Author: Ted Sadler
Archive: SJD Yes
Summary: Forever is a long time. It's not enough.
All publicly recognisable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret productions. This piece of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognised characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
If I had My Time Again
© 2003 Ted Sadler
Chapter 1 - The Beginning of the End
It was, conceivably, the greatest discovery of the greatest invention ever made. Which was why Daniel Jackson and Major Samantha Carter had been told that they were to receive medals from the President, and a promise that after the Stargate's existence became public knowledge, they would be household names to everyone on Earth and probably beyond.
The greatest discovery, and potentially the most useful in the war against the Goa'uld and many other hostile species. And yet they received the news with apathy and regret, to the utter amazement of the White House messenger who sat opposite them in General Hammond's office. Not even when he added the part about a lifetime of wealth as a result of their fame. General Hammond had felt it necessary to fill the prolonged, embarrassing silence.
"Please tell the President that Doctor Jackson and Major Carter will be honoured to accept the awards at a time convenient to him." He stood up, bringing the meeting to a premature end, and shook hands with the equerry. "You'll understand, no doubt, that these momentous few days have left them both a little overwhelmed by events." He ushered the man steadily from the room, and an airman escorted him away.
"May we go now, General?" asked Daniel, still standing by his chair.
"No you may not." replied Hammond testily, motioning for them both to sit down. "I need to update you concerning Colonel O'Neill's forthcoming Court Martial hearing."
Sam flinched at his words, while Daniel looked back at him in puzzled anticipation. Neither of them had been able to communicate with the Colonel since his arrest only hours after returning from P2F-112, and all channels, both official and unofficial were very effectively blocked. Hurt had been added to shock when they were told that O'Neill had given specific instructions that neither of them was to be allowed contact. The only person who had spoken to him was Teal'c, and he was a stone wall of silence on the subject. The closest team in the SGC had been fragmented within a few short hours, and they were numb from the shock, even General Hammond, but his responsibilities precluded sentiment.
"Colonel O'Neill has indicated that he will plead guilty to the charges of negligence leading to the deaths of four SG team members and seventy two T'ba civilians on P2F-112." continued Hammond. "His statement of events is clear and unequivocal. He guaranteed the safety of those civilians to the T'ba ruling council and his decision to make a dash for the Stargate ahead of a Jaffa attack was in retrospect a foolhardy one. Most of the civilians and several SG members under his command paid the ultimate price as a result of his decision."
"Then why wouldn't you let us make a plea to the President on his behalf?" asked Daniel. "He understands the risks of military engagements and he should know that off-world encounters are even more uncertain. Jack now faces dishonourable discharge and years in prison. You seem to be rather detached about it all."
"Don't lecture me, Dr. Jackson!" shouted Hammond, his face reddening. "Jack O'Neill is one of the finest officers I've ever served with, and it's a damned shame he's covering something up to protect one or more people from these events. You wouldn't be able to shed any light on this, would either of you?"
"Sir, I don't understand." replied Sam. "May we see a draft of his statement?"
"You may, but only for the purposes of adding to my understanding of what went on. You may not take these papers out of this room nor speak to anyone on the subject." said Hammond, producing a few hand-written sheets from his desk drawer and passing them to her. "You have ten minutes before I return." He rose and left the room without looking back.
Jack's handwriting was neat and stylish.
'We arrived on P2F-112, or T'BAN as the locals call it, on schedule. Our orders were to dispatch a team of scientists led by Dr. JACKSON and Maj. CARTER to evaluate the alien instruments found in the ruins at map ref. 422106 on a previous expedition. Simultaneously I led SG-4 and SG-7, accompanied by TEAL'C to the main village at map ref. 423114 to re- establish contact with the T'BAN Ruling Council. Our objectives were twofold: (1) to lead to safety through the Stargate a group of 88 T'BA previously earmarked by the GOA'ULD as potential hosts, and (2) to confirm that the T'BA were willing to sign a pact allowing us to mine substantial naquadah deposits in the locality.
On the evening of the first day, I received a sitrep from Maj. CARTER that work at the science site was going according to plan, and that they would RV with us at the Stargate at 18:00 local time on day 2.
The members of the Ruling Council were apprehensive about our evacuation plan until I gave them a personal guarantee of safety for the refugees. It was not until morning of the second day on world that we got their agreement, when arrangements for immediate departure were made. However, it was some two hours before we got the party to abandon items that they could not carry and we departed the village at mid-day local time.
At 14:35 we saw contrails in the sky indicative of GOA'ULD Death Gliders performing atmospheric entry from a Mothership in orbit around the planet. I was faced with two choices: either to enter nearby forests and hide as best we could until the GOA'ULD had departed or stopped looking for us, or to make as quick a journey as possible to the Stargate. I opted for the second course of action as I did not want the science party to be caught. Although we attempted radio communication with them several times during the next two hours, no contact was established.
We made it as far as two kilometers from the Gate before the Death Glider attacks began. Although we returned small arms fire, it was ineffective and we experienced heavy casualties: 72 of the 88 T'BA were killed or fatally wounded, together with 3 members of SG-7 and one from SG-4. (See appendix for names). All SG team members serving under me behaved with extreme valor and courage: in particular Sergeant DOLNER of SG-4 risked his own life several times despite being wounded to ensure the evacuation of the remaining civilians.
