DISCLAIMER: See part one.
Chapter Eight: Show and Tell
The next morning, Cassandra entered her room just a couple of minutes after she came to her senses. Samantha couldn't help but admit that she really missed Janet's comforting presence right next to her and decided that sleeping without her really sucked. Having Cassy here was at least something, in her book. However, it wasn't enough.
"Hey Sam, you all right? Mom told me you got hurt fighting Nirrti."
"I'm all right, little one. Got kicked around a little, but Consort Xena was there in time to stop her. Did she hurt you, Cassy?"
The teenager smiled reassuringly. "No, Sam, she didn't. At least I don't think so. She ran a lot of tests. Mom also put me through all kind of tests; she didn't find anything. However, she wants to do a few more when we arrive on Gaia."
"How do you feel about spending the rest of your holidays away from Earth, Cassy? You don't have to; you know. It's entirely up to you. Colonel O'Neill's offer to take you fishing still stands."
"Fishing? I don't think so. Uncle Jack is fun but fishing it really sucks." Samantha raised an eyebrow. "Sorry, Sam, but it's boring. He never catches anything; I even doubt that there are any fish in this pond of his. I'd rather have you teaching me how to tree walk. Now, that sounds like fun. I'm really looking forward to this. Mom called. I'm to tell you that Queen Gabrielle and the President agreed on an alliance. Daniel and you are expected to join her, Uncle Jack, and the others in Washington; meanwhile Teal'c will help me pack. Mom put some clothes on the bed in your quarters. Do you need help?"
"No, I can manage but you still could join me and fill me in on what happened while I was confined to the infirmary."
Samantha and Daniel met the Amazons in the gate room. Soon after, a white light was enveloping all of them and a few heartbeats later they found themselves in what Samantha presumed to be the Amazon's base on the moon. Ilianna exchanged a few words with the woman apparently in charge and took a long, round packet from her. Once again they were enveloped in a white light and found themselves in some sort of hotel room.
The blonde major barely acknowledged the presence of her superior officer by nodding in his direction; her attention solely focused on Janet. Three steps forward and her arms closed firmly around the smaller body. "I missed you, Jan."
"Missed you too, Sammy-baby," the doctor whispered back while trying to give the impression of checking her patient. "We're making a show out of ourselves, my love."
"I don't care, love you."
Before Janet could answer, Colonel O'Neill chimed in. "So, now that Carter finally has ended her beauty sleep, can we get on with the program, your majesty?"
Janet used the distraction to place a quick kiss on her taller lover's mouth, very aware of the danger it put them in but also of how much Samantha right now needed the reassurance.
"You have a point, Colonel," the Queen answered. "Ilianna and two of the guards will accompany you to the Air Force Academy. We decided to start our co-operation with the implementation of a new hand-to-hand training's program. The Joint Chiefs want proof that it's superior to our usual routine. Daniel Jackson and the rest of us will go to the Smithsonian Institution to talk with his friend. Did you bring the scroll, Ilianna?"
"As you requested, your majesty, one of the early ones about the Titans."
"Definitively not the one I would have chosen. I was such a wide-eyed, stupid child then. Well, I'll live. Let's go."
Neither Samantha nor Janet missed the friendly squeeze and the quiet words Xena had for her Queen. "Not stupid, my love, just a tad naive and excitable and only you were capable of sending them back to sleep. I was so proud of you that day."
"Charmer!" The small blonde whispered.
Half an hour later, they asked for Doctor Levinson at the reception desk and were directed to the basement and a place called 'the hole'. It was Sunday morning, and the only light streaming out of a door was at the far end of the basement corridor. It was a room without the slightest bit of natural light; all visible walls were decorated with overflowing shelves from floor to ceiling, filled with books and artefacts.
In the middle of the room was an old wooden desk equally stacked with piles and piles of papers and folders, not facing the door but at an almost 30° angle. Behind the desk a head could be seen, dark brown hair with a strand of white at the left temple bent over and concentrated on something.
On the way over they had decided that Daniel would do the first round of talking without the others barging in or intimidating her. They still would be close enough to hear the entire conversation.
"Doctor Sabrina Levinson?"
There was no answer. "Doctor Levinson!"
"What the hell! It's my day off! I was told that I would be left alone on my days off; it was a guarantee. Put your request in my work-file and I'll tend to it as soon as possible." The head answered without looking up.
"Sabrina, it's me, Daniel. Please look at me." He unconsciously softened his voice, reacting to the cross of irritation, annoyance, distress, and frustration evident in his friend's words.
Finally, she looked up. "Daniel? Daniel Jackson? What are you doing here?" She placed her laptop on one of the piles at the front edge of her desk. She raised herself to her feet, taking a few steps forward and gathering the archaeologist in a hug. They finally parted.
