Summary: The end of the world did not come from the sky, it came from beneath the ground and, in the end, the survivors of the SGC had no choice but to flee from a dying world and seek shelter in the most unlikely of places. But survival is not limited to living through the storm, it is also about learning to live with the aftermath.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and places are the property of MGM, World Gekko Corp and Double Secret Productions. This form of fan fiction was created for entertainment not monetary purposes and no infringement on copyrights or trademarks was intended. Previously unrecognized characters and places, and this story, are copyrighted to author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Warnings: Violence and character death.
Notes: I do not have a beta reader so any and all mistakes are all mine.
Chapter I: The Sky Is Falling
When the mountain fell on her head, Sam was in the elevator on the way to the gateroom.
The elevator groaned in protest and then screeched to a halt. She jabbed at the control panel with her free hand but the buttons did not respond. She hit the 'open door' button but the doors remained closed.
Sam quelled her rising panic with several steadying breaths. One of her greatest fears was being trapped in an elevator. It was silly for someone who fought dangerous aliens on a daily basis but everyone had their own irrational fears and hers happened to be elevators.
She jabbed at the unresponsive console more vigorously. The lights flickered ominously and she swallowed hard. She surmised that the doors would not open because they were stuck between floors. She was about ready to prise them open with her bare hands when she first heard it and her blood ran cold.
A low rumbling like thunder in the distance heralded the beginning of the end. It grew louder and louder and the elevator began to shake. Debris that broke free from the shaft above her rained down on the top of the elevator and she ducked down into a crouch, instinctively covering her head with her arms. The lights blinked and then the small space went dark. The elevator jostled on the cables, grinding and groaning, but it held fast. For the moment.
Lieutenant Elliot, who had been silent for the entire ride down, suddenly became very animated. "What's happening? We're stuck, aren't we? Oh my God, are we going to fall?"
Sam did not respond. In truth, she was considering that possibility herself and the odds of their survival if the cables above them did break free from their moorings or snap, and she did not like their chances. Cheyenne Mountain complex had been built during the height of the Cold War and Sam was certain that at least some of the systems had not been updated since then. The elevator, for instance, was an old elevator and the safety features that existed in most modern elevators did not apply in the one they were standing in. The only thing that kept the elevator from falling was the cable and pulley system and if that failed they were going to reach the bottom floor a lot faster than they had planned.
Fear gripped her heart in a vice, but she forced herself to push past it. The best thing to do in an emergency was to stay calm which, quite frankly, was easier said than done.
More debris slammed into the top of the elevator and the thin roof caved in like the lid of a sardine can. Dust, sharp metal, and chunks of concrete poured into the elevator, raining down on their heads. Sam coughed as the dust filled her lungs, making it hard to breath. She tasted blood in her mouth, mixed with the grit of dust, and realized that she had bit her tongue.
Just then, the sound of the steel cables above them snapping in half reached her ears, and the elevator began to free fall the remaining three stories. Sam dropped her morning coffee, spilling it all over herself, and grabbed onto the handrail, holding on for dear life. She felt like she had left her stomach somewhere above her, and the sensation made her feel nauseous. She was in free fall relative to the falling elevator car and the weightless sensation would have been exhilarating if not for the fact that the bottom of the shaft was racing up to meet them in the form of probable impaling and lacerating debris. She remembered reading an article about what to do if one was ever trapped in a falling elevator, and it suggested lying flat on the floor, but given their sudden weightlessness, that option was about as useless in that moment as that particular kernel of thought.
"Hang on, Elliott!" She shouted, unsure if they would survive the fall, but certain that she had to at least attempt to keep them both calm on the short trip down.
The elevator crashed violently into the bottom of the shaft and Saw was thrown against the rubble that had fallen through the ceiling with enough force to knock her out cold. When she came to, her head was pounding and her vision was dim and blurry.
"Major Carter? Are you okay?" asked Elliott from the opposite corner.
"I don't know," she said.
