DISCLAIMER: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of MGM, Showtime, Gekko etc. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Hey everyone! So this can be viewed as a bit of a 'Heroes' fix-it but probably should be more along the lines of an AU since I am adding a whole new element that never occurred in the series. Either way it's a much happier ending. There is angst, adult themes, and references to two women loving each other. If this is not your cup of tea well you probably shouldn't be on this site! I do not own anything related to the SG1 series and have written this purely for fun and enjoyment I make no money off of it. Also, please keep in mind this is fanfic. Some things stretch the limits of what certain devices can do, the various histories or biology of certain species. Just go with it lol. One final note. This started off as a one shot idea and kind of took off. When I get the chance I will probably come back to this and write out at least one more story as a follow up.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To xfiredancerx[at]gmail.com
"Retreat! Everyone back to the Gate NOW!" Sam shouted over her radio as she struggled to maintain her composure. With her CO bleeding out in her arms and hearing Daniel scream into his own radio that he needed a medic because Janet was down, she knew she wouldn't be able to keep it together long. Adrenaline and panic coursing through her body she barely noted the slightly surprised looks from her fellow soldiers as she moved quickly to her feet, Jack O'Neill's body cradled in her arms. "Cover me!" she shouted as she raced towards the Gate, which was now open and surrounded by crouched SG soldiers who were providing cover fire until the SG-8 medic team plus Daniel could make their way back.
Pushing down her instinct to pass the Colonel off onto someone else and rush back for Janet, she forced herself to carry her CO through the Gate herself. Every man who could still fire a gun was needed to guard the Gate as the rest of their people scrambled to make it back home safely. She felt the icy pull and then the dizzying spin and drop that always accompanied the short trip through the Gate before landing firmly on the metal ramp back at the SGC. "MEDIC!" she shouted only a split second after arriving.
The Gate Room was flooded with personnel. Hammond had had the foresight to have the medical teams standing by, and they swiftly moved past the heavily armed and tensely alert SF that were watching for any hostiles who might try to slip through the open iris. Sam absently noted that one SF was being treated for what looked like a stray staff blast that had traveled through the Gate. His injuries seemed minor.
"Major I suggest you clear the ramp and stand off to the side," General Hammond ordered from behind the thick and bulletproof glass that had been installed up in the observation room. It was then that Sam noted several fresh scorch marks on the wall. Apparently it was a bit of a small miracle that no one else had been downed by a stray shot. To prove the point another shot exited from the shimmering surface of the event horizon and missed Sam by inches.
Sam instinctively rolled down the ramp, throwing her body protectively over that of her CO and the two medics trying to load him onto a stretcher to cart him off. More staff blasts and a short burst of P90 rounds traveled through the Gate and the tense SF's shifted nervously, trying not to wince as a few shot came frighteningly close to their positions. "Fuck the restraints, drag him out of here if you have to, just GO!" Sam shouted finally as she watched the frightened medics fumble with the restraining straps as weapons fire rained down around them.
They needed no further prodding and staying in a low crouch, they all but dragged the Colonel's stretcher across the floor with the help of a couple of SF's and disappeared out the door. Moving out of the direct line of fire, Sam took up a defensive position alongside one of the SF's and waited with her own P90 trained on the Gate.
More soldiers began pouring through and Sam shouted at them to get clear of the wormhole and watch for incoming fire. A minute passed, then two, and finally SG-8 began coming through either carrying or dragging the wounded with them. SG3 and 13 quickly followed them and Sam felt her breath catch in her chest. Teal'c finally landed on the ramp, physically dragging a screaming and hysterical Daniel with him. "Seal the iris!" the Jaffa called out to those in the control room.
"NO! Sam screamed as she dropped her weapon and ran towards the Gate.
"Major stand down!" Hammond shouted over the intercom, and several SF's along with a couple of close SG team mates tried to grab for her, but desperation leant her a savage strength they weren't quite ready to deal with. One ended up with a broken nose, a second holding his split lip, while the rest clutched at empty air.
Seeing the wild look in the normally controlled features of Major Carter, Teal'c tossed Daniel towards the tall blonde as she pounded up the ramp. The tactic resulted in both humans becoming entangled and falling hard to the metal surface of the ramp. It gave those in the control room enough time to shut the iris and Teal'c allowed himself a small measure of relief. That lasted for the span of a single heartbeat as Samantha Carter launched herself at the now closed metal covering and screamed incoherently, tears pouring down her face.
"WHERE IS SHE?!" she demanded of Teal'c after a few moments of pounding futilely against the iris.
"Janet Frasier is gone," the large Jaffa informed her in a quiet and regretful voice that left everyone in the room reeling in shock for several long silent seconds.
He watched sadly as Samantha Carter sagged against the iris, fresh tears pouring down her face. "No," she said in choked whisper. "No, no, no ,no NO! HOW COULD YOU LEAVE HER THERE?! NO MAN LEFT BEHIND!" she screamed as she launched herself at her massive teammate and began pounding on his chest.
Teal'c caught her in his arms and allowed the blows because he knew the real reason behind her devastating grief. Several SF's moved to pull her off him, but he glared at them, warning them back. Daniel had finally managed to regain his feet, and sobbing, he approached as well and threw his arms around Sam from behind.
"God Sam I'm so sorry. I tried to get them to go back I'm sorry .I'm sorry," he was whispering over and over.
The entire group gathered in the Gate Room and in the Control Room watched silently on as the stoic Jaffa bent his own head, several tears escaping his now closed eyes as he too grieved with his teammates.
Meanwhile back on P3X-666. .
The tall and deeply tanned woman crouched low on the rise that overlooked the valley where the battle near the chapa'ai was being fought. She was dressed in functional battle armor that lacked the stylish flare that the her 'peers' typically preferred. Beside her, two of her most trusted advisors lay low, watching the scene unfold.
"The Tau'ri are retreating My Queen," the compact woman to her left noted.
"And it appears that they have cut our enemies forces in half," the other observed, relief evident in his voice.
"Indeed they have," the Queen murmured as she took note of the fallen Jaffa that littered the valley floor and hills surrounding the chappa'ai. "The rumors of their tenacity have not been exaggerated as we had first thought. Their weapons may be primitive, but they are obviously effective. And even I can see that their tactics far surpass those of the Jaffa."
"Shall we strike now while they are confused?"
"No. The Tau'ri will assume we are merely more enemies and I do not wish for any of our soldiers to be forced to injure or kill them. We will wait for them to retreat and see what the Jaffa decide to do."
A couple of minutes more passed and they watched in growing respect as the well organized force of Tau'ri courageously held the gate open until all those that could be saved were. "It is incredible my Queen," her head Lieutenant said with reverence in his voice. "They have healer's trained to enter the battlefield and aid their wounded."
"A noble endeavor and worthy of respect," she agreed as she eyed the small form of the one lone Tau'ri that had been left behind. It was that of a female and the Queen had seen her tending to one of the more gravely wounded soldiers before taking a staff blast square to the chest. The male that had accompanied her to the injured man's side had become obviously hysterical over the fallen woman's mortal injury and had been forcibly dragged away from her lifeless body after several more healers had briefly checked her and then turned their full attention to the man that could still be saved.
"By the chappa'ai!" the Second Lieutenant exclaimed. All three gazes turned to where a tall dark and imposing figure stood firing his staff weapon with apparent fearlessness and deadly accuracy. "He bears the mark of Apophis but fights with the Tau'ri!"
They watched as the last of the Tau'ri soldiers and healers approached the small group holding the chapa'ai open, and thrust the struggling form of the male that had been with the fallen healer into his strong grip. Then they quickly escaped into the chapa'ai, the large Jaffa dragging his now struggling companion with him. The Queen noted that for just a moment, there was a brief hesitation as the Jaffa looked in the general direction of where the healer had fallen. But a volley of staff blasts forced the Jaffa to retreat as well, and moments later the chapa'ai shut down.
The observers watched as the Jaffa slowly came out of their places of cover and began assessing their dead and wounded. Several approached the spot where the small Tau'ri healer had fallen, and prodded her lifeless body with their boots, but then turned away. They gathered up what was left of their forces and congregated into several groups in the middle of the clearing. Moments later, half a dozen ring transports appeared and the Jaffa were gone.
The Queen let out an audible sigh of relief and she felt her two Lieutenants relax next to her. "It appears we were not the subject of their investigation. Tell your soldiers to stand down Alak, but have them at the ready for another few hours just in case. Kreftini, double up the sentries for the next dozen cycles and then report back to the Council that all is well for now."
"What of you My Queen?" Kreftini asked, already having a good idea of what the taller woman as about to do.
"I wish to examine the brave little healer who gave her life so that another might live."
"Do you think you can revive her My Queen?"
"That is not in question. I wish to avoid extreme measures if possible however."
"I shall have the First Squad accompany you My Queen," Alak declared as he turned to look down at the troops waiting at the base of the hill. He gave a single hand gesture and a small group of eight soldiers detached from the main body of fighters and jogged up the hill. He gave another gesture and the rest of the troops below relaxed from their ready battle stance. When the eight warriors joined them, he looked at the commander of the squad. "The Tau'ri engaged the Jaffa and managed to take out more than half their numbers before they retreated to the chappa'ai. The Jaffa left as well."
"They pursued the Tau'ri?" The Commander asked looking down at the battle scorched earth surrounding the chappa'ai.
"They did not. It appears that the rumors of the Tau'ri have some truth to them though I do not know how much. One of their own fell in battle and they were forced to leave her behind. I wish to examine the body, and perhaps we can learn for ourselves the truth of what has reached our ears," the Queen informed.
The Commander of the squad nodded in understanding. "We shall escort you My Queen," he said, pressing his hand to his chest in salute and then bowed his head to Alak in acknowledgement as well.
"I will send word for your chambers to be prepared My Queen," Kreftini said as she bowed her head and then took her leave to fulfill the tasks given to her.
Alak also saluted his Queen and then headed down the hill to address the waiting troops. With a grateful smile towards the waiting squad who was accompanying her, the Queen turned and began making her way down towards where the small Tau'ri lay.
When they reached the body, the Commander ordered his team to form a protective circle and then crouched down next to the now kneeling Queen and looked the body over. "So small for a warrior," he said, a puzzled look on his face.
"She was a healer," the Queen told him as she brushed back the blood and dirt caked auburn locks and looked down into the dark eyes that were glazed over in death.
The Commander jerked slightly in surprise. "A healer?" he gasped. Several of the others looked over their shoulders having heard the comment as well, their eyes showing their own surprise.
"I watched as she came through the chappa'ai with a whole team of healers and directed them to various injured warriors. One had fallen right over there and was the most gravely injured. She took it upon herself to see to his care personally, despite being the furthest away from cover and other warriors for protection. It was an amazing thing to witness for not once did she flinch at the battle raging around her."
"Then she had the heart and courage of a warrior and she died a noble and honorable death," the Commander said respectfully as he pressed his fist to his chest and bowed his head in respect to the small fallen figure before him. Then he looked over to see his Queen opening a small pouch attached to her hip, and watched as she pulled the familiar device onto her hand. Looking back at the body his brows drew together. "The damage is extensive My Queen," he noted as he reached out and rolled the small female over just enough to see that the staff blast had gone clear through.
