As everyone in the room waited for Daniel to arrive, Kinsey became increasingly nervous. He had gotten to his feet and was pacing the room. From what the others could see, he was actually sweating. Hayes had to wonder why the vice president was so terrified of Daniel Jackson. What was the reason for this fear?
At last, the door opened, and President Hayes got his first real look at Doctor Daniel Jackson. On the outside, the man looked nothing at all like what you'd expect someone with that kind of power to look. He was nicely dressed in a grey suit, pale blue shirt and dark blue tie. His brown hair was neatly combed, bright, intelligent blue eyes framed by a pair of attractive, wire-rimmed glasses. He had a handsome face that was strong, yet gentle, certainly not the face of a crazed, power-maddened killer. But then, Ted Bundy hadn't much looked like a serial killer, had he.
"Thank you for agreeing to see me, Mister President," Daniel said, his voice quiet and pleasant.
Hayes stood and shook the archeologist's hand. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Doctor Jackson. I could say that I've heard a lot about you, but that would be an understatement. Do you know everyone else here? I know that you've met the vice president and Mister Woolsey."
Daniel looked at Woolsey and then over at Kinsey, who was presently at the opposite end of the room. "Yes, I have." To Hayes' ears, the man's voice seemed to have hardened a touch, though nothing showed on his face. Daniel then turned to the fourth man in the room. "General Maynard, right? You're the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We've never met, but I recognize you from TV and the newspapers."
Maynard came forward with a small smile and shook Daniel's hand firmly. "It is an honor to meet you, Doctor Jackson, and I wish to say right now that what you have done for this country, this planet, would have earned you a chest full of metals, if you were in the service."
Clearly embarrassed by the praise, the archeologist's eyes dropped to the carpet. "Um . . . thank you, sir," he said quietly.
Hayes instantly decided that he liked this man standing before him. This wasn't some dangerous, megalomaniacal monster waiting to strike, despite what Kinsey might think.
"Please take a seat, Doctor Jackson," he said.
Everyone sat down, except for Kinsey, who stayed where he was.
"Now, perhaps you should explain why you're here," Hayes suggested.
"I'm sure that, by now, you know quite a bit about me, Mister President," Daniel responded. "Specifically about the abilities that I've gained."
"Yes, I have."
"Then I won't have to explain when I say that I am aware of what all of you have been talking about here today."
"And exactly how did you find out, Doctor Jackson," Woolsey asked suspiciously. "Did you 'listen in' on our conversation?"
Daniel looked at him. "No, Mister Woolsey, I did not. I had a dream yesterday morning, what you'd call a vision, showing me what was going to happen here today, as well as some things that have yet to happen. Now, it didn't show me everything, but I did see quite a bit, plenty enough to know that I had to come here."
"To do what, try to convince the president that you, your teammates and General Hammond haven't screwed up time and time again?" Kinsey asked, apparently having gotten over some of his fear.
Daniel turned and just stared at him for a very long moment, saying nothing. Kinsey shrank back a little, which interested Hayes greatly. The archeologist returned his attention to the others.
"Yes, we've made mistakes, all of us have," he said. "There have been errors in judgment. But name me one person on this planet who has never made a mistake, never made a decision they shouldn't have. Name me one person who could run the SGC with absolute perfection, never screwing up even once. If you can do that, then I welcome you to replace General Hammond with that person, because we'd all benefit from having a perfect human being in command there."
"Obviously, we can't, Doctor Jackson," Hayes said. "No human being on this planet or any other is perfect. But some serious questions have been raised about General Hammond and all the members of your team."
Daniel nodded. "Yes, I know." His eyes flickered over Woolsey and Kinsey. "I know what accusations have been made against us. Now, obviously, I'm not an impartial observer, but then neither is Vice President Kinsey."
"What are you accusing me of?" Kinsey asked angrily.
"I didn't accuse you of anything, but you and I both know that you have an agenda, and getting rid of General Hammond and SG-1 is part of that agenda. And please don't insult our intelligence by denying it. Even if I wasn't psychic, I could see right through you."
Kinsey flushed with anger and opened his mouth to say something.
"Bob, just let the man say what he came to say," Hayes said, deciding that he really did like Daniel. The archeologist wasn't afraid to stand up to anyone and speak his mind, and the president suspected that he possessed a cutting wit that would leave Kinsey bleeding on the floor if he chose to let it loose.
