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Bregman rapped his knuckles lightly against the open door of General Hammond's office. "Tom said you had a few minutes."
The general looked up, nodded. "What is it, Mr. Bregman?"
"I'm not sure that you or the people around here understand exactly what it is that I'm trying to do. I'm trying to film what goes on around here…but I'm getting shut out at every turn. The briefing first thing this morning, that whole 'off-world activation' thing…I can't make a documentary if I can't document anything!"
Not taking his gaze from the journalist's face, Hammond reached for a folder at the corner of his desk. He flipped it open. Only then did he look down. "I'm quoting from these orders, Mr. Bregman. 'Exempt from said clearance are all current activities which have not yet been reviewed by this office'. That office being the Pentagon."
"Right. 'Current activities'? Breathing is a 'current activity'!"
"My interpretation is that you have not been authorized to know anything about the most current events, such as the briefing, and certainly not for the most recent unscheduled activation."
Lowering himself into the chair in front of the General's desk, Bregman leaned forward. Resting his forearms on the edge of the desk, he Laced his fingers together. "General, I need a little leeway."
"I said that I was going to hold you to the letter of these orders, Mr. Bregman. Give it up."
Frustrated, Bregman stood to his feet, walked to the door and opened it. He paused, his hand on the doorknob, contemplated for a moment, then turned back to face the man behind the desk. "You know, General O'Neill-"
"Is currently unavailable," Hammond interjected.
"General, the president…the President of the United States…is giving me is full support. Why are you resisting?" Bregman demanded.
"I'm not resisting. I'm following orders. My opinion is that I don't think my people need to be put under a microscope. Cameras don't just record things. They change what they record simply by being there. The work these people do is hard enough without them feeling that every breath they take is being preserved for judgment."
"Maybe it should be," Bregman replied.
Bregman closed the door of the office. "I said, maybe it should be. The Pentagon has allowed journalists to be embedded with the Armed Forces before this. You know that. Under fire. Under pressure. So what's seen, and what's heard, and what's read is the truth."
"I think we're through," Hammond said, his voice as cool as his gaze.
"I don't…I don't disagree with you, General," Bregman said, dropping back into the chair again, obviously changing his tactic from confrontational to more appeasing. "You're right, the presence of a camera does change things. But at the same time, it can capture the little things…the everyday things…the bits and pieces of life that can tell the story-" Before he could say more, the red phone on the desk began to ring.
"Excuse me," Hammond said, reaching for the phone.
Bregman remained seated.
Holding the phone away from his ear, one hand covering the mouthpiece, the general glared at the journalist.
Bregman stood, walked to the door, then hesitated slightly. Realizing that the general wasn't going to even acknowledge the caller…who had to be the president, if it was the red phone…until he left, he sighed heavily and walked out of the office. Any attempts to linger at the door were short-lived when Colonel Carter appeared in the corridor.
With a shake of his head, not actually surprised by Bregman's audacity…he was a journalist after all, the general put the phone to his ear. "This is General Hammond."
"George, how's it going with Bregman?" Henry Hayes asked jovially.
"He's upset that I'm holding him to the letter of the orders. As you agreed I could do," Hammond replied.
"Just don't shut him out completely," Hayes said. "He's there for a reason. With my blessing."
"I understand that, sir," the general said. "But I believe that having a film crew here to record everything we do is only inviting criticism."
"That's exactly what I'm hoping to avoid," Hayes admitted. "Do you think he's doing a fair representation, or is he skewing things?"
"I haven't seen anything, so I couldn't even begin to hazard a guess," Hammond admitted. "None of the personnel are particularly interested in talking to him. Particularly when scuttlebutt indicates this man chops and cuts, piecing things together to discredit whoever he's interviewing."
"Ah, yes. The MIT documentary. Yeah, he was pretty brutal in that. It also backfired on him," Hayes said. "So many people came out in support of the scientists he'd tried to discredit that his documentary was never seen by the public."
"Is that so?"
In the Oval Office, Hayes grinned broadly. "It seems that he thought he'd be a smartass and premier it at some scientific shindig. Rumor has it he barely got out with his ass intact."
Hammond chuckled. "Yet, you hired him to do a documentary on the SGC?"
"For one very important reason. When Emmett Bregman realizes he's wrong, that his point of view is wrong, or at least not shared by the majority of folks, he's quick to admit that. The following documentary he did won several awards."
"You're hoping that his prejudices will be shown up here," Hammond surmised.
"I'll be very surprised if he walks out of there the same man he was when he entered," Hayes said quietly. "Just don't be too rough on him."
"I won't jeopardize any of the people working for me," Hammond warned.
"Absolutely not. And if he hasn't been cleared for it he doesn't see it," Hayes agreed.
"Thank you, Mr. President."
