kianna thought back to her Goa'uld, its shifting reasons for being here. "I could believe that," she said. "So what do you think we're headed for?"

Jonas sighed. "What do I think? Despite our early superiority, the playing field will even out again, and the tensions which will have resulted from making it into an arms race in the first place will bring us into a world none of us want to live in." He shook his head, and for a moment the perpetual curiosity, the bright enthusiasm, dulled into something world-weary and tarnished. "We'll be brought to the edge of catastrophes time and again, as further weapons are tested, under one form of political cover or other. Smaller factions within and outside our nations will develop similar, if smaller weapons programs, giving them clout in world politics they're not accustomed to and we're not inclined to respect. Eventually, if we're lucky, the governments will learn to respect the technology enough to agree to work toward putting it aside. And we'll all, hopefully, live to look back on this time as one of senseless panic, wherein nationalistic bravado very nearly got us into more trouble than we could handle." He looked up, and the indefatigable bright-sided edge was back in his eyes. "Emphasis on the 'live'."

Kianna digested that.

She didn't have anything to say, for a while. Finally, she jammed the rest of her bread into her soup and set to work breaking it up. "You know," she said, "there was a rumor that you learned how to see the future on Earth."

Jonas made a surprised noise, and then laughed – a real laugh, not one of his half-chuckles. "No. Well, yes, technically, but they removed that." She didn't even have time to ask what that was supposed to mean. "No; I just had the opportunity of studying a civilization who did go down this path."

"Who are still keeping secrets," Kianna said. "Aren't they?"

"Well. No one ever said they were perfect." Jonas shrugged. "And, to be fair, the Stargate project is also under military command."

Kianna swallowed down a spoonful of sodden bread and chewed on that, literally and figuratively. "Military entities favor limitation of knowledge," she said, and found her mind worrying at the edges of the knowledge left scattered in her brain. "Even the Goa'uld."

"It's understandable," Jonas said. "As scientists, we're trained to see knowledge as the goal and ignorance as the enemy. To them – the military and the government, I mean – knowledge is a tool, a weapon, and the enemies are literal. When we're working under different assumptions and toward different goals, it's no surprise that we run into problems."

"So what do we do?" Kianna asked. "As scientists – as ethical scientists." Another sidelong smile, another half-joke. Jonas wasn't appointed as an ethical advisor, but you couldn't take the ethics out of him. As First Minister Dreylock probably lamented.

Jonas exhaled. "We keep working," he said. Then, as though realizing the ambiguity, "toward what we think is right."

"And in the mean time we keep our mouths shut?" Kianna asked.

"In the mean time," Jonas said, punctuating his words with a jab of his spoon, "we talk to anyone who will listen, so long as they won't get our security clearance revoked. But, yeah. In the mean time, until the rules become unethical, we follow the rules."

Kianna nodded to herself, and set to finishing her lunch. The silence fell in between them like the end of an argument.

When the bowls were scraped clean and set aside, Kianna finally voiced the thought that was running through her head. "It's constraining, though. Lonely, too."

"It's a necessary evil, from their perspective."

"Evil?" Kianna asked. "Or just another tool?"

"Either way," Jonas said, and Kianna nodded.

"Either way, it's the world we get to live in."

- END -

Date: 2013-03-04 08:05 am (UTC)
fignewton: (jonas)
From: [personal profile] fignewton
Oh, wonderful.

(Yes, it took me this long to reach the letter N.)

I love this Jonas, and poor Kianna, with her literal layers and layers and trying to understand, and politics with science and the military thrown in and... suddenly it's easy to see how Jonas managed on Earth. :)

Thanks so much for contributing this one!

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