Summary: SG-1 never came up with 'plan C.' They couldn't save Earth.
Classifications: Alternative Ending ("Fail Safe"), Angst, S/J (sort of)
Disclaimer: The characters mentioned in this story are the property of Showtime and Gekko Film Corp. The Stargate, SG-1, the Goa'uld and all other characters who have appeared in the series STARGATE SG-1 together with the names, titles and backstory are the sole copyright property of MGM-UA Worldwide Television, Gekko Film Corp, Glassner/Wright Double Secret Productions and Stargate SG-I Prod. Ltd. Partnership. This fanfic is not intended as an infringement upon those rights and solely meant for entertainment. All other characters, the story idea and the story itself are the sole property of the author.
Author's Note: Just a little experiment I've been playing with. I've never tried this format before, but this is just the way it got written. They are short vignettes that together tell the story about what follows the destruction of Earth. It is S/J in a weird and vague way. Of course, the whole thing is weird and vague, so no big surprise. And it's dark, I know. :)
They sit in shocked silence as Earth burns.
The now spurious message to the Asgard continues to echo through the vastness of space. No one bothers to turn it off, even as it saps precious last moments, eating energy that could otherwise offer breathable air. But what did five more minutes of life support matter when Earth lay dying?
For five years they had dedicated their lives to the protection of the tiny blue sphere and its billions of blissfully ignorant inhabitants. But now, in the blink of an eye, they were being wiped from the surface by fire and water. Even if something could survive the seismological repercussions, the darkness of nuclear winter would follow. Nothing could grow.
Earth was dead.
Twenty minutes later, as the ship drones in Goa'uld that life support is failing, a light beeps on the console, warning them of an approaching ship. Teal'c activates the view screen.
"I am Jalen of the To'kra. We received your distress call and came as fast as we could. Can we render assistance?"
Too little, too late.
1534. It's a pathetically small number.
If one were counting seconds, it represented less than 26 minutes. Miles? That was barely a six hour flight, Denver to New York. In years it was only a quarter of the totality of written human history. Not really all that impressive of a number. Only now does it hold any sort of special resonance.
It now represents all of the survivors from the extinct planet known as Earth.
1534 alive. Six billion dead. Numbers no longer seem to have any meaning.
Not even to Sam, whose life used to be built on them.
They are unwillingly thrust into a position of leadership. Shell-shocked eyes follow them hungrily where ever they go, hoping for a miracle. All Sam can see is blame.
She had failed.
Why did they always ask her? Don't they realize the only reason they were here in the first place was because of her? The numbers don't make sense to her anymore. For once, she doesn't care.
Sam grips her weapon harder, leaving science to the scientists.
And now she no longer even has them to lean on, SG-1 finally pulled apart, fractured by their new responsibilities.
The final punishment.
Jack takes command, General Hammond's last words to him still echoing in his ears.
He had failed.
Jack hates that they all look to him. The pressure of being responsible for his entire race is more familiar than it should be. But none of his experience or skills had saved Earth in the end. He sits in his chair and makes decisions, leaving a large part of himself behind on that damn asteroid.
Doesn't anybody understand that not so many years ago, he was sitting on his dead son's bed with a gun to his head?
Earth could do better.
There are less than a hundred children. The adults are soldiers, scientists, teachers, doctors, and engineers. It is a perfect cross-section of a once flourishing civilization.
But Daniel can't quite decide what his purpose is in this new existence. What place does archaeology have in a world with no past? He knows there is no magic solution waiting to be translated.
So he simply observes, watching his friends slowly fall apart. He has no answers to offer and wonders if he is falling apart, too.
He yearns for blistering sands and the comforting arms of a woman long dead.
Strangers in the Dark
She can't remember who made the first move. But they somehow manage to find each other in the dark. The feel of flesh and the flicker of ecstasy offer temporary relief from the desolation. But never for long.
He always calls her Sam. She can almost believe she is someone else, even as part of her secretly longs for the familiarity of 'Carter.' But that would make it about them and not about survival and solace.
