Daniel wasn't even able to meet my eye as I walked past him. I think he's ashamed, and he's the only person who'll testify in this courtroom with no reason to be -- him and Hammond.
My God, what I've done to people I care about. All I can do now is come through this with dignity until the logical end. At least I can stand in front of a firing squad. Guns have never frightened me, but I'm terrified of needles. Lethal injection would be so much harder.
I've talked to my defense counsel. The most important thing is that Carter not be sentenced to death. Her intellect is too important to the world for it to happen. Major Walker understands my position and has agreed to do everything possible to assure that Carter be permitted to serve time rather than share my walk to the gallows
Senator Kinsey was pleased. It had taken a few favors called in and some political capital spent, but he'd gotten his way. The NID analysts had been permitted to go over every piece of paper that crossed Hammond's desk.
No one but Hammond was supposed to read the preliminary reports. Occasionally, when there had been an exciting or puzzling find, Dr. Jackson or Major Carter got called in to hear a debriefing or were asked to read the earliest versions of another team's reports. Most of the time, preliminary reports didn't have much revision before the final. A little tweak to the language -- the General usually asked Colonel O'Neill to leave out the profanity in his reports of dealings with the Tok'Ra -- or a clarification of the order of events was the way it worked.
This particular week had been normal: people went to other planets and reported on their findings. The only big-ticket item was resolving the Enkaran/Gadmeer crisis which meant those preliminary reports ended up in Hammond's in-box.
One paragraph in Teal'c's report made it clear he accepted Daniel Jackson's assessment: the Gadmeer were fully sentient beings and destroying their ship would destroy all hope their civilization and all their lifeforms had.
A pet Marine colonel affiliated with the NID had the charges brought -- at the Senator's behind-the-scenes behest. Colonel Dwight considered it the perfect payback for the betrayal of Colonel Makepeace.
There was nothing General Hammond could do, but order an impartial military investigation. Kinsey was gleeful.
The Article 32 hearing came back with indictments for both military officers on SG-1, and, when SG-1 got back from P3R-118, Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter were confined to separate holding cells to await their courts martial.
No one who might be called upon to testify was allowed to see either of them. Daniel Jackson argued for -- and got -- the prisoners their fresh air privileges, an hour a day in the gym, and both library and limited internet privileges. After talking with each of their JAG attorneys, he spoke to General Hammond and received permission to talk to every ally they had.
It took a couple of weeks to find enough officers with the right type of security clearances to make up the full trial panel. Three of them were from NORAD, three were from the Air Force Academy, three were Pentagon functionaries, one was a White House fellow, and the other two had been pulled out of retirement. General Hammond made certain they were given the full tour of the Stargate facilities.
It was Teal'c who suggested that people who had never taken the risk of the Stargate might not understand the difference in Stargate style missions from those undertaken in regular military situations. General Hammond agreed and offered the panel a chance to step through the 'gate to Abydos.
Only three of them accepted, but SG-9 escorted them through. When they came back four hours later, they had been well fed by Kusuf and his village. Daniel had briefed his good father and brother-in-law so they knew not to prejudice the case by mentioning Jack, Sam, Teal'c, Daniel, or Sha're.
Surprisingly, the Abydonians requested that, as Earth's first ally, they be allowed to send a representative to observe the trial. The request was granted, and Skaara came back through the gate with them.
The conference room that had once held the treaty negotiations of the Asgard and the System Lords was reconfigured to allow the trial to take place. The out of town officers were ensconced in the VIP suites. Major Davis was there as the representative of the Air Force chief of staff. He let General Hammond know he'd been ordered to report daily and send courtesy copies to Senator Kinsey.
The SGC's first courts martial were ready to begin. Colonel O'Neill was charged with genocide, the attempted murder of Daniel Jackson, misappropriation of government property for the naquada reactor, and issuing an illegal order. Major Carter was charged with accepting an illegal or immoral order, misappropriation of government property and, as an accessory, to Colonel O'Neill's genocide and attempted murder charges.
The officers sitting in judgment had asked for and received copies of all of SG-1's previous missions. As the law required, General Hammond, Daniel Jackson, Teal'c, and all the other witnesses were banned from the room until they had given their testimony.
On the first day of the trial, there was a small parade from the gateroom to the conference room. Antaeus of the Nox and Omoc of the Tollan had stepped through the Stargate together. Skaara had greeted them.
Jack and his attorney entered immediately after Major Carter and her attorney. Major Walker had wanted to request separate trials, but Major Dennehy, who was representing Carter, had been against it. Jack told Walker to let it drop. They were SG-1, and they'd stand or fall together.
The presiding judge, General York, requested that each of the allies identify themselves to the court. Skaara might be called upon to testify, so after his initial introduction he joined Daniel in the corridor.
Thor had come by while the attorneys were taking the court through voir-dire. He'd spoken to both attorneys separately, and Jack never thought he'd seen a more stunned woman than Major Walker after her initial encounter with the Supreme Commander. Thor had petitioned the court for leniency in his comings and goings as the Asgard were rebuilding after the replicators. He wasn't here today, but was monitoring the proceedings.
Antaeus, Omoc, and General Carter rose to be presented to the court.
Antaeus and Omoc were polite but superior in completely different ways.
General York then asked General Carter what he was doing standing with the allies.
"I'm the representative of the Tok'Ra. The council couldn't spare two of us, and I wanted to be here for my daughter."
"Am I to understand that you're an exchange officer with an interplanetary ally and representing their interest here?"
"The Tok'Ra have asked me to observe and report, but I'm not an exchange officer. I've retired, but I'm entitled to wear this uniform."
"Sir, I don't understand. If you are here to support your daughter, that's fine. I'll assume if you made it this far you have the necessary clearances. But how can you represent what is essentially a foreign power?"
Jacob Carter stood for a moment looking as if he was hearing some distant call. His head went down to his chest. When he looked back up, his eyes flashed and several of the officers of the court straightened.
Selmac's voice was amused. "Jacob didn't think I should speak because I'm not entitled to wear this uniform. I am here to observe and comment upon Tau'ri customs of judgment and justice. The report given to the Tok'Ra about this proceeding will come from me alone as we all understand Jacob's love for his daughter might color his account."