"It's a rather long story but we don't have time to go into any details right now, Sabrina. A friend of mine gave me something and I want you to have a look at it. I think, it might confirm your theories."
"Confirm my theories? You've got to be kidding, Daniel. They didn't believe me then, and they won't now. My scientific fate isn't any different than yours."
"Please, just have a look at it." He handed the scroll to the red-haired woman who was only slightly shorter than himself.
She took it and slowly studied it from the outside, immediately recognising the fragments of the broken seal. She unrolled it and her eyes lit up in wonder. She stared at the handwriting, noting every familiar curve and dot. She began to read out loud.
"I am Gabrielle, bard of Poteidaia, and I sing of a time of darkness, when the Gods played with the lives of the mortals, when a world in turmoil and fear cried out for a hero. There was only one woman who took up the challenge. She was a warrior, her strength won in countless battles. Her soul had once been imprisoned by darkness, but she found her way back to the light. She now fights for those who cannot fight for themselves.
"Daniel, this is incredible. She always varies the introductory words but it's definitively her style and her handwriting. The parchment is old, but it's been perfectly preserved. I've never seen one in such a mint condition. I'm almost sure that it's genuine; there's only one thing I yet have to check."
She turned slightly to get a better angle in the artificial light, concentrated on the bottom of the scroll. Her elbow inadvertently brushed against the pile of papers the laptop was resting upon. It became unbalanced and started to fall down. Samantha, who had been watching from the sidelines together with the others, reacted immediately. She launched herself forward as if intending to save a rare artefact and caught the machine before it could crash.
"Gotcha!" The tall blonde answered with a grin.
"Nice catch, Sam! Need a hand up?"
"Always, Danny-boy." She took his hand, though they both knew that she didn't really need his help. "Care to introduce us?" Samantha asked as soon as she was back on her feet, had stepped around the desk, and placed the laptop securely on top of its seat.
"You're right, Sam. It's time to come clean." The Queen suddenly said.
She and her Consort, who had been nothing more than observers until then, now were standing in the doorway. Before she could say anything else the attention of the others was redirected to Sabrina Levinson when they heard a loud slap.
"And I thought you were different, Daniel." A very surprised archaeologist rubbed his cheek. "To put together a scam of such magnitude, just to once again humiliate me. Just get out of here, all of you, immediately! I refuse to take the bait."
"Doctor Levinson, I assure you, this is not a scam. The scroll is genuine," Gabrielle said, taking two short steps into the room. "Please give us at least the benefit of the doubt. I presume that you have been hurt before because of your dedication to your research. Had I known, we would have found another way to approach you. I apologise."
"I'm sorry, Brina. It never was my intention to hurt you. All I wanted was for you to know the truth. Is there anywhere we can go sit and talk?"
"It's I who's sorry, Daniel. I shouldn't have hit you. I apologise." Sabrina then turned her attention towards the two women still standing just inside the doorway. "You look like them. But you can't be they; they lived two thousand years ago."
"We know, that it's asking a lot. You don't know us, and you have no reason to trust us." Xena said in her deep voice. "Just give us a chance, please."
"But you can't be them. It's against every law of nature I know. It simply is unbelievable."
"I can imagine how you feel. I'm a scientist and until a few years ago I thought that everything in the world, in the universe has a logical, scientific explanation. Experience taught me otherwise. I can see the doubt in your eyes." Samantha said. "The stories about the warrior princess and the bard, don't they tell of them doing things that should be physically impossible?"
"Like coming back from the death and jumping a few hundred feet from a cliff onto the deck of a cursed ship, things like these?"
"Exactly, Doctor Levinson." The tall blonde said in a perfect, only half conscious imitation of Teal'c's deadpan manner.
"The things Xena does on a regular basis are one of the reasons no one believed me. Even I started to think of them as some sort of exaggeration, poetic licence, if you will." There was the sound of hurried footsteps coming closer. "Perhaps we should take this some place more comfortable and more private."
At this moment, a portly man wearing a dark grey three-pieces suit entered without even bothering to knock. He quickly looked around, dismissing most of the people present. His eyes locked on Gabrielle.
"Your Majesty, please accept my heartfelt apologies. It is just now that I was informed of your visit by the chief of staff to the President. I'm Doctor Rodney Tucker, the director of this institution. I'm sorry for the inappropriate welcome you received." He slightly turned his head. "This will have consequences, Doctor Levinson. I've been far too lenient with you. Now, your Majesty, if you would please follow me to the conference room; there are some refreshments waiting for you and your retinue."
"Director Tucker, I ass " Xena's hand on her forearm effectively silenced the red headed linguist. The raven-head then turned her attention to the rather short man.
"Mister Tucker, this isn't an official visit. The Queen came here to meet with Doctor Levinson, and Doctor Levinson only. Her research is of interest to the Queen and our Nation. It has nothing to do with her work here. However, we accept the use of your conference room for the rest of our talks. You may be excused, Mister Tucker. Sabrina, can you lead us there?" She said with a smile and a twinkle in her eyes.
A strange mixture of indignation and anger crossed the man's face at the Consort's obvious dismissal but his official persona quickly reasserted itself and he insisted on personally escorting them to the conference room. On the way up to the second floor he didn't stop talking for more time than he needed to fill his lungs with air. Queen Gabrielle looked at her Consort, and Xena sent a barrage of hand signals to the blonde Major, leaving Janet with question marks in her eyes and Samantha with a vague smile.
Director Tucker courteously held the door open when they arrived at the stately conference room. Samantha was the last one to step through, but turned around half-way. "Director Tucker, may we have a word?"
"Who the hell do you think you are?" He retorted, seemingly not intimidated by her topping him more than a couple of inches.
"Major Samantha Carter, United States Air Force," the door closed behind her, "on temporary assignment in the service of Queen Gabrielle and her retinue. You're being alerted by an official channel equals a security breach of unacceptable proportions. I want you to give me the name of the person or persons who informed you of this private visit. Should this make the papers, you won't like the consequences."
"Queen Gabrielle is an official dignitary. I won't give in to military intimidation."
Samantha's eyes grew cold, blue changing to silver. "Mister Tucker, it would be in your best interest to listen to me, and listen carefully. Yes, I'm Air Force but that's none of your concern right now, and it has nothing to do with my current assignment.
"As Consort Xena already told you, this was intended to be a private visit, with the emphasis on private. The Queen is grateful for having the use of your facilities, but this won't change the nature of her visit, nor her need for privacy. I count on your sense of propriety to keep quiet about this visit if only for the sake of future contacts with the Nation.
"Angering the Queen has the potential of seriously impeding diplomatic relations between our two countries, and I assure you, you do not want to be on the receiving end of the President's temper if anything goes wrong."
Once again anger flickered over the man's face; once again it was gone in the blink of an eye. "I understand the Queen's need for privacy and will respect it. However, Doctor Levinson should have known better. There's a standing order that all visiting dignitaries have to be reported to the administration immediately. She always has been an embarrassment in the scientific field and I won't put up with it any longer. She has outstayed my patience."
"You may not give in to military intimidation. I don't give in to civilian posturing. Doctor Sabrina Levinson is not to blame. She has nothing to feel guilty for. We didn't introduce ourselves. She's a brilliant linguist, and I would consider it an honour would she be working with me. And believe me she really would be an asset."
"An asset? She's at best a pain in the behind, at worst a lunatic. She tends to get obsessed with details, to forget about the greater picture."
"The greater picture? Do you even know what the greater picture is?" Recognising the bland, self satisfied expression on the suited man's face an expression she had seen more times than she cared to remember on her superiors, her commanding officers, her teachers, Samantha's temper snapped. "I don't think you do. You don't have the intellectual capability to do so. Doctor Levinson's research is more important than you can even dream to imagine. And this research has nothing to do with your institute, and it has nothing to do with you."
About half an hour and a still rather angry director later, Samantha closed the big doors to the conference room. She quickly turned around and scanned the room. As always the Consort was easy to pick out in an assembly, being the tallest. She dropped on her right knee in front of the raven head.
"Your highness, please accept my apologies. I failed you. I have the names you wanted and as we speak they will be taken care of, but I'm afraid my interference made Director Tucker even angrier than before and he possibly intends to take out his anger on Doctor Levinson. I take full responsibility and accept any punishment for my failure." She lowered her eyes on the ground.
"Rise, Major Carter!" The Queen said. "We all know that this man is an arrogant prick with a chip on his shoulder the size of Mount Olympus and far too much power. Should it be necessary, I'll smooth things over with him, but at the moment I'm still optimistic that Doctor Levinson will take us up on our offer. You by now know the rough outlines. It now is time to make some proper introductions. Please, stand up, Sam. Daniel Jackson, would you please be so kind?!"
"It will be my pleasure, your Majesty. Sabrina, may I introduce Major Samantha Carter, US Air Force, doctor in astrophysics and philosophy, leading expert in wormhole physics, and Major Janet Fraiser, Chief Medical Officer of Stargate Command, medical doctor, apparently, expert in virology and infectious diseases, oh and in taming mouthy Colonels and big marines."
"Don't forget accident prone, bespectacled archaeologist, Daniel." Sam chimed in.
"Or frequently injured brilliant blondes." He bantered back.
"You're really with the military, Dan? How could you bring them here? All they do is kill people. Your majesty, may I be excused? I don't want anything to do with these people."
"Brina, please, forget the past for a moment. What I do with them is important. It saves lives." Daniel implored but the redhead wasn't that easily swayed.
