- Alternate Universe
- Time Travel
“Are we there yet?” Vala asked.
Sam held her weapon firmly, the torchlight glancing over the darkened corridor, and tried not to be irritated by the question since she was also tired of the seemingly endless traipse through the city.
Sam had eschewed questioning the hologram as they had done in the past. She didn’t trust Ganos Lal not to interfere again and it was clear that the Ascended being had a reason to stop them from completing the Sangraal. The weapon was a threat to the Ascended; it could kill them just as easily as it could kill the Ori. Sam believed that Ganos Lal had deliberately restricted their knowledge finding on Atlantis by pretending to help them as the hologram. The way the Ascended being had set-up Moros and the quest had ensured that there would only ever be one opportunity to use the Sangraal. Sam rather thought that might have been why Ganos Lal had in the end given over her existence to battle Adria eternally; as a penance.
Interrogating the database the same way they had done the outpost by having John in the chair had proved to be much more fruitful; they’d quickly discovered Moros had a lab on Atlantis secreted away in a remote tower. The section had been provided with a minimal amount of power to help their search, but primary lighting was offline.
They’d gathered a small team and arrived by puddlejumper; landing on the roof of the tower and making their way down to the lower floors.
“I really think I should have a weapon,” Vala complained.
“I really think you should shut up,” Daniel muttered.
“I’m going to shoot the next person who mouths off,” Jack declared tersely.
“Can I ask what constitutes mouthing off exactly?” Rodney asked nervously. “Only when I’m anxious I tend to speak aloud and…”
“McKay!” said John sharply.
“Right, shutting up,” muttered Rodney.
“We can’t be too far off Moros’ lab now,” Daniel said.
John checked the small hand device that they had found. “I’m getting a strange energy reading ahead of us.”
They all came to a halt in front of what appeared to be a dead end.
Vala reached out and tapped the wall. A jolt of electricity burned her knuckles and the wall rippled. “OW!”
“Vala!” Daniel said exasperated and went to check on her.
Sam shoved her gun aside to retrieve her own handheld device. She started to scan the wall.
Rodney was glued to John’s side, his eyes on the LSD. “There’s an energy field.”
Vala rolled her eyes. “Who would have guessed,” she shoved her hand toward Daniel, “are you going to kiss it better?”
Sam zeroed in on a panel to the far right. Rodney followed her over. They worked to take the panel covering off and Rodney connected his tablet.
“Carter?” questioned Jack impatiently.
Sam frowned at the array. “We’re going to need some time to figure this out, sir.”
“Great,” Jack glanced around, picked a wall and sat down.
Vala eagerly followed his example.
John and Daniel shrugged at each other before they sat down.
Teal’c remained standing.
Sam focused on deciphering the code in front of her and tuned out Vala teasing John and Daniel. She and Rodney spent a good hour examining the array; they spent a good part of that debating how to short-circuit it without blowing up the tower. Finally, they turned back to the team.
Jack was playing with a yoyo much to Vala’s fascination. John and Daniel were playing mental chess.
“There’s good news and bad news,” Sam declared, “the good news is that we’ve found a way in…”
“And the bad news?” asked Jack dryly.
“We need the password!” Rodney exclaimed sourly.
Jack got to his feet and brushed his hands down his green BDUs. “Can you break it?”
“This isn’t Windows!” Rodney blustered. “We can’t just hack it!”
“Actually, I think we can,” Sam said, spotting something in the code, “the key is an eight-symbol address.”
Daniel moved up beside her. “A gate address.”
“That’s most likely,” Sam agreed.
“Earth?” asked Daniel, pushing his glasses up.
Sam considered it. She didn’t think that it was the right address.
“Isn’t that too obvious?” asked John.
“Aren’t all passwords obvious?” countered Jack.
“He’s right,” Daniel added, “I mean, sure we all know we’re meant to create an indecipherable string of letters, symbols and numbers but when it comes down to it most of us use something memorable to us.”
“I’ve found that to often be the case,” Vala agreed.
“But would Moros choose Earth?” questioned Sam. “What if that wasn’t his memorable place?”
“You think he chose somewhere else?” Daniel said excitedly.
