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When Two Hearts Collide
General Hammond smiled when he walked into his office to find her waiting for him. "Casey! I apologize for being late. My granddaughter called with a small crisis."
"I hope everything's all right," she said immediately.
"I believe so. I do have to stop and buy a new package of crayons on the way home," he chuckled. Eight folders were lying in the middle of his desk. "We have a busy week scheduled, if what the MALPs tell us is true, and if you see no danger to these missions."
"Guess I should take a look then," she said, smiling.
It took an hour to go through the reports, she had several questions concerning one particular folder. She'd tried to tamp down her personal feelings, especially when she saw the blackness that surrounded Daniel. Finally she shook her head. "I'm not saying that these people aren't worth meeting," she said slowly. "I just think we need to be very careful. There's death around this mission…and…" her breath caught in her throat. "I believe that Daniel is too valuable to the SGC to risk him."
The general sat back in his chair. "Are you telling me that you see Doctor Jackson's death?"
She nodded, wiped away the tears that had spilled onto her cheeks. "Not only that, but he'll be accused of sabotage."
The older man narrowed his eyes as he re-read the report. The MALP had shown an excited group of people, scientists from the way they were dressed, if that was anything to go by. Messages of introduction had been exchanged; Daniel had been instrumental in translating the language, and the invitation to visit the planet had been issued. Preliminary readings had shown a trace of naquadah near by, somewhere in the building where the Stargate was housed. "The president is very eager to establish a treaty with these people, especially if they have weapons technology to offer, or a source of naquadah that they would be willing to share."
"I understand that…sir," she replied. "But again I say that Daniel is a valuable asset to the SGC." And I just found him, she added silently. I can't lose him now!
General Hammond frowned. What he wanted to do was put the folder in the 'mission scrapped' pile. But he had his orders.
Casey closed her eyes.
"What you've seen doesn't have to happen as you've seen it."
She whirled around. She was standing in what felt like a dark room. A single, incandescent bulb hanging just above her head offered enough illumination to see Miss Eloise standing a few feet in front of her. "So what do I tell the general?"
"He'll insist that SG-1 go on this mission. He's right, they are the most experienced, and Daniel is an excellent negotiator."
"So how do I keep him out of that…room?" she asked.
"Daniel's death as a result of his heroism isn't the only problem here, Sunshine."
"I know. Those fools are going to destroy themselves if they aren't stopped. But General Hammond is under pressure from the president on this. I have no idea how he found out about the intel…" she broke off. "There's a spy in the SGC. For…for that security group."
"NID. Group of rats and assholes," the old woman spat. "You know who it is. These folks have dealt with the them before, and there's no love lost between the two groups. You expose the spy, and the president will back down immediately on this mission."
"And the people on that planet? Daniel could save them…prevent them from blowing themselves to kingdom come," Casey admitted.
"What's wrong with meeting them here? It will be easier to convince them of the error of their ways if SG-1 goes there for the express purpose of escorting the leaders of each of the countries back for a summit. Those who control the Stargate won't be pleased, but the chance to meet 'aliens' will be too attractive for them to pass it up."
"Just how are the leaders of the other countries going to feel about this?"
"Use your gift, child. Tell them what they need to hear, even if they don't want to hear it."
She shivered. "I can't lose him," she whispered.
"I don't believe that his time has come just yet," the old woman replied. "Talk to your general. You know who the spy is."
Casey shook her head. Until this moment, she hadn't been aware there was a spy. Or of the NID. How the hell…oh, good grief!
She opened her eyes. "General Hammond, did you know that the NID has a spy here?"
The man sat upright, his eyes blazing. "You're certain?"
"How else could the president know about this mission? You didn't have the intel from the MALP until Friday afternoon. And he called you the first thing this morning about it."
Hammond had wondered about that phone call. He'd been tired on Friday, and looking forward to the Christmas party. He'd assumed that during their weekly phone briefing of the events that had occurred that he'd mentioned the information. "Do you know who it is?"
"Yes, sir. I suggest you let Staff Sergeant. Harriman resume his duties as your assistant. Ms. Phelps isn't who she claims to be."
