DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of MGM, Showtime, Gekko etc. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
SPOILERS: Episode: 2010

In the Morning Light
By Celievamp


Terrorist attack in progress. Please evacuate the building immediately.

"Let me go!"

"It's over, Samantha. They know. The Aaschen know everything. It's over!"

She broke away from him and he knew the truth. Her eyes. Her eyes had always said everything that her lips would not. She had settled for him. She had grown to love him but now… now she hated him. It really was over. Part of him wished that their insane plan had succeeded and they had turned back time. Wiped out this miserable existence for good. Now he would be the one that was pretending, he would be the one who had settled.

An Aaschen official approached with two security guards. "You will come with us, Mrs Faxon."

Samantha ignored them. "How could you?" she asked him.

"Because I love you, Samantha. And I truly believe that this is for the best. I couldn't let you throw your life away on another of Jack O'Neill's mad schemes."

"First of all, it wasn't his mad scheme. It was mine. I persuaded him to join us, to bring an end to this conspiracy. How long do you think all this will last once the truth comes out. You… Kinsey – you sold us out! And for what? So no… no I don't think I'm throwing my life away. That's your trouble, Joe. You've never felt strongly enough about anything to think it worth dying for."

`If only you knew the truth,' Joe Faxon thought. `There's one thing, Samantha. You. From the first time I saw you. But there has to be another way.' The official's patience was at an end. The security men grabbed Sam, pinioning her arms so that they could put her in restraints.

Mollem appeared, dusting himself off. "The situation has been contained. Thank you for your co-operation in this matter Mr Faxon."

"Joe!" He could see how much it hurt her to ask for his help again.

"I'm sorry," he said. "They just want to know who else was involved, how far the conspiracy goes. It's for the best, Samantha. I believe that, I really do. Tell them what they want to know."

Oh yes. She hated him. It blazed from those beautiful blue eyes of hers. He had lost her. Mollem had promised that she would not be hurt. She would be returned to him exactly the same in every way except one. She would be compliant. She would be a good, loving wife to him. She would be safe. But… she would not be Sam any more.

"You murdered them, Joe. You murdered my friends. You murdered our children. You murdered our future!" She was screaming now. People were noticing. Mollem looked discomforted. One of the men holding Samantha pressed a hypo to her throat. It must have been a smoother because a few seconds later she went quiet and still, her head lolling forward slightly. Joe stepped closer to her, his hand gently lifting her chin. He kissed her pale soft lips, careful not to meet the vacancy of her gaze.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "But everything's going to be all right. I promise. They promised. Soon this will all be over and we can just get on with our lives." He let his fingers play with the wisps of hair that strayed over her eyes. Perhaps she would consent to grow it long now. "We'll be together soon, Sam, I promise. And we will be happy."

Aaschen security took her away. Mollem escorted him into the terminal so that he could see for himself how the situation had been handled. Teal'c and another young man in Jaffa robes were sprawled dead at the foot of the ramp. Daniel Jackson was about half way up the ramp laser burns still smoldering across the back of his suit. And just inches from the active event horizon was the huddled body of Jack O'Neill. A piece of crumpled paper lay just out of reach of his fingertips. Presumably the message they had hoped to send into the past.

"What about Dr Fraiser?" he asked. The woman had never liked him and her apparent influence over his wife had always made him uneasy around her. He blamed her for stirring up Samantha with her paranoia about the Aaschen. Together with O'Neill's conspiracy theories and Samantha's strong sense of personal loyalty to the old system they had been a lethal combination. Samantha never had a chance…

"She is on Chulak. Our contacts there are holding her. She will be returned to Earth to face trial shortly," Mollem said. The event horizon collapsed. It was over.

"It was O'Neill's idea from the outset," the interrogator said. "You went along with it out of old loyalties. He was your commanding officer for many years. Hierarchical structures like that can continue to indoctrinate behaviour patterns for years after the initial structure has collapsed. No one can fault you for being loyal, Samantha."

"It turns out we made a mistake. A big one."

"It was my idea, my plan," Sam forced the words out. "I brought Jack into it. I asked him – begged him – to help me. He was loyal to me, not the other way around."

"Not working out, is it? Gosh, I wish I'd seen that coming. Oh, wait… I did see that coming… Just out of curiosity, say we do this. What happens to everything that's happened the past ten years?... You're not happy with the way things turned out… I'm sorry to hear that. Personally, I like things the way they are. No more saving the world, just a nice pond with no pesky fish in it, and the single most pressing issue in my life is whether or not to get a dog…"

"We are aware that you visited him in Minnesota. I can understand how your mind has conceived that twisted perception of events. You have been under great emotional strain this last week. Finding out that you were infertile…"

"Thanks to you and your perverted schemes!" Sam spat out. It took all her energy to defy him but it was worth it.

"I can understand how it could be made to look like that. Dr Fraiser is a highly competent doctor and though you are one of the most foremost scientists amongst the humans, you have no medical expertise. We admit that the infertility problem is an unforeseen side effect of the anti-ageing vaccine. We are working on a solution right now. It has not been made public knowledge because we wanted to avoid widespread panic and to be honest the kind of extremist reaction that your former colleagues participated in. Do you believe me, Samantha?"

There were drugs in her system. Lots of them. They had kept her here for days in isolation before the interrogator had shown up. Or so she remembered. Not that they called him an interrogator. He was a counselor. He was here to help her. She was ill, he told her. Emotionally disturbed, suffering from a psychotic break brought on by stress. That she thought this was an interrogation, that she was a prisoner was just another symptom of her paranoia. She was a patient, not a prisoner. Her confusion was completely understandable. She needed rest and quiet. She was given injections every few hours. To restore the chemical imbalance that was affecting her cognitive processes she was told. She was sure her food and water were drugged as well but they denied that. Nothing sinister going on here. Yeah, right. Everyone was being so very reasonable, so very Aaschen.

Time collapsing, speeding up, stopping. Sometimes it seemed to turn in on itself. Events repeated or did not seem to have occurred at all outside her own twisted recollection. The Aaschen certainly denied it. The only thing playing tricks on her was her own mind. And they were treating her for it. She would be made well again. The room was white, bright. Everything smoothed, soft. No corners, no edges, nothing to focus on. Nothing to hold on to except her memories. And the drugs made them difficult to follow. It was easier just to drift, to accept. But when had she ever taken the easy route?