"You're welcome, George. After all, this was actually SG-1's idea."
He remembered the conversation well. Held in the oval office the day he, Jack O'Neill and Sam Carter had been promoted, and all of them, including Teal'c, Daniel and Casey Jackson, were awarded medals of honor. "The entire idea makes me uncomfortable," Hammond admitted.
"I know. When you've worked in secrecy for so long, it's difficult to open the door even a little bit. Trust your people, George. You're a fine leader, and it shows in your personnel."
"And if he gets too annoying, bounce his ass out. We can always try to do this later," Hayes said.
"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir." Hammond smiled when the line went dead. At least he had the backing of the president on this. Hayes had hired Bregman to do the documentary. But he was still in charge of the SGC, and still called the shots.
A A A A A A
Sam saw Bregman leaving the general's office, a look of irritation on his face. She took a deep breath before walking toward the journalist. Daniel was searching for a reference that she'd found on the outside of the sphere that Colonel Dixon had sent through the 'gate. After their experience with the Ancient weapon, neither she nor the archaeologist wanted to be responsible for putting the mountain in lock-down by activating something they knew nothing about. Especially with a film crew on the premises. She'd promised Bregman a 'tour' of the control room. Given that she only had a few minutes…she'd been on her way to do a routine check of the computers…this was the perfect time to offer it. Daniel had promised to have her paged as soon as he had finished.
"Colonel Carter," Bregman smiled.
"Call me Emmett." The response was automatic.
"I have a few minutes, and since we're both right here, how about that tour of the control room?" Sam asked, hoping she sounded more sincere than she felt.
"That would be great! Let me round up my posse!"
Rundell and the crew were sitting in the tiny waiting room near General Hammond's office.
James had the camera rolling as they took the stairs from the briefing room down to the control room. He panned the room from right to left, and when he turned again, the colonel was standing in front of largest control stations.
"So, this is the control room," Bregman said, suitably impressed.
"The control room is sort of like the air traffic control tower of the base. We monitor all 'gate activity from here," Sam said.
"So what are all of these blinking lights about? For example, what are those lights over there?" Bregman pointed to one of the rack-system computers in the corner. The multiple hard-drives bespoke of the volume of data it stored.
Sam walked to the tall, metal frame. "This monitors the 'gate's massive power consumption required to generate outgoing wormholes. Interestingly, in our study of off world DHDs, we've found that our 'gate actually draws ten percent more wattage than off world 'gates. Now that far exceeds any potential loss due to our man-made interface. We think it has to do with the way that the super-conductive crystals inside the 'gate absorb electrical energy, but we're also trying to demonstrate that the DHDs are somehow producing a…a purer, more efficient form of power. Even though we've been able to utilize ZPMs-"
"Uh…ZPM?" Bregman asked.
"Zero Point Module," Sam explained. "It's also a device made by the Ancients. It uses a crystal power source that draws its energy from subspace. We're still studying it, the technology is far beyond what we have now, and to be honest, we don't fully understand it. Yet," Sam added with a wide smile. "But we have worked out a way to utilize the ZPM in powering the 'gate. Actually-"
"Yeah. Okay. Could we get a shot of the 'gate spinning?" Bregman asked, clearly not at all interested in the science behind the Stargate, or any of the technical discoveries as a result of the study of the Ancient device.
She barely resisted the urge to roll her eyes. "Sure. It's really cool. Steam comes out of it and everything," Sam said sarcastically. She smiled at Walter as he approached. Listened carefully when he whispered in her ear. "Sorry guys. There's a team due to return."
"That's great," Bregman declared. "We'll get a shot of them coming through the 'gate!"
"Actually, you guys are gonna have to leave," Sam replied.
Rundell put his hand on James's shoulder. The cameraman turned off the camera and lowered it.
Bregman started to object, then watched as General Hammond entered the room. For what had to be the thousandth time that day, he questioned his acceptance of what had turned into the most frustrating project he'd ever worked on. Wondered again if he'd been the only journalist contacted for the job, or the only one stupid enough to accept it.
Ushered out of the control room, the film crew stood in the corridor for a few minutes. "Maybe we should go over what we already have," James suggested.
Giving a slight nod, Bregman started to follow. There wasn't much, he knew that. But at least it was a start. He stopped short when General Hammond called after him.
"Teal'c is in his quarters," Hammond said. "He's willing to do his interview now."
"That's terrific!" Bregman smiled. He glanced toward the control room. Thought about the 'gate room beyond. Sooner or later, they were going to have to let him and his crew in there. He could be patient. If he had to be.
A A A A A A
Once again the klaxons were wailing, and the red emergency lights flashing. Somewhere, Jack mused, Emmett Bregman was pestering Colonel Rundell about getting to see the 'gate room, and to learn what 'off world activation' meant. As long as he's not pestering me!
