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Teal'c was released in the afternoon, though he was under doctor's orders to take it easy for the rest of the day.  Shortly after being released, he went to Daniel's office.  The archeologist was busy writing his report about the events in the simulation.

He stopped typing and looked at his friend with a smile.  "Hey, Teal'c.  How are you feeling?"

"I am greatly improved."  The Jaffa came further into the room.  "I wish to thank you for entering the game to aid me."

"You don't have to thank me, Teal'c.  Jack and Sam also volunteered.  I was just the most logical choice to go, although, considering what happened, I have to wonder now if I was the right choice."

"Nevertheless, I owe you thanks.  You put yourself at risk and suffered repeatedly because of it."

"Teal'c, that's what teammates do for each other.  That's what friends do for each other.  If our positions had been reversed, you'd have done the same thing."


"We did learn something really important during that whole thing.  Up until now, Sam is the only person I've spoken with telepathically.  I had believed that I could with you and Jack as well, but, now, we know for sure that I can with you, and I'm pretty certain I could with Jack, too," Daniel smiled, "which would probably completely freak him out."  His smile broadened.  "I'll have to try it sometime just to see the reaction I get."

Teal'c smiled.  "I would be most interested to see that as well, Daniel Jackson."

"Okay, I'll be sure to do it when you're around."

Once Teal'c had left, Daniel finished his report, then took it to Jack's office.  He put it on the desk.

"There it is, though you already know pretty much all of it since you were watching the whole simulation."

"Yeah, well, the report isn't for my benefit, Daniel.  The brass get a little cranky when they don't have written reports on the things we do around here."

Daniel settled into a chair.  "Aren't you one of 'the brass', Jack?"

"Bite your tongue, Daniel.  I may be a general and in charge of this place, but, in my head, I will never be one of the brass."

"Ah."  Daniel fell silent.

"Was there something else?" Jack inquired.

"Ummm . . . kind of.  While I was visiting Teal'c in the infirmary this morning, I talked with Janet."  Daniel looked straight into Jack's eyes.  "I don't know if she's made the request yet, but she's hoping to take some leave next week."  He paused.  "She wants to go to Atlantis to study their medical facilities more thoroughly and discuss Doctor Beckett's research."

Jack's expression closed off a little.  "Yes, she has already put in her request."


"And I said yes.  She's got the leave coming, and she could learn some stuff over there that might help us, maybe even save some lives."

"And how do you feel about that?"

Jack frowned.  "How should I feel about it?  It has nothing to do with me personally."

"Jack."  Daniel searched his friend's eyes.  "When are you going to stop pretending?"

Jack got up from his chair, going to the window that looked out into the briefing room.  "I'm not pretending anything."

Daniel stood and came over to him.  "Jack, I saw how you reacted to the way that Janet and Doctor Beckett were together.  You were jealous."  He held up a finger when Jack opened his mouth.  "And don't you dare deny it."  Jack's mouth closed with a snap.  "You have feelings for Janet.  You may not be happy about them, but they still exist."

"Okay, let's say, just for the sake of argument, that I was just the tiniest bit jealous.  And let's also say, again for the sake of argument, that I was . . . mildly attracted to the doc.  There's nothing I could do about it, even if I wanted to.  I am the commander of this base, and Fraiser is a member of the military under my direct command.  I could no more date her than I could have dated Carter when I had that . . . that thing for her.  So, there's no use even talking about it, which I don't intend to do anymore."  He returned to his desk and picked up the open file before him.

Daniel stood there for a long moment, watching his friend's stiff posture and emotionless face.  "I'm sorry, Jack," he said sadly.  Then he turned and left the office.

General Jack O'Neill's eyes lifted from the file and stared at the doorway the younger man had disappeared through.  Then he put down the file, rest his forehead in his hands, and softly cursed.

