With Great Power
by Amy L. Hull amilynh at comcast dot net
for Denise/DeeJay in the LJ Sam Carter Ficathon
Author's notes: Thanks to Heidi, Tricia, Constance, Sel, Eva, and Merlin Missy for betas, read-throughs, and assurances that this was working, not shot through with logic holes, and fulfilling the request.
Sam flinched at the distant sound of weapons fire and sharp voices. Through a fog she was aware of P90s, zats, the occasional staff blast, and a .45, all whistling through the room and zinging off of stone walls, sending fragments flying through the air. As the ringing in her ears subsided and her hearing returned, she knew she was in the middle of a firefight.
She surveyed the room, shielding her face with her arm as she peered up cautiously from the floor. She was stiff all over and her mouth tasted of gritty, dry sand and the metallic tang of electricity. A zat. She'd been hit by a zat, she realized as sparkling pain lanced through her head.
She couldn't see Daniel, but Teal'c and the colonel were holding back Jaffa, shooting continuously, taking turns reloading, but the Jaffa just kept coming. So much for this stronghold being largely abandoned, Sam thought wryly.
The Asgard had been so certain, too. They had been sure this Goa'uld had anti-replicator weapons in his arsenal. SG1 had been sent to verify their intel and, if it was right, bring the weapon or weapons back to Earth. If such a weapon existed, it might be used to protect both the Asgard and Earth.
All they found, though, was an under-stocked armory with nothing that stood out as special or different, and inexplicably, hordes of Jaffa.
The colonel glanced over his shoulder and shouted, "Carter, you with us?"
"Yes, sir." She stood quickly, weapon at the ready, but paused. Something wasn't right about the room.
"O'Neill! Further Jaffa reinforcements are approaching. We should retreat."
Daniel blended into his surroundings, covered in dust from the shattering stone. He moved gingerly, climbing unsteadily to his feet and looking about as disoriented as Sam felt moments before, and his glasses were still askew. "Uh, retreat to where? I don't really see any of us fitting through that barred window over there and this place doesn't seem to have a back door."
Sam frowned as she turned Daniel's words over in her head. The colonel had complained earlier that there were an awful lot of Jaffa here to guard nothing, and Goa'uld were far too paranoid not to have an escape hatch. That's what was wrong. The room was too much a dead end.
She looked more closely at the back wall. The groove in the wall was almost invisible, but she was certain it was a door. Letting her weapon dangle from its strap, she began to feel along the wall for some kind of mechanism to let them in.
"Carter, get your ass out of there!"
The colonel's shout was punctuated by a cascade of rock fragments raining from the wall above her. She shook debris out of her hair and eyes and simultaneously felt a difference in the stone pattern.
"I've found something, sir," she called, depressing the area she'd just felt budge beneath her fingers.
The metallic taste in her mouth turned bitter; they were trapped and the attack had let up slightly, a sure sign the Jaffa were preparing for a final assault. Her heart pounded even harder--something she'd not thought possible--as she continued feeling desperately for something that would support her guess, something that might give them an out.
"Open, damn it!" she shouted at the wall, but could barely hear herself over the cacophony. She knew their ammunition couldn't hold out much longer.
Her fingers found a second weak spot in the mortar and she pressed both desperately. The wall slid away, stone scraping on stone.
"Colonel! It's here!"
"Let's go! Daniel! Now!"
Teal'c and Colonel O'Neill's synchronized movements covered the team's escape.
They scrambled into the chamber as Sam looked for a mechanism to close the wall back up, hoping this chamber had an outside door. One that led to an outside not overrun with Jaffa would be even better.
The stone wall scraped closed again and Teal'c grabbed a bar to jam the moveable portion in place.
This explains the Jaffa guard, Sam thought. Everywhere she looked was equipment, some assembled, some scattered in pieces. There was at least one that looked like a naquadah generator, another that resembled a modified hand device, and components that could be anything from power boosters and power supplies to bolts and casings. Next to these were some objects that resembled nothing Sam had yet seen. They could be weapons, but there was no way to know without examining them.
The colonel was already examining their position. "Good job, Carter. You found us another dead end."
Sam frowned, "I'm sorry, sir. At least the Jaffa aren't in here..."
The blasting against the wall through which they'd entered escalated.
"Any bets on how long it'll take before they are?"
Sam felt her jaw tighten but pressed her lips firmly together, mentally counting to ten as she began to look through the items.
"Sam, look at this," Daniel called.
She examined the item Daniel was holding out and smiled. "Sir, this may be what we were looking for; it looks like it has a phase modulator that would cycle the weapon's output to--"
"Carter! That's good, right? It'll do what we came for?"
"Yes, sir. Possibly."
"Okay. Daniel, Teal'c, grab everything you can. Carter, find us a way out of this."
