A week later, Daniel sat in the briefing room waiting for the rest of the team to arrive. They entered the room a few minutes later, along with Sara. He was surprised to see her there. She chose the seat across from him but could not look at him or anyone else in the room. He could tell she not comfortable in the room.
“Ok, now SG-1 you are heading to P5-X27 today. All we need to do is help Captain Riley get samples of a new substance that SG-3 found there,” General Hammond stated as he started the briefing.
“General, you mean Sara is coming with us?” Daniel said, trying to keep his emotions in check. He did not like the idea that she was coming along since he had read that the SG team had been attacked by Jaffa guards.
“Yes, Daniel. Is there a problem with that?” the General asked.
“No, not at all.”
“Okay, Captain, would you brief the team.”
“Thank you, sir,” Sara said as she stood up in front of everyone and flipped on the power point projector to begin her presentation. “According to SG-3’s report, they found large deposits of this blue-ish substance. We think it may be a possible replacement for fossil fule. The recon gathered shows the deposit to be about three kilometers away from the gate,” she said as she pointed to a map. “The terrain does not look too difficult except for this one rocky area right before the site and it is down in a valley so we will have to keep our eyes open. This substance also seems important to the Gaoul’d so it could be guarded now.”
She looked quickly at Daniel who did not look happy about her going. The rest of the briefing went like always and didn’t last as long as some. General Hammond told them they had a “go” and launched in an hour before he dismissed them so they could prepare.
Sara returned to her lab to get her equipment she had to bring along to collect the samples properly. As she was securing her case, Daniel came into the room and closed the door.
“Why are you coming with us?” he asked.
“Nice to see you too,” she replied, annoyed with his attitude. She was afraid this was going to happen.
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“I was told that I was to collect the samples needed. I was given an order and intend to carry it out.”
“But you don’t know what happened with the last team that was there. Sara, I don’t want you getting hurt.”
“I do know what happened. I read the report and I have been trained to handle situations much worse than this. Why do you have such a problem with me going?”
“I just don’t want anything to happen to you. Things can get rough out there.”
“I have a job to do, just like you do. I am not some wilting flower that needs her hand held when the going gets rough.”
“I still don’t like it and I would like you to stay here.”
“That is not your decision to make, nor is it mine. I have my orders. Now if you will excuse me, I need to finish getting ready. I will see you in the gate room,” she said as she brushed past him, leaving him in the lab by himself.
Sara arrived in the gate room, carrying her collection kit and a P-90. She also wore a 24-hour pack. She had been upset with Daniel with his over protectiveness but as she got ready, Sara was able shut off that part of her mind as she put on her gear and finished up with her olive drab baseball cap.
As the five of them were all together, Sara reminded them that the best place for samples were about three clicks (km) away from the gate. With that, the last chevron locked into place and the wormhole was activated. Nothing could have prepared Sara for that moment. It was more amazing then she could have ever expected. She followed Jack and Sam into the wormhole, followed by Daniel and Teal’c in the rear.
On the other side, she was amazed that it felt as if she had just taken a step but ended up on the other side of the galaxy. The team quickly got their bearings and headed off to the site.
“Riley, how much do you think you will need to get of this stuff?” Jack asked.
“Not too much, sir. It would be ideal to get samples from different locations in the area. Probably about three test tubes worth in several locations.”
“Yes, sir. And those test tubes should yield the results we are hoping for.”
They arrived at the site and Sara quickly set up her gear that she needed to use while Jack and Teal’c set up a perimeter. Sam came over to help Sara collect her samples. She had found a great source of the substance and had collected all that she needed and was ready to return in under an hour.
When they were within site of the gate, they could hear weapons firing not too far away. Sara had been smart and put most of the samples in her a padded pouch in her 24 hour pack and not in the case she carried, just in case she had to drop it to be able to get away. Before she knew it, they were under attack.
The team took cover by some rocks not too far from the gate. It was decided that Jack would cover Daniel so he could dial out. Sara was nervous but trusted their skills. As the gate was activated, they all made a mad dash for the gate. At the base of the stairs, Sara turned around to see Jaffa running towards them. With her free hand, she was able to fire her P-90, which most needed two hands to fire accurately. She had taken out several of them as she provided cover for Teal’c and Colonel O’Neill before she was pushed through the gate by Colonel O’Neill and landed hard on the ramp leading up to the gate on Earth.
They were shuffled off to the med lab for a routine exam that everyone got after returning from a mission. No one was hurt, which was good and they were all medically cleared quickly.
Sara returned to her lab to begin her preliminary analysis on the blue substance she had collected. It had the consistency of tar but with no odor. She was excited to see what was in it. She had not spoken to Daniel since she left him in the lab before the mission. She was upset with his overprotective nature and needed some time to cool off from both their argument and the mission. That was always a problem for her; it always took her longer for her to come down off an adrenalin rush than most people. It was great when she was in the field or in bed, but not when she had to do with work.
While working on her computer, someone knocked on the door. Popping her head around the monitor, she saw it was Sam.
“How does it look?” Sam asked as she entered the room.