Strolling into the control room, Jack smiled to see Sam already there. He frowned slightly when the rest of the team failed to appear. SG-1 always responded to the klaxons. As the premier team, and having members who were the heads of two of the most important departments in the SGC, it was just…expected. Cowards. Hiding somewhere, I'll bet. "What have we got, Walter?"
"SG-10 coming home, sir," the sergeant replied.
"So, did you do your interview?" Sam asked. She'd already heard the scuttlebutt about the 'confrontation' in the commissary. And the 'run-in' earlier that morning.
"Sure. Twice," Jack grinned.
"Mary Steenburgen?" Sam asked, one eyebrow raised slightly.
"She's so hot," Jack replied. "Almost as hot as you," he whispered in her ear.
Sam began to chuckle.
"Seriously, Sam, what's the reason they're giving for this little film festival?" Jack asked.
"You really should read your memos."
Jack gave her a pained look.
Chortling again, Sam shook her head. "Officially, it's to chronicle the 1000th trip through the Stargate."
"One thousand, you say?"
"I know, it's hard to believe we've been at it this long," Sam said.
"There should be cake."
"I'll let Major Whitmore know," Sam promised, grinning at him.
A A A A A A
Rundell knocked on the closed door. He stepped back slightly when Teal'c opened it. "General Hammond just informed Mr. Bregman that you've agreed to do your interview now."
He gave a slight nod to the liaison officer, but ignored the men with him. He turned and walked back into his room.
Bregman rushed into the room, barely glancing around as he sifted through the papers in his folder, searching for the questions he'd wanted to ask. An honest-to-god alien! For a moment he felt a rush of pure adrenaline. He was going to go down in history as the first journalist to ever interview an honest-to-god alien! "Just grab that chair," he said, pointing to Rundell. Who stared back at him.
Shep gave a smirk, grabbed the chair and sat it in the middle of the room. "If you'd just have a seat here, sir, we can get you hooked up for sound."
Teal'c remained stoic as the airman clipped the small microphone to his shirt.
"We have sound," Shep said, checking his equipment.
"We're rolling," James announced.
"So, I'm just reading your file here," Bregman said. "It's fascinating. I suppose I should ask you immediately here…you're…you're an alien!"
Teal'c merely stared at the journalist.
Bregman cleared his throat nervously. "I mean, well, not to you. But to us you would be…Anyway…uh…you were the highest ranking officer…um…in the service of one of our alien enemies, and you turned against them."
Teal'c continued to remain silent.
"Why did you turn against them…uh…when…when you did?" When Teal'c failed to respond at all, Bregman sighed. He looked over his shoulder at Rundell, glanced at James and Shep. Was certain that all three of them were silently laughing at him. "I mean…uh…could…sorry…why are you sitting there if you don’t intend to answer any of my questions?"
"Because I was requested to by General Hammond," Teal'c replied.
"I see. And he didn't happen to mention to you that part of the interview process involved actually saying something?"
"Okay…um…all right. Let's try this. General Jack O'Neill. You must have a tremendous amount of respect for him."
Teal'c raised one eyebrow slightly, but remained silent.
"Or maybe you don't. Let me rephrase that. Uh…General Jack O'Neill is your…uh…immediate superior…okay, maybe not in terms of species…" Bregman took a deep breath. "General Jack O'Neill is your commanding officer."
Thrilled to finally have broken through, Bregman looked around again, a wide smile on his face. "Good! Okay! Good, good. Uh…terrific! Let's move forward. Is there anything you can tell us about him?"
"If you wish to learn about General O'Neill, perhaps you should interview General O'Neill," Teal'c replied.
"Okay. Thanks," Bregman replied acerbically. "That's a good idea. Thank you very much. I want to ask you, to let me ask you-"
Teal'c stood to his feet. He'd agreed to do an interview. He had not, however, agreed to actually respond to any questions. As far as he was concerned, he'd fulfilled his part of the agreement. Given what he had been hearing about this man, he had no desire to remain in the journalist's presence any longer than necessary. It was no longer necessary.
Bregman watched, slack-jawed as Teal'c left the room. "Hey! Wait! Where are you gong?"
James and Shep were just as surprised by the turn of events. Rundell, however, bit back his smile.
Bregman looked around him. This was where an honest-to-god alien lived. "Okay, I want pictures of this room-"
Rundell immediately stepped forward. "No, sir. This room is private quarters. You do not have permission to film here."
Rubbing his hands over his face, Bregman dropped down into the chair the Jaffa had vacated. Getting interviews with these people wasn't like pulling teeth. It was like trying to talk to the freaking dead! He'd probably get more of a response from the other side than he was getting from the personnel at the SGC! "Let's go back down to level twenty-eight. Sooner or later they'll let us into that 'gate room. And if we're lucky, we'll catch up with General O'Neill."
