DISCLAIMER: I only borrowed them for a while. MGM and whoever can
have them back whenever they want. No copyright infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Up to the end of season 7, pre-Lost City. P.S. She ain't dead.
SERIES: This is the second story in the Dawnspell series, a sequel to Darkspell (Sunshine, Shadow, Shimmer) You really need to read those first.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author
They emerged from the ring transporter to find themselves in an ice cavern. Stone pillars terminated in ice framed glimpses of technology beyond anything most of them had seen before. But it was all dead. Long time dead.
A mile or more above them Brata'c piloted the scoutship away at speed as the Prometheus went into emergency thrust taking the battle to Anubis's mother ship itself.
Herak reported to his Lord that the Tauri were employing a new strategy: "Tau'ri vessel is abandoning its position."
Anubis ignored him. The primitive vessel was immaterial. She was not there. She was on the planet below. He could almost see her. Samantha Carter. She was like him now touched by the Goa'uld, the Ancients and the Ascended. His equal and opposite. She would stand by his side and pledge her fealty to him or he would destroy her. It was entirely possible that they would destroy each other.
He was almost surprised at the emotions that that thought brought to the surface. But first just to show his true mettle he would destroy her world, all that tied her to it, the friends that accompanied her in this foolish stand against him. And at the last there would be the two of them.
He turned to his console, the technology he had stolen from the Asgard. It was time for them to meet.
Daniel looked around, spotted another of the throne like chairs on a dais. "This looks vaguely familiar." The room was better appointed than the one on Taonas had been. In one corner stood a capsule that looked something like a cross between a shower unit and an upright sarcophagus. Sam, who had been still and silent in the moments since they beamed down walked towards the structure, reaching out to caress it. A light appeared in the silvery material it was constructed from as her left hand touched it, fading slowly as her touch passed from it.
"Dolmata," she whispered, a sad smile on her lips. Everyone looked at Daniel for the translation.
"Er Sleep," he shrugged.
Sam started towards the throne, then stopped. She took two steps back, bumping into Daniel, her eyes wide with fear. Janet put her hand on Sam's arm, Sam reached up to grasp it with her right hand, their fingers entwining for a moment. Janet willed herself to give Sam all the love, strength and resolve that she could possibly project. She felt the muscles under her hand subtly relax and knew that it was working. They all saw him clearly. Anubis now sat on the throne, his cowled head turned towards them. As ever all they could see beneath the folds of cloth was darkness.
"You are too late," he whispered. "The power of the Ancients is mine."
Jack O'Neill stared between Anubis and Sam seeing the expression of fear on her face replaced by one of resolve. He knew that face. Anubis was going to get his snakey ass well and truly whupped. "He doesn't know, does he? He's fishing."
"My guess is he's trying to find out what we know," Janet said. Daniel nodded.
"Must be a hologram like that stunt he pulled at the SGC. We know he's got one of those Asgard projectors."
"Illusio!" Sam agreed with his analysis. She disentangled her fingers from Janet's slowly drawing apart from her. Sam walked over to the dais and without pause thrust her left hand into the projection. It seemed to twist in on itself then vanish. "Illusio!"
Wasting no more time she crouched down on the dais and wiped away the ice crystals from the surface. An area of the dais rose up at her touch, revealing another array like the one they had seen on the lava planet, only this one seemed to have burnt out. She looked up at Teal'c and held out her hand. He took his pack from his shoulder and brought out the core they had taken from the lava planet, handing it to her.
O'Neill was prowling around the doorway. Something was about to happen. He could feel it in his bones. The faintest stir in the air currents alerted him. The rings had activated. By the time the two Anubis drones appeared Teal'c was by his side, Telchak guns ready. They opened fire as soon as the rings cleared.
Behind them, Sam installed the replacement power core and the cavern came to life around them.
Anubis was furious. His holographic transmitter was a smoking ruin and the Tauri ships, though primitive, were proving far more difficult to destroy than he had anticipated. And Samantha Carter was still resisting his advances.
Herak approached him. "The human attack vessel approaches."
"Destroy it." He knew about the Prometheus, that its shields and weaponry had been upgraded with Asgard technology. These humans were even greater scavengers than the Goa'uld. But it was still a primitive construction, no match for him. He could dismiss it from existence in a moment. Their last hope. They were a pathetic race. He had granted them the benison of his mercy for too long.