He looked up with concern in his eyes. "My Queen, her heart has been cleaved in half and her left lung is surely half missing as well. It also appears that her spinal column was damaged severely. Not to mention all the damage done to her brain due to-," his protests were cut off by the Queen laying a gentle hand on his shoulder.
"I appreciate your concern Commander and I more than anyone understand the risks and effort this shall take. It is not my intention to heal her completely at this point. I am aware of the potential dangers that are still present so soon after the battle. Have your men and women keep watch while I heal her enough to bring the breath of life and I shall handle the rest once we are safely back within the city and my chambers. You have my leave to interrupt the process if any danger presents itself or if you believe I myself are going too far."
"I will do your bidding My Queen."
The squad refocused their attentions back to their surroundings, keeping a keen eye out for any potential threats. The Commander himself kept half his attention on their surroundings and his people, and the other half was on his beloved Queen who was bent over the small healer, the device on her hand glowing brightly as she slowly began to heal the dead female's injuries. The sun crawled another hand span along the sky, and the Commander's attention became more focused on the Queen. Her body was beginning to tremble from the effort she was expending, and he could see the sweat beginning to form on her brow. Just when he was about to put a stop to the process however, the small healer's body jerked once, and there was a strangled gasp of air drawn in before she began breathing in a more regular pattern. She was still unconscious, and there was still a lot of damage to be healed. But she would live long enough to make it back to the city and the Queen's chambers.
"Tilkesh, signal the transport to our coordinates. Tell them to make haste."
The woman he had spoken to, immediately obeyed his instructions and moments later nodded that the transport was on its way. The Commander took a small flask of water from his side, uncapped it and offered it to his Queen. She offered him a weary smile.
"It seems I am a bit out of practice," she jested lightly.
He smiled a tiny bit as he pulled a small emergency blanket from one of the many pouches on his own belt and draped it over the small healer's body. "It has been some time since there has been need for you to heal someone this extensively injured My Queen. Perhaps you should let the palace Healers-,"
"No," she said shaking her head. "I wish to look after this one myself. Great care must be taken when dealing with this little one."
"I understand My Queen. Transport shall be here shortly," he informed her unnecessarily.
It wasn't long before the Queen, her guards, and one small healer were being whisked back to a city only a few kilometers away and well hidden from sight by a camouflaged shield much like the Nox possessed. There they met up with Alak who relieved the First of their duties and then accompanied the Queen to her chambers, pushing the litter that carried the body of their injured guest.
Once inside, he watched in approval as the Queen's servants set about helping her out of her battle armor and give her a restorative drink and a small bit of food. While the Queen was shedding her armor, the Lieutenant stood off to one side as the small healer was gently transferred onto the medical bed, and her clothing was efficiently removed and her body cleansed. He absently noted that despite her small stature and her calling as a healer, the Tau'ri seemed to be in prime shape and extremely attractive, he noted with a faint smile. He caught more than one pair of eyes unable to keep from straying along the lovely curves and defined muscles that her baggy clothing had concealed earlier.
Pulling his eyes away from the woman, he moved to where all of her clothing and gear were being laid out. He began digging through the multitude of pockets that adorned the vest she had worn over her uniform jacket. He was unsurprised to find most of it contained various medical supplies. Bandages, medicines, tape, scissors, a small light, and several other devices he couldn't identify. There were also small metallic cases filled with the projectile ammunition of the hand weapon that had been strapped to her thigh but never drawn. These he carefully examined and then stored in his own belt to be put away for safe keeping until the Queen gave him further instructions.
The search also revealed what appeared to be small packets of some kind of edible substance, and a picture of herself with a young girl and another woman with hair the color of the sun. All three were caught in the middle of laughing at something, the love for one another apparent in their eyes.
"Found something of interest Lieutenant?" the Queen asked as she moved to stand next to him and see what had caught his attention.
"It appears that our little warrior healer has a reason to live," he said with a smile as he handed her the picture.
The Queen fingered the picture her eyes narrowing. "This one, with the hair of gold. I believe I saw her on the battlefield. She wore a head covering so I cannot be sure, but when the healer came through the gate I could tell that the woman I believe to be this one was not happy to see her there. The one with gold hair was a soldier, and when the leader was felled next to her, she was forced to retreat with his body. She hesitated greatly though, and looked off in the direction of where the healer had gone for several seconds. She must grieve greatly right now," the Queen said sadly.
"My Queen, do you plan to allow the healer to return to her people?" Alak asked hesitantly after a few moments of silence.
"The Council will most likely object. But we have heard the whispers of what transpires beyond the veil of our world and I believe it is time we help those who seek to put an end to the threat of the System Lords. I will allow the Council to make the choice of whether they wish to contact the Tau'ri on behalf of your people Alak. I will speak with my mate once he returns and I believe that he will agree that it is time that we and our children should pursue contact with the Tau'ri."
Alak nodded. "I have heard the reports from the scouts as well My Queen. The Tau'ri have weakened the System Lords, and they have curried the favor of the Asgard. It is rumored that they are even turning the Jaffa against their own masters and that they have forged alliances with others. They may be young, but they are obviously brave enough to face an enemy far greater than them to protect that which they love. I doubt there would be one of your warriors who would not be honored to fight alongside the young Tau'ri."
The Queen smiled at him. "While I do not share your desire for confrontation, I am grateful to hear that you do not oppose my desire to open lines of communication and perhaps forge an alliance with the Tau'ri. I ask that you keep this conversation to yourself for now however Lieutenant. This is something that I need to discuss with my 'family' and the Council."
"Of course My Queen. Is there anything else I can do for you?"
"I need to meet with the Council shortly, but I believe I can handle things from here Alak. Thank you for your assistance and service today."
"Peace be with you My Queen," he said with a formal bow before he backed out of the room.
Four hours had passed since the SG teams had returned to base minus the CMO. In that time, Jack O'Neill had been operated on and was recovering in the infirmary in serious condition, but with expectations of a full recovery. The new plate in his vest had saved his life, taking the brunt of the blast. It just happened that the angle of the shot had managed to clip a small portion of the Colonel's unprotected side, but had managed to miss any major internal organs. Airman Wells was still in surgery, but Dr. Warner was optimistic about his survival. Of the ten other injured soldiers, only three were being kept for observation or treatment, but the rest were released after being treated.
The rest of SG-1 had been finally forced to retire to the briefing room until General Hammond could deal with them, two SF's keeping a respectful and discreet watch outside of the door. They'd all protested being seen for their post-mission physicals, and Sam had been rough with one of the cameramen that was poised outside the Gate Room once she Teal'c and Daniel had left. Then she'd had to be physically pulled off a severely cowed Emmett Bregman. Not more than five minutes later, Teal'c and Daniel Jackson were dragged off after confronting the now terrified journalist who had been sitting in the commissary nursing a coffee and keeping to himself for the first time all day.
Hammond stepped into the room, and looked the devastated team over. Sam was pacing furiously, biting her fingernails, tears occasionally streaking down her face. Daniel was slumped in his chair a glazed look of aguish and loss on his face. Teal'c was standing rigidly before the glass that looked down into the Gate Room. Hammond felt his heart go out to his people, feeling the loss of his CMO just as deeply as they did. But he knew how close they had gotten to Janet Frasier .especially his goddaughter. He had been aware of Sam's orientation since before she had even graduated High School. But as her Commanding Officer he knew that she had never given him cause to worry about that particular regulation.
With a sad heart, he'd watched her struggle to balance her need for human contact with her military lifestyle. He'd been disappointed to hear of her settling for Jonas- the man just didn't seem like the right fit for Sam. Disappointment turned into relief when the brief engagement was called off, and he'd watched in pride as Sam's career with the Air Force took off before finally being assigned under his command. When the Stargate Program took off, he couldn't have been happier for her, because everything she had worked so hard for in her life was finally paying off in a way that not even her brilliant mind could have imagined. And when a certain fiery doctor was assigned to his base to replace the previous CMO, he'd seen the light in Sam's eyes. The two women had grown close over the years, and Sam had confided to her Uncle George that she had fallen in love with her best friend. But they were both career military, working for the most top secret base on the planet, and under the Command of a man she respected more than anyone else in the Air Force. When he'd objected to her using him as an excuse, she'd smiled fondly and shook her head.
"I love Janet with all my heart Uncle George. But every time I go through the Gate, there's a good chance I won't come back. I've seen what that does to the families of the other soldiers. I couldn't put Janet through that. I'm happy with my life right now, and I know Janet is too. We're comfortable with things being where they are and when the day comes that traveling through that Gate just isn't worth the sacrifice for me anymore, then maybe I'll see if she's willing to take things further. But it's better this way for now."
"I respect you for that decision Sammy. But have you thought about what Janet wants too?"
She hadn't had an answer for that, because she hadn't ever told Janet about her feelings. A mistake she was obviously regretting deeply right now. He nodded to the two SF's outside the door and closed it quietly, giving them some privacy. Daniel looked up, Teal'c turned his head slightly, and Sam lifted her devastated gaze to his.
"Sammy," he sighed heavily, allowing his command mask to drop for a few moments in the presence of his most trusted team.
"Uncle George," she choked out as she practically threw herself into his arms and sobbed into his shoulder.
"Shhhh .I know Sammy. I'm gonna miss her too sweetheart."
"We just left her there! How can we just leave here there?!"
"I'm not going to just leave her there without trying to bring her home Sam. I have already ordered Siler to ready a MALP and send it through to see if we can recover her body."
"I- I want to be on the team that goes in."
"As do I," Teal'c said from where he had stood silently, keeping his gaze turned towards the Gate Room to allow the General and the Major a small measure of privacy.
"Don't think I'm going to be left out of this either," Daniel said adamantly from the table.
"I expected you all would want to go along. Daniel, you know precisely where Dr. Frasier was killed correct?"
"Yes General," he answered quietly, looking down at the table and swallowing.
"I know this is going to be difficult, but I'd like for you to report to the Control Room and help guide the MALP to where you were. If everything looks clear and we can locate Dr. Frasier's body, I personally will lead SG-1 and any other volunteers who wish to attempt a recovery.
Sam's eyes suddenly widened. "Cassandra!" she gasped.
"I wanted to wait until we had at least attempted a recovery before we told her."
"Sir .I I should be the one to tell her."
"I wouldn't have it any other way Sam. But I don't want you two to be alone. So as soon as we have a body or at least confirmation, then I will accompany you Daniel and Teal'c back to Dr. Frasier's residence to support you both. Now, if I allow you three to leave the room, do I have your word that you will not stir up any more trouble on my base? I already have Command breathing down my neck over this. I'd like to keep you three out of the line of fire as much as possible."
Sam drew in a shaky breath and nodded. "We'll try General. But please keep that damned reporter as far away from us as possible right now or I can't be held responsible for what might happen if I find a camera shoved in my face again."
