Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and all characters therein are the property of Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Greenberg et al. No money is being made from this story and no infringement of copyright is intended. All original characters are the property of C.D. Stewart.
Summary: This (shortish) story is set time-wise roughly about 150 years after what in real-life would be the end of both real-action series, Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis. I am assuming that Stargate SG-1 will end after ten seasons (2007) and Atlantis also after ten seasons (2014).
QUIETLY INTO THE NIGHT
Seattle, Washington D.C., United States of America, early 2160s AD:
Seattle was enjoying one of its rare sunny days. Despite Earth (along with all its colony worlds) now having the advantages of one of the Furling Touchstone devices controlling all meteorological phenomena, there was still no pleasing everyone all of the time. The Earth Touchstone had been installed at Greenwich, England, with much fanfare in 2012; Queen Lamora had given the famous scientist duo Dr Rodney McKay and Dr Carson Beckett permission to study Madrona's Touchstone in situ, and after their leaving with the First Atlantis Expedition in 2004, the information they had gathered had been so comprehensive as to allow Nellis boffins to back-engineer the devices.
However, it had immediately become startlingly apparent that Mother Earth would tolerate only so much atmospheric messing about. Giving traditionally "wet" areas such as Ireland, England and the Pacific Northwest lengthy periods of sunshine would have resulted in blistering drought and quasi-Ice Ages everywhere else; the best that could be managed was to have most of the actual rain fall at night, even if the cloud cover couldn't be disposed of.
Philosophically, Seattle and its Northwest neighbours just carried on as usual. Seattle still prided itself on being the "foodie" city of the Northwest, and Panache had maintained its position of being the city's elite café-bistro for nearly a century. As well as the superb food and immaculate trattoria style décor, it commanded magnificent views across the Puget Sound. All the best…beings…ate there; even the Goa'uld couldn't find anything to complain about.
Enjoying the unaccustomed good weather, the clientele lingered over coffee and lunches, each table a mini-universe unto itself. Nobody paid any attention to the couple sitting at a discreet corner table on the third-storey balcony with a prime view of the Sound, even though the cost of a table on the third-storey balcony with a prime view of the Sound was…well, it had more digits than an inter-galactic Stargate address!
The man had close-cropped (but nowhere near buzz-cut) dark blond hair and sky-blue eyes set in a strong, squareish face. He was dressed in smart "chino" style slacks and one of the newly fashionable retro zip-up sweaters with the wide collars that could be pulled up around the wearer's ears. A tasteful silver-grey colour, it was zipped up to his throat, the wide collar neatly turned down so it in turn covered the narrow collar of his smart-style, thigh-length, brown coat, the fact that it was handmade from real leather subtly declaring that he could pay the café's exorbitant prices. Despite this, his hands had calluses and tiny scars, his fingers ending in blunt, short-clipped and unmanicured nails, as if he spent a lot of time in a much harsher work environment than a high-rise office block. Setting down his cup of excellent coffee, he gave the woman sat across the table from him a gentle smile that any observer, noting her attractive face and shapely form, would likely have completely misinterpreted.
Her hair was a shoulder-length bob of natural ringlets, a vibrant copper-and-fire hue that was accompanied "stereotypically" by a lustrous pair of eyes the bright green of new grass. There were, however, no freckles on her rather sharp blade of a nose. Unlike the man's smart-casual attire, she wore a dress uniform of dark blue, silver eagles upon the shoulder epaulets denoting to anyone cognisant with their meaning that she was a full Colonel in the United States Air Force.
Georgiana Kayla Hammond gave her companion a long look. "So you've decided," she stated rather than asked.
Daniel Jackson nodded, a smile that mixed wryness with sorrow curving his lips. "It's time…it's been time for a while, but since Rya'c died last month, Teal'c's felt that it's for the best…and Jack's finally ready."
About to speak again, she paused as she registered the unconscious emphasis he inadvertently placed on the penultimate word, and demanded, "Just how long have you guys been thinking of doing this?"
For a moment he merely blinked owlishly and then gave her a knowing smirk that confirmed her sudden suspicions. Georgiana blinked herself as she began to grasp the subtle Machiavellian choreography that the four – original - members of SG-1 had employed to get to this point.
It was all history now; vibrant, colourful, thrilling history, the sort of adventurous, desperate stuff that had school kids rigid with eagerness to hear more, rather than bored stiff. Georgiana could picture the momentous events clearly in her mind's eye even though she hadn't even been born; footage of it was replayed almost constantly on countless documentaries, news programmes and docu-dramas. Georgiana's father had barely been an adolescent when his grandfather's position as Chief of Homeworld Security and indeed the whole Stargate Project had been so precipitously revealed to the whole world in 2007.
Of course, by virtue of her illustrious lineage, Georgiana was privy as few were to the story behind the story, many of those things going off in the background that the stirring documentaries and celebratory periodic public recounting never mentioned. As she gave Daniel Jackson a look that usually had her junior officers quivering, Georgiana acknowledged she was one of the few people on the planet who knew that General Jack O'Neill's presence at the SGC on 'That Day' had nothing to do with serendipity.
After the vanquishing of Anubis and the appointment of General Landry following Colonel O'Neill's promotion, it had been decided to give budgetary control of the SGC to an "International Committee", something the SGC personnel viewed with despair and exasperation. But an unsuspected saviour had come in the form of one Daniel Jackson – the man currently sat across from her blandly smiling and regrettably not doing a lot of quivering!
His years as an archaeologist with museums and universities in New York and then Chicago had tutored Daniel only too well in the way that bean counters and pen pushers often failed to save priceless artefacts by quibbling over mileage costs and trying to eviscerate staffing budgets. He had also long since lost his naïve notion that the USAF and SGC and their political leaders would do something for no other reason than it was the right thing to do.
Having long tended to follow military protocol because it made life easier for his 'sister' Sam and – annoying, yes, but still 'brother' – Jack than any great belief in it being the 'best' way, Daniel had realised he had an unsuspected weapon at his disposal in that most people had long forgotten he was a civilian and therefore had more leeway in his actions than most.
Using his considerable familial inheritance and his SGC work, he had taken out a couple of extremely lucrative patents on some minor environmental technologies back-engineered from alien artefacts, and when the screaming and blustering started he got Generals O'Neill and Hammond to help him make a case for the SGC to be "self-funding" for an experimental period of eighteen months. More than happy to see the SGC fall flat on its face and wallow in debt from trying to manage its own running costs, the Committee had confidently agreed with casual largesse to the 'sales pitch'.
Now Georgiana sat back in her chair and deliberately folded her arms, looking at the smiling Daniel as she rethought over in her mind what she knew and fitted it into this unexpected new information.
Of course, what the Committee had forgotten was that self-funding meant SGC personnel had a great deal more latitude in how they spent what was, essentially, Daniel Jackson's money. For a start he had prevailed upon Sam Carter (Georgiana would have given a great deal to know just where she was right at this moment!) to provide the SGC with a Naquadah-powered, crystal-based generator that had an operational life of 20,000 Earth years and which could even dial gates in other galaxies. Taking the SGC off the national grid had saved them 20 million dollars per day in electricity bills alone.
