2. Chapter Two
Declaimer on first chapter.
The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.
Uncertainty hung over the group. Their faces indistinguishable under the dark sunglasses and pieces of cloth covering their mouthes and noses. Nearby, the sounds of gunfire and explosions echoed throughout the mountainous valley. The sun was descending, darkening the landscape.
They were pinned down. They had to get out. That knowledge was ingrained into their bodies. They had the leave but their rational mind told them that escape was all but impossible.
"We have to get the hell outta here!" a gruff masculine voice whispered. His voice was controlled and without a hint of panic even as a bullet stuck scant inches from his leg.
"How the hell do you think we do that?" another whispered back. This one was also controlled but not nearly as much as the first. All his words were punctuated with a slight tremor of primal fear.
"We'll just have to wait them out. Then, we just find the package and get out." a calm male whispered to the other two. This man was a mixture of the two. His voice was controlled but the man couldn't stop the shaking that took over his hands.
"Fine." the gruff man said with a hint of anger.
"We are stuck here, then. Just great." the second man whined. He skunked back on his back into a hole that he occupied with three others.
"Quit your whining Yang and get back into position." a woman snapped.
"Whatever, Rodrigues." he replied dismissively.
"The Major would have killed you that comment, you know that right?" observed Rodrigues.
"She isn't here now. She stayed behind on base cuz of her messed up vision." He said.
Yang stuck his tougue at her which she retaliated by jabbing her elbow into his ribs.
"Shut up, you two." whispered the calm man.
"Ruin our fun, Junior Colonel W." Even the hardened Colonel's mouth quirked at Yang's comment.
Suddenly Rodrigues' good mood vanished. "Guys…I just heard something drop…" she said uneasily.
Everyone looked at her. Instantly everyone froze. They, all four of them, identified the object the second their eyes laid on it as it rolled into their little hole.
Then, there was a blinding flash coupled with a deafening roar.
July 13, 1998
Report to General Hammond
Personnel Reassignment to: Cheyenne Mountain
Personnel Reassigned: Maj. Buffy Kenn Summers
Reason: Need to Know Only.
Gate Certification: Unneeded
Personnel 1st Meeting (Requested): August 2, 1998
Personnel arrival: August 6, 1998
Personnel Assignment: Join Flagship team
Highly Recommended from many to be unnamed Generals.
As ordered by General Marcus.
General Hammond was not happy. First, his car broke down on the way to the mountain. Then, a report from a General he had only ever heard of once was placed at his desk as he tried to enjoy a cold lunch since the microwave mysteriously stopped working.
It basically ordered him to put an unknown officer in his best field team. O'Neill wasn't exactly the kind of person that would allow just anyone to join his team, orders or not.
He could just feel a massive headache coming on.
"Walter? Do me a favor and round up SG-1. Also, I want you to make several copies of this file. I need to discuss something very important with them."
He sighed. He has a feeling this… wasn't going to end well. Either way it goes, in twenty minutes, he was going to find out.
"Hey, General! You called?" Jack's cheerful voice bounced into the briefing room. As he entered, he gave him a quick salute. Behind him, Captain Carter, Dr. Jackson, and Teal'c came in and sat down around the table. Already on the table was a folder containing information for each of the four members. The General, unlike his subordinates, still stood at the head of the table.
"Colonel, your team and I have some serious matters to attend to."
Sam frowned as she skimmed through the file and asked, “What is this, Sir? A service file?"
"That's what I need to talk to you about." General Hammond took a deep breath and continued, “SG-1 will gain a new member. A Major Buffy Kenn Summers."
"Um, Sir? Do you think it would be such a good idea to assign her to our team?" It was sort of bad to assign a newcomer to the Stargate program to the most unlucky of it teams, even a blind mind could see that.
"Carter. Really? That's the first question you ask?" He turned without giving her a chance to respond and faced the General, "Now, is Buffy her real name?"
The General ignored Jack's question and turned to answer the Captains'. "I've been given no choice in the matter."
"By who?" Sam seemed not to know the saying, curiosity killed the cat.
"General Marcus." Hammond said with a hint of bitterness in his voice.