“Oh, oh, I know this!” Vala stuck her arm up in the air. “When we were questioning the chair, didn’t it say that Moros was born in another galaxy,” she clicked her fingers, “I know it, I know it, it’s on the tip of my…”
“Altera,” Daniel said out loud.
Vala squealed and kissed him soundly.
“OK, that’s enough of that,” Jack said, nudging Vala off Daniel. “Do you have the address?”
Daniel wrinkled his nose and shook his head.
“I do,” John said.
Jack motioned for him to step up to the tablet.
“Wait, wait, wait!” Rodney waved his arms frantically. “What if it’s not that and there’s a security feature? We could all blow up!”
Jack immediately looked at Sam. “Are we going to blow up, Carter?”
“I don’t think so, sir,” Sam shook her head, “the code doesn’t suggest that, but I can’t rule it out completely.”
“See!” Rodney pointed triumphantly at her.
“We’ll take the risk,” Jack motioned for John to get on with it.
John reached for the tablet and Rodney handed it over with evident reluctance. John made to enter the information and stopped with his fingers over the tablet.
“Uh, sir,” John said, “just in case the security feature is explosive, perhaps you should all wait further down the corridor?”
The rest of SG1 including its former leader simply exchanged glances and stayed put.
Rodney’s eyes darted from one to another before he threw up his hands. “Fine, I guess we’re all staying!”
“We’re really staying?” Vala questioned in a stage whisper to Teal’c. “Is this typical?”
“It is indeed, Vala Mal Doran,” Teal’c replied in a low rumble.
“We’re fully informed,” Daniel said brightly.
John shook his head and quickly tapped out a series of symbols.
The wall behind him shimmered and disappeared revealing a large laboratory space with rooms beyond.
“Open sesame,” John joked.
“Don’t touch anything!” Jack warned them all. He stopped directly in front of Vala. “You,” he pointed at her, “you especially don’t touch anything!”
“Not even Daniel?” Vala pouted.
Daniel sent Jack a horrified look as Jack seemed to consider his response; Sam tried to turn her chuckle into a cough.
Jack’s attention switched to her. “Shall we?” He swept his arm towards the lab.
They all took a step forward and…
A bright light filled the space for a long moment.
Sam shielded her eyes from it with her arm before the familiarity of it had her lowering it. She refrained from aiming her weapon as John did knowing that it would do no good.
An Ascended being stood in front of them.
“You are trespassing,” she said sternly.
Daniel took a step forward. “You’re Ganos Lal.”
Ganos ignored him, keeping her eyes on Jack. “Leave.”
“I don’t think so,” Jack countered. “You’re interfering. I’m pretty sure that’s against the rules.”
“Oh, it is,” said a silky male voice from a corner of the lab.
They all turned in surprise.
The glowing form of a tall man with brown hair and twinkling eyes, dressed in a white tunic top and pants, walked forward.
“Janus,” Ganos said warningly.
“Now, now, Ganos,” Janus said, “you and I both know this is highly improper.” He paused. “Just as we know the Others will not step into stop you given the reason.”
“Uh, sorry?” Daniel stepped forward breaking the furious glare Ganos was bestowing on Janus. “What’s going on?”
“Daniel!” Janus said delighted. “It is marvellous to see you again and so human!”
Vala leaned into Daniel’s space. “You weren’t human at some point?”
“I was…” Daniel shook his head, “never mind,” he gestured at Janus and Ganos, “what are you doing here?”
“I can answer that,” Jack remarked sarcastically, “she’s attempting to stop us finding a way to destroy Anubis.”
“Yes and no,” Janus replied.
“I can speak for myself,” Ganos said sharply. She turned back to them. “The Sangraal will not help you.”
“You just don’t want us to use it,” John stated evenly.
“Of course they don’t want us to use it,” Rodney added, “if it can kill Anubis, it could kill them!”
And bingo, Sam thought as Ganos looked momentarily chagrined.
“He is correct,” Janus said, “it was the reason why the Others allowed you to descend and take form as Morgana of the Fey. It was the reason why you were allowed to keep your knowledge as Moros did. You were meant to ensure the secret of the Sangraal was destroyed entirely.”
