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6. Travel

"The Tau'ri seem enamoured by cars. They are everywhere!" Lantash said, as he studied the vehicles passing by on the road.

"I guess we are. The cities are often very spread out across the country, and the cities themselves are spread out over large areas, so if you want to get anywhere you have to drive."

He nodded. "Yes, that is a difference compared to the towns and cities on other planets. Your world holds many more people, but the cities are strangely open. No narrow alleyways, but large spaces everywhere."

"Well, that's not the case everywhere. It's more common in this country, the US - the United States of America, than in Europe or Asia, for instance. The older cities have much narrower streets, and the homes are often smaller and closer together. The US is a young country, with much open land, and relatively few people."

She slowed down the speed as the road they were travelling on entered the city of Denver.

"This city is larger than Colorado Springs?" Lantash asked, after they had driven past rows upon rows of houses, now passing high-rise buildings.

"Yes, Colorado Springs has about 400,000 people, while there are more than twice as many in Denver. Kansas City - the place where we're going - has about the same amount as Colorado Springs, maybe a little more."

"Impressive. There are few worlds with that large populations - except for a few that were abandoned by the Goa'uld a long time ago and have managed to become fairly advanced."

"Well, Earth does fall into that category, I suppose."

Lantash nodded. "It does, and you have gotten farther than most." He looked out the window with interest, clearly fascinated by everything they passed. Martouf suddenly reminded him of something they had wondered about earlier, and he turned to Sam. "Samantha, what is our role on this mission?"

"Role?" Sam smiled. "Mission? It's not a mission, you're going as my date to the reunion."

"Date?" Lantash frowned. "What does that entail? Am I correct in assuming it is a companion of some sort?"

Sam rolled her eyes. "If you had no idea what we were going to do, why did you agree to come? Or not at least ask?"

"I did not have no idea. I know that it is a reunion for those who went to school together, and for some reason you are not supposed to go alone. I am just not sure why, or what I am supposed to do."

Sam groaned softly and shook her head. "I'm sorry, it's my fault! I forgot that someone not from Earth would not know these things! Well, it's not that I couldn't go alone, but you're usually supposed to bring a 'date' to something like this. Which means a, well, a partner. You're ah, pretending to be my boyfriend."

"Your mate?" Lantash asked.

"Not necessarily something so permanent, but yes, kind of."

"I see." He smiled. "Martouf and I are pleased we can assist you in this manner. We will make sure your former classmates does not suspect our relationship is not real."

"I... um, thanks." Sam blushed a little when she threw a glance at him and saw his smug expression. She sound found herself smiling at the thought, though, and they kept throwing each other glances for the rest of the drive.

"All right, do you have your ID? You'll probably need to show it when we check in," Sam said.

"I do," Lantash answered, having checked that he did, in fact, have it.

"Great. Now, just let me speak, and follow my lead, then it shouldn't be a problem. You remember what I told you about the check-in process and the security checkpoint?" Sam asked. She had spent part of the trip to Denver explaining. "Oh, and either leave Martouf in control, or use his voice whenever anyone else is around."

"Yes, Samantha." He smiled at her. "I remember."

"Sorry." She gave him an embarrassed smile. "I'm just worried someone will notice something is off and you'll get in trouble. People like the NID would love to get their hands on you, and I don't want to think of what they would do to you." She got a worried expression.

"Martouf and I have been undercover before. It is true your world is strange in many ways, and in addition the population does not know aliens exist, however, we have often pretended to be human in places where it would have meant grave danger if our true nature was discovered." He reached over to put a hand on her leg and squeezed gently. "We do appreciate your concern, but I assure you, we will be careful, Samantha."

She nodded. "I know you will. We better get going - if there's a lot of people, check-in can take a while."

"Do you have anything made of metal in your pockets, sir?" the security officer asked, when the metal detector's alarm sounded as Martouf/Lantash walked through it.

"Ah, yes. I have this." Martouf held up the small bag he had brought from the Tok'ra. He threw a look in the direction of Sam, who had already passed through. "Jewelry." He opened the bag and showed it to the officer.

"All right, no problem. Let me hold it and then go through again."

Martouf did, and this time all went well. He got the bag with the jewelry back. "Thank you." He stuffed the bag back into his pocket and went to pick up the few things that had been sent through the X-ray machine.

"What happened?" Sam asked.

"I had neglected to put everything of metal through that device." He pointed. "Before I went through the portal. Metal detector."

Sam nodded. "Okay. Come on. We're in a bit of a hurry."

"Coming," Martouf said, following quickly.

"Fasten the seat belt," Sam told Martouf. "Like this." She indicated her own seat belt.

Martouf scrambled to find the belt, and after two attempts, succeeded in fastening it. "This vessel does not have inertial dampeners? How fast does it move?"

Sam almost laughed as she saw his concerned expression. "We don't have inertial dampeners, but don't worry. The airplane doesn't move that fast. The seat belts are mostly to protect us against being thrown out of our seats if there's turbulence."

He nodded, looking relieved. "I see." He leaned back in the seat just as the airplane started moving. He looked out the window. "Were we not going to fly? It is just moving along the ground."

"Yes, we'll fly." Sam smiled and looked around at the other passengers. None of them seemed to be paying any attention to them. "But this type of plane can't take off vertically, like a teltac. We do have some that can, though, but they're not really used for passenger transport." She lowered her voice and leaned towards him. "Also, remember not to talk about things that would seem overly... weird, to people around you."

"Most people would know how these airplanes work. Of course." He nodded. "I shall refrain from asking further questions."

"No, you can ask - just try to consider if it's something that people would normally know. If they had, ah, lived here their entire life. Otherwise, wait until we get to the hotel, okay?"

The airplane had been accelerating, and now it lifted off from the ground, swaying a little in the fairly high wind of that day. Martouf quickly grabbed hold of the armrests and got a panicked expression. "You are certain this vessel is safe?" He dipped his head.

"Relax, you'll be fine. Flying is one of the safest modes of transportation, way safer than driving."

He made a low snort, clearly not impressed by the this. "So it's safer than the death-traps you call cars. How reassuring!"

"Lantash?" Sam guessed, grinning.

"Yes." He looked out the window of the airplane, studying the now distant ground as they rapidly rose into the air. He took a deep breath.

Sam just smiled wider and put her hand over his on the armrest, giving it a reassuring squeeze. He looked at her, then relaxed, a smile slowly appearing on his lips.

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