"General Marcus? I've never heard of him."
"It’s better if you don't know who he is, Captain. He's in charge of many high risk and highly classified projects." The General said gravely.
"Anyways, what about this Buffy girl? Why is she joining OUR team? Why can't she join one of the others SG teams?" Jack asked. Everyone turned and looked at him. At some point, Jack began doodling stick figures fighting each other on the file cover. Daniel and Sam both looked at him and rolled their eyes. Teal'c raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
Hammond, on the other hand, stayed impassive. "The order was quite specific. She is to be put in SG-1."
"But she's a newbie at this! She has no idea what to expect off world! She could put my team in danger! C'mon, General!" Jake whined.
"I guess you’re going to show her the ropes then, Colonel." With that said, General Hammond turned and left, leaving SG-1 to discuss the recent development.
"Well, what are you going to do, Jack?"
"Daniel, I'll wait and see if this girl can survive her first mission off world. Then, if she can't handle it, she's out."
August 1, 1998
She hated Colorado Springs. The quiet neighborhood. The carefree atmosphere that surrounded most of the people. She didn't want to be here.
This was the first time since she graduated from the Academy, she had been stationed indefinately on American soil. It was like coming to a foreign land to her. During the last few years, she spent a total of 6 months per year in the U.S. It didn't feel like home anymore. No longer was a land home. Now it was the people she lived with that had made her feel at home.
Her previous superiors had tried to make the transition easier by giving her a home twenty minutes from the Mountain Complex. It was fairly secluded, the nearest neighbor five hundred yards away, and included a small barn not far away from the house.
When she learned of the barn, she had her childhood horse,Shadow named in honor of his deceased sire, brought from Texas. He was a 6 year old, bay colored, thoroughbred that her Uncle Mark bred with one of his other horses. Mark, taking the opportunity, delivered Shadow himself. They spent a week together, getting her house and barn sorted out, before he had to leave. She was glad to have him visit no matter how short it was.
She then began to attempt to socialize with her neighbors. The first two days, they were wary as they should be but soon warmed up. She made it to first name bases on many of the people that lived around her which was a great accomplishment in her opinion.
Finally, it was night before she was to meet her new team. She really wasn't looking forward to meeting them. A new team meant new attachments. She didn't think she could handle losing another team or team member. Losing her first team was hard enough.
She sighed deeply and rubbed her head in frustration. Just because she didn't want a new team, her personality won't allow her to simply idle by and let another person to fight in her place. After all, it was her destiny to fight the good fight. She could help and she knew it.
She sighed again. Tomorrow, she would meet her new team. She might as well look nice doing it.
Sam had been in her office for five minutes when the General came strolling in and told her to gather SG-1 at 1100 in the briefing room. When he left the room, she proceeded to write it down on a piece of paper she had lying around.
An hour later, SG-4 came in a dropped of some artifacts for her to study. Soon, she was so engrossed in her work that she didn't noticed the time pass by.
August 2, 1998
Buffy arrived at the Mountain at precisely fifteen till, giving her time to find her way under what she assumed was an underground maze. She also assumed there would be a guide provided, but with her luck, she could never be sure.
She left her car and headed for the entrance. As she entered, the guards at the checkpoint handed her step by step instructions on how to get to the briefing room. No guide after all, but at least she had a mental map to go by.
Why it had to be 27 floors underground was beyond her.
Ten minutes later, she walked through the doorway and into the briefing room. She raised an eyebrow as she surveyed her surroundings. In the middle of the room was a table large enough to seat ten people comfortably. On the opposite end of where she was standing, was gigantic window where you could see a huge rock ring. She wondered why they would have a piece of rock just hanging around in the most secure base in America but filed it away for later.
Before she could think any more of it, the sound of footsteps reached her ears. She turned toward the sound of the opening door and saw a man that looked, to her anyways, strangely like Homer Simpsons.
"Major Summers?" he asked questionably. At her nod, he continued. "I'm General Hammond."
She stiffened and saluted the general. The General took the opportunity to study her. She had chosen to wear her formal uniform to their little meeting. The uniform consisted of pants, in the place of the usual skirt for woman, and a surprising amount of ribbon bars on the jacket. She also had the formal cap in her hands.
