DISCLAIMER: I only borrowed them for a while. MGM and whoever can have them back whenever they want. No copyright infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Up to the end of season 7, pre-Lost City. P.S. She ain't dead.
SERIES: This is the first story in the Dawnspell series, a sequel to Darkspell (Sunshine, Shadow, Shimmer) You really need to read those first.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author

By Celievamp


Brata'c returned to Chulak, taking Teal'c with him in order to rally support for the defence of Earth. Despite the breakdown in the Alliance he was confident that he would get what he needed. They gathered in the Gateroom to say their goodbyes. Janet had allowed Sam out of the Infirmary. Teal'c pulled her into a hug so tight that she thought she heard her ribs creak.

"You have a warrior's heart, Samantha Carter. You will prevail," Teal'c said. Sam's eyes filled with tears. She could not say anything, managing to mouth `Thank you' to him. Brata'c bowed to her and then to Dr Weir and then the two men walked through the Gate.

Sam's condition worsened over the next two days. She seemed constantly busy with something, her lab and her quarters littered with half completed projects that the rest of her science team could not make head nor tail of. She rested when Janet forced her into it but her sleep was constantly disturbed. She was running a temperature and the headache was a constant. Tests that Janet ran began to show changes at a cellular level, the EM field that she was generating was changing. Janet recognized some of the changes from the aborted transformation that Nirrti had engineered in Cassandra.

Sam could not or would not eat. Someone was with her at all times just in case the breakthrough came. Ancient words fragmented her sentences and usually she was completely unaware that she had lapsed into the alien language. Daniel tried to prompt her memory but so far without success.

"Sam, does this mean anything to you?"

Sam did not bother to look up from the workbench where she was making notes on something. "No."

"Could you at least look at it?" Daniel nudged her arm. "Come on. You know you want to."

She sighed, mock glared at him and then shrugged, plucking the book from his hands. "I don't know how much use I'll be. I'm still not speaking Ancient very fluently. I'm still at the odd ideas just popping into my fron stage."

"Your fron – your head," Daniel clarified. Sam looked blankly at him, not realizing her lapse.


"You said `fron'," Daniel said.

"Did I?" Sam rubbed her forehead. "Look, Daniel I really want to finish these notes while I'm still coherent. Can we do this later?"

"Sure," Daniel said. "I could use a coffee anyway. Want one?"

"Please," Sam smiled to show him that there were no hard feelings then turned back to her notebook. She froze. "Daniel?"

He stuck his head back round the edge of the door. "What?"

"You might want to take a look at this. I don't remember writing it." Shuddering, she dropped the noteback onto the workbench and backed away, hugging herself. Sparing her a concerned glance, Daniel looked at the notebook. In the middle of a neat line of equations he saw two words written "Taonas" and "Proklarush".

He spoke them aloud and then glanced across at Sam. "What do they mean to you?" She shook her head, silent her eyes wide and troubled.

He repeated them to himself again, emphasizing different syllables this time. Suddenly Sam got to her feet and walked out of the room. "Sam – is everything okay?"

She kept walking, not answering him. He followed her down towards the Gateroom and then up to the Control Room. Sergeant Davis was on duty. "Major? Doctor?" Sam ignored him, sitting down at a keyboard and bringing up the gate address datafile. "Sergeant – perhaps you had better get hold of Dr Fraiser and Dr Weir. I think Sam's come up with something. "Taonas Proklarush, Sam. What does it mean?"

Her gaze was focused, curiously serene. Her fingers flew over the keyboard as she interrogated the files. Janet and Elizabeth Weir came into the room.

"What is she doing?" Elizabeth Weir asked. Daniel showed her the notebook. Janet was crouched at Sam's side, her fingers pressed to Sam's neck as she checked Sam's pulse and temperature.

"Sam, can you tell me what's happening? What is it you need to do?" Janet asked. She shivered as Sam paused to slowly look at her, interrupting whatever she was doing obviously taking a great deal of effort. "Find… address." She pointed to the glyph on the screen. "Tay". She brought up a second glyph to stand against it "Oh".

Daniel was already there. "My God. I think it's the verbal representation of the Gate Address for the Lost City."

"Reaching a bit, aren't we?" O'Neill drawled. "Come on, Daniel, that's a bit far out even for you."

"I have to agree," Dr Weir said. "Dr Jackson, I'll need a lot more evidence before I commit…"

"Tay-oh-nas Prok-lar-ush!" Sam shouted and pointed to the screen. Six glyphs It looked like an address. Sergeant Davis, who would trust Sam Carter's judgment on anything any day of the week entered it into the dialing computer.

"Sirs – ma'am – it is a valid address." The computer brought up more information. Daniel leaned over to read it over his shoulder.

"It came from the information you input, Jack. But it looks like we dialed it a couple of years ago and could not get a lock."

"Perhaps the Gate was blocked or destroyed. Maybe that's how the City was Lost," Sam said suddenly from behind them.

"Jeez Carter, give a fella a heartattack why donchya!" O'Neill growled.