"Forget the past? How could I? Forget the army transport that rammed her car and killed her, killed the only family I've ever known. The driver was drunk. So, don't you tell me to forget her, Daniel. It's hard enough to know that he walked away without paying for his crimes."
Samantha saw the genuine pain in the woman's eyes and answered. "I know how you feel, Doctor Levinson. I lost my mother in a car accident when I was fourteen. My father failed to pick her up because he was too busy with his work in the Air Force. She took a cab and died in the middle of a multi-car pile-up caused by a drunk driver."
"I'm sorry for your loss, Major, but it was nothing more than an accident. She wasn't murdered by the military."
The blonde's eyes found her lover's face and her encouraging smile. "My father's an Air Force General. Then he was a Lieutenant Colonel, Doctor Levinson. He forgot to pick her up at the campus because of some stupid meeting. It wasn't a question of life and death, just bureaucracy. When he told me what happened, I accused him of murder. I told him that he loved his job and his career more than her life; I told him he could as well have taken his sidearm and shot her."
Janet now was standing next to the taller woman, rubbing the small of her back with one hand while the other rested reassuringly on the blonde's shoulder. "It took me a long time, but eventually I saw what having lost her had done to him and I forgave him."
"Doctor Levinson, before we came to you we ran a few database checks. The sergeant responsible for the death of your grandmother was sentenced to twenty years of prison. He killed himself two years later. He paid for what he did to you and the other two families who lost loved-ones." Xena's soothing voice said. "I think there is no one in this room who hasn't lost people we loved, and chances are that we will again in the future. That's the price we have to pay for living, but what we gain far outweighs this price, love, happiness, new friends, new experiences. This is what "
The beeping of a cell phone interrupted her. Xena fished a small communicator out of her back pocket and flipped it open. "Yes, I understand. Give us a few candledrops. We're not yet finished here. Wait for my signal." The tall woman turned her attention back to the others. "I'm sorry; we'll have to cut this short. My Queen, High Priestess Melosa relayed a message to the moon station. Egeria wants to speak with us as soon as possible, both of us. Melosa said that it's urgent."
"Both of us? That's strange. She tends to cut our conversations short whenever you come with me, and refuses to explain her reasons."
"We'll soon find out, my love, but I doubt that this request is about me." The tall woman answered with sadness tinting her voice.
"We'll see. We have to leave now. Our presence is needed at home, but first, please hear our offer, Sabrina Levinson. The scrolls about the warrior princess you know of are only a fraction of what I had written at the time. When we left Greece a lot of them were left behind and were lost. I sort of had to write new versions. We want you to find the rest of the missing scrolls and will provide you with all the funds necessary. There must be at least another score of them. To do this successfully you will have to familiarise yourself with our life here on Earth and all the things we did. We could give you digital copies but to really get a feel for them you should study the originals, on Gaia."
"Where's the catch?"
"We want your word of honour that nothing you'll learn will be revealed to the public on Earth without my permission. Earth is not ready to know. Samantha, Janet, and Daniel Jackson will answer all of your questions. Just keep your mind open for the unbelievable. Major Carter, as of now, Sabrina Levinson has top security clearance. Just put it in your report as a direct order and the President will approve."
Samantha wanted to ask if the Queen were really sure about this. It had the potential to become a security nightmare, but one look at the Consort let her keep quiet. "Yes, your Majesty."
"Here, Sam, take this. We'll call as soon as possible." Gabrielle handed her another one of the tiny cell phones. Xena pressed a button on her own device; the two of them were immediately enveloped in a white light and disappeared.
Sabrina stared at the ground where they stood only a heartbeat before with her mouth hanging open.
"Doctor Levinson, I once again apologise for making your life here harder by further angering the director. Talking to the natives and calming them usually is Daniel's job."
"Dan, did I just drop straight into an episode of Star Trek or The Twilight Zone? Is this a trick? How did they do it?"
"You'll have to ask Sam for the technical details, Sabrina, but no, it defiantly isn't a trick. Just give us a chance to explain. The universe is much more intriguing than even the most imaginative of science fiction writers ever would have thought possible. It's all true: thousands of different worlds and different cultures, big bad enemies, new strange friends. It's all true, please, trust us."
"I'll try, Daniel. And there's nothing to apologise for, Major Carter. This man could easily exhaust the patience of an archangel. It is me who has to apologise. I tend towards aggression when I'm confused. At first I thought you all were totally nuts and now I wait for little green men to appear out of thin air."
"Actually, they're grey."
"Daniel, you've spent too much time with Colonel O'Neill." Janet chastised him. "I can understand that you're confused, Doctor Levinson. It's a lot to take in at once. Perhaps we should leave this place and go somewhere where you feel more comfortable; your office, our hotel, wherever. We could have room service and get to know each other better."
"Let's go to my apartment. It's only ten minutes on foot and there should be enough stuff in the fridge to put something together if you don't mind vegetarian food."
The other three nodded enthusiastically. Home-cooked meals were scarce with their usual schedules, even for Janet who had a teenager to feed.
"I'm still not comfortable with you being part of the military or working with them, but I trust you, Daniel, and as strange as it sounds to me, I'd really like to trust you too, Majors."
"Why don't you start by calling us Sam and Janet? It could help you to see beyond our ranks." Janet answered.
"Let's go, and please, call me Sabrina." They left the Smithsonian through a back door after having picked up the laptop and jacket left in the 'hole'.
It was only shortly after midday, but the narrow street they followed was mostly dark. The creepy atmosphere sent Samantha immediately into soldier mode. Her senses concentrated on the outside world she almost jumped out of her skin when Sabrina suddenly asked.
"If you hold the Air Force responsible for your mother's death, why did you join them?"
"There are a lot of reasons. My godfather made me understand that any other job also had the potential to keep my father from picking her up. The Air Force was the only connection I had to my father, the only thing he could relate to. But that was only a bonus."
Samantha knew that she never was this open to her colleagues but she also had sensed the Queen's need to draw the redheaded woman on their side. If she had learned one thing during her sessions with the Consort it was that sharing one's feelings and thoughts was not a sign of weakness.
"From the moment I was big enough to climb a chair and look through my mother's telescope I knew that I wanted to become an astronaut. I wanted to be the first woman to walk on the Moon, the first human travelling to Mars. The Air Force was the only way to come close to that goal."
"And did you realise your dream?"
"I found something better, much bet Danny, hostiles in front; cover our six. Janet, protect Sabrina. I'll deal with them."
The road in front of them was suddenly blocked by four broad shouldered men armed with baseball bats and Sam didn't have her gun.
"Give us your money and jewellery, and we might let you go to live another day," the biggest of the thugs said, the bat resting almost casually on his shoulder. He topped Samantha by far more than half a foot.
"We don't have anything worth your efforts. It would be in your interest to let us go unharmed." Samantha said in the vain hope of reasoning with the men.
"Three good looking chicks! You bet your ass, there's something worth our efforts, blondie." The man to the leader's right said and tried to reach around Samantha to grab Janet.
He found himself on the ground, his arm at an off angle, obviously broken. The man to her far left started forwards, his cry "You bitch!" cut short by a roundhouse kick to his throat, which propelled him to the ground but left her slightly unbalanced.
The first one used this opening to his advantage and the club grazed her ribcage. She hissed in pain but immediately compensated. She dropped to the ground, grabbed the discarded bat from the second man, and brought it up in time to block another attack aimed for her head. The rebound hit the man in the head, not hard enough to knock him out but hard enough to give her a chance. Samantha got inside his defences, punched his throat, and followed up with a knee to his groin. He sank to his knees and a jab to the chin knocked him out.
Meanwhile her second attacker had regained his feet and drew a six inch blade. He still had some problems breathing from the blow to his throat but that didn't make him any less dangerous. Two down, two more to go. Samantha kept the fourth in her line of sight while she fended of his rather clumsy attempts. She simply knocked him out with her elbow and the fourth one suddenly wised up and ran.
Meanwhile Daniel had taken care of a fifth one sent to keep them from running.
"You okay, Sam?" Janet snapped to doctor mode.
"Yes, Jan. I'm all right. My ribs might need re-bandaging, that's all. Let's go before these guys decide to wake up."
A few minutes later they arrived at Sabrina's apartment. The linguist had been strangely quiet since the fight. Reading Samantha's and Janet's body language Daniel decided to give them some privacy and dragged Sabrina away to buy something to drink.
The liquor store was only half a block down, and a quarter of an hour later they re-emerged with a six-pack of bud and two six-packs of root beer.
"Dan, you could have asked. I have beer back home and besides, shouldn't we report this to the police?"
"It's not about the beer, Brina. Sam and Janet need some time alone. Sam tends to act out the soldiers-know-no-pain routine when she feels observed."
"Typical military mind-set." Sabrina snorted.
"No, not really. Most soldiers I know are cry-babies as soon as they enter Janet's infirmary. Sam is different. She is stoic and calm and rational, a scientist to the core. Her IQ ratings are so far off scale one can get dizzy even thinking about it. At the same time she is the best friend one can have. She is funny and compassionate, kind-hearted and loving."
"Sounds as if you have a crush on her."
"It would be easy to fall in love with Sam, and I really love her, as a sister and one of my best friends. Stargate Command has forged a very strange, very big family."
An almost uncomfortable silence descended, so, Sabrina decided to change the subject. "The police; why didn't you call them? I even had the impression that you never thought of doing so."