The order was issued, and the woman in question, a fifteen-year Air Force veteran who had left due to a back injury, was brought into the office, with a security escort. She'd been hired as General Hammond's personal assistant six months prior, at the urging of the Pentagon. Certain quarters of the Pentagon, he realized now. He looked up at her. Could read on her face that she was aware that her true 'job' had been discovered. "You will leave this facility. You will not return." The general's voice was as cold as his eyes.
"You can't just fire me," she replied haughtily.
"I just did."
"I have connections."
The general picked up the red phone. "So do I. Yes, this is General Hammond. I'd like to speak with the president, please." There'd been enough trouble with the NID in the past that he knew the man in the Oval Office would back down on this one. Jack, with the help of Harry Maybourne, had managed to get sensitive information on not only Senator Robert Kinsey, but also on three other senators. Enough to link each of them to the illicit activities of the NID, things done that were against the law, and not just off-world. If any of the information were to be leaked to the press, it would bring down the entire administration, and shake up the Senate as well. "Mr. President. I'm sending an NID spy back to Washington. I suggest that you inform your friends in certain areas of the Pentagon not to attempt such a trick again…no, sir, I am not threatening you. Far from it. The way I see it, Mr. President, I'm protecting you from a very nasty scandal…yes, sir, I most certainly do…I appreciate that, sir…yes, I think it would be a most wise decision on your part. The farther you can distance yourself from this particular group, the better. Yes, sir…and about future missions, I would like to know that I will be the one making the final decisions."
Casey cocked her head sideways. "Tell him that his dinner guests will be late. And that he'd be smart to find out exactly why," she said softly.
Hammond nodded and relayed the message. Was certain that it was actual fear that he heard in the voice of the man on the other end of the line. He was given full authority, with a promise of written policy by the end of the workday. He hung up, a smile on his face. He looked up at Lydia Phelps. "Get her off of my base!"
"I have another suggestion," Casey said quietly.
The older man smiled. "I'm listening."
She took a deep breath. "Send a message to these people, these Kelownans. Tell them that you're willing to meet with them, but in all fairness, you wish to meet with the leaders of the other major powers as well. Tell them their Stargate may remain a secret from the public, just as ours is, but that our government isn't interested in choosing sides in any conflicts without having all of the facts. If you find that the Kelownans have a legitimate complaint, you'll be willing to help them. Send SG-1 through to escort these leaders here."
"I'm not sure that they'll cooperate," the general said slowly.
"They're working on a bomb. With...na...naqua...naquadriah," she said, stumbling over the unfamiliar word. "Tell them that the test they're going to run tomorrow will overload the system. That they risk an explosion that will wipe out half of the planet. And tell them that the head of the project knows that there's a high risk of such an explosion, but that he's been under pressure to produce results, and a workable bomb."
"Good god," he murmured.
"Please," she whispered, holding tightly to the edge of the desk, "Don't send Daniel to his death. I just found him, I can't live without him."
The older man leaned over, patted her hand. "No, Casey, I won't. You're certain that sending the team through as nothing more than an escort will be safe?"
"Then that's what we'll do. I'll have Doctor Jackson help me talk to them. He can be very convincing. Although I'm sure you are already well aware of that fact."
Casey ducked her head and smiled. "Yes, sir, I am."
"Well, I believe we've covered everything that needs to be covered. I need to order Ms. Phelps' hard drive to be examined, find out what all she's been up to. Thank you for your assistance, Casey. Once again I find myself indebted to you," General Hammond said kindly.
"No, sir. Just doing the job I was sent here to do," the young woman insisted.
With a smile, he reached for the phone, the black one this time, and called for an Airman to escort Casey to Daniel's office.
A A A A A A
He was sitting in front of the computer, a frown on his face, scribbling furiously on the yellow legal pad in front of him. He jumped with surprise when her arms went around his shoulders and her lips to his neck. "Hey, there," he said softly. He turned around, looked up at her. Saw fear in her eyes. "Case?"
"I came so close to losing you," she whispered.
"A mission…to a planet…um…Kelowna. You would have died there…well, not there exactly, but because of what happened there," she said softly.
He frowned. Pulled her onto his lap, put his arms around her. Felt the tremors that were shaking her body. "I have no intentions of dying anywhere, Case."
"Good. Because I'll kick your ass if you get yourself killed!"