"Dr Jackson, see if you can find any more information about this Taonas Proklarush. In one hour we will try to dial that address. Sergeant Davis, get Sergeant Siler and have a MALP ready to go through the gate at that time – always presuming we can get a lock this time. Colonel O'Neill – depending on what the MALP sends back I want you to draw up some possible mission scenarios. And some suggestions as to what to do next if the Gate won't dial. We'll reconvene in one hour in the Briefing Room. Major Carter – I want to know the moment you get any more… insights. Dr Fraiser – make sure that she rests." Weir nodded smartly to them in dismissal and then left.

O'Neill whistled softly. "She's good. I'm beginning to like this woman."

"We could have done a lot worse," Sam agreed softly. She frowned at the screen and then at the Earth glyph that was etched into the glass looking out over the Gateroom. "At" she whispered, tracing the shape with one finger. "I know this is `At'."

By the time they met an hour later Sam, with Janet's help, had assigned a syllable to every glyph on the DHD. Daniel had made some progress on finding their destination.

"'Proklarus Taonas'. According to what Nyan and I have dredged up and the notes that Jonas left, it meant `lost in fire'. Actually, something that Jonas wrote more or less confirms Sam's theory that the glyphs have a verbal equivalent. He was just theorizing which is why he probably never mentioned it to any of you."

"Sam has assigned a syllable to each glyph," Janet said, passing around copies of the annotated notes she had hurriedly made. "Nothing else yet, though."

"Forgive me for talking about you like this whilst you are here, Major Carter, but in your professional opinion, Dr Fraiser, is Major Carter fit enough to go on this mission?" Elizabeth Weir asked.

"Given the provisos we talked about earlier, I believe she is," Janet said. "In fact I'd be more concerned with her health prospects if she was denied permission to go."

"What if the Gate is still blocked?" Daniel asked.

"Then we work out its position in space and fly there," Sam said. "Give me a couple of hours and I can work it out."

"You can't take the Prometheus. With Anubis on his way, Prometheus is our last line of defence."

"Maybe Teal'c has something by now," O'Neill said. "Brata'c…" his voice tailed off as Carter got up and walked out of the room an expression of intense concentration on her face. "Something I said?" he muttered. Janet and Daniel made a quick apology to Dr Weir and followed Sam out.

They tracked Sam down to one of the main storage areas. She was working her way along the shelves trailed by a very confused looking SF who was loading the indicated items onto a trolley.

"Sam – what are you doing?" Daniel asked.

She faltered, rubbing her temple. "Erm… packing, I suppose. I don't really know. I just need to do this. I really need to do this." She turned back to the shelves and began to go through various tool sets. They all vividly remembered what O'Neill had been like in the same situation, having even less idea than usual of the reasons behind his actions.

"It's a good sign," Daniel said. "Hopefully it means we're on the right track."

Sam stopped again. "Naquada Generator," she said slowly. "The Mark 4, ego te..." Bypassing them, she wandered out into the corridor again.

Dr Weir walked round the collection of equipment that was rapidly filling up one corner of the Gateroom. The Major had not even appeared for the dial-up of the address, seeming to know in advance that it would fail. That had been four hours ago. At some point in the interim she had paused long enough to work out the planetary co-

ordinates based on the Gate address, thrusting the piece of paper into Weir's hands with a terse. "There. We go there."

The last twice Major Carter had appeared she had tried to talk to her but the woman had walked right past her without stopping. Dr Jackson and Dr Fraiser had followed her in this time and Weir saw the look of concern on their faces as Sam wandered along the row of containers as if checking off some mental checklist. It was obvious to her that they had very little idea of what was going on either. She saw Dr Fraiser's expression change as she started forward. Major Carter wobbled, almost falling over her own feet. The doctor eased her onto one of the containers, one hand wrapped around her wrist.

"Well, have you got everything you need? I think there's still a sink in the kitchen." Elizabeth Weir knew it for a poor attempt to lighten the mood but the faint ghost of a smile that crossed Major Carter's face cheered her immensely. She wasn't entirely lost to them yet.

"Someone with worse jokes than the Colonel," she said.

"Not possible, Carter, and you know it," O'Neill said from the doorway. "But I do sense hope for her." He looked around at the cases. "Teal'c's ready for us with Brata'c and this Ronan guy who's ship we're ah… borrowing. So, you got everything you gonna need? We can't exactly pop back home if you've left something behind you know."

"I think so, sir," Sam said. "The… compulsion seems to have eased off, anyway."

"Good thing. Pretty glad to be going with you on this thing, actually. Means someone else gets to fill in all the paperwork." He glanced across at Elizabeth Weir. "That would be you by the way. The really scary part of the job."

"I can handle a few memo's Colonel, don't worry," Weir said. "I just want to wish you good luck."

"Thank you," Sam said. "I suppose we should all get geared up."

"I want you to stop by the Infirmary, first, Sam," Janet said. "I want to take another blood series before we go. Your cell count was still way off on the last one."

Sam glared at her then nodded. Janet knew every argument that she was likely to make. And at the end of the day she was going to be no good to anyone if her body gave out before they found what they were looking for.

