"We should go back inside," said Alex looking to the suns set "the kids will be back shortly"
"They are back. They came two hours ago," Jack said, exchanging a glance with Sam; "but yeah, going inside sounds good," he stood up and helped her up, then they all picked the plates and glasses which were brought to them for lunch a few hours before. As they were moving into the kitchen; Aila came to tell them dinner was ready.
"Are you okay?" Jack voice in her head asked, she smiled at him. They rarely used the link; they were too in sync with each other once they got it and the link only strengthened it.
"Yes," she answered, "but I rather get over this part today or we won't be sleeping again tonight"
"I have some interesting ideas which could take your mind out of that day," he smiled.
"Mom… Dad… will you behave?"
"We didn't say anything!" they both whined
"Yeah… like you actually need to talk," Alex winked at them
"When are you getting back?" Sam asked
"Changing subjects, aren't we?" Hunter said with a knowing smile; Sam and Jack just stared at them. "Tomorrow morning"
"What time should we expect the kids?"
"On the afternoon shuttle"
Dinner passed quickly with laughs and anecdotes about the day. Sam laughed and chatted with the kids, but Jack knew she was fighting the demons in her mind. He knew that fight as well as her; so they gladly walked to their studio at the end of dinner.
"Ok, so I have to start this, asking what SNAFU means? I've heard you say that a couple of times already"
"It's military slang so to speak"
"It means Situation Normal: All effed Up"
"How does a babysitting situation become a SNAFU one?"
"Well. Around the universe, there are people valued for who they are, impersonating them… it can be fatal"
"Let me guess… you are two of those?"
"Yeah… well, being the most hated Tau'ri could help to bring such a status to you"
In my life, I've discovered there's one feeling I don't miss when flying a desk or dealing with politicians from Earth or on Earth. The thump in my head, the memories before the blackness and the feeling that overcomes you once you find you are restrained and not by your partner (hey, we all do that time to time). Back on track, yes… the feeling is back and I know; I just simply now, I am in trouble and if I am in trouble; I don't want to even start to consider what SG-12 and SG-21 situation is; but I have to… I am the Superior Officer.
Slowly, I open my eyes and I have to squint to get a look at my surroundings and I must say, at least is not a Gou'auld jail nor one of those awful brigs in which we happened to pass more time than at home before. No, but I still find myself in a somewhat compromising position.
I am in the middle of what looks like your regular sports arena, I'm surrounded by what looks like black glass or dark walls; have I mentioned that I am tied up? No? I am tied, my hands are pinned up above my head and my feet seem grounded to the air; yes… air. I am somehow floating.
"Electromagnetically powered cuffs" someone said
"Nice," I reply as nonchalantly as I can. If I learned something from Jack is that, if you annoy the enemy enough to get them angry at you they will try to punish you and forget about your mates, and I have to say I don't want more deaths on my bucket. I have had plenty of them as it is.
"Do you know why you are here?"
"Where are my team mates?"
"I'll answer if you answer," a punch connects with my stomach.
"Yes, I know why I am here. I know you have to test me. They have nothing to do with this, let them go." He looks at me quizzically
"They are watching you" he says and some of the walls around us go transparent; showing me the 8 kids which had come to baby sit me. "Care to explain them the reason?" he says, once the teams started to shout to let me go and the regular stuff. I nod
"At ease people!" I say, trying to get out my best commanding officer's voice. "Samuelson, do you remember the question you asked earlier?" I can see Samuelson nod "Well, now you are going to see why every SG team of my time would never dare to impersonate anyone"
"What do you mean?"
"I am Samantha Carter. General. USAF. 366349, December 29, 1968. Tau'ri." I look the guy straight into his eyes before continuing, "Now, I have to prove it" and then as a prize I get another blow "Oh, goodie… please try to keep away from my face, I seriously have stuff to do in 48 hours; people will be surprised if I show up looking like a punching bag"
"Will, do Samantha Carter," he smirks and the rest of the air I was holding goes out when a series of punches land on my stomach again. When I open my eyes, I can see several screens are floating around the area, and I can read some questions about my past adventures. He points me to one.
