Title: Homeward Angel
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 15 June 2007
Fandom: Stargate SG1
Pairing: Sam/Janet, Sam/Vala
Summary: she’s still thinking, pushing the buttons squaring the circle. She has the time, she has the brains. She can do this, she can save them all, she can save their legacy. She has to believe: the angel on her shoulder told her so. It’s what she does. It’s who she is.
Spoilers: set around the 10th season finale ‘Unending’. Thanks to Stargatewiki for the transcript of ‘Unending’ and ‘Redemption pt 2’ and Moby for the title. And Dr Who for the concept of the happy prime.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD07
Disclaimer: I only borrowed them for a while. MGM and whoever can have them back whenever they want
Note: Written for the Dog Days of Summer Calendar 2007.
I tried to explain it as best I could. “So thanks to Asgard technology, we are in a time dilation bubble. While time may appear to be passing at a normal rate for us, in fact years will pass inside the bubble while mere fractions of a second pass outside the field.”
“You won’t need that much time, though,” General Landry asked.
“Hopefully not. My plan is to try and make the necessary modifications to the Odyssey so we can take it out of phase. Then, when we shut down the time dilation field, the blast won’t hit us.”
“That would be good,” Daniel quipped.
“You’re probably wondering why I just didn’t do that in the first place,” I felt compelled to explain.
“I’m still back on the ‘time thing’” Cam shook his head.
“The Asgard core has time dilation field technology built right into it. It was a quick and easy option. I’m actually going to have to recreate some of Merlin’s out-of-phase technology from scratch with what we have on-board. And it could take a while.”
“Just to be sure… how long is ‘a while’ in our time,” Daniel asked. Sam was struck with a sudden sense of deja-vu, back to when she had been stranded alone on the Prometheus. Daniel had asked annoying questions then as well.
“I’m not exactly sure,” she hedged. “But we have enough food and water for three months.” This was not exactly greeted with acclaim.
“We can ration supplies,” Landry said, taking the long term view as she would have expected.
Vala leant over and whispered something in Daniel’s ear. Sam didn’t quite catch it but it sounded awfully like she said ‘I’m gonna go crazy and I’m taking you with me…” Sam could believe it: Vala had always been able to push Daniel’s buttons and seemed to take a peculiar delight in tormenting him.
Of all of them she was worried about Vala and Cam. They did not strike her as having the internal resources to cope with long periods of enforced inactivity and isolation. The ship and the Asgard technology did not immediately offer them any long term or productive outlets for their mental and physical energies. It was going to be a very difficult three months. Cam would probably exercise, spar with Teal’c and tinker with the F302s in the hangar bay – not that he would be able to fly one off the ship, not with the field in place. But Vala…
A very difficult three months.
The General stood up. “Bottom line is, none of you are going to have an excuse for being behind on your paperwork.”
Every which way I looked at it, every simulation I ran, every parameter I tweaked the outcome was the same. We were screwed. I had screwed us up.
“Are you saying it took two weeks to figure out this idea wouldn’t work?” Cam exploded.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ve been trying to adjust the parameters. Now, the problem is, according to Thor, I can’t seem to take this ship out of phase before I shut down the field. And once we deactivate the time dilation field, we have .86 seconds before the blast hits us. And that just isn’t enough time to take the ship out of phase.”
“Okay, time for Plan B,” Mitchell was struggling to keep his temper.
“Actually… I ran that simulation, too,” I tried not to sound too dispiriting. There were probably thousands… lots… some other avenues to explore. I just hadn’t thought of them yet. I set up the second simulation. “If we beam ourselves into the buffer, ready to transport down to the planet and set the time dilation field to deactivate on a timer, the matter stream still doesn’t have enough time to fully exit the buffer and get clear of the explosion.” On the screen the Odyssey exploded all over again.
Mitchell was definitely sulking now. “Fine… Plan C. We go to the 302s. That’s how I got off the Korolev.” I watched his jaw tighten as I shook my head.
“I ran that too. Based on the way the Odyssey is going to be hit compared to the Korolev, it won’t work.”
“The Computer’s wrong.” Meaning I was wrong. We glared at each other.
“Both of the last two scenarios don’t preserve the ship or the Asgard knowledge,” Daniel pointed out.
I was fresh out of good news. “I know.” I was reaching, I knew. “The good news is, the Asgard have provided us with some truly amazing technology.”