Janet had insisted that she rest and had confiscated her lap top. Sam had laid out her bedroll on top of one of the canisters in the storage bay and lay down on it. Every time she closed her eyes she saw stars. Constellations that had not existed for a millennia or more. She felt hot, stifled, as if there wasn't enough air.

"Sam… it's okay, you're okay!"

Someone was holding her arms. She was the engine compartment. One of the panels was open, the crystal array exposed. Teal'c held her, Janet standing in front of her. A few feet away Brata'c was restraining Ronan who looked angry and scared. There was a bruise forming on his cheek.

"What… what's happening?" Sam asked. She recognized the array as one controlling life support."

"I caught you tampering with the life support controls. You were going to sabotage my ship, kill us all!" Ronan declared. "When I surprised her, she attacked me!"

The palm of her left hand itched, her fingers curled. The last thing she remembered was feeling breathless. "No, it wasn't me," she said softly. "Why would I sabotage the ship?"

"Do you remember coming in here?" Daniel asked.

She shook her head, a feeling of sick defeat pervading her for a moment. "I don't." She looked across at O'Neill. "Perhaps it would be for the best to put a guard on me." She turned to Ronan. "I am sorry for hurting you."

"Do you have any idea what you were trying to do?" Janet asked.

Sam shook her head. "The last thing I remember is feeling breathless, cruvus, my fron…" she broke off, hugging herself."

O'Neill sighed. "We're still two days away at best from the planet. Can you hold it together for that long?"

Sam nodded, not trusting her speech. She shuddered as the compulsion ripped through her again. Breaking away from Teal'c she snagged Daniel's arm and dragged him over to the open panel, talking urgently to him, ignoring Ronan's glare.

"She thinks she can make the ship go faster but it will mean bypassing some power couplings to the environmental system," Daniel said at last. "It won't kill us but it might make things slightly unpleasant. The good news is we'll be at the planet in…" he checked something with Sam who nodded vehemently. "Six hours."

O'Neill nodded. "Six hours is good. Okay, Daniel, Teal'c – give Carter what help she needs to do this. Ronan, Brata'c – you're with me. Doc – watch her."

As she watched Sam take apart and rebuild several components making use of some of the equipment she had brought with her from the SGC, Janet spared a moment to wonder what was happening back home. Hayes had not got much of a honeymoon period in office. She wondered how tight a leash Kinsey was on. General Hammond had confided in both her and Sam that he had given their unexpected new ally Agent Woolsey the materials that O'Neill and Maybourne had got on Kinsey's illegal activities within NID. And Woolsey had reported directly to the President. And during the current crisis it was General George Hammond who was at the President's side – not the Vice President. And that made Janet feel a whole lot better about having a home to come back to once this was over.

Daniel touched her shoulder. "I'm going to rest for a couple of hours. If she finishes what she's doing try to get her to do the same."

"I'll try, but you know Sam, she doesn't listen to me at the best of times."

"She listens, Janet. She just chooses not to hear you sometimes."

He touched her shoulder and left her to ponder his words. Janet moved closer to Sam's side careful to keep out of her way. Sam did not seem to even need to pause for thought. Even though she was amalgamating three different technologies – Human, Goa'uld and Ancient – into something that quite possibly had not existed before she did not falter.

"He talks to me in my dreams," Sam said suddenly.

"What?" Janet was jerked from her train of thought. "Who talks to you?" For a moment she thought she meant the alien device embedded in her hand. The weapon. That would be bad enough. She was not prepared for the chill that swept through her when Sam said the word.


"Anubis talks to you in your dreams?" Janet whispered. She did not want to imagine what that would be like. She knew the darkness that swept Sam's dreams sometimes the nightmares where she would scream herself awake and even worse the ones that left her shaking and silent, the terror that left her mute, fighting to draw breath. The ones where she held on to Janet so hard that it hurt and Janet would spend the next few days trying to hide the bruises from her lover because she knew that it would make her cry.

"Since I attacked Kinsey. I shouldn't have done that. It wasn't…" she paused, rubbed her forehead. "I opened myself to him then. He whispers to me. He wants me, Janet. He wants me to stand beside him…" Her voice faded into silence. "Janet, I'm telling you but the others can't know, not yet. At the moment he's just the boogey man, I can block him but I can feel that I'm changing, growing stronger and at the same time it's going to make it easier for him to get to me. He is looking for me, Janet. I… fascinate him." She shuddered, her face paling. Janet scrambled to her feet, found an empty box and held it as Sam retched and retched again until there was nothing left to bring up. The dry heaves gradually subsided and she rested her head on Janet's shoulder. "That's one of the reasons I didn't want you to come. If he finds me, he finds you too."

"And it's why I have to be here," Janet said. "I will not let him take you. None of us will." Sam nodded, pulled away. She gestured to the array.

"I have to finish this," she whispered. "We're running out of time."

O'Neill had come into the engine room about twenty minutes earlier and took up position out of her way but within line of sight. He was watching her every move. So was Janet. The compulsion was not so overwhelming now. Her conscious mind and her subconscious were in agreement about what needed to be done.

