George Hammond sighed deeply as he reread his latest orders. The Prometheus was still stationed over Antarctica, providing support and quarters for the increasingly large number of military personnel and scientists investigating the newly-discovered outpost of the Ancients.
All the members of his front-line team, SG1, were down there. But unfortunately, one member, the heart of the team, Colonel Jack O'Neill, had been stuck there for almost three weeks now, suspended in a frozen state by the alien technology. It had saved his life, but they still didn't know how to restore him to life.
The other members of the team used the ring transporters to move back and forth between the underground cavern and the ship. Teal'c was still calm and confident, sure that his friend, his almost brother, would be returned to them. Dr. Daniel Jackson was frantically trying to translate everything in sight, leading the other linguists flown in to help. Unfortunately, none of the others spoke or read Ancient, only Latin. And Major Sam Carter (soon to be Lieutenant Colonel Carter, but she didn't know that yet), was leading the scientific investigation of the Ancient machinery. It seemed that each day she grew quieter; he hadn't seen a smile from her in the whole time since Anubis was defeated and Jack was frozen. Even the knowledge that they had defeated (to be perfectly honest, Colonel O'Neill had defeated) their worst Goa'uld enemy had not caused her any joy. Her efforts were focused on the Colonel and the machinery around him. Yesterday Hammond had ringed down himself and stood quietly at the edge of the chamber; Major Carter stood in front of the dormata machine, staring with a slight frown, as though she could will an understanding of it and thus free him. She stayed without moving for several moments, then reached out one hand towards O'Neill, before dropping it and returning to her pose of despair. Hammond left quietly, without saying anything.
But Hammond knew that simply removing the Colonel from stasis would not return him to them The knowledge of the Ancients needed to be removed again from his brain, and that required the Asgard. A message had been sent again almost immediately after the battle, but there had been no reply.
Meanwhile, he was called back to Washington for discussions with the President and the JCS. Probably more changes afoot for the SGC, but the recent events had surely proved the necessity of maintaining the military control of the gate.
He called his staff, issued interim orders to cover the few days he hoped to be away and realised again how much Dr. Fraiser was missed. He could have depended on her to discreetly see that Dr. Jackson and Major Carter got food and rest. But he remembered another way of doing that, and called Teal'c up for a brief discussion.
"Teal'c, I've been called to Washington for some discussions regarding the SGC."
"I see, do you believe your government is reconsidering its decision and will return you to command of the SGC?"
"I doubt it. I think that knowledge of the stargate will soon inevitably become public and the President has good reason to move it out of direct military control. But the recent battle amply demonstrates the need for continuing military presence. And Kinsey has lost the power he once had; at least something good has come out of this."
"Indeed, GeneralHammond. It is unfortunate that it took such drastic events to show others the delusions of his beliefs."
"You're right there, Teal'c. Meanwhile, while I'm away I'd appreciate your keeping an eye on Dr. Jackson and Major Carter - you know how they tend to get involved in their work."
"I do. I will see that they take regular meal breaks and that they sleep each night. Is this what you require?"
"You got it. They won't solve our problem if they're too tired to see the answer."
"But they will eventually solve the problem, of this I am certain. I wish you a pleasant journey."
"Thank you , Teal'c. I'm hitching a ride in an F-302 so it should be quick. I hope to be back in a few days."
The last of his immediate concerns taken care of, General Hammond picked up his travel bag and headed for the fighter bays. Less than two hours later he was in a staff car and heading for the White House. After clearing several security checks, he was ushered into a room where the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the JCS were also waiting, Within a few minutes, they moved into the Oval Office.
"Gentlemen, shall we sit comfortably?" President Hayes waved them over to the sofas and chairs by the fire place, where a tray of fresh coffee also awaited them. "We need to discuss how the SGC should be reconfigured."
"It's definitely going to be reconfigured, then? Hammond asked.
"Yes, we need to keep it under civilian control, like NASA. But don't worry, I understand the importance of continuing military involvement. Let me explain what I have in mind."
With that, Hayes went into a long and well-thought out plan for a new SGC. It would become a separate agency, much like NASA. Its primary funding would still come from Congress, although when it became public knowledge, funding from some of its discoveries would become possible. There would be three departments, each with its own head, reporting to a chairperson who would be in overall charge and also in direct charge of all functions that were administrative or not specific to the three departments.
The first of the three departments would be military, still under command of an American general, but with more allied troops being included. The second department would be scientific, tasked with studying alien technologies and extending basic scientific knowledge. The third department would be cultural and diplomatic, expected to study and maintain contact with the many cultures the SGC came in contact with and also expand our knowledge of human history.
