In all his years as a journalist, Emmett Bregman could never remember having to deal with so many difficult people. First, there was Colonel Tom Rundell, the Public Affairs Liaison, who obviously had no sense of humor at all. Second, came Major General George Hammond, who had made it crystal clear that nobody wanted Bregman there and that he couldn't expect to be given any more leeway to make this documentary than what was specifically in the orders. Then came Colonel Jack O'Neill, who seemed to be determined to avoid him at all costs. At least Major Samantha Carter had talked with him. The problem was that she had been far too nervous and tense during her interview. And then there was Doctor Daniel Jackson, whom Bregman had begun to believe was going to be cooperative – until the man sent them all running through the corridors of the SGC because he wanted to see if they'd chase him. It was enough to make Bregman want to scream.
The journalist did have some success with other personnel on base, but it was SG-1 that he really wanted to interview. He'd read all of their files and was amazed by what they had done and experienced during these years that the SGC had been in existence. Daniel Jackson's file in particular read like a science fiction novel. Actually, it was the archeologist who intrigued Bregman the most. While the files he'd gotten on the other members of SG-1 were current, the one he'd received on Jackson ended a little over three months ago with a notation added stating that the remainder of the file had been omitted for reasons of national security. That had piqued Bregman's curiosity. He was being let in on the biggest secret in the history of the United States, yet, apparently, something in Doctor Jackson's file, something that happened within the last three months, was too secret or too sensitive for him to be told about it. Bregman hated secrets. If it was up to him, the Stargate Program would be made public. That was something he could not do, but maybe he could find out what this secret about Jackson was.
Senator Robert Kinsey stormed through the SGC corridors. How dare Colonel O'Neill say those things to him, and in front of a camera! One thing was for certain, if he became vice president, one of his first acts in office would be to see that man and his entire team kicked out of the Stargate Program, right along with General Hammond.
Kinsey turned a corner and came to a dead stop. Standing before him was Doctor Daniel Jackson. The archeologist was casually leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, staring at him as if he'd been expecting the senator.
"Senator Kinsey," he said quietly.
The senator studied the man before him. Daniel Jackson had changed since the last time they'd come face to face three years ago, in more ways than just the additional muscle and different haircut. There was a greater air of strength and confidence about him that had Kinsey reevaluating the man.
That, however, was not what was foremost on the senator's mind at that moment. Rather, it was the power that he knew resided within the archeologist, a power that he believed was an affront to God.
"Doctor Jackson," Kinsey said.
"Long time no see."
"A lot has changed since then."
"Yes, it has," the senator agreed, "while other things remain the same."
Daniel nodded faintly and straightened, taking a slow step toward the senator. A momentary twinge of fear almost made Kinsey back up a step. For a moment, he wondered if Jackson knew about what he intended to do if he was made vice president. Were anyone's secrets safe from the man's unnatural abilities?
Deciding to pretend to be a friend, Kinsey said, "I've heard a great deal about these abilities of yours and how valuable an asset they've become. The whole thing is really quite interesting." When Daniel didn't reply, but, instead, just kept staring at him, he dropped his act of geniality. "What do you want, Doctor Jackson? I'm a busy man."
"I want you to remember that, if it wasn't for SG-1, you'd either be dead or a slave of the Goa'uld."
Saying nothing further, Daniel walked away, leaving Kinsey with the feeling that the archeologist did, indeed, know things that he shouldn't. It was then that the senator realized that his first priority had to change. Daniel Jackson needed to be dealt with as soon as possible.
Bregman's third interview with Daniel was proving to be more successful than his previous two, both of which had been dismal failures, the first ending with the chase through the SGC corridors and the second failing to answer Bregman's questions about Daniel's return to human form and why Catherine Langford had picked him for the job of translating the coverstone. The journalist was now interested in seeing how Daniel would respond to his next question.
"I have to say that you've had quite an exciting life since you opened the Stargate, Doctor Jackson, especially for a man who isn't in the military. I've read your file and many of SG-1's mission reports, and they're pretty amazing. There's one thing that's got me puzzled, though."
"What's that?" Daniel asked.
"For some reason, the copy of your file that I received was missing everything from the past three months." Bregman did not miss the slight stiffening of Daniel's posture or the way that his expression closed off. "Interestingly, it said that portion of the file was omitted for reasons of national security. Now, I have to wonder what that's all about. Would you care to tell me?"
"No, I wouldn't," Daniel answered firmly.
