By the end of the debriefing, Daniel was more than ready to go home and get some sleep. As everyone was leaving, Hammond asked him to come to the general's office.
"It appears that, once again, we are in your debt, Doctor Jackson," Hammond said.
"Not at all, sir. I just did what I could to help."
"Nevertheless, you may have prevented more injuries and perhaps even some deaths. Doctor Fraiser most certainly owes her life to you. But this is not what I wanted to speak to you about. It is concerning Mister Bregman and what's been going on with you and him."
Uh oh. "Sir, I. . . ."
Hammond held up his hand, halting Daniel's explanation. "I've already been told the reason for your actions. You should have come to me about this. Mister Bregman may not be military, but that does not give him the right to pursue classified information. I must apologize to you about that notation that was placed in your file. The person who omitted the information from the file does such things regularly as part of his duty and is accustomed to making such a notation. No one thought to tell him not to do so this time."
"I understand, sir."
"Now, regarding this . . . poltergeist of yours."
"General, I know that what I did was, well, pretty unorthodox, and maybe if I'd thought about it a little longer, I could have come up with another way to get Bregman to stop pursuing the story, but I was a little desperate. I knew that, if I didn't stop him, he was going to find out about me."
General Hammond didn't speak for a few seconds. "Doctor Jackson, in a position like mine, there are a lot more tears than laughter, so don't apologize for give this old warhorse something to laugh about."
Daniel's jaw dropped slightly. "What? Y-you're not mad?"
Hammond gave a little laugh. "No, Son, I'm not mad. I only wish that I'd had the pleasure of seeing 'Casper' at work. However, I do think that it's time to put a halt to it."
"Already done, General. Casper won't be making any more appearances."
"Good. Now, go home and get some sleep, Doctor Jackson. You look beat."
"Thank you, sir."
Janet closed the door of her house with a weary sigh. It had been a very long, tiring day. Thankfully, all of her patients were going to make a full recovery.
Normally on a day like this, Janet would have stayed on base to keep an eye on her patients, but tonight she'd had a desperate need to come home and see her daughter.
"Mom? Is that you?" asked eighteen-year-old Cassie as she came out of her bedroom, her hair mussed from sleep.
"Yeah, it's me, sweetheart."
Without a word of explanation, Janet wrapped her daughter in her arms and held on tightly.
"Mom, what's wrong?" Cassie asked, suddenly afraid. "Did something happen? Oh, God. Did somebody die?"
Janet drew back slightly and stroked Cassie's hair, smiling at her. "No, nobody died, honey, though Colonel O'Neill was injured. But he's going to be just fine."
"Then what's wrong, and don't tell me 'nothing'."
Janet scanned her daughter's face, trying to decide what to tell her. Cassie was old enough to be able to handle the truth. She'd be going off to college next year. She was a young woman now, no longer the little orphan girl that Janet had taken into her home all those years ago.
Janet led Cassie to the couch and sat down with her, keeping hold of her hands.
"Cassie, honey, you know about Daniel and the things he can do, right?"
Cassie nodded. "His psychic abilities."
"Something happened today. One of the teams got into trouble on a mission. One of the men was badly injured. SG-1 and two other teams went to help. Because of the severity of the injury, I went, too."
Cassie's eyes widened a little. "You went off-world?"
"Yes. Daniel was with me when I was treating the injured man and. . . . He had a vision, Cassie, and, in it, he saw me die."
Cassie's face went white. "D-die? He saw you die?"
"Yes, but he stopped it from happening. A Jaffa fired at me, and Daniel pushed me out of the way just in time. He saved my life."
"Oh my God," Cassie whispered. "You could have died today."
"Yes, but I didn't. I'm right here, alive and well."
Cassie threw her arms around her mother, hugging her with all her strength.
"Shh. It's all right, sweetheart. You didn't lose me," Janet said soothingly.
As Cassie continued to hug Janet, she whispered in her mind, 'Thank you, Daniel. Thank you for saving my mom.'
Lou Ferretti turned to see Daniel striding toward him. The archeologist didn't look happy.
'Uh oh.' Lou turned back to the two men with whom he'd been talking. "Hide me. Please."
"Not a chance, Ferretti," said one of them. "There ain't no way I'm getting in the way of Doctor Jackson. You're on your own."
"Ditto," said the other man.
"In fact, I feel the sudden need to be elsewhere," the first man stated. "See ya."
Both men moved rather quickly away down the hall.