"So that's the plan. Before we get into deeper discussions about appointments and such, George, can you fill us in on what's happening down in Antarctica with Colonel O'Neill?"
"Unfortunately there hasn't been a great deal of progress, although we're still hopeful. We haven't heard from the Asgard yet and they're certainly our best hope for restoring the Colonel to normal."
"I hope we hear from them soon. For one thing, I'd love to meet one. And, of course, Colonel O'Neill needs and deserves to be returned. I don't know what we can do to adequately thank him, but I want the chance to try."
"Thank you, Mr. President. I think you'd find that Jack O'Neill would say he was just doing his job. And in many ways, he'd be right. It's just that he always does the job so damned well."
Just then the lights in the office dimmed and then went out. The Secret Service agents stationed in the background came to full alert. One tried to radio out for backup, but discovered that the radios were also not working. Hammond thought it seemed familiar and then realized what was happening as a small familiar figure appeared in the centre of the room.
"That's Thor! Don't shoot!" Hammond used his best command voice. The President waved the agents back to their places; it looked like his wish was granted.
"Greetings General Hammond. I apologize for the delay. Since your message sounded urgent, I located you so that we might converse immediately. Also, if I am not mistaken, there are people here I should like to meet."
"Greetings to you too Thor. May I present President Hayes, General Myers, and General Pace, the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Gentlemen, this is Thor, Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet and a good friend to Earth."
"Thor, I am pleased to meet you, will you join our talks, please?" President Hayes motioned for Thor to sit with them.
"I would be pleased to, but allow me to provide my own seat." Thor touched his hands together and suddenly was sitting in a chair of Asgard design, close to the others, who returned to their own seats.
"We detected the use of an weapon of the Ancients. We did not believe that anyone on Earth could use such a thing, even if one had been discovered. Is this why you have called me?"
With a gesture from the President, Hammond responded. "Indirectly, Thor. The SGC found another Ancient's repository. We had intended to simply study it, but the repository fell under attack by Anubis. In order to save the knowledge and still prevent Anubis from acquiring it, Colonel O'Neill took another download of their data."
Thor looked surprised, which in turn surprised Hammond, who had never seen so much emotion on the alien's face.
"The Colonel seemed to know what to do, he took his team on a tel'tak, found a power source at another old Ancient city, returned to Earth, found a weapon buried deep under the ice of Antarctica, powered it up and used it to defeat Anubis. He then placed himself in some sort of stasis device and that's where he still is. We're hoping you will be able to help, the way your people did before."
"We may be of mutual benefit. The replicators have escaped from the time field; that is why I was delayed. Again, we are losing the battle against them. Their new forms make them formidable opponents. When I detected the recent use of the .Ancient's weapon on my arrival here, I began to hope that a method of defeating them had been found. "
"How can we help? The only one who can use the weapon is Colonel O'Neill and if he comes out of stasis, he's liable to lose whatever remains of his own personality and I can't let that happen."
"Indeed, I would not wish it either. O'Neill has been a great friend to the Asgard. However, we can transport O'Neill to our galaxy where we can remove him from stasis and stabilize his mind by removing much of the Ancient's knowledge. By selectively removing the knowledge, O'Neill will still be able to operate the weapon, yet will remain himself. If we can also transport the weapon, we strongly believe O'Neill would be able to finally defeat the replicators. Unfortunately, the Asgard cannot use the device."
"How long would this take and what happens to the weapon afterwards?" the President interjected.
"He must travel to our galaxy to have the knowledge removed. All together, it will take several of your days to travel, repair O'Neill, use the weapon and return. We would return O'Neill and the weapon. He would still have the ability to use the weapon, thus guaranteeing Earth's safety. Please understand that I will remove O'Neill's unnecessary knowledge whether you permit us to use his abilities in our fight or not, but we would be greatly in your debt if it is allowed."
"Will you allow us to discuss this for a few minutes, please Thor?" the President asked.
"Certainly. You need only hold this and speak into it when you wish me to return." With that, Thor placed an object that looked rather like a flattened silver egg on the nearby table and disappeared.
"Where had that come from?" wondered Hammond.
"Well, George, what do you think of this offer? What would your Colonel say to it? Can we trust Thor?"
"In reverse order, yes, I believe we can trust Thor; the Colonel likes Thor and would want to help; and we had damn well better help them or we're liable to be next on the replicator's list of tasty planets to visit."
