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Laura Cadman in Secrets

A reader asked if there was anything from Secrets I can post, the fifth book of the Legacy series that we recently completed. Unfortunately, most of it is spoilery either for Allegiance or Avengers, but there's a flashback section with Laura Cadman that isn't, because it's set in the past, in season six of SG-1. It goes with a section in Secrets that's about Captain Cadman and Colonel Carter, but this is the flashback to how Cadman met Carter for the first time, way back on the proving grounds of Earth. I really love this section, and one thing I love about it is writing Lt. Aidan Ford. (If you've seen the SG-1 episode Proving Ground, you'll probably guess what's going to happen.)

"Think we're going to wash out?" The other Marine was tall and lanky, black hair barbered so ruthlessly he was almost bald, Lt. Aidan Ford, age twenty three, one year out of Georgia Tech. She was one year out of Florida State.

Two Marines, two Air Force. That was how it worked. Four lieutenants who had been given a shot at a program so top secret they hadn't even known what it was about when they'd reported to Colorado Springs. She'd been sitting with Ford on the plane, and they'd traded snacks and speculations. Peterson Air Force Base? Why did they need two Marines? NORAD?

"Maybe it's some kind of ceremonial duty," Ford hypothesized. "Like the White House guards or something."

"In Colorado Springs?" Laura looked out the window at the endless Great Plains. "Maybe they need some Marines for Air Force Academy kids to beat on." They were kids, of course, twenty one, not twenty three. It made all the difference in the world.

Ford shrugged. "Maybe it's good. Ever consider that?"

And it was. It was better than they'd ever dreamed.

They were going to other planets. They were going to other planets now, without a space ship, to battle real aliens that wanted to conquer Earth. They were going places they could never talk about, seeing things that maybe no human being had ever seen. If they didn't wash out of training.

"Sixty-five percent of you do," Colonel O'Neill said. He had steel gray hair and deeply graven lines on his face though he couldn't have been fifty yet, a ramrod straight bearing even in slightly oversized battle dress and a unit baseball cap with the SGC patch embroidered on it. Laura coveted that cap. Those were special perks, special unit designations for the ones who had made it. "Sixty-five percent of you walk out of here and go back to your normal lives," O'Neill said. "And let me tell you that you don’t get any points for being the best and the brightest here. I've seen a lot of smart kids."

Standing at attention next to her in the second row of trainees, Ford frowned. He looked really worried. "Guess I don't have anything to worry about," Cadman whispered. "Nobody said I was smart."

Ford's mouth twisted in a suppressed smile.

"You have something to say, Lt. Cadman?" O'Neill barked.

"No, sir!" Back straight, eyes front, nice and loud.

O'Neill shook his head. "Don't shout, Lieutenant. I'm standing right here." He went down the row. "And you may wish you'd washed out. Because if you do, your chances of being alive in two years are a lot greater. So if any of you want to voluntarily withdraw at this point, there will be no mark on your record."

Ford's brows twitched. As if, Laura thought. You're going to tell me everything I ever read about is real and think I'm going to walk away?

Afterwards, in the hummer on the way out to the first proving ground, Ford drew her and the two Air Force guys who they were assigned with into a huddle. "We've got to stick together," Ford said. "That's the key. Teamwork. They didn't assign us in four man units randomly. They think we've got complimentary skills. So we need to put our stuff on the table and work it out. What do you do, Cadman?"

"I blow things up," she said.

They spent the next three days screwing up a variety of scenarios. There was a hostage rescue in which they were supposed to save this guy named Quinn from aliens, only Ford shot him instead.

"Lieutenant Ford," O'Neill said with scathing sarcasm, "Your peerless brilliance has just resulted in the death of the man you came to save. Any questions?"

"No, sir!" Ford replied, eyes front.

"And stop shouting."

There was an ambush scenario in which the Jaffa, Teal'c, wiped the floor with all of them except Laura, who blew herself up. Accidentally.

"Cadman, that thing has a timer for a reason!" O'Neill barked. "You're dead. And so is the rest of your team. Once you set the timer, you have to actually leave." He walked off shaking his head.

Sitting on the ground outside together, Laura took a swig from her water bottle. "We're doomed," she said.

Ford looked at her sideways. "So you were assigned to be the pessimist in our group?"