Then Daniel had gone to work on Dr Lam, General Landry's then still-estranged daughter. More adventurous with potentially beneficial alien treatments anyway than her predecessor, Dr Janet Fraiser, Dr Lam had nevertheless understood that she was replacing a greatly loved and admired member of the SGC and had quickly seen the opportunity presented by having a member of SG-1 asking for her co-operation. In short order, lengthy and expensive Earth-based medical procedures were phased out by faster, shorter, safer and mostly non-invasive Ancient, Asgaard and even Goa'uld healing techniques that were also far less expensive.
The International Committee, used to the ego-boost of the SGC going cap in hand for cash, realised too late it had shot itself in the foot. By using technologies to increase efficiency and cut down on using fossil-fuel resources, the SGC had managed to be more effective and more cost-effective, repeatedly coming in under-budget and therefore able to do pretty much what it wanted within its annual budget without having to jump through the International Committee's pernickety hoops.
Not that it was ever mentioned – the flag-waving patriotic dramas you could usually find on any vid-channel at any given time were understandably reluctant to highlight the bald fact that the SGC had saved the galaxy and its 'reward' was to be harassed by a bunch of bureaucratic bean-counters whining that saving the galaxy was not a cost-effective use of American taxpayers' cash. That sort of thing definitely took the shine off the whole situation.
On That Day though, such an outcome was in the future, although nobody had twigged that General Jack O'Neill had been in the SGC so he could see Daniel Jackson on the quiet about their little plan. Colonel Cameron Mitchell, SG-1's leader at the time, had been away at Nellis, showing the young Turks the right way to fly the new X304s, since the only other USAF pilot of comparable skill and experience, then Lt. Colonel John Sheppard, was far away in the Pegasus Galaxy fighting the Wraith as part of what would become the First Atlantis Expedition. Indeed, it was General O'Neill who had arranged SG-1's little off-world trip on that day – ostensibly a combination of nostalgia and intelligence gathering against the Au'ri – so he and Daniel could exchange progress reports on 'Operation Financial Freedom' without danger of being monitored. They'd only been gone a couple of hours when all hell had broken loose…
Georgiana smiled at Daniel, giving up on her not-that-serious attempt at intimidation. She grasped as most didn't just how lucky they'd been at that time, because everyone including the SGC was worrying about the 'Evil Ancients' and their Priors; the idea of a major attack by a Goa'uld System Lord never entered anyone's head, as the prevailing wisdom was that the Goa'uld were a spent force – Anubis had wiped out most of their power himself and once Oma Desala had heroically removed him there were no Goa'uld capable of stepping into the gap – cue mass freedom for everyone!
Clearly in her mind's eye Georgiana could picture the images of documentaries watched a thousand eager times in her childhood, of the momentous events that had occurred in less than twelve hours…
Chemosh had taken in his name from an ancient Caananite deity, and had been deposed in antiquity by Ra, who nearly annihilated him. Chemosh's desperate flight led him to a small backwater solar system that had been a minor Ancient colony. Luckily for Chemosh and his Queen, Ashtoreth, and their few remaining Jaffa and slaves, the few still working bits of Ancient technology left in the badly decayed ruins included a cloaking device similar to what Nirrti would stumble over centuries later.
For centuries while the System Lords jockeyed for position, Chemosh concentrated on rebuilding vast Jaffa armies, eventually managing to cloak the entire planet from sensors just in case anyone investigated the backwater system. Undisturbed, he was able to engender slavish devotion and fanatical loyalty in his Jaffa. Finally Chemosh had no choice but to re-emerge when Ashtoreth and her host were killed in an accident at around the same time his planetary cloak – never that stable to start with – began to fail as the power source (Chemosh didn't know it was a ZPM) finally became exhausted. Without a queen to spawn fresh larvae since Ashtoreth had spawned no daughter, Chemosh's Jaffa would begin to die when the current new larvae ran out and the rest matured into the adults who would reject a Jaffa and that Chemosh had always killed anyway to prevent any usurpation.
Chemosh emerged find Baal newly defeated, apparently by the upstart slave-world of the Tau'ri, as he was completely unaware of the existence of replicators, Ancients, a semi-ascended Anubis – or the Au'ri. Chemosh's plan had been simple - swiftly eliminate any 'threat' from the Tau'ri once and for all, and take his place in the current power vacuum as the only System Lord in the known galaxy.
Chemosh had appeared over the Northern Hemisphere that bright summer's day, using his communication technology to 'beam' images of himself on the bridge of his flagship and those of the two accompanying Motherships to all humanity from the technical West to primitive tribes deep in isolated jungles and even those scarce few on both Poles.
The world had come to a standstill as people poured into the streets to see; his awesome Pyramid hovering high above central London, Chemosh had demanded the instant and abject worship of the slave race or else be annihilated. Stepping out onto the balcony of Buckingham Palace, a diminutive white-haired woman in a smart powder-blue suit calmly declared that on the contrary, she was giving Chemosh the opportunity to flee or surrender to the people of Earth.
Chemosh had roared that he had already destroyed their 'much vaunted' SG-1 en route to the Tau'ri Homeworld and that they were doomed. Raising one eyebrow in a manner very reminiscent of Teal'c, the British Queen had smiled and retorted that the Goa'uld Apophis had made the same claim, as had Hathor…and Heru-Ur…and Cronos…and Osiris…and Sokar…and Anubis…and Baal…
Chemosh had bellowed at his First Prime to blast the 'crone and her dot of an island' into atoms. With the exquisite timing of the truly cosmically lucky, energy rings suddenly appeared on the bridge of the second Mothership, disappearing to reveal an SG-1 comprised of Teal'c, Sam, Daniel and General Jack O'Neill. The four immediately opened fire, having been 'ringed' aboard by a Tok'ra 'Jaffa' who had stumbled across Chemosh's fleet heading towards Earth and made haste to infiltrate the unknown System Lord's army.
The Tok'Ra had found out Chemosh's plan to destroy Earth whilst luring SG-1 into a fatal ambush by virtue of fake intelligence about a nebulous 'great danger'. Not believing Chemosh to be too terrible a threat, the Tok'Ra operative Usath/Rimak had still been aware that Chemosh blundering about like an enraged bull could cause a lot of trouble given how clueless the Goa'uld was regarding current galactic events. The operative had been able to warn the rest of the Tok'Ra; some had hastened to the world Chemosh had chosen and were waiting when SG-1, having been warned of a 'threat to Earth' on the planet they'd initially 'gated to, arrived to investigate the situation.
Used to millennia of slavish adoration by his Jaffa and killing all other symbiotes upon maturity meant the idea of betrayal never even occurred to Chemosh and his internal security systems had been virtually non-existent. Greatly surprised to be met by the Tok'Ra and warned about a Goa'uld instead of the Au'ri as they exited the Stargate, SG-1 had had little trouble defeating Chemosh's small contingent of Jaffa left in ambush or getting about the second Mothership with the help of the Tok'Ra operative already aboard.
Chemosh had spent millennia training his Jaffa in what had been the most up-to-date battle techniques then. Thousands of years of doing battle only in simulations that they always ended up winning had left the Jaffa completely unequipped physically or psychologically to face an enemy that fought back and who could make you die for real. Chemosh, though he didn't realise it, possessed a vast army of 'warriors' who looked stupendous but who had all the genuine fighting skills of last week's lettuce. None of them were able to cope with any deviation from the expected battle plan, think on their feet, or perhaps more importantly, use individual initiative to take charge and redirect focus.