"Okay, how do we go about this?"
"Mr. President, I'd like to recommend that we send the rest of SG-1 along. I'm quite certain Thor will allow this and I know Jack would want it. I also wouldn't like to give the order telling them they can't go."
The President chuckled. "I get the impression they're an extraordinarily close team. I'm going to defer the remainder of this discussion until after Colonel O'Neill's return. George, would you care to get Thor on that 'phone'?
Hammond picked up the silver object and spoke into it. "Thor, we're ready now."
Again, the lights dimmed. Thor reappeared.
The President spoke. "General Hammond advises me that loaning you Colonel O'Neill and the Ancient's weapon would be a strategically good idea. Can you guarantee his safety? And are you sure you can return the weapon to us?"
"Thank you, Mr. President. I assure that I place O'Neill's safety above my own and the entire Asgard fleet will guard him if necessary. O'Neill is of great importance to us. To risk him is to risk our own future. We will also guard the weapon, as it is our last hope of defeating the replicators."
"We also want you to take the rest of SG-1 with you. They need to know their commander is well and he will want to see them when he wakes up."
"This is a good idea, I will happily transport Major Carter, Dr. Jackson, and Teal'c."
"Very well, how should we arrange this?"
"I will transport myself to Antarctica. . . "
"And me, please!"
"And you, if you wish, General Hammond. I can then adjust the stasis machine to travel mode and move O'Neill, the weapon, and the rest of SG-1 on board the O'Neill II. Are you ready to depart, General?"
General Hammond had barely had a chance to nod when he found himself facing a spectacular view of the east coast from high above. He hoped the President and Generals Myers and Pace understood. As he watched, the view shifted and progressed rapidly southward. It was rather like watching a schoolroom globe spinning; it didn't seem quite real.
Within less than a minute the coast of Antarctica was beneath them and then they were above the Prometheus. The next thing he knew, he and Thor were standing in the cavern beneath the ice. Major Carter looked up and he saw the look of sadness vanish from her face with a broad smile.
"Thor! General, sir! I'm so glad you came, Thor. You're going to be able to help him, aren't you?"
Daniel and Teal'c came running in at the sound of Sam's voice. They had been studying inscriptions in the weapon chamber next door.
Thor and the General explained the recent decision. While Thor adjusted the dormata machine, Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c ringed back to the Prometheus to quickly gather supplies. They remembered to pack a few things for the Colonel and to take some food. Even MRE's were better than the Asgard nourishment.
Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c waited outside the Asgard treatment room where several Asgards worked on Jack O'Neill. Uncomfortable chairs in hospital waiting areas seem to be a universal (literally!) standard, thought Daniel.
"Sam, he is going to be alright, isn't he?" Daniel asked, not for the first time.
"I think so, Daniel. I hope so. Thor seemed pretty confident. But everyone here seems so much more tense than the last time I was here. Surely the war with the replicators can't be going so badly, so quickly? Thor said they only broke out of the time trap a few weeks ago."
Just then one of the Asgard appeared beside them. "Colonel O'Neill will awake soon. Thor says you should come and be near."
They entered and formed a tight circle near the head of the medical pod. One Asgard remained, monitoring the machine. Within, O'Neill was starting to stir.
O'Neill came slowly to consciousness and thought, "Crap, where am I? Heh! That came out in English! Let's just open the old eyes and see what's what. . . " His eyes opened and he looked out through a curved window. Sure enough, his team was there. Carter looked tired, Daniel looked worried and Teal'c looked - well, Teal'c looked Teal'c.
"Hi guys, Thor came through, I guess."
"Jack! I mean, sir, yes, he did. We're on his home planet now. It was a more difficult procedure this time. How are you feeling?"
"Peachy, Carter. LIttle tired, bit worn around the edges, but good. Where's Thor?" The window slid back so he could sit up.
"He'll be here shortly, Jack. There are a few things that need explaining. You still have some of the Ancient's knowledge."
"Crap. I don't feel different. Nothing's sticking out like a sore thumb up here in what passes for my brain. What's he left in?"
"The Asgard have left you with the ability to control the Ancient's weapon, O'Neill. They have need again of our assistance. Both GeneralHammond and your President felt leaving you with this ability would return you to yourself yet give Earth and its allies a strong defensive ability."
"Still shoot the honking big energy gun? Cool! Hey, did you guys bring any food? I'm starving. Being freeze-dried sure takes it outta a guy."