"I believe Mr. Bregman has had sufficient persuasion to steer clear of SG-1 right now. But I will make it clear that you three are all off limits right now."
"How's Jack?" Daniel asked into the silence.
"Dr. Warner says he should make a full recovery, but not to expect him to be awake until tomorrow sometime. He feels it would be best to keep the Colonel sedated for now."
"How soon until the MALP is ready?" Sam asked, wanting to be a part of the search process as well.
"They were just moving it into the Gate Room when I came up here."
"Let's go find Janet then so we can bring her home."
The Queen looked down at her sleeping patient and allowed herself a sigh of relief. The healer would still have several days of recovery before she would be whole again. But at least she had been able to avoid using the sarcophagus that she had at her disposal for the absolute worst case scenarios. It had been nearly two centuries since she had last used it, and that had been on the child of one of her attendants that had been crushed horribly when a faulty design flaw caused a wall to collapse on the boy, leaving him horribly mangled but still alive. The hand device would have taken too long and she could not allow his suffering to be prolonged any further.
Turning back to the table that held the small healer's belongings, she too began to go through them. She inspected the various medical supplies and equipment, noting that it was somewhat crude, but effective. The picture was back in her hands once more and she smiled fondly at the expressions of joy and love that had been captured on the paper. Next she picked up the necklace that had been removed from around her neck. It had been some time since she had actually read the Tau'ri language known as English, but she was still familiar with the dialect. The tags revealed the female's name to be Frasier, Janet MD. The rest must have been some kind of abbreviated code for other various pieces of information, but it made no sense to the Queen and she had all that she needed for now.
Setting the metal tags and chain down she walked over to her patient and gazed upon the resting form of her guest. "A healer, a mother, a lover, and a soldier. It will be interesting to get to know you Frasier, Janet MD," the Queen said with a smile as she brushed back some of the now clean hair and then pulled the blanket higher over the resting woman and then moved towards her door, pulling her official robes on as she knew the Council was waiting to hear from her.
Exiting the room she looked at the small group of attendants that were relaxing on the comfortable low benches and couches waiting for further instructions from her. "The Tau'ri healer is in a deep sleep while her body continues to heal. It is doubtful that she will awaken before tomorrow, but if she does, please make her feel safe and comfortable and send for me at once. Seerah, please run and fetch Master Healer Tomal to be on hand while I speak with the Council. I hope to not be long, but I would feel better if someone is here in my absence in case something comes up. Tell Tomal she is under no circumstances to use the sarcophagus. Is that understood?" the Queen asked, her tone firming up just a bit to get her point across.
"It is Your Majesty," the attendant said with a smile and nod of her head. Then she ran off to do her Queen's bidding as the rest moved in to the room to keep a watchful eye on their charge for the next hour or so.
Everyone in the control room stared at the monitor in dismay. "I I don't understand. That's where we were. Look, you can still see the wrapping and stuff from the bandages she used on Airman Wells," Daniel said in a choked voice as he shoved his glasses up on his nose.
"Scan the surrounding area Walter," Hammond ordered quietly. But he already had that sinking feeling that they wouldn't find anything. According the reports he'd been given already, his people had downed well over twenty Jaffa soldiers, but there hadn't been a single body left in the bloodstained and scorched clearing around the Gate.
Several more tense minutes dragged by as Walter navigated the MALP around the small ravine that Dr. Frasier had been killed in. There was no sign of her body anywhere. "Maybe maybe somehow she survived," Sam began, her eyes brimming with tears.
Hammond settled a hand on her shoulder. "I spoke with the medics personally Sam," he said gently. "Janet hadn't had time to refit her gear with the new plate. The blast went clean through her heart. They said she would have been killed instantly," he informed her, his own voice tightening a bit.
"Sir, I have to bring the MALP back or we are going to have to let the Gate close and redial in," Walter said quietly as a grim silence settled over the room.
"Bring the MALP back Sergeant," Hammond ordered sadly.
"What about a UAV?"
"Please sir. I'm begging you. Everyone on this base including you owe it to her to do whatever we can to look for her body," Sam snapped, anger and hurt coloring her tone.
"I know that Sam. What I was going to say is that I don't think the UAV is necessary, because I will approve a search and recovery mission for the immediate area surrounding the Gate. The area looked clear, and the MALP explored the surrounding area enough that someone should have attacked it if they were still within the vicinity."
Sam relaxed in and nodded silently. Hammond looked down at Harriman. "Sergeant, please assemble every individual that is not involved in an essential task to the Gate Room in one hour. Inform the Master at Arms to be ready for what I suspect will be a large influx of volunteers for this mission."
"Should I inform the staff the nature of the meeting General?"
"Leave that to me son. Just tell the Master at Arms to have his team ready for a large dispensary of weapons and equipment. And no one goes through that Gate without the new armor any more," he added gravely.
"Oh and find someone to keep Mr. Bregman distracted. Last thing I need is for him to get underfoot of a bunch of angry grieving soldiers who have just lost a dear friend. If he becomes a problem, have him escorted to quarters and temporarily placed under guard. Right now I couldn't give a damn about what rights he's been given."
Harriman smirked a tiny bit. "Yes Sir."
Kreftini had just returned to her quarters after handling the tasks given to her by the Queen and handling some of her own personal business. She was in the process of unbuckling her armor when her comm unit beeped at her urgently. With sigh, she refastened her armor and moved over to her desk. "Yes?"
"Second Lieutenant, the scouts left to watch the chappa'ai reported in and said that it has been activated. It appears the Tau'ri are sending another of their mechanical scout vehicles back through."
Kreftini frowned. "Put me through to them."
There was a moment of silence and then the tell-tale click that she had been patched through to the two scouts keeping an eye over the chappa'ai. "This is Second Lieutenant Kreftini. Report."
"The chappa'ai was activated a few minutes ago Lieutenant, and the same mechanical scout that appeared before the first Tau'ri team arrived, emerged once more."
"What is it doing?"
"It appeared to scan the battlefield and then headed directly to a small ravine to the west of the chappa'ai. It appears to be moving in a search pattern."
"The healer," Kreftini murmured.
"They had been forced to leave one of their dead behind. I believe they may be looking for her body."
"There are no bodies left in the valley Lieutenant."
"That is because Her Majesty took it upon herself to care for the fallen Tau'ri. Keep a close eye on the scout, and report back to me with any changes or developments. I will be there shortly. Be sure to keep your camouflage devices activated."
She closed the link and then put a call into Alak. He answered immediately. "The Tau'ri have sent their scout through and appear to be looking for their fallen healer," she informed him without preamble.
"The Queen is in with the Council right now. Go back to the chappa'ai and report back what transpires. I will have a garrison on standby if needed, and will inform the Queen of these developments as soon as she retires from the Council Hall."
Kreftini nodded and closed the link and swept out the door, donning her cloak of rank as she went. Moments later she was aboard her own small transport and racing back towards the chapa'ai.
"Look I know someone died someone important. I get that, and I am sorry for the loss everyone is feeling. But damn it I have a right to document this! Don't you see? If this documentary is ever allowed to hit the public I want to show them the sacrifices you have all made. You people put more than just your lives on the line. I see that now," Bregman told Walter Harriman in a much humbler voice than he'd used in a long time.
"I'm sorry if I have stepped on people's toes and I give you my word that neither I or my team will do anything more to hurt these people any more than they already are. Call it my sense of self preservation kicking in if you don't believe I am sincere about this. But please, don't leave me out of the loop on this."
Walter eyed the distasteful man before him, hesitating as he tried to read whether or not the journalist was being sincere.
"Can you at least tell me who died back on that planet? Was it really O'Neill?"
"The loss of the Colonel would have no doubt affect everyone, but I don't think they would have been this upset or .lost if it had been him."
Bregman frowned. "So the Colonel is alive? Then who?"
Walter hesitated for a long time, weighing the decision of whether to tell the man who had died. But then he flashed back to god was it only a few hours ago already? He had walked into the commissary to see Janet Frasier sitting at a table with this man chatting amicably with him even laughing. As far as Walter knew, she had been the only one on the base to be truly open and friendly with the journalist and his team. Maybe he did deserve to know if only on a personal level.
"General Hammond ordered a medical team to the planet to treat several casualties. Dr. Frasier was amongst those. According to Dr. Jackson, she was hit at close range from a staff blast to the chest. She hadn't had time to change the plate in her vest to the upgraded ones. The medics on scene said she died instantly," Walter told him quietly.
He watched as the journalist sagged against the wall, his face going pale. "D-Dr. Frasier was on that gurney?"
Walter shook his head. "That was the Colonel. Our people were forced to leave Dr. Frasier's body behind."
"That's why everyone is so upset no man left behind," Bregman said slowly, his eyes betraying the genuine sadness that he was trying to keep out of his voice. "It doesn't always work out that way does it?" he breathed, the impact of just what these people risked, finally hitting him.
"More often than we'd like," Walter admitted.
Bregman remained silent for a brief while before looking up. "Listen, of everyone on this base, I respected Dr. Frasier. Everyone else gave me the runaround, and despised my presence. Please let me do something to honor her bravery and memory. I swear that I will not get in the way, I will not be intrusive, and I won't do any more interviews. Just .let me film. A picture of the grief that is straining to break out of these concrete walls will speak more of what you people sacrifice every day you come to work."
Walter pursed his lips in thought. His eyes narrowed and he fixed the journalist with a hard glare that few did not know he was capable of. "No more interviews?"
"I'll send my men away. Just me and a single hand camera. I will be discreet and won't say a word."
There was another long pause and then Harriman decided to take a gamble. "Send your team away, grab your camera and meet me outside the Control Room in ten minutes. One word and you will be out though, Bregman," warned him in a hard tone as he leaned in just a bit.
Fifteen minutes later General Hammond stood at the top of the ramp and looked at the people gathered below him in pride. He'd been brief and to the point. Dr. Frasier had been killed in action and left behind. If there was any man or woman on his base that deserved to brought home more than anyone else, it was her. Everyone had nodded in solemn agreement. He explained that they had sent the MALP out but could find no trace of the body. Since it appeared that the Jaffa had left as well, he was authorizing a Search and Recovery Mission.
He'd barely gotten the words, 'voluntary mission' out before the entire assembled group shift forward as one. Up in the control booth, hidden in the shadows and living up to his word of staying out of the way, Emmett Bregman felt a lump form in his throat. The attractive, fiery doctor had caught his interest almost immediately. Her personality exuded the kindness, determination and compassion that made her one the best in her field. It was evident that the men and women below didn't just see her as their CMO, but as family. She had selflessly risked her life and gone above and beyond her duties as a physician to help save theirs on countless occasions. Today she had given the ultimate sacrifice, and there wasn't a person on this base that wouldn't give theirs to see that she was brought home for her final rest.
As the assembled group filtered out of the Gate Room to go gear up for the mission, General Hammond included, Sergeant Harriman turned to look behind him. He was more than surprised to see him wiping at his eyes. Bregman offered him a shaky smile of appreciation. "Thank you for sharing this with me. I don't think any words could have said better what was just expressed down there in that room."
