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The voice on the phone was firm, the words spoken with a note if finality.

"Killing Doctor Jackson is not a step we are prepared to take."

Vice President Kinsey's temper began to rise.  "Then you're all fools.  He's as much a danger to you as he is to me.  Who knows when one of his visions will reveal who all of you are and what your plans are?"

"If something happens that shows he poses an imminent threat, then we will take action, but, until then, it is in our best interests to leave him alone.  Our goal is to destroy the Goa'uld, and Doctor Jackson is one of the greatest weapons Earth has against them.  He's already taken out two of them with his abilities.  Even before this happened, he was a valuable tool in the fight against the Goa'uld, but, now, he is the single most important person Earth has in this war.  We'd be stupid to kill him and destroy that kind of weapon."  The voice became threatening.  "And let me make one thing clear, Kinsey.  Your previous actions against Doctor Jackson were not condoned by us, and if you do something like that again, you will regret it.  Even in your present position, you are expendable, more so than Doctor Jackson is."

That announcement made Kinsey's anger escalate into fury.  How dare this man say that Jackson was more important than he was!  He was the Vice President of the United States, in a position that might gain them control of the Stargate.

"And do not attempt to have him removed from the Stargate Program either," the man on the phone ordered.

Kinsey's temper continued to boil.  "And the rest of SG-1?"

"We would prefer that they all remain where they are since they've been doing a pretty good job of fighting the Goa'uld so far, but if there is no other choice, you can have them removed.  Just leave Jackson alone.  Have I made myself clear?"

"Crystal," Kinsey ground out.

"See that you remember that."

The click and the silence that followed told the vice president that the man had hung up.  Kinsey snapped the cell phone closed violently and began to pace.  The idiots!  Didn't they realize how dangerous it was to let Jackson keep living?  A day did not go by that Kinsey didn't fear that the archeologist would find out everything.

And then there was the issue with Hayes.  The president had spent a large portion of the weekend reading the copies of the reports from the SGC and had yet to say anything about getting a replacement for Hammond or removing SG-1 from the program.  Kinsey had tried twice to talk to him about it but had been rebuffed both times.

The vice president was certain he had Jackson to blame for this as well.  If the archeologist hadn't shown up and talked to Hayes, the president would surely have decided by now to clean house at the SGC.

Considering this latest conversation with his contact in the organization, Kinsey wasn't sure if they'd be prepared to have Hayes removed if he decided in favor of Hammond and SG-1.  Yet, as long as Hammond was in charge of Stargate Command, they'd never have control of the gate.  Surely, they must realize that getting Hammond out took precedence over everything else.  And, despite what the organization thought, SG-1 was going to be nothing but trouble as long as they remained a part of the program.

As for Jackson, Kinsey knew that he didn't dare go against the wishes of the organization.  He might be vice president now, but that wouldn't protect him from them if he crossed them.  So he'd just have to leave things as they were with Jackson . . . at least for now.

Glancing out the window, Kinsey saw that the sun had set and darkness was descending.  His impatience getting the better of him, he rose to his feet and headed to the Oval Office.  Every day that Hammond and SG-1 were at the SGC was a day too long.  It was time for the president to start doing something about it.

The vice president found Hayes in the private office that was off the Oval Office.  The president was busy looking over some papers.

"Good evening, Bob," he greeted, glancing up.

Kinsey decided to get right to the point.  "Mister President, I must insist that you tell me what your decision is about the situation at the SGC."

Hayes stared at him with a hard expression.  "You insist?  You still seem to be forgetting whose office this is, Bob."

Realizing that he needed to make an attitude adjustment, Kinsey changed his tone.  "No, but, as vice president, I feel that I should be informed promptly about important decisions like this."

Hayes kept staring at him for a while longer.  "Okay.  I just made up my mind for sure a little while ago, but if you're so eager to know, I'm leaving things as they are for right now."

"What?!  Even after all of the evidence that we presented to you against Hammond and SG-1?!"

"Actually, Bob, your evidence was pretty weak.  Oh, there's no doubt that they made some mistakes, but, considering what they have to deal with on a daily basis, I think they've done a pretty damn fine job, better than most people in their situation could have.  The few mistakes they did make certainly don't outweigh all of the ones they didn't make and all the things this planet owes them.  If I was to replace General Hammond, it wouldn't be for the few errors in judgment that he made, it would be because the political situation warrants having someone in that position who is not a member of the military."

Kinsey grasped at the straw that had just been handed to him.  "Yes!  You are right about the political advantages of having a civilian as the commander of the SGC, both domestically and internationally."

"Calm down, Bob.  I said if I was to replace Hammond, and that's not something I'm willing to do at this time.  I feel that right now is not a good time to be cleaning house over there.  In a few months—"

"A few months?!" Kinsey exclaimed.  "Hammond or SG-1 could make a mistake that will blow everything up in our faces at any moment!"

