Title: Not Her.
Author: Elizabeth E. Carter
Feedback address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Date in Calendar: 25 June 2007
Fandom: Stargate SG1
Pairing: Sam / Janet
Rating: PG-13 (nothing we haven’t seen in the show itself or even CSI)
Summary: Why was it that Sam never had a ‘visit’ from either Janet or Cassandra during Grace? It had to be something that bothered someone with a type A personality such as Samantha Carter. Yet another death defying struggle for life might clear a few things up in the major’s mind in what she feels might be her last moments of existence.
Spoilers: Death Knell
Archive: Written for Dog Days of Summer 2007.
Advertisement: Part of the FSAC:DD07
Disclaimer: MGM, Gecko, Showtime and a heck of a lot of other people have their fingers in owning all things in the Stargate franchise, not I. No copywrite infringement meant. Pure fanfic entertainment only.
Dedication/Beta: (Beta reader Jo aka Celievamp) Dedicated to my own beloved angelic, of whom I adore very much.
Sam watched her father pacing back and forth around the lab. The more circles he made the more agitated he became and the shorter his temper grew. He looked under files, books and stacks of paper before he spoke. The tone of his voice was sharp and distinctly grumpy.
“Where's the matrix crystal?” he asked anxiously of her as if she was a teenager again and the keys to the car were missing.
“Next to the primaries,” Sam’s answer was distracted and simple though she pointed to the lab table behind her in a vain effort to direct her father.
“I can't find anything in here,” he grumbled still searching areas of the lab he had already gone over before he did indeed look next to the primary crystals. “I had a system back at the old Alpha site.”
“The location of the old Alpha site was compromised when Anubis used his mind probe on Jonas.” she just avoided an eye roll that would surely gifted her with a reprimand twenty years ago. Ignoring her father’s ranting Sam continued her work on the prototype in her hand. “You didn't really wanna' hang around there did you?” Straw coloured eyebrows rose in challenge.
“I just want to be able to work as efficiently as possible.” His tone suggested ‘is that a bit too much to ask?’ “Anubis' drones are kicking the crap out of the System Lords and we're next. This prototype should have been done weeks ago.” Again with the disapproving tone of a father as if Sam hadn’t cleaned out the garage by the time he had told her it should have been completed.
Sam answered almost defensively. ‘I’m not twelve Dad.’ What she said was, “It's done, it's just not finished.”
“Interesting distinction.” There was a snort. His daughter had a habit of skirting semantics. It was a tactic his lost beloved wife Rebecca had used on numerous occasions. It was a tactic that left him deflated until he was able to re-gather his senses to mount a new attack on a different front.
“We only got Telchak's device a month ago, I'm surprised we were able to come up with something so quickly.” Sam knew her father’s games and she knew if she retorted like a kid she would continue to be addressed as one.
“In its current configuration, the weapon is only seventy percent effective at countering the reanimation technology.” The older Carter shook his head disapprovingly. He stood across from her now the matrix crystals he had been hunting for in his hand.
“The power unit you were using hasn't been properly calibrated, this one will be better.” Sam pointedly commented with the conviction that she knew she was right.
“Maybe,” Jacob was always the pessimist. He was loath to yield to an opponent even if it was his little girl, especially if it was his little girl despite his pride in her accomplishments and her achievements.
Sam huffed out a heavy breath of patience. It was something she had been doing for the past three days since she been in the lab working with her father. “Have you not had your coffee this morning?” Sam commented with a snarky tone. She had for the past four hours no make that four days been growing weary of her Father’s ever expanding irritable abrasiveness. If he wasn’t balding and male she would have said he was having a bad-hair day on top of PMSing. Then again her father always seemed to be thus.
Jacob knew he was being unfair to his little girl, she was an undeserving target. He took a moment longer before answering feeling chagrined for his earlier behaviour. “Selmac doesn't like coffee.”
This amazed the younger Carter. Her blue eyes opened wide and lips curled into a disbelieving smirk. “You gave up coffee for your symbiote?” this seemed to her incredulous! Jacob Carter separated from his coffee was like asking Jack O’Neill to forgo sarcasm.
Again a long pause before Jacob answered his daughter. And it was only a nod of the head.
“I didn't know that.” Her voice was soft, an almost regretful whisper.
“We never talk anymore, Sam.” Regret was profoundly heavy in the older Carter’s voice as well.
He heard an exasperated sigh that was so reminiscent of his departed wife, he had to look twice at the image to insure he wasn’t hearing ghosts of a past life. If the sin of not talking anymore was to be laid upon shoulders, it wasn’t to be lain upon those of Samantha Carter and they both knew it. His mouth opened to say something but words were not the sounds to be heard.
Presently loud alarms broke out all over the Alpha site. Both Carters gave curious looks to each other as if to find the answer in the other’s gaze. Their looks soon halted with the sudden intrusion of a young officer bolting through the door.
“Lieutenant Glen, what's happening?” Sam’s voice was smooth yet demanding.
The fresh young face swallowed a bit hard before he answered quickly. “We're under attack; we just picked up Goa'uld ships entering the atmosphere. Colonel Riley has ordered an immediate evac to beta. We're bugging out right now!” Lieutenant Glen urged.
Father and daughter exchanged heated looks of fear and worry, not just for their lives but for the work. It wasn’t finished. So much hinged on this little device in Sam’s delicate hands, it couldn’t be abandoned now.
Bombardments were coming closer. Close enough to shake the ground beneath the lab. The Carters ignored the mini-quakes, power spikes and the pleas of the young officer.
“We have to leave now!” Glen demanded after closing the swing door behind him.
There was no doubt the base was under attack, they could hear the explosions getting closer and the sound of scout ships approaching. Al’kesh by the sound of it. Midrange Goa’uld bombers. Not good. Al’kesh meant stormtroopers either Jaffa or God help them all - Anubis Drones.
“Just give me a second,” Sam answered quickly. She grabbed the device from the small vice and started to gather data as her father darted about snatching up matrix crystal after matrix crystal.
“We have to download the weapon design into the matrix crystal and wipe the computer memory.” Jacob said, explaining why they were not rushing the door.
“You have the prototype!” Lieutenant Glen was near frantic with his desire to flee. If they had the prototype what did it matter about the rest?
“We can't leave this information for them to find,” Jacob snapped back. God who put theses damn whiney kids in the USAF let alone in the SGC for that matter!
“How much longer?” the young lieutenant gave a panicked look over his shoulder. Perhaps for the moment he forgot he was addressing a superior officer and a retired general come Tok’ra liaison. Perhaps at the moment he felt it was irrelevant next to the urgent need to bug out. His orders had been to see Major Carter and the Tok’ra Jacob Carter to the Stargate.
They continued to ignore him concentrating on the task at hand.
“Finished,” exclaimed Sam. She had remarkably finished not only the prototype but had made sure she had full the schematics downloaded into memory crystals.
As soon as she proclaimed her triumph a series of energy shots come through the closed doors and killed Glen instantly. Sam and Jacob dodged behind the lab tables. Jacob slammed the power device into the TER energy clip.
The aging man stood up quickly. It wasn’t simply a general it was a father protecting his child taking fire upon his enemy. Blue plasma energy struck the drone’s chest; it crumbled to the flooring of the lab, looking much like a crushed beetle.
“It worked!” Jacob was both astonished and pleased.
The declaration was given too soon. Like Dracula rising from his coffin the drone stood up once more. Like the demon vampire it was ready for the kill.
“Not good enough,” Sam quibbled.
Jacob didn’t hesitate. He fired again and again the drone crumbled. “Let's get out of here,” he shouted, practically threw his child out of the lab.
Both dashed out of the lab, past the smoking remains of buildings and bodies. Running the Carters started for the Stargate ablaze with the furious need to escape the wreckage. SOP would be to blow the base and evacuate to the beta site, it was only a matter of time this the Carters knew.
Another blast from overhead sent both Carters to the earth with such an impact it whooshed the air from their lungs. Al’kesh bombs hit the Stargate. The Carters watched in time-lapse horror as the ancient ring toppled and fell over in a great teeth rattling kaboom!
Plumes of dust clotted the area eclipsing the sun and enemies from sight. Two pairs of hands one old one young covered the heads of the body of which they belonged. Jacob huddled close to his daughter using his body as a shield from the falling debris.
“Damn it!” Jacob snarled, “We can’t get out that way.”
“The forest, Dad. The hills we can dig in there! The east is the more defensible position.” Sam uttered quickly coughing dust from her lungs. Thanks to the adrenaline pumping through her she neither felt nor realized that a deep laceration bit deep above her eye. She felt however the gashes in her elbow if only because the impact jarred her funny-bone making her fore-arm sting and numb.
