DISCLAIMER: The characters of Stargate SG1 and Battlestar Galactica are the property of their respective owners. I have written this story for entertainment purposes only and no money whatsoever has exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended the original situations and plots are the property of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story takes place mid season ten of Stargate SG1 and the end of season two of BSG after Starbuck comes back from the rescue mission to Caprica.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
It was supposed to be a simple recon mission, check for water and food and report back to Galactica. Kara Thrace was so awestruck by how similar to Caprica the recon planet looked that she ignored the instruments screaming at her to steer away from the eye of a storm. She was used to dancing on the edge between victory and destruction and always pushed her viper to its limits and often beyond. Yet somehow she managed to come back, almost in one piece. But low altitude flying in the middle of a massive storm in a Raptor with no visibility and limited instrument readings was not something she had much experience with of late. Her Raptor lacked the manoeuvrability of a Viper in favourable conditions, in the middle of a swirling funnel her craft was virtually unresponsive. She was spinning out of control in seconds, plummeting towards the ground with no choice but to eject. Kara just hoped it turned out better than last time.
The rain was so heavy Samantha Carter could barely see the ground in front of her. Sam was running as fast as she could but the mud was past her ankles. Every laboured step was punctuated by a crack of thunder or a bolt of lightning. She knew the Stargate wasn't far away but it seemed to be taking forever to get there. Her tendency towards always being prepared left her more weighed down than her teammates, she was even slower than Vala. Next time, she promised herself.
Next time I will pack one less scanner in case I find myself trailing behind in the mud running from crazy Ori followers. Daniel should be dialling home by now.
Another planet, another escape, it was a typical day for SG1. The inhabitants of P4X-989 were centuries behind Earth but pledged their devotion to the Ori so that meant a hasty retreat before a Prior decided to make an example out of the non believers. Their rules regarding women also necessitated a swift exit before Samantha and Vala were burned at the altar for daring to be seen in public during daylight hours. Luckily, for SG1 a massive storm system provided the perfect distraction for their break out. The team's cage was a crudely built wooden holding pen normally reserved for animals. Conveniently their weapons and packs were neatly stacked just outside the gate. Once the guards left to seek shelter from the rain and lightening, it was easy to push open the wooden gates. The problem was getting to the Stargate while a hurricane was descending upon them.
Sam heard the familiar whoosh of the Stargate activating, it was her favourite noise in the entire universe.
"Sam! Pick it up." Cam shouted. Sam cursed under her breath, he had to know she was going as fast as she could. Finally reaching the stone pavers ringing the Stargate, Sam saw Tealc and Daniel step through the gate.
"Right behind you Cam. Go!" Sam was only two steps away from safety when she saw a bolt of lightning strike the top of the gate and fork off to hit the DHD. Using the last of her adrenalin reserves Sam dived for the event horizon. Instead of landing on the ramp in the SGC Sam landed on the cold hard stones on the other side of the inactive gate. "Crap," was all Sam said.
Sam knew the landing was not going to be pretty whether she got through the gate or not. But if her head was not spinning so much she would have laughed at the irony of landing on the only spot without a layer of mud. Tentatively reaching up to her head she felt a large gash and a steady trickle of blood coming from her hairline. Sitting up a little straighter Sam gasped in pain, she had also managed to collide with a sharp rock that left a sizable hole in the shoulder of her uniform. It was hard to tell how much it was bleeding with her clothes already soaked from the rain but another flash of lightning showed there was more blood on the ground than Sam would have liked.
"First bandages, stop the bleeding then get to the DHD." Sam muttered to herself trying to stay focused. She was tying off the crudely configured bandage when she saw a flash across the sky that was definitely not lightning. It looked like an object or a craft crashing to the ground just over the ridge. But even if it was a crashed vessel Sam hated to admit that she was in no condition to help anyone.
"DHD then home." But the movement of trying to stand was too much for Sam's injuries to tolerate and she slumped back down to the ground. The next thing she was aware of was a strange woman standing over her with a gun and a less than friendly expression. Not exactly the first time for Sam, looking on the bright side, the rain had stopped. As a member of SG1 she had to be good at clutching at optimistic tangents or all of them would have given up the fight a long time ago.
"I have your weapons toaster," Kara threatened. Sam could see her P90 and her knife sitting in a pile just out of reach. "How many are with you and where are they?" Kara said inching closer to her captive's head.
"Toaster? I am Colonel Samantha Carter of the US Air Force. You don't look like one of the locals," Sam said recognising a flight suit when she saw one. Even in her impaired state she put the pieces together instantly. "It was a craft, you crashed. Listen wherever you are from, the locals don't like visitors and they think even less of woman so you should probably come with me," Sam said still careful not to make any attempt to stand while the gun was so close to her head.
"I don't know what game you are playing Cylon. But I'm not buying it. Now answer the question where are your tin buddies?" Kara demanded. Sam had to sit up a little more to try to ease the pressure on her shoulder. "You're not in good shape toaster maybe you want me to put you out of your misery so you can go to download city. That's if there is a resurrection ship in range. Didn't see any on my way down so maybe you should cooperate and tell me where your ship is and the pain can be over for you."
