stringertheory: (Sam B&W)
[personal profile] stringertheory
Title: Something in the Blood
Rating: PG
Fandom: Stargate SG-1
Characters: Samantha Carter, appearances by Teal'c, Daniel Jackson, Cameron Mitchell, Vala Mal Doran
Word Count: 5654
Categories: gen, character study
Spoilers/Warnings: For the series.
Summary: A vein of naquadah runs through the bedrock of her life.


The first time Sam saw the Stargate, she pretended to be unimpressed.

It had taken three long months and an obscene amount of paperwork for her to get clearance to work on the new, extremely classified Project Giza, and another month before she was even allowed in the facility that housed it. And that was after she had been recommended for the position. Well aware of what the assignment meant for her career, she was equal parts ecstatic and anxious as the elevator took her small group down into the base.

Their escort – a young corporal whose intense boredom with his detail was all too poorly masked – led them through the hallways at an infuriatingly leisurely pace. Base personnel shuffled past them in various directions, and Sam marveled at how ordinary they seemed, the standard rank and file of any military installation. Her expectations about the Stargate had colored her preconceptions of everything associated with it to the point that she had expected signs of its existence to manifest in everything surrounding it. Instead, the base felt like any other that she had been on, with no outward indications of the grand mystery it contained. Though, to be fair, most of the personnel stationed in the mountain knew nothing of the Gate, if what Sam had been told was accurate. To them, it was just a normal base.

The group reached a final, large blast-door and paused while the corporal fumbled with his keycard. Sam took advantage of the pause and everyone's distraction to prepare herself. A number of her direct superiors were with her and, eager to make a good impression, she wanted to be as professional as she could manage to be about the Gate. The corporal finally managed to get a good swipe through the reader with his card, a dull, metallic thunk signaling the disengagement of the lock. Slowly, the door slid open and Sam followed the others into the room.

It was just as well that her first glimpse of the Gate rendered her temporarily speechless, as every thought was driven from her brain at the sight. She recovered, in her opinion, remarkably quickly and strode in for a closer look. Questions whirled through her mind even as it reflexively assessed and calculated and marveled. The size, the sheer magnitude of the Gate took her breath away. The power it exuded even at rest was enough to give her goosebumps. Tentatively, she touched the smooth inner surface of the Gate. There was the faintest hint of a vibration under her fingers, and when she pulled her hand away her fingertips tingled.

She studied the Gate with the same measure of interest as those around her, but did her best to hide any sense of awe or surprise (and, most of all, the overwhelming thrill she felt) behind a facade of intelligent reserve. Though she never would have admitted it, she felt more strongly validated every time she noticed one of the others in her group gaping at the Gate while she herself remained slightly aloof – at least on the outside. Inside, she was a turmoil of amazement and anticipation and glee.

“So what do you think, Carter?” Her commanding officer, Colonel Feinburg, appeared at her side, his face flushed as always and a twinkle in his eyes.

Sam took a breath. “It's... taller than I expected,” she offered mildly.

Feinburg let out a booming laugh. “Think you can figure it out?” he asked, in a teasing tone Sam was far too used to hearing. She knew Feinburg well, and knew he meant nothing by it – he'd been the one to recommend her for the project, after all – but she still felt herself bristle.

She smiled then, a wide, brilliant grin with a hard edge. “I know I can.”

Curling her still tingling fingers into a fist, she stood back to take in her newest puzzle. Whether it was real or just her imagination, she could swear she felt a hum in the air.


-00000-


Sam had always seen technology in a certain way. The things she built, the things she encountered, the things she studied – they were puzzles to be solved or tools to be wielded, nothing more. She simply had to learn the mechanics of them in order to turn them to her purpose. Technology could be used for good or ill, like so many things, but it was what she made of it, a thing that was reactive and only aware in the most mundane of ways in the rarest of cases. Goa’uld technology - a cluttered hodgepodge of pilfered parts - might be alien, but it still followed those same basic principles.

Or at least it had. Jolinar changed things.

Before, Sam could spend hours working on the Goa’uld devices they managed to obtain, eager to learn how they worked and what they could do. After Jolinar, the joy of discovery was heavily outweighed by the deeply unsettling way the technology affected her. The devices that had once been quiet in her hands now felt alive beneath her fingertips, sentient and observant and knowing. They made her blood sing and the thrill that crawled across her skin was fear and disgust and fascination.

