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Bradley Foster was a man who had met many celebrities. He'd golfed with the President of the United States. But he felt like a teenager meeting his matinee idols when the members of SG-1 walked into the room. He stood nervously, wiped his hand on his pant leg before shaking hands with General O'Neill, and Colonel Carter-O'Neill, Doctor Jackson, and Mrs. Jackson, and the Jaffa, Teal'c. He watched the team greet the members of the management team with the same friendly smiles. These people were bona fide heroes! He was actually trembling when he sat back down.
"Mr. Foster is the CEO of Merriwether Industries," Duncan told the group. "And Mr. Ledbetter, Ms. Tomlin, and Mr. Alford are the president, vice president, and chairman of the board."
"Thanks for meeting with us," Jack said.
"It's our pleasure, and an honor, if I may say," Bradley said. "What is it that we at Merriwether can do for the SGC?"
Duncan glanced at Robert. The Frenchman nodded. "We'd like to ask you some rather...hard…personal questions," the Highlander said.
The four people exchanged worried glances.
"Duncan, if I may?" Robert said quietly.
"Please," Duncan said.
As quickly and succinctly as possible, the mayor of Hope explained what was happening, the threat that lingered over Gamma. He offered to let the company out of the agreement reached with the city.
Bradley was shaken by the time that Robert de Valicort had finished. But he was also determined. "I appreciate…we appreciate your honesty. Now I'll be honest with you. My grandfather built Merriwether. He started making brackets in his garage, first for his own use, and then for friends. Pretty soon he was selling them-" he broke off, shook his head. "You don't need the family history of the company. The reason we want to relocate here is because Hope is like…it's like the world that my grandfather lived in. This is a beautiful town, the Immortals who founded it love it, and that shows. The pride shows. The careful planning proves that you were all thinking ahead, thinking long term. This is exactly the kind of place I where I want to raise my family. Where I want to conduct my business."
Rachel Tomlin nodded. "I agree with Bradley. Hope is…this is the safest town I have ever been in. I love it here! I think that we'd all agree that considering the circumstances, it's only fair to let the employees make their own decisions concerning immigrating here. But there have already been at least a dozen meetings, three that included spouses and family members, and each vote to move here has been unanimous."
"Hope has a reputation on Earth as being…well, almost a paradise," Tom Alford said. "So coming here is very appealing."
"We're glad to hear that," Daniel said, smiling. "But I think it's important that you understand why we're a bit…nervous. If…god forbid…Penatil should succeed, there are three hundred and fifty Immortals, that doesn't count the fifty or so children. If all of your employees, and their families move here, we're talking close to fifteen thousand people. Added to the already present six thousand. All of whom are mortal."
Bradley sat back in his chair. "You think that the mortals would hand you over," he said quietly.
"It's a possibility, sir," Daniel replied.
The CEO shook his head. "No, Doctor Jackson, it is not. If we move here, and I'm quite certain that we will, one of the conditions is that each employee and his family must become citizens of Hope. To turn you over would be to turn our backs on our own, Immortal or mortal, that doesn't matter."
Casey smiled. "That's a very kind, generous thought. But you can't control what the people who work for you do…they're employees, not property - you can't dictate to them."
"We at Merriwether are a bit different," Jim Ledbetter said. "This is a family oriented company. Family has always come first. Community second. We're located in Atlanta right now. A lot of our people are commuting hours every day in order to live somewhere other than the city. One of the comments we continued to hear, again and again, when we first announced that we were going to seek permission to relocate to Gamma, was that at last they could live closer to work and still live in a small town, live somewhere... safe."
"You also have to realize that you, the five of you, are heroes on Earth, well, at least in the US. And a lot of our people have said they would feel safer living where SG-1 lives than anywhere else," Rachel said.
"I like what I'm hearing," Robert admitted. "I just want you to make sure that the people who come through that 'gate understand the threat."
"Mr. de Valicort, we live with the same threat on Earth," Bradley pointed out. "At any moment one of those Goa'uld could set their sights on Earth again. It's only because of you, and the SGC that we haven't already suffered enslavement."
Robert smiled. "Just let your employees know that the threat is a little more imminent here. That living on Gamma will literally be putting them on the front lines."
