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"...Just above, up so high
Just above you is where I fly
But if I fall from the sky
On you, can I rely
I'll protect you from the world
Whenever I can
But will you do the same for me
Now and again
Even heroes need heroes sometimes
And even the strong need someone to tell them it's all right
Even heroes need heroes sometimes
Will you be my hero tonight?..."
Performed by Ne-Yo
Written by Nigel D.
It had been a long day. Henry Hayes dropped onto the sofa - one of two which sat facing one another on the rug that portrayed the Presidential Seal - in the middle of the Oval Office. He'd just finished going over the latest reports from the SGC. Once again SG-1 had 'lost' a team member to kidnapping, and turned the entire thing into a win for the home team. Apparently Doctor Jackson had managed to prevent the Goa'uld from getting their hands on artifacts created by the Ancients, and had discovered a 'new' Goa'uld - Chalk...no that wasn't quite right. Chalk…Chuka…well, something like that. He sighed. Couldn't help but grin thinking about the note he'd found attached to General O'Neill's report, suggesting that 'regular' names be given to the Goa'uld...
"It would be, in my opinion," the general had written, "much easier to remember names like Bill or Ted or Mike or Joe. We could assign the names, and when discussing these Goa'uld off world, there would be no risk of any spies learning who we were actually talking about."
In spite of the tongue-in-cheek manner in which the suggestion had been made, the idea was worthy of at least a bit of consideration. He had enough to try to remember, Hayes groused silently, without trying to remember all of those Goa'uld names and pronunciations. From somewhere in the back of his brain, his mind pointed out that the names were actually those of ancient Earth 'gods'...and that he should at least recognize them. Give me a break. I never knew them to begin with, not all of them anyway, he retorted silently, trying to still that voice in his head that insisted as President of the United States, it was up to him to know these things. Give me a freakin' break, he repeated.
Bringing his wandering thoughts back under control, the president closed his eyes. According to Doctor Jackson's report, the two 'bracelets' - photos of which had accompanied the typed pages - were etched with astronomical coordinates. Together, those coordinates created a Stargate address to what just might turn out to be the lost city of Atlantis. Or so the archaeologist believed. Of course, to prove or disprove that theory, someone was going to have to make the trip to that specific location. The problem, it seemed, was that there were seven symbols on the bracelets…three on one, four on the other. And apparently that meant that a total of eight symbols, with Earth being the origin of the journey. According to General Hammond, dialing to another galaxy had only been done once - when then Colonel O'Neill had had the repository of Ancient knowledge stuck in his head. With that knowledge, he'd built an 'adapter', a device that had boosted the power of the Stargate, in order to get to the planet where the Asgard resided, and whom had 'healed' O'Neill and sent him home. Hayes rubbed his hands over his face. If anyone could figure out a way to get to that distant place, the members of SG-1 would do so. No doubt they would make it look easy, too.
Thoughts of those special people prodded another thought…one he'd been having quite often since the visit SG-1 had made, and the discussion that had been held in this very room. It was only a matter of time before something happened…something that not even the 'miracle workers' of Stargate Command would be able to prevent…that would reveal the existence of the Stargate, the Stargate Program, and the secrets of Area 52. The only way to counter what could be a public relations catastrophe was to head it off before it happened. To do that, ironically enough, they would have to reveal the existence of the Stargate, the Stargate Program, and the secrets of Area 52.
"It doesn't have to be revealed completely, or all at once."
Doctor Jackson's observation had been the catalyst for an idea he'd been nurturing ever since. The best way to reveal something was to put it on television. And if it wasn't on the nightly news, that allowed a bit of wiggle-room for the White House. Plausible deniability, as it were.
There had been the television show, 'Wormhole Extreme'. The sci-fi fans of the country had loved it. It had been allowed, according to Tim Miller, because it had offered the perfect 'cover' if anyone claimed to know a government secret, and then started spouting off facts about the Stargate program. It would be easy enough to point to the show, make the loose-lipped talker look like a nut-case, and that would be the end of that. Yep, plausible deniability in spades. On the other hand, it could be used to their advantage. Statements could be released, stating that the show had been used as a means to introduce the idea of travel through stable wormholes and the existence of aliens.