Having to abruptly raise defensive shields against his own companion Mothership had thwarted Chemosh's ability to fire at the surface and he had howled with fury as the few Jaffa there fell in seconds and SG-1 took over the second Mothership's bridge. Unaware that every unfolding moment was still being broadcast heartbeat by heartbeat to their world entire, SG-1 had simply set about doing what they did best: beating the bad guys…in style.
On the ground Queen Elizabeth II had simply called out an order for the entire Armed Forces of Britain & the Commonwealth to launch an immediate assault on Chemosh's forces, the media cameras transmitting her command around the globe. The HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier and HMS Victory, both at dock on the Thames, had promptly launched missiles and fighters at the Motherships, followed within thirty minutes by almost every fighter plane in the British Isles converging over London like Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds on a gigantic scale. Meanwhile, Sam Carter had blasted away with the captured Mothership's weapons the instant Chemosh dropped his own shields to allow the death gliders to engage the approaching British fighters and scored critical hits that had drowned the Goa'uld's shrieked imprecations.
At the time same, U.S. President Hayes' hastily transmitted personal command had had the USS Nimitz and USS Enterprise aircraft carriers, in the vicinity of the English Channel, launching their own fighters; the Russians, French, Germans and Scandinavians following suit, followed in turn by the Chinese, Japanese, Australians, Canadians and anyone who had an Air Force. While the death-gliders had superior fire-power and denser material construction, the F16s and F18s had vastly greater manoeuvrability. Lt Colonel Cameron Mitchell and his squadrons of X302s, 303s and even a couple of X304s had arrived to show how it was done; with Mitchell commanding the airborne forces and giving everyone a lesson in 'Fighting Goa'uld 101' literally on the fly, all the pilots grasped that if two ordinary fighters fired simultaneously the missiles had enough 'oomph' to penetrate the death-glider's shields, which lacked the power of a Mothership's defensive shielding.
While the three Motherships had operational defence shields, the all-out assault from the ground and the battle to regain his usurped Mothership distracted a woefully unprepared Chemosh in two directions, while the arrival of General George Hammond aboard the Prometheus had forced the third into its own firefight.
All the while, the world had watched SG-1 both hold the beleaguered bridge of the second Mothership against great odds and use the Mothership's weapons against the other two and the death-gliders in a desperate battle to 'destroy first' before Chemosh's flagship destroyed their Mothership. Chemosh had believed the trap he set for SG-1 on the world they gated to worked, courtesy of a false report from Usath/Rimak, the Tok'ra Jaffa who had infiltrated his fleet. In this belief, Chemosh had thus proceeded to gamble upon throwing everything he had at Earth with the purpose of annihilating all Tau'ri resistance with the power of his Jaffa army; once so committed, he could not take the usual Goa'uld M.O. of abandoning his armies and hiding out, as this time he would be hunted down and destroyed.
Chemosh and his flagship suddenly exploded in a blast of superheated metal and painfully bright light seconds after the Prometheus despatched the third Mothership in the same fashion; the worldwide watchers dropped shielding arms from watering eyes to look at the events unfolding on the wrecked bridge of the second and now solely remaining Mothership.
Not knowing of her six billion strong audience, Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter had pressed the Comm controls desperately and turned to General O'Neill: "Sir, Chemosh booby-trapped the Motherships each with a naqahdriah bomb. He didn't have time to arm them on the other two Motherships, but the bomb aboard this one is activated and counting down. If it detonates there'll be ninety-percent spatial –"
"Carter, Cliff Notes!" barked O'Neill as he concentrated on preventing the Mothership's complement of Jaffa, unaware their master was dead, from forcing their way into the bridge.
"Sir, the bomb would destroy most of Europe but this ship has enough power to contain the blast if we redirect the power output back inwards to form a force bubble around the device," Carter uttered in one non-pausing breath.
"And the coup de but is…?" O'Neill shot back over his shoulder.
"There will be no power left for us to utilise any other systems," Teal'c intoned, his serious face showing no emotion.
Sam Carter had nodded. "From the moment I divert power we'll have no shields or weapons or life support…or ability to use the transportation rings even if we could fight our way through the Jaffa to get to them. We also won't have any power to decelerate as the Mothership descends - I can safely divert enough power to throw a small protection shield around the bridge itself, but that's all."
"What's the danger to Earth?" Daniel Jackson had asked as calmly as if enquiring about the possibility of rain the next day, even as he fired an MP5 in controlled bursts at the frenzied Jaffa trying to get in through the narrow but increasingly wide gap they had forced in the bridge doors.
"None, our trajectory will take us into the Atlantic and the Mothership will mostly break apart and burn up safely in the atmosphere – nothing more than a pretty light show. The bridge's force field will keep us safe in a protective 'bubble' and prevent any damage." She took a deep breath, "But we'll end up on the Atlantic seabed at way below crush depth. If the air runs out first, we'll asphyxiate. If the force field collapses first, we'll be crushed. Not even Asgaard transport beams will work at those depths."
Jack O'Neill said nothing for a beat, then, "How much of Europe buys it if Chemosh's little party pooper goes boom?"
"All of it," Samantha Carter said softly, "plus the British Isles, most of Eastern Russia, Iceland and Greenland. Basically, New Zealand is a really good place to be right now."
"Divert the power," O'Neill had ordered as casually as if asking for a cup of coffee; in later years, most of the documentaries had psychobabblers commenting and expounding on the casual sang froid of four people who were 'so blatantly unsurprised at being in a situation where they would die saving the world it was clear such situations had, to them, become perilously close to routine'.
Colonel Carter had obeyed the injunction and almost instantly the Mothership had seemed to scream as the tremendous atmospheric forces began to pull it in a dozen directions simultaneously. Within minutes hordes of death-gliders launched as the Jaffa frantically abandoned the doomed Mothership disintegrating around them, adding to the menace facing those on the ground. The faster Earth fighter planes were winning, but each fighter required two missiles for one death-glider and more and more F-16s and F-18s were being forced to retreat and land as they ran out of weapons and their ships' gun batteries became exhausted.
Six billion pairs of eyes watched transfixed as Carter moved away from the bridge controls to stand at the bridge's traditional triangular-shaped, window-like main view-screen and actually smiled down at the approaching sapphire expanse of the 'Blue Planet'. No longer required to prevent entry into the bridge by the Jaffa, the three men had sauntered across to join her as coolly as if they were on a picnic in the park; no heroic speeches, no tears, no high drama. It would come to be one of the defining moments of visual media: the image of four people moving to stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder, calmly contemplating the view as the ocean's surface loomed ever larger with the ship ripping itself apart around them.
A single, very battered and actually smoking Goa'uld Alkesh shuttle had shot past the Prometheus like a bullet, gaining inexorably on the Mothership. A pallid and bruised-faced woman incongruously garbed in studs and leather like a cheap-rate sadomasochistic porn actress called out to Daniel.
"Vala?" Daniel Jackson's startled, hopeful voice had echoed on a thousand subsequent programmes. "How did you get here? What happened to you?"
"Do you want me to see if I can get close enough for you to use the rings on my Alkesh to come aboard?" Vala had snapped, "Or do you really want to spend your impending messy death in idle chatter about how my day has been total kek'hak so far?"
"Okay, door number one," Daniel appeased instantly.
"It could work!" Carter had declared, "But we'll have to shut down the shield around the bridge. We'll only have a second to transfer to the Alkesh!"
"My men have always said my timing was impeccable – ah!"
That cry from four throats had echoed around the globe.