"Yes, sir, we brought MREs. Your choice of five lovely standard combinations. " Carter stared at him for a few seconds before adding, "We also brought clothes, sir. If you want to get dressed, I'll get an MRE started heating. We have the use of the room next to this. " Carter left as Teal'c passed a set of BDU's to O'Neill.
Daniel added, "I'll go find Thor and join you in a minute, Jack." He also left, while Teal'c remained. The Asgard in charge manipulated various controls and the machine retracted, leaving Jack sitting on a low table. He dressed quickly and got up. A little woozy, but okay; nothing a bite to eat wouldn't fix, he decided.
He thanked the remaining Asgard and he and Teal'c headed to the room next door. Thor had set this up to approximate an Earth dining and sitting room. There were chairs of human size and a table of the correct height. An MRE was waiting at the table. Jack sat down and realized just how hungry he was - the MRE smelled appetizing.
Just then Thor entered their room. "Greetings, O'Neill, are you feeling well again?"
"Thor, buddy! Ya sure yabetcha! Just let me finish eating and I'll be tip-top, raring to go, an eager beaver."
"This is good. Has Major Carter explained the replicator situation?"
"Um, that would be a no. The only situation I can think of with the replicators would be their escaping. Tell me I'm wrong."
"Unfortunately, you are correct O'Neill. We do not know how , but they have left the time trap and are a greater menace than ever. We despaired of defeating them until we realized a weapon of the Ancients had been fired. We thought all such weapons had either been destroyed or had vanished with the Ancients when they left."
"Well, at least one was left. You guys want to borrow it to fight the replicators? Think it 'll work?"
"We are certain that it will work. No known power or being was ever able to stand against that weapon. Unfortunately the Asgards are unable to make the weapons of the Ancients work. Only you can, O'Neill."
"So, it's galaxy-saving time again? You know, never though I'd say this, but this is getting old. What do you want us to do?"
"In a short while we will leave aboard the O'Neill II (Jack's eyebrows went up on hearing this name) to join the fight against the replicators. The remainder of the Asgard fleet has held them at bay more than half the galaxy away, but they cannot continue much longer. Before we leave, however, may I speak to you and Major Carter alone, please O'Neill?"
At a glance from Jack, Daniel and Teal'c quietly left the room. They'd get the story out of Sam, they expected.
"Okay, Thor, what's up?"
"Mostly our hopes, O'Neill. You remember after Loki cloned you I said that you are an important step forward in the evolutionary chain, but not the missing link we have been searching for."
"I remember; still don't feel advanced, though. What's that got to do with anything?"
"Further investigation by our scientists show that although you are not the link we need to repair the damage done to our DNA by many iterations of cloning, your offspring will mostly likely be suitable, especially if Major Carter provides the other half of the offspring's genetic input."
Two voices spoke as one. Jack looked confused, but Sam looked thoughtful.
"We would like to suggest that you and Major Carter have children together. We believe that such children could provide the necessary information to allow us to restructure our DNA. You need not be concerned about the children; a small sample of their circulatory fluid would be all we would require. I did not have an opportunity to make this request to General Hammond or President Hayes, but I will do so on our return. We must leave now." A bright flash and they found themselves onboard the O'Neill II, surrounded by the furniture from the room and all their gear. Daniel and Teal'c were with them, but Thor was not in sight.
"Sam, Jack, guess we're on our way, then. What did Thor want with you guys?"
Jack still looked stunned, Sam still looked thoughtful. "I think the Colonel and I need to talk before we can discuss his request with you or Teal'c, Daniel. Meanwhile, sir, is there any way we can help you prepare? From what Thor said previously, we should be facing the replicators within a few minutes."
Jack shook himself slightly and shifted into military mode. Discussions with Carter about the bombshell idea Thor had just dropped would have to wait. "Okay, do you know where the energy gun is? I'd better get settled in it and make sure I can actually get it going."
"It's in a sort of weapons bay just down the hall, sir. Thor showed us around on the way here. The bay has access to the outside; Thor believed that was necessary." Carter led the way down a hall and into a large room with the chair controller in the middle of it. The far wall of the room appeared to open directly into space. "There's a force field across the opening, sir, but Thor said the energy weapon could send its energy through without disturbing the field. :
"Okay, so basically all I gotta do is sit down, shoot the gun, wipe out all the replicators, and we're outta here, right?"
"That's about it, Jack. Thor was really in a hurry, though. We think the battle is going very badly." Daniel replied.
Jack settled himself back into the chair. "Uh, hate to bother you, but nuthin's happening here. You sure Thor left the right stuff in here?"