Then there were the tidbits that had been carefully 'planted'. So-called 'discoveries' that had been 'shared'. Reports of which wound up on Discovery and History Channel programs. Nothing that could ever be traced to the source. And just enough to whet the imaginations of the people doing research. Hell, for all he knew, Hayes thought, some other archaeologist would find the same markings that Doctor Jackson had, and stand up and declare that Doctor Daniel Jackson wasn't a lunatic after all…that the pyramids were indeed landing pads for alien spaceships. That, he thought, would be the perfect time to let more about area 52 and the Stargate Program be 'leaked' to certain scholars. Men and women who could reveal the existence of the secret program, without the politics of DC getting in the way. Making certain that only specific details were released would give them a bit of breathing room. Enough of a chance to gauge how well the citizens of the country…of the world…were handling the information. With luck, there wouldn't be enough of a reaction to warrant any worry.
A documentary could be made. Should be made, he thought, not for the first time. Under the guise of simply wanting to document the way Stargate Command operated; its goals, its achievements. Of course, any filmmaker hired would put his or her own spin on the entire thing...that was just the nature of the beast, and a fact that simply had to be accepted. That 'fact', however, would give him the opportunity to disallow it as any sort of 'official' record. But, he could conveniently put away any such film with all of the information pertaining to Area 52. And when the time was right, when the opportunity presented itself, or the need to disclose the whole operation was greater than the need to keep it a secret, the film could be aired...he personally thought the History Channel would be a good outlet. Or, and he truly hoped that it wouldn't be the case, if some tidbit of information about the SGC was leaked to or dug up by some enterprising journalist, he...or whoever the president was at that time...could anonymously have the film delivered to specific media outlets. In that scenario, they would just have to sit back and let the chips fall where they may, as the old saying went. If the film was done properly...as a narrative rather than a expose, it could go a long way to negating feelings of anger and fear in the hearts of John Q. and Jane Public.
One of the notes attached to the stack of folders from the SGC caught his eye. The mission had been, according to said note, number nine hundred, ninety-three. It wouldn't be considered 'unusual' to want to document mission one-thousand, would it? It was the perfect 'cover' for doing the documentary, and prevent any serious objections from the Pentagon that would stall the project, or even prevent the film from being made. He nodded to himself. That was the best plan he'd been able to come up with so far.
Eventually the revelation would be made to the people of planet Earth. That in fact they weren't alone, and for the most part, the aliens who occupied the myriad of planets in the universe were actually the descendents of people taken from among their own ancestors. It wouldn't be so easy to hear that there was a species out there hell bent to enslave every human in existence. But done right, this film would certainly make the operation of the SGC easier.
Financial assistance could be demanded from every country in the world. After all, their butts were also being protected by those who worked at the SGC. And, no longer would Americans be the sole protectors. Other nations, particularly those of the Stargate Alliance, would have to pony up troops and equipment. There wouldn't be any leverage against the Americans, either, not with the program going public. As long as the Stargate remained on American soil…and he figured there wasn't a politician in the world eager to have that thing in 'their backyard'…and operated by the United States Air Force, the US would have ultimate control. If SG-1 was right in their assumptions, politics and the political posturing of their leaders would be the last thing on the minds of men and women from any country who walked through that Ancient device, and into that battle to protect all of mankind. He couldn't help but smile. Hadn't he seen that very thing during his visit to the SGC? Politics, politicians, and the seemingly daunting problems faced by Americans were trivial in comparison to what those people faced every day. What was it that Colonel Carter had said?
"We can even see what the solutions should be, or could be…"
Wouldn't that be a kick in the ass…if revealing the Stargate Program and all it entailed brought about world peace, and an attitude of cooperation that would see mankind leap forward, free from all the petty, political bickering.
Hayes wondered if there would be as much chaos as they all feared if the secret program was revealed. According to one of Doctor Jackson's reports, the religions of the world would take a major hit, especially when so much of what was now the Judeo-Christian religions had been taken from Sumerian, Babylonian, Akkadian, Phoenician, and Egyptian mythologies and religions. And those had been based on the 'gods' impersonated by Goa'uld.
Another nagging question struggled to be recognized. Hayes sighed softly. Would the majority of the world's citizens be able to deal with such knowledge, in spite of the fact that it would mean a close examination of belief systems that had been in place for centuries?
