The planet had a designation that garnered a laugh from many of the SGC team members: P3R-549. Assigned to SG-14 for a routine recon, there had been scores of cornball jokes floated about what to expect on the small planet, from being met at the gate by an elderly lady wearing a floppy straw hat to going hand-to-hand with Junior Samples, used car salesman.
The Hee Haw references had been lost on Teal’c and some of the younger SGC staff. After some disastrous attempts to describe the concept of the old variety show, Colonels O’Neill and Grimes split the cost of a set of DVDs. For strictly educational purposes, they claimed. Sam didn’t know which was more disturbing, the youth of the team members or the fact that Hee Haw was available on DVD.
While in the locker room gearing up, Colonel Grimes’ team had broken into an impromptu chorus of the “Gloom and Despair Song”. Everyone had a good laugh at it, but the line "If it weren't for bad luck I'd have no luck at all…” seemed now to have been prophetic. The team had missed two scheduled check-ins from 549 and were now over twelve hours late.
General Hammond scrambled SG-1 to go take a look, and as she’d stepped into the waiting wormhole, Sam hoped SG-14 was still capable of laughing.
One by one the members of SG-1 exited the wormhole and immediately took up a defensive stance. Their arrival was a couple of hours or so before dawn local time. According to the briefing, the planet had three small moons, but it was a cloudy night and there was little light but the all-too-obvious glow of the open wormhole.
From the UAV photos, they knew the gate was situated at one end a clearing about a hundred yards square, far too open for safety even in the inky darkness. Behind the gate was a large hill covered with trees and foliage. The other three sides of the field were more of the same, but flat and level. A dirt track began conveniently at the foot of the gate platform and led away into the wood.
The team met no challenge and a scan of the area turned up nothing troublesome. The colonel signaled for them move toward one side of the field and they ran low and swift toward the tree line.
they darted through the ankle-high grass, the only sound was the squish squish of soggy soil under their
feet. The air was hot and humid, heavy with the reek of decaying
Sam was reminded of a weekend trip to the
They reached the tree line and hunkered down, waiting for any indication that their arrival had been detected. After a long moment, O’Neill was satisfied that the vicinity was secure and sent the all-clear signal back to the control room.
The wormhole winked out and they were left crouching in silence and shadow.
“At least we haven’t had to shoot Grandpa Jones,” O’Neill said quietly as he peeled off his night glasses.
“I’d bet you guys were looking forward to finding girls in short shorts though,” Sam whispered back with a grin. She stowed her glasses in Daniel’s pack, then turned to give him access to hers.
The clouds parted slightly and let a little more light through, allowing them a slightly better view of their surroundings. The trees were tall and had thick trunks covered in a papery bark the color of fresh rust. The limbs were tangled with thick, green vines and draped heavily with would pass on Earth for Spanish moss. A warm, moist breeze stirred, making the dangling moss sway and whisper. The combined effect gave the place a creepy, gothic vibe and set all of their nerves on end.
Jack took one last quick survey of the clearing, keyed his radio and spoke quietly, “SG-1 to SG-14. Grimes, do you copy?” He had barely removed his finger from the key when they received a response. It was simply a double click of the transmit key - a request for radio silence.
“If they still have their radios then logic says they’re just pinned down,” Sam said.
“Better luck than we usually have. Score to SG-1,” Daniel shrugged.
“Alrighty then,” Jack said, repositioning his weapon. “The old ‘good news, bad news’. Somebody’s got ‘em, but we know they’re still here and they know we’re coming. As there’s only one clear trail out of here, I’d bet that’s what all the cool kids are doing. Teal’c, take point.”
The big man simply nodded, and they edged along the tree line toward the dirt path.
The group moved through the woods as quietly as possible. The path was fairly wide but seemed to meander. The further they went the more water they came across in the form of large, muddy puddles and small streams. They had a little help from the weather; the clouds had rolled away and patches of moonlight made it through the canopy, allowing them to avoid many of the watery hazards, though not all.
sinking one leg knee-deep in brackish muck, Daniel swore and muttered
Traveling in silence, they could hear the faint stirrings of small animals; the occasional rustle of wings or a startled rustling of something fleeing through the snarled mess of the forest floor. No one remarked on the apparent lack of mosquitoes for fear of summoning them.
After picking their way gingerly through the dark for ninety minutes, the woods began to thin, the trail widened and they thought they could see open ground ahead. Teal’c signaled for them to wait while he checked it out. Grubby and bathed in sweat, Sam, Daniel and Jack were happy to take a breather.
was a brief respite; Teal’c was gone only moments.
