DISCLAIMER: I only borrowed them for a while. MGM and whoever can have them back whenever they want.
SPOILERS: up to Season 7 episode "Lifeboat". Note: this is an AU for that episode.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author

By Celievamp

Janet Fraiser's heart sank the moment Teal'c exited the wormhole half carrying half dragging an obviously out of control Samantha Carter. It had been bad enough seeing O'Neill & Daniel Jackson brought through on stretchers a couple of minutes earlier, both men unconscious and unresponsive. They were already on their way to the Infirmary for assessment and treatment. But this. Sam was struggling hard against Teal'c, lashing and kicking out at him, screaming abuse and incoherent sentences that did not seem to make any sense at all.

"I have to go back! No!" As Janet raced up the ramp to reach her Sam somehow twisted out of Teal'c's grasp and started back towards the still open wormhole. Knowing that she would be annihilated if she stepped across the event horizon the wrong way in an open wormhole Janet breathed a shaky sigh of relief as the pool of light winked out of existence just as Sam was about to dash through. Sam screamed in frustration, fighting against Teal'c and the two SFs who were trying to restrain her. Her wide eyed gaze swept across Janet's face without any sign of recognition. She did not appear to have any physical injuries but there was obviously something seriously wrong with her friend and lover. The thought that she might have been possessed by a Goa'uld for a third time was just too horrible to contemplate but unfortunately it was Janet's job to do just that.

"It's okay Sam, It's okay. Don't be afraid."

Her expression changed suddenly, the fear replaced by wariness.

"Who are you? What is this place?"

"Sam - we need to take care of you." She could see that she was not getting through to the disorientated woman who renewed her struggles to escape. "Okay, let me sedate her." Teal'c grabbed Sam's arm, turned it and held her as still as he could so that Janet could push up her sleeve and inject the sedative. Sam screamed, bucked and then went completely limp. "I'm invoking Code 17. I want her in restraints and in Isolation Room 4 until she can be examined."

O'Neill and Daniel Jackson remained unconscious, their condition unchanged. Janet hypothesized that they were in shock probably from something similar to a stun grenade. Sam had been thoroughly checked for Goa'uld implantation including an MRI and ultrasound and declared clear. There was no sign of trauma or head injury to explain her extreme disassociation. Recovered from the sedative she was in a waist restraint which restricted her arm movements. She was prowling restlessly around the room stopping every now and then to glare at Janet who she surmised was responsible for her incarceration. The two orderlies she ignored completely.

Janet knew that Teal'c and probably General Hammond were in the observation room watching every move.

At last she broke, rounding on Janet. "Who is responsible for this? I demand to know why this has happened! Why am I a prisoner?"

"Try to stay calm or you will be restrained further." Janet tried to distance herself from the fact that Sam had so far shown no recognition of either her or her surroundings.

"Calm! How do you expect me to be calm? I was made promises that nothing like this could happen, that nothing could go wrong!"

Janet held up her hands in a gesture of appeasement. "All right, let's start there. Can you tell me what has gone wrong?"

"What has gone wrong? Well, this is not the Stromos, you are not a member of my staff and," she turned, pointed vehemently at the mirror "That is not me!"

"All right, listen carefully. We did not do this to you. In fact we're in the dark about this as much as you apparently are. Now, if you cooperate."

"I will undergo no more of your tests." She half turned, closing her eyes.

"Are you in pain?" Janet asked softly. Sam nodded. "All right, I'll get you something for the pain. But you must remain calm."

"You have no idea who I am, do you?" Sam's voice was thick with resentment, the expression in her eyes chilling.

This personality was arrogant, used to being obeyed, used to wielding power. People were tools, means to an end. Personality traits that were completely alien to the Sam Carter that she knew. The scans had all come back clean. There was no sign of a symbiote. But Sam's brainwave patterns were all over the place. It almost looked as if they were getting multiple readings. But that was impossible, wasn't it?

Janet Fraiser had learnt in her time with the SGC that the impossible could very quickly become the every day. Suddenly she felt as if she were suffocating. She had no idea what had been done to Samantha Carter. She had no idea how to get her back to normal again. All she knew was that she had to get out of this room.

Teal'c frowned. "That is not Samantha Carter." Both men turned as Dr Fraiser came into the observation room. She looked upset and frustrated.

"Dr Fraiser, is she Goa'uld?" Hammond asked.

"No, sir, but she's every bit as arrogant," Dr Fraiser sighed.

"Is she suffering from some sort of mental condition?" Hammond asked.

"I honestly don't know yet, sir," Janet said. "Her preliminary EEG reading is like nothing I've ever seen. On one hand there's indication of coma but at the same time we're seeing readings like those of a dozen people all jumbled together. She is claiming to be a passenger from the crashed alien vessel. And she is currently a he. I think we're dealing with more than one of them. By that I mean that Major Carter's behaviour in the Gate Room and throughout the preliminary testing was distinctly different than her current behaviour. I'd say we've witnessed at least two, maybe even three separate personalities so far. She."

