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The three men sat quietly in the 'Visitor's Lounge', waiting for the arrival of an Airman assigned take them to the 'briefing room' of the mysterious SGC. Already overwhelmed by the massive blast door they'd passed, following the boardwalk into the bare cavern, they'd not uttered a word of protest when they were instructed by armed guards to stop at a large counter; the modern appearance of which seemed grossly out-of-place. Nor did they protest the request to fill out secondary questionnaires. Their curiosity, however, had been piqued. Whatever they were about to see was protected by multiple layers of security.
Each of them looked around with awe as their paperwork was carefully scrutinized. Two of the men listened with more attention than the third when they'd been given instructions, along with the passes that they were to wear at all times. None of them realized that they had not been given access to the elevators themselves, a fact that would have brought objections from the leader of the group had he realized the implications of such an omission. They'd been speechless when they'd stepped into the short corridor at the back of the cave…the 'sudden' transition from dirt and rough stone to painted cement walls and tiled floors seeming all the more incongruous.
Jumping to their feet, anxious to see more of the very amazing and very secret facility, they gathered near the Airman who entered the room. Listened with growing excitement as the young man explained that they had been given clearance to the top-secret facility known as Stargate Command, which was part of Area 52, and that their 'tour' would begin once the officer assigned as their 'tour guide' had met them in the 'briefing room'. As they followed the Airman out of the room, the same thought was playing through three minds: This is it!
Glances were exchanged when they were led to the elevator at the far end of the corridor...one that had no call buttons, only a card reader. Although the men were accustomed to taking elevators, the length of the ride was indicative to just how deeply into the belly of the mountain they were going.
When they exited, they were on level eleven, apparent only due to the large black numbers painted on the wall. Their interest was all the more intense as they were taken through a security checkpoint that utilized technology the likes they'd never seen…or even heard of…before. Onto a second elevator; again, no call buttons, only the card reader, which the Airman slid his ID tag through. Again, the ride was several minutes long, making the men wonder just how deep the facility actually was. After following the young man through cement corridors that seemed to twist and turn randomly, their temporary guide led them into an open room. Near a window that spanned the width of the room was a long conference table, surrounded by leather-upholstered chairs.
They were nearly slack-jawed by the time they arrived at their destination. Instructed to wait for the officer who would serve as the liaison between them and the command of the SGC, they were left in the conference room. Two armed guards, who stood at either end of the room, prevented them from being totally alone. For just a moment the three stood staring at one another in disbelief. Whatever this place was, whatever was going on here...it was BIG. The oldest of the three was a civilian - a short man with curly dark hair and thick, dark eyebrows. He was looking around as if his head was on a swivel, trying to see everything at once.
The other two were Air Force personnel stationed at Peterson AFB. Both had training in journalism, assigned to the Public Affairs Office. They had only been briefed about the facility the day before. The number of additional non-disclosure forms they'd been required to sign, along with the 'reminder' from their commanding officer that anything they saw or heard was to be forgotten immediately, had them on edge. The secrecy involved was enough to make them both aware that whatever the SGC really was, it was important. Or at least the Pentagon believed it was important. All the extra security meant one thing: there was the possibility of running into trouble...from a journalistic standpoint. No doubt there would be multiple places that were 'off-limits' to them. Both airmen suspected that the filmmaker, their 'boss' for the duration of the 'project', wouldn't take kindly to being shut out of anything…or anywhere. Yep. Trouble. With a capital 'T'.
The civilian had been briefed fully as soon as the required background checks had been completed, for which he'd answered so many questions he was certain he had not one intimate secret left; and he'd also signed numerous legally binding non-disclosure forms. The discussion he'd had with General Maynard, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had only whet his appetite for the project. He would do his best to be objective, but he refused point-blank to put any sort of positive military spin on the documentary. He was going to get the facts, and present them as they were. Whether the brass liked it or not. Emmett Bregman had made nearly a dozen documentaries on various subjects...two which had received critical acclaim...and he prided himself on not letting anyone's personal agendas interfere with the truth. Or what he perceived as the truth.
Bregman raced to the window. Stared at the object known as a Stargate. He'd read everything in the information packet he'd been given; he knew about the device - where and when it had been discovered, and by whom; what it was constructed of, who had constructed it, what it was capable of. Reading about it could never compare to actually seeing it. "Wow! Get that camera out! You have to get this!"
One of the Airmen lowered the black case he was carrying - which had been opened, and the contents thoroughly examined at each security check point. He pulled out the camera he'd be using for the duration of the assignment. Although it wasn't his personal favorite, the Sony camera weighed a bit more than he preferred to carry, it would provide recorded images every bit as clear and sharp as the live image itself. What he was seeing through the viewfinder made this little bit of technology damned important.
"So are you getting the full thing?" the journalist demanded.
"Just about, yeah," the cameraman replied somewhat absently, concentrating on his task.
