"Could this be the result of another change Ba'al had planned?" Teal'c asked.
"No, I don't think he would have had the opportunity, if Cam killed the version of him that went back in time. More likely it's the result of some strange kind of interference between the original change Ba'al made, and another time fluctuation," Sam said.
"Such as?" O'Neill asked.
"Obviously I can't know that, but maybe it was someone Qetesh brought with her to the planet with the device, or someone who arriving shortly after, who did it before the effects of Cam killing Ba'al manifested itself. That would have caused some kind of paradox. This could also be why we remember a different timeline. Normally we shouldn't, but the fluctuation may have protected us, or maybe it was just because the changes happened while we were in temporal flux," Sam guessed. "The paradox is probably also why we're here on this planet in this timeline as well, instead of where we should have been, had there been no change. It's likely also why we're wearing different clothing. The differences couldn't be fully reconciled since some parts of the paradox remained."
"So we're physically the people we're supposed to be in this universe, just located where we were in the original time line - and with the original memories?" O'Neill looked like his head hurt.
"Yes, I believe that's the most likely explanation."
"You're saying the timelines have been mixed?" Vala wondered.
"More or less," Sam agreed.
"Isn't that dangerous? I mean, wouldn't there be side effects?" Daniel asked.
"Not aside from us having some memories we shouldn't have - and so not having a clue who we are or what has happened in this timeline," Sam said.
O'Neill groaned. "Swell. That's just great! So how do we fix this?"
"Sir, I don't know that it can be fixed. Even if we could somehow find the machine Ba'al used, and travel back in time, it's unlikely we'd both be able to stop Ba'al and avoid this paradox. It's also very dangerous to tamper with time and we should only attempt it as a last resort. We could easily make it worse," Sam insisted.
"Well, we can figure it all out when we get back to the SGC." O'Neill turned to Daniel. "Dial it up. We're going home... do any of you have a GDO?"
"Yeah, I do." Mitchell pulled one out of his pocket.
"Good. We're going home, then." O'Neill looked happier already.
"Sir, I'm sure I don't need to tell you that we can't be sure our codes even work here," Sam said.
"Let's wait and see if they do before worrying, okay?" O'Neill said, annoyed.
Daniel went to the DHD and began dialing. The glyphs lit up normally, but when he hit the red central button nothing happened. He tried again. "Uh, small problem here..."
Sam slapped her forehead. "That's right. I remember... the Tok'ra picked this planet because it was uninhabited and not likely to be visited. The reason it was uninhabited was that the DHD was broken. They fixed it, of course, but in this timeline that clearly hasn't been done..."
"So we're stranded? I don't accept that. You can fix it, can't you Carter?" O'Neill looked at her, expectantly.
"I'm afraid I don't have the spare parts needed. If I remember correctly one of the control crystals is broken, and the only way to fix that is to put in a replacement."
"Then we'll just have to find one. Let's search through those ruins over there - the pyramid looks pretty whole."
They searched the area methodically. There was not much left outside the pyramid. Inside, there was less damage, but very little technology was left. After searching for a long time, going through every part of the place, they found a broken Goa'uld communication device, parts of a control unit for a force field, and something Sam believed might once have been used for heating.
Sam looked at the parts in despair.
"None of these can be used to repair the DHD..." She hesitated. "Hmmm... wait... I may be able to jury-rig something else..."
"Can't you just repair that Goa'uld communication thingie?" O'Neill suggested.
"No, I don't think so." She pondered it. "Well, there's no power source, but I may be able to use the one from the heater, so that is not the worst problem. However, some of the basic components, which modulates the signal, are missing. Using parts from the control unit I may be able to get it to transmit something, but we'll be lucky if we can get morse code."
"Morse code is good. Get to it!" O'Neill ordered.
Sam smiled. Suddenly everything felt like old times. "Yes, sir!" She was soon deeply immersed in her work.
In order not to disturb Sam, most of the others went to sit along the nearest wall. Daniel joined them a little later, having found some inscriptions on a wall which he had looked at for a time. It was nothing of great interest, though.
Sighing, he sat down beside the others, leaning back against the wall. He sat there for some time, observing Sam as she tried to put something useful together, before he turned to O'Neill.
"So, Jack... why do you think you're in civilian clothing? Do you think you've retired?"
"Retired! No, I'm sure I didn't - I'm probably just taking some time off. You know... fishing, Simpsons..."
"There are other differences. Muscles doesn't have any grey hair," Vala observed. "And Sam's hair is a bit longer - though it's still tied up in a... ponytail."
"Jack! You're married here!" Daniel smiled, suddenly noticing his friend was wearing a ring.
"What!" O'Neill looked at his hand. "You're right!"
He glanced quickly over at Sam, who was still trying to build some sort of communication device. About a year ago they had finally decided to find out if what they felt for each other was more than physical attraction. They had spent three nights together. Not a long time, but it had been enough for both of them to realise it would never work out. They were friends, and they found each other attractive, but there was nothing romantic there.
They did not regret it - it had helped them get it out of their systems and they were now able to be friends without anything unresolved coming between them. It was actually a great relief to both of them.
He very much hoped she was not the one he was married to in this timeline. It would be... awkward. With a sigh he took off the ring and looked inside for an inscription. He needed to know.
"So - who's the lucky woman?" Mitchell leaned closer, grinning.
"Laira." O'Neill let out a breath of relief. "We've been married for 8 years or so - assuming the year is still the same, of course."