General York looked shaken, then nodded. "I think I understand. Forgive my confusion." He banged the gavel and as Selmac sat down, the transition occurred allowing General Carter once again to control their shared body. "This court is now in session. The presence of representatives from Earth's alliances will be read into the minutes of the proceedings each day. Please let it be noted that the Abydonian representative is being called as a defense witness and will not be permitted to hear the testimony of others until he has given his own testimony. The prosecution may make its opening statement."
Teal'c testified first. Jack was impressed by his quiet dignity. He said nothing Jack hadn't already known from the report. Teal'c disagreed with Jack's actions, but stated publicly that he couldn't find a better way to handle it.
When Daniel decided to try another way, Teal'c had asked a couple of questions and let him go. He went to great pains to confirm that Daniel was following both the orders of General Hammond and Colonel O'Neill.
Jack had to laugh inside a little. Daniel had followed the orders and nearly been destroyed in the process. He didn't know whether having it on the record that he looked for other ways was going to hurt or help his case. Jack was pretty sure it could only hurt Carter's.
General Hammond was next on the stand. Since Jack didn't believe the man would perjure himself, he had to believe Hammond really thought he was an exemplary officer. Even the time Hammond had threatened him with a court martial over the little Orbanian girl was glossed over as an incident proving Colonel Jack O'Neill had a good instinct about people and what made them tick.
Direct examination and two crosses didn't faze him any more than it had Teal'c.
It was a long day. At 17:00 hours, General York called a halt. The trial was going to last awhile.
Y'know, it shouldn't surprise me, but I always forget about Daniel's temper. He hasn't given York any reason to hold him in contempt, but there's a growing consensus that it's a near thing.
He also isn't suffering any fools gladly. I didn't think it was possible for a witness to be hostile to both the prosecution and the defense but Daniel's managing it. He's been told to give yes or no answers only, mostly because he's being very detailed otherwise. Extremely detailed. Kill 'em with information detailed.
I was on the mission, and I didn't have any idea about some of this stuff. Which probably isn't the best thing for the leader of the flagship team to admit, come to think of it.
The thing is, I can see what Daniel's doing. Well, two things. The first is that he's getting the attorneys, and probably the rest of the court, so pissed they'll wonder why I didn't off him while I had the chance.
The other is his way of showing them he's not some sweet -- hah -- little civilian who needs a great big Colonel's protection. He's a thinking member of the team who'd been given an order and followed it.
That's Daniel. Confuse them with facts.
It's Major Dennehy who asks the single most damning question: When did he come to believe the Gadmeer were sentient?
Of course, Daniel stays silent. General York directs him to answer.
"I'm sorry, sir, but it's not a 'yes or no' question. I can't answer it as it was phrased within the guidelines you gave me."
I can see York appealing to a higher power -- any higher power will do. Welcome to my life, General.
"You may answer the question in detail, Dr. Jackson."
"From the first minute we were taken aboard the vessel, it was a possibility. Once we met Lotan and he described himself as a created AI built to interface with the Enkaran, it was a certainty."
"But they were just specks in a Petri Dish?"
"They were a life-form who needed to communicate and had computing skills so sophisticated that they could produce something that looked like an Enkaran, spoke the common tongue fluently, and understood both his creators wishes and his own existence. Humans haven't managed any of those things yet. Visually, we're still stuck in the Uncanny Valley. I've yet to see a computer truly pass the Turing test; nor do any of them seem to know we created them to write our term papers, do our calculations, or play war games on them."
"Did you view the Gadmeer as gods?"
"No." That cold note I've only heard when Daniel is speaking to Apophis is there. If Daniel weren't a better man than I am, it would be threatening. Who am I kidding? It is threatening; Daniel just won't follow through because he won't kill humans if there's a way to avoid it.
"You had helped bring the Enkarans to that world. Didn't you feel any responsibility toward them?"
"Would you care to elaborate, Dr. Jackson?"
"No." It's all I can do to keep from snickering.
"Did you know Colonel O'Neill was going to attempt to destroy the Gadmeer vessel?"
"Did you expect Major Carter to follow the order?"
The look Daniel shoots at Carter is blistering. "Of course."
"Then you deliberately put your own life in danger by going to the Gadmeer ship?"
"In spite of the order given?"
"Because of the order I was given."
"'Find me another way.'"
"And that order was addressed to you?"
"It was addressed to all of us by General Hammond and directly to me by Colonel O'Neill."
"Yet neither Major Carter nor Teal'c put themselves in harm's way?"
"Teal'c was still trying to convince the Enkarans to evacuate, but I think had already accepted the futility of it. The Gadmeer ship was moving too fast and coming in the direction of the Stargate."
"And Major Carter."
"Is a good scientist and an excellent soldier."
Carter is so startled that the table shakes when she moves. I don't think either of us had any idea that Daniel's voice could hold so much acid.
"You seem to hold Major Carter more responsible than Colonel O'Neill."
The silence lasts until Dennehy tells Daniel to answer the question.
"There was no question asked."
"Do you, Dr. Jackson," Dennehy is obviously holding on to his last shred of patience by willpower alone, "hold Major Carter more responsible than Colonel O'Neill for the actions taken?"
There's another long silence. I can't believe Major Dennehy is supposed to be Carter's defense counsel. Surely he had to know it was a stupid question to ask.
"Would you care to elaborate?"
Daniel looks to General York. When he nods, Daniel begins. "Colonel O'Neill had made a choice. I didn't think it was the right one, and he gave me an order which allowed me to make my case. I was there when Major Carter was given her orders. She was reluctant, yet at no point did she question the orders. She never took it upon herself to make a choice.
"Furthermore, by disobeying the order -- which I understand is perfectly legal for an immoral or illegal order -- she could have prevented most of the problems that followed. No one else on the planet could have built the bomb, and General Hammond would have denied a request for extra personnel.