"Okay, you are not hearing me." Sam's shoulder and head were starting to throb and with the break in the storm she was sure the villagers would have noticed their escape by now. But more than that she was getting really tired of people pointing guns at her. "I don't know what a Cylon is but I do know that if a woman is seen out in the day they get thrown in prison on this planet. So we have to work together if we want to get off this swamp of a planet. We don't have much time, I can take you somewhere safe. I can take you back to Earth you just have to let me get to the DHD."
"Earth..." Kara whispered as she unconsciously lowered her gun. Sam seized the moment to lunge for her zat gun. Fighting off the nausea and dizziness Sam aimed and fired before Kara even moved.
"Didn't think that was going to work," Sam said kicking away Kara's gun. She took a moment to check Kara for any more weapons she didn't want to make the same mistake and leave something lying around that could be used against her. Placing her P90 on its clip the last dregs of adrenalin faded and Sam leant on the gate for support. Too much blood loss was starting to take effect, she could feel the tendrils of cobwebs start to cloud her mind. She held on to the familiar SG1 maxim, I've felt worse and survived. She needed to get home, no time to tie up her new enemy or potential ally... Who knew. She doubted she had the strength to make the knots tight enough anyway.
"I can't get it to work, the crystal is fried," Sam said. Kara only took a few steps towards Sam before she found herself staring down the barrel of a weapon. This one was much bigger and sure to cause more than a temporary blackout. "I might be able to rig something up with my laptop but I need you to stop moving. Are you going to let me get us out of here or do I have to shoot? This time with bullets, you will stay down a lot longer."
"You are from Earth?" Kara asked putting her hands up in surrender.
"Yes. Now what is your name and where..." Sam could hear shouting in the distance. But not distant enough, as usual there was never enough time to follow through on a plan. It was always make a plan, plan goes to hell, have to make up something to prevent being killed again. "We have to get out of here. They have to believe we went through the gate or we're both dead." Sam saw all the options play out on the woman's face. Survival against the odds was obviously nothing new to her either.
"I passed a cave on my way here it's just past the tree line." Kara said. Sam nodded but her legs were refusing to respond. Sam was surprised by the offered helping hand. This woman could have easily taken off to safety but instead she reached for Sam's pack with one hand and held out the other to Sam. Sam didn't hesitate, she knew she wasn't going to make it with her supplies all the way to the trees without help.
They only just made it to a large boulder before a large group of men on horses came over the ridge and descended on the gate. Luckily, the horses churned up the soil enough to obliterate the escapees' tracks. After looking around for only a few minutes, the posse took off in the direction they had come.
"Have to get back to the fleet before they jump," Kara muttered. "All those men, none of them were skin jobs."
Her companion obviously had similar thoughts. "They will be back, is your ship salvageable?" Sam asked.
"Well..." Kara studied her companion. "Judging by your blue lips and the blood you will be dead before I can fix it if we don't do something about your wound and get you warm Colonel." Kara held out her hand for the second time to help the Earth woman up.
"It's Sam and you are?"
"Captain Kara Thrace. Galactica Pilot, Caprica colony," Kara said defiantly.
Sam still wished she had another option other than blindly following this woman to a cave but she didn't, so she decided to play along for now. Experience told her taking the kindness of strangers at face value was at best naive at worst fatal. Sam would wait for the other shoe to drop or the next twist in the road that would have her in even more mortal danger than just dying of hypothermia or blood loss... Things could always get worse.
The cave was not far from the tree line and the entrance could easily be concealed with some well-placed branches. It was big enough for them both to stand up and move around but small enough that they could retain some heat with a fire. The smoke was a risk but Sam thought it would only be another hour or so until it got dark anyway and she was starting to lose the feeling in her fingers and toes.
Sam could feel the nervous energy coming off Kara in waves. It was obviously better to keep her busy. Besides that, Sam knew she wasn't capable of helping, all she could do was try to stay awake. She didn't think lapsing into a coma right now would be a good idea.
"Why are you helping me Captain?" Sam asked as Kara arranged the logs and sticks in the centre of the cave.
"We have been looking for you," Kara said taking out a lighter from her pocket. "Adama would kick my out an airlock if I let our first contact with the 13th tribe die." Kara shielded the first sparks of a fire while the flames grew.
"Looking for me?" Sam asked moving closer to the growing fire.
"The 13th colony on Earth, your ancestors made the right decision, trust me you are the lucky ones at least that's what we are hoping." Kara started to peel off the top of her flight suit.
"I don't know what the 13th colony...Maybe you mean..." Sam struggled to finish her sentence the pounding in her head was so intense.
"You have meds in this pack right?" Sam just nodded and tried to concentrate on getting her fingers and toes to move a little. "We have to get you fixed up. Looks like you have a thermo blanket in here," Kara said riffling through the well-packed bag. "Oh food good, bandages check, little pills I'm assuming antibiotics and or pain killers. Throw in some Ambrosia and we are good to go," Kara said making a messy pile of supplies around her.
Sam desperately tried to get her boots off, she needed to feel the heat of the fire on her feet but her fingers wouldn't cooperate and her shoulder ached just trying to stretch to her boot laces.
"Hey, lie back you're getting blood everywhere." Kara pushed Sam back up against the wall and took off her boots and hastily rubbed Sam's feet. Kara did a quick perusal of Sam's injuries and took off Sam's jacket so she could get a better look at the shoulder wound. She quickly cleaned the jagged cut and applied another bandage. "It's deep but I think the bandage will hold it for now."
