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samcarterfic

"A Regular Day at the Office" by audrich

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August 29, 2006 | 06:38 pm | action/adventure | team
Posted by: splash_the_cat in samcarterfic

Title: A Regular Day at the Office
Author: audrich
Rating/Warning: G, genfic - some very slightly ‘naughty’ words and a wee bit of blasphemy, but nothing that the characters have not already said on the show. Also, some is necessary for the story *rolls eyes*
Spoilers: Set S3, after the events in ‘Forever in a Day’ and just before ‘Jolinar’s Memories’.
Recipient: elly427
Request details: Elly’s request was for: an apple, a beaker and a strong sense memory triggered by smell.



******

Out of the many sucky days that Sam had experienced in her three years being assigned to the SGC, this had to be personally one of the suckiest. And some had been plenty sucky.

Sucka, Suckas, Suckarum.

She processed a mental evaluation.

Offworld. Check.
Trapped in some weirdo Asgard cave maze. Again. Check.
Out of SGC comms range. Check.
Half the team MIA. Check.

Oh yeah, and cold, wet, busted ribs *and* she managed to misplace her CO as a bonus prize.

Yup, definitely sucky.
Although, it hadn’t started out that way.

Quite the contrary.

***

“So, we’re off to Heaven, then?”

Colonel O’Neill addressed his comment to the team, hitching a leg up to the ‘gate ramp low level lighting array to secure a stray bootlace.

“The ancient ruins indicate that the planet is named ‘Eden’, O’Neill,” remarked Teal’c, broad shoulders relaxed against his staff weapon. Sam could swear she saw him smirk, his ebony cheeks reflecting the blue and white ripples of an active wormhole.

She waited for the other shoe to fall from Daniel, and sure enough, it did. “Actually, the precise translation of the Ancient ‘gate address for this planet is ‘The rocky paradise where much fornication occurs’”. The delivery was perfect – deadpan and beat precise.

The Colonel straightened slowly and regarded the owlishly blinking archaeologist (that was *so* a put on pose) through narrowed eyes. “Have you been practicing?” he demanded.

Sam shook her head in mock exasperation. “Guys!” She gestured the glowing aperture.

“Ah!” Colonel O’Neil snapped his Oakleys on with a flourish. “The major is flapping at me, good comrades; time and Stargate wait for no man...”

She shot a look.

“.. or woman,” he finished hastily and coughed, shepherding the others along to trip through the swirling void.

***

This never got old.

The surreal switchback tunneling through the cosmic spinal cord – as fresh today as when the Colonel shoved her six through to Abydos on that first day three years ago.

Molecular materialization complete.

*That’s* when things started to go sucky.

The air was being crushed out of her lungs! Sam fought to open her eyes and stay upright as the world exploded around her. Visibility was zero!

Someone was screaming!

Daniel!

She knew that he had been on the right hand side of her as the entered the flight path and she groped blindly as the noise intensified. What the hell had happened to the calm, verdant vista that the MALP telemetry was transmitting less than half an hour ago?! This was a hurricane! Night exercise maneuvers – she dredged up vague memories of her basic training and began to follow a standard search pattern, arms outstretched.

Khaki! An Arm!
The arm flailed backwards with considerable force and for a moment, Sam was in 6th grade and Lucas Henry was dragging her to the bottom of the school pool while she was trying to stop him from drowning. “DANIEL! IT’S ME! IT’S SAM!”

Where were the Colonel and Teal’c?

The noise was deafening! She fancied she could hear Daniel saying something, but if he did, it was lost in the maelstrom. “I’M GOING FOR THE DHD! STAY TO THE SIDE!” She half pushed the lurching body to the side of the gate and feeling for his hands, she pulled them up to the Stargate. Ensuring they latched onto the familiar Naqahdah, she tore herself away and hit the deck to crawl down the steps and toward the DHD that she remembered from the original MALP recon.

May as well keep her head down - no sense in being vaporized by the kawoosh if the colonel got to the DHD first.

Breathing was difficult, debris was everywhere, visibility was non-existent, ergo progress was slow. The soldier’s adrenaline kicked in and as well as completing her objective, she was mystified by Daniel’s reaction. Sure he might have been a non-combatant civilian when he first joined SG1 three years ago, but a lot had happened since then; enough for her to know that Daniel was as tough as Teal’c in his mental resolve.

