Chapter Eleven Summary: A trip to Washington D.C. with the Colonel and General Hammond gives Sam a surprise that was joyous, a meeting with the President that went very well, and two unwelcome announcements from her dad, General Jacob Carter, one of which made her very unhappy. She is buffeted with emotions ranging from joy to deep sorrow. Colonel O’Neill also has some problems that have unhappy resolutions.
“Italics” – Symbiote-Host Communication
Ashteki keshta - Until we meet again, more formal … used between acquaintances and casual friends.
Sam gazed blearily at her alarm clock and sighed, before pushing the covers off and sitting up. She stretched, stood, and then stretched again, before heading for the shower. Ten minutes later, she was drying her hair and applying very light makeup. Finishing with those items, she returned to her bedroom and opened her closet. She pulled out her dress uniform and in another ten minutes, she was in the kitchenette enjoying a quick cup of coffee. Looking at her watch, she realized she still had about twenty minutes, before the Colonel stopped by to pick her up.
She sighed and rolled her shoulders. Just the thought of today was making her muscles tighten up. Well, maybe it wouldn’t be all bad. At least, the President should be happy with them, when they had their meeting with him.
“Why are you so tense, my Sam? Is the idea of talking to your president so very intimidating? Do not forget that I will be with you, and he will ask no question about the Tok'Ra that I cannot answer. We will be fine, I assure you.”
Sam smiled at her, saying, “I know, Jolinar, but it’s still a little nerve racking. We don’t know if it's a meeting between just us, or if there will be others there, and I know that if he has others there, we won’t be able to really talk openly with him. It just makes me a little nervous. I suppose getting this medal is a little bit nerve racking, too. I’m not looking forward to it, and if we're lucky something will happen to cause it to be postponed or turned over to General Hammond to give to the Colonel and us.”
“I understand. I will not let you down. You will neither trip nor sweat and your voice will be fine, as well. We will be fine.”
“Thanks, Jol.” She heard a knock on the door, and knew the General and the Colonel had arrived to get her. She put her coffee cup in the sink, after rinsing it, made sure the coffee pot was off, grabbed her overnight bag and her purse, took a deep calming breath, and opened the door.
“Colonel, General, We’re all set to go.” Jolinar increased the substances that brought calm, and she was able to greet the two men showing no hint of her former anxiety.
It seemed as if they had no more than entered the plane, before they were landing in D.C. and getting back off. O’Neill and Sam had settled in and were talking, as they walked toward the building where the upcoming ceremony was to be held. The Colonel glanced over at his second in command, and commented wryly, “You know, I can navigate myself across a galaxy, but I get lost every time I come to Washington. It can’t be that difficult, so I think I’ve put a mental block up, when it comes to this town. I don’t want to become familiar enough with it that I can get around in it without getting lost,” he finished explaining with a wide grin and a short laugh.
Laughing with him, she assured him, “Don't worry, Sir, these are my old stomping grounds. I think I can still find my way around.”
“Old stomping grounds, huh? Gee, Carter, I’m sorry to hear that. You have my heartfelt condolences.”
She chuckled and shook her head at him, before answering, “Oh, I don’t know; it wasn’t so bad. Two years at the Pentagon trying to make the Stargate program a reality; I'd say it was time well spent, considering.”
O’Neill sent her another cheerful grin, along with a laconic, “Ya think?”
They continued in a companionable silence, until they entered the reception room. Looking around, Sam turned to him, saying, “I see General Hammond's already doing the rounds.”
“Oh yeah. He's a player, and a good one. He knows how to work a room; I’ve seen him do it many times. Would you like some Punch?”
“Yes, Sir, thanks. That actually sounds really good.” She gazed around, as she waited for the Colonel, but before he returned with their refreshments, General Hammond saw her. He motioned her over, and she smiled at him, as she went to join him. The Colonel wouldn’t find it too hard to find her, she was sure. The General that was standing and talking to General Hammond turned around and faced her, as she walked up to them. She stopped and gazed at him, her surprise obvious, as she murmured, “Dad.”
Her dad smiled at her as they embraced.
“I invited Jake myself, Captain. I thought you might enjoy the surprise.” General Hammond smiled at her, as he told her of his manipulation.
“I do. Really, Sir. That's sweet.”
Jacob Carter grinned, “As you know, George and I served together back when the Air Force really was this country's first line of defense.”
“I think it still is, Dad.” Sam grimaced to herself, as she thought about the new threats they faced of which her father wasn’t even aware.
