Chapter 15 – A Leap of Faith
Elapsed time on board (ETOB): LD Plus 52 days. Elapsed time at origin (ETAO): LD Plus 71 days
Daniel and Sarah Jackson were now fully awake as they descended to the lower depths of the SGC in the elevator, having finally shaken off the disturbing effects of being woken by the 3:15 am house call, followed by rapid dressing and the high-speed journey in an Air Force staff limo. To their surprise, Teal'c stood waiting for them outside the briefing room, his face as impassive as ever.
"What's going on, Teal'c?" asked Daniel. "Have they found Sam?"
"In a manner of speaking, they have." intoned his great friend. Before the chance for further questions arose, he turned and beckoned for them to follow, as he strode towards the control room. The centre of everyone's attention was the sub-space communicator, and Teal'c unceremoniously moved a few of the onlookers aside so that the three of them could stand directly in front of the opalescent globe. He nodded to the technician at the desk, who typed a short sequence on the keyboard of a computer that had been wired into the alien instrument. The globe glowed briefly and a hiss came from the computer's speakers.
After a few moments, two familiar faces appeared side-by-side and a gasp, followed shortly by cheers, whistles and even a brief round of applause resounded in the control room.
"Sam!" cried Daniel in delight. "You found him!" Beside him, his wife let out a small squeal and practically bounced up and down in delight.
"Hello, everyone!" Sam's image responded. They all saw the broad grin that she couldn't stop, contrasting as it did with Jack's slightly confused expression. Those who knew them well also recognised the look on her face that military personnel are so familiar with: the delight of a partner whose loved one has returned safely from a hazardous tour of duty. There was no doubt that, out of vision, their hands would be clasped together, and so it was.
Even Teal'c had cracked a brief smile. "Are you well, O'Neill?" he interjected against the background hubbub. "Your survival is a feat in which we all rejoice."
"Thank you, Teal'c." Jack replied, still straight-faced. "I'm kinda rejoicing in it myself."
"I assume that the Asgard came through, Sam?" asked Daniel. "Are any of them with you? Can we expect you to be beamed back here any time soon?"
Sam's smile almost disappeared, but nothing was going to take away that residual look of pure joy. "No, Daniel. Jack and I are safe enough in the ship that they made for me, but..... Look, there's no easy way to say this, but we aren't coming back."
The chorus of gasps and exclamations in the control room ran its course before she continued. "We're downloading a full report on the reasons, but the crux of it is that even current Asgard technology won't get us back without a high probability of failure. We have to wait for them to come up with a solution. The Prometheus made it back against all the odds and should certainly not be used in a rescue attempt. Please get that message and the report through to Celia and the Chinese government."
"But what....?" was all Daniel could manage in reply.
"We're going to wait out here for Thor and his buddies to dream up something." said Jack. "It'll just take them a little time to come up with the goods, though. And Sam's right. We're safe enough with the ship that she turned up in, and we can use the Bio-pod for living quarters and food supply. It just won't bring us back in your lifetimes."
"So you're going into stasis chambers or jumping to near light speed!" cried Sarah. "Which? No, wait, the Bio-pod won't last beyond its design lifetime of a year or two, so it has to be the light-speed option. You won't age much, but the rest of us will. How near to c, Sam?"
"Near enough so that every day on board for us will be the equivalent of around sixty years for you." came the sober reply.
Daniel looked stricken, and Teal'c's face was even more of a mask than usual. Jack's voice broke the silence.
"You can use this message to broadcast on TV if you want to." he said quietly. "But before we make the jump, I'd be grateful if you could arrange for Cassie to be present alongside just the three of you so that we can exchange a few words in private. Call us when she's there, please?" He paused. "To the rest of you present who know us, I can only say for both Colonel Carter and myself that it's been an honour to serve."
The military personnel present spontaneously stood to attention and saluted their images on the screen. Many responded with their own words, mostly along the lines of "You too, Sirs!"
