DISCLAIMER: The story, and characters and anything and everything else concerning SG: SG1 belong to MGM, Gekko, Secret Productions etc, they are so not mine and no money is being made from this and no copyright infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for the FSAC: DDOW2009 Advent Calendar. Thanks to Stargate wiki for the episode transcripts.
SPOILERS: Up to Line in the Sand (season 10). Note. For the purposes of this story Heroes did happen as in canon.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
In Her Arms
Vagonbrei was a ghostworld. There were no weapons, no advanced technology. All we had found was skeletons. Most of the inhabitants seemed to have died in their beds.
The village records that Daniel translated spoke of a link with Morgan le Fay. Given her history and mythology we assumed that she was an Ascended Ancient. She had stolen the weapon that would give us the edge over the Ori, the weapon created by Merlin that was capable of destroying ascended beings.
Dr Reimer, Grimsby and Ackerman are dead. Ackerman just didn't wake up. This thing this thing ate them from the inside out. And it's in us now. We all have an elevated white cell count and increased serotonin levels.
We have to stay awake. If we fall asleep it might be forever. Caffeine can only take us so far. And the infection is robbing us of our strength, our will. It wants us to sleep. All the time we were monitoring him Ackerman was in stage four delta sleep and his brain was producing large amounts of melatonin. In the town records Daniel discovered entries made by the village doctor describing a sleeping sickness that affected the town and also referencing Morgan le Fay. The villagers believed that she cursed them for revealing her whereabouts when King Arthur and his knights came looking for her.
In a cave on the outskirts of the village we found an Ancient lab. Daniel and Grimsby stayed to look through the manuscripts and artefacts. I took the soil samples back to our temporary base so Reimer could start analyzing them.
In the soil samples I had taken, Reimer found a parasitic lifeform. In the soil it was dormant but the moment it came into contact with live tissue it started to react. Before we could do any further tests Daniel returned carrying a pile of books. He was almost out on his feet. Grimsby was not with him.
Daniel and I went out to search for Grimsby leaving Reimer to continue studying the parasitic creature. We found him at the side of the path on the outskirts of the village. He was in a deep sleep. We made him comfortable and left him. When we got back to the cottage Reimer was by Ackerman's bed. Ackerman was dead.
I assisted Reimer with Ackerman's autopsy. We had only the most basic equipment but it would have to do. We had to know for certain what killed him if this was in store for the rest of us. There was clear evidence of a ruptured aneurysm near the pineal gland. Near the damaged area there was a larger version of the parasite we had seen earlier in the soil samples a thousand times larger.
After hours of work we theorized that when the parasite entered the bloodstream it triggered the body's immune response and the production of serotonin, then it made its way to the brain where it lodged and began to feed on melatonin. The parasite stimulated the production of melatonin which flooded the body, explaining why our urge to sleep was so powerful. Once you gave in to sleep the parasite just kept feeding until it was large enough to affect the surrounding cranial tissue eventually provoking a lethal aneurysm.
We had theorized that it might be possible to starve out the parasite. And then Reimer suffered a massive heart attack. We tried to resuscitate him but it was no use.
It was harder and harder to stay awake. Especially as we couldn't take any more stimulants. Our serotonin and melatonin levels were spiking under the influence of the parasite. We had to rely on each other to keep from falling asleep. I was reminded of my time on the Prometheus. I had hallucinated Daniel, Teal'c, Colonel O'Neill, even my father. But not Janet. That had always puzzled me. And made me feel ashamed.
I can't do it anymore.
I was barely more than half aware when the med team reached us. They loaded me into an isolation pod and I thought it was my coffin. I tried to tell them that I wasn't dead but I could barely string two words together by that point.
"It's okay, we'll take care of you." Behind the visor on the med tech's isolation gear I saw Janet's face, her eyes calm, serene, a slight smile on her lovely face.
"We can't go to sleep," I tried to tell her. "You don't understand the parasite, it feeds on " The isolation pod closed, the coffin sealed. I didn't recognize the person looking down on me. Janet was dead and so apparently was I.
We saved the day again, it seemed. The research Dr Reimer and I had done and the samples Teal'c and Cam got from the cave were enough to produce a serum that kept us alive whilst starving the parasite.
And here I am again, dying. P9C-882. This time it's not some parasite but the Ori that is killing me. We were here to protect the villagers using the phasing technology I had retro-engineered from Merlin's device. We had undertaken several successful though small-scale tests but I had real concerns that this mission would be a step too far.
