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Robert de Valicort was called in to hear what the team had to say. He listened carefully, his face full of concern. "So where does this leave us?"
"At full alert," Duncan replied. "Right now there's nothing to tell the citizens, other than there's still a risk. We're vulnerable until we get those satellites replaced, and that's going to take some time."
"How long?" the mayor of Hope asked.
Duncan nodded at Sam.
She took a deep breath. "Working around the clock, it's going to be at least six weeks to get seven satellites built, programmed, armed, and ready to deploy."
"Shit!" Robert hissed.
"Yeah," Duncan nodded. "The worst part is, we're not only vulnerable to Penatil, and any other Goa'uld that should decide to come knocking, we're at risk from those Immortal Hunters."
"That's not the worst part," Casey said softly. All eyes turned to focus on her. "If push comes to shove, the newly arrived mortal population might decide to hand over the Immortals en masse if they think it will protect them, their families, and their businesses."
Daniel moaned. "Oh, hell."
"I hate to admit it, but she's right," Robert said softly. "I've seen that very thing happen time and again."
"Short of all of the Immortals leaving, what can we do?" Sam asked.
"Gamma has some very staunch allies. Allies who joined with us when Hope was nothing but a colony of Immortals," Duncan said slowly. "We may have to call on their help."
"Ya know, Thor has always been damned willing to come to our aid. He was here to protect us when we first fell victim to that virus," Jack said. "I'm thinking we should call in a couple of markers."
Duncan nodded. "I'll get a message to him right away. For now, all we can do is hope for the best. I'm going to suspend any immigration until this…problem…is dealt with. Merriwether Industries has already started their move, but…"
Casey sat upright. "They were the ones who lodged the formal complaint against Collier, right?"
"Yeah, so?" Jack asked.
"What if you explain to them that we really are looking forward to having them here, but under the circumstances, we're a bit nervous-"
Robert grinned. "You're a born politician, Casey!"
"Hey, that's not funny!"
The Frenchman roared with laughter. He turned to the Highlander. "I believe that you and I should sit down with the CEO and the Board members. Merriwether's facility is larger than both of Collier's combined, and will employ almost two hundred more people than work for Collier. After the bad publicity that came of that dog incident, a lot of the work-a-day folks at those plants have been very eager to prove their loyalty to Hope. We need to play on that, keep it going for as long as possible. Play up the fact that Hope was founded by and for Immortals, and that all of them are here at our good will and discretion."
Duncan nodded. "I agree."
"We're still investigating nearly a dozen of the immigration forms for people from the last group that Collier pulled through. We could let it slip that there have been some…inconsistencies discovered," Robert suggested.
"That will give Merriwether something to complain about," Duncan agreed.
"Be very careful," Casey said softly. "Don't push Collier too hard. They outnumber the Immortals, and the Terrans and Langarans by ten to one. It wouldn't take much for them to take over completely."
Robert frowned. "If we can get Merriwether on our side, that will put the odds in our favor once again."
"The best way to do that," the young blonde Immortal said, "is to be honest with them. Give them the opportunity to back out of the deal. They may not want to move here, knowing that we could be attacked by Penatil."
"Let's set up a meeting," Robert suggested. "I would like SG-1 to attend, to explain what is happening, and why it is such a threat."
"How soon can you get them here?" Duncan asked.
"Let me make some calls. I should be able to arrange this meeting for the next day or so. The CEO, and the entire management team are already here in Hope," Robert said, "with their families. The company has requested immigration visas for sixty-five hundred people. Those are the employees. That doesn't count spouses and children."
Jack whistled softly. "Hope is going to double in size, again!"
"That will put our population at close to twenty thousand!" Daniel exclaimed.
"Yes, it will," Robert replied. "Trust me, this has been carefully planned for, during the past three years."
"That's why construction is going on like crazy," Sam said.
The mayor laughed. "Yes, it is. Like I said, from the time we founded Hope, it was our plan, our dream, to become an independent city/state. We knew that we would need industry, and citizens."
"How many of these Immigrants are giving up citizenship in the US, or wherever they come from on Earth, to become citizens of Hope?" Daniel asked.