Where *were* the Colonel and Teal’c?

It wasn’t like him to lose it. Something had spooked him.

And *where* were the Colonel and Teal’c?

Her fingers found their goal: solid, intricately patterned, smooth metal. The DHD!
The storm and noise seem to intensify if that were even possible, but she gritted her teeth and pulled herself half upright against the wind to crawl round to the dialing interface she knew was facing the ‘gate. Could she remember the sequence? It was impossible to think with a tornado occurring right over her head. Whose dumb idea was it to stop wearing the flak helmets during travel?!

It’s a twister, Auntie Em, it’s a twister!

“ENGAGING DIALING SEQUENCE!” she yelled and repeated the warning into the shortwave radio clipped to her chest. She preferred her friends with their heads on. Was it enough? Would they hear that?

“WIRES!! WIRES!!” she screamed for good measure. She knew that at least Colonel O’Neill would duck.

Her hand followed the glyphs. Lyre. Leo. Orion. She began to punch with bloody-minded determination. The dialing program was completed and if the chevrons were locked, she couldn’t tell, so slapped her hand on the finalization dome and to Hell with her.

And for a few seconds that’s where she thought she’d ended up.

***

She was face down. Correction, lying face down. It was cold. It was wet. It was dark.

It was mercifully quiet and still.

There was water in her nose. And in her mouth. That wasn’t right. She still couldn’t breathe. Her backpack was weighing her down. She couldn’t breathe! Drowning!

Just as she began to struggle, she felt her BDU jacket collar tighten against her thorax as she was yanked upwards out of the puddle she was lying in.

“Carter, you can go swimming in your own time, there’s no dilly-dallying here!” The colonel’s strong hand came under her chin to support her head as she spat out water and gasped for air, his other hand under her armpit to hold her upright.

She fervently hoped she wouldn’t barf over him. Again.

“Team?” she choked into the gloomy darkness. There was a wan light coming from somewhere...

The Colonel’s response was a perfunctory: “Daniel: yes. Teal’c: no. Our firepower is gone and the radios are dead as a dodo.”

A handkerchief was thrust into her fingers and as she wiped at her face. Her chokes gave way to hiccoughs and she nodded her CO and his concerned hands away. “What happened, sir? Did we go back through the ‘gate?”

She could almost feel him shrug in the darkness. “I was hoping you could tell me, Doctor-Major. Daniel said you went for the DHD. We’re in some sort of underground cave, fairly deep if the temperature is anything to go by.”

“Cimmerian beam.” Daniel’s voice was calm but barely audible. Squinting, Sam could just about make his shape out, slumped against what she presumed was the cave wall, for as her eyes were adjusting to the gloom, it was obvious that was where they had ended up. Not Hell after all?

The colonel’s stance tightened and his fingers twitched around an invisible sidearm. “That Asgard labyrinth? With the unas?” No pretence at ignorance this time.

“I’m guessing,” the archaeologist admitted, and lowered his head to his knees.

The Colonel rose in a fluid movement, pulling her with him. “His guess is good enough for me. Carter, check on Daniel and give me a provisions tally, I’m verifying that light source.”

Sam half staggered towards Daniel, her legs still a little wobbly. Get a grip, girl!
“Daniel, you okay?” He started at her hand on his hair – she still couldn’t get used to it being so short.

Colonel O’Neill was yelling Teal’c’s name next ‘door’.

“Yeah.” He didn’t sound it. Maybe he wasn’t ready for missions yet, so soon after Sha’re?

“I’m FINE.” His sensitivity to other people’s thoughts should have stopped amazing her by now.

“CLEAR!” The Colonel’s voice reverberated through the cave.

“Understood, sir!” She hefted the webbing on her backpack and began to fumble at the clips – damn, her hands were still shaking. After a couple of attempts, some hesitant but steady male fingers joined her own and the pack was off her shoulders and the contents verified in under a minute.

She had a couple of MREs, ration bars, some spare ammo clips, not that they were any good, rope and a change of underwear – the planet recce was not planned to be an over-nighter so none of them had sleeping gear. The colonel’s pack was dumped beside Daniel’s – okay, so that was food and drink for 24 hours, three days if they made it last and kept activity to a minimum. Pathetic.

“DANIEL!” Colonel O’Neill could sure be loud when he wanted to be. “Get your ass in here!”