“Just nothing to get us out of this mess,” Cam muttered. Vala looked almost tearful.
“I don’t know that yet,” I tried to get through to him yet again. “However, with only a slight modification to the beaming technology we have a matter converter that will literally allow us to manufacture food, water, oxygen, pretty much anything we need.”
“Except a way off this ship!” Cam would not be placated.
“You’ve made your point, son,” Landry intervened. “I doubt very much Colonel Carter has even scratched the surface of what’s possible. Let’s give her some more time.”
Vala started first with the ‘hearing things’. That was only after about ten days or so. Her theory was that some of the Ori had beamed across before I activated the field and were hiding somewhere on the ship waiting their moment.
“Maybe they found a way to ring over, but they can’t figure out how to secretly shut off the time dilation field, so they’re trying to drive us crazy and make us shut it down ourselves.”
We all gave it pretty short shrift. We were on our own here, that was a definite. But I couldn’t help feel some sympathy. When I was marooned on the Prometheus I imagined some pretty strange things after all. It wouldn’t be the same this time: I didn’t have a head splitting concussion and I had the others for company.
Yet once or twice when I couldn’t sleep and was working in the lab and the lights were on night-cycle, at the edge of hearing I could almost hear her singing, or sometimes it just sounded like voices in the other room: my dad, Janet…
Things I miss:
The smell of fresh grass
Why a cello? I always wanted to learn. It always seemed such a grown up instrument to me, the emotions it was capable of reproducing and invoking in the listener. There were lots of places on the ship where I could lock myself away and practice without bothering anyone. And I had all the time in the world to learn.
And I need something new to focus on. I think I’m getting… strange. My dreams are so damn vivid. Like last night…
She dreams the cat, Schrödinger stalking through the empty silent halls of the ship tail held high quirked like a question mark. He slips through the bulkheads with ease as if he was still wearing the Tollan device on his collar.
She moves with him from room to room through the ship. On the bridge Teal’c is meditating but opens his eyes, inclined his head in greeting as we passed through. His faith in her was absolute. She would guide them home again. And he would be there for her in whatever capacity she required.
The ship systems told her the same tale they had been spinning the last one hundred and fourteen days. She reflected that it was probably a good thing that their computer did not have AI capabilities. It would probably need therapy to cope with the dichotomy in which it currently found itself. Flying but getting no where, time passing in one place but not another.
In the gym Cam was pressing weights, his face a study in concentration. He was in the moment of the moment because he did not want to contemplate the future. He could not settle to this could not find equanimity or a role for himself. He blamed her for stranding them. He blamed himself for not having the resources to cope with standing still.
They scampered along the deserted hallways and through another bulkhead. Daniel’s room, Daniel’s bed. On it, Daniel and Vala entwined in sleep. That had been a surprise that Daniel had finally relented, opened himself to someone and of all of them it had been Vala. And Vala was letting him see just how vulnerable she was under the flim flam and glitter. They were still exploring each other so intent on their fledgling relationship that they were not so much creating as making up as they went along. They were still wondering if any of this was quite real.
She was happy for them. Really, she was.
The General had fallen asleep in his chair, pen still in his hand. He was writing his memoirs, preferring to commit them to paper the way his heroes had done. Already he had filled two journals. He’s promised to let her read it when he’s done. The shelves around his room were filled with his plants. Of all of them he seemed most content. He had faith that she would sort it out eventually. In the mean time he was just enjoying the quiet.
The cat passed through another bulkhead and Sam hesitated. Beyond was her room. She did not want to see herself so exposed. She had never been one for self-analysis. But there was no where else to go. She steeled herself and walked through the bulkhead.
At least tonight she had made it to the bed, even if she was just sprawled fully clothed on top of the covers, clutching at the pillow, the drying streaks of tears still marking her cheeks. This was all her fault, her brilliant idea. Schrödinger walked around her, mewling plaintively. He nuzzled at her ear. As Sam watched she stirred and opened her eyes and…
Gasped, heart thudding. For a second she had seen herself staring down, such fear and compassion in her eyes. She remembered her travels through the ship, visiting each of her companions the insights she had received. She misses Schrödinger all over again.
I need to get out more, obviously. I did actually make the effort today, I spent some time with Daniel and we… talked. We used to talk all the time but we haven’t for ages. Things got in the way, I suppose.