They were all dead. Teal'c, Daniel and Jack had died in the assault on the Gate. Janet had died resisting arrest on Chulak. They had taken a very un-Aaschen delight in telling her that. Someone had shown her pictures of their bodies but she could not remember when. Graphic pictures from the scene, from the autopsies carried out afterwards though from the number of laser burns visible on their broken bodies there could have been little doubt as to the cause of death. Janet's body was particularly mutilated. There had been an explosion. A suicide-bomb. Many had died. They thought that Janet or someone close to her was the source of the blast. She did not believe it, could not believe it. Not Janet. Janet had such a reverence for life – any life. She would never have been party to such an atrocity.

The Aaschen showed her pictures of the bodies of the human guards who had died, the human civilians caught in the crossfire – men, women and children. Pictures of the families they had left behind. They had actually apologized for distressing her but she needed to understand the consequences of her actions. It was part of her treatment.

They were all dead. Even though they hadn't been close for years, (and whose fault was that, a little voice almost buried deep inside asked) she had thought they were indestructible. They would always be SG1. They had come through so much together after all.

It confused her. She thought this was the first time she had been interrogated – sorry, counseled (this was not an interrogation but a treatment session) but there were no sign of any pictures. So she must have been here before. How many times? She tried to focus but her mind slid away from it. He was speaking to her again. She tried to remember his name. Was it still the same day or another day?

"Samantha, Janet Fraiser lied to you about your infertility. It was an incredibly cruel thing to do, taking away all your hope like that. You can still have children. Of course you can. I know you want to have children. Janet Fraiser knew that as well. She used that against you. I can only guess at her motivation… you and she were close for a time after all. Janet Fraiser lied to you. Do you believe me, Samantha?"

"No! Janet did tests, showed me scans of the damage to my ovaries. It was conclusive. You lied. Janet would never lie to me like that. She lov… she would not lie. Not to me. Not ever. The Aaschen doctors lied. Not Janet." It took all of her strength to hold back her tears, angry at herself for almost admitting a truth she wasn't ready for the Aaschen to know.

"I don't know what Janet Fraiser showed you but they were undoubtedly faked. She used you, Samantha. Janet Fraiser's radical views on the Aaschen were well known. As were those of Jack O'Neill. They both used you, Samantha, brought you into their terrorist conspiracy. They played on your strong sense of loyalty, on your previous relationship with them, on your desire to have children. They used you and your husband's love for you to get the equipment and information they needed to access the Gate. They used you, Samantha."

"No! My plan, my idea." There was nothing visible holding her in place but still she could not move. This was not like any other interrogation she had been through. They weren't asking her questions as much as telling her the answers, twisting the truth as she remembered it. As she thought she remembered it. "Janet did the test on herself, on two other women. Same result… same damage. And I saw the figures, your own statistics. I hacked into the Aaschen datacore. The birthrate. You're as bad as the Goa'uld, just more patient."

"The human birthrate has dropped considerably. We admit that. As per our agreement with Earth's governments to bring Earth into our Federation. The exponential growth of this planet's population could not continue. You must remember how it was before we came here, Samantha – the poverty, the famines, the diseases, millions dying each year. Millions of children born to a life of poverty and illness, never reaching their full potential. Extreme measures had to be taken, Samantha. You are a scientist, you know I'm speaking the truth. Your population will stabilize over the next thirty years, your ecosystem will recover. There will be no more children born to that life, Samantha, born to ignorance, to pain, to starvation, to poverty. Isn't that what you want for all children, for your own children?"

"No children. You stole them!" Tears blurred her vision. She felt something touch her throat, felt everything slip away a little more. More smoothers. A very Aaschen drug. Making the world grey, safe, unchanging.

"Think of all the good we have done for your world, Samantha, and in such a short time. Your enemies are vanquished, diseases that killed millions are no more. Everyone has food, clean water, a roof over their heads, an education. There are no wars, no conflicts. You are all one people. Think of all that, Samantha. You will all live long, happy, healthy lives thanks to the Aaschen."

She had no answer. Everything he had said was true, it was right. And yet at the same time so terribly wrong.

"Your husband wants to see you, Samantha. Would you like that? Would you like to see Joe?"

"No. No! He's worse than you. Does your dirty work. Lies. Lied to me. He knew… he knew it was impossible and still he let me hope. Sold. Sold us out." Of this she was certain. She never wanted to see Joe Faxon again.

The Aaschen sighed. "I had hoped that your condition was improving, but it's clear that we're going to have to continue the treatment sessions a little while longer. I am disappointed in you, Samantha. Very disappointed." Suddenly she could move, but her reactions were too blunted to take advantage of it. The world slipped sideways, moving in ways she did not understand. The fathomless sourceless light of the white room was all around her again. Smoothers whispered in her blood, her brain. Time stopped.

"They're holding her in a clinic on the outskirts of Washington. Official word is that she was a dupe in the conspiracy, that you and Jack O'Neill were the ringleaders, thought up the whole thing. Major… Mrs… Sam's supposedly suffering from exhaustion and had some sort of nervous breakdown. As for the allegations about the enforced sterility they're saying it's a temporary effect of the anti-ageing vaccine and will right itself in a year or two. There are a few ripples as you might expect but most of the news agencies seem to have swallowed the story wholesale." Paul Davis handed her the newsclips. Unbeknownst to the others, Daniel Jackson had told him everything about the conspiracy, swearing him to secrecy and making him promise to do what he could to make sure that the truth came out if the first attempt did not work. What Daniel Jackson had been very surprised to discover was that Davis was deeply involved in an existing resistance movement against the Aaschen. He had seen enough during his time as Kinsey's aide to know that it was very unlikely that the Aaschen had humanity's best interests at heart.

Luckily he had the resources and clearance to travel offworld. He had found her on Chulak, hiding with Rya'c and his family. It gave Davis no pleasure to tell Rya'c that his father had died well and died free.

"They are probably trying to brainwash her into accepting their version of the story. This facility… it's a sort of high-tech gulag for political prisoners and so-called undesirables. As Joe Faxon's wife, Sam is too important to their image here to just dispose of her or put her on trial. Faxon must have done some sort of deal. He has no hope of getting Sam back under normal circumstances. She knows he was a traitor. She hates him now."