It was not the gentlest treatment Sam had ever received but it certainly wasn't the worst.
Daniel would have taken twice as long because he would have been worried about hurting me more. Cam would have insisted on doing makeshift stitches just to be sure and Tealc well... Oh, my god I hope they made it back before the wormhole collapsed. God! How could I not have thought about them until now.
Kara was oblivious to Sam's distress as she moved on to assessing the head wound. The bleeding had stopped but there was a lot of swelling and bruising. Kara handed the pills to Sam letting her decide which ones she needed.
"Not too many pain killers, I don't think you should knock yourself out right now," Kara ordered. Sam understood and just took one painkiller and two antibiotics. "Do you want to get out of your clothes or do you want me to do it?" Kara said in a tone that implied far more mischief than was proper for a nursemaid.
Sam couldn't help the schoolgirl blush that creep up her cheeks. Not a very soldierly thing to do she admonished herself. "I can handle it." She said trying to discreetly wrap herself up in the thermo blanket.
Kara gave Sam her best-crooked smirk and started to take off the rest of her flight suit. Her tanks were dry but her pants had been ripped in the crash and the teeming rain had saturated her legs.
"Captain you are injured too." Sam noticed. Looking down Kara could see a gash on her left thigh just above her knee that stretched around to the back of her leg.
"Could be worse. At least it's not my right knee."
"Come sit. It needs cleaning and dressing," Sam ordered.
"Yes sir," Kara said mockingly but complied immediately.
"Sorry Captain, force of habit." Sam said wrapping the blanket under her armpits so her hands were free to tend to Kara's leg. "I work with a lot of stubborn men who don't know when to look after themselves."
"It's Kara, or my call sign is Starbuck and stubbornness is probably my only redeeming quality. It keeps me alive as often as it gets me in trouble." Kara said trying not to focus on the fact that the blanket was slipping down. "Judging by the amount of supplies in one small pack you guys are definitely better off. Can't remember the last time someone took so much care over a non life-threatening wound."
"There, all done it should be fine but you should probably take some antibiotics just in case," Sam said handing Kara two pills. "Are you hurt anywhere else? Are you in any pain? God you crashed you could have internal bleeding or anything I should have checked you first."
Kara shook her head and moved a little further away. "I ejected just fine, standard emergency landing," Kara said unconsciously making a small pile of rocks beside her. Sam handed out some ration bars and tried to put together the pieces. She needed more information and a distraction from the pounding behind her eyes.
"Mind if I ask some questions?"
"Go for it."
Kara was not prepared for the barrage of questions. She answered as many as she could and drew the constellations in the dirt that she had seen as the map to Earth. But she knew nothing about any Ancients, Ori, Asgard or Goa'uld. Though the replicators sounded familiar.
"I only know what the scriptures say and apparently, you don't have the same reading material." Kara said.
"There is obviously some kind of connection. I just didn't know what yet." Sam had learnt a long time ago that the impossible was entirely possible.
Sam knew what it was like to live with the threat of destruction of the human race but so far they had always managed to avert disaster. Kara and her people had not. Sam had no idea what it would be like to lose everything and still be pursued by a relentless enemy, an enemy of your own creation, to have no allies to rely on and no Stargate to escape through. It explained the edginess and the constant need for movement. In Kara's world, battles were not won by being patient or careful. Quiet times would cause you to remember the parade of faces you would never see again. Sam was amazed at how fearless this woman seemed to be, she never gave her safety a second thought, she dismissed her acts of bravery and courage as lucky breaks. But just for the briefest of moments when the fire light flickered across her eyes there was an unguarded moment where she seemed so incredibly vulnerable.
Kara finally stopped fidgeting and Sam had run out of questions so they sat in comfortable silence staring at the flames, both lost in their own thoughts. Despite the pain and hostile setting Sam thought Kara was an intoxicating combination of pure emotion and intense indifference, she seemed so cold and distant one minute and then so alluring and sensual the next. Sam felt the urge to hold her close and tell her everything would be all right now they had found the road to Earth. They had fought off the replicators they could surely find a way to defeat the Cylons. But Sam's home was constantly under threat from so many enemies she had no guarantees to offer. The battle was never truly won in Sam's world either but at least they had someone to fight alongside them instead of feeling alone in the galaxy
"No! No, please I didn't break it. Please I'll be good," Kara screamed.
Sam tried to wake Kara from the nightmare but Kara was repelling from every touch. Finally Sam managed to pin Kara's flaying arms against the ground and shouted at Kara to open her eyes. When she did she threw Sam off and still breathing heavily quickly moved to the other side of the cave.
"You okay?" Sam asked rubbing her shoulder. She had just put on her dry shirt and was wrapping the blanket around her waist when she heard Kara's frantic calling.
"Oh frak! I fell asleep? I was supposed to be keeping you up. Frakking useless idiot," Kara said pacing the small confines of the cave.
"Hey it's okay. I was working," Sam said closing her laptop. "Actually I have some good news I have been going over the readings I took from the DHD crystal, it's not as bad as I first thought it just needs a power jolt."
"It's not okay. What if you lapsed into a coma? Gods I'm such a frak up," Kara smashed her fist against the wall. Deflated she crossed back to Sam and sat in a crumpled heap beside her.