Her face was covered in blood from her head wound and her right arm hung at a funny angle by her side. She tried to move it, but the excruciating pain that followed the movement left her with no doubt that it was broken. She sucked in several deep breaths until the pain receded slightly, enough for her to think straight, and the she reached into her backpack and retrieved a small flashlight. In spite of the pain, she was grateful to be alive. There was a curious sensation in her left leg and she looked down to find a piece of the cable buried in her calf.
"Holy Hannah," she whispered. "Holy Hannah!"
The cable was sunk deep into the skin, possibly dug into the muscle, and it was bleeding like a faucet. She inhaled deeply and held it. Using her good arm, she snatched the cable out of her leg. It came free with a sickening ripping sound and the breath the she had been holding clawed its way out of her chest like the death howl of a wounded animal.
"Major Carter, are you alright?" Elliott asked fearfully.
Sam tore a sleeve off her jacket and made a makeshift tourniquet around her leg to slow the bleeding. "No, but don't worry about me."
She retrieved the flashlight from the floor near her feet and pointed it toward her companion. The small beam illuminated Elliott, crumpled in the corner, his leg pinned beneath a huge pile of twisted metal and heavy concrete. His face was pale and wrinkled in pain. He looked about as bad she felt.
"Can you move?" she asked him.
He shook his head. "No, Ma'am. I'm trapped and I think my leg is broken."
Sam swiped at her eyes with the remaining sleeve of her jacket, trying to clear her vision of blood and dust, but it was a futile attempt. The blood flowed freely from her wound and the dust had yet to settle from their crash.
Elliott's voice shook with pain. "What the hell just happened, Major?"
"I don't know. A bomb or maybe we were attacked from space," she said slowly. "Whatever it was, it must have ripped through the mountain, crippling the base."
Elliott grimaced, his already pale face turning ashen. "So, does that mean that no one is coming for us?"
Sam looked away, unable to meet his gaze. He was so young and so frightened and she had no answers for him. Instead of adding more fuel to the fire burning in his imagination with guesstimations, she turned her attention to their surroundings.
The doors to the elevator were little more than a heap of sharp, twisted metal. The roof was completely caved in, and large debris formed a small mountain in the middle of the floor between the two of them. The elevator shook from a small aftershock and more debris broke loose from the shaft and rained down on them. Sam covered her head with her hands and waited for the danger to pass, but she was afraid that another aftershock would bring the entire shaft down on their heads effectively burying them alive and shattering any hope of survival.
She grabbed her bag and stood on shaky legs. Stars popped in her vision as she limped her way around the twisted metal, somehow managing to lacerate her right hand on a the edge of what used to be a part of the ceiling. She hissed as pain lanced through her hand, but there was nothing she could do to stop the bleeding. She was already cradling her broken arm against her chest, holding it with her other hand so that it did not hang and bang into anything, exacerbating the agony.
Carefully, so as not to trip and stumble, she straddled a large hunk of concrete and swung her good leg over one of the snapped cables. Once her foot touched the other side, she drug her bad leg over the tiny mountain, loosing her balance in the process and nearly falling flat on her face, but she managed to catch herself with her good hand, but at the expense of her broken arm which swung free and slammed into the wall. Biting back a string of curses that would have made her sound more like a sailor than a scientist, she slid down the wall to sit beside the Lieutenant.
She cringed at the sight of Elliott's leg in the pale beam of her flashlight. His lower leg disappeared at the knee under a large piece of concrete and there was a shaft of rusted rebar impaling his thigh, pinning it to the floor of the elevator. Blood seeped out around the entrance wound but the rebar kept him from bleeding out. If he were lucky, it had missed the main artery, but it did not matter if she could not free him and get him some help. He would still bleed to death from his injuries.
"Don't worry," she said as reassuringly as possible. "We're going to get out of here, but right now I need you to calm down and try to breath normally. Can you do that?"
Elliott's expression was doubtful, but he took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
"Good. Okay, I'm going to try and clear some of this debris away so I can get a better look at that leg of yours."
