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Fanfiction: Mistakes

Fandom: Stargate SG1
Series: Aftershocks
TAG to Episode: S1 Emancipation
Rating: PG-13
Author's Note: Team friendship.   
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.  Written for entertainment purposes only.

 

Mistakes

Colonel Jack O’Neill took his green cap off as he walked down the Stargate ramp to greet his commanding officer. He registered the faint sounds of the wormhole disengaging, the metal iris sliding shut and the rest of his team following him almost absently.

‘Colonel.’ General Hammond’s blue eyes smiled back at the other man. ‘How did the mission go?’

‘We found a new type of anaesthetic that may have potential, sir.’ Jack reported crisply. ‘We brought back a sample for analysis.’

‘Good. Debriefing will be at oh-eight-hundred tomorrow.’ Hammond nodded at the SG1 team and departed the gate room. He liked being there to greet the teams but his workload seemed to be increasing on a daily basis now the Stargate programme was almost up and running fully.

Jack glanced back at his team. His brown eyes drifted over the Jaffa, Teal’c, past Daniel Jackson who was blowing his nose and landed on Captain Samantha Carter. It had been a tough mission for her; a culture that had subjugated women, the whole kidnapped and being traded thing, not to mention the fight to the death. ‘Why don’t you hit the locker room first, Captain?’

Sam glanced over at the Colonel and wondered which excuse he would use this time. He always produced a reason why she should go first in the shared locker room and had ever since the first SG1 mission to P3-575. On that occasion it had been because she’d saved his life; P3X595 had been because of the incident she preferred to forget; P3A577 had been because she’d managed to fix the local shield technology in the city which had led to their first successful agreement with another world to share the technology in question. Unfortunately, her analysis suggested that it required a certain element in the atmosphere that Earth didn’t have but still…

‘Carter?’ Jack waved his hand in front of her face.

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam replied briskly.

‘I said as you were the one honoured by the Shavadai, you should go first.’ Jack said casually.

Sam hid a smile. ‘Thank you, sir.’ She knew it was the Colonel’s way of providing her with some protection from ‘accidentally’ getting disturbed while she was in the locker room; nobody was likely to barge in on her while the rest of SG1 waited in the corridor outside for her to finish. While one side of her protested at the very idea that he would assume she needed the protection, Sam couldn’t pretend she didn’t appreciate being able to shower in relative privacy, which was why she simply took a step in the direction of the gate room door intending to head to the locker room. Her back protested sharply and she winced. She reluctantly turned back to the Colonel even as she handed her weapons to the waiting Sergeant.

‘Sir.’

‘Yes, Captain.’ Jack responded to her absently as he handed over his own weapons.

‘I…er…I think I should report to the infirmary, sir.’ Sam said. ‘I may have bruised my back.’

Jack’s eyes snapped to her. He frowned. Now that she mentioned it, she was moving a little stiffly. She had avoided most of the blows during the fight with the Mongol warlord Turghan but she had hit the ground hard one time. ‘Get it checked out, Captain.’ He agreed. ‘Actually, you can take the sample of anaesthetic with you. Save Daniel a trip.’

Daniel burrowed into his pack for the sample and handed it to her with a sympathetic smile. ‘You want some company?’

‘No, I’ll be fine.’ Sam said quickly and left before any of them could make another comment. She figured her back was more to do with the beating she had endured by Turghan before the others had been able to rescue her than the fight with him to free the young girl she had befriended. She knew she was going to have to report it but it seemed less humiliating if she pretended for a while longer it hadn’t happened.

She entered the infirmary and a nurse showed her to an examination room where she waited for the doctor on duty impatiently.

‘Captain Carter.’ Doctor Warner entered, a cheery smile lighting his round face. ‘What brings you down here today?’

Sam returned the smile. Warner was a good surgeon; a little more focused on facts and symptoms than the actual patient but she was pleased it was someone she knew. The base was filling with new personnel every day.

‘I sustained an injury to my back on our last mission.’ Sam said without preamble.

‘Let’s take a look then, shall we?’ He called a female nurse in and Sam found she appreciated the help as she undressed – she was stiffening up fast. She held a blanket against her front to protect her modesty while Warner examined her back.