"If you keep out of the way, you can remain until they come back," Walter told him quietly. It appeared that faced with the devastating realities of what they faced on a daily basis had finally broken through Bregman's cold veneer. It was obviously an eye opener to the calloused man, and his new found humility made his presence tolerable. Coupled with the fact that Walter felt Janet Frasier deserved as much recognition and tribute that could be given for all that she had done for the SCG, perhaps Bregman's finished product could help with that if and when the program ever became public knowledge.
"I appreciate that."
The two scouts reported back to Kreftini who was perched on the hill, her eyes glued to the inactive chapa'ai. "We removed all signs of our presence Lieutenant. If the Tau'ri come back, they will assume she was taken by the Jaffa."
"If the Queen and Council wish to keep our presence hidden from the Tau'ri and the System Lords, why would she risk it by healing one of the Tau'ri?"
"The Tau'ri who fell in battle was a healer," Kreftini supplied with a faint smile.
"Ahhh," the one scout said with a knowing grin. "Her Majesty has always had a soft spot for those of the life giving callings."
"Indeed she has. But I think there is more to this than that. You both saw the bravery and skill of the Tau'ri even though they were severely outnumbered. They are a passionate race, and I saw with my own eyes that they openly embrace any who would fight with them in their cause of ridding the universe of those that would threaten their homeworld and their freedom even one who was once an enemy."
"You think the Queen wishes to ally with the Tau'ri?"
"I do not presume to speculate on what the Queen's intentions are. Only that there was more to rescuing the Tau'ri healer than the usual reasons this time."
They all reactivated their personal cloaking shields, and remained silent as they watched wave after wave of Tau'ri soldier step through the stone ring. "An invasion?" Tak asked worriedly.
Kreftini flipped a small lens down on her helmet's visor and zoomed in on the activity below. An older man seemed to be directing the various teams, who were splitting up and began searching the areas immediately surrounding the Gate. "The Jaffa .he is back. Along with the man he had forced through the chapa'ai. The Tau'ri had been with the healer when she fell, and it was obvious he was protesting leaving her behind. I believe I believe they are looking for her body."
The two scouts were looking down with wide eyes. "So many? For a single healer?"
"She must be a powerful healer," Tak breathed.
"Or greatly loved," Kreftini added sadly as she watched one of the soldiers- a female with golden hair- sink to her knees in the spot where the healer had fallen. The Jaffa and the Tau'ri male that had been with the healer before knelt next to her, one on either side, resting their hands on her now shaking shoulders as she stared down at the charred and bloodied spot where the healer had fallen. The older warrior, the one who had been in charge came by and knelt behind the grieving female, embracing her.
The three watched as the warriors spent nearly two hours combing the surrounding area looking for any signs of their fallen healer. The blonde warrior had not moved from where she knelt in the dirt the entire time. Her two companions stayed by her side, warding off any who approached too closely with the sole exception of the Commanding Officer. Their search had expanded to the surrounding hillsides, and Kreftini and the two scouts were forced to retreat back for awhile, to avoid detection. In the meantime, she had kept in contact with Alak, who had informed her that the Queen was still with the Council but being kept appraised of the situation. The Lieutenant and her scouts were to keep concealed, observe and report back.
After the Tau'ri had scoured the area with no trace of their fallen comrade, they slowly begin filtering back through the chappa'ai, their shoulders slumped in dejection, their spirits obviously broken. The leader of the warriors approached the small trio still kneeling on the ground and helped to pull the grieving female Tau'ri to her feet. He held her as she wailed into his shoulder, her two companions grieving quietly off to one side.
"Such compassion from a commander," the female scout Dela noted sadly.
Kreftini could only nod in silent agreement. She was forced to admit that she wasn't unaffected by the emotional scene below. Finally, the four Tau'ri activated the chapa'ai one last time and took their leave, all of them taking a long lingering look back before they stepped through the shimmering surface of the wormhole. With a weary sigh, Kreftini deactivated her cloak.
"Continue as you have, the next watch will be here soon. Inform them only of the basics that you saw and tell them to contact me directly if anyone else should appear. Do not be surprised if the Queen summons you to ask for a detailed report of the Tau'ri's actions. If she does, do not leave anything out."
"Yes Lieutenant," the answered obediently and then she headed back to where she had left her cloaked transport. It had already been a long day and she suspected it would be an even longer night as she reviewed what she had seen in her mind. She knew it imperative that the Queen be informed of everything she had been witness to. She just hoped that the Council would not tie the Queen up for much longer.
Emmett Bregman watched with a heavy heart as one by one, the soldiers returned, their very body language portraying defeat and failure. Janet Frasier had been lost to them completely. That could not have been brought home more than when General Hammond came through the Gate his arm wrapped protectively around an obviously distraught Major Carter.
Bregmen noted her grief was more stark than any one else's and inwardly wondered why. He knew the two women had been close friends, but it seemed liked perhaps there was more. Whatever it was, everyone studiously ignored it and an idea formed in the back of his mind that caused his eyes to widen slightly. The military had a strict 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' policy. As a journalist he was well aware of the scandals that had been caused when a decorated veteran found him or herself drummed out because of their preference in companionship and love. Sadly, most of those unfortunate soldiers had been victims of others with petty grudges or closed minds.
Here at the SCG however, things were different. These people had fought and bled beside each other. They slept, ate and breathed their work, which was so classified that not even their loved ones really knew what they did when they left for work in the morning. The only other people who could understand what they went through on a day to day basis was each other. To even be considered for the program you had to be the best of the best. The level of respect and trust they HAD to have with each other was so high that it really transcended military protocol.
As the General lead the upset Major out of the Gate Room, more than one soldier offered her their condolences, either verbally, with a nod, or a hand on her shoulder. She tried valiantly to acknowledge her friends and co-workers, but she ended up breaking down completely and was quickly led away by her over protective teammates and General Hammond.
If his theory was correct, then everyone knew there was more to the relationship between the two women and didn't care one bit. Bregman supposed that if he worked in the world's most top secret military base where you were saving the planet from an alien enemy force one a daily basis, little things like a person's sexual preference became extremely insignificant.
Oh how we wished he could pursue this mystery further. At the very least it could make a compelling argument to the President that the policy should be repealed. If his instincts in this matter were right, then these men and women were living testament to how ridiculous the policy was to begin with. But he knew that Harriman had gone out on a limb for him and he had given his word of good behavior. These people had earned the right to not be disturbed during their mourning, and despite what everyone might think, he was a man of his word. So he remained silent as he recorded what played out in the Gate Room and then thanked Harriman once more as he returned to his quarters where he would watch and re-watch the hours of footage he had, seeing everything in a whole new light.
The Queen was not surprised to see both her Lieutenants waiting for her outside the Council Hall as she left. "Walk with me my friends," she invited as she began making her way back towards her palace which was nearby.
They fell in step with her, and remained quiet for awhile, allowing her to shed the tenseness they sensed from her after her dealings with the Council. Halfway to the palace she finally spoke. "So the Tau'ri came back to look for their lost healer?"
"In force, My Queen," Kreftini answered. "I have never seen so many people dedicated to the search for one lost soul."
"She is beloved by many apparently."
"And one in particular it would seem," Kreftini added.
"A female with hair of gold?"
Kreftini blinked but then nodded. "How did you know?"
Alak smiled a bit. "I found a picture amongst her belongings. The healer was with a girl and another woman with hair of gold. They were all smiling and shared a look of happiness only achieved with your loved ones."
"She mourns the loss of her lover greatly My Queen. It was .heartbreaking. Even Tak was rendered speechless in the face of such grief for awhile. Is there any way to return her to her people My Queen?"
"I have every intention of doing so. The Council is aware of this, but I must first speak with my beloved and my children on the matter before I make a full proposal to the Council."
"I received word less than an hour ago that My Lord was entering the system. He should already be planet-side by now," Alak informed her.
"And what of his mission?"
"I do not know details My Queen. Only that it appears he was successful."
She nodded and then fell silent as she picked up the pace a bit as they approached the palace gates. The two Lieutenants followed her wordlessly, nodding to their sub-ordinates as they went, who took the visual queue that the Queen was not to be disturbed until otherwise notified. Once inside they proceeded directly to the Queen's Chambers and the attendants all smiled and nodded in respect as she approached.
"Resting comfortably and under the watchful eye of both Master Healer Tomal and His Majesty."
"My husband has returned?"
"Only a few minutes ago My Queen. He was amused to find your latest rescue," her primary attendant told her with a small grin.
The Queen chuckled herself and the two Lieutenants exchanged a knowing look. "And tell me .did he manage to come home without a rescue of his own?"
"Surprisingly, he did," the woman laughed. "Perhaps it was your turn to rescue some poor lost soul."
"Perhaps," The Queen smiled. "I have much to discuss with my advisors and my family tonight. Can you please see that food and refreshments are provided by the evening staff?"
"As you wish my Queen," she said nodding in respect before flitting off to organize the evening meal.
The two Lieutenants hung back at a respectful pace as the Queen entered her home and bid her husband a warm welcome as he returned the firm hug and passionate kiss. Kreftini watched the display with a soft smile on her lips and a small amount of envy in her eyes. "It is a sight to behold," Alak whispered into her ear.
"To be together for so long and still carry a love so deep."
"If only we could be a fraction so lucky eh?"
Kreftini let her gaze slide over to her Commanding Officer and she quirked an eyebrow. He flashed that handsome grin of his at her and she looked away blushing. Was he flirting with her? Her sudden personal dilemma was interrupted by the Queen turning back to them and extending her hand in a gesture for them to approach.
"Come my friends. Let us sit and hear the stories we each have to tell."
"Yes yes! I am eager to hear how the tiny Tau'ri came to be occupying your medical bed my love."
"You missed quite a bit of excitement today my husband." The Queen's expression sobered a bit as she looked over at the small healer. "The stone was tossed into the pond today and I believe the ripples have been set in motion."
Cassandra Frasier heard the front door unlocking and jumped up from the couch where she had been doing her homework. "Hey mom!" she shouted happily as she headed into the entryway to greet her mother. She stopped dead in her tracks when she saw Teal'c, Daniel and Uncle George all standing protectively around a grief stricken Sam.
"Sam?" she whimpered, feeling the room start to spin as the oxygen seemed to be instantly sucked out of the room.
She watched as Sam's mouth opened and closed several times, tears streaking down her face. "No!" she gasped and then threw herself at Sam who caught her up in a tight embrace, both women sobbing. The men helped them both into the living room where they collapsed onto the couch, Sam telling her 'I'm sorry' over and over again.
When Cassie finally found her voice she looked up at her Uncle George. "What happened? Where's Uncle Jack?" she croaked out.
"One of the teams ran into trouble while investigating something on P3X-666. I sent several other teams in as backup, but one of the Airmen was badly injured and we had to send a medical team through. Your Uncle Jack was injured in the firefight but will recover. Sadly, your mother was killed saving the young man's life. I'm so sorry Cassandra," the General told her in a soft voice filled with regret. "I should never have risked the life of my CMO like that. I should have never risked the life of your mother."