“Of course, it is. I was talking about when the Cold War was still, uh…Anyway, when George told me you were up for the Air Medal for your work in,” he glanced over at the General, “what the hell was that again, George? Um…”
Sam smiled wryly, knowing he was just being facetious, before answering him herself, “Analysis of deep space radar telemetry.”
Jacob nodded, as he replied, “Oh, yeah…Right.”
Colonel O’Neill thanked the man for the punch, and walked back toward Carter, watching her talk to General Hammond and another General. Stopping by her, he handed her one of the glasses of punch, saying, “Carter? Here you go.”
She took it quickly, as she answered, “Thank you, Sir.”
Realizing that the Colonel didn’t know the General, General Hammond introduced them, saying briefly, “Colonel Jack O'Neill, Jacob Carter.”
The Colonel raised an eyebrow and looked back and forth between Sam and General Carter. “Carter? As in?”
Sam grinned at him, saying, “As in, my father, Sir, yes.”
“Get outta town. Sam's Dad? I've heard nothing about you, Sir,” he told him, while casting Sam a ‘why didn’t you tell me’ look.
Jacob shrugged, asking, “What's there to say about an old general waiting to retire? Can’t be a lot.”
Sam sighed. “Dad, I talk about you all the time.” She gave him a mischievous look, adding, “Of course, I tend to call you my dad, not General Carter. That might have something to do with it.”
Looking somewhat pensive, Jack murmured, “I retired myself one time.” Then he perked up, adding, “But, I just couldn't stay away.”
Jacob sent him a disbelieving look, stating, “From your analysis of deep space radar telemetry.”
Jack sent him a look full of laughter, knowing that Jacob Carter wouldn’t anymore believe him, than he would that there was a man in the moon. Still, he answered him, “Well, it's just so damn fascinating.”
Jacob stared back at him, saying, “I'm sure it is. Otherwise you wouldn't be receiving the Air Medal.”
Knowing he didn’t believe him and seeing it in his eyes were two different things, so he decided to cut his losses and replied, his voice even, “We have our moments. Um, will you excuse me? We just don't get out of Cheyenne Mountain enough, so I'm going to grab some air. Outside. General. Captain. General.”
“On that note, I guess I'll go make the rounds. I’ll talk to you both later.” General Hammond made his way toward the next group of old friends to whom he wanted to speak.
Jacob turned to his daughter. “Just between us, your cover stories could use a little polish.”
Sam looked at him doing her best imitation of a wall, “Sorry, Dad, I don't know what you're talking about.”
Jacob Carter sighed, and then he apologized, “No, of course not, I'm out of line. But whatever it is you really analyze in that mountain, deep space, or no deep space, it can't be as exciting as the real thing. I'm talking about getting you into NASA, Sam. I'm talking about you actually going to space someday.”
Sam looked away, but Jacob continued, “I made a call to Bollinger himself. Head of NASA?”
“I know,” Sam answered quietly. She didn’t like where this was going. One or both of them were going to end up hurt.
“I told him that you'd wanted to become an astronaut, since you were a little girl. And that you'd given up…”
“Dad, I didn't give up!”
“Let me finish. That you gave up waiting for the shuttle program to be reinstated, after the Challenger disaster.”
“Yeah, it was bad timing.”
“Yes, well. I called in a few markers. I filled them in on your qualifications. You apply again as an Air Force nominee, young lady, and I think you'll find NASA supportive.”
“There's a waiting list a mile long.”
“Not for you.”
“Dad, you can't do that.”
She sighed, asking, “Without talking to me first?”
“You're telling me you don't want this? They know what you're capable of offering the Space Program, Samantha, they want you!”
“That's not the point! The work I’m doing right now is very important to me.”
“It's not your dream.”
“Let's just leave it at that, please?”
“At least talk to them, then. Do that much for me.”
She sighed again, saying, “I knew sooner or later you'd make this about you.”
Jacob nodded, “All right.”
Feeling guilty knowing that she hurt him, she told him, “Dad, it's not that I don't appreciate it…”
“I said "all right". I'll catch up with you after the ceremony.”
Sighing, as her father left the reception, Sam wondered where the Colonel was. Maybe she could find him and join him in a drink. Or not. Seeing another approaching member of the top brass heading her way, she pasted a smile on her face and greeted him. It was going to be a longer day than she thought it was.
Jack O’Neill headed back to the reception, cursing both himself and the reporter with whom he'd just had a very unpleasant run-in. This was really, really not good. He had to find Hammond and the sooner the better. He entered the room and spied him almost immediately. Catching Sam’s eye, he indicated she should join him.