Sharing a glance that revealed their doubts, Shep and James collected their gear.
A A A A A A
Casey paced around the work table in the largest of the labs on level eighteen. So far, she'd avoided seeing Bregman again. Her arms were wrapped tightly around her waist. She continued to struggle with the images from her vision. Determined to see through the dark haze that surrounded…whoever was in danger. She was so caught up in her thoughts that she didn't hear Daniel enter the room.
Daniel watched her for a moment, aching to help her…to offer the solace she so desperately needed. He'd seen her struggle before in an attempt to decipher or translate whatever she saw into intel they could use. But this…this was the worst ever. She was tearing herself up over her inability to clearly see every detail. And staunchly refused to accept the fact that perhaps she wasn't intended to. "So, did you and Janet enjoy lunch?"
She whirled around, startled by his voice. "Geez, Daniel!" She put a hand over her pounding heart.
"Sorry, Angel," he murmured.
"Lunch was great. And you should be happy to know I ate a full order of onion rings, half a cheese burger, and almost all of a strawberry shake," she said proudly.
"Glad to hear it," he smiled. "So, just pacing for lack of anything better to do?"
Her lip went back between her teeth. She shook her head, and lowered her eyes.
"Casey, don't force it," Daniel admonished gently.
"You don't understand," she said softly. "I'm supposed to be protecting the people here. I can't do that if I can't see when someone is going to be hurt! A vague 'someone's in danger' is utterly useless!"
"No, it's not," he argued. "Someone is in danger. So we know that we all need to be more…alert."
"Only near Janet," she murmured.
"The person who gets hurt is near Janet," Casey explained.
"Okay…that's a bit…" Daniel paused, noted the tears in his Wife's eyes. "C'mere."
She walked into his embrace. Wrapped her arms around his shoulders, breathed deeply of his scent. This was the only place where she could find refuge. Find peace. No matter what was happening…or in this instance, not happening…Daniel's arms offered the protection her heart needed.
"Tell me how to help you, Case," he whispered.
"You can't," she replied, tears rolling down her cheeks. "No one can. I have to do this myself…I have to figure this out."
Daniel closed his eyes. Sent up a prayer that whatever the danger Casey sensed was, it wouldn't be serious. Nothing…fatal. He worried about what would happen if someone…the someone she knew was in danger…was critically wounded. If that someone were killed…He roughly shoved that thought away. No doubt a death would send her into a tailspin no one would be able to save her from. No, it couldn't be anything like that. Not if whatever was to happen, happened near Janet. What could possibly happen to someone in the infirmary?
"I should work on the database," she said, after luxuriating in her Husband's embrace for several long moments.
"If you want. Or you could help me with this tablet," Daniel offered. Frustration from the database she didn't need…not while she continued to deal with whatever it was she'd seen…or rather…couldn't see. He tightened his arms around her when he felt her move just a bit closer
"I feel like a failure," she admitted. She closed her eyes when he held her all the tighter.
"You're not," he insisted.
"It's just so damned…odd."
"I know that Janet is a danger…no, that's not right," she said, correcting herself. "Janet is a threat to our…" She glanced at the open door. "Well, you know."
"Whoever is in danger, is near Janet. Now I ask you…how can that be? I mean, what's she going to do, poke every needle in the infirmary into their butt?"
In spite of himself, and the seriousness of the situation, Daniel chuckled loudly. "Casey, that's one hell of a danger."
She gave a small giggle as well. "It's just so…odd."
"Maybe that's why you're not seeing everything," Daniel suggested. "Maybe you haven't been given the full picture yet. Maybe whatever the danger is…it's not really a threat. Maybe it's just…I dunno…maybe some random person is going to get a bad paper cut, or stub his or her toe, or something like that."
"It would have to be one of the nurses or medics," Casey mused.
"Maybe someone smacks a knee on one of the beds, or any of the medical equipment in the infirmary," Daniel added.
"But then I wouldn't get a sense of such danger."
He gently pulled away and wreathed her face with his hands. "Could the details of the first part of the download be affecting the second?"
She frowned. "I don't know. It's possible, I guess."
"Babe, I think part of the problem is that you're fixated on what you can't see, and you're not looking closely enough at what you can see," Daniel said.
"But there's nothing else, I've looked," Casey argued.
"I still say your fixation is part of the problem. Maybe getting your mind off the problem for awhile will help you find the answers you're looking for. It works for me," he added.
She tried to smile. "I don't know if I can."
"Come with me."
"Where are we going?"
"Sam's lab. I came up here for my notes." He grabbed a folder full of yellow legal-pad sheets. "SG-13 ran into another Ancient device. Sam has figured out how to get a display of the coding on it. But since it's all in Ancient-"
"She needs you to translate it," Casey finished. "What is it?"