"Right now, roughly twenty percent. The catch is, those who don't become citizens are only allowed to stay five years. After that, we send them back through the 'gate, whether they want to go or not. The fact that Collier ticked off every Immortal, and every Terran and Langaran immigrant, who by the way have a one hundred percent rate of becoming full-fledged citizens of Hope and the SCC, is in our favor. Because it's forcing the immigrants from Earth to do some soul searching. I'll check the statistics, but I'm betting that we'll find the work-a-day folks from Collier filling out citizenship papers."
Jack sat back in his chair. It was bad enough to be faced with freaking Goa'uld. To have to face a possible civil war in his own back yard, literally, was exhausting…and irritating as hell. "You might remind all of these folks just who the hell is out there protecting their asses. Except for the Marine teams, every SG team on this base is made up of Immortals."
"I believe that would be a very good thing to do," Robert said, hurriedly writing his notes. "I believe a campaign to thank SG-1 for saving the day just yesterday is in order. It would be very easy to work into that the fact that Immortals are responsible for the safety of Gamma, and Earth as well…those immigrants all have friends and family back on the home world."
Duncan was looking at Casey. "Let's put faces to those Immortals," he said quietly. "Let's put Casey and Sam, and their kids in those ads."
Robert grinned. "Perfect. I can have the arrangements made in just a couple of hours."
"Better let your Dad know," Daniel said softly. "I think it's safe enough to bring the kids home. For now."
"Good," Casey replied. No one in the room doubted her desire to have her children close by. 'Daddy?'
'I'm here, Daughter.'
'Change of plans. Come home. We need the kids for an ad campaign.'
'I want details regarding this!'
She giggled. 'I promise.'
'We are on our way.'
Ten minutes later the klaxons began to wail as the Stargate came to life. Sam and Casey were the first ones in the 'gate room.
"Mommy!" Emily squealed, running into the open, out-stretched arms of her mother.
"Hi, Baby," Casey said softly, holding her daughter tightly.
"Hey, Princess," Daniel said, running his hand over long silk so much like her mother's.
"Mommy home!" Nicholas yelled happily, launching himself at his mother as soon as Erin put his feet on the floor.
Jack and Sam were receiving the same excited greetings from Evvie and Amber. Jack looked over at Daniel. The two men exchanged a look, made a silent agreement. They would do whatever was necessary to protect their families. If it meant leaving Gamma, then so be it.
A A A A A A
Casey was brushing Emily's hair. Daniel stood off to the side, holding Nicholas, the tot watching the activity around him with wide eyes. The first 'spot' would be live, and recorded to play at least three times a day. Robert was sitting patiently in one of three chairs waiting on the sound stage.
"We're ready for you Colonel Carter, Mrs. Jackson," the harried stagehand told them.
The two women sat down on either side of the mayor. "Emily, stand here beside your Mommy," the producer said kindly. "Nicholas, you can sit in Mommy's lap."
Daniel put the boy into her arms, then stepped back. He, Jack and Teal'c would be doing a 'spot' together as soon as this was finished.
"Evelyn, can you stand beside your Mommy? That's a good girl. Amber, in Mommy's lap."
"Okay people," the director called. "We go live in three."
"Remember, just answer my questions honestly," Robert said softly. Both women nodded nervously.
The countdown began. The director called off the minutes, then the seconds, then pointed to Robert.
"Good afternoon, Hope! I hope that you are all having a pleasant day. If you are, I wish for you to remember the reason that you are able to do so. Sitting with me today, taking time out of their busy schedules, are Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter-O'Neill, and Casey Jackson of SG-1. Ladies, thank you for being here today."
Casey managed a smile and a slight nod. Sam was able to murmur a polite, 'you're welcome'.
"Two days ago, ships controlled by the Goa'uld Penatil appeared in orbit above our planet. This Goa'uld had sent his Jaffa to take control of our home, and enslave us all. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the SGC, the Immortal SGC teams, and SG-1 in particular, that threat was driven from our very front door. First, let me say thank you for that," Robert said smoothly.
"It's our job," Casey said softly, shrugging.
Robert smiled, grinning like a madman inside. He couldn't have scripted a more perfect response. "It may be your job, Mrs. Jackson, but we here in Hope appreciate it. If I may, I'd like to ask you some questions about the recent threat to Immortal children. Has that problem been contained?" He turned to face Sam.
"I wish I could say that it has been," Sam replied. "However, we have reason to believe that the information the NID was collecting has fallen into Penatil's hands. He won't stop until he has perfected the process of creating a serum that will offer Immortality."