‘How did you say you sustained the injury, Captain?’ Warner asked viewing the reddened welts across the creamy skin with an experienced eye. He’d seen similar injuries before; they were usually sustained during torture.

‘I was captured during the mission and received a beating for attempting to escape.’ Sam said matter-of-factly.

‘Was there an instrument used for the beating?’

‘It was a small hand device with several leather straps.’ Sam admitted quietly grateful for the clinical tone the doctor was using. If he appeared in anyway sympathetic she had a horrible feeling she’d start bawling her eyes out.

That explained the interweaving of the welts, Warner mused. ‘And how often were you hit by it?’

‘Five times.’ Until she had cried out. She swallowed hard against the memory but was unable to prevent the flush of shame that reddened her cheeks.

‘Let me know where it hurts.’ Warner said as he began pressing at various points on her back.

Sam was almost in tears by the time he’d finished the examination. Her back was in a lot of pain from the prodding and poking.

‘Nurse Brannigan, can you get the Captain a hospital gown, please.’

‘Yes, sir. You might want to take a look at the Captain’s wrists, sir.’

Sam shot the nurse a panicked look but the older woman ignored her. Warner waited until the young officer was sufficiently covered and sat on the bed facing him before he turned back to her and followed the nurse’s suggestion. ‘Rope chaffing.’ He diagnosed. ‘Are there any other injuries?’ He paused delicately and pinned her with a sympathetic but relentless stare.

‘Sir?’ Sam asked blankly.

‘Captain, it’s usually been my experience that a female when held in captivity and tortured may be subjected to…’

‘No. God, no.’ Sam denied quickly realising he was referring to rape.

He seemed to scrutinise her carefully.

‘I’m not denying rape was threatened but I was rescued before it could happen, sir.’ Sam said more calmly.

Warner picked up the medical chart and began scribbling. ‘I’m going to admit you to the infirmary overnight for observation, Captain.’

Sam’s eyes widened. ‘Is that really necessary, sir?’

‘You have severe bruising along your lower spine and there is potential for the spinal cord itself to become inflamed.’ Warner said without looking at her and continuing to scribble. ‘That means bed rest. I’m also going to have a combination anti-inflammatory and anaesthetic cream prepared that should reduce the inflammation and dull the pain. Your wrists should be fine once we’ve administered a normal anti-bacterial cream and a light dressing.’ He stopped writing and peered at her. ‘I suggest you shower here in the infirmary. The warm water will ease your muscles. Nurse Brannigan will administer the treatment when you’re finished.’

‘Sir…’

‘It’s an order.’ Warner said firmly. He gazed at her a little more sympathetically. ‘I’m afraid I will need to report this, Captain.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam sighed. ‘Would it be possible for me to speak with my CO before you do?’

‘I take it he is unaware of the injury?’ Warner asked delicately.

Sam nodded unhappily.

Warner sighed. Young, eager junior officers; they were all the same; trying to prove they were fine even if they were death warmed up just to impress a superior. ‘Well, once you’ve been treated the nurse can page him. I won’t be submitting my report to General Hammond until the morning.’

‘Thank you, sir.’ Sam said. ‘Oh.’ She reached into her things and took out the anaesthetic. ‘We found this on the planet. We think it could be a new type of anaesthetic.’

‘I’ll have it analysed.’ Warner said.

Sam watched him leave and followed the nurse to the shower cubicle.

o-O-o

Daniel reached into his locker for his glasses and slipped them on. He blinked and the world came into focus. Teal’c was reapplying his make-up on one side of the locker room. On the other, Jack was almost finished dressing in a clean uniform which hinted at his intent to stay on base. Daniel looked down at his own blue canvas trousers, black undershirt and blue jacket. He didn’t really have a choice in his clothing. He’d been back on Earth almost a month and he still hadn’t found somewhere to live or to replenish his wardrobe fully. His meagre collection of a jacket, pair of chinos, a shirt, and underwear came from an embarrassing trip with Jack to the nearest discount store the day after they arrived back from Abydos when the other man had paid for the items as Daniel hadn’t any money. He still didn’t. The Air Force had promised him that they would pay him within the next week but he still had his doubts.