He’s actually enjoying this time in a weird sort of way. I think he always resented how the mission got in the way of the research. Now he can study to his hearts content. And there’s more…
“You’re so lucky,” I said softly. “You have Vala here with you, I…”
“Jack,” he guessed wrongly. Something in my face must have told him how wrong he was. His expression grew more thoughtful, softer.
“Janet,” he said at last. “I didn’t know… not for sure.”
“That was the point,” I said. “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
“Did she know, before…”
I nodded, my throat suddenly locking up. Stupid, really. Once I had to keep silent about our relationship for propriety’s sake. Now I keep silent because it hurts too damn much to say anything.
“I’m so sorry…” Daniel tries again. I turn away. A couple of deep breaths and I can push it all down again.
“Just don’t blow it, Daniel. That’s all I ask.”
One person I have been avoiding is Cam Mitchell. He’s so angry about all of this, so frustrated. I think he wishes he got off the ship and went through the gate when we evacuated the rest of the crew. He still has so much fight left in him. He spends a lot of time in the 302 bay just sitting in the cockpit. Flying by standing still.
He’s been avoiding me as well. I haven’t had anything useful or even remotely hopeful to report on my researches for a week or two now so I think he came to light a fire under me.
“This is a bad bad joke. The worst. We strand ourselves trying to save something we can’t use because every time we turn on the Asgard technology it lights us up like a Christmas tree to the Ori and they come down on us like the Grinch.” He threw a punch at Thor’s hologram which flickered and reformed, though I’d swear even Thor looked pissed at him.
I knew the General had forbidden any future iteration of that conversation. I wasn’t too keen on hearing it again myself. “I’m still working through our options,” I said. It wasn’t a lie… not quite anyway.
He threw up his arms in disgust. “This is so fu… bar,” he said. “I’ll… hell, its not that big a ship, I’m sure you’ll find me if you need me.”
He would be in the gym, or on the running track he’d made on the lower deck. Cam was trying to turn himself into the first non-Jaffa Sodan. Teal’c seemed only too happy to be his sparring partner. I wasn’t sure what else was going on there, a whole macho male solidarity ritual. Still, if it gave Cam a chance to blow off steam and stopped him wrecking things it could only be a good thing. Military tradition still held fast. We didn’t ask and they didn’t say.
For a while, I got myself a lab tech. Vala wanted to help. I let her for a while, the company was nice and it gave Daniel a break. But her attention span was even shorter than the Colonel’s and she was just as prone to fiddle with ‘doohickey’s’. Combine that with a habit of sitting on consoles and, well, she kept me on my toes. But then she always has. She did come at ideas from an odd angle sometimes.
Her big idea was to do something that would enable us to go back in time and not get into this situation in the first place. I tried to explain that the time dilation technology just didn’t work that way… well, not without a lot of modification.
“Slowing down time within a localized field is not even close to the same thing as reversing time altogether. It’s a good thought, though.”
She smiled, happy to have her idea, however far-fetched, acknowledged. She wasn’t the only one to equate slowing down time with reversing time though. A few days later we ended up talking about it at dinner, Cam using a salt shaker and napkin as a visual aid to conjure up Superman.
“See what we need is… we need Superman to fly around the ship really, really fast.”
“Oh if only you knew how ridiculous that was,” I shook my head.
“No, it only sounds ridiculous ‘til you hear yourself say, “I am trapped on a spaceship stuck in a time dilation field.”
Things I miss…
Proper mashed potato with butter and black pepper…
Being too hot or too cold…
409. A prime number. More than that, a happy prime. At least one of us is happy.
The Asgard matter converter defines alcohol as a poison. I have to listen to the lecture on its toxic effects every time I replicate another bottle. I really need to figure out how to turn it off. Or get it to reclassify Zinfandel as a health drink.
I’ve decided that the best think I can do is stop thinking. It’s me thinking that got us into this purgatory in the first place. I’ve found that it usually takes three, maybe four glasses before I get that blessed silence in my head. The bottle and my head empty at about the same time. Sweet.
I’m avoiding the others at the moment… the moment being the last five days or so. Daniel and Vala, well, they’re just too happy. It hurts, you know. Cam’s pretty much worn a track in the deck plating and he and Teal’c want me to build a bigger and better matter converter – I refuse to call it a replicator – so they can have some new gym equipment ‘cos the old lot has pretty much worn out. And the General wants me to upgrade the artificial lighting for his plants – which now have a room of their own and get him some more irrigation tubing.
