"General!" cried Sergeant Siler from the control room steps. His cry interrupted the confusion of the last few minutes, after they had witnessed Sam's sudden disappearance through the wormhole. Hammond had given immediate orders to re-establish the connection to P2F-112 but the dialling sequence failed.
"What is it, Sergeant?" called Hammond.
"Major Carter has dialled out of the Gate on P2F-112, Sir." replied Siler. "We can't connect until that wormhole is terminated. But if you will come into the control room, there is a message for you on the screens."
Hammond and the two remaining members of SG-1 hurried up the steps and stood before a monitor. Siler scrolled the mouse wheel to the beginning of a screenful of text. "It appeared just as the wormhole shut down, Sir." he explained.
'From: Maj. S. Carter To: General Hammond, Teal'c and Daniel.
My dear friends and colleagues, as you read this you will have already discovered that you cannot immediately dial out to P2F-112, where I have joined Colonel O'Neill in his mission to close down the vortex. Please do not attempt to follow: the destination Gate will be unavailable for the next 38 minutes until the wormhole here collapses. Thereafter, any pursuing forces run the risk of being within the detonation zone and fallout area of the nuclear device.
General, please forgive this mutiny on my part. I simply cannot accept the fact that I would be awarded a medal and a comfortable life as the result of an act of disobedience which Colonel O'Neill will pay for with his life. There is a slight chance that I may be able to find a way of terminating the vortex without sacrifice, but to be honest, the chances are small within the available time-frame. In any event I will gladly accompany Jack to our deaths to prevent the T'ba from having their world destroyed.
To Teal'c and Daniel: you are fine friends and colleagues, simply the best. The bad times we've had these past few years are more than counterbalanced by the experience and memories of your love and support. Live your lives to the full, and please try to forgive me for running out on you like this.
The truth is, I cannot foresee life without Jack any more. I'm sure you know, General, that the two of us have sacrificed our personal lives for the sake of the SGC and the importance of our ongoing mission. But the events leading to this situation are such that I could not face up to myself if I were not with him to put right the damage we have done. He was once forced to publicly confess his willingness to die for me, as I was for him. I will not fail the test.
Daniel, I have made provisions for all my assets to be sold to establish a fund for Cassie. I am guessing that Jack has probably done the same thing. Please tell her how sorry I am that I could not talk with her one more time. You will also find letters for my father and brother in my quarters: please see that they are delivered, and if you talk to them, tell them how much I love them.
I hope we meet again, in this life or the next.
Jack came to slowly as the buggy neared the site of the ruins. In the bright sunshine, a vague shimmering luminescence could be discerned above the stones, sometimes globular in shape, then changing suddenly to ellipses and pyramids and back again. Faint yellow and orange flashes illuminated the boundary from time to time. He looked up to see Sam driving, paying close attention to avoiding the stone boulders in their path.
"Ah, crap." he moaned, as he took in the situation. "Carter, I don't suppose there's any chance.."
"None whatsoever. *Jack*." she replied, smiling briefly at him. "And since we're spending the rest of our lives together, you can call me Sam. Or I'll zat you again."
"Well, I'll ask the obvious question, then. Whatchya doin' here, *Sam*?"
She stopped by the wall and stepped out. "I was hoping that the vortex boundary might be stable enough to rig a remote-controlled entry for the bomb. Unfortunately, that idea's gone out of the window. We're just going to have to do this together."
"As in, 'together' together?" asked Jack. "I mean you could walk away now and not waste your life..."
"I've wasted enough of my life - our lives - by not being with you, Jack. If you only knew how much I've wanted us to be out of this and raising children these last few years, you wouldn't be saying that."
"Yeah, I guessed it. Me too." he replied softly. "But let's get ready to do what we've come for, and then make our peace. In so many ways, I'm glad you're here, Sam. You know I love you, don't you?"
She wrapped her arms round his neck and kissed him full on the lips. "And I love you. I'm sorry I never said it before." They hugged and broke apart reluctantly.
"We'll need to move the boulders aside to get a fast straight run at the vortex wall." she said, and they set to moving the larger ones together before separating to clear the smaller rocks. When they'd finished, they lined up the rover some thirty metres from the objective and sat together in it. Their hands came together without thinking and she leaned against his chest. He could see the small vein on her neck throbbing in time with her heart.
"I never thought I'd have the chance to love someone again, not as deeply as I feel it for you." murmured Jack. "You know I'm not good with words, but it's true."
"I knew, Jack, and it was just the same for me. Remember Antarctica? I said it was an honour serving with you then. Nothing's changed."
They held on to each other for a few more minutes, until they both realised that the moment had arrived. A brief kiss and a smile, and they took hold of the hand-trigger together. Jack pressed the accelerator pedal to the floor and the shimmering wall enveloped them seconds later. Their last thoughts were of each other, and their last sensations those of tingling flashes, and the very beginnings of a rose-coloured bright light as the plutonium atoms fissioned.
They came to in a small, grey-coloured room. Moments of confusion and panic were stilled when each realised that the other was really there, in the flesh, solid to the touch and not glowing.
"Didn't we just..?" said Jack.
"Oh yeah, we certainly did." replied Sam, staggering to her feet unsteadily. She helped him up and they quickly saw that these surroundings were in some way familiar. "Sir, is this where I think it is?"
"I believe so, Sam. And it's *Jack* now. 'Sir' belongs to the last life." She couldn't help smiling. "THOR! Where are you?" yelled Jack.
Their Asgard friend appeared moments later. "Hello, O'Neill. Hello Samantha Carter." he said in a quiet, steady voice. "I expect you're wondering what has happened."
"No. I'm guessing that we're on an eternal vacation together." replied Jack. "Are you the tour guide?"
"We extracted the neuronal memory patterns from your bodies at the instant of the explosion, O'Neill." continued Thor, oblivious to Jack's sarcasm. "Obviously we could not save your original bodies, but we previously took the liberty of cloning both of you from an earlier time, and re-inserted your consciousness into these physical forms. To you it will feel no different from being in your previous bodies, except that you are physically about ten years younger than you were."
"So what happens now?" asked Sam. "You deposit us back at the SGC and we carry on as normal? You did all this to save us - for what?"
"Not quite, Samantha Carter." said Thor. "History needs the two of you, but not as much as it needs your grandchildren."
"What?" they chorused together.
"The Asgard have been using the space-time vortices generated from Chronoscope use for many thousands of years. We have a view of future history as well as the past. Several of your grandchildren play key roles in shaping the future not only of mankind, but other races too."
Sam and Jack stood motionless, trying to take in this latest in a sequence of fantastic events.
"But how did you know to be waiting to rescue us?" asked Jack, clearly struggling to follow the explanation.
"You used a Chronoscope to view the moment from the future and then sent a message to yourselves back in time to be there!" cried Sam. "A self- fulfilling reverse prophecy."
"That is correct." replied Thor. "Now, in around two hours, we shall be back in Earth orbit. Please use the time wisely to plan your next steps back on Earth."
It took them only the next twenty minutes to decide to leave the SGC, get married and start raising their grandchildren's parents. The other one hour and forty minutes was spent on deciding how to ask Cassie to give them back some of their money.