tagSci-Fi & FantasyConfirming Carter Bk. 01 Ch. 05

Confirming Carter Bk. 01 Ch. 05

byRibaldWriter©

Day Five

Interior-Col. Carter's Suite, Kitchen

0650 Hours

"Hey, I woke up and you weren't there." Carter said as she stepped into the kitchen. "How long have you been up? Are you okay?"

"I'm fine." Tammy said, taking her hand and kissing it lightly as Carter stood over her. "I couldn't sleep, and didn't want to wake you, so I came in here. I've been looking at a few things."

"What kind of things are you looking at?" Carter asked, leaning over her shoulder. "How long have you been out here?"

"A couple hours. I just made the coffee. Get a cup, and I'll show you. I'll make breakfast in a little bit."

Tammy turned her laptop around so Sam would be able to see it when she came back. She was looking at an image on her tablet when Sam sat down.

"Okay, this chart shows your blood chemistry over the last 48 hours." She said, pointing at the laptop screen. She traced her finger across a line near the top. "This shows your glutamate levels. It's the most common neurotransmitter, and is in as much as half of all neurons in the brain. It's especially important in regards to memory. Curiously, glutamate is actually toxic to neurons, and an excess will kill them."

"If you say so." Sam said.

"I do. The problem is, with levels this high, you should be having trouble remembering your name, much less learning new skills, like you appear to be doing."

"What's that thing on your tablet? It looks like an ultrasound." Carter said, leaning closer to get a better look. "I'm not pregnant am I?"

"No, you're not pregnant." Tammy laughed. "This is one of the images we got off the scanner yesterday. That's your brain, not your belly. Here's a better look." She brought up another image that showed a top view of Carter's brain, with colored highlights in different areas.

"This is a representation of what was going on in your brain just as you began speaking normally yesterday. It was the scan I had in progress. We didn't look at, because you seemed to have recovered."

"Seem to have recovered. I'm not sure I like the sound of that." Carter said slowly. "Hold on a sec, I need more sugar. You need a refill?"

"I'm fine." Tammy said, bringing another image up beside the first on her tablet.

"Now, look at these two images side by side. You see the difference?" She said as Carter sat down.

"The second one is mostly red and orange, and the first one is blue and green." Carter said. "How much time passed between these two scans? And I'm guessing that the second one was earlier?

"Yeah, they were about forty minutes apart. These are the first and last scans. Now look at this." She wiped the images from the screen, and brought up another pair. "These two images are also of your brain. The first pair showed what was going on in your brain, these show the make-up of your brain itself. What do you see now?"

Carter took the tablet and examined the images. She looked up at Tammy, a puzzled expression on her face. "I don't see any difference. But you do, or you wouldn't be showing me these."

"Look here," She said as she slid around next to Carter. She pointed at part of the screen, circling it with her finger, then pointed at the corresponding area on the other picture. "Then here, and here." She repeated the process in another area.

Carter looked at the images again, flicking her eyes back and forth between them. "The picture on the left has more dark areas where you're pointing. What's that mean?"

"This area here is the frontal lobe. It's involved in decision making, problem solving, and planning. This other area is the temporal lobe, and it's involved in memory and language, among other things."

She stood up and went over to the fridge. "You didn't have a stroke, or anything like that yesterday. Your brain went wonky while it was reconfiguring itself."

She poked around in the fridge for a moment, then turned back to Sam. "You got any ideas what you might want for breakfast?" She asked.

"Timeout!" Carter said, looking back and forth between Tammy and the pictures on the tablet. "My brain did what? I don't think I want to believe what I think I just heard you say."

"Well, if you think you just heard me say that based on those images, one taken yesterday, the other five months ago during your last physical, that you now have roughly thirteen percent more active neurons, you would be right."

Tammy walked over and leaned over Sam's shoulder, pointing at another area of the screen. "This is the cerebellum. It coordinates the brain's instructions for skilled repetitive movements and for maintaining balance and posture. I see a dramatic change there too, that explains your improved kinesthetic awareness."

"You knowledge of your body's position in space." She said when Carter looked back over her shoulder at her. "Which is why you can do gymnastics again, without practicing recently."