"Thank you, sir," Daniel said. "First of all, I would like to remind everyone of what happened when General Hammond was replaced by someone else as commander of the SGC."
"I don't think you have to, Doctor Jackson," Maynard said. "It was all in the report. Because of General Bauer's actions, an entire planet was destroyed, and Earth was placed in serious jeopardy."
Daniel nodded. "Those things would never have happened if General Hammond had remained in command. The UAV only scanned a fifty-mile radius from the Stargate of the planet that was destroyed. We don't know what was beyond those fifty miles. For all we know, Bauer's actions may have cost the lives of thousands of people, perhaps more. An entire civilization may have been wiped out because certain parties," he glanced over at Kinsey, "had decided that the Stargate wasn't being used in the way they thought it should be. And, now, it's happening again. Vice President Kinsey and others believe that the program has been mismanaged, that others can do a better job of running it. But I ask you." He looked straight at Hayes. "How do you think it should be run?"
"I'm afraid that I really can't answer that, not yet," Hayes replied honestly.
Daniel gave a nod. "As I'm sure all of you know, I've had issues in the past with things that the people in charge of the Stargate Program wanted to do. I'm not in the military, so I don't look at things from a military or strategic standpoint. I look at what I believe to be morally right and wrong, how decisions will affect the individuals involved, all of the individuals involved, regardless of whether or not they are human. Keeping that in mind, this is the way I see things. With General Bauer, we got a glimpse of what would happen if the Stargate Program was run from a purely military perspective. It would become nothing more than a source for weapons and other things to give us the power that many feel we need to have, a way for us to go out there and kick ass." Daniel looked straight at the president. "That's how the Goa'uld use the Stargate. It is a tool they use to conquer their enemies, to subjugate and destroy. They travel through it to other worlds looking for technology that they will use against each other and on other races. I don't know about you, but the thought of Earth using the Stargate in that way makes me ill, and I'd be willing to bet that the Asgard wouldn't be all that pleased about it either.
"Then there is the opposite end of the spectrum. I can't tell you how delighted I'd be if the Stargate could be used solely as a tool for exploration and learning, a way to discover the secrets of the universe that are out there waiting to be found. There are so many things to be learned, so much for us to see and experience out there. Since joining the program, I have seen wonders that defy imagination, gained knowledge that would change humanity, if it could be revealed. The problem is that, as much as we may wish it wasn't so, there are enemies out there, powerful and dangerous enemies, the Goa'uld, the Replicators and others. Even as I sit here talking to you, they are killing and enslaving tens of thousands, millions. So, how could we trip merrily through the galaxy, taking in all the knowledge and wonder, and turn our backs on the fellow human beings out there who need our help?"
Daniel's eyes came to rest on Kinsey. "Some believe that Earth is the only planet that matters, that as long as Earth, specifically the United States, is safe, the rest of the galaxy can go to hell. And if keeping Earth safe means committing terrible injustices against civilizations on other worlds, well, that's perfectly acceptable as long as good old Earth benefits. That's what the rogue element of the NID, the people like Colonel Maybourne, thought." He returned his gaze to Hayes. "But such a callous, selfish, self-centered attitude is not the kind of attitude that any world power should have."
"It damn well isn't the attitude that this country is founded upon," the president stated firmly.
"Just get to the point, Jackson," Kinsey snapped, not at all pleased with the way things were going.
Daniel gave Kinsey a cold, hard stare. "My point, Mister Vice President, is that, for seven years, General Hammond has run the SGC neither from a purely military standpoint nor from the opposite one. Though he is in the military, he has rarely let the search for weapons and other technology blind him to the issue of morality. He supports both military and exploratory missions, understanding that both are important to the program and to Earth. He has commanded fairly and with compassion, insight and wisdom. Yes, he's made mistakes, some of which were because he cares so much for the people under his command. But would any of you want a commander who didn't care?"