Jaffa death-gliders had fired at the shuttle despite desperate attempts by Cameron Mitchell and his planes to distract them. Vala was directly above the bridge of the Mothership, now the sole remnant existing literally in a bubble, matching her speed to the plunging object, but in order to use the rings she would have to drop her own shields for several minutes, and the Jaffa simply would not miss at such close range.
"Vala, forget it!" Jack O'Neill had ordered, SG-1 able to see the death-gliders swarming like molested bees. "Get clear!"
A huge ship, massive in scale, gleaming and bright, appeared through thunderous storm clouds. Many of those watching had gaped as they saw the bridge of this ship, with a Roswell Grey seated in the command chair. "Jaffa of the Goa'uld Chemosh," the words had resounded, though softly spoken. "I am Thor, Supreme Commander of the Asgaard Fleet, aboard the O'Neill Class Flagship the Daniel Jackson. The former Jaffa known as Teal'c who is a member of SG-1, no longer requires a larval Goa'uld to live. His immune system functions by means of a chemical known as Tretonin. All Jaffa in this galaxy are now free and self-determining. All Jaffa who surrender immediately to the Tau'ri will be given a lifetime supply of Tretonin and have the larval Goa'uld they carry removed. No Jaffa need ever be enslaved by the Goa'uld again. I repeat, all Jaffa who surrender immediately will be released from enslavement to Goa'uld symbiotes."
It was the stuff of epic drama: over ninety percent of the Jaffa had immediately ceased firing, and they had turned and obliterated the few who resisted. Other Asgaard ships had appeared over London as the now surrendering death-gliders began to land surrounded by fighter planes. They began identifying themselves, ostensibly to the Jaffa, piggy-backing their transmissions onto Chemosh's relay as they were aware of the need to prevent any of the Earth forces firing on them because they didn't know which side they were coming to reinforce: Vice-Supreme Commander Freya aboard the O'Neill Class warship Samantha Carter, High Commander Peneghal of the O'Neill Class warship Teal'c, Commander Baldur of the Valhalla and Commander Garwun of the Ragnarok, both Valkyrie-class warships.
At that point, SG-1 had been more involved in staying alive. The instant the Jaffa were no longer a threat, Vala Mal Doran had dropped the Alkesh shields and prepared to activate the rings. Huddling together in the middle of the bridge, Sam had set the shield to collapse after a three-second delay and then jumped back into the group. The rings had dropped around them the instant the shield collapsed and they disappeared a hundredth of a second before the now unprotected bridge section struck the surface of the Atlantic and hurtled down until it was crushed into annihilation by the pressures. The world had seen Vala's Alkesh set down on the broad expanse of London's Mall and the doors open for all five occupants to be greeted by an awestruck silence that lasted until after Special Branch had whisked them inside the palace where the queen, injured by a blast from a death-glider, was being treated.
Georgiana scowled at Daniel Jackson's bland face. "You guys actually plotted this! I don't believe it. That's, that's…"
"Amazingly cunning and astounding in its forethought?" Dr Jackson suggested, though his smile showed he knew they wouldn't have been her first descriptions of SG-1's magnum opus. "Come on, Georgie, think about it. A choice between becoming geriatric fixtures wheeled out on every daytime talk-show for eternity or the opportunity to add to our exotic legend, become this century's version of 'Was there a man behind the grassy knoll?' You can't say you wouldn't have picked Door Number Two as well."
Georgiana vented a loud, exasperated sigh at his innocent little-boy expression, but had no retort because she had to admit he was probably right in his estimation of how she would like to 'go out'. There popped into her head a memory of the Discworld series of books she had loved as a child, by the 20th Century author Terry Pratchett; one of the characters had met the legendary Cohen the Barbarian and spent five full fan-boy minutes raving about 'my granddad told me how you single-handedly slaughtered the hordes of…my granddad…my…granddad…' until the scales of youthful adulation had finally fallen from his now adult eyes and he really looked at the doleful now-you-get-it expression on Cohen's octogenarian face and then at the wizened skin, false teeth, fallen arches, bowed legs, liver spots and wispy white hair.
Being a champion was a great thing, but the wise ascendant to the top of the mountain knew that the best thing to do was retire immediately from the field the instant you achieved crowning glory, for inevitably, though it might take a while, there would always be a supplanter, a new king of the hill. There was nothing more pitiable than watching some celebrity make repeated 'comebacks' in a vain bid to regain former pinnacles of fame.
Daniel looked her squarely in the eyes and Georgiana bit her lip unconsciously as his humour faded to be replaced with a deep sadness. Chemosh's attack had caused a seismic wave of culture shock across the globe. While not uniting all nations instantly in love and understanding, even the most intractable of governments began co-operating with age-old enemies in the face of such incontrovertible proof that there really were worse things out there, especially when it was revealed just how many times that SG-1, 'and the other teams', had nearly died saving the world; more than once had died saving the world.
Those early years had been fractious and tumultuous. Everyone wanted a slice of the pie and a piece of the heroes, and SG-1's reputation along with that of the wider SGC had only increased exponentially as they moved fully into battle against the Au'ri. Again, Georgiana was aware that few amongst the masses realised how close that victory had been.
The revelation that the Alterrans, the Ancients, had not been exploring but fleeing the evil ones of their Ascended kind had put a whole new light on the situation for the SGC when it was understood that the Ancients' resolute policy of non-interference with the affairs of 'lower' races did not stem from egomaniacal indifference such as Anubis displayed. Things had been very close to the edge for a long time, helped only by the fact that 'new' Ancients such as Sha'ri and Daniel's Ascended son Shifu, plus Kasuf, Skaara and the Ascended Abydonians had been a lot more proactive when it came to rendering aid to their 'lower' life form friends the Tau'ri. The Asgaard and even the Nox and even the Reetu also had to resist the attacks of the Au'ri.
Yet again though, the SGC got lucky. Millennia of mindless devotion had caused the Au'ri to forget the wise caution of General Landry and Colonel Mitchell's grandmothers – always remember there could be someone higher up the food chain than you. The Au'ri's megalomania made them believe they were the creators, not a creation.
The benevolent entity who had developed so much of the universe with sentient life was not best pleased with the actions of its eldest children, and had finally used SG-1 in the form of Mitchell, Carter, Jackson and Teal'c as a 'conduit' to administer some much needed discipline and chastisement. The Au'ri had wilfully forgotten that benevolent did not mean impotent, that tolerance was not the same as inability, that mercy could give way to righteous anger and that patience inevitably did run out.
Again though it had been a close-run thing because the entity would not interfere directly, a stance that had astonishingly been backed by General Jack O'Neill, previously a vociferous opponent of that 'not my problem' attitude. Georgiana, like a great many, would have given much to know what had happened on that occasion when several SGC personnel encountered the entity. She would never know – nobody involved, from General Hammond down through General O'Neill through SG-1 and even Lt Colonel Paul Davis or Lieutenant Walter Harriman – would ever speak about the matter for either public or private record.
Daniel Jackson's brief summation of the 'visitation' had revealed that the 'Being' refused to interfere directly in the matter on the valid grounds that to do so would invalidate everything that was quintessential to the idea of 'free will'. The second reason, as the entity had declared with what Daniel swore was clear exasperation, was that the entity would then be constantly hounded and harried by those wanting it to 'fix everything' on the grounds of 'you did it for them' rather than be willing to face and overcome challenges on their own.
