Mathématique: The Sky Calls to Us

Samantha Carter experiences all that is possible, even if she isn’t aware of it; her consciousness splitting and ending and tracking and reforming until it runs out through threading tributaries and the river of her life rejoins the cosmic ocean.

Revised Author’s Notes: This is a piece of fan fiction. It’s a trope-twisting, epic-length, crossover AU that spans all three series of Stargate. There’s a lot of science. A lot of plot. A lot of emotions. Timelines have been slightly altered so that season 4 of Stargate Atlantis (without Carter in command) occurs contemporaneously to season 10 of SG-1, which occurs in the year prior to season 1 of SGU.

Disclaimer: I’m not making money from this; please don’t repost to other sites. 

Warnings: Stressors of all kinds.

The Sky Calls to Us

Sam Carter is alone.

Two corridors over, the sound of gunfire echoes off planar cement. Compression waves blur and blend and distort into a continuous auditory platform that her mind tries to bound and modulate into something that will end. The roar of a chemical rocket. The propagation of thunder over the long, flat geographies of her childhood. But the sound does not resolve. It continues.

Carter shuts her eyes against the turbid air and snaps them back open.

In front of her is a girl.

A young woman.

A girl.

She is dressed in the slimming leather of the Lucian Alliance that Vala used to favor. Her hair is dark and falls over her shoulders in a wave. It catches the light in such a way that Carter suspects that, in the sun, it might be red. Her skin is pale and her hands are delicate and her gaze flicks frequently from the screen to the keyboard.

Carter knows that shift of gaze and mind—the shift required to use an unknown system with a foreign interface. She knows it.

Her hands tighten around her sidearm.

She thinks of Daniel.

She has a gas mask, but she hasn’t put it on.

She has a radio, but the volume is turned down.

She has a choice, but it’s really no choice at all.

Her fingers readjust on her weapon in a slow wave.

She thinks of Daniel in moments like these, poised at a local maximum, curves falling sharply away at either side, because this, this place right here, is where Daniel thrives. Where he balances. Where he takes his time and where he walks through success after blazing success, though she knows he doesn’t see it that way.

There are two men flanking the girl. The woman.

They tower over her, their eyes sweeping the hallways, scanning the ceiling, studying the floor—rapidly, nervously, and without direction from the girl. They lack coordination. They lack alignment of purpose.

She can work with that.

The air is filled with mist that hides the shock of Carter’s blonde hair. It’s always been a liability in the dark, but here, in the pale and turbid air, it’s an advantage.

Carter is very still. She suppresses the urge to cough, building in the back of her throat.

She can take down the girl first, or she can take her down last.

The terminal under the LA operative’s fingers is interfacing with the gate, which means that whatever their plan, whatever their goals, the girl is the asset. The girl is the brains. The girl is the key to the entire operation and taking her out is a tactical imperative.

In the back of her mind, the thought of Jack, holding down the control room, aches like a wound that will never heal.

One cannot lose something that one has never had.

Carter permits herself a final readjustment of her grip, another slow wave of the fingers over warm and waiting metal. Then, in one smooth sweep, she steps forward, raises her weapon, sights down the barrel, and fires. By the time she hears the report of the round her gaze is already shifting to the second man, absorbing the kickback of the gun into a change in her stance as she fires again. Her gaze shifts to the girl, who has stepped back, her eyes wide and dark and startled.

“Hold it,” Carter snaps.

The girl doesn’t hold it. She’s fast enough, startled enough, gutsy enough, to draw her weapon.

They fire simultaneously.

Carter is already on the floor, head cracking against the cement before her brain processes what’s happened. It’s always like this—the fall before the insight.

The pain in the back of her head and in her chest war for attention before her mind sorts them and bins them appropriately. The chest is the problem. She inhales, gasping and shallow. She feels wetness already in the back of her throat. The warm, choking wave of blood.

If she’d been a little more like Daniel, a little more willing to spend time she knew she didn’t have—maybe she could have turned this one around. 

She shuts her eyes, waiting for the second shot.

But it doesn’t come.

She turns over, not looking at herself. She doesn’t have to look to know it’s bad. She feels it’s bad. One hand finds the wound and presses down. She brings her gun around with her free hand and aims again at the girl. Her motions are slow, but the girl’s are slower.


Frightened eyes meet her own, and Carter is certain that this is the first time the little Lucian Alliance hacker has been shot. The girl’s gun is on the floor, half-hidden by the white mist, but—

The weapon is still under her fingers, still pointed at Carter.