The Major and the Doctor exchanged eye-rolls before mutually hauling themselves to their feet and entering the adjacent chamber. O’Neill was on the prowl, scowling at a rocky dais, lit from beneath – the location of the light source. Lines of characters encircled the stone, the carving a sharp relief against the light and a similarly carved dome sat astride the top of the plinth.

It was unmistakably Asgardian, which Dr Jackson verified in less than ten seconds.

O’Neill gestured towards the pedestal with a now-familiar two fingered point. “If one of those Asgard lightning bolts got Teal’c, why am I still here with you? I was hanging onto him.”

Two pairs of eyes turned in unison. The colonel gave up a nonchalant shrug. “Hey, he’s about as heavy as the ‘gate; it was pretty wild out there.”

Daniel adjusted his glasses with care. Sometimes owls had nothing on him. “Selective transference. I don’t doubt that the Asgard have the capability, but why take just him, why are we *here* and what caused the storm in the first place?”

The team visually assessed the room – it was completely enclosed; no way out.

“Are we being tested? Was it Teal’c’s symbiote that caused him to be beamed away?” Sam buzzed with the flow of adrenaline and she had as many questions as Daniel burning her tongue, but she was silenced by the upraised finger of her commanding officer.

Quiet please.. translating as shut the hell up, Carter.

“Whatever. Primary objective is to locate T. and retreat. We can come back and play 20 questions later. Daniel?” The colonel signaled the cuneiform characters etched onto the Ancient podium. “I take it this is way out – find the equivalent of Open Sesame before I go any greyer.”

Sam swallowed her grin. Three years of familiarity would allow team in-jokes at the appropriate time, but they were in a situation unknown and one team member was MIA. She watched with interest as Daniel hunkered down and fished in his pack for his beloved battered tan notebook. She kept schtumm as he copied the seemingly unintelligible stone nicks onto the yellowed pages and occupied herself with re-checking the perimeter. Although the Colonel O’Neill would have performed the SOP, it wouldn’t do any harm to repeat the recce. And make sure he noticed.

An explosion of breath made her spin on her heel.

“I don’t believe it,” the archaeologist was frantically scribbling and muttering into his jotter. “I don’t…”

“Danieellll…” The colonel’s warning was dangerous.

A perfectly manicured finger pointed to a section of script. “Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the East and there he put the man that he had formed.” His quiet, educated voice tailed off for a moment. “Colonel Jack, Major Sam, you’ll never guess where this comes from…”

“Genesis, chapter two.”

As long as Sam lived and breathed, she would never have had the colonel down as a Bible aficionado. “You…sir, you couldn’t *possibly* have gone to Catholic School.” It wasn’t plausible, surely?

He smirked as he sauntered by. “Yup, and so did you,” he tapped her upper chest as he leaned to examine where Daniel was still kneeling open-mouthed. Subconsciously, she raised her hand to cover where he had touched. Her tags! Of course... religion: R.C. There was no way she could see the acerbic cynic before her as a bright eyed, short pant wearing, Hail Mary reciting, Roman Catholic schoolboy.

The erstwhile seminary student indicated some other engraved squiggles. “Is that what I think it is?”

Owlish blinking. “What do you think it is?”

“I’m asking you.” Raised eyebrows.

“No, you weren’t.” Steady spectacle stare.

This could go on all day; some female sagaciousness was indeed required. “It’s an apple.”

Both men turned to look at her. The colonel spoke first. “That’s what I thought.”

Daniel pointed further along the platform. “And this is a tree, this, a gate.” He then tapped an all-too recognizable image.

A snake. With a distinctive head-frill.

I am Jolinar of Malkshur. Oh, God, Jack, please! The Goa’uld gave its life for me...

She was still learning to control the effect the unwelcome memories. Sometimes she could stop her hands from trembling, sometimes she couldn’t. This time she succeeded.

Daniel continued, “As far as I can tell, this is a trial based on the Old Testament myth.” Ignoring the exchange of glances between his team mates, his fingers traced further down. “The snake leads the innocents into sin by eating the apple from the Tree of Life and causes them to be cast out of the Garden of Eden through the gate. Is this sounding familiar, fellow ‘gaters?”

“So how does Sonic collect all the sparkly rings and get the hell out?” The colonel sounded snippy now; he would never voice his concern for Tealc’s welfare, but it was there nonetheless.

