"We had no clue what we were heading into." Daniel was saying. "The Tel'tak suddenly lurched violently and the autopilot and nav systems just cut out. Fortunately my 2IC Farquharson was up to the job and managed to ease it out of a full crash trajectory, but we came down pretty hard nonetheless. It was two hours before we managed to get everyone out of the wreck."
"Were you near to where you had intended to land in the first place?" came an off-screen voice.
"No, we were lost. One person had a broken arm, which we splinted, but everyone could walk. We decided to head in the general direction of the Stargate but it was an unknown distance. We reckoned if we could stay out of trouble we would eventually make it back."
"And had you given up the idea of retrieving the icon by this time?"
"Yes, unfortunately. The brethren were for continuing the expedition but I knew that we had little chance once our crashed ship was discovered, if our descent hadn't been reported already. We walked for most of the day before dusk fell and we set up camp near a forest."
"When did you first become aware of a rescue attempt being made from orbit?"
"That evening for certain. During the day we'd heard some strange, very loud noises up in the air. A bit like distant gunshots, you know, but coming from way overhead. We looked up several times but never saw anything. It was only after we learned of the failed attempts to lower a carbon fibre cable down to us from orbit that I realised these sounds must have been those cables breaking up. But it was during the evening that we experienced a very, very loud double bang nearby - rather like a thunderstorm that's too close for comfort, or a supersonic aircraft at low level. It turned out to be the arrival of our rescue craft about five hundred metres from our position. We started to run but stopped when we heard Teal'c's voice on a loudspeaker calling my name."
"And were you pleased to see him?"
"Not initially, I will admit. The last time I'd seen him was when we'd witnessed the icon being sold to the Goa'uld on Haven Minor. Neither he nor Jen Hailey followed me when I left there to start my campaign to protest against these sales to the Goa'uld. I had no idea that Sam and Jack were playing a double game at that time, and I admit that I was livid with them all. In fact the scale of their activities still astounds me.
The strangest thing was the appearance of the people accompanying Teal'c. Ari looked a lot older than when I'd seen him on Haven Minor, and one of the other two looked quite like Jack when I'd first met him. It was a shock when he introduced himself and his brother as their grown-up children. We just couldn't believe it. They started to explain about our being caught in a time-dilation field on the planet, but I still thought this was some sort of trick. In fact, it was my companions - three members of the Avorian brethren, who'd recognised Ari as their High Priest. They convinced me that we should go with them, especially when Teal'c explained that another year had gone by up there just since they'd arrived."
"Were you still resentful towards the O'Neill's at this stage?"
"If I'm honest, yes. They hadn't seen fit to trust me in the first place. I was manipulated by my closest friends. It took time to understand just what role Ari had played in all this too, since he'd done the same thing to his own sect. And later I began to realise the consequences of having a sixteen- year chunk taken out of my life. I.. I know that they've pulled off a spectacular victory against the Goa'uld. I just don't know how I feel about it all at the moment."
"What happened when you got up into orbit, back into *normal* time?"
"When we left the rescue ship in the freighter's cargo bay, I was completely taken aback by the appearance of Sam and Jack. I do admit that thoughts of punching Jack on the nose weren't far from the front of my mind. The first thing they did, of course, was to embrace their sons, who'd been gone a year since the start of the trip down to the surface. But when they looked at me, I couldn't speak. The last time I'd seen Sam she was more or less my own age, but now she was like an elderly stranger. And Jack looked like my great-grandfather when I was young. We didn't say much - I didn't know where to begin. But seeing Jen Hailey now my own age had completely the opposite effect. In fact she was the one who talked me through those first few hours."
"Do you feel any different now, since you've had some time to digest what's happened to you, and perhaps seeing the way the war is being won? And also their public apology to you at the Guild dinner?"
"Yes... No.. I really don't know, if I'm honest. Jen wants me to get over it quickly. I really can't believe that she waited sixteen years to see me again. I hope she won't be disappointed in the outcome. And I'm not unappreciative of the fact that Jack and Sam have spent those sixteen years and a fortune in getting me back, and that their kids risked their lives on the trip. Even if they have all profited from the technology they developed to do it."