“There are signs of
Daniel exclaimed, pumping a fist in the air. Three faces swiveled
Each wore a raised eyebrow. “I wasn’t. Hoping for
natives. I wasn’t exactly
Man, woman and resident alien looked at one another in disbelief.
“Look. I was tired before we started this, it’s freakin’ hot, and my boots are full of stinky crap. I’ll shoot somebody if I have to. Let’s just go get our guys back and go home.” It wasn’t particularly clear if the somebody Daniel would shoot was limited to enemy forces.
“Do we need to haul you back to the infirmary for an MRI, Daniel?” Jack asked suspiciously.
He gave a vigorous shake of his head. “Seriously, the joy of discovering some new civilization can wait, just this one time. Can we go shoot somebody now?”
O’Neill blinked. “If you insist;” he said acerbically. “Teal’c, you heard the man. Let’s go find somebody for him to shoot.” Jack jabbed a finger toward the end of the trail, and they were moving again.
They emerged from the wood where the path intersected a wider trail. The new trail ran along a low embankment, and closer inspection revealed a dull, foul-smelling body of water on the other side. More of the rusty trees grew from the water, also crusted with the bluish moss.
pointed out the distinct impression of
The soft ground revealed evidence of small wildlife: tiny paw prints here and there and odd, double sets of bird feet. Even if the sun hadn’t shown up yet, the native creatures knew sunrise was coming and were beginning to go about their business, squeaking and chirping and snuffling.
the intersection of trails they followed the
“Breakfast fires,” he murmured. “They are not far.” The two pairs spread a little further apart, creeping from tree to tree.
The embankment got a little steeper and Sam moved further up, seeking drier ground. She paused for a moment and looked at the sky, trying to gauge how much longer they would have the protection of the pre-dawn murk. When she realized how far ahead the colonel had gone, she took off in a jog in an effort to catch up. On her third stride, the embankment gave way under her boots.
She fell straight down, arms windmilling, too surprised to utter a sound. Having landed on her butt, Sam expected to sink to the bottom of the fetid pool, but found herself only sitting in water up to her waist. It was pitch black and the smell was threatening to make her retch. The darkness kept her from seeing the source of a deafening racket flooding the space she was in. It was a harsh, shrill sound, like a thousand outraged parakeets shrieking.
Knowing she was going to need her hands free to get out, Sam slung her weapon around her back. She put her hands down beside her in the water in an attempt to rise, but the bottom was spongy and too slick. She opened her mouth to shout to her teammates, but realized they’d never hear her over the noise.
Now the ground felt like it was moving.
What the hell?
Frantically Sam dug her flashlight out of her utility vest, clicked it on, and discovered the source of the noise: frogs. This planet’s version of them, anyway. They might have been the size of dinner plates, coal black and with sharp yellow beaks, but they were identifiable as frogs nonetheless.
There were hundreds of them, surrounding her in a shrieking frenzy.
Sam’s heart nearly jumped out of her chest and her brain slammed to a halt. Senseless with abject terror, she did the only thing she could do. She started screaming.
An indistinct noise from behind made O’Neill spin around and drop to a crouch. When he didn’t find Sam immediately following, he rose and took three cautious steps back, swinging the P-90 in a slow arc. Seeing no sign of her, he raised a hand in attempt to catch Teal’c or Daniel’s attention. Intent on the trail ahead, they didn’t notice.
Jack was reaching for a pebble to throw at them when shrill, panicked screams exploded into the stillness.
Teal’c and Daniel whirled around, weapons sighted in an instant. They saw only O’Neill, who was casting about frantically for the source of the wailing. Daniel lowered his gun, realized they were missing a teammate and made the connection.
“Oh my God, Sam!” he shouted, and began running toward Jack and the horrible sound. “Something’s got her!”
fought the urge to do the same, but knew there was no way the enemy
The sound continued unabated. It seemed to emanate from the water or close to it; the two men began running along the bank. Suddenly coming upon the fresh hole, they were barely able to stop before tumbling in themselves. They dropped to their bellies on the ground next to the hole.
As the colonel scrambled for his flashlight, Daniel immediately stuck his head over the edge. Despite the screaming, he was relieved to see she had her flashlight out and it was moving around.
“SAM!” he roared. If she heard him, it had no effect. He took a breath to try it again, but just then Jack leaned over the edge of the hole with his flashlight and what they saw horrified them both.