Daniel's full attention returned to Hayes. "I know that the issue of the other countries that are now involved with the Stargate Program is of great concern to some. Those people might believe that having someone who is not military in command of the SGC would help smooth a few ruffled feathers, appease a few representatives of those other countries, especially if that person happened to be someone skilled in international diplomacy. I also know that the possibility that the Stargate Program will become public knowledge is a concern of those people and that they think that having a civilian in charge of the SGC would be more appealing to the public, make everything seem less threatening to them. But I have to ask you this: is international diplomacy and looking better in the eyes of the public really what's most important here? Not from where I stand. We are in a battle against a race of beings that would gladly wipe us all out if they could, beings that enslave billions and slaughter millions, beings that we must defeat in order to have any kind of security for Earth. How could any man or woman who has no training or experience in dealing with that kind of threat have the skills and knowledge to run the SGC in the right way? The learning curve for that person would be far too costly to the lives of others and take time that we might not have. Sure, that person might be great at negotiating with Russia, Great Britain, China and the other countries that know about the Stargate, but while they're busy playing nice with those other countries, the Goa'uld are busy destroying countless civilizations out in the galaxy and plotting how to wipe out every man, woman and child on Earth."
Hayes stared at Daniel, mouth hanging slightly open. 'Good God. Maybe I can understand why Bob's so afraid of this man,' he thought. It was as if Daniel Jackson had plucked the thoughts he'd had earlier today right out of his head. Only this morning, he had been looking at the political and international aspects of the whole issue and wondering if they needed someone at the SGC who would be more of a diplomat and not connected to the military. And here this man just brought up that very thing and shot his reasoning down in flames.
"I don't know about everyone else, but I've heard enough," Kinsey said disgustedly. "You have no right to preach to us, Jackson, and tell us what we should and should not do. The actions you've taken, the things you have done since gaining this unholy power of yours prove that you're not the morally incorruptible man that so many hail you to be."
The president saw something flicker briefly across Daniel's face, something that looked to him like sorrow and shame. The archeologist's face was turned to the floor when he spoke.
"I'm not proud of some of the things I've had to do since developing these abilities. I wish that a lot of them hadn't been necessary." He lifted his eyes and focused them intently upon the vice president. "But all the things I've done, both out there and here on Earth, were what I believed had to be done to fight the Goa'uld, to protect the lives of others or myself, or to make sure that the allies we so dearly need remain our allies. So, tell me, Mister Vice President. What was your reason for doing some of the things you've done? I'd really love to know."
Kinsey's face went pale, panic flashing briefly in his eyes.
'Oh, there is definitely something going on between these two,' Hayes decided. The question is what?
"You've spent a lot of our time defending General Hammond," Richard Woolsey said. "I suppose that, next, you're going to start in on the defense of yourself and your fellow teammates."
That surprised everyone.
"No?" Hayes repeated questioningly.
Daniel looked at him. "I don't think it's necessary, not if you've read the mission reports with an unbiased eye and really seen the picture they've painted of SG-1. Our record speaks for itself." Daniel's gaze speared into Kinsey and then Woolsey. "Our so-called 'intermittent successes' have saved Earth from destruction repeatedly, have gained us powerful allies, have resulted in the deaths or defeat of several Goa'uld, have saved too many human civilizations in the galaxy to name, and have given Earth powerful weapons capable of defending us from attack. To say that a handful of mistakes and errors in judgment is enough to overwhelm all that is ludicrous and insulting. As to the issue of disregarding military authority, if you had to choose between following orders or saving the entire planet, what do you think would be the best choice to make? And as for some of your other arguments against SG-1, they're too short-sighted, illogical and unreasonable for me to even bother with."
There was silence in the room after Daniel finished, the other four men shocked by how much he knew about what had been said.
"Thank you for your thoughts, Doctor Jackson," the president said. "I'd like you to wait out in the waiting area, please."
"Of course, Mister President," the archeologist said, standing. He left the room, quietly shutting the door behind him.
Hayes leaned back in his seat. "Wow."
Kinsey stared at him. "Wow? That's all you have to say? Jackson obviously spied on us with his abilities. It's things like this that prove how dangerous he is."
"The man had a prophetic dream," Maynard countered. "He didn't do it deliberately."
"We only have his word on that," Woolsey pointed out. "Doctor Jackson does possess the ability to consciously look into the future."
Kinsey looked at the president. "You have to do something about this. Jackson is far too dangerous to be allowed to continue running around free."