Hayes shook his head.  "Unlike you, Bob, I have some faith in their abilities.  They've managed to keep things going for the past seven years.  I can't see them screwing up that badly within the next few months."

"Mister President, I must ask that you reconsider."

"Ask all you like, Bob.  My decision is final.  Oh, and since I know that this is going to come up again sooner or later, no matter what I decide about General Hammond in the future, SG-1 is staying put.  They are too valuable to lose, especially Doctor Jackson and his abilities."

Kinsey's eyes narrowed into a glare.  "This is all because of Jackson, isn't it.  What did he tell you when he was alone with you?"

"Let's just say that he gave me a little glimpse into the future and made me realize that the last thing I should do right now is hinder our ability to fight against the Goa'uld.  SG-1 and Hammond are all needed right where they are."

Kinsey's head shook.  "Jackson would say anything to keep his job and to protect his teammates and Hammond.  I don't know what kind of bull he handed you, but you can't let it affect your judgment."

"Oh, I've been handed a lot of bull, Bob, and been lied to quite a bit, but not by him."

The hardness in Hayes' voice made Kinsey begin to wonder exactly what the president knew.  "If he said anything against me—"

"He didn't say one word against you, or anyone else, for that matter, not during our private conversation.  He'd already done a pretty good job of shooting you and Mister Woolsey down in flames when we were all together.  Like I said, Bob, my decision is final.  Until such time that I decide to change things, everything at the SGC is staying the way it is.  Now, if you will excuse me, I have to make another call to the ex-president of Togo."

Knowing that it would do no good to continue the argument, Kinsey left, thinking that another call to his contact in the organization was in order.  As soon as he was back in his office, he placed the call.

"It's me again," he said to the man who answered.  "We've got a problem.  The president has decided not to remove General Hammond from the SGC."

There was a brief silence on the other end.  "That's unfortunate."

"I assume we'll be carrying out the contingency plan?"  Kinsey couldn't help but smile slightly as he thought about the fact that he was going to be president after all.

"No.  There is another option available to us.  We've already done the preliminary planning, so it won't take more than a day or two to implement."

"What are you talking about?  You never told me about another option."

"Because it does not concern you.  Do not try to contact me again.  I will be unavailable for the next two or three days."

The man hung up before Kinsey got the chance to ask any more questions.  Angered at being kept out of the loop, the vice president put the cell phone back in the drawer.  Whatever this other plan was, the vice president figured that, sooner or later, the organization would agree to go ahead with the plan to get Hayes out of the way.  Then Kinsey would take over and see to it that Hammond and SG-1 would never cause him problems again.  And when that day came, he would make sure that Daniel Jackson was taken care of permanently, regardless of what the others wanted.

Jack brushed the snow off his coat as he approached the first checkpoint in the mountain.  It was a cold and miserable day, quite a change from the tropical paradise that SG-1 had been in yesterday.  The mission had originally been assigned to SG-11, but a member of the team had come down with a bad case of the flu, and Janet grounded the rest of the team to make sure that none of the other had caught it as well.  Jack had volunteered his team for the mission since he was in the mood to get out of the mountain, and he knew from the MALP telemetry that the area around the gate seemed quite pleasant.  Now, he was wishing that the mission had lasted more than just a day.  Another day or two on that warm stretch of beach would have been very welcome.

Jack also couldn't help but think that the romantic setting might have encouraged a certain twosome to take a step forward in their relationship.  Jack had given up trying to get Daniel to ask Sam out.  The archeologist was stubbornly refusing to take the chance of being rejected again.  As for Sam, Jack still didn't know what her feelings were.

Quickly passing through all the checkpoints, Jack headed down into the lower levels of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex.  As he got off the elevator, he saw Daniel down the hall a few yards, walking in the opposite direction.  Before he could call out, the archeologist waved a hand over his shoulder.

"Hey, Jack," he called and kept right on walking.

The colonel paused, shaking his head.  He wasn't sure that he'd ever get used to Daniel's ability to sense and recognize the presence of others.  It was just too weird.

"Hey, Daniel!  Wait up!"  Jack trotted down the hall to his friend, who had paused to wait for him.

"You just get here?" Jack asked him.

"A little while ago.  The snow slowed me down a bit."

"Yeah, tell me about it.  We've almost got a blizzard going on out there.  You know, I was thinking that, what with all the stuff that's been going on, a bit of leave might be nice.  That planet we were on yesterday was sweet."

Daniel looked at him.  "Jack, considering how much it costs to dial up the Stargate, I seriously doubt that General Hammond would consider letting us take our leave off-planet again, that is if we were to take leave.  I've got a lot of work piled up."

"You've always got work piled up, Daniel.  So, we don't take the leave off-world.  I bet we could find some warm, sunny, tropical paradise right here on Earth."

