Champions Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Sixteen

A Game of Chess

It seemed the puzzle of finding the SGC's would-be-assassin would not be easily solved. This troubled not only General O'Neill but also Jacob for many, many reasons. It had taken five days to thoroughly test everyone with the Zataarc device, from the lowly guards patrolling the outer perimeters of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex to General O'Neill himself. Four of the near one thousand base personal had tested positive as possible Zataarcs. They had been sedated and kept in the isolation chambers. One of them was Colonel Reynolds, formally of Area 51, who was now the leader of SG12. The others were surprising as well, Hailey, Satterfield and Lieutenant Colonel Stan Kovancheck of the diplomatic corp

Reynolds was under heavy suspicion considering that he was the only member of SG12 to have survived the assassinations. However, since the incident that nearly had Jack lobotomized and Sam sedated indefinitely during the treaty with the President and Tok'ra high Chancellor, the General was reluctant to trust simply the Tok'ra's testing methods.

After all the Zataarc testing could pick up lies as simple as the depth of emotion one feels for another yet doesn't reveal why. With the aid of the Malakim, the General knew they would uncover the traitors with more clarity. There were still seven people left to go, and they were narrowing them down rather quickly. This last batch included Daniel Jackson, Teal'c, Dr. Mackenzie, Sergeant "Sly" Siler, Doctor Jay Felger, Doctor Simon Coombs and Lieutenant Gorgan, who still had a tendency to get shot a lot which was why he was still a lieutenant.

Of the seven only Teal'c and Siler might have been able to carry out the assassinations at first glance. Siler had the demolitions experience, and Teal'c was a trained warrior, capable of killing in the manner the members had been assassinated. Jack dismissed the former First Prime because during the killings he had been offworld. He dismissed Siler, because Siler simply wasn't a warrior, a brilliant technician, but no slayer. Still the bombs used to kill members of SG12 were something Sly was indeed very capable of.

Of the others Felger and Coombs were goofs, Doctor Mackenzie was a geek, and Gorgan was a bumbling idiot who would have killed himself half a dozen times over before taking down the first victim, and so Jack's knee-jerk reaction was to rule them out. Danny-boy, O'Neill didn't see being the killer, and again he too was offworld, so the general ruled him out as well.

The testing, however, would commence. His patience exhausted into frustration, General Jack O'Neill made his way into the Gateroom to welcome the envoy of the Malakim personally, then on to the disturbing and dangerous puzzle before them. Jacob, Arion, and Jonas were already gathered before the metal-mesh ramp waiting for the avian diplomats to come through the event horizon. Jack watched as the tall silver winged Nachmiel stepped forth, flanked by the yellow winged Hashul and Lamach whose wings were a bright jade.

The general was shocked when he saw the age of the one called Nachmiel. Even Novalis who was thousands of years old looked as if she were only in her early forties. Nachmiel appeared to be in her early sixties and he could not help but wonder just how old she truly was.

"I am General Jack O'Neill, welcome to Earth's Stargate Command." He smiled, feeling proud of his diplomatic deliverance.

"We are blessed in this exchange of alliances, General O'Neill," Nachmiel dipped her chestnut mane. "I am Nachmiel, Minster of Alien Affairs. We come hither to debate the commonwealth of the Nephalim and her world's bonding to the Malakim Nations, and discourse policy. We would also render our aid if needs be called to assist in the hunt of this dark soul that haunts your dominion. So ordered by the Queen's own words." As if on cue Hashul handed O'Neill a scroll of parchment fastened by a seal of wax.

Jack grinned and took the offered parchment and broke the seal to read Novalis's official offer of aid to the people of the Nephalim's home world.

"We also have given our aid in the hunt for the Zataarc." Selmac said.

"Yes, that is apparent by your presence." Nachmiel said in perfect courtly manners. "And what mute wonders that lurketh in the ears of mortals have you uncovered Selmac of the Tok'ra?"

"Four would be traitors are imprisoned and there are seven yet to test, we waited until your arrival to finish." Xad interjected quickly.

Xad, being within Arion, knew all too well how the negotiations could turn into disfavor. The Malakim had a tenuous tolerance for the Tok'ra at best. Jacob/Selmac would be tolerated more then any other for he was the sire of the Nephalim. "We have not obscured our intention Minister with our presence here within the domain of the Mortals. Jacob, as sire to the Nephalim, has a blood-right to hunt the would be assassin of his daughter."

Nachmiel's silver wings did not close about her body but they seemed to relax. "And so he has." Her ember maned head dipped once more. "Shall we adjourn into conversation, and take regard of the assassins, for this is primary in our objectives to safeguard the Nephalim."

"Lets adjourn away," Jack gestured to the large doors leading out of the Embarkation room. "Pray proceed," Nachmiel fell in beside the silver haired general as he led the strange entourage to the brig.

"You want to help her, don't you?" Janet said coming into the bedroom. Sam was already half undressed when her wife came in. She glanced up briefly considering what she should say to answer, finding no ready answer she remained mute.

Janet shed her dress tabard waiting for her wife to find her voice. The knee length leather boots were untied and pulled off and set heel to the footboard of the bed, just like she had done with her heels on Earth ready for work the next morning, a habit held since boot camp for both women when they were to be on duty the next day.

"In a way I feel obligated to do something for Novalis, Hon," Sam said at long last. "I finally have you and our girls safe." Their eyes met for a moment and secret smiles were exchanged. "And your 'Flygirl' is now piloting a desk rather then gallivanting the galaxy. And Novalis is right, it is very much like humans anonymously donating eggs and sperm back on earth."

Janet shed the black leather trousers, nodding, "True. Yet it is more then that, Sam. If this works," she paused as she threw the breeches on an Edwardian blue velvet chair located in the corner of their bedroom, "this child will be their first true hybrid of two species with very, very different physiology's. Sam, this isn't just different backgrounds like Daniel and Sha're or Jack and Laira. The Malakim are so different from us within, they have twin eight chambered hearts, four lungs, two livers, two stomachs, four kidneys… well you get the idea, then of course there is the wings. It would be like breeding with a Nox or an Asgard."

