Title: Wings of the Apocalypse
Spoilers: Absolutely ANYTHING is fair game. Literally.
Category: Apocafic. AU. Action/Adventure. Drama. SJ. Bit of everything really!
Summary: "We have about seven months until the planet is wiped out, Carter," he blurted out. "Seven months until every last one of us is gone. And that's optimistic."
Notes: This fic has been in the workings for over three years. In that time, I've bounced ideas off various people, sent it for checks to even more people, and spammed countless LJ entries with moans and whines about it. As such, there are a lot of people who have been involved with this fic, and doubtlessly I'm going to forget to name some.
I do, however, owe a HUGE thankyou to some people:
Denise (Skydiver119) for saving this fic. Literally. It would still be on my HD and unfinished if D didn't step in, read it, and offer some brilliant suggestions!
Alliesings for beta'ing despite everything – she's corrected many of my Australianisms and helped me polish this fic better than I could done it alone. Thank you, Allie, I owe you big time! smooch
Seldear for being a bouncing board and support and friend during late night chats of moans about exams and whines about family, and for inspiring me to write better with her awesome Atlantis and Stargate! fic! And, of course, her help with actually figuring out how to finish the fic.
Ruralstar for her huge assistance in the first half of this fic, and her suggestions which made it that much better. Also, her contributions to plot and development were invaluable, as was her encouragement.
Evangeline for her brilliant ideas (again, sorry it didn't all get used!) and willingness to beta.
Lisa Yaeger, because she reads everything and says "It's awesome!" and that's like totally good for my ego ;)
And Starslikedust because even though I doubt she'll even REMEMBER (or read) this fic, the original ideas were bounced off her late one night, and since then this fic has morphed so completely it's not even recognisable – but she let me accost her with fic ideas and spam and I love her for it!
For Ev, because she said fic would help and it's all I had.
The chair was rough and rickety beneath her, on the verge of falling apart. Just like the rest of the stinking hole she was 'living' in. The cuffs around her wrists were threaded through a sturdy iron ring bolted to the table in front of her. The silver metal reflected watery sunlight filtering in through the dirty windows, and the light was warm as it played on her hands. It had been a long time since she'd seen the sun, much less felt it kissing her fingers. She flexed the digits, letting the weak light warm them.
Her gaze wandered across to the window, almost surprised at how blue the sky still was. Several white clouds wisped across it and disappeared, leaving her with only a small blue square of empty air. She'd thought that maybe after all this time the sky would be different somehow. Darker. Like her.
On the opposite side of the room, she heard the metal clanking of a key turning in the lock, and the rusted door swung open. Her eyebrows raised in surprise as she watched a familiar figure enter the room, and she regarded him disdainfully.
"You've had your hair cut," he said, pulling out the chair on the opposite side of the table. He looked at it warily, and pushed it back in, opting instead to stand.
"I've heard it's the new fashion," she returned calmly, her eyes never straying from his form.
"How've you been, Major?"
A slight smile pulled at her lips and she shrugged. "Lose the title, Samuels. I'm out, remember?"
He regarded her thoughtfully, and a strange smile pulled his lips into a grimace. "You know, that's almost exactly what O'Neill said to me nine years ago."
She stared at him coldly. "What do you want?"
"We need your help."
She laughed at that, and a flicker of fear crossed his face. He hadn't expected this. He hadn't expected her to be ready for the padded rooms and white jackets. But she was. She had been for a long time, probably even longer than she had realised. "That's rich, considering you're the asshole who put me in here."
"We screwed up, Major."
"For fuck's sake, Samuels, I'm not in the Air Force anymore, remember? Hell, I'm not even classed as a fucking free citizen."
"I could have you gassed," he said.
"You've tried that," she retorted, her voice like acid.
She saw the veins in his temple flutter in time with each pulse of his heart, and she stared at them in fascination. A light sheen of sweat clung to his pink skin, and she grimaced in distaste.