"At ease, Major. Take a seat."
"General Hammond, it’s an honor to meet you." Buffy said sincerely.
"Likewise Major. Now, we'll wait for your new team mates to arrive so we can continue. Is that alright with you?"
'No,' she thought. She didn't want to meet them at all but instead of voicing her feelings, she simply said, "Yes, sir."
They both sat in silence and waited.
"Sir? It is normal for them to be this late?" Buffy wasn't one to be so impatient but, with the emotional roller coaster she was going through, she was at wits' end.
"No." He looked to the side, through the doorway, a called out to a passing airmen.
"Airmen, go and find SG-1 and bring 'em here." The airmen nodded and went out of view.
After he left and the General faced her directions once more, she asked, "Are you from Texas, sir?"
"Yes. I'm from Austin."
"Cool. You know, I've lived in Texas for 7 years." Buffy said pridefully.
"Really? Where did you live?"
"On the outskirts of Casper."
"Farm country, eh?"
That was the start of a 'Get to Know a Stranger' conversion.
"I couldn't help but notice your uniform is a bit different then what they’re supposed to look like." General Hammond commented.
"Oh, well I asked my superior at the time to allow me to switch the skirt to pants. It made me feel better."
"Why did it make you feel better?" Hammond asked curiously
"Because I can run in it and, as an added bonus, stash knives easier."
"Do you have any knives on you now?"
"I prefer not to answer that."
"Where's that airmen you sent to get your flag team?"
"I don't know…"
"I hope he's ok…"
"Wanna play Tic-Tac-Toe?"
Hammond sighed. "Might as well."
Flashback - 15 mins. ago
The airmen who Hammond sent to get SG-1 ran through the halls. He was so focused on that single task, he didn't noticed a banana peel right outside the mess hall. He slipped on it, hit his head on the floor and passed out.
His messege never got through in time.
Teal'c had heard of many odd customs the Tau’ri participated in but this by far the strangest. Why would they destroy perfectly good vehicles was beyond him. Granted, they were huge and would crush any smaller vehicle on the street but still.
He watched a yet another vehicle get destroyed. Oddly enough, the destruction was starting to exhilarate him. Soon, he was enchanted, watching many other vehicles damaged and destroyed.
He grinned a madly grin.
Daniel was in paradise. That morning, a book from Ancient Egypt that dated back to 1st century, arrived in his office. He had been waiting for months for it to arrive.
The information within its binding was invaluable to him. Oh…and the program.
Jack was having a wonderful day. In the morning, in his driveway, he found ten bucks which was nice. As he drove to work, there was no traffic. When he got to the mountain and just so happened to go through the mess hall, one of the airmen assigned there had accidentally made Jell-O instead of soup. How? No one knew and no one complained. Jack somehow managed to sneak a large plateful away from the mess hall and into his office. He pushed away the stacks of paperwork on his desk and began enjoying the Jell-O-y goodness.
He didn't notice the hours pass as he, after eating the Jell-O, decided to take a little nap. He was then, in his opinion anyway, rudely wakened by Sam.
"Ugh! Carter! What do you want?" Jack asked. He rubbed his eyes to clear the drowsiness his 'little nap' caused.
"Sir! We were supposed to meet the General at the briefing room at 1100! Its already 1250!" That instantly cleared any lingering sleepiness right up.
"What are we waiting for? Let's go!" Both Sam and Jack ran through the door and into the hallway, in perfect sync with each other.
"We have to get Daniel and Teal'c! They haven't been told." Jack cursed at that piece of information.
"Who was in charge of giving out the information?!"
Sam reddened. "It was my job, sir. General Hammond came into my office at 630 this morning and told me to notify you and the others about the meeting. After he left, I got distracted by some artifacts SG-4 brought from PX4-481. Sorry, sir."
"Don't worry about it now, Carter. Let's just go find Daniel and Teal'c."
15 minutes earlier…
"General. Where exactly is this team that I'm supposed to join? Was the meeting not scheduled to start at 1100?"
