Title: American Lieutenant in Middle Earth

Summary: What would happen if a modern day American soldier was roughly thrown into Middle Earth?

Spoilers: Material is borrowed from both book and movie sources.

Disclaimer: I do not own The Lord of the Rings. It is the property of J.R.R. Tolkien and Houghton Mifflin Company.

A/N: This is the better of two LotR fan fics I've written. This is my first posting on the site, so please be nice. Any helpful comments would be highly appreciated!

A/N Edit 2012a.: This story was postponed indefinitely for several reasons. Back when I first wrote it, I was under the misguided impression that if people didn't like what they read, they would leave well enough alone. HAHAHAHA! Yeah. That happened, all right. So, some of those people reviewed in ways that at the time, yes, hurt my feelings a little bit. I lost my drive to finish this baby.

Now, years later, I'm almost feeling like continuing, except for one humungous problem: I don't remember where I was going with the plot. For those who were interested in it, you have my deepest apologies. I should have kept writing for the people who did like my story, instead of meekly stepping down in favor of the few who openly voiced issues with my work. Unfortunately, I don't know where to proceed from here, other than to make small edits on what exists.

A/N Edit 2012b.: Speaking of those who openly voiced their issues with my work. This A/N is addressing some of those by way of informing you of the changes I've made:

Sam's last name is now Kaufmann. There was truth in the statement that her original last name was a poor choice, especially in lieu of the other fandom I chose to eventually write for. To the best of my knowledge, there are no famous Samantha Kaufmanns. Any resemblance to any such woman is purely coincidence.

Sam makes a controversial statement. I did not change or delete it. I did, however, asterisk (*) it so that I may explain why she made the statement at the end of this chapter.

I got reamed for placing women in open combat, which is not true to fact. This, too, I address at the end of the chapter.

Chapter 1

~ From Here to There ~

The desert silence was broken only by the crackle of a radio, the static of which almost seemed to blend with the wind. "Sierra One, this is Alpha. What is your location?"

Lieutenant Samantha Kaufmann jumped at the sudden sound. Next to her, her teammate Captain Terry Roland shifted uneasily; they were out on a recon mission and they had no idea if any enemies were near their location.

"About two clicks north northeast of the Iranian border," Lieutenant Colonel Jacobs rasped, which wasn't surprising, as they hadn't spoken for hours and were also trying to preserve their water supply.

"Got it, Colonel. Keep us posted," replied the Alpha Base tech.

"Yep." Jacobs turned his radio off and turned to speak to his team. Sam looked up nervously; she had that sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach that something bad would happen. "Okay, guys...and girls," he began. "That would be the conversation General Roberts told us to use as signal to head to the border. Now, we don't know where...or even if the enemy is near, so I want you guys to be extra alert."

"Yes, sir," came the quiet chorus from the five subordinates.

"Good. I'll take the point; Kelly, watch our six."

Captain Sue Kelly, the second in command, quickly stood up. "Yes, Sir," she said hoarsely.

The rest of the team stood up stiffly and began walking southwest toward the border. Sam was in the center with Sergeant William Harrison, while Lieutenant James Thompson watched the left side and Captain Roland on the right.

Just sitting around in the desert, waiting for enemy fire to suddenly rain down on them had made the team paranoid. They jumped at the hiss of sand every time the wind would pick up again, and little mini sand tornados took on the illusion of someone running to fire at them.

After about thirty minutes the heat and lack of water began to catch up to them, and even Jacobs began to lag. "Okay...fifteen minute break," he panted. Sam dropped down into the sand gratefully. The rest sat down a little more slowly.

"First recons suck, don't they?" Roland smirked, turning toward her.

"And the second, and the third, and the fourth, and-," put in Bill.

"Shut it Harrison," Kelly growled.

Sam smiled and nodded. She took as sip from her canteen and turned to glance at Jacobs, who had suddenly stood up.

"Sir, what's-" began Roland, but she quickly stopped upon seeing the glare Jacobs was giving her.

It was then that everyone else heard it. It was like a distant, shrill whistle, progressively getting closer.