Sam's arms tightened around her and Cassie turned her head to cry into Sam's shoulder for a little while longer. Finally, she forced herself to look up at the man that she knew had to make all the toughest calls. "It wasn't your fault Uncle George," she sniffed. "Mom knew the risks every day she went to work. She loved what she did and she would have hated herself if she hadn't gone through to try and help and that Airman had died. She died doing what she loved helping others."
Hammond offered her a weak but grateful smile. "Sam is going to stay with you for a little while until we can get things sorted out okay?"
Cassie nodded. "Can .can I see her?"
She watched as everyone stiffened and then Hammond's head lowered and he let out a heavy sigh. "The teams were under heavy fire and had to retreat while they still could. We went back for your mother's body but there was no trace of her."
"They took her body? You you mean they could have revived her and and turned her into a Goa'uld?" Cassie asked, horrified by the prospect that her mother had not only been killed but then turned into the very monster they had been fighting against all these years.
Sam suddenly lurched to her feet and staggered past everyone as she rushed towards the nearest bathroom. Violent retching could be heard, and Daniel quietly excused himself to go look after Sam. Hammond looked at a loss for words. So Teal'c finally spoke up as he crouched down in front of the teenager and took both her hands in his own.
"That is a possibility we must all prepare for Cassandra. For all intents and purposes, your mother is dead, and I grieve deeply at this second loss you are now suffering. But I promise you this: if the Jaffa did take your mother to use her as a host, I will not rest until those who did such an unspeakable thing have paid for it with their lives, and your mother is restored to us whole and healthy."
"Oh god Teal'c .she feared becoming a Goa'uld more than anything. I I don't think I could handle hearing that someone from the SGC found her alive but turned into one to one of them!" she sobbed as she threw her arms around the tall man.
He hugged her back just as tightly and let her grieve. Hammond looked at his watch and then at Teal'c. "I have to get back to the base. I have a full night of paperwork and notifications to make, along with preparing for the inevitable Inquiry," he sighed.
"DanielJackson and I shall stay here with Cassandra and Major Carter."
"Thank you Teal'c. Tell Sam I'll be in touch in the morning."
Teal'c and Cassie simply nodded and the General left, feeling the burden of his Command heavier than any time before.
It was late into the night, and two ancient lovers stood side by side looking out over the city that was their protectorate, drinking in the peace of the night. "You truly believe that this is the time to let your existence be known my love?"
"I have hidden away long enough Khonsu. We have had centuries of peace together, and we have enjoyed the fruits of that love. But if we hope to protect all that we have built for our children and our people here, then we must band together with those who would defy the rest of the System Lords. Remember love, they are not the only threat to all that we hold dear, just the immediate one."
"Osiris will not rest when he learns of your survival," her husband sighed.
"Do you fear retaliation?"
He smiled warmly down at her. "I would face Anubis himself, alone, if it meant protecting you and our children. Osiris does not frighten me my love. But I fear for what he may do to you if he ever gets his hands on you. He will not take your betrayal lightly."
"He will not. But if that day should come I shall remind him that it was he who betrayed me. If it had not been for the intervention of one of my acolytes, I would have died because of his treachery. When I first heard of the whispers of his escape, I was tempted to hunt him down myself."
They were silent for awhile longer. "Does it worry you? Knowing that we will be risking all of this?" Khonsu asked.
"Greatly. But our Lieutenants assure us that our people are willing and I believe this to be true. As for our children? They have been eager to explore the galaxy for a long time, and they too have sensed the approach of this day." She smiled faintly. "Nutan approached me while you were away. Told me she spoke on behalf of our elder children," she said in an amused voice. "She said that the heavens whispered rumblings of battles to come, and that if we did not choose a side, we might find ourselves caught in the middle."
Khonsu chuckled. "Our little warrior. Kismet was a perfect match for her."
"I sometimes wonder if they only egg each other on," the Queen laughed.
"Perhaps," her husband grinned. "But you are right. It is time that we stopped sheltering them and let them face their own choices. We have prepared them as best we could, and I believe they will make us proud."
"I wonder if Egeria is still out there somewhere," the Queen asked after several minutes of comfortable silence.
"If anyone else of the Rebellion could have evaded the System Lords for this long, it would have been her."
They stood in their loose embrace for awhile longer before the Queen looked up at her husband with desire in her eyes. "Come my love. You have been away for many moons and we have both missed your presence a great deal."
He leaned down and kissed her passionately, and she allowed him to sweep her up in his arms and carry her off to their bedchamber.
Janet Frasier slowly woke the next morning, groaning at the pain that was coursing through her body. There was movement by her side and then a gentle hand lifted her head slightly as a cup was pressed against her lips. "Sip this, it will help you feel better," a soft and calming voice told her from nearby.
She did as she was told and tried to open her eyes, but the brightness of the room caused them to tear up instantly and she quickly shut her lids with a hiss. "Easy little one. Your body suffered a great trauma and while I healed what I could, you still have aways to go."
"Wh-where am I?" she asked, her voice weak and hoarse.
"You are on the world Philae and currently in the main palace as my guest while you recover from your injuries."
"H-how did I get here? Where are my friends?"
"You traveled through the chappa'ai with your friends. You were felled by a Jaffa whilst trying to heal one of your warriors. Your friends were forced to retreat. After the Jaffa left, I revived you and brought you back to my city."
"Sam," the small healer said in a pained whisper as she tried to crack her eyes open once more. This time she managed to keep them open in thin slits for a little while, letting her pupils adjust to the light.
"I'm sorry, I am unfamiliar with that word."
"It's a name," Janet exhaled.
"Ah, would this be the one with hair of sun kissed locks that was in the image in your vest pocket?"
"I am told she returned with many of your people through the chappa'ai to search for you. She mourned your passing greatly. Is she your mate?"
The small healer closed her eyes and despite her discomfort -the drink had done a lot to help numb the fire still burning in her chest- she smiled faintly. "If only," she whispered sadly.
The Queen filed that comment away for investigation at a more appropriate time. She reached out and rested a cool hand on the healer's brow. "Rest now, Little Healer. You will be reunited with your people soon enough."
"Thank you," Janet whispered as she started to drift off again. Then she struggled back awake. "What is your name?"
"I am Isis, Queen and beloved Protector of the people here on Philae."
She noted the sudden look of panic and disbelieving shock on the Tau'ri's face before she finally succumbed to the sedative that was in the drink.
Interesting, she knows the true nature of who we are by the name alone. I wonder how that is possible?
'Do you think this will be a problem?'
It may take her some time to trust us if she thinks we are like the rest of my brethren.
'Perhaps she may know of Egeria, or some of the others.'
Perhaps. I hope that we can only convince her that we truly wish to ally ourselves with the Tau'ri and wish them no harm.
'Maybe it is a good thing that it was one of their healers that you rescued instead of a warrior.'
Probably, Isis chuckled to her host. Let's just hope that this little one's warrior love does not try to shoot me on sight for not returning her immediately.
'I thought she said-'
They may not be lovers in the physical sense, but you saw that image. One would have to be blind to not see the affection they have for each other.
The next time Janet woke, it was thankfully dark. She was able to open her eyes without the blinding agony that she'd suffered earlier and tried to force her groggy mind to take stock of her surroundings. She'd vaguely recalled being shot by the staff blast and the searing pain that had literally taken the breath completely out of her. She'd been sure she was dying as, even through the rapid onset of shock, her physician's mind had clinically categorized what each sensation had meant. She also recalled the horrible sense of regret that had overcome her in her last moments of alertness. Then there had been darkness .and a dream? She thought she remembered arguing with someone, but she was too exhausted, still in shock, and in too much pain to remember clearly.
But she'd somehow miraculously survived.
Her eyes widened as she recalled the last moments of her conversation with her so-called savior.
Fuck. The Goa'uld had captured her. Isis to be exact. How the hell was she even alive? And if this Goa'uld really was Isis, who was in that stasis jar that she'd dissected? The exhausted and sore woman knew there were a hundred more questions just on the edge of her mind's ability to think straight, but only one stood out right now.
She had to escape.
The brunette was a bit surprised to find that she wasn't restrained in any fashion. Nor were there any guards posted inside the room. She appeared to be alone, but looks could be deceiving so she would wait to see how far she would get.
With a quiet gasp, Janet forced her body upright, and as the sheet fell away, she realized she was nude. There were several nodes attached to her skin that looked similar to other devices she'd studied over the years. She carefully deactivated them before trying to detach them, aware that just yanking them off would most likely alert others to her attempts to escape.
As Janet willed her shaking hands to work, she noted the horrible scarring on her chest, and cringed. There was no way she had lived through that staff blast. Janet was confused though as to how exactly she'd been healed. A sarcophagus- which was the preferred Goa'uld method- quickly healed a body from just about any mortal wound without any linger pain or scarring in most cases. She had definitely not been lucky enough to receive that kind of care. Perhaps this was some form of passive torture?
Pushing that aside, Janet focused next on getting to her feet...which were strangely numb She'd spotted all of her gear laying on a nearby table, though her shirt and jacket seemed to missing. Not that they would have done any good, she mused wryly. Taking a deep breath, the injured woman swung her legs off the bed and managed to balance her weight on her feet. The exertion cost her considerably however. The room spun crazily for a few seconds, and fire lanced through her chest. She also felt a growing knot of agony in her back and Janet clutched the side of her bed as she waited for her mind to clear from the haze of pain that had swept through her.
Still panting from both the agony and the effort of simply standing, Janet forced herself to shuffle one foot in front of the other until she had reached where her gear had been neatly laid out on the table. Ten excruciating minutes later saw her back in her pants- minus the underwear- and her ALICE vest. She'd barely managed to shove her feet into her boots, but she wasn't going to even attempt to tie her laces. Bending over was simply no longer an option any longer. She was barely decent, but it would be enough for now. Escape at all costs was paramount at this point.
Amazingly, they'd left all her weapons on the table, though they'd removed the ammo clips. Still she had her field knife, and that was better than nothing at all. Not that she could probably do much with even a gun at this point. By the time she started for the door at the far side of the room, her breaths were coming in harsh gasps of barely suppressed pain, sweat was pouring from her brow, and she was shaking uncontrollably. She'd just made it to the door when she felt searing pain shoot down her spine and she lost all control of her lower limbs. She grabbed for the door frame and managed to ease herself to the floor with a little less speed, but still enough to bruise her knees and cause her to cry out as she slumped forward.
The knife clattered to the ground as waves of renewed agony rolled through her, and Janet found herself helpless to do anything but curl up in a fetal position as broken sobs escaped her normally iron control. Hurting, terrified, and alone, Janet absently wondered if Sam had ever felt so helpless and weak. Ashamed at her body's betrayal, but unable to do anything about it, Janet pressed her forehead to the cool tiles on the floor and waited for her captors to drag her back to her bed.
Pre-dawn light was just spilling through the windows when she caught sight of Isis entering her room. As the Goa'uld pulled a robe over her nightclothes, Janet absently noted that the woman looked .mussed. Still beautiful -what Goa'uld wasn't attractive- but her hair wasn't in perfect place, her clothes were rumpled, and her make-up appeared smudged in places. Did she just wake up?