"Supreme Commander Thor was quite confident, O'Neill. You should be able to fire the weapon."
"Well, it ain't happening!"
"Perhaps you need to focus your thoughts more, sir. Do you remember what you did last time? Maybe you need to think about the enemy - the replicators."
"Okay, I can do that."
"And don't close your eyes, sir. You had them open before."
"Ooookay. Openingeyes." Jack sunk further back into the chair and thought about the last time they had encountered the replicators and how lucky they had been to escape. He thought of First, poking around inside his head, he thought of Fifth and Carter's reaction to his order that left Fifth behind. She had eventually understood why it was necessary. As he thought, he realised his mind was reaching out, finding replicators nearby in space and also further afield. Somehow his mind was 'tagging' the replicators. He felt a pressure building, then releasing. The energy surged out, attacking each replicator, bursting them from within. Most were the original style, but Jack noticed there were many more than five of the human-appearing replicators. Fifth, however, was not among them.
The others watched in awe as once again Jack launched the energy beams that reached out and destroyed just the enemy. Where necessary, they dodged around Asgard ships. In a few minutes, the battle had ceased. The energy flow from the weapon stopped and they hurried over to their commander, who appeared to have collapsed in the chair.
"Jack, are you alright?"
"Sir, can you open your eyes? How are you feeling?" Sam felt delicately at his throat for a pulse - it was there, strong and regular.
"You have been victorious, O'Neill. There are no signs of surviving replicators."
"Thor said they would bring a medical pod along, do you think you should put Jack in it?"
"If he doesn't wake up of his own accord in a few minutes. Where is Thor? I need to speak to him. So does the Colonel, as soon as he is able."
"Okay, Sam. Care to tell us more?"
"Not yet, Daniel, let's get Jack taken care of first."
And when did the Colonel become Jack to you? thought Daniel, but he refrained from speaking aloud.
One of the Asgard from the medical centre hurried, escorted by a medical pod; it just seemed to be following along like a pet dog. "Thor has advised me that the weapon is very draining on O'Neill. We wish to return him to the medical pod to ensure his well being. He is uninjured, but the pod can restore his energy quickly."
"Alright them, but where is Thor? I need to speak to him."
"Supreme Commander Thor is very busy now, ensuring that none of the replicators escaped the energy weapon. When he has completed his survey, the O'Neill II will begin its journey back to your planet, as he agreed with your leaders."
"Right, please let him know I really do need to speak with him. "
"I will do so Major Carter. Meanwhile, would you please aid me in placing O'Neill in the pod?" The Asgard adjusted something and the pod turned into a low table.
Teal'c carefully lifted Jack and placed him on the table. The Asgard made another adjustment and the pod enveloped O'Neill again. Sam came closer and placed her hand on the window, just above Jack's face.
"Dammit, we only had him back for a few minutes before they threw him back into battle again. He deserves a chance to rest."
"Indeed he does MajorCarter, but O'Neill is a great warrior and will understand the urgency of the Asgard's plight. I believe his actions today have given Earth the strongest ally they could hope for in the fight against the Goa'uld and may well prove to be the turning point in the war that has lasted for many thousands of years."
"I just wish we could do more, it seems like it's all been Jack's responsibility since we found the Ancient's repository," Daniel added.
Unnoticed during their discussion of the events, the O'Neill II had turned and reentered hyperspace. The medical technician bustled about the pod, checking readings and making little adjustments.
Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c sat at the table; they ate another meal and talked desultorily about the recent events, Sam seemed very quiet and thoughtful.
After some time, the Asgard medical attendant looked up and spoke to the others. "O'Neill is restored now. This is good timing as we are entering your solar system. The Supreme Commander wishes to know if he should return you to Antarctica or to the SGC?" As he (Was the Asgard a he? who could tell? how could you tell? did it matter? thought Daniel irrelevantly) spoke, the Asgard did something again and the pod turned back into its low table form.
"To the SGC, I believe. . ." Major Carter began. The Asgard vanished as she went on urgently ". . . but we still need to talk to Thor first!!"
A grunt from the table drew her attention back. "Sir! You did it! I think the replicators are gone. Thor has brought us back to Earth and is apparently going to send us back to the SGC. How are you feeling?"
"About the same as when I got into that chair. I guess I can handle just a little bit of Ancient knowledge. Good to know we still got the honking big gun. Where's Thor?"
"I don't know, sir. I keep sending messages that we need to talk, but he hasn't turned up yet."