Ignoring the battle, Sam went to the throne and sat down on it. It seemed to move around her, adjusting to her size and shape, reclining a little. Sam held up her left hand and Daniel and Janet watched in horror as a spike emerged from her palm. Sam's expression did not change. The left arm of the throne had altered its configuration apparently in anticipation, a portal appearing in its surface. Sam laid her hand over it, inserting the spike into the portal. She turned to gaze intently at Janet for a moment as if fixing her image in her mind. As the interface opened, her eyes drifted closed and with a gasp that might have signaled pain or might have meant fulfillment she surrendered herself to the machine.
She was everywhere.
She stood beside O'Neill and Teal'c as they took down the last of the super-soldiers only for another pair to appear.
She watched the Prometheus strain upwards, its shields dissipated arsenal depleted, she stood on the command deck as General Hammond gave the order to ram Anubis's ship.
She saw the tears slip down Janet's cheek as she watched her lover give herself up to the alien technology saw Daniel put his arm around her to hold her up as she threatened to collapse, his eyes intent on her face looking for any sign of progress.
She was in the Oval Office as President Hayes and his Chief of Staff listened to the latest reports of the battle.
She stood in the SGC as Elizabeth Weir kept the Gate defences up and running, Siler, Davis and Dr Lee pulling every trick out of the book that they could to keep the systems operational despite the power fluctuations and Anubis's bombardment of the IRIS. She took a moment to touch the Gate saying goodbye to an old friend.
She was with Brata'c as he evaded Anubis's ships, his dark eyes intent, a savage grin on his face. She heard the song of his heart: if he died today, he would die free.
She saw Kinsey hustled into a bunker by grey faced grey suited men.
She paused by her daughter long enough to brush her brow with a kiss, saw Cassie look up in confusion for a moment before smiling tearfully, somehow recognizing her touch.
She laid a hand on her father's shoulder, a gesture of love and perhaps farewell as Jacob launched into yet another argument with his fellow Tokra for their help in the defense of his homeworld. He faltered for a moment and then his words took on new heart as he found the strength to continue from somewhere.
She was nowhere, alone in the shimmering. "You will keep your promise," she asked.
"Protect. Serve. Love. Yes." They were not words that were spoken more like states of being that flowed through her emotions so intense filling her with such clarity of purpose. She was the weapon. She was primed. The target was in sight.
"You will pay the price."
"Then it is time. I hunger."
She was on Anubis's ship, standing before him. He saw her clearly as she had once been as she was now, as she would be. A being of absolute light as he was a being of deepest darkness. He rejoiced that he would be the agent of her downfall.
"Samantha Carter," his voice caressed the syllables of her name. She could almost see the slime and corruption that dripped from them. "You have come to me."
Somewhere else she could hear O'Neill shouting over the sound of weaponsfire. "Carter, whatever you're gonna do now would be a good time to do it!"
"Of my own free will," she said. "I come to you Anubis."
She knew that Janet would be worrying that the telemetry on her mobile scanner would show her effectively flatlined, no brain activity at all. It was time. She extended her awareness, split herself, careful to conceal what she was doing from the creature before her.
"Janet, remember what I told you to do on Bastet's planet. You need to do it again. Trust me. Tell the others tell them to drop their weapons and close their eyes. Remember whatever happens that I love you and I will do whatever I can to come back to you."
"Sam!" she heard her sob. Sam would have given anything to hold her in her arms and kiss those soft sweet lips one more time.
She appeared to General Hammond on the Prometheus. "Sir, break off your attack. The weapon is ready to fire. Get the Prometheus clear."
He stared at her. "I understand, Major Carter. Good luck."
"Thank you sir. It was an honour to serve with you." She snapped a salute which he returned and then she faded from his sight.
She approached Anubis. "I bring you a great gift, Anubis. A gift from the Ancients. A secret."