"But I think yesterday's incident was centered in the temporal lobe, which is why your speech was impaired. That's where all the red and orange were on the first two images." She said as she went back over to the fridge. "I'm thinking that these changes are happening mostly while you sleep, but we just happened to catch one as it occurred."

"You seem to be taking this very well." Carter said as she looked at the tablet again.

"Yeah, I'm sorry if I appear to be taking this lightly, but I've had a couple of hours to go over this a few times, and now I'm just relieved. There's no noticeable change in the brainstem, the part of the brain that connects the brain and spinal cord. That's involved in coordinating the basic functions, like heart rate and breathing. That's what let's you do other stuff without going, 'breathe in, breathe out'."

"And these other changes don't worry you?"

Tammy walked over and took her hand, pulling her to her feet. "I don't know yet." She said as she took Sam in her arms, looking into her eyes. "But aside from yesterday's incident, they appear to be benign, at least from a direct health standpoint. We're going to have to do more testing to see what's really happening in there." She tapped her fingers lightly on Carter's forehead.

Sam laid her head on her shoulder, her arms going around her waist, hugging her tightly to her. "I'm scared, Tammy." She said softly.

"I know, hon." Tammy said as she stroked her hair gently. "We knew there were changes taking place, but now we know where, and that will help us figure out the what and the why. It's going to be okay. You're going to be okay. Just...better."

"Better?" Sam asked as she stepped back, looking at Tammy. "How do you mean?"

"Yes, better. You're not just changing, Sam. You're evolving. I need to see medical data on the ancients if you can get that for me, but I think right now, you're somewhere in between them and us." She smiled as she looked at her. "And I think that means you don't have to die. At some point, you can decide to ascend if you want to."

Interior-Bedroom

0825 Hours

Sam was back on the bed under the scanner when Keller walked in. She had electrodes attached to her head and neck, and Tammy was asking her a series of questions, seemingly at random, making notes on her tablet and marking points on the chart as it scrolled out.

"What are we looking at?" She asked as she went over and sat at the bank of laptops.

"Brain activity and density." Tammy said, glancing down at Carter. "You need a break, Sam? We've been at this for a while now."

"Yeah, no point in me just laying here while you bring Jenn up to speed." She sat up, ducking as Tammy pushed the scanner out of the way. She pulled at one of the leads attached to an electrode. "Can I take these things off?"

Tammy nodded and sat on the bed behind her, rubbing her shoulders as Carter peeled the electrodes off.

"Good. Andi said she wanted an EEG...did you say density?" Keller asked, looking over at them.

Carter grinned at her. "I'm evolving. Isn't that kewl?"

Keller looked over at Tammy. "What's she talking about?"

"I sent you some pictures. Before and afters of the scans we did yesterday. One pair shows brain activity, the first and last scans. The second shows her brain, yesterday, compared to the last physical, five months ago. Look at them, then I'll explain."

Keller opened her mail, found the pictures, and nodded as she looked at the first set. Her brow furrowed as she looked at the second set, and she looked over at Tammy, then back at the pictures.

"These are accurate? There isn't a chance that the images from yesterday are faulty in some way?" She asked finally.

"I have the results from every scan we did yesterday, and two more from today. They all show the same thing. Today's show another noticeable increase in neural activity, and neuron density. You're seeing what you think, Jenn. She's converting other tissue into neurons."

"I want to say that this is impossible." Keller said slowly. She looked over at Carter. "I'm sorry Sam, I didn't even say good morning. How are you?"

"I'm good, Jenn. Thank you for asking." Carter said, smiling warmly at her. "It's been an interesting morning, but I can't say it's been bad. Tammy and I have been talking while she pokes and prods me, and we decided that I'm going to be okay."

"I hope you're right." She looked passed her at Tammy. "What else do you have?"

"There's another picture, take a look at that one."

Keller opened the third picture and studied it. She looked puzzled for a moment, then went back to the second one. She flipped back and forth between them, then left the last one up on the screen.

"When were these images taken, this last pair?" She asked.

"The one on the left was done this morning. The one on the right, about nineteen thousand years ago."

"This is an...wh...how? I don't unde..." She sputtered. "These images are almost identical! The neural density is what, less than ten percent difference?"