As Jack neared him, he could hear him, as he told the Colonel he was talking with, “He's got great hands. He can really snap the jab. He was getting off all nine, so he cut in with three good ones, then he feinted with his right, came in with a left hook and right cross and the guy was down.”
Wasting no time, he stepped up to him, and interrupted, with no remorse for being rude, “General, a moment please?”
General Hammond shot him a quick look and turned to the other Colonel saying, “Excuse me.” Turning to O’Neill, they walked off a way toward a common area where it was very much less likely they would be overheard. Sam joined them, wondering what was going on.
Jack cut right to the crux of the problem with no preliminaries, telling him,
“We've got a problem, Sir. We've sprung a leak. Apparently, someone with knowledge of the program talked to a reporter.”
“This reporter approached you?”
“And you said?”
“Denied everything. He didn't buy it.”
“Well, how much does he know?”
“Well, if he knows me, and he knows Carter—he knew how to find us here—a lot.”
“Then you're right. We've got a problem.” The General led them to an empty room, and O’Neill shut the door. They moved to an exterior wall and continued their discussion.
Sam asked him, “Say he runs this story—how bad can it get?”
General Hammond grimaced. “Bad. The domestic repercussions alone. Half the government would want to bury it; the other half would want a piece of it. After that, the international fallout, when Russia and China find out we've been keeping it from them…”
Sam nodded, as she listened to him, and added, “Proof of the existence of aliens. Hundreds of other worlds populated by ancient human cultures.”
Jack frowned, “I don't see the problem.”
It was Sam’s turn to frown. “I can't help but wonder who the source could be.”
“Any one of hundreds of people, Captain,” O’Neill assured her.
Sam shook her head. “I have a hard time believing it's one of ours. Every member of the SGC knows how important our work is.”
General Hammond nodded. “I agree with Captain Carter. It's much more likely political.”
Sam sent him a look, and asked, “Senator Kinsey?”
Jack snorted. “Well if he knows, at least a dozen sycophants know.”
Hammond looked thoughtful, saying, “Civilians sign non-disclosure statements. Technically, that makes them liable to prosecution under the Espionage Act.”
Jack turned to him at his sarcastic best, saying, “So what do we do? Sue 'em?”
Hammond sighed, but he agreed, so he couldn’t say much. “There's still some time before the ceremony, Colonel. I'd like to know how much he knows, before he goes to print. Do you know how to find him?”
Jack nodded. “I’ll let him find me.”
“Good. Report back as soon as you know.”
Jack walked back toward the reception area. The reporter, Selig, had found him just as he had suspected. And, as he suspected, he knew way too much. He decided to try to stop him one more time, so he turned to the man that still walked beside him, saying, “Selig, let me do you a favor. You don't know anything. Don't embarrass yourself.”
“I know that those two brilliant flashes in the night sky a few months ago were really alien ships on their way to attack Earth. You blew them up.”
“I did? All right!” Jack sighed realizing the man wouldn’t give up on his story. “If you're going to go ahead with it, I wanna make sure you get one thing right. It's O'Neill, with two Ls. There's another Colonel O'Neil with only one L, he has no sense of humor, at all.” With that, he put his sunglasses up and turned to walk away.
The reporter refused to give up, telling him, “The story's going to run, Colonel.”
“It'll read like science fiction, Selig.
“This country has no official Secrets Act.”
“I know that.”
“You can't stop me.”
“I know that, too.”
“You don't think anyone will believe it.”
“I'm sure someone will. But it's not me.”
As he turned to walk away, Selig told him, “We'll see.”
He turned back for just a moment, asking, “That's two Ls, right?”
Jack O’Neill was annoyed and just shook his head, as he once more turned to go into the building. The sound of tires squealing caught his attention, and he turned to look. Armin Selig had turned back to the street and, as he stepped out a car hit him and drove off at high speed.
O’Neill rushed over to him and yelled at someone to call 911, before turning to Selig, saying, “Don't move. Don't try to move.”
Selig looked up at him, and whispered, “You did this.”
Jack shook his head. “No. We didn't do this.”
Selig moaned. “Son of a bi…”
After the reporter died, Jack laid his head back down and looked at his bloody hands. He, too, believed that the man had been murdered.
Sam decided to find her dad, before she and Jolinar went to talk to the President, and she found him in an empty room staring out of a window. “Dad? I've been looking all over for you.”
He turned to his daughter, saying, “You must be disappointed. Any idea why the President cancelled?”