Daniel straightened. “We solve some puzzles.”

“Crosswords?” The colonel sounded almost hopeful.

“Ah... no.” An earnest shake of the archaeologist’s head. “We answer questions by selecting the options on the dome, if I understand this stanza correctly.” He circled something that looked like gibberish to Sam.

The colonel and the major peered at the criss crosses. “Are you gonna say it or shall I?” O’Neill’s eyebrows rose.

For once, Sam couldn’t think of a smart answer.

After a quick appraisal of his second-in-command’s expression, he voiced his thoughts: “The Old Testament and the *Asgard*? Do we start calling Thor ‘Isaac’ now?”

The space between Daniel’s eyes did that perturbed wrinkly thing. “No, Jack.”

“Moses?”

“No! I have no idea where they’ve used the Biblical references, but the Asgard *and* the Goa’uld have piggy-backed on other religions before, maybe this is additional evidence.”

Colonel O’Neill sighed and adjusted his stance. “Okay, what’s the first question?” The colonel wanted business now.

Sam observed a two second delay before Daniel turned his attention back to his translating. The wait while the archaeologist-linguist scribbled and glowered and scribbled again seemed interminable, but Teal’c’s life was possibly on the line. She felt in her heart that he was okay, but the heart had no place in the military. It prevaricated and caused weighted decision making - possibly fatal in a battlefield situation.

She couldn’t bear it any longer. “Daniel-“

The colonel’s upraised finger silenced her immediately. Damn.

The sound of Daniel’s throat clearing reverberated around the cave. “Animals.” He tapped the symbols atop the segmented dome. “These symbols represent animals as the answer and as far as I can tell, the question-puzzle leads to the answer.”

O’Neill aimed a careless boot at the lower symbols. “So, what’s the question?”

The younger man grimaced. “They’re not so clear-” he pulled himself to standing, “-but the answers are more obvious. This is a snake, this cat, a goat or possibly a dog, a bird, a horse, a lion, a fish.”

“Are you sure?” They looked like strange animals to Sam, but then her drawing was more of the Dali school.

Daniel nodded enthusiastically and took some quick photographs with a digital camera produced from his pocket. “Pretty much. It’s odd though - they’re very pictorial – contra-indicatory for the Asgard.

“They’re all earth animals,” O’Neill offered into the silence that followed.

“And in mentioned in the Bible,” added Sam.

The shrug was classic Daniel. “They could be representations... I’m guessing,” he admitted.

“And I ask again, the question?” O’Neill was getting a tadge irritable.

Daniel shook his head. “It’s just a phrase, it doesn’t make sense.”

The CO and the 2IC spoke together. “Try us.”

Sam was rewarded with a deep-dimpled grin. “Pinch, punch, Carter,” he smirked.

“Well, from what I can tell, it says; ‘The deceptive soul.’” Daniel scribbled more notes.

Memories of Sister Dominica and fourth grade Religious Instruction rang some bells in Sam’s mind. “It sounds Biblical, which would tie in with the Genesis references.”

Daniel contemplated her comment for a moment and then nodded slowly. “Okay, I’ll buy that. So, Father Jack, Sister Sam, what animal is representative of a deceptive soul in the Bible?”
Sam was sure as she had been aged nine sitting in a dusty school room on Edwards AFB. “The snake undoubtedly, as it’s the only animal that employed deceit in the Bible and demonstrated free will, which implies a soul.”

The colonel straightened. “I’ll buy that, but are we all agreed?”

Daniel nodded and drew in a deliberate breath before silently seeking the final approval of his team mates.

He had it.

He pressed the snake symbol...

..and disappeared in a proverbial flash of light. The podium went dark.

Then the door opened.

***

Sam jerked awake, her head lurching from where it was resting on her chin. She sighed and tried to swallow the remains of the energy bar that she had been munching before she fell asleep. Stretching her aching legs, reality swamped back with a vengeance.

After the cave door had opened from where no door had been, and the Asgard version of Jeopardy refused to play, she and the colonel had grabbed theirs and Daniel’s kit and headed out in the hopes that they find Dr Jackson and Teal’c around the next corner. They weren’t, but at least they were moving.