She looked up and saw her own proclamation of escape had occurred to several other SGC team members. Over her shoulder she saw scout ships landing. They barely touched down before the back hatch opened allowing lines of beetle-black stormtroopers to disembark.
“We’re fucked.” Jacob Carter.
The prototype survival hinged on the scientists who had created evading the enemy. Both Carters were soldiers and they knew their duty. The prototype had to if nothing else be passed onto the SGC even if it was hidden in their corpses. “Sam run like hell, get that back to George, you hear me kiddo? Even if I fall you get that back!”
“That’s a god-damn direct order MAJOR!”
“Yes sir.” Sam answered automatically. The soldier forbad any other answer a worried daughter might have said.
Jacob nodded saying nothing more grabbed hold of his girl’s hand in the need burning in a father’s heart to know his child was going to be okay. He let go as soon as both were on their feet and running. Dashing into the thickening woodlands the Carters sought out refuge in the east.
No sooner had they managed to hit the tree line than the entire base started to implode. Colonel Reilly had set off the self-destruct. A single radius blast with enough naquada explosives it would incinerate everything in a mile radius of the base. A roar from the sky out to the peripheral range of hearing of buildings exploding gained the Carters’ attention. They turned barely in time to break into a full out run of the chain effect of explosions on the scout ships.
The force of the blast separated father and daughter. Before Sam could regain her bearing a sudden arc of light and earth blinded her sight and her head snapped back and she fell to the ground hard upon her back with a sickening crunch. Earth, rock and tree exploded over the SGC officers taking cover.
The whole complex glowed brilliant neon red-orange - the base was burning. Great mushroom clouds hung cloyingly over the base. Reilly was dead. He would have stayed behind to ensure the destruction of sensitive materials. Where once the alpha site stood, there was now a great smoking crater. Nothing would have survived that blast.
Twenty Minutes after the attack
Doctor Janet Fraiser swallowed back the vile taste of fear. It wasn’t such so long ago that SG1 and other SG-teams had set out to capture one of the super soldiers. Sam and Jacob had without Janet’s input or permission used her labs for the autopsy, interrogation and exploration of the impervious armour. Now those Frankenstein things had invaded the new Alpha Base not one hour ago.
The remaining three members of SG-1 were readying to go through the gate to search and rescue the ninety missing personal, Sam and Jacob amongst their number. General Hammond wasn’t going to risk more lives than those of the Flagship team and that he had done so with some voiced reluctances. In the end the argument the Stargate had dug the perfect foxhole had won over the general’s trepidation about sending more lives into a hot environment. Teal’c had suggested a mobile power source would be brought along and the gate manually dialed would insure they and the missing personnel were not stranded on the planet.
Ninety lives MIA. Sam…once more MIA. Janet swallowed hard, tamping her fear back down as only a soldier could, as a lover needed to do so she might function so she might do her duty.
Duty cost them so much sometimes, but never once did such dedicated following give birth to regret. Not in Sam and certainly not in Janet. It was duty now Janet answered to. She was being sent out to give her expert medical knowledge to save the lives of the soldiers. Her duty belonged to the casualties on the Beta site. Her heart longed to go with SG1 but her oath would not allow it. The fallen soldiers cried out in pain, in blood and wounds and she would not be deaf to them.
‘Oh Sammy, be alive. I’ll make you well just be alive, sweetness. Just be alive.’
Fully kitted out, Janet with SG-7 the medical unit were ready to deploy to the Beta site after what was left of SG1 had gone through to the Alpha site.
Jack turned to Janet and saw in the chocolate eyes a reflection of the worry he himself was consumed with. “Doc, you’ve got my word on this, I’m bring Carter home.” He smiled the sort of smile one dawns when trying to enlighten the mood when it is impossible to do so. “Then you can stick her with those monster needles of yours and keep her in bed.”
“Undomesticated equines will not dissuade me from recovering Major Carter.” Teal’c’s baritone voice softly boomed in Janet’s ears. It was a comment for Janet alone, he like the rest of SG-1 knew of the relationship between the Doc and their Carter. To them it wasn’t a disgrace it was in private celebrated.
Janet’s stress levels broke. She couldn’t help but allow the grateful laugh born of anxiety out. It gained her a look of mild shock from a few of the others of SG-7, but those who had heard could only smile. With Teal’c, Dr. Jackson and Colonel O’Neill on the hunt the ninety people missing would be found. Major Carter would be brought back to where she belonged.
Janet once more felt her throat tighten in the depth of emotion as she watched three men disappear in the fluid event horizon of the wormhole. Taking in a great breath of steadying air, brown eyes watched as the gate closed down and started to dial once more. Each clank of a chevron engages was like a chasm parting her from Samantha.
“Chevron Seven locked and engaged.” Walter Davis’s voice announced which was quickly followed by the General’s
“SG-7, Doctor Fraiser you have a go. Godspeed.”
Doctor Janet Frasier CMO of the SGC marched up the mesh gantry up, her mind now on what she might expect at the beta site’s infirmary. Her heart, her love was with Sam, but now her complete focus was to her duty. She could afford no distractions.
Three hours after the attack
It was quite a shock to realize her eyes had been closed until Sam forced them to open. She tried to move, but each action, each motion rewarded her with searing pain. Her body didn't want to move. Sam didn't want to argue with it. She had lost so much blood, that her mind was already spiralling in a fog. The concussion hadn't helped. The world was in a blanket of greyness.
The metallic tang of battle burned her nostrils as she drew in the polluted air. She looked around her and felt it out. The battle sounds were too distant and the smoke was not thick enough... a moment ago that was entirely a different story. Her military mind calculated the distance she was from the actual war-zone for that was what it was. A bloody war courtesy of the Anubis Drones.
“Dad?” the sound of her voiced sounded alien, rough like sandpaper dragged on gravel. How long had she been out? How long before the drone came for her? In her gut Sam knew, she simply knew the thing had survived the self-destruct.
“Dad, answer me.”
Sam looked around her, scanning with a soldier’s eye. Observing the smoldering remains of the base, prone bodies, there was no Tok’ra uniform amongst them. Sam could only conclude her father had fallen behind. She didn’t know if he was alive and at length the major knew she could not linger. She had to flee; the device was the only way to stop the drones.
“Dad,” Sam addressed the silent air, “you have the TER. I have the damned device…” She shook her head and immediately decided not to repeat that action. The inside of her skull thundered in her ears, pain was renewed. ‘Concussion. Great! That’s all I need. Another concussion! I just got over the last one. Son of a bitch.’
The major attempted to rise up fully onto her feet but screamed and fell back down. The blast had flung her body carelessly, bonelessly to the earth, transformed detritus into dangerous missiles. Such bits of shrapnel had impaled Carter’s right leg. Quivering hands took hold of the shard of metal that once belonged to one of the sheds, and tried to pull it out. Grunting, whimpers of pain erupted unwanted from trembling lips. The shard now free Sam wanted to fling it away from her but strength was denied her. Her shaking hand dropped the metal near her boot.
Looking down at the mortifying wound Sam saw layers of flesh, muscle even bone. It made her George rise and by sheer stubborn will she forced herself not to vomit. Thinking no reacting on instinct Sam used the discarded bloody shard to cut strips of cloth from her blouse and tied a tourniquet. Again biting down on bile in her throat she tied the cloth around her leg as tight as she could tolerate. She fell back onto the mound of earth with a boneless thump. The efforts of first aid stripped Carter of all strength, pain made her numb and paralytic.
‘You can’t stay here, Love.’
“Janet?” Sam sprung up with renewed vigor on the dread thought her beloved Janet was on planet that contained such evilness as the drone. It would kill her! Janet was a soldier but she was not in the strictest sense a warrior, that drone would strike her down so quickly…
Shutting her eyes tight Sam blocked out blinding searing pain from her body enough to force herself to her feet. Janet wasn’t there, her dad who knew where and the drone was going to be here any moment. Sam knew one thing. She had to run.
The blonde Tauri was amazingly resilient. She had survived the Al’kesh bombings and self-destruct, even from here the drone could smell the metallic stink of blood. All that need doing was follow the path of blood.
That thing, that beast, that creature was relentless. Somehow it had survived the blast. Somehow…
The drones had long known that their own structural perfection was matched only by their hostility. It was a survivor, a perfect specimen unclouded by conscience, remorse or delusions of morality. It was the perfect organism. The perfect hunter.