There were smaller pieces of rocks and metal everywhere and Sam began to tediously rearrange the jenga tower of ruble, careful not to inadvertently shift the large piece of concrete and accidentally crush Elliott's leg.
She only had one good arm with which to work so her progress was slow. She felt dizzy from her head wound and she had to sit down when her vision started to swim. It was hot in the elevator and getting hotter by the second. Sweat beaded on her temples and drenched the back of her shirt.
She moved a few small pieces of fallen debris and the larger piece shifted dangerously. Elliott whimpered in pain.
"I'm sorry," Sam said as she sat back down. "I need to rest."
Elliot's nodded. His face was ashen and Sam was worried that he might blackout.
"Talk to me, Lieutenant."
"What do you want to talk about, Major?" He asked quietly, his breathing labored and ragged from exertion.
"Tell me about your family."
Lieutenant Elliot shrugged. "There's not much to tell. My parents divorced when I was a kid. My sister and I lived with our mom in a small apartment near downtown Denver. My mom remarried when I was in high school. I never cared for my step dad. He was a real hard ass." He trailed off with a grunt of pain.
"Just hang in there Elliott. We're gonna get out of here."
Think, Sam. Think!
Perhaps the best course of action was to escape the elevator and bring help back. Given her current state, it would be difficult enough just to get herself out of the elevator. But where would she go? How would she get out of the shaft? She couldn't climb, not with her broken arm and injured leg.
"Damn it," she hissed in frustration.
Elliott tried to smile at her through his pain. "Don't worry, Major. I'm sure someone will find us soon."
Sam tried to return his half hearted smile, but she failed miserably. "Yeah, sure."
Time moved so slowly that is seemed to stand still. Sam did not know how long they had been in the elevator, but it felt like an eternity.
She used Elliott's jacket to make a tourniquet above the rebar impaling his leg, but it did not stop the flow of blood entirely. She was worried that he had lost too much blood, and his languid state only exacerbated her worries.
Her stomach growled and she rummaged around him her pack, victoriously pulling out a protein bar. She ripped it open and broke it in half. "Here, Lieutenant," she said, offering him the other half.
Elliott stare at her hand in uncertainty. "What is it, Major? I can't see it."
"It's a chocolate chip protein bar. Eat it."
Even after eating the protein bar, Sam was starving. Her stomach was so empty it felt like it was gnawing on her backbone. She had one bottle of hot water that they took turns sipping on. She knew it would not last forever, but the chances were they would die of excessive blood loss before they succumbed to dehydration.
"Maybe we should make some noise, beat on something" Elliott suggested after several long moments of empty silence. "Someone might hear us and come to investigate."
Sam agreed with that theory, but she was also afraid that too much vibration might cause some of the debris above them to shift and collapse on top of them. Instead of beating on the metal, she chose to scream herself hoarse.
"Hello! Is anyone out there? Please help us. Hello! We're in here."
Eventually, Sam ran out of energy to yell and silence reigned in the elevator. She tried to stay awake and she tried to keep Elliott awake, too, but her injuries finally took their toll and she found herself nodding off.
She slapped herself on the face. "No, no, no!"
Elliott was slumped over and for one frightening second, Sam's heart skipped a beat. "Lieutenant? Are you still with me?" She asked, shaking his shoulder to rouse him.
He mumbled something incoherent and Sam breathed a sigh of relief.
She checked her watch. It was almost midnight. She rubbed her eyes, but the tried itch that made her eyes burn and sting persisted and would not be easily rubbed away. The wound on her head had finally stopped bleeding but the injury to her calf was still weeping. Stiffness had set in and she could barely move her leg without significant strain which caused the calf wound to flare like a wildfire.
Aside from the flashlight, which Sam had turned off to conserve battery life, it was completely dark inside the elevator. Somewhere far above, a faint light flickered and buzzed, but it was too weak to permeate the darkness at the bottom of the shaft.