"I'm just saying that we haven't won a single scenario," she began. A line of hummers was pulling into the proving ground, O'Neill walking toward them. In a second everything changed, a swift exchange of gunfire that left bodies on the ground, Laura crawling through the dust and scant cover, Ford at her side.

"Foothold situation," O'Neill gasped, one hand to the oozing blood at his side. "The SGC has been infiltrated by the Goa'uld. Get the hell out of here."

"No," Laura said, fumbling for a dressing. "We can't do that, sir. With all due respect."

It was just her and Ford in the end, dragging O'Neill back to the base so that he could show them how to rig the self destructs that would prevent the Goa'uld from bringing through an army, just her and Ford when they had to leave him unconscious while they went to blow the dialing computers to prevent the gate being used, while they set the charges that would kill the Goa'uld who had taken over the base, including its host, Major Carter. And just incidentally themselves.

Sorry, Nana. Sorry, Pops, Laura thought, crouching in the control room. She wished they would at least know what she'd done, but she supposed it never worked that way. Her eyes met Ford's.

"Do it," he said, and she pressed the firing button.

Nothing happened. And for a long moment her only thought was disappointment.

"Well done, Lieutenants," a voice said over the loudspeaker.

In a moment General Hammond came down the stairs from the conference room above, Major Carter with him grinning broadly. O'Neill followed, his uniform still soaked with stage blood.

"It was a test," Ford said flatly.

"Welcome to the SGC," Hammond said, and shook each of their hands. "Well done."

They'd done eight months of training, some of it in the field on alien worlds, and then Laura had gotten a plum slot on SG-12. Ford had gotten the Atlantis expedition. She'd cried when he'd been listed MIA a year later. And six days later she'd been told she was going to Atlantis on Daedalus to take his place.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Melissa Jenkins Cross
Jun. 20th, 2011 08:19 pm (UTC)
Oh that's funny, the scene just leapt into my mind clear as the shows. I can totally see Jack laughing about it later with Jonas and Teal'c over beers or something. Great scene!
Jun. 20th, 2011 08:46 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I think Cadman and Ford actually did really well, but they thought they were totally blowing it!
Jun. 20th, 2011 08:34 pm (UTC)
Perfect, just like always. I love how Cadman and Ford work together and how they learn very fast what being a soldier at the SGC means. And that ending was just... I have no words, actually. I envy you your writing talent :D
Jun. 20th, 2011 08:59 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you like it! I was thinking about you when I posted it.

It occured to me early that Cadman is Ford's replacement and they must have known each other.
Jun. 20th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you like it! I was thinking about you when I posted it.

:O I feel... um... flattred. Kinda. :D

It occured to me early that Cadman is Ford's replacement and they must have known each other.

I wonder... what would have happened if she had been his replacement on John's team, instead of Ronon? Mh...
Jun. 21st, 2011 10:49 am (UTC)
Hey, you're a great Cadman writer! You're sort of the standard for writing her.

I've thought about that. I think she would have been, except John is so guilty about Ford that he's not going to replace him with anyone that young, with anyone he feels that responsible for. In Avengers (for complicated and spoilery reasons) Cadman winds up temporarily on the team with John, Ronon and Radek, which is interesting!
Jun. 21st, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC)
Hey, you're a great Cadman writer!

Thank you! *blushes

You're sort of the standard for writing her.

I... am? O.o

except John is so guilty about Ford that he's not going to replace him with anyone that young

You're right, that sounds very much like him. That does make sense *nods

In Avengers (for complicated and spoiler

Can't wait for it :D
Jun. 22nd, 2011 11:22 am (UTC)
I do think that's John's deal with Cadman. He feels so responsible for what happened to Ford that he's much more cautions with Cadman. And of course the rate of attrition for young lieutenants is horrible in Atlantis! Cadman really is the only one we see who isn't killed, missing, or sent home wounded! Which says something about her, I think.

Which is where we are in Allegiance and Avengers. Cadman has come out on the Hammond, and for various spoilery reasons has to be loaned out to Atlantis because John desperately needs her experience. He'd much rather have Captain Cadman, age 29, who already did a two year tour here, than a brand new green lieutenant! Fortunately, Carter's willing to play ball and loan her.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )