A/N: I do not claim to be a writer and have never attempted anything like this before but I would really like to know what you think. This story is completed and I will be updating regularly. I am also looking for a Beta if anyone is interested.
Season: Late S8
Spoilers: Minor spoilers for Upgrades, Divide and Conquer, and Threads
Disclaimer: I do not own Stargate or anything related to the Stargate franchise.
Chapter 1: News and Views
Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter felt like she had been kicked in the gut; betrayed by the one person who mattered most to her.
"Go to hell!" the words exploded from her. Sam glared at O'Neill. Her eyes bore into him and her words cut into his bones like a knife. She never spoke to him like that. She was always the consummate solider respectful, professional, bound sense of duty.
"Carter…" Brigadier General Jack O'Neill responded in a warning tone. That one word which held so many meanings, lingered in the air for a lifetime.
Sam dropped her head in defeat, turned on her heels, and left the office without being dismissed. The door slammed. "Dismissed" he sighed rubbing his hands through his gray hair staring at the door.
Sam walked down the steps of the Stargate on P3X-656 and surveyed her surroundings. 'Well, this is different', she mused to herself. The Stargate was situated precariously on a large cliff overlooking a mountain range that reminded her of the Rockies. Although initial M.A.L.P. data indicated SG-1 was in no danger of falling when they came through the wormhole, being there in person still sent a chill down her spine when she looked down the steep drop to see the valley below.
They were to be here for 3 days, a simple survey for possible sources of Naquadah. After her confrontation with General O'Neill, she needed this, needed to get away from the SGC, from him if only for a short time. Here she could lose herself in her work and forget the words, the hurt she felt. She stood there unmoving, staring at the majestic view lost in her thoughts.
"Sam? Helloooo, Earth to Sam."
Sam turned around, startled to see Daniel in front of her with a look of concern on his face. "Hey Sam, are you okay? You looked liked you were a million miles away."
"Actually about 25 trillion." She responded flashing Daniel a smile. "Just taking in the view, it's beautiful."
"I wonder why the Stargate is on this cliff" Daniel pondered rhetorically. "Teal'c, have you ever been on a planet where the gate was on a mountain?"
"I have not"
"Any thoughts about why the Goa'uld would…"
"Let's get going." Sam suddenly interrupted, "It's going to get dark soon and I don't want to be stuck on this cliff any longer than necessary."
With Sam taking point, Daniel in the middle, and Teal'c watching their six, they followed a trail that seemed to be carved out of the mountain face away from the Stargate. They walked in amiable silence as the trail wound its way down the mountain.
An hour later, just at the base of the mountain, they came upon a vast stretch of land, roughly the size of a football field, littered with boulders. SG-1 stood at the edge of the boulder field. No one moved as each seemed to contemplate the scene before them. The ground was covered like a blanket with various sizes of rocks. Some were round and flat like river stone worn smooth by centuries of erosion. The majority however, were jagged and angry looking ready to tear into flesh with any misstep. There were also large boulders some weighing several hundred pounds strewn around the field as if standing guard, protecting the area from intruders.
"Wow, look at the size of some of those boulders." Daniel interrupted the silence as he pondered out loud.
Sam answered. "Yeah." She pondered to herself, what could have caused the collection of rocks and boulders. The M.A.L.P did not detect any indication of seismic activity on the planet. They were on the side of a mountain; however, the rocks had to come from somewhere. She took a hesitant step forward into the blanket of stone and immediately lost her footing and started to fall. Teal'c grabbed her pack before she hit the ground saving her from the jagged rocks and a sure trip to the infirmary for stitches.
"Colonel Carter, are you injured?"
"I'm fine, Teal'c. Thanks for the hand." She paused looking at the field again. "Okay, let's set up camp here. The sun is going down and I would rather not tackle these rocks with poor visibility."
After they set up camp, the three team members of SG-1 sat around the campfire. The night was cool but not uncomfortable. Daniel and Teal'c sat near each other and talked quietly.