Using them brought back memories not her own. She preferred to forget.

Now when the team was out in the field, she knew which technology they encountered was Goa’uld long before Teal’c pointed it out as he usually did. Instead of rushing to inspect it as she once would have, she hesitated, sometimes long enough for the colonel to expressly direct her to investigate (or give her the look that said he couldn’t understand why she wasn’t already halfway through taking it apart). Then she sucked it up and gritted her teeth and ignored the pleasant way her skin tingled and the sour turn of her stomach. Dealing with Goa’uld technology left her both exhausted and exhilarated, but if her teammates noticed her consternation they kept it to themselves.

More easily handled – and, unfortunately, more often the circumstance – were the times they were in proximity to Goa’uld devices while under duress. Threat of death or impending doom chased away the shadows and Sam could work without clouds in her mind. But later, when the danger had passed and she was safely back on Earth, the memories seeped in through her dreams. She would wake up as someone else and have to wait until the zoetrope in her mind stilled and she could find herself again.

The research and development team pulled her to their labs whenever they could. Knowing the significant advantage a breakthrough in Goa'uld technology would give them, Sam went without protest. Over and over she would use the devices they knew, or attempt to activate the ones they had not yet identified. When a device came alive in her hands, she tried to ignore the surge of power that thrilled through her, hungry and burning, and the flicker of something – desire or delight or exhilaration – that rose in her chest. She fought her own fear of using the devices, her fear of how they made her feel, her fear of something going wrong. The tension left her physically and mentally exhausted.

It helped that she was rescued from time to time. After her first few trips to R&D, the colonel began showing up just as she was reaching her breaking point to sweep her away under claims of official business. Then he would simply drop her off at her lab (or send her home if it was late) or lead her to the others, who just happened to be together chatting about nothing important at all. For their part, Daniel and Teal'c never attempted to spirit her away from the labs, but they had a tendency of turning up soon after a session to ask her questions or regale her with some new tidbit of data (in Daniel's case) or invite her along for a workout or to a meal (in Teal'c's). Sam appreciated the distraction they provided, well aware that it helped her recover more quickly from the strain working with the devices put on her.

After a round in R&D, she would invariably dream of people and places she knew but had never seen, faces following her like shadows when she woke, the ghosts of emotions and thoughts – hers but not hers – caught at the edges of her consciousness. Still, everything they learned about Goa'uld technology was another tiny step toward victory, and Sam clung to that knowledge like a rock in a storm. She gauged their progress by the research team's level of excitement and waited for the day when her own trepidation and bitterness gave way to curiosity once again.


-00000-


One of the difficult parts about being assigned to an underground base was that it was incredibly easy to lose track of time. Sam had a bad track record of losing herself in her work (though Daniel was still the base champion in that regard), but deeply ingrained military punctuality and an innately well-tuned internal clock meant she usually could identify the correct time, give or take an hour. Days of the week were an entirely different beast, however, but she managed to be close most of the time.

But as she shuffled down the hall from R&D one day, pride the only thing keeping her upright, Sam couldn't have said what month it was, much less what day or hour. Every cell ached, whether from the residuals of their last run-in with the Goa'uld or from the two-hour (three? four?) bout of testing she had just endured. All she wanted was to curl up and fall into the oblivion of sleep, but there was a large stack of reports on her desk waiting to be reviewed, a mission report that needed to be written, and half-finished schematics she'd promised to get to the engineering team the week before.

She had resolved herself to a few hours of dense reading when she rounded a corner just in time to see Teal'c emerge from her lab. She called his name and he turned at her voice, dipping his head in greeting.

“Captain Carter. Would you care to join me for lunch?”

Sam blinked up at him. “Lunch?” She glanced at her watch, only to find that it was past one o'clock. Casting a weary glance at the papers covering her desk and the research detritus littering her lab table, she sighed. She probably should eat before she got started. “Sure.”

Teal'c fell into step beside her as they headed for the commissary. He was silent for a few moments, but he spoke as they entered the elevator.

“You were helping in the labs?” he asked.

“Yes.”

They all knew what 'helping in the labs' meant; she didn't need to explain further. They had seen her emerge hollow-eyed from R&D, had greeted her insistences that she was fine with smiling acceptance even as they unobtrusively worked to distract her from the threatening shadows. They had heard her speak of what handling the devices felt like and had seen the effects for themselves.