"It probably is - from what Sam said before, about the stars and constellations. Laira... wasn't she the woman from that planet where you were stranded for... uuh... 3 months or so? You know, because of some meteor storm?" Daniel wondered.
"Yes... yes, she is..." O'Neill had gotten a far-away look. "I promised her I would come back... I always regretted not doing so."
"Well, in this timeline you clearly did!" Daniel smiled at his friend.
O'Neill shook himself from the thoughts, also smiling a little. "Okay, everyone! Check if you're wearing anything - or have got anything in your pockets - which could give us a hint about this universe and how it's different."
"We don't even know you're our superior," Mitchell pointed out, smiling. He still went through his pockets, though.
"Well, until we learn otherwise, I am. OK?"
"Of course, sir!" Mitchell's smile grew wider.
They quickly searched through their clothes. Not surprisingly, O'Neill was the only one to have a wallet in his pocket, since the others had likely all been offworld when they had been transported there.
"Hah! According to my ID I'm still a general!" O'Neill looked triumphantly at Mitchell, holding the document out so he could see it.
"Understood, sir!" Mitchell saluted with a grin.
"What is it, sir?" Sam wondered. She had just come over to them, and noticed O'Neill staring at a photo he had found in his wallet, a stunned expression on his face. "Who's on that picture?"
"Laira... and... and my son, I guess..."
The others looked with interest at the photo. The child seemed to be around 7 or 8 years old. Sam and the others congratulated O'Neill, knowing what it meant to him.
"I'm wearing a necklace of some sort..." Daniel said, pulling at it a little for the others to see.
Sam looked closely at it. First she got a look of surprise, then she smiled widely.
"Okay, what is it?" Daniel demanded.
"I just recognized the style - it's a Tok'ra joining necklace. It means you're married. To a Tok'ra."
"What?!" Daniel exclaimed.
"Nice, Danny-boy. Do you think it's Anise?" O'Neill grinned.
Daniel blushed. "You know very well that we've got no idea who it is!"
"Besides, Sam's wearing one too!" Vala pointed out, having caught a glimpse of a similar necklace.
The others looked at Sam, who quickly felt for the necklace. It was relatively short, so as not to be in the way when one went about their daily work. Watching the others grin, she fiddled with the lock and got it open. Taking it off, she looked at it closely.
"You're right. I hadn't noticed it before." She flushed pink.
"Perhaps you're married to each other, then?" Vala suggested, smiling mischievously.
"Oh! No. As far as I know, they're only used when at least one of the partners are Tok'ra. Besides, the designs are different. Mates always have identical necklaces," Sam said.
"Either of you have any idea who it might be, then?" Vala wondered, clearly very curious. "I mean, both of you - married to Tok'ra! Something must have gone quite different here!"
"We already knew it did," Sam observed, not interested in speculating.
"As I said before - I'm betting Daniel's with Anise..." O'Neill grinned again.
Daniel sighed. "Why don't we just wait and see?"
He went over the thought in his mind, considering whether or not he really could have married Anise. He liked her, sure, and she him, obviously... but what about Freya? While he did like her - and he certainly found her attractive - she had never shown any interest in him. He could not imagine marrying them unless both were interested.
Of course, he remembered Sam telling him something about host and symbiote eventually feeling the same - perhaps Anise's feelings had been the stronger? He smiled and suddenly felt himself hoping it was indeed the case. They had many common interests and he really liked Anise - and Freya could be very sweet too!
"So - what about you, Sam? Any obvious candidates?" Vala asked, very interested.
Sam blushed again, annoyed with her own reaction. "No, none that I can think of." At least none that are alive, Sam added silently to herself, feeling a stab of pain, even now this many years later, when she thought of Martouf and Lantash.
"Oh, I don't know about that, Carter. What about Marty? He certainly wanted you - or what was left of Jolinar at any rate. Wasn't very good at hiding his feelings either..." O'Neill rolled his eyes.
"That's not fair. They knew very well that I wasn't Jolinar! Besides, they're both dead."
"You sure? With all the other changes, who's to say Marty's not alive too?" O'Neill said.
"Well, we'll know soon enough." Sam did not want to discuss this - she did not want to even think about it. Did not want to allow herself to hope, just to learn they were as dead now as they had been before. "I came over here to tell you I have managed to make a primitive communications device. It won't do much more than morse code, and it won't be able to send for more than a few minutes - or receive at all, but it will be able to transmit a signal faster than light - one that should be able to reach Earth."
"Well done, Carter! Tell them to come get us!" O'Neill said, enthusiastically.
"Wait a minute..." Daniel looked suddenly worried. "We don't know anything about this universe. What if someone unfriendly picked up the signal? They could, couldn't they?"
"That is a valid concern," Teal'c agreed. "For instance, we do not know if the Goa'uld have even been conquered in this timeline."
"Of course. Anyone could pick it up. I have no way of encrypting it," Sam said.
"I think we'll take the chance that a snakehead - or worse - shows up. I'd much rather be in a Goa'uld holding cell than starving to death in a desert," O'Neill noted.
"Actually, sir - in this desert it's far more likely that we'd die of dehydration long before we starve. We don't have the technology the Tok'ra used to get to the - quite abundant - underground water supply," Sam pointed out.
"Yeah, well, whatever! Just send the damn message!"
"Will do, sir." Sam went back to the contraption she had put together and bent down over it. Moments later they heard a crackling sound, followed by various beeping noises, as she quickly coded the simple emergency signal. It contained very little except their location.
Now all they could do was wait.
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