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Just as he had rescinded the order having him thrown off the base, General Hammond had seen to it that Bregman had an ID tag that would allow him access to the elevators, and was allowing him to 'roam at will'. For his part, the filmmaker was trying to stay out of everyone's way, catching interviews with those he felt were important as he could.
After watching the tape that Daniel Jackson had recorded on the mission that…Bregman took a deep breath. Then knocked on the door of the office and stuck his head into the room. The only light on was the lamp on Doctor Jackson's desk. He was turning to leave when he heard Daniel's voice.
"Oh." Bregman looked around. There were so many shadows in the room it was impossible to know exactly where the archaeologist was. 'I was told you were here, Doctor Jackson."
"Yep." He'd just had to tell Jonas, who'd been out on a mission with SG-12, that Cam had been killed. As a result, he'd relived that afternoon all over again. The pain of the loss was still sharp. The wound still too fresh to be poked without causing agony. To prevent Casey from seeing him…to keep her from crying…again…today, he'd opted to hide away until he could corral his thoughts and emotions.
"I…uh…I just came by to…uh…give this back to you. I'm not gonna use it," Bregman said quietly, laying the tape down gently on the edge of the work table.
"Wait." Daniel rose from his 'hiding place', between the file cabinet and the wall. He walked toward the table, his eyes on the tape. He pushed the memories of that awful afternoon from his mind.
Bregman stood silently, his hands in the pockets of his trousers.
"The first time Cam learned about the Stargate was in this room," Daniel said, a small smile on his face. "He called me a damned liar. Then I took him down to meet General Hammond, and to sign about a hundred non-disclosure forms, each one more detailed and binding than the last. He told me later-" Daniel paused, then pushed up his glasses. "He told me later that when he realized that my theory had been correct, that he had seen proof that it was, he wanted to find the naysayers, and tell them that they were wrong. I-" Daniel swallowed, then cleared his throat. "Up to that point in time, the only one who really knew that my theory was…correct…was Catherine Langford; and she wasn't interested in it as much as she was the fact that I could see beyond the accepted theories of staid academia. Cam…Cam was the first person who wanted to stand up for me. Would have if not for all those non-disclosure forms."
Bregman remained quiet, knowing that Daniel needed to talk…needed to say something. He was patient enough to give the archaeologist the time necessary.
"When he was first assigned to SG-13, for the first six months or so, they pulled all the 'easy' missions. Even went back to a couple of places where teams had already visited," Daniel continued. "He asked me if it was because he was a civilian…he was worried that the guys would resent him if they had all the 'milk runs', as he called them. I told him that it wasn't. He's…" Daniel's voice broke. He cleared his throat, then continued. "Cam was one of the best in the field. I could trust him to find everything we needed. If I had a list of what I wanted from a planet already visited by a team, and 13 pulled the 'call-back' mission, Cam made sure I got every photo, every bit of recording that I wanted. He had most of it translated before they came back to base."
Bregman felt tears forming in his eyes.
"The first time the team ran into trouble, Cam came back white as a sheet. Told me he wasn't cut out to be a soldier. The second time the team ran into trouble, it was a Jaffa patrol on a planet that we thought had been abandoned by the Goa'uld for centuries. SG-1 was one of the teams chosen to go in for the rescue. When we got there, the Jaffa had 13 pinned down. We managed to divert their attention long enough for the guys to sneak around to our position." Daniel looked over at Bregman. "I was firing my P90 toward a group of Jaffa to my right. Suddenly, I get tackled, and Cam fires off to my left. He took out the Jaffa who was trying to out-flank us. He saved my life that day. What Cam did out there the other day…it wasn't anything that he hadn't already done before." Daniel picked up the tape, and walked to where Bregman waited. "I've been thinking about what you said about that photographer…Kristofsky. I think this shows what Cam Balinsky was all about."
"Me, too," Bregman replied, more than a little surprised - at both Doctor Jackson's change of heart and his own understanding of the man Cameron Balinsky had been.
"He was an archaeologist by training. He was a hell of a lot more than that. He was a good man. A man who was willing to do whatever it took to protect his friends." Daniel held the journalist's gaze. "I want other people to know that about him." He offered the tape to Bregman.
Bregman rubbed his eyes with one hand, nodded his understanding, and accepted the tape. He gave another nod, and quietly turned to leave the room.
"You're a damned good man, Cam Balinsky," Daniel said softly, looking around the room, hoping that somehow, his friend could hear him.
Bregman paused, having heard the quietly spoken comment. "Amen," he whispered.
When he stepped into the elevator, Bregman paused before punching the number twenty-four. He'd heard about the Memorial Room, where those who worked within the concrete walls of the SGC could pay tribute to the fallen heroes of the SGC. He pressed twenty-four. In spite of the fact that he'd only known the man for a few hours, had only spent an hour or so with him, Doctor Cameron Balinsky had become a friend. He wanted…no, he needed…to pay his respects.
The lights were on when he approached the room. Bregman immediately decided if there were others in the Memorial room, he'd come back later. He needed to be alone to say goodbye. He peeked around the door. The room was empty. Nearly a dozen votive candles were burning.
He looked at the pictures, read the notes that surrounded each one. Smiled at the memories those brief sentences represented. When he turned to look at the far wall, Bregman felt his breath catch in his throat, at the same time a lump began to form there.