"Lastly, even though, according to both hers and Colonel O'Neill's mission reports, she expressed her reluctance to follow the order a second time, she pressed for Colonel O'Neill to push the button to begin the feedback loop. Her report, Teal'c's, and Colonel O'Neill's all agree on that point. I knew the risk I was taking in boarding the Gadmeer ship the first time, but I also hoped my actions would make my teammates reconsider the orders given and received. I was shocked by Major Carter's report and disturbed to find it confirmed in the other two reports."
Major Dennehy retires from the field.
It's Walker's turn.
"But you have no problem with Colonel O'Neill issuing the order to destroy the ship?"
"I know Colonel O'Neill. I understand why he issued both orders. It was belt and suspenders to protect the Enkarans as best he could. He knew them. The Gadmeer were only theoretical. He even pointed out that their civilization had already died."
"No further questions."
Daniel thinks more of me than I do of myself. That's no surprise.
Neither is General York calling it a day. Daniel can be wearing.
The prosecution rested on the fourth day of testimony. The fifth day began with a joint defense witness.
Skaara took the court through his capture and possession by the Goa'uld known as Klorel. General York and the rest of the tribunal had responded to the prosecution's objection on the basis of relevancy by agreeing to hear the testimony and deciding on the relevance afterward.
To Jack it seemed like a bad defensive move. Not only did it seem to justify xenophobia, it completely misrepresented the actual fears he'd had on the planet.
Skaara kept his focus fixed on Daniel, who, like Teal'c, was now allowed to be present for the trial. The brothers-in-law seemed to anchor each other, especially when Skaara started to speak of his sister and her child.
There were no questions from the prosecution. Skaara was allowed to step down and view the rest of the trial. The fate of his testimony to be decided later.
He smiled broadly at Jack and gave a salute, obviously glad to have done what he could for his O'Neill. In violation of regulations, Jack returned the salute and the smile.
It finally occurred to Jack to wonder how Teal'c and Daniel came to see him and Carter. Time of day didn't seem to matter, especially since they were still going out on missions. He finally asked Daniel about it.
"Teal'c and I are ministering to your spiritual needs."
"After we testified, we asked General Hammond's permission and were told the only people who could see you were immediate family -- of which you have none," Daniel was trying to look stern over his glasses. Jack wasn't going to tell him that stern was not an expression in his repertoire. "And members of the clergy. He then went into a long rambling remembrance about mail-order ordinations from the Viet Nam days. I put two and two together and found out that these days you don't even have to send away. You can be ordained on the internet. Teal'c liked the Universal Life Church; mine's from Spiritual Humanism dot org."
"I'm here, Jack."
"So you are. I'm glad."
They sat in silence for awhile. "I'm trying to convince them that chess sets are an intrinsic part of my worship service. They're afraid you'll use the pieces as a weapon."
"I could. I wouldn't, but I could."
"Try the toy store on north Academy. They had soft blocks for Charlie to play with in the bathtub, maybe they'll have a soft chess set."
"Or I could try to make a Go game with different styles of Beanie babies."
Jack laughed. "I'm finally bored enough to learn Go. If they can't help you with Chess..."
"Spare me the bad pun."
Jack looked at Daniel blankly.
"GO for it? Don't tell me that wasn't what you were about to say."
"You know me too well."
They sat in companionable silence a little longer. "What else can I bring you Jack?"
"Another set of sweats would be nice. And if you can clear it with the guards, how about a pizza tomorrow night."
"Will do. And just this once, I'll triple the garlic, just like you like it."
"They won't allow bio-weapons in here."
Daniel chuckled. "Then it'll be the usual. I'll see if I can convince them that a Friday night beer is a sacrament."
Jack laughed a little and then pulled Daniel close. "You do that." They clung together for a few moments. It was the first time since the trial began that he'd given in to his fear. Daniel stroked his neck soothingly, and sat him down.
Not trusting his voice, Daniel gave a curt nod and left for the night.
Carter is testifying first. I swear I didn't have any idea how far gone she was about me. Not even after the super-lie detector thing the Tok'Ra put us through.
If I'd known, she'd have been transferred to another team -- maybe put in charge of one of the tech teams. Her specialty would have worked in her favor, and on paper it would have looked like a promotion.
Instead I was clueless. A little frisson of attraction: well, it happens, and most of the time the participants work through it without endangering their careers.
I'm sitting here listening to Carter say she is in love with me. That she believes it to be mutual and she won't betray it.
If I turn my head a little, I can see Teal'c sitting between Antaeus and General Hammond. The three of them go off together during the breaks we take, and I know General Hammond is explaining to all our off-world allies the ins and outs of human justice, U.S. justice, and military justice.
We'll be lucky if any of them speak to us after this.
I'm just able to glance at Omoc who's sitting next to Daniel. If our allies do continue to take our calls, Daniel will be the reason.
I've written three notes now, begging Major Walker to find a way to end Carter's self-immolation. She's destroying her career. I wasn't even willing to risk having a fling with her, and she's declaring her passion to a military tribunal.
I was far too great a coward where she was concerned. When she asked for everything to be left in the room, I thought I was home free. Coward.
Finally, her examination by her attorney ends. Major Walker looks at me and reads my notes before informing the court that she has no questions for Major Carter at this time. She begs the court's indulgence to allow Carter remain under oath and subject to recall later. They grant it.
I have to give her credit, Major Samantha Carter neither bends nor sways under cross-examination.
When the break is called, I turn to my attorney. I can't meet Major Carter's eyes, but General Carter is looking at me. I wish I could tell what he thinks. I respect him as an officer; Selmac's about the only snake that I have the time of day for, too.
Daniel can't meet my eyes again, but I'm pretty sure he'll still be ministering to my needs with pizza tonight -- maybe even beer.
Dear God. I testify on Monday.
The sausage and onion pizza had been reduced to crusts. The pepperoni and black olive one was about half gone, and Jack and Daniel were a little giggly as they played Beanie Baby Go.
"I took a six pack of that cider she likes to Sam earlier -- they let her have actual bottles -- she and Teal'c and her dad got two giant Hawaiian pizzas to go with it."
"Teal'c came to see me earlier. He'd actually printed out information from the Universal Life church's webpage."
"He takes his pastoral duties seriously."
"I'm losing this badly aren't I?"