That brief musing was cut short when Isis saw the empty bed and concern wiped away the warm smile that had been lingering on her lips. "Khonsu!" she cried out as she spotted Janet only seconds later, still curled up on the floor where she'd fallen a couple of hours earlier.
Janet braced herself to be harshly hauled back to her bed and restrained and reprimanded her for attempted escape. Anything but to have the Goa'uld fall to the floor next to her and pull her trembling body to her lap, issuing soothing noises as she shared her body heat with Janet.
"Easy, Little Healer. I know you are afraid, but I am not like my kin. Shhhhh, easy now. Relax and I will ease your pain soon," she promised in quiet tones as she cradled Janet in strong arms and brushed away some of the tears that still fell occasionally.
"Khonsu!" she called out again, with what sounded like earnest desperation in her voice.
A man came stumbling into the room, obviously having just been woken, and barely presentable. His eyes widened at the sight before him. "My Love!" he called out as he moved forward and crouched in front of the two.
"The hand device .please fetch it quickly for me," Isis ordered, but he hesitated.
"Beloved, you have barely had time to rest after yesterday's healing session." He looked Janet over with what looked like a skilled eye and she shuddered as his hands gently pushed away the ALICE vest, exposing her chest to view as his fingers lightly traced the still healing flesh there. She couldn't help the cry of pain that the lightest of touches there produced. He looked up with sadness in his gaze. "Beloved, she is in tremendous pain and we both know there is much more to be done. Perhaps it would be best if we just used the sarcoph-,"
"NO!" Isis said, the Goa'uld taking over the host's voice. It was not spoken in anger, but the Goa'uld was firm in her words. "Love, you know as well as I do what the sarcophagus does to those who use it. She would be in there for at the very least given her injuries. Janet Frasier is strong and she is a physician herself. I am sure she knows what it does as well. Don't you little one?" she asked looking down into Janet's brown eyes.
Janet licked her lips and nodded. "A-Addicion .w-w-withdrawls," she managed.
"I think the choice should be the patient's my love. She is alert, a healer herself, and fully aware of the risks," Khonsu said, his own eyes flashing as the Goa'uld within him spoke for the first time within Janet's presence.
Isis seemed to glare at him for a moment and then sighed heavily, admitting to the wisdom of his suggestion. Looking back down at Janet, the smaller woman found herself confused by the genuine concern for her that she found in those nearly lavender eyes. "Janet Frasier, your wounds were mortal. I can continue healing you with a Hand Device, but it will still be several days before I can restore you to full health. We can ease your pain in between sessions, but you will still suffer a bit until the worst of the damage is healed. But if you wish it, we have a sarcophagus for true emergencies. You will most likely require a full day inside however and you will spend the next several going through serious withdrawals. The choice is yours."
Janet was trying to wrap her mind around the fact that two Goa'uld were crouched before her appearing to be genuinely concerned for her well being. Now they were giving her a choice. This was nothing like what the others described their own captures to be like, and the behavior of the Goa'uld was certainly like nothing she'd ever witnessed herself before. But then Janet was all too aware of how devious the Goa'uld could be. She decided she could do nothing until she was healed fully. Something was wrong with her spine, of that she was all to painfully aware of. Since her collapse she hadn't been able to feel her lower body. She would let them heal her and then she could figure out escape.
Trying to order her scattered thoughts better, Janet took a deep breath, closed her eyes and tried to make an informed decision. Her body begged for the quick heal of the sarcophagus, and she was greatly tempted. But she knew she would need a clear mind afterwards, and after having treated more than just Daniel's case of the DT's she knew just how badly her judgment could be impaired. The slower treatment would grant her a clear head and time to investigate. She could drag out her recovery if need be to buy herself more time to assess her situation more fully.
"The Hand Device," she whispered out.
Isis smiled and nodded. "I know it hurts Healer, but I promise I will do all I can to ease your pain until I have fully healed you." Then she looked up at her husband. "Please fetch my hand device beloved."
"Isis, you have not fully recovered yourself. I will take your place today." Janet was again confused by the genuine worry in the man's eyes for his wife.
Isis shook her head however. "You cannot Khonsu. The Council is expecting your report and advise today. Now please my husband, the longer we argue the longer she suffers."
Khonsu still did not move and then he reached out and took Janet's hand in his. "Janet Frasier I know you are in a great deal of pain right now, and I commend your efforts to escape. But please believe we mean you no harm. You will be returned to your people safe and whole, but there is much you need to know of this world we live on and of the people here that we protect. It will all be explained to you soon. But for now, know that the continued use of the Healing Device is dangerous even to us. Would you allow my wife just a few moments more so that she and her host can bolster their strength with a bit of food?"
"Khonsu!" Isis gasped.
Janet just stared at them both and then finally nodded, unable to find her voice at the moment. She had no idea if the words were genuine- though they appeared to be- or if it was an elaborate ruse to draw out her agony. But if the words were true, then she didn't want anyone working on her when they were already in a compromised condition, and she didn't want to jeopardize Isis or her host if they truly were trying to help her. She could sort it all out later.
Khonsu looked up at his wife and smiled lovingly at her, the look causing her indignation to fade. "My love, you know we cannot help but look after your own safety. We have much facing us, and our family and our people will need you standing strong by our side if we are to face the wrath of our brothers and sisters once more. Go eat and prepare for the day. I will tend to your brave little healer here."
Isis huffed a bit, though she was suppressing a grin. "Very well. Give her something to ease her pain immediately though."
"Yes, beloved," he said in amused tone.
Khonsu reached out and gently scooped her tiny frail body into his strong arms. His solid figure reminded her a bit of Teal'c. He was careful in his handling of her as he returned her to bed and then was even more amazed as he held her gaze while he carefully stripped her of her clothing once more. With his eyes on hers, it allowed her some modicum of privacy and she absently noted that his hands were nothing but professional. Once the warm blanket was pulled back over her, covering her completely, she exhaled shakily. He turned and walked over to a table and she watched as he began fixing a drink of some sort. When he returned he held the cup up.
"This is a natural pain killer with a mild sedative. I would normally give you something intravenously, but it will interfere with my wife's work with the hand device. It will help ease the pain some, and it will make you sleepy, but not overly so. We ran some tests on your blood to make sure you would not have an adverse reaction to anything we give you. Do you wish to partake?"
Janet may have refused the sarcophagus, but she wasn't about to refuse anything that would at least dull the agony coursing through her right now. She was in no condition to fight or escape right now anyway. "Yes please," she almost begged.
He gave her a sympathetic smile, and she found that it was one she herself had given many of her patients before. He approached and cupped the back of her head gently once more as he aided her in drinking the sweet tasting concoction. The cool liquid felt like heaven on her parched lips and throat, and she had to force herself not to gulp it down. The sweetness woke up her taste buds as well, and her stomach suddenly grumbled despite her condition.
Khonsu chuckled in amusement even as Janet blushed, and he smiled down at her and he let her head rest back on the pillow and even smoothed some hair away from her eyes. "That is definitely a good sign Little One." He noticed her eyes flash slightly at the constant use of the nickname and laughed even further. "And that is an even better one!" he declared happily. "Despite its tendency to create drowsiness, the drink is a restorative as well .a fast acting one in your case it would seem," he told her with a pleased grin.
Janet did have to admit that despite the slowly dulling throb of pain and the lure of sleep, she did feel some of her strength returning.
"I must depart in a bit to attend to matters of our people. The fight between your brave warriors and our brethren caused quite a stir amongst our people. It also showed my wife and I that we can no longer hide from our kin any more. Your presence has caused some rather large ripples Little Healer. It will be interesting to see how things play out now. I will see to it though that one of our attendants fetches you a filling broth. Perhaps in another day or two you will be able to handle solid food, but you know that it is best not to push it too soon."
Janet nodded in agreement, having argued with many a stubborn and whiny soldier over her career, as to whether or not they were truly ready for solid food. Suddenly, Sam and her pleas for her beloved blue Jell-O came to mind and a fond smile turned her lips up ever so slightly. Sam always argued that it wasn't really solid food, and she would give Janet those big blue puppy dog eyes that almost always got to her. Khonsu noted the sudden change in expression and said nothing but smiled to himself, pleased.
He patted her hand gently, drawing her attention back to him. "I must leave and go prepare for my meeting with the Council. My wife will be back shortly for another session of healing. You saw that there are no guards and that you are not restrained and the doors are quiet obviously unlocked. Do you give me your word as a Healer that you will not endanger your health - or my wife's for that matter- by attempting to escape any again? The more you undo what she's done, the more she endangers herself trying to heal you with only the hand device."
Janet swallowed and then nodded. "I promise," she said simply.
He nodded and with a final pat of her hand he left her to rest. She succumbed quickly to the mild sedative, and dozed lightly for a little while. She was faintly aware of Isis entering the room and quietly giving instructions to another individual and she managed to drag her eyes open long enough to note that there was a middle aged woman who was moving around the room performing a few tasks as efficiently as any of Janet's nurses. Isis herself was settling next to Janet and pulling the hand device on.
"I need you to remain still and relaxed Janet Frasier. That is another reason Khonsu gave you the drink. It will make the task of healing you less taxing on me."
"You mean on your host?"
Isis smiled a bit. "On both of us. Unlike the rest of the Goa'uld, my husband and I do not use a sarcophagus to restore our strength. While I am able to grant my host greater stamina and strength, it is not quite what my brethren experience. I share my strength equally with that of my host she and I are truly one and neither of us would willingly endanger the other without consent. The Goa'uld willingly endanger their hosts on a regular basis because they rely on the sarcophagus and forcefully taking new hosts if they get their current one killed. The sarcophagus turned them into greedy mindless killing machines. We became little better than the simpleton creatures we once used as hosts and some of us refused to ascribe to that way of life any more."
Despite her waning alertness, Janet pushed herself to find out what she could .to keep the conversation going as long as she could. "You sound .like the Tok'ra."
Isis tilted her head. "We have heard whispers of them, but we have gone to great lengths to remain hidden from the rest of our race. I only know that they are a faction who oppose the Goa'uld like the brave Tau'ri and some of the Jaffa."
"They are Goa'uld .but they oppose the System Lords."
Isis' eyes opened wide. "There are still others like Khonsu and I who oppose the System Lords?" Isis asked hopefully. "We had feared that all of our kind had been hunted to extinction by now as there were so few of us to begin with."
Janet could only nod, stunned by the suddenly hopeful look on the other woman's face. Suddenly the voice of the Goa'uld changed as the host took over and she grasped Janet's hand. "Thank you Healer. Isis and Khonsu have long worried that they were the only ones left of the old resistance and that is why they have hidden for so long. Isis had her children slaughtered before her eyes once before by the System Lords when she opposed them centuries ago. The memories still haunt her," the beautiful woman said with tears in her eyes. "It has been her greatest fear that the System Lords would remain unopposed and that one day she and Khonsu would be discovered and be forced to watch their children die horrible deaths once more. You have no idea what hope this has brought her. When word of a resistance reached our people's ears, there was a feeling of growing excitement. But seeing your people in action and now hearing about others who embrace the old ways .you have no idea what this means to her."
