I can almost touch the stars, Sam thought, gazing out into space. Not a bad way for an astrophysicist to go. Lt. Colonel Samantha Carter, PhD…deep space telemetry. Deep space indeed. What will my epitaph be? she wondered. "She reached the stars." Not bad.

Sam was floating ever further from the Supergate. The Ori ships had winked out of sight a few hours ago, entering hyperspace to continue their attack elsewhere. The battle had played out before her eyes and all she could do was helplessly observe.

Floating there alone after the battle Sam had turned reflective. If I had gotten to the gate a few minutes faster, she berated herself, it would have worked. We could have stopped them from using the gate. Now Daniel, Cameron, Emerson and hundreds of other good people were dead.

Daniel Jackson. Her dear friend and intellectual sparring partner. He had died before, but this time she knew there would be no coming back—the Ancients wouldn't help him again.

Why couldn't I have just gone down with my team? I can't even save myself floating out here so I can get a warning out, she thought withfrustration.

Wait! Teal'c might be alive, she thought suddenly with some joy. He might not have made it back in time for the battle.

Teal'c. He had become not just a team mate but a close friend over the years. Even more than Daniel in the last few years, he was the one she could talk to. He had been a source of support when she had taken over command of SG1 and then when she had been reassigned back to the team after her stint at R&D. General Landry had assigned Cameron Mitchell to command SG1 after her transfer and did not return command to her when he ordered her back to the SGC.

One afternoon soon after Sam had come back to the SGC on a temporary basis, Teal'c found her working in her old lab. "I have decided to re-join SG-1 at your side, Colonel Carter."

"Well, Mitchell has command. Landry apparently wants me as the technical advisor on the team," she replied, frowning. "You know I want to do whatever is needed to defeat the Ori, but I can't help but feel it as a bit of a professional blow."

"We must take up the new fight, Colonel Carter," he had said. "Colonel Mitchell has the steel of a warrior, but his blade requires tempering. You are a wise and formidable warrior, and my trust in you is unchanged. Whatever position the General has assigned you, you will continue to lead by example. Together SG1 will defeat this new enemy as we have the Goa'uld.

"Thanks, Teal'c. You're a good friend," she had said, laying her hand on his arm.

He had gazed intently into her eyes and bowed solemnly.

"Teal'c." She called him back as he walked away. "You knew I had decided to make the best of it regardless of my position before you gave me that pep talk, didn't you?"

He simply smiled slightly, nodded slowly and left the room.

Coming back to the present, Sam hoped this was one battle Teal'c had missed. Just because no one's responded yet doesn't mean there aren't survivors. Don't give up yet, Sam, she told herself. Snap out of the pity party already. She decided to try the radio again.

"This is Lt. Colonel Carter. Is anyone reading?" The silence of space was her only answer.

She tried a few times over the next several hours, but knew her oxygen and life support were running out and her chances were slim. Would she freeze to death or suffocate first? She knew with hypothermia you eventually just fell asleep, but she also knew from bitter experience how miserable you were before then. Sam remembered the time she and Colonel O'Neill had been trapped in Antarctica. I can just hear him, she thought. "I'll be damned if I'm going to die in some damn space suit in the middle of nowhere, Carter. What's Plan B?"

"No Plan B, sir," she said aloud.

At least it's not a dark cave, she thought wryly. I can see the stars. Look Dad, I'm an astronaut. "Star light, star bright…first star I see tonight…"

"Sam is that you?" It was the radio.

"Cameron?"

Static. "Yeah."

"Are you ok?" she asked. "I saw the Koralev explode."

A pause. "Yeah. Last thing I remember I was launching in a 302."

"Daniel?" Sam asked, holding her breath.

"Still on the ship," Cam replied. "I think."

Sam sagged internally. "Have you made contact with anyone else?"

"Carter, where are you?" Mitchell asked.

"Oh, still floating around out here near the Supergate."

"Oh geez," She heard him say quietly.

"Yeah," she responded.

"What's your situation?" Mitchell asked, more businesslike.

Sam knew what he meant. "I'm not hurt, but my oxygen is down to about an hour and it feels like my heater isn't working very well. The energy pulse that knocked me off the gate might have done something to my suit."

Cam didn't respond. Well, what could he say to that, anyway? Sam thought ruefully.