Daniel looked at the giant felt board he'd made. "You were hindered by having to use the ponies. I could tell you thought they were beneath your dignity."
Jack smiled. "That's it. If you'd gotten me lions, I could have won this thing."
Daniel just nodded.
"Daniel, I never... I didn't realize that Sam, that I....Hell."
"That sums it up."
"Shut up, Jack. I don't know exactly what happened while I was recovering, but you and Sam and even Teal'c pretty well excluded me for a couple of months there. I'm still a little mad about it, because I didn't ask to get appendicitis; and I sure as hell didn't ask to get left out."
"Let me finish. You and Sam were doing your little attraction dance. Fine. If you don't think most of the base noticed, you're deluded. But we're SG-1 and you're my friend. I know you care more for us than you should. I'm sorry you had to admit it to Anise, but most of all, I know you well enough that if you were serious about Sam -- even just serious enough to have a quick and dirty affair with her -- she wouldn't be on your team. Or you wouldn't stay on her team. I've had at least one too many of these." Daniel gestured at the plastic glass of beer beside his hip. "Jack. You're a good officer. Whatever stupidity you were thinking, you're a good officer. You wouldn't have deliberately harmed Sam's career, and you wouldn't have hurt the team. And if it had been a real possibility -- Teal'c and I discussed it a few days ago -- we agreed that you would have come to us first. Maybe even before you went to Sam, but certainly before you and Sam did anything to damage the team."
"You were still a stupid fuck to let it show. And I'm really unhappy you're being court martialled because you were a stupid fuck." Daniel cocked his head quizzically. "They're dropping the attempted murder charge, you know."
Jack looked stunned.
"My testimony convinced them. General Hammond said I could tell you now. It'll be announced officially at the beginning of the trial on Monday."
"That's huge, Daniel."
"If you think that's huge, you should see my...."
Jack cracked up before Daniel even had a chance to finish. Daniel oozed wounded dignity at him for a minute, and then he cracked up too.
When the laughter died down, the two of them gathered together all the remnants of their meal. Daniel put the felt and the Beanie Babies on the top bunk. "Wait." Daniel felt around in his bag. "I hope Playboy is OK. And here's your National Geographic and Discover Magazines too. Is there anything else you need?"
"Yeah. Don't come in to the mountain tomorrow. Take a whole day without this. Take the whole weekend. Unless?"
"Nah. I'll take a couple of translations home to look at, but I'm caught up at the moment. Hammond told me to rest this weekend too. I will come by on Sunday, at least for a couple of hours."
"Good. I don't want to have to worry about you, too."
"You think they're going to do it? Find you guys guilty?"
"I don't know. My worry is Carter. If she's acquitted, everything else will be easy."
Daniel went quiet. "No, Jack, it won't."
"I didn't mean to..."
"Jack. If the worst happens, what do you want? From me, I mean." There were tears in Daniel's eyes, but not in his voice.
"Share my last meal. Laugh with me. Let me win at chess, for once."
Daniel nodded. "I can do that."
Jack put the magazines down on his bunk. He pulled the other man to him, and they hugged fiercely for a moment.
"I'm working as hard as I can on alternatives."
"I know, Daniel." They let go.
Daniel picked up his bag and the trash. "See you tomorrow?"
"Keep your promise. Teal'c will come by tomorrow. You'll come on Sunday?"
"You got it."
The guards let Daniel out, and told Jack he had ten minutes before lights out.
I've danced on my hind legs really well. I've jumped through every hoop just like Major Walker and I discussed it. The court knows about my time in Iraq, my son's death, my divorce, my retirements, and my recalls.
Daniel, Teal'c, and Skaara set the stage for my testimony several days ago. Teal'c said he disagreed with my actions, but had no better plan himself. His history of leadership as Apophis' First Prime had taught him that action was usually better than inaction. And what warriors faced in the field, the killing and the torture, made the actions we considered more extreme.
Daniel -- Daniel confused them. Before they put the 'yes or no' muzzle on him, he managed to mention every single time he's died or been believed dead in the line of duty -- from stepping in front of a staff blast on Ra's ship to being taken for dinner by an Unas. I seriously think the attempted murder charge was dropped because Daniel made it seem like nothing, like "What's one more death between friends?"
Major Walker took me through my state of mind, my past actions, and my team cohesion like the pro that she is. Major Dennehy has requested that the court allow the prosecution to question me before he does. He probably hopes Colonel Jones will ask the tough questions so he won't have to.
It may be the presence of our allies, or hell, maybe it's just the man's judicial style, but General York is allowing it.
The prosecution is predictably vicious. Colonel Jones keeps coming back to Daniel on the Gadmeer ship. Major Walker has had to object more than once.
Jones does get one thing from me. I agree to undergo a full demonstration of the zaytarc machine just as soon as Anise can be found to administer it. I'm not even looking at Major Walker, and I can see her eyes roll. I haven't been able to make her understand that I have to take the risks for the team.
The first question that surprises me comes out of Jones's mouth. "Have you slept with anyone in the SGC?"
"Please tell us who."
General York rescues me. "Why not, Colonel?"
"I was both divorced and retired at the time, your honor. I had no commitments to the military or a wife. There are several women, none of whom are under my direct command or supervision, with whom I had flings or slightly longer relationships." Carter looks up in surprise. "General Hammond has been aware of my past history since just after the first mission to Chulak. I thought it was my duty to inform him."
York nods and addresses Jones. "Are you trying to link this to Major Carter?"
"Only in that it shows a pattern, your honor."
"I'm not letting you take this fishing trip, Colonel Jones. Do you have more direct questions about the incidents under discussion here?"
It's Dennehy's turn.
"Soon after SG-1 was formed, one of your missions was to a place now called 'The Land of Light' and a virus was brought back."
"That's true, Major."
"And wasn't one of your first actions under the virus' influence to attack Daniel Jackson because he was a threat to your relationship with Major Carter?"
It's going to be a long afternoon.
It takes Major Dennehy surprisingly few questions to get us to the points he wants to make.
"Are you in love with Major Samantha Carter?"
"Have you slept with her?"
"There have been several missions where we've had to sleep in close proximity -- including one where I was dying in Antarctica. We've never had a sexual relationship."