And moving. The dimly lit cave with the indefinable light source stretched on, with offshot paths that led nowhere or back to the main path; a labyrinth. If it were Asgardian, there were no further clues to indicate this and after 12 hours of laboriously mapping out the warren of tunnels with markings and stopping periodically to try their radios, they were exhausted.

“No fire, boots on, two hours each, you first watch,” was the Colonel’s perfunctory orders as he pulled out a khaki ‘property of the USAF’ blanket and slung his pack on the floor. If Sam was even slightly hurt at not getting to sleep first, she didn’t let on. If truth be told, she was too tired to argue. Picking mournfully at a tasteless MRE, she watched the colonel sleep, and the clock around, until it was her turn for pack, blanket and welcome oblivion.

“Carter?” The colonel’s voice came out of the gloom.

Her answer was lost in a choking fit as the crumbs from the rations stuck in her throat. She scrabbled about in her pack looking for her canteen she knew was there somewhere when she found a beaker filled with liquid thrust under her nose. Gulping the water down, she stole a glance at her CO. There were dark shadows under his eyes and the brownish-auburn hair that had been so full that first meeting in the briefing room looked lank and grey in the dull light. He looked how she felt and that was like she’d been ten laps on the Academy assault course.

Conscious of her CO’s mutual appraisal, she flipped the Velcro flap of her Omega to check the time and distract attention. What?! She’d been asleep for over four hours!

Her head flicked up. “Sir!”

He waived her admonishment away. “You were exhausted, Carter. I need you to be A-1 on the next leg. Besides, if there were unas here, you would have been the entrée already.”

Sam didn’t know whether to be relieved that she’d had the extra rest, or mad at the boss for making allowances at some ill-perceived failing on her part. She stuffed the gear into her pack with as much speed as she could muster and was ready in under a minute.

“Ready?” he checked.

“Indeed,” she smiled.

“Then, to Oz, Carter, to Oz.”

“Yes, sir.”

And their goal was almost around the next corner.

***

“I don’t believe it! The damn thing was about fifty meters away!” The colonel huffed out his irritation at the plinth and its surrounding dead-end cave, “And I nearly checked as far as this!”

Sam had already dumped her pack and had fished out Daniel’s version of the Bible – his battered and worn notebook that just might contain the cipher for getting them all out. “I confirm that this is an identical console to that which we encountered in the first cave; these symbols are duplicates,” she spoke almost for herself.

“Geez, Carter, do ya have to speak in complete paragraphs?” But O’Neill was very much paying attention as he leaned over her shoulder, trying to make out the Daniellian scribbles.

Sam ripped out a fresh sheet from the book and copied out the question as best she could. At least she thought it was the question - judging by the luck that they’d had so far, it would probably turn out to be the ‘off’ button. Now all she had to do was use the code to decipher the symbols. How could Daniel do this so quickly? The man was really gifted.

After an hour of scribbling and discussions with the colonel, Sam was convinced that she had gone about as far as she could go with the translations. “So, we’re agreed, the question is ‘Pure in Spirit’ and the answer is the bird or dove, the symbol of peace, which implies an untainted heart.”

“That we can remember,” corrected the colonel.

“That we can remember,” acknowledged the major.

O’Neill handed Sam his pack.

“No, sir, I couldn’t let-"

“Oh, Carter, let’s be realistic, this is getting like an Indiana Jones movie I saw once – if I choose poorly and vanish in a puff of catechism, I trust you to solve this crap and get us back to Kansas. Or at least the Emerald City. ‘K?”

Sam stood her ground. If she did get out alive, how would she explain that her CO and his team was MIA to *his* CO? “Sir-“

“Don’t make me make this an order, major. You *are* the one with the mental chops to carry this off, don’t annoy your colonel with false modesty.” Holding her eyes for a meaningful two seconds, he motioned her back and punched the snake symbol.

And disappeared.

If there was a point where Sam would slump to the floor and cry her eyes out, this was it.

But she didn’t.

“TO HELL WITH YOU!” she yelled into the gloom and was perversely amused to hear her own words echo back. She felt rather stupid aiming a kick at the rocky outcropping that formed the pedestal base, but Holy Hannah, it also felt *good*. So, it was up to her. She transferred all the little remaining foodstuffs into her pack, shouldered it, and tucked Daniel’s precious jotter under her BDU jacket. “I’ll get this back to you, Daniel, I promise, even if I have to go through the entire 66 books in both testaments,” she muttered defiantly and strode through the opening that had appeared when the colonel *dis*appeared.

