DISCLAIMER: I only borrowed them for a while. MGM and whoever can have them back whenever they want. I'm sorry but I have no idea who wrote the songs I quoted. No copyright infringement intended.
SPOILERS: Up to the end of season 7, pre-Lost City. P.S. She ain't dead.
SERIES: This is the second story in the Darkspell series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author

By Celievamp


The last thing that Sam Carter remembered seeing was the cruel smile on Bastet's face as she brought the glowing crystal of the hand device closer and closer to Sam's skull. Then pain whited everything out.

That was five days ago. She had seen nothing since then. She was beginning to realise that it was entirely possible that Bastet's face would be the last thing she would ever see.

The hand device was snug on her forearm, the activating crystal nestling comfortably in the palm of her hand. It felt curiously natural to be wearing it. Too natural. Sam knew she could use it, harness its power to devastating effect. If it came to confrontation it would give her an edge, even blind. And she had to protect Janet. It did not mean that she had to be happy with the situation. Training only took her so far. Blind as she was she was literally walking into unknown territory. But at least Janet was by her side. All she needed was an edge. And she still had at least four other senses to bring into play. Sam Carter was very far from being down for the count. She took a deep cleansing breath and got down to the business of survival.

"I can see daylight ahead," Janet whispered.

"The tunnel's opening out," Sam said, "The echoes have changed."

"Yes – the tunnel has merged into a cave about three times as wide as the tunnel was and the ceiling is a lot higher. The entrance is about 40 yards ahead of us. The cave floor is rock but there's a lot of debris scattered around, mostly plant matter and… hmmm, animal bones. A carnivore has used this cave at some point, quite a big one by the teeth marks.

"I don't smell anything," Sam said, raising her head slightly, hunting for the distinctive smell of animal scat.

"No. The bones are old and dry. Whatever did this is long gone." I hope, Janet thought to herself. Sam was not going to like what she was going to suggest next but she hoped the Major's innate practicality would win out. "Sam, I want you to stay here. I'm going to the cavemouth to see where we are in relation to Bastet's citadel and what the conditions are like outside. I'll be as quick as I can."

Sam's grip tightened on hers for a moment and Janet thought that she was going to forbid it but gradually the hold on her fingers loosened again and Sam nodded having obviously thought it through. "Sounds like a good idea. Don't go too far and keep your head down. Bastet might have figured this to be the end of the tunnel and her Jaffa may be waiting in ambush."

"I'll be careful, I promise, and give you a full report when I come back," Janet said. Her lips brushed Sam's cheek and she steered her lover towards the back wall of the cave and helped her sit down. Then she was gone.

Sam followed the sound of her quick light footsteps across the cave and then she was lost to her. There was only darkness. Time stretched into infinity. She tried to keep track by counting her pulse working out that she averaged 80 beats per minute under normal conditions. Five minutes. Ten minutes. Fifteen minutes. Too long. She should have been back by now. Janet…

Sheer panic overwhelmed her and Sam forced herself to her feet. Janet was in trouble. She had to find her, had to protect her.

She took two steps forward and caught her foot on something, stumbling, her hands stretched out to protect herself if she fell. She shuffled her feet forward a little more and realised that she had got herself turned as her right hand fingers brushed stone. Okay, she could follow the wall around. Probably better than striking off across open space. She might just walk herself right out of the cave and off the edge of a cliff or something the way her luck was running lately.

Her foot touched something hard yet light. It rolled a little. She reached down to touch it.

Light brightly screamed across her vision. Silver pain. A copper taste in her mouth as she dully realised that she was on the ground, on her hands and knees. She was going to be sick.


"Over here," she managed to whisper, swallowing back the bile. The light had gone and the pain had receded to a dull ache in her temples; there was only darkness.

"I thought you were staying put, Sam. I… oh my god…"

"What is it?"

"Sam, your left hand about three inches away from a human skull. There are a lot of bones here at least three maybe four bodies. All skeletonised."

Sam felt Janet's hands warm and strong on her upper arms as she was helped to her feet and then carefully backed away from the boneyard. "Are you okay, Sam?" Janet asked, brushing her hair back from her face.

"A bit shaken," Sam admitted. "You were gone longer than I thought. I came to find you. Then I fell over something. I…" She deliberated telling Janet about the painful flash of light she had experienced but something made her hold back. "I got a bit of a fright."