"Janet, the Asgard are asexual, hell X-Files would never work…."

"Yes Sam, I know. I've worked side-by-side with Heimdall; 'her' medical knowledge is astounding. Their cloning technology made the cloning of human organs for the donors' list viable not just theoretical. We're getting off topic. I think this hybrid child would. …could be in serious health risks if it works. And never mind her lineage."

"Just what the hell is that supposed to mean?" For a brief irrational thought the blonde believed Janet was blaming her for the health problems Rebecca faced so early in life. The premature birth was still something Samantha Carter blamed herself for and thus she was defensive over the topic.

"Sam, they call you Nephalim: a child out of divine fornication. What do you think they will say of this child you spawn with Novalis?"

"SPAWN! God you make it sound like I'm some freak, whoring around. I am not a stud for breeding!"

"In a way Sam that is exactly what it is, well not the freak or whoring around part, but you are donating your eggs to her for cross-ovum fertilization, not to create a child but to create unification between our worlds and more specifically to you and Novalis. Sam, she can't have you in marriage we made that abundantly clear, but she will have something of you. Samantha, no one can deny it will be yours. If you're the Nephalim then this child will be doubly so, a true child of divine fornication." Sam could hear Janet's tenor in her normally satiny voice.

"Actually, a child born from the union of a Nephalim and another mortal or Malakim is really called Grigori," the blonde put her hands upon her wife's arms and pulled the smaller woman to her. "Janet, you are truly opposed to this aren't you?"

"I don't know, Sam. That's just it. Novalis wants to have a child with you for political reasons, not because she loves you."

"I'd think you would be pissed if she were in love with me. Jan, I'm not going to leave you if you even think that."

"I never thought that."

But yet… it was a thought.

A strange winged woman was willingly, openly, asking for a child. Something Janet herself had opposed five years before. If it weren't for the Nox, Rebecca would not have been created. Perhaps in time Janet would have relented. It was hard to deny Samantha anything for long. But, before the Nox, any child would have only had the DNA of one of them and an anonymous sperm donor. Janet thought of the old movie 'If These Walls Could Talk II' and of the last couple who wanted a child and tried to choose donated sperm of the male with some of the same traits as the 'fathering' mother.

Now, five years later, Janet could never conceive of not having Rebecca in their lives. She loved her littlest daughter with all the passions in her heart. Rebecca was so very precious to Janet . . . to them both. She was more then a blessing because Rebecca shared the DNA of both women not just one of them. Every time Janet looked at her daughter she saw the perfect blend of herself and Sam.

"Sam, look, it's just my insecurities, all right. Let's drop it." The voice was an unsure whisper.

"No," Sam was defiant.


"No," the blonde refused to submit. "Look, every time we brought up having Rebecca we fought and you would always say drop it and we did. WE dropped it and I gave up all hope, every dream of having a child because you so venomously opposed it. But we have Rebecca and she completes us. I can't ever imagine never having her in our lives. And I know you can't either."

Janet pulled away and nodded. "You're right. And seeing you with her, how utterly happy she makes you, I feel like a complete ass for ever having denied you in the past."

"I'm glad you did because if not she would been a whole other person, because of Nephrau she has both of us within her. But knowing that, I don't get it, your opposition. This child Novalis wants, yes, will be political but think of what is at stake. Jan, Novalis is right, I can actually feel this World Symphony. It's like the sweetest melody always filling your heart. A caress of the most tender touch or a sweet scent upon the wind. And I know from the bond we share that you feel it too."

"Yes," the brunette finally admitted as she came back and sat upon the bed with her wife. She closed her eyes as she felt Sam's strong nimble fingers began to massage into the tight muscles at her neck.

"And I know you feel Novalis's need of reunification of her people. But I think it prudent to wait it out. Perhaps this unrest she feels is only the prophecy fulfilling itself and the peoples reactions to it. One of their myths came to life; that has to be huge in their minds. Of course it will stir some unrest. And of course some of the younger Malakim will enlist and form the Grigori, wanting to be a part of the new dream or have a chance to be with the 'Nephalim'." At this Sam rolled her eyes with a cheerful smile.

"Sam, I think she might have celebrity envy. You're new, hip and the "in" thing. And she's feeling a little left out. I can't help but think this is her motive to become even closer to you in some capacity."

Sam knew her wife well and Janet wasn't an insecure woman. In fact, as far as Sam was concerned, Janet was one of the most confident people she knew. This only validated the tiny woman's concern. "Okay," the blonde said simply, "we'll tell Novalis we are not fully opposed but, for the moment, we are not going to comply either. We'll let things settle down, as the Malakim say we wait until the feathers are aligned before flying headlong into the storm."

Janet knew immediately the topic of Novalis personal request was, for the moment, at an end. They had measured out well; a topic was raised, reasons set out and if agreed upon it was laid to rest until further discussion was necessary. They had defused many arguments in this fashion, and yet Janet couldn't help but wonder what would happen if Sam complied with the Queen and donated the necessary element to create this hybrid child? A flash of worry left as soon as it was born. Samantha Carter was so intently loyal to Janet that it was inconceivable the blonde colonel would ever leave her for another.

Sam was more then loyal, Janet knew that even without the bond Nephrau generated. The love the colonel carried for Janet was so evident in the clear blue eyes that the doctor saw it every time she glanced into those azure pools. "Sam?" Janet asked, pausing before she continued, "What of Novalis's other proposal?"

"What the marriage?" Sam actually snickered. "Oh come on, do you think she could even touch you? I've got the sexiest woman in the known universe as my wife, not to mention one of the brightest and most caring…."

Janet playfully slapped Sam's thigh. "No, not that you goof," she smiled, "what of Novalis's proposal to help us to have another child?"

Sam stopped her massage and leaned forward resting her chin on Janet's shoulder, while wrapping her arms around the thin waist. Janet stroked the arms encircling her, waiting for her beloved wife to speak, and when she didn't, "Sammy?"