"Do you really want to spend hours on end on a police station, waiting for someone to write down your testimony, having to tell the same story time and again, having to identify them in a line-up, being called to testify a few months later, and all this only to let them go free because Sam didn't warn them about her combat skills?
"No, Brina. But I'm sure that Sam or Janet already have arranged something that will keep us out of it and land them in jail."
They opened the door to find Janet closing the last button on the blonde's shirt. "Hey, Daniel, I hope you brought something non-alcoholic. The Doc insists on giving me painkillers." Samantha said with a pout.
"I swear you took lessons from Cassandra. She doesn't get away with it, and neither will you. Sabrina, how about we go find something for lunch? Daniel, please help Sam to the couch."
The two women disappeared through the door and Daniel did as he had been told. "You okay, Sam?"
"Yeah, more or less. Janet said that one of the bruised ribs now is broken, but that it's not likely to cause any problems. The bone knitters on Gaia will take care of it. I'll be back to par in no time, Daniel. You didn't get hurt out there, right?"
"I'm fine, Sam. Give me some credit here, it was only one man, and you took on four of these guys. Jack never will believe me. I know you're good, but I don't remember you being this good."
"Gaia not only has good fighters but also good teachers, Daniel."
"Yes, it seems like you learned an awful lot, both of you." He let the silence linger for a moment. "I'm happy for you and Janet, Sam."
For a moment she looked at him like a deer caught in the headlights, and then she said. "Thank you, Daniel. Your support means a lot to us, both of us. We'll also have to tell Teal'c and the Colonel before we go back to the SGC. They deserve to know."
"Neither Teal'c nor Jack will let you down. Your happiness is all that counts for us, and for him. That it's someone as smart and beautiful as Janet will make it easier for him. You won't have to worry about SG-1, but at the base you'll have to be more careful than you were in this hotel room. Hammond probably will have a hard time, and I don't even want to think about what will happen should Kinsey or the NID find out."
"As Master Bratac would say: we'll cross that bridge when we come to the river. And General Hammond knows that I'm gay. I came out to my family when I turned eighteen."
"What about this Hanson fellow?"
"My one and only trip to boy-town and the biggest mistake I ever made. He was the son-in-law my father dreamed of; career military, a good field officer. He didn't want to know that he also was an abusive bastard. However, when I introduced them, it was the first time in the three years since I had come out that he spoke to me. He still thinks that being gay is nothing more than a phase, and that I'm just looking for mister right.
"In a way it's good that he's with the Tok'ra. That way it won't be so hard when he once again stops talking to me."
"Don't you think that blending with Selmac hasn't taught him a thing or two?"
"He has changed a lot but not that much. He's the most stubborn man in the known universe. Pass me a root beer?"
Meanwhile Janet and Sabrina had decided to go for a vegetable lasagna, and had a similar conversation after the small doctor had thanked Sabrina for the use of her emergency kit. "You're welcome, Janet. Who's Cassandra?"
"She's my daughter actually, she's our daughter. Sam and I raise her together. She just turned fifteen."
"You're not old enough to have a teenage daughter, Janet."
"I'm 33. It is possible. I adopted Cassandra when she was eleven. Her parents were killed and Sam saved her life. I didn't give birth to her, but nonetheless, she's my daughter." The small brunette said.
"You and Samantha make a cute couple."
"Thank you, I think."
"Cassandra is lucky to grow up with so much love."
Janet blushed. "It's a rather recent development. I only told her yesterday. She doesn't know yet. We have been best friends for years. But only a couple of weeks ago, we admitted to each other that there was more than friendship."
"Is it worth the risk? I mean this whole don't-ask-don't-tell thing?"
"We know the risk. We know this could ruin our careers and get our security clearances revoked. But, yes, it's worth it. Sam completes me. Can you pass me the onions?"
They worked for a few minutes in silence. "You're a doctor; you took a vow to save lives. Why did you join the Air Force?"
"In the last year of my residency, I butted heads with my superiors. They threw me out and my career was ruined before it began. An Air Force General recruited me, and it was the only chance to continue doing what I wanted to do, work as a doctor and help people. I learned how to use weapons, but I have never had to kill anyone and I hope I never will.
"My experience as a field medic as well as a CMO taught me that those who don't have problems with killing and hurting others are more of a danger to every team they are a part of than the enemy ever could be. It's reckless."
"What Samantha did out there in the street was pretty reckless in my book." Sabrina retorted.
"Our options were pretty limited. There was not enough time to call for backup. Sam was unsuccessful when she tried to talk to them; so, the only other option would have been to run, and that wouldn't have been possible with the guy behind us Daniel took out. Sam was injured not 24 hours ago. She had been badly beaten and wouldn't have been up to running. Taking them out as quickly as possible was our only viable option and even then, this big brute broke one of her ribs."