The picture of Cam Balinsky was one that had been taken with his team. He was grinning from ear to ear, his arms around two men who were also smiling. Pinned beneath the picture was a poem. The handwriting was delicate. He looked at the signature. Casey Jackson. Bregman read the words out loud.
"Fly with the angels…play among the stars.
Scholar, student, teacher, soldier…friend.
The flower of your heart bloomed too briefly
The memory of the beauty will linger long in our hearts.
Fly with the angels…play among the stars.
Scholar, student, teacher, soldier…friend.
Generous of spirit, brave of heart…
Willing to make sacrifices that no one would have asked of you.
Fly with the angels…play among the stars.
Scholar, student, teacher, soldier…friend
Spread your wings…soar…fly…a new star."
Bregman felt tears forming in his eyes. He rubbed them roughly. "Fly with the Angels," he whispered.
A A A A A A
The 'gate room was crowded when Bregman slipped in, trying to remain unnoticed by those who had gathered to say a final farewell to their fallen comrade. He did his best not to gasp out loud when he realized the Stargate was 'open'. The shimmering blue event horizon was hypnotic, and he stared for several long minutes. When one of the scientists next to him coughed quietly, he shook himself mentally, and looked around the room.
The surviving team members of SG-13 were in their dress uniforms, standing stiffly in front of the ramp. One of the men leaned heavily on a cane. Their faces seemed made of stone, the glistening of tears in their eyes the only visible signs of their emotions. To the left of the ramp General Hammond, General O'Neill, Colonel Carter, and Colonel Reynolds, also wearing dress uniforms, stood at attention. To the right, Doctor Jackson and his wife, along with the others who were assigned to the 'Archaeological Department' stood together. They were all wearing black. He noted that although her cheeks were pale, the slender seer seemed to have come to terms with what had happened - there wasn't the frantic look that had been in her eyes, on her face, the day…the day of the mission…when she'd raced out of her husband's office.
It seemed that every SG team on the base was in attendance, standing in rows in the front of the room, all of them wearing uniforms donned only for inspections and 'special' occasions. Such as a memorial service.
SG-3, with whom Cam had worked on occasion, had been given the duty of serving as color guard. The men walked into the room slowly, in perfect step. Ferretti was carrying his rifle, holding it in front of him. Behind him, Lieutenant Driscoll carried the Stars and Stripes. Airman James was behind the lieutenant, carrying the SGC flag. Sergeant Willy Lopez carried his rifle, holding it stiffly as he marched along.
From the door on the opposite side of the room came the honor guard. SG-12…who had been on a mission during the time that the SGC had been 'invaded' by the film crew and had seen SG-13's mission go totally FUBAR…had been selected for the duty. Major Anderson and Lieutenant Baker led the way, the major carrying another US flag, and the lieutenant carrying the Colorado State flag. Behind them, Jonas Quinn carried a large wreath, followed by Sergeants Childers and Dobson, who carried rifles.
When the color guard reached the ramp, the two flags were put into place, one on each side of the ramp. The four men lined up behind the lectern that waited alone, several feet from the bottom of the ramp. When the honor guard was in place, the state flag was set, the wreath carefully settled onto the stand that waited for it. As soon as it was secure, Jonas joined his colleagues from level eighteen.
The four men carrying rifles assumed positions facing one another. The other four began to carefully fold the second American flag, taking care that it never touched the floor.
General Hammond stepped up to the lectern. "It's never an easy thing, to say goodbye to a colleague, a friend." His eyes moved over the gathered airmen and civilians. Narrowed slightly when he saw Emmett Bregman in the corner. "Those of us who have sworn our lives to our country understand that the sacrifice might be asked of us. Not everyone who works here at the SGC, however, is military. Yet, those who have chosen to join us here at Stargate Command have willingly taken the same oath, if not formally, then by the very act of being here, and going through the Stargate. We've gathered to bid farewell to one of our own. Doctor Cameron Balinsky. Archaeologist, and member of SG-13." He paused for a moment. "Colonel Dixon."
Dixon stepped up to the podium, and stared at the wooden top for several seconds. He swallowed half a dozen times, then looked up at the faces waiting expectantly. "Doctor Balinsky could be a real pain-in-the-ass when he was determined to study some falling down old temple, or examine the ruins of some city that fell down before our ancestors dropped out of the trees. But he never shirked his duties. He never complained. He was-" Dixon swallowed again. "He was a damned good man."
When Dixon stepped back to stand at attention with his team once again, Daniel took his place behind the lectern.
Bregman leaned forward slightly.
"Cam Balinsky was part of the Archaeological Department," Daniel said quietly. "When Major Richards was reassigned, Cam and I were the Archaeological Department." He gave a sad smile. "I'll never forget the day he was assigned to SG-13. He came running into my office, out of breath, so excited he couldn't even form a coherent sentence. When he'd calmed down enough to tell me about his assignment, he looked at me, and said, 'Look at us, Daniel. We're Indiana Jones come to life'."
Smiles lit on faces, and chuckles filled the air.
"We worked a lot of long hours together. We didn't mind, because we were part of something 'big'. Something so absolutely mind-blowing that it was impossible to fully comprehend what we were seeing…what we were doing. His expertise helped us to decipher the scrolls that were hidden by the Tok'ra, that tell about the slave rebellion, and how the Goa'uld Empire came to be. His expertise helped us to decode the clues that led us to the pieces of an Ancient weapon so powerful that we don't dare let it fall into the hands of anyone who doesn't appreciate the danger. He helped make each day here just a little brighter."