This last round had been particularly rough, and Sam felt irritation creep under her skin at Teal'c's inquiry. What unsettled her most was that she wasn't sure whether the irritation was entirely her own, or if it was being fed by the emotions she'd experienced during testing. That, coupled with the fact that such a reaction was irrational in the face of so simple and well-meaning a question, made Sam bite her tongue. They exited the elevator in silence, Sam reining in her emotions, Teal'c stoic at her side. Halfway down the hall and several slow, deep breaths later, Sam felt calmer and more herself. She glanced over to find Teal'c watching her intently, hands clasped behind his back.

“I sense it as well,” he said simply.

Sam nodded and looked away, clamping down on the flare of annoyance at his words. Of course he sensed Goa'uld technology – she already knew that. But he couldn't use it the way she could. It didn't affect him quite the same way, and she didn't want to discuss it, didn't want the fresh reminder of her own ability to sense it crowding back in on her.

Her response was clipped. “I know.”

“Including you.”

It took a few seconds for Teal'c's meaning to register through the temper and weariness, but when it did it stopped her in her tracks. Her gaze darted to his face again to find a softness in his expression that would probably have been invisible to anyone who didn't know him well. “Of course,” she breathed. “You would be able to sense it in me because of what Jolinar left behind, just like I can sense it in you because of your symbiote.”

A strange numbness, almost like lightheadedness, came over her at the thought. She felt slightly foolish for not having realized it before. She studied Teal'c, wondering if she felt the same to him as he did to her. Then, somewhat ridiculously, she felt vulnerable and exposed, knowing that her presence was as alive with sensation to him as his was to her. Mildly uncomfortable, she shoved her hands in her pockets and resumed walking. She could sense Teal'c keeping pace beside her, both his sheer physical presence and the humming in her blood courtesy of Jolinar. The familiarity of the former dulled the edge of the latter, comforting and calming her.

“What does it feel like to you?” she asked before she could stop herself, not entirely positive she wanted to find out. Knowing – really knowing instead of imagining – might make it all seem less odd, she hoped. She had only recently gotten used to her reaction to Teal'c, and she didn't want to go back to that awkwardness.

Teal'c was quiet for a moment, and she could sense him looking inward.

“I do not sense you as strongly as I would someone who has a symbiote. My symbiote still reacts to your presence, but the reaction is more akin to very mild discomfort than to it having sensed a sibling or rival.”

It was an uncomfortable place, to be considered in the same breath as a Goa'uld, but Sam decided it was better to know. She released the breath she hadn't realized she had been holding and nodded, as much to herself as to acknowledge Teal'c's words. They rounded a corner and moved to the side of the hallway to let an NCO pushing a cart pass. Once he was out of earshot, Teal'c spoke again.

“It will get easier,” he said, his voice a soft rumble.

Sam gave him a wry smile. “I don't suppose it goes away?”

“No,” he admitted, motioning her ahead of him through a doorway. “But you will become accustomed to the sensation, and it will no longer seem strange. Over time, you will simply stop noticing it. It will be as familiar and uneventful as your heartbeat.”

His tone was matter-of-fact, and Sam tried to view the situation as pragmatically, to see past the whirling emotions and blindsiding memories to a calmer place down the road. She took a deep breath and let the tingling under her skin soak deep as they pushed through the commissary doors. “That's good enough.”


-00000-


Sam was getting used to feeling at least a little strange all the time.

Joining Stargate Command had been the start of it all. Working underground – and, given Sam's devotion to work, practically living underground – took a toll on the mind and body. There was the mental aspect of not being able to see the sky, of not having the natural circadian rhythms of the day to follow. Then there was the confusion of traveling to worlds that didn't follow Earth's day-night cycle: leaving Earth at night and arriving on another planet at noon, being on a moon with only a seventeen hour day, that one world with a nocturnal society. That, combined with the breakdown of normal timetables in the face of their unprecedented mission, meant that everyone felt a little off now and again.

The base itself had an effect on its personnel. Cheyenne Mountain was an imposing physical presence, an incredible mass of earth and man-made structure pressing down on the people who populated its halls. It weighed more heavily on some people's minds than others, but affected everyone given time.