She could see him now in all his aspects. She knew all his names, all his disguises, saw through his subterfuges. He had been handsome once, powerful, a man of many and varied appetites and the will to indulge them. The more he had, the more he wanted. Possessions, power he used technology to extend his lifespan far beyond that which was normal for his kind. And then the Goa'uld came to his world. As a host he relished all the evil that the Goa'uld did in his name. He had power that extended beyond the petty confines of his homeworld. And with the symbiote and the sarcophagus he need never grow old. He need never die. He rose to prominence amongst the System Lords until his greed and his capacity for bloodshed disturbed even them. And in a rare instance of collective action they rose up against him and he was forced to flee. Broken and alone far far away from power and position dying slowly and painfully for the lack of a Sarcophagus an Ancient found him and offered him redemption in the form of Ascension.
Only at the last moment before Anubis turned on him and reft him from the world did the unnamed Ancient realise what a terrible scourge he had unleashed on the world: Anubis reborn with all the powers of the Ancient, the Ascended and the Goa'uld. And he became as Samantha Carter saw him now. Alive and not-Alive. A darkness that hungered. For her.
"You would give it to me."
"Willingly," she said. Her heart was pure, her intentions clear. She was not like him. She would not be like him. She would never fall.
"What is it? A weapon? A power source?"
She smiled. "Something wonderful."
Their fingers touched. Light blossomed.
"Now." Janet heard.
"Okay this is it!" she shouted. "Close your eyes."
The world was seared. A light that had not been seen since the creation of the world. On board the Prometheus the shields went up automatically but everyone was still dazzled by the silent explosion of light that took out every one of Anubis's ships leaving nothing behind, not even dust.
In the ice cavern the last of Anubis's supersoldiers vanished.
In a bunker deep underground in a military base former Vice President Kinsey stopped in midflow his curses of the shortsightedness and treachery of President Hayes, the corruption of this world dying on his lips as the light blossomed in his mind. He was offered a choice that he was too small minded and paranoid to take. The light snuffed out taking him with it.
It was true to its word. She had removed him from the skin of the world. Anubis screamed as he was reduced to his essentials. The blackness at his core shriveled in the absolute light that poured from the depths of her soul. The device just focused it. The blackness tore at her but it could not prevail. She was stronger than she knew.
It was an ancient battle fought and fought again across the uncountable millennia from the first moment to the last. The darkness, the light, the dancer and the dance. The outcome is not always certain, a balance has to be maintained. But against an evil as absolute as this the balance was on the side of light. The black core that was all that remained of the System Lord glowed and then in a moment of alchemy blazed white.
Anubis was gone. It was sated. She was finished. In the space between all things they rested. In the cupped palm of her hand a new star glowed ready to be placed in the heavens, a new cycle beginning, a new creation legend to be told by generations yet unborn. Smiling, Samantha Carter released it to the cosmos.
"Our bargain is done," it said.
"Yes. My world is safe now. Many worlds are safe." Sam opened her eyes. All she could see was light. "Am I dead?"
"Would it matter to you if you were?"
"No. I would have regrets, the people I left behind my lover, my family, my friends and colleagues. But I know I gave my life for the greater good. And they know that too. Protect, serve, love things I dedicated myself to long ago."
"You are not dead, Samantha Carter. But you are very weak. You must rest. You know what to do."
"I know. What are you? Who are you?"
And in the light there was more than light. Sam saw and understood. And there was nothing more to say. She took the little girl's hand and allowed herself to be led away.
"Where are we going?"
"Second star on the right and straight on `til morning."
The light died away, leaving dazzling afterimages. O'Neill staggered in, Teal'c supporting him. "Is it over?" he asked. "The light how did you know, Doc. Doc?"
Janet gazed at the still figure on the throne. Her monitor still showed flatline. Throwing it to the ground she ran to Sam, easing her off the chair and onto the dais, checking for a pulse, respiration, anything. There was nothing. Sam's eyes were closed, a faint smile touching her lips. She seemed at peace. Janet remembered that Sam had left a living will: no extreme measures. She had accepted the possibility of death. But Janet needed her to be alive. She tilted Sam's head back and began CPR. Daniel fell into step beside her matching his heart compressions to her respirations.
O'Neill was on the radio to the Prometheus, getting an update organizing their evacuation.
"Whatever she did Anubis's ship, the whole damn fleet they're all gone as if they never existed." He started forward as he saw Sam's limp fingers twitch. "Doc!"
Breathing heavily, Janet straightened up, her fingers on the pulse at Sam's throat. It was there but it was terrifyingly weak, beginning to fade again. Each shallow respiration seemed to give her only enough energy to take the next one.
"We need to get her out of here," Janet said. "Teal'c my pack." Teal'c fetched it from where Janet had left it near the wall. Janet rummaged in it, fetched out a hypodermic with a needle long enough to make Jack O'Neill pale. "She won't survive long in these conditions."
Belatedly they all realised just how cold it was down here. "Brata'c has the ship in position," O'Neill reported. "He can ring us up any time you're ready." He turned away as Janet pulled up Sam's shirt, exposing her chest and began to count down her rib cage. She jabbed the needle home, depressing the plunger.
A few seconds later Sam coughed weakly and began making independent movements. Janet rearranged her clothing and took the blanket that Teal'c held out to her, wrapping it around the semiconscious woman.
"Sam, can you hear me?" Blue eyes opened, but could not bring her into focus before they closed again. She tapped Sam's cheek. "Sam, can you hear me? Sam!"
"Protect?" Sam's voice was little more than exhaled breath. Her eyes opened again and this time she did focus.
"You did it Sam, you protected us all," Janet said softly. "He's gone. Anubis is gone. You defeated him." It seemed to take all of Sam's energy just to draw breath. She was beyond pale, her translucent skin cold and clammy, cyanotic blue shadows around her mouth and nose. Her system was crashing; controlling and directing the weapon had consumed her. She spoke again but her voice was even weaker and Janet had to lean closer to hear it. One word, whispered over and over again. Dolmata.
"Dolmata," she looked across at Daniel. "She keeps saying Dolmata."
"Sleep," Daniel remembered, looking across the room at the strange alcove. "Do you think "
Janet could feel Sam's pulse slowing again her life slowly slipping away. There was nothing more she could do without a hell of a lot more equipment. "I think it's the Ancient's equivalent of a Sarcophagus. It could be her only chance."
Teal'c lifted the blonde woman into his arms and carried her across the room to the capsule. Sam weakly indicated that he should put her down and he let her stand though still he supported most of her weight. Shakily she stepped back into the capsule, bracing herself against the back wall.
"Aveo amacus," she whispered. Janet's heart ached at the anguish in her lover's eyes, a potent reminder of all the things that Sam wanted to say but no longer had the words or the time to get out. Her hand reached out to brush a panel at the side of the unit.
"Good bye my friends," Daniel translated, his voice breaking.
There was a humming sound and Janet felt herself impelled gently backwards by a forcefield that sprang up around the alcove. There was a light and then it was as if Sam was embedded in a block of ice or amber. Her pale blue eyes stared back at them. She seemed at peace.
"Daniel, how do we get her out again when it's healed her. It is healing her isn't it? We can't just leave her like this. I mean, there has to be a way to reverse the process. The answer has to be here somewhere." Janet's breath was coming in huge sobbing gulps as she fought the urge to just break down and howl her grief at the loss of her mate.
"Janet, this isn't the Lost City," Daniel said softly. "I don't think the answers are here."
"What do you mean?" Janet scrubbed the tears from her cheeks before they froze. It was too late for her heart.
"The dome's too small. It's like Taonas, just an outpost of some kind."
"So we're still looking for Atlantis," O'Neill said. Daniel nodded.
"If this is not the Lost City, then where is it?" Teal'c asked. He picked up the discarded blanket and wrapped it around Janet's shoulders.
They all turned to stare at Samantha Carter. Only she had the answer.
Janet stared at the instrument readouts. Sam's heartbeat was steady at six beats an hour, her respirations measured at ten an hour. Her brainwaves defied analysis. They could not get an accurate body temperature. She was alive but lost to them.
The forcefield that surrounded her seemed to be impenetrable. Nothing in any of the materials that Daniel had been able to translate told them how it was working, if it was working, whether it was restoring Sam to health or merely keeping her alive. They had no idea if she would survive if she were removed from it. Just in case Janet had a life support pod standing by and as much emergency medical equipment as she had been able to beg, steal or borrow.
Three weeks. The calls for her to return to the SGC were becoming increasingly strident. Weir had given her as much leeway as she could. They had decided that moving the capsule from its current location was too risky. A team had been set up to study and monitor it. Dr Lee and Dr Coombs had arrived the previous day with various technicians from Area 51 and the SGC. Although most were experienced with Goa'uld technology for many this was the first time they had had the opportunity to work with Ancients technology.