"Well, instead of zooming out, why don't you pull back a little? Get it in context, right?" he suggested, although his tone of voice indicated he wanted no argument.
The journalist watched as the cameraman continued to step back slowly. "Yeah, just keep going back." He reached out and gently pulled the man back a bit more, putting more distance between the camera and the window that looked down over a room the likes he'd never seen before in his life.
"Okay...okay. Yeah, that's good," the cameraman declared. He made certain to save the images he'd just taken, then lowered the camera slowly, his gaze still focused on the Ancient device. Bloody hell, he thought, it's all true! Everything in that report was true!
The journalist continued to stared into the 'gate room as well. "Yeah, it's amazing."
The three men were gaping at the huge monument, completely overwhelmed by the reality of what they were seeing. Lost in their wide-eyed amazement, not one of them noticed the tall, thin man who stepped out of General Hammond's office. "Yes, it is."
Startled, the three turned in unison to look at the newcomer.
The journalist looked the Air Force officer over once, narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "Yeah?"
The officer crossed the floor, offered his hand. "Colonel Tom Rundell, Cheyenne Mountain Complex Public Affairs Liaison."
"That's quite a mouthful," Bregman chuckled. "I wouldn't want to have to say that three times really fast." He took the outstretched hand and shook it enthusiastically. Nothing like a little joke or two to keep things running smoothly. "Just call me Emmett."
Okay, still a bit on the 'stiff' side. "This is my posse, here," Bregman said, motioning to the two Airman who were standing just behind him. "On camera, Dale James-"
"Tech Sergeant Dale James," the cameraman said, coming to attention.
"Airman First Class Shep Wickenhouse, sir," said the young man holding a large microphone. He also stood to attention.
"-Shep on sound," Bregman said simultaneously. He noted that his two assistants were obviously intimidated by the presence of the officer. Should have brought my own film crew, he grumbled silently. He chose for the moment to ignore the fact that the president had been insistent that he, and only he, would be given access to the secret bunker, and that the Air Force would provide the technical support he needed. The significance of that order suddenly took hold in his brain. He tossed a frowning glance at the two men before returning his attention to Rundell. During the cramped jeep ride to the mountain he'd told the two that for the duration of the project, they worked for him, and answered to him, and would do exactly what he told them. He'd thought he'd been succinct on the matter. Apparently not, he groused silently, not stopping to think that regardless of their assignment as his crew, they were still military, and still bound by those rules and regulations. That realization wouldn't set in until much later.
"Well, it's a pleasure to meet you, sir," Rundell said. "But what are you doing here?"
"What am I doing here?" Bregman blinked in confusion. "We're getting some establishing shots. The first of many, I hope, while we're waiting. In fact, we should get a shot...uh…we should get a shot of you, Colonel."
Nudged not-so-subtly by the journalist, James raised the camera to his shoulder once again.
Rundell held up his hand. "I'm sorry, but you're not authorized to begin until you've been briefed by General Hammond."
Bregman sighed. The military had briefed him numerous times. He'd spent a very uncomfortable afternoon in the presence of one General Vidrine, in the Pentagon no less. Vidrine had let it be known that he disagreed with the entire project, and was speaking to him only because the president had ordered the meeting...briefing. "I've already been briefed...uh...Tom, is it?...by the Defense Department. What's the problem? I'm cleared to shoot here." He smiled at James and Wickenhouse, noted that their smiles in return were wan at best. "Maybe...uh, maybe you guys haven't been cleared yet. Have you been cleared?"
Rundell continued to stare at the journalist.
"Sorry, what was the problem here?" Bregman asked, hoping to cause a bit of confusion, enough to be able to get on with what he'd been doing. It worked well enough most of the time, allowing him to get the shots he wanted. The cool appraising look from the colonel was proof of the fact it wasn't going to succeed in this instance.
"General Hammond is ready to see you now," Rundell replied.
"Okay," he said warily. Another freaking general. How many more will I have to listen to before I can do the job I was hired to do? He followed Rundell into the small office he'd barely noted when he'd entered the conference room.
James and Wickenhouse exchanged nervous glances. Wickenhouse sighed. "This should be fun," he said, not a little sarcastically.
Rolling his eyes, James nodded. "Oh, yeah."
"Get the feeling we're not really welcome here?" the sound technician said quietly, noting the glowering look the General had thrown in their direction through the window between his office and the briefing room.
"Yeah, this should be real fun."
Bregman glanced around the office, immediately noticed the framed photographs and diplomas on the wall. He'd have to remember to get a good shot of those. A little something personal to use as an introduction to the man known as Lieutenant General George Hammond, commanding officer of Stargate Command. His second realization was that the room was rather small. Which could only be as a result of the entire facility being crammed into what had once been a Titan Missile Silo. The man behind the desk was signing something. Rundell stood at attention beside him, just in front of the desk. The journalist shifted nervously. There was a 'no-nonsense' look to the general. And he needed this man's permission it seemed, if not approval, to carry on with his project.