I dispatched TEAL'C ahead to dial out of the Gate and hold it open, which he was successful in doing. This served the dual purpose of making our escape possible and also preventing the GOA'ULD from dialling in with reinforcements.
I was unaware of the location of our science party by the time we had to pass through the Gate at 17:20, having failed to establish communication with them. I did not learn until we were back at the SGC that they had successfully returned earlier that afternoon. I had our remaining radios checked out immediately after arrival and they were in working condition. I must conjecture that local atmospheric / ionospheric conditions on T'BAN prevented their proper functioning there.
I alone made the decision to try for the Stargate, and carry the sole responsibility for the consequences.
J. O'Neill, Colonel, SG-1.'
Sam sat with her head in her hands, hot salty tears running down her face. Daniel put his arm round her shoulders to try and comfort her, but she pushed him away angrily. She knew in that instant exactly why she didn't just respect Jack for his leadership qualities or his overwhelming sense of responsibility towards his friends and team-mates. She loved him wholeheartedly, in a way that suddenly seemed more important than military propriety or her career ambitions.
"No!" she cried, straightening up. "You see what he's doing, don't you? He's left out all mention of his instructions to me not to run any experiments on site. You and the others persuaded me that it was too important not to run a quick test. I'm not blaming you, Daniel. I was just as eager and we did it, didn't we?"
"But it was the right thing to do!" replied Daniel excitedly. "The Chronoscope will give us such an advantage in this war. And for the immeasurable benefit of all mankind forever!"
Sam was about to reply when General Hammond returned. They rose as he entered but he waved them down immediately.
"Well, Major?" he asked brusquely.
"Sir, Colonel O'Neill has omitted something important from his report, probably to try to protect me from involvement."
"And me." added Daniel.
"And what would that be, Major?"
"When I delivered my situation report to the Colonel on day one, I described our findings at the science site and started to explain the value of the Chronoscope. However, I was at the time quite excited about its prospects and I realise now I quite soon lost his attention on the radio. I can't blame him on this occasion, Sir, like I sometimes do when he doesn't follow in the briefings, as I really was going too fast. Anyhow, he cut me short with an order not to 'fire it up' before we got it home."
"But it really is of unlimited value, General." interrupted Daniel. "We were right to test it before we brought it back. I take responsibility for railroading Sam into approving a quick test."
"No, Daniel. I deliberately disobeyed an order from my CO, and it's my fault it happened." replied Sam quickly.
"Let's not get into whose fault it was." said Hammond. "Just *what* happened, exactly?"
"Well, the according to the texts I translated, the Chronoscope can show events at a nominated time at a designated set of co-ordinates. A sort of 'window onto the past'. We can spy on the Goa'uld or anyone else at any time or place they met to plan attacks against us or others!" Daniel was still excited about the marvel. "And we can verify our own history and religious events."
"So I took the decision to allow a five-second test using the co-ordinates of our location in the ruins on P2F-112." Sam continued. "The T'ba had told us that the ruins were about two hundred Earth years old, so we set it up for 300 years in the past. We had several false starts, but we finally saw a picture of an elaborate house, broadly the size and shape of the ruins we were standing in."
"But it does seem as though the instrument needs considerable tuning and adjustment before we can use it reliably." Daniel interjected. "An unexpected side-effect was an intense burst of ionising radiation as it shut down."
"We didn't realise it straight away," said Sam, "but our radios were out as a result and we couldn't communicate with the Colonel. Later we saw the Death Gliders de-orbiting and decided to get the instrument back through the Gate to safety before we were attacked. You'll recall that you ordered us not to go back but to await the Colonel's arrival."
"Yes, I remember." replied Hammond.
"So, Sir, I request permission to make a statement explaining my own culpability in defence of Colonel O'Neill." said Sam, her tone formal and polite.
"That would be *our* culpability, General." added Daniel.
Hammond paused and looked at each of them in turn. "I'm afraid it's not that simple. Firstly, the President has you two lined up as heroes at a time when the SGC is in dire need of political support and budgeting to continue our work. Your discovery of the Chronoscope that you quite rightly termed as of 'immeasurable value', Dr. Jackson, has made the two of you untouchable." He raised a hand at their intended protests. "I don't like it any more than you do, but you know how important our work is. I cannot allow that support to be curtailed when we are so vulnerable to attack."
"Secondly, and more to the point," continued the General, "the T'ba Ruling Council has requested that Colonel O'Neill should be handed over to them to undertake a task that seems to be needed as a direct result of your experiment. It appears that a kind of vortex of an unknown nature is gradually developing at the location where you carried out your experiment. They speculate that it is some sort of hole in space-time, and it is slowly getting bigger. They believe that a big enough energy surge originating within the vortex would destabilise it and end the threat to their planet."
"Just how big an energy surge, Sir?" asked Sam.
"Equivalent to a twenty kiloton nuclear explosion, Major." said Hammond.
"But that's.." Daniel started to say, as Sam stared wide-eyed.
"We know exactly what kind of mission this is, Dr. Jackson. And I have to tell you that Colonel O'Neill has already agreed to undertake it."