"I'm not surprised," Janet said. "I think you tripped over one of the skulls." Sam could feel her fingers close around her wrist, monitoring her pulse, her other hand travelling lightly over her body checking her for injuries. "I want you to sit for a minute okay. I just want to look over the bodies. I'll be a few feet away at most." Sam heard the scrape of Janet's boots over the rough stone, a dull clinking sound that was the sound of her sorting through the bones. Sam wondered how she could bear to touch them. She rubbed her fingers against the material of her trousers, her skin crawling. At least they were just skeletons, there weren't any… squishy bits. Her stomach turned over again and she took a couple of deep breaths.

"Okay, there are four skulls and lots of body parts. Most of the skeletons are disarticulated – probably predation after death. The most complete skeleton is probably female – the pelvic notch is clearly visible, in her late teens, early twenties by the look of it. Tall – taller than me at any rate. She…" Janet fell abruptly silent.


"There's the skeletal remains of a symbiote at the top of her spine, twined around it. She was a Host."

"Goa'uld or a Tokra?" Sam said. "I don't suppose there's any way of telling, now. What about the others?" Despite her queasiness she had moved forward, crouching beside Janet, one hand resting lightly on her companion's shoulder to steady herself.

"Difficult to say without a complete forensic investigation. The bones are scattered. It will take some time just to put the skeletons back together."

Sam reached out towards the bones again. As her fingers grazed something the silver light flashed across her vision again, not as painful as before but just as disconcerting. Her breath hissed.

Good doctor as she was, Janet picked up on it immediately. "Sam?"

"Ribs are still a little sore," Sam lied. Her fingers closed around the object and there was a sensation of… familiarity? Quickly she secreted it in her pocket for later examination. "Okay. So we have four very dead bodies in here. What about outside?"

"We're near the foot of the hill below the citadel, looking out over a heavily wooded valley. I could just make out what looked like some ruined buildings about half a mile or so away in the valley. The sun looks like it should set in about half an hour or so. It was very quiet. Perhaps we were holed up long enough for them to think that whoever freed us already got us off-planet?"

"Perhaps," Sam said. "Do you think we could make it to the buildings before dark?"

"I don't know, Sam. The terrain looked pretty rough. We might be better spending the night here and moving out at first light."

"Okay." Her fingers closed around the object in her pocket and she saw/felt it again, the silver shimmering of her vision before it faded to midnight again.

"You're shivering," Janet said softly. "Sam – perhaps we had better go back to the Tokra room again."

"All the comforts of home?" Sam queried softly.

"Something like that. And that's where Brata'c will head first. If we move out on our own we might be putting him in unnecessary danger as well by causing him to have to search for us."

It was a good point. Sam considered it for a long moment knowing that she was being irrational in her desire never to see… never to experience that place again. "I think we need to keep moving. The cave is the only other entrance to the tunnels. If they didn't go back through the citadel it must be how they got out. Brata'c will know to look for us here. If we build a fire nearer the back of the cave it should be invisible from the outside. I think there's enough natural ventilation to take care of the smoke.

"There's certainly enough undergrowth and small trees just outside the cave to provide fuel," Janet said. "Sam – are you going to be okay on your own for a little while again?"

"I'll be fine!" Sam snapped, immediately regretting it. "Jan – I'm sorry. It's just, well, it takes a little getting used to. I don't want to be a burden…"

"It's okay, Sam. You don't have to apologise. Even…" Janet hesitated. "Even blind," There, she had said it, "you're far from helpless, I know that. It's just my nature to worry, that's all. You need to protect me and I need to take care of you." Sam reached out to her and Janet took hold of her hand, running her thumb over the scarred knuckles. "We're going to be okay, you have to believe that."

Sam nodded, not trusting herself to speak. She felt Janet's cool fingers caress her skin once more and then heard her move away again. Her restless fingers returned to the object in her pocket as she tried to visualize what it must look like. "Come on, you can do this," she whispered to herself. She could hold maps and star charts in her head for a thousand locations with ease, could mentally draw the schematics for a new device and start to build it without setting pen to paper once so why was she finding it so hard to figure out what she had secreted in her pocket.

"What's in his pockets, then Precious?"

Sam shuddered. Thoughts of Gollum and his pale slimy fingers she did not need right now. Not with four skeletons a couple of feet away – five if you counted the Goa'uld symbiote.