Janet's leave lasted a week, throughout which Jack acted like a bear with a sore paw.  Most people were wise enough to steer clear of him, if at all possible.  His former teammates, on the other hand, tried their best to cheer him up.  Whether or not he appreciated the effort was unknown, though the fact that he didn't bite their heads off probably meant something.

Daniel's birthday was three days after Janet's departure.  Jack and the archeologist's teammates took him out to a nice dinner and, afterwards, they spent the rest of the evening chatting at Jack's, talking about all that had changed over the past year.  After they got back to Daniel's place, he and Sam continued the birthday celebrations by making love throughout half the night, Sam making Daniel one very happy – and very satisfied – man.

On the following Monday morning, Sam was in the gate room to welcome Janet home.

"Hey.  Welcome back," she said with a smile as the doctor came down the ramp.

Janet returned the smile.  "Thanks."

Sam studied her friend's face.  "You look rested and refreshed."

"It was nice to take a break for a while, and the medical facilities on Atlantis are amazing.  What I wouldn't give to have some of those things in my infirmary."

The two women left the gate room and headed toward the elevator.

"And what about Doctor Beckett?" Sam asked, keeping her tone conversational.

"Carson is a wonderful doctor.  I admire the job he's done there and the things he's managed to accomplish.  He is a very talented geneticist."

As they made their way to the infirmary, Janet described some of the projects Doctor Beckett was doing and the things he'd already accomplished.

"It sounds like you really like him," Sam commented in Janet's office as the doctor set down her duffel bag.

"Yes, he is a very sweet man, and I respect him tremendously."  Janet's eyes widened a little as a look of realization came to her face.  "Oh!  You mean that way.  No, not like that, although I do admit that, if circumstances were different, I might come to feel something for him.  I think we'd be very compatible, like you and Daniel."

"Soooo . . . when you say if circumstances were different, what exactly do you mean?"

Janet stared at her.  "We live and work in different galaxies, Sam.  I know some people do manage to maintain a long distance relationship, but I think that would be a little extreme.  Why are you asking?"

"Just curious," Sam quickly replied.

"Uh huh.  Why don't I believe you?"

Sam smiled.  "I have no idea."  She looked at the clock.  "Well, I've got to get back to work.  Maybe we can get together for lunch."

Frowning slightly, Janet watched Sam leave.  "What on Earth was that all about?" she murmured.

Pushing the question out of her mind, Janet put on a lab coat and went out into the main ward.  She chatted with her nurses a bit and checked the charts of the patients.  Doctor Carmichael, a new doctor who had acted as C.M.O. while she was gone and who, from now on, would be the primary physician whenever Janet was off-duty, filled her in on all the new cases.

She was back in her office, going through the paperwork that had piled up in her absence, when she got a visitor.

"So, enjoy your vacation?" Jack asked casually.

"Yes, sir, very much."

"You and Beckett get along?"

"Yes, sir.  We got along very well."

Jack wandered around the office, looking at things.  "Learn anything new and exciting?"

"As a matter of fact I did.  There is some equipment in Atlantis that I think we may be able to create something similar to here.  Of course, I'm not an expert on things like that.  I had someone download schematics and other details onto my computer."

Jack nodded.  "I'll have someone take a look at it."  He picked up a plastic model of the human spine, studying it.  "So, you liked it there?"

"Yes, it is an amazing place.  I can understand why Daniel and Sam enjoyed their time there."

Jack looked at her.  "You're not planning on putting in for a transfer or anything, are you?"

Janet smiled.  "No, sir, I have no intention of doing that.  My place is here."

Jack set the model down.  "Good.  That's good.  I wouldn't want to try finding a replacement for you."

"Well, if I ever did leave, I'm sure you could find someone perfectly capable of taking my place.  Doctor Carmichael is very good, and there is a Doctor Brightman that I've heard good things about."

Jack shook his head.  "Wouldn't be the same," he declared firmly.

Janet smiled.  "Thank you, General.  That's a nice thing to say."

Jack shrugged.  "You've been here almost from the beginning, Doc.  You'd be leaving an awfully big pair of shoes for someone to fill."