General Hammond took a calming breath. He could understand the frustration coming from the Major. "I have no idea where SG-1 is, Major and yes, the meeting was supposed to start at 1100."
The Major didn't reply. Instead, she stood from the seat she had taken and walked over to the window overlooking the gate room.
Abruptly, the Major turned and headed toward the door and stopped at the doorway. Without turning, she said, "General. I'm afraid I have to leave now. I didn't expect to stay here for so long. I have a prior engagement I have to attend."
"Can't you reschedule it?"
She turned her head slightly, allowing the General to see a small, sad smile break across her face. She didn't say anything for a few seconds. Then, she quietly answered. "I can't reschedule, sir. I have to catch a flight today destined for Arlington."
General Hammond didn't know how to respond to that. There was only one reason she would to head to Arlington. Instead, he simply nodded and allowed the Major to leave.
20 minutes later…
SG-1 barreled through the hallway leading up to the briefing room. Behind them, they left a trail of trampled airmen, knocked over papers and general confusion as most didn't see the blur that hit/passed them in the hallway. Sam was the first of the team to burst into the room. She saw General Hammond sitting on the table. His face was clear of any emotion.
"General! I'm so sorry! I got distracted with a couple artifacts SG-4 brought back from their mission on PX4-481. Then, when I realized the time, it was already 1250 and I had to run all over the base to gather up the Colonel, Daniel and Teal'c and…"
"That's enough, Captain. We all make mistakes once and awhile. Admittedly, this wasn't the best time make one."
"Uhh…General? Where's Summers? Wasn't she supposed to be here?"
"She had to leave." He left it at that. Even though he didn't know her that well, he wasn't just going to blurt out that she's gone to a funeral.
Jack raised an eyebrow. "Really… are you sure she didn't just scamper off?"
"Yes, I'm sure Colonel. She had to be at a very important place today."
"That's for me to know, Colonel. Well, since the Major isn't here, you all are dismissed. There no longer is a reason to be here." He was beyond tired and just wanted to be left alone.
She planned on taking a flight from Colorado Springs to Washington D.C. then taking a car to her hotel and then go to Arlington National Cemetery to her comrades' funeral.
She learned long ago that plans don't always go as planned.
The meeting in the Mountain the never happened, took a lot longer then she had anticipated. After she left, she raced to the airport just barely going the speed limit. Once in the airport, she easily passed through Security. Then, she would had missed her flight if she hadn't ran from the last Security checkpoint to the gate.
While on the airplane, she had received many curious looked mostly from teenagers and adults. Thankfully, none bothered her on the three hour flight.
She took a cab to her hotel room and rested up a bit.
The next morning a Lieutenant was already waiting with a military car outside. Before she entered the car, she looked up. The weather was ominous. Dark clouds dominated the sky. In her experience, with clouds like those, there was no doubt it was going to rain. She shook her head clear and entered the car.
After twenty minutes on the road, they arrived at the cemetery. Then, it was time for the funeral to begin.
"As for the last request of these Air Force Officers, they are to be buried together. Like how they all lived, served and died together. Forever, they would remain, side by side."
She didn't hear anymore. The crush of emotion overwhelmed her. She felt tears prickle in her eyes but she quickly wiped them away.
She felt a tug on her leg. She looked down and saw Rodrigues' ten year old brother, Jorge. With his sister gone, he was now the oldest with two younger siblings. He looked at her with pain in his eyes. She understood what he wanted. She knelt on one knee and hugged him. She gave him a sad smile and simply said, "Jorge.."
He sniffled. She put a hand on his shoulder and proceded to hug him tightly.
With that, he began crying. She held him as his parents glanced at her, a child on each of their arms, and they began to weep. They were lucky. At last understood what was happening.
Other children, West's and Yang's, asked the adults around them why their daddies were being buried. They were too young to understand and, hopefully, too young to remember this sad, mournful event.
As the service ended, the skies opened up and released a drizzle of rain. It was as if the skies themselves wept for the dead.
A/N: I want to thank all service members who have risk life and limb to preserve our freedom. You men and women are my heroes. :]
For love of country they accepted death...
--James A. Garfield