Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author(s).
"Inertial dampeners." "Check."
"Injectors armed." "Check." Carter grinned.
"All the lights lit." "Yes, sir."
"It's all yours. Get in your flight time; have fun. I'll try not to be a back seat driver. Don't forget to save us enough gas to get home."
"We could just keep going, sir. Didn't you say you always wanted to see the Oort Cloud?" General Jack O'Neill felt a chill. "Been there. Done that."
"Control, this is Homer 1, ready for taxi." The plane thrummed, eager, a race horse wound up tight for the big race and at the gate.
"Homer 1, you are clear for taxi and takeoff. Military air space over Nevada, California, and the Pacific testing range has been cleared. Please be advised that the 4th of July has heavy air traffic, and is especially full of holiday fledglings. It is important that you stick very tightly to your flight plan."
"Copy that, Control."
Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter taxied shortly to the main runway, did her final checks, and rocketed down the runway. Airborne, she pointed the nose up and the F302 climbed almost vertically to 40,000 feet before leveling off and heading west at twice the speed of sound. Along the way she did a few inversions, but not until she reached the vastness of the Pacific safe zone did she feel free to practice combat maneuvers. For half an hour she dived, rolled, flipped, banked, skimmed over the wave tops, and soared. She had helped design this plane, helped build it. She had even helped find the naquadah and the naquadriah. She knew its capabilities and she pushed against them all. As wonder-full as gate travel was, THIS was the Air Force.! For a while O'Neill played at locking formations on cloud tops as targets. Then he relaxed and enjoyed the ride. He never said a word.
"I'm ready to go, sir."
"Take her up."
"Control, we're going out."
Again Carter pointed the F302 up, but this time she kicked in the rockets and the plane soared beyond the atmosphere. She kept going until the small craft would be undetectable by the casual astronomical observer. Carefully timing it, she put the plane into geosynchronous orbit and positioned it so they looked down on western North America. Then she cut the engines. For some minutes, in the absolute silence of space, they just gazed on the blue and green and reddish brown Earth below with its whirling cloud masses of white. It was deeply satisfying that they had saved it.
"It's still beautiful, sir."
"Yes, it is."
Both took a deep breath and let it out slowly. They easily found the front range of the Rockies, the red SMOG over Denver, and imagined they could see Colorado Springs just to the south. Without asking, Carter reached up and flipped the communications' switch and they went live to the SGC.
"Good morning campers. I hope this is only the first time of a new ceremony of commemoration that we can continue, at least until we can do things publicly."
In the control room, the commissary, and the hallways personnel on duty over the holiday weekend stopped and listened. Teal'c had wondered how humans just made up a new ritual, but Daniel Jackson had explained that it was really an old ritual made new, to meet new circumstances. He had convinced O'Neill that morale at the SGC needed its own rituals. The Jaffa obviously needed to do that, adapt their old rituals to new circumstances, so Teal'c now sat with Daniel Jackson in his office and listened as Carter's clearest professional voice alternated with O'Neill's rumbling inserts.
"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men"
... "and women"
"are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,"
... "even when aliens steal them away to other planets"
"that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"
... "It is our honor to serve."
"That to secure these rights governments are instituted among men,"
"deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."
Then O'Neill started in, "I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense.." Carter picked it up on the second line, and voices all over the SGC joined in the Code of Conduct. "I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never
surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist. If I am captured, I will continue to resist by all means available. I will make every effort to escape.... I will give no information .... I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free.... "
"Maintain life, retain honor, and return." How many times, O'Neill thought, had he recited that mantra from his cell in Iraq. "Well, sometimes it's hard to return from other planets. Especially if you're dead. Because of the nature of our work, the families never know where their loved one died, or why, or how. Usually there is no body, or they can't have it, which has always seemed strange for a training accident. Until their families can learn the truth, I wanted to at least bring their memories home, to be spoken here on Independence Day in Earth light."
"Lt. Brown, Lt. Freeman, Lt. Reilly, Lt. Porro - on the first mission to Abydos. Major Charles Kowalsky - although he died in the SGC, it was from a Goa'uld, and his family couldn't have the body. SG-5 died from the Light - Lt. Barber,........ Colonel Frank Cromwell. SG-12- Major Henry Boyd,..." Carter and O'Neill interspersed their memories. "SG-15- Major Graham, Lt. Astor...zatarcs.....Dr. Robert Rothman.... Lt. Elliot, Major Benton,....Colonel Riley,... Major Janet Fraiser...." Carter took out her slip of paper and read, making sure she didn't omit any of the 36 names. "Colonel Lionel Pendergast, who died with the good ship Prometheus, protecting his people to the end."
A very somber General O'Neill continued, "As Commander in Chief Lincoln once said,
"It is for us the living... to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us...that from these honored dead, we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion. That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,... but that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the Earth."
"Kind of takes on a whole new meaning, doesn't it sir?"
"Indeed." The two of them sat in profound silence as the sacred words resonated in their being. The silence permeated all the floors of the SGC. Then there was a jarring "Dismissed." Carter reached up, and switched off SGC communications,
"Carter, I believe fireworks await us. Take us home." As the engines roared to life, they took a last look at the borderless planet of six and a half billion people. So beautiful; so precious.
"Control, we are beginning our controlled descent."
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