The president snorted softly, stood up and stretched. The major religions of the world weren't nearly as old as the mythologies they were based on. Even though Christianity and Islam claimed followers that numbered in the billions, how many were actually practicing members of those faiths? How many just marked a spot on whatever census form or poll was being taken…claiming to be Christian or Muslim because Grandpa and Grandma had been? There were just as many people who didn’t follow the tenants of either of those religions. Would those people be able to see past the panic, and most probably the anger of those who were faithful (or sometimes rabid) followers of those faiths? Those in control of those religions would find themselves faced with one hell of a dilemma, and so would condemn reports of the Stargate and the Stargate Program as lies, just to maintain that control. He frowned slightly. How many believers would actually take a step back, and look at the proof laid out before them? How many would accept the truth?
With another sigh, he opened the door to the private hallway that would lead to the Presidential quarters. He nodded when the two Secret Service guards fell into place beside him. His mind made up, Hayes pulled his cellphone from his pocket. Punched the familiar extension number that would connect him to the most able assistant he'd ever had the pleasure of working with. "Stan? I have a job for you. I need to find just the right person for a specific little project I have in mind..." He explained what he wanted. Listened to the immediate protests and subsequent fears, quelled them - if not his own, by stating it was important to take the step now, while they had a choice in the matter. He listened good-naturedly to the predictions of doom and gloom. Grinned when he was assured that the 'right' person would be located immediately.
Satisfied that the ball was rolling, Hayes joined his wife for dinner. For the moment, he wouldn't worry about the fall-out of revealing Area 52. He'd just worry about getting something set up to hopefully make the eventual unveiling of the Stargate a little less chaotic. Maybe, by the time the whole thing was revealed, religion and its dogmas wouldn't be as powerful as they were at the moment. Hayes snorted softly. Yeah, and pigs could fly, he thought.
A A A A A A
The members of SG-1 had just settled around 'their' table in the commissary when Casey cocked her head sideways.
"Oh, no," Jack grumbled. "Let me finish my coffee first!"
Daniel took a generous swallow from his own mug, while reaching out to his Wife with the other hand.
When the slender blonde frowned, the expressions on the faces of her teammates mirrored hers. The poking that always signaled that her gift was about to be 'activated' was becoming stronger.
"Casey?" Daniel asked softly. "Download?"
"I think...yep," Casey replied.
There was no way to hold her while they were sitting side-by-side. Standing to his feet, Daniel gently lifted her to hers, watched as her gaze became slightly unfocused. He moved to stand directly in front of her, wrapped his arms around her; smiled when hers locked around his neck. "Relax, Angel. Nice, slow, deep breaths. Don't try to look at it yet," he crooned softly.
Focusing her attention on his blue eyes, following his lead as he breathed slowly, deeply, Casey clung to her Husband. Taking comfort from the strength in his arms, the spice of the shower gel she'd washed him with earlier coupled with his own unique scent, the warmth of his body as he held her so tightly. Waiting for the flash of light that would signal the end of this particular download. Seconds ticked by, images continued to whirl…out of focus and impossible to concentrate on... There! Finally!
As soon as her eyes fluttered closed, Daniel began to slowly run his hand up and down her back. She had informed him that the 'personal relaxation technique', as she'd dubbed it, helped her while she sorted through the information that was randomly dumped into her mind. Anything he could do to help her, any small way of being a part of something that both awed and terrified him, he would do.
Jack and Sam exchanged a worried glance when Casey continued to stand silently, eyes closed. Whatever she was 'seeing', it seemed to be taking longer than usual, which wasn't a happy sign.
"We're about to be...invaded," Casey said softly. "No...that's not right. Not exactly invaded...well, an invasion of sorts."
"Goa'uld?" Jack asked immediately, tensing visibly. The SGC had faced invasion before. It was never easy.
"Huh? Cameras?" Jack looked from Casey to Daniel, as if hoping his best friend had a clue to what the seer was talking about, then back at Casey.
"That's what I see. Cameras. And a man...asking lots of questions."
Daniel frowned. "That's...odd."
"To say the least," Sam said.
"And Janet..." Casey's frown deepened. "Janet is at risk...no...wait...she's a risk...to us...to our secret. Not intentionally, but..." The slender blonde shook her head. "I need more time to sort through all of this," she admitted.