"Oh, crap!" Sam heard Kelly say, and glanced in the direction Kelly was looking. Her heart leapt into her throat. 'Well,' she thought, 'we don't have to worry about enemies surrounding us anymore.' What appeared to be a missile was heading in their general direction. When it landed, it would be close enough that the team would be killed in the aftershock.

"Why the hell are they targeting the six of us!" shouted Jacobs angrily. "Why not aim for a bigger, better target! Scatter, spread out!"

"Sir, it's useless," James pointed out despairingly.

"That's an order Lieutenant! We will notgo down watching that missile come to us while we stand frozen in terror!" shouted Jacobs, his eyes wild and spit flying from his mouth.

Everyone reluctantly obeyed. Sam frantically scrambled up a dune as the shrill whistling, now more of a roar, got closer. She stopped and turned. None of her teammates were now visible from this half of the dune but the missile was disturbingly close. She stood ramrod still, and stared Death straight in the face. "I'm sorry, Sir," she whispered, "but I will not die running from Death."

The missile struck somewhere in front of her. As the shockwave hit her, she screamed as she felt herself being torn apart but it was drowned out by the tremendous roar from the wave.

Sam gasped and woke up. She felt like she had been pummeled extremely roughly; everywhere was sore. She blearily opened her eyes but quickly shut them in an attempt to darken the incredibly bright sun. It also took her a moment to realize that she was lying on her back, on her survival pack, which was very uncomfortable.

She rolled onto her side and gasped at the pain that wracked her body in waves. 'Nothing feels broken,' she thought, 'just severely beat up.'

When she opened her eyes again, the sun wasn't as bright, so she began to observe her surroundings. 'Okay...this isn't Heaven...or Hell,' she observed in confusion. Her first clue was that she was in a mountainous region and no gates (from either place) were anywhere. Her second clue was that she hadn't walked any tunnels with bright lights at the end.

She tried to stand up, but pain lanced through her legs and shoulders. Determined, she took her pack off and then tried standing. It wasn't as unbearable without her bag. Next she tried walking, first slowly, then quicker as she became more confident that her legs wouldn't give out. Triumphantly, she walked over to her pack and grabbed her canteen and blanket. She took a drink from her canteen and put it back before wrapping herself in the blanket and managing to put her pack over one shoulder.

'Shit,' she thought, 'Where do I go?' If the others were here, then they may have been out as long as she was...however long that had been. "Colonel!" she cried. "Captains Kelly, Roland! James! Harrison, I'm over here!" The only response she got was startled blackbirds taking off. "Someone!" she called, beginning to despair.

The wind was beginning to cut through her blanket and the cold that seeped into her bones caused her to realize she had just been in a desert when a missile supposedly killed her, and now she was on a mountain...a very cold mountain.

She quickly turned as she heard what sounded like...hoof beats? It also then occurred to her that she was on a stone road. Out of instinct, she hurtled herself closer to the side of the mountain, causing more waves of pain. She gave a sharp gasp as a group of about five people rounded the corner and all she could do was stare at them dumbly. At the head was a long-haired, blonde man, who instantly dismounted on seeing her on the ground.

"Are you the one who shouted?" he demanded sharply.

Sam found her voice. "I-I...my team...the enemy fired a missile at us and it landed. I'm trying to find my team. If I'm a-alive th-then they have to be...to be too," she rambled.

The man looked at her with a slightly concerned look on his face. "And who fired the...missile?" he asked doubtfully.

"The I-Iranians. Please...I have to find the rest of my team." She looked at him pleadingly. It never occurred to her that she might not be speaking to a friend, but she was so desperate to prove that this was some nightmare the night before her recon mission even started.

The man turned and said something to one of his comrades in a strange language she couldn't place and picked her up. She gasped and began to protest. "I'm perfectly capable of walking by myself." He ignored her and put her behind his saddle and swung up in front of her.

"Hey! Where the hell are you taking me!" she demanded.

"Quiet," hissed the man, "lest you alert any enemies to our whereabouts." The party walked on again.

"Well, then, you can tell me whether you're good guys or bad," Sam demanded in a quieter tone. Regardless of whose side these people were on, she didn't want to be killed in any crossfires she had caused.

The man took a second to answer, which made Sam instantly suspicious. "We are not servants of the Dark Lord, if that is what you mean," he finally answered.

