Under Alien Skies-Propagation
Author:Alec Star
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Rating: 15+
Chapter 10: The Long Road to Here
(Daniel's POV)

Chapter 10: The Long Road to Here
(Daniel's POV)

"It's late, why don't you stay here tonight?" I ask Sam when I realize that it's already dark outside.


"I don't know, I guess I just don't want you to be alone right now."

"I'm a big girl, Daniel, I've been living on my own for years and all the things we've been going over tonight... those happened months ago," she reminds me.

"I know but you said yourself that you are having trouble sleeping and somehow I think that tonight will probably be a lot worse than usual. This is the first time you've talked about any of this and it won't hurt to have a friend around, just in case. I'll take the couch."

"I can't kick you out of your own bed!" she exclaims.

"You are not kicking me out, I'm volunteering... and the truth is that I'll sleep better on the couch knowing that you are not alone than I would in my bed wondering how you are doing."


"Sam, do you want to go home?" I ask, point blank.

"Not really, but..."

"Then stop arguing, a night on the couch won't kill me," I tell her.

"I feel so stupid. I mean, Turghan's not even on this planet. I know there's no way he can hurt me."

"Yes, well that sounds very nice and rational and it may even work while you are awake but, correct me if I'm wrong, that theory isn't exactly working as well as it should while you sleep, is it?"

"No, it's not. It's like my brain just won't stop," she reluctantly admits. "Every time I close my eyes I'm back in that tent only things get really jumbled and they refuse to make sense. Turghan's there as is General Hammond and... never mind," she trails off.

"It's okay for you to be confused about this, Sam, I just hate that you've been going through all this and I never even noticed."

"I didn't want you to notice... to tell you the truth I still wish you hadn't."

"Care to tell me why?"

"I'm afraid this is going to mess things up. I don't know how to explain it. Even if you don't say anything I'm afraid you are going to treat me differently and then someone else will figure it out and it'll snowball from there. I know it doesn't make sense but I'm not sure you understand what it's like..."

"What what is like?"

"Trying to fit in. It's like the military is the only world I know but I still find myself having to prove time and time again that I belong... and if this gets out it will only make matters worse... a lot worse."

"Okay, I may have no idea of what things would be like for you if word of this were to get out, but feeling like I have to prove that I actually belong at the SGC? I hate to break this to you but I'm betting there are a lot more people questioning my right to be there than there are questioning yours. I know that deep down the military doesn't exactly welcome women in its ranks, regardless of what the official PR line says, but I think they still rank above us 'lowly humanists' in the pecking order. The SGC is a military operation and there are quite a few individuals in it who are far from happy to see a civilian taking such an active role and who resent the fact that I don't think the main purpose of the stargate should be to get us a bigger gun. General Hammond may share and respect that position to a degree but not everyone does and on top of that the fact that I have a greater freedom to speak my mind when I disagree with the orders I'm being given hasn't exactly made me many friends."

"But you cracked the cover stone!"

"And you are the scientist who has managed to come closest to understanding the physics behind the wormhole, the one who has come closest to figuring out how and why the stargate actually does what it does and the one who has managed to keep things working under that mountain but it doesn’t really matter. There are always going to be a few individuals who are convinced that we don't belong there, especially not in SG-1, you because you are a woman and me because I'm a civilian consultant."

"I know I'm whining, believe me, it's just that..." she trails off.

"That this whole thing is confusing, not to mention unfair?" I finish for her.

"Something like that."

"And that's one bit of frustration you've been keeping bottled up for a lot longer than seven months, isn't it?"

"Is it that obvious?" she asks with a rueful smile.

"I'm not sure I'd describe it as obvious but it certainly does make sense. It must be frustrating to know that the institution that holds the key to your dreams rejects you for something you cannot change. Besides, you kind of gave yourself away when you told me about what things were like at the Air Force Academy," I point out.

"You have no idea. I mean, right now it's not so bad... not compared to what it was like when I was little... but I won't lie to you and tell you that getting here was easy or that the fact that I was a girl didn't at times seem like an insurmountable obstacle. You know my dad's military?"


