Run. She scrambles to her feet and blinks against the wave of vertigo. Run, you idiot. Her legs take over and muscle memory kicks into gear and she’s out of the small, humid cell and into the maze of dimly-lit dirt hallways before her brain catches up and wonders what the hell is going on.
Keep going. She turns around and dashes into a side corridor, away from the sound of oncoming voices and boots stomping in frighteningly-even cadence. She stumbles over a rock and presses her hands against the stone wall for support, wishing for her shoes. She panics: left, right or straight? Think. What do you remember? She pushes her back against the cold, uneven stones and tries to be invisible while the guards pass. Inside. Stairs up. Left, right, right. Straight for a while. Cold, immediate left. Stairs down. She opens her eyes and dares a glance around the corner – the guards are gone. Now go! She sprints, turning left where her memory says right, up where she remembers down. She passes a gust of cold air, shivering in what scraps of her clothing remain. You can’t go out the way you came in. Guards. Find another exit. She curses under her breath and takes a right where she should take a left, frantically searching her brain for architecture and anthropology and what the hell this building looks like and where a door might be.
Get off the planet. Find a ship. She lucks out: hiding in a large crack in the wall from a contingent of four guards sprinting past, she hears the familiar whine of engines to her left. An alarm sounds. Crack goes through. You can fit. She shimmies through the wall, following the faint light on the other side, and notices that she really shouldn’t be able to do this. She spares a glance at her body. Yeah, you’ve been here for three months. There’s not much left of you. Think of cheeseburgers later. She waits for the hangar bay to empty of the departing squadron. Her fingers fly over the external controls of the closest raider and she jumps inside before the hatch is fully open. She slaps the inside panel and the door drops down. They know you’re gone. Hurry or they’ll lock down the bay. She whispers at herself to please shut the hell up and straps herself in as she programs the unfamiliar controls to do what she hopes is turn on and lift off. The bay doors begin to close and she curses and decides that she’ll figure out the finer details of navigation later. She pushes the acceleration to maximum and flies out and into the murky dawn sky.
Now up. Space. She looks over her shoulder and her eyes widen at the sight of the bay doors opening again. Raiders swarm out behind her. A string of curses spills out of her mouth as she searches for the right controls. Something beeps happily, so she presses it again and discovers evasive maneuvers.
Cute. But maybe the hyperdrive. Nodding to herself, she tries a few other buttons and gets lucky. She ignores the garbled radio transmission in an alien language, no doubt telling her to land the raider and come out with her hands raised. She exits the planet’s atmosphere miraculously unscathed by the shots fired by the chasing raiders. As soon as she clears the gravity well, she kicks in the hyperdrive and disappears.
Find a planet with a Stargate. Get home. Her vision begins to blur and she’s suddenly violently sick into the copilot’s bucket seat. She breathes in deeply and exhales loudly, closing her eyes for a moment. Body and mind calmed, she opens her eyes and accesses the ship’s astrometrics computer. She plots a course for the nearest friendly planet she knows to contain a Stargate. She passes the four hours by searching the ship for water (successful) and food (not so much) and trying to stay awake by reciting bits of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
She remembers leaning on the DHD for support, barely able to stand and even less able to focus her eyes, as she slapped the symbols for Earth out of sheer muscle memory. And she remembers the moment before she stepped into the event horizon hoping that this planet had been left alone and the chance of ending up where she started is exactly zero. But then, nothing.
So when she opens her eyes to cloying semi-darkness, the urge to panic surges forward before her ears register the low, rhythmic beeping of medical monitors. She hears voices shouting and thinks that they might sound familiar, but her brain is fuzzy and she can’t concentrate enough through panic’s narrow field of vision to make the sounds into words and the voices into people. She tries to take a deep breath and calm down, but there’s a tube in her throat and while some part of her mind is screaming that she’s home, the rest of her mind has spent three months in an alien prison learning to reject logical thought and the tube causes another rush of panic. She sits up.
Pain shoots up her spine and into her skull, blinding white pain that erases any other thoughts from her mind as she grabs at her head. Hot tears escape out of the corners of her eyes as the burning radiates out across her shoulders. She feels someone’s arm cross her body and she gags for a moment but then the tube is gone and she’s coughing, hard. And through the aching in her chest and the thudding pain in her head and the sting of her back, she decides that right now, she’d really like to die.
“You’re safe, Alle,” a male voice whispers in her ear as a warm, strong hand grasps hers.
She knows that voice, remembers it. Trusts it, she realizes, and has trouble defining the term: trust is a feeling only distantly remembered now, but the faint memories are kind and comforting and she clings to them and realizes that trust is good. She focuses on the words he speaks to her, quiet, calming words assuring her of safety and home and she slowly, slowly relaxes. “Zach,” she whispers hoarsely, finally able to match a person with the voice. She tries to tighten her grip on his hand, reassure herself that he’s real, but all she manages is a faint squeeze.
The mattress shifts and she senses a body next to her and an arm carefully slides across her shoulders. “Yeah,” he says, and she feels lips press against her temple and she’s suddenly aware of how quiet the room is. “You’re okay.”
The way her body aches and throbs and burns and the way her mind is curiously refusing to let her remember much of anything all tell her that she is just about as thoroughly far away from okay as she can get and still be alive. But she nods, barely.
“Alle,” another voice, female this time, says quietly from her other side, “can you lie back down? You need to rest.”
She opens her eyes and what had been blurry shapes is now sharply in focus – machines, beds, doorway. People. Infirmary. Home. She lifts her head and blinks at the doctor. “What happened to me?” Something nags at the back of her mind and she doesn’t want to sleep until she knows why everything hurts so badly. Panic begins to build up again when she sees the doctor – Kate, she remembers – glance away, uncertain. The arm around her shoulders tightens just slightly, reminding her that it’s okay.
“You’ve been missing for three months.”
She’s unsettled by the uncertainty in her friend’s non-answer and opens her mouth to explain, but closes it again when she realizes she can’t. She rests her head on his shoulder and closes her eyes. Exhaustion washes over her and she’s aware of the bed shifting again and hands slowly guiding her to lie down. Sleep is not instant, though, and she hears troubling words before she finally succumbs to the sedative injected into her IV.
“How is she?”
“She’s awake. It’ll be rough, but she seems to know where she is and who we are, which is good. Any news on Sam and Jack?”
“No. We searched the planet she gated from and everything around it. Didn’t find anything.”
“She wouldn’t leave without them.”