Then there was the Gate. Beyond how it felt to travel through it – the thrill of stepping onto other worlds, the curiosity about the discoveries they would make – the Gate itself affected people. It was more alive than the base and somehow far more weighty. And while the effect of the base on a person was purely mental, the Gate had a real, measurable, physical impact. The power stored in the Gate threw a hum into the air too faint to be heard, but strong enough for the body to pick up something and react to it. Normal experiences ranged from goosebumps to headaches.

So when Sam began to feel flutters of strange sensations when in the Gate room, she didn't think twice about it. Even if the reaction was different from what she usually experienced around the Gate, it was only to be expected that she would react in some way when in close proximity to what was, at its core, a giant superconductor.

When the sensations coalesced one day into something more solid and familiar – a tingling under the skin, like her blood was humming; a quickness of breath; an elevated heart rate – she chalked it up to Teal'c's presence. Since Jolinar, she felt much the same way any time she was near him, the naquadah in her blood reacting to the presence of his symbiote. But the sensations grew beyond anything she had experienced with Teal'c. More than mere murmurs of feelings, they would swell into shouts she had trouble focusing past. It wasn't until she was working alone in the Gate room one night, tweaking the navigation system on a UAV, that it hit her.

It wasn't Teal'c. It was the Gate.

The truth of it was so obvious she was fairly stunned it hadn't occurred to her before. Whatever naquadah Teal'c's symbiote contained, it was infinitesimally small compared to the amount that comprised the Gate. Of course the Gate would affect her.

Ever the scientist, once aware of the cause of her reaction she tested its limits, wanting to suss out its mysteries, categorize and catalogue and empirically rate in a concerted effort to reassert some measure of control over herself. Deciding to start at the beginning, she went to the R&D lab and pulled the hand device from its locked storage bin. Focusing past the same stomach-churning disgust she always felt, she focused on the curiosity, cautiously buried for so long, and, beneath that, the now familiar tingling in her blood.

The relatively small amount of naquadah in the device gave her chills, like an unseen blast of cold air had blown over her. The amount in the Gate left her feeling lightheaded, not unlike being a little drunk, and she couldn't help but grin as she stood at the base of the ramp, mind whirling. Sam thought it might be something like being able to sense the power of a solar flare, or the energy stored in a nuclear warhead. It was heady and overwhelming and a tiny bit terrifying.

Just as it had with Teal'c, it took a little while for her reaction to the Gate to even out. At first, she experienced a range of reactions – from mild lightheadedness to rolling nausea – that seemed to have little to do with the Gate itself and more to do with her own emotional state. She found that if her emotions were heightened, the Gate affected her more strongly. Once, silently seething after a particularly nasty run-in with Senator Kinsey, she joined Siler to run some Gate diagnostics, only to feel every nerve ending spark to life when she entered the Gate room. On another occasion, her anxiety about the upcoming mission translated into dizziness so strong she had to surreptitiously lean against the ramp handrail until the room stopped spinning. And when the Gate was activated, the surge of energy could feel like sliding into a warm pool or like a fist to the chest, depending on her mood.

Eventually her reaction to the Gate stabilized. The sensation was similar to what she experienced around Teal'c, only stronger and deeper, and more volatile. Whereas her reaction to Teal'c felt like it was on the surface, just under her skin, her reaction to the Gate seemed to center deep inside her bones. Both became as familiar as her heartbeat, as well-known as the pulse of blood through her veins. It no longer felt strange; it felt like her.


-00000-


Sam discovered that she could sense the Gate at a distance entirely by accident. She had been wandering back to her lab from the Gate room, lost in thought, when she realized she was three levels away from the Gate and could still sense it. She made it almost to eleven before the feeling faded to undetectable levels. Retracing her steps, she felt the sensation – a thrum under her skin akin to adrenaline, a tightness in her chest – increase the closer she got to the Gate. More than simply knowing where the Gate was located in reference to where she herself was – which anyone who had worked in the base long enough and had even a modicum of a sense of direction could tell – she could feel where it was.

That ability translated to off-world. The distance she could sense it across varied from planet to planet and was dependent upon a multitude of factors, such as the planet's mineral composition and whether the Gate was inside a building, but invariably Sam would be drawn to the Gate like a needle on a compass. It was an odd sensation, like being tugged very gently by an invisible string, but no more disconcerting than anything else she had inherited from her brief brush with the Tok'ra.