"Well, more often than not I was attending school on base and back then the situation was a lot worse as far as the options people were willing to consider for girls, especially in the military. I wanted to be an astronaut and back then I used to get laughed at on a regular basis. I was four years and two months almost to the day when I first figured out what I wanted to do with my life."

"That's precise... even for you."

"Not really," she says. "It's just basic math. I was born in May of 65."

"The moon landing," I say, putting two and two together.

"Yeah, I remember watching it on TV. Dad was home, which was kind of a rare treat for me at the time to begin with. I was sitting on his lap and he was trying to explain to me what a big deal it was and I told him that one day I was going to get to the moon. At the time he didn't really try to talk me out of it, he just kind of humored me and figured I'd outgrow it in a week... I never did."

"He wasn't happy about it?"

"He'll never admit to it now and even back then he didn't really tried to talk me out of it but the truth is that he thought it was absurd... well maybe not absurd but certainly impossible. He had expected my brother to follow in his footsteps, not me. I was his little girl and, let's face it, the first female astronaut didn't get to go to space until 1983 when I was eighteen and shortly before I entered the academy... well, at least that was the first time an American woman went to space. The first one was back in 1963, twenty years and two days earlier, but then again admitting to a Soviet hero wasn't exactly acceptable in US military bases during the cold war."

"No, I imagine it wasn't."

"The point is that back when I was a kid, and especially with the military mindset at the time, being an astronaut wasn't deemed an 'acceptable goal' for a 'little girl' and almost everyone went out of their way to make sure I knew that. The thing is that I'm just starting to feel like I'm where I belong, I'm doing what I've always dreamed of, I'm traveling to other planets and I'm actually getting to be accepted and now if word of this gets out I could easily lose it all because I'm a woman. I'm not going to let that happen... not if I can avoid it."

"Hey, it won't come to that," I try to reassure her.

"You don't know that," she reminds me.

"No, I don't but I don't think it will. I don't think General Hammond would pull you no matter what. You are right that he may have been tempted to do so if you'd said anything when we first returned from Simarka but I'm fairly certain that that's no longer an option. Back then the team was still trying to sort itself out and changing a member would have been seen as a minor adjustment, now that's no longer the case."

"It may not be his call... besides it's not that simple."

"You really don't trust the military, do you?" I ask, more than a little shocked by that unexpected revelation.

"About most things, yes though I'm not blind and I know they have more skeletons in their closet than I care to think about... about this, no. I've seen how raped women are treated and I'm not taking any chances in that regard."

"Sam, are you saying that this is not the first time something like this has happened to you?"

"No, that's not it."

"Then what is it?" I push, getting more than a little worried... again.

"When I was at the academy women hadn't been around for very long and most of the men in charge were still longing for the good old days before we were allowed to join. The brass felt that turning military academies into co-ed institutions was wrong, a political decision that was meant to cater to civilian and political interests that were weakening the military's core values... and they made sure every cadet knew it. Anyway, under those circumstances sexual harassment was pretty rampant and rape was a fairly common occurrence but we knew better than to try to complain about it. It was their turf and if we wanted to stay we had to play by their rules, it was that simple. I may not have been raped but several of my friends were. If anyone dared to try to come forward they would basically be pushed out based on some technicality, like fraternization, conduct unbecoming or some other such nonsense... and we also knew that by coming forward we would be giving ammo to those who were still trying to demonstrate that women didn't belong at the academy in the first place. We knew that anyone coming forward would be playing straight into the hands of the ones who were still pushing to have women banned once more, of the ones who wanted to have the whole thing declared a failed experiment, so that was yet another deterrent. I mean, it may be something that happened less than twenty years ago but the fact remains that back then rape was often seen as being the woman's fault even in civil society so you can imagine how things were like in the military.

"Under those circumstances I guess it was only natural for incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault to become commonplace. It's basic math really when you think about it."

"Basic math?" I ask.