They all reflexively ducked as Sam threw a cup of water at the window before being wrestled to the bed and restrained by the two orderlies. She was struggling furiously, her face red with almost hysterical anger. All three observers had seen Sam Carter in emotional states before but never so uncontrolled.

"You're right, Teal'c. That is not Samantha Carter," Hammond said quietly.

Wanting a little more time to compose herself, Janet checked on Daniel and O'Neill's condition in the main infirmary. Both men were still unconscious, unresponsive but stable. When she could delay it no longer she returned to the isolation unit. One of her staff had already given Sam some painkillers.

"I am, ordinarily, a very rational man," Sam said suddenly.

The orderly looked a little nonplussed at this. "Of course you are, er. Major."

Sam drew herself up again, the icy expression back on her face. Definitely not someone you wanted to annoy. "My name is Martis, sovereign of Talthus. You will address me correctly!"

"I beg your pardon, sir."

Martis snorted. "Sir - I suppose that's a start." She grimaced. "I am used to better treatment than this. Where are you holding my servants? They usually attend to my needs."

"I don't know, sir," the orderly said. The major was growing restless again. She turned on him suddenly.

"Just find the small woman and tell her that what she gave me is not good enough. It isn't working!" The orderly did not move. "Do it!" The door opened at that moment and Janet came in.

"How are you feeling now?" Janet asked, studying her friend closely.

"Your medicine is worthless," Martis sneered.

"You're still in pain?" Janet asked. She dared not give Sam anything stronger. There were too many unknowns about her neurological status.

"This body must be damaged," Martis said. He looked at his reflection again and shuddered. There were no words for how disturbing he found this.

"I doubt it," Janet said. "Major Carter was in perfect health."

"A woman," Martis seethed. "Whoever is responsible for this will pay a thousandfold for the pain and dishonour they have done me. What has happened to my own body?" Janet noticed that he could not bring himself to actually touch himself. herself. Martis wasn't the only one with a headache. "In times of disaster, people need their sovereign to look up to. How will they recognize me now?"

"I've already told you - we didn't do this," Janet said steadily.

"How else could I have arrived in this situation?"

"We don't know." It was sounding less and less like Sam's voice as Martis's speech patterns and mannerisms imposed themselves which made it easier for Janet to keep her reserve. Still, she was startled when Martis jumped off the bed and came towards her, his face red with anger. She took two paces back and the orderlies came forward, flanking her.

"What is this place?"

"You are in one of our medical isolation rooms."

"Could you be less specific." the gaze that pinned her was sapphire bright, the set of the mouth and jaw all arrogance and barely restrained fury. The last time she had seen that expression it was when they were interrogating the Entity. Two traces had shown up then on the monitor. And before that with Jolinar. They had been able to watch the symbiote die in her brain, dying to save Sam's life. Her tone was utterly contemptuous. She had never heard Sam speak like that to anyone, not even MacKay when he was being his most obnoxious.

"In a military facility on a planet called Earth."

"Earth. the ship was bound was bound for Ardena. How far are we from Ardena?"

"I don't know."

Janet brought up the scans for those time periods when Sam was infected first by Jolinar and then by the Entity onto her screen and superimposed them. Sam's distinctive brainwave pattern was clearly visible, the same on both images. She asked the computer to trace the same pattern on the new scan. A few seconds later it highlighted the strand. Now Janet knew what she was looking at and it scared the hell out of her. She separated out twelve other brainwave patterns on Sam's scan. Thirteen separate consciousnesses appeared to inhabit Sam Carter's brain. And she had no idea how to get them out.

Martis realised that he was being ignored. "The other passengers. they will be concerned for me. As I am for them of course."

"Most of them are still on board the ship. But we think it's possible that several of them may be here with us right now."

"As prisoners?" Martis asked.

"No. We think they may be right here in this room. We don't know the reason, but somehow several of the passengers who were in cryogenic sleep have." Something about Sam's body language changed. She appeared to be unfamiliar with her surroundings again, hugging herself and then starting as she realised that things were different.

"What's happening?"

Even though she had her suspicions Janet asked "Martis?"

Sam shook her head violently. "No. no. Martis is our sovereign. I'm. I'm just a crew member. I." she paused as she caught sight of herself in the mirrored surface. "Is that." Janet walked up behind her as she looked closely at herself. She touched her face, pulled at her hair, caught sight of the curves beneath the scrubs and gulped audibly. "How can this be?"

"It's all right, I'm here to help you," Janet said softly.

"No, no. This is... this is wrong! This is a mistake."

"Yes it is. One that we want to correct. My name is Dr Fraiser."

"I am Tryan. Engineer, Second Rank."

Sam opened her eyes. She was in a large dark room, lying curled up in the corner. The room was empty apart from twelve other people she had never seen before who were all looking around as if they had just woken as she had.

"What's going on?" Sam asked. "Who are you?"

"We've got a ship full of frozen people"

"That would be the more succinct way of putting it, yes sir."

She remembered a light and a noise and then nothing more. She had counted 170 bodies by that point. Men women young old some dark skinned others lighter skinned. Brunettes, blonds, redheads. All of them humanoid. She could have walked past any of them in the street back in Colorado and not given them a second glance. She remembered thinking that if they were going to do something they didn't have much of a time window. The ship was critically low on power: one by one the units were beginning to fail. Then there was a sound and a light and... nothing.