Pinpointing the location of the Gate was without doubt the least useful of the abilities she had been given. For one, it was rare that SG-1 ever got lost. The team had in its arsenal (among other things) two highly skilled and experienced soldiers with finely honed senses of direction and, on any typical day, sufficient equipment to locate just about anything they needed to find, the Gate included. Even Daniel held his own, able to almost unerringly find his way without ever seeming to really try. Sam's strange ability to find the Gate by feel alone had never really been required.

Still, she couldn't shut it off any more than she could shut off her ability to sense the Goa'uld. She followed it without thought, and it did help guide them back to the Gate on a handful of occasions where they had been captured and led to parts unknown and then managed to escape.

Or on the rare occasion when they did get lost through no fault of their own, such as emerging from a cave system to a completely unfamiliar patch of forest.

Sam blinked in the brightness of day after – she checked her watch – almost two hours wandering underground.

“Well that was a waste of time.” Vala brushed some dust from her vest and straightened a pigtail. “There was absolutely nothing in that entire cave that even remotely resembled anything Ancient-y, and we almost died in a cave-in.”

“We were in fact an entire chamber away when the ceiling collapsed.” Teal'c raised an eyebrow in Vala's direction.

“My point is we could have died. And for nothing.”

“No,” Daniel sighed. “Not for nothing. At least we can mark this planet off the list.”

Cam was frowning at the trees. He pulled out his compass and tapped it lightly. “In other news, none of this looks familiar and that field we thought was a shield is still wreaking havoc on our equipment. Ideas?”

“Well, we can't go back thanks to the cave-in--” Vala began.

“This way,” Sam cut in, heading off into the trees to their left. She sensed the others fall in behind her, and worked her way deeper into the forest. After a few minutes of walking in silence, she glanced over to find Cam eying her, curiosity in his gaze. She raised her eyebrows at him in question.

“How do you always know where the Gate is?” he asked.

“Well, it doesn't move,” she offered a little dryly.

“No, I mean no matter where we wind up, you always know where the Gate is in relation to us, even if we don't know where we are in relation to anything.”

Sam gave him a bland look and bit back a smile. “I don't know what you're talking about,” she said breezily. Inwardly, she wondered. It had been years since she had actively thought about – or paid attention to – her ability to sense the Gate. Even as she answered Cam, the faint hum under her skin seemed to flare more vividly to life with the fresh scrutiny.

Vala caught her gaze and Sam saw a deep understanding under the amusement in her eyes. “Women's intuition,” Vala offered innocently.

Cam flicked his gaze in Vala's direction, but otherwise ignored her. “Oh, yes you do.” He gave Sam a crooked half grin that told her he wasn't buying the innocent routine. “There was that time on P5X-457 where we had to run like hell from those Ori soldiers and wound up clear on the other side of that canyon. None of us had any idea where we were, but you knew exactly how to get back to the Gate.” He jabbed a finger in her direction. “Didn't even have our equipment with us since the soldiers had collected it, but you guided us right there like a proverbial bloodhound. And you're doing the same thing right now.”

Daniel and Teal'c shared a look, and Sam's lips twitched. “Can't get everything from the mission reports, can you?” Daniel offered a bit cheekily.

“What do you mean?” Cam countered.

Daniel just smiled, but Sam, feeling a little sorry for Cam being the odd one out, relented. “I can sense the Gate.”

Cam blinked at her. “Like Hathor?”

Sam stared at Cam in surprise, catching the cringe that flittered across Daniel's face over his shoulder.

“That's how she found Stargate Command, right?” Cam asked. “She could sense the Gate.”

“He really did read every mission report,” Daniel muttered to Teal'c.

“Uh, yeah,” Sam confirmed, a little taken aback. “She said it called to her.”

“Pretty impressive,” Vala mused.

“I can't sense it nearly as strongly as she could,” Sam clarified quickly.

“Me neither.”

Cam swiveled around to stare at Vala in surprise. “You too?” Vala arched an eyebrow at him and he nodded. “Ah, right. Qetesh.” He turned back to Sam. “So can you sense it now, or are you just guessing?”

Sam smiled. “We're closing in on it as we speak. We actually came out a little closer to the Gate than we were when we entered the cave.”

“In that case, our equipment should be functional again soon,” Teal'c said.

Sam nodded, but Cam grinned and bumped her shoulder with his. “Who needs equipment?”

Half an hour later, when they emerged at the edge of the abandoned village that surrounded the Gate, Cam smirked at her. “Like a bloodhound,” he repeated. “Hey, If I somehow manage to get my hands on a naquadah-enhanced keyring charm, think you could help me find my keys the next time I lose them?”