Screech. Scratch. Tap.
"What was that? Did you hear that? Hello? Is someone there? We're in here!"
Screech. Scratch. Tap.
"Hello! Please help us!" She shouted, climbing awkwardly to her feet and banging cautiously on the doors.
She could heard footsteps drawing close overhead and assumed that the elevator had hit the bottom of the shaft just below the bottom floor of the base.
The sound of debris being moved from one place to another was followed by the screech of nails on a chalkboard as the doors to the floor above them were leveraged open. Light flooded the elevator and Sam blinked hard.
"Hello down there! Is anyone hurt?"
Sam did not immediately recognize the voice but she was glad to hear it all the same. "Yes, Lieutenant Elliott is pinned by debris and I can't get his leg free by myself."
The voice sounded surprised. "Major Carter? Is that you Ma'am?"
"Yes. Who's that?"
"It's Captain Masbeth and Major Davis. Are you injured Ma'am?"
Sam was happy to hear that Major Davis had survived. He had always been a nice guy. "My arm is broken and my leg is badly wounded, but I'm okay. Can one of you climb down and help free the Lieutenant?"
"I'm coming down," said Major Davis. "Stand back."
The end of a rope was tossed down into the elevator and Major Davis slowly descended into the hole in the roof that had been formed by falling debris. He handed her a lantern which she placed in the corner for optimal illumination.
"His leg is trapped under that large piece of debris," she said, pointing at the obvious.
Major Davis inspected the rebar pinning Elliot to the elevator floor and the boulder sized piece of concrete sitting on his leg. "If I can lift this debris, do you think you can free his leg? You'll have to slide it up the rebar to free it."
Sam grimaced. "Yes."
"Okay, on three then. Elliott, on three."
Lieutenant Elliott gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. "Alright."
Major Davis and Sam exchanged determined glances. "One, two, three!"
Sam braced herself for the flood of pain in her shattered arm as she grasped Elliott's leg and yanked it up and off the rebar. It came free with the crunching of skin and bone.
Elliott's screams nearly deafened her in the enclosed space, but she continued to wrangle his leg until he was completely free of the debris.
"Alright, his leg is out."
Major Davis dropped the concrete and the elevator shook with the force of the impact. He crouched over the young Lieutenant and removed his belt, using it to cut off the blood flow to the younger man's leg above the wound. "We have to get him to the docs before he loses any more blood. Can you climb?"
Sam shook her head. "No."
"Here," he said, circling the rope around her waist and tying it securely. "Masbeth will pull you up. Watch your head, there are some sharp pieces of metal hanging around the entrance to the main floor." He peered up the shaft and gave Masbeth the thumbs up. "Major Carter is secure. I need you to pull her up and then throw the rope back down."
Sam grabbed the rope with her good arm and held on tight as Masbeth slowly reeled her in like a fish. She ducked her head to avoid slamming into a column of exposed rebar and electrical wire, and she grabbed onto the edge of the floor when it was finally in reach. Masbeth grabbed her by the belt on her pants and hauled her over the side and onto the cool hallway floor.
She gulped in the fresh air and tried to ignore the writhing pain in her arm and leg, but her body was on fire and no amount of wriggling would free her from the agony. As she lay there, face down on the ground, breathing in dust and bits of insulation from the ceiling, she began to feel cold all over as the adrenaline wore off and the blood loss started to take it's toll.
Once Major Davis had freed Elliott, Captain Masbeth helped Sam to her feet.
The emergency lighting was not functioning but there were glow sticks every few feet to illuminate the corridor and to mark the areas where the rescue teams had already searched for survivors. The hallways were a labyrinth of debris and wiring hanging from the ceiling. The bodies of the dead were scattered here and there. In a time such as that, life took precedence over the dead.