"General Hammond, sir? This is Mister Bregman," Rundell said, as soon as the general had closed the folder in front of him. Rundell put the folder he'd been carrying on the desk.
"I'm very excited to be here, sir," Bregman said, grinning broadly. He offered his hand.
Hammond glanced up at Rundell, took the file, looked at Bregman for a moment, ignored the outstretched hand, then opened the folder. "You may find that we're not all quite as giddy as you are about this project, Mr. Bregman."
The journalist lowered his hand, not quite certain what to make of the intentional rebuff, and shifted from one foot to the other. "'Giddy'? Uh…I...well, I'm personally and professionally...uh...excited - I think I said 'excited' - to be here, General. I haven't been giddy since-" He broke off at the look of disinterest on the general's face. "Well, you don't want to know about that."
"No," Hammond said bluntly.
"No," Bregman repeated somewhat uneasily.
"I just want to be as clear as I can, up front," the general explained.
"Sure," was the nervous response.
"Your presence is highly unorthodox, and I will not let it threaten the security of any ongoing missions or the safety of my people," Hammond said, the tone of his voice holding a warning.
Bregman grinned once again and held open his suit jacket. "Well, I've already been frisked three times. We can make it a fourth time. You can do it personally, get to know each other a little better, General, if you want-" The frown that knit the general's brow let him know that his sardonic sense of humor wasn't going to win over the military man. "I'm sorry."
"I consider it my responsibility to protect my people's interests," Hammond said.
"I understand that," Bregman nodded.
"And quite frankly, I feel it's appropriate to warn you that no one around here wants to be part of your little reality show," Hammond continued.
"Oh, I see." Don't want anyone to document what you and the people here are doing, huh? Bregman straightened his shoulders, lifted his chin slightly. "You know, General, I think you're probably well aware that there were film cameras on the beaches of Normandy decades before "Survivor" debuted on CBS. And, personally, I think it's an outrageous oversight that the Stargate Program hasn't been chronicled up to this point."
"That's because it's top secret," Hammond replied. "Only a handful of people will see anything you shoot.
"So far, General, so far," Bregman countered coolly. "Eventually, inevitably, this program is going to be disclosed to the American people…and to the whole world…and I'd like to think that this little film that we're doing here might in some small way provide insight into what's really been going on here for the last six years."
"What's really been going on?" Hammond asked with a smile, although it held no warmth.
Likewise, Bregman's chuckle held no mirth. "You know what, General? I respect what you're doing here. I can even respect that you want me out of here. But the President of the United States invited me to do this."
Hammond pointed to the phone on his desk. "You see that red phone? You wouldn't be here if he hadn't."
"Well, then, I hope I can expect the full cooperation of you and your personnel," Bregman said challengingly.
"To the letter of these orders," Hammond confirmed, tapping the folder with one finger.
"To the letter. I see. I see. Thank you." 'To the letter.' Oh, this is going to be a pain-in-the-ass. Why did I agree to this?
"You have high expectations to meet." Hammond doubted that this...journalist...was anywhere near the caliber of the men who had been alongside the troops in World War II. In fact, he personally thought the man resembled a small weasel. He wasn't fond of weasels.
Bregman studied the general for a moment. Then, hands in the pockets of his trousers, he walked stiffly back into the briefing room.
Rundell stood to attention once again. "General."
Hammond watched as the liaison officer followed the journalist. Heaved a sigh as he re-read the orders that had arrived with Rundell. A quiet tap on the door had him looking toward the briefing room, before realizing it was coming from the door that led into the corridor. His smile was automatic. "Come on in, Casey."
She peeked around the door, and frowned at the strangers in the briefing room. "They're here?"
"Yes," Hammond sighed.
Casey nodded. "Well, I just wanted to tell you that we're going to do our best to keep that guy away from Janet. I know she'd never do anything intentionally to put any of us at risk, but..."
Part of the seer's recent 'download' had revealed that the CMO was a potential risk to SG-1...in the form of letting slip the secret of their immortality. A secret the medical doctor and he shared with the team. It had been decided that the petite doctor would be kept as far away from the cameras as possible, for as long as possible. And that any contact between her and the visitors would be chaperoned. Not that Doctor Fraiser was aware of any of those plans. Because it had also been decided that Janet would be upset to learn of her potential betrayal, and that such knowledge would lead her to behave out of character. That was something they couldn't risk while the journalist was around, and apt to hear comments about any abnormalities in the daily routines of the mountain. "I understand. Tell General O'Neill I fully approve of whatever methods he deems necessary to protect the SGC, and just as importantly, our little-" He broke off, glanced into the briefing room. "Our little secret."
"Yes, sir." Casey smiled. "It will only be for a day or so. And who knows, this guy might actually produce something worthy of the men and women of the SGC."
