Not mine, wish it were. Set at some point between Chimera and Heroes, and is probably a bit AU since I don't like killing off good characters just to boost the ratings or shake up the viewers.
Colonel Jack O'Neill sat to one side of his superior officer, and wondered again why he'd let himself be dragged all the way to the Pentagon for these meetings. He didn't have the temperament to deal with bureaucratic idiots who hadn't been out on the front lines in decades, if ever, and it always seemed to him that the penny pinchers were the worse of the lot.
They were going over the budget for the SGC in detail at the moment, primarily working out which sections needed more funding to run at full efficiency. It was a yearly headache that he and Hammond had to spend weeks putting the damn thing together, then come up to the Pentagon to defend every penny they needed to keep the war with the Goa'uld going. And this year it didn't help that he kept getting the feeling that he was overlooking something in these finished papers, something important, but he couldn't quite put his finger on what it was.
Major General George Hammond was getting the same feeling, looking confused and troubled as he read over each department and their approved allocations for the upcoming year. "This doesn't look too bad," he finally admitted to the general and aides who had joined the pair for this discussion. General Harding was known for not giving an inch when he thought things were unnecessary, but he was also known for making sure that money got where it needed to go. "I keep getting the feeling that something's been forgotten, however," he admitted.
"What department?" Harding asked, looking over the pages. "You were saying you needed more scientists to work with Major Carter, and you got your funding to expand the Alpha site."
"We were hoping to start a Beta site as well," O'Neill stated, looking over the pages. "Daniel wanted to have a place where they could better work on his rocks without having the guys from Area 51 snatching them away before he was half done with them."
Hammond rolled his eyes at the 'rocks' comment. "Alien artifacts and translations," he clarified to the bemused looking General. "Dr. Daniel Jackson is in charge of Archeology, Anthropology and Linguistics for the SGC."
O'Neill suddenly flipped through his papers, as did General Harding. "Bingo!" the colonel crowed, looking up at the older general as he tapped on the folder in front of him. "Why the hell isn't Danny's divisions listed here?"
Harding, however, was looking confused and shaking his head. "I'm not exactly sure, Colonel," he admitted, reaching for his phone and dialing in an extension number. "This is General Harding, give me Colonel Cartwright," he ordered, then paused a moment as the call was put through. "Colonel, why were three departments removed from the documents you reviewed for me last week? The lower Cheyenne Mountain installation, yes," he clarified, scowling as he realized he may have made a major mistake. "Were you ever briefed on the installation, Colonel?" he asked after listening for nearly a minute. "I see. I'll have to see about correcting that oversight. Thank you, Colonel," he told the man, and hung up. "George, I'm sorry. I had no idea that Cartwright hadn't been briefed on the SGC. I had him do the review without thinking about it, and he says he couldn't see any reason to have those departments on a base in the middle of Colorado. It looks like he took it on himself to cut the three divisions completely out of the budget."
"Oh, damn it…," O'Neill swore under his breath, as Hammond looked quite worried. "Is it to much to hope that word of this snafu hasn't spread back to the base yet?" he asked, trying his damnedest to be polite. "Otherwise, we're going to have some really pissed off people back there needing calming. Considering the number of times Daniel's been knocked about like a punching bag, he wouldn't take well to finding out his job's just been cut."
Harding sighed. "Unfortunately, it's probably gotten back by now. Standard procedure is to send letters out immediately, so civilian layoffs and notices of reassignments to the military personnel have probably already gone out. Hopefully, though, you can get word to your people before they arrive and you wind up with mass panic. I'll take care of things from this end to clear up the mess and do my best to be sure that this doesn't cause some sort of payroll hiccup."
Hammond agreed as O'Neill reached for his cell phone and waited for the speed dial to connect him with his 2IC. Hammond himself turned his attention to the man on his left. "Major Davis, would you be so good as to get me the information on Dr. Jackson's departments?" he requested. "Number of personnel, their budget for the last few years and the like."
Davis rose. "Of course, sir," he replied, and headed out to get the information off the computer in the next office.
Turning his attention back to Harding, Hammond frowned. "Does this mean we're going to have to hash everything out again?" he asked.
"No, this was my mistake so we'll pull funding out of general overdraft to cover the cost," Harding assured him as O'Neill was connected to the base's current commander, Major Samantha Carter.
