Alternative Destiny series
Title: Out With a Bang Series: Alternative Destiny, following Storm Front Fandom: Stargate SG-1 Genre: Time Travel / AU Rating: PG Summary: It won't be a Stargate season finale without something blowing up in a spectacular manner. AKA, the more things change, the more clear it is who fate is out to get.
Out With a Bang
Stargate Command, early November, 1996 CE
"General, what the hell is this!?"
General Hammond looked up from his argument with the NID liaison Agent Samuels, to see the furious form of Colonel Jack O'Neill barge into the room and toss a sheaf of papers onto his desk. He looked up from the sheaf of transfer papers and tiredly regarded the incensed colonel in front of him.
"Colonel, apparently there have been some changes being pushed to the SGC due to the political situation in Washington D.C..."
"Yeah, and I've already said my piece on the idiocy of shutting down the Stargate Project for travel to anywhere except existing bases, despite all the intel from SG-1 and Daniel reporting that Ra's gunnin' for us," replied Jack. "But you can't tell me they're stupid enough to muck with the Destiny Project too!"
Agent Samuels spoke up before Hammond could reply. "It's the belief of Senator Kinsey the Destiny Project would be better served with civilian management--"
"And the President is actually letting him get away with it?" Jack interrupted in disbelief. He looked between Samuels and Hammond. "Not meaning to brag, General, but I'm still the only one who has full access to Destiny's systems!"
Samuels gave him a patronizing smile. "Colonel O'Neill, there should be no need to have full access to Destiny's systems for the purpose of general research--"
"--Right up until Ra's ships enter the system and Destiny is the only thing that stands between them and Earth!" Jack interrupted again. "Oh wait," he added when Samuels was about to speak again. "Let me guess, the good senator doesn't believe that the--" Jack's fingers drew the double quotes gesture in midair "--'hostile aliens' exist out there. What, Hathor was just a figment of our imagination?"
"COLONELS!" General Hammond's raised voice broke into the argument between the two men. "That is enough. May I remind you both whose office this is and who is still in charge here?"
The two men in question reflexively came to attention. "Sorry, sir."
"At ease." The general took a deep breath and addressed Jack first. "Colonel O'Neill, as much as I disagree with the decision to turn over Destiny to civilian management, the orders have already come down from the highest levels. As to your concerns regarding full access to Destiny, I've been informed that the NID had been successful in creating a procedure to implant the necessary ATA gene to the new civilian commander. Now, I expect you, as a military officer, to follow your orders and the established chain of command. Is that understood?"
Without another word, Jack turned and marched from the room. As soon as he left the generals office, he made a beeline for the main science labs in the mountain. There, he found Captain Carter hunched over her desk, ignoring her latest experiment to stare a familiar sheaf of papers with a rather dazed expression.
"Your transfer orders, Captain?" Jack asked.
Sam jumped at the sudden question, not having noticed her CO entering the room. "Yes sir," she said in bewilderment. "Sir, what is going on?"
"Politics." Jack managed to convey a depth of loathing and disgust into a single word. He looked around to make sure the rest of the room was empty, before leaning close and murmuring in a low voice, "Carter, I need a favor."
"The NID claim some of their people who've taken over the command staff for Destiny took some kind of procedure for the ATA gene. I want you to do some digging."
"You don't think these people are on the up and up?" Sam asked him.
"I don't think their program is on the up and up," Jack said bluntly. "It doesn't make any sense that none of our people have even heard of this, when we're the ones who've been working with the technology."
"I'll look into it right away, sir," Sam assured him.
"Be careful, Captain," Jack cautioned her. "Don't get caught." With another quickly glance around, he turned to leave the room. However, his steps were suddenly arrested when he caught sight of a familiar monitor display.
"Is this what I think it is?" Jack asked, approaching the display.
"Hm?" Sam looked up at where her CO was pointing. "Oh, that's one of the medium range sensor units from Destiny that we're trying to reverse engineer," she said.
"Uh huh, that's what I thought." Jack tapped a few commands on the monitor to cause it to zoom in on one part of the screen. "Now tell me, is that saying what I think it's saying?"
"Holy Hannah!" Sam breathed as she recognized the familiar icons of the screen. "That's a fleet of ships entering the solar system."
"Speak of the devil," Jack muttered, recognizing the Goa'uld Ha'taks from the text feed that tagged the six ship icons. "We need to inform the general."