"Where am I?" she asked again, levering herself to her feet, her back pressed against the dark smooth wall of the room.

A man came over, tall, holding himself as if he was used to wielding power yet at the same time running to fat as if he was also used to easy living. The other people deferred to him as he passed. They obviously recognized him even if she didn't. "You. You were not chosen. Who are you? Are you responsible for this?" He towered over her by a good six inches.

The man was angry. Very angry. And he had her cornered. "Sir, I'm as much in the dark about this as you are. I have no idea where we are or how we got here. I have no idea who any." A flash of memory speared her. A face set, stern even in its centuries long sleep behind the panel. This man had been one of the sleepers. "I do recognize you - you were on the ship!"

"You were not! You are not of the Chosen." He moved closer to her again, his hands clenched into fists. Despite her extreme disadvantage she would not allow herself to be intimidated. This man had all the hallmarks of a classic bully. "I am your Sovereign. You will tell me what is going on. Where are we? Why are we not on Ardena as I was promised?"

"I'm sorry, all I know is." The man vanished. Shaken, Sam stepped back until she reached the wall and then slid down it until she was sitting on the floor again.

Tryan sat on the bed. He could not stop looking at his reflection. The woman was beautiful. He was sure that he had never seen her before. She was not one of the Chosen.

"I do not recognize this woman... or rather myself. I do not feel like a woman." He blushed, thinking how that might have sounded. "I."

"It's okay Tryan. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you. Her name is Samantha Carter. The body you're inhabiting belongs to her."

"She was not aboard the Stromos."

"No," Janet said.

"Then how could I have ended up in her body?"

Janet hoped she was not going to have to go through the same story with every personality. "Your ship crashed on a planet that we call P2A347. We don't know how or why the crash occurred, only that the only survivors were those in cryogenic sleep. When Samantha Carter and the other members of her team boarded your ship... this happened."

"I have no memory of coming here," Tryan frowned.

"What do you remember?" Janet asked.

"Leaving Talthus, entering my sleep chamber and then... then seeing your face, here. Why am I restrained?"

"It wasn't you," Janet reassured him. "You're the fourth personality to emerge since being brought back. We believe that there are others from your ship in there along with you."

"In one body?"

"Plus Major Carter."

"No, the strain on the body would be too great. I - it wouldn't survive."

"Do you know that for certain?" Janet asked, not really wanting to know the answer but knowing that she would be expected to ask it.

"It couldn't happen. The only conceivable result would be insanity."

"Then we should both hope you're wrong," Janet said softly.

Tryan shook his head. "Dr Fraiser, you don't appreciate that what's happened is technically impossible. This cannot happen. One cannot return to any other body than one's own. There are failsafes to prevent exactly that from happening."

"Tryan, it has happened. All you need to do is look in the mirror to prove it to yourself." He looked into the mirror, nodded slowly, the panic retreating from his face. Once she was certain she had his full attention Janet started again. "Now, we don't have a lot of time. And you're the first personality to emerge so far that's been helpful. So I need you to think, all right? How could this happen?"

"A cryosleepers consciousness is stored in the same memory module that maintains the sleeper's body. There is simply no way to separate them or... send the consciousness to any other than its corresponding body unless. oh no! Unless the sleeper's bodies are dead!"

"Are you all right my dear?"

Sam looked up into the face of an old woman, "I'm fine, for the moment," she said softly, trying not to attract the attention of the sovereign. He did not like her talking to `his' people. He had made that pretty clear earlier.

"Don't worry about him. He's all bluster. He's nothing compared to the Sovereign his father or even his grandfather was. I remember them both. I'm 103 years old and I've lived through the reigns of five sovereigns now. This one - " She shook her head. "Sometimes it is not a good thing to be old. The memory of better days."

"So you won the lottery?" Sam asked.

"I did. My name is Shenoeh by the way. Actually, I tried to give my place to one of my children but they wanted me to go. It was my grandson who finally persuaded me. He said that there was no one who remembered better than I did what life on our planet was like, that people were going to need to know that."

"The oldest and wisest," Sam smiled, remembering her father. "I think your grandson was right."

Janet went to check on O'Neill and Jackson again. O'Neill woke whilst she was there and she was pleased to see no ill effects other than a headache from the experience. Certainly no sign of multiple personalities. Daniel Jackson woke a few minutes later. Both men were intensely concerned about Sam once they realised that she was not in the unit with them. She took a little time to describe Sam's condition and then left them to rest.

"All right, Tryan. Look, let's not try to jump to any conclusions here."

"I'm sorry. There's simply no other way this could have happened. Only then can the failsafes be overridden and the consciousness purged from the system. I am dead. As are the others who may reside in this body."

"We can't be sure of that," Janet insisted. "Not until we go back to the planet."

Tryan nodded. "Then you will see."

Janet sighed. "Okay, help me out with something here. Why do you separate the consciousness from the body in the cryosleep process?"

