Disclaimer: Nothing Stargate belongs to me. If it did, there would never have been regs, Pete, or Kerry, and Janet wouldn't be dead. That's got nothing to do with my story – well, not this one, but I had to say it. But this story is for anyone else who liked Jennifer Hailey from 'Prodigy' and 'Proving Ground' and wants more about her. My two goals are to continue her Stargate story and to explain why being compared to Sam bothered her so much.
Chapter One – Unseen Rival: I lay on my bed, trying to calm down. At 18, I was more stressed than anyone ought to be. I was waiting for responses from the colleges I'd applied to, and if that wasn't enough worry for me, I only got a B on my social studies test and my mom was fuming. See, ever since my IQ test at 4 that said I had very high intelligence, Mom expected perfection in all I did. Even a 99 made her mad; she expected 100s. So she was disappointed a lot. My best classes were math and science, and I wanted to become an astrophysicist, but Mom always said my goals were too high for someone who could get a B. So I gave her the test because my teacher likes exams signed. She saw the grade and went ballistic. After suffering through her screams, I went to my room and locked the door. Laying down, I dreamed of college. There I could escape being driven to a standard I sometimes couldn't reach. I thought of my grandfather, the only one who'd ever really encouraged me. Mom only put me down and Dad walked out years ago, so when he died, I had no one to push me towards my dreams anymore. But despite that, I was determined to follow my star and become an Air Force astrophysicist. Of course, first I needed a recommendation for acceptance to the Academy.
Two months later, the good news came, two days after my high school graduation. I'd been accepted to the Air Force Academy in Colorado. When I told my mother, she lost it. She told me that women had no place in the military and that I'd regret this. I ignored her. Three weeks later, I got a one-way flight to Colorado Springs and the Academy. Mom threatened to disown me if I left, but I didn't care. She didn't do it – I think she just didn't want her hated brother to get anything she owned if I couldn't. It mattered very little to me. When I reached my destination, I was happier than I'd been in years. I could almost hear Gramps saying "You can do it, Jenny. I have faith in you. Now go show them all what you can do!" I meant to do that and more, but I had an unexpected roadblock. And this obstacle had a name: Samantha Carter.
My first few weeks in classes, there was no problem. Then one day, my Basic Physics instructor said to me, "You know, Cadet, you remind me of another student who came through here. Her name was Samantha Carter. Very bright, like you." That was just the beginning. Pretty soon most of the teachers were doing it. "You're just like Samantha Carter," or "If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were Cadet Carter," and even, "Well, Hailey, that was good, but I think Carter did better. Oh, well." I was furious. I just wanted to have a fair chance and all they did was compare me to this Carter person. It was so unfair. First Mom and now this.
Anyway, I decided to find out all I could about this unknown rival. So I looked her up. She had a spotless record, and was now a captain serving at the Pentagon. What irked me was her SAT scores, because mine were higher. Not much, but still. If I scored better than her, why was I in second place? What had I done to deserve that?
After my little investigation, I vowed to try even harder, to be perfect, like Mom always said I should be. Yet nothing changed. I was still 'the next Carter' to the instructors. I wanted to scream in their faces, "I'm Jennifer Hailey, not Samantha Carter! Stop comparing me to her!" Of course, I never did it. But by the end of my second year, I was fed up. When third year started, I quit trying. Most of the projects were too easy, so I did something else and turned it in. My grades went into free fall, yet they still compared me to her, but only negatively. I was livid. I hated Samantha Carter with all I had. I hated the teachers too; they had put me into a competition with someone I'd never meet and could never match up to. I thought of the picture of Carter in the graduate files. She should have appeared so friendly in that photo, but to me she always seemed smug, arrogant because her achievements always overshadowed mine. I yearned to meet her, to tell her exactly what she'd done to me.
It was about mid-term when it happened. I was looking at the course schedule for Advanced Physics because my classmate and friend, Kelsey Mathers, had heard a rumor that we were having a guest speaker on Tuesday (it was a Sunday). I looked down the list and saw the name. Major Samantha Carter. So, I thought vaguely, she's a major now. Then my whole being filled with rage. I'd have to sit in class, hearing a woman I hated lecture on things I knew, all the while knowing nothing I could do would surpass her. Kels saw me sitting on the bench, trembling with rage, and hurried over to see what was wrong. I pointed to Carter's name and she gasped. Kelsey knew how I felt about Carter. "Wow, Jen. What are you going to do?" Ice went down my spine and cooled the fiery rage in my heart. My voice as icy as my feelings, I replied, "I'm going to confront her. I'm going to tell her how much I hate her and why. And I don't care if I get kicked out for it. I'm doing it anyway."