"Doctor Jackson, I am here to document the Stargate Program and the things that have been going on here. So far, I have been repeatedly hindered in doing my job. Despite that, I have great respect for the people here and what you all do for this planet. All I want to do is to create a documentary that will show the rest of the world the amazing thing that's going on here and the heroes who are making it happen. I can't do that properly if I don't know the whole picture."
"I'm sorry, but this is one part of the picture that you'll have to do without. There is a good reason why things were omitted from that copy of my file. When something is omitted because of national security, there usually is a good reason for it."
"That's all I have to say," Daniel interrupted in a tone of finality. "I would suggest that you just forget about it, Mister Bregman. This is something you don't need to know for your documentary. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a lot of work to do."
By the look on Daniel's face, Bregman knew that he wasn't going to get any more out of the archeologist. He and his film crew left the office.
"So, do you two know anything about this?" Bregman asked his cameraman and sound man.
"No, sir. We were briefed on the Stargate Program when we were selected to work with you on this documentary," Airman Wickenhouse replied. "We don't know anything more than what we were told."
"Okay, then I guess we'll have to do some digging."
"No, sir," said Tech Sergeant James.
"What do you mean 'no, sir'?"
"You heard what Doctor Jackson said. The information is restricted. I'm not going to risk a court-martial by trying to find out what it is." James paused. "And, sir? If you want to make this documentary, I'd suggest that you leave well enough alone."
Whenever Emmett Bregman got on the scent of a story, it took a lot to get him off of it. And so it was that he completely ignored the advice of his cameraman and continued his efforts to discover what Daniel Jackson's secret was. The journalist knew, however, that if he openly pursued the story, he'd likely have Colonel Rundell jumping down his throat. Therefore, he decided to be sneaky about it.
Bregman was presently talking to one of the SGC's scientists – without his camera crew present – and decided to do a little digging.
"So, what's your opinion of Doctor Jackson and what's been going on with him the past few months?"
The scientist's mouth opened as if he was going to reply to the question, then his expression suddenly changed as he stared at Bregman suspiciously.
"Doctor Jackson is a good man, a brilliant scientist," the man replied. "He is very well liked at the SGC."
"You have no opinion on this issue regarding him?"
"What issue would that be?"
Knowing that his bluff had been called, the journalist replied, "Never mind," and changed the subject.
About half an hour later, he tried again, this time with a young lieutenant.
"So, Lieutenant Marks, what do you think about this whole thing with Doctor Jackson?"
"What whole thing, sir?"
"This thing that's been going on lately."
"I don't know what you're referring to, sir," the airman claimed. "Now, if you will excuse me, I must return to my duties." Not giving Bregman a chance to respond, the lieutenant turned and strode away.
Bregman used a slightly different tactic on the third and fourth person he questioned, but ended up with the same results. He came to the conclusion that either most of the personnel didn't know what was going on or the entire base had been sworn to secrecy, both the military and civilian personnel. Bregman's suspicious nature told him it was the latter. If such was the case, it would probably be a waste of time to continue trying to find out anything from the SGC personnel. It might be necessary for him to do his digging outside the confines of the base. But that would have to wait for now. He had a documentary to make.
Daniel was more than a little irked at Mister Emmett Bregman. He'd found out that, in spite of what he'd told the man, the journalist was still trying to find out what the secret about Daniel was. So far, two people had come to him saying that Bregman had tried to trick them into revealing what had happened over the past three months. If the man kept this up, sooner or later, someone might let something slip.
The archeologist was tempted to approach General Hammond about this and see if he could get Bregman kicked off the base. But would that stop the man from continuing his efforts? If he did keep digging, would it be possible for him to find out about Daniel? Somehow, the journalist Armin Selig had found out about the Stargate Program, so there was a chance that, if Bregman was persistent enough and talked to the right people, he could uncover the secret about Daniel.
The archeologist decided that, one way or another, Emmett Bregman either needed to be thrown off the scent or convinced not to pursue the story. The question was how?
Just then, Daniel heard the voices of two men in the corridor outside his office. They were talking about a movie they'd just seen. Daniel partially tuned them out, his attention still on the problem with Bregman. Simply telling the man to drop the issue hadn't worked. Perhaps a different tactic would.
Deciding that it was time to talk to Bregman again, Daniel picked up the phone.
Bregman and his camera crew headed toward Daniel Jackson's office, having been asked to come there. The journalist had to wonder if Daniel had found out about the attempts to learn his secret. But, if that was the case, why did the archeologist ask for the camera crew as well?