With a loud clatter, General Hammond hung up the red phone on his desk, then exited his office to join the small gathering of officers in the briefing room who had gathered around the long range sensor unit.
"I have not been able to reach the President," he informed the room at large before anyone could ask.
"Well, maybe he's aware that things are in capable hands," Agent Samuels offered pompously.
"So we're just going to let that idiot try to negotiate with the snakes while we sit around waiting to be blown away?" Unsurprisingly, it was Jack O'Neill who protested, gesticulating toward the closed communications channel where the SGC had already tried warning the new civilian commander of the incoming danger to Earth.
"Colonel O'Neill, how do you know know these Goa'uld can't be negotiated with?" Samuels shot back.
"Oh, I dunno, Hathor ring a bell?" Jack retorted sarcastically. "Seth?"
Major Kawalsky also looked at the agent in disgust. "Plus, the intelligence reports by SG-1 and SG-2 should have made it quite clear the Goa'uld rarely negotiate, hardly ever in good faith, and never with a weaker party."
"Those reports may well be biased toward the Project..." Samuels began.
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!" Jack immediately shot back.
"Sirs!" Sam's voice suddenly interrupted the argument. "The alien ships are firing on Destiny!"
Everyone looked back onto the screen.
"So much for diplomacy." Jack turned to General Hammond. "Sir, we need to get onto Destiny. Those people aren't qualified to handle a firefight."
"Colonel, even if I agree with you, the stargate has already been shipped to Area 51," Hammond said in resignation, "and Destiny is too far away to use the rings, even if we can be sure we don't accidentally transport onto one of the hostile vessels."
"Maybe not," Sam suddenly spoke up. "But we could use the Goa'uld shuttle recovered from Egypt, and use that to get close enough to the Destiny to ring over."
Jack snapped a finger at her. "There you go, General. Good work, Captain."
"You can't do that," Samuels protested. "The SGC has no authority over Area 51!"
"We don't exactly have the time to process the paperwork in the middle of an emergency, Agent Samuels," General Hammond pointed out. "If the NID can allow us to use the Goa'uld shuttle--"
"--With all due respect, General, there's no reason why the personnel assigned by the NID can't handle this," Samuels interrupted. "With Destiny as advanced as it is--"
"--it's still one ship," finished Kawalsky finished for him, gesturing at the sensor readouts. On the screen, two of the Goa'uld vessels had indeed engaged Destiny, but several other vessels of the fleet flew around it to continue their flight toward Earth. "I don't know who's in charge of Destiny now, but they're worse at it than a four year old's video game."
"He's right, sirs," Sam spoke up again. "The Destiny is behaving exactly as if operating under its automated self defense protocol - it's only firing at targets firing on it or within a set proximity."
"The self defense protocol can only be overridden with full authorization to Destiny's systems," Jack noted. "Either those NID personnel are incompetent enough not to access the defense systems during a fight, or someone lied about their access."
"You have no proof of that accusation," Samuels shot back, "and if I might remind everyone in this room, you all have standing orders to stand down while Project Stargate is being shut down and Project Destiny is being transferred. Whatever happens out there, it is out of your hands."
"Yeah, right, whatever," Jack muttered, then turned to Hammond. "General, its obvious we're not going to get through to them," he said, indicating Samuels and by proxy the NID. "We need to get through to the President."
General Hammond regarded his 2IC suspiciously, not sure what the man was up to, but couldn't deny the truth of Jack's words. "I agree, Colonel. The rest of you keep monitoring the situation. I'll try the red phone again."
Jack nodded and waited until the general stepped into his office again, before catching Sam's attention and gesturing to the door. "A moment of your time, Captain?"
"Uh, of course sir," Sam replied, following her CO out of the briefing room. She looked at him in confusion when the colonel didn't speak further but quickly walked down the hallways.
It wasn't until they were inside the elevator when Jack spoke up again. "Hypothetically speaking, Captain, how long would it take you to override the ring transport controls to reach the tel'tak in Area 51?"
With dawning realization, Sam made a few quick mental calculations. "Hypothetically speaking, sir, it shouldn't take me more than three minutes, and then maybe five to access Destiny's rings to transport over there."
Jack nodded. "Hypothetically speaking, I can't order you to go with me..."
"Sir," Sam turned and met her CO gaze squarely, "as much as you hate cliches, the fate of the world is at stake. I'm volunteering, and you need my expertise."
Jack gave her a scrutinizing look before giving a sharp nod. "Glad to have you on board, Captain. Let's just hope we're in time."