"Get a grip, Major," she reminded herself. "You've been in worse situations than this before."

Her fingers continued to explore the object. It seemed to be made of two distinct objects one of metal one of something else that were fused together. With a queer thrill that made her feel slightly sick she realised that her subconscious had figured it out before her conscious mind. The `Gollum' quote hadn't been too far off the mark. It was a ring of metal, probably with a naquada content to it if her reaction was anything to go by, fused somehow into a phalange - a finger bone from one of the skeletons just a few feet away. She winced as the silvering flared across her eyes again. It was like watching a sonar sweep across a screen but nothing about it made sense.

Despite her revulsion, her fingers continued to explore the object. There were indentations in the surface of the ring, a pattern of some kind. The Goa'uld rarely wore anything that was purely decorative. It was usually a weapon or powered device of some kind. If like the hand device that she still wore on her forearm it was activated by the presence of naquada in the bloodstream of the wearer then perhaps she was activating it somehow without understanding what it was or what it did. Perhaps the shimmering in her vision was a sign that it was active. Nef was supposed to have squirreled away all kinds of esoteric weaponry and other goodies. That's why they had come to this godforsaken (though not quite as godforsaken as their intel had suggested) place. Perhaps this was an example of his haul. Not that it seemed to have done it's previous owner any good.

But what on earth did it do? And why did she feel compelled to keep it a secret from Janet?

Whatever it was, she probably shouldn't be playing with it.

"Hey," Janet called, drawing her out of her reverie. Sam dropped the ring back into her pocket. "There's plenty of brush and dried wood to build a fire out there. We won't be cold at least. The light's fading fast. I think you made the right decision to stay put for the night." She started to build the fire, setting loose stones to form a hearth and starting off with moss and dried leaves which she carefully lit with one of the matches from their surviving kit, gradually feeding it with twigs until it was established then setting the larger twigs and branches to keep it burning. Within half an hour Sam was feeling a lot warmer and the strange object in her pocket was temporarily forgotten.

Bastet abased herself before her master. In truth with her left knee probably fractured by one of Anubis's guards as part of her punishment, lying flat was a lot more comfortable than kneeling.

"I beg forgiveness for my failure, my lord and thank you for your mercy. My men continue to search. We believe that the Tauri are still in the area. The Chappa'ai has been continuously guarded."

"She is still here. I would know if she were not," Anubis said. "Rise."

Trying not to show how much pain she was in Bastet got to her feet. She held herself composed in front of the glistening, glassy mask that was Anubis's face. What manner of monstrosity had he taken as a host? None of the other system lords knew. Ships had been sent to the region of space Anubis had previously inhabited to discover its secrets but so far none had returned.

"I have assigned four of my warrior cadre to assist in the search," Anubis said. "They will succeed. I will know all of her secrets. She is to be unharmed."

Bastet bowed. All the System Lords knew of the Tauri that called themselves SG1. The female of the group Samantha Carter was especially notorious, a fearless warrior as well as a scientist. Many of the devices that prevented them for taking their just revenge upon the Tauri were her development including, it was rumoured, a weapon that could actually kill Anubis's undead warriors, something that many of the rebel System Lords had tried to do and failed. This one human woman was also responsible for the destruction of Anubis's original lab, a setback which still hampered his production of the undead warriors, if her spy was correct.

"What of her companion?" Bastet asked. Surely Anubis would not deny her a plaything? Bastet remembered the pale curves, the dark eyes with pleasure. She had spirit as well. Yes, if the golden one could not be hers then she would have the little one instead.

"Once she has been read she is of no further use to me," Anubis said. "You may keep her."

Once she has been read… Bastet had seen those who had been attached to Anubis's interrogation machine. Many did survive intact but some seemed to lose the ability to speak, others seemed to be lost inside their own minds. Still, it was not the woman's mind that Bastet was primarily interested in.

"Thank you, my lord Anubis."

Sam woke from an uneasy sleep, Janet curled in her arms, her breath warm against her skin. Her head ached dully. The shimmering was there whether her eyes were open or not but the shapes she was seeing did not correspond to anything in her surroundings as far as she could tell. The shapes were no longer static but seemed to move, drifting around them. Janet knew something was wrong but Sam would not or could not tell her about it.

She was no nearer to working out what the object was that she had picked up in the cave. Of course she could just show it to Janet and ask `Hey Janet, what does this look like?" But for some reason she had to keep her possession of it a secret, even from Janet.