By now Daniel and Teal'c were getting very curious about why Sam was so insistent about talking to Thor, but knew they'd find out eventually.
Just then a bright light enveloped them and they found themselves back in the gate room. Their supplies were with them, but there was no sign of the weapon.
"Stand down!" a voice came over the intercom. "Welcome back, SG-1. It's good to see you awake again Colonel O'Neill." O'Neill realised the voice belonged to Dr. Weir.
"Thank you, ma'am. Good to be back. There was supposed to be a honking big energy gun coming back with us. Any idea what happened to it?"
"Yes, Thor contacted me a few minutes ago to let us know of your arrival. The weapon has been returned to the Ancient's outpost in Antarctica. He explained it would be best to store and use it only from there, since we don't have advanced enough power supplies elsewhere.'
"Ooookay, where's Thor himself? Did he beam down with us?"
"Commander Thor said he had a meeting to complete in Washington and that he would beam himself and General Hammond there directly. Would you and your team please report to the infirmary? We'll discuss the recent events after that, two hours from now."
"That would be what we call a debriefing, ma'am."
"Debriefing, thank you Colonel, I'll remember that."
SG-1 left the gate room, but Jack signaled to Sam to hold back a few steps and spoke quietly to her, "Carter, I think we'd better talk before this debriefing."
"Yes sir. You should go first through medical. I'll go second. That will give us a few minutes while Daniel and Teal'c are cleared. Should we meet in your office?"
An hour or so later Sam tapped gently on the Colonel's door and entered.
"Sit down, please Sam."
Well, that's a good start, she thought, I'm Sam, not Carter or Major.
"I'm not sure how to begin this, except what Thor suggested was just plain wrong on so many levels. I think I should apologise for the whole idea."
"Gosh Jack, I'm sorry you find the idea so distasteful. " Sam replied with a slight smile. She was beginning to think Thor had some really good ideas.
"Well, no, it's not.... I mean, it would be... it's just......" Jack didn't seem to be able to form a coherent reply, he just stuttered as his Major (no, Sam, maybe he could think of her as Sam) smiled at him. "Dammit Sam, this should be your choice. Thor can't force you into anything. And what about that Pete guy?"
"And what about him? I haven't seen him for about six weeks, Jack. He was a mistake and I really need to apologize for making that particular mistake. I thought I had to move on, I thought I COULD move on. I was wrong on both counts. Even before I found out what a sneaky, untrustworthy, control-freak that idiot was, I knew it wasn't working, no matter how hard I tried. And I did try. "
"So, you think......' Jack's voice tapered off as he looked at her hopefully.
"I think this may be a new chance, a chance for us. I wonder how General Hammond and the President are reacting to Thor's idea?"
"At least if the suggestion comes from Thor it isn't going to hurt your career. Do you think they'll let us keep the team together?"
Sam had been thinking about that as well, and wondered how Jack would react to her next thought, "I doubt it Jack. You called me a national treasure, and thank you for that by the way, but don't you realise that you are even more of a treasure? You're the only one who can use that weapon and until the Goa'uld are finally defeated, they would be foolish to send you through the gate into possible danger. You're essential here. Whatever happens sir, I don't think you'll be going through the gate on more missions."
"Dammit, I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. I am needed here, just in case. Well, I had a very good run of it and, let's face it, the old knees weren't going to last too much longer. I've been thinking of retiring again this last year or so, just hanging on till you got your next promotion and could take over the team. Guess you'll get it now."
"Nope, 'fraid not. There are so many scientific discoveries to study that I plan to put my science hat back on full time. I'll miss the excitement, but I think I'll have pretty good compensation for it," Sam replied. Jack looked slightly puzzled. "Well, if the idea is that we're going to produce some offspring. . . . . "
"Oh! Yup, that could be pretty exciting. Guess I won't miss gate travel too much." For a few minutes they just sat facing each other, their smiles both growing wider and wider, turning into the bright smile Jack loved so much about Sam and the big grin Sam loved so much about Jack.
"Sam, are you sure? I'm what, fifteen years older than you, at the end of my career, I don't understand half of what you say 90% of the time and I have more emotional baggage than a left-luggage office. On the good side, if you can put up with me, I'm yours for the rest of my life. There's never going to be anyone else for me."
"Jack, you're honourable, brave, way smarter than you usually act and you seem to just inherently know the right thing to do. According to the Asgard, you're pretty special, although I could have told them that years ago. And if you heard the opinion of most of the women on the base, you're totally thud worthy. "
"Yup, as in they look, their jaws drop and go thud. Thud worthy. By the way, general consensus is that Daniel and Teal'c are thud worthy also."