He understood his official status while he’d been on Abydos had been ‘missing’. His assets, bank accounts and holdings had been frozen. The Air Force legal office was apparently sorting that out. Not that he had a lot in his bank account. Catherine Langford hadn’t been too far wrong when she had noted that he didn’t have a lot to leave behind during her offer of a job on the Stargate programme. She hadn’t been completely correct though, Daniel thought. A lot of his personal artefact collection, journals, and reference books had been stored at his foster parents. He could arrange for it all to be sent as soon as he had an apartment. There was a reference book on Mongolian culture he wanted to review after their experience with the Shavadai.

He shivered a little as he pushed a comb through his wet hair. The mission had been a close call, he mused, everything from their first interaction with the Shavadai to Sam fighting a Mongolian warlord. All in all they probably should have followed Sam’s suggestion that they leave after their first fraught meeting with the tribesmen. Daniel felt a wash of guilt. With the last few missions, Jack had softened from his hard line position of leaving if there was no immediate military value in staying on a planet. He had seemed to come around to the idea that they might discover something by staying and talking with the local population. Daniel had been the one to recommend to Jack that he ignore Sam and that they should visit with the Mongol tribe. Speaking of Sam, he thought, where was she? He glanced at his watch and frowned.

‘What’s the matter?’ Jack said pulling on a black t-shirt over his blue trousers.

‘Sam’s taking a long time in the infirmary.’ Daniel noted.

Jack reached for his own watch and grimaced. They’d been in the locker room thirty minutes. The Captain should have been hammering on the door for them to move their asses.

‘Perhaps Doctor Carter has become engaged in a discussion with the doctors concerning the new drug.’ Teal’c suggested as he placed his belongings back into the metal locker and shut the door.

‘There.’ Jack pointed at Teal’c. ‘I bet that’s what’s happened. She’ll have gotten talking and forgotten the time.’

Daniel pushed his glasses up his nose but couldn’t argue with the logic. They had all learned how Sam was when she got occupied by something; food, rest, awareness of the rest of the world – it all bypassed her completely. A bit like himself, Daniel admitted with more than a little chagrin.

‘Are we to undergo our usual duty outside the locker room while Doctor Carter showers, O’Neill?’ Teal’c asked sitting down on the bench and waiting patiently for an answer.

‘Yeah.’ Jack figured she had worked out why he usually found a reason for her to use the locker room first. She hadn’t objected yet which indicated to him that for all her grandstanding on being able to take of herself that she appreciated the gesture. For some inexplicable reason it made him like her more.

‘I don’t think she’ll want us to,’ Daniel said, ‘especially as there’s no real reason for us to be hanging around outside.’

‘We have Marines on base now, Daniel.’ Jack noted pulling on his boots. ‘I don’t trust them and if I want to hang around outside the locker room waiting for a member of my team, I will.’

‘Well, if the Marines tried to take her on, my money would be on Sam.’ Daniel murmured. ‘Look how she took down Turghan.’

‘Doctor Carter is a skilled warrior.’ Teal’c commented.

There was a timid knock on the locker room door.

All three men looked at each other amused.

‘Go let her in, Daniel.’ Jack said jerking his head at the door whilst he concentrated on tying up his laces. ‘We’re all decent.’

Daniel padded over in his stockinged feet to the door and opened it. He blinked in surprise at the nurse standing on the other side. ‘Oh. Hello.’ He smiled shyly. ‘You weren’t who we were expecting.’

Nurse Brannigan smiled. ‘I just need to collect a few items from Captain Carter’s locker.’

‘Oh. Sure. Come in.’ Daniel opened the door wider and she entered moving swiftly to the Captain’s locker.

Jack stared at the woman helping herself to Carter’s things and back at Daniel questioningly. Daniel opened his mouth to reply and his brain registered what the nurse had said. He turned back to her confused. ‘I’m sorry why did you just say you were collecting stuff for Doctor Carter?’

Brannigan halted with her hand still in the locker. ‘She’s been admitted to the infirmary for the night. She requested a few of her personal items.’

‘Why has she been admitted?’ Jack demanded immediately, straightening to his full height even as Teal’c rose off the bench and Daniel came to stand in between them.

The nurse swallowed hard at the intimidating sight of the three men but turned back to her task. ‘I’m afraid I can’t say, sir.’ In her book, patients were entitled to confidentiality even in the military.

Jack and Daniel exchanged an anxious look.