“Oh my God!” Daniel breathed. Jack couldn’t even speak.
The cave Sam had fallen into was only about ten feet wide. It was about six feet from the hole to where she thrashed in the putrid water, surrounded by countless slimy black amphibian creatures. As she scrambled to stand, she tried in vain to push the frogs away from her or club them with the flashlight.
Unfortunately they appeared to be as frightened as she was; all four of their limbs were equipped with prehensile webbed claws they used to lurch through the water and climb frantically over one another and Sam. To them she was solid ground, and they tried to scale her shoulders and grasped her hair to gain leverage. She would no sooner dislodge one than another would grip her shirt or the webbing of her vest.
All the while she was screaming like the lead actress in a horror movie.
“Carter!” Jack shouted, waving the flashlight at her head. She saw nothing but her attackers. “CARTER!!” he bellowed, to no avail.
Jack widened the focus on the flashlight as far as it would go and craned his neck all around “Are they biting her? Or stinging, or…something?!?” He yelled at Daniel.
“I don’t know!” he yelled back, frustrated and completely unnerved.
Suddenly, Daniel sat up and unzipped his vest. Flinging it to the side, he grabbed the flashlight from Jack’s hand. “Grab my legs!” he shouted and threw his upper body into the hole.
“Sam!” Her voice was turning hoarse and losing a little steam. He hoped it was because she was beginning to calm down and not because she wasn’t getting enough oxygen. “SAM! We’re here!” he shouted, but she was completely consumed by the war she was waging.
“Sam!” Her voice hitched a little mid-shriek. He tried again. “Sam! Look up. Look at me.” She grabbed a frog by the hind leg and dragged it off her chest. Daniel waved the flashlight in her face and shouted one more time, “MAJOR SAMANTHA CARTER!”
Mercifully, his voice broke through her terror and she stopped. She was shaking violently and gasping for air but aimed the flashlight at him as he dangled over her head. “Daniel!”
“We’re here. We’ll get you out. Can you stand up?”
“I’m trying…it’s slippery.” She gasped and slapped a frog as it reached for her face. “I think I’m sitting on some,” she said apprehensively.
“Can you get up on your knees? If you can, I think I can pull you out.”
She stopped and focused on his face, dangling above her. “Out. Get out. Yes. Now.”
Daniel held out a single finger in her direction. “One second.”
Daniel hauled himself halfway out of the hole and told Jack he was going to pull her out. Jack stood up, bent over Daniel and grabbed the back of his vest. “Go,” he said.
Back in the hole, Daniel said calmly to Sam, “Come on. Time to go.”
She clipped the flashlight to the edge of her vest and grimaced as she put her hands back into the slimy water and tried to get her legs beneath her. She wobbled and slid and her hands jerked every time she came in contact with one of the frogs. On her third try, she raised up far enough to lock hands with the archaeologist and pull herself to her feet. Daniel felt her fingernails dig into his skin, but he didn’t care.
“Jack! Now!” he yelled, and immediately felt a sharp yank. However, a grown woman, soaking wet and carrying fifty pounds of equipment was a heavy load and he was barely able to keep her on her unsteady feet.
“Wait,” she said.
“Jack! Stop!” he shouted over his shoulder. “Give us a second.”
Leaving one trembling hand gripping Daniel, she unclipped her P-90 and passed it to him. He passed it over his shoulder to Jack, who tossed the items aside. She did the same with her utility vest, removing it one arm at a time. When it was gone, he moved to grab her free hand and she hesitated.
“My pack,” she said uncertainly. It was nearly submerged in the water at her feet.
comment seemed to galvanize her. “They’re not
having it.” Daniel didn’t know
whether she meant the
She clearly did not want to let go of his hand to reach for the pack. So instead, she balanced carefully on one foot, hooked a leg out and brought the pack to her left hand with her right foot.
Even as freaked out as he was, Daniel had to admire her resilience and ingenuity. She handed the sodden pack up to him and he passed it on to Jack.
“Okay, now we have a go. We’re really going this time, okay?” She simply nodded shakily. “Try to push off if you can.” She nodded once more.
O’Neill pulled on Daniel with all of his strength. They got off to a good start, with Sam holding on for dear life and Daniel trying to lift her with his arms. Then, the embankment crumbled beneath Daniel and they both tumbled back into the filthy hole.