Jack followed by Teal’c tailed by Daniel climbed up out of the ‘fox hole’ created by the Stargate’s kawoosh. What they came up into was a field of debris. Even now the earth still smoldered from the bomb’s gross destruction. Goa’uld scout-ships looked like the corpses of metal insects. Metallic carapace armored hulls had been reduced to nothing more than slag.
Around them ruin after ruin, a few bodies so badly burnt it would be hard telling even with dental records who they were. Jack looked at the size of each corpse left.
‘Not her.’ He didn’t bother pushing down the rejoicing in his heart that the dead had not included Carter amongst their numbers.
Jackson took a look at the horrific scenes with an open mouth. “Wow.”
“This destruction does not appear to be the result of an aerial assault.” The observation was made by Teal’c. In his years of servitude to the false gods he had become well accustomed to what aerial destruction looked like.
“Single radius blast.” O’Neill wiped dust from his sun glasses before donning them. It wasn’t particularly sunny out but the dark shades lenses would help conceal his deep soul biting concern for Carter’s life.
“Possibly from a self destruct to prevent the Alpha site from falling into enemy hands.” Again the comment had been issued by Teal’c. He looked to the dead. A few of the bodies were Jaffa, one or two Tok’ra that hadn’t made it to the Stargate or tree line in time. ‘They died free.’ He said only to himself. ‘They died so others could live. It was a good death.’ How hard it was for him to admit he was grateful that he had not seen a strewn body of another he knew would have given her life so others might live.
“I don’t see Sam anywhere,” Daniel called out with a civilian’s privilege to not have to wear an officer’s mask of militant professionalism.
It had been prearranged for the SGC to contact SG1 after fifteen minutes after arrival for their assessment of what happened. Other SG teams would then be deployed as needed. SG teams two, three because they were search and rescue and following them eleven and fifteen. The latter because they liked to use dogs on occasion in SG15 case cadaver dogs.
Reynolds of SG3 formally commander of SG16 came up from the ‘Gate-foxhole’ tailed by the rest of his team.
“So we'll split up, search for survivors.”
“Who could have survived this?” Reynolds doubted they would find anyone alive in this smoking pit.
CARTER O’Neill shouted albeit mentally. She had better damned well have survived.
Jack wanted to despise Reynolds for his question which he heard only as a slur not only against Carter but against the others of the SGC. Each an every one of them had given their lives to protect Earth. They deserved better then a dismissive of they could survive.
“Start with the treeline there.” O’Neill snapped, pissed at Reynolds, at himself even at Carter for the doubt he had at the chances of survival were next to nil and he knew it.
“Copy.” The other colonel sensed he had stepped over some invisible line. Hell he knew the bond between team mates was closer than even family. He knew what Carter meant to the older man. There were another eighty-nine people that were counting on the SGC to find them and bring them home. As a commander he knew he should have kept that blasted comment to himself. But who could blame him? Who could survive the devastation all around them?
“Move out.” O’Neill growled. “My guess the area to the east through that treeline it will be defensible in several areas if our people have to dig in. We’ve got ninety people needing to be found.” Jack ordered. Chain of command of course would lay on him as he was the commander of the flagship team.
Heavy-hearted Jack, Daniel and Teal'c walked through some of the aftermath scrounging through the detritus. Reynolds's team did the same some distance away going further and further into the woods.
Teal’c having taken point paused in sudden step, his dark eyes fixed upon a familiar sight.
“O'Neill!” Teal’c voice called for attention.
‘Don’t let it be her. Don’t….’ “What have you got?” Jack sprinted to where the larger Jaffa stood. If he was any other man Jack O’Neill would have claimed the expression on Teal’s was rather grim, but Teal’c always looked grim.
“This is the armor of one of Anubis' drones.” The great bear of a man explained kicking the dirt off of the black armor. So apparently the drones could be neutralized without the power-unit. But it had to have been at ground zero.
Keen eyesight revealed ground zero was none other than the lab where Sam Carter had previously been working with her father. O’Neill toggled the radio at his shoulder. “Reynolds.”
A moment later with a bit of static the com was answered. *Go ahead.*
“Be advised, we may not be alone here. One of Anubis' goons might have been on the planet when it blew. Use extreme caution.”
From the womb of the forest the Marine felt his metal tested in the announcement. “Understood.”
Major Warren had been a member of the SCG since its inception, serving under Kawalsky during the first mission to Chulak. He visibly flinched on hearing they were not alone. By no means a coward, the SG3 SIC was not an idiot either he knew the odds of finding survivors now had considerably lessened.
Reynolds signalled to move out with great care. They had only gone a click when a snap of a twig brought the marines up short. According to the military sigh-language Reynolds had seen something move only a few feet ahead of them. Flanking out from his team the colonel lifted his P90, his finger flagging the trigger and stepped with light foot closer to the figure he saw moving.
As soon as he came into view he was met with the metal slides of automatic rifles, whirs of powered Zat-guns and staff weapons. Jaffa, Tok’ra and SGC soldiers.
Reynolds eyes looked over those standing. Carter wasn’t amongst them. But he couldn’t see all who were lying prone in the forest floor.
“Colonel,” it was Major Green who addressed the colonel.
“Major Green, you alright?”
Green’s hand rose to touch his bloody cheek and shrugged with indifference. “Fine Sir, but we've got some serious injuries here.”
Reynolds looked hard over the fallen warriors ‘Not her. Not her. Not her.’ He winced however at his people… his because they were SGC but they weren’t the only ones. Jaffa made up a number of the wounded. “Any other survivors in the area?”
“As far as I know, we're the only ones Sir.” There was regret in the young man’s voice.
Reynolds nodded understanding that he was quite possibly looking at the only ones to have survived the attack. Clicking his radio he gave a report to his counterpart. “O’Neill.”
*We found twelve survivors but they're not in good shape.* Bleeding, broken, burnt: ‘not in good shape’ was an understatement. Twelve out of ninety? It was a sickening thought.
*Some can walk, but most need immediate medical treatment.* Reynolds knew good ol’ Doc Fraiser was at the beta site attending the wounded there. She was in a word these peoples best hope of recovering. She was a miracle worker. There would have been a great deal more deaths in the SGC if it wasn’t for her. He didn’t want to imagine the SGC without the tiny Napoleonic powermonger. There was no one save for the three others of SG3 and well SG1 he trusted more to pull their collective asses back from the brink of death.
*Major Carter with them?*
O’Neill had to ask… he just had to ask. In his gut the marine knew the answer would be a negative one. Looking at Green the young man confirmed his suspicion with a shake of the head. “I'm afraid not.”
“Son of a bitch! Where the hell is she?” realizing he was still on radio-chatter O’Neill quickly snapped an “Understood. Gather them and make for the gate. I’ll contact SGC, let the General know. SG1 out.”
“Jack?” It was Daniel’s voice filled with worry that O’Neill couldn’t show.
Jack ignored both his teammates and headed back to the gate, a storm brewing over his head, pain riddling his gut. ‘Where are you Carter?’ “We need reinforcements. We’re not giving up until we find her.”
Seven hours following the attack
Exhaustion and worry were long time companions of General George Hammond. They were with him every time his people stepped through the gate. This time however they weighed heavily upon his shoulders. Ninety people MIA. Samantha… his god-daughter, brilliant scientist, and talented officer was amongst that dreaded number. His life long buddy, one time platoon mate Jacob Carter gone. He would never allow the idea they were dead. MIA isn’t KIA. It was a mantra he had in the seven years of commanding the SGC grown quite accustomed to. MIA isn’t KIA. MIA isn’t KIA. There is hope, trust his people.
Hammond hadn’t yielded to any sort of rest even to take dinner since hearing of the destruction of the Alpha site. He sucked down a fourth cup of coffee to keep him functioning just as the sirens blared in his skull like as a cruel taunt. “Unscheduled off-world activation!”
A different man might have raced into action but Hammond valued propriety. It was dependable and steady when all else was chaos his people looked to the base commander for that steadiness.
“Sergeant, what do we have?” Hammond commanded from behind Tech-Sergeant Walter Davis.
‘Come on Sam…dial home.’
“SG1 IDC, sir.” There was a note of hope in the young man that the voice he would next hear would be from the young blonde Major he admired with all his soul.
“SG1 reporting.” The voice was that of O’Neill
Two minds spoke silently.
“This is Hammond. Go ahead Colonel what do you have?”
*Twelve found sir. Heavy casualties. We found one the remains of one Super Soldier sir, but it looks like there was a squad of them. SG3 is going to need a little help to get the gate back up.*
*SG's eleven and twenty-one are assembling now Colonel, I'll be sending them through momentarily. Unfortunately that means a delay before I can send any more resources to help with the search.”