She nodded. “Yeah. Colonel O'Neill witnessed an accident. The President couldn't adjust his schedule. Bad timing all around. General Hammond's going to present us with our medals at a private ceremony back at the base.”
“Well, it's the honor that matters, whether I can be there or not.”
Jacob interrupted her, before she could say anything else, telling her, “I have cancer, Sam.”
Sam stared at him. “What?”
Jacob smiled. “Well, it's not good. But, it's not the worst. Don't you worry. I'll be around for a while.”
“Oh God, Dad!”
“I was hoping to stick around long enough to see you become an astronaut.”
Sam shook her head.
“Sweetheart, I don't care what it is you do in that mountain; nothing in the world can live up to the chance of actually going to space. Not for you. It's something you've wanted your whole life. And I admit it; I want to see you fulfill your life's dreams, before I die.”
“It's my dream. Doesn't that make it up to me?”
“Fathers have dreams, too.”
Looking at him sadly, she whispered, “Sorry, I can't…”
“All right.” He turned away from her and grabbed his overcoat from a chair. “Like I said, this thing's going to go on for months, so you don't have to check up on me tomorrow.”
“Dad, please don't go like this…”
“Congratulations on the medal. I'm sure you deserve it.”
As he walked away, Sam tried once more. “Dad!” But, he didn’t turn around, and she turned back to the window, as she started to cry.
“My Sam, he will not stay away from you. He loves you greatly. He will not want this to stand between you.” Jolinar paused, before saying softly, “If this is not something that will cause his death right away, there is a chance that we could offer him hope. A Tok'Ra could heal him, and though he would then be one of us, at least he would still live, perhaps for a very long time.”
Sam’s tears dried, as she listened to her Lifemate. She thought about the option. “We have to talk to the President first, Jolinar. And we couldn’t say anything, unless we knew there was a need for a host.”
“That is true. So, the first thing we must do is attend the meeting with the President. We are due there soon, yes?”
Sam smiled at her. “Yes. Yes, we are. I’m glad that the Colonel and General Hammond agreed to accompany us, even if they won’t allow them to sit in on the meeting. Of course, we don’t know that they won’t for sure, yet.”
“I am glad for your sake. Now, come, we must go.”
“General Hammond, Colonel O’Neill, Captain Carter, the President will see you now.”
“Thank you,” General Hammond gave the woman a smile, as she opened the door for them.
As the three entered the room, the President stood and made his way toward them. His smile was wide, and his greeting was warm, “General, Colonel, Captain, and Jolinar, it is a very great pleasure to welcome you to the White House.”
As they each murmured replies, he indicated that they should make themselves comfortable. As they sat down, an aide brought them some drinks and then left. Sam glanced around. There was no one else present, but she was sure there was surveillance. That could prove a problem she supposed. Of course, it would no doubt be classified.
The President took the initiative and started the conversation, “Captain, George has kept me apprised, of what has occurred, so you won’t need to go through the entire ordeal with me. I think we’re past that. I would like to speak to Jolinar, in a moment, but first allow me to ask you how you feel, now that you’ve been together for a while?”
Sam looked him in the eyes, as she answered, so he would know that she meant every word she said, “Surprisingly, Mr. President, I’m enjoying it. In fact, if something happened to Jolinar, and we were parted, I would miss her a great deal. It truly is a symbiotic relationship, and we’ve found that we work well together. I’m very pleased with the way things are going; I’m happy and content to have it this way.”
He nodded. “I’m glad to hear that. It puts my mind at rest, as well.” He leaned forward, and took a drink of his water, before returning it to the table.
“So, I understand that the Air Force is now in possession of a Goa'uld mothership, as well as the shipwright who was in charge of building it. And, I mustn’t forget the other ships that came with it. George mentioned that there were two of the spaceships, but that we get only one, which I can’t complain of, but I can’t help but wonder what the other one is for.”
“I’ll let Jolinar explain, Mr. President.”
He nodded, and then watched, as Sam’s eyes glowed. He couldn’t control the slight jerk back from her, but after glancing at the Colonel and General and seeing their unconcern, he relaxed as well. Still, that had been…freaky.
“I plan to use it as a bargaining chip with the Tok'Ra. You must understand that the Tok'Ra have worked in secret using stealth and infiltration for two thousand years. Getting them to accept you, as an active ally, will not be easy; therefore, the more pressure I can bring to bear on them the better. Then too, by using the ship, you will be bearing a gift, as well as a request. Should they ally with the SGC, and the United States, they will gain a mothership and access to the shipwright. That will be one plus on the side of becoming allies.”