“Not bad. It will take a bit, but I think we have some good samples to use,” Sara explained.
“Good. So what did you think of going off world?”
“Amazing, well except for begin shot at. At least no one got hurt.”
“Yes, and we have you to thank for it. You’re a great shot.”
“Thanks. When my dad was home when I was a kid, he would take me out to the range. Mom hated it, but it was our time together.”
“Not your normal father-daughter activities,” Sam said. “The real reason I came in here was to ask what is going on between you and Daniel. You didn’t even look at him when you entered the gate room or pretty much any time during the mission.”
“He didn’t want me going off world. I didn’t even know I was going until right before the briefing.”
“He cares about you.”
“Yeah, but he doesn’t seem to trust my skills as an officer. I’m sure both you and Colonel O’Neill have read my file by now and can fill in some of the blanks.”
“But Daniel hasn’t. Have you told him?”
“No. I admit that I’ve done things I am not proud of. You know there are things that you cannot tell others, would you tell your civilian boyfriend about your work here?”
“You have a point, Sara. But think of this, how would you want him to find out, from you or from someone else?”
“There are things I just want to leave in the past.”
“If I were you, I would tell him,” Sam said, trying to look out for her.
Sara had done as much as she was going to get done for the day as she headed for the gym. Even though she had gone off world that day, there was still pent up energy that she had to get rid of.
After putting on her gloves, she began to take her frustrations out on the punching bag. Sara was not a violent person but it felt so good to punch something. Jack came into the gym. He seemed to have similar feelings.
“I’m surprised to see you here, Sara,” he said as he put on his gloves.
“I could say the same, sir,” she replied a little out of breath.
“An old man like me has to keep up with you young ‘whipper-snappers’ somehow. Want to show me what they have been teaching down at Hurlburt Field now a days.”
“If you say so, sir,” she replied as she joined Jack on the mat. He tossed her a foam helmet so that neither would get hurt.
She let him warm up a bit before they began to fight. Jack had skills on his side but Sara had speed and flexibility plus she was a kick boxer, a skill that was not normally taught in Jack’s early days. She was able to duck or sway out of most of his hits but knew that if this were for real he would be a real challenge.
“I’m impressed. For someone who has been in the lab, you’re still pretty good,” Jack said after a few minutes. They were both breathing hard and working up a good sweat. Her face would occasionally stick to the plastic and she could feel her hair plastered to her head. Sara hated wearing the helmet but knew she had to.
Sara went for a head kick but he caught her foot. Jack though he had her but before he could do anything, Sara used the leverage she had and literally flipped over herself. Catching him by complete surprise, she landed two head kicks and then knocked him off his feet by swiping at his lower legs with one of her legs. Jack fell to the floor with a solid thud.
“Jack?” Daniel said from the door. Sara turned her head around to see him standing there with a surprised and almost horrified look on his face as he looked from her face to Jack lying on the mat. “Sara?”
“Yes, Daniel,” she said, removing her helmet and then offering her hand to Jack to help him up.
“Good job, Riley,” Jack said as he shook her hand, congratulating her on the unofficial win.
The tension between Sara and Daniel could be cut with a knife. He just stood there, looking at her. Seeing him look at her like that tore her up inside. This was exactly what she didn’t want and why she had been avoiding the topic all this time.
Sara couldn’t take it anymore and could feel the tears welling up inside. Quickly she picked up her towel and gloves and left the gym without saying a word, brushing past Daniel in the process.
“Are you okay Jack?” Daniel asked.
“Yeah. She’s good,” Jack said, still winded.
“Her skills, her training.”
“But…but she’s a chemist,” he said confused.
“Go talk to her, Daniel. She looked pretty upset. It looks like you guys have a lot to talk about,” Jack said.
Daniel left the gym, still in a daze, to find Sara. He first looked in her lab but she wasn’t there. She wasn’t in the mess hall or with Sam so he figured she went home.
Arriving at her house, Sara’s Explorer was not in the driveway. Daniel had no clue where else she could have gone so he just sat down on the front porch to wait for her.
Almost an hour later, Sara pulled up to her house and saw Daniel’s car there. She hoped that he was willing to listen to her and could accept what she had done in the name of her country.
“Sara, where had you been? I was worried,” he said as she approached the front door.
“I’m a big girl and I can take care of myself,” she replied, trying not to start crying again.
“You surprised me.”
“It didn’t look like you were surprised. More like terrified,” she said as she unlocked the front door.
“Can we talk about this?” he asked.
She opened the door and walked in with Daniel following right behind her, not giving her a chance to close the door on his face. She paced the room, trying to figure out how to tell him while he just stood there.
“I’m sorry about what happened in the gym,” he started. “I never saw a woman fight like that before.”
“Like I have said, I am a trained Air Force officer. I cannot change that even if I wanted too,” she told him, still holding back.
“But I have never seen Sam fight like that before.”
“We went to different schools.”
“You both went to the Academy and she’s had advanced hand to hand combat training. It couldn’t have changed that much over the years.”
“I never said what school. Daniel, I haven’t always been a chemist.”
“What? I don’t understand. You studied to be one at the Academy and then at Princeton.”
