Title: Left Behind
Spoilers: Slight spoilers for the movie.
Summary: "I was studying the Gate technology for two years before Daniel Jackson made it work and before you both went through. I should have gone through then." Why wasn't Sam part of the first mission to Abydos?
Feedback: Feedback is more than welcome, flames are not.
Disclaimer: 'Stargate SG1' and all the characters associated with the show belong to someone who isn't me. As I doubt that the owners would be willing to trade their rights for some magic beans that aren't in any way magical, this is not going to change at any point in the foreseeable future.
Author's Note: This story was written for the Sam Carter Ficathon, in response to Ginalynn's request for a story with an argument between Sam and another character and without character death.
Author's Note II: I know that the movie was made in 1994, but I've changed the date to account for the fact that only abouta year was supposed to have passed between the movie and the beginning of the TV series in 1997.
Author's Note III: A huge thank you to L.A. Doyle for betaing this story.
Cheyenne Mountain, 1996
Two years of work on the mysterious device, newly christened the 'stargate', and she hadn't been able to unlock its secrets. After two weeks away from the base, briefing their liaison at the Pentagon on their progress, or lack thereof, and urging them to allow the program the funding it needed to continue, she returned to find that the puzzle had been solved in her absence.
"Don't feel bad." Catherine counseled, seeing the downcast expression on the younger woman's face. "If it weren't for you, even Doctor Jackson's translation wouldn't have been of much help."
"I should have been able to recognize that the symbols were constellations."
"None of us did – and I've been working on the device since you were in diapers." Catherine pointed out, patting Sam's hand lightly. "You were the one who was able to design the dialing program, to integrate the technology with ours, and that's what is letting us use the stargate now. You made more progress in the two years you've been working on the project than we did in the twenty years before that. All that we were missing was an address, and we have that now."
"Will they be sending a team to the coordinates?" The idea of traveling to another planet, hundreds of light years away, within seconds was one that she was having some trouble getting used to, but after the years the Air Force had devoted to the project, she knew better than to think that they would allow the opportunity to use the device to go to waste.
"Yes. I'm sorry, Samantha." Catherine said gently, knowing that her news would come as a blow. "General West wouldn't accept my recommendation that you join the team. It wasn't my call to make." She frowned. "It's been made clear to me that this project is now the concern of the Air Force."
"General, with all due respect, I should be on that team."
"Captain." General West's tone held a warning note, but Sam scarcely registered it. "The team has already been selected."
"I know that device better than anybody else here; if there are problems on the other end…"
"Dr Jackson is certain that he will be able to decipher the symbols on the second stargate." West told her firmly.
"What if he's wrong? What if he can't find the return address? What if the device on the other side is damaged? The whole team could wind up stranded. The things I've learned from my work on the device could make a difference." She had never argued with a superior officer in her life, and truthfully, a part of her was screaming at her to stop, to nod, to say 'yes, sir' and to accept the General's decision without another murmur of protest, but another part of her wouldn't – couldn't – quietly accept being excluded from the mission after all the time, effort, and energy she had devoted to the project.
She needed to see it through.
"I am confident that Dr Jackson will be able to work out how to bring the team home."
"But what if…"
"After all, he was the one who was able to do what you and your team couldn't, and figure out how to operate the stargate in the first place." General West cut her off, unerringly hitting on her sore spot.
As much as she wanted to repeat Catherine's points about the job being all but done before Dr Jackson had provided the final pieces of the puzzle, Sam couldn't force her tongue to obey her, not with General West glowering at her, his supply of patience almost completely exhausted.
When she remained silent, West gave her a thin smile. "I'm sure that you'll agree, Captain, that the right people have been chosen for the mission. You're to be reassigned to the Pentagon." He said dismissively, standing to indicate that he considered that their discussion was at an end. "And in any case, if there are hostiles on the other side, it would be no place for you."
Simmering at both the injustice of being cut from the mission and the implication that she would be unable to handle herself in a combat situation – an insult added to injury, there seemed to be no such concerns about the safety of the civilian who had been roped into the mission – Sam couldn't bring herself to utter the words 'yes, sir', couldn't agree with what West was saying.
General West didn't seem to notice or care as he ushered her out of his office, closing the door firmly behind her.
Sam had never before entertained the thought of asking her father to use his influence to advance her career, but right now she was giving the idea serious consideration.
The phone felt heavy in her hand as she contemplated her next move.
Her father knew nothing about the stargate and she would never be allowed to tell him, but he knew a lot of people and there was a good chance that he would be able to get her onto the mission.
If he agreed to help her at all, of course.
Her relationship with her father was shaky at the best of times; she didn't know if it would be able to survive unscathed if he refused to help with something so important to her, but on the flipside, if he agreed to intervene, did she really want to get on the team that way?
She had spent her years in the Air Force until now doing her best to avoid being known as 'General Carter's daughter', had pushed herself to be the best, to excel in all areas so that nobody could ever claim that her father's connections had eased her way into plum assignments or that her successes were based on anything other than her own merits.
The phone was in one hand, the fingers of the other hand poised to dial her father's number and plead that he help her, but whether from pride, fear of rejection, or a mixture of both, she couldn't do it.
When she traveled through the stargate – and she was determined that she would one day – it wouldn't be because she had pulled strings to get there.
From the control room, General West watched as the FRED trundled up the ramp, preceding the reconnaissance team through the stargate. Only one of the men traveling across the galaxy knew what was hidden in the carrier's inner compartment. Aside from West, only O'Neill knew that for at least one member of the team, it could well prove to be a one-way trip.
Dr Jackson paused before stepping through the shimmering blue puddle, awed fingers gently touching it's surface before submerging first his face and then his entire body, passing from this planet to one light years away.
West hoped that Jackson was right about being able to bring the team home but he was aware that it was possible that he wouldn't be able to do it.
The potential problems Captain Carter had pointed out could very well prevent him from being able to align the stargate and she had been right when she had said that she might have been able to help deal with those problems, but there was no way that he was going to risk putting her on the team.
Even O'Neill didn't know about the failsafe rigged in the bomb, but West wouldn't have put it past Carter to not only spot the flaw but to correct it.
That was something he could not allow, nor would he risk the life of a brilliant scientist and one of the most promising young officers he had worked with on what could well wind up being a suicide mission.
Carter was too valuable an asset to the Air Force to take that chance.
She hadn't come to the control room to watch the team depart, but he had no doubt that she was still on the base, waiting to hear whether the team had departed safely before she left for the Pentagon and whatever project her brilliant mind could be applied to.
Down in the embarkation room, the wormhole disengaged. Without the blue glow that the open wormhole had generated, the room seemed darkened for a moment.
It could be just hours before the stargate was activated from the other side, it might be days, it might be weeks or months, or it might never happen. They might never know the fate of the team if they were never be able to find their way home.
West could only pray that they did.