Author's Notes: Here is Chapter Seven, the final chapter of the story. In a story line like this it is virtually impossible to formulate all the possibilities so I have left a few up to the reader's imagination. You can fill in the blanks as you prefer! Thanks for reading along.
Senator Hansen paced outside the Oval Office, waiting for the President to be ready to see him. He hadn't asked for this meeting, and he was a bundle of nervous energy as he imagined all the different scenarios that could have precipitated the President's request.
Perhaps the President wished to commend him for his efforts on the Planetary Defense Plan.
Hansen smiled proudly.
Maybe he'd somehow found out he'd contacted those survivalist goons who had kidnapped Colonel Carter.
Hansen had tried to call off the idea as soon as he realized he was dealing with a group who were a few fries short of a happy meal. He'd only meant to get Carter's attention with a few threats, not actually kidnap her. Nobody had been more surprised than he when the group of wackos had actually gone ahead on their own with the kidnapping.
Hansen began to sweat.
Maybe the President was still having second thoughts about having moved the Stargate. That had been Hansen's idea too, and in spite of Presidential opposition, Hansen had walked his dogs off drumming up support for his plan. He'd convinced everyone he possibly could that such a move was essential to the security of the planet.
It was, too, Hansen told himself again. Who knows what went on in that mountain, out of the sight and the knowledge of the public eye. This way, everything that happened through the Gate was open to scrutiny. What better way to protect Earth?
Hansen sat down and untied and retied his shoes.
President Bransen's aide opened the door and leaned out into the hall.
He stood again suddenly, a chill running up his spine.
"Senator, the President is ready for you now," the aide said in a serious voice.
Hansen jumped up and walked very deliberately into the regally appointed office to face the music.
"Senator Hansen, thank you for coming on such short notice. It has come to my attention that several of your remarks at your rally last week were, shall we say, less than accurate."
"To which remarks are you referring?" Hansen finally asked in a tense voice after a long uncomfortable silence which the President didn't seem inclined to break.
"You made reference in your speech, and I quote, that 'the Stargate is a like a blinking signal light alerting aliens to our presence, making it easy for them to attack Earth.' "
Bransen gave an odd little snort.
"You also said that the Stargate program is a threat to world security and should be shut down. You went on to say that the United States Government is hiding even more sinister information and if the American people knew what was really going on in Cheyenne Mountain, 'your blood would run cold.'"
Bransen looked up from the paper in his hands at this point, pinning Hansen with a look of disgust.
"Well, when you read it like that, it sounds...hey, you're taking my statements out of context! That's not exactly what I meant when I said..."
"Retract these statements, Senator."
"Are you ordering me?" Hansen asked, outraged.
"I'm asking you. Retract these statements publicly within the next 48 hours. If you cooperate, I'll see it as a another reason why I should appoint you to the new Stargate Program Executive Committee based in Colorado Springs."
"Step down from the Senate?" Hansen extrapolated.
"Yes. This would be a permanent appointment, Senator. You, along with a number of others who I will appoint, will develop Earth's policies for all things to do with the Stargate. Subject to this office's final approval or veto, of course. And given the global importance of this program, your influence would be far greater there than here in Washington, I dare say. You wanted a say in how intergalactic relations are handled...here's your chance. Colorado Springs will be the most important city on the planet within the year."
Hansen straightened with a prideful grin.
"Am I to be the chairman?" Hansen asked .
"Your influence will be very significant, Senator, whether or not you are chairman. However, I have asked General Landry to serve in that capacity and he has agreed. This office feels the chairmanship needs to remain military. Landry is the most qualified military officer we have to serve in this capacity. I'm sure you would agree."
Hansen didn't look like he agreed, but neither did he contest the President's decision. A bit deflated, he said, "I'll prepare the retractions for the press conference. When should I be ready?"
"By noon, sir."
Hansen left the Oval Office with a lot to think about.
Sam wandered listlessly through the charred rooms of her once beautiful cottage. The fire personnel had managed to save the basic structure of the house, although the roof was mostly gone, but nothing of her personal belongings remained undamaged. She blinked back the stubborn tears that would not leave her alone and looked back at the curb, where her security escort from the SGC sat waiting for her. She started to wave, but stopped when she realized the officer was asleep.
"Some fine security," she remarked to herself. A few more minutes of poking through the wreckage of her home satisfied her that there was basically nothing worth retrieving. A tear escaped in spite of her efforts.
She wiped her sooty hands off on the back of her jeans as she worked her way to the front of the house, still peering left and right as she walked towards the door. A charred picture frame caught her eye and she pulled it out of the ashes.
It was the picture Jack had given her of she and her Dad.
No longer able to hold back, she began to sob uncontrollably while she attempted to wipe away the scorch marks. Finally able to see the image clearly, she stuffed the frame into her hand bag and ran to the waiting car. The sleepy young soldier behind the wheel jerked awake as she got in.