The infirmary was overflowing with people in various states of duress. The infirmary proper had been cordoned off for triage purposes as the operating room was already past capacity. Most of the injured with non life threatening injuries were waiting in the hallway on mismatched chairs and cots. There were orange glow sticks and battery powered lanterns illuminating the hallways around the infirmary. It was a chilling scene made all the more terrifying by the moans and cries of the wounded.
She tried to block out the screams from those with broken bones being set and injuries being stitched up with little to no anesthesia because their supplies had already been exhausted by the sheer number of wounded.
Captain Masbeth helped her to sit down on an empty cot in the hallway. "Okay, Major?"
"Yes, thank you, Captain."
He found her a blanket and wrapped it around her shaking shoulders. "I'll go find the doctor, Ma'am."
Sam searched the crowded hallway for familiar faces. A few beds down, a young airman whom she recognized from SG-12 was lying unconscious and swaddled in a white blanket. On the opposite end of the hallway, Rodney McKay was sitting against the wall, holding an icepack to his head.
Across from her, Reynolds lay staring up at the ceiling. There was blood everywhere. He made a gurgling sound and tiny bubbles of blood spilled out of his mouth and down his face.
Sam frantically searched the hallway for anyone in a white coat, but there were too many wounded and not enough doctors. She watched Reynolds die right there in front of her, choking on his own blood, and there was not a thing she could do about it. She closed her eyes and tried not to blame herself, but she felt guilty. Guilty for surviving.
A wave of sorrow gripped her heart and tears threatened to overwhelm her. Sitting on the cot in the hallway, listening to the cries of the wounded and dying, it would have been so easy to give into despair and hopelessness.
She turned at the familiar voice and the hint of a smile tugged at the corner of her lips despite herself. "Janet!"
Janet Frasier, the head doctor and one of Sam's best friends, was standing beside her bed, looking relieved. She reached out and threw her arms around Sam's neck. "Thank God you're alive. I was so worried."
"It's so good to see you, Janet," she said, relieved that her friend had survived, but feeling guilty for being so happy about it.
"Let's take a look at those injuries," she began, but Sam stopped her.
"You need to check on Elliott first. He's lost a lot of blood and he's been in and out for hours, mostly out. I'm worried about him."
Janet ignored her and peeled the blanket off her shoulders. "Doctor Spencer can look after Elliott." She took an alcohol swab to the cut on Sam's forehead and Sam hissed in pain. "Come on, this is the easy part. It's all those stitches that are going to hurt."
Sam tried to distract herself from the physical pain with a different kind of pain entirely. "What happened, Janet? Does anyone know?"
The doctor frowned. "I don't know, Sam. I overhead some of the other scientists talking, speculating, really, but the last I heard no one had any real answers. Although, that was hours ago and I've been stuck in the infirmary ever since so I'm probably not the right person to ask for news."
"Have you seen the rest of my team? Jack, Daniel, Teal'c?" Sam asked hopefully.
"Daniel has a laceration to the abdomen and Jack looks like he's been through a meat grinder, but they are both alive and currently holed up in what is left of the briefing room with what is left of the command structure around here. I don't know where Teal'c is or even if he survived. I'm sorry."
It was better news than she had expected, but yet again she felt a pang of guilt. Her heart bled for everyone who had lost their lives, but most of all it bled for her friends who were still missing and unaccounted for. It bled for her family on the surface, and for Janet's adopted daughter, Cassie because we she did not know if what had happened to them had been an isolated event or if the whole world was gone above them.
For her part, Janet was working through her grief, concentrating on helping those she could save.
"You've lost a lot of blood and you're going to need a transfusion. Luckily, we still have some, but at the rate we're using it up it won't last much longer."
One hundred and fifteen stitches and one blood transfusion later, Sam was riding a wave of painkillers and fighting off the darkness.
She wanted to see Daniel and Jack, but Janet put her foot down and ordered her to get some rest.
"When there is something to know, I'll tell you," she said. "Now take two of these and get some sleep. I'll come back to check on you later."
Sam closed her eyes and let the painkillers work their magic.
Maybe tomorrow would be a better day.