Daniel smiled slightly in amusement.  "In the mood to get a tan, Jack?"

"Now that you mention it, I am looking a bit pale."

Daniel shook his head.  "Jack, considering what's hanging over our heads, I really don't think that now is a good time for us to go anywhere.  We have to focus our attention on finding the Lost City."

"Daniel, I know that finding the Lost City is important, but we can't put our lives on hold until we do."

The archeologist said nothing, his eyes on the floor.

Jack's gaze sharpened.  "Is there something I should know about?"

Daniel lifted his head.  "I had another dream."


"I saw a fleet of Goa'uld ships, dozens of them.  They were being led by Anubis."

"And where were they going?"

"I don't know.  But you know that feeling I told you about, the feeling that something big is going to happen?  It's getting stronger.  I was considering asking General Hammond to contact the Tok'ra and find out if they'd heard about anything going on."

Jack knew that it would be downright stupid to ignore this feeling of Daniel's.  If the archeologist sensed that there was a big badness looming on the horizon, they needed to pay attention to it.  These months that had passed since all this started had proven that his sixth sense was never wrong, and his visions always came true unless they took action to change the events shown.

"Okay, how about if we go see the general now?  Just let me get changed."

Daniel waited in the locker room while Jack changed out of his civvies, then they went to Hammond's office.  Daniel told the general about his most recent dream, about the dream he'd had of Earth's forces fighting Goa'uld ships, and about the feeling he had that something big was going to happen soon.

"I think that we should try contacting the Tok'ra," he said in conclusion.  "It's possible that they might have heard something."

Hammond nodded.  "We can try, but, as you know, ever since the Tok'ra ended the alliance with Earth, they've been a lot harder to contact and can sometimes take weeks to respond."

"I know, sir, but I think it's worth a try."

Just then, the phone on the general's desk rang.  He excused himself and picked it up.  After listening to the person on the other end for a moment, he frowned severely.

"How did this happen?" he asked.  He was silent as the person replied.  "And they just walked off with it?  For a top security facility, your security leaves much to be desired."  There was another long pause, then, "What?!"

The exclamation made Jack and Daniel glance at each other in concern.

"You should thank your lucky stars that they didn't succeed, Colonel, because heads would have rolled if they had gotten away with it," Hammond told the unfortunate person on the phone.  "I want a copy of your report on my desk by end of day.  And you had better hope that General Gonzales is in a good mood when you get hold of him."  Hammond hung up the phone.

"Sir?" Jack inquired.

"There was an incident at Area 51.  Someone attempted to steal Osiris' Al'Kesh."

"What?!" both Jack and Daniel exclaimed.

"It was by sheer luck that they failed.  Unfortunately, they did succeed in stealing the sarcophagus that had been on the ship."

"Uh oh.  That's not good," Daniel stated.

"You see?  I told you that we should have kept them here rather than giving them to those guys at Area 51," Jack said.  "They've got a bunch of idiots working over there."

Hammond gave a little sigh.  "Right now, Colonel, I could almost agree with you.  Unfortunately, we have no place here to keep a ship the size of an Al'Kesh.  Also, as you know, the scientists were studying the Asgard beaming technology in an attempt to reverse engineer it."

"And the sarcophagus," Daniel murmured.  Ever since he found out that the scientists at Area 51 were studying the technology of the sarcophagus in an attempt to figure out how it worked and make more of them, he had wished that he'd destroyed the thing when he had the opportunity.  Having experienced personally what the sarcophagus could do to a person if used too often, he believed that it was one piece of technology that Earth was better off without, even if it could save lives.  And, now, someone had stolen it.  Daniel didn't want to think about what the people who took it might do with it.

"Any leads on who the people are that did this?" Jack asked.

"No.  All of the men escaped, and nobody recognized any of them."

"It's them," Daniel said in a low voice.

Jack and Hammond looked at him.

"Them who?" Jack asked.

"The ones behind the Human/Goa'uld hybrid experiments conducted in Los Angeles."

"Are you certain of that, Doctor Jackson?" Hammond asked.

"No, but it makes sense.  These people were a part of the rogue NID group, who spent years stealing advanced technology off-world.  Their primary purpose was to protect Earth against the Goa'uld, but there were also people involved whose motive was to make money from the technology that could be developed from the things stolen.  There's no reason to believe that those two goals have changed.  Think about how much money could be made from technology developed from the sarcophagus.  And the Al'Kesh would be of immense use to them in fighting the Goa'uld.  With it they could attack the Goa'uld directly.  And if they took it to a planet with a Stargate. . . ."

"Then they could go just about anywhere in the galaxy," Jack finished, not liking the picture that was forming in his mind.

