513 Proving Ground

The team, SG-1 did their best to make the final test for the recruits realistic. They plotted it out and made it as complicated as possible to weed out the sheep from the goats and hopefully see a semblance of unit cohesion. But O'Neill was worried he had failed them. Possibly the test wasn't straightforward enough or the fact that no real physical danger was involved. Did these 'kids' just see it as play acting? Jack understood their dedication, their sense of duty and perhaps their misplaced enthusiasm. It was just that they were so young and naive and O'Neill was so sick of the blood on his hands. He had to train them to kill and prepare them to die.

The test might have seemed hard to the cadets, maybe it even seemed real. Parts were real enough to Jack. O'Neill's side was bruised by the blank fired at him to break the squib to simulate a wound. And he did get zatted. There wasn't any real danger to the cadets except for the hazards they created for themselves. O'Neill wondered if these raw recruits would last out in the field. He would have prefered combat ready, battle hardened soldiers. They needed more volunteers than they could attract or could get clearance for. Jack didn't get to choose except to choose among the young trainees. Were they throwing these young inexperienced servicemen and women in harm's way, throwing them to the wolves, using them as cannon fodder?

The SGC needed the manpower and Jack had recruited all the older experienced people he knew. But there was a need for young blood, for those adaptable, comfortable with and knowledgeable of modern technology. The SGC needed them but Jack feared he was leading them to an early grave. It kept him up at night. How could he possibly get across how dangerous it was. And contrary to some of SG-1's experiences, in most cases death was actually final.

These young men and women had been regaled with stories of how SG-1 bounced back after mission after mission. What they didn't know about was the pain of flashbacks, the nightmares, the PTSD symptoms, the wear and tear on their bodies. They were unaware of the loneliness, the inability to talk to your family about your life, all the lies, the 'I'm fine' when you were holding on by your fingernails.