"I could have woken you up when I saw you drifting off but you looked like you needed it. You said you had been flying for 9 hours before the crash and surviving on about six hours sleep for the past five days. You are only human Kara."
"That's just it. We need to be better, they don't need to sleep," Kara said dragging her fingers through her hair and slumping even further against the wall.
Sam knew what it was like to feel completely out matched by your enemy. She believed it was being human that would get them through. Taking Kara's hand Sam gently kissed her bloodied knuckles.
Kara never missed an opportunity to make the noise of the universe stop with the distraction of human contact. She pounced on Sam and lost herself in the sensation of hungry kisses on Sam's soft and willing lips and moving to her neck Kara was pleasantly surprised by the slight moan from Sam. Kara quickly reached for the bottom of Sam's shirt, she needed to feel more skin, it felt like a compulsion or a craving. Kara always needed more skin, more contact, anything to make her feel more alive.
Sam wanted to savour every delicious moment, ignoring the pain in her shoulder Sam flipped Kara over so she was lying on top and tried to pin down Kara's roaming hands so she could take back control.
For just a fraction of a second the rest of the universe did go away until Kara locked eyes with Sam. Kara didn't see her hunger reflected back, there was yearning and desire but not for a distraction, Sam wanted more than Kara could give.
"Frak I can't do this again," Kara said pushing Sam off her again, this time regretting the slight thud as Sam's back hit the cave wall. Kara moved as far away from Sam as the cave would allow.
"Kara..." Sam began.
"We can't be doing this. The fleet is out there waiting for me to come back. They are in danger every minute they wait," Kara muttered mostly to herself.
Sam just watched as Kara resumed pacing back and forth in the tiny cave. To Sam this woman who had threatened her life then saved it was like no one she had met before. She was so raw, almost as if you could see every nerve ending. Her skin burned with the intensity of a sun, it was a heat that drew you in and kept you there. Sam wondered if Kara had known a moment's peace, she guessed that fighting with the world and herself was all Kara knew how to do. A safe haven would seem like a myth for Kara.
There was so much Sam wanted to say, this woman was a stranger but Sam felt she just got a glimpse of a woman so singularly beautiful and unique with an unwavering strength carved out of the harshest of circumstances. But this wasn't the time or the place, Kara was right neither one of them had the luxury of personal desire. What they wanted was not important.
Sam worried that if she let this moment slip by she would never get another chance to get to know Kara Thrace but she didn't argue. She slipped on her soldier's mask to cover up the burning hurt she felt at being discarded and rejected. Sam wondered how she could let herself be carried away, sometimes she wished she could be more like Vala, more carefree but right now Sam loathed herself for her temporary lapse in judgement, giving in to your desires, losing control could get you killed.
"Fine. It will probably be light by the time I pack up the gear and um... Finish getting dressed," Sam said not looking Kara in the eye. Kara looked down at her own naked legs and both women grabbed the remains of their clothing and discreetly turned away from each other as they dressed.
The five minute walk to Kara's ship was done in silence. Putting back on their uniforms snapped everything back into focus. Duty and survival, nothing more nothing less, many lives beyond their own depended on that.
"Frak it." Kara exclaimed when they reached what remained of Kara's ship. Her Raptor was partially lodged into the side of the mountain.
"I thought you said you could fix it." Sam said rubbing her temple.
"Actually I never said I could fix it, I said you would be dead before I did. Which I would say still applies," Kara said placing her hand on the crumpled metal. "With all the rain I could hardly see, it didn't seem so bad, I thought I could check out the power surge I saw on my screens just before I ejected then be back to make quick repairs."
Sam quickly moved to plan B and began asking Kara about every system on the ship. Kara filled her in on every inch of the ship from the engines, the FTL drive, the thrusters to the weapons. She knew every inch of the ship, just as she did the Vipers.
"People don't usually ask me questions. They just want me to fly." Kara commented.
"We have two options," Sam said poking her head out from under the front panel. "We can go back to the cave and hope to be rescued by the Daedalus, last report I read it would be a few days away...."
"Not really one to wait or be rescued, I prefer to do the rescuing," Kara interrupted.
"Agreed. As I was going to say or we can risk going back to the Stargate, I think I can use part of your jump drive to power the crystal on the DHD. Before we do, I'll rig the power to your communication so you can get a message back to the Galactica. We'll have to go back through the Stargate and then come back on the Daedalus to rendezvous with your fleet."
"A few problems with your plan, one, won't a message alert the locals where we are and two, the fleet can't stay still and if they jump we can't track them. I'll never find them again," Kara covered up her distress with a flippant remark. "Got anymore bright ideas Sir."
Sam ignored it, she had plenty of experience with people dismissing her plans. "Actually the locals don't have space travel or tracking systems so you are in no danger by sending the signal and second your FTL system is similar to a species the Asgard have encountered I'm pretty sure I can either ask them to help or I can figure out a way to track the jumps myself."
"Pretty sure isn't fraking good enough. I will not abandon them. I have to get them to Earth."
Sam didn't react to Kara's anger, she understood it completely. "If you knew me better you would know when I say I'm going to do something I do it," Sam stepped closer and placed a hand over Kara's. "Kara I'll find a way, I promise I will make it happen but we have to get moving. I don't plan on running from the villagers a second time." Kara just nodded. All the voices that would usually be screaming at her to find her own way out of this mess were eerily quiet.