‘I’m her CO.’ Jack insisted.

The nurse closed the locker and started out of the room. ‘I’m sorry, sir, but I’m not authorised to tell anybody that information even you. If you’ll excuse me I have to get back to the infirmary.’ She escaped out of the door.

‘For crying out loud.’ Jack slammed the door shut on his own locker and followed her.

‘Jack…’ Daniel headed out of the locker room after him barely aware of Teal’c following him having shut the archaeologist’s locker.

Jack stormed into the infirmary after the nurse. She turned and looked at him exasperated. He folded his arms and gave her his best intimidation stare. ‘Where is she?’

‘Jack…’ Daniel tried to calm him down.

‘Sir, this is the treatment room. You can’t be in here.’ She sighed. ‘Follow me.’

The men of SG1 trouped into an empty examination room.

‘If you’ll wait here, I’ll get Doctor Warner to come and speak to you.’ The nurse promised. ‘I’m sure once Captain Carter has finished showering and received her treatment, you’ll be able to see her.’ She left closing the door firmly behind her.

Jack whirled angrily in the small space; Daniel got the distinct impression he was looking for something to punch. Teal’c stood silently by the door, his hands clasped behind his back and his face expressionless except for the worry that lurked in the dark depths of his eyes.

‘Jack, we’re all worried about her but you have to calm down.’ Daniel said quietly.

Jack glared at him but came to a stop and leaned against the side of the bed. Daniel joined him.

‘I should never have agreed to let her fight.’ Jack muttered rubbing a hand through his short crop of hair with its mix of brown and silver strands.

‘I don’t think you had a choice.’ Daniel said.

‘Indeed.’ Teal’c said. ‘Doctor Carter was determined to save the life of the child Nya.’

‘I’m her CO. I could have ordered her to stand down.’ Jack insisted.

‘Why didn’t you?’ The question was out of Daniel’s mouth before his brain engaged. He was surprised when Jack answered.

‘Because I figured she could take him.’ Jack said.

Daniel stared at the other man trying to make sense of his thought processes. ‘And that was important because…why?’

‘Stop trying to make more out of it than it was, Daniel.’ Jack said uncomfortably.

Daniel’s head tilted and his blue eyes scanned Jack as though examining a more interesting specimen in a lab experiment. ‘You thought a win against Turghan would give Sam confidence.’ The archaeologist saw the muscle tense along Jack’s jaw and knew he was right. ‘You thought she needed to regain some after she’d been kidnapped by Abu.’

‘It doesn’t matter.’ Jack said. ‘I should never have allowed her to fight.’

‘We don’t actually know what’s wrong with her yet, Jack. It could just be a sprained back or a…’ Daniel’s voice trailed away at a sudden thought and he blanched.

‘What?’ Jack demanded.

‘Nothing.’ Daniel mumbled folding his arms defensively.

Jack raised a warning finger, his brown eyes glittering dangerously. ‘Daniel, so help me if you…’

‘What if Turghan didn’t wait to partake of his purchase?’ Daniel rushed out.

Jack paled visibly and Teal’c’s expression tightened.

‘I mean the nurse said she was showering and…’ Daniel swallowed hard.

‘No.’ Jack shook his head in denial. ‘She would have been too traumatised to hide something like that.’

‘Even if she was determined to prove to you that she could handle anything?’ Daniel shot back angrily.

Jack flinched. He was aware that the young Captain felt she had to prove herself to him and truth be told he hadn’t done anything to alter her perception even though she’d already done more than enough on their first few missions to justify her place on SG1. A rush of guilt brought a bitter taste to his mouth.

‘Sorry, Jack.’ Daniel murmured seeing the other man’s expression close up. ‘It’s just…I kinda feel responsible.’

Jack glanced over at the archaeologist who was staring at his feet shamefacedly. He sighed. ‘I lead the team, Daniel. Ultimately, I’m responsible for what happens.’

‘I was the one who encouraged Sam to take on their dress and customs.’ Daniel said. ‘If she’d been in her usual clothes she probably would have been able to defend herself. She might not have been kidnapped even.’ His stomach turned as he remembered how they’d teased her about the blue dress.

‘And I’m the one who agreed to it, not to mention us going off to the party and leaving her alone.’ Jack returned.