“Hey.” It’s a thick, wet whisper. Carter takes a slow, careful inhale. “What’s your name?”

The girl says nothing, her breath coming like sobs. Her eyes are dry and wide and frightened.

The mist is thicker near the floor. It’s hard to see. Hard to breathe. “My name,” Carter says, the words riding on an incremental exhale, “is Sam.”

“Carter,” the girl mouths.


“I know you,” the girl says.

“How?” Carter asks.

“Through your systems.”

Carter smiles, but doesn’t show the red-stained white of her teeth. She knows how frightening that can look.

Her systems.

Her systems.

Her crackable, transparent, compromised systems that are in pieces in the air all around them.

Networks, with their traffic, their back doors—they’re not her area. Einstein-Rosen bridges. Those are her area.

“I have heard you,” the girl says, “in your lab. In your ‘briefings’.”

Carter laughs once. Or maybe it’s a sob. The Goa’uld, the Lucian Alliance, the Trust, the NID—they’ve trickled like water into the cracks between SGC personnel and frozen there, expanding, fracturing, breaking wherever they find a seam. Wherever there’s a weak point. It hadn’t always been like this.

“I have seen you,” the girl says, “on video feeds.”

Daniel’s face flashes on the screen of Carter’s mind.

“We have no texts,” the girl says. “No writings on how one might communicate with machines. Only examples, gained with great difficulty.”

So she’s self-taught, Daniel whispers, somehow there beside her in the mist. Somehow, interested, up to the very end.

The muscles at the back of Carter’s throat constrict and then release. “What’s your name?” Carter asks again.

The gunfire is receding. If they aren’t found soon, neither of them will survive.

“Ginn,” the girl says. “Ginn of the Sixth House.”

“Ginn,” Carter repeats, wiping the blood away from her mouth, struggling to breathe in air that is becoming thicker. Whiter. More opaque.

How many times have you seen me die? Daniel whispers. She’s soldered him to her soul. Her dearest friend. How many times have you seen me walk from life into memory? If these are your last moments, Sam, make them count.

“You could stay,” she offers. “You could stay with us, if you help me.”

Ginn’s eyes flick over Carter, lingering on the wound in her chest, then up to the wall-mounted monitor. Finally, they lock gazes.

“You can’t want this,” Carter says, knowing she might be wrong, knowing that she barely understands Alliance culture, knowing it’s not the right thing to say.

“We are not like you,” Ginn replies, her expression twisting.

“Whatever it is,” Carter says, pressing her lips together as she shifts her position, “that you want.” She takes a shuddering breath, her eyes wet, her airways wet. “It’s not this. It can’t be this.”

Several seconds pass. Seconds that they don’t have. Sam Carter’s life begins to flash from the darkness of her mind. Alien battles. House plants in the sun. Shopping with Vala. Storms on the great plains. Small shreds of her childhood.

The bowl is smooth under her hands. The light from the television flickers into the dark as Mark elbows her and says, “Move over, Sam. Jeez.”

Ginn says nothing.

“Ginn,” she whispers, swallowing blood, trying to set the question down gently. “What was the plan?”

“To flood the building,” the girl says raggedly. “To tag people and take them,” she continues, “and then to shut down the air circulators, displacing the oxygen.”

Carter shuts her eyes, her face contorting in misery. She’s dying. And if she dies, everyone on the lower levels dies. “And now?”

“We’ve dialed out,” Ginn says, “but your people have shut the gate down.”

Carter nods. “And the air re-circulators?”

“Set to go offline.”


“Five minutes.”

“Help me get them back,” Carter begs her, betting on nothing but the fact that, for Ginn, she’s a teacher. A person who, even if indirectly, had taught her how to speak to machines. “Help me keep them on,” she continues, trying not to give away the fact that she can’t stand, that standing will kill her, that she will die anyway, lying here on the floor, finally defeated by something she was unable to fix, but only because she was betrayed by the organic requirements of her body rather than bested by a problem that she could not solve. 

Never that.

Even after all this time.

She’s waited so long.

“Someone has closed my access ports,” Ginn whispers.

The bowl is smooth under her hands.The light from the television flickers into the dark as Mark elbows her and says, “Move over, Sam. Jeez.”

She slides sideways on the couch, her eyes still on the screen. “Do you think it’s true?” she asks her brother. 

“Then let’s open them,” Carter says, the words forced out from between clenched teeth as she gets to her knees and then, impossibly, to her feet, one hand leaving a dark smear against the wall as she passes, her vision swimming.

Her body will fail. But it hasn’t happened yet. And until it does, she’ll keep going.