He would need to talk to her before they got into this any further. All attempts to contact the Asgard before they left had failed. There was a good chance that she would not come out of this alive. And she knew if their positions were reversed that she would want closure. They had entirely too much history between them. And she needed to ask him something.

The adjustments were completed. Now for the power boost. It was unconventional but it would save a lot of time and wiring. There was an infinitesimal chance that it would explode, but the risk had to be taken. "Sir, give me your zat, please."

He glanced across at Janet, who shrugged and then at Daniel who nodded before he handed over his zat. Sam ushered everyone back and then shot the crystals. They all felt the boost before the inertial dampeners compensated. She closed the zat and handed it back to O'Neill and then put the crystal assembly back in place.

"That should do it," she said. "It might get a few degrees colder and the air might smell a little stale by the time we get there but we'll be in no danger."

"Good work as ever," O'Neill said.

"Sir, could we talk for a moment?" She glanced at Teal'c who got the message and ushered Janet and Daniel out of the compartment.

"We've already had this conversation, Carter. Remember?"

"And if you remember sir, you said we didn't need to have it," Sam said. "I just want your assurance on something."


"If it looks like I'm going dark side, or if you can't get this out of me before it completely overwrites my mind, I want you to kill me."

"Jeez Carter, don't sugar coat it or anything!" O'Neill protested weakly.

"Do I have your word, sir," Sam said. She knew he was strong enough to do it. He had been focused enough to zat her twice during the Entity incident with no assurances that she would survive it. And he had been in love with her at the time. She wasn't completely dense. She knew how he felt about her even without that damned stupid zatarc test. But he had moved on since then knowing that the idea of any relationship with her was doubly hopeless.

"I got your six, Carter, don't worry," he said.

"Thank you, sir," Sam smiled at him. He had finally confessed to her years after the event that he had kissed her during the time loops. And she had kissed his avatar on the Prometheus. So they were kind of equal. Even without her personal preferences she didn't think that any relationship with him would last beyond a week but… there was the evidence of the alternate universes they had encountered. Another time, another place.

. "By the way, Carter, you look like crap. You need to get some rest before the big show."

"Yes sir," she grinned. "I'll do my best."

"No doubts on that score, Carter. No doubts at all."

Anubis summoned Herak to his chamber to report on the disposition of the Tauri homeworld.

"My Lord," Herak bowed. "The advance attack reports that they have received no challenge."

"Order them to begin the attack. If the Tauri have weapons of the Ancients we shall see." Herak bowed and left. Anubis extended his senses, seeking out the one he had come so far to meet. But there was no sign of Samantha Carter. She was young in her powers. Surely she could not have learned to conceal herself in the shimmering so quickly. He had touched her dreams but this close to her he should be able to touch her waking mind.

Sam shivered violently. It was cold in the Teltac but what she had just felt had nothing to do with air temperature. Janet's hand soothed up and down her arm. "You okay?" she asked.

"Someone just walked over my grave," Sam whispered, instantly wishing she had phrased that better as she saw the expression on Janet's face. "I'm okay."

"Carter!" O'Neill called from the front of the ship. "We just dropped out of hyperspace. We'll be in orbit in ten minutes."

"Well that explains why the gate wouldn't dial," Daniel said. "The surface is almost completely covered by lava flows. Any sign of civilization seems to be completely destroyed."

"A star becomes a red giant like this near the end of its life. A million years ago this planet might have looked very much like Earth," Sam said. She closed her eyes as images of tall white cities came to her mind, rolling parkland, lakes, farms. Very much like earth indeed. And then it was gone.

"So we're a million years late?" Daniel asked.

She came back to herself. She owed them answers. She had brought them here after all. "Probably more."

"That's very late," Daniel looked profound for a moment. He was definitely out of his period here. Not to mention out of his depth.

Ronan brought the ship in low over the planet's surface.

"I have scanned the entire surface," he announced. "Nothing remains."

Sam blinked, aware that they were all looking at her.

"Carter, was there a reason you packed the hazmat suits?" O'Neill asked. "Do you want us to go down there?"

She stared at him. "I don't know. I'm trying… but there's nothing."

"Sam, you brought us here for a reason," Janet said. "Close your eyes, relax. See what comes to you."

Sam started to breathe deeply and slowly putting herself in the trancelike state she had used in the past to retrieve Jolinar's memories aided by Janet's soft touch on her arm, stroking her skin. "Taonas," she whispered. "Taonas."

Leaning over Brata'c she touched the surface of the screen. "Taonas."

Daniel was used to spotting surface features that might not be naturally occurring. "There – a small anomaly on the surface, like a bubble."

"Is it a cavern?" Brata'c asked.

"A dome," Sam said. Her expression was curiously distant. "They set their strongest forecefield over it in the hope that something would survive."

"There are no power readings that I can detect," Ronan said.

"The forcefield held long enough to be covered with lava. The lava cooled forming the dome and held once the forcefield had dissipated," O'Neill said. Everyone looked at him. "What?"

"Too small to have a whole city in there," Daniel said. "Sam, are you sure this is what we're looking for?"