"Are you serious?" another punch, "How do you want me to answer those if you keep punching me!" I scream before I get yet another blow "Ok! The right answers are the yellow one, the blue one and the green one." He nods and leaves, and I have to thank whoever is on my side today because I was about to pass out anyways.
"I'm ok," I said as reassuringly as I can
"You said you have to prove who you are? Why they don't get your DNA or something like that?"
"They are getting the something like that, Richards. They need to prove I am who I say I am; but the only way to do it is by meeting the expectations they have of me. That's why they decided to make me a punching bag and a Jeopardy contestant," she smiled sadly "I don't know if you managed to read, but they are asking stuff about what they heard SG-1 did; they'll keep doing it until they find the answer they are looking for"
"See, the thing with impersonating someone is you need to be able to do and answer exactly what they did and how they did it and make it believable."
"That or a DNA test… See, let's put it this way: You came here and said I am Malcolm Wells. We have to accept the fact you are Malcolm Wells by faith or by comparing it with a background check. If you don't look like you; then we could start making questions like when is your birthday and such. Things you shouldn't hesitate to answer"
"Why don't just do a DNA test?"
"Well, for one we would need your sample; which at the moment we have plenty. I mean you are living in our household; we have access to your fingerprints and hair and a bunch of other stuff."
"We don't have anything to compare it to"
"So, you are saying that, if you say you were someone and they doubted it; they will play 20 questions with you"
"If they were journalists, then yes 20Q would be" Jack responded "and then again they never are journalist. Therefore, the "test" has always been something we would be able to complete if we say we were ourselves"
"A good old fight or a scientist questioning or a trip down memory lane or…" they both shuddered "a memory recall device"
Pain. I feel something stinging my head like a hypodermic needle and then I feel the weight of something and I remembered I have experienced this feeling before for the first time a lifetime ago when trying to find out a way out of Netu. A memory recall device... Oh, I hate those pesky little things!
"Tell us about your family," I close my eyes to that question I know full well the results of that question and what it could do to them; so I calm myself and take a deep breath. I can see the ocean and the sunset I once visited on the screen and then I smile and the screen goes dark. "Show us your family." Nothing; a punch "Family"
A feel at least 6 rips on my back and I turn around to see there's a second Goon there with a sadistically smile and a whip.
"SG-1" Goon 1 says; I keep my mind blank. Splash! I grunt, Splash! I hold a scream. I know I am not doing a good job out of hiding my pain, but I do my best; my concentration right now is not focused on looking stronger for the young ones standing on their crystal cages watching me with their eyes opened as big as they can; nope. My concentration is focused on not endanger my loved ones.
I feel blood on my back and I hold yet another scream; I know the sound that came out of me is a mix of a moan, a scream, a hiss and a growl. But I look at the screen and it's still blank. I smirk. Goon 1 makes some movements with his hand and Goon two starts again; I can't even count the amount of cuts I am having on my back at the moment. Goon 1 approaches me and I know I shouldn't have smiled. I close my eyes, waiting for his punch, but it came out worse. I don't hold the scream anymore. I know, he just broke my left arm; for the fun of it. Well, that and the fact that even when he is telling me stuff to redirect my thoughts the screen is still blank which can be quite irritating, for them.
They stop for a while, then I feel they take out the thing they put on me. I can see on the corner of my eye how Goon 2 makes some gestures. Then the cage containing Starring comes forward and he is now floating too. Goon 1 march towards him and in a swift movement; their version of the recall device is on Starring.
"Family" Goon 1 says and the screens are filled with images of what I guess are Starring brother and mother and lover.
"It does work," he tilts his head, "Training"; the screens are now filled with images of young soldiers running; then crawling and fighting. I guess he was happy with what he saw as he takes the device again and it is once again taking its place on my forehead.