O'Neill left the table, going to stand by a window as the pair talked softly for several minutes before he returned to the table, snapping his cell phone shut and putting it away with a grimace. "The letters just arrived," he stated. "She had just heard from Nyan when I called, and she said she'll go talk to everyone and calm them down, let them know it was all a big mistake. Most of them are off world right now, including Daniel, and she thinks most of the letters are still there. She's not sure about one of them… Supplies to Daniel's dig went through a little over an hour ago, and it's possible the mail went with it."
"That could be very bad," Hammond mused. "Can they send a message through?"
"Not right now. They'll have a window in two hours where they can get ahold of them again. SG-7 is bringing through artifacts from one planet, and there's supplies waiting to go through to the Alpha site right after they're done," O'Neill explained. "Two teams are due in right after that."
"Sounds like that gate of yours stays busy," Harding noted as Davis came back in carrying only a couple pieces of paper and looking rather worried. "Major?" he questioned.
"Generals, it looks as though the problem is a lot bigger than we suspected," Davis told them as he took his seat again. "Dr Jackson's departments are severely understaffed right now. Among the three departments, there are only twenty-seven personnel, including Dr. Jackson himself."
"Twenty-seven?" O'Neill questioned, surprised. "No, there's got to be more personnel then that."
"Here's the list," Davis told him, sliding the paper across to him to look over. "Their budget is bare minimum, and has been the last two years. They've lost a lot of people in the field, or the departments would have run out of money months ago."
Hammond wasn't happy to hear this. "I wasn't aware it was this bad," he stated, as he and O'Neill looked the pages over. "It would also explain why all of them are looking so tired all the time, they're running themselves into the ground trying to keep up."
"Most of them have been off world for weeks at a time," O'Neill mused. "They come in and go right back out again. It's the ones that stay on base the most that are running themselves down."
"How important are these personnel?" one of Harding's men asked, his tone curious as he leaned forward onto the table, his arms crossed. "I can actually see why Colonel Cartwright made the mistake he did, if he knew nothing about the program."
"Would you go out and fire the CIA or the FBI and expect the police to keep up with things getting ready to go down around the states?" O'Neill asked. "Those departments are our intelligence agencies. They take all the information about old cultures that used the Stargate and work out where we might be able to find allies and items that will help us fight off our enemies. They're the people that let us walk into a primitive village and talk to people who don't understand any language the rest of the team might know because it vanished off of earth two thousand years ago. They figure out the strange customs that might get people hurt or killed because we don't know them, and often they're the ones that work out the deals that let us actually stay on those worlds and sometimes study things that do turn out to be a big help."
"Dr Jackson is the SGC's best diplomat and negotiator," Hammond told them. "And he's trained his people very well. I had no idea, however, that the departments had been cut back this far, or that we'd lost so many people."
"How easy is it to replace the people and bring the departments up to full strength?" Harding asked.
"Not very," O'Neill told them, his voice now taking on a bitter tone. "Good Anthropology and Archeology masters and professors that we can bring into the SGC are rare. Most of them believe that Daniel's theories are just garbage and consider him to be insane for making the claims to begin with, and they don't want anything to do with a project that has him in it. Since any way to prove Daniel right would mean making the Stargate public knowledge, there's no way for us to get him some credit with the bastards…."
Hammond and the others all looked at him in surprise at his tone. "Colonel?" Harding asked, wanting some clarification.
O'Neill stood up and paced a bit, his hands clasped behind his back. Finally he stopped in front of the window, looking out over the Pentagon's inner courtyard. "About a month ago, Daniel and I took a trip into Denver to see a new Archeology exhibit opening at the museum there," he told them after a few minutes. "We hit the first day it was open for viewing, and he was so excited to get to see the new things that had been found, he was practically bouncing his way into the building. However, it turned out to be a major mistake for us to go so soon, we should have given things at least a week to clear out and calm down. There were a good dozen Archeology professors there, people with Daniel's level of knowledge, but without his imagination and ability to see outside the box. Several of them recognized him, and they verbally ripped him to shreds before I could get him out of there." O'Neill slammed his hand, hard, against the wall beside him. "The things they said to him, the way they were acting, just took the air right out of him and hurt him to the core. Oh, they were polite about it, which made it even worse, we couldn't claim harassment and get them thrown out of the building. But they made damn sure that he heard every snide comment about 'outrageous ideas' and 'demented thinking' they could make."