She nodded. "Taonas."

"Okay, let's check it out," O'Neill got to his feet. Teal'c and Daniel followed him, heading towards the rack of Hazmat gear. Sam seemed spellbound by the screen for a minute or two longer then she also got up. Janet moved to help her.

"Thanks," Sam smiled, pressing a brief chaste kiss to Janet's cheek.

"Sam, I know Dr Weir ordered me to stay here but…"

"You can't come with us, Janet," Sam said. "You are to stay here with Brata'c and Ronan. If… if we don't come back, Brata'c has orders to take you to the Tokra until the situation on Earth can be ascertained."

"Sam, you need…" Janet tried again.

"I need to know that you are safe. That's all that matters to me," Sam placed her hands on Janet's shoulders. "Do this for me, please Janet." She gave a half smile. "I will never ask any more of you, I promise."

Janet closed her eyes. Sam knew damn well that she could never resist that look. "Fine, but I want to hook you up to the remote monitor just in case. Your team can pull you out if you get into trouble." Sam lifted up her shirt as Janet pasted the transponder patches onto her upper and lower chest, and around her right wrist." Then she helped Sam climb into the Hazmat suit.

Brata'c and Ronan had determined that the lava crust was thin enough for the rings to penetrate and Ronan positioned the craft over the correct area. Suited up, SG1 prepared to transport down. There was a flash of bright light as the rings activated and then they were gone. Ronan tested communications.

"Can you still hear us?"

"Indeed," Teal'c responded. "Loudly and clearly."

Janet checked the telemetry on her remote monitor. Sam's pulse, heart and respiration rate was clearly displayed. At the moment they were the high end of normal but Janet supposed that exploring a structure that no one had set foot in for a million years could be a bit of an adrenaline rush.

Sam looked around. Nothing was familiar. She had hoped for something. The air was full of dust from the collapsed dome, compromising visibility beyond a few feet and she noted that the background radiation levels were high and reported as much to the team. "It's also possible that the rings compromised the dome's integrity. We shouldn't stay too long."

"Just keep the good news coming, Carter," O'Niell grumbled. "How about you? Anything twitching?"

"Not so far, sir. But… I think we should check out that." The dust had settled a little and they could see a wide entrance leading to a room with an object in the centre."

"Architecture definitely indicates this was built by the Ancients," Daniel said softly, running his hand up the surface of a pillar. "But it's dead. Long time dead."

Sam walked ahead of them into the room. The object in the centre proved to be a throne like chair set on a low dais. Unhesitatingly she walked towards it.

"So if nothing here works any more what use is it to us?" O'Neill asked. "I mean… Carter, what you doin?" He moved towards her but was unable to stop her from sitting in the chair. As she rested her hands on the arms, the dais around the chair lit up.

Daniel's radio clicked. It was Janet. "Daniel, what's happening with Sam? Her heart rate just doubled."

"Sam just activated some Ancient technology. This place isn't as dead as we thought it was. She seems to be okay though."

"Brata'c's confirmed that we're getting strong power readings," Janet said. "I…"

Her voice was cut off as a forcefield appeared around them and they heard the sound of an atmosphere being pumped in. Sam took off her hood and gloves and then sat back in the chair again.

"Guess that means the atmosphere is safe," O'Neill said, removing his hood.

Sam's eyes were open, but they were pretty sure that she wasn't seeing anything that was in the room. The silvery wash was over her retinas again. Her left hand was placed over a pad on the arm of the chair, her fingers moving as if operating some sort of keypad. Suddenly a three dimensional holographic map of space appeared in the air in front of them.

"It's a map of the galaxy," Daniel marveled. "It looks like every world colonized by the Ancients is indicated here. This is where we are – Proklarush." As soon as he touched it, the image changed.

"That's our solar system," O'Neill said. As they watched, the image homed in on the third planet. "Earth!"

"That does not appear to be Earth," Teal'c said, looking at the shape of the continents.

"That's because it doesn't take into consideration millions of years of continental drift," Daniel said. "Sam, why are you showing us this?"

Sam gazed up at the image which appeared to affect her deeply, tears rolling down her cheeks. "Terra Atlantis," she said.

"Is she saying what I think she's saying?" O'Neill asked.

"That Earth is the place where we should be looking for the Lost City. That your Atlantis myths are in fact stories about its `Loss'," Teal'c said quietly. "Yes."

"So basically we've hauled ass all the way out here for her to tell us we have to haul ass home again. Kinsey is just going to love this one!" O'Neill grouched.

"So where is it?"

"Subo glacios," Sam whispered. The picture of Earth turned showing them what was now Antarctica.

"Oh God, not again," Jack O'Neill was not impressed. Antarctica had nearly killed him twice already. He wasn't keen on giving it a third shot.

"There has to be another reason for coming here," Daniel said. "Sam?"

She had levered herself off the chair and was kneeling on the dais. She pressed her hand to one area and a section rose up revealing a glowing device. She pulled it free and handed it to Teal'c.