"Well, thank you again.  I don't think you'll have to worry about filling those shoes for a while yet, sir."

"I'm glad to hear it."

They continued to look at each other for a few seconds longer.  Jack was the one to break their gaze.

"Well, I'll let you get back to work."  His eyes briefly met hers again.  "It's good to have you home."  Then he left.

Janet sat for a long time afterward, deep in thought.  In all the years she'd worked here, Jack had never talked like that to her.  Yes, he'd told her on a few occasions that she'd done a good job, but it had never been like that.  Of course, there had been those wonderful things he said about her when he presented her medal, but you're supposed to say wonderful things about a person who is being awarded a medal.  This was different.  Could he have been that worried that she was going to request a transfer to Atlantis, and did it really matter that much to him that she not leave?

Janet thought about Sam's earlier questions regarding Carson Beckett.  She'd seemed awfully interested in how Janet felt about the man.  Sure, it wasn't unusual for a girlfriend to show such an interest.  There was that incident with Doctor Holt, the geneticist at Area 51, when Sam had teasingly asked her about him, but there seemed to be something more to it than that.  Could Sam also have been concerned that Janet would request a transfer?

Yes, Carson was a lovely man, intelligent, compassionate and very dedicated to his work and his patients, just as she was.  He was also quite attractive.  Even so, Janet did not feel an attraction to him, though she had no doubt that they could become close friends.  There was just no . . . spark.  Of course, Janet had been around long enough to know that love didn't always begin with a spark, at least not one that you recognized.  Look at Daniel and Sam.  They'd been only friends for all those years.  The change in their feelings for each other had snuck up on them unawares.  That's the way it could be sometimes.  That's the way it had been with. . . .

No, she'd promised herself that she wouldn't think about that.  It was totally inappropriate and also against regulations.  Nothing could happen between her and Jack.  Besides, it was just physical attraction, that's all.  Yes, that kiss they shared last Christmas had just about made her toes curl, but since it had been a very long time since she was kissed by a man, that was understandable.  It was a natural reaction.  And it's not like he wasn't a very good-looking man.  Looked at from a female perspective, there was something about him that was very appealing, even if he did often try her patience.

But, regardless of any physical attraction she might feel toward him, regulations were regulations.  That's all there was to it.

Pushing thoughts of Jack O'Neill out of her mind, Janet got back to work.

They almost managed to make it through the remainder of the week without any major events, but then, on Saturday, forty-two-year-old billionaire Alec Colson – who ran a global empire of companies including communications, biotechnology, aerospace and aviation – had called a huge press conference that caused a tidal wave of reaction.  The man claimed that he had proof of the existence of technologically advanced alien life, aliens that had been intervening in our existence for quite some time and that more than one government knew about.  He then gave an ultimatum, that if the governments who knew about this did not reveal the truth within twenty-four hours, Colson would do it for them.

Around an hour after the press conference, Julia Donovan, the reporter who was onboard the Prometheus when it was hijacked two years ago, was on the air, talking about Colson.  Daniel, Sam and Teal'c were in the briefing room, watching the broadcast, when Jack came in.

"He personally holds over two hundred proprietary patents in both the military and domestic industries," Julia was saying, continuing her rundown of who and what Alec Colson was.

"Shut it off," Jack ordered.  Sam turned off the TV.  "We know who he is," Jack's gaze focused on Sam, "some of us better than others."

"We worked together briefly, sir," the astrophysicist responded.  "Colson Aviation developed the multi-engine control systems for the F-302's.  Colson didn't know what they were for, of course, but he is a brilliant engineer."

"He's also a little nuts, isn't he?"

"You've test flown experimental aircraft," Sam pointed out.

"We all go through the gate," Daniel added.

"This isn't about us," Jack said.

"Well, in a way, it is."

"The point is, sir, he's not some looney cult leader," Sam stated.  "People are taking him seriously."