Jack winced inwardly. His throat burned with the bile coming from heavy heart-burn regurgitated by his worry. *Getting the wounded out is our first priority Sir.* They both knew this meant the hunt for survivors was secondary. Carter was secondary. Duty demanded it.
“I agree, but if there are any other survivors out there they may not have a lot of time. I’ll recall Dr. Fraiser as soon as it is feasible. Right now she and SG7 have their hands full at the beta site”
Unspoken realizations that Carter’s hours were numbered lay as concrete yokes about the neck.
“Understood Sir, we'll keep trying.” I’m not giving up on Carter.
Nine hours after the attack
Janet watched as groups of casualties came through the beta sites gate with a tight heart and acidic anxiety hoping to see the unruly thatch of golden hair and shining blue eyes.
She’s not there.
Another team. Not there.
A third. Not there.
A fourth. Not there
Lifting the sheets off the dead in the morgue:
Oh gods where was she?
Another group coming through.
No one knew where Major Carter was. No one.
Jack O’Neill was a military man through and through. He could not as much as he longed to, as he desired to regulate the search and rescue to a single person. At least not until the search and rescue teams, SG2 and even SG3 had deployed to look for the other MIA. O’Neill knew he could justify the hunt for Major Carter ‘because,’ she had the device to neutralize the threat of the Super Soldiers.
He didn’t have to justify anything. There was no need, in fact even the survivors wanted hunt for Carter. She was an icon, a hero in the eyes of the SGC. Not only was she of SG1, but Samantha Carter was personally responsible for creating SGC Naquada reactors, partial accelerator, Carter special, the dialing program for the SGC’s dialing computer to name a few inventions. She was personally responsible for saving Earth more than a dozen times because of the vastness of her intelligence and swift problem solving abilities. There was not a lack of volunteers wanting to look for her.
There were those still lost who were not her, who needed to be found, saved and healed if not buried. Trees scattered about like so many broken toys, broken ambiguous bones of earth. Trees like a few of the bodies SG1 had found were but burnt remains.
Tired, weary from the ten hours of searching hope flittered in the heart as eyes caught sight of a familiar figure pinned as a bug on a board, none other than Jacob Carter.
“Jacob!” Jack yelped sprinting to the trapped man, at his heels Teal’c and Daniel.
Teal’c didn’t even wait for the order to take hold of the log, hoisting it off the old man’s body with so little effort, Daniel couldn’t help but feel envious for the man’s great strength.
“Anubis' drones…” came Jacob’s first words to the trio of men.
“We know.” O’Neill interrupted him.
“Take this.” Jacob’s hand trembled as he handed over the TER. “It's not a hundred percent, but it's all we've got. It only has a few more shots.” Another dry throated swallow, pain, worry, sorrow, take your pick. They were all there in the dark brown eyes to be read like a book. “Sam has a fully charged power unit.” ‘I have the gun no unit. Damn the irony. She’s running around with the only thing to stop that monster from killing her but no way to use it…Son of a bitch.’
“Where is she?” O’Neill asked looking around dreading the answer wanting nothing more than to see the lanky blonde for himself.
“I don't know.” A dry swallow. “I don't even know if she's still alive.” It was for the moment not a Tok’ra speaking, nor a retired general but a father desperate for his child’s safety. His mind flashed again and again to the blast that had separated him. To the explosion that sent him and the tree he was near to the ground with such force he had been knocked unconscious for half a day. “Jack you find her!”
“I already made that promise.”
“She’s alone, that thing is after her.”
Jack nodded biting back his anger and wanting to do nothing more than to scream out, ‘I know that! Don’t you think I know that!?’ “Daniel, go with him back to the SGC. Jacob, I WILL find her!”
“Jack…” Daniel started protesting but stopped when he saw the agitation smoldering in his friend’s eyes. “Alright.”
SGC Gate Room: Eleven hours after the attack.
SG11 came through with the missing twelve, make that thirteen wounded. Gurneys lined up at the bottom of the ramp like so may cabs at an airport loading bay. Jackson and Green hoisted Jacob’s stretcher on to one of these.
Hammond eyes the crushed leg and blood of his friends left leg before addressing him.
“How are you doing?” the words sounded hollow and lame but there was true concern behind them.
“It's nothing Selmac can't handle.” Jacob dismissed all concern over his wounds; there were larger issues to be discussed.
“Jacob, we need to know what happened out there. How did Anubis get the location to the new Alpha site?” there was no attempt to hid the inference that a Tok’ra might have leaked the information somehow. With Selmac the oldest and wisest amongst the High Council if anyone was in the know it would have to be her.
“I have no idea; I was with Sam when the self destruct went off. One of the drones was chasing us into the forest.” Jacob tried to prop himself up on his elbows, imploring his friends’ attention as a fellow father. “George, if I survived the blast… you know that thing survived as well.”
There was a second silent communication between them promises traded that unspoken commitment that only fathers could hold. “What about the prototype weapon?”
“I gave it to Colonel O'Neill. But it's only semi-effective in its current configuration. The upgraded power unit was with Sam.”
Sam. Weaponless. Hunted, possibly dying. Possibly dead.
“And we have no idea of where she is.” Hammond said perhaps more to himself than to Jacob Carter.
It was for the senior Carter to respond however but Daniel who thought perhaps the question had been laid to him to answer. “She's still missing.” To him, he had felt as if he had personally failed his dearest friend.
“Is there anything else we can use against these drones?” Hammond held onto his command mask, for he could never afford to let it slip. Especially now.
“Their armour is impervious to energy weapons and regular firearms are useless.” Stoic as ever the pessimism didn’t surprise Hammond even if it was rather disappointment to have heard the negative.
“What about the drones that were killed in the blast?” He pictured the armor Teal’c had discovered.
“Kinetic energy… an explosion of that size. They can't ignore physics.” For a moment it felt as if Jacob had been channeling his daughter’s thoughts.
“So if there was enough kinetic energy…” Jackson didn’t finish his thought.
“There would have to be a lot.” Jacob said, his voice still cloyed with doubt.
“How about a missile?” Hammond joined the conversation, hope filling him
“That might do it,” Jacob commented dryly, “if you get close enough.”
Hammond needed no other prompting in the brainstorming department. If a missile would do it then a missile would be sent. “Sergeant Siler!”
The man in question having heard his name moved from his discussions with the techs in the cavernous hall leading out from the Gateroom with step-two readiness to his CO’s side. “Prepare a UAV with UCAV specs.”
“Yes Sir.” He dashed out of the Gateroom presumably towards the mini hanger where the UAV’s were stored and then to artillery where the missiles were under lock and keycard.
Fourteen hours after the attack
Hammond hadn’t sent him to interrogate Jacob Carter but Daniel burned to know what happened back on the Alpha site. “So, how's the leg?” Daniel has his hands shoved into the pockets of his trousers
“It's getting there, slowly but surely.” He cleared his throat feeling awkward and uncomfortable sitting in a hospital bed with his child still on the run. Hopefully she was still on the run and not lying bleeding to death in a ditch or worse already dead.
“Oh' yeah, slowly.” Jacob blinked had the young man actually rolled his eyes at him? “The way you heal it'll probably take a day?” Jackson didn’t even attempt to disguise his distain for the quick healing prowess of the man lying in bed.
“You didn't come here to ask me about my leg, you want to know what happened to Sam.”
‘There it was out, can we stop the pissing contest already?’ the inner thought wasn’t so much Jacob as it was Selmac.
“Yeah.” The younger man pulled his hands out of his pockets and looking rather insecure about the words he might hear next hugged them about his body, waiting for the father of his friend to speak.
Jacob thought the shorter abridged version of what happened was the better course to follow. “The base was under attack, we could hear the explosions getting closer and the sound of scout ships approaching. The Stargate was hit, we couldn't get out. So we ran for the hills. The drone followed us. If Sam is still alive, it's still after her.”
“She could just be hiding, waiting for a chance to go back through the gate.” Jackson offered hoping he didn’t sound as naive as his words made him out to be.
Jacob shook his head, dismissing the archeologist. “Out of all the rooms on the base, why did it come to that lab? Why did it chase us as opposed to anyone else?”
“You think it knew about the prototype?”
“I think that was the whole reason for the attack.” Dark eyebrows lifted expressively. “Somehow Anubis knows that we may have the only weapon in the galaxy capable of stopping his soldiers.”
“And Sam has the design.” Daniel made the leap in the progressive line of logical events.