Kara wasted no time in sending the message, she didn't want any needless rescue mission launched or any risks taken on her behalf. She knew there were people who wouldn't believe her claim that she would be back with friends from Earth but after returning with the arrow, she was sure the president, the old man and hopefully Lee would not be so quick to doubt her. She ended with a personal message for Lee telling him not to get in trouble while she was gone. Kara hoped it was enough to convince them the message was real. They could jump to safety and she would find them.
It seemed to take an eternity to get to the DHD with Sam unable to go beyond a slow walk without becoming dizzy and Kara in more pain than she was willingly to admit. She had been putting too much weight on her bad knee. There was no cover between the trees and the gate and Sam could barely lift her P90 high enough to be of any use so she clipped the P90 to Kara and took the zat gun. They were no match for any show of force from the locals, even though the villagers were primitive, they had numbers and the high ground. But when they reached their destination, it was as if they had been working together for years. Kara assumed a cover position and nodded at Sam to get started. Kara had the same look on her face as any member of Sam's team, a look of trust that she could do the impossible, that she could merge unfamiliar alien technologies and save the day before the bad guys killed them.
Sam's readings showed some unusual fluctuations in the DHD energy field, the FTL drive was generating enough power but it was inconsistent. It would be enough to dial the gate but Sam wasn't sure it would maintain the wormhole. The trip would definitely blow all the connections between the DHD and the jump drive so Sam didn't have to worry about the locals getting their hands on the technology but it meant they only had one shot.
"Last chance to back out Kara. I can't guarantee this will work and there is no going back once I dial, the FTL drive will only support one try," Sam said, her hands hovering over the first coordinate for Earth.
"Do it." Was all Kara said.
Sam suppressed the urge to request one last kiss just in case it didn't work. As Sam expected Kara showed no fear, only awe at seeing the gate activate. Without even a hint of hesitation, Kara stood shoulder to shoulder with Sam and stepped into the event horizon. Sam stepped out of the wormhole onto the ramp and stopped in mid stride. This was not the SGC she was expecting.
"Oh, crap... wrong Earth." Sam said reaching for her weapon.
"Oh frak me! They got here first?" Kara said raising the P90.
"Well well, the great Starbuck, rumours of your death are always greatly exaggerated," Sharon Valerii said as the two centurions flanking her raised their weapons.
"Gods no!" Kara said as she saw a second person step out from behind one of the centurions.
"Kara Thrace always did like to make an entrance," Samuel Anders said taking Sharon's hand is his.
The gate shut down and the two injured women stood at the top of the ramp surrounded by Centurions. Sam automatically raised her weapon wishing she had her P-90 instead of the rather pitiful 9 mm in her hands. But it didn't matter she was hopelessly outgunned anyway.
Kara ignored all the weapons pointed in their direction and lunged for the man she had known as Samuel Anders. She didn't even make contact with her target before she was easily restrained by a Centurion. Sam surrendered her gun hoping that it would at least prevent them from being killed on the spot. Kara obviously didn't subscribe to the tactical surrender methodology of survival. She continued to struggle in vain until she was hit in the back of the head and fell in a heap on the floor. With a nod from the woman at the bottom of the ramp, Sam was lead away by the centurions to the holding cells with Kara unceremoniously thrown in behind her.
Sam carefully put Kara into the small bed. "Oh gods no. I can't be too late. I can't fail, He's a Cylon?" Kara mumbling as Sam tried to gently rouse her. Kara's eyes opened but she was still mumbling. "I can't fail. I rescued him. I bought him on board. This is my fault."
"Kara...Starbuck... I need you to focus." Sam grabbed Kara by the shoulders. "Kara snap out it!" She stopped mumbling but her eyes were still unfocussed. "This is not my Earth." Sam said pulling Kara up to a sitting position.
"No it's the Cylon's Earth now." Kara said scratching at her hands as if they were dirty.
"That's not what I mean. This is an alternative Earth... It has to be. I noticed the second we stepped through the gate. The room was all wrong. The gate room door was on the wrong side, the walls are the wrong colour, the control room window is smaller and the halls are configured differently. This cell is on the wrong level and there are no security cameras."
"The Cylons have taken command." Kara responded dejectedly.
"Kara listen to me. You don't do a paint and remodel as your first job when you take over. Plus there was no Iris on the gate and no blast doors on the control centre. This isn't my Earth. We are on an alternate version. "
"Is that really possible." Kara stopped scratching and began to twist the ring on her thumb.
"Trust me. It's entirely possible."
"We studied it in physics but just as theory, all the possible tangents from every decision we make. Things could be exactly the same or entirely different. Does that mean my Anders isn't a Cylon?"
Sam finally understood Kara's reckless actions when they stepped through the gate. This wasn't just about the Cylons this was about the man at the base of the ramp. He was the man Kara had gone back to rescue and now it seemed he was what Kara called a skin job. "I can't answer that." Sam was relieved she wouldn't have to try to explain quantum theory to Kara but she was not going to offer Kara any false hope about the Anders in their universe, there was no way to know for sure.
"Guess it doesn't matter it's all the same." Kara lay back down on the small lower bunk. "There is no point. Earth was always the end game. With that gone we are just pretending to have a future."