"Cowards," Ferretti muttered, then turned to meet his fate. "Hey, Daniel," he said with excessive cheerfulness.
Daniel came to a halt before him. "A crush, Ferretti? You told Bregman that Casper has a crush on me?"
"No, not exactly. I said that some of the guys thought it had a crush on you."
"Don't split hairs, Ferretti. You're also the one who started this whole thing about Casper possibly being gay."
"Um, wellll. . . ."
Daniel crossed his arms over his chest. "Okay, let's get one thing straight. After Bregman leaves, I don't want to hear one word about a nonexistent ghost's sexual orientation or its romantic feelings for me. Got it?"
"Got it," Ferretti immediately answered, not wanting to be "Casper's" next target.
"Good." Daniel started to turn away, then paused. "Oh, and, Ferretti? Thanks for backing me up."
Lou gave the archeologist a smile. "Any time, Daniel."
It was bad enough that they were subjected to a nosy journalist. Now, they had to deal with this. General Hammond was not a happy man. The NID had decided to investigate the events on P3X-666, which they were calling a near disaster. A Mister Woolsey had just arrived and was being escorted to Hammond's office.
Just then, there was a knock on the door. It opened to reveal Colonel Rundell and a balding, bespectacled man. The colonel introduced the man, who's name was Woolsey.
Woolsey came forward. "General." He handed Hammond a file.
"I already know these orders originated from Senator Kinsey's office," the general said. "Why don't you tell me the rest."
"As chairmen of the intelligence oversight committee, Senator Kinsey has asked that I review your command decisions regarding the recent rescue of SG-13."
"My command decisions are reviewed by the Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the President of the United States. I filed my preliminary mission report yesterday afternoon. You are welcome to read that, if you haven't already."
"It is the contents of that mission report that have brought me here, General."
"You and the senator certainly don't waste any time, do you. But then, I suspect that, if there had been any fatalities on this mission, you'd have been here even sooner."
"You will find that I am not a man who wastes time, General. I have been authorized to begin a full investigation into this matter as part of a larger examination of SGC's strategic policy that the committee is preparing for the president. I have enclosed a list of interviews I will be conducting and materials I will require. I expect your full cooperation."
Woolsey turned and left, Colonel Rundell holding the door for him.
"General," Rundell said, then also left.
Hammond sighed and ran a hand over his bald pate. This was not going to be enjoyable.
Deciding that it would be prudent to check up on this Mister Woolsey, the general called Sam and asked her to get in touch with Agent Barrett at the NID. A while later, he went to her lab to see if she'd learned anything.
"Did you talk to Agent Barrett?" he asked.
Sam nodded. "He said, as far as he knows, Woolsey is clean. But he did say he's as sharp as they come. He's got an MBA and an LLP from Harvard. He was a lead council for the Army Corp of Engineers for ten years and later sat on the defense policy board. He was asked to resign last year when it was disclosed that he had financial ties to a large corporation that had been awarded over eight hundred million dollars in private sector defense contracts by the Pentagon. He's been with the NID since then. Barrett faxed me this internal NID memo Woolsey recently wrote. I think you should read it." She handed him the file, which Hammond glanced over. "What do we do, sir?"
"Just tell the truth. We have nothing to hide. The mission on P3X-666 was a complete success."
A short while later, Sam was told to report to Woolsey. He had set up what the major swore looked like a police interrogation room – sans two-way mirror – in one of the unused storage areas on Level 17.
"Have a seat, Major," the man said. "Let me explain why I am here."
Sam sat down. "That's a good question. Why are you here?"
Woolsey started the video camera that was pointing at Sam. "I believe classified military operations require oversight."
"This isn't the first time we've been scrutinized by the NID."
"I know the stakes around here are always high, but Sunday's debacle could have resulted in numerous deaths, perhaps of everyone there."
"Debacle? Mister Woolsey, in case you didn't know, the mission was a complete success."
"Thanks only to the actions of Doctor Jackson and the questionable use of his . . . abilities."
"Questionable use? Exactly what are you saying?"
"I am saying that the SGC shouldn't rely on the abilities of one man to pull their nuts out of the fire whenever their forces get into a situation they can't handle."
Sam stared at Woolsey in disbelief. "You talk like we're all a bunch of incompetent idiots who come running to Daniel every time things get a little hot."
"You can't deny the fact that, if Doctor Jackson hadn't stepped in, most of you would never have made it off that planet."