"Security device of some sort," Daniel replied. "It attacked the team when Cam tripped something near the ruins they're examining."
"Yeah." He held out his hand. "Come on."
She stopped in the middle of the corridor. Daniel, who had been holding her hand, noticed only when her hand tugged against his.
"I did not see that," she muttered.
"Didn't see what?"
"I sat in on the briefing, and everything! I didn't see Cam and the guys on 13 being attacked!" She shook her head. "What else am I not getting? Who else is in danger out there because I'm fucking up?"
"Oh, Angel," he murmured when guilt-filled green eyes looked up at him. "You see what you see."
"Obviously I'm not seeing enough!" she declared. "Daniel, what good am I if I can't see anything?"
Oh god, not again. Casey had nearly fallen apart when she'd been convinced that her gift had deserted her…the result of a daemon's interference. There weren't any daemons around to blame…at least he hoped there weren't. But if she was convinced that she was 'useless', she'd no doubt resign from the SGC. How was he going to persuade her…prove to her…that she wasn't 'useless'? That her gift of sight worked exactly as it was intended to work. That she saved the lives of SG team members on a damned near daily basis.
She shook her head once more. "Or," she sighed, "I'm so damned hung up on what I can't see from that download that I'm missing details for other things."
Daniel bit back his sigh of relief. Grabbed the idea and ran with it. "Possible, considering you've been fixated on that download," he said, repeating earlier observations. "You're so focused on what you can't see, you're not able to 'focus' on anything else."
Casey heaved a heartfelt sigh. "Okay, so I just make sure I double and triple check everything I see, or every mission report I go over, until all of this is…over, I guess."
"Makes sense. You could just try to relax-"
She looked up at him, one eyebrow raised slightly.
"Right. Double and triple checking it is," he smiled.
With a smile of her own, she allowed him to lead her the rest of the way to the elevator.
They had just stepped off the elevator on level nineteen, were heading directly for Sam's lab when Sergeant Tony Sabotti stormed past them. The thunderous look on his face had the Jacksons exchanging a worried glance.
"Tony?" Casey asked softly, reaching out for the man's arm as he passed. Her gift didn't normally work by touch, but apparently the anger that was flowing off the man triggered the unpleasant…scene…that she beheld. She closed her eyes; watched and listened to what had happened in the room set up for interviews. The interview had just occurred, she could tell that much. Tony was furious over the entire incident. As well he should be, she thought, the images dancing in her head…
Bregman adjusted his sleeves as Shep clipped the microphone to Tony's BDU shirt. "Just relax, Sergeant, this won't hurt a bit," he quipped.
Sabotti grimaced. "Right."
"Would you mind stating your name and rank? As an introduction," Bregman explained.
Another grimace. Sabotti was already feeling uncomfortable. The request sounded more like something he'd hear as a prisoner. He cleared his throat. "Sabotti, Anthony. First Sergeant, United States Air Force."
The journalist sighed, shook his head. "Maybe a little less…I dunno…less 'Geneva Convention-esque'?"
"Sergeant Tony Sabotti, United States Air Force," Sabotti said, not quite frowning, but certainly not smiling..
"That's better," Bregman smiled. "Now, you've been trained in Special Ops, haven't you?"
Bregman waited for a moment, his brows knitting with disappointment and a healthy dose of frustration when the sergeant failed to continue. "Okay…so, when you go through the Stargate, you're going out as a specially trained soldier?"
"I suppose so," Sabotti allowed, frowning slightly.
"And…forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't the goal of a soldier to kill and defeat an enemy?"
"I guess," Sabotti said, his frown deepening.
"Let's see, you're the communications specialist for SG-6, is that correct?"
"Just what does that mean?"
Tony gave a tight smile. "It means I speak Goa'uld and a couple other languages better than my teammates. I'm also qualified to work with over a dozen different communication computer systems."
"I see," Bregman nodded. He looked down at his notes, then pinned the sergeant with a stare. "When your team goes out on a mission, you're going out with the intention to take control of an area or situation, to defeat the enemy, right?"
"Not necessarily," Sabotti replied, shifting nervously in the chair. He suddenly felt as if he were on trial for doing something...horrible.
"No? Isn't your team one of the few that is always sent into 'hot zones'?"
"So, for you, going through the Stargate is no different than being in say…I dunno…Iraq or Afghanistan?"
"It's totally different, because-" Sabotti started.
Bregman held up a hand. "I just wonder…how does it look to the people 'out there', when your team comes rushing through the Stargate…ready for battle? I mean, wouldn't that frighten them? Wouldn't they see 'us'… 'us' being the people of Earth… as aggressors, no different from the Goa'uld?"