Sam spun around from her examination of the door lock. "What you see here isn't necessarily the fate of our universe."
"They win, doesn't matter which Earth, they win."
"You're giving up? I never picked you for a quitter."
"Players are all the same so the outcome in our universe will be the same. Why fight the inevitable."
"I thought you would be used to getting out of seemingly unwinnable situations. With an attitude like that I can't believe you are still alive." Sam said placing her hands on her hips and immediately regretting the movement as a wave of pain emanated from her shoulder. The painkillers were starting to wear off and she was beginning to feel really tired again.
"I can't either. Truth is I think I gave up a long time ago I was just too stubborn to admit it," Kara said quietly.
"You think you are the only one who is sick of fighting, sick of winning one battle just to find a bigger one around the corner. Or finding out that your enemy lies within, that your people won't stop fighting against each other long enough to see the big picture. You think you're the only humans fighting for survival." Sam was practically yelling now. "You act like you are the only person who has lost anything. Get over it! There is a whole universe of pain out there. Scratch that, there are an infinite number of universes in pain and I bet that are a whole bunch of Starbucks out there who aren't lying on a bed feeling sorry for themselves." Sam felt a little weak by the time she finished her outburst but she didn't want to show that to Kara after berating her for showing frailty.
Kara quickly rose from the bed and stood nose to nose with Sam, her eyes gleaming with defiance. "You think I'm feeling sorry for myself?"
"Looks that way from here." Sam ignored the attempt at intimidation. "If you are not going to help me then get out of my way."
Kara stood her ground, anyone who spoke to her like that would usually have an indentation of her knuckles across their jaw by now. Instead Kara wanted to run, run as far away as she could from this infuriating woman who was looking right through her.
Kara broke eye contact and bowed her head. "I have been fighting my entire life, long before the Cylons and it's not enough. I have given all I have to give and it's not enough they just keep coming." Kara tried to turn away.
Sam lifted Kara's chin and placed her palm on Kara's cheek. She knew what that admission had cost Kara's pride. She had seen that look in the mirror so many times as she was putting on her uniform. She had wondered what was the point every time they encountered a new more powerful Goa'uld to take the place of the last one or when another planet had fallen to the Ori.
"I know what it's like believe me I do and despite what I just said I don't blame you for it. But I need you. I can't let this happen to my Earth that can't be our fate after everything we have been through it just can't be. So are you with me Starbuck?" Sam hoped using her call sign might bring the solider back. As usual Kara didn't react as expected. She ran her thumb along Sam's lips and pulled her into to a kiss so intense it left them both breathless.
"In my universe you have to be a little fraked up in the head to be a Viper pilot. For future reference a good smack across the face takes less time to snap me out of it." A small smile playing at the corner of her mouth. "I like this way better though," Kara said pulling Sam in for another kiss. Resisting the urge to keep going until she heard Sam moan again, Kara reluctantly moved a couple of steps back to clear her head and step away from temptation. "So how the frak do we get out this seemingly unwinnable situation Colonel?" The flippancy of the remake hid none of the determination now resonating from Kara. Sam had never seen anyone shift emotional gears so quickly, from morose to sexy to resolute. Being around Kara Thrace was going to be one hell of a roller coaster ride.
Both women stepped back from the door as they heard the bolt lock slide over. They stood shoulder to shoulder instinctively switching to a fighting stance. But the last thing Kara was expecting to see was Lee Adama and Karl Agathon being shoved through the door.
"Thank the gods Kara we thought you were dead." A dishevelled and slightly bruised Helo said embracing Kara immediately.
"Step back Helo!" Lee ordered through gritted teeth. He had a large bruise on his cheek and looked like his nose had been broken. "There is no way she could've survived that explosion. She has to be a toaster." Before Sam had a chance to react Lee pushed Kara against the wall and had his hands around her throat. "I don't care how many of you I have to kill." Lee said tightening his hold. Kara's survival instinct kicked in and she punched Lee in the stomach. Sam and Helo both grabbed Lee and pulled him off Kara. Who doubled over gasping for breath.
"Enough." Sam said stepping between Lee and Kara. "If you saw Kara die in an explosion then she probably did, this is not your Kara."
"She never was our Kara. Fraking toaster." Lee snarled still struggling against being restrained. For Sam it was easy to see the difference between her world and this one but how would she convince them. Sam could see at least one difference she just hoped it wasn't too subtle.
"Kara says you know about the theory of alternate universes." Helo nodded still not entirely sure which side he should be on. "Right well we are from an alternate universe. I know this seems hard to believe but it's not my first time, the theory is very real. Look at your dog tags." Sam reached over to pull out Kara's. "Look yours are square hers aren't."
"This is a really pathetic Cylon trick." Lee said breaking out of Helo's hold but making no move towards Starbuck.
"Help me out here Kara." Sam pleaded.
"Don't know what I can say, I don't know if I believe it myself. Frak Lee you just have to believe whatever universe we are in I am not a Cylon." Kara took a tentative step forward.
"The ring." Lee said quietly. "I have never seen you put it on your finger. You normally wear it with your dog tags not on your thumb and you don't have an insignia on your tanks." Lee pointed to the tiny Colonial Fleet insignia at the bottom of his tanks. "This could all be just a mind frak."