"So you think I'm...?"
"Oh yeah, since we first met. But I see Daniel and Teal'c in a different light compared to the rest of the female staff, so I can really judge their thudworthiness," Sam replied, with a twinkle in her eyes.
For the next few minutes the flirting continued full bore; Jack was just starting to get comfortable with the idea that there might b a future for Sam and him, after all. Daniel interrupted to tell them it was time for the debriefing.
Dr. Weir was sitting at the head of the conference table, where they were used to seeing General Hammond. As they entered she told them, "I've just finished a conversation with the President, apparently he wants to see you, Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter, at the White House as soon as possible. I offered to make transportation arrangement with Peterson, but he said it won't be necessary and you should 'brace yourselves.' I've no idea what he means, do you?"
"Unfortunately, we do ma'am. I believe it means this debriefing is going to be postponed. " The Colonel replied.
Sure enough, a bright light enveloped Jack and Sam and they vanished. They reappeared on board an Asgard ship.
"Thor, get your skinny little grey butt in here right now!" Jack immediately yelled, but an Asgard he didn't recognize appeared at the door.
"I'm sorry Colonel, Supreme Commander Thor is in discussions with your leaders. You and Major Carter will join them momentarily. I do not know why you want Thor's butt, but I trust this will be soon enough."
They vanished again. O'Neill was beginning to feel like a stage magician's bunch of fake flowers - appearing and disappearing over and over again. This time they appeared in the Oval Office.
Gack, thought Sam, I finally make it to the White House and I'm dressed in BDU's; this isn't a good start.
The Colonel was focused on the one being he held responsible for their current predicament. Much as he was happy about the chance he hoped he now had with Carter, he couldn't let Thor get away with this. "Thor, where the hell do you get off making that sort of suggestion, and especially to other people, important people, without talking with Carter and me."
"But O'Neill, we did talk, just before the battle," Thor replied blandly.
"Nope, you talked, we sat and listened. We were too stunned to reply and then you vanished. I swear you've been avoiding me ever since."
Jack realised there were other people in the room, people it really wasn't a good idea to ignore. "Whoops! Sorry sirs, but I've tried to get a chance to explain to Thor that his idea is a really bad one."
"What idea, Colonel? Thor has been listening to our decisions regarding restructuring the SGC since he got here and hasn't made any suggestions yet, good or bad," the President interjected.
Uh-oh, put my big mouth in it again, thought Jack. "Sorry sirs, Perhaps Thor has reconsidered."
"Indeed, I have O'Neill. Your President has some good ideas that I believe will make my request unnecessary."
"Please join, us, Colonel, Major. It's time you heard what decisions have been made."
Jack and Sam took chairs and tried to sit at attention, in compensation for their rather casual dress.
"We're splitting the SGC into three departments. One will be scientific. We will appoint an administrative head, but you will be the Chief Scientist, Major Carter. Actually, I should now call you Lieutenant Colonel Carter, since your promotion papers went through a few days ago."
"Thank you, Sir!"
"In your new position you will be responsible for all the scientific work associated with the Stargate program. While we don't anticipate gate travel on a regular basis, you will still use the gate when necessary. The administrative head will be there to deal with paperwork, personnel, and such. You will have final say in all scientific matters. I hope this suits you?" the President added.
"Very much, sir. I was saying to Colonel O'Neill just a short while ago that there were so many recent scientific discoveries that I needed to spend time on them."
"Good. The second department will be Cultural and Diplomatic. Again, there will be an administrative head, but it seems to us that Dr. Jackson would be a good person to handle the cultural side of things. There will of course be a full diplomatic staff available also. Thor, we should have asked for Dr. Jackson, also, and Teal'c. I really want to meet all of SG-1, especially since the team is being broken up. I'm sorry about that, by the way, Colonel, I know how well your team has worked together over the years, but we really feel the time has come to try something different."
"Have to say I agree with you Sir. I was hoping to hand over to Carter, but this science thingy is a better use of her talents."
While this little conversation went on, Thor had done something with his wrist device. Suddenly Daniel and Teal'c appeared. Daniel looked a bit stunned, Teal'c simply turned slowly and took in the whole situation.
Daniel and Teal'c sat and joined the discussion. The earlier announcements were explained to them. Daniel looked pleased - he had always wanted more emphasis on the cultural and historic side of their explorations.