"Dark Lord?" Sam said incredulously. Now she was sure this was a dream, or some twisted torture that the Iranians had concocted. Then a thought occurred to her: he obviously figured that she didn't serve this Dark Lord so she was willing to build a minimum amount of trust.

"Yes!" he hissed impatiently.

'Well so-rry,' she thought sarcastically. "So do you think I work for this-this Dark Lord?" she asked.

"I would have more than likely slain you on spot if I had. You are obviously not an orc, nor do you bear any major similarities to one of the Haradrim. You closer resemble a person of Gondor, but I have yet to see a woman fight for the Gondorian army, and wear something such as you are," he replied.

'Oh, sexist are we,' thought Sam. "Uh huh. And you are?" she heard some shifting behind her, but she was beginning to get a migraine, as her eyes were still sun-sensitive, and she didn't want to partially turn and strain her eyes anymore.

"I am Prince Legolas of Mirkwood," the man-Legolas-replied.

'Prince Legolas? That doesn't sound Iranian to me, and besides that, he's speaking fluent English. Well, if we're using titles...' "I'm Lieutenant Samantha Kaufmann," she returned. "But I'm usually called Sam."

"That isn't a name from any place here that I know of. Where are you from?"

"I'm American." When he didn't answer and it became slightly tense, she continued, "Um, and if my geography is right, America is west of here." The tension eased up somewhat.

After an awkward silence, Sam asked, "Wh-what time is it?" The numbers on her watch were blinking and the time read "0:23:42" and didn't change no matter how much time lapsed between the other times she checked it.

"It is almost midday," replied Legolas, sounding mildly amused.

"Oh," Sam said. "Uh, I don't want to lower your food supplies any, but do you guys have anything more appetizing than an MRE?"

"MRE?" asked Legolas.

"Meal Ready to Eat. And they're that crappiest thing someone could want for food, even versus the Mess food," replied Sam, more to herself toward the end. 'Man, I must have a concussion or something,' she thought. 'I'm not usually quite this random on emotions or thoughts or, geez! Iamconcussed!'

Legolas took a minute to mull over her words. "Er, yes, we do have something that is better than your...M-R-E's" he replied slowly.

Even though it was almost noon, they didn't stop for lunch, which was fine with Sam; being blown up seemed to have an impact on one's appetite for some odd reason.

Legolas muttered something to one of his companions, who trotted their horse ahead. "Uh, exactly where are...we going?" asked Sam.

"Rivendell. I was called to attend the Council of Elrond," replied Legolas.

"Uh huh."

The scout came back and reported in the strange language.

"Hanon le," replied Legolas. "Tolo!" he cried and spurred his horse into a run. Sam gasped and flung her arms around Legolas's waist to prevent herself from falling off. Though she had often ridden horses, she wasn't as familiar with doubling, and the back of the horse was even bumpier to ride on than actually being on his back.

They rounded a bend and Sam gasped again, this time in awe and amazement. Before her was a valley with the most beautiful city she had ever seen built right into it.

"That is the city of Rivendell!" Legolas shouted.

As they entered the city, Legolas slowed his horse down and the others followed suit. He then dismounted and offered his hand to her. Sam took it and grasped the horse's mane with the other. "Thanks," she muttered as she slid off.

She turned around and jumped back. Legolas's wind-blown hair was completely behind his shoulders, but what startled Sam was the fact that he had pointed ears. "What the hell?" she squeaked.

Legolas looked at her, plainly confused. "Your ears...th-they're pointed!" 'Either that or I have areallybad concussion.'

His expression changed from confused to incredulous. "You have never seen an Elf before?" he asked.

"Damn right I haven't! Okay, who are you working for? Bin Laden? Some new, deranged Muslim that Bush doesn't know about yet! What kind of mental torture are you trying to pull?*" This was the last straw. She was entirely convinced that this was no longer a dream, but was now some crazy POW torture.

Legolas stared at her with an annoying calm look. "I do not know bin la den, muss limb, or Bush, nor am I...er...trying to pull any mental torture."

"Great! So, what... I have a mental problem caused by a concussion?"