When she still didn't get a response she turned around in the arms that held her and found one of the largest Cheshire grins she had ever seen displayed on Sam's face. "I like that idea," the blonde said, her voice dropping into a whisper as to speak of such secret things. "Janet, I'd love to have another child. You know I would."

"How come I hear a 'but' in your voice?" the doctor said.

"The simple reasons we need to settle our own 'feathers'. There is so much going on right now, I think we need to make sure our new position here is more secure. Hon, this isn't like moving from the Pentagon or the CDC to the SGC, this is massive and we have a lot of re-evaluating to do."

Janet moved with spontaneous speed and planted a kiss onto the bridge of Sam's angler nose causing the other woman to blink her surprise. "Wise choice, Love. Maybe a year from now…we can give Becky a little sister."

"You know," Sam giggled as her hands started to trail the letter 'S' on Janet's thigh, "the one thing we haven't done is 'christen' our new home."

"How on earth did we forget that little oversight?" Janet snickered. "Maybe it's because we're not on Earth."

"Hum…I think we should remedy that oversight." Sam turned the 'S' into the symbol for eternity. Her lips kissed the nape of Janet's neck, her full breasts pressing against the petite back of her lover, as she was still sitting behind her.

The kisses traced a line across the doctor's shoulders in tiny little pecks even as her fingers continued to trace the symbols of 'S', 'J' and eternity. Janet leaned back thrilling to the feeling of the soft cushions pillowing her shoulders, and the touch of her wife's fingers upon a thigh as the blonde's other hand snaked up to feel her breast.

Sam's lips were hot against the cool flesh of the tiny woman's back. Janet's small, though long fingered, hands stroked their own possessive lines along Sam's thighs, with increasing boldness that told Sam, Janet didn't want to be teased for long. The doctor turned so she could face the tall woman, slipping her tongue into Sam's mouth before the blonde was fully aware Janet was kissing her.

Even as she was concentrating upon back, arms and throat, Janet caressed the familiar heavy weight of her wife's breasts. Sam felt a deepening sigh escape her mouth and all but gave up on playing, she bent her head down taking a rosy nipple into her mouth at last, Janet's arms encircled her back holding Sam to her, her over stimulated skin shivered under the touch of the blonde. Sam felt as if she was going to explode, who needed the Malakim, she had her own angel carrying her to heaven by express?

Sam thought she'd go mad when she felt herself being pushed back and teeth gently nipping her throat, hands sliding from her breasts to her thighs and back again. The blonde shifted into automatic her hormone-fogged mind lost under Janet's administrations. Sam wasn't going to be the only one lost in the fog. Holding Janet to her longer body, she rolled over pinning Janet under her. First one nipple then the other, suckling at them until the brunette squirmed and begged for more. Sam thought it was a fine idea; she would be doing the same if her mouth wasn't otherwise occupied and if she hadn't been too enthralled to rush the proceedings.

The blonde's blood roared in her ears as she felt Janet's fingers slip between her legs, to touch the dampness of her center. Janet's strength always surprised and aroused Sam, she found herself on her back once more, not knowing how the tiny woman had retaken the dominant position. She didn't care; she knew only that Janet's glossy red head was between her legs, her tongue playing music on her clit.

"Jannn… et…" She let go of her butch-reserve and let Janet's tongue work its magic. The doctor let go of her wrists after a little while, and she felt Sam's fingers raking into her smaller back. Sam was bucking, and moaning incoherently, coming almost immediately, but Janet wouldn't stop. A feathery touch of a finger stroked Sam's labia, teased backwards, then forwards again. Repeated, this time with a little pressure behind it…

And again...

And again...

And all the while Janet's mouth worked on her. Then the fingers entered her. Sam became a human hurricane, tornado, force of nature, as Janet brought her to a place somewhere beyond great sex and close to spiritual truth that no other had helped her reach before. The combination of love and the World Symphony took Sam beyond the stars.

Janet finally let Sam come back to herself, the blonde lay stunned for a while, panting, hardly aware of herself, but very aware of Janet curled up with her head on Sam's hip. All the blonde could do for a time was stroke the red hair and make little happy-noises. But, once she caught her breath and found a few still-functioning brain cells, Sam wanted, no needed, to return the pleasure her wife had given her. Sam scooted down a little and Janet scooted up a little and with a little bit of giggled direction, she ended up kneeling over Sam's mouth.

Perfection; Sam loved being beneath, loved having her wife move against her face easily as she made love to the tiny woman. Janet hesitated for a second so Sam put her hands on her hips and guided her down. The taste as always intoxicated the blonde with the wild musk and cream. She always thought her beloved tasted of spice and roses.

Janet's cries were silvery, kitten-like. Sam licked gently at first, delicately, until Janet ground herself against her and delicacy wasn't an option anymore. Sam pressed two fingers into her and she clenched around them, sucking her beneath in between her teeth. Sam wanted to crawl inside her and stay forever, and Janet was trying to pull her in so the blonde could. Sam thought for a moment that the oak headboard would crack under Janet's grip as she came and came. They loved until completely exhausted.

Lying cuddled together they kissed to utter delirium and rubbed their slippery bodies together until their mouths captured the other's cries. They moved side by side, head to groin, tasting each other again. They spent what felt like hours just stroking each other and talking about nothing in particular, giggling, then fell on each other again.

Finally, they lay surrounded by each other's arms, huddled together drifting off to sleep, forgetting for a moment about the Queen, her offer, the fact they were the governors of a planet, forgetting for a moment Sam had become the unofficial Prime Minister of an Empire, they were there in that moment within each other. Any outside thought was given to the only two souls that mattered, their daughters. One was safe in the company of Boudicca and the rest of the Blue Wing painting the town red, the other snoring little delicate kitten snores was in the bedroom down the hall.

"General O'Neill, I believe we should tarry not in our hunt for the assassin. Once we have laid to rest this concern we can, without distraction, address the matters laid out for our treaties." Nachmiel said as Jack was leading the group to the Briefing Room.

"Right, to work then? I can appreciate that," The silver haired man said with a slight smile, enjoying the fact he didn't have to pander to the more diplomatic tedium, at least for a while.