Even though there’s only the five of us on this ship, it’s too damn crowded. I’m sick of being the ‘go to’ girl. Sometimes I wish I’d sent them all back through the gate and stayed here by myself. It wasn’t that bad when I was on the Prometheus. Apart from the concussion anyway…
Somewhere between the third and fourth glass it came to her. Maybe she was alone. Maybe they were figments of her imagination created to keep her company to keep her sane.
She had locked the lab door. The cot in the corner was unmade and she had been wearing the same clothes for three days. The hologram of Thor flickered in the corner and looked on her with slight reproof. Some custodian she had turned out to be.
Someone had come knocking earlier reminding her to come and eat but for a while there had only been silence. Sam opened another bottle and did not bother with the glass. Even though it was only the memory of the memory of a grape the Zinfandel tasted just like it should smooth and tart and fruity. She could close her eyes and imagine she was back on Earth, in Janet’s house and they were having one of their girl’s nights in.
“You really should go and eat something, you know. White wine is not a food group.”
“You’re really saying I should drink less, aren’t you,” Sam opened her eyes. Janet was perched on the edge of one of the consoles.
“I didn’t say anything about drinking less. You did. What I said is that you should eat more.”
“Wine is made from grapes, so there’s my portions of fruit for the day. It contains complex sugars and carbohydrates…”
“Protein is highly over-rated. I’m fine.”
“You’re scared and you’re doing what you always do when you’re scared. You run from it. This time its all the way down to the bottom of the bottle.”
“It’s a bottle of wine. Replicated wine at that. It’s not like I’m turning into an alcoholic or anything. This is just a…”
What was it? A funk, a blue patch, a phase. She had suffered from depression before, as a teenager after her mother’s death, and then later after Jolinar’s death, then again after Janet’s death. Each time, for a few weeks, alcohol had been a crutch, something to get her through the worst times, to smooth the jagged edges of her soul. Then she had pulled herself out if it and got back to work.
This time she wasn’t so sure.
“Sam, you need to get over yourself. The others are relying on you…”
“Do they even exist?” Sam asked.
“Of course they do… you interact with them every day. They’re as real as you are.”
Sam laughed. “That’s not as reassuring as you might think, given that I’m sitting in here talking to you.”
“This is different.”
“You are an hallucination, you mean. You’ve got to be…either that or…”
“I’m not an hallucination, Sam. I’m not a ghost, either. I know how much you still miss me, how much it’s starting to effect you so I’ve been well, ‘sent’ to help you through this.”
“So you’re some kind of what… guardian angel?”
“That’s one way of putting it, yes,” Janet said.
“But you didn’t Ascend… you just… died.” It still tore her up inside to say that. “You died.”
“All the things you’ve seen, you’ve experienced, my love.” Janet’s fingers traced the line of her cheek. “Do you really believe that death is the end, that nothing survives? I’m here for you, Sam, I always will be. But you have to help yourself as well.”
I opened my eyes to the disconcerting sight of an upside down Vala. I realised that I was the one that was upside down, lying on the cot.
“I thought I locked the door,” I mumbled.
“You did. I bypassed the locking system,” she smiled. “We were worried.”
“Really.” Her foot clinked against something and I realised it was the empty bottle. Before I had chance to do anything about it she bent down and picked it up. Of course then she noticed the row of empty bottles under the console. I really must remember to recycle more often.
“Oh.” She looked at me. “I never imagined that you would be the type.”
“Don’t you start on me,” I mumbled. Her assessing gaze made me hyperaware. My hair had to be all over the place and I realised I couldn’t actually recall the last time I’d changed my clothes. I was far from the pristine Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter USAF. 409 days away to be precise. “I’ve already had a lecture from Jan…” I realised what I was about to say.
Luckily I don’t think she’d heard me. With her usual regard for propriety she was reading my journal, frowning a little.
“Depressed and driving yourself insane, I see,” she said. “Sam, what the hell is a prime and why would it be happy?”
“A happy prime is a prime number where the sum of the square of the digits resolves to one,” I said. “It’s a mathematical conceit. It was something I started to do rather than just note the number of days we’ve been stuck here. Here…”
I snagged a piece of paper and wrote 409 on it. “409 is a prime number because it is divisible only by one and itself.