"Carter. Mitchell. This is Emerson." Sam felt a flash of hope. The Daedalus had survived and they would pick Cam and her up.

"Mitchell here, sir. Can you beam Carter aboard? She's low on oxygen."

"Not at the moment-- most of our systems are shot but we're working on repairs. Sorry Carter, we'll get to you as soon as we can. In the meantime, Mitchell, are your systems in shape to dock in Bay 2?"

"On my way sir. Don't worry Sam, we'll pick you up in no time."

That was Mitchell, all right, Sam thought. Ever the confident, cocky, flyboy. Whereas often that trait had annoyed her and sometimes led the team into trouble, at the moment she found it rather endearing. I must be lower on oxygen than I thought, she joked to herself. Actually, he had come a long way, she thought. He still had the enthusiasm, but he had mellowed a bit. Tempered, Teal'c might say. She knew Teal'c had been a good influence on him. Sam had quickly developed a comfortable relationship with Cameron and they operated as equals. He respected her expertise and experience and she couldn't help but admire his determination. The four of them actually made a pretty good team, complementing each other's strengths.

The air does feel thin, she thought to herself. She checked her gauge. It hadn't moved and she knew at least 10 minutes had passed since she first made contact with Mitchell. So, she really didn't know how much air she had left after all. Well, maybe that was better than counting off the minutes 'til…

"Carter, how are you doing?" Cameron's voice broke into her thoughts.

"Still here," she responded.

"We're still working on the beam, Sam." Colonel Emerson reported.

Time for Plan B, Sam, she told herself. But what would that be?

"Carter to Daedalus."

"Emerson here."

"Sir, I have an idea. You could come pick me up with the ship." Sam said, noticing she was getting a bit breathless.

"Colonel?" Emerson said skeptically.

"I'm a small enough object that if you modify the shield frequency you could get me in past the shields without exposing yourself to potential enemy fire. Of course, the artificial gravity could be a problem…"

Mitchell broke in. "Sam, if we miscalculate you'll be like a bug on a windshield!"

"Cam, I don't have much time and it's worth a try. The Daedalus has a very competent crew."

It felt like several minutes before she heard a reply. "Ok, we're on our way," said Cameron.

She could see a far away light grow from a speck to something identifiable as a ship. It was majestic viewed this way. She felt a surge of pride in having helped design and build it.

"Beautiful ship..." Sam said, her eyes closing. She was so tired.

The next thing Sam knew, she was waking up in the Daedalus infirmary. Her head pounded and her leg was throbbing. She moaned a little, involuntarily. She opened her eyes slowly and turned to the sound of a clearing throat.

"Welcome back Sam," Mitchell said a bit thickly.

"Hi. I guess it worked," she said looking up at Mitchell. She tried to shift in the bed & grimaced as her leg protested. "At the risk of cliché, what happened?"

"We got you through the shield fine, but had a bit of trouble regulating the artificial gravity. You hit the deck hard. You've got a concussion and a broken tibia. The doc says you'll be out of commission for a while, but you'll be fine."

"So why are you looking at me that way?" Sam said, taking in his furrowed brow.

"You weren't breathing when the med team got to you. You were completely out of oxygen."

"So the gauge was malfunctioning." Sam commented quietly.

"You knew?! Why didn't you say so?"

"What good would that have done? The plan would have worked or not."

"Still..." Cam started.

"So do I have Major Marks to thank for the fancy flying?" Sam said, changing the subject slightly.

"Actually, it was me." Mitchell said in his best "aw shucks" manner.

"You?" Sam said, but on second thought wasn't really surprised.

"Well, I reckoned it was my responsibility and…"

"And you didn't want Marks to carry the guilt if I … went splat."

"Sam!"

"Thanks," she said, holding out her hand. He took it and gave her an awkward hug.

"Teal'c is on his way, but don't let him talk your ear off," Cameron joked.

"Teal'c made it? Thank God," Sam sighed.

"Get some rest," he said. "We're going to need you to get Jackson back."

She looked a question at him. In response he handed her a computer tablet.

Sam scanned the readout. "The rings on the Koralev were activated. Well, if we can find a way to defy physics and get me aboard ship, we can find Daniel. Let's get started." SG1 was not done battling among the stars after all.

5