Sabotti narrowed his eyes. "When my teammates and I go through the 'gate to help another team, we already know it's the Goa'uld and their Jaffa we'll be fighting. We've gone into villages peacefully, to establish treaties, and been there during an attack. We defend those people, and they're grateful for it!" He stood up, yanked the small microphone from his shirt. "You can twist this however you want...it doesn't change the fact that we're making a difference out there. And we're keeping the people here on Earth safe, too. And that includes you!"
"That dirty, rotten son-of-a bitch!" Casey fumed. "Where is the bastard?"
No need to ask whom she was referring to. "I don't know, Angel," Daniel said softly.
Without another word she raced for the stairs. She'd find that asshole, and when she did, she'd let him know that he'd messed with the wrong people. She'd find a way to have his ass bounced out of the SGC so hard and fast it would take a week for his smug attitude to catch up with him. She paused only long enough to close her eyes, and to reach out. There. He was on his way to level twenty-eight.
With a shake of his head, Daniel trotted after his Wife. She was in a 'take-no-prisoners' frame of mind, and who knew what that slimy bastard would get on tape that could hurt her, and the SGC.
A A A A A A
Airman James was changing videotapes in the camcorder. Wickenhouse was adjusting the cover over the boom microphone, both watching Bregman surreptitiously. Neither were willing to guess just how much longer the journalist would take being 'put off' before either exploding…or giving up.
The klaxons were silent again, although it seemed that no one knew if or when the alarms would go off. Bregman turned to Rundell. "What's the meaning of 'off world activation'? What's that about?"
"I'm not privy to that information," Rundell replied. He knew the basics, or course, he'd been thoroughly briefed on the SGC and its mission before being assigned as the liaison for this…project.
"And you wouldn't tell me even if you knew, would you?" Bregman asked accusingly.
"We have orders," Rundell said.
"You remind be of those 'keepers' we used to have in the Gulf. They used to censor our reports," Bregman complained.
"Any censoring done was probably an attempt to protect our troops. The enemy watches CNN, too, you know," Rundell retorted dryly.
Bregman shifted from one foot to the other, sighed with exasperation.
"Look, it's not like we're trying to cover up the truth," Rundell said.
"Oh, sure," Bregman replied caustically.
"Censoring reports in combat just makes sense."
"Makes sense?" Bregman asked incredulously, his eyes going wide, eyebrows raised.
"You do not jeopardize the lives of troops of ongoing missions," Rundell said coolly.
"Well, that makes no sense, does it? Not here. Not now. This is supposed to be a documentary. It's not going on the news. At least, not right now. What, are you telling me that you're broadcasting this to the enemy on some other planet? Look…I…I have been denied access to several prior mission files. You know why? Because no one wants me to know how close we've come to…well, why don't you tell me, Tom? You're not conspiring to cover the truth, are you? Why don't you tell me? We've come close to what? What?"
Rundell shifted uncomfortably. "Being compromised."
Bregman snorted. "Being compromised. There's a euphemism for you. 'Being compromised'. Close to the brink of planetary annihilation is probably more accurate. That's why we're not allowed to film these 'ongoing activities'. Because every time they open that 'gate, there's a chance something could go cataclysmically wrong. I mean…it's just a freaking miracle that the planet wasn't destroyed by that asteroid!"
Rundell paused. He hadn't known that the journalist was aware of that particular mission. "That asteroid was not in space as a result of opening the 'gate." At least, not directly as far as he knew. "And it's lucky for you that these people were here, and able to pull of the miracle they did, or we wouldn't be having this conversation, would we, Mr. Bregman?"
"Please! You can't tell me that this has only happened once or twice! I repeat, Tom, every time that 'gate is opened, we're at risk of being destroyed!" Bregman declared.
"In which case, it wouldn't really matter what we had on tape, would it?" Shep muttered. He gave a wan grin when James chuckled.
Bregman whirled to face the two men. "What did you say?…What did you say? That it doesn’t matter? If that's your opinion, and if you had any integrity at all, then you'd resign before I had to replace you."
"I'd rather be replaced than court-martialed. I'm not going to do anything I'm not authorized to do," Shep declared.
"Now see, with that attitude-"
"The bottom line, Mr. Bregman," Rundell said, talking over Bregman's comment, "Is that the SGC is not going to let any of this out until it's declassified."
"Well what's the difference then? If no one is going to see it until it's been declassified, why not shoot it now, and decide later?"
"It's not up to me," Rundell replied.
"Not up to me," Bregman repeated. "Yeah, where have we heard that before? 'Not up to me'. 'I was just doing my job'-"
The opening of the elevator door cut off any further tirade that the journalist might have gone on. When Jack stepped into the corridor, Bregman was already moving.
"General! General O'Neill!"
Giving a loud, mental groan, Jack tried to backtrack, but the elevator doors had already closed.