"What are you suggesting, Bob, that I throw him in prison? Even if I was willing to do such a thing, which I'm not, how long could we keep him locked up?"
"He could be kept sedated."
Maynard stared at Kinsey, appalled. "I cannot believe you would suggest such a thing. That man has helped save this planet. He has gone so far as to sacrifice his life for the sake of others, and not just once. He has played a vital role in many of the victories we've had against the Goa'uld, personally capturing two of them. He's the one who opened the Stargate! As far as I'm concerned, he deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his contributions to Earth and the rest of humanity."
"Oh, please," Kinsey sneered. "You may be enamored of Jackson, but the rest of us aren't so easily impressed."
"Actually, Bob, I found myself quite impressed by him," the president stated.
Kinsey gaped at him. "You can't be serious."
"Why not? Apparently unlike you, I've been able to read these reports," Hayes waved his hand at the stack of files, "with an unbiased eye, and there is no question in my mind that Doctor Jackson has given a lot to this planet and to people on other worlds. For God's sake! The man has died nearly half a dozen times while in the service of this nation! How many others can say that?"
Before Kinsey could say something more, Woolsey spoke up. "There is no denying that Doctor Jackson has performed a great service to Earth in the past. I, for one, am not ignoring that. But the issue at hand is whether or not we can still trust him. What we saw here today proves that he possesses a power that can enable him to learn top secret information, hear confidential conversations, and that is just one facet of his abilities. He has a frightening power to kill and destroy, a power that even a fully equipped army would be hard-pressed to stand against. If he really did decide to take control of this country, he wouldn't be able to succeed against the full might of the U.S. military, but it would be within his power to wipe out a good portion of our leadership simply by walking around Washington and blowing up the right buildings. Now, I'm not saying that he is considering something like that now, but we don't know how long it will be before this power of his completely goes to his head."
"So, you think we should keep him sedated against his will in prison, too?" Hayes asked, having a hard time believing that Kinsey and Woolsey could be so paranoid.
"That might not be the best solution since General Hammond and his teammates could cause a lot of trouble, but exiling him to a planet with no Stargate would be a viable alternative, although there would be the danger that a Goa'uld would happen upon the planet in one of their ships and take him as a host. To be honest, I don't know what the best solution to this problem would be."
Kinsey almost said aloud that they should consider having Jackson gotten out of the way permanently, but he knew that Hayes and Maynard would both have a cow at that suggestion. Damn Price and his incompetence. If the assassin had just done his job right, they wouldn't have this problem, and Kinsey wouldn't have to worry that Jackson was going to discover and reveal how far Kinsey was willing to go to gain control of the Stargate Program. He wouldn't have to worry that the archeologist would find out all about the organization he was now in league with and what they were planning on doing.
"Well, I'm not prepared to jump to conclusions about this," the president said, breaking into Kinsey's thoughts. "The man deserves to have his freedom unless more evidence suggests that he really is a danger to us."
"Mister President—" Kinsey began to object.
"That's my final say on the matter, Bob," Hayes stated firmly.
"And what of the issue of General Hammond and SG-1?" Woolsey asked.
"I'm not prepared to come to a decision on that yet. I've got a lot to consider. I'd say that this meeting is at an end, gentleman. Thank you."
Maynard and Woolsey exited the room. Kinsey opened his mouth to speak, but Hayes didn't let him get a word out.
"I've heard enough from you, Bob. I have a lot of thinking to do now."
"You're not going to talk with Jackson again are you?"
"I'm considering it."
"That would be very unwise, far too dangerous."
"For whom? For me . . . or for you?"
Kinsey stiffened. "I don't know what you're talking about. I am merely concerned that Jackson will attempt to do something to make you see things his way. We really don't know what other powers he might possess that he's told no one about. He may have the ability to control people's minds or implant thoughts in their heads."
Hayes laughed a little and shook his head. "Bob, this whole thing is already like some wild science fiction movie. Don't make it out to be even wilder. Just go back to your office or something. I will let you know when I've come to a decision."
A very unhappy Vice President Kinsey left the Oval Office. When he got to the waiting area, he saw that General Maynard was in a conversation with Daniel. The two seemed to be getting along famously. Perhaps in addition to getting rid of Hammond and SG-1, Kinsey should consider trying to get Maynard removed from his position as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If it hadn't been for the general's defense of SG-1 and Hammond, the president would have seen things Kinsey's way right away.