"A consciousness cannot survive the restoration process without significant loss of memory and intellect. A person undertaking such a long journey without proper storage of their consciousness would arrive at their destination as a mere fraction of themselves. The very essence of that person would be lost."

"So the memory requirement must be enormous," Janet frowned.

Tryan nodded. "Each cryogenic capsule contains an active matrix memory module sufficient to sustain one single mind. Its systems are connected with those that regulate and sustain the corresponding sleeper's body."

"Well then, it may be possible to upload your consciousness back into that memory."

"Each module can store only one consciousness."

"Then we do it one at a time."

Tryan shook his head. "No, that's not possible." Wide blue eyes hunted around for something to demonstrate what he meant. Janet gasped as he smiled. Sam's smile. It hit her with even greater intensity. She might never get her Sam back again. No, that was unacceptable. Tryan walked to the end table and picked up a glass of water. "Could these same water molecules ever be returned to this glass, just as they were before? No more, no less? In precisely the same configuration?" Abruptly he poured the water back into the half-full pitcher that also stood on the table.

Janet closed her eyes seeing the extinguishing of all her hopes that this would have an easy conclusion. "No," she whispered.

"Our minds have been blended together. Poured into one vessel, ill-equipped to sustain our volume," Tryan said sadly.

"Yeah, but if the computers on board your ship can separate the human consciousness from the body, then surely they can isolate the." she paused, aware that she had lost Tryan's attention.

"Can you hear that?" Tryan whispered.

"No, I can't hear anything," Janet said, approaching closer, checking the monitors.

"The others... their voices, I can hear them. They're getting louder."

"Tryan, I need you to stay with me, all right? We need to work together on this." So far Tryan was the only personality to emerge who seemed to have any insight at all into what was going on.

"It's the most incredible feeling."

"I doubt the others can help as much as you." This man's knowledge was the key to getting her Sam back, she knew it.

"No one can help."

"Don't say that!" For a moment she was furious with the man.

"They. They're pulling at me now. I don't - I don't know how." Sam's head slumped forward as if her strings had suddenly been cut. Her breathing was harsh, rapid. And then she bolted upright again, staring directly at Janet, her eyes wide with confusion.


General Hammond and Teal'c were still in the observation room when Daniel Jackson and Jack O'Neill joined them.

"O'Neill, Daniel Jackson, I am pleased to see you have recovered." Teal'c acknowledged their presence.

"How is she?" Daniel asked. He watched Sam's subdued body language, the way Janet leaned towards her offering her subtle support.

"Yet another personality has emerged but Dr Fraiser appears to be making progress with this one."

"How'd she get stuck in here? I mean she's not got a snake in her this time... has she?" O'Neill shuddered. So far they were equal on two each. He for one had no intention of there ever being a third. He was pretty sure Carter felt the same way.

"Major Carter's preliminary electroencephalogram proved anomalous."

O'Neill couldn't resist it. "I dare you to say that again." Teal'c looked as if he would try but Hammond broke in before the conversation could deteriorate any further.

"Dr Fraiser declared a code 17. Major Carter has been under constant guard and only she and a few of her staff have any direct contact as a precautionary measure."

"She thought Sam was a Goa'uld?" Daniel asked.

Hammond nodded. "We've since ruled that out, but I'm not taking any chances until we can determine the means by which these additional persons have found their way into Major Carter."

"To do that we'd have to have another look at their cryogenic systems. Sam." Daniel pulled a face. "Crap."

"Indeed," Teal'c said solemnly.

"So we just hope that Fraiser can either get Carter back or that one of the freeloaders in there knows what happened," Jack said.

"Schedule a mission briefing with Dr Fraiser as soon as possible," Hammond said.

"With your permission, Sir, I'd like to stick it out here with Carter," O'Neill said.

"You realise only medical personnel are allowed access," Hammond reminded him.

"Yes, Sir," O'Neill said, his attention already on the scene enacting below him. Daniel and Teal'c left him to it, Hammond following them out of the booth.

For a moment light blinded her she blinked then suddenly she was looking at Janet.



"What's going on?"

The darkness threatened. She could hear the voices of the others almost feel their touch on her body as they tried to bring her back to claw their way one by one to the surface of her consciousness.

"Something has happened. I need you to stay with me, Sam. I need you to hang on."

She didn't even have the chance to tell her that she was sorry. Darkness closed over her again, drawing her down.

She was back in the room.

Sam shivered and retreated into the corner again. A man she had not noticed earlier came towards her. "You are Major Carter, are you not?" Sam looked up to see him looking down at her, an expression of dazed concern on his face.

"Excuse me, I do not wish to intrude, I know you must be feeling as scared and confused as the rest of us but I really need to speak with you. I was just in another place called Essgeecee. I saw myself - but I looked like you." He laughed softly. "It was very strange. There were people there, dressed in white. Two men and a small woman."

Essgee - The SGC. Home. A small woman - that could only be Janet. "Janet. Dr Fraiser!"

The man nodded eagerly. "Yes. That was her name. She told me that you and your companions found our ship crashlanded on a planet. That we were in stasis but that the ship's power systems were on the point of failure. Your companions. O'Neill, Jackson... they were in some form of neural shock, they have just woken. And you."