"Yes, sir," she said, looking at the stone vault she'd turned into a trap for them.
The colonel nodded, gave her a half-smile, and started reloading his weapons with the last of his ammunition while Daniel and Teal'c dumped blankets and clothes from their packs.
"Sam, what should we get first?"
Sam continued examining the walls while saying, "Anything that looks like it has a power supply. Go for the completed items first, then components with memory crystals or control chips."
"Major Carter is correct; Stargate Command is capable of reproducing many parts. Daniel Jackson, take these items."
Out of the corner of her eye, Sam could see them loading the packs. She ran her hands along the walls, feeling for a crevice or anything that could make the back wall into a door.
The pounding and energy blasts against the wall increased in speed and intensity and her heart pounded ever more rapidly. Sharp parts of the rock walls pricked at her fingertips. The first bit of rock and mortar she felt shift came right off in her hand and she tossed it to the ground. She only realized she had gasped at it when the colonel glanced at her, weapon still pointed steadily at the door.
"Find something, Carter?"
"No, sir." She felt her stomach clench even more tightly at having to disappoint him. "Just part of the wall breaking off."
"Well, hurry, okay?"
Daniel was suddenly next to her. "Need any help?"
"Yeah, feel around the wall for a ridge, a crevice, anything that might be a secret compartment."
Behind them Colonel O'Neill and Teal'c braced for the Jaffa attack.
She continued examining the wall, forcing herself to slow down and be methodically thorough.
"Sam! Over here! This looks like it could be it."
She prodded the wall where Daniel indicated and let him guide her fingers to an indentation. Just like outside the room, nothing happened.
"There was a dual release system on the door to this room," she explained, placing her hands in the same configuration she'd used outside. Nothing above the indentation in the similar position, but below it, there was the second pressure point and they backed away as they heard stone scraping against stone.
"All right, Carter!"
"Don't congratulate me too quickly, sir, all we did was find a little cubbyhole."
The blasting at the entrance intensified yet again, and the stone slab shuddered, rock debris crumbling from it and the lintel above.
"What's in it, then?" he demanded.
Sam heard the entire stone behind her shudder and quickly moved the cover from the small vault Daniel had located. She restrained a shudder and reached into the dark space, ignoring the possibility of insects or vermin, ignoring Daniel's admonishments to be careful; there was no time for careful. She felt granules and her fingers burned where the skin was raw, then she felt metal. She scooped behind it and dragged the contents out. First to emerge was a small disk, silver, like a flattened sphere that fit neatly into her palm. As the second item emerged, she gasped and felt every muscle tense.
"Carter? What's in it? We don't have much time left here."
Daniel answered. "It's something we've never seen before...and a ribbon device, Jack."
Sam looked at Daniel, saw his eyebrows drawn together in his typical worried frown, saw him look from the colonel to her and back again. She looked at Colonel O'Neill, certain she knew what he was going to say, what he was going to order her to do, and a chill dropped through her chest and into her stomach.
The first time she had seen a ribbon device it had flung her CO across a clearing. The first time one had been aimed at her it had felt like fire was boring its way into her brain before she was tossed casually into a wall. The first time she had touched one, she had instinctively put it on and watched it glow impossibly to life as it also extinguished one more fragment of who she had been before Jolinar. The second time she had put on a ribbon device she had broken a System Lord in half with her mind...and she'd only meant to incapacitate him. Maybe her subconscious had understood better than she did that "dead" was the only way to eliminate the Goa'uld's threat. She didn't know which theory was more terrifying.
"The vault's empty otherwise." Daniel touched her arm. "Sam? You okay?"
"Carter, can you still use that thing?" The colonel's voice was barely audible over the assault on the room
"I'm not sure--"
"Use it, Carter. Make it do anything you can."
Before he even finished giving the order, Sam already had the device halfway on, going through motions from muscle memory that was not her own. She was placing the last two fingertip caps as the stone door cracked.
Breathing unevenly, biting her lip, she raised the device, feeling dwarfed by the power she held in that hand, feeling her shoulders and neck tense defensively.
"Guys, get behind me." She felt synapses in her brain fire that she knew she had only ever used once before. Electricity sizzled through her brain, along her spine, and down her arm. Her palm itched, prickling with power and fear and energy. She saw the glow from the jewel from behind her hand and, with no warning, energy spat forth from the device, knocking down the first two rows of Jaffa.
"Leave us!" she ordered.
She heard the colonel and Teal'c settle their weapons more firmly into position beside her.
The Jaffa stood there, staring, then starting with the first one, they began to laugh.
"Tau'ri woman, do you expect us to back down in the face of such a tiny threat?" the tallest mocked.
"I killed the System Lord Seth with this weapon," Sam responded evenly, feeling her jaw tighten and her eyes narrow slightly. "You can stand down or die."