“But you didn’t,” Sam jumped in, “did you? Otherwise we wouldn’t be standing here.”
“You seeded the knowledge of it into the myths and legends of our world,” Daniel said, “and probably others. Why?”
“There is only one reason to keep a weapon capable of destroying an entire race of beings,” Teal’c noted.
“But not the Ancients, Alterans,” John announced quietly, “I remember from the chair; there was some kind of religious disagreement which caused a split. The Alterans fled to our home galaxy. They left the religious sect behind; the Ori.”
“Elizabeth was right to sing your praises,” Janus said.
“Elizabeth?” queried Rodney.
Janus sighed, his face drooping. “I was unable to do more than help her ensure Atlantis would survive and rise when the shield and power failed.” He shook his head. “I never imagined she would try and establish a working connection to the underwater power station. Her actions roused the Wraith Queen from her sleep. You’re lucky she was greedy enough to want to keep her new hunting grounds for herself.”
“So, we’re not going to be eaten by Wraith any time soon?” asked Rodney bluntly.
They all looked at him.
“I’m just checking!” Rodney said.
“You will encounter the Wraith if you remain on Atlantis, that is inevitable,” Janus glanced over at Sam, “no matter how much one would like to prevent it from happening.”
“The Ori,” Daniel muttered, dragging their attention back to the most relevant topic, “the Alterans fled their galaxy and left behind the Ori.”
Sam watched as Daniel’s genius leaped to all the right conclusions.
“The Ori are worshipped as Gods in their home galaxy, gaining enormous power,” Daniel said, “the Alterans sought to weaken them,” he gestured at Ganos, “they created the Ark of Truth but it wasn’t enough so they left.” He glared at Ganos. “Moros had to believe that they remained a threat; that’s why he created the Sangraal; to kill the Ori.”
“He had a vision of the destruction the Ori would bring to their galaxy and all others,” Janus said, “and he created a weapon, but he had not the final knowledge required to make it work and defeat the Ori until he Ascended.”
“So, he descended as Merlin keeping his knowledge and created the Sangraal,” Daniel deduced.
“But the existence of the weapon was enough to alarm our kin,” Janus continued, “and so Ganos was tasked with descending and destroying the weapon.”
Daniel’s head snapped to look at the Ascended woman who had remained silent. “You destroyed the weapon.”
“She did,” Janus agreed cheerfully.
“But she couldn’t destroy knowledge of the weapon,” Vala commented, completely sombre for the first time since they’d met her.
Daniel sent her a look of approval before turning back to Ganos. “You couldn’t destroy Merlin.”
“She also couldn’t destroy the only chance the Ancients might have at defeating their enemy,” Sam added, remembering the report on how SG1 had defeated the Ori in the other timeline; the non-interference of the Ancients then.
“It does not change the fact that the Sangraal cannot be used to destroy Anubis,” Ganos said firmly.
“Why not? Because it only looks for fully Ascended beings?” Daniel questioned her.
“If the device can be programmed to destroy energy in a certain physical plane, it can be altered to target a specific energy signature,” Sam theorised.
Rodney nodded. “Theoretically.”
“Even if you were to change the weapon,” Ganos said, “the Others would prevent its use.”
“And still we ask the question why?” said Jack.
“How did Anubis get to be a half-Ascended being anyway?” asked John suddenly.
Janus smiled slowly. “And now the right question has been asked.”
“Ascension is only achieved when an individual learns to leave their personal burdens, the ties to who they are, behind,” Daniel thought out loud, “a Goa’uld would never do that.” He froze, shock flitting across his face.
“Daniel?” prompted Jack.
“A Goa’uld would never Ascend, could never Ascend,” Daniel explained bitterly, “not without help.” He breathed out in a heavy sigh. “Oma.”
“Your friend Oma?” questioned John. “The one who Ascended you?”
Daniel nodded. He glared at the two Ascended beings. “That’s what this is about, isn’t it? Anubis is allowed to exist as a…as a reminder to Oma of her crime!”
“Yes, Daniel,” Oma said, shocking them all into turning back around. Oma stood glowing in the corridor of Atlantis. She made a hand gesture.