Georgiana really looked at how tired and sad Daniel's usually bright eyes were and conceded to herself that while SG-1 and their SGC comrades had been giving their all in the fight against the Au'ri - with eventual joyous success – behind the scenes things were unravelling as fast as they worked to patch them up, most noticeably and painfully in the SGC personnel's private lives.
For instance, Mark Carter had been stupefied to see what his sister and father had actually been doing for over five years, his fond illusion of his father as a frail old warhorse in remission from his cancer, warming a desk at the Pentagon en route to retirement, utterly shattered in the time between one heartbeat and the next. As Mark had wryly enquired of one particularly obtuse tabloid reporter, how exactly was he supposed to 'process' the revelation that in truth his father had died a galactic hero on a planet the other side of the galaxy saving pretty much everybody from the über-evil?
From being young, Mark Carter had always nurtured the opinion that he had 'lost' first his father and then his sister to the military; the already present gap between Samantha and Mark became an unbridgeable chasm. He was unable to really adjust to the fact that his father and sister had been hosts, or the bond of shared experience that generated between them, despite the fact that two of his children eventually joined the SGC and one of his daughters became a Tok'Ra and married her fellow Tok'Ra Dalomar/Shevan, nephew of Jolinar's mate Martouf.
Daniel, not being a vengeful or egotistical person by nature, found himself embarrassed rather than gloating over the fawning apologies of the archaeological world and their obsequious recanting. The widely realised discovery courtesy of the SGC and Dr Rodney McKay in the Pegasus Galaxy that 'Ascension' could indeed be managed by science rather than mysticism (by virtue of the example of Anubis, ironically) enabled him to re-Ascend but retake human form at will. He had done so for some considerable months after the threat of the Au'ri was finally vanquished, ostensibly grieving for his dead grandfather Nicholas Ballard and 'connecting' his Ascended son Shifu more intimately. Georgiana was one of a select few who had learned that in reality Daniel had found it increasingly difficult to cope with the fawning plaudits and OTT adulation from patently insincere types all wanting to jump on the bandwagon. Certainly a handsome man, he had also been greatly mortified at 'romantic' pursuit by a variety of women who wouldn't know what a 'meaningful' relationship was if it hit them in the face.
General Jack O'Neill's ex-wife Sarah, perpetually grieving for her lost and only child, had likewise been unable to come to terms with the realities of his clone 'son' J.J. O'Neill, eventually adopted son Loren, or the fact of his daughters. In some ways that he had an illegitimate alien child, his Edorran daughter, Jara, was easier for her to cope with than his technically legitimate daughter Kyja, since Kynthia's giving O'Neill the marriage cake on Pelops was a legally-binding marriage ceremony on that world. Adding even more pressure was the fact that the Asgaard publicly credited SG-1 and primarily O'Neill with the saving of their race due to a combination of factors.
Of the four, perhaps Teal'c had fared best. He was greatly revered amongst the Free Jaffa and also accepted when he began to live in the local community around Cheyenne Mountain. He continued to receive only acceptance and courtesy from his grateful neighbours. Jaffa children were used to having a much more distant relationship with their fathers than was normal in many cultures and Ry'ac had been classed as an adult warrior in his own right years before the war with the Au'ri.
The emotional fallout that many of the SGC experienced was thus not felt by Teal'c; his only real 'loss' was the final death of the great warrior Bra'tac, which devastated him. Others were not so fortunate, such as Colonel Paul Davis, who was divorced by his wife less than two years' after the public exposure of the Stargate programme because she felt unable to 'live up' to the popular image of what she called the 'superhero's love interest'. It was a sad consequence played out several times in the ensuing decades between spouses and also parents and children, one party too intimidated by the fear of having to live up to an 'impossible' legacy.
As if that were not enough, there had been the politics and money-men, jockeying for position and power, plus all the self-appointed 'watchdog' groups: some of whom deplored the militarization of the Stargate programme; others who objected/supported the Touchstone programme on environmental grounds; others who protested about the archaeologists chosen to work on the artefacts retrieved and so on and so on. The injuries sustained by the aged British Queen Elizabeth II in Chemosh's attack left her with permanent nerve damage requiring constant use of a walking cane, and cemented the monarchy's position as if it were granite. So when she requested that Earth's prototype Touchstone be sited, symbolically, at Greenwich, the SGC had complied causing a monumental fit of pique to erupt.
One such self-appointed moral watchdog group had instigated an investigation into General Jack O'Neill with the express intention of charging him with war crimes and genocide under the Geneva Convention, even talking in interviews about trial at The Hague. One of the group had 'jumped' Daniel Jackson live on CNN coming out of Cheyenne Mountain, demanding to know how someone of his 'loudly trumpeted ethical views on the military' could work so closely and have such ties of friendship to a mass-murderer. For ten minutes the world was audience to a 'fire-and-brimstone' oratory that set the importune man quaking in his shoes, wherein Dr Jackson neither paused to take a breath nor uttered a single swear word. Speechwriters called it a masterpiece on a par with the Gettysburg Address, and Harvard made it a standard text in their Rhetoric module of the Politics & Government course.
But all the other stuff of day-to-day life and non-media-worthy existence was going off at the same time too. Though named for her illustrious great-grandfather, Georgiana's only real recollections of General George Hammond were of a short, rotund, bald man with kind blue eyes, a gentle voice and a fund of what she now knew were extensively Bowdlerised stories about the Stargate explorations. She did remember that when anyone got him to talk in detail about those frantic years, he invariably quoted (with various degrees of exasperation) Charles Dickens' famed opening line of A Tale of Two Cities: "'It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.'"
With his beloved wife long dead, his children grown and independent, there had been nothing stopping George Hammond devoting all his time and attention to being Chief of Homeworld Security and senior commander of the Prometheus, and if he had felt the pressure of trying to do a hundred-and-one things simultaneously, what must it have been like for everyone else involved trying to find time for families and some kind of life?
It was a considerable amount of time after the Stargate became public before those on the First Atlantis Expedition managed to make any headway in attempting a viable solution to the danger posed by the Wraith. Having to fight a two-fronted war against the Au'ri and the Wraith should Colonel Caldwell's Daedelus and the Atlantis base under Colonel John Sheppard fail to contain them in the Pegasus Galaxy had been yet another nightmare that kept many SGC personnel from the brass to the janitors awake and sweating in the dark most nights.
It was until even later that Daniel Jackson developed a solid theory that the Wraith were 'probably' the historical reality behind Earth's vampire mythology. The physical appearance of the Wraith and the characteristics of the undead in Earth legend matched in too many ways to be coincidence – it appeared that at least one Wraith had managed to return to Earth with the Ancients from Atlantis. While many of the anti-vampire standards – mirrors, crucifixes, holy water, et cetera - proved useless, what did not, amazingly, was garlic and sunlight.
Experimentation with what few biological samples the Atlantis Expedition had been able to send back proved that garlic bulbs contained an enzyme inimical to Wraith physiology in much the same way that an inability to produce insulin led to diabetes in humans. By testing the samples with UV spectrum light, it was shown that the emissions of a yellow sun were also eventually as lethal to the Wraith as sunlight was to the Earth vampire – the Wraith's homeworld sun was red. The Wraith had developed their culling beam for use even from small 'dart' ships to minimise their exposure to the yellow-sun worlds their victims lived on, and though they could tolerate direct exposure for short periods, eventually a yellow sun burned and would kill them.