Teal'c would not leave her side. It seemed he had made a promise to Major now Colonel Carter to that effect. She did not know if or when he slept whenever she looked up he was there, unobtrusive but present. The technicians worked around him.
Daniel was back at the SGC correlating research materials going over everything they knew about the ancients one more time, translating and piecing together the myriad notes that Sam had left. They were everywhere, on her laptop, on her lab computer, whiteboards and in one instance wall when she had obviously run out of space, doodled on pads in the briefing room, in her quarters on base, at Janet's home. It was somewhere between a treasure trail and a jigsaw puzzle with many pieces missing and no template to work from. He had ascertained that the Lost City was still lost that the Antarctic site was just an outpost.
O'Neill was off world with SG3, trying to make contact with the Asgard so far without success. Following his promotion to General, he was due to return to the SGC shortly to take up his new position in Command.
And Sam Carter. What of Sam Carter
What had happened three weeks earlier had already passed into legend. The crew of the Prometheus swore that Sam had been on the bridge with them as they moved to attack Anubis's ship. Sergeant Davis told anyone who would listen how he had seen her in the Gateroom, standing on the ramp and looking up at the Gate. One of the White House staffers swore she had walked into the Oval Office and seen her there. In one of their infrequent communications Cassie had told her mother that she had had the strongest feeling that Sam was with her at one point during the crisis. There were even rumours about the way Senator Kinsey had died though the autopsy said it was a stroke.
Teal'c approached, interrupting her musings, a tray of food and a steaming cup of coffee in his hands. "Dr Fraiser, it is time for you to eat."
Janet wanted desperately to scream at him that she didn't need a bloody nursemaid but she knew he was acting according to his honour code and as a friend. And she had promises to keep as well. She forced her anger down and smiled at him. "Thank you, Teal'c."
As she reached out to take the tray from him the ground beneath her seemed to sway and she missed. Somehow Teal'c managed to keep the tray intact as the ground tremor shook them. Chunks of ice and masonry fell from the roof and the lights dimmed and then brightened.
There was a sudden absence of sound. Teal'c and Janet's eyes turned towards the capsule. The surface of the forcefield was shimmering. The faint atonal hum that had accompanied its activation was missing. Without a word being exchanged they found themselves in front of the unit.
Sam's condition seemed unchanged. Janet glanced at her instruments. Too little time had elapsed to register anything new. She reached out to touch the forcefield and it gave slightly under her fingers before repelling her again. That was new.
"That was a quake off the coast," one of the scientists shouted. "4.2. We can expect aftershocks."
"Do you believe the capsule to be damaged, Dr Fraiser?"
"I'm not sure, Teal'c." The distortion in the forcefield seemed to be getting worse, moiré patterns appearing across Sam's skin. The lights flickered again.
"Get that effin' powersupply stabilized!" someone shouted. "And find out what's causing the interference and get it shielded."
Dr Lee appeared at her shoulder. "Dr Fraiser, Teal'c I think you should er, step away. We're getting fluctuating readings from the capsule. An EM spike, high range oscillation. Janet was suddenly galvanized.
"Let me see." She followed him back to his monitoring equipment. There on the screen was a familiar signal. She had seen it first when Jack O'Neill had gone through the same transformation though in his case it had been aborted before it affected his DNA structure and again when Cassie had been subject to one of Nirrti's experiments. It confirmed something that Janet had considered at the time. Nirrti had not been trying to create something new in her hac'taur experiments but recreate something very old. She had been trying to retroengineer an Ancient. And she had come close to succeeding. If what she was seeing was correct then Samantha Carter was no longer human. She was Ancient.
"Dr Fraiser, Dr Lee! Come quickly!" Teal'c said urgently. "The forcefield is beginning to break down!"
Other monitors began squealing information. Whether impelled by the earth tremor or having come to its natural conclusion whatever force had held Sam Carter in stasis for three long weeks was coming to an end. She was alive. As they watched, her eyes fluttered closed and then blinked open. She looked out at their concerned faces with a slightly bemused smile.
A long-dead race reborn. An ancient enemy torn from existence. The order of the universe reformed, ripples distorting reaching backwards and forwards in time.
Then there was pause. The cosmos seemed to wait with baited breath for what would come next.
Continued in Future
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