Resolutely Janet Fraiser pushed her memories of her last night with Sam to one side and studied the news clips. All the footage of Sam was archive material of her time at the SGC and the early years of her marriage to Joe Faxon. There were no pictures of her since the failed attempt on the Gate. "Does she know what happened?"

"I'm not sure what they've told her, but according to the official news sources on Earth, you're dead. You were killed whilst attempting to evade capture. O'Neill, Daniel Jackson and Teal'c all died on the ramp. That part, regrettably, is true. Reports are also saying that at least eight other people were killed and that the authorities are treating it as a terrorist action."

"And you're sure it was Joe Faxon who betrayed us," Janet asked. It was just one more score she had to settle with that man.

"The Aaschen are acclaiming him for his loyalty," Davis said. "President Kinsey has been particularly fulsome. There's talk of some sort of award ceremony." Davis had been Kinsey's aide for most of the decade whilst he was working his way up from Senator to President. He did not bother to hide his contempt for the man.

Janet stared at Sam's picture. "She called me on it, you know. Before she realized what was going on. She wondered why I was so negative about the Aaschen. She still thought they were wonderful, our saviours." She laughed bitterly, "My God, was that only ten days ago?"



"What was that?"

"What was what?"

"Going on again about being obsolete."

"Think about it, Sam. We've all taken the anti-ageing vaccine and the anti-cancer vaccine… and now the Aaschen have these medical machines that can reverse tissue damage and mend broken bones… I mean where does that leave me?"

"I guess when you put it that way I know what you mean. I mean half the time the science they're talking about is so far over my head, I feel like a lab assistant…"

At that point she had had nothing more in mind than what was becoming her pretty standard gripe against the Aaschen over the way they had usurped her calling, her life. She had certainly never contemplated participating in an armed insurrection against them.

She had coaxed out of Sam details of her continuing fertility problems, puzzled as to why her Aaschen doctors were being so blasé about it. The couple had been trying to have a child for three years. Human medicine would have intervened before now, at least performed some tests. She had offered to give Sam a check-up herself. Sam hadn't been too keen on the idea at first.

"Sam, the medicine I practiced may seem like the Dark Ages now, but I was your doctor for a long time. How long have you been trying?"

She did the tests and the results were disturbing to say the least. At some point during the past six years (since the last time Janet had done her medical examination), Sam had suffered catastrophic and probably irreversible damage to her ovaries. There was no way this could have been missed in any gynecological exam or even a standard medical check-up. And Janet had to tell her friend, her one-time lover that her dreams of having children were just that – dreams.

"There's no room for interpretation. Clearly your ovaries are damaged… I don't know what may have caused it or when it may have happened…"

The cold fury in her former lover's eyes caused such an upswell of emotion in her. After ten years of subservience to the Aaschen and Joe Faxon during which she had seemed to put every aspect of herself that Janet Fraiser had loved into dormancy, back in the proverbial closet, this was at last the Sam Carter that Janet Fraiser had loved all those years ago. Reawoken to vibrant life by the death of all her children.

"I want to know why the Aaschen doctors looked me in the eye and told me that I was okay. Why did they lie to me?"

"I don't know, but I'm willing to help you find out."

However, even she, arch conspiracy theorist that she become over the years did not suspect the true state of affairs. That the human race had unknowingly embraced their own genocide with open arms. The Aaschen's own data systems had confirmed it. As did the scan she conducted of her own ovaries and of two female acquaintances later that day, one of whom had also actively been trying to get pregnant and had been assured by her Aaschen physician that it was just a matter of time. It was almost beyond comprehension. It was systematic, happening everywhere the anti-ageing vaccine had been administered. It seemed that humans just didn't think quite as far ahead as the Aaschen.

And now they had Sam. And Jack, Daniel and Teal'c were dead. She couldn't mourn her dead, not yet. When Sam was safe, then they could mourn them together.

When Sam was safe.

Samantha Carter opened her eyes as someone kissed her on the cheek. She was starting to get used to the dislocation, to finding herself someplace else with no reference point as to how she had got there. Time wasn't linear anymore. Sometimes the deja-vu was so strong that everything echoed, after images trailing like some snazzy digital effect. Other times it was like freefall into a terror of uncertainty and paranoia.

"Samantha, how are you feeling today?" She just stared at him in silence until he let out a discomforted laugh. "Come on, say hi to me at least."

It was Joe. Sam realized that she was sitting in a wheelchair at a fancy ironwork table in what looked like a conservatory overlooking lush green lawns. She was dressed in pale cream pajama's and a white toweling robe. It was warm and humid but the glass was polarized in some way so the sun didn't glare too badly. There were other people in the room sitting in groups around similar tables – family and friends visiting patients – at least she presumed some of them were fellow patients because they were dressed as she was. More people were walking slowly across the lawns outside or were being pushed in chairs by white coated attendants.

"Samantha, I asked how you are feeling?" He smiled, reached out to touch her cheek. She moved her head away, staring at him in silence. It amazed and horrified her that she had ever felt anything for this shell of a man.

"You look good… rested. The doctors tell me that you're beginning to respond to treatment at last."

"No." Her voice was harsh, raspy with disuse but she managed to put enough power behind that one word that it was loud enough in the cloistered silence to attract attention from other tables. Two attendants moved closer before responding to an instruction from someone she couldn't see and retreating to their former stance. "This isn't treatment. This is… this is…"

"Samantha, this is all for your own good," Joe said. "You were… led astray. Jack O'Neill was a known dissident. The Aaschen had a file on his activity. So was Janet Fraiser. I know you believed that they were good people and they played on that, on your memories of them the time you shared. You were a team, I understand that. That kind of loyalty is hard to break."

"You know nothing of loyalty," Sam whispered. Joe laid his hand over hers and she tried to pull away but she didn't have the energy. "Still good people. The best. Better than you."

"I know you don't mean that Samantha, that's the illness talking. It's like a poison inside you. Your unresolved feelings for O'Neill… I know you went to see him and… and I forgive you for that."

