Okay, some ground rules about this story: I'm taking some liberties with established gate physics. The science is not the point of this particular story, though don't get me wrong, I'm a sucker for science. So, if you would deign to do so, suspend your disbelief for the time being. As far as timeline goes, I'm thinking end of season four, start of season five, though there are no specific spoilers or episode tie-ins. Hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading. :)
Hope you enjoy, and thanks for reading. :)
All she could remember about the moments before her body slammed into the ground was the feel of an electric current on her skin, and the sound of the lightning hitting the gate. The electricity in the air had been palpable; she swore she felt her hand cut through it like a knife through butter as she ran full tilt for the event horizon before her. And then her world was a confusion of sensations, much like it always was as she stepped through, as her body dematerialized and everything she was and ever would be was transported to a land far beyond her homeworld's stars.
As she abruptly made contact with the cold, rocky surface of this new planet, sensation returned to her newly reconstituted body once more. Her arms screamed out in pain, bearing the brunt of her impact onto the solid mantle of this new place. She gasped for air, all breath lost as she struck the bare earth. She pushed herself over onto her side, grimacing through almost unbearable pain as she righted her weapon and utilized her scope, unsure of where exactly she had arrived.
Turning her adjustment into a complete roll, she got onto her feet as soon as she realized she wasn't in immediate danger. There was no high-pitched squeal of a Go'auld weapon, no cocking of projectile weapons – no mechanical or technological sounds at all. As her eyes refocused in the dim, presumably early dawn or evening light, she caught sight of a figure crumpled in a heap about ten feet from her current position. Rushing over, she bent down beside them, gently turning them over onto their side. The person – now recognizable as Dr. Mortensen – was unconscious, with several cuts and a few faint bruises already appearing on his face. She carefully rolled him completely over, and was about to do an assessment of his injuries when she heard a moan somewhere behind her.
She got up and looked over in the general direction of the sound, and saw a figure slowly righting itself upwards about twenty feet away from her, back towards the gate. As it straightened and stretched out its limbs, she sighed with relief, recognizing the figure as her commanding officer.
"Sir!" she called out, raising her hand to gesture him over.
"Carter?" he responded, securing his pack and making his way over to her. "How are you?"
"A little banged up, and I think my wrist might be sprained, but fine. You?"
He shrugged. "Fine, my back took the brunt of it. Not like I need it for anything. How's Mortensen?"
She frowned. "Not good. He's unconscious. I haven't had a chance to check out his injuries, but it's not a quick fix. We have to get back to Earth."
He looked around, taking in his surroundings as he nodded his agreement. "Yeah, where exactly are we? I mean, that lightning bolt hit the gate right before you and the doc jumped through. Is this another Antarctica situation?"
"I think so, sir," she replied, already feeling uneasy. By the time she'd realized what had happened to the gate, it was too late – she was already in motion, plunging through the event horizon and hoping beyond hope that Earth is where she'd find herself.
But that's not what happened.
"Sir, we need to get him back. I suggest we start looking for the DHD."
"Right. Let's get on that," he responded, and they both stepped away in order to give themselves more space in which to conduct their searches.
Fifteen minutes passed, and they reconvened next to the prone form of Dr. Mortensen. "Did you find anything?" she asked, as she knelt down to her unconscious colleague, checking his vitals once more.
She finished her ministrations, and then moved to stand up. Grimacing, she grabbed her ankle in pain as she pushed herself upwards, teetering as she went vertical. A hand reached out to steady her, and she was thankful for the support.
"I didn't find anything, period. No structures, no landmarks. Only the cliffs by that body of water, and forest to either side of it."
He nodded grimly, and then gestured over to the nearest patch of trees, along the interface between forest edge and a former high water line. "Nothing else we can do for now; we'll have to wait for full light to conduct further searches. Let's set up a base camp area, and see what we can do for Mortensen. Do you think we can move him?"
She shrugged, unable to respond concretely. "I can't tell the state of his injuries here, but I think we might have to risk it. We can't leave him in the open like this."
Her commanding officer nodded. "Agreed. Alright, gather your things, Carter. Let's set up camp."
That was the end of day one.
Day six started innocently enough. They'd managed to set up a decent defensible position: still close enough to the Stargate, they were protected on one flank by a large boulder and on another by the seaside cliffs. They'd set up both the tents they had packed, making one the sleeping quarters and the other a makeshift mess slash infirmary.
Over the past few days, she'd gone back to the gate several times to try and establish why the DHD was missing as well as work on her theories for their being redirected to this planet instead of Earth. The two of them (Mortensen only being conscious for a few hours a day) had decided that it must be a similar situation to when they'd been re-directed to the Antarctic gate. Since they had yet to locate the DHD (not for lack of trying), they'd decided to wait it out for the time being, especially with Mortensen seriously injured. Daniel had figured out how to solve the problem before; it stood to reason that they would approach the problem from a similar angle again.
As far as supplies went, Colonel O'Neill had managed to rig together a fish net of sorts, and had been scooping out some unlucky water denizens from a nearby estuary. After cooking one thoroughly and waiting to see if any ill effects would follow, they'd decided to eat as much fish as possible in order to preserve what rations they had. Weather was a fickle thing, and should the temperature drop or a storm surge forward, they wanted to be as prepared as they could be.
