Sam - it was funny how he thought of her as Sam, here at the end, when he’d always thought of her as Carter before – had long been hunting Daniel, Adria, and their Ori followers. Fewer followers meant less power for the invaders. He knew it; Sam knew it. Earth had sealed its fate the moment the IOA had capitulated to the Ori’s demands, surrendering the planet to Prior Daniel. Jack had wanted to keep fighting, but the President had not. The toll would be too high, he’d said.
Jack wondered what the President thought now. Briefly, he wondered if Daniel would somehow escape via his Ori-enhanced powers, if once again he would cheat death while others died. Sam would have given him no warning, isolated as he was atop his mountain in his temple, teaching his disciples about the Book of Origin. The blinding explosion in the early morning sky would have been his orbiting ship, the first casualty of her attack, the first clue that something was amiss. Jack knew these things without confirmation, without reports. He knew she’d come, and he knew she’d kill them all.
He’d be bitter in this moment of truth, except he understood. He understood her logic; he understood her motive. He thought, perhaps, he even understood her heart. He knew what it was like to be left behind, and part of him didn’t blame her.
As he closed his eyes against the fire in the sky and the searing heat that scorched his skin, his last whispered words were ones of apology. “I’m sorry, Sam.”
Hope was only two letters away from hate. But Sam held on to hope, even after Mitchell left, taking Merlin’s device with him instead of her. “It’ll work,” she insisted, “It just wasn’t ready for this!” She placed her faith in the device and sacrificed her life for it, begging Mitchell to leave her, to take it instead… for the good of humanity, for Earth. In the agony of the moment, it never dawned on her that the collective minds of the scientists at the SGC would fail to fix the energy fluctuations without her.
And, certainly, she never intended to survive.
After the Prior healed her wound, she held on to hope even after she realized she’d been saved by the Ori only to be punished. They’d executed Teal’c in front of her, and, one by one, the other unbelievers in the village after him. She’d been forced to bury their bodies. She’d done it willingly, knowing that she would do them proper honor whereas the villagers would not. Though her tears turned the loose dirt on Teal’c’s grave to mud, she held on to the certainty that the SGC would return for her…and for him. They didn’t leave their people behind. It was only a matter of time.
As the days crawled by, turning into weeks, and her body grew weaker from her daily punishment in the village stocks, the first vestiges of doubt began to surface in the pain-filled haze that was her mind. Perhaps the villagers had buried the gate. Perhaps Mitchell had been killed or wounded on the way home. Perhaps a disaster on Earth had prevented help from coming.
When Daniel ringed down to the village, she’d thought his appearance as a Prior had been a disguise. Her hope soared anew, for surely he was here to rescue her. His smile was still Daniel’s smile, his voice was still Daniel’s voice. His words were compassionate and caring though they preached the Book of Origin. She accepted that he ignored her, certain it was part of his ruse. She accepted when he condemned her in public – naming her an enemy and an example - certain that he would return later to free her from her tiny prison cell at night.
But Daniel never returned.
Her hope died with his continued absence.
The first ship to arrive after Daniel departed was a merchant ship carrying kassa. The villagers, having little of value to exchange and much need of a new crop, happily traded Carter for the corn. The ship’s captain, recognizing her value as a former member of SG-1, took her straight to the head of the Lucian Alliance. He then retired a wealthy man.
The second ship to arrive after Daniel departed was a Tok’ra vessel dispatched three months earlier. Per the Tau’ri’s request, they brought Teal’c back to Earth. Samantha Carter, however, was nowhere to be found.
Mitchell had seen many nebulas in his travels about the universe. But never one where his home solar system was supposed to be. It would be beautiful, if it had been anywhere else.
“It’s gone, sir,” the wide-eyed navigator whispered. “The sun…that supernova came from our sun...”
“How… how is that possible?” he asked, unable to grasp what his eyes were seeing.
“If you blow up one sun, you can blow up another,” Captain Haley said, swallowing.
“Sam… you think Sam did this?”
“Well, it wasn’t the Ori or the Goa’uld.”
He sank into his captain’s chair as the realization hit. The Earth was gone. Dead, destroyed. No longer under the control of the Ori, but no hope for freedom, either. No hope for victory.
Worse, he knew it was all his fault.
She watched the Earth ship weather the shock wave from the explosion. The expansion phase from a supernova of the type she’d just caused would last up to two centuries, lighting the night sky in the surrounding galaxy for much longer than that. Eventually the wave would slowly cool, mixing the molecules of the destroyed solar system with the interstellar medium. The resulting nebula would be spectacular, she had no doubt. She wondered if anything from Earth would remain intact, a refrigerator, maybe, floating in space amongst the stellar dust of Jupiter and Mars.
It was unlikely, she decided. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes. There was nothing left of her former home. Briefly she wondered if she should feel remorse. So many dead. So much destruction.
But no. She who giveth could taketh away. Earth had earned its destruction with its surrender to the Ori, to Prior Daniel. Her spies had reported that the population had readily embraced the Ori faith, that Adria had been most pleased with its progress. Sam had saved Earth many times in the past, but now it had to pay the price. Death for betrayal. It was only fair.
They could call it Carter’s Nebula. Her gift to the beauty of the Milky Way, free of Ori domination.
“Do you wish to pursue the Earth ship?” her pilot asked.
She considered the question for a moment before nodding at the woman. “Stay cloaked,” she ordered.
“Monitor for radio transmissions. I want to know if any other ships survived.”
It wasn't long before the speakers crackled and Mitchell’s voice broke the silence on the bridge. He asked, implored, anyone from Earth to answer. The channels switched, the message stayed the same, and Sam felt a grim sense of satisfaction as the hope slowly faded from his voice with every attempt.
“Damn it, Sam,” Mitchell’s voice finally said, blaring at her from the speakers. “It didn’t have to be like this.”
Her fist came down hard on the armrest of her hard-earned captain’s chair, causing her pilot and navigator to exchange a brief glance. She glared at them, and they returned to monitoring their stations.
Damn him. What did he know? What did he know of torture and rape and endless days of Goa’uld pain sticks? What did he know of waking up every day in a Goa’uld sarcophagus, praying for death from a God who never listened? What did he know of survival in the harsh, cruel world outside of Earth? Vala knew, might have understood. Vala, wherever she was, whatever her fate, might even have appreciated how Sam had finally killed the man who had held her prisoner for so long, how she’d taken his place as leader of the Lucian Alliance.
Mitchell would never understand. He knew nothing of survival. He knew nothing of friendship and loyalty. He’d left her behind on that goddamn planet. The Ori had taken Daniel and Teal’c and Vala from her, and Mitchell had left them all behind. And Jack hadn’t come to rescue her.
Damn him and damn them all. And damn Daniel and the Ori most of all. She’d rid the galaxy of the Ori on her own. She didn’t need Mitchell or Earth to help her.
She knew her crew was waiting for the order to destroy the Earth ship. But it was time that Mitchell learned what it was like to be left behind. Time he felt the bitter taste of loss and despair. Besides, she knew that Mitchell, despite her hatred for him, would never capitulate to the Ori. That last thing they still had in common.
“Ritur,” she said, speaking to her pilot, “return to home base.”
“Ma’am, what about the Earth ship?” her gunner asked.
“They may yet prove useful,” she said, standing to head to her quarters. “I’ll be in my sarcophagus.” She was tired, and blowing up suns was hard work.
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