Janet felt the pull of sleep once more and decided she would be honest with her captor/savior, besides, it would be information that any System Lord was already familiar with. "My people have formed several alliances to stop the System Lords. We've already defeated several. But you must understand ..the System Lords have used elaborate methods to deceive their captives before. I thank you for your help in saving me .but don't expect me to take everything at face value. Or willingly divulge information."
Isis' eyes flashed once more and the woman smiled. "I understand and would expect nothing less from a Warrior Healer such as yourself. Now close your eyes and rest Janet Frasier. When you wake next, you will have regained movement once again, but I strongly recommend you not undo all my hard work and endanger your progress."
"I promise," Janet whispered and then closed her eyes as sleep took her once more.
When Janet awoke awhile later, she noted that the room was bright with the midday sun, and that Isis was still sitting by her side, eyes closed and brow furrowed in deep concentration. The aide was hovering by Isis side, worry and displeasure clearly written on her aging features as she absently wrung her hands. Janet immediately noted the changes in her own body. The pain was still present, but manageable now at least. She could also feel the lower half of her body once again.
Isis was not looking so well though. Janet noted that her complexion was considerably more pale, and her body was trembling noticeably with the effort she was expending. Clearing her throat a bit, Janet called out to her savior. "Isis. Please stop."
Lavender eyes snapped open in concern. "Was I causing you discomfort?" she asked immediately, worried that she'd erred somehow.
Janet offered a faint smile. "No. I feel a lot better. You just don't look so well yourself. And I think your nurse was about to take matters into her own hands."
The other woman gave Janet a relieved look and nodded. "She's right My Lady. Your husband would be most displeased with me if I let you overtax yourself again. I believe your patient has given her word that she will rest properly this time. Let me see you to your room so you can eat and rest. I am sure your husband will have much to discuss when he returns from his meeting with the Council."
Instead of the harsh chastisement a System Lord might give one of their servants for practically ordering their master around, Isis smiled fondly at her assistant. "Mira, you worry too much."
"Only because your desire to heal your patients sometimes outweighs your sense of self preservation My Lady," the older looking woman chided gently as she watched a small trickle of blood slowly make its way down from the Queen's nose. With a small noise of reassurance, the older woman reached for a small cloth bandage and reached towards the Queen's face and dabbed at the blood, before firmly pinching off the nostrils to help staunch the flow.
Isis gave a rueful glance in Janet's general direction, but merely sat through her assistant's ministrations with an air of familiarity. This was obviously not a one time occurrence. Janet was slightly horrified to realize just how dangerous using the hand device was and she vowed to give Sam a stern lecture about personal safety and limits when using the device .just as soon as she got home.
After a few minutes, the small bleeding had stopped and Isis was no longer trembling from the effort she'd been expending. But she did look exhausted, and Janet was alert enough now to actually run a critical eye over the Goa'uld and assess her condition better. "Isis, you really should follow her advice. I might still be on the mend but I'm not blind. I promise not to try to go anywhere right now
.all I would be doing is jeopardizing my chances right now anyway. I learned my lesson this morning. Go, eat and rest."
Isis nodded and then with a few words of instruction to her assistant she stood and tiredly made her way towards her chambers. Janet watched her warily, wondering if it was all an act, but her instinct told her it was not.
"You do not trust our Queen," the older woman noted with some sadness.
Janet sighed as she looked at the other woman and noted her open concern. "I'm sorry Mira, but I have dealt with too many other Goa'uld in the past that have had nothing but ill will towards the galaxy in general and my people in particular. We have been at war with the Goa'uld for some years now and they are some of the most brutal, deceitful and cruel beings I have ever come across. It wouldn't be the first time an elaborate lie has been concocted to try and get information from one of us."
"But Isis has not asked anything of you. Only to rest so that you may heal."
"For now. Do you know how many of my friends have been captured, healed and then tortured to the point of death before they are brought back to life only to be tortured more for information? Others were placed in what appeared to be familiar or friendly surroundings in an attempt to unobtrusively gain information. I want to believe that Isis is telling me the truth Mira, but it's going to take time and maybe a little correlation with some other people before I can truly believe what she is telling me. In the meantime however, I am grateful for your help and the generosities shown to me. If this is captivity and I just don't know it yet well I am one up on all my friends," she said with a tired but cheeky smile.
Mira had to laugh at that. "Well I guess there is that though you truly are not captive. But I suppose given your experiences with Lady Isis's kin, it would be hard to trust her. Our people have long been capable of traveling throughout the stars, but she has told our people that it is best that we do not make our presence known and theirs in particular. They have both warned us that their brethren were power hungry and domineering, but until you, none of us could really imagine them being quite that bad. Are they truly that horrible?"
Janet thought back to all that her friends and SG family had been through at the hands of the Goa'uld. "You have no idea just how evil some of them can be Mira. The System Lords, as they call themselves, have wiped out entire civilizations and enslaved others. They have used children as test subjects for horrible experiments and even as weapons- my own adoptive daughter as one of them. They have tortured and maimed people in ways that give even me- a battle hardened doctor- nightmares. There is no reasoning with them, and they only think of themselves and how they can gain more power. They rule with fear, harshness, and cruelty."
Mira paled slightly at the words. "We have been told that the armored Jaffa warriors of the Goa'uld who travel through the chappa'ai serve cruel and fierce masters. Many of us thought the stories were exaggerated because I don't think any of us could imagine of our Queen's kin being as horrible as you have described. And this is what your people fight against?"
Janet nodded. "My people on Earth most people do not even know of the existence of life on other planets yet. We still fight wars against each other over petty things like territories, race, religion ..but as a people we will fight to the very death for one thing: Freedom. If the Goa'uld were to ever invade Earth, it is quite likely we would self terminate before we went willingly into slavery. But until that day comes, we will fight with everything we have to keep the Goa'uld from conquering this galaxy, because everyone deserves the right to determine their own fates."
Mira seemed to think on this for awhile before she nodded. "Rumors are whispering amongst the halls that change is in the wind. We have kept to ourselves and hidden for millennia, but we have heard stories about the brave Tau'ri who would stand up to these System Lords. I do not believe my people understand just how bad they are, but they understood that our King and Queen have gone to great lengths to protect us from them. Perhaps it is time that we too join in your noble cause to rid the galaxy of this evil."
Janet eyed her skeptically and she chuckled. "I know my words have little meaning to you right now little healer. But hopefully, in time, you will be able to see that we speak the truth."
"Maybe. But honestly I am just a doctor- a healer. Yes, I am a soldier, but I am a healer first and what I know is mostly limited to that. So if this is some elaborate plan to try and gain my confidence, you all should know right up front that I don't make the big decisions and I rarely travel off-planet to begin with. I think pretty much anything you could ever get out of me would be stuff the System Lords already know by now."
Mira chuckled and nodded. "I will keep that in mind. Now rest Healer Frasier Janet."
"How do you- oh my dog tags?" she asked looking down at the metal tags still draped around her neck. At her look, Mira nodded. "Actually, for these we put our last name first. My name is actually Janet Frasier. All my friends just call my Janet."
"Then rest Janet and when you wake I will bring you some food if you are feeling up to it."
Janet was beginning to feel tired, and she nodded. "That sounds good. Before you leave though how long before I will be healed?"
"You know perhaps even better than I do how grave you injuries were Janet. It is a miracle that Lady Isis was even able to bring you back using only the Hand Device. It will most likely be several days before you should start trying to venture from your bed. When you feel up to it, Lady Isis will of course insist that we try and start you on a recovery routine to strengthen the newly healed areas. I think you are familiar with the fact that this is not always pleasant but necessary."
Janet grimaced. "Yeah, we call it physical therapy."
"Lady Isis will most likely use the Device until your major injuries are healed fully. You will still have some scarring of course. But once that is done, she likes to let the body do the rest. She feels it makes the person stronger and more resilient."
"I have to tend to agree with that. Modern medicine is great, but too much interference and the body seems to loose some of its ability to cope with future traumas."
"Over the years I have also come to see the truth of such words. You are strong, both physically and of will however and I believe that you will be on your feet and fit to return home before the next new moon. By then I believe the Council will have made it's decision on how it would like to handle the future of our people."
Janet nodded and settled back into her bed, making herself comfortable even as she began to feel the pull of sleep. The older woman was nearly out of the room when Janet called out to her. "Mira, I may not be able to take everything I see and hear at face value. But I do appreciate the care that I have been given. Thank you for that."
"You are welcome Janet. Rest well and I will return with some food in a couple of hours."
With that, she left Janet in peace and the brunette quickly succumbed to a peaceful slumber.
"Sam ," he said quietly, for once dropping all pretenses of military propriety and rank.
"It's ok Jack we'll be fine," she told him, her bottom lip quivering as she tried to remain brave. Carter's didn't cry. That had been her mantra the whole day and she had made it this far.
He sighed and pulled her into him. "No Sam .you're not. I know remember? It's okay to let go every once in awhile. That's what we're here for."
And she finally allowed herself to shatter. "Oh god Jack she's gone and I was so stupid and never told her ." she sobbed into his shoulder.
He just held her tightly as she broke down, his own heart aching for the loss of a good friend and for the pain and regret that he knew this amazing woman in his arms would forever suffer through. He still cared for Samantha Carter more than he should, but several years ago he was faced with the fact that she loved another, who was equally unattainable in her eyes. They left in the room and never spoke of it again, but they both shared a bond over unrequited love, and they had fallen into a deep comfortable friendship over the years because of it. He thought the Doc was good for Carter, and if he was to loose out to anyone well she was the best. He also thought she was a fool for not going for it regulations be damned.
But they had their reasons, and it wasn't his place to butt in. Maybe he should have.
Now all he could do was be there for Sam and help her try and pick up the pieces of her life. Daniel came down the stairs, and gestured that Teal'c was going to sit with Cassie for the night. Then he took off his own jacket, loosened his tie and then went to fetch a beer out of the fridge, making it clear he wasn't going to leave tonight either. He left Jack and Sam together in the living room and slipped out the front door to stand on the porch and watch the stars come out as night overtook the sky.
His musings were interrupted when he felt a tug on his pant leg. He looked down and noted that a small group of the neighbors had gathered in front of the house. The tug had come from a child- a boy of about five. "Hey there," he said with a sad smile as he set his beer aside and crouched down. "What's your name little guy?"
"Tommy. Is it true Dr. Frasier got hurts real bad?"
Throat tightening he pulled off his glasses and nodded. "I'm afraid so Tommy."
"Is it true she isn't coming back?"
How to answer this? "It looks that way Tommy," he opted for.
"Dr. Frasier was a really nice neighbor. I fell on my bike one day and hurt my knee real bad. She made it better."
Daniel smiled at that. "She was good like that wasn't she Tommy?"
"My mommy and daddy said Cassie and the other nice lady Sam would be very sad. So I made this for them," he said holding out a card he'd obviously made himself. It depicted a rough drawing of himself, riding his bike and smiling, a band-aid on his knee and what looked like a cheering Janet complete with white coat and stethoscope.