42 + 92 = 97
92 + 72 = 130
12 + 32 + 02 = 10
12 + 02 = 1” I finished with a flourish.
“So you’re spending your time drinking and doing mental arithmetic. Sam, you really need to get out more.”
“Out where?” I said. “Stuck on a ship in a time dilation field, remember.”
“Just get yourself together and come with me. Chase out the cobwebs.”
If she hadn’t been so much Daniel’s girl, it would have been quite easy to fall in love with Vala. Some things about her reminded me of Janet. Her sense of fun. As I had with Janet so many times when we were together I found myself being prised out of my comfort zone and surprising myself.
Less than half an hour later I found myself rollerblading around the lower decks trying to match or better Vala’s ‘moves’. I haven’t had so much fun since…
Things I miss
Watching the sun rise
Reading a newspaper
A prime, but not a happy one. Not that it means anything in itself. It’s actually been one of the better days.
My cello playing is getting pretty good. I still haven’t officially ‘played’ for the others but earlier after my last practice session I opened the door to find Daniel and Vala sitting in the corridor outside.”
“That was beautiful,” Vala said wistfully. “I wish I could do something like that.”
“It just takes practice,” I could feel the blush rising in my cheeks. Another reason I’ve never let anyone in the same room as me when I play. I get self-conscious.
“I never knew you were even slightly musical before this,” Daniel said. “At least this…,” he gestured around him, “has been good for something.”
I noted the way that Vala was almost snuggled in his lap. Going on ten years and the two of them were still pretty inseparable. “I’d say its been good for a lot of things,” I said. “Look, I normally practice around this time… if you want to come and listen, you’re always welcome.”
“Sam, you do realise that there’s more to your ability than ‘practice’, don’t you?” Daniel said. “You have a real gift. Though I suppose it’s almost to be expected. An affinity for music often goes together with an affinity for mathematics.”
I remembered a long-ago conversation with Rodney McKay about the same thing.
“Music was my salvation. It had this… perfect order for me. When I was twelve, my teacher told me to quit. A fine clinical player, he said, but no sense of the art whatsoever… I turned to science because I thought it would be different than music, but it isn’t, it’s just the same. It’s just as much of an art as anything else.”
I’m not the only one who’s exploring other talents. Cameron Mitchell has started to produce these wonderfully detailed maps of the surface of P3X-474. All of them hand drawn to meticulous scale and hand coloured. Thankfully, for his purposes, the western hemisphere of P3X-474 was enjoying near cloudless conditions when I activated the field so there’s been a lot of topography to be charted.
So I’ve committed myself: one day soon I will give my first public recital. The audience will be small but that’s not what’s important. It is something that I can share with my friends, my family. Maybe we can make it a regular thing, like the team nights we used to have back home.
Things I miss…
Rodney McKay (my mind is a very strange place sometimes)
A prime, but not a happy one. One of the worst.
The General died earlier today. His chronic emphysema finally took him, his body couldn’t fight it any longer and he went into massive organ failure.. The matter transformer could take care of most things we could ever want but couldn’t make him a new set of lungs. I tried to put into practice what the Asgard left us about their cloning technology but I never could get it right and I didn’t want to make his situation any worse.
I was the only one with him when he died. I asked his forgiveness for stranding him here. I asked for it and he gave it freely but I don’t deserve it.
“It wasn’t your fault. We all would have died long ago if you hadn’t done what you did.”
I don’t deserve it.
I’ve given up. It’s been months, years since I last seriously looked at those equations.
Teal’c is outside my room, as he was standing vigil outside the General’s room earlier. Afterwards, he held me when I cried. I remember him doing that when I thought we had lost General O’Neill once. For a while I felt safe. But I can’t rely on him to do that for me all the time, it isn’t fair on him.
I reckon that in about another ninety years, the Ori weapon will have reached us. By that time, of course two things will have happened, the Asgard power core will have been exhausted and we (with the possible exception of Teal’c) will be dead.
I really really want to drink tonight but I made a promise… whether it was to an hallucination, a ghost, an angel I don’t know and I really don’t care. It’s not important. I suppose, at the end of the day I made the promise to myself.
Things I miss
Today was an anniversary of a different kind. I’m 84 years and 273 days old. When I stranded us on this ship I was 42 years and 136 days old. I’ve now lived over half my life on this ship. It is definitely a time to sit back and reflect.