She found herself watching the glowing shapes as they flowed around her. It was like the child's game of seeing faces and shapes in the clouds. That one… that one looked like an adult Goa'uld symbiote, the sinuous body, the flaring erect collar behind the head. Not something that she wanted to imagine, thank you very much.

She blinked. The shape was there whether her eyes were open or not. It seemed to solidify, drifting closer and closer to her… to Janet. It's jaws were opening, it was going to take her…


Janet woke up with a start as the breath was crushed out of her. "Sam?"

"I won't let you take her."

"Sam, you're dreaming. No one's taking me anywhere. Sam!"

Sam was shaking like a leaf, breathing heavily. Gradually her hold on Janet lessened and Janet took in a few deep breaths herself. Her lover didn't know her own strength sometimes.

"You okay?"

Sam nodded. "Sorry," she whispered.

"Just a bad dream, hun," Janet soothed. "Hardly surprising given our room mates."

Sam managed a dry chuckle. "Suppose so," she whispered, still not entirely convinced that it had been a dream. Though she had had dreams where she thought she was awake before. Usually before a big meeting. She'd dream through her usual morning routine until she got to the meeting and then discover that she wasn't wearing any shoes – or worse – before she woke up with a jolt.

"So how are you feeling?" Janet asked. "Any change?"

"Not sure," Sam offered guardedly.

"What do you mean?"

"I keep seeing flashes of light – silver. No colours," Sam said.

"Can you see it now?" Janet asked, trying to keep the excitement out of her voice not wanting to get Sam's hopes up. "Is it just in one particular place?" The cavemouth was visible from where they sat, early morning sunlight spilling into the cave. This might be the improvement in her vision that they had been hoping for.

"Yes but it's all over like patches, fog, I don't know," Sam shut her eyes but her vision did not change. "And I see it whether my eyes are open or closed."

Janet's face fell. It wasn't the improvement she had hoped for. "It might be a sign that your optic nerve is regenerating," she said. "False colours…"

"No colours, only silver," Sam said. "I don't know what it is. I don't think it's anything good."

"Do you want to have another go with the healing device?" Janet asked. Privately she didn't think it was the best idea in the world but if Sam was willing to try it she would be there for her. There wasn't a lot else she could do."

Sam shook her head. "I don't think that's a good idea. I have an awful feeling it might have made things worse rather than better."

"Well, with any luck we'll be back at the SGC today," Janet said. "With all the benefits of modern human technology." She rummaged in the bag. "Well we have baleen and cantess for breakfast. Or if you're really really desperate, there's some travek, though personally I'd rather eat my own left foot rather than try that again." Sam giggled and Janet held her close. "We're going to be okay."

"I know. As long as you're with me," Sam wrapped her arms around Janet, nuzzling at her throat.

Kalec continued to monitor, trying to work out if a gap in the patrols would allow them to safely land on the planet and retrieve the two women. Their teltac was cloaked whilst in orbit but would become visible to Anubis's ship as soon as it moved. Kalec knew that he was with one of the best pilot's he had ever seen but the firepower on Anubis's ship was awesome. And he was having no luck in finding a way for them around the security patrols. It was already long past the time when they had promised to go back for the women. There had been nothing in the chatter between Bastet's citadel and Anubis's ship to indicate that they had been recaptured, so there was still hope.

Brata'c returned from his meditation. "We must get another message to the SGC. Perhaps they can provide a diversion."

"Too risky." Kalec shook his head. "They might have to rescue themselves."

"Major Carter is most resourceful and Doctor Fraiser is far stronger than she appears," Brata'c said, smiling in remembrance of her defiance when he was attempting to break Teal'c after Apophis's attempt to brainwash him. "She is a formidable warrior in her own right."

"I have heard reports of her from Anise," Kalec said. "Lantash also spoke highly of her."

"They are strong enough to do what needs to be done," Brata'c said. "Whatever circumstances force that to be. We will wait and watch."

The two women ate a sparse meal of fruit and biscuits and drank some water. Janet ventured to the mouth of the cave again and checked the area.

"Seems quiet," she said. "I think if we're going to make a move, now would be a good time." Sam got to her feet, Janet approaching. "I don't know quite the best way of working this," she said. "If we were on the flat, you could take my arm, but I think the best way is if I walk ahead of you and you keep one hand on my shoulder. We'll see how that works." She put something in Sam's hand. It was a sturdy branch, about five feet long which Janet had hastily stripped of foliage.. "That should help as well. I picked it up just below where we are."