“That thing won't stop until it finds her.” There in that meant Jackson heard the father under the bravado of the former general.
“Jack and Teal’c won’t stop until they find her either. My money’s on them.”
“They’ll find her but in what condition?”
“You make it sound like Sam is already dead? You’re her god damn father! It might help if you have a little hope and trust in her abilities instead of shooting her down all the time.” Jackson allowed his rage to get the better of him. Before Jacob could offer a retort, or reply he had stormed from the infirmary wanting, needing to get back to the Alpha site to help find his friend. He wouldn’t allow himself the pessimistic pleasure of thinking Samantha Carter was already dead.
Seventeen hours past
Sam felt her heat hammering in her chest hard against her breastbone. Her leg thrumming with each beat. Pain rippled down her spine hitting every nerve even those under her teeth. Her skull pounded with an all too familiar draining pain. Concussion. One of her oh so not favorite maladies. Too many in her medical file already, anymore and Janet might seriously make her fly the lab instead of going into the field. It had been threatened on more than one occasion.
Her face felt sticky from blood as it dripped from a laceration above her eyebrow. More blood oozed into her boots from the deep gash in her leg. Nursing what pain she could from it she sunk in exhaustion and agony onto an embankment if only to catch her breath.
Separated from her father she didn’t know if he was alive, or dead. She didn’t know if anyone survived the bombardments or the self destruct. More thudding… not her heart. No the ground thudded. Thundering louder and louder.
If she had the vest, she would have a first aid kit, a vacuum packet Mylar blanket, morphine, other things protean bar, charcoal filtering system if she needed to drink water without a canteen. But all she had was a packet of Tylenol, courtesy of four days of dealing with her father, which she popped, chewed down quickly for swifter dispersal in the blood stream.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Heartbeat or footfalls?
Thud. Thud , Thud
The drone. Terminator. Closer by each step, by each breath drawn in.
The shadows weren’t dark enough; the hollow not deep enough to hide her, Sam pressed her body close to the dirt, ignoring the blood, the ants now crawling on her biting her. Her silent voice prayed to any true-gods of the universe that it could not find her. Like a child of three she closed her eyes, if she didn’t see it, it couldn’t see her.
A drone walked towards her, she lay close to the ground as it turned in her direction. Sam felt the drone’s predatory gaze fixed upon her. Or at least she had imagined it so. In an almost mirror of Wraith-King from Lord of the Rings it hovered as if to sniff the very air for its prey. The helmet’s enhanced HUD didn’t pick up the heat signature directly below the line of sight. The thing was scanning everywhere but under its own feet. Still it lingered, making Sam more and more riddled with anxiety. She heard a tiny voice in her head.
The soldier in her squashed down the child’s pleas. ‘Do not move! Minimal breaths. BE STILL; ignore everything but your hunter. Stay still. Don’t move. Don’t move.’
It seemed eons before the Kull warrior moved on apparently satisfied his prey was not there. It paused after two steps as if to test the theory his quarry was indeed there and now panic-stricken ready to make a break for it. When nothing shifted below on the embankment it continued its hunt.
Sam let out a small breath of air and closed her eyes once more. Out of her lips a silent thanksgiving she had not been spotted. She waited ten minutes longer before rising and moving off into the trees opposite direction in which the drone had gone. Up higher into the mountains, limping, her leg now almost useless and leaden with bone jarring pain. Each step a squelch of blood.
Interrogations, investigations abound. Lies, misdirection and false leads. George Hammond had got to the point where he wanted to strangle the lot of them. Jack was right the only Tok’ra worth trusting was Jacob Carter aka Selmac. Most if not all Tok’ra save Selmac held such contempt for humans for the Tau’ri especially. The Jaffa were little better.
To top it off there was still no word on finding Major Carter. Granted Jack reported the discovering of foot prints that were a match for Carter, and a much larger set following hers.
There had been blood.
A lot of it.
A Tok’ra spy just like the Jaffa had accused them of had been indeed the reason why the Alpha site had been attacked. Why Sam Carter was on the run. Now here was the man he called friend, father of the missing Major telling him that it was virtual impossible to find out just what happened with the missing Tok’ra spy.
“The truth is, I don't think you'll ever find out for sure who was responsible for the leak. It could have been the Tok’ra or the Jaffa. It could have been both. Look, I've helped you as much as I can with this investigation but right now I'd like to get back to the Alpha Site and join the search.”
“I need you here.” George hated himself for having to say it, for insisting upon it. He hated himself for the feeling he had abandoned Samantha to her own fate for keeping her father back from the hunt.
“George, I already told you, I'm out of the loop! They don't trust me anymore. They think my emotions are clouding my judgement,” his face contorted into a sneer, his voice took on a sharp edge of being pissed off, “which is a little ironic considering that I'm wasting all this time while my own daughter is out there being hunted by that thing.”
“We have our best people on this, Jacob.” Hammond looked at his folded hands as if all the choices had been taken from them. “They will find her.” He wanted to believe it. He needed to believe it. SG1 minus one would find her.
“What am I supposed to do in the meantime?” there was a snort of contempt.
“I just got a report from the Beta Site. The Jaffa are blaming the Tok’ra for what happened. There have already been several altercations. If I can't get the situation under control, I have orders to expel them all.” Jacob knew the politics of Washington as well as Hammond. Perhaps not as well any more but enough to know what difficulties his old friend faces. “Our alliance is falling apart. I need someone to bridge the gap, someone to be the voice of reason. I need you.”
“When she’s brought back…take a moment for her Jacob. Tell her you’re proud of her.”
“She knows that.” Jacob growled. “Besides being proud of her won’t save her right now will it? I lost Rebecca because of dedication to duty - you expect me to lose Sam to the same thing?”
“I expect you just as you expect her to do what you need to do in sure peace. Jacob, trust me. Jack and Teal’c will find her. They won’t give up on her. I need your voice.”
“You mean Selmac’s,” another growl.
Hammond wasn’t about to deny it. “Yes very well I will say it then, I need Selmac’s voice, and if this all falls apart what ever hardships Sam is facing out there, all that work will have been in vain.”
“Don’t try to rally me like you do your troops George. It won’t work. I’ll do what I have to do. But I want constant reports on what is going on with my kid!”
Thirty four hours after the attack
‘A moment just a moment,’ Sam’s mind speaks daring not to utter any sound least the thing hunting her would hear it. Unable to make it another step further she slid down the coarse trunk of a tree keeping her mutilated leg stiff and straight. The tourniquet she had made had become loose during her harried flight. Untying it a new rush of pain flooded her mind, her ears deaf with the flood of sensation.
She bit back a moan of pain. She dare not make a sound. Not a sound. But she whimpered slightly.
‘You have to have pressure on the wound, Sam.’ Janet’s voice echoed in her ears. ‘It hurts baby I know but tie the tourniquet’
Sam didn’t question the voice she heard. She didn’t question the ‘presence’ of Janet. There had been times when injured or one of the others of SG1 had been hurt Sam ‘summoned’ Janet. Her lover’s presence helped her address things of a medical nature, gave silent encouragements, whispered secret love.
Biting back the pain Sam did what had to be done. The bloody tourniquet had been retied. Along the bone deep gash. Repressing the pain had zapped what energy she had. ‘Just a moment,’ she said again to no one. ‘I need to catch my breath.’ Her eyes slid shut.
Thirty seven hours after the attack.
Red drops on green foliage.
Blood trailing to the prey. Follow the blood, find the woman. Kill the woman. Anubis had imprinted upon the drones the face of the woman they were to terminate. Destroy all that get between them and the target, let nothing stop them.
The blood lead such a clear trail, fresh though tacky to the touch as if it had time to congeal even in the humidity of the forest.
Heavy steps paused at the sight of a still body clad in green propped up against a thick trunk of a tree. There was no need to hurry. The drones never had to hurry in pursuit of their prey. They simply didn’t stop regardless of what obstacle lay between them and their target.
The prey was still, fragile humans needed rest. Bleeding wounded prey needed more. Arm raised, plasma weapon at the ready. Heavy but silent steps took it nearer and nearer.
Sam for a moment felt as something was watching her, but oh the bliss that is rest, that is sleep. Even grabbing precious few snatches of it was to be treasured. ‘Just a moment longer… just a moment…then I’ll get up and move on. I just need to …’
The prey hadn’t moved. Perhaps unconscious or asleep it didn’t matter, the next step it would be dead, the mission fulfilled.
‘Sam…honey Sam wake up. It’s coming. Sammy come on baby wake up you can’t stay here.’
There was so much blood.