"Have you kissed?"
"You don't consider kissing a subordinate to be 'a sexual relationship'?"
"Nothing has ever happened between us except when we were under the influence of alien drugs, viruses, or mind whammy. And I kissed her double from an alternate universe once."
"Don't you think it's significant that under the influence of drugs, viruses, or mind whammy you have acted under an attraction to Major Carter?"
"She's an attractive woman."
"I asked whether you saw any significance to the fact that you've acted on your attraction in those circumstances."
"Because if I understand the anthropology and other ologies that Daniel -- Dr. Jackson -- has been trying to feed me, then the most significant thing is that I consider myself the alpha male. It's why I try to keep him in line -- I beat Dr. Jackson severely when I had the Touched virus, as you pointed out. In those situations, I'm likely to view all females as my right especially one who is under my immediate command."
Carter's hands are fascinating. They're resting on the table, balled up in little knots. She's staring at them too. If she weren't under military discipline, I think she'd be trying to cover her ears. Dear God, the mess I've made.
Dennehy is measuring me up. I don't look at the judge or the jury.
"Under the scrutiny of this zaytarc machine, you admitted your underlying attraction to Major Carter was a significant factor in deciding to stay behind. On the videotape we saw you specifically say that you 'cared about her more than you should.'"
"Didn't you mean what you said?"
"But it holds no significance?"
"No. It doesn't."
"I was being asked about a specific incident. Everything -- every thought, every feeling, every fleeting muscle twitch -- is significant to that machine. It can tell when you're leaving something out. But it can't tell when the questioner hasn't asked the right question."
"By which you mean..."
"Major Carter and I were the only two people involved in that particular moment. I was never asked about the rest of my team or Lou Ferretti or General Hammond's granddaughters because they weren't part of the incident. Had I been asked, I would have said -- as I did for Major Carter -- I would rather die myself than lose them and I care more than I should for them.
"Major Carter has one of the finest minds I know. She may be the greatest practical physicist of her generation. If a choice is to be made about which of us dies, there's no contest -- I do. And I hate the idea of anyone having to die alone. I hoped there was some way for us to get out.
"One of the things you learn in battle is that people will find ways out for a friend that they won't find for themselves. By being there, I think I increased both our chances because neither of us wanted the other to die. So when the electro-magnetic pulse shorted out the force field a few seconds before the explosion ripped through, we took advantage of it and ran. We lived."
Carter is still staring at her hands. Dennehy leans down to ask a question, and I see her shake her head.
"Were you aware of Major Carter's attraction toward you?"
The question gets to me. "Yes."
"Did you use her attraction to persuade her in the Enkaran incident?"
"Maybe." I'm not proud of it; it's why I made it as direct an order as I could. "I was trying to be a hero, preserve the Enkarans from what I saw as an insidious threat. I was willing to use every weapon in my armory."
"So you gave Major Carter no choice in your oral order, and you pressed it by using her emotional reaction to you?"
"It would be a fair assessment, yes."
"Would you have given her written orders, had she requested them?"
"It's not definitely, Colonel?"
"It didn't happen, so I can't know. I know I was fighting for the Enkarans survival with everything I could think of. A request for written orders might have pulled me up short, but I doubt it. I gave Major Carter no choice."
Every officer in this room knows that unless I pulled my gun on Carter, she still had choices. Hell, even then she could choose death: some have. I hope they'll accept the excuse we're both proffering. I used my masculine wiles on her. With luck the jury will find that I still have some wiles.
"I have no further questions for Colonel O'Neill at this time."
Major Walker is on her feet quickly. "Redirect, your honor?"
General York nods.
Walker starts with the obvious. "Major Carter didn't request written orders. Did she try to contact the SGC?"
"Not that I'm aware of?"
"Did she repeatedly remind you of the countdown?"
"In both your previous testimony and in Major Carter's it was said that she had to press you to begin the feedback loop."
"Had you changed your mind?"
"No. The ship represented a threat to people I'd put on that planet. I was willing to do everything necessary to end the threat."
Walker doesn't like the answer much, but she knew it was what I'd say. The honest answer is: I don't know if I'd changed my mind. I wanted the Enkarans to survive. I didn't want to kill Daniel. And Teal'c's disapproval and the arguments Daniel had made were getting to me. Maybe I was trying to let the moment pass. It doesn't change the fact that I gave the order to Carter and pressed the button.
Daniel's turned his head away from me, and I can't bear to see it.
"Colonel O'Neill, I want to be completely clear here. You are not now and have never been in love with a member of your team."
All I can do is stare at Major Walker. I'm under oath. I'm an officer in the United States Air Force. I'm in uniform. And it's amazing what insignificant things stand out when all you can do is stare at the woman who has just destroyed your life and career.
"Major Carter is an attractive woman, but I've never been in love with her."
Carter's looked up. So has everyone else in the courtroom.
General York breaks the silence. "Colonel O'Neill, I require you to answer the question asked."
"I have been ... I am in love with a member of my team. Not Carter: Daniel."
Daniel pales. I didn't know anyone really did that.
I glance at my defense attorney. Major Walker's expression says it perfectly. "Oh, shit."
Once again it's York who speaks. I guess he's heard everything before -- probably twice. "Am I to understand that you have a homosexual relationship with your civilian analyst?"
"No, sir. Until this moment, I don't think Dr. Jackson suspected that I look upon him as anything other than a friend."
At this I lock eyes with Daniel. "I've talked to him, listened to him, held his hand in the infirmary, held him while he cried, been held while I cried, hugged him when he's come back from the dead -- more than once. And somewhere along the way, I realized: I love him. Once I knew, it was such a short step to wanting more from him. So I stopped. Touching him, I mean. Unfortunately, it meant I stopped listening as well. I can assure you sir, had I kept listening these proceedings would never have needed to be convened."
Daniel's face has closed off, but his eyes never waver from mine.
I'm finally allowed to step down from the witness chair.
It doesn't take York long to call the evening break. Major Walker says she needs to speak to me. I'd like to have a word with her too.