"The power source?" O'Neill asked Daniel who just shrugged. Both men looked up as ominous rumbling sounds came from the fractured dome above them. Sam stood up, swayed and would have fallen if O'Neill had not caught her. He helped her put her gloves and hood back on then fastened his own suit again. The forcefield died around them, the atmosphere bleeding away.

"Brata'c – we're on our way. We know the location of the lost city –

it's on Earth!" Daniel reported excitedly as they made their way back to where they had ringed down.

"Understood, Daniel Jackson," Brata'c said. "Ronan – be ready to move as soon as they are on board. I will see to the transport rings."

As Brata'c moved past her, Janet saw Ronan turn as if to ask him something. She saw the knife concealed in his hand and pushed Brata'c aside. The knife that should have impaled him skittered across his left side, opening up a shallow but messy wound.

"I am betrayed," Brata'c said softly. Before he had time to react, Ronan grabbed for Janet. She kicked out at him but he lifted her off her feet, one hand across her throat choking her.

"You are the betrayer – of your one true god, Anubis." Ronan still had the knife. He reversed his hold and before Brata'c could do anything he stabbed Janet in the stomach. Her legs went from under her, her wide eyed gaze never leaving Brata'c's face as Ronan dropped her to the floor. The two Jaffa circled each other warily. Ronan was young and strong but Brata'c had the guile of many battles often fought at close quarters.

"You are weak, old man," Ronan taunted him. Brata'c refused to rise to the bait. He could hear SG1's radio chatter from the collapsing dome wondering why the rings had not yet been activated. He could see the blood pooling from Janet Fraiser's body. She was very still, her dark eyes closed. He knew that Samantha Carter might yet win this war for them though if it was at the cost of Janet Fraiser's life there would be no celebration. Any victory would be hollow indeed.

He kicked the knife out of Ronan's hand, pushing him backwards. Ronan almost overbalanced but caught himself just in time. Brata'c could hear O'Neill calling for help – the dome was collapsing. He knew he had to end this quickly.

Then Ronan was down. Janet Fraiser had stabbed him in the back of the knee with his own knife, severing the tendon. He could see the determination to survive in her eyes as she regarded the man who had tried to kill her. Before Ronan could do anything, Brata'c was on top of him, pinning him to the floor.

"You may be younger, but not the wiser." His knife penetrated deeply into the larval sac. Ronan's eyes widened but he made no sound. Limping slightly, Brata'c made his way to the controls and activated the rings before he collapsed to the floor, breathing heavily, feeling every one of his 140 years.

Janet was aware of Teal'c bending over her. He was shouting at her but she could no longer hear him. Then he was thrust aside and suddenly it was Sam's face looking down at her. Janet knew that she had only minutes, the bloodloss was too great. Ronan had just about eviscerated her.

"Sam," she whispered. "Ronan… he was an agent of Anubis."

"We know. You took care of him. You and Brata'c. And now we have to take care of you."

"You have to keep going. You can't… waste time on me…" Janet realised that she was panting, finding it harder and harder to draw breath. Her body was shutting down. The initial numbness and shock was wearing off. She braced herself for the pain.

"Salve," Sam said. Her eyes were silver. She placed her left hand over the wound on Janet's side and shut her eyes. Janet felt the heat rush through her, energising her, healing her. She remembered feeling something similar when Ayana had healed her of the virus. She heard Teal'c's exclamation of wonder.

"Major Carter possesses the healing power of the Ancients." He paused in his tending of Brata'c's wound.

Feeling the strength return to her body, Janet managed to sit up. "Thank you," she whispered. "But you shouldn't have done it Sam, you should be saving your strength."

Sam shook her head. The silver was fading from her eyes, the vibrant blue that Janet loved so much returning. "Protect. Love." She turned to look at Daniel, rattled off a few sentences in Ancient.

"She says we need to go. There is not much time and there is much to do," Daniel translated.

"What did you find?" Janet asked as he helped her to her feet. Sam was already heading towards the helm position.

"We found… something," Daniel indicated the glowing object that Teal'c held. "It was the only thing that Sam was interested in. I'm guessing it's the power source she needs."

"I remember," Janet whispered. "Over the radio…. I heard you. We're going home. The Lost City is on Earth."

Daniel nodded, looked over his shoulder to where Sam had taken the controls, rapidly tapping a series of commands into the control system. "What she did… I've never seen anything like that," he whispered.

"We have. The girl we found frozen in the ice. Ayana," Janet said. He helped her stand. She fingered her blood-saturated clothing with distaste. "I need to get changed."

"I don't know how you can brush it off so easily," Daniel said.

"Believe me, I'm not," Janet said. "But if it means that she doesn't have enough left to do what needs to be done then I will never forgive myself. Perhaps Weir was right. I should have stayed behind. I put her in a position where she had to choose, Daniel. I may have damned us all."

"You have not, Dr Fraiser," Brata'c said. "Yes, you put her in a position where she had to choose. And she made the right choice, I think. If she had left you for death in order to achieve the greater goal then she would not be as she needs to be. Your death would be a darkness with her soul. Your presence beside her will give her more strength than she ever expended in saving your life. That is what you must believe."