In the light of day, they pretend to be strangers.
Everyone looks the other way, an unspoken agreement not to say anything. What did rules really matter now that Earth was over?
Even Janet can't bring herself to say anything. She just silently lets them destroy each other, night by night.
"Go back to your family."
But Teal'c won't leave.
Jack wonders how long it will be before Teal'c realizes that the Tau'ri are once again just a myth. The dream he pledged himself to is dead. Another Goa'uld casualty. A people destined to be swallowed by the forgetfulness of time.
Maybe someday, someone like Daniel will dig through their ruins, exclaiming with interest over their remains. Wondering what they might have been like; sticking mangled forks and ratty copies of Shakespeare beneath glass in a museum.
If only he had blown that damn Abydos gate when he had the chance.
Sam doesn't return from her last mission. The baby-faced soldiers she had been in command of stumble back through the gate, their skin smudged with dirt and blood.
No one ever told them that no one gets left behind.
1534 becomes 1533.
Alone in the dark, Jack does not ache for the stranger who warmed his bed in anonymity. He simply yearns for Carter, the dream whose blue eyes used to flash with warmth and humor. The woman who had been extinguished as she watched her home burn, the solution, for once, coming too late.
There is no more time to make things right. And Jack thinks that maybe he is just a ghost now, too.
Cassie has now lost two worlds. She begins to think that it will only be a matter of time until this one falls, too.
She should have been left behind.
The optimism of youth begins to surrender to the pull of hatred. Maybe the Goa'uld really were gods. She waffles between the path of giving life and taking it, but neither the doctor nor the soldier managed to save Earth.
Maybe it was time to return to Hanka. At least there, there was no one left to lose.
That way, she wouldn't have to watch the Tau'ri slowly die.
She stumbles home on a broken leg. They shouldn't have been surprised; just another miraculous return from the dead.
It seems to be their fate to live, even as bodies pile up around them.
Maybe it is their punishment.
"Carter," he finally says in a broken voice.
She is startled for a moment. Then she salutes crisply, "Yes, sir."
And somehow, they are no longer strangers in the dark. Somewhere inside all the death and failure, they learn to let it be about them. Because without it, there was nothing left.
"We can help," is all they say, calmly observing the people ruthlessly derailed from its future as the Fifth Race.
Jack wants to ask how they will bring six billion alive from the dead. He wants to complain that the term Protected Planet is nothing but a sick joke. But instead he just nods and says, "Thank you."
The Asgard pluck people from the scattered corners of Earth. The hinterlands of Australia, Africa and South America. The Himalayas.
Against the odds, people have lived. They survived the trembling ground and flashing fires, eating canned meat and ageless twinkies. The lack of sunlight gently worked on killing them moment by moment.
The survivors seem less shocked by little grey aliens than they should have been.
Eight point three million. It's only a tiny fraction of six billion, but so much more than 1534. Maybe numbers can mean something after all.
They can mean hope.
They cleared the skies.
The sunlight just makes the desolation easier to see.
North America is half under water, the other half actively volcanic. England and Europe have been swept away by tidal forces. The Stargate lays buried somewhere and there is talk of unearthing it.
There is no question of hiding or simply leaving well enough alone.
From orbit, Jack observes the new ocean that used to be Baffin Island and Northern Canada. He wonders who will get to name it.
They stand upon Earth, taking in the desolation. Jack gives in to the primal urge to dig his fingers into the dirt. Home.
Carter's hand tugs on his jacket.
"Jack," she says breathlessly.
She is pointing, pulling his attention away from the iron framed buildings that stand like silent skeletons.
And there, bravely surviving between twisted metal and burned earth, a single weed spreads its leaves wide, welcoming the brilliant sun. Jack feels his heart beat quicker for a moment, and looking at Carter, he sees the barest glimmer of light in her eyes.
Maybe the Tau'ri really are just a myth, he thinks.
Not a people to be forgotten, but rather like the phoenix, destined to rise from the ashes.
Only time will tell.