"Something like that. I was thinking fifteen." Tammy said as she hugged Sam from behind. "Sam accessed the ancient database, and we went through the medical records. That image is from a sixteen year old girl, as near as we could tell."

"And I don't need Daniel's notes anymore. As a matter of fact, I made a few corrections I'm going to have to tell him about." Carter said casually as she turned and looked at Tammy. "And while I'm thinking about it, I want to check those simulations I started yesterday. I need to sit down with the three of you today too, so we can decide what we're going to tell the IOA. I'd like to do that tomorrow."

Tammy let her go, and she stood up and walked toward the door.

"You coming back, or should I check on you in a bit?" Tammy asked.

"I may get into it, so come say hi. Yell if you need me." Sam grinned, and walked out.

Tammy put the leads for the EEG away, and rolled the machine off to one side. She gathered up the paper readout, and rolled it up as she sat down beside Keller.

"I looked at the last scan we did yesterday, the one that was in progress when she recovered her speech. I noticed a change in brain activity, all of it centered in the temporal lobe. I think we caught her while her brain was reconfiguring, that's why her motor functions weren't impaired, and she responded normally to every test Andi did. Andi wouldn't have known to check for something like that. No one would have."

Jennifer looked at her for a moment, then looked at the floor.

"What is it, Jennifer." Tammy asked. "You want to say something."

"I...yesterday morning, when we were in the kitchen, making breakfast." Keller said slowly. "Yo...you did something. You turned and faced the wall to her bedroom, and you told her not to leave you, that you would follow and find her. Do you remember that?"

Tammy shook her head. "No, I was making gravy, and Andi called out..."

"I'm not surprised." Keller said. "Considering the state you were in. But I talked to Andi, and she said that Sam came around on her own, and asked for you. The timing is almost perfect."

She paused, letting Tammy absorb what she's said. "Andi told me that she was gone, Tammy. That there was no one in there when she was looking at her. Sam was completely unresponsive to any verbal or sensory cues, even though she responded to physical stimulus, and her vital signs were fine."

"Oh my god." Tammy whispered, her eyes filling with tears. "You're saying that we almost lost her."

"No, I'm saying that she heard you, and she came back from wherever she was, to be with you." Jennifer said as she put her arms around her, rocking her gently. "Call me a romantic, but that's what I think happened."

"What does And..." Tammy began, but at that moment, the lights flickered, went out, then came right back up.

"Sam?" She called as they stood up, looking around. "Sam, are you alright?"

"I'm fine. Sorry, that was me." Carter yelled back.

Tammy and Jennifer went into Sam's office, and saw her grinning sheepishly from behind the desk.

"I'm sorry, I didn't expect the lag." She said, looking down and tapping out a few symbols on the keyboard.

"What did you do?" Keller asked.

"I took the building off the cities power grid. We're running off my STM bridge." She said as she looked back up at them. "It works. I'm smarter than McKay."

"We already knew that was going to happen." Tammy said as she sat down. "But how about a heads up next time you do something like that?"

"Okay. Would one of you call Andi, and see when she's going to put in an appearance?" Carter asked. "I really do want to go over a few things with all three of you. I'm going to let the building run off the STM for a few hours, and switch it back later. I just want to do a test."

"I'll do it, I have to run over to the Central Tower anyway." Keller said. "How about I tell her we're going to meet here at ten hundred, or do you want us sooner than that? I'll check to see if she's downstairs before I go over."

"Ten hundred is fine. That'll give me some time to think, and play with some things." Sam said lightly. She looked over at Tammy. "Or maybe I'll just spend some time with my girlfriend. Yeah, that sounds like a better idea."

"Sounds like a plan to me." Tammy grinned as she stood up.

"You can feel me up, but it has to be for fun...no more medical stuff for a few hours." Sam said as she came around the desk. "Promise?"

"I promise." Tammy said, holding out her hand.

"Cross your heart." Jennifer said

"What?"

"Cross your heart. It doesn't count if you don't."

"What is this, junior high school?" Carter laughed.

"No, she's right." Tammy said, turning toward her. "Cross my heart, ho..."

"Don't do that part. I believe you." Sam said, pulling her close and kissing her. Then she looked over her shoulder at Jennifer. "Will you get out of here? We'd like to be alone if you don't mind."