In the isolation ward, the general revealed the sedated prisoners. Prisoners was perhaps a bit of a strong word to use but it would suffice. Lying upon the beds were Captain Jennifer Hailey, Captain Kayo Satterfield, Colonel Reynolds and. Lieutenant Colonel Kovancheck.

Of the former three, the Minister had stopped before each in turn. She placed her hands upon each person's temple, closed her purpled eyes and drew in a breath.

"This one is named Jennifer. She hides her deep infatuation for the Liege Commander. Jennifer has loved the Nephalim for sometime, and denies herself affection of another for she believes herself disloyal to the dream that cannot be. She cares for her Liege Commander more then she should and lies to herself that she isn't in love. Jennifer is not the one you hunt; in fact she would willingly give her life for Samantha's and even her Consort Janet's. Jennifer knows the loss of Samantha's wife would be far too painful for the Liege Commander to endure. And so Jennifer would sacrifice herself to save the Liege Healer."

Satterfield had a similar accounting, her unrequited love being Doctor Daniel Jackson. Colonel Reynolds was revealed to have deep discontent because he was the only surviving member of SG12. His guilt gave false readings to the Zataarc and had given off false readings to Nachmiel until she probed deeper into the subconscious. Still, only guilt was this man's discord. Nachmiel reported: "The others are diligent in their loyalty to their commander and their duties. Their issues are their own."

Studying Kovancheck intently silver winged Nachmiel paused. "This one however is directly linked to the events of the deaths though he is not your slayer."

"How?" Jack commanded, meaning how was Kovancheck related to the horrific events of SGC's fallen heroes.

"Stan Kovancheck is uncertain if he betrayed the Command. He is a diplomat, not a warrior and as such his mind is not as extensively trained, as is the Liege Commander's or yours, General O'Neill. Kovancheck suspects he let slip guard his words and thus opened doors for the Lotar to enter. He suspects but is unsure of his actions. It seems he surrendered the names of the slain, the connection to him as they were all engaged upon relics and natural deposits harvested form planets he had direct involvement with. The slain also had recent communiqué with the Nephalim."

"Several months ago Kovancheck and SG9 were held by several Jaffa who used a concussion grenade to neutralize my people. Kovancheck said that he and his team weren't questioned but they were out for sometime. Doctor Fraiser said they all sustained major concussions but they were clean of any trace of nishta." Jack said.

"A memory recall device directly linked to a Goa'uld is a common interrogation technique to harvest information if the inquisitor wants to be subtle." Selmac stated. "And there is of course the Brain Scanner Anubis employs. The evidence of this sort of interrogation would be covered up by the severe concussion this man sustained."

"So, the Snake in charge was able to use the downloaded INTEL and infiltrate the SGC. I want to know how this was done and how they slipped by all our security." Jack growled.

It was time for the conscious suspects to answer a few questions. Jacob hoped, for their sake, to find them in a forthcoming mood. He cast a glance behind him and found that the avian beings were close on his heels, a look of ardent resolve displayed in their colorful eyes. He had a difficult time growing accustomed to the Malakim eyes, they showed no sclera much like the Asgards eyes, but with so many variances in hues it was breathtakingly beautiful and at the same time almost terrifying.

Unlike the Asgards they did however have pupils, which almost disappeared when in flight as they shifted their visual perceptions to telescopic. He had seen Arion do it often enough that now he was more comfortable with it. Still, to look in the avian eyes even Selmac was unnerved. It was as if they looked into the heart of your soul and knew the deepest secrets, both good and bad.

Selmac was in accord; the Malakim would uncover the truth of the assassin with more accuracy then the Zataarc tests. At the behest of the Prime Minister of the Malakim Empire and Queen Novalis, the Minister of Alien Affairs would assist in the hunt for the assassin. At first they thought it might be an Ashrak able to disguise its presence from the likes of Samantha, Teal'c and the Tok'ra, but more and more it looked to be a Zataarc. Perhaps even a Lotar. Whatever the case, the Malakim would discover the subterfuge. The Zataarc test was almost academic.

Once more Nachmiel's eyes fell upon those held captive; these of course were awaiting their turn at the Zataarc. Jack O'Neill wanted to try the offer of the Malakim before the Tok'ra method.

Nachmiel had been dead on with her assessment of the others they had left, the general was anxious to see if she was just as accurate with the others.

She barely raised an eyebrow with Siler and Teal'c, Dr. Mackenzie seemed to annoy her with his presence more than anything else. She tilted her head towards Grogan and shook it from side to side. "He is clumsy, how is it that he managed to find a place amongst the mortal elite? He has no place here."

The young man turned his head, shamed, to find himself wondering the same question. More often then not the young man ended up on guard duty along with the other SF's. He had never been placed with an SG team, but he had passed the scrutiny of SG1 and so he had a place with the SGC, just not on a team.

Nachmiel stopped as her purple eyes fell on Jay Felger, as with all the others her hand briefly passed over, "This male is of no consequence. His greatest dissidence is generated by his self-delusional sexual fantasies involving himself and the Liege Commander Samantha. Often he depicts himself as a hero of adolescent pectoral literature and his sophomoric infidelity overrides his sight of truth."

Felger felt centimeters tall, wishing for a large crater to open up and swallow him whole. Better yet, he wished for a Goa'uld attack to distract the cynical minds now assessing him. Felger would never be able to face Colonel Carter now. He shrank away from the disgusted eyes of the Malakim and shivered under the general's glare.

"He is not whom you seek." Nachmiel commented.

The last prisoner they came to was Simon Coombs. The minister stopped, her eyes watched the plump form of Simon Coombs intensely for a moment. "This mortal is not as he seems." Nachmiel stated prosaically.

"General...." Coombs blurted nervously, his chubby jowls jiggled as he shook his head. "Dr Felger's and my last project had a few glitches but I don't think that we are..."