“Son of a bitch! Daniel! Carter!” Jack shouted as he stepped up to the new edge of a gaping sinkhole. He looked down to find Daniel lying on the downward slope created by the collapse, half covered in moist black soil. Sam was sitting in the water again, this time at the bottom of the dirt pile. Daniel still had a grip on one of her hands, but waved his free one at Jack.
“We’re okay! Well, we will be.” To Sam, he said, “Look! I built you a ramp. It’ll be easier now.”
Sam nodded, then plucked a frog off his back and launched it up and over the edge of the hole.
From across the trail, Jack heard Teal’c say urgently, “They are coming!”
“Shit.” He squatted down next to Daniel and took Sam’s other hand. “Carter, can you walk? We need to get you out of there, now.” Her only response was to snatch her hands back and start scrambling up the slope on all fours.
The frogs had also discovered the ramp, and began clambering up the slope after her.
Jack reached down and gave Daniel a hand up, and he in turn reached for Sam. They hurried back to the other side of the trail to the cover of the trees.
There was no time to retrieve Sam’s weapon as they dived for cover, so Daniel and Jack had steered her behind the biggest tree in sight. Jack told her firmly to sit down and stay still.
Both men were stunned when she did exactly as she was told, drawing her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them tightly.
soft light of early dawn was both a boon and a hindrance for SG-1. On
they had a clear view of the approaching handful of
no one recognized the tattoo they bore, it was clear these
staff weapon and two P-90s versus nine
there were four left, Teal’c had a slightly singed arm,
Daniel was reloading
and Jack was drawing a bead on one of the remainder when gunfire
the forest behind the mystery
held his fire as two of the
“Identify yourselves!” Teal’c shouted as the last of the smoke cleared.
“Colonel Bradley Grimes, USAF, lover of all things Tau’ri. Hey, Teal’c! Glad to see you guys,” the tall black-haired man smirked as he stepped cautiously out of the woods and onto the trail. “I’ve got Harper, Holley and Bitsy, too.”
Grimes waved an arm and his team members appeared on the trail as well. Lt. Caroline Bitsman had the only discernable injury among them with a field bandage plastered to the side of her neck. Together Grimes’ team hurried over to where the male members of SG-1 stood surveying the area.
The female member stood slightly apart, using the sleeve of her t-shirt to try and scrub the grime off her face. All of her exposed skin was scored by tiny scratches punctuated by red welts.
“There are two more, but I think they ran the other way.” Grimed hiked a thumb down the trail.
“Off to get reinforcements?” O’Neill asked.
“Nope. Scared shitless. I got loose about ten minutes before I got your radio call, they didn’t realize I was gone yet. Dumbasses didn’t realize what the radios were so they didn’t take them away from us. When the ruckus started, they left the two to watch us and took off this way. The guards were already spooked by the noise, so we changed channels and stuck the units together to make feedback squeal. They peed themselves and bolted. We grabbed our stuff and came on.”
He stopped and frowned. “What in the name of God was all that screaming, anyway?”
O’Neill paused a moment before answering. “We had a little trouble with the local wildlife,” he said.
Dozens of the huge, ugly amphibians had made their way out of what was presumably a nest of some sort. They didn’t croak and they weren’t screeching, just wandering aimlessly on their spindly legs around the embankment and into the forest. The only noise they made was by clacking their beaks together. Jack gestured at them with the barrel of his gun.
Sam took a few large steps away from the group, back toward the tree line. Her team noticed.
Grimes and his team looked more than a little skeptical. “You had trouble with those?” he asked.
“They make a most disagreeable noise when they are frightened,” Teal’c said calmly.
“And we stirred them up pretty badly,” Daniel added.
Jack nodded his agreement and watched Sam look anywhere but the SGC team members. “We should head out in a minute. You guys okay to move fast?” he asked SG-14.
Grimes looked at his team one by one; they each nodded back. “We’re good to go.”
“Alright, we leave in five. Daniel, see if you can find Carter’s gear.” If Grimes and company wondered how Sam lost her stuff, they didn’t ask.
O’Neill approached Sam cautiously from the side and stood with his hands on his hips. “Carter,” he said quietly.
“Sir,” she answered, scuffing a boot on the ground.
He took a step closer and spoke quietly. “How are you to travel? Are you injured?”
“I can travel. I’m okay, sir.”
He looked at her for a long moment. “If at any point in time you become not okay, I expect to be notified. And in words, not sounds. Understood?”
Finally, she looked him squarely in the eye. “Yes, sir, understood completely.”
“We’re taking off in a couple of minutes. I sent Daniel to get your gear.”