These last years I’ve achieved a kind of peace. Sometimes I forget. Sometimes I catch sight of myself in the mirror and wonder who the hell that old woman is looking back at me. I went through a phase a year or so before we got stranded here of seeing my mother every time I looked in the mirror: I was pretty much the same age then as she was when I died. I wondered sometimes how my father could stand to look at me but then I realised how much comfort it gave him to know that something of my mother lived on in me.
Thankfully, my physical health is good and my memory, at least for important things, is still in pretty good shape. I think we’ve all reached this stage of equanimity now. We’re resigned to dying here one day some time in the future.
But I don’t’ recognise this person who looks back at me now. I’m not old… I don’t feel any different inside…
“You are the same person I always loved.”
I close my eyes as Janet’s arms close around me. She hasn’t aged a day. She is so beautiful that it makes my heart ache. She comes to me more frequently now. I wonder if she’s preparing me for something but she won’t tell me. She just smiles and tells me to be patient. Everything will work out in the end.
Things I miss
Mum, Dad All those I have loved…
“When I said that I wanted to get the team back together, work with you guys, learn from you…” Cam said as he sat down to his dinner, “I did not mean every waking moment for the next fifty years.”
“You said that yesterday,” Daniel observed.
“And the day before that,” Teal’c said. Of all of us, he seems the most impervious to the passage of time. His hair is a little greyer but that is all.
“And the day before that,” Vala added her piece.
This passes for wit these days. We’re old and we’re tired. We’ve had every conversation it’s possible to have it seems. Except for this one.
“I did it,” I said.
“You did what,” Cam asked, pausing, fork half way to his mouth.
“I figured out how to revere time in a localised field.” We all processed that in silence for a few moments.
“What?” Daniel said at last.
“Maintaining the time dilation field for all this time has almost completely depleted the ZPM and the power source in the Asgard core.”
“We don’t have enough power to make it work,” Cam realised.
“There’s irony for you, huh,” I said. Cam got up and moved towards the window trying to get his emotions back under control. “I create the field to buy us more time. I finally figure out how to undo it all and that extra time is what makes it impossible.”
“Are you sure?” Daniel asked. “I mean, if you had some more time, could you…”
I’ve had fifty years, I thought bitterly. “I’m sure,” I said.
Cam turned back from the window. He was almost smiling. It was… unexpected. “Hey, Sam. Do you remember when we were stuck out of phase?”
He was going to have to be a lot more specific than that. In the good old days when SG1 saved the galaxy on a weekly basis we were pretty cavalier about such things. “Which time?”
“When you got shot and you thought you were gonna die and the Ori were gonna destroy that village.”
“Vaguely,” I said. I wasn’t kidding. It was a lifetime ago. What I did remember most vividly about that time I’m not sure even really happened. I remember Janet telling me that it wasn’t my time, her cool lips touching mine, her dark brown eyes regarding me solemnly.
“You had me use the power source from an Ori staff weapon to power Merlin’s device,” Cam reminded me.
“We don’t have anything even close to a power source that would be required to keep a reverse time-field working for long enough,” I said.
He smirked. And suddenly looked twenty years younger. “Really.” He held out his hand. “Come with me.”
I allowed him to help me up and he walked me across to the window. The others looked on, as confused as I was. He pointed to the Ori energy beam. “What about that?”
I wanted to laugh out loud. “That!” It was preposterous… beyond science fiction. “There’s no way we…” And in a moment of inspiration I hadn’t felt for far too long it unfolded in front of me. It would work. We could all go home.
“There’s no way to absorb the blast and channel the energy into the Asgard core…” I paused.
“Unless…” Cameron Mitchell playing the role of straight man in this cosmic joke.
“Unless we reroute the power conduits throughout the ship into the core and let the blast hit us.”
“The ship will explode,” Vala pointed out, gripping Daniel’s hand. I looked at them for a moment and wondered: did they want to go back? They had had fifty more or less happy years together in a relationship neither of them could have imagined. If this worked they would lose all of that. It would never have been.
“Yes, but hopefully enough energy from the blast will be channelled into the core to allow it to activate the reverse time field before everything is totally destroyed.”
“But we’ll be dead…” Vala said.
“If this works, we’ll only be dead for a few milliseconds… and time within the bubble will reverse and we won’t be dead and the ship won’t be destroyed.”
“If this works,” Cam said.