Daniel's being talked at by Antaeus and Omoc. He meets my eyes for the first time since my testimony and mouths one word. I think it's "tomorrow," but whatever it is I nod stupidly. Omoc and Antaeus are still guiding him between them as they leave the room.
I catch sight of our other ally as I look back to see Teal'c and General Hammond talking quietly in the corner. Jacob has that peeing-in-the-pool look which means he's arguing with Selmac -- or she's arguing with him. I know my testimony has hurt his daughter. I fully expect General Carter to come and punch me out. The best I can hope is Selmac will pull the punch a little.
On his way out, Antaeus gave me the most assessing look I've ever seen, and, considering how pitiful he's assessed us to be in the past, that's going some. He put a hand on Daniel's shoulder as the three of them left.
Right now, I rank me even lower than they do.
Teal'c entered Jack's cell with a tray holding meatloaf, boiled potatoes, and what looked to be turnip greens on the plate -- no dessert, no drink, no condiments.
"It is good to see you, O'Neill."
"You're my minister tonight?"
"Daniel Jackson needed time to think. He didn't want you left alone."
"He's not going to see Carter is he?"
"Daniel Jackson is a brave man. But not, I think, foolhardy."
Jack glanced at this tray. "He feeds me better than this."
"Word of your testimony has spread through the base. Major Ferretti and I stood guard over the tray to make certain that this time the workers did not spit in it."
"Glad to see Lou's still in my corner."
"Major Ferretti is a good man."
"So what does your religion say about all this, Father Teal'c?"
"I could have wished the words had come from you sooner. And privately."
Teal'c looked stern. "My religion also has some strictures about hurting Daniel Jackson. You will not violate them."
Anise has been found and the zaytarc is set up. All three attorneys have agreed to a short list of questions for me. It is purely for demonstration purposes. I'm instructed to lie and then tell the truth. The layers are then peeled away from me until the most basic truths of my motivations are made clear.
They also make Carter's motivations clear in accepting my order on the Enkarans planet. How could she believe I felt less than she did, when this machine had stripped everything away? She won't come out of this well.
No one will.
"The amicus briefs have been filed. I hope Chinese is all right. The Thai place was too far away to keep it hot. Sorry, bad pun."
"Stop babbling, Daniel."
"I wanted to be here last night, but I needed to think. And I'd promised Antaeus and Omoc to help them with the briefs."
"Why did they wait 'til so late in the trial?"
"They hadn't decided before. You know how they say that humans are young?" Jack nodded. "You're considered the youngest."
"I'll choose to be flattered."
"Yeah. That's probably best."
They ate for a few minutes before Daniel spoke again. "The fact you were willing to be honest and admit ... to go against your training like that for something socially unacceptable -- well, military society -- it impressed them."
The silence wasn't as comfortable as it usually was between them, but it wasn't as bad as Jack had feared.
He let it extend a few minutes longer. "So. Any chance I can salvage the friendship?"
Daniel looked at him, sharply. "There was never any question of that, Jack. It's just...
"I asked you what you wanted on your last night on Earth. And I couldn't hear what you were saying. I thought you didn't want to be alone; it never occurred to me that you wanted me." He took in Jack's smug expression. "It's not quite what I meant, but yes, that too."
Jack smiled. "Would it have been better if I said that what I really want is for you to apply for one of those conjugal visit rooms and make sure I don't have one speck of virginity left so I'll die with your taste on my lips? Because it's true. And so was the other."
"When did I fall? I don't know. I can tell you when I knew, not just suspected, but knew for a fact: that damned skull."
"But you suspected before?"
"Kyra. There are so many dirty jokes or gratuitous comments I could have made, but I heard myself during that one little exchange in the hall and thought, 'I sound like a high school girl with a crush.' And I realized I was -- someone with a crush, 'cause even in high school I wasn't a girl."
"You shouldn't have gotten drunk and shown me your yearbook. I know you wore a dress in high school."
"One day. The hockey team lost the bet, and I wear a dress to school one day..."
"It's that you went to Catholic School. Your knees should never have been exposed to the pleated skirt and knee socks look." Daniel was giggling.
Jack watched Daniel laugh with a satisfied smile on his face. "You okay? Or do you want to keep tap dancing on my ego?"
"Could I?" Another paroxysm of laughter came from Daniel.
Jack reached over and hugged him. He felt the hitch -- Daniel stiffened for just a moment -- and then the laughter quieted as Daniel relaxed against him and hugged back.
They let go and sat next to each other with their backs against the bottom bunk. Jack was surprised when Daniel put his hand over Jack's.
"It's what I thought about. Could I love you? The answer was I could because, obviously, I already did. The questions and answers progressed from there. Of course, it helps that you're sexy."
"I don't think I have the upper body to be a gay icon."
"I've always liked slim men."
"Jack, I might be taking the last speck of your virginity, but it won't be mutual."
"Cute guy at a bar while I was in grad school. He convinced me that if I was going to study cultures and norms and populations I should broaden my experience. It was fun. Nothing major, with either sex. Too wrapped up in my studies. At least until Sarah, and even with her... what can I say?"
"I was so smug thinking we'd be learning this together."
Daniel searched Jack's face. "Does it bother you that we won't?"
"Hell no. Sex is always better when at least one person knows what's going on. I can't wait to study under the great Dr. Jackson."
At that, Daniel laughed out loud. "Can we learn more than this?" He indicated their joined hands.
"Barring the worst happening, I don't want our first time to be in a prison cell."
"And if you're acquitted, you'll still be in uniform."
"Doubtful. I just declared my passion for my male civilian consultant. Best case scenario is I'm requested to file my retirement paperwork. We've already discussed worst case. Either way, I think you should know this is it for me. The worst has already happened, and you're still here. Want to make it the rest of our lives?"
"Probably." He checked his watch. "I'm staying with Teal'c tonight. He should be done with kel'no'reem by now."
"VIP suites full?"
"Yeah. Jack, is there someplace in here where we can't be seen by the cameras?"
"There is, but, if I stay for more than two minutes, they'll come in to check on me."
"So it will be a quick kiss good night."
Jack walked him back to the area by his toilet facilities. Daniel reached for him. As their lips touched, Jack thought how well they fit.