"Seth was no one, a coward who hid on Earth for centuries. We serve a true god and you will face his wrath."
"And what would you call me, a Tau'ri woman who can use the weapons of the gods?"
The Jaffa hesitated, then raised his weapon.
Sam spread her fingers, willing him to fly across the room and into the other Jaffa troops. He fell, but fired his weapon, and she saw a familiar force field waver into effect. The shot never reached her, but she heard Teal'c's quick intake of breath. Out of the corner of her eye she saw blood streaming down the side of his head, and heard the weapons fire pick up pace again. She heard Daniel yelp, and the power coursing through her built until her whole body felt like static electricity was firing along every muscle and nerve fiber. The palm of her other hand also itched with power. Frowning slightly, she spared a glance at the disk and found it had turned purple in her grasp. The blast from the ribbon device a moment later flattened every Jaffa in the outer chamber. Sam spun around and energy flashed forth again, punching a hole in the wall of the vault.
"Go!" she shouted, turning back to the Jaffa. Exhilaration coursed through her as her team exited safely, covering her in their retreat, then she moved backward out of what had nearly become their tomb.
They ran for the gate, watching for approaching enemies, weapons at the ready. Sam clenched the power jewel of the ribbon device and its points as well as those of the finger caps dug into her palm and fingers. Her P-90 dangled at her chest.
Not a single Jaffa followed them.
When they reached the gate clearing, the colonel signaled them to stop. "How the hell did you do that, Carter?"
Energy pricked at her hands and she held up the disk, now silver again but with a pearlescent cloudiness. "I think it might be this, sir. It felt like this amplified the power to the device or...increased the output or--"
"I think this disk may make the ribbon device more powerful."
"Why do I think that just can't be good?"
Teal'c returned before she realized he'd gone and reported quietly, "There are over half a dozen Jaffa guarding the gate."
Sam stepped toward the clearing and the colonel stopped her with a hand on her shoulder, looking her up and down, focusing specifically on her hand and then her face.
She met his gaze and felt her face harden as she stared back at him, felt the hint of challenge bubble beneath the surface, felt the ribbon device's jewel glow slightly.
He nodded slightly and moved his hand. "Take them out, Carter. We'll be on your six."
Sam stepped into the gate clearing. She raised her hand, gripped the disk tightly, felt the energy build again, and focused it on the nearest group of Jaffa. Holding in her mind the image of Teal'c bleeding from a ricochet from her shield, she willed the device to fire and energy sprang from it, knocking the Jaffa to the ground. She saw Daniel limping toward the DHD as she turned and focused all her energy on the second group of Jaffa. This time her body felt on fire as the device knocked the four soldiers across the clearing.
Two steps later, the gate whooshed to life, another step and the confirmation of the GDO code blipped, and they ran, stepped into the event horizon, and then were rushing through the void of space.
Sam was the last to clank onto the metal ramp. Six rifles immediately rose and cocked, trained on her. Reflexively, she raised her hand again. Had they stumbled into the wrong SGC?
"She's fine. She's not a Goa'uld."
Sam frowned, looking at the Gateroom soldiers, all aiming for her hand, saw the jewel begin to glow slightly, and saw the Goa'uld force field activate. Around her.
She blinked. Nothing seemed familiar. They were at the SGC, but weapons were pointed at them. There was a Goa'uld force field, but it was protecting her. Everyone looked tense, nervous...even slightly afraid. She blinked again, opening her eyes slowly and looking at the colonel.
"Carter, you need to take off the device."
She looked at the device, then at him.
Daniel took a step toward her. "Sam, you did it. We're all home. You need to take off the device now." He reached for her hand and she snatched it away, standing up straighter.
"Carter, take off the device now. We're home. We're done. Stand down."
She tipped her head to the side, looking at Teal'c as he also stepped toward her. Behind them she could see the six guards with their fingers on their triggers, could see Hammond standing silently, one hand gesturing the guards to wait, eyes fixed on her, watching the situation closely.
"Major Carter, you must relinquish the ribbon device."
Teal'c's face was somber, his muscles tensed and ready. The colonel's face was hard though worry flickered in his eyes and his trigger finger twitched. Daniel had that look, the one that said he was scared and frustrated and nervous and angry at something and hadn't decided which or at what quite yet.
He held out a hand, compassion overtaking his expression, "Sam, it's dangerous. Please take it off before someone gets hurt." He swallowed visibly. "Before you hurt someone, Sam."
She stared at Daniel, then looked at her hand, where the device's jewel was still glowing slightly. She gasped and dropped the now-blue disk with a clatter, then jerked at the ribbon device, scratching herself to get it off and letting it clank to the ramp as well.
The guards lowered their weapons and stood at ease. Jack and Daniel smiled.