"We made a mistake, Sam."
She leant forwards in her chair, resting her warm palms against the rough grains of the table. "It took you this long to figure it out? And don't call me Sam."
"Then what do I call you?"
"I believe the number is 5041," she said icily. "Don't you know that, Samuels? We don't have names in here. We're just a bunch of fucking numbers."
"We have seven months until the planet is wiped out, Carter," he blurted out. "Seven months until every last one of us is gone. And that's optimistic," he added casually.
She gave a low whistle through her teeth, and leant back in her chair again, tensing as the weak wood groaned beneath her weight. "And what do you expect me to do about it?" she demanded. "I'm kinda tied up at the moment." The cuffs and chains on her wrists clinked as she raised her hands towards him almost mockingly.
"We leave in half an hour," Samuels said, standing up and casting a quick glance out of the small window.
She wondered if he could see the treetops from his viewpoint.
The rubbery hum of tires slapping down on the blacktop rose defiantly above the quiet purr of the government issued Ford. The leather was soft against her spine, but in the sweltering heat it was sticking the rough prison garb to her back.
"Could we wind down a window?" she asked, breaking the silence in the car.
"No," Samuels said curtly.
She held up her cuffed wrists, making the small chains rattle loudly. "It's not like I'm gonna go anywhere."
"We're not opening the windows."
The streetlights glistened off his forehead, and she watched as he lifted one jacket-clad arm and wiped at the sweat on his face. She pursed her lips and used her own sleeve to wipe her face, staring out the dark window to the world beyond. She peered up at the sky, twisting her head to see, but the bright lights blinded her and she couldn't see the stars.
"What are you doing?" Samuels snapped.
"Looking," she muttered, pulling her head back down and resting her forehead against the cool glass of the window. "What's with all the cloak and dagger, Samuels?"
Samuels sat back in his seat, facing forward again as their driver negotiated the large car, deliberately ignoring her question. She sighed and let her head rest against the window again. "What happened?"
The car nosed over into the exit when he looked across at her again. "You'll be told when we arrive."
Sam closed her eyes and bowed her head. Colorado. That meant one place.
The jangling of the phone was unnaturally loud as it intruded on her sleep. Her hands fumbled clumsily on her bedside table before locating the handset.
"Cassie, I swear to God you will learn how to read a watch," Janet groaned into the phone.
"This isn't Cassandra," a smooth male voice responded.
"Oh.. God.. Sorry, I thought you were my daughter."
"Sorry to have woken you, Doctor Fraiser, but we need your help."
She frowned into the phone. "Who is this?"
"Sergeant Davis, Ma'am. Walter Davis."
"Walter?" she repeated incredulously.
"Uh.. yeah. We need your help, Doctor Fraiser."
"So you've said, Sergeant." Janet sat up and swung her legs over the side, searching blindly in the dark with her feet for her slippers while her hands tried to locate the switch on her bedside lamp. "What's the problem?"
"There's been a breach."
She felt the sticky layer of heat induced sweat turn to ice on her skin. "I knew it couldn't last," she muttered, slipping her feet into her slippers and standing up. "I'll be there in twenty minutes."
"No, I'll meet you at your house in five minutes." The phone went dead in her hands, and she stared at it for several seconds. Despite the heat, she felt cold inside.
Maybourne hated these places. The chemical smell of disinfectant soured the air and the sterile whiteness made him feel unclean. He was unclean, he supposed, but hopefully his actions in the next few days would balance out his karma and he wouldn't return to this life as a bug.
A bitter smile pulled at his lips as he navigated his way through the endless hallways. Jack O'Neill would have liked that: Maybourne returning as a cockroach. O'Neill would simply crush him beneath his military issued boot.
Still, maybe he'd come back as a dog now, or something. Hopefully.
"Where are we going?" Janet asked, rolling her shoulders to try and dislodge the sweat-soaked shirt sticking to her back. It was hot, she decided, disgustingly and unnaturally hot for this area of the USA.