Jennifer smiled and waved as she went out the door.

Interior-Kitchen

1015 Hours

"If I wasn't seeing it, I never would have believed it." Andi said as she flipped through the pictures Tammy had put together, then reviewed the scans from the day before, and that morning. She had already gone through and verified the findings, pulling her own images out for comparison.

"I didn't either." Tammy said. "That's why I reran the scans and did an EEG this morning. You said you wanted an EEG anyway."

"Good thinking, and thank you." Andi said. "This is an astounding change in such a short period of time, but I can't see how the korathis accounts for it on its own. It has to be reacting to, or working in conjunction with something else that's already present!"

"There's lots to choose from." Sam said lightly. "You've been through the files, pick something. I knew at least a few of them were gonna come back and bite me in the ass someday."

"We will, but in the meantime we need to monitor these changes in your brain."

"I agree." Jennifer said. "But there's an option I don't think we've considered yet." She looked around the table, finally letting her eyes settle on Sam. "You understand ancient, and have access to the cities systems. That means you should be able to tell us how to operate the ancient medical equipment in the Central Tower, and help me interpret the output."

"I'd prefer not to go to the Central Tower unless it can't be helped. We'd have to do it today, because after tomorrow, the risk will just be too great. It may be passed that point already. And to be honest, I just don't want to leave here."

"I understand. I may be able to get some of it out, I'll talk to Sheppard. If I can, do we want to set it up in the bedroom, or just make one of the suites downstairs into a medical bay?"

"I like the medical bay idea." Tammy said, turning to look at Sam. "Having a few things here is fine, but this is home, and should feel like a home. Having the scanner and all that other crap in the bedroom is creepy, and it says we think you're going to die. You're not, so let's put it somewhere else."

"I was going to say the same thing." Andi said. "You're not some ninety year old billionaire on life support. We can get you downstairs just as easily as we can get you into the bedroom. It's not like we're going to be hiding it, just getting it together in one place. Then, as we get other people onboard, we're already set up for them."

"I like that idea. Not because it's creepy, or I think I'm going to die, but because I want to make that room into a theater. I miss going to the movies. There's a huge display down on the third floor, I'd like to move it up here eventually, and put it in there." Sam said. "I'm not kidding. I'm going to tie that big monitor in Tammy's suite into the cities media database, so we can watch movies down there until I can get it set up."

She got up and filled her glass with ice, and got two cokes from the fridge. "We can worry about all this later, I'm not in any hurry. But I want to talk about handling the IAO, and that's what I want to do, handle them. I sent you all an email, the file is encrypted, and the password is opensesame, one word, all lower case. Save it to your tablets, because I'm going to delete it from the servers when we're done."

She poured a coke in her glass as she waited for them to check their mail and open the file. She knew by the smiles on their faces that she had taken the right tack with her plan.

"You seriously expect me to stand in a meeting and say this?" Jennifer laughed. "I doubt if I'll be able to keep a straight face."

"I don't care if you sit or stand, and that's why you're going over it." Carter grinned as she looked over her own copy. She had thrown together some notes the night before, sketching out the most outlandish scenario she could think of. She knew it would have to be toned down, but thought it better to be bold from the start. "This is just a rough draft, and the three of you are going to go over it and clean it up."

"I like the opening, it gives the what and some background in two paragraphs, and doesn't leave them much room for questions." Andi said as she read through it.

"This part about being blatantly sexual. Double, no, triple the number of times she masturbates a day. That'll throw them off balance, and keep them from focusing on other things." Tammy said.

"Write it down as you go, you can compare notes later. This is a polishing session." Carter told them as she stood up and picked up her glass. "I want this finalized by fourteen hundred, so Jenn can talk to Sheppard by sixteen hundred, and tell him that she needs a meeting with Stargate Command, and the IOA tomorrow morning."

She walked toward the door. "I'll be in my office. Tammy, turn your eyes on, I know it makes you feel better." She blew her a kiss, and walked away.

Interior-Kitchen

1250 Hours

"We think we're done." Tammy said as she leaned against the doorframe of Sam's office. "And I made lunch, bacon cheeseburgers and fries. I thought you could use a treat."

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