Thilana, the leader of the village had high hopes for our success. She had no wish to submit to the Ori.
Thilana had allowed us to use the village's archive to set up our equipment. This room held the history of their people, recorded in secret all the years they were under Goa'uld domination.
"It seems appropriate you do your work here," Thilana told me. "For years, my ancestors were forced to record the true history of our people in secret, beyond the eyes of the Goa'uld. This room now houses their legacy." She asked me to explain the machine to her, so she could in turn explain it to her people and ease their concerns. I tried to keep it simple.
"Basically, this machine shifts all matter within a preset range, in this case the entire village, into another dimension. So when the Prior returns he won't be able to see or hear you. In fact, he'll be able to walk right through you " I paused, cursing myself silently at the alarmed expression on Thilana's face. Now I had scared her.
"Don't worry, it doesn't hurt at all. And it is just temporary. Just long enough to fool the Prior. Once he leaves, we can put everything back to normal."
That seemed to reassure her. I just wished I felt as confident of my own abilities.
We were ready to begin the test. The three naquada generators we had brought through the Gate were linked up to the device. I got the signal from Cam that everything was ready. Taking a deep breath I activated the program. The generators came on line in sequence and I began to feed the power into the device. Initial readings were promising, we were on the curve, shifting dimensions.
It worked. The whole village was cloaked. There was no way that the Ori would be able to detect it. The village threw us a party to celebrate. The displacement field held for almost six hours before without warning it failed, returning us to our 'home' dimension.
My worst fears were realised.
"Well, in order to bring everything back completely, the machine has to maintain a connection with every single molecule that it sends out of phase. Now obviously that requires a lot of energy, so I implemented a failsafe that would automatically bring everything back into our dimension in the event of a power disruption it was just a slight fluctuation, but it was enough to trigger the failsafe." I sighed. "I thought I'd stabilized the power supply."
It was bad, so bad I wasn't sure if I could fix it. The villager's only hope appeared to be that the Ori had moved on to another target. I felt so bad over having raised their hopes only The villagers themselves, encouraged by the one called Matar were seriously considering giving themselves up to the Ori. For now they were content to let us go back through the Gate first but Mitchell was determined not to abandon them. And so was I.
Thilana was also determined that they should stand their ground, swearing never again to be subjugated into serving false gods.
I worked on repairing the device all night, refusing to let it beat me. An hour or so after dawn, Mitchell brought me a cup of coffee. Unfortunately it was decaf but it was the thought that counted.
"Teal'c's gone to the gate to watch for the Prior," Cam told me. "Look, I hate to rush you, Sam, but we've got to make a decision about this. Landry was pretty clear; we're not to let this thing fall into enemy hands."
"I know," I said. "I've rigged an Ancient capacitor similar to the kind used in the Stargates between the device and the generators. It should collect the power and hopefully feed it more evenly."
Teal'c made contact from the Gate: a ship was making a low reconnaissance flight over the area. There was no way they had missed seeing the village. I had just run out of time.
At least five Ori fighter craft screamed overhead. Cam recalled Teal'c to the village and went to marshal the villagers into putting up some kind of defence. I continued to work on the shield device.
I was working as fast as I could, spurred on by the sound of gunfire in the village and the unforgettable and regrettably familiar sounds of innocents dying, concentrating so completely that I did not realise that my own position had been compromised. An Ori soldier had sneaked into the library. I only realised he was there just before he shot me. He shot me in the stomach, left side, the force of the blast and the pain sending me skittering across the tiles. A second shot took out two of the naquada generators. I couldn't hold back my scream of agony and frustration I was helpless, writhing in agony. And then Mitchell burst in, took out the Ori before he could finish me off.
Since it happened, since she left she died I've sometimes fancied that she's watching over me somehow. We're pretty certain that she didn't Ascend but if ever there was someone deserving of an afterlife, it was Janet Fraiser.
Sometimes I dream that we're just sitting, talking, like we used to, in the den at her house or in a booth in the Italian restaurant we both liked, or sitting together on the swing in her yard or lying together, our heads on the same pillow in her bed if I had stayed the night. Those are the most precious dreams, the ones where I can tell her all the things that I never quite got round to when she was alive. I always thought I'd have time. I always thought that of the two of us, given our different jobs and lifestyles, I'd be the one to die first. It just shows how wrong you can be, how you can never take anything for granted. Sometimes it struck me how once again my life mirrored my father. He must have had the same thoughts, doubts and regrets before and after my mother died.