"I take it the mission was scrubbed?"
His heart lurched in his chest. If she'd 'seen' his death as a result of the mission…oh, another team is going. Her arms were tight around his neck…any tighter and he'd be in danger of being choked to death. "Ready for lunch?"
"I could eat," she said softly. "I love you, I just need for you to know that," she whispered.
"I know, Angel. I love you, too. Don't you ever doubt it, or forget it." The thought that he could die on a mission poked at him. He made a mental note to update his will, leaving everything to her. He would leave Jack as the executor of his estate, he was confidant that his best friend would see to it that she was taken care of. If something happened to Jack as well, Gen. Hammond was listed as his second choice. Again, that man would make certain that Casey had everything she needed.
They were on their way out of the door when the phone rang, and General Hammond requested his presence in the control room, to speak to the Kelownans. Casey was invited as well, no doubt to give them any insight to the aliens that she could 'see'.
General Hammond was waiting in the control room, the klaxons wailing, the red lights flashing as the inner circle of the 'gate spun, locking in each of the seven needed chevrons to open a wormhole. That would allow them to talk to people on a planet light years away. She shivered. Light years…that was like really, really far away. Lots of zeros, she was certain.
"Casey, if you can sense any…duplicity, I need to know immediately," Daniel said quietly. He'd been the one to speak to the Kelownans twice, the general wanted him to be the one to speak to them this time as well.
She nodded. Closed her eyes, and began to center herself. Opened her eyes, glanced around. Daniel and the general were sitting in chairs in front of the console. She settled at Daniel's feet, sitting cross-legged. She took a deep breath. Closed her eyes, began to run through the exercises that Miss Eloise had taught her. Soon she heard nothing but the sound of her own heartbeat. Carefully tuned it out. Silence. Absolute silence. She knew where she needed to be. Felt herself pulled…followed the wormhole to its destination.
She saw the two men and three women…no, wait, there was another man, quite young looking…his eyes were…worried. He wasn't happy. She moved closer to him. Turned and looked at the others. They were arguing with someone…with Daniel. They didn't want the leaders of the other countries on the planet to know about the Stargate, that they had the Stargate. It would put them in graver danger, they insisted. Not true, the young man was thinking. The other leaders were aware of Kelowna's attempts to construct a bomb of massive proportions. Both countries had been calling, seeking to negotiate…The Stargate was closing. The leaders were angry. Demanding that the alien device be taken so that it could be studied.
"That's not right, it doesn't belong to us," the young man said quietly.
"It's in our facility. A very secret, very secure facility. I would say that that makes it ours," the first man said, his face red with anger.
"They have given us the instructions on how to open the Chappa'ai, and the symbols that will link our Chappa'ai to theirs. We could return it to them as a gesture of goodwill."
"Jonas Quinn, you are not here to advise me on policy. You are here to assist Tomis Leed in producing a bomb capable of protecting us. Tomis has informed me that a test will be performed tomorrow, to demonstrate the abilities of this bomb."
"I don't believe that would be wise, sir," Jonas objected. "There are still problems with several of the equations-"
"Tomis assured me that they would have no bearing on the actual performance."
The young man was shocked. Even the slightest miscalculation could cause catastrophic consequences, and Tomis knew that! The man he'd worked with for two years was beginning to exhibit worrisome behavior…saying and doing things so totally out of character that at times it was difficult to believe that it was the same man! "No, sir, that isn't true!"
"Tomis is the leading scientist on this project. I believe he knows far more about the situation that you. If you'll excuse me, I have important matters to attend to."
Casey felt her breath catch in her throat. If nothing was done, by this time tomorrow, Kelowna would be no more! She looked around frantically. "What do I do?"
Miss Eloise appeared beside her. Never before had Casey seen such a smile on the old woman's face. "Trust your heart, Casey. Even when you're certain that it will break in two. When the pain is more than you can bear, follow your heart."
That did not sound good! Her heart pounding rapidly against her ribs, she moved back to the SGC.
She opened her eyes. Felt the tears that were already moving down her cheeks. "No choice," she whispered softly. She looked up at General Hammond. "They'll destroy themselves…their planet…we have to go. No choice."