The central control room of the Destiny was a scene of mild panic, when the doors suddenly sprang open to admit two people who by all rights should not have been anywhere near the vessel.
"Jack? Sam?" Daniel blinked owlishly at the two familiar faces that entered the room.
"Howdy," Jack greeted sarcastically, before turning around just in time to see the security squad of NID goons run right into a force field blocking the doors. He waved at them cheerfully, and the doors slid close right in their face. "Don't you just love this baby's internal security protocols?" he quipped.
"Thank God!" cried the obviously civilian man who sprang up from the center bridge chair. "Are you reinforcements sent from Earth? I can't get the ship to do anything except for the automated defenses!"
Jack raised an eyebrow at the surprising greeting from the civilian commander. "Well gee, I guess that Ancient gene therapy didn't work out for you after all, did it?" he asked sarcastically as he shooed the man away from his seat.
"Gene therapy? Good heavens no!" protested the man even as he scurried away from the center seat. "As far as I know the procedure was a complete failure, and I heard at least one of the human trials had to be sent to the emergency room..."
"Oh why am I not surprised," Jack muttered, exchanging a meaningful look with Sam. He then turned to Daniel. "So, Professor, give me a rundown of what happened with the aliens."
"Doctor," corrected Daniel automatically. "The fleet is headed by the Goa'uld Supreme System Lord Ra. He's been pretty graphic about wanting to bomb Earth back into the Stone Age and teaching us humans our rightful place as slaves."
"Standard evil overlord megalomania," Jack muttered. "How cliche."
"He also mentioned something about a treaty violation in his rant somewhere," Daniel added, "but yeah, mostly it was B-movie villain script."
"I'm pretty sure Earth hasn't been in the habit of making treaties with evil villains from outer space," Sam noted cynically while she took her station at a console.
Jack relaxed into the command chair and reached out with his thoughts. Immediately, Destiny broke off its keep-away-tag from the two remaining Goa'uld ships harassing it, and headed in the direction of the other vessels on their way to Earth. "I'm going to catch and engage the other ships. Carter, find me Ra's capital ship. Danny, find someway to...stall them." With that, he closed his eyes and engaged a burst of Destiny's FTL drive.
"You can't hold them all back indefinitely."
Jack barely spared his attention from concentrating on the four Ha'tak surrounding him to acknowledge his mirror-image.
"Destiny was never built to engage in offensive battles, only to defend itself and run away."
Ignoring the warning from the neural link, Jack sent Destiny careening into the path of the Ha'taks trying to go around it toward Earth, firing Destiny's main gun as he moved.
"The same power system drives both weapons and shields, and the shields always have priority."
The Ha'tak took one direct shot, but was able to nimbly avoid the follow up during the delay it took to fire the main gun again.
"If you could get them to stand still, enough shots would be able to overwhelm their shields. But does Earth have that time?"
His eyes were the ship's sensors. Peripherally, he noted the arrival of the two Ha'taks that had been distracting Destiny earlier arrive to join the fight. The moment he saw the bombardment of long range missiles headed toward Earth, he swooped down to intercept the missiles with point defenses and his own shields.
"You won't have that time. It's dangerous to interface this deep."
The warning was irrelevant because already too late. He was Destiny. It danced by his will.
"Holy Hannah," Sam breathed as she watched the sensor readings with increasing awe.
"Who'd ever thought a ship as big and, well, bulky-looking as Destiny could turn on a dime like that?" Daniel agreed.
"The colonel must have been one heck of a dog-fighter," Sam noted with some envy. Then, with and effort, she shook off her awe and nudged the archaeologist. "Daniel, we still need to find Ra's ship."
"Right, of course." Daniel engaged the ship's communications system to open a general channel to all of the Goa'uld ships. Carefully, he repeated every sentence he spoke in both Ancient and Goa'uld.
"Goa'uld ships, this system is under the protection of higher powers. You are violating this space at the trickery of the false god, Ra. Renounce the false god, and you will be spared."
He closed the channel, and waited with bated breath for a reaction. As expected, a return broadcast came across the channels from Ra himself, furious at being called a false god and demanding the surrender of the Tau'ri.
"Got it," Sam smirked, her fingers dancing across the console as she isolated the ship that was the source of the transmission. "I'm feeding the ship that transmission came from to the targeting controls."
"To take out the enemy, start with the head."