"We're all set up for you right here! All set up! If you could just-"
Jack braced himself to 'run the gauntlet'. Bregman and his minions weren't allowed in the control room. He could duck in there, take the stairs back up to twenty-seven, and then head back up to Sam's lab. The little weasel wasn't allowed there, either. "Briefing," he muttered, walking hurriedly past Bregman.
"Yeah. No. No…wait! General!"
Pausing at the bottom of the steps that led up to the control room, Jack turned around to see the camera pointed toward him, the boom looming overhead.
"You know, I'm going to get you on camera sooner or later, even if all I get is a series of shots of you avoiding me!" Bregman called.
"Fire away," Jack replied. "I hope shots of my ass serve you well."
He shook his head as the general disappeared into the very off-limits control room. He turned to his crew. "What are we even doing here? Just pack it up," Bregman grumbled. He'd never been so ready to quit this early in a project before.
"How dare you!"
Bregman turned around to see Casey Jackson standing in the middle of the corridor, her hands clenched into fists, her green eyes full of anger. "How dare I what?"
"How dare you question Tony Sabotti like you did? That wasn't an interview, it was a goddamned interrogation!"
"Mrs. Jackson, I don't know what you heard, but I can assure you that I never-" He broke off when Casey tapped her temple.
"Tony didn't say a word to me. But I 'saw' exactly what you did to him!"
"I was only trying to get at the truth!" Bregman insisted.
"Really?" The single word dripped icicles.
"I admit I might have pushed a little bit…everyone around here is so…" He shrugged.
"So reluctant to admit what they're doing here."
"Admit? That implies that we're doing something wrong," Casey said.
"I'm here…at the invitation of the President of the United States, I might add…to document what goes on here. If I'm getting shut out at every turn, how can I do my job? The American people have the right-" He took a full step backward at the raw fury that seemed to emanate from her slender body.
Casey glared at the journalist, unaware that Daniel had walked up behind her, and took a protective stance just off to her side. "You think you have the right to be here…that it's your 'job' to tell the public what the military is doing…as if the secrecy were a bad thing. It's because of the military that you're even standing here! If not for the men and women who have died defending the freedoms you have, including the freedom of press that you and your cohorts tout at every turn, you'd be sitting in an office somewhere typing out whatever the government bureaucrats told you to type."
"Mrs. Jackson-" Bregman started, holding both hands up in a posture of self-defense.
"If not for the men and women who work here at the SGC, the men and women who have died out there defending your ass, you'd be one of three things: a Goa'uld host, a slave, or dead, and trust me, dead would be the better of the three!"
"Mrs. Jackson-" Bregman said again, trying to stop the deluge of angry words.
"Have you honestly sat down to think about what would happen not only in this country, but around the world, if the Stargate Program, and all it entails, became public knowledge? Have you taken the time to realize that the reason the military doesn't announce everything it does is so that our enemies don't know our movements, and because husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, and children…the loved ones of those military personnel…don't need to know the danger that the military faces every day? They don't need to know the fine line we walk when dealing with other countries, especially those we don't call 'allies'…they don't need to know how close this planet comes every day to imploding because of egos and assholes who think they're far more important than they are in the grand scheme of things. They don't need to know that here in the SGC we're fighting an enemy determined to destroy them…and everything they know, everything that they believe in…because that truth would scare them to death! And that truth would destroy so many beliefs…how many would be bereft of any sort of spiritual solace if they knew that not only is there no single 'god' out there watching over them, but the 'god' they do know is based on myths written about a parasite?" Casey took a breath.
Bregman glanced at Daniel, noticed the amused smile tugging at the archaeologist's lips. He waited for a moment, and when it seemed that the slender seer had wound down, he dared to speak. "Mrs. Jackson, I meant no offense. If it helps, I'll apologize to Sergeant Sabotti. But surely you can appreciate the fact that the people who are paying the taxes that support this program have the right to know. Perhaps not the need…but the right."
She shook her head. "You didn't hear a word I said," she murmured softly.
"Of course I did…half the base probably did," Bregman chuckled. Which died immediately in his throat when Daniel took a step closer to his wife, and the amused smile disappeared.
"No, Mr. Bregman-"
"Call me Emmett," was the immediate, almost automatic response.
"Mr. Bregman, your mind was made up before you ever walked through the first check point. No matter what you see, no matter what you hear, you'll make it fit your preconceived notions of what we're doing. You'll twist it until that truth is something ugly and hurtful." Casey turned, startled at first to see Daniel. She reached for him, her hands wrapping around his arm. "I need to get away from here."
"Come on, Angel, Sam's waiting," Daniel said gently. He knew that his Wife was desperate to make the journalist see what really happened at the SGC…not that secrets were kept, but that life on planet Earth was protected. Not that the military was operating a secret base, but that the presence of the SGC was the first line of defense against an enemy determined to win…at all costs. And that cost would be the destruction of the planet they called home. He could only hope that at least some of what she'd said would filter through.