"For those who are mortal, wouldn't this be a dream come true?" Robert asked.
"Of course it would," Casey replied. "If the serum works as promised. That's a pretty big if. Our own geneticists have analyzed the data we were able to confiscate." Okay, Dr. Montigue had taken a quick look. Good enough for her! "They've concluded that only through the use of Goa'uld technology could such a serum ever work. And, the serum requires the plasma of pre-Immortals."
"Which could mean what for Immortals and their families?"
"Imprisonment, being treated as breeding stock, and the children produced used as little more than a needed component," Sam replied. "If Penatil succeeds where we managed to stop the NID, all Immortals, and their children, that includes Casey and myself, and our babies, are at risk. The children would be…their plasma would be 'harvested'…"
"Wait, wouldn't that kill them?" Robert asked, reaching out to cup Amber's cheek.
"Yes, it would," Sam replied. She unconsciously pulled her daughters closer. The camera caught the movement.
Robert turned to Casey. "Do you believe that Penatil will return to Gamma?"
"If he has the notes, the equations, the formula…the 'recipe' if you will, for the serum, without a doubt he'll return. It's a well-known fact that Hope is a city of Immortals. Founded by Immortals, for Immortals seeking safety from Earth."
Again Robert grinned inside. These women were naturals! He turned to the camera. "Immortals were created to protect the Innocent from the threat of the Goa'uld. So far, we have been able to do that. Should Penatil succeed, then every planet, every Innocent, would be at risk of enslavement. It has only been due to the efforts of the SGC, and SG-1, that Earth is still free from Goa'uld control. This is a documented fact. SG-1 alone saved the planet numerous times. SG-1 and other teams from SGC Gamma have protected us twice in the past year from Goa'uld who thought to attack us. I am here today, as your Mayor, to assure you that the Immortals, the SGC, and SG-1 are on the job. Your safety is our main concern. Rest assured that we will continue to battle, so that you may continue to enjoy beautiful afternoons such as this one. Before we leave, ladies, would you be so kind as to introduce us to your children?"
Sam smiled. "This is Evelyn Denise," she said, looking proudly at her oldest daughter. "This is Amber Lynn," she said, smiling down at the little girl.
"This is my daughter Emily Rose," Casey said, doing as Sam had done, looking at her daughter, her love and pride filling her eyes. "And this handsome young man is my son Daniel Nicholas."
Nicholas looked out at those who stood watching. He saw his father, and grinned broadly.
Daniel grinned in return.
"Thank you ladies, and thank you for bringing your beautiful children with you. I bid you all a wonderful afternoon."
"And…we're off air! Did you get it? Please tell me you got it! That was the most brilliant piece of work I've seen!" the director gushed.
"We got it," the cameraman replied. He was mortal. And he now understood just how much danger the Immortal children had been in. His son's best friend in preschool was an Immortal child. He hoped that the other mortals living in Hope would understand just how much the town, the planet…the freaking galaxy…needed these people!
The director turned to the three men of SG-1. They were wearing BDU's, and looking nervous. "Okay, gentlemen, right over here if you please. Just read the cue cards. And relax! You all look stiff as boards!"
Jack looked at his friends. "I'm relaxed."
"I'm relaxed," Daniel said.
"As am I," Teal'c added.
The director shook his head. "Okay, let's give it a shot. Cameras!"
"Action!" the director called. He waited. "Any time you're ready, gentlemen."
Jack nodded. "I'm General Jack O'Neill of SG-1. Just here to tell you that we're on the job."
"I’m Doctor Daniel Jackson. We're doing our best to keep the Goa'uld threat away from Gamma, and away from your families, as well as our own," Daniel said, reading from the card being held in front of him.
"I am Teal'c of Chulak. We shall endeavor to maintain the peace of Hope," Teal'c said.
"So you keep doing whatever it is you're doing. We won't let you down." Jack said.
"And…cut!" The director studied the men. Doubted that they wouldn't read the lines any different if he tried again. But he was a man of optimism. "Let's try it again. Try to say the lines a bit more…naturally. As if they're your own thoughts."
After three more tries, the director declared he had the perfect take. He shook the hands of the famous SG-1 men, then raced back to the monitor to watch the replays of what had been filmed. He would have the first 'spot' ready for the six o'clock news.