Harding looked shocked while Hammond leaned back in his chair. "Is that when you took him on that little trip, Jack?" he asked gently.
"Yeah, took him up to my cabin in Minnesota for a few days to help him get things out of his system, and we did a side trip to New York," he sighed, remembering how quiet Daniel had been that week, a warning sign to his friends and teammates that something was seriously wrong. O'Neill turned to face them, leaning against the windowsill. "If we could have swung going to Egypt, I would have, but with the current feeling in the Middle East, I didn't dare take him over there. General, we need people for the SGC, yes, but it has to be the right people, people who aren't going to want to take Daniel down and cause trouble just because they don't agree with his theories. And from what I've seen, the military just doesn't have that many people who fit the bill for what we need."
"We have looked," Davis added, fiddling with his pen. "Anyone who has any major aptitude in those fields of study is brought into the SGC as soon as we discover them and they pass the background checks."
"Are you talking just the Air Force, or have you looked at other military branches?" Harding questioned.
"Air Force and Marines," Davis replied. "I didn't think we could draw from the other forces."
"Why not?" Harding asked. "Army has plenty of linguists and anthropologists, but I don't know about archeologists. You might want to start checking among the other forces, and see what you can find. It may be that some of the personnel could lead you back to civilians who would be more open minded about the project." Reaching across the table, he took the list that Hammond had been perusing and brought it around to check it out in turn. "Tell me more about this Dr. Jackson," he told the pair. "I don't believe I've ever met him."
"No sir, you haven't," O'Neill told him. "Daniel wasn't with us the time you came by, he was gone, we had Jonas Quinn in his position at the time."
"Ah, I remember Mr. Quinn. What happened to him?"
"He moved back to his home planet after we found Daniel again. They'd nearly blown themselves up once while he was gone, and they were hoping that he could keep things between the three main countries running smoothly so they didn't do it again," O'Neill explained. "Besides, Quinn never was as good in the position as Daniel was. He was second rank, and knew it."
Hammond spoke before O'Neill could go on. "Dr. Daniel Jackson is a real genius, one of those people who just absorb knowledge like a sponge. He speaks thirty-four different languages, is familiar with most ancient cultures that have existed on this planet, and has turned out to be a brilliant diplomat. He's also the SGC's moral conscience. He's the one that makes us take a step back when we find something that isn't quite right and ask 'do we really want to do this?'. He has saved us from ourselves more times than I really want to think about."
"And helped save the world a few times as well." O'Neill added. "We lost him for nearly a year, and it was a miracle that we got him back. The chances of us ever finding the planet he'd been dropped on were one in a million. At least."
Harding leaned back in his own chair, matching Hammond's 'at ease' pose. "Has he been happy in the program?"
O'Neill hesitated over that one. "For the most part, yes. There have been down times, though. He joined SG-1 to find his wife when Apophis kidnapped her and her brother from Abydos and made them hosts. We rescued Skaara, but Sha're was killed to keep her Goa'uld from killing Daniel. Needless to say loosing her damn near killed him," O'Neill stated. "In fact, if it hadn't been for the team and the work, he might well have disappeared for good. They'd only been together a year, were deeply in love, and he'd spend nearly three years looking for her. We've called on him to do a lot of things that went against his moral codes, but that had to be done to preserve Earth, and he's never, ever, let us down."
"So, he's a widower then." Harding stated. "Any family at all?"
"His grandfather died the year he was gone," Hammond replied. "His parents were killed right before his eyes in a tragic accident when he was eight, and he spent years in the foster care system before he entered college at the age of fifteen. He and his wife had no children before she was lost."
Harding winced, shaking his head. "So he's completely alone then."
"No, not completely," O'Neill stated. "He's got SG-1, and we're all family."
"How long has your team been together, Colonel?" Harding asked, curious now as he gave O'Neill a measured look. Most teams in the military were broken up and reformed after a maximum of two years.
"Nearly eight years, General, though we had Quinn and not Daniel last year," O'Neill replied, his look wary, he knew full well what Harding was thinking about. "You don't tamper with success, sir."