“Thank you, sir. Uh, before we go, I’d like to wring out my socks and pee, sir. And not necessarily in that order.”
He had to grin impishly at that. “If I were you, Carter I’d have probably already peed.”
She ducked her head with a small, pale smile, then pointed a finger further into the woods. “Going, sir.” O’Neill watched her stalk away for a moment then joined Teal’c and Grimes.
The reality of being in the military - especially in the Stargate program - meant that privacy came second to security. When required, Sam had endured having Daniel, Teal’c and the colonel in very close proximity to her toilet functions and she had a certain level of tolerance for it. But only under the most dire circumstances and only with them. Having met her quota of humiliation for the day, she was determined not to be witnessed by anyone, especially from SG-14. She traveled a ways into the woods away from the others. When she finally thought she’d gone far enough, she chose the largest tree she could see.
She had just finished digging a small hole at the base of the tree with the heel of her boot when she heard a staff weapon discharge. Bolting upright, she heard the team leaders barking orders, then return fire.
“Damn it,” she hissed under her breath, “was it too much to ask to just get out of this cesspool?”
pressed herself to the tree and stole a look to the right. She
anything, so she turned and looked around the left side. At first, she
hear any more fire, so she thought they might have neutralized the
but then she heard that distinctive whump
and saw a bolt of blue energy fly and one of the enemy
to decide whether to try and get back or just wait it out where she
almost missed a stealthy movement less than ten yards from her
position. It was
the last hostile
inched around the tree to the right, then sneaked a peek to see if
Sam was in a quandary now; she was in the perfect position to take them both out, if she’d had her weapon. Even with no one to witness it her cheeks flushed with shame.
Shouting to the others would only draw enemy fire. Making a run for the line of defense would have the same effect. Just standing there doing nothing was unacceptable. It was her fault they were in this mess; she was damn well going to do something to get them out. Suddenly, she had a plan.
to a crouch, Sam scooped up two handfuls of moist, black soil and
into her blonde hair. She peeked around the tree again to check the
position and was gratified to see he’d only moved a couple of
crouch-walked away from the tree on the side opposite the creeping
Carter moved to close the gap between them, she heard the one with the
weapon exchange a few more rounds with the SG teams, and suddenly he
cry out in pain. Shortly, Sam heard a projectile weapon fire a single
The creeper muttered angrily and rose to sit on his heels, craning his neck trying unsuccessfully to get a glimpse of his comrade through the undergrowth.
Unarmed, Sam’s plan had been to engage him while he was completely horizontal. That plan was busted, and she didn’t have a new one.
Suddenly she heard O’Neill’s voice ring through the woods. “Carter!”
watched as the
“Sam!” she heard Daniel call, sounding more than slightly panicked.
Instinctively, she dropped flat to the ground. It wasn’t a moment too soon; scant seconds later his feet brushed past her head, ruffling her mud-caked hair and nearly giving her heart failure. She counted to ten and raised her head cautiously. He was less than ten feet away, creeping his way closer to her teams.
CARTER!” Colonel Grimes yelled. His was the closest voice yet
- far too close.
Sam was out of options. She cast about for a weapon of any kind - a stick, a rock, anything. All she found was a huge black frog, toddling toward her on its bird-like feet. Suddenly the frog stopped and assessed her from the feet up. Woman and frog stared one another down for a few seconds, then the creature did a surprisingly agile about-face began clambering away.
Oh no you don’t.
a shudder, Sam reached down and snatched it up by the hind legs.
smashed the ten-pound frog against the
“COLONEL!” she howled. She didn’t care which one she got.
“Ssssskkkkkrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeee!” the frog protested, struggling in her grasp.
came barreling through the forest tangle with Daniel hot on his heels.
skidded to a halt in front of the dead
Grimy almost beyond recognition, the major stood holding a canteen in one hand and a dead frog in the other.
“Sir,” she said, nodding in greeting. “Anybody have a bag I could put this in?” she asked, waving the beast in his direction.
“I do,” said Captain Harper, who fished a large specimen bag out of a vest pocket.
Teal’c arrived just in time to hear Daniel quip to Jack, “Okay, I got to shoot somebody, we’ve got our people back, and Sam’s even got herself a souvenir. Can we go home now?”
“Why, yes we can, Daniel,” the Colonel replied with mock graciousness. He looked around at the rest of them and said. “Seriously, hit the road. Now.”
They hit it.
The trip back to the gate clearing was much faster – and hotter – in the light of day.