Daniel was sitting behind his desk when Bregman arrived. The linguist stopped typing and turned to him, staring at him for a long moment. Then he looked at Wickenhouse and James.
"You can start filming at any time, guys. I'm only going to say this once," he told them.
The two men glanced at each other, then looked at Bregman.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" the journalist asked. "You heard the man."
James and Wickenhouse quickly set up their equipment. Once the camera was rolling, James gave a nod toward Bregman.
"Go ahead, Doctor Jackson," the journalist said.
"When I first joined the SGC, it wasn't easy keeping some of the secrets I was privy to, withholding the knowledge that I'd learned," Daniel stated. "But, in time, I came to realize that what we were doing out there every time we went through the gate was more important than the knowledge about languages, cultures, and the universe that we were gaining. We were fighting for the freedom of humankind against an enemy that would enslave or destroy us all if given the chance. Because of the work that we do, it's often necessary to keep secrets, not only for our own safety, but for everyone else's as well. What's out there in the galaxy is so much bigger than any of us. Unless you've actually seen and experienced the things that we have, you can't truly comprehend the enormity of it all. It makes most of the problems we have here on Earth seem small in comparison.
"In the beginning, the U.S. Government made the decision to keep the existence of the Stargate a secret. They felt that the world wasn't ready for the knowledge of it and what lay beyond our planet, and I agree with them. Does that mean that I think that the Stargate should remain a secret forever? I don't know. That all depends on what the future brings." Daniel's gaze focused directly on Bregman. "Until the day comes that the Stargate is made public, everyone who holds the secret about it and all of the other secrets that come with it have the responsibility to keep them, and anyone who seeks to expose those secrets for their own gain or just because they want to is, in a way, betraying all of the people here at the SGC who have fought and died to protect Earth."
James and Wickenhouse again looked at each other, this time in puzzlement.
"Have I made myself clear this time, Mister Bregman?" Daniel asked, his voice hard.
"Turn off the camera," Bregman said in response, clearly not pleased.
"Sir, what is he talking about?" Wickenhouse asked as James shut the camera off.
"Sir, did you try to find out about Doctor Jackson?" the cameraman asked.
"Just get out of here," Bregman said. "I won't be needing you anymore."
The airman and the marine looked at each other a third time, then gathered up their equipment and left.
"I don't appreciate being called a traitor," Bregman said to Daniel angrily.
"I didn't call you a traitor, Mister Bregman. I think that you're just an overzealous journalist who doesn't know when to leave something well enough alone. But I don't appreciate you going behind my back and trying to trick people into revealing something that you've been told is classified."
"The entire Stargate Program is classified," Bregman countered, "yet I've been given clearance to know about it."
"Only because you've been given the job of making this documentary. What was omitted from my file is not a part of that documentary and is none of your business. It is something personal, and if it was to become public knowledge, it would cause a lot of trouble, mainly for me, but also for a lot of other people. Now, I'm going to ask again that you drop it. Go do your documentary, Mister Bregman. That's what you're here for."
Bregman was silent for several seconds. If Daniel was telling the truth about this being a personal issue, then, in all conscience, he should drop it. After all, he wasn't one of those crass reporters who worked for those tasteless exposé magazines. He was a serious journalist. Bregman still had to wonder, though, why the U.S. Military would classify a 'personal issue' as a matter of national security. Obviously, whatever this personal issue was, it affected more than just Daniel. But the archeologist was right about one thing.
"You're right," Bregman said, echoing his thoughts. "I am here to do this documentary. I apologize for trying to get information from the SGC personnel about you when it's obvious that they've all been ordered to keep quiet about it. I won't do that again."
Daniel nodded, relaxing a bit.
"Apology accepted?" Bregman asked, holding out his hand to Daniel. The archeologist stood and took the man's hand.
"Apology accepted," he said.
In the moment before Daniel released Bregman's hand, a series of images flashed through his mind. Those images showed him that, though the journalist was sincere in his promise not to question any more SGC personnel about Daniel, something was going to happen that would spark Bregman's interest in Daniel to the point that the man would again seek to learn his secret – and, this time, he would succeed.
With that vision, Daniel realized that the only way to stop Bregman from pursuing the story would be to put it completely out of his mind. That's when an idea came to Daniel, the conversation he'd overheard earlier giving birth to it.
'Jack, you're gonna love this,' Daniel thought as he prepared to give Emmett Bregman an experience the man would remember for the rest of his life.