See, once we got married, there was only one thing that scared the crap out of Jack and myself; and it was knowing that if we were tortured and gave away not only our relationship, but the existence of our kids, they would be doomed. So we "borrowed" a Tok'ra recall device and we practiced. Yes, we tortured each other until we learned to control our thoughts. It has saved us more than once…. And that's why the screens are once again blank. I hear both Goons grunting at each other and taking the device they disappear.
Another door opens and a slimmer alien comes and observes me, then without any warning, I am dumped to the floor; my cuffs are now lighter, but as I try to fight them they become heavy again. The alien says no with his head and points me to one tray which lays on the floor next to me; my stomach growls.
"How long?" I ask, forcing my throat to work
"It has been 24hs since you came. Eat"
"Are they having something?" I say, pointing to my teams; the alien says no. "Give it to them then," I say stubbornly.
"But," he starts
"If you are not feeding them; I won't eat"
"Suit yourself, they need you weak," well and that's true; the weaker I get more chances exists they manage to break me. Another round of questioning follows my brief exchange with the alien and my lack of cooperation this time, and my pleading for my teammates get food finally pays off as I see them getting trays. They look at me with a mix of concern and awe; thankfully I won't have to deal with that later on. I'll be home dancing and drinking champagne with Mr. President. I smile at my own thoughts.
I know I am slipping in and out of consciousness and they take that as an advantage to put the device again on me.
"Family... Jack O'Neill... Daniel Jackson… Teal'c," then they decided that I was worth trying the cold water and I am shoved face first in an out of a container. I was more worried at the possibility of electrocution more than in hearing what he is saying which actually helps to keep my mind blank. He pulls my head out of the container and looks at me as if considering his options and then he smiles. "Samantha Carter," he says and on the screens I see myself. His smile widens as a fast succession of my reflections on the mirror fills the screen. 9 year old me, 12 years old me, a pink haired with too much black makeup, at the academy, at the SGC, at Atlantis and then I managed to concentrate myself and the ocean appears once more before going blank. He grumps and I fell to the floor as blackness takes over
"What I don't get is why they would doubt about you"
"Well, over the years I learned that being blonde was something which is not uncommon only on the Earth. When I returned to the SGC after Alex, I used to dye my hair brown to avoid the questions"
"It was also noted it made her go by unnoticed. So, she was asked to keep her brown hair"
"So I got myself a wig and I used it on that visit…"
"You are awake. We put you some medicine which will help to heal fast the injuries our testers caused to you with some hours of rest you should be back at your best. The injuries on your back will be open for at least another 8 hours, your arm will be back at normal in 4 more hours."
"Who are you?"
"My name is Luei. I'm a Senate member. Healer branch; as soon as I finish with the bandage you will be asked to meet the Senate again"
Around ten minutes later, she was escorted by Luei to the same room that she got 42 hours ago.
"Samantha Carter. SG-1" They agreed when she walked in.
"My team mates?" she asked and all 8 team members were escorted to the room. "Are you all ok?" 8 nods and she grinned.
They looked at her, her clothes were torn and dirty, her left arm was in a sling and the smell of her blood was still lingering around her despite of being all cleaned up out of her body.
"You proved yourself, Samantha Carter"
"May I ask why did you doubt of me in the first place?"
"History talks of the fair haired warrior Samantha Carter. Not of the dark haired one"
"That's it? My hair?" They all nodded. "You should just say so and we would have been finishing our negotiations by now," she said, pulling the wig out of her head and releasing her blonde tresses. "This is just a safety measure… I guess it doesn't pay off"
"I don't get it"
"Well, it is simple actually." Jack said, "they were expecting the fair haired Tau'ri warrior and they were presented with a dark haired one"
"Once I took out the wig, after all that. They apologized once more, I accepted the apologies and told them I had to be in another place shortly and SG-21 would be back to form a treaty"