Neither of them led. One touch flowed naturally to another. Jack was soothed by a hand rubbing his neck and inflamed by a flickering tongue.
"You don't close your eyes."
"Neither do you."
As they walked toward the door, Daniel gave a half smile. "All the questions I asked myself... it boiled down to the teaching dream Shifu sent. I wanted you with me. You nearly kept me from destroying the world; no one else could have come close."
"That's what convinced you?" Daniel nodded. "Then I have to figure out a way to thank Oma Desala, I guess."
"Once a week or so, try to light a fire with your mind."
"Can it be my paperwork?"
One little confession of gay lust and everyone looks at you differently. Who'd have thought?
Just as the session is called to order, I'm faced with a room on an Asgard ship. Daniel appears near me. And Thor walks into the room.
"I have just informed the court that I have brought people to testify, and I have used you and Dr. Jackson to calibrate the transportation device. I can allow the test calibrations to take several hours if you would like."
Daniel's having a hard time keeping a straight face. We're in a bare room with a view of the stars -- no bed, no seats, no warmth -- and Thor's asking if we'd like to have some private time. I hate to break it to him but Asgard Modern is never going to make it as a theme room at the local no-tell motel.
As usual it's Daniel's diplomacy that gets us through. Nothing fazes him. I also suspect ...
"Wait a minute, Thor. I know you've been monitoring the trial, but have you been monitoring my quarters?"
"It has been most informative, O'Neill."
"You don't even reproduce anymore, how informative could it be?"
It's amazing how much stateliness a four-foot high grey alien can muster, "We are interested in all aspects of your sexual patterns as it may help us understand why our cloning technology is inadequate."
Daniel's practically choking at this. "We appreciate your trying to give us privacy, but until the trial is resolved neither of us feels much like sex."
I hope he's lying. Because even with the whole no bed or warmth thing, I'm hard enough to drill granite.
Teal'c and General Hammond managed to look unsurprised when they arrived aboard Thor's vessel about fifteen minutes after the Supreme Commander had hologrammed to them about calibrations. The rest of the court wasn't entirely successful in keeping their cool, and the poor court stenographer actually screamed when Thor moved toward her.
Thor had transported the furniture up, too, and oriented the room to face a large blank wall. When Lotan and Hedrazar walked in, Jack knew it was a set up.
The first problem came when Hedrazar was taken through the oath. "Are your people so faithless that you need all these reassurances?"
General York was taken aback by the question. There was some back and forth discussion with Hedrazar getting more and more indignant at the idea that her word wasn't good enough. Daniel finally got Major Walker's attention, and Major Walker asked for Daniel's expertise to be recognized by the court.
"It's good to see you again, Hedrazar."
"And to hear your voice. These others are fools."
Jack turned a laugh into a cough; Daniel suppressed a smile. "Have the Enkarans no rituals to be satisfied?"
"Of course we do."
"As a leader, do you find them useful?"
"Is there a ritual for justice to be asked?"
"There are two: one for a person to make claims against another, and one for things considered harmful to the whole of the people."
"We have two justice rituals as well. You are being asked to fulfill our justice ritual with a form of words we consider a surety."
"Why did none of the others say so?"
"Like Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter, they are soldiers."
"They're not at all like Colonel O'Neill. He's not one to allow others to make fools of themselves."
"I can assure you that you didn't appear foolish to the court. Because it is ritual, I don't think we grasp how insulting our oath could seem."
Hedrazar turned her head toward General York. "My apologies for disrupting the ritual. I will take this ... oath you ask."
Daniel resumed his seat as the oath was administered.
Major Dennehy was the first to ask a question.
"May I ask your place in this ritual?"
Dennehy looked blankly at General York. It was York who answered. "There will be three main people asking you questions. This man is responsible for defending Major Carter. Then you will be asked similar questions by Colonel O'Neill's defender. Lastly, you'll be asked questions by the person who is responsible to the whole of our society. Those questions may seem hostile, but we use this method to come to a consensus among all who were part of an incident as to what truly happened."
"And your role?"
"I'm one of the twelve sitting in judgment."
Hedrazar led the court through her story. It was clear to all that her people had been dying until SG-1 found them and brought them through to their new homeworld. The close working relationships that had been formed with SGC personnel by those among her people who shared their specialties were emphasized.
The evacuation and relocation had been very quick from Hedrazar's point of view. In fact, it had been one of the longest sustained SGC efforts ever. Hedrazar and O'Neill had become close as a result of overlapping leaderships. She would not hear one bad word spoken of him.
When her testimony was finished, it was Lotan's turn. Major Dennehy and Colonel Jones both objected to his testimony as he wasn't human. The court asked the Supreme Commander for a separate area where the panel of judges could deliberate. The entire room was returned to the SGC.
Hedrezar and Lotan went back to their quarters, and Daniel and Jack were left behind in a bare room. Thor came through the door near them, "I believe the earth expression is, 'Oops.'"
"When they've finished their deliberations, I'm certain General Hammond will contact me for your return or theirs."
He walked out.
"Think he's left on the surveillance?"
Daniel said, "I'm willing to let him have some data to analyze."
They laughed together before sharing a kiss.
It took just under an hour for General Hammond to signal Thor. The court requested readmittance to the vessel at 14:00 hours zulu.
Thor acquiesced. The entire court was returned to the room at the appointed hour. Jack and Daniel took their respective places.
Lotan was taken through the day he met SG-1. Major Walker was first to bat.
"If I understand correctly, you were originally part of the Gadmeer ship. What happened? How were you created?"
After Lotan began on a long technical explanation, Major Walker asked him to stop. "My apologies, Lotan; I wasn't clear. For what purpose were you created?"
"Couldn't the ship have communicated with the Enkarans without creating you?"
"Yes, I suppose it could."
"Then why were you created?"
Lotan took his time in answering. "Part of it was programming. The strongest parameter in my -- the ship's -- memory banks was the one not to harm a sentient being. When the ship -- I -- inadvertently violated this, a new program had to be written. Consulting with past programs and research allowed the ship to decide that sentient beings are more comfortable with others who are like them. Hence my creation."
"At first you refused to change anything you were doing, why was this?"