Casey stepped forward, placed a white rose on top of the wreath. She accepted the folded flag from Major Anderson, cradling it in her arms before joining Daniel at the lectern. "When Cam was teaching me to recognize and read Sumerian, he said the easiest way to learn was to take something 'modern', and put it in the ancient language. I learned Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star in Sumerian. The words to the theme song for the TV show Friends. And then," she ducked her head to wipe away a tear, although she was smiling when she looked back up. "Then he brought in a stack of papers for me to translate. Every one of them was a dirty joke."
The men of SG-13 chuckled loudly.
She looked up, toward the tunnel that had once been a missile silo. "We'll miss you, Cam."
Daniel put his arm around her waist as they stepped away from the lectern, to allow Cam's coworkers a chance to say their good-byes.
Doctor Meyers stepped up to the podium, followed by Jonas Quinn, Doctor Izett, Doctor Nichols, and Doctor Warnke. The older woman tried to smile, her lips quivering visibly. "Daniel told us that he thought it would be appropriate for each of us to say a few words." She looked at her colleagues, then out at those listening so attentively. "We each chose a word to describe what Cameron Balinsky meant to us." She took a deep breath. "Chivalrous."
Jonas stepped forward. "Friend."
Doctor Izett hastily wiped a tear from her cheek. "Sweet."
"Intelligent," Doctor Warnke said.
Doctor Nichols cleared his throat. "Hero."
There were quiet coughs, the occasional sniffle as Casey presented the carefully folded flag to Doctor Meyers, who hugged her tightly. Both women brushed tears from their cheeks.
When taps began to play, Daniel and Casey stood side-by-side in front of the wreath. The men of SG-13 walked up the ramp, and stood at attention on one side. When Colonel Dixon gave the order to salute, the Jacksons picked up the large floral arrangement, and walked toward the event horizon, each holding one side of the wreathe.
Casey looked up at her Husband. "I miss him so much," she said softly.
The wreathe was put against the shimmering surface, where it sat, waiting…
General Hammond stepped forward. "Atten-SHUN! Present ARMS!"
Every man and woman in uniform saluted smartly.
"Goodbye, Cam," Daniel said, giving the wreathe a gentle push.
No one moved until the 'gate closed with a quiet 'hiss'.
"Dismissed," Hammond said. He made his way through the crowd of personnel to where Bregman stood. "Mr. Bregman."
"Doctor Jackson told me about the service," Bregman said immediately.
"I know," Hammond replied. "He also told me that he asked you to use that tape."
Bregman fidgeted slightly. "I want to make a film…a documentary…worthy of the men and women here."
The look in the journalist's eyes was all it took to convince the general. "I believe you'll do a fine job."
"Really? I…thank you. I…I was wondering…do you think it would be possible to set up for interviews? I have a list of people I think are absolutely crucial to this…story. But I'd also like to get those who work 'behind the scenes' as well."
"Mr. Bregman, you leave that list with Walter, and I'll make certain the interviews are scheduled."
"General…not that I don't appreciate the help…but…what…I mean…why? What changed your mind about me?"
Hammond smiled. "The fact that you started looking around and really seeing what's going on."
Bregman frowned for a moment, then nodded. "Thanks for giving me a second chance."
"Just don't let me down, son," Hammond replied. He gave a nod, then walked toward the corridor.
"I should have filmed this," Bregman muttered, watching as the airmen and civilians slowly filed out of the room.
"I did," James said, appearing at the journalist's elbow, camera on his shoulder. "General Hammond said he'd leave it up to you whether or not to use it."
Bregman turned to stare out the door where Hammond had just disappeared. "Wow."
"Should we get set up for interviews?" Shep asked.
"Yes," Bregman replied. "We can get me on film asking the questions…or at least asking the questions I'm sure about."
"Let's do it," James said.
The three men hadn't made it to the elevator before they were stopped by General O'Neill. "Danny-" He cleared his throat. "Daniel…er…Doctor Jackson told me about the tape. And that he wants you to use it." He pulled his hand out of his pocket, a similar cassette in his fingers. "This is what was happening on the other side of the ridge…while we were trying to get to Wells, and keep the 'gate open. I thought maybe you could use it. Sorta show how it all went down."
Bregman accepted the tape. "Thank you…I…thank you."
Jack nodded his head, turned to walk away.
Jack paused, looked back at the journalist.
"I heard an interesting rumor," Bregman said. The 'disappearance' of Cam Balinsky's body was being ignored by the officers, and speculated on by everyone else. No one in the Archaeological Department would say anything, not even offering their personal opinions. "Something about immortality. You didn't find some sort of…I dunno…'Fountain of Youth' out there, did you?"
Jack offered a small smile. "Come back in about seventy years. If I'm still around, we'll talk."
"Seventy years? Yeah…ha ha," Bregman replied. "If I'm around, I'll do that, General O'Neill."
Jack's smile went wider; he turned and strolled toward the control room, hands in his pockets.
A A A A A A
Jack poked his head into the room, as if making a threat assessment. He actually cringed when he realized Bregman and the crew were there. He stepped in, and held out a slip of paper. "I have a list of the topics I'm willing to talk about." His tone of voice had left no room for argument.
Bregman accepted the slip of paper. Glanced at it, turned it over, then looked at the front again, before raising one eyebrow. "There's only one word here."
"Yep. Take it or leave it."
The journalist looked at the paper again. Surely the general was joking!