Unfortunately more valuable time would pass before Drs Rodney McKay and Carson Beckett finally managed to actually manufacture ZPMs using the Pegasus Galaxy's equivalent of Naqahdah and thus ensure that Atlantis could be inhabited permanently, also of course enabling them to open up the Stargate all the time to Earth and defend Atlantis from Wraith incursion.
In the meantime, anyone with any political or diplomatic ability on Earth was being run ragged. The Goa'uld had inadvertently continued the colonisation of space by humanity that the Ancients had begun, and the top-level System Lords such as Yu, Apophis, Baal and Anubis had ruled entire galaxies, some containing dozens of worlds populated by billions of humans, all of whom were rediscovering their legendary ancestral home, the world of the Tau'ri. Within eighteen months, genealogical and archaeological 'tourism' had become Earth's largest economy, with countries like the USA, which had little pre-industrialised history, suffering in comparison to the UK, Europe, Japan, China and Asia, which had millennia of recorded history and monuments to show off – and eagerly did.
The effort and manpower involved in the urgent threefold task of a) nurturing the fledgling but exponentially expanding Tau'ri Alliance, b) trying to prevent the Au'ri replacing the false Goa'uld gods with their own equally evil selves and c) helping the Tok'ra ensure the power of the few remaining Goa'uld System Lords remained destroyed was indescribably intense. It became more so when the breakthrough decision was made to dispose of the by-then infamous 'sarcophagus' technology.
Asgaard scientists proved unable to isolate and correct the design flaws that created addiction, but did manage to identify the vital healing components and verified that humans who were not Goa'uld hosts could use a sarcophagus sparingly over time. These components were placed in Earth hospitals under the most stringent of operating conditions, especially since (as Daniel had testified to Congress) if an already healthy person used a sarcophagus or it was used too frequently in a short time span, it rapidly became addictive to a degree greater than that of crack cocaine.
Cannabilism and the genetic degradation to the genome inflicted upon Goa'uld queens by the sarcophagus meant their population had actually dropped below sustainable levels long before the sarcophagi were removed from the Goa'uld's reach. Many System Lords had died rapidly from withdrawal, though there had been the odd exception like Baal, who was suspected to have accessed Ancient healing devices to overcome his addiction before he settled on Earth as a legitimate businessman; something he had claimed was a lot more fun than being a System Lord – apparently Wall Street was much more of a challenge than most of his 'limited' fellow Goa'uld.
With the ancient Goa'uld such as Yu had dying off and the Tretonin that meant Jaffa no longer depended on larval Goa'uld for an immune system, the Goa'uld population had gone into freefall, exacerbated by the rise of the Unas on their home world. Tremendously long-lived anyway, Chaka's friendship with Daniel Jackson made him in many ways the 'caveman who understood television', and his ability to apply brain over brawn eventually made him the undisputed Aka'chak or 'Chief of all Tribes' of the Unas.
Obtaining the last batch of the Tok'Ra's poison and reassured by Daniel it affected only Goa'uld, Chaka had baffled everyone by having it dumped in a remote inland sea where all the Goa'uld promptly died. However, Chaka knew that every hot summer the sea was reduced to barely a large pond. When the annual drought occurred the poisoned water was evaporated into the atmosphere and literally rained down on every watercourse on the planet. The Tok'Ra had designed the poison to be lethal to symbiotes even after great dilution, and the planet's fish and fowl population exploded when faced with the bounty of billions of dead Goa'uld in every stream and river, pond and lake, sea and ocean. While the odd Goa'uld might have survived in an isolated underground stream or acquifier, for all practical purposes, the Goa'uld were extinct.
In the meantime there emerged a minor Goa'uld queen who had largely avoided sarcophagus use, Zenobia. Her choosing to become a Tok'Ra, albeit probably out of pragmatism rather than conviction, had increased the latter's benevolent population and ability to take over abandoned Goa'uld technology as the Tok'Ra displaced the Goa'uld as the representative population of their species. For the first time ever, the sight of a Mothership in orbit around a planet was not immediate cause for alarm or panic.
"You see." It was Daniel's turn to make the words a statement rather than a question.
She nodded reluctantly. SG-1 had of course been in the thick of things, seemingly everywhere, putting out this 'fire' here, resisting the Au'ri infection there, shoring up that alliance, coaxing this nervous/obstreperous/paranoid world into the Tau'ri Alliance everywhere. But nothing stayed the same. People moved away or passed away. Personnel got reassigned or resigned or retired.
Politely declining the Asgaard's offer of cloning technology, General Hammond had nevertheless taken advantage of new medical techniques that rendered old age less painful than it had been. He had survived until the age of 153, when, after an arduous week of high level negotiations between the Tok'Ra, Jaffa and many others, he had been killed by an embolism that stopped his heart beating between one second and the next.
"It was when General Hammond – " Georgiana began, finishing her sentence a heartbeat later with " – died," – as she stared around her at the familiar bridge of an Asgaard spaceship. Standing nearby was an Asgaard, about six-feet in height. She inclined her head respectfully. "Thor."
By virtue of Heimdall's research, replicator technology and even some DNA donated by General Jack O'Neill after having the Ancients' repository downloaded into his brain twice, the Asgaard had achieved a breakthrough in their work to end the damage caused centuries of cloning. They had been helped even more after Colonel Sam Carter (need it be said?) found a way to circumvent the Ancients' 'Place of Our Legacy' databases access protocols. In short, she figured out to extract specific data in sections without a succession of people being required to get their heads sucked and then Asgaard-mind-wiped before the data overload killed them.
Most importantly, they were able to ensure they didn't end up in the same mess again another few thousand years hence, especially as, using all her tact and diplomacy, Sam had pointed out that all their people were all their people. Access to Asgaard libraries had shown her that the Asgaard birth rate went into freefall within decades of the cloning technology becoming universally available to their species. The eventual zero birth rate had led to a finite population centuries before Catherine Langford's father discovered the Stargate at Giza in 1928; the Asgaard did not reproduce but the same number of individuals were being transferred to new bodies, which meant the death of a single Asgaard was a global catastrophe.
Listening to what Sam Carter wasn't saying, Thor and Heimdall had constructed an artificial womb and used what was distantly similar to Earth gene-splicing and IVF treatment to merge their genetic material in a 'new' Asgaard individual. Even as she bowed to Thor and drank in the never-boring sight of an Asgaard spaceship, Georgiana had to hold in a smile. SG-1 had been requested by General O'Neill as his honour guard when he received an urgent summons to the new Asgaard homeworld. He had even been persuaded to allow a 'live' news crew to accompany them.
Documentaries still broadcast images of the stunned but unalloyed delight on the General's face when with great ceremony he was 'introduced' to the first baby Asgaard to be born in nearly 3,000 years. His valiant attempt at demure modesty had failed altogether when Thor declared to the galaxy that the baby Asgaard was called Oneil. However, Sam Carter's real objective had been achieved. Used to knowing everyone who knew everything, the static and slowly stagnating Asgaard culture had been reinvigorated by the need to use their brains to educate and train and care for an Asgaard who had to learn everything from scratch. Thor and Heimdall had used the technique again, to produce Kahta, Jaksun, Tilk, Hahmnd and Freyasa.
