Dreamers of Your Dream
By Blue Topaz
Ing Ngarso Sung Tulodo -- From the front, a teacher should set an example;
Ing Madya Mangun Karso -- From the middle, a teacher should act as a motivator;
Tut Wuri Handayani -- From behind, a teacher should be a guide for the students' learning activity.
By Ki Hajar Dewantara.
Part 1: Ing Ngarso Sung Tulodo
"From the front, a teacher should set an example."
Must. Not. Shoot. The. Colonel.
The mantra was repeated several times inside Major Samantha Carter's head.
"Carter, need help?" The smirk that decorated his face an hour ago was still there. Persistent as the power-thirst Aphopis had before SG-1 crashed his ship (with him and the Replicators inside it) into his planet. She would have loved nothing more than to wipe that smug grin off his face, like she wiped out the evil Goa'uld.
She shot him a glare but held back her tongue. Her breath was short and irregular, courtesy of the activity she was currently in.
"Come on Major. Say the word and I'll give you a ride."
Must. Not. Kill. The. Colonel.
A slightly different mantra was recited inside her head. She must remind herself that killing the Colonel equals court martial plus a very *very* sad Sam Carter. That would be bad.
"Never," she managed to get that word out between breaths. Big ... big ... big mistake. She must remember not to say anything while her lungs were out of oxygen.
"Suit yourself." He shrugged his shoulders.
Must. Not. Feed. Him. To. The. Goa'uld.
Oh yeah, the mantra was getting better and better.
One of his hands was on the steering wheel of the green military jeep he was driving, the other was fixing his shade's position, which failed miserably in hiding his gleam. She knew that he was laughing at her stubbornness inside. But she refused to react. The sun was shining brightly, she was grateful that she hadn't forgotten to put her cap on. The road in front of her seemed longer than it should have been.
Damn that man for being so cool and gorgeous with his sunglasses on. It had to be against the regulations for a commanding officer to look that good. Did the Air Force naively believe that all female officers have as much self-restraint as she does? She knew some who would gladly ignore the stupid Fraternization regulation and jump at the first chance to ravish him.
Damn her for being so honourable and acting like a good girl all the time. She really should take the Colonel's advice and learn to have a good time, one that did not involve any machinery or complicated equations. And damn her for being her, she only flashed him a quick smile when he said it and replied 'This is fun, Sir' while pointing at a naquada reactor.
Damn the naquada reactor for being so interesting.
"Colonel." A breathless voice came from behind her. It was Lt. Andrew Reed, an officer who had the tendency to speak before he could think. Nothing that the Colonel was unfamiliar with.
"Yes, Lieutenant?" The Colonel didn't take his eyes off the road.
"Why aren't you running with us?" Reed's voice was hoarse and forced. Didn't he know that it was highly uncomfortable to talk while running? She closed her eyes and rolled them. Some people just couldn't shut their mouth and had to speak their mind, without considering the time nor the place.
"And miss the chance to see all of you suffer?"
Captain Charlie Green could not help but laugh out loud. While running. He stopped running suddenly and coughed, his lungs in desperate need to be filled with air, when something -- or someone, bumped into his back. He really should have known better. He momentarily lost his balance and leapt forward, and luckily his reflexes saved him from falling flat on his face.
"Hey, watch it!" Lt. Maria Halle shouted. She was that 'someone'. Then with a little edge in her voice, she continued, "Sir."
They glared for a second and then started to run again.
"You are the one who ran into me, Halle." Green was shouting back. Apparently, it was easier to shout rather than to speak while you were running at the same time. Go figure!
Halle didn't take the blame laying down. "Because you stopped running suddenly, Captain!" The use of his rank was really for the sake of sarcasm.
"That was no excuse, *Lieutenant*." Ah, the emphasis of rank. He was superior to her.
"How so, *Captain*?" She didn't think that it was a big deal.
"You should watch where you're going, *Liutenant*." He didn't like what she was implying.
"I did. It was your fault, *Captain*." She didn't care about what he thought.