"I don't know what would have happened if Daniel hadn't done what he did. We were not cut off from the Stargate. There is a good chance that we'd have been able to make it to the gate and back home. The reason why we were delaying pulling out is because Airman Wells wasn't stable enough to be moved."
"Yes, about Airman Wells. There were already six people on that planet covering him, and General Hammond sent in thirteen more, counting Doctor Fraiser. That's nineteen people risking their lives to protect a single individual. I think that's pretty excessive."
"We don't just leave people behind. You can't ask airmen, soldiers, human beings to risk their lives without backup, without knowing that we would be there for them."
"You yourself have been asked to go into combat where you knew there was no backup. That is always a possibility on any mission through the Stargate, is it not? And please, Major. None of us like to admit it, but we all know that there are military situations in which the life of one human being had to be considered an acceptable loss."
Sam glared at the man, angered by his words and accusations. "That wasn't the case here."
"No, in this case, it was just dumb luck that there weren't any lives lost."
"I would say it was skill, training and fortitude."
"Face it, Major Carter. You were all in a situation you shouldn't have been in, one that you wouldn't have been in if the correct decisions had been made," Woolsey stated. "Case in point, after SG-13 was attacked by that drone, they should have pulled out immediately, yet they were given the order to stay. Several hours passed before General Hammond told them to return. Why such a long delay?"
"We didn't know there was a threat until we found out that the probe sent out a transmission revealing SG-13's presence on the planet. It was damaged, and it took a while to get a proper interface. And the memory crystal contained an enormous amount of information."
"So, you believe that encountering a hostile Goa'uld device on that planet wasn't grounds enough to pull out?"
"SG-13 searched the immediate area and saw no other sign of Goa'uld activity. If we pulled out of a mission every time we encountered some resistance, most missions would be scrubbed before we accomplished anything. We're in a war against the Goa'uld, Mister Woolsey. Do you expect soldiers fighting a war to run every time they encounter the enemy? That's a good way to lose a war."
"No, I expect them and their commanding officers to show some wisdom on deciding when discretion is the better part of valor."
"Look, we all did our jobs, what we were trained to do, and we all came back alive. You can sling all the mud you like, but nothing's going to change that fact. That's all I have to say."
Woolsey stared at her for a long moment, then turned off the camera. "You are dismissed for now, Major, but don't leave the base. I may wish to speak to you again."
"Fine." Sam got up and stormed out of the room.
Woolsey approached the SF that was on duty outside. "I want to speak to Doctor Jackson next."
The moment Daniel entered the room, he knew this wasn't going to be pleasant. This proved to be true a few seconds later when Woolsey started talking.
"I've read quite a bit about what's been going on over the last three months, Doctor Jackson, and I have to say that I have some serious concerns. Ever since you gained these psychic abilities of yours, it seems that you feel as if it gives you the right to do whatever you please."
"Excuse me?" Daniel said in surprise.
"When the DOD and the NID very understandably wanted to research these abilities of yours to find out how they work and if they could be reproduced in others, you refused to allow them to run any kind of test. Then, when you were removed from SG-1, you attacked several SGC personnel and illegally traveled through the Stargate with Teal'c, thereby creating a threat to this planet since, if you had been caught and taken over by a Goa'uld, your powers would have been used against us."
"Now, wait one minute. First of all, those representatives from the DOD and the NID wanted to imprison me for the rest of my life in some kind of secured facility and turn me into a lab rat. Would you have said yes to that? Secondly, when I was removed from SG-1, I did what I thought was necessary to allow me to continue fighting the Goa'uld in the best way that I was able, something I couldn't have done sitting behind a desk. Every one of the people that Teal'c and I 'attacked' understood why we did it. The president chose not to press any charges because we did all those things for the right reason."
"The right reason? And did you allow yourself to be beamed aboard Osiris' ship, without any backup, for the right reason?"
"I didn't plan on that happening; it just did."
"Ah, and all the times that you used your abilities excessively, did they also 'just happen'?"
Daniel stared at the man. "Excessively?"
"You incinerated six Jaffa the first time you used your abilities off-world. The second time, you put on a pyrotechnic demonstration for a bunch of Jaffa. Shortly after that, you virtually set a whole meadow on fire. The next time, you blew up an entire ship. In the weeks after that, you lifted a Stargate, tossed a Goa'uld around like a play toy, destroyed not one but two ships, repeatedly threw several of Anubis' drones about, cooked one of those drones inside its own armor, and put on another show for the Jaffa. Which leads us to Sunday's incident, when you once again destroyed two ships and killed several Jaffa. You don't consider that excessive?"