Hammond snorted. "Don't hold your breath," he muttered, glancing once again at the journalist who was still in the briefing room. It appeared the cameraman was already filming the Stargate.
"Never do," Casey quipped. She gave a smart salute, then disappeared from the doorway...having never actually stepped into the room.
With a chuckle and a shake of his head, Hammond went back to work on the stack of folders that required his attention. Doing his best to push aside the fact that there was a camera crew in the SGC.
A A A A A A
Casey slid into Daniel's office. "I was right. They're here. Jack, the general said he fully approves...how did he put that?" She paused, and frowned slightly. "Oh, yeah. He 'fully approves of whatever methods you deem necessary to protect the SGC and our little secret'."
"Good to know," Jack acknowledged.
"I still say we should tell Janet," Daniel grumbled.
"Tell her that she's a security risk?" Casey asked. "Daniel, that would crush her!"
"She's an Air Force officer, Radar," Jack said. He happened to agree with Daniel on the issue. And he so wasn't going to even think about that. He and Daniel rarely agreed on anything! Whenever they agreed so wholeheartedly, it usually meant that something had gone completely tits up, and the shit was about to hit the fan. Considering the circumstances, that was not a comfortable thought. "She'll understand the need to avoid the film crew if she's a potential risk."
"But if she's concerned about saying the wrong thing, it will be on her mind," Sam pointed out. "Which would make any slip that much more likely."
"Exactly!" Casey nodded. "All we have to do is make certain that the camera crew and that journalist aren't able to be alone with her."
"She'll figure out something is up," Daniel argued.
"We'll tell her after the circus leaves town," Casey replied. "She'll totally understand."
Exchanging glances that conveyed their agreement regarding their disagreement, Daniel and Jack both nodded, albeit hesitantly.
Casey jumped onto the work table and settled cross-legged. And for what felt like the bajillionth time, tried once again to penetrate the darkness that surrounded...whoever was in that inky cloud. The man...or woman...who was in danger. Struggling, desperate to find a way through that darkness, she began tugging her full lower-lip between her teeth. "I still can't see it!" she sighed.
"Casey-" Daniel started.
"Daniel, someone in this mountain is in danger! I'm the freaking SGC seer! It's my job to warn people of potential trouble! But I can't...if I can't see it, how can I warn...whoever it is?" Her husband wasn't the only one to see the distress in her eyes. She sighed. "I just...I can't see it."
Your heart is breaking over that fact, isn't it, Angel? "Don't force it," Daniel said calmly. Although he was probably as anxious to help her, to ease her anguish, as she was to find the information she wanted.
"Three days! It's been three days!" Casey exclaimed, the frustration she was feeling creeping into her voice.
"Then whatever danger is out there isn't immediate," was the quiet reply.
Sam, who was standing closest to the seer, put a comforting hand on Casey's slender shoulder. "Daniel's right, Casey. Just give it time. You'll get the details."
"Hopefully before we need them," Casey grumped.
"Attention all personnel."
Five pairs of eyes went automatically to the speaker on the wall.
"The Monday morning briefing will commence in ten minutes. SGC personnel only. Repeat - the Monday morning briefing will commence in ten minutes. SGC personnel only."
Casey smirked slightly. "That's sure to make that documentary group pissy."
"Who cares?" Jack shrugged. "The memo Hammond got said that the crew was going to document what the Stargate Program is about. Nothing was mentioned about letting them in on classified meetings and briefings."
"True," Sam nodded.
"Let's go," Daniel said, grabbing the folder that held his notes. "I heard that Felger has a couple of experiments to report on."
"Oh, great," Jack groused. "This is going to go into extra innings."
"Is that not a reference to baseball, O'Neill?" Teal'c asked, from where he stood near the doorway.
"It is, Teal'c. Means that this meeting will be longer than usual," Jack replied.
"Indeed. If Doctors Coombs and Lee also have reports to give, I believe that multiple innings will occur."
Casey giggled. "That's for certain."
"If that's the case, no napping," Sam warned her husband.
"But-" Jack began to protest.
"Well, I dunno, Sam. That's the only way he gets to spend time with those Furry Furling babes with the 'nice boobs'," Casey grinned.
Daniel chuckled. "Good point."
Jack glared first at the archaeologist, then at the two women who were standing side by side, grinning at him. It seemed that Radar wasn't ever going to let him live down that particular episode. What a freaking nightmare! They have no idea what a nightmare it was! "Har-dee-har-har. Heartless. The lot of you are absolutely heartless!"
"So you keep telling us," Casey grinned. "Let's go. I want good seats." She laced her fingers with those of her Husband when he held his hand toward her.
"Yep. The back two rows fill up quick," Jack said. The team strolled toward the elevator together.
A A A A A A
Emmett frowned. "Hear that? Did you hear that? We should be in there, filming this meeting!"
"Mr. Bregman-" Rundell started.
"Emmett....call me Emmett," the journalist said, almost absently.
