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Mettle of Your Pasture

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“Teal’c was right about Delran.”

“I agree, but not the point.”

Reber corrects himself. “Teal’c really does think he’s right about Delran.”

“Indeed.”

Mitchell watches Sam dismiss the candidates to write up their after action reports. “That was…good.”

Sam nods. “They’re getting better. That’s four years on the SGs and fourteen months as SG-1 candidates, six of them doing nothing but this and their lab work.” And the rest they'd been absolutely cramming on their standard missions, not that everyone wasn't always doing that.

“We have several allies with promising biochemical leads that’re waiting for Reber to be ready. Or Devlin.” Daniel grimaces at his recollection. It’d taken weeks to convince two of their more recluse allies to even consider allowing someone other than himself, Sam and Teal’c, and they still hadn’t done the final vote. Negotiations for medicinal leads were always so tense. And they still had no idea whether the planets would offer booby-traps, assassins, or cancer cures. He really needed Reber out there. Of course, it’d’ve been nice if the kid hadn’t just ‘killed’ him.

“I don’t get it. Who was going to take those when you left?”

Daniel nods. This guy’s not half sharp. “The big shift was last year when DC let us backseat some of the weapons leads  for the medical stuff, just to keep the budget afloat. That’s when the politics really came out of the woodwork.” Lucky Jack, Daniel recalls. What a mess that was just as he and Sam got promoted. “That let us make good arguments to allies for wrapping up or passing off most leads. This is cancer-curing stuff, though. Teal’c and Sam would’ve made the time when Reber made it.” He’d’ve been on Atlantis, Daniel recalls with some nostalgia.

“Or Devlin.” Sam adds. She doesn’t blame Daniel for his favorite, but both men have survived—thrived—in the gauntlet. They’re all that’s left of the top twenty up-and-comers, and she’d only had a year since Jack General. O’Neill. That’s his name, Sam, told her Hammond might move up to DC soon.

“Seems like they have a pretty charmed life.” SG-1’s heads tilt at their pilot-savior.

“ ‘Charmed?’ ” Daniel questions.

“Yeah, I mean, training to be on SG-1.”

He nods. Fair enough. Still, “It’s hardly easy training. And it’s still a break from—what's the POW time they have between the two of them?”

Teal’c supplies. “CaptainReber and CaptainDevlin have approximately four months combined as prisoners of war. I cannot consider such a life nor preparing for it to be ‘Charmed,’ ColonelMitchell. Indeed, they train for a team that has died and suffered far more than any other.” Teal’c inclines his head in elaboration. “ColonelCarter, DanielJackson and myself have spent dozens of years as prisoners, accounting for mental or actual time-disturbing events.” Of course, notwithstanding how many of SG-1 missions that interlude that way, most of that comes from ColonelCarter being stuck with Fifth, himself as a Jaffa, and DanielJackson doing…whatever it is that happens to DanielJackson. Still, Teal’c is not sure he likes the implication from the untrained man.

Daniel exudes his best first-contanct diplomat ‘companionable silence’ vibes. Teal'c feels this and abides familially. Perhaps he should not have been so direct with the young hero.

 

Daniel's vibes continue to work, for the most part, though the room’s still a little tense. He sorts through every conjugation of regular verbs in twelve languages before his thoughts eventually drift back to their newcomer. He’d been kind of a pain pulling at Daniel to abandon Atlantis when he’d been working to get there for so long, but he seemed like a nice guy. “For instance, one of those leads is supposed to be quite far from the Stargate on that planet.” Daniel’s back on the old conversation, characteristically electing not to grasp how much time must have passed. Heads turn up to him around the room.

Cam sits up. “So we can go there in my Carrier?”

Daniel’s brow wrinkles in confusion as he sides a glance at Sam.

I know, I know, I’m the boss, you’re just the diplomat. Always the dirty jobs. Not that leading a fire team of the most SG-experienced alien five-star general and chief stopgap diplomat had too many dirty jobs. Well, in-house.

“Uh, Cam. Your SG-1 was slated for post-war. Now, you’re not going to be near ready by the time Reber or Devlin is. Besides, we don’t need a Carrier—we’ve already got Teal’c.”

“But Teal’c’s a ground guy.” Cam corrects, looking for confirmation from the Jaffa. Teal’c’s eyebrow raises. Which, of course, to the untrained eye, could mean anything.

“Cam, Teal’c’s almost a hundred and ten years old.”

Mitchell winces. “Right. I hadn’t meant to…”

“Your apology is unnecessary. I have several careers’ worth of skills which I provide to ColonelCarter.”

Ferretti pipes up from reading his son's science project. “And we need more like you, buddy. It takes two lifetimes to be SG-caliber at both.” He cuffs Sam’s shoulder. “Carter here came in as an Expert Marksman and a Level III CQC” God, would they never stop telling that story? “and still hasn’t been a theoretical astro-anything in almost a decade.” Sam rolls her eyes at him. “And I happen to know Daniel’s lost fluency in almost a dozen minor Earth languages.”

“I can also take you with a he’trak.” Daniel concludes sensibly, referring to the bayonet that can come with a staff weapon. Sure, Lou had him beat on just about every other close quarters combat weapon, but it never hurt to remind him, right?

“You’re not bad all around, Brown Belt. Gotta trade something from those PhDs for eight years on the Teams.”

Didn’t Daniel know it. He would be hopeless in academia for years if he left now, even if he hadn’t been before. Much more time shooting, running, managing assessment projects, negotiating first contacts…all while staying current in enough of everything to figure out whatever blasted riddle might lock down a Gate on their way home. There’s a reason the SGC is genius-stacked.