"Desist with the pretense, you think to play us as one plays upon a pipe? Hold back your lies mortal, the World Symphony sings the skin you wear is not your own. Our eyes are cheated by technology. Plump and bungling genius you seem now, and yet you are fell and grim beneath I deem."

At the angelic's declaration, the four waiting SF's locked and loaded their side arms, each pointing their own shot upon the prisoner's head if needed. Hashul ignited her sun sword; its low hum, for the moment, was the only sound in the isolation room.

"Oh God...." Jack groaned softly, "Yeah we've seen something like this before. A while back, there were these red beetle like Cloakers. They were able to gain a Foothold on the SGC. Because they had these little round devices that mimicked us. It was Carter who figured out how to stop them."

Nachmiel studied the man, "You have not stepped within the Gateroom, or your subterfuge would be known. The high frequency harmonics that vibrate the chamber would render your cloaking device impotent. Mortal ears lay deaf to the tone, but a Malakim ear hears it well. Now we understand why the necessity for such an annoyance. Lamach, mimic that which we heard."

"I heed and obey, Minister." The black haired avian closed her golden eyes and tilted back her head, her golden wings stretched as she stood in repose. Her mouth was open but no sound came out, or rather, no sound the humans could detect was heard. Not even Selmac or Xad were aware of the tones Lamach sang. To the Malakim the sound was more of a siren than a true note, but the frequency was exactly as that initiated from the harmonic generator every time a team came back through the gate. Since the Foothold situation with the 'Cloakers' several years prior everyone was screened just in case, it happened again.

SG6 back in '99 had been taken over by the red-armored beetle like aliens and though the then Major Carter had stopped them, several had escaped with the knowledge they had acquired through the mental link they had with the personnel they mimicked. It should be no surprise then, that one of the cloaking devices would fall in to another unfriendly hand, say the Goa'uld. And because the cloaking device had not been activated when it had passed through, (however it had passed through), the Stargate it would not be detected.

At the sounding of the noise the fluffy form of Coombs blinked, wavered like ripples in a pond and in the scientist's place was a thin swarthy male. He seemed familiar to those that looked upon him, for he bore a face you thought you should know, but the same time eluded your memory.

"This one is arcane, Minister," Hashul said.

"Arcane?" Selmac asked, thinking 'she' should know this information.

"A master of this Song maintains the ability to hide in plan sight. Shadows slide around him. Crowds swallow him and no one seems to remember this odd person, not his commander, not his team-mates, not even the personal of this base, or even the village he grew up in. His features slip away like an old dream." Hashul explained. "This advantage allows him 'slide away' from view and memory. He is not invisible, however it will make him extremely hard to trace."

"Somehow things just happen to cover his tracks, like stealth capabilities. Yeah we seen something like this before too." O'Neill commented, his mind reflecting upon 'Lieutenant Tyler' who possessed a memory chameleon effect, enabling himself to camouflage his way into one's memory thinking that you know him, when in fact you do not.

"The Goa'uld are scavengers of alien technology. It wouldn't surprise me they have a covert operative like this, hell it's perfect. You never notice him, and when he makes himself present he seems so familiar that you never pay attention to him, like some of the SF's patrolling Topside. Just fits right in unnoticed and familiar and then to use the Cloakers' device.... no wonder he slipped through the cracks." Jacob said with a note of admiration.

"The Cloaker's device must have been confiscated by a System Lord. Anubis had stolen Asgard transporters, and God knows what else. It wouldn't surprise me that he got his claws on this technology. I take it when they discovered who and what they had before them, an image 'a scientist of the SGC' they kept the cloaking device on ice until they needed it." Jack summarized. "So they conquer the Cloakers and take the mimic devices and infiltrate the SGC using that arcane thing. They used the Coombs cloak to further hide once the heat was on." Jack O'Neill, a former Special Ops, had to admit he admired the tactics too.

"Our dilemma now is who sent the Lotar assassin?" Xad said, to redirect the inquisition away from how to whom.

The Minister of the Guild of Alien Affairs stepped forward. "Don't try my patience, Lotar. Whom do you serve?" Nachmiel ordered of the prisoner, her purple eyes blazing in lilac fire.

"Does it matter who I serve? Only that I serve my Lord well. And we shall be triumphant. I cannot help you, even if I was inclined to. "

"Still so arrogant thinking your lord derived some brilliant plan, they know nothing. You will acquiesce and give me what I want or I will force it from your mind, and leave you as an infant, for my trouble." Nachmiel promised.

To insure the prisoner knew Nachmiel wasn't simply making an idle threat she placed her hands on either side of his dark-haired head and closed her eyes. "You need not speak, I know your mind, Garvin, even as I know your name though you spoke it not."

The man now known as Garvin felt a wave of vertigo slice through his conscious mind. The presence was fierce, demanding and completely dominating. This was not nishta or the Blood of Sokar; this was something beyond his experience. For a moment he thought this must be what it feels like to be schizophrenic. He could feel the angelic's presence in his mind weaving around, and he was helpless to prevent her from taking the knowledge she sought.

"Osiris. I serve Osiris without fail." Both Garvin and Nachmiel said in unison.

The swarthy man knew the female was right, if she persisted in the forced telepathic sending, he would lose himself indefinably. Relief flooded Garvin's mind when she pulled away. He knew, if he did not answer their questions, they would take it. Better to die well then a feeble witless slug, if he was indeed to die.

"Osiris! Gee, there's a surprise." Jack rolled his eyes in his sarcasm. "Where you find Osiris, you find her boyfriend Anubis."

The assassin chose to ignore the silver haired general and turned back to the creatures in front of him. He dare not look the winged female in her purple eyes, knowing he would be put to ruin if he did. And it was easier to be defiant if he didn't have to look into the eyes of a Truth-Seeker. Nachmiel could see the answer in the man's soul.

"Osiris has aligned herself with a Remnant, has she not. Usiel the Fallen." Stated the Minister of Alien Affairs. This was not a question to be answered, however Garvin obliged.

"I was not aware of his name, only that he looked like you."