Sam could not hold back her laughter at that. It was an unnatural harsh sound that had no humour in it. If it were not for the fact that her eyes were completely dry one might have called them sobs. "You think… you think I was in love with Jack O'Neill… you think that's why I did it."

"Yes, of course you were. There were always rumours about you even when you were his second in command."

"I was never in love with Jack O'Neill, you stupid man, I was in love with Janet Fraiser. I never stopped loving her. Never…" Sam took a deep breath. She was at the last of her strength now but she had to bear witness. She might never get another chance. The vultures were circling. The two attendants were approaching again and old instincts told her that someone was coming up behind her. Probably the so-called doctor.

"I was in love with Janet Fraiser and you had her killed. Just as you killed our children. Do you really think I could ever forgive you or the Aaschen for that, Joe? Do you think that one day I'll just voluntarily forgive and forget and come home and be your loving trophy wife again? Then you're the one suffering from delusion, Joe. Not me."

"I'm very sorry, Mr Faxon, we're going to have to cut this short," the Doctor said. "Your wife is becoming overly distraught and the other patients and their visitors are being disturbed. We can't have that, I'm afraid."

"Samantha, I love you," Joe said steadily. "Please co-operate with the Doctors. They only have your best interests at heart."

"I hate you," she spat at him. "And I'd rather die than be your wife, Joe Faxon." Joe recoiled, genuinely shaken by that and allowed himself to be led away by one of the attendants. The doctor came to stand in front of her. She recognized him from her interrogation/counseling sessions.

"Well, that's quite enough of that behaviour," the doctor said. He took a small flat case from his pocket, opened it and took out a hypo. "I'm very disappointed with you, Samantha. I really thought we were making progress." The attendant forcibly held Sam in the chair whilst he applied it to her throat. "It appears we will have to review our treatment options, try something more… intensive."

She felt a slight cold stinging sensation and almost immediately the world became opalescent, distant and still. The doctor turned her unresisting face to his, checking her pupil reaction. He patted her cheek and smiled.

"Visiting hours are over, Mrs Faxon."

Janet was surprised at the extent of the resistance against the Aaschen – and at how many of its members were ex-SGC. Somehow they had managed to maintain offworld links with the remnant Tok'ra and free Jaffa enabling her to be smuggled back to Earth by a somewhat circuitous route that had also necessitated a drastic change in her appearance. She was now a green eyed blonde. Lifts in her shoes had given her another inch or two of height and subtle padding in her clothing had thickened her figure. Her identity papers were in the name of Julia Bradshaw, a low level computer technician. Janet had no idea what had happened to the real Julia Bradshaw or even if she had ever really existed.

What really surprised her were the voices raised against breaking Sam out of the clinic where she was being held.

"She is a collaborator, has been all along. She's in no danger from the Aaschen. They're using her to draw us out. She's being held in protective custody until the hoo-ha dies down and then she'll be back with her precious husband, the Ambassador." Janet couldn't remember his name but he had been on one of the Marine teams. Their relationship with the `flyboys' on SG1 had always been antagonistic.

"Sam had no idea what was really going on, I'm sure of it," Janet said.

"Oh come on, Doc. She's an intelligent woman and she's been joined at the hip with them from the start. Of course she knew. She always did have a bit of a Vulcany science ice queen thing going. Remember when SG10 got trapped by that black hole? She wanted to study the damn thing. Never mind that she was watching good soldiers slowly die. She always was a cold-hearted bitch. The Aaschen are right up her street. She and her husband were the poster children for collaboration with those aliens. I say we let her rot."

"Even if she was innocent – she's been in that clinic close on two months. She's their creature now. No one could last that long," Brenna McIntyre who had once been a Gate technician said. "Not with what we know of their techniques."

"If anyone could, it would be Major Carter," a quiet voice offered up.

"Oh can it with the hero worship, Simmons," the former Marine snarled. "We all know you had the hots for Carter. You were her bloody lapdog for long enough." Janet remembered him now – Denning – he had been close with Makepeace but the investigation into Makepeace's NID connections hadn't implicated him in anything.

"Simmons is right," Siler said. "Major Carter would never give in to the Aaschen, not now she knows the truth about what they've done. We have to get her out of there."

"And then what – the Aaschen would be after us! You want to put everything we have in place in jeopardy just for the sake of one woman?"

"For Major Carter, yes," Siler said. Paul Davis nodded in agreement.

"We win this one, we give the Aaschen pause. It may slow them down a little, turn the tide against them a little. You're right about Major Carter being a poster-child for the Aaschen regime. And if she speaks out against them, if she and Doctor Fraiser here go public with what they know…"

Janet sat back. They would do it, they would save Sam. Her mind went back to the last meal they had shared in the restaurant with Daniel and Teal'c…

"Guys, I think it would be public knowledge if something this catastrophic was happening to the entire population." Daniel frowned at his napkin.

"Would it? The Aaschen can convert planets into stars, you don't think they could control the media if they wanted to?" Sam said. It had happened again, Janet reflected. Whatever she believed, given enough scientific evidence to the contrary Sam Carter (she would never ever think of her as Samantha Faxon) was flexible and open enough to do a 180˚turnaround on her belief system and just carry straight on.

"Assuming the Aaschen could keep something that big secret… it's been ten years. Why now?"

"We were completely taken in. This way they didn't have to fire a shot. It's slow, methodical, painless," Sam's voice was bitter. She had wept in Janet's office. Janet got the feeling it was the first time she had shed tears over anything for a long time. Not completely painless then. Janet wondered as the truth spread, how many others would weep only for that which had been lost.

"Okay, then, why provide a vaccine that almost doubles the human lifespan? That doesn't make any sense."

Daniel was wrong. It made perfect sense. It was the kind of sense that made your skin crawl that made you wish for chaos in comparison. "Unless that's the mechanism they've used to sterilize the population," Janet said.

"They're certainly patient enough. All they have to do is wait," Sam said, staring at her untouched plate.

"Then within two hundred years, there will be very few, if any, humans remaining. The Aaschen will have this world to themselves," Teal'c rumbled.

It was time to tell them her secret, she decided. "The night before General Hammond died, he called me and said that he needed to speak with me about something very important, something that he couldn't discuss over the phone. The next day I told the Aaschen doctors, I said this is impossible, he could not have died of a heart attack, he was in perfect health, but they said their diagnostic machines were infallible."