"OK, let's wrap that one." said Jonas. We'll show that after the O'Neill interview, followed by the one of Jen Hailey." He turned to the junior reporter. "How much did you get from Teal'c?"
The reporter shuffled nervously. "Er, well boss, it's er, how can I say... Short but full of character!"
"Roll it." said Jonas. The screen came to life again with a shot tracking out from a close-up of Teal'c's tattoo to take in his whole head and shoulders.
"So, Mr. Teal'c," the reporter stumbled, "are you pleased with the outcome of events?"
"Has this been as big an event in the Goa'uld war as people say it is?"
"Do you think Dr. Jackson fully trusts you all again?"
"Will you be returning to Chulak after this?"
There followed an embarrassing silence in which it was obvious the reporter was losing an inner struggle.
"Ask me about the honourable intentions of the O'Neill's." smiled Teal'c.
"OK, er, do you think that the O'Neill's acted honourably throughout this whole venture?"
Amidst the general laughter in the editing room, the last minute panic of settling the running order began to be thrashed out.
"If we show the whole set of interviews, something's got to go from this evening's schedule." insisted the editor. "We gotta keep the piece about the Earth threats to ignore the Trader's new policy up front."
"No, cut it. We'll know what happens soon enough." replied Jonas.
"What about the massive Black Hole appearing in the centre of the Sombrero Hat Galaxy?" the editor came back.
"They'll either survive or they won't." replied Jonas. "Cut it!"
"Massive radiation leak on Titus Three?"
"You can't film radiation. Not photogenic enough."
"Playoffs in the Intergalactic Zero-Gravity Snooker Cup?"
"Cut it down to the scores on the ticker."
"Lost dog keeps dialling Stargates in hope of finding its master?"
"That's human interest! Keep that one in." Jonas sighed and stood up. "OK, boys and girls. Let's show 'em all the way!"
Daniel and Jen lay back against the pillows in the sumptuous bedroom in Sam and Jack's garden guest lodge. Her head rested on his shoulder, his arm around her. They stayed silent until she commanded "Screen off!" and the glow in the far corner died away. They had just watched the repeats of the Kelownan TV interviews made the day before. Last night they had been too busy with each other - in Jen's case making up for what she had called 'sixteen years of lost time' to watch the first-time broadcasts.
"Well, what did you think?" asked Daniel.
"I hope the dog finds its owner." she sighed. "Daniel, just get over it, and marry me."
"We can go to the priests here on Mythor and see if we're compatible enough for im'ri bonding, if you like. Sam and Jack have offered to host the reception, but it won't happen if you've still got a stick up your ass."
"Are you serious, Jen?"
"Sixteen years serious, Daniel. Get over it, marry me, or break my heart again. Choice is yours."
He never stood a chance, did he?
In the 21st century, KUTV, as the Earth subsidiary of Jonas' company was known, had a massive following not only because it showed great news coverage of events throughout the whole Gated universe. Its constant ability to have the best-looking presenters who didn't seem to mind showing exposed pectorals or ample curves that no other station dared match and stay in business was also a considerable factor. Its TV broadcasts and 3D moving picture news-sheets set the pace which other news or entertainment companies tried to match. Nonetheless, historians in subsequent centuries were able to piece together from its archives a reasonably accurate record of the events that led to the Earth's remarkable transformation. The following items form the start of the history gallery at the Pan-Terran library:
24 April 2031: Earth declares opposition to Trader's Guild restrictions on Gate trade.
15 May 2031: Ex-Guild president and wife survive missile attack on freighter: miraculous escape in new Quantum Traverse pod. Earth government denies backing "terrorists".
27 September 2031: Earth sends troops to secure Stargates on supply worlds. Traders Guild excluded from future dealings on Earth Economic Area planets.
14 March 2032: Daniel and Jenny Jackson present rare Denebian burial vase to Smithsonian Museum.
12 April 2032: Government admits Earth Stargate no longer functioning: thousands of troops stranded off-world.
26 June 2032: Alarm at high number of arriving spaceships making crash- landings.