"Nuclear Facility," Davis grunted, his boots crushing gravel and growth in an unsteady pace in front of her. "They don't want anyone to know we've brought you in."
She remained quiet, staring at the gate technician's back. Walter Davis, their tech-head and resident nerd, was playing hero?
"I know what you're thinking, Ma'am," he commented, stopping to face her. His flashlight glinted off the gravel, and moonlight turned his crew-cut into a silver fuzz.
"What am I thinking?" she asked him.
"That things must be pretty bad if a gate geek who couldn't pass his physical is leading a discharged military doctor across a mountain in the middle of the night."
"Either that or the gate geek has some pretty strange ideas," she returned. His eyes widened, and he stuttered a few times before falling silent. "Well, are they?" she asked.
"NO!" he snapped explosively. Then, "No, Ma'am. This definitely isn't my idea of fun."
A small smile tugged at her mouth, but it didn't surface. "I was talking about the emergency. It's bad, isn't it?"
"Yes," he said simply, and continued walking. She followed in silence, watching the narrow beam of light bounce through the darkness.
Things had to be bad if Walter Davis was playing hero, she mused darkly.
The hypodermic syringe was a warm and comforting weight in his pocket. He let his fingers roll over the smooth plastic several times, watching the guards patrol the room's single door.
He smiled in amusement, the emotion flickering briefly across his shadowed features. Two men on guard for one man locked in a padded room, Maybourne mused dryly. Impressive. Then again, he would never have suspected any less from the man locked behind the doors.
He just hoped the rumours weren't true.
Nuclear Facility, Colorado
"This is ridiculous, Sergeant!" Fraiser snapped, stomping across the dark room in frustration. "Would you just tell me what the hell is going on?"
"I can't," he mumbled apologetically, staring down at his hands. Pale, soft skin. Indoor hands with calluses on the fingertips from too much typing on a computer keyboard. His hands weren't made for all this outdoorsy, cloak and dagger planet saving crap.
"Why not?" Fraiser demanded, pinning him against the wall with her eyes. Fraiser would have made a great General; everyone had said so. Until Bauer.
"I'm under orders," he explained. She, of all people, should understand that.
"Whose orders?" The woman never gave up, did she?
Walter's body almost sagged in relief as the force of her personality was deflected away from him and directed towards the doorway where several figures were now standing.
"Yours?" Fraiser spat, and Walter cringed. Fraiser hated Samuels, he remembered a few seconds too late.
"Yes," Samuels nodded. "We don't have much time, Doctor Fraiser, and I'm only going to explain the situation once."
"Then damn well hurry up and explain it, Samuels, I'm losing what little patience I had to begin with." The figure who'd spoke was female, but it wasn't Fraiser.
Walter felt his mouth drop open again as a tall, thin woman clad in bright orange prison garb stepped into the room, her hands bound in front of her by a pair of metal handcuffs. Despite the shaved head and lines around her eyes, he would have recognised Samantha Carter anywhere.
"Sam!" Fraiser gasped; the word was a strangled sound deep in her throat.
"Janet," Carter greeted coolly. Her eyes flicked over Walter as she nodded a quick greeting to him, and then she turned back to Samuels. "Would you take these off now, Samuels? My wrists are getting chafed."
"But…" Fraiser whispered, and Walter understood how she felt. "I was there, I saw you…"
"You saw me die?" Carter asked hollowly. "Wrong, Janet. I'm not dead."
"Yes, we're well aware of that. Now, if you ladies don't mind, we do have a very big problem on our hands," Samuels interrupted. "And I'm not untying Carter until I've explained the situation and you understand what's happening."
"Hurry up then, Samuels," Carter snapped, crossing the room and seating herself.
Walter stared at Samuels, frowning in thought. What the hell was going on? And how many more secrets did Samuels have?