The neural link mirror-image looked at Jack sceptically. While the tactic was sound, there was still no way to execute it.
"Start with the basics: what you have, and what you need."
Without any drones to deploy, Destiny's defenses were a hundred times more powerful than its guns.
"Anything can be used as a weapon."
Fast as a rattlesnake striking, Destiny veered away from the Ha'tak it was harassing, and pounced toward the ship holding Ra.
The freed Ha'tak, taking advantage of Destiny's sudden change in goal, circled around the Ancient ship and closed in toward Earth. As it approached the planet, it was greeted by a pair of "Goa'uld-buster" nukes, which unfortunately impacted harmlessly against the Ha'tak's shields and failed to detonate.
Destiny's shields impacted and slid against the shields of Ra's vessel, quickly overpowering the Ha'tak's shield generator while sustaining only slight feedback itself. Immediately as the enemy's shields went down, Destiny turned in place and fired its main cannon right toward the engine section of the Ha'tak.
The Ha'tak in Earth orbit prepared to bombard the planet surface.
Ra's mothership exploded in a spectacular glory of energy.
There was a sudden, short cessation of activity from all the Goa'uld ships as if in utter disbelief at what had just occurred. Into that silence came another broadcast from Destiny, denouncing Ra as a false god who had met his just desserts, and demanding the remaining vessels to leave if they wished to be spared their lives.
Two of the remaining five Ha'taks did indeed turn to leave the system in confusion. The rest, including the ship that had been preparing to bombard Earth's surface, converged upon Destiny again in outrage and vengeance.
Back on the bridge of the Destiny, Sam winced as Destiny nearly clipped another Ha'tak with its shields while the other vessel twisted frantically to avoid the collision.
"We can't keep doing this," she noted, studying her console outputs. "As much as our shields are better than the shields of the Goa'uld ships, if they do start overloading, we have no way of fixing them."
"Not to mention the other ships are keeping their distance now," Daniel noted as well. "We won't be able to convince the rest of them to back off unless there's some other way to destroy a ship."
"The rings!" Sam suddenly exclaimed. She switched on the intercomm system and ordered the remaining techs from the SGC that had remained on board Destiny to move the self destruct nuke to the ring transporter.
"We had a nuke on board?" asked the civilian commander from the NID, aghast.
"It was only meant to be used as a last resort," Sam told him, "in case we needed to keep the ship out of enemy hands or if it became compromised."
"How... typically military," Daniel murmured sarcastically.
Nonetheless, Sam was easily able to hack and override the destination rings on the Ha'tak to allow the armed and set bomb to be transported over. The device was not powerful enough to destroy a Ha'tak by itself, but the position of the ring room was close enough to the shield generators that it was able to momentarily disrupt the shields. Immediately on sensing the weakness, Destiny turned and quickly destroyed the affected ship.
Daniel was about to follow up on the destruction of that vessel with another broadcast when Sam suddenly made an exclamation under her breath.
"Damn it! Sensors are picking up something else dropping out of hyperspace just outside the solar system."
"Oh my god," breathed the civilian commander from the NID.
"Is it Goa'uld reinforcements?" asked Daniel at the same time.
Sam frowned as she studied the readings. "That's strange. The readings don't look like Goa'uld at all... Oh! The remaining Goa'uld ships are retreating!"
Indeed, the remaining two Ha'taks had turned and fled in the opposite direction of the new ship that had appeared on the sensors. As soon as the Ha'taks entered hyperspace, the unknown ship also departed the system, seemingly in pursuit of the Goa'uld ships.
Nonetheless, second invasion of Ra into Earth space had officially ended, in failure.
Washington DC, A few days later
"Unethical experimentation on humans, falsifying papers, stealing military property... I never thought I'd see a conspiracy like this outside of the X-Files!" The President of the United States slapped close the folder on front of him and rubbed his temples to stave off a headache.
"We've also found evidence of rogue agents forming insider trading with private corporations using sciences and technology obtained from the two projects," added the Secretary of Defense glumly. "It seems the NID has severely overstepped its authority."
"We were warned of this possibility," said the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs obliquely, referring to the information that came from the alternate timeline. "If we are to defend this planet from the forces that are out there in the galaxy, we need to make sure the home front is not working against ourselves."
"I've already ordered a full investigation of the NID, of course" said the President, "but we also need to prevent the security of Earth from being compromised by national politics." His words reminded the people in the room that it had not been a coincidence that the Stargate Program had been shut down and a power play had been made on the Destiny at the same time as the president had been 'coincidentally' pre-occupied by Earth-side politics.