"You believe he was murdered," Teal'c said.

"At the time, no. I believed like everybody else; the Aaschen were our saviours." Now however… she shuddered and took another sip of wine.

There was another long silence around the table. "So we can't tell anyone, we have to keep this to ourselves," Daniel said.

"Well, I have to tell Joe," Sam said suddenly.

Janet couldn't believe it. Joe Faxon was the last person who should find out about this conversation because she would happily bet every dollar she had ever earned that he already knew everything there was to know about the Aaschen's plans for humanity and had signed on the dotted line years ago. Joe Faxon was the architect of the original treaty with the Aaschen, President Kinsey's right hand man. He had to know.

This was going to hurt Sam almost as badly as the realization that she was infertile.

"Maybe you shouldn't," Daniel said.

She rounded on him angrily. "Daniel, if you're even suggesting he knows…"

"I'm just saying that it's all of our lives at stake here."

"Yes! He can help us." Janet silently mourned for her. Sam could be very naive sometimes. She had no idea. Her husband had to know.

"How? Say he goes to the President. The President goes to the rest of the world. Even if what is left of every army on Earth mobilizes… what are they going to do?"

"Fight back," Janet said.

"They would be defeated. As were the Goa'uld," Teal'c effectively reminded us of what we were up against. The Aaschen had defeated the Goa'uld within two years of their alliance with Earth. Exact details of how they had done it remained classified. Whether it was through sheer fire-power or through some more insidious method like biochemical warfare we could only conjecture. The only thing we knew for certain was that the scattered remnants of the Goa'uld were no threat to anyone anymore.

"We have to think of something else," Daniel said.

"Like what?" Sam asked.

"I don't know… contact the Tollan. Find the survivors of the Tok'ra, I mean there have to be some left out there. Teal'c – what about the Jaffa?"

"Few remain loyal to the Tau'ri since the war's end. There are few symbiotes available for implantation," Teal'c said somberly.

"We don't even control the Stargate. God, what have we done? This morning we were celebrating..." Janet could see that it was all catching up with Sam. Her gaze was distinctly glassy. She showed all the classic signs of going into shock.

"I think…" she started to say but Daniel interrupted her.

"Now I wish we could take it all back."

There was a lull in the conversation as the waitress approached their table. "Will there be anything else?" she asked.

"Apparently not," Daniel said, somewhat mournfully.

He thumbed the bill, too upset to quibble over the details of who ate what as they normally did when they got together like this and they all got up to leave. Except for Sam.

"Maybe we can… take it back," she said slowly.

Daniel sat down again. "How?"

"General Hammond showed us," Sam stared at him apparently willing him to make the connection. He did not disappoint.

"He left us a note." Daniel looked up at Teal'c who nodded solemnly, recollecting the details of their little side trip to 1969.

Janet hadn't a clue what they were talking about. Sam explained. "A number of years ago a freak accident sent us back to 1969. We know that by dialing co-ordinates that are precisely on the opposite sides of the sun at the exact moment of a solar flare, it causes the wormhole to turn back towards Earth on itself and it creates a time distortion. Now, theoretically, we could send ourselves a message."

Daniel frowned. "Wait a second. I thought you said it was impossible to predict the exact moment of a solar flare."

Sam was becoming more animated by the moment. "For us, yes, it was. But with access to the Aaschen computer..."

Janet decided to bring the conversation back into the realms of reality. "Okay, wait a second here. We are considering changing the lives of the entire human race on Earth. Do we have the right?"

"If we don't, then we will live to see the end of the entire human race on Earth," Sam said. And no one had any counter-argument to that.

They made plans to meet up again the following afternoon, leaving Sam time to do a little research. Janet wasn't too keen on the idea of her going home to Joe. Sam was still very emotionally fragile, almost too brittle. And even thought her combat skills were ten years rusty Janet figured that she could still find any number of ways to kill her husband if he had indeed been lying to her all these years.

"Please, come back to my place. You need…"

"I need to talk to Joe," Sam said. "I need to know if he lied to me all these months… years! I need to know if I ever really knew him or I was just fooling myself."

"I'm sure he didn't, Sam. We did things, knew things that we couldn't tell anyone else about even our closest friends and family when we were with the Programme before it was made public." She held up her hand as Sam frowned at her. "And no… I'm not condoning his lying or his collaboration. I'm just saying that it might not have been… personal. It was the conditions he found himself living under. It was probably little things at first that weren't in the public interest to know and the little things got bigger and bigger over the years until we got to where we are today. Who knows what things we might have had to cover up if the Stargate Programme had continued longer than it did? What if one of the Wildfire situations we found ourselves in over the years had got out of our control and people outside the Mountain were affected. Would we have told the truth?"

"I suppose…" Sam said reluctantly.

"Give yourself a little time to decompress. You've had a hard day. We both have. Or are you so scared to spend some time alone with me?"


"I was just wondering, that's all. It struck me, earlier, when we were in my office that that was the first time we'd spent time alone together since we broke up. I… I miss you, Sam."

"I miss you too," she said softly. "And it's not a question of being scared, it's… it's for the best, Janet."

"I never understood why…" What she didn't say was that Sam had never given her any reasons for the split.

"I loved you too much, I think," Sam said, gazing up at her in a rare moment of candor. "You deserved… you deserved better, Janet. I didn't treat you very well, I took advantage of your good nature, of your feelings for me." She let out a short bark of laughter. "I really was too much like my dad. I couldn't give up my career, the chance of working with the Aaschen… all that technology… The kind of relationship we had… they wouldn't understand. You know how conservative they are about such things. It was all my fault."

"I let you go, Sam," Janet said. "I knew what you were like, how focused you could be and I let you walk away. So don't take it all on yourself."

Conscious that they were in a public place and not wanting to take advantage of Sam's somewhat precarious emotional state Janet merely reached out and stroked the back of her fingers down Sam's cheek rather than kissing her as she really wanted to do. Sam's eyes drifted closed and she leaned into Janet's touch for a moment, her lips softly parting as if she too would have preferred to be kissed.

They stayed like that for a few seconds though it could have been hours, then Sam withdrew. She smiled, trying to soften the blow of what she was about to say. "I'm sorry, Janet. Everything's so mixed up right now. Another time…"

"That's the sixty four million dollar question, isn't it," Janet said.