Momentarily confused the Super Soldier lowered its arm for this corpse was not the prey it hunted. Rigor had set in, making the corpse stiff as stone, bled out from grievous wounds to stomach and head.
Sam’s blue eyes opened. Her breath drew in sharply.
Sam come on, you have to move.
Using the tree as support Sam pushed herself up. ‘That’s it Sammy, I know it hurts but move. You have to keep moving.’ Janet’s phantom whisperings urged the broken woman into a limping canter.
The forest was her refuge. She had to runs its breadth but still that thing hunted her.
She ran until all that was left in mind and heart was to escape. Keep running. Keep moving.
Her mind argued with fatigue and was losing fast. If she stopped for too long she would die by the hands of the drone, her fogged mind pointed out. Night had come on heavily making visuals something of mystery for someone trying to negotiate their way through the forest. The darkness didn’t bring on fear but a sort of insane courage and mentality that stipulated: If I can’t see the drone, maybe it can’t see me. The dark is my friend. Use it.
Bone weary, in constant agony, Sam’s footing wasn’t all that sure to begin with. So when the ground beneath her gave way, Carter couldn’t stop herself from sliding down the dew slick hillock.
She was falling fast. Down and down and down. Stop. She hit. Heels first. Face into bushes. Rolled. Branches, leaves, dirt, dirt jamming into her mouth, fingers clawing legs kicking, looking for a level surface. The breath whooshed from her lungs; the world was grey once more and more a moment she remained utterly still. It was as if her eyes had stopped working for her, they were on their own, refusing to focus. Then they snapped.
Focus on the wall of trees spilling off the mountain ledge she was near, the tree she was leaning against. Her back felt as if it was broken. But she could move so it wasn't. Her kidneys were definitely bruised though. She could just hear Janet tsking and admonishing her for willingly trying extreme sports without safety gear.
For the moment, Sam simply sat trying to catch her breath attempting, without much success, to ignore the pain coursing through her body, the dirt that had a tenacious habit of getting under her clothing and chaffing her skin raw.
‘Mama you were so right. This is one of those days.’ Sam sucked in a great gasp of air. Yes her ribs were bruised but thanks to whomever it was out there watching over her… fate, perhaps… they weren't broken.
‘I just want to rest here for a moment. I just need a minute.’
Forty hours after the attack.
Janet watched from her position at the bottom of the ramp as another line of wounded came home. At least their wounds seemed superficial. Exposure, dehydration, and loss of electrolytes seemed to be the worst of it.
Fifty still MIA.
She had been recalled to the SGC because of the hostilities breaking out at the Beta site, Hammond wasn’t about to risk her life because the Jaffa and Tok’ra couldn’t play nice. Their toys could leave rather nasty plasma burns in the chest. The last thing Hammond wanted to see was his CMO shot down by an errant blast of a staff weapon.
‘Be safe, Sammy. I’ll make you well just be safe.’
Her body burned, her lungs ached with each breath as each step ached deeply. Her mouth was dry and rough. The scent of water hit her nostrils hard.
Whatever malignant microbes lingered within the water could be fixed later. She was so thirsty. Water. So wet, so sweet. Dropping down on her knees Sam used the cup of her left hand to scoop water greedily into her mouth.
Oh gods it was good. She saw the alien pollywogs only a few feet from her swimming in the water she was drinking. Minnows darting to and fro, it didn’t matter. She needed water, fresh cold water. Life was in the water. Water gave her life if only for another day.
She didn’t hear the thumping steps;
‘Water…drink as much as possible.’ Janet’s voice counseled.
Shots struck past her hitting the ground near her. Startled the blonde’s head shot up, deer like. The Drone was on the other side of the river! How had she let her guard down?
More strikes of the energy weapon. The water wasn’t going to stop it from completing its hunt. It continued its assault even as it trod from the bank into the water’s edge. Rising up though still crouched Carter turned on her bad leg ignoring the screams of agony slamming into her she tucked and rolled over a log just as weapons fire struck it. The log burst into flame so near her face she was positive her eyebrows were singed.
Not casting a second look over her shoulder, Sam sprinted zigzagging much like a rabbit’s desperate rush into the heavy underbrush. Blessed adrenaline kept the pain from taking the rest of her body hostage.
Deeper and deeper into the forest, Carter had to find away to hide. She tripped, tumbled and slid down another embankment into a murky creek bed. Fortunately this time it wasn’t as long or as hard as the previous fall had been.
Another wave of dizziness shook Sam violently as tremors of shock took her body hostage. "This is getting to be an annoying habit." She mouthed as she struggled with jello filled legs to regain her feet. She didn't have time to ponder more as she felt the world swirl around her once more. Her stomach heaved causing her to vomit or at least she would have had there been anything in her stomach to vomit with. Dry heaving she fell to her knees, an action she immediately regretted, her wounded leg screamed in agony. Sam thought she was blacking out once more, her mind forbidding the traitorous mutiny her body clamoured for.
She heard the snapping of a twig behind her; Sam froze dropping to the ground, biting her lower lip to keep from crying out for the pain. Despite the cold of the night air her upper lip was beaded with sweat. She shuddered, not from fear, but from the intense pain she had to drive away. She was a warrior there was no fear allowed on the battlefield.
‘Janet…’ She mouthed. It was the only thought she clung to, the only dream she knew was real was her love for Janet. It was the driving force that kept her going, which her mind locked onto. It was the only thing that was real at all in the world of fog.
"Janet… you have to help me… something is wrong… I can't think…" Sam winced trying to concentrate but it was getting harder and harder as she went. The pain in her leg was a constant companion. More then once she had to stop only after a few feet to rest. Each step she took was a squelch of gelling liquid as blood from the now re-opened wound was once more leaking into her boot.
The cloth of the fabric of her tattered green cargo pants had infused with the wound clotting it. With shaking hands she had once more rebound the tourniquet in a very vain attempt to stop the bleeding and bind the wound. ‘Oh Baby, help me, don’t let me lose my leg. Please fix it.’
Once more she futilely wished for her gear inside the BlackHawk Omega utility/medic tactical vest. Her mind was so clouded that Sam only knew she had to cover the wound, even the basic field dressing all soldiers was lost to her, forget anything she had learned from her wife. Tattered bits of a filthy blouse and a dirtier field Jacket was all that was available. But it would have to do.
Forty-five hours after the attack.
Hammond turned from the incoming wounded and some of those carrying stretchers of the dead. That made twenty so far that came home killed in action.
Twenty-seven still MIA.
MIA wasn’t the same as KIA.
‘I’m not breaking off the search until all of my people are home. Alive or dead, they are all coming home.’
Forty-nine hours since the attack
‘Sam, It’s gonna be okay. You’re very brave.” Cassandra’s image urged. “You’re smarter than that thing.’
“Not tougher.” Sam said to the ghost of Cassandra.
‘Sam you don’t have to be tougher. Just smarter, okay? Just hide for a bit.’
Sam nodded and dragged her body up moving into the forest. Then the blonde stopped, dead in her tracks. The jerked movement shot ribbons of pain lancing down her every nerve ending. Biting back a cry of pain, the corners of her eyes became wet with tears, even as her upper lip beaded with sweat. What she had found might just be enough to ensure she survived the night after all.
Sam smiled deeply in the discovery of a fawn’s nest. This planet’s deer-life had the same habits as those of earth when it came to hiding their young. Moving into the enclosure Sam used the loose underbrush to cover her broken and bleeding body.
Fifty-two hours later
Buzzing echoed in the depths of sleep rousing the sleeper to the waking world. Shifting the foliage as if it was a coverlet Sam looked to the sky to see her freedom in the silver configuration of the UAV.
Catching the light of the morning sun on her watch face Sam flashed the aircraft to reveal her position. She attempted to do it again but it wasn’t the reflection of her watch that struck the UAV but the flare of energy weapons.
The drone was right there, not but three feet from her position! Sam willed her body to melt back into the foliage, into the earth.
‘Don’t see me. Don’t see me. Move on. Move on, don’t see me.’ In case it actually heard it Carter held her breath wishing she could keep the thudding of her heart from being so loud. Surely it only echoed in her ears, it couldn’t hear it beating.
It stayed only a moment, waiting, watching. A jackal waiting for the prey to make a break for it, to run but not even the shadows moved to catch its notice.
Sam wanted to scream out in rage at the injustice of it. Her hopes of returning home obliterated. ‘Bastard!’ She had no way of knowing she wasn’t the only SGC personnel to have seen the remote aircraft shot down. Six clicks away from her position, Colonel Jack O’Neill and Teal’c were making their way to the downed craft.