When the Ori soldier shot me I could tell immediately that it was bad. It wasn't just the pain a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Through and through gut shots are bad under the best of conditions.
And a village on P9C-882 under siege from the Ori was not the best of conditions.
I told Mitchell to get the machine to safety, that we couldn't let the Ori get their hands on that kind of technology. He wanted to destroy it on the basis that he couldn't get both me and the machine to safety. I knew my odds. I also knew he wouldn't leave me. I had to come up with a plan to activate the device which wasn't going to be easy since two of the generators were fried. I talked Mitchell through bypassing the damaged kit and resetting the field. It wouldn't create a field big enough to hide the entire village but it would hide us.
I passed out before he finished setting it up but luckily he managed to figure it out for himself. Unfortunately, I came to again whilst Mitchell was doing some field surgery to stop me bleeding out. It wasn't pretty but it was holding me together. I tried to keep still even though every instinct was screaming at me to get away. Mitchell jabbed me with a syringe of morphine before finishing up.
"What's going on outside?" I gasped.
"The shooting has stopped. The Ori army is in control," Mitchell reported. Just then, an Ori soldier entered the room. I couldn't help shrinking back, the movement causing agony to flare up in my side and back. Mitchell was covering him with his weapon but it wasn't necessary. A moment later the soldier walked through a wall. The mcgyvered device had worked. We were out of phase. I almost passed out again out of sheer relief.
"Oh yeah," Mitchell drawled. "The device is on. I forgot to mention that. I don't know how big the field is. I think you and I are the only ones inside it."
"Teal'c and Vala?" I gasped out.
"I tried to contact them on the radio but there's no response," Mitchell said.
"Well that could mean anything," I tried to force my brain to keep working through the pain and the morphine but it was too hard. I was going into shock, shivering uncontrollably.
"It could," Mitchell said. "Hey, we'll pull through this, Sam." I was too sick and scared to respond. I closed my eyes and let the darkness take me.
The morphine was not even taking the edge off of the pain when I woke again. It was time to make some hard decisions. Actually, the decision had already been made for me. It was all the actions arising from it that were going to be hard. Mitchell wasn't going to like it.
"Listen, I've been thinking," Mitchell said.
"Uh oh," I attempted to smile.
"I can leave the field and still stay out of phase, right?" He gave me another morphine jab. "So I was thinking I'd take some C4 and plant it around the village, come back here, use the explosions as a distraction to " I managed to get his attention. "What? You haven't heard the rest of the plan!"
"You can't leave the device here," I said.
"Well, I was gonna save some C4 for that as well."
"You cannot sacrifice the device for me," I clarified. "It is still our best chance against the Ori."
"No offence," Mitchell smiled gently. "But that gizmo's not showing a whole lot of promise right now."
"It'll work," I assured him. "It just wasn't ready for this." Time to cut to the chase. "I'm probably not going to make it either way."
"No! Don't you start to talk like that," Mitchell said, his voice hovering between panic and anger.
I was too weak to hold back the tears. "Cam you have to face the fact that I'm going to die here."
"No, I don't have to face that fact, because I am not going to let it happen."
"I appreciate that. But the truth is, even if you manage to create a distraction and destroy the device, you are never going to get me to the gate by yourself."
"Yes I will," Mitchell said with all the conviction he could manage.
"Not alive," I whispered. And I truly believed that. And I was ready, accepting. At least I would see her again. Cam wasn't that good a liar. He knew it as well.
"My laptop. There's a file," I said.
"You want me to get it?" Mitchell asked.
I shook my head. "In my personal directory. Letters mostly." He sighed, unhappy with the turn of the conversation. I needed to have this conversation whilst I was still capable of it. "There's one to Cassie some other people. Password's 'fishing'."
Mitchell sat on the metal case beside my cot. "Ah, see? Now you're going to have to change the password. Sam, don't give up on me. You've got to think of my position here. I worked my ass off to get this team back together. Now we've lost well, we've lost Jackson. I can't lose you too."
"I spent my entire life dedicated to science. Spent the last ten years, trying to convince people they believed in false gods. I don't feel like science is going to help me. Right now, I'm just hoping somewhere one of those gods "
"My grandma used to say, "God is like a prairie windstorm. If you look too hard you get dust in your eyes, but there's still plenty of ways to know its there."
"Is that what you believe?" I whispered. It was getting dark again. I could do with some light. And it was getting colder.