The Periodic Table had always been a source of comfort to her. She recited it to ease her into sleep, to calm her nerves, to centre her thoughts. To remember who she was. Samantha Elizabeth Carter. A scientist. A soldier. The wife of the ambassador to the Aaschen Federation. A collaborator. A fool.

Now it was her lifeline to sanity. Some time before she had become convinced that her food was drugged so she refused to eat. They waited two days then they took her from her cell. She was stripped naked and thrown into a cold white room bare of any furnishings or comforts. She sat in the corner, knees brought up to her chest forehead resting on her knees. She did not know how much time had passed before she noticed the white tissue like wisps clinging the skin of her arms and legs. She tried to peel it off but it just grew back all the quicker. Within hours it covered her, webbing her hands, swaddling her body, drawing her into a foetal position. She started to scream as a caul of the stuff formed over her face. She could still breathe, she could still dimly see through it and she could hear herself whimper and mutter so she presumed that the reason she couldn't hear anything else was that there was nothing else to hear. She was left shrouded in the cold white silence, alone with her fractured thoughts and memories. She thought it had been at least five days now, perhaps longer, since she had been taken for `counselling'. Perhaps they had given up. Perhaps they were just content to wait her out. The Aaschen were very patient after all. But she would never give in.

`103 Lr Lawrencium Atomic weight 262… 104 Rf Rutherfordium Atomic Weight 261… 105 Db Dub… Dubnium Atomic weight… Atomic weight…'

She wasn't fed but she didn't feel hungry. She didn't seem to have any other bodily urges either. She just was.

Sometimes she thought she could see darker shapes through the opaque whiteness. There were no associated noises so she presumed it was her imagination, probably sensory deprivation. She had given up trying to tear her way through the caul; whatever polymer it was made of it was very strong. Under any other circumstance she would have loved to put a sample under a microscope. Where it was in contact with her skin it had a numbing effect further isolating her from herself as well as her surroundings.

`Dubnium Atomic Weight 262… 106 Sg Seaborgium Atomic Weight 266… 107…'

The darker shape was there again… two of them moving around her, moving closer. She thought she heard a muffled squeak and paused in her litany.

"Are you sure…"

"As I can be… this is her location according to the system core. God, what is this stuff?"

"She's moving… she's still alive. Mrs Faxon… Samantha, if you can hear me, we're here to help you…" A woman's voice, faint recognition stirred her senses... so long ago.

A trick, it had to be. Her mind playing tricks on her. She shut her eyes but the whiteness was still there.

"Major Carter… ma'am."

"We haven't got time… we have to make sure it's her and get her out of here. Use the solvent." A man's voice and this time memory supplied a face. What a creative imagination she had.

Without warning her face was damp, her olfactory senses overwhelmed by something pungent that took her breath away. The caul over her face began to split. Hands touched her face, gently pulling the stuff from her skin. "It's her, it's the Major," the man said. "Ma'am – do you recognize me?"

The faces staring down at her were familiar but her thought processes were slow and her sight still uncertain. The man's name came first. "Siler?"

He smiled, touched her cheek. "Yes ma'am. We've come to get you out of here, Major Carter." He lifted her easily into his arms, her body still drawn in on itself, shrouded in the caul. The woman was busy by what looked like a janitor's cart, lifting away a false panel. There was a space inside, big enough to hide a body. She looked back over her shoulder and smiled encouragingly at Sam, her dark almond eyes familiar.

The name came more quickly this time. "Lieutenant Satterfield… what are you doing here?" She still was not sure whether this was real or another fabricated situation. The thought, the hope of rescue, that there might be some way out of this…

"We're here to rescue you, ma'am. There's not much space in here I'm afraid but we'll get you out of it as soon as we can. You have to stay quiet though. And it's going to be dark in there."

"I'll be okay," Sam whispered. She hadn't been afraid of the dark since she was two. Here, it was the light, the neverchanging light that she was afraid of. The dark would be her friend.

"Siler has been working as a technician at the site for about six months. Samantha Faxon isn't the only prisoner of conscience being held there," Davis said. "Satterfield is going in with a false i.d. They employ a lot of humans in low grade jobs, cleaners, orderlies and the like. The Aaschen don't like to get their hands dirty. They will locate and retrieve Sam and smuggle her out. They will take Sam to a safe house much like this one. Once we've assessed her condition and made sure the Aaschen aren't aware of the location, we'll take you to her. We'll get you both new i.d.'s and get you out of the country, offworld again if we can."

"This isn't going to be easy, is it?" Janet said.

"No, it's not. A lot of people are putting themselves on the line for this operation, but they think the two of you – and what you represent. And the sacrifice that O'Neill, Jackson and Teal'c made should not be in vain."

"If it wasn't for Sam insisting that I be the one to go through to Chulak before it all started, I would be dead as well."

"No… I want you out of the loop as much as possible on this, Janet. If it doesn't work, then we have to have a fall back position. You're it."

"What can I do?" Janet asked.

"Talk to people. You still have a lot of contacts in the medical profession. I find it hard to believe that no one else has noticed the fall-off in fertility rates. They can't silence everyone. Keep the story going, get people to ask questions, to investigate for themselves. It might take longer to achieve but we will beat them, Janet."

Davis nodded. "She was right. If we're ever going to reverse this infertility treatment we're going to need your expertise, Janet.

In the darkness, the warm stuffy air lulled her into a fitful sleep. Sam remembered what she could not bring herself to remember whilst she was in the hands of the Aaschen.

Going back to the SGC was one of the most surreal things Sam had ever done. Looking at the `legend' through the eyes of a tourist whilst listening to some ridiculous woman spout claptrap like the `embarkation room' and that SG1 were not her `personal favourite team'. Sam had to try very hard not to laugh at Daniel's pout when he heard that. And we're walking…

It was odd, effectively being a ghost, wandering through her own history, or at least the sanitized, Aaschen-sanctioned version. The Guide, so perky that it hurt detailing the merchandising opportunities and all Sam could think of was all the people who had died to make this possible, from Charlie Kowalski onwards. Those who had died, the real heroes, seemed to have been airbrushed out of history. But then, Sam reflected sadly, wasn't what they were attempting the ultimate airbrush, to turn back time itself and erase the last ten years?