The general felt his heart stop beating. "I can't order a team to go into a situation like that," he said softly.
"No, sir, you can't. But SG-1 has to go. Please don't ask me why. I'm not sure. I only know that they…we…have to go. We have to stop them. Even if…even if…" she broke off, turned her head.
"You're not going," Daniel said hoarsely. If he was going to die, well, at least he'd die helping to save the lives of innocent people…people who had no idea what their leaders were doing. But she would live on. She had to live!
"Yes, I am," she replied firmly. "You'll need all the help you can get. There are four doors that have to be sealed, manually, and quickly. And the core will have to be removed, manually."
General Hammond closed his eyes. He'd sent teams into hot zones. Into situations so dicey that survival rates were seventy-thirty against at best. He'd never had to send a team to their guaranteed death. Not like this. "Call SG-1 to my office," he said quietly.
Jack, Teal'c, and Sam listened carefully. "If Casey Webster believes this must be done, and that SG-1 must do it, then I do not believe we have any other options," Teal'c said stoically.
"I agree, sir. And look, this is SG-1 we're talking about," Jack said, forcing a grin. "We've been declared dead at least a dozen times, and it hasn't happened yet."
"Sir, if they're building a bomb using this…naquadriah, which must be something like naquadah, then the chances of fatal radiation are…well, sir, I think it's a sure thing that we'll be exposed," Sam said softly.
"I can't, and I won't order you to go," General Hammond said. "I leave this entirely up to the four …the five of you."
All eyes turned to Casey. "We really have to do this?" Daniel asked softly.
"Miss Eloise…" she cocked her head sideways. What had that old bat been grinning about? She'd looked like the cat that had licked all the cream. Telling her to follow her heart, even when the pain…she glanced at Daniel. "Yes, we really have to do this," she said softly. Something was poking at the back of her mind. She just didn't know what it was…yet.
A A A A A A
Daniel and Casey had made love all night, clinging to one another, refusing to give in to the fear…the tears. Declared their love for one another again and again. Took longer in the shower than they should have, making them nearly ten minutes late walking into the briefing room.
Casey had 'searched', and discovered that they had less than an hour to get to the facility, and find their way to the room where the experiment was about to go very wrong. Jack had decided that zat'nik'tels would be their best bet for getting by security forces that were bound to be guarding the area. No sense killing people when they were about to die to try and save them.
Word had gotten around about the mission, and the fact that SG-1 was buying a one-way ticket. Several teams, and three groups of Marines, hovered in the corridor. No one spoke as the flagship team passed them, heading into the 'gate room. Their mere presence said all that needed to be said.
Casey had never walked through the 'gate before. I never will again, she sighed. She was clinging to Daniel's hand. Wishing that that damned poking would go away.
General Hammond walked into the room. "SG-1, it's been an honor serving with you. I'm ordering you to do all that you can to survive."
"Yes, sir," Jack said, his usual joviality noticeably missing.
"It's been an honor, general," Daniel said, offering the man his hand. "Thank you for letting me be a part of this…for letting me look for Sha're."
"Doctor Jackson, without you, there wouldn't have been a Stargate Command Program," the general said. His voice was rough with emotion. He turned to Teal'c. "It's been an honor to know you, son."
"For me as well, General Hammond," Teal'c replied quietly.
The final chevron locked into place. Sam did a quick survey with the MALP, found the room where the Stargate was located to be empty. She ran down the stairs and into the 'gate room. She pulled a letter from her pocket. "Sir, if you could get this to my dad," she said softly.
Hammond nodded. "I'll be sure he gets it," he said softly. He looked around at the faces of those who had quietly filed into the room. "Atten-shun!"
The SF's and Marines came to full attention.
"SG-1, about face!"
The team turned to face those who stood behind them; Teal'c, Daniel, and Casey turning when Sam and Jack obeyed the order.
"Pre-sent…Arms!" Every man and woman in the room saluted smartly.
General Hammond saluted the team. "Godspeed," he said softly.
"Let's go campers," Jack replied, his voice not more than a whisper.
Every SF, every Marine, watched with tears in their eyes as the flagship team of the SGC walked through the 'gate. They were going to save a world, literally. And were willingly giving up their lives to do so. The SGC would never be the same without them.
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