‘Well, I was the one who suggested we go with the Shavadai so we could learn more about the Mongolian culture.’ Daniel pointed out miserably.

‘And I’m the one who said OK.’ Jack snapped. ‘You know I knew this whole learning about other cultures stuff was a bad idea.’ He gestured angrily.

‘Jack, just because we had a bad experience this time doesn’t make the whole thing wrong!’ Daniel protested.

‘You’re the one who just admitted staying was the wrong thing to do.’ Jack pointed out stabbing a finger at him.

‘Only this time.’ Daniel shouted in frustration. ‘When we realised the strict rules of how women were expected to behave, we should have left and returned with an all-male team. Even with what happened we still discovered the anaesthetic…’

‘The world can survive without another anaesthetic, Daniel. I’m not sure it can survive without Car…’ Jack broke off abruptly as he suddenly realised what he was unwittingly saying.

Daniel looked at Jack in shock, more than a little taken aback by the other man’s words. He’d had no idea Jack held his fellow Air Force officer in such high regard. Jack’s innate protectiveness about his team aside, generally he seemed to treat Sam with a polite professionalism except for the occasional moments when he teased her about something.

Jack cast around for a diversion. ‘Teal’c, why don’t you jump in here?’ He said a little desperately. ‘Tell us what you think.’

‘I think this discussion will not assist Doctor Carter.’ Teal’c said. ‘We cannot change our mistakes; we can only learn from them.’

Jack and Daniel both stared at the Jaffa.

‘When did you make a mistake?’ Daniel asked curiously.

‘When I failed to support Doctor Carter’s suggestion of leaving after our initial encounter with the Shavadai.’ Teal’c said regretfully. ‘When I failed to prevent Doctor Carter from being abducted. When I…’

‘OK, Teal’c.’ Jack said cutting in. ‘Like you said, we all made mistakes.’ He shook his head.

The door opened and they all tensed as Doctor Warner entered.

‘Nurse Brannigan informed me you were here.’ He said.

‘I’d like some answers, Doctor.’ Jack said. ‘Why wasn’t I informed immediately that one of my officers was being admitted to the infirmary? And what the hell is wrong with Captain Carter that she needs to be admitted to the infirmary?’

Warner sighed at the militant look in the Colonel’s eyes. ‘Captain Carter requested permission to inform you herself and I agreed on the proviso that she received her treatment first. You would have been paged then.’

‘How is she?’ Daniel asked.

‘She’s suffering from severe bruising to her back and minor rope burns on her wrists.’ Warner said. ‘She’s in some pain and discomfort. I’ve ordered bed rest for tonight to alleviate the swelling on her back. She should be fit for duty tomorrow.’

Jack didn’t relax. ‘Is that it?’

Warner looked at him steadily. He knew the Colonel was a seasoned soldier and he figured that the other man had jumped to a few conclusions at the news his female officer had been admitted to the infirmary after being subjected to a period of captivity on the mission. ‘That’s it, Colonel. I assure you.’

Jack breathed a sigh of relief. Not rape. Thank God, not rape.

Warner gestured at the door. ‘She’s settled into one of the recovery rooms now if you’d like to see her.’

Jack nodded sharply. ‘Thanks, Doc.’

They all trouped out after the doctor to the recovery room where Sam was lying in bed looking distinctly miserable and staring at the ceiling. Her eyes shot to them at the sound of their footsteps and she sat up a little awkwardly.

Jack was barely aware of Warner leaving them as his brown eyes scoured over her. Her slightly grumpy expression reassured him more than anything else. ‘Captain, we thought we’d stop by, see how you were doing.’

Daniel approached the bed. ‘How are you feeling?’

‘Fine, really.’ Sam tried a smile. ‘I don’t know what all the fuss is about.’ Her blue eyes fell to his feet and the bright blue socks he was wearing. ‘Daniel, where are your shoes?’

‘Shoes?’ Daniel looked down at his feet. ‘Ah…’ He realised he must have forgotten them in his rush to follow Jack to the infirmary.

Teal’c raised an eyebrow before clearing his throat. ‘I am pleased to see you well, Doctor Carter.’

‘Thank you, Teal’c.’ She gave him a genuine smile of pleasure.

‘Do you need anything?’ Jack asked.