"I take it the mission didn't go quite as planned?" General Hammond asked, still keeping an eye on her.
"Not quite, General. We did find piles of gadgets, though," Colonel O'Neill answered. "Teal'c and Daniel's packs are full of goodies for the science folks to play with.
"Good. Check in at the infirmary and we'll see you in the briefing room in an hour. Dismissed."
Sam hadn't moved but noticed that Daniel was staring at her. "Sam? You okay?" She just blinked. "Come on, Sam. Let's go see Janet."
She let him lead her out of the Gateroom, still dazed, only peripherally aware of Teal'c retrieving the ribbon device and handing it to the airmen who were gathering their packs. Her legs felt like rubber and electricity still crackled through her nervous system. It made her feel shaky, made every hair on her body, even her head, feel like it was standing on end, but no one in the hallways looked at her strangely, so perhaps not.
Daniel limped his way with her into the infirmary and over to a bed. As she sat the room seemed to spin and the lights narrowed to a single point.
She heard the sound only distantly.
"Sam, you look awfully pale..."
Sam opened her eyes and closed them immediately. The lights plus all the white of the infirmary glared through her head, making it throb mercilessly.
"Nice to have you back, Carter."
She jerked to look to her left. The colonel was leaning casually against a nearby wall, hands in pockets. "You okay?"
"Yeah. Yeah. I'm fine."
"And you look just peachy too," he responded with his typical sarcasm.
"I have a headache. Nothing major. Daniel and Teal'c?"
"Ah, Teal'c's fine. Junior fixed him up in fifteen minutes. Daniel turned an ankle but he's fine too."
"When's the briefing--"
He shook his head. "Janet says you're exhausted and your whole system is out of whack, so we're gonna have that tomorrow."
"That would be nice," Sam admitted. She would not admit that every inch of her body ached like she'd fallen down a steep, rocky incline.
He sat in a chair by the bed and looked at her for a moment, then frowned and looked at his hands. "So...that Goa'uld thing. You knew it would do this to you."
She looked away to avoid seeing the censure in his face. "Well, I don't have a lot of data to compare, but it's been draining before, so, yeah, I knew there was a chance."
"That's not a good thing."
"Well, I don't know if it's because I don't have a living symbiote, or because I don't know how to use the devices correctly, or because of the amplification module, or because I haven't practiced enough to get my brain...body used to it, or if it's from using them in crisis situations, or--"
"I get the point, Carter." He smiled grimly. "You know, since you used that thing the first time, I've been considering asking you to practice with it--thought it might give us an advantage."
Sam felt a tight knot in the pit of her stomach and her mouth was dry. The idea of putting that thing on again, of becoming like the Goa'uld...that was what she'd feared since the first time their technology had activated for her. The infirmary felt cold and she shivered.
"But now...the side effects seem typically Goa'uldish." He spun the IV stand in circles..
Sam suddenly noted the lack of IV line feeding into her and she bit her lip in order not to laugh at the colonel's antics. "We really didn't have any other choice today."
"No. We didn't today." He met her eyes again.
"I can't just not do this because I'm not comfortable with it; the advantage is real. I'm just--" Her voice almost broke and she took a deep breath and forged ahead. "I've never felt such power; it's too much power for any one person. But if I don't...if I didn't...we'd all be dead."
"So you don't use them." He shrugged. "We've gone this long without using those Tok'ra remnants of yours. We've got other weapons. We'll use other ways."
The knot in her stomach loosened somewhat. She met his gaze, opened her mouth to say that in another crisis, they might again have no choice. His face was grimly serious, lips in a straight line, eyes slightly sad. He knew it too. "Okay," she said simply.
He stood. "Good. Easy answer then."
Sam tried to smile but could only see the faces of the guards pointing their weapons at her, afraid of her.
"Hey, Carter. That was a pretty gutsy chance to take. Don't scare us again like that, okay?"
"I'm sorry, sir."
"Anyway, you really saved our asses today." She glanced up and saw him grin. "Get some sleep."
He nodded once, raised a hand briefly, and was gone.
Sam lay back in the bed and tried to relax in spite of the tension in every muscle, the echo of fire and energy she could feel in every fiber of her being. Perhaps the Goa'uld were so unstable because all of their technology was simply impossible to control and instead intruded on the user's sanity. The Tok'ra--real Tok'ra--seemed to be able to work the devices without major side effects. Maybe it was a matter of practice. There were too many variables for which they had no data.
The colonel was proud of her, in spite of her flirtation with megalomania. They'd all gotten home safely, and even had new tech to pick apart, even if she'd spend a couple of days recovering from the backlash of using the device, even if she could have gotten them all killed.
Still, there was a certain comfort in knowing that if it was their last resort, she could use the tech to save her team like she had done today. It was that reassuring thought that followed her to sleep.