"Before we get to me," Sam said. "Who are you?"

"I am Tryan, Engineer Second Rank, on board the Stromos, the ship you found crashed on the planet you designated P28437."

"I am happy to meet with you Tryan. Call me Sam, please. When you were at the SGC - You said you looked like me."

"I saw myself in a reflective surface. I saw you, Maj. Sam. Somehow my consciousness is housed in your body as I suspect are the consciousnesses of all these people. Dr Fraiser said that I was at least the fourth personality to appear. She is very afraid for you, Major Carter. And with good reason."

"How is this possible?" Sam asked. She had been told more than once that she lived in her head far too much, but this was ridiculous.

"I don't know, not for certain. Dr Fraiser and I came up with some possible scenarios to explain what might have happened."

"She's a good person to bounce ideas off," Sam smiled. "You said she was worried?"

"At the moment your consciousness is separate from ours. We do not know how long that will last. And if our consciousnesses do begin to merge."

"We may never get separated again," Sam said grimly.

They sat in not entirely comfortable silence for a couple of minutes. "So, you said that you and Janet came up with some scenarios."

"The one we decided was most likely was that the sleeper bodies - our bodies - are dead. We designed the system so that the consciousness was held separately from the body. It was designed so that one cannot return to any body but one's own. There are failsafes to stop that happening."

"So... how come you're all here?"

"It must have been a deliberate act. My engineering team did have a number of backdoor protocols for emergency use."

Janet Fraiser reported her findings to date to General Hammond and the rest of SG1.

"So should we take Sam back to the ship?" Daniel asked. "Maybe the process can be reversed."

"The last time you went on that ship, you were attacked," Hammond said.

"It may have been automated defenses," Daniel broke in eagerly.

"I think not, Daniel Jackson," Teal'c said. "I discovered Major Carter at the base of one of the sleep chambers. The door was open."

"There's no way Carter would have stepped into one of those things on her own," O'Neill said. He considered it a moment longer and nodded. "No way." His II1C did occasionally lose persepective in the face of new toys but. "No."

"Then someone else must have done so. Perhaps I regained consciousness before Major Carter's assailant was able to do the same to us." Teal'c looked around the table. "The question is why?"

"Tryan seemed absolutely certain that his physical body was dead," Janet said slowly. "So what if this was a desperate attempt to preserve these people? What if the person who attacked you was simply trying to keep these people alive the only way he could?"

Teal'c nodded. "The ship was damaged. It could not have sustained them indefinitely."

"So Sam's what - a lifeboat?" Daniel asked.

Janet shrugged. It was as good an explanation as any she had heard.

O'Neill leant forward. "General, I recommend that SG12 accompany us back to the planet along with a science team. We can search the ship for whoever did this while Carter's science team takes a look at the cryowatsis system."

Hammond nodded. "You have a go. Dismissed."

Back in the Medical Isolation Unit it soon became apparent to Janet that another personality had emerged. Sam was sitting hunched up on the bed in as small a space as possible, her chin resting on her knees, looking around her warily.

"I don't believe we've had the chance to meet," Janet said warmly.

Huge blue eyes continued to assess her warily for a moment and then a timid voice asked. "Where's my father?"

Janet's expression softened. "I'm sorry, I don't know." This must be a child, she wondered how young. God, this must be terrifying. "Do you mind if I sit down beside you?"

Sam nodded and Janet took a seat on the bed beside her. "Okay... there." Sam craned around her to look at the two orderlies.

"What about them?"

"Oh no, they won't hurt you." She smothered a smile as Sam deliberately positioned herself so that she could not see them. "Tell you what, why don't I tell you everything I know and then we'll just take it from there... okay?" Sam nodded, her expression still desperately serious. Janet resisted the temptation to feather back that blonde hair from those ever expressive blue eyes. "What's your name?"


"Keenan? That's a very nice name. I'm Dr Fraiser." Distantly she heard the Stargate activation alarm and knew that would be SG12 with Daniel and Teal'c heading back to the crash site. O'Neill would still be in the observation room above her.

"Keenan, we're trying to figure out everything we can about how this happened. What's the last thing you remember?"

"My father... it was time for me to go in the cryo pod. He was... he was telling me that everything was going to be all right and that when I woke up we'd be on Ardena. I wanted to wait with him. He told me that when I woke hundreds of years would have passed but we would still be together." Keenan sniffed. Janet felt her heart melt. Sam Carter's expressive blue eyes glistened with tears. "I - I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay on Talthus."

"So, you had to leave," Janet asked.

"They knew it was going to happen since a long time before I was born. Do you know what a dark star is?"

Thanks to having an astrophysicist for a lover, Janet was familiar with the concept. "Mm-hmm - one that's burnt out its fuel."

Keenan nodded. "They said it would pass close enough to our sun to make it flare and that it would engulf Talthus. I knew my whole life that the world was going to end."

"Your people built the Stromos," Janet asked softly.