"Sweet, leave it," the general said, not waiting for any further response. He gave a sloppy salute, and disappeared out the door…not quite running to make his escape.
Bregman muttered beneath his breath, crumpled up the sheet of paper, and tossed it to the floor. "I'm going for a smoke."
Shep grabbed it as soon as the journalist had stormed out of the room. The one word brought chuckles to the crew…
A A A A A A
Bregman and James were sitting side-by-side at the table that held the editing equipment. The video tape was playing footage, the images flickering on the screen in front of them. Sam was responding to one of Bregman's questions.
"There are days when you feel the pressure. I'm trained to handle it."
"With all due respect, Colonel, how can anyone be trained to handle an alien encounter where the stakes are, if what I'm told is correct, the stakes could be the survival of the planet?" Bregman's voice asked incredulously.
"I think it's important to remember that it's not just about this planet. Countless humans throughout the galaxy, people that originated right here on Earth, have been enslaved for thousands of years. I mean, we're taking the fight back to the Goa'uld on their behalf," Sam responded, looking slightly perturbed.
"So how do you think the American people are going to react, the world is going to react, when they discover that a war—an alien war—has been waged without their knowledge?" Bregman demanded.
Sam paused hesitantly, glanced away from the camera, then looked back. "I don't think that that's-that's for me to, um…Are you suggesting that we shouldn't be doing this?"
"No, I'm not saying we shouldn't defend ourselves. I'm simply asking your opinion, Colonel," Bregman said, pushing.
"I-I don't think that that's for me to, um…uh…" Sam stammered.
"No," Bregman said. Just stop it right there."
"I don't know…" Sam was saying on the video.
James pushed a button, and the playback stopped, freezing the picture of Sam's face.
"You see…this is…um…not her fault. I mean, I backed her into a corner, and I do not want to make this whole thing look like it's antagonistic, so…"
"Okay, lose this?" James asked.
Bregman sighed. "Well, I don't know. Just skip ahead to…uh…after the apology."
James pressed another key, carefully watching the numbers as they spun on the clock in the corner of the frame.
Bregman nodded. "There! That's it!"
"Colonel, one day the secret will come out. How do you think the people of the world are going to react?" Bregman asked, off screen.
"I honestly don't know," Sam replied. She frowned slightly. "I hope they can appreciate everything we've been through. What it all means for our continuing existence. In light of that, I hope that they will understand why the people in charge chose to keep it a secret as long as they have."
"Is it difficult to keep the secret?" Bregman asked.
Carter nodded. "Yeah, of all the things I do around here, in many ways that is the hardest. Sometimes you…you look at what's going on, here on Earth, and it…it makes you want to scream. You want to tell people it's all so much bigger than what they think."
Bregman nodded. "That's it. I like that."
James nodded his agreement.
"Stop it right there. We'll go right into Doctor Jackson saying…" Bregman checked his notes. "Um…saying 'whether I was right'. And then you're going to put me into the Carter interview.
"Got it," James said. He searched for the segment he wanted, entered a command into his keyboard. The image changed from Sam's face to Daniel's.
"The second half, especially the line: 'Is it difficult to keep the secret?' Okay. Thank you," Bregman said, watching as James edited the clips together.
"Whether I was right or not doesn't matter, especially given the scope of the truth," Daniel said.
"And the truth matters to you?" Bregman asked.
"To everyone, I hope," Daniel replied.
"Now, what truth, Doctor Jackson? The truth for the people here on Earth? Or are we talking about another planet?" Bregman asked.
"We're talking about people here," Daniel said. "People on other planets are no less human. People who have had their freedom usurped, people who are being forced to worship false gods to mask their enslavement."
"But what about the people here on Earth? Are they entitled to the truth, do you think?" Bregman pushed.
Daniel pointed to the camera. "Is that what this is about?"
"This? I'm not in control of when this airs. Do you think this should get out? If it were up to you…" Bregman said.
Bregman and James both nodded as they watched the result of the editing. "The way they cut together…" Bregman said absently, watching the faces of the people he interviewed as well as listening to their responses.
"That's a complicated issue," Daniel said, his voice wary.
"No," Bregman said, "I'm asking you, Doctor Jackson, do you think that people on Earth should know about this right now?"
"What do you think would happen?" Daniel demanded.
"I think the people don’t care much about what I think."
Bregman shook his head. "All right, cut that line. Nobody cares that nobody cares what I think. Lose it."
James entered a new command. "Okay, it's gone."
"Moving on," Bregman sighed.
"I haven't done what you've done, Doctor Jackson. I think people care what you think," Bregman's voice echoed from the film.
"Well, I think it's a relative question, and it depends on your point of view."
Bregman shook his head in dismay. "Oh, no. Wait. Stop it. This is…it's terrible."
James smiled. "Really? I think it's pretty interesting stuff. You know, you did a good job at getting them to express their true feelings."
Bregman rolled his eyes. "Let's just go back to the beginning. It's here," he muttered. "I know it's here. The story we want to tell, the story that we want the people out there.," he pointed over his shoulder, "to see, is here. I just have to find it."
Six hours later Bregman sat back, a smile on his face. James looked at the journalist, and then at the finished film. "Wow," the airman said quietly.
A A A A A A
Daniel and Casey led the way to the large briefing room on level seventeen. The room was already crowded with SGC personnel: SG team members, civilian scientists, medics and nurses, maintenance workers, most of the techs from the control room, all were trying to find a seat among the folding chairs that had been lined up in rows.