It had taken six hours to find Cassandra Fraiser and fly her in to the base by helicopter. Both Daniel and Sarah could see the difference in Sam and Jack's expressions on the screen this time around, despite the poor quality of the images. They looked more relaxed next to each other, and the tension previously seen in his face was no longer there.
"Wonder what they've been doing since the last transmission?" Sarah giggled mischievously. "Joining the light-year high club, perhaps?"
"Not before time!" Cassie responded, looking for and being rewarded with a raised eyebrow from her Jaffa friend and guardian. Daniel merely smirked.
"I heard that!" came Jack's response, and Sarah later swore that Sam was seen to blush on screen, despite the poor picture definition. He continued "Listen, we've agreed that Sam's going to do the talking for both of us. All I want to say is that for the last couple of months I thought I'd finally lost everything, and that I had only the fondest memories of you all. Talking to you again like this is the best bonus there could be, even if it is for the last time. You are the best friends I could have wished for."
That sobered them up. After a short interval, Sam appeared on centre screen and spoke.
"Cassie, I know that you understand why I made this one-way trip to get to Jack. At least, I hope you do. I can only tell you that leaving you behind was the hardest decision. Please forgive me."
"Aunt Sam!" cried Cassie. "If I'd known, I would have booted your ass if you hadn't gone! In the nicest possible way, I'm glad you've come to your senses after three years. I'll miss you, but I'm glad you and Jack are together now."
"Thanks, Cass." Sam replied quietly. She perked up again. "Teal'c! We both owe you so much. It's been so hard for you ever since Jack persuaded you to join us ten years ago, and we know that living in our society hasn't been the best thing for you. We'll miss you more than you can know."
"You are wrong, both of you." said Teal'c in his solemn way. "You gave me the perspective to look back on my former life, and to join the noblest cause of all – the fight against pure evil. It is I who owe you everything I would like to become or achieve. Go with my sincere good wishes."
Again there was a pause while Sam was seen to be gathering her thoughts. "Daniel," she said quietly "Jack will never tell you just what he thinks of you, but I know you know that the feelings are there. You have been more than a friend, and when I think of all the personal losses you've borne, and never given up on us, I feel very proud. We're so glad that you have Sarah in your life now. Enjoy life and think of us from time to time. And Sarah – be glad that Daniel feels just as much for you as you obviously do for him. You won't find anyone better."
Daniel dropped his head and blushed furiously before looking up at the communicator again. "That goes for the two of you as well." he said falteringly. "I can't imagine what you'll find when the Asgard finally come around. Just believe in each other. God speed!"
The screen faded and an era passed.
Elapsed time on board (ETOB): LD Plus 392 days. Elapsed time at origin (ETAO): LD Plus 20829 years 100 days
"O'Neill!" came Thor's voice even before the glow of white light had faded in the Bio-pod. Jack looked up briefly from what was calling on all his attentive powers. The Asgard Supreme Commander, newly materialised in the living quarters and wearing his forty-third cloned body, did not hesitate to get to the point. "We are in need of your assistance."
"Oh, for crying out loud!" Jack sighed. He looked round and called through the open hatch leading to the growing decks. "Sam! Guess who's here!" As she entered, fingers and hands a bright green from tending the vegetation, Jack looked back at their would-be rescuer.
"Thor, meet Grace Carter-O'Neill, our daughter. Grace, meet the royal pain in the ass who's come to get us out of here. At a price, obviously."
I've had a lot of fun fooling around with the Laws of Relativity and nuclear physics in this story. It was inspired by a very interesting web site called fourmilab.ch – just follow the links to the science sections if you'd like to see a very clear explanation of the rules we'll have to live by if ever we want to zoom around the universe for real.
As usual, thanks to everyone who's written with encouragement and comments. I hope that it's been entertaining and different enough from the usual SG-1 stories to make you think.
Best wishes, Ted