Keenan hugged himself, leaning against Janet now. "They built three ships, including the Stromos. But it wasn't enough. They had a lottery and they said that was the only fair way, but my father was an officer on the Stromos... he was allowed to pick one person from his family. My mother... my mother made him choose me."

Janet let her fingers drift through achingly familiar blonde locks. "Shh. it's all right."

"My mother said she would take her chance with the lottery, but she wasn't chosen. The sovereigns were chosen, but she wasn't chosen. No one I know was chosen. I wanted to stay with her." Janet rocked the crying child/woman in her lap, her throat too tight for words. She crooned softly to herself.

"It's okay." She did not notice the change at first, then she felt the tension strumming through Sam's shoulders.

"What are you doing?" the voice was arrogant, sending an icy shiver down Janet's spine. Martis was back in control. Sam sat up, her eyes cold, her face set in a sneer. Janet jumped down from the bed and backed away, keeping her distance from the sovereign.

"I will ask you never to do that again. Now, what have you done to resolve this?"

"I demand to speak to someone in authority."

"I'm sorry, but you're stuck with me," Janet said deliberately not looking up at the observation window where the General and Teal'c were watching.

"Why have you involved the boy in this?"

"What boy?" Janet asked.

"The boy," Martis insisted. "You were just talking to him. Where is he?"

Janet did not answer. It was the first sign that the personalities were becoming aware of each other. Martis glared at her then whipped his head round to stare over to the right as if he had heard something. He winced, rubbing his temple again.

"Tell them to stop shouting. It is unendurable."

"I can't hear them. It's in your mind, Martis," Janet said. She wondered whether to risk giving Sam another sedative. The barriers between the personalities were obviously beginning to break down.

"No. no. no.. what you say cannot be so. I have responsibilities to attend to. I. I cannot remain here." Martis was getting more agitated by the moment. Janet glanced at the monitors: Sam's heart and pulse rate were climbing steadily.

"You cannot leave."

"Three thousand of our people depend on me to lead them. I am their sovereign. They have sworn an oath to me."

"I'm sorry." Janet was at her wits end. How could she persuade this arrogant man that her Sam's body was not his to use as he saw fit. She had to get him to relax. Sam's pulserate was approaching 250 a minute. Her bloodpressure was climbing. Her body could not take much more of this.

"It is my destiny to rule over Ardena," the man blustered.

"No, listen," she tried again. "You don't understand the seriousness of your condition."

"Do you still not realise who you are talking to?"

"I don't give a damn," Janet snapped, her fury white hot. "You don't belong in that woman's body and I intend to take it back."

Sam shook her head but the dizziness persisted. Shenoah came closer, laid a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Are you all right, my dear."

"Dizzy," Sam said thickly. "Everything's blurred."

"Some of the others are reporting similar symptoms," Shenoah said. "They think it is some kind of disease."

"Perhaps something's happening to my body," Sam leant back against the wall. "Perhaps I'm dying. God knows what kind of strain it's under. I'm under," she amended hastily. Talking about herself and her body as if they were two separate entities could not be healthy. Someone moved in her peripheral vision and she turned her head to see a young boy, perhaps seven, eight years old staring at her. "Hi!" she smiled. "It's okay."

He shook his head, rejecting her platitudes. Smart kid. "I saw you in the other place," he blurted out. "There was a mirror. But I didn't see me when I looked in it. I saw you. I was scared. But there was another lady. She was nice. She told me that she was going to make everything okay again." He scuffed his feet, looking down. "I was scared. I started to cry. And she held me, made me feel safe again."

"I know who you mean. Her name is Janet. And she makes me feel safe as well," Sam said softly. The dizziness became too much to bear and she closed her eyes, resting her forehead on her knees.

Back on the Stromos, Daniel Jackson and Teal'c encountered a man, Pharrin. He freely admitted that he had attacked Sam and implanted the personalities into her mind but it was the only way he could save his people.

"These souls are the last of an entire world," he said. "They cannot be allowed to end like this. The power is fading even now in every compartment. If the two of you carry but a handful of souls, we could route the remaining power back to the others."

"That's not going to happen," Daniel said.

"We do not know how many more we can accommodate," the small man said dejectedly. Daniel belatedly realised that he was talking to another gestalt personality: that what Pharrin had done to Sam he had already done to himself in a desperate move to save his people. Teal'c had come to the same assumption.

"I believe he, like Major Carter, carries the consciousness of many."

"Thirteen souls now reside in Pharrin's body. I fear. I can harbour no more." The little man looked agonized. They could only imagine what kind of strain it was putting on his body. "What else could I do? We are the last of an entire world." Then his whole voice and manner changed, as they had seen happen with Sam. "The other ships will come. We have sent a message. They will hear it and they will come. And when they do, they will find a way to restore us."

"Why did you not attempt to revive the others?" Teal'c asked.

"After the ship crashed, Pharrin was revived by the computer but the power requirement of his restoration caused too great a drain on the systems. Power levels on the other twelve sleeper chambers in the compartment were dropping and Pharrin had only minutes to restore power before the occupants were dead. But there wasn't enough time... there was no other choice... no other way to preserve us." He sighed, rubbed his temple. "There are over a thousand souls aboard the Stromos. If Pharrin had attempted to revive the others, then many more may have died."