"Geez," Sam said softly. "I didn't realize everyone was going to be here."
"Apparently Mr. Bregman wants everyone here to see it," Casey replied. She followed Teal'c's broad back as he made his way to one corner of the room. The members of SG-1, it seemed, would be standing for the duration of the film. At least we can lean against the wall, Casey thought.
General Hammond hurried to the front of the room, Bregman nervously following behind him. The general wasted no time in confirming what was about to happen. "Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bregman has finished the documentary that President Hayes tasked him to make. This film is about us, and about the SGC. Mr. Bregman."
The short man gave a small smile and a wave. "I want to thank everyone for cooperating, and helping me create what I think will be the documentary that will prove the value of the Stargate Command Program. I realize that I was a bit…pushy…at first-"
Chuckles filled the air.
"But your patience with me, and General Hammond's faith in me, I believe has made it possible to make this film what it is. The truth about the SGC, and the people who work here."
"If he's screwed up, I'm calling Oakey," Casey whispered to Daniel. Unaware that the benevolent being had remained near the young seer, until she was satisfied that Casey had accepted what had to be. There were still moments of absolute heartache, when the guilt The Guide felt tried to take hold in her heart and mind. When those moments had passed, Oakey would be content that her counterpart's beloved was well on the way to dealing with the grief of her loss.
Bregman shivered when he heard the rustle of leaves, and felt a cool breeze on his face. He closed his eyes, then opened them slowly, to see his audience watching him quietly. Relieved to discover he'd not 'disappeared' from the room only to 'reappear' somewhere else, and for a brief moment wishing he could have caught something so…miraculous…on tape, the journalist cleared his throat. "I hope you approve of what I've done." With another nervous wave, Bregman sat down on the chair that had been reserved for him.
"This, is Stargate Command," Bregman's voice began. Footage of the facility; images from every level…including the security check points…and ending in the 'gate room and focusing on the Stargate, flashed slowly on the screen. "It's here that the most incredible secret of all time has been kept. Not hidden in the darkness, something concealed in arrogance; but protected, kept safe…guarded with honor, until it was no longer necessary to cloak the truth. The time has arrived to share with the people of the United States, the people of the world, that we are not alone in the universe. We are part of something so much larger than any of us could have ever imagined…or dreamed…"
The following segment was of Cam Balinsky, explaining the Stargate…where and how it had been found. Chuckling as he described Doctor Daniel Jackson's ability to decipher the cover stone in two weeks, extrapolating the use of the huge monument after several experts had spent months trying to figure it out.
"If you could tell everyone watching this about the SGC, what would you say?" Bregman asked.
"Well, personally, I'm glad the SGC is here," Cam said. "That the men and women who serve here are willing to put their lives on the line daily to protect our home world from the threat of the Goa'uld. As a contributing member of the SGC, I’m proud of what we've accomplished, the discoveries made. The fact that already there are medical and technical advances in the private sector that have their origins in what we found out there…"
"Sometimes it's overwhelming, to hold an object in your hands that's millions of years old…technology beyond our understanding," Doctor Lee said. He pushed his glasses up, then smiled. "What can make all of the frustration of trying to figure those artifacts out is the moment when you realize that you understand. Maybe it's just a part of the device…but you understand. There's a feeling…a connection to the creators of the device that just…it just washes over you in that moment. It's an incredible feeling."
"It's not always easy to think about the fact that we're in a struggle between good and evil," Casey was saying. She was sitting across a table from Bregman, a mug of coffee in her hand. He was leaning on his folded arms, listening intently. "I mean, that's for the movies, right? But then we go through the 'gate, and we find a village, and the people have been so oppressed, so abused at the hands of the Goa'uld, and you realize in that moment that those creatures…those parasites…are pure evil. And all you can think about is making certain that the people they've enslaved are freed, and that the Goa'uld are never allowed to hurt anyone again."
"You're the 'seer' for the SGC," Bregman said with a smile. "Tell me how that works."
The slender blonde heaved a sigh. "Well, it doesn't work as well sometimes as I wish it did." The camera didn't miss the sadness that filled her green eyes. "I get what I call 'information dumps'…or 'downloads'. Information from…well, wherever it's from…is just downloaded into my head."
"What sort of information?"
"Mostly having to do with current missions. I get images, sounds, sometimes smells. Of course, it's not always easy to understand. I have to do a bit of 'translating'."
"Can you give me an example?" Bregman asked.
A frown furrowed the lovely seer's face. "Well, there was once…all I had were two images. One of a pineapple upside down cake, and another of a bowl filled with cherry pits."
"That's a bit…strange," the journalist chuckled.
Casey smiled. "Yeah. Drove me nuts for a few hours. Then…just as suddenly as if I'd read the meaning off a piece of paper, I understood. Obviously it was symbolic. But it was a warning for a mission that SG-9-"
"SG-9?" Bregman interrupted. "Aren't they considered the diplomatic team?"
"That's them," Casey confirmed. "They were about to meet with a group of villagers."
"So what did a pineapple upside down and a bowl of cherry pits have to do with the mission?"
Casey grinned. "That the order of the ceremony that SG-9 would be taking part in might seem out of order…like a pineapple upside down cake is made…but that it was just the way it should be. And that the first treaty sounded good, but in reality, it would have screwed us ten ways from Sunday…that was the bowl of cherry pits. With that warning the team didn't question the ceremony, and Major Farnsworth was able to pass on the first treaty, which resulted in a much better, more fair treaty for both parties."