For her part, Carter felt more alone now than she had ten minutes ago. Ten minutes ago Sam had been granted the gift of sleep and dreams. Her dream? Safe, in the infirmary with Janet fussing over her, yelling at her for getting the injuries and yet another concussion. Janet touched her shoulder passing on her love. The look in dark brown eyes held the promise that Sam was now safe.
But it was a lie, even if it was a dream. Carter was far from safe, far too far from the woman she loved and her hope of rescue literately shot down. ‘At least they are looking for you in the right direction. Right direction? That means Dad made it. HA! Bastards, my Dad made it! I’m not finished yet. I’ll shoot your ass out of the stars. Assuming I can find the UAV.’
Rising proved to be more difficult than Sam had considered. Her leg stiff and far too numb nearly crumbled under her weight.
‘Okay body you hate me and I don’t want to do this, but move out!’
Fifty-seven hours past.
“Unscheduled gate activation.”
The Gateroom held its breath.
Twenty still missing. So why was Sam who numbered among them more important to her? Janet berated her physician’s soul for counting one life higher than another. Every life recovered should be rejoiced and given acclamations.
‘Because they are not her.’
“Doctor…” Daniel drew in a great breath of air as he walked into her office and closed the door behind him. "Janet…"
Her face paled a dozen shades of white, her head shaking an emphatic no. "No," she protested sobbing the refusal several times. "I'm not... going to believe she's dead. She can't be dead… Sam isn't dead…" She blurted out. For a moment she was paralyzed by a sense of appalling loss; helpless and total grief. Both pain and a numbness seemed to extend into an eternity of meaningless succession like a drab, purgatorial road without signposts, that she'd walk forever, alone.
Daniel gathered her into his arms pulling her against him. "She’s still MIA. The UAV was shot down."
The small doctor pulled away from the sandy haired man, within her arose a horrified indignation that brought her sharply back to now. This was intolerable: not to be allowed. "MIA…" her voice shaking quivering with tensed restrain.
“Janet… you might want to pre…"
"Don't even allow the words to slip past your lips. She's alive. I know it."
Janet discovered she was shaking uncontrollably. Something in her was embarrassed and ashamed for the man she called friend to know it.
Daniel nodded. He had seen many extraordinary things in his career with SGC, and one of them had been the connection shared between Sam and Janet.
"Janet, Jack and Teal’c are still out there. No one is giving up on her. The General said it himself the search won’t stop until everyone is recovered. But if the worst happened maybe we should tell Cassandra about Sam’s chances.”
“Sam is my life, without her there is nothing." Janet paused thinking on a life without Samantha. One might try imagining living without air. “She is alive, Daniel. I know she is.” Janet pushed passed the young man. “And no one is telling Cassie anything right now. She knows Sam is MIA, I am not about to tell my daughter her hero might be dead. Because I know she isn’t!”
Lift foot. Put foot down. Thigh and calf muscles work. Lift foot. Put foot down. Bone-jarring agony. Find the UAV.
‘You can do this baby. I know you can, it hurts I know but you can do this. Escape so you can come home to me.’
Lift foot. Put foot down. Thigh and calf muscles work. Lift foot. Put foot down. Bone-jarring agony. Find the UAV. Leg shaking, quivering from the effort. Stomach wanting to heave. Heart... heart... heart.
‘Sam you’re very brave. You won’t let that thing tag you. You’re very brave. Sam I believe in you.’
Lift foot. Put foot down. Thigh and calf muscles work. Lift foot. Put foot down. Bone-jarring agony. Find the UAV.
Sam squinted to look ahead. Something was smoking. She tripped but this time providence allowed her to keep her feet.
There! Sam almost yelped in pain riddle joy as she spotted the downed UAV. A UAV that just might have radio capability.
Sam then saw the UAV had UCAV specs. ‘Thank you Siler!’ She gave a look over of the guidance system it was damaged but with a bit of hotwiring it might work, the laser guidance system which was used to paint a target was offline, but it could be over come with eyeballing it. At least the mounting controls would work.
With something other than pain to concentrate on Sam put every effort, every thought into making her last stand. There was already a mound of rocks strewn about in the quarry like gully which provided her with the means to build a barrier or rather a launching platform for the missiles. If she built it just high enough the broken UAV could be stationed and secured on top.
Sam might not have had her tactical vest but she at the very least had her multipurpose tool, no good as a weapon against the drone but damn handy in opening up the fuselage and nosecone of the UAV’s guidance computer to MacGyver it.
Sixty hours have passed since the destruction of the Alpha site.
There! Sam didn’t smile but she was a little more relieved to know she now had a weapon to use. The drone’s armour was impervious to energy and ballistics but it couldn’t ignore physics. Enough kinetic energy would neutralize it. There was no doubt in Carters’ mind ground zero at the Alpha site had done so with the other drones.
This one had been out of the blast radius just as she and her father had been. It had survived but not for long.
Scarcely was there a breath between finalization of the weapon when orange blasts of plasma nearly took her head off. She had been taken completely by surprise, the rock barrier though far more secure than a rotting log still gave her minuscule cover.
Once more in its sights the drone wasn’t going to allow this elusive prey to escape yet again. Kill the woman, recover the device. Kill, recover, kill, recover. KILL. Nothing stands in your way to fulfill the objective. Anubis made it quite clear Samantha Carter was his prime enemy. Not SG1, not even the formally Ascended Daniel Jackson but Samantha Carter. Destroy her. God’s will be done.
Blast followed blast relentlessly. Sam waited a breath only before touching the two ends of the hotwired missile controls. Instantly, gratifyingly the missile shot out, hit the embankment by the drone’s feet and exploded!
Turtle like Sam rose from her bunker of stone to where that thing, that creature of nightmare had stood. Nothing stood there now; there was nothing on the ground to even hint the drone had been there. Only smoke. After so long it was too difficult to fathom she had destroyed the beast.
Of course a dirt avalanche would have buried it completely. The dirtfall would have even covered up the crater left by the missile. Ignoring the grit in her mouth, Sam swallowed down her exhaustion. She had to make sure - needed to be sure it wasn’t there. Her body beyond endurance managed to move at command. Her leg so stiff and so numb it was almost beyond feeling now. Adrenaline sapped from her body, exhaustion pulling her down Carter slid to the embankment too tired to even catch her breath. Her head hung down, her shoulders hunched. It was just good to breath without fear.
Something rolled. Pebbles trickled tracks in the dirt.
Snail slow Sam turned her head to the sound coming from her left.
Soldier's hand comes up through the dirt Sam horrified watched stunned with astonishment as the drone, beetle like rose from the mound of earth. Dirt spilled off of him as water of a ducks back. His arm rose, readying to fire.
NO! NO! NO! NO!
Sam stared open eyed at death. ‘I love you Janet. Cassie I love you too.”
Arm raised, the weapon ready, Sam knew what was going to happen next. It was only going to hurt for a moment. She recalled dying on the Nox planet. ‘It hurts like hell but its only a second and then nothing.’
The blast came. No not from the drone from somewhere over the ridge. No time to question what the hell was going the drone was distracted it was three seconds to save a life.
Sam took off. As she had with the log she ducked and rolled behind the mound of boulders she had constructed. Another blast. Loud. A cannon. Not an energy weapon then. The sound belonged to the Micro 16 aka Carter special. The assault rifle she herself had customized from the M16 and M4.
It was to no avail but it had bought Sam precious few moments of life. Sound to the left flank. Boot rubber on dirt. Looking up Sam stared at the image of her CO dashing for her.
The drone saw movement near the rock pile its attention would be turned to it. Small male not target. The large Jaffa male: not a target. Male’s weapons useless - irrelevant. Find the woman. Kill the woman.
Orange bouts of plasma struck the stones just above Sam’s head again and again. The heat was enough to make the rock hot on contact.
“Carter I need the...” O’Neill started but he didn’t have to finish.
Knowing what was needed, Sam wordlessly passed her CO the upgraded module.
Jack O’Neill was a bit surprised at her swiftness to comply but then he shouldn’t have been. “Thank you.” He slammed the power module into the TER just as Jacob had so long ago. And like Jacob, O’Neill fired one shot and then another. Unceremoniously… anticlimactically the Soldier toppled to the mounds of dirt and moved no more.
Jack turned to Teal’c, “Cover him.” He tossed the TER to the other man before taking to Carter’s side.
“Is it…?” Blue eyes studied the downed black clad figure with disbelief, exhaustion and need for it to be dead.