Bradley nodded, then indicated the folder that he had, identical to the ones the managers were looking through. "We'll disseminate this information to our employees. Arrange for another meeting to finalize who will be immigrating to Hope, and who will not."
Duncan cleared his throat. "I haven't had a chance to go over the agreement you signed with Robert. But I'd like to request a list of your employees, those who will be immigrating. We feel that doing a background check now can save a lot of heartburn later."
"That's in our agreement," Jim nodded. "And we fully understand. We don't hire anyone at Merriwether without a background check. I certainly wouldn't expect you to allow us to immigrate to Gamma without one."
"Good. It could take a few weeks."
"Of course we'd like to see things move as quickly as possible, I'd like to have the plant running at full capacity by the end of the year," Bradley said. "But we're prepared to wait as long as necessary."
"How soon can you get us that list?" Duncan asked, a smile on his face.
"No later than the end of next week," the CEO promised.
"Good. If all goes well, we'll schedule the move to start the first part of June."
Bradley grinned. "We'll be ready!"
Robert stood, signaling the end of the meeting. "Duncan, thank you for meeting with us, and explaining the…situation…to Mr. Foster, and his management team. SG-1, it's always a pleasure to see you."
Pleasantries were exchanged, and the mayor led the visitors to the elevator. Jack watched them go. "Either he's full of shit, blowing smoke, or damned anxious to get off of Earth."
"I'm already having a check run on all of them. Methos has some very…impressive contacts. They'll be able to tell me what Bradley Foster has had for breakfast for the past year, and how many times he's bedded his wife," Duncan replied.
"You realize that they could be sincere," Daniel said.
"Yeah, they could be," Jack agreed. "I just want to know before we get almost fifteen thousand people here whether or not we need to worry about being rounded up because we're Immortal."
Casey shivered. "We had to leave our home planet for that reason. I'll be pissed as hell if I have to leave my home again for the same reason!"
"As long as the people in town remember that we're their first line of defense, that the Immortals run the SGC, and that if they want protection, we're it, I don't think we'll have a problem," Sam said.
"Well, if the phone calls we got last night are any indication, I'd say most folks understand that," Jack said.
"You, too?" Daniel asked. "How many?"
"About a dozen before I just shut the phone off. Filled up the message capacity on the thing."
"Carlotta and I also received numerous calls of good will," Teal'c said.
Duncan looked at Casey. "So, feeling anything bad?"
She shook her head. "Not right now. But we just beat back Penatil's Jaffa. If the snake himself comes knocking, that could be an entirely different matter."
"How likely is that?"
"I have no idea," she replied, not understanding the smiles on her friends' faces. "What?"
"You sound just like Daniel," Sam replied.
"Thanks, Jack," Casey teased.
Sam rolled her eyes. "I know. So shoot me."
"Do you think he knows that it was you and Daniel who set his room on fire, and burned those notes?" Jack asked.
"Probably, I mean, he has to at least suspect. He knows that Daniel is The Chosen. He may not know exactly what that means, other than he's the Protector of the Innocent. He might not have a clue about how powerful Daniel is."
"I just hope that he didn't have a chance to get any of those notes copied," Daniel said quietly.
"We all do, Danny boy," Jack said softly.
A A A A A A
Penatil stared at the reading device. It was damaged, but not destroyed. Twenty-seven pages. That was all he had been able to copy. He could only hope that he had chosen the correct ones. It had been easy enough to eliminate those that the little witch he had held prisoner for…he snorted with disgust…less than two hours…had read. There had been nothing of value in them. If she hadn't lied. Comparing them to the others, he had eliminated more. His men were searching for someone who did read Tau'ri. If he had enough, his own scientists assured him that they would be able to duplicate the work that Hemsut and her Tau'ri allies had achieved.
The two Jaffa who had been guarding his quarters, and those notes, had been terrified when he arrived, to find his room on fire. They could only stammer and mutter about fire coming from nowhere, aimed specifically at those notes. He wasn't certain how, but The Chosen had managed to find a personal cloaking device. And had slipped on board his ship.
He sat back in his throne. SG-1 left Gamma regularly. He would bide his time. He would capture them again. And this time, he would behead them immediately. All but Her. She would serve him, and warm his bed. He would become Immortal as well. And rule the universe.
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