CHAPTER ONE: ABDUCTION
According to the calendar, it was still winter in Colorado Springs. But on this mild, sunny day in mid-March, spring was in the air.
The day started early for the O'Neills. Jack had departed at 0600 to join Hank Landry for a meeting with Thor and several Asgard scientists. This left Sam, just beginning the second trimester of her pregnancy, to drive the twins to school.
Grace and Jake, recently turned eight years of age were especially anxious to get to school this morning. They'd worked together on a science project and were quite proud of their results. The presentation was scheduled for first thing this morning, so they were raring to go.
"Come on Mom, we'll be late," Jake called as Sam struggled to get Jon ready for the trip. She was planning to take her youngest clothes shopping once his older siblings were at school.
"Here Mom, I'll carry Jon's stuff out to the car," Grace offered, hoping to move things along a bit. "We really don't want to be late you know."
"I know, Princess," Sam said, delighted with her children's enthusiasm for learning and that fact they'd insisted on doing this project without her help. "I promise we'll be there on time. See, we're ready," she said taking Jon by the hand and gathering up her purse and car keys.
In a flash, Grace and Jake raced out the kitchen door to the two car garage as Sam activated the automatic garage door opener. The twins tried their hardest to stand patiently on either side of the SUV waiting for their mother to unlock the doors. Sam trailed after them, silently shaking her head, grateful that the morning sickness had subsided by this point in her pregnancy. At least she had a slight chance of keeping up with the munchkins today.
Once the doors were opened, Sam's first order of business was securing Jon in his car seat. By the time that was done, she noticed the twins were still not in the car.
"Okay everybody, let's get going," she said as she turned to see what was keeping the twins. "Hey, you two , thought you were in a hurry, why aren't you…"
By the time Sam turned around it was already too late. A man larger than Teal'c, his face effectively concealed by a stocking mask, held Grace's now limp figure tightly against his own. His free hand held a revolver pressed menacingly to her temple. It was clear there was a silencer attached.
As Jon began to cry from his seat inside the car, a second man emerged from the other side of the vehicle, holding an unconscious Jake, flung over his shoulders.
"What have you done to them?" Sam demanded, her voice commanding despite her fear.
"Tranquillizer darts," the man holding Grace answered. "Get in the car, now."
"I'll do anything you want, just let them go," Sam offered, the slightest tinge of desperation in her voice.
"You will do what I want, Colonel. But we can't let them go. Get in the car and drive, now!" the first man said, emphasizing the pistol he held to Grace's head. "Believe me, if you try anything I won't hesitate. We only need one of them. The other is expendable."
Sam did as she was told. Surprising, Jon had stopped crying and simply stared at his mother as if waiting to be told what to do. Sam tried to smile reassuringly at her baby, but failed miserably in the attempt.
As Sam slid in behind the wheel, the man holding Grace hopped in the front passenger seat while his partner tossed Jake into the back, next to Jon, and jumped in after him.
"Start the car and let's go Colonel," the order came.
"Where are we going?" Sam asked, working hard to maintain her composure.
Jake's abductor was quickly loosing patience. "Listen and listen good," he said. "You're military. If you've ever taken orders, you'd better take them now, lady. "If not, one of these kids is gonna die and it'll be on you."
As she backed the SUV out of the garage and down the driveway, Sam fought the panic building inside of her. Panic could get her children killed. This was the time to think as the highly trained soldier she was. What were her options?
Using her telekinesis was out of the question. With the barrel of the gun to Grace's head, it was likely the first man could pull the trigger before she'd be able to do anything effective. She considered sending the car into a skid, but again this would be like playing Russian roulette with all the children's lives.
As she followed the directions shouted by one of her captors, Sam felt tears gathering in her eyes. Oh God, I don't know what to do, she thought. How am I going to protect them?
"What are you going to do? Why do you want us?" Sam asked, hoping for a response.
When there was no answer, she tried again. After all, Beverly's reports of the missing medical records offered her a clue to what these men might be after.
"Take me and let them go. They're children. I'm more valuable to you," Sam reasoned in as calm a voice as she could muster.
"You're too much trouble, Colonel. The children are all we need," the large man answered.
Sam briefly glanced over to the passenger seat where Grace was still unconscious in the arms of her kidnapper. She had no idea where they were going or what would happen when they got there. Worst of all, she had no idea how to free herself and the children.
By now, the hijacked vehicle had left the city limits. As Sam surveyed the countryside surrounding the narrow two lane road she was now on, all she could see were fields and cow pastures, not a structure in sight. A lone nondescript black van waited by the side of the otherwise deserted road.
"Okay, we've come to the end of the road, Colonel," the larger man announced, pointing to a small access road immediately ahead of the van. "Here's where we get out."
"Mommy!" Jon screamed at the top of his lungs.
Sam could no longer hear him.