‘My laptop would be good, sir.’ Sam said automatically.

Jack’s eyebrows rose slightly. ‘I’m fairly certain working doesn’t fall under the strict definition of bed rest, Captain.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam said abashed.

‘Well, we’ll leave you to it.’ Jack said quickly.

‘Actually, Colonel, could you stay for a minute?’ Sam asked.

Jack stopped mid-step. He was surprised by the request but he was happy to acquiesce. ‘Sure.’ He gestured at their other team-mates. ‘Why don’t you guys head back and get Daniel some shoes? I’ll meet you in the mess for some dinner.’

Daniel frowned worriedly but Teal’c clapped a hand on the younger man’s shoulder and he had no option but to accompany the Jaffa out of the recovery room.

‘So.’ Jack said pulling up a stool to her bedside and sitting down.

‘Sir, did Doctor Warner inform you about my exact injuries?’ Sam asked.

Jack felt his gut twist; that didn’t sound good. He didn’t believe Warner had lied to him though. ‘He told me you had severe bruising on your back and minor rope burns.’ He gestured at the bandages on her wrists.

‘Did he inform you how I received the back injury, sir?’ Sam inquired nervously.

Jack’s brown eyes settled on hers and he sighed deeply. ‘Why do I get the feeling it wasn’t from the fall you took during the fight with Turghan?’

‘Before you arrived at Turghan’s camp, sir, I made my own attempt to escape.’ Sam confessed.

He absorbed the information calmly. ‘It didn’t go well, I take it? Since you were still there when we arrived.’

‘No, sir. I was hampered by the whole dress thing and…anyway, I didn’t get very far before I got recaptured.’ Sam admitted.

‘And you sustained your back injury during your escape attempt?’ Jack surmised.

‘Not exactly, sir.’ She plucked anxiously at the bed sheets. ‘When I was returned to the camp, I was punished for the escape attempt.’

‘Punished?’ Jack’s face settled into grave lines. ‘Punished as in…’

‘I was whipped, sir.’ Despite her best efforts her voice was barely above a whisper and she couldn’t hold his gaze.

Jack felt his whole body fill with a quiet fury and for a brief moment he wished he could dial the gate and charge back to the camp to challenge Turghan himself. Somehow though his brain was absorbing Sam’s evident tension, the lurking humiliation under what remained of her bravado and he reined in his anger. She needed more than a knee-jerk reaction by him.

‘So let me get this straight;’ Jack said conversationally, ‘you beat the guy on his home turf, in front of all his men, with a much smaller knife than he had and an injured back.’

Her blue eyes shot to his startled. ‘Sir?’

‘I take it you were planning to tell me before the debriefing tomorrow?’ Jack inquired smoothly.

She nodded automatically. ‘Yes, sir. I wanted to tell you alone. I just didn’t want everybody knowing that I…’ she flushed hotly in shame and dropped her gaze again.

Jack sighed. ‘Samantha…’

The unusual use of her first name snapped her eyes back to his. She was surprised at the warm understanding gazing back at her.

‘You have nothing to feel ashamed about here.’ Jack said. ‘You did great.’

‘I couldn’t fight him.’ Sam admitted unevenly.

‘Sometimes you can’t.’ Jack said simply. ‘Sometimes you just have to take the beating and wait for a better opportunity.’

‘Yes, sir.’ Sam said softly.

‘Anything else, Captain?’ Jack asked suddenly a little uncomfortable at how comfortable he felt sat talking with her, at how easy it would be to confide in her about some of his own experiences.

‘Uh, no, sir.’ Sam said. ‘Well, I…’

Jack raised an inquisitive eyebrow and she vaguely considered whether he’d been practising with Teal’c.

‘I wanted to apologise for the whole Nya thing.’ She said hurriedly. ‘I know I risked the whole team going back to Turghan’s camp, sir, and then offering to take part in the fight…’

Jack shrugged. ‘We all made mistakes this mission, Captain. You should hear Teal’c’s list.’

‘Teal’c, sir?’

Jack waved her question away. ‘At the end of the day, we all came back alive so in the grand scheme of things maybe we should consider this a success.’

Sam nodded. ‘Thank you, sir.’

Jack slipped off the stool. ‘You sure I can’t get you anything?’

‘No, sir.’ Sam said. ‘I’m fine.’

