Author's note: Some material is borrowed from Stargate SG-1 episodes, but this story involves an altered version of events in which the Ori do not exist and the Asgard are not sharing much of their technology. No copyright infringement is intended. Many thanks to Skydiver for advice on framing this story. The flaws and limitations, of course, remain my own.
The Blue Suit
"Grandpa, Grandpa! Come out and play baseball with us!" Ed's granddaughter cried as she came bounding into his bedroom at the top of the stairs, her long brown ponytail sticking out from her Detroit Tigers cap. Her brother wasn't far behind. No cap covered his close-cropped dark hair, but he was wearing a baseball glove.
"Yeah, it's no fun playing just with dopey Kristin," said 13-year old Luke.
"I am not dopey! You just don't pitch right," countered his 11-year old sister.
"I can't play right now and if you don't knock it off, I won't come out when I'm done," scolded Ed, but he couldn't help smiling.
"What are you doing, Grandpa?" said Kristin, just noticing that her grandfather was very carefully affixing some kind of pins to a blue suit he had draped on a valet.
"That's Grandpa's Air Force uniform, silly," said Luke with the authority of an older brother. "He was a colonel, you know. What are you doing with it?"
"Well, I'm making sure everything's in the right place. Remember how you're going to have Karen from next door babysit…"
Luke rolled his eyes. His expression said "I don't need a babysitter."
"Er, stay with you tomorrow night?" Ed corrected. He and his wife loved having the children stay with them and this summer they had the kids with them in Colorado for two full weeks. The children nodded. "Your grandma and I are going to a special party for a very important person from the Air Force."
"Who?" asked Luke.
"Lieutenant General Samantha Carter. She's retiring."
"A lady General? Cool!" said Kristin.
"She must be really old," commented Luke.
"She is cool," Ed replied, chuckling—and ignoring the "old" comment. He ran his hand through his own graying, and admittedly a bit thinning hair. "She and I worked together several times over the years and I owe her a lot," he added more seriously.
"Was that when you were working to make the world safe, like Mom says?" asked Kristin.
"Making the world safe" was a good way to put it, Colonel Edward Marks, USAF, Ret., thought. The Stargate program had become public a few years back and so people knew at least the general outlines of the kind of work he and the others had done.
"Were you a hero, Grandpa?" asked Luke. "It sure looks like you have a lot of medals."
"Well, I don't know about that," Ed said, sitting on the bed. He was uncomfortable with hero talk. "But General Carter sure was. She really did help save the world." And me, he thought.
"How was she a hero?" asked Luke.
"Yeah, tell us about her, Grandpa, please?" wheedled Kristin, scooting herself close to him on the bed. She loved Grandpa's stories. He told them all about growing up in the olden days, but he had never told them about saving the world. That sounded like the best yet.
"Well, I guess I could tell you a few stories," Ed began.
"Was she your CO?" asked Luke, trying to sound knowledgeable, sitting himself down on the other side of his grandpa.
"Was she pretty?" asked Kristin, feeling that was a more essential issue.
"No, she wasn't my commanding officer, but she always did outrank me and so could give me orders. And yes, she was quite pretty, Kristin. But not as pretty as your grandmother," Ed added with a fond smile. "Let me tell you about how I first met Samantha Carter and your grandma."
The children looked at him expectantly.
"Well, I first met them in the infirmary—that's like a hospital," Ed started.
"Was grandma sick?" Kristin interrupted.
"Just let grandpa tell it, Kris," said Luke.
"Anyway," Ed resumed, "General Hammond ordered me to work with Major Carter (she was a major then) on a project, but she was in the infirmary."
"Major Carter and I were to work on a new power module for the space ship Prometheus. I knew the project must be urgent since we were starting work while Carter was doing a week in the infirmary for observation," Ed explained. "She had hurt her head pretty badly when aliens had attacked the ship and captured the rest of the crew as they fled in escape pods."
Kristin and Luke's dark eyes grew round. "How did she get home?" asked Kristin. "What about the crew?" Luke asked.
"Well, I don't know the whole story," Ed replied, "but somehow Major Carter managed to figure out both a way out of the nebula the ship was stuck in and to negotiate the release of her crew."
"I was pretty nervous the first day," Ed told the children, "because she was so smart. She had figured out how to use the Stargate after all, and I was only a Lieutenant. A friend of mine teased me about working with "Major Egghead."
"Major Egghead!" Kristin and Luke giggled.
"Lieutenant Marks reporting, Major Carter," he said.
"At ease, Lieutenant, and pull up a chair," Sam said from her infirmary bed with a small smile.
To a nurse who was putting away a blood pressure cuff she had evidently just used on the Major, Carter said: "I'll be fine Lieutenant. I'm sure you have other patients."
The nurse--"Cassini" according to her nameplate--frowned and said: "I don't know how you talked Doctor Fraiser into this, but remember-- just an hour. You've been through a lot." She gave Marks a stern look and then left the room.
Dr. Fraiser allowed Marks to come in at 11:00 each morning to work with Major Carter for an hour.
"Well, Major Carter turned out to be as brilliant as everyone said," Ed continued. "She could be frustrating, though, because her mind worked a mile a minute and she expected me to keep up. More than once she had to back up a step to let me catch up."
"Oh, let me just tweak the algorithm and you can plug in the data and we'll be in business!" she had said excitedly one time.
"Uh, which data is that, Major?" he had asked diffidently.
"The reactor data from the P3X-824 mission," she said with a frown. Duh, Lieutenant, he thought she must be thinking--but he had no idea what she was talking about.
He continued to stare at her blankly. "Oh, that's right," she said, shaking her head, "you wouldn't have that. Go tell Dr. Harper I said to give you the material."
He popped up to go but she motioned him back to his seat and smiled. "I didn't mean this second, Lieutenant. But get it to me by our meeting tomorrow.
Within the first couple of days, Marks realized she expected him to be sharp and work hard, but certainly no harder than she was working herself. He thought she looked tired.
Every day at noon on the dot, Jo Cassini, who was Major Carter's main nurse, appeared. "Ok, Major, that's enough for today. Time to leave, Lieutenant," she would say, making a shooing motion.
And every day Major Carter would say: "Just five more minutes." But Jo was firm and Marks would leave with his assignment for the next day.
On Day Four, Major Carter took a different tack.
"Look, Lieutenant," she told Cassini, "I promise to take a rest if you let Marks come back in an hour so we can finish up this program. As a matter of fact, why don't you and Ed go get a bite to eat in the Commissary? Then you can make sure he doesn't come back for an hour. You've got to eat and it's your lunch break anyway."
Surprisingly, Jo had acceded to the request. "Ok, but if he tires you out, Dr. Fraiser will have my bar."
Carter had given a bright grin and then mock meekly lain back on the bed.
When they came back to the infirmary, they had found Major Carter asleep and slinked out of the room.
"You've got to watch her," Jo had said. "She tends to overdo. God only knows how she managed to function all those days and save the Prometheus crew with that kind of head injury."
"After that, Jo and I had lunch together every day that our duties permitted. She was very pretty and smart and funny and nice, Ed said with a smile. She had dark hair and beautiful brown eyes. I fell in love with her during that first lunch. Guess who the nurse was?"
"Grandma!" Luke said, catching on.
"You were her Prince Charming!" added Kristin.
"Oh, brother. You and your fairy tales," Luke said, disgusted.
"So I have General Carter to thank for bringing your grandma and me together."
"That's good. Did you have any adventures, though, grandpa?" asked Luke.
"There was a time when Carter and I worked together aboard the Prometheus," said Ed. I was a captain by then and assigned to the bridge. Major Carter was a Colonel then and she was on board for our mission to a planet called Tegalus."
"Whoa!" said Luke, "Did you land on the planet? Were there aliens there?"