"No rush. Just try to figure it out before we're invaded by the cameras," Jack quipped.
"Ha ha," Casey retorted.
Sam smiled. "Can you tell if the risk is serious?"
"Very serious...Janet would never...never betray...she'd never do anything to hurt us, not on purpose...but inadvertently the damage would be…well, we'd be in a great deal of danger." The seer took a deep breath, blew it out slowly. "It feels...there's...there's black...no, darkness. Definitely darkness. It's near Janet, but not around her." Knowing only that the darkness meant danger, Casey nearly panicked as she grabbed for information that simply wasn't there. "I can't see who the darkness surrounds!"
It was obvious to her teammates that she was attempting to do just that, her agitation was palpable when she frowned again and began to gnaw her lower lip
"Casey, don't force it," Daniel chided gently. "Just relax. Let the details come to you, don't try to grab at them."
While the advice was sound, and usually what he told her every time she had a download, and for the same reason - her penchant to try to decipher every detail she could immediately - it wasn't easy to sit back down and allow the images in her mind to 'settle'. She already knew that someone in the SGC was in danger. But until she could see who, and where, and any other useful details, there wasn't anything she could do, nothing she could tell General Hammond. Which only served to frustrate her, and left her feeling useless.
A A A A A A
General Hammond read the memo twice. Years of working under the restrictions of such high level security made even the idea of allowing outsiders to visit the SGC unpalatable. To be ordered to open the doors to allow a camera crew into the facility left him with a bitter taste in his mouth.
He heaved a sigh. The president was certain that this idea could be their 'ace in the hole' if word about the SGC was somehow leaked; especially if the leak was anywhere near the media. He would grudgingly admit that the idea had merit, as far as protecting the people under his command from what could be a public relations nightmare. Preventing the men and women who worked for him…with him…from being seen as anything but the heroes they truly were was a legitimate goal. He was certain that's what Hayes intended: a positive explanation of what Stargate Command was, what it was about, and what the people who were assigned to the project were really doing.
Whether journalist or filmmaker was tasked with the project, it didn't matter. He would never believe that whoever the president hired could be objective enough to tell the story of the SGC without putting the 'mandatory' negative spin on the subject. His skepticism was due to the fact that the entire project was run by the military, and the media had never been 'military friendly'; Hollywood was just as biased, for the most part, and he certainly didn't believe those attitudes would be changing.
According to the memo, however, he wasn't being given a choice. The orders were to cooperate as fully as possible, without revealing classified information. Just allowing outsiders to see the Stargate would be revealing far too much, the general thought a tad grumpily. Hammond shook himself mentally. He'd always known that someday the Stargate Program would be revealed to the world. While this wasn't the exposure he'd feared, his own reservations regarding the film project would see him adhering strictly to the very letter of his orders. No more, no less.
No doubt the duration of this 'visit' was going to be a headache for him. One thing he was pleased to note...the president had given him the authority to oust any and all visitors if a crisis should occur. For their safety, as well as the continued security of the facility. For the first time in his career Hammond found himself hoping that the enemy would decide to make a move against him and his people.
A A A A A A
The documentary-journalist read the letter again and again...and again. For all that he'd experienced in his life, all that he'd seen and done, nothing had prepared him for this. The letter was handwritten. He'd seen Henry Hayes's signature often enough to recognize it. He wasn't an expert in identifying handwriting, but it was obvious that the message scrawled on the official White House stationary he was holding in his hand was the real deal. The note was short…but more than enough to pique his interest. The president, it seemed, had a project he wanted undertaken, and he was looking for just the right filmmaker.
Fingers trembling with excitement, he carefully dialed the number that had been included in the few, tersely worded lines. He'd interviewed mayors, governors, senators, movie stars, sports celebrities…he wasn't easily overwhelmed. But this! That of all the documentary journalists available, he had been selected, by the President of the United States no less, was more than just an honor. It was nearly unbelievable.
That thought ricocheting around in his head notably dimmed his excitement. Why on Earth was he being offered this project...whatever 'it' was? While his wasn't among the names bandied around Hollywood on a daily basis, he wasn't a complete 'unknown'. Still...why would the president contact him? Had others...more well known documentary filmmakers...turned it down?