"We are Malakim! WE are NOT Remnant!" young Lamach snarled with pure hate dripping from her mouth. To even suggest a Warrior of Virtue was one of the Fallen was ludicrous. "The Nephalim will smite down the Remnants and their Diabolical servants to their ruin."

"You have read the signs, but misread their meaning. You believe Samantha Carter is the myth of Malakim prophecy, the Scion of Balance, and that the Nephalim holds the key to fulfilling your Empire's destiny? My Lord will overcome this Nephalim and be triumphant." Garvin dared. He knew looking into the eyes of the winged ones he was going to die, and so why not make their lives a little more miserable and entertain himself before the inevitable?

"Your Lord's messianic delusions have blinded you to the Nephalim's true nature." Said Nachmiel. "Your false gods have no idea what they have unleashed. Now, their vanity has made even you witless. You will have to learn the truth for yourself. See before you the calling of the warriors that bear arms in her name, not out of slavery but out of sheer free will. This is prophesied."

"Your delusion of fulfilling the Malakim foolish prophecies has badly distorted your judgement. And Samantha Carter is not what you think." Garvin sneered, still avoiding the purple orbs. He was loath to the knowledge that Nachmiel was more then aware of his fear of her.

"You dare imagine what I think?" Nachmiel growled. With a deft sweep of her arm, the minister flung the prisoner across the room into the bulkhead of the brig with a sickening bone-cracking quake of skull and spinal column. There was a small red smear where the prisoner's head had slammed into the concrete wall. "Do you believe for a moment that by this you have averted your fate? Or hers? Or that of your System Lords? Your false god's manipulations are pathetic! They have been measured and found lacking. Not even the World Symphony can sing of the true destiny of the Nephalim."

The humans watching moved forward on impulse but stopped as soon as Nachmiel's silver wings fanned out like the avenging angel she so closely resembled. Garvin wiped his mouth free of the blood, his dark eyes glinting in fear and loathing for his captures. His head was screaming in agony, and the vertigo was worsening. He knew he was a dead man as soon as he left his lord's side, what did it matter in what manner death came?

"And that's what frightens you, isn't it? You cannot see her paths, and so you cannot control it," The prisoner dared to goad.

"And neither can your false gods. Yes, Samantha is shrouded from those who see not the Nephalim, but we see the ripples of her actions. And every path she might choose leads to the same outcome: she will kill your false gods. In targeting Samantha, the Diabolicals have written their own death sentence."

"And your incontrovertible evidence?" Garvin was still bold. He wanted Nachmiel to strike him down once more if only to end the pain in his skull. It would not come he was forced to admit, because it was what he wanted. However the younger angelics… if he could tempt them to accost him physically, their superior strength would surely end his life and he need not worry about betrayal to his lord.

"The answers are plain, if you know where to look. You will find a testament written in stone, throughout the Empire," Nachmiel said.

"You have pinned your hopes on the Nephalim. She will disappoint you. All would-be-saviors disappoint the people that follow them," said Garvin.

"What can you know of the Nephalim?" Nachmiel's voice dropped several degrees.

"More than you could ever fathom. She is the Scion of Balance: Champion of the Malakim Empire, and of the Tau'ri. Her actions have caused her to be the most hunted of the Tau'ri, more than Daniel Jackson and Jack O'Neill even the Shol'va," the swarthy man smiled.

"The Nephalim will do what she must when the time comes." Hashul voiced suddenly but was silenced with a glare form her superior. It simply would not do to have her underlings speak out like this. It showed a serious lack of control on Nachmiel's part.

"That is what my Lord is counting on. Hero's always do what they must when the time comes. She is destined to destroy the shackles of the tyrannous System Lords. Osiris and Usiel will use her own virtues to destroy her. That's why I was called. I am the Scion of Death. Those that fell by my hand did so, because in knowing she was the cause and that more deaths would follow if your Nephalim did not give herself up… she would therefore do so willingly." Garvin smiled more confidently. "However, she outwitted me and took the last of the prey with her. Her mate and their spawn should have been felled. But now all has shifted, she is out of my reach, but not out of the reach of my Lord."

'What game was this, where every player on the board claimed the same pawn?' Nachmiel asked of herself, 'And how is it to end? Samantha, there are forces in this world that will strive to deceive you and pervert your destiny. But you must believe; your arrival foretells the salvation of the Malakim race. I see now the Nephalim for what she is and it is not myth after all.'

Janet rose from her deep sleep, and from a deeper dream of making love to her beautiful wife. Rolling over she moved to tuck herself into her Sam's arms when she found the love of her life, gone missing. Her eyes blinked open forcing the sleep from her mind, as she spotted her wife standing in front of the full length mirror, under her night shirt she had stuffed a pillow giving her flat stomach the rounded form of a pregnant woman.

Janet knew that, had Sam known she was being watched she would have never play-acted the scene out. The bold blonde was at times extremely shy and self-conscious. There were times, Janet recalled, when Sam would almost shrink away knowing she was going to get noticed.

There was a time Janet had taken Sam to "crash" a fiftieth anniversary of some elderly couple just so she could take her lover dancing to something akin to 'Singing in the Rain'. Which was one of Sam's favorite romantic movies. Of course, the happy couple were long time friends of the Fraiser family and had invited Janet and guest, knowing full well and approving of their "niece's" sexual preference. They had always told Janet, 'it wasn't who you love it's how you love. Genitalia were simply God's way of accessorising.'

Janet moved with more care then a feline walking on a narrow ledge, padding up to her lover. Sam hadn't seen her coming and jumped, sucking in a bit of air as she felt Janet's hands on the mounds of her arse.

"God Jan, you startled me." Sam chided, as she took the pillow out from under the waistband of her boxer-shorts and shirt and tossed it on the bed, then wrapped her arms around her wife's tiny waist.

"Sorry Hon," Janet reached up kissing the nape of the blonde's neck knowing just how much of a turn on it was for Sam. The doctor's hands slipped down to cup the fullness of Sam's breasts wanting to enjoy the touch softness of her beloved's body. "You know babe, looking pretty good there a moment ago."

"I just wanted to... see..."

"I did the same thing when we found out we were having Rebecca."