"Well, they were aliens in that they weren't from Earth, but they were human," Ed explained. "There were two countries on the planet that fought a lot— Caledonia and Rand. We were sent to see if the Rand had gotten dangerous technology and were building a space fleet to go to war."
"And your job was to keep the people safe," interrupted Kristin.
"That's right, honey," said Ed. "But things didn't go according to plan."
Upon its emergence from hyperspace near Tegalus, the Prometheus came under immediate attack.
The damn Asgard hadn't seen fit to give the Earth full shield capability—it was like a bad Windows version, Marks remembered ruefully. At least the shields didn't sputter out that time, as they had a tendency to do in tests. But the Prometheus had been no match for the fleet of Rand ships.
"Explosions were going off all around us, but Colonel Carter was totally calm," said Ed. "Colonel Pendergast, the ship captain, sent me with her to try to reroute power to get the sub-light engines back on line."
"Were you scared?" asked Kristin.
"Well, kind of scared, but I knew what I needed to do."
Actually, I was so rattled, I tried to take the elevator and she had to call me back, Marks recalled with chagrin.
"We were climbing the ladder to Deck 15 when another explosion rocked the ship and I lost my grip," Ed continued. "I barely caught my self one-handed on a rung. If Colonel Carter hadn't grabbed for me and caught me I would have fallen a long way and been hurt badly," said Ed.
More like crushed my skull, Ed thought, but I'm not sure the kids need to hear that. Sure, I dislocated my shoulder, but that was a hell of a lot better than doing a Humpty Dumpty.
"Wow, she must have been strong," commented Kristin.
"Yes, she was. Of course everyone in the Air Force is expected to be physically fit," explained Ed.
"What happened then, Grandpa?" prompted Luke.
After they got the naquadah generator working, Carter ordered him to the rings, but made no move herself. He looked at her expectantly.
"Go. I've got to finish tying this in or we'll run out of power before everyone can ring off the ship. I'll be right behind you," she added, not looking up from her keyboard.
He didn't want to leave her. The chances of her making it off the ship were slim if she stayed much longer and shouldn't he be helping her?
He walked guiltily the few steps to the rings and had a brief glimpse of her bent over her terminal before the light flashed and he materialized on the planet.
An airman came up to him. "Where is Colonel Carter?" he asked. "Wasn't she right behind us?"
"She ordered me off the ship. She said she'd stay to make sure the transport worked."
As he and the others milled around in shock from the attack and evacuation, he waited for what seemed like hours for Carter to ring down. When she did, Marks and the others swarmed around her in concern. She had a badly singed arm, but shook off the medic who tried to examine her.
"Where's Colonel Pendergast?" she said, looking around.
"We haven't seen him, ma'am."
"I thought I waited 'til the last second, but maybe the generator hasn't been hit yet. He might still make it."
But as the minutes passed, they all knew it was hopeless. The ship had been destroyed with Colonel Pendergast aboard. He was a good commander, thought Marks. A look of great sadness passed over Carter's face, but then she took a deep breath and began organizing the survivors.
"Sergeant Gibson, see what you can do to help Lieutenant Jackson," she said, indicating the medic she had brushed off a minute ago. "Lieutenant Singh, establish a perimeter."
"Yes, ma'am," the two airmen replied smartly.
"Sergeant Romanowski, what do you have in the way of communications? We need to contact the rest of our people," she continued in the same calm manner.
"Shehad a way of reassuring us," Marks remembered. "She never barked orders, but no one doubted her authority. She and SG1 later worked on a way to get us all home, but I wasn't involved in that part."
"But you helped her save the crew, right Grandpa?" said Luke loyally.
"Yeah, we worked together," he responded with a smile, "and she taught me a lot by her actions."
"Tell us another story about you and Colonel Carter, Grandpa," demanded Kristin.
"Well," Ed said thoughtfully, "there was the time we beat the Lucien Alliance."