"Maybe you could use the time to get a few 'establishing shots'," the liaison officer suggested, already turning to lead the camera crew toward the corridor.
Peering through the window into the general's office, (which he noted peripherally was marked with some sort of a chart or map,) it was obvious that the occupant had left. "Grab that camera. We'll get some shots in here," Emmett said excitedly. "I want close-ups of all those photos on the wall...and the diplomas. Then a nice pan to take in the content of the shelves. We'll use these things to get to know General Hammond just a bit better."
The liaison officer followed on the heels of the journalist. "I don't think you should be in here," Rundell protested, if a bit weakly.
"Relax, Tom. We're just getting those establishing shots," Emmett replied.
With a look of nervous apprehension on his face, Rundell watched as the cameraman filmed everything Bregman pointed to. He could only hope he wouldn't receive an official reprimand over this!
A A A A A A
Casey led SG-1 into the large room that served as the briefing room for meetings that included the entire roster of SGC personnel. Rolled her eyes to find that four of the SG-teams on base were already present. "Scoot over, Ferretti," she said, poking the Marine in the shoulder with her index finger.
"Shoulda got here sooner, Mrs. J," Ferretti grinned, making a show of settling more comfortably into his chair. His team, and the men of SG-13, which included archaeologist Cam Balinsky, were already filling the chairs of the back row.
"The announcement just went out!" Casey exclaimed. She narrowed her eyes at Cam. "Just how did you get down here so fast?"
Cam chuckled. "I was with the team, working out."
Forced to move closer to the front of the room, the members of SG-1 settled into folding chairs. Jack leaned in front of Sam to look at the slender blonde seer. "Radar, next time try getting a head's up about these things before the official announcement."
"No shit!" the seer grumped. "I'll talk to Miss Eloise about it," she added, to the amusement of the men and women sitting behind her.
The room filled up with SG teams and scientists from every recognized department, as well as several security SF's and half a dozen military police officers. The latter were a surprise to the rest of the group.
General Hammond hurried in; took time to note that those he'd requested attend had indeed arrived. Just before he closed the door, he caught a glimpse of Emmett Bregman. It looked as if the man were heading directly for him. "Son, make certain we're not disturbed," he said to the Airman he'd ordered to stand guard at the door.
With a firm shove, the general shut the door, then walked toward the front of the room. By the time he reached the lectern, silence prevailed. "Good morning, people. We're running late today because of the arrival of a journalist and a camera crew. President Hayes has determined that a documentary on the Stargate, the Stargate Program, and our current status, is in order. We are to answer all questions, as long as doing so will not reveal classified information. You do not have to respond to questions of a personal nature. If you are asked your opinions on the program, you may answer if you so desire. There will be no official repercussions should you do so."
Murmurs of disbelief and not a bit of irritation, as well as the sounds of bodies shifting in their seats, filled the air.
"I am ordering guards on all areas that contain sensitive material. If you see Mr. Bregman and his group with Colonel Rundell, the liaison officer, in any areas deemed 'off-limits', I want to be notified immediately," the general continued.
Heads moved up and down in understanding.
"Gentlemen," Hammond said, addressing the MPs, "Levels nineteen, twenty, and twenty-one will be off-limits to Mr. Bregman and his 'crew' unless he is escorted by the head of those departments. I'd appreciate him not getting farther than the first corridor."
"Yes, sir," the MP in charge replied.
"You'd better head up there now," Hammond sighed. Before the little weasel sneaks up there and starts poking around. The last thing I need is for him to activate some alien device and cause a complete lock-down.
With sharp salutes, the MPs slipped out the door, heading to the three most 'sensitive' levels.
"Mr. Bregman has already requested interviews with the head of each scientific department. These are to be scheduled as convenient. For us, not him," Hammond added, not quite smiling.
Cam tapped Daniel's shoulder. "I know you're busy with that translation, I could handle this guy if you want," he whispered.
"That would be great," Daniel whispered gratefully. "I'll owe you."
"I'll collect, too!" Cam promised with a grin.
"General O'Neill, do you have the list of missions for this week?" Hammond asked.
"Right here, sir," Jack said, rising to his feet and pulling a folded piece of paper from his pocket. He stepped up to the lectern. "We have six MALP reports this week. Radar has gone over them, and it looks as if three are immediate goes. Those teams will head out today. Three we've put in the stack to look at later. "Jeff, you and your team will head out to P3X 531. Standard recon. UAV located some ruins. Details will be given during your briefing."
Colonel Jeffrey Barnes, commander of SG-8, nodded his head. Jotted the planet designation on his notepad.
"Lou, you'll be taking 3 out to P3X 499. Possible meet-and-greet, if the MALP images and Radar are to be believed," Jack said, looking at Ferretti.
"Mrs. J ain't been wrong yet," Ferretti responded. He also took note of the designation for the planet to which he would lead his team.
"Radar will sit in on the briefing," Jack added.