“Yes. I’m not promising anything,” I said, meeting his eyes. I saw his acceptance of that and something else… relief. One way or another, this would be over.
“It’s all right, it’s a shot,” he said. “And I say we take it.”
“How far back can we go?” Vala asked.
How far indeed. I had talked about this with Janet, about the possibility of bending the laws of physics just that little bit further, back to a day on a planet called ‘666 when one life in particular was so unjustly taken. But it wasn’t to be. “Only to the point where the time dilation field was created. We can’t reverse time for the entire universe. If we go back any further than that, we are outside of normal time-space again and we create a paradox that the technology couldn’t handle.”
“Is that going to be good enough?” Daniel asked.
“I might be able to buy us a little more time, maybe a minute. But… one of us is gonna have to stay old,” I said. No one wanted to be the one, that was clear. “We’re talking about reversing time within the field. Everything: our age, our memories, will be undone.”
“If this works, we’ll be doomed to repeat history,” Daniel realised.
“Unless we can exclude someone from the field who can steer events in another direction,” I said.
Cam figured what I was implying. “You created the time dilation field to prevent us from being hit by that blast in the first place. You had no choice.”
“Right! We have to sever the Asgard core from the hyperdrive controls, or else the Ori will be able to follow us when we make the jump into hyperspace. A long time ago, in the event that I ever did solve the time issue, I created a program that would achieve that very quickly. I’ll load it onto a crystal. That way, it will only take me a few seconds to shut down the core and make the jump into hyperspace.”
“Who says it’s gonna be you,” Cam challenged.
“Well it makes sense that it be me,” I said.
“I will do it,” Teal’c said, with his usual quiet authority.
“Teal’c, you’ve lost as many years as the rest of us,” Daniel objected. Mentally I agreed with Teal’c that he was the most logical choice, emotionally it was a whole different matter.
“I have but one question. If this should not work…”
“Then the shields will fail and you will die along with the rest of us,” I told him.
“Then it is settled,” Teal’c said. And so it was.
It was strange, saying our goodbyes to each other, to our memories because one way or another we were at an end. We all gave Daniel and Vala as much time as they needed: they had the most to lose after all, but at last we were ready.
Janet laid a hand on my shoulder. “I’ll be with you all the way,” she promised.
“My guardian angel, standing at my shoulder,” I smiled. It was time. Teal’c was standing inside the forcefield. I activated the programme. The Asgard console lit up. The time dilation field flickered out of existence and the Ori beam finally reached its destination.
For the barest moment I felt the heat of the explosion and then it was the coolest breeze against my skin. Janet took me in her arms, held me tight. “We have only a moment or two,” she said. “It’s still not your time, my heart. You have a whole life to live.”
I was myself again, wearing a white linen suit, my hair back to its air force regulation length, my feet bare. We were standing on fresh green grass and the sun was on my face.
“Am I dead or alive?” I asked.
“Somewhere in between,” Janet said. She looked down at the ginger cat purring loudly as it threaded its way between us, pushing against my leg. “Your mind is a very literal place sometimes Samantha Carter.” She reached up, I bent down, a manoeuvre once perfected never forgot. Somewhere in the middle, we kissed. There was a sound all around me, fairy bells tinkling, glass breaking, the natural order reasserting itself.
I blinked. No time for wool gathering, we had seconds at best before that beam vaporised us. I worked quickly, setting up the time dilation programme. It was a long shot but at least it would preserve one precious commodity: time. Then I could work on plan B: getting us and the ship home.
I started as Teal’c came from nowhere and took my hand. He pressed a data crystal into my palm. “This is the programme you must activate,” he said. “There is little time, Samantha. You must trust me.”
I stared at him dumbfounded for a moment and then placed the crystal in the reader. The programme started to run. I realised that it was disconnecting the Asgard core from the system allowing us to power the hyperdrive the old fashioned way and hopefully avoid the Ori detecting and following us again. I had calculated that such a programme would have taken me days to develop if it was even possible at all. And yet here it was. And I had written it, the coding was unmistakeable. Seconds later the hyperdrive engaged and we were away, a hop skip and a jump from home.
I stared at Teal’c. “How…”
“Long story,” he said. “A very long story.”
Somewhere sometime a dark haired woman and a ginger cat bask in the sun. She has been waiting a long time but she can stand to wait a while longer. All things come to pass at their proper time.