"Well, statistically speaking and going by just your basic law of averages combined with the darker side of human nature it stands to reason that in any population there will almost certainly be a number of potential sexual predators," she explains. "Now, under most circumstances, that number tends to be proportionally small --especially in an environment in which those predators have a reason to fear the consequences of their actions--unfortunately the Air Force Academy represented an abnormal environment to begin with. Simply put, in a normal scenario you have a population that is fifty percent male and fifty percent female and that means that usually the percentage of women who are likely to be assaulted within a determined four year period --the number of years the average cadet spends at the academy-- is not all that great. At the academy, however, that situation is further complicated by the fact that the proportion of the male/female population is suddenly ninety/ten rather than fifty/fifty. In other words, you have an environment in which there are nine men for each woman and as a result of that it is only logical for the percentage of the female population that is likely to be sexually assaulted in that same period of time to skyrocket. Add to that that the people in charge have made it abundantly clear to those potential predators that the women are not welcome in their midst and the result is that you have a scenario in which those potential predators know themselves to be protected by a code of silence so they know that they don't really have to worry about the consequences of their actions. The end result of such an abnormal population living under such abnormal conditions is anything but a pleasant scenario but, as I said, it is a logical one."

"Mathematically speaking?" I say, half teasingly. Leave it to Sam to reduce even that situation to a mathematical formula.

"Yes," says Sam, shaking her head at her own hyper-rationalization before going on. "Of course the fact that I understand why things happened as they did, the fact that there was a logical explanation, wasn't really much help while I was there... especially when things got bad for some of the women I knew. In a way what was weird was that we were all supposed to be working toward the same goal, you know? We were there because we all wanted to become Air Force officers and that meant that we were expected to trust each other with our lives, literally, and yet we didn't dare turn our backs on our fellow cadets for fear of what might happen."

"That must have been confusing."

"To say the least. Anyway, the thing is that even though some of my friends were raped I was one of the lucky ones. Even though it was never openly acknowledged I always knew I was safe."

"How come?"

"Because there may have been a code of silence that kept most of us quiet in the first place but most cadets knew my dad was a colonel and they didn't really want to take any chances in that regard. The same male chauvinistic military code that left most female cadets exposed protected me because they all knew what a military man would do to anyone who dared lay a finger on his daughter... "

"But why put yourself through that in the first place?" I ask.

"Well, first of all that was just one aspect of the whole thing. I mean, yes, it was a fairly hostile environment in that regard and that was far from pleasant but academically I loved being there and the physical aspects of the whole thing were a real challenge. In addition to that there was the fact that I wanted to be an astronaut and I knew that in order to do that my best shot was to become a pilot. That was my dream and even when things got rough I was very aware that the academy was the gauntlet I had to run to make it happen. There was no other way, not really."

"So, what changed?" I ask.

"How do you know something changed?"

"You are an astrophysicist with a couple of Ph.D.'s, Sam, so I'm guessing at some point the idea of becoming an astronaut must have lost some of its appeal," I point out.

"Not really," she explains. "It's more like life threw a wrench in that plan. I graduated from the academy in 87, roughly a year and a half after the 'Challenger' and when the space program had been basically halted so I was left to try to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had spent two years at a regular college before entering the academy and I had really enjoyed it so I decided to stay in school for a little longer..."

"You didn't go straight to the academy after you graduated from high school?"

"I wanted to but I couldn't. I graduated two years early but given that the academy has an enlistment requirement and I couldn't enlist before I turned eighteen I was stuck in limbo for a while there... I had a place at the academy and I knew it but there was no way around the fact that I had to wait before I could attend. At first I hated being in college, I thought it was a waste of time but in the end those turned out to be two of the best years of my life. You see, I knew I wasn't really working toward a degree while I was there, I was basically killing time so there was no pressure, I was free to pick my classes based on my own interests rather than on a specific major's curriculum and that meant I could study exactly what I wanted to. I was able to pick some classes that were more advanced and specialized than the ones I should have been taking and I was also free to skip all mandatory credits because I knew in the end they wouldn't really matter."

"That makes sense, so how did you end up working on the gate anyway?" I ask, feeling more than a little curious. I had never even realized just how little I actually know about Sam's past.