And fell several meters into a dark ravine.

***

Face down in rocky puddle.

Familiar.

Unwelcome.

Sam struggled to pull back her conscious mind from where it was sunbathing on a beach in Bermuda.

Sleep was nice. Sleep was good. Sleep was not here.

You were exhausted, Carter. I need you to be A-1 on the next leg.

Colonel O’Neill! He trusted her. All the team did and had done so before; there was no way she would let them down. She had to haul ass before she slept forever. As she moved her arms to push herself up, the pain that wracked across her midriff was excruciating. Breath hissed through clenched teeth as she bit back a scream. The ribs on her right hand side were on fire! Damn any possible stalking unas, Sam allowed herself a low moan as she lowered her body back to the stony ground.

It must have been much later when she regained consciousness again. She was aware that she wasn’t in good shape, but felt strangely detached and indifferent to her predicament. Despite the fact that she was soaking wet, Sam’s thirst was extreme. However, the supposedly athletic Major Carter couldn’t even move to undo her pack clips, let alone sit up and take a sip from her canteen, although she was sure her legs were okay. Useful for walking and getting the hell out.

Try moving your left arm, Sam.

That worked.

Undo the left pack clips, Sam.

After several fumbling minutes, mission was still not accomplished.

It was then that she heard the waterfall. The rushing water sound must have been there all along, but Sam inwardly acknowledged that she had blocked it out as white noise. Gingerly turning her head, she angled her face toward the bubbling falls. A source of drinking water?! Well, if she couldn’t get her pack off, then she would damn well crawl to a water source.

Drawing her knee up to do just that ignited the pain in her ribs that would rate 56 out of 10 on Janet Fraiser’s pain scale, but Sam was expecting it this time and as she gasped for breath, she began to mutter the first trivia that entered her head. One knee went in front and the other dragged behind. The back leg was drawn up and her weight shifted forward.

Eternal ruler of the ceaseless round of circling planets singing on their way

She was nine again! Crusty Sister Dominica, who must have been at least 100, was taking her grade class for vocal coaching, and oh boy, she hated those lessons. She would so prefer to be in the science labs down the hall.

She made it halfway!

Guide of the nations from the night profound into the glory of the perfect day.

The pack was weighing so heavily on her pack, but she’d run 10k with a heavier one. Two more meters...

Rule in our hearts that we may ever be guided and strengthened and upheld by thee.

There! Scooping up what she could, the water was wet and cold and wet and so very welcome on her tongue, although it almost fizzed down her raw throat. It had the oddest smell.. and it tasted green! Good but green?

Forcing herself to focus, she peered at the water and was quite hopeful that there wasn’t a dead unas lying in the splash pool. It was then that Sam clicked upon the odd light source. Of course! Bioluminescence! The light and that distinctive smell.. the ceiling glowed with the tiny pinpricks that indicated the presence of adenosine triphosphate; the emitting organism must love the damp atmosphere. Okay, so maybe she had cut school choir and spent her recess communing with Bunsen burners, bell jars and in a later year, constructing a physics project that won every junior high science prize in the county. Sister Dominica had given her seven Hail Mary’s and 15 Our Fathers for missing class and arranged with Father Andrews to take her for college level electronics instruction. It was that shrewd curmudgeon of a nun that had set the young Samantha Carter upon the path that would eventually send into the air, off into space and would bring her here.. to the base of an alien waterfall 27 thousand light years away from the planet that God had supposedly made in six days.

Gulping more water, she could hear that wrinkled wimple still: “Don’t give into sin of pride, Samantha, but believe me when I tell that you have a spirit that has a pure intention, keep focused on that and aim for the stars.”

~ Pure in spirit ~

Pure. In. Spirit.

She searched her woolly head for the significance of that phrase. Daniel! The first clue! They had chosen the bird. The second ‘question’: the deceptive soul, which implied the snake?

Realization slapped her upside down.

The clues bore no connection to the animal symbols! It related to the individuals operating the console!

Daniel was no snake, of course he wasn’t! If anything, Colonel O’Neill was the deceptive soul; bitter and gruff to those who didn’t know him, but intelligent and committed to those who did. Daniel did indeed have a pure spirit, but if Sam had to transcribe him as an animal, it would have to be a dog, faithful and loyal.