“You actually have several things in your favor already. Ra being a main one, since he is the one that killed our Queen.”
“Ah, I’m not sure I quite understand that, Jolinar. Could you explain what you mean?”
“Our Queen, Egeria, was a consort of Ra’s. When she broke from the System Lords and their ways, he had her hunted down and was responsible for her death. For the last two thousand years, the Tok'Ra have despised and loathed him. Long have we wanted to see his end. That you disposed of him will be another plus for an alliance. It will not be overlooked.”
“Whether or not those two things will be enough, I do not know. You must understand that you have little to offer the Tok'Ra. Your technology is less advanced than ours is, so there is nothing there that you can offer to us. We do not fight in an overt way; therefore, we have a difference in methods. They will not approve of your way, simply because you could so easily cause an imbalance of power within the remaining System Lords. If that should happen, one of them could ascend to the position of Supreme System Lord, a thing that should be avoided, if at all possible. They will see you as reckless and brash, just as you will see them as too conservative and unwilling to fight overtly.”
“I know that it will be difficult, but there are several things which you must come to understand about the Tok'Ra and one of those things is that they cannot fight in an overt manner. We are too few and without a Queen, we are a dying race. We cannot afford to put our people into active battle situations, if we do not have to. I am willing to become a frontline soldier simply because I see the need for both. Eventually, they may also see that it is necessary.”
“Changing two thousand years of behavior will not happen quickly; however, I will continue to work toward an alliance, since I intend to remain at the SGC indefinitely. It is my belief that with time and effort, we will be able to bring them to the point of an alliance. I do have a fair amount of influence within the Tok'Ra, for I am not a child of Egeria’s, but an ally. I fought beside her for her cause, and in doing so; I lost my armies and my holdings. I would do it all again, and, in fact, I am continuing by the simple fact of remaining Tok'Ra and helping them, as much as I can. While they do not always agree with me at first, they do listen eventually. Therefore, I have confidence that eventually there will be an alliance. I simply cannot assure you of when it will happen.”
Jolinar paused for a moment before finally broaching the remaining subject. Then with Sam’s encouragement from within, she told him, “There is only one other thing that would weigh heavily with them, and it will be a…subject which will bring up unpleasant connotations, I am sure.”
The President looked a little puzzled for a moment, before saying calmly, “You are speaking of hosts.” He sighed. “What you say is true. That might be a rather large obstacle to overcome. Do you have any suggestions or ideas about that?”
Jolinar smiled slightly. “Yes, actually, we do. Samantha and I have given this a great deal of thought.” She paused before continuing, “There is a section of your population, who might not be as opposed to sharing their bodies, as some others might. I am speaking of the ill and the injured. A Symbiote can cure most diseases. Given time, they can repair many injuries. We, that is, Sam and I, have considered this, as it would then be a give and take situation. We would give healing; your people would give aid, as a Tok'Ra.”
The President nodded for her to continue, so she told him, “You have many injured soldiers. Those who are paralyzed or have other severe problems.” She frowned. “Growing new limbs is not beyond us; however it does take quite a long time. Of course, their new life expectancy could range up to four or five hundred years depending on their own age at the time of blending, so that wouldn’t really be a problem for them, only for us, as we need our people. Those types of injuries would have to be discussed with the council. Spinal injuries however, would not be difficult to repair, although there might be some rehabilitation.”
She took a deep breath before bringing Sam’s father up. “I would like to offer a symbiote to Samantha’s father. He is dying of cancer and probably does not have much time. I would like your permission to do that.”
The president stared at her. “You can cure cancer?”
“Usually. It depends on how near death the person is, and how strong the symbiote is.”
The President sat quietly contemplating the things she told him. Allowing soldiers to walk again. That was something they should consider. As for her request about Captain Carter’s father, how could he refuse? They just brought them a brand new spaceship. Well, in for a penny, in for a pound, as they say.
“Very well. The Captain’s father has clearance. As for the other, I’d like to think about it, but I do like the suggestion of the soldiers. I have a question there though. What about their families? How would that be handled?”
“What you choose to tell or not to tell your people would be up to you. I think that it would be very uncomfortable for the families, if their family member simply disappeared. However, you also have the non-aging issue. I would think that one would at least consider telling the wife and/or parents. Who knows? Once their children are grown, the wife might choose to join their mate, and become Tok'Ra as well. That is for the future, and many things must be decided, before we come to that point in time.”
“Their families would need to be very carefully screened. While I hate to put limits on those we would help, I realize that you cannot afford to offer this to a soldier whose family would be on the phone to your news agencies, as soon as they found out about it. Much discretion should be used, for in your world, the spreading of such information could have dire affects.”