He shook the doubts aside. If the president sent this note, it's because he knows about my work...he's familiar with what I've done, and he liked it, his ego insisted silently.
A very efficient voice greeted him, asking where to direct his call, and stirring him from his circling thoughts. "Yes, I'm Emmett Bregman. I was instructed to call this number. I…uh…I need to speak to the…uh…to the president."
"One moment, please," the voice said.
Part of him had expected to be told that he couldn't just call and talk to the president. He assumed he'd be speaking to one of the many assistants the president had. That voice hadn't hesitated for a moment. Didn't even question who he was or what he wanted! He was nearly breathless with excitement. He cleared his throat, and forced himself to breath slowly as he waited.
He recognized the voice immediately. "Uh...yes...yes, sir, Mr. President," Emmett stammered. Holy shit! I'm talking to the President!
"I'd like to discuss a little project with you. How soon can you be in town?"
"Washington, DC? A couple of hours, I guess," was his stunned response.
"Good, good. Just give your name at the main gate. I'll talk to you soon."
Before he could reply, the click of being disconnected echoed in his ear. "Un-freaking-believable!" he muttered, staring at his phone.
A A A A A A
Casey tapped on the door of the general's office. She'd had yet another download concerning the 'invasion' of the SGC. Whatever was about to happen, it was important. That came through clearly.
"Casey," the general acknowledged with a smile. "Come in."
A smile on her own face, automatic at the warm greeting she'd received, the seer stepped into the room.
"What can I do for you?" General Hammond asked, understanding that there was a specific reason for the young woman's presence.
"I had a very weird download earlier this morning. Then again just a few minutes ago. I haven't completely figured out what the first was about," Casey admitted
"And the second?"
"Just a variation of the first. So, whatever it is I'm seeing, it's important."
"I see," Hammond said. He motioned toward the chairs in front of his desk. "What was this download about?"
"Well, it's kind of weird. What I see...well...the SGC is going to be invaded...by cameras," Casey said, repeating her first description and current impression of the information.
Hammond tried not to chuckle out loud. This was proof positive that no one could sneak anything, or anyone, into the SGC without the resident seer knowing about it. He pulled a sheet of paper from one of the folders on his desk and handed it to her. "That's a very apt description."
She carefully read the Top Secret memo. Green eyes went wide. "Are you kidding? Cameras? In the SGC?" She glanced at the camera in the upper corner of the room. "Well, besides the security cameras."
The chuckle escaped. "President Hayes has decided to have a documentary made."
"And we're the subjects," Casey said flatly.
"Yes, unfortunately." Hammond's expression revealed his feelings on the matter.
"He can't just let a camera crew down here!" Casey objected. "They'll start spouting off about their First Amendment rights, and the next thing you know, we'll be on the nightly news and '60 Minutes'!"
"The technicians will be Air Force personnel. That will prevent a few problems," Hammond explained. "They'll coordinate with a NORAD liaison officer and the filmmaker."
"Any idea who?"
"Someone named Emmett Bregman," the general replied.
"Never heard of him," Casey replied, a frown on her face.
"Neither have I," Hammond sighed. "I don't like this, for several reasons. But I'm an Air Force officer, and I have to follow the orders of the Commander in Chief, whether I like...or agree...with those orders."
"Someday, the word will be out about the SGC," Casey said softly. "Better 'our' words, than those of a journalist on the nightly news who can only see that a secret was kept, and will rip us to shreds for that one thing."
"Perhaps," Hammond replied.
"Well, that's the invasion part," Casey said. "There's also....there's darkness around someone, but I can't see who it is. It's near Janet Fraiser, but she's not the one in danger."
The worry and fear that filled her green eyes was obvious to anyone who looked at her. It was just as obvious that she was castigating herself for the fact that she couldn't see every detail. The young seer shouldered a burden he couldn't even begin to understand. He did, however, understand that sometimes Casey needed to be reminded that in spite of her very powerful gift of sight, she was only human, and couldn't control what she did or didn't 'see'. Hammond cleared his throat. "I have faith that you'll be able to tell us what we need to know."
"Oh, I hope so," was the nearly whispered reply. She folded her arms around her waist, hugging herself tightly. A subconscious reaction to the fears that were beginning to fill her mind.
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