Daniel, whose back had been facing Kinsey, suddenly stopped speaking and turned toward him. His eyes bored into the vice president's for a long, silent moment, then he turned back to Maynard and resumed speaking to him. Kinsey continued on his way, wondering if he could convince his contacts in the organization to get rid of Jackson themselves.
Even though things had not gone as planned, Kinsey was still confident that the president would see things his way. And if he didn't, well, it wouldn't be the first time that a president was assassinated. Once Hayes was out of the way and Kinsey had taken over, he'd have complete control to do what needed to be done. One of the very first things would be to make sure that Jackson didn't live long enough to figure things out. As president, Kinsey would have the power to get people on the job who'd do things right.
The vice president went to his office. He was pouring himself a drink when his secretary told him that Woolsey was there to see him.
"Send him in." The NID man came in, and Kinsey offered him a drink.
"No, thank you," Woolsey responded.
"That was nice work today, Richard."
"Really? I got the distinct feeling it didn't go so well."
"Ah, well, it doesn't matter."
Woolsey stared at him in surprise. "It doesn't?"
"Nah. The President's gonna come around," Kinsey told him confidently.
"I didn't get that impression, Mister Vice President. In fact, I clearly sensed that he was siding with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Doctor Jackson."
Kinsey laughed. "Today was a formality. Don't get me wrong. The job you did was vital. The President has to appear to be hearing both sides, considering his position. He'll see things my way eventually."
"And if he doesn't?"
The vice president gave a chuckle that sounded somewhat ominous to Woolsey's ears.
"Things happen," he said mysteriously.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Woolsey asked, getting a bad feeling.
"It means you chose the right side, Richard. One way or another, I promise you, I'm gonna win this one."
Woolsey's level of concern heightened dramatically. He didn't like the feeling he was getting or the suspicion that was starting to form in his head. He turned away from Kinsey to hide his expression.
"If you will excuse me, sir, I have some other business to take care of," he said.
He left the White House a short while later, wondering if he'd made a terrible mistake in giving his allegiance to Robert Kinsey. There was no doubt in his mind that the vice president had been hinting that, if the president didn't play ball, arrangements would be made for him to be gotten out of the way.
As Woolsey reached his car, a thought hit him that made him freeze in his tracks. He recalled another conversation he'd had with Kinsey, one about Daniel Jackson. After he had told Senator Kinsey about what the archeologist had said during his interrogation, Kinsey had said, "Don't worry about Doctor Jackson. He isn't going to pose a problem." When the senator stated those words, there had been a look on his face and a tone in his voice very much like what Woolsey had just seen and heard. And, only a few days later, the first of three attempts were made on Jackson's life.
Deeply shaken, Richard Woolsey got in his car and left the White House grounds. How could he have been so wrong? How could he have missed seeing this before? As Woolsey made his way to the Pentagon, all of the pieces began falling into place, and the picture that was being formed was not a pretty one. Feeling like a fool, Woolsey decided that maybe it was time to change sides.
President Hayes was standing at one of the windows behind his desk, looking out, when Daniel entered the room.
"I was told that you wanted to speak to me in private," he said to the archeologist.
"Yes, sir. There were things I didn't want to tell you with Vice President Kinsey and Mister Woolsey present."
Hayes turned to him. "I see." He studied the man before him. "What is it like, Doctor Jackson, to have that kind of power?"
"Terrifying," Daniel answered with complete honesty. "I don't think that humans were meant to have this kind of power, at least not when it's thrust upon them so suddenly. If it wasn't for the lives I can save with it, I'd gladly do whatever I could to get rid of it, to make me just an ordinary person again."
Hayes stared at him. "That surprises me. I should think that anyone gaining that kind of power would want to keep it."
Daniel shook his head. "It comes with a big price tag, sir, and a huge weight of responsibility, one that can be pretty overwhelming at times."
The president thought about that. "Yes, I guess it would." He came around the desk. "You're right. I'm not so sure that I'd want it." His expression lightened, and he smiled a little. "Could you . . . do something?"
Daniel frowned in puzzlement. "Do something?"
"Yeah. Make my desk fly around the room or something."
Daniel smiled. "Ah." His eyes went to the security camera mounted on the wall.