"That first time was a mistake, but everything I did after that, every way that I used my abilities on those occasions that you talked about, was something I had to do or was forced to do. I was saving lives, Mister Woolsey, or doesn't that matter to you?"
"What matters to me is that you seem to be on a power trip, Doctor Jackson."
Daniel let out a laugh that was anything but amused. "Oh, believe me, Mister Woolsey, if I was on a power trip, you, the president and possibly the rest of the planet would know about it."
"What does that mean?"
"Have you read the report on what happened when we brought the Harcesis child here?"
"You know that dream Shifu gave me? That is Daniel Jackson on a power trip. Now, granted, in that dream, I'd been essentially turned into a Goa'uld because their genetic memory took control of me, but you might as well say that all Goa'uld are on a power trip. If I really was on one, do you honestly think that I'd stay here at the SGC, where I have to be accountable to General Hammond and the president? With the power I have, I could set myself up as a god on some planet and have all the natives worshipping me. With not much effort, I could have had the Jaffa worshipping me. It took a lot of talking for me to make sure that didn't happen. So, don't stand there and tell me I'm on a power trip, Mister Woolsey, because you don't know what the hell you're talking about. I never wanted these abilities; I didn't ask for them. But since I do have them, I intend to keep using them to save lives and defeat the Goa'uld."
Daniel leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. "Now, I thought we were here to talk about the mission. If you're not intending to do that, then I'm just going to go, because I didn't come here to be interrogated about how I use my abilities."
"You will leave when we are finished, Doctor Jackson. I have the authority to have you jailed if you do not cooperate."
Daniel's eyes narrowed. "I did my homework, Mister Woolsey. Your authority here begins and ends with investigating Sunday's mission. You are not authorized to ask me any questions about the use of my abilities except the way that I used them on that mission. So, good luck trying to have me jailed for refusing to discuss something that you have no authority to ask me about."
Woolsey was silent for several seconds. He obviously hadn't expected Daniel to counter with a legal argument, and it was pretty clear that he wasn't happy about it.
"All right, then let's talk about what happened on the mission," he finally said. "First of all, what made you think it was safe for SG-13 to remain on the planet?"
"It's not really my call."
"But you thought it was worth risking the lives of an SG team to get an aerial survey of those ruins?"
"The immediate danger was past. The ruins appeared to be the remains of a city inhabited by the Ancients. You should know that one of our primary objectives is to find the Lost City of the Ancients. For all we knew, that could have been it. This isn't the first time that an SG team has stayed to explore a potentially dangerous area that might possibly contain something of value."
"So, you would have me believe that this was an acceptable risk?"
"This is what we do."
"Make bad decisions."
"Yeah, it's easy to predict the score when the game is over, and if we had found powerful weapons in those ruins capable of defending the planet from the Goa'uld, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
"But you didn't, and we are. The fact is that this mission was botched from the beginning to the end."
"I don't know how you can stand there and say that. We won! We took everything those Jaffa threw at us and beat them, and we didn't lose a single person! How many times in history has a group of nineteen people with nothing but hand weapons gone up against an army at least five times that size, an army with bombers and attack vessels, and come away without losing even one person? I may not be a student of military history, Mister Woolsey, but I'd be willing to bet that such a thing hasn't happened very often." Daniel leaned forward. "You say the entire mission was botched? Show me the coffins to back up that statement. Show me the report that says we left in defeat. You know, it sounds to me as if you're not here to find out the truth. You're here to find evidence that can be used against us, regardless of whether or not that evidence has any basis in fact or common sense, which really shouldn't surprise me considering who's pulling your strings."
Woolsey frowned severely. "What are you implying?"
"Senator Kinsey is out to control the Stargate Program. He wants to be president, partly because it would give him that control, but things didn't quite work out that way, so he's settling for being vice president. He's bringing important financing into the campaign in an effort to make that happen. The problem is that he needs to get rid of General Hammond so that he can bring someone into the SGC who will run things the way he thinks they should be. He already tried once. This is just part of another attempt. Kinsey also wants SG-1 gone, and he figures that if he makes us look bad, the new president will see things his way and get rid of all of us. He wants you to present as damning a case against SG-1 and General Hammond as possible, putting into question our methods and our motivations." Daniel paused upon seeing the man's expression. "By the look on your face, I'm guessing that you know all or most of this as well and are wondering right now how it is that I know. Two words, Mister Woolsey. I'm psychic."
With that final statement, Daniel rose to his feet and walked out the door.