"Although Senator Kinsey has resigned from the Senate Appropriation Committee in exchange for not being charged for his part in this fiasco," the SecDef pointed out pessimistically, "he's still got plenty of clout on the senate."
"We didn't have an option to shoot him for treason against humanity?" the President asked in only half-jest.
"Treason might be a little hard to justify, Mr. President," The SecDef told him apologetically.
"For endangering the defense of humanity?" the President prompted.
"We couldn't take the chance of him leaking the Stargate information," said the SecDef, more than just in half-jest.
"I want some better options on this kind of thing in the future," ordered the President to the room at large. "For now, the only thing we can do is to prevent the Stargate and Destiny projects from being closed down in the future. Tomorrow, I've scheduled a closed doors meeting with several key members of Congress. They will be briefed on the Projects, as well as the near miss Earth just experienced." He looked around to see the reluctant agreement from the other officials in the room, then continued. "I'm also going to need preparations to be made for possible disclosure to the United Kingdom and Canada."
"Mr. President, are you sure that's wise?"
"I hope it doesn't become necessary. However that might be out of our hands, given the alien ship we launched missiles at was over Canada and Greenland. Fortunately, we were able to black out the telemetry received in Greenland since we own all the bases there. But we don't know if Canada, the UK, or - God forbid - Russia noticed anything strange, or will accept a cover story."
"It would have happened during the day time," mused the AF Chief of Staff. "At least we shouldn't have to worry about any amateur astronomers spreading panic about UFOs."
"In retrospect, it was a blessing in disguise that our missiles didn't actually detonate," added the Navy Chief of Staff cynically. "An actual explosion would've given the game away. As it is, as long as no one got a good look at the alien ship, we could just call it a missile test or misfire.
"That would be the best case scenario," agreed the President. "But in case disclosure is inevitable, I would prefer to only deal with our closest NATO allies."
Stargate Command, late November
The bright lights of the ceiling were like laser spikes digging into his head.
Jack squeezed his eyes shut again to try and escape the agonizing pain in his temples. Dimly, he thought he heard a rustling sound, and felt someone approach his side.
"Jack? Jack, are you awake?" The voice granted on his nerves like nothing had since his last experiments with drugs and alcohol back in the '70s.
"Shh. Too bright..."
"Oh, sorry." Daniel lowered his voice to a bare whisper and scrambled over to door of the isolation room. He made a gesture to the attending nurse before dialing down the lights. By the time he made it back to the bed, Jack's eyes were squinted open again, blinking rapidly to focus on his surroundings.
"Infirmary?" came the hoarse question.
"Yeah," Daniel whispered back, glad the man appeared to be lucid finally.
"Uh, what do you remember?" Daniel asked carefully. The doctors had been worried about brain damage, simply because they just didn't know enough about how the neural interface system worked with the human brain. Even though Jack's latest MRI hadn't shown any damage compared to his baseline readings, the fact that there were minute changes caused by the interface was a matter of concern.
"We kicked Ra's butt?" Jack frowned, trying to fight the pain that came whenever he tried to concentrate. It reminded him of his initial interface with Destiny, and he hoped that the effects would fade as fast. Unfortunately, his rubbery limbs didn't feel like he would be upright any time soon.
Daniel grinned at the succinct summary of the battle with Ra. "Yeah, and while everyone else on Destiny and the SGC were celebrating, we found you passed out on the command chair with a nosebleed."
"Oh." He really had overdone it, hadn't he, Jack mused. "Bad?"
Before Daniel could answer, he was interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Janet Fraiser.
"Well, you certainly gave us all a scare, Colonel O'Neill," said Janet while she checked her patient over.
"How long?" Jack asked, flinching away from the doctor's penlight.
"You were out for about three weeks now. The first week you were practically comatose. We would have moved you to the Academy's medical facilities, but then you did start showing responses to stimuli."
"You were talking in your sleep," Daniel put in, "in Ancient."
"Ah," Jack could just imagine what the doctors at the AF Academy would have made of that. "What did I say?"
Daniel squirmed a bit at that. "Um, well, mostly, it sounded like you were apologizing to your wife and son..."
Jack looked a bit uncomfortable at the revelation. He'd always tried to keep a strict divide between his work and personal life, a decision that was only reinforced by the incident with Hathor. It was one of the reasons why he hadn't even told his friend whom he'd named his son after about Charlie.