Jack nodded and left the infirmary. Maybe he’d take her some dessert back after dinner, he thought absently. He sighed. It was going to be a hell of a debriefing in the morning.

o-O-o

General Hammond frowned at the subdued SG1 team sat in front of him and considered the past hour of their mission debrief with a sense of stunned disbelief. He couldn’t decide which he was more amazed at; that they had gotten themselves into a whole heap of trouble in the first place or that they had yanked their own tails out of the fire and come back in one piece with the friendship of one of the native tribes and a potentially valuable medicine. He looked down the briefing table.

The Jaffa, Teal’c, sat stoically awaiting Hammond’s judgement although from what Hammond could ascertain the Jaffa had very little to reproach himself for. Daniel Jackson sat next to him, his head down. The young man’s report had seemed to take on the spirit of a confessional as he had taken full responsibility for recommending the team’s visit with the Shavadai tribe even after their initial encounter where it had been clear that women were subjected to a number of oppressive laws.

Hammond’s blue eyes drifted across the table to his two military officers. Captain Carter had been equally unforgiving about her own conduct, noting she had pressed the Colonel to return to Turghan’s camp, had volunteered for the challenge without understanding it would be a fight to the death; all of which would have been unnecessary had she not encouraged Nya to rebel against her father’s control. Hammond knew Sam’s father and he decided quite fervently that he wasn’t touching the can of worms that were her psychological motivations with a very long barge pole.

His gaze finally settled on the SG1 commander. He liked Jack O’Neill. The Colonel was a good officer and a fine leader. While his report had lacked the confessional overtone of the younger members of his team, he had been equally quick to take full responsibility for the events of the mission and Hammond suspected he was equally waiting on Hammond to come to some kind of guilty verdict.

Hammond considered what he was going to say. He knew how easy it was after a mission to look back at what seemed like a reasonable decision at the time and judge that it had been a poor one because it led to a negative outcome. He cleared his throat. ‘Well, it’s certainly clear that we can learn a lot from this mission. I agree with the assessment you’ve all made that, in hindsight, Captain Carter’s suggestion to return once the initial contact had revealed an unequal treatment of women within the native society was the more appropriate course of action. I also believe that having made the decision to go with the tribe that their initial hospitality led to a lowering of the guard for the whole team that contributed to the ease of the abduction.’

He paused and clasped his hands together in front of him. ‘However, the tracking and recovery of Captain Carter was flawlessly executed with no casualties.’ He caught the young woman’s eyes. ‘I also find your conduct while you were abducted to be more than acceptable, Captain. While your escape strategy was ultimately unsuccessful, the attempt is worthy of praise, particularly given the constraints you were operating under.’

He shifted in his seat and widened his gaze to encompass the whole table again. ‘Which brings me onto the final episode and the rescue of the native girl, Nya.’ He stared hard at them. ‘You got lucky, people. I cannot deny that we will undoubtedly affect the societies and the individuals we interact with off-world and I can appreciate the sense of responsibility that such interaction elicits especially when the outcome is a negative one. The decision to go back and argue for the girl’s release based on arcane law and for Captain Carter to fight this Turghan character was highly risky. Luckily it paid off. However, in a similar circumstance in future, my preference would be not to have members of this command engaging in fights to the death, is that clear?’

There was a chorus of ‘yessirs’.

‘Good.’ Hammond nodded with satisfaction and noted the relieved looks around the table. ‘I’d like you all to write-up recommendations for changes or additions to standard mission protocol in response to the situations you encountered in this mission. In fact,’ he continued, ‘I’d like you to add a list of recommendations to each mission report you submit from here on in.’

He saw the dismayed looks – some hidden better or more quickly than others around the SG1 team. ‘You people are the pioneers for how we operate on these missions. We’re all going to make mistakes, myself included; the important thing is we all learn from them. I’ll expect your recommendations on my desk by sixteen hundred.’ He gave the table a small thump with his fist and got to his feet.

‘Oh, and SG1…’

‘Sir?’ Jack asked on behalf of his team who were all standing waiting for their dismissal from the debrief, himself included.

‘You all made it back alive so it seems to me you did a great job.’ Hammond said. There was a hint of a smile as he turned toward his office. ‘Dismissed.’

fin.

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