Bregman watched as the doctor led his wife away. "Well, that was interesting."
"You were pretty hard on that guy," James said immediately.
"I was trying to get to the truth!" Bregman retorted.
"You were trying to make him out to be a baby-killer or something," James spat in return. "I'm taking a break."
"You'll take a break when I tell you that you can take a break," Bregman barked.
James glared at Bregman for a moment, then walked toward the briefing room.
Shep watched for a moment, then followed his companion.
Bregman sighed. He wanted the full story of the SGC, the good and the bad. The only way to get that was to push. In spite of whom that pushing might offend. "Should have gotten that rant on tape," he muttered to himself. "It would have been the best thing I've gotten so far!"
A A A A A A
Sam and Teal'c were studying the device that SG-13 had sent through the 'gate. She reached out to test the wires connected to the device. If the connections were still solid, she might be able to activate it. "This is an Ancient device, but I've found some Goa'uld programming."
"Then it is likely that the Goa'uld have been to the planet previously," Teal'c replied.
"Possible," Sam agreed. "Although it's possible that they located this thing elsewhere. It's definitely a probe of some kind. The storage capacity of the crystals is immense…I'm betting that's due to the Ancients, not the Goa'uld. But so far, all I've found on it are detailed images of the ruins." She paused, her brow furrowed slightly. "You know, it makes sense. We use a MALP. Why shouldn't the Goa'uld use something in the same way?"
"The Goa'uld are scavengers," Teal'c said. "They create nothing. It is possible that they found this device, and simply copied the idea of using the probe from us."
"Good theory," Sam nodded. She looked up at her friend. "So, did you do your interview with the documentary crew?"
Teal'c grimaced slightly. Even the few minutes he'd spent in the presence of the journalist had been unpleasant. "Yes."
Knowing the Jaffa's propensity to be downright reticent when faced with something he didn't approve of…or simply didn't like, Sam figured Teal'c's interview had been shorter than her own. "You didn't say one word did you?" she asked, grinning at him.
"I did. Just not words that Emmett Bregman wished to hear," Teal'c responded calmly.
Oh, to have witnessed that! she thought, laughing silently. "Ya know, I have to admit, I can't wait to hear what everyone else said." She gave a mischievous smile. "Of course, if all the interviews went like mine, and what I suspect of yours, it will be a short film!"
Teal'c smiled. "Indeed."
Casey and Daniel walked into the room arm-in-arm. "Hey, Sam. Come up with anything on that yet?" he asked, nodding at the device.
"Lots of images of the ruins, but nothing else so far."
Daniel nodded. "That fits the description…'surveyor of all things'."
"I'm ready to see if I can locate actual programming," Sam said.
"Okay, let's do it." Daniel grabbed a stool and sat down beside the astrophysicist. He couldn't help but smile when he felt Casey lean against his back.
"Here goes," Sam mumbled, clipping a connector to one of the protruding ports, or what she assumed was a data-port, near the center of the half-sphere. On the other end of the ribbon cable was a USB connector, which she plugged into the laptop that sat open beside her.
Immediately three short lines of text appeared.
"Yep, that's Ancient," Daniel said.
"Okay. I'm guessing this is some sort of menu," Sam replied.
"Right. The first line is 'report analysis and image retrieval'. Wow. That's very…familiar."
Sam smiled. "Not everything has to be poetic or mythical or a code for something," she pointed out.
"True. It's just, well, it's…it's exactly like something we'd have on our computers," Daniel said.
"C'mon, Stud Muffin, there are only so many ways you can actually say…that…" she grinned, pointing at the text.
"Smartass," he grumbled good-naturedly.
"Okay, what about this line?"
"Reprogram procedures and options."
"Again, very straightforward. And no doubt what the Goa'uld used," Sam said, looking at Teal'c.
"I found several lines of Goa'uld on some of the images. Teal'c and I came to the conclusion that some Goa'uld found this, and reprogrammed it for their own use. This would have made that fairly straight forward," Sam explained.
"So it's possible that this device wasn't left on…" Daniel paused, trying to recall the planet designation.
"P3X 666," Sam offered, glancing at her notes. "Exactly. It could have been found anywhere."
"And there could be more of them out there…anywhere," Daniel sighed.
"Okay, last line?"
"Diagnostic and program protocols."
"Bingo!" Sam cried excitedly. She moved the mouse, highlighted that particular line. Paused, and looked at Daniel. "Does it really say that, or is that just a translation?"
Daniel grinned. "It's a translation. The words are slightly different, but the translation is the direct meaning."
"Right." She clicked the mouse. And held her breath.
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