Elizabeth still slept, her initial signs of consciousness had quickly faded and Keller had been unable to rouse her a second time. They gathered nearby, Carter sitting up in an infirmary bed, although she thought it was unnecessary. Keller spoke first.
'I’ve done a full body scan, including EEGS and we’re currently running blood tests though the results won’t be back for some time. She's not a clone, she has no nanites in her system, to all intents and purposes she is Elizabeth, except...'
'What is it, doc?' It was Sheppard.
'Well... She has no scars. Her medical records don't match up. It's as if all traces of living have been stripped from her, no scars, no marks, no signs of the operation she had on her wrist when she was a kid, the tooth she cracked when she was sixteen... it's all gone. I don't know how to explain it.'
'I think I might,' Carter spoke up, turning her gaze on the prone figure who slept nearby, oblivious of her audience. 'I think they created her, here and now in this time and space, but they dragged her consciousness away from the killing eddy of time where she was trapped. They created her body from new and implanted her consciousness in it. Like the Asguard.'
'Won't she suffer the same degradation they did?' McKay asked, wondering how the hell the alien managed to create her in the first place, but more importantly, if they’d known how to do it correctly.
'No,' Keller replied, 'they didn't clone her, they, well, they remade her.'
'Will she wake up?' Ronan’s dark voice intruded on the conversation.
Keller shrugged, 'there's no reason for her not to, she's simply sleeping, but I don't know how long it will last, I've never seen this kind of situation before.'
Carter gave a wry smile; that was a phrase she had heard, and often repeated, throughout her long years with the Stargate programme. It was unlikely to get old anytime soon.
‘Okay. We’ll leave her under Dr Keller’s observation for now, I want guards posted at all infirmary exits. We take no chances, if she’d the real Dr Weir, I know she’ll understand. If she’s not-‘ she broke off, her gaze fixing on Sheppard. ‘If she’s not, we all need to be prepared.’
General acknowledgements came her way. Everyone wanted to believe she was real, but they’d seen to many copies to trust their own instincts in this particular case. They could only wait, and see what Keller’s investigations turned up.
Finally released, Sam and the others headed out, but before Carter left she turned to Sheppard. 'Stay here Colonel, let me know if and when she wakes up. Anything she had to say could give us a clue as to who she really is.’
John nodded. Turning back to the bedside, he settled himself into one of the plastic chairs that littered the infirmary, crossing long legs in front of him, and waited.
She awoke a couple of hours later, blinking in the bright lights of the infirmary, her voice groggy as she spoke.
'I'm here,' he loomed in her field of view, 'how you feelin'?
'Like I was hit with a wall. What happened?'
'You don't remember?'
She shook her head, wincing at the result, 'in part I guess. I remember screaming at you and Ronan to go, Oberoth was breaking my hold over the Replicators...and then...then... I forget what happened. But then Colonel Carter came, I thought they had captured her too. I don’t remember how... Wait! The Daedalus.’
John nodded, ‘yeah, we know. Remember who you are?’
‘Dr Elizabeth Weir, leader of the Atlantis Expedition, nanite-infested diplomat. I miss my dog. You and McKay drive me insane at times. Anything else you want to know?’
He grinned, ‘I think you’ll pass. Let me call Dr Keller.’ ‘Keller?’ She remembered the doctor who had taken over from Carson, the memory of death rising on a wave of grief. ‘Wait, no. I remember.’
‘Okay.’ He left for a moment, pushing herself up to sit back against the pillows rather than lie down, with the glare of the infirmary light shining in her eyes.’ He returned a few moments later, Dr Jennifer Keller in tow.
‘Dr Keller,’ Weir greeted her, ‘since I’m not in an isolation tent, may I assume the nanites have been deactivated?’ Although if they had, it didn’t make sense, shouldn’t she be dead? She’d realised, on the ‘Jumper, between Atlantis and the Asuran city, just how extensive the damage had been. Almost as if her nanites were conveying the information to her.
‘Well. Kinda,’ Keller wasn’t sure she should broach the subject until Elizabeth had spoken with a shrink, someone who could determine how much she should be told. But Sheppard cut across the red tape tying up Keller’s hands and spoke.
‘The raid on the Asurans happened a long time ago, Elizabeth. You’re been declared dead for over a year.’
‘I- What? Why?’
‘We lost you on the Asuran homeworld. The Daedalus appeared, gave us covering fire. They scanned for you, but your life sign was already gone. It was months before we heard what had happened to you. A rebel group of Asurans created a copy of you, downloaded her with your mind. They created copies of all of us actually. When they contacted us, I asked them.’
‘Asked them what?’ her voice was wary, skimming the edge of fear. Bad enough her own memories didn’t tally with the truth, although she felt there was something in that gap, a grey fog, obscuring her mind. ‘What, John?’
‘If they’d help us find you. She told me you were dead, had been for some time. The Asurans kept you alive for months before they finally killed you. I’m sorry, ‘Lisabeth. I should never have left you there.’
‘Months?’ She was horrified. Not because they’d left her behind, she’d ordered them to abandon her and save Atlantis. No. The Asurans had her in their grip for months, who knew what the hell they had done? What they’d implanted in her nanites or in her mind?
‘I have to be isolated. John, I could be a danger to this whole facility, everyone on it. Are you sure the nanites are deactivated?’ she demanded of Keller, whipping her head round to face the doctor.
‘Elizabeth, the nanites aren’t deactivated, they’re gone.’
‘It was Colonel Carter,’ Sheppard took up the story again, ‘she’s been in charge of Atlantis since you were declared MIA. But McKay made contact with another species, when Carter joined her mind to their, they showed her you were still alive, trapped in time. She pulled you through into the future.’
She sank back against the pillows, her face white. Keller moved forward, taking her blood pressure, checking the monitors keeping an electronic eye on her vital signs. ‘Dr Weir, are you okay?’
Weir looked up, her eyes finding Sheppard’s, and he could see the same aching confusion lying behind them that he saw the day he rescued her from Kolya. He used the same reassurance he had then, the one he’d returned to when she sat in that isolation room, active nanites streaming through her blood.
‘You’re going to be okay, Elizabeth.’
She nodded. She didn’t really believe him, he could tell, but she nodded, trusting him to be right, even if she couldn’t see it right now. He pulled the chair up to her bedside, sitting down again.
‘You up for speaking with Carter?’
Elizabeth remembered the fiery blonde under her command at the SGC. She was a good soldier, brilliant scientist, and not inclined to take no for an answer, but tiredness swept over her at the thought of rehashing this all over again. She needed a little time, but she also knew the burdens of command, ‘you'd better call her I fall asleep again.’
Before he could say anything, Keller cut him off, ‘no, you need your rest. Doctor’s orders. You can talk to Colonel Carter when you’re stronger,’ she turned and walked away, leaving them alone.
‘I guess that's that. So,’ he said, ‘how’s it feel to be back?’
‘Like home,' she replied, almost asleep. Forcing her eyes open again, she asked suddenly, ‘Rodney, Ronan, Teyla... is everyone...?’
‘Alive? Yes. We’ll fill you in on the details later. Sleep. I’ll be here.’
She tried not to, but weariness permeated every bone until she gave in, and slept.