Kids these days. Sam had to resist the urge to pull her hair out.
"Oh yeah?" He was ready to start a fight.
That was it. Sam had had enough with the bickering. "STOP!"
One captain and two lieutenants stopped in their tracks and stood at attention. One Colonel pressed the breaks of his jeep while Sam stopped running as well.
"Problem, Major?" The Colonel's jeep was slightly ahead of the rest of them.
Trying to catch her breath, she looked back at him. "Nothing that I can't handle, Sir."
His eyebrows went up. "Okay. I'll leave you to it. See you back at the base."
He pulled his green military cap slightly and then took off after giving her a slight nod.
"Don't forget about the time!" He cheerfully informed her.
Oh crap, she forgot about the time. A quick glance at her watch told her that she still had around 30 minutes left. It should be enough, the base was not too far from their current position.
"Attention!" She barked the order. They straightened their backs, chins held high, hands at their sides. Perfect soldier pose.
She eyed them one by one. Her annoyance and disappointment at their behaviour was pretty obvious. "Listen to me carefully," she started with a low and dangerous tone. Her patience was on the verge of breaking down. "I don't want to hear another word from anyone until we've reached the base, understood!"
She kept her voice steady. "Anyone disobey that order, I'll have *all* of you cleaning the Stargate using a toothbrush and wax it until you can see your own reflections in it. Got that!"
Without waiting for their answer, she turned around and resumed her run again. The three officers exchanged bemused looks before finally following her in silence.
Once they set a pace, Sam sighed inwardly. It was so unusual of her to lose her patience over such a trivial matter. But she was exhausted and drained, mentally and physically. It had been a long and busy month. She had projects in her labs that needed to be done, going on the missions with SG-1, holding countless briefings and meetings with the scientists at Area 51, and on top of that, she had this special training.
Come to think of it, it was actually her fault. She asked for this special training, to shape and mould her into an officer worthy of commanding the SG-1. She did ask the Colonel to prepare her when he said that he wanted to retire. She still remembered it vividly; the guilt and hurt in him when he told her about his fear of losing her, after she was kidnapped off-world and got another memory stamp. He almost lost her, and he was willing to give up SG-1 for her. It had touched her, deeply. But she knew better than to accept it right away.
She was not ready yet. Not for this much responsibility of becoming the leader of SG-1. There were some of the Colonel's decisions in the past five years that she didn't agree with, and knew that she couldn't do them. Even though they were the right ones.
They talked to General Hammond, about his retirement plan and her need for guidance. After much consideration, the General agreed and even gave them some advice. That was why three of the brightest SGC officers were included in their plan. Hammond said that it would be a great chance for her to practice her leadership skills with a team of her own and the team could benefit from the Colonel's training. He *was* one of finest officers that the Air Force had to offer, after all.
Sam and the Colonel spent two days to hand-pick her team. Personal files were read, SG-team leader's recommendations were sought and a simple test was conducted. In the end, Captain Green from SG-6, Lt. Reed from SG-7 and Lt. Halle from SG-9 were selected.
She really shouldn't have let the Colonel talk her into choosing them. Even though they were fine officers, each of them had some personal issues.
Green, the Captain, was a tough man through and through. Brown hair, brown eyes, well-built body, broad shoulders, a real heart-throb. A likeable guy overall, someone that you could trust with your life. But sometimes, he let his emotions get the better of him and let his fists do the talking instead.
Lt. Reed had a degree in Biological Science, a bright scientist in addition to being a fine officer. Red hair, green eyes, slim build, freckled complexion, full of life, attitude and a joker. He and the Captain seemed to bond quickly, and became the best of friends. His problem was that he was too ... scientific, he didn't really like being a soldier, although he was a good one. He thought that he wasn't cut out to be one; he joined the Air Force because it was his family tradition.
And the last member of what was the so-called SG-Alpha team was Lt. Halle. Short black hair, brown eyes, slender, tall and the quiet one. She was a Linguist, spoke eight languages fluently, including Goa'uld. She was half-Hispanic, her mother was from Venezuela while her father was American. She had that chip-on-the-shoulder-thing of being a woman in the Army. Other than that, she was also a perfectly good officer.