The President then continued, "Now, Teal'c, we need to know what your intentions are. The earth itself should be safe, thanks to the weapon of the Ancients. The SGC will continue to explore, fight the Goa'uld when we encounter them, and free as many other civilizations from their rule as we can. We know the Free Jaffa will continue the fight, also, even if our alliance has become looser. Do you want to join them or stay with the SGC? "
"Thank you, MrPresident, GeneralHammond. I will rejoin the Free Jaffa. The System Lords are weak now, many more Jaffa will join our cause. I wish to ensure that our friendship with the Tau'ri is not forgotten. I do believe that the defeat of the Goa'uld is now inevitable and my people need to transform their beliefs I will join master Bra'tac."
"Very well, Teal'c. You will always be welcome back. I believe that you have been issued your own GDO and code, so you can return at any time."
"That is so, MrPresident. I do not intend to lose touch with my friends of the Tau'ri."
"And that brings us finally to you, Colonel O'Neill."
Jack sat up a little straighter. He was sorry his team was splitting up, and would miss the T-man, but he knew that this change was inevitable, and good. "Yes, Sir! I'd like permission to take the energy gun off on the Prometheus and get rid of the rest of the System Lords!"
"Unfortunately, that is not possible, O'Neill, as I explained before your arrival," Thor spoke for the first time in quite a while. Now that the replicators had been defeated, he had lost the sense of urgency of his previous visit to the White House.
"Huh? Why's that, Thor?"
"Each use of the device is very draining to you, O'Neill. When we restored you in the medical pod, we used a variation of our own cloning technology. We cannot use it on you again for some time without risking the same problems with your cells as we have with our own bodies - degradation. You must use the machine only for true emergencies. Now that the Goa'uld are aware that Earth possesses such a weapon, they are unlikely to attack again, so you will have time to recover normally before there is any chance you will need to use the weapon again. Also, with the defeat of the replicators, the Asgard will be able to build up our own fleet again and join the battle against the Goa'uld directly. This, however, will take a number of your years to occur. Many of my people were killed in the battles and they must be recloned where possible. Our cloning facilities are strained already. "
"As I was saying, Colonel O'Neill," the President broke in with a slight grin.
"We've still got the military part of the SGC to consider. George here says he really does want to retire now, going out on a high note." Hammond smiled broadly. "I'd like you to take over the military section of the SGC. We're promoting you to Brigadier General, by the way."
"Me! With a star? Didn't think I'd ever make general, sir. And I don't know how I'd be at flying a desk, sir"
Hammond spoke, "Don't worry about it Jack. With the reconfiguring going on you won't have to deal with all the administrative stuff that's landed on my desk in the past. You know what it's like out there; I can't think of anyone the troops respect more. You've more than earned it."
Jack thought for a minute; his team was breaking up, but Carter, Daniel, and Teal' were all going on to do things they truly loved. Maybe he couldn't continue going through the gate, and he wouldn't want to without them anyhow; The reconfiguring meant Carter would be in a separate section of the SGC. . . . .That left one question, just to clear things up.
"Sirs, if Carter is going to be Chief Scientist in the new section, who's she going to be reporting to, militarily speaking?"
None of the others there seemed to feel this was in any way a non- seqitur. Hammond answered, "For review and promotion purposes, we were thinking of General Woods at Nelles and Area 51, since he would be most familiar with the scientific aspects of her new position."
"Oh okay, then, I guess I'm in, sirs, and thank you!"
"You're very welcome, General O'Neill. Do you mind if I call you Jack? I think we're going to be speaking quite a bit in the future." the President answered.
Thor returned Jack, Sam, Daniel, Teal'c, and Hammond to the SGC and took his leave of them; he had to return to his home galaxy to deal with the mess left from the replicator war. He said that a smaller Asgard vessel, the Carter (Sam smiled widely at this) would remain nearby, to aid communication.
General Hammond left to speak to Dr. Weir before he returned to the Prometheus. He still had a little time in command of Earth's first true spaceship before his retirement; he intended to enjoy it.
"General, it's good to see you. How did the conference go? How did our new general react to the news?"
"It went very well, Dr. Weir. We managed to convince Thor that we really couldn't order General O'Neill and Colonel Carter to have children together, but that if things were set up correctly, it would happen anyhow. So the president didn't tell them that Thor had made the request."
"He lied to them?"
"Not exactly, although he did walk a pretty fine line. He said Thor hadn't made any suggestions. Thor had actually made a request." They both chuckled.
"Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I'm sorry I'm not going to be around the SGC to watch the goings on, but I know I'm going to hear about it." General Hammond concluded.