"I do not understand your reason of panic-"

"Just...please, be quiet for a minute!" pleaded Sam, rubbing her temples. This was not helping her migraine, which had yet to ease up. 'Okay,' she thought. 'This guy doesn't act like he's intentionally trying to do anything except help me. But, saying that he's an Elf?' She sighed. 'Fine. I'll play along, but the minute he tries anything, I swear he will pay.'

"Okay, fine," she said. "Whatever. You're an Elf."

"You are obviously unwell. I think, perhaps, Lord Elrond should make sure that you are not plagued by anything serious," said Legolas, in a tone that booked no room for argument.

"Wait," she said, planting her feet as he began to drag her off. "What about my team?"

"We saw no one before you. I am sorry," he said, avoiding her eyes.

'They can't be dead. They're still probably near the border, while I'm...here,' she thought doubtfully. Tears began to form but she put on the steel military mask and followed Legolas, while his comrades followed them.

Sam barely noticed where she was walking as grief tried to overwhelm her. Her first recon and her team was already gone. She knew that something would happen; her gut had never let her down before. Then again, what would she have said to Colonel Jacobs: "Excuse me, um, Sir? Whenever something bad is going to happen I get a...feeling in my stomach. I don't think we should go on the mission today." He would have sent her straight to the base psychologist, who needed a shrink himself.

"Samantha?"

Sam jumped. Legolas was looking at her in concern. "We're at a suitable room for you."

She simply nodded and walked in. The room smelled faintly of apple cinnamon. It had a white four-poster bed on the left side and a balcony across from the door. On the right was a dresser. Next to the bed was a small, elaborate nightstand. On the floor were two down-soft pale cream rugs; one on the right of the bed and one at the foot of the bed. The color, though white, did ease her headache slightly.

"Samantha," Legolas called from the door. "In his message, Lord Elrond said a feast would be held tonight. You should attend, for there will more than likely be space at the table."

"Okay," she said softly. Legolas shut the door and apparently walked away, though Sam didn't hear him, not that she was paying much attention anyway.

She sat down on the bed. There was no way her team could have survived the impact and aftershock of the missile. It was therefore logical to assume that she too was dead, but this was a strange life-after-death kind of deal.

There was a soft knock at the door.

"Come in," called Sam. A beautiful, raven-haired...she-elf entered the room.

The elf smiled reassuringly. "Prince Legolas tells my father that he found you on the road."

Sam nodded. "He also said that you were looking for some of your people. I wish I could tell you that some people clad in your uniform arrived here within the day, but none have."

"I kinda figured that," Sam said, closing her eyes.

"I am Arwen. Could you please tell me what happened?" asked Arwen.

"My name's Sam, by the way, and I'd rather not discuss it."

"If you do not speak of what happened now, while it is recent, time will make your story harder to tell. The grief will fester for years to come and may eventually explode, much as Orodruin has every few centuries."

She opened her eyes. Well, if Arwen put it that way...

Sam opened her mouth and began to recall what happened, starting with the Alpha Base's last message.

A/N 2: So, what did you think? Please R&R so I know whether to kill the story while it's only on the first chapter, or to keep it.

A/N Edit 2012c.: Okay. In regards to my reaming on women in combat:

As an author, I believe I am entitled to creative license. This means that my story does not have to follow guidelines laid out in our known world. One such example is my use of Sam and her fellow female soldiers in open combat. So, basically, what I'm trying to say is, "This is my story and my mind governs pretty much everything within its plot and inner workings. Just because something happens one way in reality doesn't mean my story absolutely has to obey reality's rules." I'm sorry if my inaccuracy was offensive to anyone. It wasn't done with the intent to piss you off. I promise.

*Another point I was reamed on was the sentence I asterisked. Again, as an author, I'm entitled to use literary tools. One such tool is known as character development. Am I a fictional character named Samantha Kaufmann? NO. Therefore, just because that's Sam's opinion, DOES NOT mean it's my opinion, too.

My plan, and I do remember this much about the future of this story, was for Sam to eventually learn tolerance. I have nothing against Muslims or Islam. By the end of this work of fiction, Sam wasn't going to either. Again, my intent wasn't to offend. I wrongly assumed that people would go along with the fact that, yes, that was Sam's opinion at present, but she was going to eventually change her perspective. For my incorrect assumption, I deeply and sincerely apologize.

~AC

R&R