She got along well with Reed, but sometimes she could be involved in a very heated argument with Green over nothing. Sam recognised their interaction; it was like watching the Colonel and her for the very first time. There were definitely sparks between them, but Green had already had a girlfriend outside the SGC. And Reed of course, being the chirpy person that he was, always tried to push their buttons without even realising it. It was not like they wanted each other just yet, but ...
Sam chewed her bottom lip, she really didn't need this unresolved sexual tension inside her team. Not at all.
Colonel O'Neill checked the timer.
"Not bad, you have 7 minutes and 46 seconds left."
The flustered and exhausted SG-Alpha stood in front of him. They had just arrived in front of the base's entrance where he was waiting a few moments ago.
He looked up from the watch. "I'll see you again next week." Sam didn't miss the glint in his eyes when he added, "15 minutes off the clock for the run back." And with a sly smile, he continued, "Dismissed."
The special team only worked together two days a week because they still had to carry on with their missions in their respected teams. Usually the training started at 06.00, and the Colonel would give them weapon or tactical tips to start the day. After a quick break, they would go to the empty warehouse near the mountain and a scenario would be played. The new team needed to solve it as best as they could and the Colonel would give his opinion and feedback after it was over. Then, they would end the day by running from the training facilities back to the base.
She could tell from his reaction that he was having such a good time at her expense. Her eyes narrowed as the rest of her team-members vanished inside the mountain, leaving the two senior officers alone.
"Something you want to say to me, Carter?"
"I have a question, Sir."
"Let's hear it."
She crossed her arms in front of her chest; her breathing was still irregular. "You seemed to enjoy this training better than the last one, Sir."
His brow furrowed. "Which one?"
"The one with the new recruits. Don't you remember? The one with Eliot, Hailey, Grogan and Satterfield." She tried to refresh his memory.
He started to walk back inside the mountain. "Oh, them."
She followed him and started to walk by his side, "Yes, *them*."
"Well, they were still green. I needed to put on my best intimidating face and plant some sense into their heads. Your team however ... it consists of experienced officers that deserve recognition. Don't get me wrong Carter, I'll shout and scream at you if you deserve it."
"I'll try my best not to disappoint you, Sir."
He glanced at her knowingly. "I know you will."
After exchanging a small smile, they continued their journey down the base in the elevator. He stopped at Level 22, where the mess hall was. She promised him to meet him there after refreshing herself. She headed towards the woman's locker room and took a hot shower to get rid of the sweat and dirt from her body.
Stepping out from the shower, she walked to her locker to get dressed.
"Major," greeted Halle. She also had just finished her shower and had already put on her clothes. She was still rummaging though her locker, as if looking for something.
"Lieutenant, ready to go home?" Sam asked casually while putting her pants on.
"Good. Get a good night's sleep then."
The Major had finished getting dressed when she noticed the Lieutenant was still inside the room. She looked nervous, her head was down, staring at her own hands that were crossed in front of her.
"Something wrong, Halle?" Her curiosity was piqued.
Halle jerked her head up. "We want to say that we're sorry, Ma'am. For acting so childish today," she blurted out.
Sam gave her a speculative look. "Did the rest of the team put you up to this?"
She shook her head. "No, Ma'am. I got the short straw." The dead-pan expression on her face almost made Sam believe her words, but she knew better. Halle did this on her own initiative. Although SG-Alpha had only been formed for about a month now, the invisible bond was already there, ready to be nurtured by friendship and trust.
Throwing the wet towel into the laundry basket, Sam said, "I don't mind you bickering, but I would appreciate it if you didn't do it during training. You have to take this seriously Halle, this is a rare opportunity for all of you to learn from one of the most senior officers. Don't screw this up just because you can't keep your anger and irritation under control. Tell that to Green and Reed as well. I won't hesitate to replace you with someone else if I don't see you work hard enough in this team. Understood!"