Suddenly, Atlantis disappeared around them and they found themselves in an open field, a dormant Stargate beside them.
Sam brought her weapon to bear; John, Jack and Teal’c all doing the same. Rodney fumbled for the hand weapon he had been issued. Vala spun around as though she couldn’t believe what had happened.
Sam stared up at the stars and frowned at the night sky. “Sir, we’re back in our own galaxy.”
“Awesome,” Jack muttered.
“We’re on Kheb, sir,” Sam said, her memory jolting as she recognised the Stargate’s position and location.
Daniel walked over to Oma. “It’s true then? You Ascended Anubis?”
“He came to me in the form of a small boy,” Oma said, “Ra had tortured him. He claimed he wanted to change, to leave behind the evil of the Goa’uld.”
“He lied,” Jack said bluntly.
“Yes, he lied,” Oma confirmed, never taking her eyes off Daniel. “By the time I realised it was too late.”
“A sentence was passed,” Janus said, “Anubis was hobbled, unable to access any knowledge but that which he could gain in the mortal plane.”
“And I was forced to watch his atrocities,” Oma completed.
“And yet you still fail to learn, sister,” Ganos said.
Daniel’s eyes lit up with fury. “That’s it?!” He paced away and back again. “All this time! All this time Anubis gets to exist and cause pain and destruction on our plane so the Ancient Ascended can punish Oma for trying to do a good thing?”
“It was still a crime,” Janus said softly. “One she continues to commit.”
“It isn’t right!” Daniel shouted.
Sam bit her lip.
“You’ve said that before,” Janus commented.
Suddenly, a set of rings descended; light glowing in the twilight purple of the dark.
Sam immediately aimed at the forms left behind; a figure in a dark cloak with four super-soldiers surrounding him. They immediately started firing their energy weapons at SG1.
“TAKE COVER!” Jack yelled.
Sam ran; she caught Vala’s arm and dragged her with her, running full pelt to a large boulder and throwing them both behind it.
Vala nodded her thanks as an energy bolt went over her head. “Can I have a…”
Sam offered her the handgun she carried.
Sam knew it was futile. They didn’t have the right weapon to stop the super-soldiers with them…but they both broke cover and started firing at the super-soldier bearing down on them.
Another super-soldier was advancing on a log where John and Rodney were positioned; Sam could see Rodney struggling to reload the hand-gun he had but he was bravely doing his best.
Sam spotted Jack across the clearing behind one tree; Teal’c protecting Daniel behind another; they were all trying to stop the advance of two of the super-soldiers and Anubis who was using telekinesis to rip shrubbery, trees and dirt out of the way as he headed for Daniel.
In the clearing, the three Ascended beings transformed into their energy forms…
And the world froze.
Lightening erupted from the sky, zapping the super-soldiers and destroying them completely.
A blink of an eye later and Sam found herself lined up with SG1 in a messy line in front of an open Stargate. Janus and Ganos reverted to their human visages but they stayed back across the clearing from SG1 leaving Oma and Anubis in the middle of the gathering.
Oma faced Anubis in the light of the event horizon. “This will stop!”
Anubis glowered at her; the handsome face of his host was already beginning to show signs of decay. “You think you can stop this?” He taunted her. “I will destroy Daniel Jackson and these Tau’ri and you cannot stop me!”
Daniel stepped forward. “Ascend me again!” He called out. “Ascend me and I’ll stop him!”
Anubis laughed cruelly. “You’ve already tried and failed once before Daniel Jackson! They will always stop you!” He smirked at Daniel. “You cannot stop me; you don’t have the power to stop me.”
“No,” Oma said, “but I do.”
Anubis spun to face her again. “You…but you can’t defeat me.”
“But I can fight you,” Oma said, “I can fight you and you will not be able to do anything but fight me back.”
Oma looked over at Janus and Ganos. “This was always the lesson I needed to learn.” She turned to Daniel. “Goodbye.”
She transformed into light and advanced on Anubis.
“No,” Anubis tried to retreat, “no, no, no!”
She enveloped him.
There was an explosion of light; a ball of red and gold energy spun in the air; it slowly rose into the night sky and disappeared.