"This is ridiculous," Daniel whispered to her.

"We couldn't break away until there were more people around," she reminded him. Once we're in the control room…"

"Not her personal favourite SG team…" he grumbled. Sam bit back a smile. He was never going to let that go.

"Just don't ask for the photo," she chuckled. Then she looked up and her breath caught in her throat. Jack O'Neill was walking towards them. As he approached, he slid his sunglasses on, not breaking stride.

"And we're walking…"

Janet was bent over her microscope in her makeshift lab. Her newly formed team had managed to collect samples from close on a thousand people across the country over the last four days. So far she had not come across anyone who was not affected by the anti-age serum. In women the ovaries had atrophied, in men the sperm count went to zero and the testes also showed damage.

"Janet… there's news."

"What is it, Paul?"

"Siler checked in. They have Sam. She's free, she's okay. They're transferring to a safe house."

"Oh thank god!" Janet breathed. She hugged Davis. "When… when can I see her?"

"Soon. We need to debrief her first."

"I want to be there, Paul. I need to be there."

"I'll see what I can do."

"Under no circumstances go to P4C-970. Colonel Jack O'Neill."

In the darkness Sam could hear distant voices, feel the movement of the trolley as it was pushed along the corridor. There was no sound of alarm, no sign that her escape had been noted. Something touched her hair. "Major Carter, it's me, Siler. It won't be long now. Just hang in there."

"Siler?" Sam whispered.

"Yes, ma'am. Like I said, not long now. And… I just wanted to tell you, about the Colonel and Dr Jackson and Teal'c. I'm… well, we're all sorry for your loss."

"They're really dead."

"Yes, ma'am."

The numbness was beginning to fade. She could feel the tears she had been unable to shed for months begin to fall. "They're really dead. The Aaschen… they told me. I hoped… I hoped they were lying. And Janet… we… I thought she'd be safe on Chulak but they got her too. The bombing… they showed me pictures."

"No… No… ma'am. Doc Fraiser, she survived. There was no bombing. The Aaschen never got her. She's here, in hiding. You'll see her in just a few hours I hope…" Sam was trying to process this when Siler spoke again. "We're coming up to a checkpoint. I've got to close up again. With any luck it'll only be for a little while."

Janet was alive. She was alive and she was safe. It was hard to hear it confirmed that the others were dead. It had been like the old days working with them again, meeting up in the SGC. Like the old days.

They met up with him in the old briefing room, which wasn't part of the official tour. There was a chill to the air in there which set into her bones. Most of the chairs were covered by dust sheets. Jack was already sitting at the table a pad of paper in front of him, drawing up a scenario plan as she had watched him do a hundred times before. It brought a lump to her throat. He had also managed to acquire a couple of zats and a GDO.

"Hey, thanks for showing," he said.

"We decided to take the last tour of the day. So, when did you decide against getting a dog?" Sam asked.

"I'm still thinking about it. In the meantime I did a little shopping on your behalf. The zats are completely operational." He slid the GDO across the table towards her. "This, however, presents a problem."

Just picking it up was enough for Sam to realize what he meant. The GDO was a fake, a prop. "It's a replica…"

Walter Harriman was still working at the SGC as a curator cum tech advisor. He was able to confirm that the original GDO now sat on the President's desk in the Oval Office.

"Kinsey grab a souvenir on the way down?" O'Neill had quipped.

After the fact Sam wondered if Harriman wasn't in on it as well in some way, that perhaps they had stumbled on an Aaschen resistance cell that wasn't quite ready to welcome their madcap little scheme with open arms but wasn't going to try to stop them either.

With Kinsey as President, Jack O'Neill's visitation rights to the White House had been rescinded. But Sam thought she could persuade Joe to help. He was one of the good guys, she was sure of it, she had to believe it.

They left the SGC and she returned to Washington and waited for Joe to come home. Daniel, Janet and Jack met up again to finalise the rest of the details in particular the note that they would send through the gate to their past selves. They had agreed amongst themselves that the simpler the better – which meant that the former Colonel could not include World Series scores, lottery numbers or any other `crucial information'.

When he came home Joe already knew that she had left the lab early, claiming to be feeling ill. Sam hadn't realized how closely he had been keeping tabs on her. He immediately latched on to the `problem' of her getting pregnant and gave her the same tired lies.

"Honey, you're just depressed. We can just keep trying. All right?"

"No we can't, Joe. Nobody can."

"What are you talking about?" He looked genuinely bewildered. She told him.

He smirked. "You're wrong." Despite her previous career Sam had never been a violent person but at that moment she just wanted to hit him.

"I saw the numbers, Joe."

"The Aaschen doctors said you were fine."

"This isn't just about me. I read this right from an Aaschen terminal. Mollam gave me access to work on something else. The birth rate has been cut over ninety percent."

She saw the shock on his face. But it wasn't quite what she thought it was. "Oh my god, it was supposed to be a third of that."

Sam couldn't believe it. Janet was right. "You knew."

"The Aaschen insisted on it."

She wanted to be sick. He had collaborated, just as the other's said. And what did that make her? "Oh, my God…"

He was still trying to justify it. "Honey, they see farther ahead than we do. They knew that if we didn't limit growth…"

"Is that what you call this?"

"This obviously isn't what we agreed to!"

"I can't believe this…" she turned away from him.

"We didn't have a choice, Sam."

"You sold us out!"

"You think this was my decision?" Joe sat down, staring at her as if he had never seen her before.

"You could have told me!"

He laughed. "Oh, come on, you know how it works! Before the Alliance you spent most of your adult life in secrecy."

"Please, that was different!" She had worked to protect Earth and its interests not see it destroyed however `humane' the method.

"Sam, it's the same."


"It's exactly the same," he persisted. "Our population was unsustainable. Without drastic measures, the Aaschen didn't think we were worth investing in. Obviously they went too far, but I can't believe they did this deliberately. There must be some sort of reverse medical procedure they have…"

Sam cut him off. "You still don't get it."

"Sooner or later the Goa'uld would have wiped us out. Would you prefer that?"

"The Aaschen way is slower. That's all."