"Even one person to share the burden." Daniel said, trying to imagine the mental torment that Pharrin must be going through and fearing that his friend was going through the same torture - and without any understanding of what had been done to her.

Pharrin was growing irritated again. "Pharrin walked as far as he could see. There was little more than rock! Neither was there sufficient food or water remaining aboard after the crash. Pharrin dare not revive another soul!". His expression changed, grew calmer, another personality had taken control. He gave a wistful smile, tapped his temple. "We are not alone. We are a democracy of one. It is strange, yes, but we are the chosen survivors of an entire race. How could Pharrin have allowed even one of us to be lost?"

"Still, we could have helped you," Daniel said.

Pharrin shook his head. "There was no time." his control appeared to be slipping again, other voices emerging. "We should have asked them... no, we could not take the chance... you would never have consented, would you?"

The two men looked at each other and then at Pharrin, their expressions enough to tell him that probably they would not.

"There are other ways that we can help," Daniel said.

"How?" Pharrin asked.

"Well, for one, our scientists could provide you with an alternate power source. One capable of bringing your energy reserves back up to where they need to be to revive your people. We should be able to do that fairly quickly." He could not tell Pharrin that his best hope for getting this accomplished was the woman he had `gifted' with thirteen stray passengers. But Sam was not the only scientist or engineer at the SGC. It was just that she was the best.

Pharrin mumbled to himself, obviously going through some internal argument "No! We must wait! The ships will come!"

Teal'c was losing patience. "We can take your people to safety through the Stargate. Anywhere that you want to go... to another world like Ardena."

"You have a ship?"

"We know of a device - called a Stargate - capable of transporting all your people instantaneously to any number of worlds," Daniel explained. "It is how we arrived here."

Pharrin frowned. "Such a device is not possible."

"Come back with us and I'll prove it to you," Daniel coaxed the disorientated man. He was the only clue they had to restore Sam. They needed him on their side.

"However, we will only consent to do so if you return our friend to her former state." Teal'c rumbled. Daniel winced. He was getting round to that.

"She is preserving life," Pharrin said.

"At the expense of her own, against her will!" Daniel had rarely seen Teal'c so angry.

Pharrin would not be cowed. "Please... do not ask us to do this... the souls that your friend carries within her are amongst the most precious of all."

"Our friend is equally as important to us!" Teal'c said.

"There will be nowhere for them to go. They will be lost."

"But it is possible to undo this?" Daniel persisted. "You do understand that what we are offering could save everyone on the ship?"

Pharrin was struggling to maintain control, his little democracy of one undergoing some inner turmoil. At last the small man seemed to regain control. He nodded stiffly. "There is a way. But you must understand that one of the souls that your friend carries within her is my son."

Janet was becoming increasingly concerned about Sam's physical condition. The last two personalities had complained about pain and disorientation. They showed no awareness of their changed situation. The monitors showed Sam's heartrate was raised, her blood pressure climbing steadily.

"Please... why does it hurt so much?" Sam said plaintively. She shuddered, her breathing on the edge of hyperventilation.

Janet tried to guide her towards the bed again but she was too agitated to rest. She shook off Janet's hand and started to pace again. It had been 36 hours and Sam's distress seemed to be growing exponentially. There had been no further sign that her Sam's personality was still intact. She really didn't want to prescribe any more medication, Sam's condition was too uncertain to be sure that it was safe, but she was working herself into such a state. She turned to the orderly. "Okay, prepare 100 micrograms of Fentanyl." As she turned back to Sam she saw her features momentarily slacken then change: another personality had emerged.

"That won't be necessary, Dr Fraiser. I seem to have a higher threshold for pain than the others."

"Tryan?" Janet breathed a sigh of relief. It wasn't her Sam but as far as she was concerned at the moment it was the next best thing. Sam nodded. "Oh, thank God for that."

Before she had a chance to say anything else the door to the isolation room opened and Daniel beckoned her over.

Janet laid her hand on Sam's arm for a moment. "I'll be right back."

Tryan wished the doctor would hurry. He did not know how long he could last against the onslaught of the others, each as desperate as he had been to have their moment in the light. The door to the isolation room opened again and to his surprise and delight Pharrin walked in.

He leapt to attention and then realized that in his current physical state Pharrin would have no idea who he was. "Officer Pharrin, sir. Engineer Tryan, second rank."

"Tryan. of course. Of all our crew you would have thought this was not possible."

"And of all our crew, sir, you're the one who'd find a way to do it. How did you manage?"

"Our training.. And a shared will to survive. It is a strange way of living with others... but it is better than the alternative."

"What of our ship and her passengers?" Tryan asked.

"Our ship crashlanded. We failed to reach Ardena. Her passengers may yet be saved, but not without considerable sacrifice- to you and the others of the Stromos that reside with you." Tryan nodded his understanding. "These people possess a device capable of transporting all our people to another world... perhaps even Ardena. It will save our people. But in exchange they ask that their friend be returned to them as she was before. I believe it can be done if we act quickly. It is a reasonable bargain."