Daniel stared up at the sky. Jack walked forward and put a hand on his shoulder. Sam joined them, standing close enough that her elbow nudged Daniel’s on his other. Teal’c stopped beside Jack, his eyes heavenward.
“She gave her life to save ours,” Daniel said sadly.
“It was an honourable end,” Teal’c said.
There was a brief moment of silence.
“Oh no, you don’t!” John wrestled Vala into their line-up.
Vala blinked innocently at them. “What? I was just…”
“Sneaking off,” John said dryly.
“Well, I rather thought our business was done,” Vala claimed brightly, “after all, I tried to steal your ship and was caught, but now we’re back in our own galaxy, you can leave me here.”
“We’re not leaving you,” Sam said before anyone else could reply.
Both Daniel and Jack spoke in unison.
“I think Vala would make a great addition to SG1, sir,” Sam said cheerfully.
Both Daniel and Jack yelped.
“You do?” Vala stuttered.
“I agree with Colonel Carter,” Teal’c said, “you will be a great asset to our team.”
Sam nodded. “Of course, if you want to leave…”
“No!” Vala said before regaining her poise. “I mean, I can stay.” She sniffed. “It’s clear you need me and Daniel will be devastated if I leave.”
“No, I won’t,” denied Daniel.
Sam and Vala grinned at each other.
“What just happened?” asked Jack, sounding a touch bewildered.
“Uh, did we win?” asked Rodney. “Because I’m not sure two energy beings fighting for all eternity is a win?”
“Anubis is defeated,” Ganos said, “you will not need the Sangraal.” She transformed and disappeared leaving them with Janus.
“Carter,” Jack said urgently, “is she right about the Sangraal?”
“We don’t need it to defeat Anubis, sir,” Sam considered the future. It was unlikely that they would need the Sangraal with the changes to the timeline. She could put a protocol in place for the communication stones once Jack’s and the barber’s were discovered. Still… “But I think it would be prudent to track down the knowledge of how to build it.”
Jack sighed and rubbed a hand through his hair. “So, back to Atlantis?”
“You will not find what you seek in Atlantis,” Janus said. He winked at Sam. “But all knowledge may be regained in time.”
Sam swallowed hard. Clearly Janus knew about her tampering.
“Speaking of Atlantis; exactly how are we getting back to Atlantis?” asked Rodney caustically. “We’re in our galaxy and Atlantis is in Pegasus and we don’t have a ship!”
Janus smiled at them warmly. “Walk through the Stargate and you will be back where you were before.” He transformed into a shimmering ball of light.
Jack motioned for them all to head to the Stargate.
Sam took a breath as they neared the event horizon but she stepped through…and into the gate room in Atlantis.
Alarms were sounding and she was pleased to see their security had properly responded.
“General! Colonel Carter!” Major Teldy all but ran down the stairs to greet them; Elizabeth was close on her heels. “We saw your signals had disappeared from the tower and we were just arranging a rescue mission! What happened?”
“Long story,” Jack said shortly, “debrief in one hour.” He paused. “And Carter?”
Sam looked over at him. “Yes, sir?”
“You brought her back, you’re responsible for her,” Jack quipped, pointing at Vala, “and, you’re explaining her to General Hammond.”
“Yes, sir,” Sam replied.
Daniel smirked as he walked past her.
Teal’c bowed his head and left.
John and Rodney were already ambling away, arguing about something else.
Vala hooked her arm through Sam’s. “This is going to be fun!”
Sam thought of all the changes she had managed and grinned back at her. “Yes, it really is.”
“Incoming wormhole!” Walter’s announcement echoed through the conference room.
Sam was on her feet and moving with a familiarity born of her many years of service. She noted the date with a smile as she looked at the calendar by Walter’s elbow. It was the day after Ba’al’s attempted change to the timeline which had caused Carter to time travel. For the first time since Carter had given her the laptop, Sam had no prior knowledge of things to come, things that may come. Well, she considered wryly, the Ori might still make an appearance at some point but they had managed to avoid drawing their attention in the new timeline Sam had wrought.
“What have we got?” asked Jack, coming to stand beside her. He was back in his BDUs where he was most comfortable. His latest trip to Washington had led to almost daily complaints about how he had to wear the service blues.