“Get up,” Carter says, showing her how.

Ginn begins to move.

Carter’s hands close around the edges of the keyboard that folds out of the wall. She yanks it down. “Get up. Don’t be afraid. Our medical personnel work miracles.” She inhales, a shallow gasp, and looks at the screen.

Ginn is up, one hand on the wall, the other moving to her chest to clamp down over her injury. She took Carter’s shot right beneath her clavicle. She might live. She might.

Carter opens up the terminal, finds a secure port, and reconnects to the network. “Where?” It’s all she can manage, but Ginn shows her the program.

Together they eviscerate it. They lock the air circulators on.

“What else?” Carter manages through gritted teeth, holding herself up. 

She won’t go back to the floor until her cardiovascular system puts her there.

And, turns out, she’ll die as she’d always feared she would.

Alone at a computer terminal.

Responsible for unknown losses.

Ignorant of the fate of her friends.

“The iris,” Ginn says.

They restore control.

“What else?” Carter asks.

“The power relays on level twenty-eight,” Ginn says.

They bring them back online.

“What else?” Carter asks.

“The air filtration system,” Ginn says.

They restore full functionality.

“What else?” Carter asks.

“Nothing,” Ginn says finally, doubled over, the word a sob. “Nothing else.”

Carter’s hands release and her knees buckle. Ginn’s hand is on her arm, but there’s no support there, just a synchronous fall. Despite the continued action of the air circulators, near the floor it’s difficult to breathe. 

“Why?” Carter whispers into the mist. She’s not sure what she’s asking.

“I told you.” Ginn’s back is against the wall, and she answers whatever question she heard within Carter’s single word. “We aren’t like you. But I—” she swallows blood. “I know you,” she says, coughing. “I know you.”

There you go, Daniel whispers, very close now.

Carter nods and reaches for her radio with numb fingers. She can’t unclip it from her belt. 

Ginn’s fingers find it instead. She pulls it free, offering it silently.

Carter dials up the volume and listens to the chatter.

“I can confirm the gate is down,” Mitchell says, “but they still hold the gateroom.”

“We’ve secured a group of hostiles on level fifteen.” She doesn’t recognize the voice.

“Carter,” O’Neill says. “Carter, if you’re out there, respond, god damn it.”

“This is Carter,” she says, depressing a button, choking on the liquid in her throat. “Man down. Level twenty-eight. I’m with a friendly. Repeat, I’m with a friendly in LA gear.”

Her eyes slide shut and then open again. She cannot breathe.

If Daniel had been here, maybe he’d have walked out into the corridor, hands extended, expression open, asking nicely, and the universe would have fallen into accord with his wishes.

Then again, Daniel says, with a gentle amusement, maybe if I’d been here, all the air circulators would have gone offline, and everyone would have died.

She cannot breathe anymore. Perhaps it is time to stop trying so hard. She lets her eyes close. She lets the images come, thick and fast and full of color. Jack on the other side of a forcefield—-an EM field like blue ice bisecting halls of gold. Alien dawns and Earth sunsets. All the machines through all the galaxy that she had touched. One that had loved her.

There’s a fanciful theory.

“Do you think it’s true?”

A fanciful, quantum mechanical theory.


A theory which goes like this.

“That space is filled with a network of wormholes,” she whispers, eyes glued to the screen.

The universe is probabilistic in nature.

“You’re a dork,” Mark whispers. “A little dork.” But he’s watching too.

And because it’s probabilistic, at every point where outcomes are uncertain, all possible events play out along branch points in the quantum foam. Fate, itself, splits.

“You might emerge somewhere else in space. Somewhen else in time.”

Samantha Carter experiences all that is possible, even if she isn’t aware of it; her consciousness splitting and ending and tracking and reforming until it runs out through threading tributaries and the river of her life rejoins the cosmic ocean.

“Even if it is true,” Mark whispers, the words ragged. “It doesn’t change anything. Mom is still dead. Dad is still an ass.”

She knows those other tributaries. She has seen them with her own eyes. Her hair long, her eyes devastated by grief, the wedding ring on her finger.

“Don’t say that,” she whispers, her vision wavering through the heat of childish tears as Mark pulls away, stalking out of the room, the screen door to the back porch slamming behind him. Alone, she curls around her bowl of popcorn, then sets it on the floor, her throat too constricted to swallow. She keeps her eyes open, keeps watching the bright wavering blur of the scientist on the screen.

Her breaths have turned shallower. Quieter.

“I’m sorry,” Ginn whispers.

“Me too,” Carter replies.

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