The President was nodding, as he saw the logic of her comments. “Yes, that is true.” He nodded again, as if to emphasize something to himself, and then told her, “I’ll see how we want to do things. When you make contact with your people again, and we see what happens, we can put any plans we make into action.” He paused for a moment, before hesitantly asking, “How…how many symbiotes are there that will eventually need new hosts? And while I’m thinking about it, why do you need new hosts? Is it because of injuries that are too massive for the symbiote to save them? I was under the impression that the Goa'uld live for thousands of years, and that they keep their hosts. What causes the difference in the two of you? I mean, you are the same species, correct? I didn’t misunderstand that?”
Jolinar smiled slightly at him, before answering, “We still number in the thousands. As for the need for hosts, that is a simple explanation. We do not use the Sarcophagus. That is what keeps the human body from aging. Without its use, eventually the human body ages and dies. We feel that it is the Sarcophagus that has taken any good there is from the hearts of the Goa'uld; therefore, we will not use it.”
He nodded his understanding. “I see. I’m glad to know that. Now, is there anything else you would like to ask of us? We will do what we can to help you.”
Jolinar bowed her head. “I thank you. There is one more thing for which I wish. There are four Al’kesh aboard the ships. I would like one to be available to me; therefore, I wish to put it on the mountain. It would be cloaked, so no one would know it was there.”
The President looked stunned for a moment before saying, rather blankly, “You want to keep an Al’kesh at Cheyenne Mountain?”
She nodded. “Yes, definitely. The Chaappa’ai is not always the most practical way to accomplish something. Nor would it be out of your reach should it be needed. It would be available to all of us; I simply wish it to be kept near to where I am, so that I will have quick and easy access to it.”
He finally nodded his agreement. “I guess I can’t really complain. We get the mothership and the builder. All right, you can park it at the mountain.”
“Thank you, Mr. President. I will keep you informed through General Hammond of our progress with the Tok'Ra.”
“I wish to thank you, Jolinar. You have done more than most would have for us.”
“You are most welcome. Samantha saved my life. What little I have done is small recompense for that.” After giving him another small smile, something the symbiote was not used to doing, she said, “If there is nothing else we need to discuss, I will return you to my Sam. Do you have anything else you wish to ask me?”
The President shook his head, and smiled at her in return. “No, Jolinar, not right now. I’m sure I’ll have all kinds of questions later, and if I need to talk to you again, I’ll get in contact with you through George, if that is acceptable?”
“Certainly, Mr. President. That is quite acceptable with both of us. I will wish you farewell. Ashteki keshta, until we meet again.”
He watched, fascinated as her eyes glowed once more and Captain Carter smiled at him. It didn’t seem so freaky, now that he’d talked to her and found her to be so…well…sort of normal. There was no doubt at all that they were two different entities, too, and that helped. The smile he was receiving now, her eyes, the way she held her head were all different from when he had talked to Jolinar. He wished he had more time to spend with them; unfortunately, he didn’t.
He was brought out of his contemplations by that thought, and he turned to the General, saying, “Well, I guess it’s time, George.”
General Hammond smiled back. “Yes it is.” He stood and walked to a large table at the end of the room on which a wooden tray lay. Picking it up, he brought it back and the President stood.
Turning from the General, he spoke, “Colonel O’Neill, if you and the Captain would stand, please.”
Walking over to them, the president reached for one of the medals on the tray, saying, “Colonel Jack O'Neill, Captain Samantha Carter, you have distinguished yourselves by heroism involving voluntary risk of life.” After pinning on the medal, he saluted the Colonel, and then moved on to Sam.
“Against impossible odds, with only the help of your team members Teal'c and Dr. Daniel Jackson, you destroyed both Goa'uld spacecraft that were poised to attack this world. Your exemplary courage and heroism reflect great credit upon yourselves and the United States Air Force. Although our people do not know what you have done for them, I can assure you that you would have their heartfelt thanks, and that someday, you will have it. As for all of us who are aware of what the four of you accomplished that night, believe me, when I say that every one of us is more grateful than we can ever express to you. As for myself, I cannot begin to express to you how proud and how very honored I am to be the one to give these medals to you both.”
He finished pinning the medal on Sam and then turned back to the tray and took something else from it. Still standing in front of Sam, he told her, “Captain Carter, it is with great honor, pride, and the upmost pleasure that I am the one who pins your new designation onto your uniform. Congratulations, Major Carter.” He saluted her and then breaking the solemn mood, he held up his hand, and splayed his fingers, adding, “Live long and prosper.” He grinned. “I'm sorry; I just had to say it.”