"Oh, and you called Senator Kinsey a cowardly, traitorous snake," Daniel continued.
"You're making that up," Jack looked at him suspiciously. "I don't even know a Senator Kinsey."
"He's the guy who was trying to shut down the SGC," Daniel told him, "and no I didn't make that up."
"Gentlemen," Janet interrupted the juvenile argument in amusement.
Daniel coughed in embarrassment. "...Well, not that the Ancient language has the exact equivalents for coward and traitor, but I assume that's what you mean by 'man with yellow colored liver' and 'crossing the road twice', which doesn't really make any sense otherwise."
"Huh." Jack grimaced at the archaeologist before turning to Janet once more. "So Doc, am I going to live?"
"Well, you certainly seem lucid enough, and we've found no signs so far of any brain damage," Janet told him. "I would, however, advise against any future attempts to using the neural interface to the same levels as you did this time."
"I can't promise that, Doc. Not with the planet at stake," Jack reminded her.
"I know, Colonel," Janet sighed, "I'm just giving you my medical opinion. Now, although I prefer you to rest a little more, if you're up to it, you do have visitors."
"I think I'm all slept out," Jack quipped. "Who're the visitors?" he asked, wondering if it was Carter or Kawalsky.
"Why don't I let go get them?" Daniel asked back rhetorically, hurrying over to the door.
Jack raised an eyebrow at the archaeologist's antics, wondering if he should be worried. With his luck, it was going to be the general here to read him the riot act for going AWOL. Speaking of which...
"Uh, Doc? How much trouble am I in with the brass?"
Janet smiled ruefully. "If you mean, are you going to be court-martialed for going AWOL, well, I don't pretend to be in the general's confidences, but given the fact that Major Carter just got an early promotion and I've heard something about medals through the grapevine, I don't think you have anything to worry about."
"Woah," Jack blinked in surprise. While he'd hoped the whole saving the world thing would balance out their disobeying orders and stealing the tel'tak, he hadn't thought they'd get awarded for their stunt. "The NID didn't protest?" He couldn't imagine that little squealer Samuels would let things go without a fight.
"The NID is under internal investigation on orders from the President, from what I've heard," Janet said. "With Senator Kinsey forced to resign from the Senate Appropriations Committee and the former civilian commander of Destiny on record against the NID, they don't have much support to fall back on."
"Former civilian commander?" Jack asked hopefully, latching onto the small detail in what he'd been told.
"Well, with the SGC being reinstated, and Destiny being moved back under Air Force jurisdiction, I suspect that you'll be getting your command back as soon as you've fully recovered, Colonel."
"Sweet." This time, Jack's grin was genuine. Much as he found it boring stuck grounded or ship-side while the SG teams went off into the field, the Ancient vessel had grown on him. Before he say more, however, the door suddenly swung open and a small form hurtled into the room.
"Dad! You're awake!"
Jack suddenly found himself sharing his bed with his little boy.
"Charlie?" Reflexively reaching out to hold onto his son, Jack stared incredulously at the door where Daniel was grinning at him next to an uncertain-looking Sara. "Sara? Daniel, what--?" he trailed off, not sure what he meant to ask.
"General Hammond cleared it with the President to give your wife and son clearance for a...simplified version of what happened to you," Daniel told him. "They've been visiting you almost every day for the last two weeks."
Janet nodded in agreement. "Once you started showing responsiveness to stimuli, we thought it might be beneficial if they could visit."
"Dr. Jackson taught me Latin!" Charlie exclaimed, grinning at his father.
"Ah." Jack knew he must still have a shell-shocked look on his face, given the amusement he could see slowly replacing the worry on his wife's face.
Slowly, Jack smiled back, with an honest, happy smile as he hugged his son close. Right there - his family - alive, safe and well, was the very reason he had nearly lost himself in Destiny's interface, the reason it was all worth it.
Notes: 1. Poor Ra, with the timeline mangled and Earth trying not to get into a war, he still managed to die more or less on schedule anyway. :P 2. I'm not entirely sure I want to keep Kinsey around. He always seem to be too much of a caricature to me. But I left enough wiggle room to let him make a comeback if dramatically necessary. 3. The unknown ship is a hint at the next chapter/season to come. 4. I removed the references to elections since I've still undecided about which election schedule to use. Canon SG-1 has an election year that's 1 year ahead of RL. West Wing (still considering it) is 2 years ahead of RL.