Harding smiled in agreement, trying to set the man at ease. "No, I quite understand, especially given the odd trouble that your team is known for getting into. And out of. And this world out of as well, so we owe it to you not to tamper with your group. And to get your people the help they need. Now, let's look this over, and see what we can come up with, financially at least, that will help the good doctor with his work." He pursed his lips at the number of staff. "You should have at least double or even triple this number for each department," he mused. "Granted, military personnel have a set pay scale, but hiring civilians, which seems to be necessary in this case, is much more expensive. According to this, Dr Jackson's salary is in the six-digit category, and if he's running three departments, it definitely should be. But why is he running three departments? Why isn't there three different department heads?"
"Because the three departments all have to work together, and it's better if only one person has overall control," Hammond explained. "He does have seconds in each department, yes, but all those people answer to him, and can come to him when they get stumped by something. And, in some ways, there really only is one department, though some of the linguists might protest that generalization. You can't be an Archeologist or an Anthropologist without having some linguist ability to understand what you find. And while we could get any number of linguists who speak modern languages, finding them that speak and read ancient languages is far, far more difficult."
"Is there anyone outside the SGC that you could call on to assist with this endeavor?" Harding asked.
"Not that I'm aware of," Hammond stated, but noticed O'Neill's look. "Jack?" he questioned.
"There are one or two people who might be able to help. Davis, where is Sarah Gardner?"
"Just recently moved back to Chicago," came the immediate reply. "I thought that she'd already been offered a position and turned it down?"
"She did," O'Neill agreed. "However, she also knows all about the program, and is more in touch with people in the field now then Daniel is. She's not in disgrace for making these wild claims about the age of the pyramids. Maybe she could point out some people who might be able to come in and who we can trust to keep their mouths shut and not want to publish everything they learn every week."
Davis smiled. "Dr Jackson is very good about passing his papers to me to put away. We ever go public with the Stargate, he's going to be filling up tomes full of articles for months. I have well over a hundred on disk, just waiting for the day we can turn them loose."
"Papers?" Harding questioned. "As in reports?"
"Something like that, sir," Davis explained. "Archeologists publish in monthly journals to update each other on major finds. A sharing of information, if you will, so that when one archeologist finds something new, they can look to see if someone else is dealing with anything similar. Dr Jackson published some thirty papers before he fell into disgrace. He's written a lot for the journals about what he's seen on other worlds, but of course those papers can't be published. So he's passed them all on to me. When we finally release word of the Stargate to the public, those papers will likely be used to help people understand what's really out there. And how wrong our history really is."
"I see…. Well, then, let's see what we can do to get the good doctor some real help, and the resources to build up his 'intelligence network'," Harding told them, and settled into working up the figures on what the three departments would need to grow as they should have years ago. He looked over the prior records, asked some questions, added more to allow for growth, and had things in shape in about ten or fifteen minutes. "I had no idea how much you really needed these people, or I would have allocated more for these departments before now. But, as they say, better late than never."
O'Neill agreed, his humor now much improved. "Danny is going to love this," he mused, smirking a bit. "This is more to work with than he's ever had the chance for. Maybe he can finally work real 8 hour days without worrying about the workload piling up behind him."
They had just finished when O'Neill's cell phone went off, startling all of them. Quickly he pulled it out, checked the number and answered it. "Carter, what's up?" he asked, his tone just a bit sharp at the interruption. Hammond started looking concerned, though, and the others were silent as O'Neill's look went from mildly annoyed to startled, to seriously worried. It was nearly a minute, though, before he spoke again. "All right, Davis is here, and I'll see if he knows of someone to send. Is Fraiser with him? Good. Yeah, I'll be on the next plane out of here to the Springs if I can't get a jet into Peterson. I'll let you know which. Just take care of him, and reassure everyone that things are fine, they can disregard those damn letters. It was a mistake, and they should never have been sent. No, they're not cutting the departments, in fact they just got a huge budget increase. I'll fill you in more later when I arrive. Right, let me know if things change," O'Neill ordered and shut off the phone. "Davis, do you know of a cardiac specialist that has high security clearance? Or can you find one really fast, they need another doc there pronto…"
Davis nodded, confused, as Hammond spoke. "Jack, what's going on?" he questioned.
O'Neill's look was grim, any trace of humor gone. "SG-11 just came back through the gate about ten minutes ago, they managed to get in between the rushes. Daniel's collapsed, and is in critical condition. Fraiser says he's had a heart attack…."
Well, this is my first try at something like this. Do you like, or should I give the idea up now? Please, let me know? Thanks.