"I generally just nodded until she gave me a macaroon. There is one thing that I do know is true. The mind is a powerful thing. No matter who or what you believe in, sometimes belief itself makes all the difference in the world. You just don't give up. Tell yourself whatever you have to. Just believe you're going to make it, Sam."
Events progressed in the village. The Ori Prior was torturing Teal'c for information. Matar, the little weasel, had given him up along with Thilana. Teal'c did not speak. The Prior decided to do a little investigation of the mysterious disappearance for himself.
He walked through the wall into the room where we were hiding, looking around, holding his staff up high as if the light shining from it could pierce the veil that hid us from him. I had no idea whether it could or not.
Cam grinned savagely going almost toe to toe with the Prior. "Guess your little bag of tricks don't work on us, huh?"
The Prior looked straight through him, a sneer twisting the scarifications on his unnaturally pale face. "Show yourself, or this village will be destroyed." His scowl deepened and he abruptly turned and left.
Cam smiled, "Score one for science." He went to the window and watched the Ori soldiers moving through the village. They were starting to evacuate. "They're gonna clear out and bomb the village from orbit." He turned back to smile reassuringly at me. "I reckon we'll be okay. The device will be preserved and they'll go away thinking they wiped us out. But they're going to kill all those people."
"I know," I whispered. The pain was building again.
"So what are we going to do about it? Could we expand the field around the village, even just for a little while?"
"There's not enough power," I said, trying to force my brain to work around the morphine, the residual pain and the fever I could feel building. I closed my eyes and for a moment it felt as if small cool fingers were gently smoothing across my brow. Unthinking, I turned my face into the strangely familiar touch, but it was gone.
Mitchell crouched down beside the cot. "Carter, come on, there's got to be something." He must have guessed how much pain I was in. "Hang on, hang on, I'll get you some morphine." He leant across me to grab a syringe out of the med kit and as I looked past him I could see the dead Ori soldier on the floor in the corner, his power staff lying beside him. There was something. I felt that ghost touch again, a gentle affirmation that I was on the right lines. Mitchell pressed the syringe to my thigh and I put my hand on his, stopping him.
"Wait. I need to think clearly. There might still be a way." I motioned towards the Ori staff weapon. "Bring that over here." A few minutes later under my occasional instruction, Cam had field stripped the staff weapon. He took out the activation crystal and held it up to the light.
"You want to use this?"
I nodded. "The power crystal in Merlin's device was depleted. That's why we needed the naquada generators."
Cam glanced over at the device and frowned. "I'm sorry, isn't that apples and oranges?"
"Ancient and Ori technology is similar. We can make it work for a short time."
Cam nodded. "Fine. So what do I do?"
"Put the crystal in the back of the device," I told him, keeping it short and simple and not just because of Cam's sketchy science background. The pain was coalescing inside me into something new and deadly. I was self-diagnosing peritonitis, pneumonia, organ failure, internal bleeding short answer, my body was beginning to shut down. We had to make this work and quickly. I doubted very much whether we'd get a second shot at it.
We hit a snag pretty much straight away of course. The crystal would not fit in the back of the device. I had anticipated that Cam's apples and oranges comment not being too far from the truth after all and told him to use the power interface adapter. My voice sounded strange even to my ears. Cam leaves the device and starts towards me but we can't afford for him to be distracted by my failing condition.
"Carter, you've had a lot of morphine, so I want you to explain it to me so that it makes sense."
If I wasn't feeling so lousy I would have hit him upside the head. Thankfully ten years of dealing with a certain Colonel-now-General had inured me to it always being 'my fault' when they didn't understand.
Suddenly I feel the presence with me again, so strong, so clearly her. Why now? Am I really dying? Or is it something to do with being out of phase does it bring me closer to her state of being?
Perhaps it is just the morphine. I force myself to concentrate on giving Cam the 101 on power interface adapters. Following my instructions he managed to connect up the power crystal, not without shocking himself, which was good because it meant that it was working.
"That's easy for you to say. You with the little flesh wound. All right, what next?"
I asked him for my laptop. I could barely hold its weight and was operating from memory as my vision was so blurred I could not see the keys. The sheet slips as Cam helps me sit up and we can both see that the bandages over my stomach and side are wet with blood. Cam supports me as best he can whilst I do the complex stuff. But it's not just Cam. She is here as well, my Janet. I can sense her so strongly now, so close to me, so close to being together again. I force myself to work as quickly as I can. We're running out of time.
I set the programme running, close my eyes and let myself fall into her arms.
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