"I've been told by every SG team member I've spoken to that you've saved their lives numerous times. I'd say that the SGC is lucky to have you."
"I just wish I could see everything…and see it exactly when it's needed," Casey said softly, the sadness returning to her eyes again.
"I've heard the others say that you're not omnipotent," Bregman said gently.
"I can't help but wish I was, sometimes," Casey sighed.
Daniel tapped his finger against his lips. "I don't think I'd consider it prudent to just drop this little 'nugget of truth' on the population of the planet just out of the blue. A 'Special Report' on the Nightly News is only going to cause mass panic. I've had seven, almost eight years to deal with the 'reality' of the Stargate Program, and being out there…you know, out there…" he gestured toward the ceiling, "on other planets, and I still have trouble wrapping my mind around it. Do I think the people of Earth have a right to know about this? Yes, I do. But how that information is disseminated, that's the key. I think that the majority of people are capable, and even willing to accept the truth. But in consideration to those whose beliefs, whose religions could be rocked to their very foundations, and even ripped from under them, those are the people we have to reach slowly…You know, just little bits here and there, over time…"
"Do you believe that revealing the Stargate Program would be that detrimental?" Bregman asked.
"Unfortunately, I do. The reality of the Stargate, the Stargate Program, and what's going on out there is frightening. And frightened people don't always react in the most positive ways."
"If there was one thing that you could say to the people of this country…no, to the people of the world…about all of this, what would it be?"
"That as terrifying as the truth is, it's also exhilarating. It's a beautiful universe out there…so much unbelievable beauty. Reaching out for the stars is what we're meant to do. After all, we're made of stardust," Daniel smiled.
"What do you think the revelation of the Stargate would mean for the academic community…besides vindicating your 'fanciful' theory?"
Daniel ducked his head for a moment. "I think a lot of our history would need major rewriting…just to get all of the facts straight. As for my theory…the glyphs are still there. Anyone can go and see them, read for themselves what the pyramids truly are."
"Landing pads for spaceships."
"Landing pads for Goa'uld mother-ships," Daniel corrected.
"It has been my experience that the Tau'ri are most honorable," Teal'c's deep voice resonated. The gold of his tattoo glittered in the light from the camera. "I am honored to have joined them in their battle against the false gods known as Goa'uld. It is their tenacity that has helped lead to the birth of a free Jaffa nation. What was once only a dream in the hearts of but a few Jaffa, is now the reality for many. Every day more Jaffa turn away from the false gods, and embrace their freedom."
"It's because of the longing for that freedom that you…um…you betrayed your 'god', isn't that correct?" Bregman asked.
"False god," Teal'c replied immediately. "Indeed. I knew that Apophis was not a true god. I knew that none of the Goa'uld were true gods."
"I've read the report concerning the mission that brought you to our world. What was it about General O'Neill, I believe he was a colonel at the time…what made you believe he could help those prisoners…and you?"
Teal'c paused for a moment. "I could see the fire of determination in his eyes. I could sense that he would die in the pursuit of freedom for those slaves, even though they were strangers to him." Teal'c shook his head slightly. "Many times I've watched the Tau'ri offer their own lives in place of those they consider to be 'innocent'. There is no greater power in the universe than hearts that believe so strongly in freedom."
"I understand you're quite the Star Wars fan," Bregman chuckled.
"Who is your favorite character?"
Bregman chortled. "Any particular reason why?"
"He is a creature of peace. But will battle valiantly to protect his friends," Teal'c replied.
"No, I don't think so," Sam smiled, shaking her head slightly. "None of us consider ourselves to be 'heroes'. We're just doing the jobs we've been assigned. It's an exciting job, and I don't think anyone here at the SGC can imagine doing anything else. But heroes?" She blushed. "We're just doing our jobs."
"I think that the people out there," Bregman pointed at the camera, "would agree with me when I say that what you're doing is above and beyond the call of duty. You've risked your life…well, you and your teammates have risked your lives…numerous times to protect Earth."
Sam's blush deepened, her eyes dropped to her hands, which were folded demurely on the table in front of her.
"Why do you do it?"
"Because Earth is our home. I know, right now the world is fragmented…we're not the people, not the species, that we could be. We haven't achieved our potential. And we deserve the chance to reach those high ideals. The only way to make certain that we…that the people of Earth…have that chance is to prevent the Goa'uld from conquering us. Making us slaves."
"That sounds rather heroic to me," Bregman insisted.
"I'd prefer to think that everyone would feel the same way," Sam replied softly.
"Do you think that revealing the existence of the Stargate, and the Stargate Program, could benefit mankind?"
"Eventually, I think so," Sam said. "After the initial shock wore off, I think people would accept what is, and I think they'd see that regardless of where on the planet we live, or how we pray, or what our particular culture believes, we're all related…we're all human. I think it would probably lead to giant leaps forward in innovation…using technology we've found out there. I think we'd become a force for good in this galaxy…in the universe…that couldn't be stopped."
"Maybe that's just wishful thinking," Bregman suggested.
"Maybe," Sam shrugged. "But it's better to be an optimist, don't you think?"
"The little kids," Ferretti grinned. "That's the best part. Helping out some village…and getting smiles from the little kids. It makes ya feel good knowing that they'll grow up not having to be slaves to the snakes…er…the Goa'uld. Gives meaning to the bad days, ya know?"
"If there was one phrase that sums up the attitude of the SGC, what do you think it would be?"
