“This is embarrassing,” Colonel O’Neill complained.
Sam, whose mind had wandered rather far from their current predicament, glanced over at her CO as far as her restraints would allow. The Colonel was staring longingly at the open door on the opposite side of the chamber. Sam wondered if he’d noticed the unlocked door behind them and off to the right. She’s pretty sure she’d fit through the window just next to their guard too. Not that it really mattered. God knew they could probably just walk out of the room with little incident. Their captors weren’t even armed.
The Colonel sighed.
“You agreed to this, sir,” Sam reminded him, though it managed to come out more like an accusation. Whoops.
He didn’t seem to appreciate it. “I claim temporary insanity, Captain.”
Sam’s lips twisted. She didn’t bother to point out that he’d been fine with giving Daniel the chance to resolve this little misunderstanding without conflict not only ten minutes ago. Apparently his attention span is even shorter than she suspected.
She snuck another glance at him. He was beginning to get a look on his face that suggested he’d welcome a bit of violence. Not that they were likely to find it here, unless SG-1 started turning on each other. The way the Colonel was glaring at Daniel, it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility.
Upon arrival on this planet, Sam and Colonel O’Neill had separated from Daniel and Teal’c to do a quick sweep of the perimeter of the ruins Daniel was so fascinated with. Sam had been distracted by a promising reading, and somehow along the way, they’d managed to accidentally wander into the middle of some sort of social studies experiment. The local school children were temporarily running their own mock government for a full week as a few adults supervised. Sam and the Colonel been ‘captured’ by a patrol of four eight-year olds with what looked like cricket bats.
Not seeing any alternatives that didn’t involve making kids cry, they’d gone quietly. It only took Daniel and Teal’c an hour to locate the adults and get a read on the situation. The local adults that were carefully observing were reluctant to intervene once they established the alien visitors were friendly, believing the situation to be a good learning opportunity for the children. Hence how Sam and the Colonel ended up tied to chairs in front of the local Town Council--a motley group of about twenty kids.
Daniel was the one to suggest that they go along with the school lesson, seeming to think cooperating would be the easiest way to establish goodwill with the adults and thus get their hands on a trade agreement much quicker.
It made sense, really. But Sam couldn’t help but suspect that Daniel might be dragging the negotiations out a little longer than needed, just to nettle the Colonel. The two did seem to get an inordinate amount of joy out of tormenting each other.
Sam didn’t particularly appreciate getting caught in the middle.
“Carter,” the Colonel said. “Would you quit it?”
She was clicking open and closed the restraints she’d picked out of pure boredom about three minutes after they’d been taken prisoner. She sighed, snapping them closed again and stretching her back. “Okay,” she conceded, “maybe this is a little embarrassing.”
That was when SG-2 showed up as backup. Daniel was speaking to them near the door, Ferretti looking far too amused. Sam doubted she would ever hear the end of this. Hey, Carter, remember that time you were captured by a roving band of kindergartners?
Teal’c and most of SG-2 left again, no doubt to guard the gate and patrol the area. Ferretti stayed behind, grinning across the room at them and flashing a signal to let them know he had their back.
“Oh, for God’s sake,” Colonel O’Neill complained.
Ferretti then went to stand next to one of the teachers observing from near the doorway. He spoke to her, and even though Sam couldn’t hear the words, to judge from the woman’s face, the way she smiled up at him, he must have been laying the charm on pretty thick.
The teacher blushed then, turning her face slightly away from Ferretti and Sam knew they were doomed. Ferretti pointed at the proceedings as if asking permission for something. The teacher nodded enthusiastically.
That was when he pulled out a camera.
“I’m going to kill him,” the Colonel growled.
Not if she got there first.
Three hours later…
The kids couldn’t seem to decide what they wanted.
Besides the laughably inadequate handcuffs, they were both tied to chairs, but in a way that would make it easy to just stand up and walk out with the whole thing still attached.
“Worst bad guys ever,” the Colonel complained. “Seriously, these kids need help.”
Sam barely resisted rolling her eyes, and instead quipped, “You volunteering, sir?”
Something lit up in the Colonel’s eyes then that Sam was pretty sure didn’t bode well for any of them. He eyed the back row of kids, the ones who seemed to be getting antsy. “Psst. Kid,” he said. “Come over here.”
She’d just been kidding, for God’s sake. “Sir! What are you doing?”
Her eyes widened. He really was one of the strangest commanding officers she’d ever had. She made a mental note that making suggestions to him, even in jest, should never be taken lightly. She was learning new fun things almost every day in SG-1.
“Listen up,” the Colonel said when a small group of about four kids came over to them. “This is what you want to do.”
Sam listened as the Colonel outlined exactly what the council should ask for in exchange for freeing them. By now Daniel had noticed and was smart enough to start looking scared. Wasn’t quite so funny anymore was it?
“Sir,” Sam interrupted, and he gave her a long-suffering look as if expecting to get a lecture on proper behavior from her. Had she really been that much of a hard ass these first few missions? Keeping her voice even and refusing to bristle, she said, “If I might make a suggestion?”
He looked surprised. “Sure, Captain,” he said, gesturing for her to go ahead.
Sam leaned into the kid and started whispering.
The kids convened for a while, passing around the list of their suggestions and debating in a frenzy of whispers until a vote was called. Nearly every hand lifted to accept the proposal.
The elected leader, a sturdy girl of about eleven, stood, addressing Daniel. “We have decided to release your people.”
“Thank you,” Daniel said, but the girl put up a hand to indicate she wasn’t done speaking.
“Upon three conditions.” She solemnly held up three fingers.
“Okay,” Daniel said.
“First, you must promise not to trespass upon our village or lands uninvited ever again.”
Daniel nodded his agreement. “Now that we clearly understand your boundaries, this will not happen again.”
“Second, you will offer…uh...” She paused, turning to whisper something to the boy next to her, getting a whisper in response. “You will offer compen-…compensation,” she said, tripping over the obviously unfamiliar word. She darted a glance back at the Colonel and he nodded encouragingly at her. “We require a day’s supply of,” she looked down at the paper again, “chocolate and ice cream.”
By now, Daniel was beginning to relax, rolling his eyes at the Colonel’s suggestions. Juvenile maybe, but not particularly awful or hard to fulfill.
And they just might have never gone beyond that, if Sam hadn’t decided to get involved. She grinned back at Daniel and he looked a little unnerved. He was learning. Good.
“Lastly, we require a tribute,” the leader said.
“A tribute?” Daniel echoed.
The girl nodded. “Yes. You and your associate,” she said, gesturing at Ferretti, “will sing us tales of your people so we may learn more about you. Then we may part as friends.”
“Sing?” Daniel asked, his voice a little high. Ferretti pushed off the wall, beginning to look frightened.
“Yes,” the girl said. “Captain Carter has told us how highly your people admire musical entertainment.”
Three pairs of eyes with very different expressions landed on Sam. She merely blinked back at them in feigned innocence.
“Singing, Carter?” the Colonel asked.
She shrugged. “Seemed like a good idea at the time, sir.” Then an even better idea came to her and she shifted in her seat. “Permission to temporarily bust out of my restraints, sir?”
He seemed to think it was a strange request. “Why?”
She jutted her chin towards her pack against the back wall. “Video camera.”
The Colonel stared at her appraisingly, a smile overtaking his face. “Remind me never to get on your bad side, Carter,” he said, looking impressed and almost…proud.
She grinned back at him. “Yes, sir.”