Daniel and Teal’c entered the control room at a run, Vala and Cameron Mitchell bringing up the rear.
“Wormhole origin is the…the Nox homeworld, sir,” Walter reported.
Jack threw Sam a ‘what do you think’ look.
She shrugged. “If we don’t open the iris, they’ll just come through anyway.”
“Open the iris!” Jack ordered.
“Why do you think they’re contacting us now?” asked Daniel.
They’d refused an invitation to a galaxy summit the year before when the Asgard had declared them the Fifth race and gifted them a copy of the Asgard database core. It was going to be installed on the moon base they were planning but in the interim, the Odyssey was housing the unit. Sam was just pleased that Thor was alive and the Asgard were thriving having overcome their genetic issues.
“How should I know, Daniel?” Jack said grumpily.
“Somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed, didn’t they?” teased Vala.
Jack shot her a glare.
Sam wrestled her smile back. “He got called in at oh-three-hundred.”
“And do you know why?” demanded Jack. “Because someone discovered a sentient rock!”
Daniel frowned. “It’s not my fault Haldor decided to speak up in the middle of the night.”
“He spoke up because you were talking to him?!” Jack pointed out furiously.
“If you’re having trouble sleeping Daniel, I know several ways to tire you out,” Vala commented brightly.
Daniel blushed red.
Sam didn’t bother to hide her grin and exchanged a small fist-bump with Vala. Vala and Daniel still danced around their attraction. Well, mostly Vala teased Daniel covering for her very genuine affection and Daniel refused to let himself give into loving someone again despite defending her with all the ferocity of a wolf protecting its mate. Not that Sam could say anything given how long she and Jack had taken to get together.
Her plan had worked out primarily thanks to Jack refusing to go to Homeworld after George Hammond’s first heart-attack. Instead General Vidrine, a long-time ally of the programme, had been appointed. Sam had taken the Head of R&D position and revolutionised their space travel with the F305. She had remained in Nevada for a year before requesting the Head of R&D should be relocated to the Mountain. Vidrine had agreed. Sam and Jack had quietly married a year later. They were happy.
“Is it just me or is this taking longer than usual?” asked Jack impatiently.
“Just you,” Daniel shot back before anyone else could reply.
“It is taking substantially longer than typical for the Nox to come through the wormhole, O’Neill,” Teal’c corrected.
Sam smiled at him. Teal’c’s time leading the Free Jaffa hadn’t gone as badly as the reports had suggested but he’d ultimately returned to them as their liaison and ambassador, and everyone was happier for it.
“I have important things to get on with,” Jack complained.
They all looked at with frank disbelief, except for Mitchell was had clearly perfected the blank look most officers developed – the one that said ‘I know my CO is being an idiot but I cannot show that.’
“What?” Jack said. “I do.”
“Sure,” Daniel said, wrinkling his nose, “you have meetings and paperwork.”
“Important meetings and paperwork,” Jack stressed. “I could be reading Sheppard’s reports right now.”
“At least they’re entertaining,” commented Mitchell.
“You should read Rodney’s,” Sam said dryly.
“I can’t believe the IOA decided to send Woolsey to replace Landry,” Daniel complained.
Sam hummed. Hank Landry had been a good choice for the Atlantis expedition. He’d apparently adopted John as the son he’d never had and while John’s innovative style remained firmly in place, it had been tempered into a disciplined brilliance. He’d excelled in his command skills under Landry’s mentorship in a way that she figured he’d never had the opportunity to do in the previous timeline.
“I was most pleased to hear that Colonel Sheppard has been appointed as the new military commander as General Landry recommended,” Teal’c said.
“Right, what nobody can understand why they decided to send Woolsey as the expedition leader,” Mitchell commented.
Jack shrugged. “They think with the threat of the Replicators eliminated and the Wraith contained for the time being it was time to de-militarise the expedition.”
“Until the threat of the Wraith is eliminated, the expedition must remain vigilant,” Teal’c intoned.
“Quite right,” Jack said. “But at least I’m not going to have to listen to Elizabeth complain about the expedition not being de-militarised again.”