"I will do whatever is necessary, Sir. Whatever you ask of me. I." Janet rushed forward as Sam's body seemed to convulse as if there was an internal struggle going on. Her head came back up and Janet knew instinctively that Martis now had control.

"No! There will be no sacrifice of any kind! Officer Pharrin, as your sovereign, I demand you return me to the ship immediately!"

"Forgive me, Sovereign," Pharrin bowed.

"Pharrin!" Daniel said, sensing their plan slip away.

"We have sworn an oath to do his will," Pharrin explained. "We cannot proceed."

Daniel stared at his friend, trying to divine the nature of the presence behind that familiar face. He had rarely seen such an expression of arrogance on his friend's face: it had no place there.

"Officer Pharrin, I have given you a command. Do you understand me?"

O'Neill barreled in. "Your sovereign's dead! Get up!"

"His soul lives on."

"Not if I cut him out. Pharrin, don't you listen to him! You just do what you came here to do."

"Pharrin, you will listen to me." Janet cast a quick look at the monitors. Sam's body was going into overdrive, flooded with adrenaline. If they did not do something quickly, Sam could have a heart attack or stroke out.

"Forgive us, Sovereign. It is the only way to protect our people." Pharrin was also near the end of his strength.

"I will not surrender this body, not at any cost. It is mine!"

Sam twisted, grimaced, clutching at her head. "It was never yours to take," she said savagely.

"If you save anyone, you will save me." Martis again, desperate, arrogant.

"The people of Talthus will die."

"Let them!" Martis spat.

Janet started forward but O'Neill stayed her as Pharrin grabbed Sam's arms, stilling her movements. "Forgive me, Sovereign."

"How dare you touch me!" Sam struggled against Pharrin but he held her firmly.

"For twelve years we have fought to save the people of Talthus and we will do everything in our power to do so no matter how great the sacrifice."

Sam seemed to slump against him for a moment and this time O'Neill did not stop Janet from reaching her side. She could see the pulse beating in Sam's throat, the restless movement of her eyes beneath lavender tinted lids. As Janet touched her her eyes opened. A tremulous smile flitted over her face. "Father?"

Now it was Pharrin who faltered. "Keenan. I am so sorry, my son. You must sacrifice as well... and we will be together. Do you understand?"

Keenan nodded. He reached out to touch Pharrin's tears. "The people of Talthus will be safe and they will remember us forever," Pharrin whispered.

"But we'll be together," Keenan whispered.

Pharrin nodded. "We'll be together."

Sam lay with her head in Shehana's lap. The old woman ran her fingers through Sam's hair, trying to give the young woman what comfort she could. They could hear Mantis raving. Several of the men had tied him up. They would no longer allow his selfishness to dictate the path of their lives.

"You must hold on," Shehana whispered. "It is nearly over, Samantha. Tryon has done it. We are going home!"

Keenan ran towards them, laughing. "My father. He has a plan to save us! I have spoken with him." Through her pain Sam managed a smile at the boy's enthusiasm. It lifted all their hearts.

"It is strange," Sam whispered. "But I think I will miss you."

"You are part of us now, part of our history," Tryon knelt beside her. "We have shared something unique these last few days. We will not forget you nor the sacrifice you have made for us. It is our hope that we can return you to your own people, your own body very soon. Pharrin is making ready along with your Doctor Fraiser and your scientists. They are very hopeful."

Janet glanced around the Stromos. It still seemed too much of a corpse ship for her peace of mind. Pharrin and Sam were in alcoves both deeply unconscious and looking no different from the other passengers still in stasis. Pharrin had instructed them on how to safely leach the passengers from Sam's mind and put them in Pharrin's mind. His little democracy had just grown wider, but at least he was reunited with his son.

All of Janet's instruments showed that Sam's vital signs had returned to normal, that her brain activity was also normal and that the brain wave pattern matched exactly that previously recorded for Major Samantha Carter. All they had to do now was wait for her to wake up.

It was slightly reminiscent of the time the computer entity had kidnapped Sam's consciousness and downloaded her onto the base mainframe. Janet still didn't know how the lash up she had constructed had worked to get her lover reintegrated. She figured that faith, hope and a hell of a lot of good fortune had played their part. She just hoped that the fates were running their way again today.

The lights started to come on around them, Sam's pet scientists having come through for her in interfacing her naquada reactor to the Stromos systems.

"How long?" O'Neill asked.

"It could be a couple of hours."

The words were hardly out of Janet's mouth before she heard her name whispered softly.

"Janet." Sam's voice was weak, the tone unbelievably needy but it was Sam's and Sam's alone. Janet looked over her monitors again, her fingers around Sam's wrist as she checked her pulse knowing that Sam would need the physical contact to ground her.

"You're okay. Sam, you're going to be okay." Blue eyes opened hesitantly then immediately shut again against the intruding light.


"Nail through the head type of pain?" O'Neill looked vaguely satisfied when his II1C managed a hesitant nod. Much as he wouldn't have wished that kind of migraine on anyone, he did hate to suffer alone.

The End

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