"Shouldn't this be checked out at a hospital?" The redhead wanted to know.
"She not only is my best friend; I'm also her regular physician. It's a clean break that won't cause any problems. Her ribs now are tightly bound. She'll be okay."
"I didn't want to accuse her, and I don't want to sound like an ungrateful bitch. But I never saw something like that, and it's left me disconcerted. She fought for all of us and took these bullies on as if it were an everyday occurrence. It was scary and eerily fascinating." Sabrina said cautiously.
"Sam is a fighter at heart but she also is a scientist to the core and she is a soldier, a very good soldier. But something like this is by no means an everyday occurrence. She spends days on end buried in her lab, surviving on coffee and blue jello alone. Everything she does, she does with great focus and intensity. She's a very complex woman and every time I think that I finally have figured her out, she goes and surprises me."
"I think you also are not easy to figure out, Janet. You were right, talking to you helped to alleviate some of my fears. There's only one thing I still don't understand." Sabrina said while putting the lasagna in the oven. "Why are you so honest with me? You don't know me; you have no reason to trust me. I could sell you out to the next tabloid."
Janet chuckled. "Never going to happen. Daniel told us that you're a friend. All these years you had the chance to turn your back to your research and make a name for yourself but you didn't. No, you'd never sell us out, not even for enough money to finance your research for the next ten years."
"Our dinner will need another half hour. Let's go back to the others. I have a lot of questions, and I still cannot believe that the two women I've seen in my office really are the Xena and Gabrielle from grandmother's scrolls. It's against everything I've ever learned."
"As Consort Xena said: Prepare to believe the unbelievable."
They talked the rest of the day and the better part of the night with Samantha dozing off every once in a while in Janet's arms. Sabrina went from astonishment to disbelief to incredulity to fascination to wide-eyed wonder. When Janet finally also had fallen asleep the two archaeologist-linguists where sitting on the floor nursing the last two beers.
"Do you know how incredible this all is, Dan?"
"What? Travelling to other planets? Fighting parasites with delusions of god-hood? Meeting immortals?" Daniel asked with a smile.
"Well, yes. But what I was really talking about is us, Dan, you and me. They all were laughing about our theories and you know what?! We were right all along."
"Damned ironic, isn't it?"
"Yeah!" They fell silent. After a while Sabrina had another question. "Doesn't it drive you crazy? To know that you were right and not being able to tell anyone?"
"Sometimes; I usually don't have the time to dwell on it, Brina. We really make a difference out there; it's ironic in a way. When I decided to follow the footsteps of my parents and grandfather, everyone thought that I was nuts. They told me that I was wasting my time and talent with dusty stones and dead languages, that it served absolutely no purpose. Then, I told them that knowledge about the past could help to understand the future and that's still true. But what I do now is different. SG-1 and the other teams save the world on almost a regular basis. We've freed a lot of people from oppression. Science fiction doesn't even come close to what we live through almost every day. There are times when I'm frightened out of my wits, but its well worth it. We gain so much."
"Now, you sound suspiciously like Consort Xena."
"Well, Brina, listen to the wisdom of age." He answered after having drained his bottle, and they both broke into giggles.
Blue eyes opened at the noise. She found herself outstretched on the couch, her head cradled in Janet's lap. The doctor's head was tilted backwards and she was snoring softly. "Danny," she whispered, "you're my witness. She does snore!"
"I don't hear anything, Sam. Don't forget, the woman you're talking about is in charge of my next physical and believe me, I'm not brave enough to risk an encounter with her really, really "
"Really big, honking needles. You're a wise man, space monkey." Janet mumbled still half asleep.
"Space monkey? Who did come up with this name?" The linguist asked.
"Jack O'Neill, our commanding officer," Samantha answered without giving up her comfortable position on Janet's legs, "another wise man afraid of a few measly needles."
"Not afraid enough to stop calling me names. Did you hear his last one? He really had the nerve to call me 'mini-Stalin'. Would you believe it? I rather prefer Napoleonic Power Monger." A suddenly very awake doctor said. "Colonel O'Neill has a very unique sense of humour. It's his way of dealing with things he cannot control."
"You know, he doesn't mean it in any derogatory way, Jan. It's also his way of showing respect without sullying his reputation as a cynic and without compromising the chain of command."
"There's no need to plead his cause, Sammy. Sometimes, he really can get on one's nerves, he does on yours, but he's a great commanding officer, and an even better friend. And, whether I like it or not, he's a great father figure and a good playmate for Cassy." 'And he's in love with my lover, but we won't mention that.' Janet thought to herself.
Samantha struggled to sit up and then asked. "Will you take Queen Gabrielle up on her offer, Sabrina?"