"Well, I loved learning and I loved being a student but a masters and two Ph.D.'s later I came to the realization that I couldn't remain a student forever. Eventually I returned to the Air Force full time... of course by then they didn't exactly know what to do with me because even though I had the basic knowledge to work as a nuclear physicist in one of about a hundred different projects, my specialties sounded a little too theoretical for most people there. In other words, they didn't really seem to know what to do with me from a military perspective. In a way I ended up being assigned to the stargate almost by default. The higher ups didn't know what to do with me and they didn't know what to do with an ancient metal ring of unknown origin so they figured it was a good match. I guess it was the closest fit they could find for me at the time. Of course, back then it was all pretty low priority and they weren't expecting it to turn out to be particularly relevant. Then you came along, cracked the cover stone --while I was away, do you have any idea of how unfair that was?-- and the initial mission to Abydos took place."

"And the rest, as they say, is history," I tease.

"You've got it... only now..."

"It's going to be alright, Sam. I promise."

"You can't promise that," she reminds me for the umpteenth time.

"Maybe not, but I can promise to do everything in my power to make sure you remain a part of SG-1 even if this whole thing comes out somehow. Besides it's not like I plan to tell anyone anyway. I mean, I wish it were possible for me to do something so that you don't have to worry about keeping this a secret but even if I can think of some way for you to come forward, I know in the end whether or not you decide to do it is your call."

"I already told you, I can't come forward, that's never been an option, not now and not then, even if the reasons are different."

"I get that and I'm not saying you should be taking any unnecessary chances with any of this but at the same time I'm worried about you."

"I'm fine, Daniel. As I said, Turghan's not even on this planet and everything else I can handle. I just have to make sure I won't get caught off guard again. That was the real problem in Simarka. I had no idea of what it was that I was getting myself into and I messed up, big time... besides, most of the worlds we've encountered aren't so bad, even the ones that are based on ancient civilizations are usually more receptive so there's really nothing for you to worry about."

"And yet you are still not sleeping," I remind her.

"It's not so bad but right now it's getting late and I think I'll take you up on your offer to stay here tonight. Do you have some sweats I could borrow?" she asks and I know she just wants to put an end to this conversation, still, I decide not to call her on it.

"Sure, I'll get them."


Author's note: Okay, before you say anything, yes, I know I'm disregarding Sam's comment in 'Children of the Gods' concerning the fact that she had logged over 100 hrs. of flight over enemy territory during the Gulf War and turning her into a student at the time instead simply because as far as I'm concerned the official version doesn't make much sense. The fact is that Congress did not remove the ban on women in combat aircraft until December 1991 (some ten months after the end of the Gulf War) and it would still be more than a year after that before policy was changed in the Department of Defense to actually allow women to take these kinds of assignments (IIRC that didn't happen until late April 1993). The point is that while Sam may have had extensive training as a pilot there is a serious discrepancy in that particular statement. Besides, given Sam's age and her educational background, it makes more sense to have her working on a Ph.D. at the time anyway.

I know I am also deviating somewhat from canon when it comes to how Sam perceives her time at the academy (though I tried to keep that to a minimum). The fact is that the institution's less than stellar history in terms of the conditions female cadets faced up until very recently makes the official version in which Sam was all but worshipped by the staff and in which she loved every minute she spent in that institution seem a little bit unlikely.

Sorry about the speech but among the things that pushed me to write this story in the first place were the writers' lame politically correct attempts at sanitizing history to avoid virtually all references to sexism (past and present) and nowhere were those more blatant than in 'Emancipation', which oddly enough was supposed to be the one token episode dealing with the issue. Give me a break, Sam had never encountered sexism before and was so oblivious to the possibility that she asked if there was something on her face when Abu kept pointing out the fact that she was a woman? She is not supposed to be stupid and she is certainly old enough to remember the things that were going on all around her as she was growing up. In fact her speech in 'Children of the Gods' clearly contradicts her reactions in 'Emancipation' (and was more in line with the character as far as I'm concerned).

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Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, I don't own the concepts, I make no money, I make no sense and I get no sleep. This is done for fun and I promise to put the characters back where I found them once I'm done playing with them.