"Take me back to Cheyenne Mountain," she ordered shakily. He nodded, and with a sympathetic glance in her direction, did as she had requested.
Hansen strutted into his first meeting of the Stargate Program Executive Committee and immediately sat down on the nearest chair to recover from the shock of seeing not only General Landry in attendance, but General O'Neill as well. O'Neill and Hansen exchanged a wary glance as Landry called the meeting to order.
"Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the inaugural meeting of S.P.E.C. Thank you for your commitment to a task that I believe is the most important job on the planet at this time. We have been commissioned to oversee all aspects of the Stargate Program with a primary objective of keeping Earth secure. As I look around the room, I can't think of a group of people better suited for such a task than yourselves. Let me introduce..."
As Landry went around the room, touting each person's experience and credentials, Jack continued to shoot evil looks at Hansen, who was eager to return the favor.
"General Jack O'Neill is our foremost expert on the Stargate, having served as the leader of the program's premiere off-world team and then as leader of the entire program..."
"Senator Gilbert Hansen has graciously agreed to serve on this committee, bringing his vast public awareness skills to this table. As an experienced Senator used to dealing with a myriad of controversial issues, Mr. Hansen will..."
Jack's face darkened like a summer storm cloud.
"...in conclusion, in additon to our other resolutions, this committee authorizes, beginning today, the formation of a special force of security who will protect at all times the Stargate and its surrounding facilities here in Colorado Springs by using any and all means necessary to achieve the purpose of preserving the safety of the Stargate and the lives of the personnel serving herein."
A new chapter had begun for the planet Earth.
A new era had begun for the city of Colorado Springs.
Jack dialed Sam's cell as soon as he was out of the meeting and back on the road. They hadn't seen each other in over a week, not since the fire. Jack had been finishing up his obligations in Washington DC, preparing for a permanent move home to the Springs to serve on the newly formed SPEC, while Sam had been dealing with the much darker task of salvaging what she could from her ruined home and finding a new place.
They'd talked a few times, but it wasn't the same. He couldn't wait to see her again.
"Sam, it's Jack," he said as soon as she picked up.
"Are you in town?"
"Yeah. In fact, I'm back for a while. A long while. Where are you?"
"I'm at the old SGC, staying in the VIP quarters for now." Sam's voice sounded low and worn.
"Can I come pick you up?"
"I'd like that."
"Meet me at ground level in about ten minutes. Can't wait to see you, Sam."
"Same here. See you."
She sounded about as down as he'd ever heard her, Jack thought as he hung up. He mentally reviewed all she'd been through these past several months. Out of all of them, the disclosure had turned out to be hardest on her. His mind raced for a way to cheer her up as he drove towards the mountain.
An idea then came to him, just like a lightbulb hanging over his head.
Jack drove faster, now anxious to meet up with Sam and put his plan into action. But first he'd need to make a few phonecalls to get permission...
"Just do it. I'm taking you shopping this afternoon and that's final. Listen, the SGC is footing the bill until your insurance kicks in."
Sam began to smile finally, really smile.
"Anything I need?"
"That's what Landry said."
"Well, okay then. It's his nickle."
Two weeks later...
"Yeah, Sam," came the subservient reply.
"I'm ready to go sailing now."
Sam came around to the front of the RV to where Jack sat in a canvas deck chair, looking out over the pristine white sand all around them. She pointed at a small sunfish perched on the edge of a turquoise ocean. Sam was dressed in a newly purchased hot pink bathing suit, huge sunglasses, floppy pink hat with a flower perched saucily on the rim, an old T shirt of Jack's, and blindingly white new tennis shoes.
"Yes master," Jack answered teasingly. He stood and stretched and they made their way out to the little boat.
"I've got the rudder," she said. "I like to decide where we go."
"No surprise there," Jack answered, unfurling the sail.
The ocean was choppy but not rough, and the breeze was perfect. Both were soon slouched on the deck of the small craft, drinking in the glorious feel of a good sail.
"I don't want to go back," Sam sighed.
"You don't have to any time soon. I knew you'd like it. All the comforts of home, and more." Jack chuckled. "Driving that R.V. through the Gate was a real rush."
"Setting up a research station here was Landry's idea, I heard. I'm sure I can find lots to research. The rest of the team arrives tomorrow, including Daniel and Sarah. Of course, you're still needed on Earth, Jack, at least until we get through all the rough stuff still going on back there," Sam sighed in reply.
"It'll all work out. It has been a rough beginning. But it's going to be okay."
The serene look on his face and his calm matter assured Sam that it would, indeed be okay. Humans are tremendously adaptable, she acknowledged to herself. They would quickly adapt to the new perspective the Stargate had forced upon them, she had no doubt.
And while they were adjusting, she would enjoy this lovely little tropical planet, millions of light years from Earth, where the beaches went on forever.