Tony Sabotti frowned slightly. "Leave no man behind," he said softly.
"Yeah, you know, I never know what's next. You just try and keep your head on straight. Then again, we also set a lot of broken bones and prescribe a ton of antibiotics, so…" Janet said, shrugging slightly.
The camera switched to Bregman. "Still, it must be overwhelming at times, right?"
Once again the focus was on Janet. She was nodding. "Yes, sometimes. You know, you think all the training, everything we know about medicine, really, it amounts to very little. I mean, I'm often faced with situations where there's really nothing I can do."
"Is there an upside?" Bregman's voice asked.
Janet's smile was wide. "Are you kidding me? I think the reason we all manage to persevere is because we feel that we're on the brink of understanding so much more. And not just about medicine, but about who we are. You know…where we came from…what the future holds…how we fit into the grand scheme of things."
"Is it difficult working for the SGC? I mean, considering what goes on around here, your services must be in constant demand," Bregman said.
Doctor Mackenzie smiled. "Actually, I don't often have need to visit here, at least not officially. I have to admit that part of me is amazed that the members of the SG teams in particular aren't blithering idiots, locked away in padded rooms. What they see, what they deal with, is so beyond our perception of 'normal' that it's difficult to even comprehend."
"Are the personnel who are picked for the Stargate Program put through rigorous evaluations?"
"Absolutely," Mackenzie nodded. "Only the best of the best are even considered for any available positions. That means the brightest, most highly motivated, and the most mentally stable candidates are chosen."
"One of the team leaders said that training for SG teams makes the special training that SEALs, Green Berets, Special Forces…all of the elite military units, look like a Sunday school picnic. That can't be easy for anyone," Bregman said.
"It's during that rigorous training that we can learn, and quickly, if any candidate lacks the…qualities…that are needed to be a part of the Stargate Program. I was once told by a team…and I'm paraphrasing a bit here…that only those who walk on the edge of insanity are sane enough to deal with the reality of the SGC. I have to admit, I agree with the sentiment. Only the best of the best are here," Mackenzie reiterated. "And it's because of the skills, the experience, the knowledge, the eagerness to learn, the willingness to walk that edge that the people of the SGC can pull off the 'miracles' that they do."
"Sometimes, just doing their jobs is as routine as any other job," Bregman's voice said, as images moved slowly across the screen…images of the men and women of the SGC going about their daily duties. "Even if that job is going through the Stargate to worlds unknown. The mission that this particular team, SG-4, is embarking on, is the one-thousandth such trip. One thousand missions have been undertaken in the nearly eight years of the Stargate Program."
The camera captured the team waiting as the 'gate address was dialed…caught the men checking their packs and weapons one last time. The event horizon exploded into the room. General Hammond's voice was heard. "Good luck and Godspeed, SG-4."
The men walked up the ramp, stepped into the shimmering center of the monument, and disappeared. The 'hiss' of the 'gate closing punctuated the fade to black.
"Sometimes," Bregman's voice continued to narrate, "just doing their job means laying their lives on the line. Often for those who have been enslaved by the Goa'uld. Sometimes, to make certain that all of their own are able to return home. No man…or woman…is ever left behind. No matter the cost…"
The black screen was suddenly filled with the scene of the battle that had raged on P3X 666. Images of the al'kesh as it flew overhead dominated for several seconds…the sounds of battle echoed loudly, the background music that had been playing during the narrative silenced completely. Jack hit the ground in slow motion. The surroundings changed slightly, Simon Well's face was all that could be seen, his cries of pain more haunting than the gun fire. Cam Balinsky's eyes wide with shock as he dropped, taking the staff blast meant for Janet...staring unseeingly into the camera…
"While war is never easy, and certainly we'd all be much happier if it could be avoided completely, there are times when we have no choice but to fight. The battles waged out there…" The scene changed to a view of the stars, "protect us, protect our way of life here on Planet Earth. Like the Greatest Generation of World War II, those stalwart and brave men and women who fought the likes of Hitler to preserve freedom and democracy for all of us, the men and women of the SGC battle to preserve our very existence in the universe."
"Our armed forces have turned the tide of world wars. Young men and women from our great country's four corners have humbled history's worst tyrants. We carve our thanks in stone," Bregman's voice continued. "We stamp it into medals. We carefully tend to vast fields where the men and women who gave their lives for our freedom now lay. We have a new generation of heroes, fighting an enemy so hideous that it's almost more than the human mind can comprehend." Still photographs of each SG team flickered on the screen. Photos of the science labs followed, the scientists who worked in each smiling at the camera. "Like their grandfathers and great-grandfathers, they're laying their lives on the line for our freedom. More than ever in our history, we cannot fail to pass these stories of courage to the next generation."
The final image was that of the Stargate dialing, as the blast door slowly closed. A trumpet played softly in the background. "We must capture the imaginations of new generations, while paying tribute to all those willing to die for the preservation of our many cultures…our many ways of life. For Planet Earth."
The lights came up slowly. Several people wiped tears from their eyes. When Bregman stood to his feet, smiling happily, General Hammond rose beside him and began clapping. The room echoed with the applause…the tangible approval of the documentary by those whom it was about.
Casey wiped a tear from her eye. "That was…that was totally…"
"Unbiased?" Daniel suggested. He was surprised that the blatant 'anti-military' attitude of the journalist was completely absent in the finished product.
"Objective?" Sam said. She was just as surprised as those around her, considering the things that had been said during the first day of his visit.