"You did?" Sam chuckled, "I didn't know that."

"Well like you, I was playing and would have felt silly if I was caught."

Sam flashed a full toothy grin and giggled.

Every time Janet saw that Cheshire grin the petite woman felt her heart flutter, and her stomach flip-flop. 'God, I am so much in love with her....' the doctor mused 'whatever she decides about Novalis, I'll go with it.'

Sam found herself lost in the sea of chocolate eyes and willingly let herself drown. 'She is so amazing. God, she owns my heart... I love her...whatever she decides with Novalis I'll go along with it.' Sam kissed the soft satin lips filling herself with the scent of her lover.

"Janet, we have early meetings.... you have to stop, because if you don't I wont be able to."

"I don't want to stop," came the response. "I definitely don't want to stop." She gave another bite to the slender neck.

"Rebecca will be up soo... n," Sam managed before a moan took over.

"Then we will do it real quiet and quick like."

"Janet, we never do quiet quickies."

"We don't do quickies very well, but we've licked being quiet..." Janet whispered, nipping her wife's neck, soliciting another moan from Sam.

"Okay, real quick," the blonde mumbled grabbing Janet around the waist and spinning them back to the bed. Her kisses becoming more dominant, more frantic, more possessing, more needy, more giving.

Seventeen minutes was a record, after all the fastest they had ever been able to make love before had been twenty-seven minutes. They simply enjoyed each other far too much to rush things as hormone driven teenagers. But living a life on the edge, not knowing if the next day you'd come home DOA, you savored every touch, every caress, every stroke, every kiss because indeed it could be the last. When you lived on the front lines, it was important to remember the little pleasures, without them sometimes you forgot who you were.

Sam and Janet met with the Queen once more, this time on a more formal and political matter than the prospect of a child. The conferencing held around the briefing table of the GSGC was dire but not heated.

"Samantha, as you are well aware the Malakim have established a guild for all trades and occupations, including the Privateers. I should think it prudent that you become the minister of Grigori's guild of Privateers," said Novalis.

Blue eyes widened as Carter digested what it was the Queen spoke of. "No pressure."

In seeing the expression of the Nephalim the Queen grinned. "Your duties have not changed Samantha my dear, only the title change of Base Commander to Minister of Guild of Privateers. It would not sit well with anyone should another be above you in this regard and, if there was another, none would heed their voice, those that came here to Grigori hear only your voice."

Sam ducked her head and lifted her eloquent features alight with confidence and true acceptance of the events unfolding before her. "Those that join the SGC, to use a tired old cliché are the best of the best of the best. Those that join the Military Guild are not members of a Wing, but rather are placed through ardent trials. I will accept no less here. I realize the academy will be opened to train warriors and scholars who wish to join the Military Guilds or even the Privateer. But I have a proposal of my own."

Novalis nodded her purple maned head, "You have but to name it."

"Those that are admitted into this academy, both Malakim and mortal, will be trained not only with the requirements of those desiring to join a Wing, but with the added training of those who would have joined the SGC. I will also ask that candidates from Earth be allowed to submit their prospectus here, as long as they have passed the scrutiny of the SGC first."

"That will not be a problem, Samantha. Indeed, I sanction the proposal. It is a further unification between our Nations. As I said, the Guild of Alien Affaires are directing the negotiations of further relations as well as your new positions here. "

"Queen Novalis," Janet said formally, "we have stated before that our government might not be so ardent to acquiesce."

"Resign and they have no voice over where it is you take early retirement." Turel commented. "After all they can take no action against the protected of the Malakim Empire if you wish sanctuary."

"Turel has a point," Cassie said. " And besides, it will be great not having to deal with Kinsey jr., that self-righteous bastard. God, I hope he gets a frigging coronary when he meets the Minister of the Alien Affairs. Serves him right."

"Lieutenant Fraiser!" Sam clipped her frozen voice in warning, "This is not a place for personal opinions."

"Yes ma'am." the young woman cast her eyes away in shame.

Novalis hid her smile, thinking how many times she had to abolish her own daughter in similar circumstances. The young always seem so very opinionated and often wore their minds upon their sleeves. She decided to redirect the conference to something that had bothered her, and several others of the choirs including the Archangels.

"The Wings have been in scrimmages with the Diabolicals around Chimera since the battle occurring several months prior. I have also ordered increasing patrols over the sectors circumferenceing that system. We have managed to waylay their efforts to generate a foothold into the Empire but it may not last. Also, as I said previously, it seems that Usiel has aligned himself with one if not several of the Diabolicals."

The Goa'uld we fought against on Chimera have been neutralized. Zippcanna and Imhotep fell. Usiel could have connected up with Baal." Janet commented, "There was no word of his demise or his escape. It might be safe to assume that Baal escaped and Usiel made an alliance with him."

The others around the table frowned. Baal of course led the United Alliance of System Lords, and if Usiel had indeed made a union with him, things could turn quicksilver from bad to very bad in record time.

"If that happened, Baal would be nearly unstoppable." Sam blinked, her blue eyes narrowing in a half formed thought. "Unstoppable. What if it isn't Baal, Usiel formed a union with. But someone a little more dangerous."

Both Cassandra and Janet gave each other a weary glance then cut their gaze to the head of the table where Sam was sitting. "Anubis and his super solders. If this Usiel is as manipulative as you say he is, then he might go to Anubis rather then Baal and play the trump card."

"Trump card?" Novalis cocked her head. "I do not understand."

"Means, engage a secret and powerful move against the opposition." Boudicca explained, as she was growing closer to the mortals she was becoming more and more aware of their clichés.

"Anubis the Fallen Ascended." The queen didn't like the sound of that. Though her angular face revealed no outward _expression her feathers twitched before settling. "The mystery deepens, and it is one that needs unraveling, for more reasons than the unification of our nations."

"Its pretty evident we will have to stop him. I'll have Wings of Grigori deploy and start searching, with a joint effort with the Tok'ra. My father has connections with operatives that have infiltrated the Goa'uld strongholds." Sam said. "Lieutenant, make a call to the SGC, inform the General of what transpired here and that I will be contacting him soon."