"Thank you," she whispered.

After she had grabbed a quick wash and changed her soiled clothing, she came back and checked Brata'c's injuries warning him not to overexert himself. Reliant for so long on the healing abilities of the symbiote Brata'c did not take kindly to the length of time it took his body to heal now he was on Tritonin. Sam was no longer at the controls, Teal'c sat at the helm. Guessing the direction of her thoughts, Teal'c pointed her in the direction of the storage room. "Daniel Jackson persuaded Major Carter to rest."

Daniel had bodily dragged her into the storage room to rest for an hour, actually threatening to zat her if she got up again before the time was over. Janet busied herself with checking Sam's readings on her portable monitor, reading off the indicators with growing disquiet. Sam was getting weaker.

"How's the headache?" she asked.

Sam just scowled.

"You're dehydrated. That's not helping." Janet scooted over to their supplies and pulled out a glucose drink from the cooler. "Drink." She ordered.

Sam glared at her. "Drink, or I will let Daniel zat you and then I'll just put you on IV fluids." Sam muttered something and snatched the bottle from her hand. Daniel smothered a grunt of laughter.

"Let me guess – that was Ancient for Napoleonic Powermonger."

"Something like that," Daniel said. "How is she?"

"About as you'd expect," Janet said. Sam had drunk about half the contents of the bottle. Janet fixed her with a glare and Sam sighed, raising the bottle to her lips again.

"How are you?"

"Okay." She didn't want to talk about this. Not now. Later, when it was all done and dusted and she and Sam were together at home – or they weren't and all her worst fears had been realised, then she would talk it through. Just not now.

He got it. "You need to rest as well, Janet." He reached over, kissed her brow and then ruffled Sam's hair at her indignant expression over him taking liberties with her girl. Janet smiled.

He left them alone in the dimly lit room. Sam scooted over a little on her bedroll, patted the empty space. Janet decided that she didn't need a second invitation. She climbed up next to Sam, felt long strong arms wrap around her, hold her close, Sam spooning around her. She felt Sam's breath whisper on the back of her neck and shivered trying not to think that this might be the last time.

Janet opened her eyes, glanced at her watch. She had been asleep for nearly three hours. Getting stabbed to death really took it out of you it seemed. She was alone. Sam's jacket was tucked around her shoulders. She breathed deeply, taking in the scent of her lover. Not wanting to lose it just yet she slipped the much larger jacket on over her own not caring how ridiculous she looked.

Sam was in the ring room. Daniel was watching her as she macgyvered together something arcane and powerful looking.

"What is it?" Janet asked.

Daniel shrugged. "Could be one of Jack's big honkin' spaceguns, could be a toaster. She's not exactly communicative on the subject."

Teal'c joined them. "O'Neill has news from Earth," he said quietly. "He wishes to speak to you both. I will watch over Major Carter until you return." They nodded and quietly left.

Teal'c watched his friend for a few moments then came to crouch beside her as she wired something together. "Major Carter, are you preparing a weapon for battle?" Sam ignored him continuing to assemble the object. "Major," he paused. "Samantha Carter, I wish to tell you…"

Sam stopped, pressed her finger to his lips and smiled at him, that full open smile that made it seem that the sun had just risen. Her meaning was clear. She rested her hand against his cheek. Teal'c bowed his head, went back to his place in the corner of the room. Sam went back to work.

Jack was monitoring Earth's military frequencies. An armada of thirty or more Goa'uld ships were in orbit, two minor sorties had already been launched and much of the communication and power grid had been destroyed. The official explanation was a meteor shower. Hayes had ordered the launch of the Prometheus. He was also patched into the SGC before they lost main power. Weir had time to tell him that Kinsey had appeared demanding to be sent to the Alpha site before everything went down.

"Pity we can't beam the slimy bastard straight to Anubis's ship," Jack said.

"There are a few Gate addresses we could have sent him that would have been apt," Daniel agreed.

Janet could not join in their bantering, worrying about Cassie even though she knew contingency plans had been made for all the SGC's extended family. It was not often that both she and Sam were off world together and their record for uneventful missions was not sterling. Their daughter would be worried. She was one of the few people on Earth who had been through a Goa'uld attack and lived to tell the tale. She would know better than most what to expect.

And she was her daughter, resilient, self-reliant. Her idol was Sam Carter. Cassie would not do anything to let Sam down. Janet realised that she had to trust that Cassie would look after herself.


Jack O'Neill held out what looked suspiciously like a cup of coffee. "Daniel brewed up. He's trying to persuade Sam to take another breather. We're still two hours from Earth."

Janet sipped the dark liquid cautiously and then with more fervour. Daniel had broken out his secret stash for this trip, bless him.

"She finally slowed down enough to explain it to me. Sam's modifying the matter stream transmitter on the rings. I think she plans to use it to bore a hole through the ice."

"We must first defeat the forces of Anubis," Teal'c reminded them.

"Yeah, how are we gonna do that?" Daniel asked, looking to Jack for the answer.