"So, what do we think he knows?" Jack asked.  He opened a file containing a photograph of Colson dressed in flying gear, standing beside a jet.

"He owns several Earth observer and weather satellites," Sam replied.  "Though he didn't give any hints about what spurred him to make this announcement, the fact that it's coming less than five and a half months after Anubis' attack on Earth leads me to believe it has something to do with that.  Maybe it's possible they picked something up, pictures of Anubis' fleet in orbit or the battle over Antarctica."

"What I don't understand is how it could have come this far," Daniel said.

Jack looked at the file.  "He's gotten the national security speech from the Pentagon several times.  Apparently, the president has called him personally."

"Why not merely tell him the truth?" Teal'c asked.

"His personality was profiled, and he was deemed a security risk," Sam replied, making air quotes around the words "security risk".

"For obvious reasons," Jack remarked.

"Apparently, his father was a . . . a newspaper reporter who was jailed during the McCarthy era," Daniel said.  "He believes pretty strongly in the freedom of speech and the rights of the people to know what the government is doing at all times."

"Leaking classified information could be considered treason," Sam pointed out.

Jack gave it some thought for a couple of seconds.  "All right, see if he can be convinced not to go public," he said, turning around and heading toward his office.

"Without actually telling him anything?" Daniel asked.


Jack departed the briefing room, leaving his former teammates to ponder on how they were going to do what he asked.

"Oookay," Daniel said.  He looked at the other two people in the room.  "Any suggestions?  Sam, you know him better than any of us do since you've actually worked with him."

"Unfortunately, what I do know about him doesn't lead me to believe that this is going to be easy.  He's very stubborn, and it's not easy to sway him from a course of action once his mind is set upon it."

"I guess all we can do is try."

Sam and Daniel met with Colson at his head office in Seattle.  The first thing the man did was come close to flirting with Sam, which didn't please Daniel.  Then he declared that he was a big fan of Daniel's, that he'd been following the archeologist's career since way back when Daniel posited the theory that the pyramids were landing pads for alien ships.  He asked what Daniel had been doing since then.  All the linguist said in reply was that he'd been around.

Things went downhill from there.  It turned out that Colson did, indeed, have satellite photos of the battle with Anubis' fleet.  Brian Vogler, Colson's chief operating officer, right-hand man and best friend, explained that they'd lost contact with twelve communications and weather mapping satellites for over six hours on the day of Anubis' attack.  When the satellites came back online, they were able to transmit images stored in the buffers.

"Images like these can be faked," Sam stated.

"Or made to seem fake," responded Colson.  "I know why you're here, Sam."  He walked up to her and Daniel, his eyes focused on the astrophysicist.  "The Pentagon wants me to know that people like you are going to be trying to make me look like a fraud."

"People like me?"

"Very smart people.  Oh, we have more than this."  Colson gestured at the images on the television.  "Now, obviously, I don't know everything, but I do have a right to, as does everyone else."

"Anything we can say to stop you?" Sam asked, already knowing the answer.

"Believe me, I've tried," Vogler said, apparently not very happy about the whole thing.

"And anything you or Doctor Jackson say will be of no use either," Colson declared.  "It's way past time that world knows the truth, and I intend to see that happen.  Now, if you will excuse me, I've got a lot of work to do.  Those twenty-four hours are passing quickly."

Knowing that the man wouldn't listen to anything they had to say, Daniel and Sam left.  As they exited the building and headed for their rental car, Sam got a call from Julia Donovan.  Apparently, a camera crew staking out the Seattle office had taken footage of Daniel and Sam entering.  Though Julia didn't know who Daniel was, she'd recognized Sam and wanted to know what was going on.  During the incident with the Prometheus, Julia had been given an agreement that, if something big was going to break, she'd be called first.  She apparently wanted to make sure that happened.  The woman had been made to sign a nondisclosure agreement about what she knew, so she could not legally reveal anything herself.  Sam assured her that she would be the one they'd called first when they were ready to go public with something.