"It's too crazy Apollo, why come up with such a ridiculous story. Besides there isn't a resurrection ship in range." Helo added.
"Right." Sam didn't want to lose the momentum, if they over thought things they would go around in circles. "There is no way we can prove it to you other than help you get out of here. If you want out you will just have to trust us until we give you a reason not to. I am Colonel Samantha Carter." Sam said extending her hand to Lee. He tentatively took it, though obviously he was still far from convinced.
"Captain Lee Adama and this is Lieutenant Karl Agathon."
The tension between Lee and Kara was still obvious but there seemed to be no immediate danger of Lee attacking again so Sam took the opportunity to sit down on the lower bunk before she fell down. Helo and Lee took her cue and sat on the floor against the wall.
Kara sat beside Sam and checked her bandages. She redressed the wound as best she could using some extra cloth that she ripped from the pillow. Sam took at deep breath and tried to focus. She began to pepper the newcomers with questions. Had they seen any other humans? How did they get here? Where was the fleet? How many Cylons were on the base?
Lee did his best to fill her in without going into too much detail. "We received intel that a scout ship had already made it to Earth and a Basestar was en route. A small team was sent in a stealth ship to retrieve our informant who had the location to Earth and blow up the ship. We were captured before we could place the bomb where it would do the most damage. Starbuck...Our Starbuck set off her smaller charge before she was captured. They kept us locked up for the trip here. The skin jobs that came here months ago set themselves up in your government, NID and some oversight committee I O something. I think."
Sam rolled her eyes and turned to Kara. "That would be the enemy within. Remind me to check them for skin jobs on our Earth, sure would explain a lot."
"They have your government believing the base is on lock down due to an alien virus. They want to make sure they control the Stargate before revealing themselves to the population." Helo continued.
"You seem to be getting a lot of intel from inside a cell," Sam said.
"Our informant stayed under cover, it's the reason we're still alive," Lee said.
"Anders?" Kara asked hoping he wasn't a Cylon, just a human pretending to collaborate.
"Anders would never help us you know...I guess you don't know. Around here he is like their leader they all seem to take orders from him. You Our Starbuck found out he was a toaster when she was locked up in one of those harvesting farms back on Caprica." Helo answered. Sam squeezed Kara's hand.
"The base...The rest of SG1 personnel?" Sam asked.
"As far as we know they're all dead," Lee said.
Sam felt like she had been hit in the stomach. She tried to tell herself it wasn't her Earth, it wasn't her team it wasn't the people she cared about but it still hurt. Kara returned the gesture and put her hand over Sam's.
"We need to find a way out of this cell and get to my lab...The lab." Sam pushed her grief to one side. Mourning always had to wait.
"We can probably get you out, it's what to do after that. There are dozens of Centurions and more on the way," Helo said.
"I have an idea."
They all stood as the holding cell door was opened again.
"It's okay she's with us," Helo said as soon as the door was closed he pulled Sharon Valerii into a hug.
"Your informant?" Sam asked.
"Yes. Samantha Carter meet Sharon Valerii." Helo said draping his arm around her shoulder.
"I don't understand, how does a human go undercover amongst Cylons?"
"She is a Cylon," Kara answered noticing there was no swelling of Sharon's abdomen, she obviously wasn't pregnant in this universe. Sam took an instinctive step back.
"It's okay she's on our side." Helo defended her. Sam looked to Kara who just nodded.
"Are we being monitored?" Sam suddenly felt stupid, just because they didn't have visible security cameras didn't mean they weren't being watched or overheard.
"No they consider you no threat." Sharon answered. "You are not from this world are you?" Sharon directed her question to Sam.
"No. Alternate reality. How did you know?" Sam said as if it was a commonplace occurrence.
"We...The Cylons have assimilated all the information on the gate, they know what you know. Accept they don't just want to control your Earth gate they want to control all the gates in the system. They were running an experiment when you dialled in. It seems a reasonable assumption that there was an overload. Trying to connect several gates at once must have caused some kind of rift that allowed you to come through. Plus Starbuck could not have survived in our reality and the last time I saw the other version of you she had a broken arm."
There was a small part of Sam that was both impressed and horrified at the speed at which this woman...Cylon came to conclusions. "Is she still alive? Is anyone else still alive?" Sam asked afraid of the answer.
"I helped you and the rest of your team escape through the gate two days ago. I imagine they will be back with reinforcements anytime now." Sam let out the breath she had been holding. That meant there was hope for this Earth. There was no more time to waste.
"Can you replicate the experiment you were running when we came through the gate."
"I think so. You want to go back?" Sharon asked easily following Sam's line of thought.
"What? Wait we can't go back until we destroy the Cylons, we can't just abandon them." Kara said moving to stand beside Lee.
"I'm not abandoning anyone. I said I had an idea. I think I can adjust a replicator weapon to work on Cylons. I can set it to wide dispersal it should take out dozens of Centurions at once. I'm not sure what affect it will have on the human form Cylons though, I don't know anything about their physiology."
"There are only three others here, six, two and Anders," Sharon said.
"And the Basestar? What action will they take once we start attacking?" Sam asked.
"They're on the other side of the solar system trying to avoid detection for now. I gave the other...um...you the coordinates, your ships were a few days travel away so a strike on the Basestar must be imminent."