Ferretti nodded his understanding.
"Dix, you and 13 will also be doing a standard recon, on P3X 666," Jack said
"Now that just sounds wrong," Colonel Dave Dixon said. Like the others, he wrote down the letters and numbers that designated the planet. "Isn't that like the devil's number or something?"
"Pure myth," Cam grinned.
"Hope so," Dix sighed.
"That's it for the immediate missions." Jack turned to Hammond. "General."
"Thank you, General O'Neill. I believe Doctor Felger has a report."
Felger rose to his feet. Tripped over the boots of one of the SF's standing next to the wall as he made his way to the front of the room. Managed to bang his elbow on Sergeant Sonny Botcelli's head as he tried to regain his balance. The SG-15 team member rubbed the growing lump irritably.
"Felger, you're a menace," a voice complained.
"As you were," Hammond said. Not fully disagreeing with the sentiment as he watched Felger stagger and lurch his way past those standing against the wall..
When he'd finally managed to reach the lectern, Felger put a sheaf of notes on the surface in front of him. "We've been working with four artifacts that were located on four different planets," he began, wisely foregoing the somewhat lengthy introduction he'd prepared regarding the planets. "Each artifact seems to have the same writing on them, signifying that the creators of these devices were the same people. Well, we theorize that anyway," the scientist added hurriedly. "I've been working with two of the devices. They seem to be like a matched set, although both are able to work independently of the other...so far." Launching into his report, the man never noticed how many people drifted to sleep as he spoke at length.
Doctor Coombs had his own observations to add regarding the device he'd been working on, one of the four that had been retrieved by SG-14. Doctor Lee had been experimenting with one of the devices as well, and gave his report.
It was nearly an hour and a half later when Colonel Reynolds gave his report, and read Jack's typed page about the current status of the two ships that continued to monitor the space around planet Earth, as well as sharing news that two more ships were being built; construction on each promising that they'd join the Prometheus and Daedalus no later than the end of the calendar year. The grateful listeners noted that the colonel gave the reports in less than five minutes. Sam and Daniel hurried through their own notes, realizing that patience for the briefing...which had, as Jack predicted, gone into 'overtime'...was fast running out.
General Hammond glanced at his notes, and then his watch. "Colonel Dixon, you and your team report to the briefing room immediately. The rest of you, dismissed."
A A A A A A
Bregman stared at the closed door, then turned to Rundell who, it seemed…and to his dismay…was going to be his shadow for the duration of his visit. "What's going on in there?"
"Routine mission briefings," Rundell replied easily.
"If they're so routine, why can't we tape it?" Bregman demanded.
"Because they're also classified."
The journalist heaved a sigh of frustration. "I have the clearance!"
"No, Mr. Bregman, you do not. You've been cleared by the Secret Service to do the job the President of the United States hired you to do. You've been cleared by the Pentagon and base security to be in this facility, and to review certain classified documents. That does not automatically give you clearance for classified information pertaining to ongoing missions," Rundell explained.
"How can I-" He broke off when six MPs and as many SF's wearing security badges came out of the room where the briefing was being held. He stretched to see into the room, but could only see a few people sitting in folding chairs. Watched the security group head directly for the elevator.
"How can you…what, Mr. Bregman?" Rundell asked, reaching out and physically turning the journalist to face him.
"How can I document what goes on around here if I'm shut out?" Bregman turned to the cameraman. "Let's head up to the science level...um..."
"Level nineteen," Rundell offered.
Bregman frowned at the Air Force liaison. "Yeah, nineteen. Let's see if we can find anything of value there."
"I have a list of personnel who have been cleared to give interviews," Rundell said, opening the leather folder he carried, and pulling a single sheet of paper from the contents.
Bregman looked at the list. "Well, it's a start. I suppose the brass think that just interviewing these people is all I need to do."
"How better to get a perspective on what the SGC is about?" Rundell asked.
"Right," Bregman said irritably. "Let's go."
Two security guards were standing beside the elevator when the camera crew stepped onto level nineteen. Bregman immediately recognized them as part of the group that had just left the briefing.
"I'm sorry, sir," one of the guards said apologetically. "Until Colonel Carter is present, you're not allowed access to this level."
Bregman tossed his hands into the air. "How am I supposed to do a documentary about this place if I can't even see it? Who gave this order? Hammond? Maybe I should call the president. You know, of the United States? The Man, himself? The man who hired me to do this job? We'll see what he has to say about this!"
The guards remained impassive as the journalist ranted.
Bregman paused, watching as two Airmen pushed a cart down the intersecting corridor. On top of the cart was a sphere, with wires protruding from several 'spikes' on the exterior. It has to be an alien device, he thought excitedly. "What's that?"
The two security guards remained mute.
"Maybe it's just my opinion," Rundell said, ignoring the device and the question, "but it seems to me that throughout history-"
Opening his briefcase, Bregman fumbled slightly as he pulled out a notebook. He flipped the book open and scribbled a few words.