Sam nodded. "I think it will be a great help. It was very thoughtful of you, Janet. Okay, we'll head for the ruins, first, see if there's anything useful there. We need to keep heading east. I remember the line of mountains behind the Stargate. One of them had a deep notch in the side, must have been volcanic activity in the past."

"Here's hoping it doesn't do a Mount St Helens on us then," Janet smiled. She took hold of Sam's hand and brought it to her lips for a moment. "I won't let you down, I promise."

"I know you won't, love." Unerringly Sam brought her hand up to trail along Janet's cheekbone. "Let's get started."

The ruins turned up nothing useful. They had obviously been rather poor quality dwellings, probably little more than shacks. The forest had largely reclaimed them. Little remained of the inhabitants apart from a few broken clay pots and a half collapsed cart, the bones of some pack animal still caught up in the traces. One find was a spring that fed into a moss lined bowl. Sam sat on a low wall nearby whilst Janet refilled their bottles.

Her fingers played with the ring in her pocket and as if summoned the shimmering rose up around her. Something that might have been the ruined walls that Janet described sprang up around her but they seemed more substantial than in Janet's description. Whisps of silver mist swam between them, sometimes seeming almost human in shape. The more she looked the more they seemed, the silver mist getting thicker and thicker… until Janet's hand closed on her forearm and she dropped the ring back into the depths of her pocket. Her vision went dark again.

"Are you okay? You're sweating – are you running a fever again?"

"I'm fine. It's just warm here after being in that cave all night," Sam said.

"Well, there's a track that goes more or less east heading into the woods," Janet said. "It'll be easier to follow than trying to make our own trail through."

Sam nodded. "What's the cover like at either side – just in case we have to get off the path quickly."

"Pretty thick. Certainly thick enough to hide us from most searches," Janet said.

"Okay, we'll chance the path then," Sam said. "We should be able to make better time anyway."

Anubis's warriors had one succinct order. Bring Samantha Carter and her companion to him unharmed. In teams of two, usually with two of Bastet's Jaffa unwillingly in tow they began to quarter the area spiraling out from the Citadel. One team went directly to the Chappa'ai and waited there.

In the shielded teltac Brata'c continued to monitor the situation. Though it was very hard to get a reading on Anubis's warriors Bastet's Jaffa showed up clearly on his sensors. As did two other readings, close together, moving in an eccentric pattern in fits and starts. That could only be the two fugitives. Many times over the next four hours did he see one or more patrols approach their position only to move away again. They were obviously moving towards the Stargate but the patrols forced them to circle back on themselves several times and by the time night fell they were actually further away from the Stargate than when they had started out that morning. It must have been a frustrating and exhausting day for both women, Brata'c mused. Hopefully the next day they would fare better.

Exhausted, her nerves frazzled from being on edge all day Janet slept. They had spent most of the day hiding from Anubis's supersoldiers who were quartering the area relentlessly. The four hour walk to the Stargate was now entering its third day. Sam could not rest. Her headache was growing steadily worse. She had been increasingly distracted all day. The shimmering lights were there whether she held the ring in her hand or not.

"Keep away from her!"

Janet woke with a start, expecting to see Jaffa or some visible enemy but there was nothing. Sam was standing in front of her, facing out into the night, swaying slightly, the hand device raised and active, a nimbus of energy visible around her hand.

"Keep away! I won't let you touch her!" Sam's arm moved as if she was tracking the progress of something. Her voice had a ragged desperation to it that tore at Janet's heart. Something was going on with her lover and Janet had no idea what to do about it.

"Sam, there's no one out there, I'm fine!" Janet whispered.

"They're there. I see them. In the shimmering… silvering. Silver ghosts," Sam sobbed. "They've been here all the time. Since the cave. The ghosts from the cave. The bodies. More now. More dead. They want… they want… keep away!"

Janet did hear something then, the clank of armour. A Jaffa patrol alerted by Sam's voice. Quickly she jumped up and tackled Sam from behind, putting her hand over Sam's mouth and dragging her back into the undergrowth. The light from the hand device died away. She pushed Sam down into the soft humus, half lying on top of her and looked out into the clearing.

