Thanks to iulia for loving this idea and then waiting seven months for me to actually write it and still loving it when I did.
"Solitudes", Sam Carter, gen. 600 words.
"We're not going to get out of here."
Sam hadn't ever been sure whether the men who worked on the Gate had referred to it as female by analogy with ships and planes, or because of the obvious visual analogy. She knew better than to ask. She was happier not knowing.
Sam herself, the only woman in the room, was strictly Captain or Carter. She was always the Gate. Sam had inevitably absorbed the habit herself. She never joined the furtive chorus of baby-beauty-sweetheart-honey and sometimes bitch, but she'd caught herself muttering attagirl when she discovered another elegant facet of the Gate's workings. She sure wasn't talking to herself. Hell, by then she was even calling herself Carter.
But now here she was puzzling out another Gate--not the one she'd helped to coax to life on Earth, under the mountain, but another in a long line of nearly identical sisters. This one was underground too, in a chamber of ice rather than concrete. She had her own DHD, she was perfectly capable of sending Sam and the colonel home, but she just. Wasn’t. Working.
The colonel had slipped into sleep--had lost consciousness, was slowly freezing to death--while Sam struggled with a Gate who refused to cooperate.
Sam looked up the gleaming dark curve, studded with symbols. She thought faintly that it was no good being over here; she really needed to work on the DHD. But it was the Gate who was familiar. It was the Gate who might listen to Sam when she spoke.
"I just don't know what else to try," Sam said. "I need you to help me out here, because if I don't come up with something completely crazy now, we're not going to get out of here."
The Gate shone in the beam of her flashlight and offered no answers.
"Oh, God, I'm talking to the Gate," Sam muttered, her chin dropping to her chest. She was swamped with fatigue, the colonel was motionless behind her. She had nothing left to give, not her brains, not even sanity. "That's it. We're not going to get out of here."
She felt herself buckle--not just her body, but her self folding.
She felt a flash of impossible, intense heat on her hand, half-heartedly stretched out to catch herself, and jerked upright. It took her a few seconds, staring blankly at starkly red fingers, to realize that she had touched the gate; it was a freeze, not a burn, from long-frozen naquadah.
The pain hit a few seconds later, shockingly intense and pumping adrenaline through her suddenly-hot blood. When she looked up at the Gate her vision was strangely sharp. She thought she could read every glyph from here.
She didn't have time for that, though. The Gate had given her an answer: You're not dead yet. Wake up and get to work.
"Yes ma'am," Sam whispered. She staggered up to her feet, saluted with her burned fingers and then swiped the half-frozen pain-tears from her eyes and headed back over to the DHD.
She half-woke to an enormous thudding sound--not her heart, not the colonel's, not the gate activating, not the earth shaking. There were shapes above her, too large and too round, and then she recognized the sound of helicopter rotors--helicopter--and the shape hovering over her was a woman in a helmet, sporting a red cross on her uniform. A medic.
"Captain," she was saying. She had an accent, a pretty one. Sam tried to pay attention to what she was saying, something about, "your fingers here? Electrical?"
Sam shook her head. "No, she didn't--no. She was just trying to get my attention."
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