"Because I was part of the ship and the ship was part of the Gadmeer dream of a future created without harming sentient life. For them to fulfill their dream, and for me to fulfill my function -- not function, programming -- then the planetary transformation had to continue."
"And yet you stopped."
"Yes. Because function and form modify programming."
"Could you clarify your statement?"
"Dr. Jackson looked at a sample from the tissue bank with awe. He believed me when I said Gadmeer civilization was highly evolved. And like the other members of his team, he was not Enkaran. Yet they were all trying to help people who weren't their own."
"I thought. I knew Colonel O'Neill saw the ship as a threat and came to understand later that he thought of the Gadmeer as long dead. But I didn't know how to think of the Enkarans. I tried to see the beauty of the Gadmeer with their eyes. It wasn't a successful experiment."
Lotan clutched at his clothes as if to display his bewilderment. "This container died briefly because I tried to breathe the new atmosphere that was being laid down. My ears felt assaulted by the tonal patterns that were considered the Gadmeer's most soothing music."
"What happened then?"
"Dr. Jackson came back to the ship. He offered to show me the beauty of the planet without the new atmosphere. It was a great beauty indeed; one this form could appreciate. And the voices of the humans and Enkarans were soothing, especially Teal'c's. This was all to be destroyed because the ship had already spent too many resources on the planet's transformation."
"So you decided to quit changing the planet."
"No, that wasn't a decision I could make. Dr. Jackson returned with me to the ship. He had hoped I would develop sufficient empathy with the Enkarans that I would stop the transformation."
"But that's not what transpired?"
"No. Instead, Dr. Jackson's understanding of the people who created me proved to be greater than my own. He showed me the flaw in my logic. He gave us all an alternative. And I am now one of the Enkaran people."
When Lotan's testimony was over, Thor spoke again. "There is another ally of Earth who would like to file an amicus brief, as you call it. Would it be possible for this to be filed orally? There's a fully qualified translator aboard this vessel."
General York asked for a minute to talk to the other members of the panel. They whispered quickly among themselves before York spoke again. "We will accept an oral amicus brief. Which ally is filing it?"
Thor touched a panel and the blank wall the court was facing turned clear. There was a different look to the air on the other side. A figure moved forward. It was a Gadmeer.
Lotan was recognized as a qualified translator. The tones, rasps, and shifts of the Gadmeer language rang harsh through the room. Even the people of the SGC blinked a few times at the sight and sound of a being so fully alien.
The Gadmeer were in mourning for the Enkaran village they had inadvertently destroyed. Through their representative, they praised the wisdom of the humans for the logical tutelage of the AI now known as Lotan. They understood the charges that had been brought against Colonel O'Neill and Major Carter, but felt, since they would have preferred extinction to destroying a sentient civilization, the actions taken by SG-1 were entirely correct.
Lastly, the Gadmeer representative offered tissue preservation biotechnology to the people of Earth as a token of their willingness to ally their two peoples. In return it was asked that the people of Earth not take the lives of Major Carter and Colonel O'Neill.
General York informed the Gadmeer representative they would consider his kind offer and let him know. The alien lowered its head in acknowledgement and walked swiftly away from the edge of the forcefield separating its atmosphere from the makeshift courtroom. Everyone present got a good look at how inhuman this sentient being was as Supreme Commander Thor again darkened the forcefield.
Major Walker stood up. "At this time, if it please the court, Colonel O'Neill's defense rests."
"Major Carter's defense rests also, sir."
"Court is adjourned for today. Closing statements will be heard tomorrow." General York looked shell-shocked by the last testimony. "Supreme Commander?"
Thor blinked slowly and transported the courtroom back to the SGC.
The verdict was a relief and a surprise. Both officers were found guilty of willful and deliberate destruction of government property. Colonel O'Neill was found guilty of issuing an illegal order and Major Carter of accepting an illegal order. They were acquitted on the count of genocide.
The sentence was about what Jack had expected.
Major Carter brevet promotion was rescinded knocking her rank back to Captain, and they were both put on half pay. For the next year, both of them would be confined to the base -- off-world exceptions might be made in his case thanks to his Special Ops training, but Carter would have no respite.
It was made clear by General York that the base included all facilities within the SGC and the top of the mountain. He was accepting their words as officers that they wouldn't try to leave the base for the full year, and, therefore, he was not mandating ankle bracelets.
Both were required to have daily psychological counseling. General York had spoken to the commandant of the Air Force Academy and found a counselor with the security clearances to take on the duty. General Hammond had sent a private letter explaining why Dr. MacKenzie would not be the right man for the job.
Captain Carter still had several years to go before she had the twenty years required to get a military pension. If she chose to stay in, there was a chance her rank would be restored to Major. There was no realistic hope she could be promoted farther; nor, with this in her record, was it likely any other command would accept her transfer. The SGC might be interested in having her as a civilian consultant possibly heading a scientific outpost on another planet.
At the end of the year, Colonel O'Neill would retire. No retirement pay would be allotted to him, but, thanks to his past service, he would be allowed to retain the medical benefits. Since the Asgard had made it clear that O'Neill was their choice as Earth's representative, he would also be offered a position with the SGC. As it would be through the Civil Service, he could, in twenty years, qualify for another pension. Or he could accept it as an independent consultant and make his own retirement plans. Either way, his private life would be his own business.
Daniel's caught my eye, and he's grinning like he did when we saw him after getting off Apophis' mother ship. I'm pretty sure we're on the same page here. Nothing physical while I'm in uniform, but everything we want once I'm a civilian. In the meantime, I hope he'll take care of my house and make all the arrangements necessary for us to share it.
Teal'c is choosing to remain with the SGC as an authority on Jaffa tactics and System Lord strategy. He'll see a lot of field service, probably on any team Daniel goes out with. I pity the commander who takes on the two of them.
It'll take some time for Carter and Daniel to repair their friendship. I think it's possible, at least on Daniel's side. If Carter's half the woman I think she is, they'll be each other's intellectual sparks again before our year's confinement is through.
It's the best I can hope for. And, when I look at Daniel, so much more than I deserve.
I'm a lucky man.
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