Two Jaffa and two of Anubis's undead warriors entered the clearing. The warriors stood back to back in the centre of the clearing, scanning the area, arms raised, ready to fire. The Jaffa began to methodically probe the surrounding undergrowth with their staff weapons, stabbing viciously into the damp earth hoping to flush them out.

Janet edged backwards dragging Sam's limp body with her. There were no further outbursts but Sam was shaking like a leaf obviously disorientated.

The bladed end of a staff weapon thudded down about three inches from Sam's left ankle. It disappeared upwards again and then reappeared, missing Janet's ribcage by a whisker. Both women froze, waiting either for the seemingly inevitable discovery or for the patrol to move on. Sam seemed to have got herself under control again.

They heard the patrol move on and waited in silence for a few minutes longer. "I'm sorry," Sam whispered. "I don't know what that was, I…"

"It's okay," Janet breathed, her hand resting on the back of Sam's neck, her head resting on her shoulder. "Just tell me what's going on with you, please? It's more than the blindness, isn't it? You said something about shimmering, about silver ghosts from the cave?"

"Did I? I don't remember, I…"

"Don't lie to me, Sam, please," Janet said softly but the edge to her voice was unmistakable. With what was an obvious effort Sam took something out of her pocket and dropped it into Janet's hand.

"I found this in the cave near where we found the bodies. I don't know what it is except that it's naquada activated, like the hand device. I have no idea what it does except that I think it's linked to what I've been seeing – the shimmering, the silver ghosts I talked about."

Janet examined the macabre looking thing with a shudder. The ring seemed to have grown into the finger bone. She wondered if it was part of something larger, something like the hand device only built into the very bones of the wearer, like an augmented skeleton.

She quietly outlined her theory to Sam who shook her head. "No. Whatever it is, whatever it does this is it. It's complete. I have no idea how I know that. Even when I first picked it up it just seemed… familiar."

"Jolinar?" Janet asked.

"Perhaps… I don't know…" Sam held out her hand obviously expecting Janet to give the ring back to her. After a moment's hesitation Janet did so. Sam put it back in her pocket. "I think we should try to stay awake. I don't think they went too far away."

Janet accepted that the confidences were over. "I agree." She snuggled closer to Sam again. "By the way we need to plan something when we get back."


"Well, on the 19th of this month we will have been a couple for five years."

"My God… I'm sorry, Jan, but I'd completely forgotten." Sam's smile was completely genuine. It did Janet's heart and spirits good to see it.

"We should be due some downtime after this. What do you think about taking off some where. Somewhere warm with lots of sea sun and sand."

"And room service," Sam said dreamily. "And real beds."

"Magic finger beds?" Janet grinned.

"I don't need a magic finger bed, I got you," Sam rubbed her cheek against Janet's shoulder. "Only you. All I need. Even more than the room service."

Janet remembered something:

"When I look into that sacred space inside your soul

And see myself reflected"

Sam half recognized it. "That was beautiful, who wrote it."

"You did, as far as I know. It was one of the first poems you wrote for me for our first anniversary, remember?"

Sam smiled. She had it now. Softly she quoted the rest of the poem she had laboured over for hours.

"All thoughts all dreams crystallized

Shaped a diamond hope

More beautiful than the stars

My dream of you."

"That was when I realised that beneath that tough military exterior beat the heart of a pure sap," Janet said.

"Hey!" Sam nudged her, her delighted giggle taking the sting out of her resentment. They cuddled up closer again, sharing bodyheat to keep out the chill night air.

"It was also when I realized that I was so deep in love with you that I couldn't imagine any other way to be anymore. If I meant more to you than your dreams of NASA, of going to the stars…"

"You still do. You always will." There was a moment's silence. "I really thought we'd be home by now," Sam said softly.

"I know. These guys are persistent," Janet said. "All we need is a five minute window to get to the gate and dial out."

"Somehow I don't think they're going to make it that easy for us," Sam said. "Janet…"


"You don't even know what I was going to say!"

"Oh, something on the lines of `If the opportunity arises and we're separated, don't come back for me just get yourself out,' I'm guessing. No, Sam. Together or not at all. Understood?"

"Understood," Sam whispered.

Janet had edged herself forward until she could see over the ridge. Below them was the Stargate. Apparently unguarded. There had been some activity there an hour or so earlier. Two teams had met up, some sort of discussion took place amongst Bastet's Jaffa, Anubis's warriors standing aloof. Then both teams had gone off together towards the north leaving the Stargate unguarded. Apparently.