"Yes ma'am," Cassandra answered dutifully, and then excused herself to do her colonel's bidding.

"Why is Usiel any more dangerous to Carter than any other Goa'uld that has put a price on her head?" Jack asked for the table.

"It is the oldest story in the oldest book, he covets that which he can not have. The power of the Great Song cannot be passed into a male; it causes them to become mad. Usiel, Malphas and the Calabim Disciples had all gone mad because the flow of the Great Song was too much for them; they could not fully accept its magnitude. This is why they fell. This is why it is forbidden for a male to summon the World Symphony into himself and embrace the Great Song.

"Only a female can maintain continuity of her faculties with the vast surge of power coming from the Great Song. It is in her very nature to shift that flow into the World Symphony and share it, where as a male will covet that flow close to heart. The Great Song is not meant to be hoarded into a single soul but to be dissipated into several. Even a well-intentioned male, meaning only to do good, will waver and become tempted by the great and terrible power and be corrupted by it. Just as Usiel was." Nachmiel softly explained.

"Does not Usiel already wield this power?" Teal'c asked.

Nachmiel nodded her chestnut maned head. "Indeed he does. And still, if he could slay the Nephalim, or the Queen, he believes that connection to the Great Song will transfer that power into his soul and he will be stronger still. Since the coming of the Nephalim, the flow of the Great Song has been diverted and Usiel is no longer in touch as he once was. Because our destinies run together, Queen Novalis and Samantha are as two rivers that have met and can never be distinct again. At every fatal turn, you will find the other. It was the unwitting machinations of Samantha that set our destinies in motion. The coin that had been tossed has struck the earth. Now we must abide by its outcome. Samantha is venerated within the eyes of the Malakim and with good cause. I know this much: that she is the author of our fate, and as such, only she can rewrite it. I fear she shoulders a greater burden than she realizes. Usiel covets this even more."

"Let me understand this," Jack O'Neill said. "Carter's inadvertent connection with Queen Novalis and this World Symphony is what diverted this power, like a dam making Usiel's well dry?"

"Overly simplistic but accurate." Hashul nodded. "And thus, Usiel will strive to return things to the way they were before the Nephalim and he will do anything to cause this to happen. Even if that means allying himself with the Diabolicals."

"He had to go and pick Osiris and Anubis to join up with." Jack's voice was dripping with sarcasm."

"Rest be assured, General O'Neill, he will have no loyalty to them, in fact he will betray them if the need suits him. They are but a tool for his purpose and nothing more. Behold he will find amusement if he were to witness their demise, more so if they would ask his aid to prohibit any malice that comes to them and he sees in their eyes the dawning of his betrayal as he does naught for them." Nachmiel said. "Usiel defiled the Virtues, for he was the first to fall. He gave the secrets of the Great Wyrms to the Diabolicals long ago, now they hunt for Wyrms again and again, but we have turned them from our worlds."

"And this same person you say will adhere to the rules of Parlay?" Jacob scoffed.

"Indeed. Usiel follows a strange set of rules and codes, he alone knows what they are but he will not break them and he will not break the rules of warfare in treaty." Lamach explained. "To do so creates discord, and though he thrives upon the dissidence in others, his own will sever him from the World Symphony and he will be unable to summon its power. The more dissidence, the greater the gap between a soul and the World Symphony, and the soul is out of balance. Dissidence creates discord; discord makes one out of balance between the soul and the Great Song. Too great a discord within oneself and you risk the Fading."

"Fading?" Jonas asked for the others around the table.

"Fading into non-existence. Achelous was once a Malakim but he faded and the World Symphony transmogrified his essence into a new shape. He became a demonic creature with little intelligence and an insatiable hunger. Usiel does not want this fate, and so he will adhere to his own codes, and laws even if they are maniacal and filled with iniquity." Lamach continued.

"Wait, I thought this Achelous was a dragon…. A wyrm." Jonas said recalling the reports of the Chimera incident; he was after all a quick study. "So what, he's a hybrid?"

"Achelous was a Malakim who contorted his outward shape into a speckled wyrm. He summoned the World Symphony to change his body even as we manipulate the environment and elements. He wore the form of a wyrm for so long he forgot what it was to be Malakim and became one of the Dragonkin. He became the Guardian of the Ages Three. Achelous, as a wyrm, was defiled as the Remnants, his discord was so pronounced that he forgot what it was to be even a Dragonkin and became simply a demonic force, and thus worshiped by the Calabim.

"But he was defeated and sent into the Void. Eons past, the archpriest Malphas, tyrant and a despot of dissidence, a great follower of Usiel, created the Lambent Reproach to call Achelous from the Void to be the Beast of Destruction. This beast was sent to devour the power of the Nephalim and turn the essence of the Great Song to Usiel rather then the balance it now holds." Nachmiel said evenly.

"Usiel has turned from the use of Achelous, Beast of Destruction, to a new beast that calls itself the Goa'uld to achieve the same ends. As Achelous was meant to wreak havoc upon the balance of World Symphony now Usiel will enlist Anubis and Osiris for this same purpose. And Usiel will be unrestrained." Hashul added to the explanation.

"It is common knowledge within the Great Song that the Ascended and the Nox have their own song within the World Symphony, you have seen the manifestation of their song. Anubis, like Usiel, has gone mad from its powerful touch and must be vanquished." Lamach continued the account of enlightenment. "And they both covet the power within the Nephalim and her Grigori."

Jack rose up, "Alright, Carter needs to have a heads up on what's going on."

"You must act quickly. But beware, an ancient evil dwells within, long unspoken among our kind. Undoubtedly, this is the source of the corruption that infects the Fallen and the Diabolicals. And must be put to an end." Nachmiel advised. "Take heed, there is much more at stake in this than you know. It seems Samantha's destiny is more labyrinthine than I had imagined. We may have very little time. We stand at the threshold of a new eon. And Samantha Carter is the fulcrum upon which our destiny turns."

Part 17

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