A A A A A A
Casey was peeling potatoes when Daniel came back into the house. Nicholas had 'escaped' to the Murlow's yard yet again. "I'll bet Wilbur was disappointed to see Nicholas leave."
He chuckled. "Yeah, he was. Gave me that sad look."
"The one you do so well," she teased.
"I do not."
He grinned. "Works, doesn't it?"
She smiled at him. "Every time."
He leaned over and kissed her. "Oven fried potatoes?"
"What else?" The top oven was on, he took a peek. "Meatloaf?"
"Does it look like meatloaf?"
"Then that's what it must be."
"It feels like ages since I had a home cooked meal," he said softly, walking over to wrap his arms around her waist.
"I know," she replied, her voice soft. "I just hope we'll be home for a few days. The kids went through…that…and then we disappeared for four days. That can't be easy on them."
"Maybe we should take tomorrow off. Just kick around the house. Maybe go to the lake."
"That sounds wonderful. I think the kids would like it too." She cut the potatoes, spread them on a cookie sheet and covered them with olive oil, slid the sheet into the lower oven.
Daniel kissed the side of her head, then drifted into the living room, turned on the evening news. He groaned when the ad that he, Jack, and Teal'c made played during the first group of commercials. "I look like a geek!" he complained.
"You do not! You look hunky to me!" Casey responded, having heard Jack's voice and hurrying to the living room. She sat down beside him. "Do you think it will help?"
"I hope so, Angel. I'd hate to think that all of the Immortals would be forced to move."
"Technically, if worse comes to worst, we could kick all of the mortals back to Earth, or Langera, or Terra. Gamma has always been the home of Immortals."
"Yeah, might not be so easy," he replied.
"It might be easier than you'd think."
He looked at her. "Casey?"
She shook her head. "I’m just saying, with the space port, it wouldn't be so difficult to just shove them onto ships and send them…wherever. You have to remember, there are only about a hundred mortals working on the base."
"The GMF is all mortal."
A frown creased her brow. "Yes, but everyone of those people have become citizens of the SCC, and have pledged their loyalty to us. I haven't met one yet that isn't proud to serve, and proud of being a citizen of the SCC."
He let his head drop back onto the sofa. "Let's just hope we never have to find out how bad it could get."
The phone began to ring. With a sigh, Casey hurried to answer it. "Hello? Yes, this is the Daniel Jackson residence." She smiled. "Yes, this is Casey Jackson…well, thank you, that's very kind…"
Daniel frowned, got up and walked to stand beside her.
"Yes, I think so too…thank you, we do our best…yes, you too…goodbye." She put the phone back on the base, looked up into worried blue eyes. "That was someone named Brenda Weaver. She said she just wanted to tell me that she thinks our children are beautiful, that she's thrilled to be living on Gamma with her husband and kids, and that she's grateful that SG-1 and the SGC are here. And that she'd rather be here than on Earth, because here she can walk down the street at ten o'clock at night and not be worried about being mugged, murdered, or raped.
The phone rang again. Daniel grinned, picked it up. "Hello?…Yes ma'am, this is Doctor Jackson …" he blushed. "Well, uh…thanks. Um, thank you. You too."
Casey giggled. "Well?"
"She had to be at least a hundred!"
"She says I'm a very handsome young man, and as brave as her Cecil was in Korea, and then she god blessed me."
"Told you so," she murmured, locking her arms around his neck. Her lips had just touched his when the phone rang again.
Daniel sighed, picked it up. "Hello?"
She giggled as he talked to yet another grateful citizen. Six phone calls later, he turned the ringer off.
"Well, let's hope all of this good will lasts," he said quietly.
"This is Hope, Daniel," she said softly. "It's always been a special place."
"Yeah, it has," he agreed. "Is dinner ready?"
"Just about. Can you get the kids cleaned up?"
She watched him disappear onto the deck, heard him call for Emmie and Nicholas. She took the meatloaf and the potatoes from the oven, the salad she had made earlier from the refrigerator. Daniel had wanted to lock the French doors when they had arrived home. She'd refused, telling him that she wasn't going to live in fear in her own home. That what had happened would probably never happen again, especially since the security company in charge of the manned gate at the entrance to the neighborhood had apologized profusely, and began to have patrols consisting of two security officers that walked the neighborhood regularly. To give in to the fear would be to let the NID win, and she would never do that.
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