"Good." Sam sighed as soon as she finished her scold. She really wanted to make the best out of this training; the Colonel had put so much effort in this and she would not let her team disappoint him. She would not let *herself* disappoint him. Leadership was not one of her finest qualities, but then again, the Colonel said that it was not a talent either. It was a learning process that came with experience.
She was ready to go to the commissary and meet the Colonel when she realised that Halle was still standing at the same spot and watching her carefully.
"Something on your mind, Lieutenant?"
Halle shifted her feet a little. She seemed to consider whether she should speak or not. Her hands were clasped together in front of her.
Sam recognised the hesitation. "Is it something personal?" Her voice was soft and full of concern. Her fatigue was soon pushed aside, Halle was her subordinate, her team. And she would do anything for her team, just like the Colonel would for his.
Halle licked her lips, she was still unsure. "I heard rumours, Ma'am."
"What kind of rumours?"
"About you and Colonel O'Neill."
She got Sam's full attention now. "Oh ... What did the rumour say?"
"That the whole reason behind this training is that once the Colonel retires and you resume command of SG-1 ..." She didn't finish her sentence.
Sam closed her eyes momentarily, it wasn't something new. It was only natural for the small and close-knit community like the SGC to have some hearsay floating around. And her relationship with the Colonel was an open secret anyway. "That after this is over, the Colonel and I would pursue a relationship? Is that what you were trying to say, Halle?" She kept her voice level and steady as she finished Halle's sentence..
Halle was clearly uncomfortable when she replied, "Yes."
A rational and collected Sam would end this conversation by saying that this was none of her business. But she was tired and frustrated, so she stared at the other woman intently. "What if we do?"
Halle's eyes went wide, she didn't expect the question. "Ma'am?"
Sam continued, "Is it against the regulations for a retired officer to go out with another officer who was his former subordinate?"
"Uh ... no."
"So?" Sam shrugged her shoulders. "What's the problem?"
Halle looked thoughtful. "I ... I guess I just didn't see you like that, Ma'am."
"I see you as a strong and independent woman that doesn't need a man like him and ..."
Sam raised her hand, "Whoa ... stop right there. What do you mean by 'a man like him'?"
Halle began to panic, she didn't mean it to come out like that. "Colonel O'Neill is a good man, and I respect him a lot, Ma'am. But ... but ... " The intensity of Sam's scrutinizing glare had made her stutter. "What I was trying to say was ... I just don't understand."
The earnest confusion on her face had softened Sam's attitude. "You don't understand? About what?"
"Why would the two of you go through this much trouble for a relationship that might not work? There's no guarantee that the two of you would last. I am sorry Ma'am, but sometimes love is just not enough. I respect you and the Colonel a lot. I know that the SGC is his family, and to give it up will be really hard on him. If it doesn't work out, then he might blame you. I guess ... I guess I just don't want to see you two made a big mistake."
Sam was stunned, it had never crossed her mind that other people were also affected by her relationship. Unconsciously, she smiled at her. "What's your dream, Halle?"
"I used to dream I'd become an astronaut when I was a little girl, to go to space in a rocket or a shuttle. It came true, although the rocket part was altered to an alien aircraft."
"Ah ..." Halle was at lost. She didn't know what to say, so she let the Major continue.
"My dream came alive, but not in a way that I wanted it to. I never dreamt about a parasitic alien creature that would threaten Earth on a daily basis ... or befriending a grey alien ... or having to face a mechanical spider ... or blowing up a planet ... or turning my father into a Tok'ra. I never dreamt about all that, but they came in a package with my space-travelling desire. Those extra things were beyond my control, there was nothing that I could do about it except deal with it the best I could."
She approached the Lieutenant and put a hand on her shoulder. "And now, I have another dream. I will try my best to make it come true, no matter what the outcome is. Because I know that I will not regret it."
She gave her a squeeze on her shoulder before she left her alone in the locker room. The young Lieutenant needed time to think about her words.
To be continue
So, what do you think so far?