“Yeah, he's dead.” There was a hint of doubt in the voice. “Right Teal'c, he's dead?” O’Neill needed to be right if only to give this tortured woman a much needed respite. Jack watched as Teal’c stepped on the soldier which didn’t move. “Yeah, he's dead.”
Sam could only nod her reply of gratitude and acceptance of fact she was no longer on the run for her life. Turning where she was crouched she let out a sigh of relief only now permitted to be exhaled. Her back leaned against the rocks her eyes closed for a moment. She was alive though she hadn’t expected it to be so.
O’Neill looked at her seeing the blood staining her cheek, trailing from her ear her face grimed and dirty. Who knew what other injuries she was carrying? He saw then the great gash tearing into her leg that looked like a mad rottweiler took a bite out of it. “You wanna get up?
“I just need to rest for a minute.” Carter breathed out heavily.
He looked at her as she tried to catch her breath. She looked exhausted.
She slumped back thinking about Janet, Cassandra thinking she was so very close to death… too close.
Jack sat down and looked at her, his heart breaking for her torments, for the fear she had contained in her heart thinking she was going to die alone. After all the running. He sat down next to her, his gazed fixed before he decided his next course.
He put his arm around her, and she melted into him, resting her head on his shoulder. Their connection wasn’t any different than that of tired battle weary warriors of the great world wars or Nam and even the Gulf wars of present date. Warriors who defied death by the skin of their teeth. Tired wounded and so utterly exhausted to lean on another warrior another soldier one in your own company, your unit even your CO was a comfort soldiers have been taking from one another since swords, shields and armour had first been adorned. It was the quiet comfort of warriors which had nothing to do with sex or rank. Any other member of SG1 would have done the same for the other three.
SG1 was family after all.
“Permission to pass out Carter.” O’Neill said gently, “We’ve got your six.”
“Yes sir.” She managed before doing just that.
Teal’c would not even if dragged away by undomesticated equines be removed from his vigil over the dead Super Soldier. The act was more for himself then Major Carter’s peace of mine. He kicked the black beetle armor a third time.
‘Not her.” He reminded himself. My Major Carter is alive though not whole. Dr. Fraiser will repair that. Major Carter is safe, not dead.’ For good measure he gave the drone’s a good swift kick in the head again.
“Unscheduled Gate activation.” Walter Davis called announced over the loudspeakers over the sirens.
Janet looked up from the patient charts she had been double checking as she had every time she heard the alarm go off. “Med unit to the Gateroom, Med unit to the gate room!”
Janet all but flew down the corridors. With her team at her heels the miniature physician burst into the Gateroom as a super nova. Her breath caught in her lungs at the sight of Teal’c holding an unconscious Samantha Carter.
Her. At last, her.
“She’s alive.” Jack said. “But banged up to hell.”
“Teal’c, place her on the gurney, please. “ Janet ordered as the movable bed came into view.
Gingerly the great man did as told then stood back watching as Dr. Fraiser rattled off medical terminology he still didn’t understand or even try to attempt to follow. He caught the words ‘irrigate wound, concussion; deep lacerations to the tibia, infection, broad spectrum antibiotics, dehydration prep an IV, and a unit of Major Carter’s blood.’ The rest was a blur. Janet Fraiser like Samantha could rattle off technology that was far above his understanding, but those around them knew exactly what it was they were talking about.
The medical team became a flurry of action. The ugly wound in Carter’s leg was cleaned and assessed. Yes infection had set but not gangrene; she would keep the leg.
‘Oh Sammy…’ Janet heart broke. ‘I’m here, and I’m going to make you well, I’ll put the pieces back together again baby.’
“I know.” Sam spoke almost as if she heard her lover’s silently whispered words.
Seventy-two hours past
It was a good smell.
Even the scent of ‘Hospital’ was a good smell. Fresh white scrubs, nice white sheets a warm blanket. Cozy, warm and safe. Sam buried her backside into the depths of the mattress, soaking in the wonder that was a safe bed.
“Sam.” Soft cooing of a dove. Janet’s voice a whisper but so sweet to the ears.
“Take it easy. You’re out of surgery and you need a lot of rest.”
“Kay.” A small smile birthed by the knowledge of peace and safety, by care and love. Something cold and wet touched her lips, wondrous wetness. Her drugged fogged mind recognised the cool texture as ice.
“You can have water soon but right now ice chips I’m sorry.” Janet’s lips were so close to her temple. Close enough to brush a soft kiss before pulling back. “When you’re fully conscious I’ll give you the lowdown on your injuries, Right now just sleep honey.”
“Kay.” Sam’s eyes slid closed of their own volition.
Seventy-Seven hours past the attack
It was a very slow process to lift oneself from the deep embrace of a safe warm bed, when all you wanted to do was snuggle back in it. Sometimes however your eyes open and your mind says ‘get up get up’. And the body says. ‘aw come on just one more minute.’
Sam felt herself lingering in that state between dreams and waking. Only when she felt her bed shift did she force her eyes to fully open and her mind kick start into consciousness.
“Howdy kid. You were asleep for a long time.” Jacob Carter was sitting at his daughter’s bedside the worry only now fading from his expression as blue eyes opened to focus on him. “You gave me quite a scare.”
“I'm sorry.” A watery smile yes but still it was his daughter smiling at him. He watched as she licked dried lips and tried to shift to a new position.
“Jack told me what happened. I'm proud of you.”
Blue eyes sparkled in wonder. Her father was so reserved in his praises, to be told he was proud of her was an millennium event. Sam basked in what she knew was going to be a short lived warmth of paternal show of affection.
“Look Sam, I may not be able to come around as much for the next little while.”
Short lived indeed. A frown replaced the smile. “What do you mean?”
“Things kind of got screwed up while you were out there.” He sighed hating the politics of it all. “The alliance is in trouble.”
“I don't understand.” She frowned perhaps she didn’t want to understand.
“You don't need to know the details right now.” He did as he had always done waved the little details away when he didn’t want to get into a topic especially a heated one with his children. “Let’s just say we're going our separate ways for a while. If I stay with the Tok’ra, I can at least try to mend some fences.”
Stay with the Tok’ra, not see each other for a while. How long is ‘a while’ for a being that lived hundreds of years? This was it? He was saying goodbye? ‘Just like he had when he told me he had cancer. When he was dying.’
He pushed her away because he didn’t want her to see him lose a battle. He was doing it now. He was losing a battle and he didn’t want her to see it. To see him fail, to fall.
“You sure?” Sam knew she dare not tell him she didn’t care if he failed, she had her father. She dare not allow herself to have that thought for long they were both soldiers, they had duties to perform.
“I'm not ready to give up on this just yet.” There was such conviction in his voice. Sam dare not question it even to herself. He rose from the bed, leaned down and placed a very rare kiss on her forehead. “Don't worry, I'll be back eventually.”
“I'll miss you.” She was a soldier’s daughter, she was a warrior she would not shed tears in front of him. Maybe later. Maybe with her Janet but not now. Now she simple let the grief settle as she had at the Alpha site with the constant pain of her wounds. This was another wound. A wound Janet would bandage and put to rights.
“I'll miss you too.” He offered a halfhearted smile. “Bye.”
Sam watched him disappear out of the infirmary before she turned her head and allowed the grief of his farewell to take hold of her.
“You didn’t tell her you love her.” Jack said falling in step with Jacob.
“She knows I do.”
“Be nice to hear.”
“I never coddled her.”
“You call her ‘your little girl’ when she can’t hear you.” O’Neill shook his graying head. “She was a hairs breath from dying out there and you could have said you loved her. Carter doesn’t go off world without Cassandra knowing she loves her because she never knows if it will be the last time they see each other.”
“You don’t strike me as the cuddly kind, Jack.” Jacob almost snorted.
“Me? Nope, I ‘m not, doesn’t mean it’s not nice to have a shoulder to lean on after a couple of days of hell running for your life, dodging death and trying to carry out your duty. It doesn’t diminish a person. Not her at any rate, or any of us here.”
Jacob turned to face the younger man. “Sam knows I love her, I told her I was proud of her. She values that more then sentiment.” He turned to look at the darkened area of the Infirmary. ‘She has Doc Fraiser and her daughter to let her know she’s loved.’ “Goodbye Jack. Take care of her.”
Jack cast a look over his shoulder at the infirmary. Countless soldiers died on the battle front. Some of them died without knowing parental pride or affection. Some went on to do their duty and were unsung for their sacrifice. They suffered, knew fear and tragedy without resolution.
But not her.
She never would, not with SG1 there, not with good ol’ doc Fraiser and Cassie. Others’ would but not her.