"-the best documentaries have taken a…you know…cinema verité approach…"
"Yeah, yeah, cinema verité," Bregman muttered.
"…letting the subject tell its own story," Rundell concluded.
"Yeah, tell you what, Tom?…Tom…I think that that's probably a very interesting point of view, and…uh…mostly if not totally, crap; especially in a situation like this. You know, if this story was going to tell itself…you know what? Then there'd be Stargate updates on the nightly news! You do have a point…you have a point in the sense that we probably should start with a soft approach and make people feel comfortable, gain their trust. You know what? We'd be here a year! These soldiers conceal things for a living!"
"Airmen, sir. We're the United States Air Force," Rundell corrected.
"These 'airmen' conceal things for a living. And the only way that I'm going to get anything out of these people is not by the-" Bregman broke off and watched open-mouthed as another device was carried down the corridor to a different lab. "Look at that! That's…that's-" He stopped short. Obviously this liaison officer wasn't about to tell him anything that hadn't already been 'predigested' by either the Pentagon or General Hammond. He shook himself mentally. "Uh…what…by the uh…what'd you say?…The 'cinema verité approach. It's going to be by the…by the 'wringing it out of them' approach. That's the only way I'm going to-"
"Look, Mister Bregman," Rundell said, cutting off the smaller man's rant, "as far as I'm concerned, you are here strictly to document what's going on."
"I know," Bregman sighed. He shook himself mentally, and squared his shoulders. "That's not going to happen if I don't get to actually film anything other than office walls and bric-a-brac." There was a hint of defiance in his voice.
Rundell frowned slightly, then checked his own notebook. "According to my notes, the archaeological department is an area we can access."
"And if there are armed guards on that level?" Bregman challenged.
"Then we'll go to the commissary for coffee, and wait for the department heads to be available," Rundell shrugged. While his stance remained relaxed, his face had shuttered completely. "So, archaeological department?"
"Fine," Bregman said wearily. He'd just started, and he was already tired. This project was going to exhaust him, especially if he were forced to fight for every shot, every bit of information. "We'll go there. Where is it?"
"Level eighteen," Rundell replied.
Bregman whirled around and stared at the elevator doors, his hand already reaching out for a call button that wasn't there. He said nothing as Colonel Rundell slid his ID badge through the card reader.
A A A A A A
Casey led the team out of the briefing room. "We need a plan."
Jack looked at the slender seer. "Okay. Why?"
"To keep Janet from being cornered by this guy. And to be honest, I'm not so sure I want to talk to him. I mean, what if he asks embarrassing questions?"
"If he does, I'll interview his ass," Daniel grumbled.
Jack, Sam, and Teal'c snickered softly. "I don't think he'll ask personal questions, Casey," Sam said. "He's here to document the SGC."
She sighed. "I know. It's just…all I can see is that Janet is a threat to our secret, and that someone is in danger, and I can't figure that out and I think it's because that journalist is here turning everything upside down."
Daniel draped his arm around his Wife's shoulders. No doubt this Bregman was a convenient scapegoat for her frustration. "You'll get it, Angel. Don't force it."
"Don't force it?" She stopped walking, looked up into the face of the man she loved, the man who knew her better than she knew herself, it seemed. "Daniel, someone in the SGC is in danger! I'm the damned SGC seer! I should be seeing something! Not just that damned dark…spot! I know there's a person in the darkness, I just can't see who it is! What good am I if I can't do any better than that?"
The anguish-filled words hadn't yet faded when their teammates moved closer, surrounding the couple who stood staring at one another.
"Casey, you see what you see. You have no control over that. No one expects you to be omnipotent," Daniel said gently.
Tears filled her eyes. "Whoever it is…if he or she gets hurt, it will be my fault!"
"How in the world do you figure that?" Jack demanded.
Casey rolled her eyes with frustration. "Seer, Jack. I'm a seer. Except…I'm not seeing anything. Or…not seeing enough."
"Radar, Daniel is right. You aren't omnipotent. We just tell everyone to be extra careful."
Sam nodded her agreement. "Maybe that's why you can't see who it is. Because a general 'be careful' warning is all that's needed."
Shaking her head in disagreement, Casey wrapped her arms around her waist. "Thanks…but I know that's not it. If it were, then I'd see that. At least, I think I would."
"You said that you see the darkness near Janet?" Daniel asked.
She nodded. "Near her, but not around her."
"So, that would mean that someone on the med level is in danger," Sam mused.
"What if it's as simple as someone on the med level just getting sick or something?" Jack asked.
Again the blonde head moved back and forth in dissent.
Wreathing her face with his hands, Daniel offered a smile. "Don't try to force it," he repeated. "The fact that you're fixated on this is probably part of the problem."
Allowing herself to take comfort from his words, she took the warmth and the love that she saw in his blue eyes and wrapped it around her weary heart…a gauntlet against her frustrations and fears, Casey sighed. "Right."