The moment Sam ended the call, Daniel revealed the unpleasant discovery he had just made.  He'd checked the messages on his cell phone and found that he had thirteen from Emmett Bregman, the noisy reporter who'd made the documentary about the Stargate Program.

The revelation made Sam sigh.  How much worse was this day going to get?  She started the red sports car and backed out of the parking space.

Daniel put away his phone, having no intention of returning Bregman's calls.  "So, what now?"

"To quote a man I know and love, I have no idea."

That got a smile out of Daniel.

Sam headed for the parking lot exit.  "Obviously, we can't do what Alec is demanding.  It would cause pandemonium.  There have already been incidents."

"Was he right about us trying to make him look like a fraud?"

"I can't say for sure, but, if he publically reveals what he showed us and any other proof he has, we may have no choice but to make it appear to be fake."

It was only minutes to the deadline, and the eyes of the world were on Alec Colson.  SG-1 and Jack were in the briefing room, standing before the TV, waiting to see what the billionaire would reveal.

Daniel was looking through some files.  "I'd like to know what all he has," he said.

Sam stared at the screen thinking about that.  "Well, he's gotta have something more significant than pictures," she replied, looking at Daniel.

"I'm going over government contracts assigned to Colson's companies over the last few years," Daniel said.  "I haven't got through them all yet, but there's quite a few loosely related to R&D of alien technologies that we procured off-world."

Jack turned up the volume on the television.

"We'll now head to Colson Industries," Julia Donovan was saying.

The image switched to Colson holding another press conference.

"Welcome, and thank you for coming," he said.

Sam looked at her watch.  "Twenty-four hours to the minute."

"Yesterday, I told you of our belief in the existence of intelligent life beyond our planet," Colson stated.  "I also told you that we believe several governments, including our own, have known about this and have been concealing the information for quite some time now.  Yesterday, I challenged those governments to come clean, reveal the truth.  We got only silence, which gives me no choice but to present to you what evidence I have.  How do I know for sure that alien life really does exist?  Ladies and gentlemen, seeing is believing."

And that's when he revealed his proof, proof that no one at the SGC had been prepared for.  The four people in the briefing room stared, shocked, as an Asgard was brought into the room.

Jack turned from the TV and faced SG-1.  "Well, I'd call that something."

The conference was ended quickly, Colson refusing to answer any of the questions people had begun to ask, merely saying that this was not the extent of what he had to reveal.

"Okay, how the hell did he get hold of an Asgard?" Jack asked.

"I don't know, sir," Sam replied.  "Perhaps one was on a mission here and, somehow, Colson's people captured it, though I don't know how they could have prevented it from beaming back aboard its ship."

"We need to get hold of the Asgard and see what's going on," Jack said.  "Then we need to figure out how we're going to dig ourselves out of this hole."

According to Thor, the Asgard were unaware of any of their race currently being on Earth.  Daniel wasn't sure that really meant anything, however.  In his office with Sam, he commented that Loki had been conducting experiments for years without the High Council knowing about it.

Sam had a suspicion, though, that what they saw wasn't a real Asgard.  She pointed out that it never spoke and that Colson had wrapped things up very quickly after revealing the alien, not taking any questions.  To her, it had seemed as if he didn't want the alien examined too closely.  She stated that images of little grey aliens had been commonplace on Earth for years, that it was even possible Colson had a picture of an Asgard.

"So, not a real Asgard?" Daniel asked.

"No Asgard we know would allow himself to be used that way," Sam replied.

Daniel had to agree with that.  "It did look a little vacant."

Sam nodded, then the nod changed to a shake of her head.  "Still, as much as he wants the whole truth, I don't think Colson would perpetrate a hoax to get it."

"Then what was it?"

Sam's head shook again.  "I don't know."  She sighed.  "Regardless, I'm really wondering what else he has.  I mean, this was big.  What could be bigger?"

"I have a feeling we're going to find out, if we can't do anything about this."