Daniel shot a pointed look at the wall behind Georgiana, breaking in to her brief reverie, but with her new understanding she was not surprised when she turned and saw where his glance was directed - the discreet Asgaard lettering on the inner bulkhead, which translated as: O'Neill-Mark-Three Class battleship, Flagship the Daniel Jackson Four.
The death of General George Hammond had been the catalyst for SG-1's decision, she now realised; her great-grandfather had been the first, longest-serving and most greatly admired Chief of Homeworld Security that Earth had had to date and his funeral had been solemn and on a scale not achieved by some Presidents and national sovereigns, though he would have been hugely embarrassed by it.
Again, the media nowadays constantly regurgitated the defining images: Daniel and Jack had been pall-bearers; all four had been seated with the immediate family; Teal'c and Bra'tac, himself very frail and near the end of his life at that point, had both attended in full armour to salute the fall of a fellow warrior, Honorary Jaffa 'Master' Hammond of Texas. Most of the Tok'Ra had been present, along with the Asgaard and other allies both galactically and from Earth's fellow nations, such as British monarch Charles III, King-Emperor of the 2nd British Empire.
Of course today the media's favourite footage was of those minutes before the official start of the televised funeral. An enterprising Reuters cameraman, seeking different footage, realised that though Colonel Cameron Mitchell was with General Landry outside, the other three members of SG-1 had disappeared. A fairly bright guy, he had guessed they had gone inside and he managed to sneak in also and provide live film from the inside of the Cathedral He had beamed to a watching world – indeed, watching worlds – the enduring image of four grief-stricken figures hunched side by side in front of the bier in distraught silence. Some hours after the official ceremony, a daring reporter had asked Teal'c how the death of the General would affect SG-1's future missions. The stern-faced, grim-voiced reply of: "SG-1 shall no longer travel through the Stargate," had made intergalactic headlines for the next week.
Whether a spur of the moment choice or one made prior to the funeral, SG-1 had had the idea of what they were about to do because of her great-grandfather's death, Georgiana realised as two instantly familiar figures – a blond woman and a huge black man – walked onto the Daniel Jackson's bridge. General Hammond's death had made SG-1's three original members and General Jack O'Neill think long and hard about where they were and their status both on their homeworld and other planets.
They were, and rightly so, universally feted as champions and heroes, but they were also seeing the first signs of a tendency to treat them as venerable elder statesmen, the first step on the slippery slope to being just four old people reliving long-gone glories. Such heroes as the First Atlantis team also deserved their place in the sun, and had the advantages of better/'flashier' technology. They also had a photogenic, attractive personnel complement that was on average a full decade younger than Daniel Jackson, the youngest member of SG-1 by eight months even after their combined age 'lowered' when Jack was promoted after they defeated Anubis and the much younger Cam Mitchell became the second team leader.
By the time of General Hammond's death, had they been in their original bodies and not had their consciousnesses transferred to Asgaard clones, Teal'c would have been nearing a 120 years of age. Though by then riding a desk at the Pentagon instead of diving through Stargates, Jack would have been at the absolute mandatory retirement age even after that age limit had been exponentially increased due to the longer life-spans provided by the various advanced medical devices discovered off world.
Nor was that the end of it; Sam Carter had had the most cloned bodies, after suffering terrible injuries on two occasions in the infamous Hebridan 'no-rules' annual space race. Eventually a personal plea from Cameron Mitchell, Jack O'Neill, Daniel Jackson and Teal'c had persuaded her to stop entering after they'd had the unpleasant experience of seeing her mangled physical body both times, but Daniel, Teal'c and Mitchell hadn't been far behind her in getting themselves too injured to remain in their bodies.
So when Colonel Mitchell was in turn promoted, the rest of SG-1 had given up the limelight and gradually eased themselves off the stage and back into the wings, slowly tailing off the interviews and 'public sightings'. If anything, their workload had tripled once they began to beaver quietly away behind the scenes, but their main aim had been achieved: as time went on, people began to forget not them, but that they were still around.
Kyja O'Neill had married Danel, the boy Daniel had delivered on Pelops, and the pair had become prominent leaders amongst their people. JJ O'Neill had married Janet Fraiser's adopted daughter Cassandra, and both had declined cloning technology to extend life-spans that by now were naturally back up to the mid 'hundreds' for humans anyway. As JJ had said, his kids had enough to deal with a dad who was already a clone and a mother who was an alien.
Rya'c had made the same decision, he and his wife having three sons, Bra'tac, Teal'c and Jhaak; Bra'tac had been chosen 'Tec'mahtay', master or king, of the Free Jaffa Worlds to Teal'c's immense pride, but he had understood the anxiety of having your living-legend grandpa watching over your shoulder all the while. All those who knew SG-1 personally had had their own lives to live and to die. As time went on, most historians simply included a vague assumption of SG-1's passing in their texts and later books simply followed suit, quoting a source that was quoting a source that was repeating an assumption.
As she greeted Teal'c and Major General Sam Carter, Georgiana appreciated how privileged she was. Whilst Sam had been a popular cause célèbre amongst her nephews and nieces, the shine had rapidly dulled when it came to their descendents. These had struggled with the dichotomy of their nonagenarian grandfather in photographs interred in a cemetery versus his perpetually thirty-something sister still loitering in the background. Nowadays the Carter family, unlike Georgiana, had no idea that their illustrious ancestress also still lived. Attuned to the increasing discomfort of her family, Sam had distanced herself like Teal'c.
Nicholas Ballard had finally died of immense old age on the planet of his beloved Mayan giant aliens many years ago and was Daniel's only close relative, at least in human form, since his son Shifu – his only child – was an Ascended Ancient. The children of JJ & Cassandra O'Neill and likewise Jack's daughters Kyja and Jara knew of the legendary General O'Neill only as a figure in history texts or on archive newsreels. Teal'c had absented himself from his son's daily life for many years before Rya'c died, and his children had no real sense of Teal'c as a person – to them, 'grandfather' meant a grey-haired, wise elder in his early 130s, not a silent, aloof giant who didn't look a day over forty.
That was what Daniel had meant when he silently indicated to Georgiana the Asgaard ship's name. Sufficient time had passed for the Asgaard – not sloppy builders by any standards – to have reached the fourth ship to be named Daniel Jackson, and Georgiana knew for a fact that the Asgaard had reached the Samantha Carter Six. SG-1 had encouraged the world to think of them only as names in books. Only the direct descendents of George Hammond had been made privy to the fact that 'SG-1' still lived.
"Hellooo, kids." Hands in pockets, dressed in Air Force blue fatigues, Jack O'Neill strolled into the room as if here to do nothing more than watch his favoured ice hockey, also not looking a day over than when he'd first been appointed Brigadier General of the SGC nearly two centuries earlier. "Georgie."
"Sir," Georgiana could no more call him 'Jack' than she could fly, but something still prompted her to say, "You're really going to do this."
Jack tilted his head on one side and gave her a long look, then smiled. "Yep, I guess we are, since I assume your litter test went to plan, Daniel?"
Georgiana blinked and behind Jack's back, Sam mouthed the words, 'litmus test'.
Daniel meanwhile was nodding, "Completely."
Not having reached the rank of Colonel by being slow on the uptake, Georgiana blurted, "Our lunch at Panache, that was your test. You were checking to see how many people…" she paused as it sank in, "…recognised you as who you really were."