“Just that she’s not the one appointed to lead it,” Daniel said wryly.
The event horizon rippled and Lya of the Nox stepped through holding the hand of a young girl with curly brown hair.
Sam froze. The last time she’d seen the little girl she’d been hallucinating on the Prometheus. “Grace?”
When the girl broke away from Lya and charged across the gate room, Sam automatically crouched to receive her, holding her tightly as she threw herself into Sam’s arms and burst into tears.
For the first time Sam could remember Lya looked chagrined and almost lost.
The wormhole winked out.
“Perhaps we should adjourn,” Lya suggested.
Jack nodded. “Yes, because we have questions; all the questions.”
Grace cried herself into an exhausted sleep. Sam put her down on the sofa in Jack’s office before she took her seat at the conference table.
Lya made a hand movement and a simple wooden box appeared on the table along with a folded piece of parchment. “Your answers are in this letter, Samantha.”
Sam picked up the parchment and unfolded it.
After I changed the timeline from Ba’al’s interference, I was going to go straight to the Nox to live out the rest of my life, but I couldn’t resist the temptation to go forward and spend one last night with my Jack. I pretended to him that I was testing Ancient technology in the future and had somehow ended up back on Earth a few days before I was supposed to arrive for Ba’al’s extraction ceremony.
I had one more night with him and I left to travel to the past and the Nox. Grace is the happy result of that night.
Unfortunately, over a year ago, we realised my time travel had caused a cellular degradation; I was dying. The Nox offered to heal me but the truth is that even their healing can only slow or reverse it briefly, not eliminate it completely. Luckily, Grace has shown no signs of the degradation.
Please look after her as I cannot. This is my final request; take care of my baby.
With hope, Carter
Sam breathed in sharply and passed the letter to Jack. She had told Jack about the visit from Carter and the changes she’d made in the timeline years ago before they’d married. Jack’s response had been to mock demand that they go watch an old World Series match and Sam had laughingly refused.
Jack put the paper on the table. “Well, so that happened.”
Daniel picked up the paper and frowned. “The little girl is yours and Sam’s from a different timeline version?”
“She asked for us to bring Grace to you once she passed,” Lya said. She looked toward the box. “She requested to be placed at rest with her family.”
Sam felt Jack’s gaze on her and she lifted her eyes to meet his. They’d talked about children, but while they’d never taken any precautions, nothing had happened. But in his office there was a little girl, younger even than Cassie when she had come to them.
Jack tilted his head. “I guess we’re redecorating the spare room.”
Sam smiled at him. “I guess we are.”
“Congratulations to you both,” Teal’c said.
The rest of the day disappeared in a blur. It felt like a minute passed between reading the letter and tucking Grace into the bed in their spare room.
Sam let Jack pull her into hug as they gazed on their…their daughter from the doorway.
“You tell Cassie yet?” asked Jack.
“Yep,” Sam replied, “I think she muttered something about a dog.”
“Every Earth kid needs a dog,” Jack replied almost absently.
“That excuse didn’t work on Janet,” Sam pointed out.
Jack shrugged. “You know she’s going to be trouble.” He sounded far too gleeful.
“She’s an O’Neill, of course she’s going to be trouble,” Sam said dryly. Watching the two of them earlier that day had been special. Jack was already wrapped around Grace’s finger.
“Personally, I’m blaming the Carter genes,” Jack said, hugging her closer.
There was a knock on the front door, drawing their attention for a second before it was overtaken by the sounds of Daniel and Teal’c barrelling in. The faint aroma of pizza wafted down the hallway to them.
“Which of them do you think is going to spoil her the most?” asked Jack.
“Teal’c,” Sam replied without hesitation.
Jack dropped a kiss on her lips and eased away to lope down the hallway to corral their former team-mates, their family.
Sam gazed at Grace for a long moment. She was blessed, Sam mused. She lived in a timeline where she was valued both personally and professionally; she had loving friends and family; she had Jack. And now she had a daughter to love and cherish. She had everything. And she knew she would protect it as fiercely as the Carter before her.
“Thank you,” Sam murmured, hoping somehow her gratitude would travel through the universe somehow, “thank you for my timeline, for my everything, Carter.”