She'd gotten up in the morning, checked on Mortensen, who they'd positioned in the middle so that they could check on his status during the night if need be, then headed out into the new dawn light to start her day. She'd taken to checking the gate first thing in the morning, mostly out of habit rather than necessity, maintaining some sort of structure to her newly unstructured life. Colonel O'Neill was already awake and down by the water of the nearby estuary, washing up as well as cleaning some of their clothes and cooking utensils.
"Morning, Carter," he said without turning, continuing his work on his uniform jacket.
"Good morning, sir" she replied, taking a seat beside him on the rocks. "Nice weather today, isn't it?"
He stopped for a moment, taking a second to look around. "It's just peachy," he responded, then went back to his scrubbing. "What's on the menu for today?"
"Well, I was thinking that we might want to venture out to that meadow you re-conned yesterday, the one with the berry bushes and fruit trees. I'm still feeling fine after eating a piece of that yellow fruit you brought back, so I was thinking we might want to go and collect some while they are still ripe. We'll still need to be cautious, but it might to nice to diversify our sources of nutritional intake."
He looked up at her and grinned. "Getting a little sick of seafood, Carter?"
She smiled back at him. "Never was a huge fan to begin with, sir."
She helped him with the last few items that needed cleaning, and then they headed back together to their camp. Her CO went to hang the clothing items from the line they'd strung to two nearby trees, while she went back into the tent to check on Mortensen. She'd hadn't been in there a minute before her voice, shaky despite herself, called out to her companion outside.
"Sir! Get in here!"
He rushed over, dropping the last few items onto the ground as he ran inside, hand unconsciously gripping the butt of his P-90. He found her bent over Mortensen, her ear hovering over his mouth, her fingers pressed against his neck. When she straightened up to face him, he saw how white she had gone, how hard she fought to keep her hands from shaking.
"I'm sorry, sir," she said, nearly whispering, "he's gone."
They buried him next to the cliffs, in a grave covered by stones and a makeshift cairn. Carter watched as O'Neill took the dog tags and held them in his hands for a long moment, before they both walked back, the silence heavy and oppressive between them.
Day thirty-seven was much like day thirty-six. In fact, it was much like day thirty-six, and thirty-five, and thirty-four before that. A rainstorm had descended upon them unannounced, and had long since overstayed its welcome. They'd managed to connect the two tents together before the rain had really set in, effectively doubling their living space for the time being. They ventured out only sparingly, aware that illness in conditions like this would be a difficult and dangerous thing. Luckily, they'd been stockpiling dried fruit and fish for the last week, so they weren't short on supplies. The rain provided all the drinking water they'd ever need.
Like most people with highly structured lives do, they established for themselves a working routine. Each morning, they'd rouse from a night of halfway decent sleep to make themselves "breakfast" – essentially the same thing as every meal – dried fish and fruit. She would make some tea from herbs they'd found along the creek bed, and they eat together in silence, staring out into the rain. They then proceeded to a series of exercises – mostly used to keep themselves sane – first some stretching followed by light boxing, and then, four days in, followed by some yoga that she'd slowly conned him into trying. Constrained by space, they worked out as long as they could, relishing the release of pent-up energy and stress their confinement in such a small space incurred.
After that, they usually spoke for a while, often playing a memory game or simply chatting about life. They'd do some maintenance work on their weapons and do a quick inventory of supplies, making sure they were prepared for a possible (probable?) additional day of rain. Daylight on this planet only seemed to last about eight hours or so, so when the light started to fade, they'd eat their last meal of the day, clean the dishes they used, and settle into their respective sleeping bags for the night. They made sure to never use their flashlights if they could help it, saving the batteries for if and when they needed them. They had started off posting watches in the first days after their arrival, but they'd abandoned that when the rain came.
"Night, Carter," he said, turning over onto his side and facing the door of the tent.
"Goodnight, sir," he heard her reply, before he closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
He awoke minutes or hours later, he wasn't quite sure, eyes opening to find the dark space of their tent. He could hear the rain falling down onto the top of the tent, the sound a reassuring companion, a constant element in their lives. But he could hear more than that, he realized, as he slowly firmed his grasp on consciousness. There was another sound softer and without rhythm, a gasping, half-formed sob.
He rolled over onto his opposite side, and reached out a tentative hand to the figure beside him. "Carter?" he whispered as he touched her back lightly.
Immediately, he felt her stiffen up, and the noises immediately stopped. "Sir?" she croaked, her voice broken by tears and anguish.
His heart gave a sudden pang, and he was both surprised and irritated by it – he'd fought for years to suppress those feelings, to keep them imprisoned deep inside himself. But he couldn't help it. It was her.
"Carter, what's wrong?" he asked, though he figured he had a pretty good handle on what the issue at hand might be.
"It's nothing, sir," she murmured, her back still to him. "I'm fine."
"Cart-Sam, look at me," he urged her, turning his light touch on her back to a firm grasp, turning her over onto her side. Even in the limited light, he could see the puffiness of her cheeks, the wetness underneath her eyes.
"Sam..." he said again, and that seemed to break her resolve.
"I'm sc-scared, sir," she began, her blue eyes meeting his brown ones. "I'm scared that we won't be able to go home again."
He was silent a moment, locking his eyes with hers, before he reached forward with his other arm and pulled her closer. Still separated by their respective sleeping bags, he slid an arm under her head and placed the other one over her protectively. "C'mere," he whispered, pulling her against him.
He held he like that until she fell asleep, her head nestled between his arm and chest, protected against the world.