"Coffee?" Jack asked.
"Sounds good to me," Casey replied. "I wonder if there are any muffins left."
"I wonder what kind of pie they have today," Jack mused.
Daniel chuckled. "Let's go find out."
A A A A A A
When the doors opened on level eighteen, the first thing Bregman noted was the obvious lack of security guards. The second was that a man was just stepping through one of the doors further down the corridor. "You!" he called loudly, pointing at the man.
Doctor Craig Nichols looked around, his eyes narrowing slightly when he located the owner of the voice that had shouted excitedly at him. He didn't need an introduction to know he was looking at the journalist that Daniel had informed them would be arriving. The presence of the cameraman and soundman verified that. With a second glance, he recognized Bregman. The journalist had done an exposé on 'scientific myths', a piece that had been half-truths, a few bold lies, and mostly sensationalism. His friend and colleague at MIT had been humiliated on camera by Bregman's antics.
"I'm Emmett Bregman, and I've been hired...by the President of the United States...to do a documentary on the SGC," Bregman said, walking quickly toward the man, hand extended.
"I know who you are," Doctor Nichols replied coldly.
"Oh, a fan?" Bregman looked over his shoulder to grin at his 'posse'.
"Hardly." The archaeologist turned on his heel and headed toward the office he shared with Doctors Meyer, Izzet, and Warnke.
"Wait! I'd like to talk to you about your work here," Bregman said, hurrying after the scientist, motioning furiously with his hand, indicating he wanted his crew to follow.
"So that you can twist the facts to meet your agenda? To warp everything we're trying to accomplish here in such a way as to infuriate the public?" Nichols hissed.
"Wha...huh? No! No, no, nothing like that," Bregman stammered slightly.
"What the men and women, particularly those assigned to SG teams, do here is nothing short of extraordinary, heroic, and damned near miraculous! Not that you'd appreciate that," Nichols said.
"I think we have a misunderstanding here," Bregman said. "I'm here to document what the SGC is about. To show the world what goes on in this secret bunker."
"Uh huh," Nichols harrumphed. "Leave me out of it."
"I have no desire to have anything I say taken out of context and used against me, or my colleagues."
"I would never do that!" Bregman insisted.
"Why not? You have before." With a look of pure disdain, Nichols slammed the door of the office, nearly hitting the journalist in the face.
"Not a fan," Rundell said quietly.
Bregman glared for a second. "Okay, let's take a look in these rooms." Looking at the signs beside each door, the short man pointed excitedly. "This is Doctor Daniel Jackson's office! He put out a theory several years ago, that the pyramids were much older than the Egyptian Dynasties, and that they'd been built as landing pads..." his voice trailed off as his eyes widened, "for alien spacecraft," he finished softly. "Wow."
"He had it figured out before he got here?" Wickenhouse asked, looking around the room. Lots of artifacts...he assumed they were things found on other planets...made the place look like a museum.
"So it would seem," Bregman murmured. He needed to do further research on the 'disgraced' archaeologist. He examined the room carefully. "Two desks."
"I believe one of the desks is where Doctor Jackson's wife works," Rundell said.
"Oh, yeah. The 'seer'," Bregman scoffed. Everyone could hear the quotes around the word. He slid into the chair that just happened to be where Casey spent the majority of her time when she and Daniel were in the office. He moved the mouse on the desk in the hopes of finding something on the computer. He did...although he was disappointed. It was a spread sheet for Native American gods and goddesses. There were half a dozen entries, each with several detailed myths.
"I believe you should leave that alone," the liaison officer said firmly. He reached out and took Bregman by the arm, forcing the shorter man to his feet.
"Afraid I'll find something?" Bregman demanded, raising his chin slightly.
"Afraid I'll be held responsible if you violate the contract you signed before being allowed down here, and being forced to share the same cell with you in Leavenworth," Rundell replied drolly.
Bregman paled slightly. "I know what I signed. I'm not going to tell anyone what I find."
"Oh, I'm quite sure of that," Rundell said drolly. "Why don't we just concentrate on getting those 'establishing' shots. When the briefing has concluded, I'll see about setting up interviews with the personnel."
"Interviews...right," Bregman sighed. He waved a hand. "Get some good shots of this room."
James lifted the camera to his shoulder, and began to pan the room, zooming in on several of the larger artifacts.
Bregman paused beside Daniel's desk. Picked up two of the photographs. Smiled when he read the inscription on one of the couple standing in the desert somewhere, arms around one another.
"Got it," James announced a few minutes later.
"Okay, let's see what else we can find," Bregman said. "Surely there's someone around here we can talk to."
Doctor Nichols watched from the doorway as the journalist and his crew wandered toward the storage rooms. He had no doubt that whatever Bregman created, the finished product would be nothing more than a distorted view of the SGC. He had to warn Daniel about this man!
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