Sam’s ribs throbbed as her mind cleared and her breath came faster. No, the animal was connected to the person. *She* was bird, not necessarily pure in spirit – the thought make her giggle painfully – but she did indeed aspire to take to flight, and felt totally at home in the air.

All she had to do was get to a live Asgard interface and hit the bird.

Then again, there was also the small matter of climbing several meters back up the cliff face with badly broken ribs.

***

Major Samantha Carter. Strong, dependable, reliable, and avian? Well, she sure could use a pair of wings right about now, although she’d settle for a Bo ‘sun’s chair. Sam crawled to the base of the outcropping where she landed, fortified by double the recommended daily dose of Advil and a Hershey bar that was commandeered from Daniel’s rucksack. After much wincing and pathetic whimpering, her pack was off and the spare rope she always packed located. Thank goodness for her BDU flashlight, although there was one immediate problem amongst all the others... no anchor.

If she was climbing this face, it would be without safety precautions. Sam always thought that free climbers were insane idiots, but to even the argument, they didn’t jump through a shimmering blue giant Cheerio to visit potentially lethal, unexplored planets the other side of the Horsehead nebula on a regular basis. At least, not to her knowledge.

Stripping off her outer layers was excruciating, but Sam knew she would have to lighten up to help her ascent, and couldn’t risk any stray fabric snagging on a projecting rock. After fishing out her beloved, definitely non-regulation, Chanel talcum powder, she emptied a liberal portion onto to her hands and the rest into her pants pocket. Climbing shoes would be good, but AF issue boots would have to do. Her supplies would have to be left were they were until she could figure a way of getting them up without too much delay. The only extra was Daniel’s notebook that she inserted down the back of her BDU pants. Well, if she landed on her ass, it might help to cushion the blow.

Her team mates trusted her. They were relying on her. Their safety depended on her, broken ribs or not. She made a final assessment of the crag structure and then looped the rope into a generous coil and eased it over her head – it would be essential if a return journey was necessary. The resulting stabbing pain made her see pinpricks and her stomach heaved upwards.

“Not being sick… not being sick.” Her voice startled her. So focused was she on pain and thirst and pain that she didn’t fully acknowledge that she was very alone.

“Not for much longer,” she grunted as she placed her foot on the first sturdy-locking rocky ledge and hauled herself upwards. The physical stress was pushing her to her limits - Sam broke out into a sweat immediately. Damn, that wouldn’t help with keeping her hands dry! More talcum was dug out.

Keep moving, maintain a smoothascent, observe and plan the rest-holds.

Observe? That was a joke! The entire precipice was in darkness. The flashlight was clipped to her vest but the circle of warmth was tiny – the batteries must be dying. Centimeters stretched into meters and the burning in her chest was threatening to make her black out and cause her to hurtle back downwards. If that happened, it would probably be all over.

Leaning against a convenient ledge, Sam tried to catch her breath and steady her composure. This is what she trained for; there was no way she was giving up. “Basic training was way worse,” she muttered and heaved up her right leg to another foothold, biting her lip hard to distract her mind from the raw agony clamping across her sternum. Ascending higher, she could taste blood. Whether that was coming from her mouth or her chest, she really didn’t care, because the crest of the ravine was almost within her grasp.

Just a few more steps..

..her left foot slipped. Tightening her hand grips she gasped at the piercing torture that gripped her body.

A. Few. More. Steps.

And she was there!!

Taking care not to lean on the edge, she ‘doggy paddled’ over and knelt on all fours, trying to even out her breathing – the shallower she breathed, the less it hurt like hell.

Standing up proved to be a great deal harder than she hoped, but finally she was upright, cradling an arm across the injured part of her torso.

“To Oz,” she scowled and made off through the maze corridor away from the previous console room..

.. and straight into another one.

***

“To coin a phrase, the damn thing was only fifty meters away!” She strode over to the console, mentally verified that the symbols matched and punched the bird.

She was expecting a gigantic flash of light, possibly some rumbling and shaking, perhaps even some thundering.

But all that happened were three suspiciously Asgard beams depositing her unharmed but bemused team mates. Part of the cave wall trundled open to reveal the ‘gate on Eden, the idyllic scene first observed that morning restored. There were even fluttering insects and what sounded suspiciously like birdsong to complete the effect.