Daniel and Sam continued digging into Colson's government contracts and discovered something that led them to an interesting conclusion.  In the briefing room, they told Jack and Teal'c what they'd determined, that the Asgard they saw on TV was a clone created by one of Colson's biotech research companies from a copy of Asgard DNA that was given to them for sequencing in an effort to help the Asgard's cloning problem.  The research company hadn't known it was alien DNA.  It was meant to be a blind study, but, apparently, they took their research farther than the contract specified.  This explained why it was that the Asgard did not speak.  Though their DNA is programmed to grow a clone to maturity in only three months, the clone is essentially an empty shell until an existing consciousness is transferred into it.

"It did not speak because it was not capable," Teal'c stated.

"Exactly," Sam responded.  "They probably spent what time they had with it teaching it how to walk."

"Well . . . the Pentagon has lost all patience," Jack said, closing the file he'd been handed.

"What are they gonna do?" Daniel asked.

"They want us to put a stop to it."

The next question was from Sam.  "How?"

"We're calling in a marker."  Jack smiled at the look of confusion on the faces of the other three people.  He looked at his watch, appearing to be waiting for something.  "Yep, callin' in a marker."  Jack looked back over his shoulder.  Daniel was about to ask what Jack was looking for when Thor beamed in.

"Greetings," the Asgard said.

"Ah!" Jack said, gesturing a hand toward the Asgard.  "Running a little late, aren't you, Thor?"

"On the contrary, O'Neill.  I have arrived at precisely the time that was agreed upon."

Jack looked down at his watch, tapping the face.  "Maybe it's time for a new battery."  He returned his attention to the Asgard.  "So, is everything all set?"

"Yes.  The clone has been located.  At the chosen time, it will be removed from the laboratory it is being kept in, as will all of the computers containing data regarding its creation."

"Sweet.  I'd love to see the looks on the faces of anybody who's in the room when all that stuff vanishes before their eyes."

"Okay, so that will prevent Colson from showing it again and letting anyone take a better look at it, but what about the fact that it's already been shown on TV?" Daniel asked.

"We've got a plan for that, too," Jack said, "with some more help from Thor here."

"I am willing to assist you however I am able, O'Neill.  We owe a great debt to all of you," Thor turned to Daniel, "especially Doctor Jackson.  Our scientists have determined that your DNA will very likely give us the answer we need to correct the problem we have with cloning degradation."

"Wow.  That's great news," Daniel said.

Sam smiled.  "It sure is."

"Yes.  We owe the future of our race to you."

The plan was explained to SG-1.

"Sir, I have to say that I'm not very happy about my part in this," Sam stated.

"Why's that?" Jack asked.

"Because, sir, I respect Alec Colson.  You're asking me to go on national television and discredit him, claim that he was lying about everything, creating a hoax, which he wasn't.  Yes, it is true that the world shouldn't be told about everything, but Colson is right about one thing.  He does have the right to want the truth."

"I have the right to want a vacation home in the Caribbean, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get one.  Yeah, we're gonna call the man a fraud when he isn't one, but better that than what will happen if the truth is revealed to the world.  This is what we've got to do, and that comes straight from the president."

Sam sighed.  "Yes, sir."

Jack looked at Daniel.  "You got any objections?"

"Just the same ones as Sam, although I have to admit that Colson did get himself into this.  He knew that we'd try to discredit everything he revealed.  I just wish that he'd reconsidered before he committed himself."

Jack shrugged.  "He took on the big boys, and, now, he's going to pay the price."

"This could seriously damage his company," Sam said, still not happy.  "His reputation will never recover."

"I've got a question," Daniel said.  "What are we going to say his motive was?  Someone wouldn't create such a hoax without a motive."

"We haven't figured that one out yet," Jack admitted.

Sam straightened the jacket of her dress blues.  In a few minutes, she'd be giving an interview on Julia Donovan's program.  She knew that, by now, Thor had beamed away the clone and all evidence of its existence, except for the TV broadcast.  That final piece of evidence would be up to her to take care of, with some help from the Asgard.