"I don't know yet. It's a big step and quite a handful to take in. I just learned that reality is far more fantastic than even my wildest dreams. I learned that the Warrior Princess and her Bard are not figments of anyone's imagination, but living and breathing women who just happen to be more than two thousand years old. I was given a chance of a life time. And to make things even more confusing I learned that the Greek and Roman, Egyptian and Norse Gods are nothing more than a race of parasitical beings intent on enslaving all of mankind.
"To make things even weirder, I saw my peace-loving friend Daniel, the one who was at my side during more freedom marches than I can remember, I saw sweet Daniel take down a muscle packed bully half a head taller than himself without breaking a sweat. And the biggest surprise of all: I find myself genuinely liking two members of the military. I think I have the right to be royally confused."
"I can at least partially relate to what you must be feeling right now," Janet answered. "Before I joined Stargate Command I was working as a virologist at the CDC. The work was challenging and I had a good time. Then I suddenly was reassigned, to take over as the CMO of a base at Cheyenne Mountain, presumably dedicated to deep space radar telemetry.
"At first I thought that I finally had pissed off the wrong member of the brass and that this was to be my punishment. When General Hammond told me what they were really doing, I was full of disbelief. I saw the gate in action, and I still didn't believe it. I read the mission reports and didn't believe it. I had to deal with my first staff wound and almost the whole base being reduced to Neanderthals to begin to understand that I was in for the greatest adventure of my life."
Sabrina didn't answer immediately. "Do you think I could get to know them better before deciding, the Queen and the Consort?"
"I think that's a great idea, Sabrina. The Queen will certainly approve. What about your job? When do you think you can get a few days off?"
"My job It's nothing to worry about. Last week, I was notified that my contract would not be renewed. I don't feel any obligation towards any of them, not Director Tucker, and not my co-workers. They're not exactly a friendly bunch. I'll have to go back to get my personal belongings, notes and books, and a few artefacts, leave my resignation note, and that's all I owe them."
Sabrina answered and the blonde astrophysicist instinctively knew that the Amazons would have to teach her more than just about the Queen's scrolls. They would have to help her get back her self-esteem and self-confidence.
"So, all we'll have to do is to wait for Consort Xena to call us on the cell she gave Sam and go and pack your things in the morning." Daniel said. "It's a quarter past three. We should all try and get some rest. I know we should go back to the hotel but I'm just to tired to move. I hope you don't mind when we crash here."
"Not a problem, Danny. Sam and Janet can snuggle on the couch and I'll get an air mattress and blanket for you."
It was a short rest. The cell phone rang at five past six. Samantha got it on the second ring, with Janet still soundly asleep right in front of her.
"Yes, your majesty. No, she hasn't decided yet. She asked for the chance to get to know you better, you and your people, before committing herself. No, she wants to resign. Yes, of course. Excellent idea. Going the direct way might freak her out, your majesty. I heed and obey, Queen Gabrielle. I'll do my best to prepare her. Yes, I'll send word as soon as possible."
When she put the cell away, she was greeted by Janet's sleepily blinking eyes, Daniel adjusting his glasses and sitting up, and the sound of Sabrina rummaging in the kitchen. A few minutes later, Samantha eyed her companions over the rim of her coffee mug. Janet and Daniel as always celebrated their first mug with almost religious intensity, and Sabrina seemed to be no different. She knew from experience that she wouldn't get more than a grunt out of Janet, and not even as much from Daniel. On off-world missions Samantha always has a family-sized packet of espresso candies in her pocket to get him going.
All three of them were focused on the black brew right in front of them. For her, coffee was a way to stay awake when one had to but for enjoyment she personally preferred tea.
"So, Sam, what did the Queen say?" Daniel finally asked.
"She wants us to return to Gaia not later than midday local time; that gives us roughly seven hours to work with. She didn't go into any details but it has to do with some sort of ritual she wants us to participate in, Janet and me; and the rest of you to bear witness. They will activate the transporter on the moon station as soon as I give them the signal and we will return to Gaia through their gate. She also said that she will take care of your resignation letter, emphasising your worth for the Amazon Nation. It will also hold the door open should you decide to return. Cassy, Teal'c, and the colonel will go through the gate before us. Do you think this will give you enough time, Sabrina?" Before the redhead could answer Samantha continued. "Queen Gabrielle also wants you to know that you can return to Earth whenever you want."
"Well, let's get started. I'll take a quick shower and start packing my notebooks and stuff. I don't have much of a wardrobe but to speed things up, I would be grateful if you, Janet and Sam, could pack a few changes of clothing for me. You know better what to expect with the weather on Gaia."
"It will be our pleasure, Sabrina." Janet answered with a smile, silently wishing that she would have had the foresight to bring a change of clothing. Taking a shower would be high on her list of things to do after their return, after properly treating Samantha's injuries, of course.
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