“Knew you would do it, Carter,” smiled her CO, striding over to her. Nodding her acknowledgement was sore, so she curtailed the gesture. “Teal’c, I’m so glad you’re okay, are you hurt? Where have you been?” If she got the questions in first, perhaps the colonel wouldn’t notice that she was about to pass out?

“Thank you, MajorCarter, I am indeed well, however my absence is, as you say, ‘a long story’,” the warrior inclined his head in respect, but his eyes were twinkling.

Daniel stepped forward, his brows creased. “Sam, you’ve a cut over your eye - that looks nasty!”

She lifted a hand that she was aware was trembling to finger a deep gash and felt congealed blood. “I didn’t even notice,” she whispered, “It’s my ribs.” Her vision blurred for a moment.

O’Neill took immediate charge. “Right, kids, lets go home and leave this game to some other poor unsuspecting soul, Teal’c, Danny, help Carter. Where’s your gear?”

Sam slowly shook her head. “I had to leave it, sir, my apologies.” Did she slur her words?

Colonel O’Neill gave her a visual once over. “Don’t worry about it, major, I’ll deduct the cost out of your next paycheck. Can you walk?” he asked.

Sam straightened as best she could. “Yes, sir!”

The answering look was one of contained pride. Teal’c covered her shoulder with a beefy arm and Daniel slipped his arm around her waist for support in preparation for the short journey

“What?” he uttered and fished out his notebook from below her waistband.

“Do I need to ask?” He gave his beloved scripts a quick once over.

Giggling made her wince, which prompted the colonel to begin to usher his team home.

“Damn stupid idea, basing a culture on the Bible and Dungeons & Dragons! Whatever will these crackpots come up with next? An entire civilization revolving around ‘Anne of Green Gables’? ‘Star Wars?’”

Sam was highly amused to see Teal’c give the colonel a hard stare. “I think *not*, O’Neill.” He sounded almost.. haughty.

“Arthurian legend?” Colonel O’Neill offered instead.

It was Daniel’s turn for a double take. “Don’t be an ass, Jack! Like *that* would ever happen!”

Yup, another regular day at the office for Sam Carter, Major, USAF.


******

The End!

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Comments {8}

One Whose Honesty is Stronger Than Her Fear

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From: amilyn
Date: August 31, 2006 02:58 am (UTC)

I really liked the sucky day opening, the huge storm once they got through the gate, and Daniel's jokes about Eden. I also have thought for ages that Jack went to Catholic school--he's far too much of a grammar-Nazi. :-)

Very fun.

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nanda नान्दा

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From: nandamai
Date: September 1, 2006 03:05 pm (UTC)

“Arthurian legend?” Colonel O’Neill offered instead.

It was Daniel’s turn for a double take. “Don’t be an ass, Jack! Like *that* would ever happen!”


That line nearly asphyxiated me.

Go Smart!Sam!

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Gunhilda

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From: gunhilda
Date: September 2, 2006 02:54 pm (UTC)

Yay! Sam-whumping! I love how she persevered in climbing the cliff and figured out the riddle. It felt very much like a real episode.

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siggy

(no subject)

From: siggy63
Date: September 4, 2006 08:49 pm (UTC)

Wonderful. Great action and some tense scenes and Sam Whumpage! A super rollercoaster of a fic, I really enjoyed it. Also the dialogue was fabulous. Clever and exciting. terrific stuff, thank you.

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Deanie

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From: deaniebtvs
Date: September 5, 2006 05:03 pm (UTC)

Very clever idea, and nicely written.

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elly

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From: elly427
Date: September 5, 2006 11:07 pm (UTC)

First of all, I'm sorry I took so long to comment.

Second of all, I'm so impressed with what you did with my admittedlybizarre request.

I loved the team bits, but this line She fervently hoped she wouldn’t barf over him. Again. was fabulous, because there's so much history there in two little sentences.

Thanks again!

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(no subject)

From: anonymous
Date: September 6, 2006 03:52 am (UTC)

Oh my God I'm having flashbacks. Just kidding. This was wonderful. Loved the digs about the Arthur stuff. Great characterization of Sam and the rest of the team.

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aurora_novarum

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From: aurora_novarum
Date: September 12, 2006 07:45 pm (UTC)

Very clever, and the description s of the action sequences really let me picture everything in my mind. I enjoyed this story a lot. Nice team fic.

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