"They're not limiting growth, they're…" She glared at him, and his resolve wavered somewhat. "I have to talk to the President… I…"

"Yes you do," Sam said. "But not about this."

She persuaded him to swap the fake GDO for the one on the President's desk.

"Just come up with some excuse, I don't care, but you can't say one word about what we've talked about or they will kill you."

She could tell that he was greatly disturbed by what she had told him. What she could not tell was whether he would do as he asked or whether he would go straight to the Aaschen and tell them everything he knew.

What she did know was that she could not stay in his presence a moment longer. Quickly, she dressed and threw some clothes in an overnight bag. Her hand hovered over the phone for a moment as she bit her lip fighting need and instinct. Need won.

"Janet… it's Sam. I need…"

"Come straight over. Are you okay. Did he…"

"He'll do it. He knew… you were right. You were right about everything. I'll be there as quickly as I can."

"I'll be waiting."

"You're going to him, aren't you. Jack O'Neill… I should have known…" Joe sneered.

"It wasn't Jack O'Neill… it was never Jack O'Neill," she said sadly. "Joe… I need some time, please. You let me believe…" She couldn't put it into words, her hand closed emptily over her flat toned abdomen told him everything. "I'm going to stay with a friend for a few days, until this is over, one way or another. Just do what I asked, please."

He nodded. To her relief he did not try to stop her leaving. She didn't want to think about what she would have done to him if he had. Her hand to hand skills might be a little rusty but if he tried to touch her, she would put him down without a thought, without a single regret.

Janet had expected Sam to be distraught or at least upset when she arrived on her doorstep, but the blonde had been icily calm. "Thank's for letting me stay here," she said. "I couldn't stay, not with him."

"Well, if this works…"

"I'll never have married him. I might never even meet him," Sam said.

"You want to send the message back to a time when you and I…"

"Yes. It's coincidence, but I wish it wasn't. I know the Colonel wants to send back hockey scores and stock market tips. I'd rather send back a message to myself not to be such a stupid cowardly fool, to take a chance on what the two of us had together back then."

"And I'd tell myself to fight harder for you," Janet said softly. She traced her fingers over Sam's cheek. "So here we are…"

"Older but not necessarily wiser," Sam quipped.

"You told him everything, then."

"Pretty much." Sam shrugged. "He said he'd make the swap, bring the real GDO to my lab tomorrow. I'll be working on the flare calculations."

"I wish I was staying here to back you up," Janet fretted.

"Someone needs to go through to Chulak to alert Teal'c and give him the co-ordinates. We need to time this exactly," Sam said. She stifled a yawn.

"You need to get some rest," Janet said. She held up her hand as Sam started to protest, the gesture so familiar from her days as CMO that Sam started to laugh. "The bed in the spare room is made up for you," Janet said. She hadn't wanted to presume that Sam would want to spend the night with her.

"I… that's fine, great," Sam said, hurriedly, picking up her back and heading towards the room Janet had indicated. "You're right, of course. I'm beat. And tomorrow could be the most important day of our lives. I'll… I'll see you in the morning. Thank you again for doing this, Janet."

"Good night, Sam," Janet said. The bedroom door closed. Janet stared at it for a moment, sighed and went to finish what she had been doing before Sam arrived. An hour later she was in bed herself.

An hour after that she was still awake, staring at the ceiling wondering how it was that her life had become so fundamentally screwed up and achingly aware of the blonde only a few feet away in the other room.

Her bedroom door opened a crack. "Janet?" a voice whispered, husky with unshed tears.

"It's okay Sam," Janet said, throwing back the covers so that the blonde could climb into bed beside her. "It's okay, love."

Janet held her close, stroking her hair and whispering reassurances until the blonde at last fell into a restless sleep.

"This is a real time representation of the actual sun, recorded by Aaschen satellites all over the solar system," she explained.

Janet looked it over keenly. "How do you use it to predict a solar flare?"

"I've been studying Aaschen knowledge of solar dynamics for the Jupiter ignition project. And there are significant changes just beneath the surface of the sun preceding a flare that are detectable by the satellite net. Look right here. If my calculations are right, there should be a flare in about five seconds." They watched and waited and sure enough, five seconds later the projection showed a solar flare shooting from the sun. "Now all we need to do is for the computer to predict another flare."

Janet had procured travel papers for Chulak. She would take the information through to Teal'c so that he would know the right time to come through to provide the necessary diversion for the co-ordinates through the solar flare to be dialed.

Someone came into the lab, Joe, keeping his side of the agreement. He glared at Colonel O'Neill not bothering to hide his dislike of the man.

"I knew you'd have something to do with this."

Joe refused to hand over the GDO until he had been given assurances that Sam would have no further involvement in the plan. To her disgust (with both men), the assurance was given.

The flare prediction was in less than an hour. They went to the Terminal building and Joe gave O'Neill the GDO. The plan swung into action, with one important change. Sam remained outside the building where the Aschen authorities picked her up... and everything ended. The Aaschen interrogators had told her over and over again what happened next. Everyone died.

She jolted awake as the cart shook. It felt as if they had dropped, perhaps down a step. The feel of the surface under her had changed. They were no longer on smooth floors, it felt like tarmac. There was another jolt and then they stopped. She strained to hear voices.

There was a clicking sound and the side of the cart lifted away again. Sam moaned and turned her head away from the sudden influx of light.

"Major Carter? Everything's okay. You're quite safe now," a man said. She was eased out of the space, lifted onto a bed. She shuffled herself to the wall, feeling more secure with its solidity behind her, suddenly unsure if she truly was okay or if this was just another Aaschen ploy. There were several people in the room. None of them looked like Aaschen but she did not recognize any of them either. She did not know…


That was Janet's voice. Sam glanced up, blinking, trying to focus. The face, the face was different, framed in a blonde bob, with green eyes, but the smile, the smile was all Janet. That could not be faked.

"You're all right?" she whispered. "Not… not dead?"

"The Aaschen lied to you," Janet said firmly. "And I am very much alive. We both are."

Sam reached out towards her, her hand still covered in wisps of the caul, still shaking, fighting against the effects. Janet took it, held it to her heart.

"We're going to be okay."

"Yes, yes we are," Sam said. She could feel her strength, her resolve returning with every beat of Janet's heart. "And one day soon, we're going to take back our world."

The End

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