…And a reason DC quickly (well, “quickly” might've come after Sam got her beret) acknowledged they were at least some kind of special ops in terms of training access. Yeah, ‘cuz you’re so damn grateful for Ranger Orientation.

 

“—‘Course, you’d look better if you didn’t have the bad habit of pissing off our Expert Marksman.” Dave Dixon slaps Daniel’s back, disturbing another eye roll.

“I dunno, Sam. I’ve got a stringer on ‘62 that’s gunning for you. No pun intended.” Griff looks up from his chess game.

Sam’s eyebrows raise. Nice. “Good for them.” She’d been one of the few 1Cs to consistently shoot expert on the SGC’s in-house qual course. Six weapons were time consuming in a non-Rescue/Combat Contact schedule, but she did it to make up for her lower body mass in CQC. Sometimes it was less helpful, but often it was more.

Mitchell blinks. “You’re the only Expert here?”

“One of the few with another specialty. It’s not the standard AF course. We qualify here on the P90, M9, M16, Staff Weapon, Zat, and Disrupters—combat effectiveness and field repair. Rescue and Combat Contacts also do others.” Of course, it also helps that field repair takes her a lot less training than it did the other guys. Especially considering she’d written the Tau’ri manuals on three of them back in the day.

The CO of SG-33 snorts good-naturedly. “And by ‘do others’ she means over the years we've had a dozen of the best special operators in the world show up here and end up not passing their Combat Marksman checks.”

Dixon ribs Sharma back. “Only the idiots that think they can go from an NBA Dream Team to starting pitcher for the Yankees without blinking.” ‘Course, it’d been seven years since the ‘33 CO had graduated ahead of four SEALs, but they couldn’t let that go to his head, could they?

“…Yeah, they gotta start on the Mets just like everybody else.” One of Sharm’s men finishes, earning himself a nearby ping pong ball launched at his head.

Chris catches it without looking and chucks it in the trash bin. “I know, I know, Sir. Can't be insulting the Minor League guys like that.” Sharma wishes he had another ping pong ball.

“Sore loser.” He’d buy one with the money they absolutely-hadn't-bet-each-other from when the Mets had tied it up last week.

Vivek finally groans with less positive nature. He CO registers it instinctively, barely looking up. “Easy, guys.” Dixon looks towards Griff's caution before he finishes clarifying. “Still a couple guys benched on missing checks.” Dave nods.

Daniel's diplomacy-dar springs to Vivek, who grimaces but doesn't consider hiding anything. “I'm on profile for breaking 7:00 on my top level Evasion-Resistance-Escape check after that lovely pistol-whipping.”

“I thought your shoulder had healed?” Daniel's surprised; he'd gotten that shoulder hit saving Daniel from a much nastier one. Still, the new Chair meant even standard checks could be designed to push you past your limit. No one went off-world without being at absolute peak, if they could help it. Meant you got damn used to quick recoveries.

“It is, but I hate that damned chair. I swear it’s way easier to grit through when you’re actually getting your can clobbered than when that thing pretends you are.”

“That’s a product of the neural interface, its posterior cingulate cortex connection is weakened to temper episodic memory recall, but it also affects pain management.” Sam doesn't even look up from whatever alien-world-hunger problem she's solving on her laptop that hour.

Griff rolls his eyes at her for his junior officer. “How do you do that?”

“How to decrease the posterior cin—?” She's grinning invisibly into her screen as he shoots her a look. Oh, quit it. His guy had just been benched by a chair, for chrissake.

Sam catches the look without looking. “…I have a photographic memory with like nine different aliens downloaded inside it, Mike.” He snorts. Not to mention a lot of practice synthesizing for whatever they need in ‘Carter-right-now-they’re-coming!’ time.

On-the-fly design had always been her forte, and it’s incredible how good you get at gisting when suddenly you can’t think about what to eat for dinner without a hundred dinners on different planets in different lifetimes springing to mind. Chuck in a mission count even Teal’c doesn’t keep track of anymore on top of years as engineering CO at this ridiculous op tempo…well, ‘breadth of command experience’  doesn’t come close.

“Like you'd forget that, Mike.” Lou joins her lightheartedness with a grin. Lord knows how she's so damn light about that.

“Yeah, well, some of us like our posterior cigars the way they are.” Sam smirks again. –I know, it’s always been pretty clear who my biggest fans are. Imitation and flattery and all that.– her General murmurs in her ear. She bites down on the rush that sends through her. Jeez, Sam, he’s in your head, how can that send a tingle from your ear?

Griff’s head turns to Mitchell, immediately locking back in to say something serious. He really did try to replicate his old base CO. “Really, though. Other than Teal’c, First Contacts don’t get much time to work on depth of skill beyond what we come in with. It’s all about breadth and being able to synthesize it. Carriers are gonna need a lot of breadth training.” His eyes don’t stray from Mitchell, but the pointed look reaches Sam spot-on anyway. Yes. She indicates, I know. …Relax, Mike.

Sam swaps languages. “Speaking of which, how’s your Goa’uld, Cam? I wouldn’t be surprised if most of your best Carriers turn out to be Free Jaffa.” Teal’c inclines his head.

“Sam, I didn’t even know there were Jaffa until three years ago.”

“But you understood that.”

He shrugs. “Yeah, mostly.”

Daniel winces. “Uh, we’re going to need to work on your accent there, buddy.”