"Oh, don't worry about that," Hayes told him. "All the men who monitor the feeds are sworn to keep silent about what they see."
Daniel focused his attention on the deck, and the president watched in amazement as the pencil holder rose in the air and floated toward him. It came to a stop right in front of him, and he tentatively took it.
"Cool," he said, grinning.
Daniel turned to the fireplace on the north wall. An instant later, the logs burst into flames.
"Whoa!" the president exclaimed. The fire went out after a moment, extinguished without even an ember remaining to give evidence to its prior existence.
"That is amazing," Hayes said. "You'd be great fun at parties. I should have invited you to the Inaugural Ball. You could have really livened things up there."
Hiding a smile, Daniel looked at the floor.
Knowing that they had important things to talk about, Hayes sat down at his desk and told Daniel to take a seat.
"All right, so tell me what it is that you couldn't say in front of Woolsey and the vice president."
"I told you that I had a vision yesterday morning of the events that would take place here today. But my vision showed me more than that. It showed me what would happen as a result of that meeting."
"You would have eventually made the decision to remove General Hammond from his position as the SGC's commander. In his place, you'd have put a person who has no training or experience in dealing with the kind of threat posed by the Goa'uld."
"Who would have that kind of training and experience, Doctor Jackson? It's outside the realm of what they teach even in the military schools." Hayes pointed out.
"We do, sir," Daniel answered, "all the people who serve at the SGC. Granted, none of us who have been there since the early days were trained beforehand to fight aliens, but I think we've done a pretty good job of learning, and we're now teaching others what we've learned so that they will be more prepared than we were in the beginning."
Hayes conceded that point. "All right. Go on with what you were telling me."
"In addition to bringing in a new person to command the SGC, you decide to suspend current Stargate operations until a new government division can be established to take the place of Stargate Command."
"Sounds like it might be a smart idea to me."
"Except that those things cost time, sir, time that we can't afford to lose, especially now."
"What do you mean?"
"Sooner or later, Anubis is going to come after us. It's only a matter of time, and I have a terrible feeling that time is getting very near. We have to be prepared for it, and having someone in command at the SGC who's busy playing catch-up and reworking policy there could be a disaster. We may be right on the verge of finding the Lost City—"
"Whoa, wait a minute. Lost City? I'm sorry Doctor Jackson, but I've only gone through about a third of those files. I'm afraid that I am not fully up to speed on everything."
Daniel briefly explained about the Ancients and what they'd learned about the Lost City. "Our number one priority for the past year has been to find that city, Mister President, and we may be close to it. If you shut down the Stargate for several months, it's going to cost us valuable time, time that we simply cannot afford. If, after we find the Lost City and get its weapons, you decide that you simply have to make changes at the SGC, then it is within your right and power to do so, but, please, I beg you, don't do it now. Let us do what needs to be done to protect Earth. Let us find the Lost City."
Hayes was silent for a few seconds. "So, all you're really asking for is more time."
"So if, after you've found this Lost City and gotten what we need from there, I replace General Hammond with someone else, you won't object?"
"I wouldn't be happy about it, but it is your decision to make, Mister President."
"And what if I decided to disband SG-1 as well, remove all of you from the program or place you in positions where you would not go through the Stargate? Please answer me honestly."
Daniel paused a long while before answering. "Then, sir, I guess I'd be leaving Earth again, because there would still be Goa'uld out there to fight, and I couldn't just stand by and do nothing about it."
"You do realize that, in telling me that, I could take steps to see that you couldn't leave."
"Yes, sir, but how far would you be willing to go to keep me from leaving?" Daniel asked quietly.
The two men stared at each other for a long, silent moment.
"You are an extraordinary man, Doctor Jackson," Hayes finally said, finding himself progressively more impressed by the archeologist.
Daniel shook his head. "Not really, sir. I'm just an ordinary guy who's found himself in an extraordinary situation and knows what he has to do."
Hayes smiled. "All right, I'll think about what you've told me. Thank you for coming."
Daniel left the Oval Office and was escorted out of the White House and to the gate he'd entered through, hoping that what he'd told the president would be enough to cause the man to make the right decision, for Daniel knew with absolute certainty, that, very soon, the forces of Earth would be in a battle against Anubis.