Jack, Daniel and Teal’c had surreptitiously kept a watchful eye on Sam as they’d trekked back through the boggy wood. She hadn’t been five feet from a member of her team since the moment they’d departed the noxious lake and its repulsive inhabitants. She knew it was far too much to hope that they’d just let it slide; that she could make it all go away by putting on a perky face and pretending it never happened.
So she wasn’t surprised when upon reaching the edge of the clearing, O’Neill asked Grimes’ team to check the perimeter. Sam stood in the shade, sharing a drink with Daniel and Teal’c. The moment the other team was away, the colonel approached his major front and center. She was busy inspecting her boots.
“Carter…” he said warningly. Reluctantly she raised her head and looked him in the eye.
Jack looked out briefly at the open field. “I figure you have about five minutes max to tell me what went on with you today, before we gate home and you have a chat with the Doc.”
“Sir, I’m sorry…” she started, but he cut her off.
“I know we’re all tired and a little ragged, but you took the off ramp to Looneyville out there…
“I believe the clinical term for it is ‘altered’,” Daniel interjected.
“…I need to know if this was a one-time thing or if you…if we,” he gestured to include all of them, “have a problem we need to deal with.”
Sam was already shaking her head. “No problem, sir. One time only, sir.” Her eyes were huge and earnest, and she fostered a tiny, frail hope that her assurance was all it would take - until Daniel opened his mouth again.
“Seriously Sam, what the hell happened? You scared the living crap out of us all. I didn’t think you were capable of screaming, let alone so…” he trailed off. “Just, bugnuts. Wow.”
“Am I right?” he looked at Teal’c and motioned for input.
“You are correct, Daniel Jackson,” He nodded at the archaeologist. To Sam, he said, “If I possessed hair, it would still be standing at end.”
His delivery and the mental image made Daniel chuckle and the colonel grin. Sam gave him a weak, watery smile.
Jack’s levity was short-lived. “Carter?” he said quietly. “You got about three minutes left.”
She knew she owed them an explanation and if she didn’t want the episode to haunt her even more than it already would, it had to be now. She stood up straight, took a deep breath and spoke.
“Tenth grade. Two years younger than everyone else in class. Biology class, varsity football squad, cheerleaders.”
Daniel and Jack winced, Teal’c nodded.
“Quarterback fails, cheerleaders get mocked by teacher, skinny new girl gets the answers right every time.”
She looked, making sure they were following her Cliffs Notes version of the story
“Quarterback wants to impress cheerleader. After school, squad and cheerleaders blindfold girl, drag girl to biology lab, throw her in tank of dissection subjects. Bullfrogs.”
The humiliation of her experience is evident in the deep flush of her skin, from her scalp to the neckline of her t-shirt. She looked them each in the eye, willing them to understand.
Jack’s face crinkled in distress. Daniel reached out and took her hand. Teal’c’s eyes narrowed in anger.
Even at such a young age, Samantha Carter had been used to being in control, and she never got over the loss of it that day. She never forgot her shame at having been blind to their resentment or the degradation of being unable to defend herself.
The memories were never far away: hitting and kicking blindly, being lifted high and falling. The pain of her wrist striking something thin and hard. The shock of her body hitting the water and sinking below the surface.
“I nearly drowned before I got the pillowcase off,” she continued softly. “Things didn’t get much better when I did – the frogs went nuts and so did I. The janitor heard me screaming and came running. I was covered in frog crap…” she waved a hand down her front, “and never lived down being hosed off in the mop sink before someone could drive me home.”
Their radios crackled to life. “Colonel O’Neill, we’ve got wide-open spaces. What say we blow this mudball?”
The colonel in question kept his eyes locked on Carter’s as he relayed his answer. “We say hell yes. Dial it up, we’ll meet you there.”
To the team he said, “So, no problem except Kermit’s ugly cousins. All I wanted to know. Last one through the gate buys Carter a beer. Or ten.” He turned and headed for the gate. His team followed.
At the bottom step of the gate platform, Daniel laid a hand on Sam’s arm as she started up. “I have a question.”
“What happened to the quarterback and the cheerleaders?”
She gave him a full-blown Sam Carter smile. He grinned back because it was impossible not to. “Detention, parent conference, the usual,” she said breezily, ascending the last three steps. “By odd coincidence, though, a few days later the quarterback’s Mustang blew up. In his driveway.”
She paused before the event horizon. “They never did figure out what happened,” she added, and stepped into the gate.
Daniel laughed out loud and followed her home.