"Honest?" Jack tossed in, a grin on his face.
"I found in most inspiring," Teal'c said.
"Bingo!" Casey said, nodding her agreement. "It wasn't easy to see-" She broke off. Tilted her head to one side.
Immediately Daniel reached for her, her teammates closed in around her. Several of the SG team members nearby stopped, watching carefully.
Green eyes went wide, and she spun to look toward Bregman, who was standing beside General Hammond. "I'll be damned," she muttered.
"Oakey told me that Cam…" She paused, shook her head. Then pointed at Bregman with her chin. "He's the reason."
"What? Who? Huh?" Jack stuttered.
"Oakey told me that it was Cam's time. That by being 'pruned' as he was, it would help the garden to grow."
"That makes no sense, Radar," Jack sighed.
"Sure it does, if you think like a tree," Casey argued.
"Right. Think like a tree. Not going there," Jack declared.
Casey smiled. "Cam's interview was done before he left on the mission. He had lunch with Bregman. Spent time with him."
Daniel studied the filmmaker. "Cam influenced Bregman?"
She shook her head. "Cam showed Bregman our heart…the heart of the SGC. Showed him what we're all about."
"Well, I'll be damned," Jack said softly.
"That's why he backed out of using that tape," Daniel mused. "He couldn't be objective about it."
"As difficult as that part was to watch," Sam said softly, "it was the epitome of what we do…it was the perfect…" She waved her hand in the air searching for the phrase to communicate her thoughts.
"It was the perfect imagery. It showed in black and white what the SGC is all about…protecting Earth," Casey said.
"Exactly," Sam nodded.
"I'm glad it was in black and white," Daniel said quietly, going pale for just a moment.
"Me, too," Casey agreed.
Jack looked around. "Where's Napoleon?"
Casey snickered. Having overheard one of Jack's comments about her 'Napoleonic tendencies', Janet had been torn between being offended, and finding the entire idea hilarious. When Casey and Sam explained the petite doctor's reputation outside of the infirmary, Janet had immediately declared direct kinship with the former emperor - and thus explaining her demeanor as well as her diminutive stature; although no one believed such a family connection was real. The result, however, had been the new nickname bestowed upon her by the leader of SG-1.
"She remained in the infirmary, so that Doctor Werner and the majority of her staff could view the film," Teal'c said.
"Let's go. We'll have lunch, and give her the highlights," Jack said, catching Sam's hand.
"Sounds like a plan," Daniel nodded. "Sonic?"
"Olive Garden." He smiled when his team looked at him with surprise. "What? They're having an 'all-you-can-eat' pasta bowl special right now."
"Okay," Sam replied.
"And, we can celebrate the fact that if that," he pointed to the now white view screen, "ever gets out, it won't have us facing angry mobs or trial for war-crimes."
"So true," Daniel sighed.
"Let's go, I'm hungry," Casey declared. The team filed out of the room, among the last of the personnel to do so.
A A A A A A
"It's a shame no one's ever going to see it," General Hammond said quietly, watching as the men and women of the SGC filed out of the room, all of them discussing the documentary. He listened to the laughter that accompanied many of the conversations.
Bregman looked up at the general. "Really? You…uh…you don't think it's a little sentimental?"
Hammond shook his head. "No," he said softly, "It's good."
"Well, that's a relief…hearing that from you of all people," Bregman sighed. "Especially given how you felt about what I was doing. I mean, I understood how you felt, but still…"
"I'm a big enough man to admit when I'm wrong. I'm glad you stuck with it." Hammond offered his hand. He smiled when Bregman shook it with surprise.
"Um, that means a lot to me, sir," Bregman said. The sincerity in his voice made Hammond's smile wider.
"I've written a lot of letters to the next of kin. Nothing ever seems like it's enough. They deserve something…more. This…this is something more," Hammond said.
Bregman looked down at his feet. The praise was certainly appreciated. Coming from this man, it was better than winning any possible award for his work. "Thank you, sir."
Hammond nodded. The film had been honest, direct, and had given a view of the SGC that only those who worked there had ever seen. It had been delivered with care, making certain that the truth was revealed…but that in doing so, those who lived with the truth weren't seen as villains, but as the heroes they really were. Whether they believed it of themselves or not.
"Um…there is one thing, General, that's still missing that could make a difference…" Bregman said, his eyes going to the back of the room, where the members of SG-1 stood talking quietly.
Hammond's gaze followed the journalist's, making him chuckle. "I'll take care of it."
A A A A A A
Jack adjusted the tie of his dress uniform. Shifted slightly when Shep clipped the microphone to his jacket lapel. He glanced at the monitor a time or two, seeing the image of the side of his head every time he did so.
James adjusted the camera, checked the lighting, and moved two of the studio lights slightly. Nodded when the numbers were exactly what he wanted.
Bregman checked his notes, glancing up now and again while the crew set everything up. He wanted to be certain that this interview was as 'perfect' as he could get it. "Okay…um…"
Rundell entered the room.
"Tom?" Bregman said, surprised to see the colonel coming to 'witness' the interview. He'd not been interested in any of the others…
"Emmett." Rundell nodded amiably.
Bregman smiled. Well, it was General Jack O'Neill. He turned to James. "Are we ready?"
"Rolling," James replied.
"Sound?" Bregman asked Shep.
"We're recording," Shep confirmed.
"Okay. Um…First question."
Jack cleared his throat. "Okay," he said softly.
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