Hammond gave a nod.  "I agree, Doctor Jackson.  I'd say that your guess is right.  Unfortunately, we still have no leads on who these people are, though the NID has been investigating the case since that incident in L.A."

Jack made a rude noise.  "There are as many idiots in the NID as there are at Area 51.  It's no wonder they haven't found these people yet."

"I need to call the president and tell him what happened," Hammond said.  "I will let him know about our suspicions."

Daniel and Jack left Hammond's office, wondering what this unknown group would try next.

Kinsey turned on the cell phone and saw that his contact had left him a text message with two words: "Call me."  The vice president did so immediately.

"As you may already know, our plan did not succeed," the man said.

"Oh, I know, all right.  Your bumbled attempt to steal the Al'Kesh has really turned up the heat.  The president is determined to find out who was behind it.  Why did you go after the Al'Kesh instead of moving forward with our other plan?  With me in charge, you would have had access to both the Stargate and the Al'Kesh."

"We wanted to avoid the investigation of a presidential assassination, if at all possible.  Such an investigation could be very dangerous for us.  With the Al'Kesh at our disposal, we could have carried out our plans and left things as they are here on Earth for the present time."

"And now?  Security at Area 51 has been doubled, and there are guards watching the ship at all times.  You'll never get it now."

"We are unprepared to remove President Hayes at this time.  However, it will likely become necessary eventually."

"Eventually?  As long as Hayes is in office, you're stuck here on Earth, which really limits your ability to go after the Goa'uld."

"We are aware of that, Kinsey.  You need to learn patience.  When the time is right, we will take action.  Until then, you are to wait.  Do not take any action on your own.  I will contact you when I have information for you."

Sam put her food tray on the commissary table and sat down beside Daniel.  "So, I heard about what happened at Area 51.  Thank goodness they didn't get the Al'Kesh."

"Yeah.  It's bad enough that they got the sarcophagus."

"So, you think it was the same people who were behind that stuff in L.A.?"

Daniel nodded.  "If they've still got contacts in the military and the NID, they'd have the ability to get past the security at Area 51."

"From what I understand, they used forged documents that said the sarcophagus was being transferred to the SGC."

"Forged documents.  That sounds alarmingly familiar."

Sam realized what Daniel was talking about.  The hit man who had been hired to kill him had gotten onto the base with fake documents and a phony military I.D.

"You think that Kinsey had something to do with the theft?" she asked.

"I don't know.  We've already guessed that he's involved with this group.  He may or may not have been directly involved with what happened at Area 51, although I think that Kinsey is mostly just interested in getting control of the Stargate.  I can't think of any way that stealing the Al'Kesh and the sarcophagus would benefit him."

"Well, whatever was planned for the Al'Kesh, they're not going to get it now.  It's under tight security."

"That's good."  Daniel took a bite of his food, then looked at Sam.  "So, what have you been up to today?"

"Oh, an excruciatingly boring project that, nevertheless, has to get done.  I've been at it since Saturday, and I will be so glad when it's finished, which should be by tomorrow morning, if all goes well.  So, what about you?  You've been spending a lot of late nights here recently."

"Translations, translations and more translations.  It seems like, lately, the SG teams have been delighting in bringing back all kinds of tablets, scrolls, manuscripts, etcetera, and I just keep getting further behind because of all the stuff that's been going on."  His expression became thoughtful.  "You know, I really miss the days when we'd go on missions, tangle with Goa'uld, fight Jaffa, destroy Goa'uld ships, blow up suns and planets, then come home to some peace and quiet.  It isn't that way anymore."

Sam smiled.  "No, it isn't.  There's been as much stuff going on here lately as there has been out there."

"Jack thinks that we should all go vacationing on a tropical beach somewhere."

Sam's smile grew.  "Ah.  That planet was nice, wasn't it?"

"Yes, it was."

"Actually, a little leave does sound great, but now is really not a good time to take it."

"That's what I told Jack.  I also told him that I had another dream."  Daniel recounted the vision and his feeling of impending trouble to Sam, who frowned in concern.

"That doesn't sound good," she said.  Her gaze intensified.  "Daniel, do you think that those ships you saw were heading here?"

"I honestly don't know, Sam.  After Jack and I talked to the general, I tried to see something more, but didn't have any luck.  If it makes you feel any better, I don't think that there is an armada of Goa'uld ships on their way to destroy Earth right at the present moment."

The two scientists fell silent.

"Jack said that we can't put our lives on hold until we find the Lost City, and I guess he does have a point," Daniel remarked after a moment.  "All we can really do is just keep living day to day and wait to see what happens."

"Yeah, I guess you're right."

A lone Goa'uld reconnaissance drone floated up to the Stargate on a deserted world.  Its mission was to find planets where there existed signs that the Ancients had once lived there.  It had found no such evidence on this world.  Perhaps the next planet would be different . . . or maybe the one after that.

Next Chapter

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