"And the result was zero," Daniel told Jack. "Zip, zilch. I sat there with Georgiana for an hour-and-a-half and nobody looked once at me. Not even Dr Chloe Woodhouse, who was sitting at the next table and who worked with me for nine months back on the Touchstone Project in 2011 – and she even tried to ravish on one of the workbenches at the time!"
"Maybe she didn't see you; she is a 167 years old." Georgiana couldn't resist playing Devil's Advocate as she fought back the urge to ask Daniel if Chloe's amorous attack had succeeded.
Daniel snorted, "It doesn't matter – 167 or 1067, the woman's got eyes like a hawk. If she didn't recognise me, nobody else would."
"In that case, I'm making an executive decision," announced Jack. "It's time to boldly go, kiddies…"
"You will be greatly missed, O'Neill," Thor spoke for the first time, softly.
Jack O'Neill gave one of his trademark grins. "Come on, it's not like we'll be gone forever, or even alone. The Ancient Ancients are out there; Kasuf is out there, so is Skaara, and Daniel's son Shifu – Ascended one and all. We'll drop by from time to time, check in and keep you apprised. Unlike some Ancients I could name who didn't –"
Call or write the whole time he was ascended – rolling his eyes, Daniel silently mouthed the words as Jack said them out loud, clearly familiar with them. "You're never going to let that go, are you?" he groused.
"You were an Ascended Ancient with the power of supernovas at your finger- tentacle – tips," Jack sniped, "and you couldn't, y'know, send an email even? Leave the occasional note?"
Daniel snorted derisively. "Oh, and who was it who shot me?"
"You were shooting up the Gate Room – besides you weren't you, you were Anubis."
"You didn't know that when you shot me!"
Biting the inside of her cheek to stop from chuckling, Georgiana remained silent, as did Teal'c and Sam, with the ease of long familiarity. Jack O'Neill and Daniel Jackson had been exchanging pithy banter for nearly two centuries; when the race between energy and entropy ended and the favourite probably won with the universe collapsing in on itself, the last sounds to be heard in the vast unfathomable void would undoubtedly be, respectively:
Sam cleared her throat. "I think it might be a good idea if you went first…"
Jack gave a sniff but didn't argue. Taking a deep breath he exhaled slowly, rolled his neck to loosen up, closed his eyes, took another deep breath, opened them, exhaled gustily…and changed.
Georgiana instinctively turned her head from the incandescent white glow, turning back to face the place where Jack O'Neill had been standing. Floating in mid-air was an Ascended Ancient – which suddenly dropped two feet like a stone before stopping with much agitated thrashing of tentacles. Daniel uttered a strangled sound that strongly resembled a choked off laugh. Biting her lip, Sam Carter closed her eyes and instantly the light emanated again to leave a glowing golden Ancient floating much more serenely next to the first, faintly blue coloured one. Inclining his head sombrely towards Georgiana, Teal'c became an Ancient with instant grace, his long periods of Kel Nor'eem because of 'Junior' helping him achieve the right frame of mind without conscious thought. His Ascended form was much larger than Carter or O'Neill, and the light emanating from it was pure white.
Gritting her teeth and blinking frantically, Georgiana watched as Daniel Jackson became a glowing incandescent creature. Despite the baseball sized lump in her throat, Georgiana struggled not to laugh as the first Ancient propelled itself towards the observation window like an octopus surging through water, only with a great deal more (and less elegant) tentacle activity. It shot through the barrier as if it were not there, out into the vacuum of space itself, where it hovered for a moment, then began to whirl and wheel and spin about in a way that made Georgiana think instantly of her pet Labrador puppy wanting to play. Daniel-Ancient was suddenly quite close to her and it pulsed slightly, rhythmically. Georgiana somehow knew that Daniel knew exactly what she was thinking, and was also laughing.
The Ancient shot back inside the ship at precipitous speed, waggling its tentacles towards the other three in an unmistakeably come on! gesture before shooting back out into space again as if the window weren't there. Moving more slowly but more gracefully, the three Ascended beings surged out to join the first one, and as Georgiana and Thor watched, they hovered for a moment and then surged away into the vastness of space, within minutes becoming an indistinguishable bright dot amongst the countless stars.
"I am sure they will be all right," Thor tried to reassure her.
She managed a watery smile, unsurprised that her cheeks were damp. "I know it, Thor. We haven't heard the last of SG-1, not where Jack O'Neill's concerned."
And so it proved.
Brigadier General Georgiana Hammond was 182 and commanding the Tau'ri Alliance flagship the Janet Fraiser on her final deep-space mission before she retired from active service to take up her new posting as the Chair of the Joint Chiefs. Admiral Barclay Pendergast of the Prometheus IV had first detected the massive alien vessels of unknown configuration on a direct route to Earth.
Sending a broad-spectrum greeting in all known languages, a three-word reply had been received: Hammond of Texas. The Virthda were a bipedal but non-humanoid amphibious species who managed to convey the visit to their world by four glowing beings who assumed another form and who told of wonders beyond the stars. They were long gone from Virthis, but the Virthda had made these massive multi-generational ships to seek out the world and the species of the Glowing Ones. The Glowing Ones had consisted of three males and a female, and one of the males was much larger and a different colour to the other two. The Virthda promptly identified historical footage of SG-1 as the Glowing Ones shortly before they became the most recent members of the Tau'ri Alliance.
As she settled into her comfortable new desk job with a relief that vanity wouldn't allow her to acknowledge, Georgiana couldn't hold back a grin as she looked at the holograms on her desk of her own horde of assorted grandchildren: two sets of twins, Georgette and Georgia, Kayla and Kyjara, Janet, Jack, Cassandra, Daniel, Samantha, Teal'c, and finally little Viridian, who was unfortunate enough to be born eighteen hours after the historic encounter with the Virthda. Her hunch had been proven right; there were now blossoming a whole new set of legends about SG-1 to add to the originals, new chapters in the exotic mythology of their story. She had no doubt that while this might be the first occasion, it was far from the last…
And so it proved.
The spread of humanity to the stars that the Ancients began had of course been inadvertently helped by the Goa'uld scattering 'slave-worlds' like confetti through out the cosmos, or like Supreme Commander Cassian O'Neill of the Tau'ri Alliance flagship the Jon Sheppard put it, an overturned bucket of popcorn on a movie theatre floor.
Once freed, they had been ready made colonies and Tau'ri Alliance members. The Alliance expanded as far as they could, once again populating the Pegasus galaxy and beyond as the Wraith were eliminated, finally brokering a peaceful accord with the human-form replicator species.
On many worlds they were a marvel, a wonder, but on some worlds, the explorers found themselves to be at least not a surprise and on one memorable occasion, chided by the planetary Empress for being late. The stories differed in detail, but the theme remained constant: glowing beings that took on another bipedal form and talked of wonders in a galaxy far, far away. Sometimes the glowing beings would arrive together, sometimes a lone creature would appear, but always was joined sooner or later by three more. Always there were three males and one female, and always one male was much larger and of a different colour than the other two.
It quickly became a formality to show new worlds the historical archives of the Tau'ri Alliance Mother World, for invariably the same four figures would be identified.
It became the secret dream of every Alliance Cadet training for command of a starship to one day reach a planet and upon its surface encounter four humans dressed in ancient Earth clothing…
© 2005, C. D. Stewart
This story is very speculative, but it was designed to be a 'feel good' ending to Stargate SG-1 in the event of the producers doing something like what Quantum Leapsuffered.