"…There are no signs of civilization but someone put the Stargate on that mountain cliff for a reason…"
"Sam, what do you…" Daniel abruptly turned his head to where Sam sat stopping in mid-sentence. She was not listening to their conversation. Daniel observed her for some time. He knew Sam had been unusually quiet since arriving on the planet; she has been unusually quiet for the past several days. She sat with her knees pulled up and arms held tightly around them, staring into the fire lost in her own world far away from here. Daniel knew that Sam was a private person. He knew that she had been on an emotional rollercoaster recently with her father passing away and breaking off her engagement to Pete Shanahan. It was not surprising that she would be quiet or distant in dealing with these things. This was different. She was withdrawn. She seemed lost. He knew something was wrong.
Daniel finally spoke. "So…Sam, are you going to tell Teal'c and me what's been bothering you for the past few days?"
Sam did not respond continuing to stare into the flames from the fire. "Sam," Daniel spoke again jarring her from her thoughts.
She looked up in surprise. "What?"
"You had that 25 trillion miles away look again. Are you going to tell Teal'c and me what has been bothering you for the past few days?" Daniel knew he was prying, but he also knew she needed to talk to someone.
"What do you mean, Daniel?"
"Sam…" Daniel responded with concern, "I know something has been bothering you. You've been ignoring everyone and holed up in your lab for days. What's going on?"
"Nothing is wrong, Daniel, I'm fine" she responded very quickly, too quickly for Daniel to believe her. "I've just been very busy. I had to finish the analysis of the artifact brought back from P2X-891 and complete my report to General O'Neill on the changes made to the Stargate dialing sub-routines after the most recent full gate diagnostics before we left for this mission."
Daniel looked at her with doubt.
Sam had returned her gaze to the fire and disappeared back into the world Daniel had roused her from. He turned to look at Teal'c who responded only with a raised eyebrow.
"Sam you know if you need anything, or anyone to talk to, we are here for you." Daniel said, pleading for her to confide in Teal'c or him. He hated to see her so despondent.
Sam looked up again, "Thanks for your concern, but I really am fine." She gave them a forced smile and changed the subject abruptly ending the inquiry. "I'm tired; I think I am going to turn in for the night. Teal'c you take first watch, Daniel third." She hastily got to her feet and moved off to her tent.
Jack sat at his desk trying to wade through his never ending mound of paperwork. He had been staring at the same requisition for the last 10 minutes, his mind elsewhere. He could not stop thinking about her. Stop thinking about what had happened. Sam had avoided him as much as possible since their conversation 4 days ago. He knew she needed some space to think things through. Their only contact since had come in briefings where she put on her perfect solider mask. He knew she was furious with him. More than that, she was hurt.
4 days ago
There was a knock on his door. Jack knew who it was he had been expecting her. "Come in"
Carter walked in and stood at attention in front of his desk. "You wanted to see me, sir?" God, how he wished he didn't have to do this.
"Yeah Carter, um…" He didn't know if he could get through this. He had been dreading talking to her ever since the orders had been handed down. This was going to change things. "How are things going with SG-1?" 'Great, way to go O'Neill. Way to get straight down to the subject.' Jack was kicking himself. 'Come on soldier. It's just Carter. She will understand. She has to.'
"Great, yeah great. Um…have you come across any new doohickeys to play with?" 'Can this get anymore pathetic', Jack thought to himself.
Sam paused for a moment looking at the General with questioning eyes. "No, sir, only the artifact that was recovered on P2X-891, which I am still trying to figure out the power source…" Jack stopped listening and was focusing on her eyes. They spoke volumes to him. Her eyes were like a window to her soul to her emotions.
"General? Sir?" Carter had finished talking and was questioning him. Jack roused himself back to reality. "Okay, sounds good."
"Sir? You were not listening to what I was saying, were you?"
"Sorry Carter, my mind wandered off for a minute. What were you saying?"
"General, was there something else you needed to see me about? 'Leave it to Carter to get straight to the point.'
Jack looked at her for a moment an eternity.
"I'm leaving the SGC." He said quietly.