There was nothing Sam could do to ensure that was the case until they had the base back under control. She just had to hope the other SG1 successfully sounded the alarm and rallied their forces off world.
"Is it true there are no resurrection ships in range?" Kara asked. Helo tightened his hold on Sharon.
"It won't arrive here for at least another week."
"Then Anders is mine." Everyone in the room knew exactly what Starbuck's intentions were and no one would stand in the way.
Sharon convinced the other Cylons that she needed to run tests on Sam and Kara to confirm her hypothesis about their origins. Once in the lab Sharon ordered the Centurions to stand guard in the hallway. Sam was relieved to find that her counterpart had already began to modify the replicator weapon and had even devised some crude grenades that worked with the same technology. The other Sam had been very close to finishing before they were overrun.
The small human contingent made short work of the Centurions thanks to Sam's inventions. The weapons didn't have the same satisfying disintegration effect as they did on the replicators. There was just a crackle of electricity and then the Centurions crumpled to the floor. Their higher functions fragmented leaving the Centurion permanently immobilised. As Sam suspected the disrupter had very little effect on the human form Cylon. The tall blond Sam had cornered in the control room had been momentarily dazed but that was all. When the Centurions protecting her were disabled, she quickly put her hand up in surrender.
Sam raised her zat gun intending to just immobilise her captive. Lee however had a different response. He ignored the gesture of capitulation and fired the P-90. Sam didn't blame Lee for his actions, after all they had been through because of the Cylons his malice was understandable.
Sam turned away from the sight of the blood oozing out of the bullet ridden body and realized the gate was active. She focussed her attention on shutting down the gate just as Anders and two centurions ran into the gate room. Kara entered the gate room seconds behind them slightly out of breath and limping heavily due to the strain she had put on her injury.
"End of the line Cylon." Kara said putting down her disrupter and pulling out the 9 mm from her belt and aiming it directly at Anders.
"You think this is the end. Starbuck this will all happen again you know that. I understand now, you and I we have a dest...." His sentence was finished by a single bullet to the head. Kara lowered her weapon and turned to give Helo a brief hug before joining Sam in the control room. As far as Kara was concerned, the rest was up to them. They had another Earth to fight for and another Samuel Anders to terminate.
Sam detected an Asgard ship in orbit and knew this version of Earth would survive...For now. Before duplicating the environment that should, in theory, send them back to the right universe, she instructed Lee on how to communicate with the Asgard ship. They would of course be suspicion of Lee's story but they at least would not incinerate the base until they verified it for themselves. Sam also left a message for her counterpart that she hoped would substantiate the unusual circumstances behind her involvement in the successful retaking of the base. Although unusual was hardly the word since Sam doubted she had any frame of reference for normal any more.
THREE MONTHS LATER
"Do you always fly your women at FTL speed Captain." Sam asked nibbling on Kara's ears as they lay intertwined on Sam's bed.
"Only the ones that can keep up, besides it makes slow worth the wait." Kara looked over at the alarm clock, they still had another hour before they were due back at the SGC to plan their next assault on the Cylons. "Is it really going to be over soon?" Kara asked.
"I wish we could devote more resources to the fight. But with the Ori." Sam rolled onto her back sometimes the weight of it all felt too much. The last three months had been one long battle after another but at least there was some good news. "So far it looks like we are winning the war against the Cylons. There is more to do but the next incursion should do some major damage. I wish I could say you were safe Kara. But all I can say is you have a home for as long as we can defend it."
"No one's ever given me that." Kara whispered before getting out of bed and pulling on her shirt and pants. She needed some space. She moved to sit in the chair in the corner of the room and started to twist the ring on her thumb.
Sam knew that look. "Kara. What is it?"
"You need to know something about me. Most of the time I'm just running on pure adrenalin or raw emotion... Or just plain running because that's what I do best. Which usually works out okay when people need me to be Starbuck. I don't normally apologise for anything, it's pretty much take me as I am or leave, I don't care." Kara dragged her fingers through her unruly hair. "Except this time, with you, I do care. But I don't think that will be enough, sooner or later I will hurt you either deliberately to get you to walk away or unconsciously. Because that is who I am." Kara wiped furiously at the tears that were threatening to fall.
Sam slipped on her oversize bed shirt and padded over to where Kara sat and knelt down beside the chair. She could see Kara retreating into herself with every passing second. This woman had enough demons she could easily get lost in her own private hell. Sam grabbed her hand to stop the constant fidgeting.
"First of all I'm not fragile. I can defend myself and I'm not easily scarred. Second I am under no illusion that this thing with you and me will be easy, no relationships are. Thirdly do you think I hadn't noticed you are all emotion Kara Thrace, it's what fuels the fire... I need that. I have spent so long caught up in being the good little soldier or the perfect scientist that I had forgotten I had emotions. I would rather be burned than continue to live my life suppressing everything for the sake of duty and obligation."
Kara gazed at the sun streaming through the window. It was finally starting to sink in, she was on Earth, the fleet could stop running and the Cylons were not going to win. Kara looked into Sam's shining blue eyes. "Maybe I had this all wrong. Maybe you are the one who is more fraked up than me." Kara said with mock sincerity.
Sam's face broke into a beautiful smile, she was getting used to just rolling with Kara's rapidly swinging emotions. "You do know how to sweet talk a girl." Sam said leading Kara back towards the bed.
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