Disregarding her order, Sam had slithered through the undergrowth to join her. "It sounds quiet."

"It is. The Gate appears to be unguarded."

"Not likely. This stinks of trap."

"Of course it does," Janet said. "But I think we have to chance it. You still have the hand device and I still have one working zat. If we go down it won't be for want of trying."

"I like the way you think, Doctor. A plan so simple even Colonel O'Neill would approve," Sam snickered. She sighed. "Okay. Let's do it."

They were yards from the DHD when Anubis's warriors appeared out of nowhere. Janet stopped. "We've got company," she said softly.

Though the warriors were silent as the grave they were raised from the Jaffa could clearly be heard taking up position behind them.

"Any chance of making a break for it?" Sam asked, her fingers tensing around her unlikely talisman.

"Not really," Janet said. The lead Jaffa came forward, his powerstaff raised and primed.

He pushed her to her knees and then made to strike her as his fellow Jaffa and Anubis's warriors closed in around them but one of the warriors stopped him. Sam was also forced to her knees, her hands secured so that even though she wore the hand device she could not bring it to bear. They had not found the other thing. She kept her left hand tightly clenched around it.

"No. Our master requires them intact. He has many many questions, especially for this one." His gloved hand stroked Sam's head. She could not repress a shudder. All she could think of was ring-

wraiths, the dead-alive faces that lurked beneath the facemasks.

With the device clenched in her fist the shimmering was all around her, silver shadows dancing in and around them and suddenly Sam knew what she had to do. She did not question how the knowledge came to her only that it must be another process in her interaction with the ring.

"Our Lady Bastet wants to present them to Anubis, herself," one of the Jaffa said.

"They are to be taken directly to Anubis," the warrior who held Sam pulled her to her feet. His companion reached for Janet, the Jaffa holding onto her for a moment before releasing her. The warrior pushed her towards Sam. Janet put her hand on Sam's arm, feeling the tension in her noting with concern how pale and drawn she looked.

"You okay?" she asked.

"No time. Have to do it now. Janet – close your eyes. Whatever happens, don't open them again until I tell you," Sam whispered.

Janet swallowed, shut her eyes. "Okay."

Sam opened her mind to the silvering, welcomed it and in the same way as she activated the hand device let her spirit mingle with it asked a question of it and received an answer. She brought her hands together, the ring touching the activating crystal of the hand device. The ring grew hot in her hand, burning through her skin, her blindness becoming an opaque molten silver. She heard the Jaffa scream felt the warrior's hand tighten on her shoulder for a moment before falling away.

The silver became pure whiteness. Everything slowed… stopped.

Kalec called Brata'c over. "Look – near the Stargate – a huge surge of energy as if some sort of weapon has been activated." He studied the scanners. "Similar in wavelength to that of a hand device but a thousand times more intense."

"Carter – it has to be," Brata'c smiled. "I knew she would not allow herself to be taken lightly. "She died a hero's death."

"Maybe, maybe not," Kalec said. The energy flare died away. Only two lifesigns remained. As they watched they saw the Stargate activate and then the clearing was empty once more.

Janet opened her eyes. Whatever had happened, even with her eyes closed the visible light spectrum had been enough to send eyewateringly dazzling afterimages careering around her vision. A few feet away the four Jaffa were sprawled, their skins reddened and blistering, the Goa'uld larva they carried half out of the pouches as if they had tried to escape their fate. They looked and smelt… cooked.

Steam rose from the joints of the warrior's armour which was also pitted and blistered. They were very still their bodies seeming to be articulated in ways that were not normal even for them. And in the middle, untouched, her pale skin seeming to shimmer in the twilight stood Sam, her head bowed, her arms still bound, her fists clenched. She did not seem to have been affected by whatever she had done. But then neither did Janet though her mind screamed at her about the levels of radiation they had to have been exposed to.


She was unresponsive, her eyes open, unseeing her expression closed. She was breathing, her pulse was steady as a rock. "Sam, if you can hear me, I'll be right back." Quickly, Janet ran over to the DHD and checked that it was still working. Then she led her silent, frighteningly compliant lover over to the mushroom like device and dialed the address for the Beta site. The wormhole formed. Without any further delay Janet led Sam up the steps and through to safety.

Continued in Shimmer

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