As Sam laughed, she told Jolinar, “Never mind. Look through my memories for old TV shows or I'll explain later.”
Then he shook her hand, becoming solemn again. “I do wish you and Jolinar the best, and I am truly, honestly, honored to be the one to give you your new rank. I hope to talk to you both again, soon.”
“Thank you, Mr. President. We will look forward to it, and we thank you, for all you have done for us. I’m honored to have had you award me both the medal and my new rank.”
The General and the Colonel shook hands with her, and the General put his arm around her shoulders, as he told her, “Congratulations, Major. I’m very proud of you, of both of you, as well as Dr. Jackson and Teal'c, and what you have accomplished.”
“Thank you, Sirs. Thank you very much.”
Before General Hammond could start them toward the door, the President looked at both of them and announced one more thing, “There is one more thing that I want to be the one to tell you. It’s classified information and cannot leave this room. I know that both of you felt that Dr. Jackson and Teal'c deserved to be honored as much as you two did. I happen to agree with you, and before I even knew how the two of you felt about it, I made the decision to do something about it. I’ve also felt, for quite some time, that there should be some type of acknowledgment of those who have died in the fight against the Goa'uld. Because of the classified nature of their deaths, it can’t be acknowledged to the public. Not yet; however, the day will come when they will be honored.”
“In the meantime, I’ve instructed George to consider and then decide where we will place this. I want an area where all of their names can be displayed. As for the remainder of the area, I’d like for the five of you, SG-1, to decide on what you want in it, and how you want it to look. I want you to collaborate and design the area, if you would do so. Sam looked at the Colonel and realized that he was just as surprised and pleased as she was. They exchanged a glance, and then a smile; O’Neill answered, “We’d be honored to do that, Mr. President. Thank you.”
He nodded, but held up his hand to stop them, saying, “I’m writing an executive order establishing a new medal. It is to be given to aliens and civilians who have put their lives on the line, not only for this country, but also for this world. I have approximately twenty-five artists rendering designs. They’ve been told that it’s for civilians and foreigners who have done heroic and dangerous things for this country and the world. They have committed acts of selflessness and courage, which will go un-praised and unacknowledged, perhaps for many years to come, except by those in the government who have clearance, and by those who were involved. They should have their ideas finished within the week and I’ll be sending them to George and to you. The first two of these will be awarded to Dr. Jackson and Teal'c. I agree with you that the two of them deserve to be honored. They will be awarded to them at the SGC, by General Hammond and myself. I hope you approve.”
‘Yes, Sir, I think I speak for the Major and I both, when I tell you that we’re delighted.”
While the President beamed at the two of them, George Hammond glanced at the clock and stepped forward, saying, “Well, I believe that the President has another meeting scheduled, so we will be on our way. We have some things to do, when we return to the SGC.”
The President shook hands with each of them in turn, and then looking to the General, he assured him, “I’m going to make it to the mountain, George. I will be the one handing out those medals. I’ve got to see this thing in person. After all, I’m the one that gets the final say on some of the things pertaining to it, the least I can do is know from actually seeing it, what it looks like.”
“You know that you are welcome anytime.” The General smiled at him. “We’ll look forward to seeing you.”
Their good-byes said, he walked them to the door and ushered them out. He had a lot to think about, and some serious decisions to make. He sighed, as he realized now was not the time. George had been telling the truth. He had another damn meeting, and he was fairly sure it wasn’t going to be nearly as exciting, or entertaining, as the one he just had.
“Well, Major…how’s it feel?”
Sam laughed. “It feels great, Sir. I certainly wasn’t expecting it.”
“The President wanted to do it, Major. He asked me if I thought it would be appropriate, when we talked after you and Jolinar blended. I told him it definitely was. You were due for a promotion; he just received the enjoyment of being the one to give it to you.”
“Thank you, General. I appreciate your support and confidence in me.”
“You are most welcome, Major.”
Waving down a cab, they gave the address of where they were staying. They would leave in the morning. Once they arrived, the General looked at the Colonel. “Jack, if I could see you a moment?”
“Of course, General.”
“We’ll stop by and get you so we can go out and eat later, Major, if that’s all right with you? Did you have any plans of your own?”
“That will be fine, General. What time should I be ready?”
“How about seven? Is that all right with you?”