“Sit down, Daniel. I could lose my commission and end up in jail for telling you.” Sara took a deep breath, trying to figure out how to tell him.
“Both Colonel O’Neill and Sam have figured it out because they have read my personnel file and been able to fill in the blanks. If you were to read it, I doubt you would understand why five years are practically missing, they haven’t been doctored like they are now, working at SGC, they are almost blank.”
“Did you get out of the service?”
“No, quite the opposite. Do you know who my father was, how he died?”
“No, you never told me.”
“My father was Chief Master Sergeant Peter Riley and he died by the hands of a sniper. He saved his team but paid the price with his own life. That happened my sophomore year at the Academy. My mother wanted nothing to do with the military after he died and wanted me out of the Academy too.”
“That explains your graduation photo,” he said as if making a discovery.
“No, it doesn’t.” She took a deep breath and let it out. “Six months before I graduated, I was approached by a then Lieutenant Colonel Mayborne and asked if I wanted to join a “special” unit when I graduated.”
“You know Colonel Mayborne?” he asked in disbelief.
“Yes, why. Do you?”
“Yes, but what does he have to do with your past?”
“I was getting to that. He had seen my performance in both my hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship in addition to my academics. He wanted me to join my father’s old unit, the Panthers. My mom was not pleased at all, that’s the explanation of the photograph. The next day, I went to my new base at Hurlburt Field in Florida. Do you know what kinds of units are based out of there?”
“No, I hadn’t even heard of the place before.”
“Colonel O’Neill was based there for many years.”
“Jack was special forces before he came to the SGC.”
“Yes, he was and so was I.”
“Women can’t be in the special forces.”
“Yes they can.”
“So is that your big secret?” he asked not sure if he wanted to hear more.
“Not entirely. I have done things that I am not proud of but I did it for the good of the country.”
“Like what? Have you killed people?” he asked.
“Yes, I have.”
“So have I,” he replied.
“I know you have helped to blow up ships, but it’s not the same.”
“Yes it is.”
“No, Daniel, it’s not. Have you lined someone up in your sights, watched them go about their lives as if they weren’t going to die in a matter of seconds and then pull the trigger?” she asked.
“You, you have?” he asked almost shaking.
All she could do was nod. “Among other things. Doing horrible things to horrible people still doesn’t make them right.”
“So is that why you have nightmares?”
“Not entirely. You see these men in this picture?” she said as she picked up the picture of her with several other men coming out of the field.
“Yeah,” he replied.
“Well, there are only two people in the picture who are still alive today,” she said as she touched the images as she sat down in the armchair across the coffee table from Daniel. “They died trying to protect me,” she said quietly. “And because of that five children lost their fathers in one night.” Tears ran down her face as she remembered what happened that horrible night. “After all the memorial services, I applied for a transfer and got out of there before I caused any more tragedies.”
“I’m sure it wasn’t your fault. What happened?” he asked as he came over to her and knelt in front of her. He could see how white her knuckles were as she gripped the picture frame.
“Yes, it was. While you were living a happy life on Abydos, I was on a mission. We were to plant bugs in this “person’s” house. I was the bate. My job was to distract this “person” while the rest of the team did what they needed to. They could hear everything that was going on through a hidden microphone I was wearing in my necklace. This person decided that he wanted more. I…I couldn’t fight him off and the team stormed in before he could…could,” she tried to get out but the words just weren’t coming as that evening played out in her head.
“You were sexually assaulted?” he asked softly, never thinking he would be hearing anything like this from her.
“Almost. Another thirty seconds and I would have. But as they came to rescue me, his security was alerted. We had to shoot our way out of there. McCormick and Stovers were killed during the escape and Miller and Jessup died of their injuries after we were extracted. Jordan had the flu and had stayed home.”
“Me, I was the lucky one. I caught one in the leg and had a collapsed lung. I had a chest tube in me for weeks. The scar on my leg is from the surgery I had to repair it.”
“Why do you blame yourself? They all knew the risks going in to the mission.”
“If I had just let him have what he wanted, they would have lived. I got my friends killed because they felt they had to come in and rescue me,” she said as stood up and tried to get past him.
He stopped her by holding onto her arm. Something told him that if he didn’t stop her that he would lose her forever.
“Sara,” he said as he grabbed her arm to stop her. “Why are you running from me?”
“Three reasons. One, I told you I had the training to be able to handle myself and you wouldn’t believe me. Two, I saw how you looked at me in the gym. It looked like you were afraid of me,” she said as she tried to pull away from him.
“What’s the third thing, Sara?”
“I love you too much to put you in danger. Every man I have ever loved has gotten killed,” she said as the tears began to fall again. “Go, before I get you killed too.”
“You are not going to get me killed.”
“I’m not willing to take that risk,” she told him, her heart breaking into thousands of pieces. “I have too many ghosts haunting me already.”
Daniel was completely shocked to hear this from Sara that she slipped through his fingers. She disappeared into her bedroom and closed the door. He waited around to see if she was going to come out any time soon, but after three hours of waiting, he left feeling exhausted and without a clue of what to do.