Daniel had offered to go with Sam for moral support, but she chose to go alone.  She wasn't in the mood for company, not even his.  She felt terrible about this and wished there was another way.  But orders were orders, and she'd carry them out.  But there was one thing she would not do: she would not say outright that Colson was wrong.  She would not counter his truth with a lie.

All too soon, Sam was before the cameras.  Julia introduced her, giving some of her credentials.

"We're all very eager to finally hear some reaction from Washington regarding the revelation made by Alec Colson," the reporter said.

"Well, first of all, I can assure people that, if aliens really existed and were visiting the planet, we would know about it."

"So, are you saying his claims have no merit?  We all saw an alien on live television."

"Yes, well, Hollywood's been helping us see things on TV for a long time now."

"Are you saying that the alien wasn't real?" Julia questioned.

"It depends on what you mean by real."

That's when Sam unveiled what they hoped would put the authenticity of Colson's alien into question.  Thor beamed a hologram of himself onto the stage, which Sam claimed was the result of experiments with 3D technology.

"Wow, that looks just like the alien Alec Colson introduced to us," Julia said.

Thor spoke.  "Greetings, people of Earth."

"That's amazing.  He looks so real."

"Though I look real, I have been created through the use of advanced holographic technology," the Asgard announced, as if answering her.

"That's just incredible."

Sam waved her hand through the hologram, making the image flicker.  "It's just a projection.  You'll probably be seeing technology like this in theme park rides in a few years."  She looked at the hologram.  "Goodbye."

"Goodbye," it said back to her, then disappeared.

"Well, I have to say that was quite a surprise, Colonel Carter," Julia said.  "It would certainly explain what Alec Colson revealed in that press conference.  I'm sure you've given everyone a lot of food for thought.  If what Alec Colson showed the world was, indeed, a hologram, can you explain what his motives were?"

Sam hesitated before replying.  "I'm sorry, but I am not at liberty to discuss that.  I can only believe that he felt he had no choice but to do what he did."

Julia nodded.  "I understand.  Colonel Carter, is what we've seen and heard here today our government's official response to Alec Colson's claims that there is alien life out there in the galaxy?"

"There will likely be other announcements made by the White House."

"All right.  Thank you for coming, Colonel Carter."

"You're welcome."

Sam left the stage.  She waited around for the show to end.  Julia Donovan came to her, and, together, they watched the tape that had been made of the show.

"Not quite the exclusive I had in mind," the reporter said, "but it'll still do huge numbers."

Sam was disgusted by the remark.  "You're hilarious.  After everything you've been through, you still care about ratings."

Julia ignored the remark.  "How did you do it?  I've seen visual effects before, Sam.  I mean, this was some sort of alien technology, wasn't it?"

"I can't discuss it.  Are we done here?"

"Yes.  It's going to be interesting to see what comes of this and if Colson's got any more aces up his sleeve."

Sam was on her way to her rental car when her cell phone rang.

"Carter," she answered.

"Sam, it's Alec Colson."

"How did you get this number?"

"Oh, I have my sources.  I just wanted to call to tell you that I watched the broadcast, and you did a fine job of publicly discrediting me."

Guilt assailed Sam.  "I'm sorry.  I was following orders."

"Yeah, I know.  You're not the kind of person to want to do something like that, although you did a bang up job of not actually lying while you were making me look like a fraud.  The hologram was beautiful, by the way.  What alien technology did you use to create it?"

Sam sighed.  "Alec."

"I know.  You can't answer that.  I have to tell you, Sam, that I won't give up.  I promise you, one way or another, the world is gonna learn the truth.  I'm presently on a plane to D.C.  I know a lot of people aren't going to listen to me, but I'm going to talk anyway."

Alec ended the call.  Sam closed her phone with another sigh and got in her car, wondering what would come next.

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