Sam rolled her eyes, but she was smiling as she stepped over to the DHD and punched in the address for Earth. When the wormhole engaged, she closed her eyes and let the surge of energy wash over her the way she used to when she first discovered her ability to sense the Gate.


-00000-


Sam's first trip to Atlantis was brief enough that any inconsistencies between the Pegasus and Milky Way Gates were lost on her.

As the stop in Atlantis was essentially for little more than an exchange of personnel – Daniel and Vala for McKay – Sam spent very little time in the city. She noticed the cosmetic differences of the Atlantis Gate, but otherwise paid it little attention. In any other circumstance she would have been itching to examine it more closely, to study the ways it differed from her own and, more importantly, to examine the dialing crystal that allowed it to connect across galaxies. But her mind was fully occupied with the task at hand, and the Gate merited barely a passing thought.

Her second time in Pegasus was due to no less pressing a mission, but involved a somewhat more extended stay. Stepping through the Gate and onto a Pegasus planet with Dr. Lee, Sam felt the same rush of sensation she always got from being near a Gate, though it was more like the ghost of what she had once felt. Where once the feeling had roared inside her like thunder, now it merely whispered. If it registered that there was something different about the feeling this time, it did so subconsciously, and Sam arrived on the Apollo none the wiser. Even when she joined Atlantis she didn't notice anything out of the ordinary. There was something that niggled at the back of her mind, but it never came to the forefront of her thoughts. Instead, she was wrapped up in admiring and helping repair the city of the Ancients and enjoying the beauty of the planet they had chosen for its new home.

Her first hint that something had changed came when she returned to Earth. She was surprised to find that her reaction to the Gate – though still muted – was more pronounced than it had been in years. For a few days, the sensations were distracting again, reminiscent of the time years before when her body had become a stranger she'd had to get to know. Sam pondered the mysterious surge in sensations, but was quickly distracted by news of her reassignment to Atlantis. Caught up in preparations for her move, her reaction to the Gate was forgotten amid packing and goodbyes.

She had little time to acclimate herself to Atlantis when she returned as its new commander before she was swept up in the barely controlled chaos of overseeing a city in another galaxy. From coordinating the logistics of reconning their new home planet to butting heads with the base's more stubborn residents, she barely had a moment's peace. Instead of reading old mission reports to better familiarize herself with the personnel now under her leadership and the goings-on of Pegasus, she found herself buried under requisition forms and staff requests. She'd wanted to spend some time exploring the city, both to get to know it and to satisfy her own curiosity. Instead she rather quickly got to know the walls of her office.

Despite the myriad distractions, she didn't miss the heightened awareness she had of the Atlantis Gate. Similar to how she had felt after returning to Earth from Pegasus, her reaction to the Gate seemed to have once again increased. Or at least her awareness of it had.

There was something slightly off about the Atlantis Gate that she couldn't really put her finger on. And not just the look and sound – or lack thereof – of it, though those were distracting enough. Atlantis' Stargate was too bright, to quiet, even too quick, dialing addresses with lightning speed compared to Earth's comparatively clunky program. Amusingly, she thought of the two as analog and digital watches: one ticked and spun, one glowed and beeped.

One night she found herself alone in the office that no longer felt new, the city quiet around her. The top of the Gate was just visible from her desk, and the sight pulled her to the window. She studied the Gate through the glass, ignoring the occasional upward glance of passersby, and tried to pin down exactly how it differed from her own.

There was nothing stronger about the feeling, or anything substantially unusual about it either. It was a subtle variance and difficult to define, like the difference between very cold air or water against the skin. In fact, the difference was so subtle she couldn't be entirely sure that it was something in the Gate and not just something in herself, some combination of new responsibilities and new location that increased her sensitivity to the point that she felt things that weren't actually there. More than anything, it made her more aware of herself, of the sensations she had been living with for so long they'd become background noise. Standing in the office, looking down at the Gate, Sam reveled in the feelings and the memories they awakened: her first time seeing the Gate, the first time she'd sensed something more from it, the first time she'd realized what that something more was.

In the light of two moons, standing on an alien planet in a different galaxy than the one to which she'd been born, she thought about the long and improbable path that had led her there. The hum under her skin a familiar whisper, she smiled and turned back to her desk.



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