"According to Brata'c we must exit hyperspace as close to Earth's atmosphere as possible…"

"So that we'll appear on the other side of the armada!" Jack nodded.

"There will not be much time to decelerate," Brata'c warned.

"Of that I am aware, old friend," Teal'c said.

Daniel nodded. "Sounds like a plan then. I'd better get back, see how Sam's doing. Janet's taking notes of anything she says." He paused. "This is going to hit her hard."

"We'll all be there for her. I kind of promised Carter," O'Neill said. His expression darkened for a moment as he remembered what else he had promised Sam. Hopefully it would not come to that.

The scout ship came out of hyperspace and scant seconds later plunged into the atmosphere. Daniel and Janet clung to one another as Sam put what they hoped were the finishing touches to her machine. They could hear Jack O'Neill `encouraging' Teal'c to slow down.

"Teal'c? Teal'c, you're gonna pull up, right?"

"I am attempting to do so, O'Neill," Teal'c rumbled. They were flying only feet above jagged ice outcrops when he finally managed to level the craft out. Teal'c let out the breath he'd been holding. "Where now?"

"It has to be near the co-ordinates where we found the second Stargate," Daniel said from the doorway. "If…" Sam appeared at his shoulder. Hastily he stood aside as Teal'c stood relinquishing control of the ship to her although she hadn't asked him to do it. Sam piloted the ship onwards.

Herak stood before Anubis. "My lord, a scoutship has exited hyperspace and is heading for the planet's southern pole."

"I know," Anubis said.

"Of course, my lord," Herak said hastily.

Anubis dismissed him. She had returned. He could sense her clearer than before. She was changing. She was powerful. She thought herself incorruptible. But he knew the truth.

Sam positioned the scout ship over the place and activated the device she had locked into the ship's systems a few minutes before. The ring transporter activated but instead of the transporter rings an intense beam of light shot out and started to burn a hole down through the ice.

"Sam, how long is this going to take?" Janet asked. Sam did not reply but getting out of the pilot seat walked past her towards the rear of the ship again. Brata'c sat down at the pilot's console.

"Anubis cannot have missed our arrival," Teal'c said.

"You are right," Brata'c said, pointing to the visual display. "Al'kesh and gliders approach. Many. They will be within firing range in thirty seconds. More approach from the other direction."

"Carter!" O'Neill shouted. "We're about to get our asses toasted!"

"Wait," Brata'c said. "The second fleet. They are not Goa'uld."

They look up as a firefight begins between the Goa'uld squadron and the F-302s. O'Neill whoops as he sees the Prometheus join the fray, heading straight for them. The ship took up station above them and to their delight General Hammond himself came on to assure them that their six was covered.

"Good to see you, George!" O'Neill shouted. "As you can see, Carter's still working on getting us down there. We're gearing up to go."

True to his word, O'Neill, Daniel Jackson and Teal'c were standing in the ring room minutes later. Sam was still reprogramming the ring system. She looked very pale, sweat standing out on her brow, her eyes dark shadowed. Janet was crouched nearby, one hand resting on Sam's neck.

"Whatever you're going to do it had better be quick. She's burning up," Janet said. "I can give her stimulants to keep her on her feet but if I do that I need to be with you to monitor her condition."

O'Neill made his decision. With the firefight going on all around them the ship was no safer a bet than the frozen city would be. He would sort it out with Weir later. If there was a later. "Okay. Suit up, doc. You're in."

"So we're ringing down," Daniel said.

"My guess is that the transmission beam wouldn't get through a mile of ice," O'Neill said. Sam adjusted the power outputs on the naquada reactor and started to clear the rest of the equipment from the rings.

"It appears that Major Carter is ready to depart," Teal'c observed. Janet rushed in, adjusting her pack on her shoulders. She joined the others in the circle. Sam paused – stared at her for a moment and shook her head.

"I'm coming with you, Sam. We started this together, remember," Janet said softly. She reached up to brush sweat soaked hair from Sam's brow. "You have to be strong now, for all of us."

Speech seemed to have completely deserted the taller woman now. She took Janet's hand, pressed Janet's fingers to her lips and then let go. She took her place in the rings as Brata'c operated the controls.

They emerged in an ice cavern. Stone pillars terminated in ice framing glimpses of technology beyond anything most of them had seen before. But it was all dead.

A mile or more above them Brata'c piloted the scoutship away at speed as the Prometheus went into emergency thrust taking the battle to Anubis's mother ship itself.

Herak reported to his Lord that the Tauri were employing a new strategy: "Tau'ri vessel is abandoning its position."

Anubis ignored him. The primitive vessel was immaterial. She was not there. She was on the planet below. He could almost see her. Samantha Carter. She was like him now touched by the Goa'uld, the Ancients and the Ascended. His equal and opposite. She would stand by his side or he would destroy her. It was entirely possible that they would destroy each other.

He was almost surprised at the emotions that that thought brought to the surface. He would destroy her world, all that tied her to it, the friends that accompanied her in this foolish stand against him. And at the last there would be the two of them.

He turned to his console, the technology he had stolen from the Asgard. It was time for them to meet.

Continued in Present

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