“Yes, that’s fine, Sir.” She looked at her watch and was surprised to see that it was still only mid-afternoon. Looking up, she smiled at him and said, “In fact, that leaves time for a short nap and a leisurely bath. I’ll see you both then.”
Stopping at the Colonel’s room, he opened the door, and they stepped in. “What did you wish to see me about, General?”
The General sighed. He knew that Colonel O’Neill was upset about the accident. There wasn’t much he could do but he had to try. “It was an accident, Jack. There was nothing you could have done.”
Jack O’Neill’s lips tightened and he looked down, obviously disheartened.
The General sighed again. “Jack. I’m telling you the truth. I didn’t tell anyone, and I’m very sure that Cap—er, Major Carter didn’t either. I know for a fact that she was looking for her father.”
Jack looked up at him, saying, “You didn’t?”
“No. I didn’t. So…unless you consider me capable of arranging something like that…”
Jack sighed. “No, Sir, I don’t. It’s just that it seemed damned convenient and he accused us, as he died. It was…unsettling.” His understatement never ceased to amuse the General and did so now, even in this serious a conversation. However, Jack wasn’t finished with his comments. “General…what if someone overheard us talking and they did tell someone?” He frowned, thinking. “It almost would have had to have been after the first conversation, though, wouldn’t it?”
The General nodded in agreement. He wasn’t about to tell the man that he’d already figured that out. He told him gently, “While it appeared convenient, it would have been almost impossible to have arranged it even before you two parted. As for it being the first conversation you had...I just don’t know, but it still doesn’t seem plausible.” He paused before adding, “You know, Jack, this man was a reporter. We don’t know what else he’s exposed. It could very well be that someone else wanted him dead. I don’t think that can be ruled out.”
Colonel Jack O’Neill felt his shoulders relax. He gave the General a brief smile.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right, General. It would have been pretty darn quick for that to be arranged, and the first conversation wasn’t all that long. They might have set someone on him to watch him, but…that’s not arranging an assassination. Thank you, General.”
“You’re welcome, Jack.” He headed toward the door and after opening it, he stated, “Decide what you want to eat. I’ll stop by for you first, since you are closest to my room. Will that suit you?”
Jack gave him a real smile this time. “Yes, Sir. I’ll be ready.”
The General nodded once more. “Later, Jack.” Shutting the door, he walked to his own room, his smile gone. He wished it was as easy to convince himself that it was an accident. Well, no point in wasting time thinking about it. There was nothing he could do about it, and he had his own worries about which to think. Like a Goa'uld in a holding cell who wouldn’t even tell them his name. For some reason that he didn’t understand, he truly didn’t want to see him end up in Maybourne’s hands. He supposed he was reluctant because the man didn’t act like a Goa'uld in any way at all. Not one of his actions so far pointed to him being Goa'uld, which led him to believe that it was very possible that Jolinar would know him. He really, really hoped that Jolinar could identify him and do the interrogation. He was fairly sure that if he asked the President, he would keep Maybourne away for a while longer than he already was, even if he couldn’t keep him away indefinitely.
As far as he knew, neither the Major nor Jolinar knew about him being a prisoner. SG-1 and their support personnel hadn’t returned until late last evening. Jolinar had decided to make a short detour to a place where she had another informant, and they had spent quite a bit of time with him, first convincing him that she really was Jolinar, and then getting all of his information. She had decided to go talk to him when she realized they were close to his world. He was an informant she had been unable to contact for a while, due to being on the run for the most part, although prior to that, several things had happened to keep her from attempting to contact him.
As it turned out, he had a lot of information for her and the Tok'Ra, and by extension, the SGC. None of it was bad in regard to either of them; however, it was detailed and would help them out in several areas, such as worlds that had come under Goa'uld rule, and so were no longer safe, among other sundry information. They’d made arrangements for her to check with him again in a couple of months unless something critical came up. Sam had suggested that if that happened he should go to the Land of the Light. It was one of the few worlds that could contact them by radio, since they set it up for Tupelo. So they gave him the address to that world and warned him not to stay within the forest, but to head to the town and ask for their leader, Tupelo. Once he knew who the man needed to contact, he would help him. He also now knew the phrase that would assure Tupelo that he needed to contact the Tau'ri with important information.
Jolinar was proving to be a rather large asset to the SGC and the country in general. Hell, to the entirety of Earth, for that matter. Tomorrow he would inform her of the Goa'uld in the holding cell and see what she knew of or about him. That decision made, he sat down at his laptop and proceeded to read through his email. No doubt, that would keep him occupied until it was time to dine. Tomorrow would, no doubt, take care of itself.