Daniel wiped at a tear and smiled up at the little boy. "I think that Sam and Cassie will really appreciate this Tommy. Thank you so much for thinking of them."
By then the boy's parent walked up, candles and flowers in their hands. They looked genuinely sad. "Our oldest son is in the same class as Cassie. The teacher relayed the news to explain why she would be absent for awhile. Was it an accident?"
Daniel shook his head. "No. Janet was called to duty and went into a hot zone in a medic capacity. She never made it back." It was agreed that sticking as close to the truth as possible was always the best course of action.
"I had no idea," the woman gasped. "Oh poor Cassie!"
"And Sam .they were the best of friends her and Janet," the husband added.
"Please tell them if there is anything we can do well we are all here for them."
"Thank you. I'll let them both know that."
They nodded and then returned to the others who were now placing their candles, flowers, and other items they had brought on the sidewalk in front of the house. Daniel picked up his now luke-warm beer and after a final look back he slipped inside the house.
And hour later when Sam looked outside the window, the candle-light vigil had grown and so had the small memorial in front of the house. With tears streaking down her face she pressed her hand to the window in gratitude and then turned and buried her head in Daniel's shoulder.
"God damnit, son of a bitch!" Frustrated, sweating, aching and tired, Janet felt her legs give out under her and would have ended up in an ungraceful heap on the floor had it not been for swift reflexes of the young woman who had just entered the room. She leapt in with graceful speed and quickly caught Janet as she began to collapse and lowered her gently to the floor.
"Easy, Healer," she soothed as she quickly settled them both into a comfortable position on the floor while Janet tried to catch her breath.
"Thanks," Janet muttered, trying valiantly to sound grateful, but knowing her frustrations were causing her to fail miserably.
"You're welcome. I was under the impression you were not quite fit to move about unaided, Healer. Where is your assistant?" the young woman asked as she looked around the empty room.
"There was a minor emergency that she got called away to. And then I needed to use the facilities," Janet admitted embarrassed. "My therapy has been going so well, that I thought I could make it there and back on my own. I made it there, I was on my way back to bed when my back spasmed," Janet told her with a grimace.
"Ahhhh." And then skilled hands began gently probing along her back searching out the tense muscles and deftly soothing the knots away.
Unable to help herself, Janet's head fell forward against the young woman's shoulder as a groan of relief escaped her lips. Slowly but steadily the pain that had felt like it had been crushing her spinal column, began to loose its hold on her back and after several long minutes the numbness and tingling in her legs and feet began to fade as sensation returned once more.
"Thank you," she sighed. much more sincerely as the pain receded to more manageable levels.
"It is my pleasure, Healer. Would you like to return to your bed now?"
"I think that would be best."
Trying to push away just how helpless she was feeling, Janet allowed the young woman to assist her back to her feet and then forced herself not to protest when she was scooped up into a careful but strong embrace to be carried back to her bed. It was at that moment that Isis returned to the room and frowned at the sight before her.
"Janet Frasier, please tell me you have not been trying to escape again? I thought we had an agreement that you would not try such endeavors until you were fully healed," she sighed unhappily.
Janet felt the young woman exhale in quiet amusement at the gentle rebuke, and felt her own spark of humor return. "I am a woman of my word Isis. No escape attempts until I know I can run from here to the Gate. I just needed to use the facilities and Mira got called away for a few minutes."
"She is as tenacious as you said mother. She almost made it back to bed before her strength failed her. Thankfully, I was looking for you when she started to collapse."
Janet looked at the young woman who was laying her on her bed and then at the older woman. "You are the Queen's daughter?" she asked, slightly stunned.
The young woman gave her an impish smile and then the eyes flashed slightly. "My host Kismet is not of actual flesh and blood of the Queen's host, but I, Nutan, am the daughter of my parents Isis and Khonsu. I have heard much of you over these last few days Healer Janet Frasier. It is an honor to finally meet you."
Still off-balance by the congenial interaction with the Goa'uld, Janet needed a moment to gather herself. "Um, well thank you for your timely arrival Nutan."
With Janet settled in bed, Isis came over and gave her daughter a warm smile and a squeeze of the shoulder that Janet- a mother herself- recognized as a long ingrained maternal gesture of affection. "Thank you my daughter."
"It was my pleasure mother."
Isis busied herself with checking Janet over and seemed reassured that no damage had been done. "What is it you needed to see me about my dear?"
The younger woman hesitated as her glance slid towards Janet. But she spoke up after she seemed to come to some sort of decision. "I know the Council has not come to a decision as of yet, but my siblings and I have. You know that most of us have seen the danger in not taking advantage of the Tau'ri's brave actions against the System Lords and lending them our own strength. We have held our own Council of sorts and it has been decided that whether the Tau'ri will accept our help or not, the majority of us wish to strike now while the System Lords have been weakened."
Janet went very still and remained quiet as she watched the determination in the young woman's eyes grow as she proudly lifted her chin at her decision. She noted the sudden tenseness in the older woman next to her and recognized a battle of wills against a parent and her child that was about to be waged.
"And who would lead you? None of you have a clue as to what you face. Most of you have never even set foot off this planet!"
"Kismet was Lead Scout for eight years before she gave up her privileged position to blend with me. We still continue in the service of Kreftini and both she and Alak have indulged both of our curiosities in battle leadership. Krandt, Ylyssus, and Sabat were all accomplished operatives for father before they blended and they have continued to accompany him on his rare trips off world."
"Rare being the key word there my daughter. Even now we have only rumors of what goes on amongst the System Lords because we dare not risk exposure by too many inquiries. If the Tau'ri reject our offer of help, you and your siblings would be wading into the battle blind. I have lost an entire generation of my children to a horrible death at the hands of the System Lords, I will not stand by and allow that to happen once more," Isis said, her symbiote taking control and her voice escalating in pain and anger.
Janet held her breath as she watched tears tracked down the Queen's cheeks.
There was deathly silence in the room for several long seconds and then Kismet took over, her voice softening. "Forgive me, Queen Mother. Nutan has no wish to see you hurt like that ever again. She and the others are all too aware of the grief and pain you still carry over the loss of your first children. They feel it in their very genetic make-up. But they want no they NEED to do this. For themselves and for you. Many have longed to avenge their fallen siblings that they never knew, for the pain that it caused you. Not all wish to take the risk, and there is no dissention amongst your children over this. It is agreed that some are still too young or just not suited to take up the fight. And some realize that their hosts are not of equal willingness to bring the fight to the System Lords, but are they willing to remain behind to protect their home. Many of us have quietly been preparing for this however, and they feel the time has come for them to move now while there is opportunity. We may be young still and inexperienced, but with the right guidance we could help make a difference and that is what your children want. They will do this with or without your approval, but even though Nutan is cursing me rather vehemently right now," Kismet said with a hint of a smile, "all they want is your blessing and help."
Janet looked back to Isis who had her eyes narrowed at the younger woman and was still tense, but seemed to take in the words and digest them. Finally, she sighed heavily and allowed a faint smile to edge up her own lips. "Nutan is more adept in the art of swearing than any other child of mine. I can only imagine what she must be subjecting you too right now Kismet."
At this Kismet's grin grew and her eyes took on an amused glint. "Oh it's the most colorful I've experienced in a long time. Be glad I am refusing to give up control right now, because I am sure she would be in serious trouble and she certainly would not be helping her cause one bit."
Janet was hard pressed not to laugh at that remark, but Kismet winked at her letting the doctor know that her expression had not been overlooked. Isis did laugh and shook her head ruefully. Then she looked down at the clearly amused healer in her care. "I take it you are very familiar with dealing with a head strong daughter as well?"
"She may not be a host, but she isn't fully human either. She's had some rather interesting powers develop over the last few years and let me tell you it has been quite the ride when she gets it in her mind to be stubborn about something. All I can say is good luck with this one. Granted this little display wasn't staged on my behalf as part of your evil plot," she added with a mischievous grin of her own.
She was beginning to believe that less and less as the days passed, but she wasn't about to let her guard down completely. It had become something of a joke between them, but it reminded them both that Janet could not taking everything at face value. They had asked her questions yes, but they had simply been about general knowledge of the System Lords and the state of the galaxy. They had never pressed for any details, and Janet felt comfortable in telling them what was already common knowledge to the System Lords. And Isis and Khonsu had seemed content with that.
Isis laughed lightly at Janet's joke and the tension left her body completely. "You figured us out," she teased with a wink at Janet and then looked back at her daughter. "Let me talk to Nutan please."
Kismet nodded and then she released control to Nutan, who did indeed let a string of colorful choice words loose before she managed to catch herself as she realized they were now being spoken verbally. She paused, took in the raised eyebrows, and cleared her throat.
"Your father and I will meet with you and your siblings tonight. I wish to know who exactly wants to partake in this and we will give the final say as to who stays and who goes." She held up a hand stalling Nutan's protests. "I know Tevat is amongst your numbers but he has only just blended with his host and there is no way I will allow either of them off world for another year. He may remain to protect, but they need time to grow together and bond properly since they are both young. Once we have come to an agreement, we will inform the Council of our decision."
"Why have they not come to a decision of their own yet?" Nutan complained.
"They have come to an agreement of sorts my child. Too many of our people wish to rise up against the evil of the System Lords and the threat they present. They too understand that now is the best chance to strike. But whether they wish to risk our whole planet to exposure or to allow those who wish to go to leave with us with no ties to this planet, that is what they are debating."
"They would banish those who wish to fight?" Nutan asked in mild disbelief.
"No, my child. They would never be so unkind to those who wish to take up such a noble cause. But the army that would come with us would not be fighting under the banner of their home. They would be an independent army that we would command should they choose to accept our leadership."
"What makes that any different from what the rest of your kind do?" Janet blurted out.
Isis scowled slightly at her. "Do not your own people look to a chain of command? Every army has its leaders Janet Frasier. Khonsu and I are most qualified given our knowledge and past experience. But unlike the System Lords, our people are not required to accompany us. They can join or leave any time they want or need. And while we expect them to follow our orders, we despise the worship and fear that the System Lords have instilled upon their slaves. And I seriously doubt any other System Lord would be willing to concede to the suggestions of the Tau'ri who are obviously more experienced in the galactic politics and battles as of late."
Janet managed to look somewhat sheepish, but she did nod in agreement. "True," she admitted simply.
Isis turned back to her daughter. "Go and inform your brothers and sisters that your father and I will speak with them an hour past sundown in the Main Hall. Until then try and keep yourself out of trouble. Don't think I have been unaware of your attempts to go exploring through the chappa'ai. You have no idea what dangers potentially lie on the other side."
The younger woman blushed furiously, but she opened her mouth to protest. Surprisingly, Janet came to Isis' defense before the young woman could voice her displeasure. "Your mother is right Nutan. You could Gate to a world that doesn't have the means to dial back home, or that is in the midst of a cataclysmic geological event or a biological hazard that can effect even your symbiote. We've lost dozens of brave explorers to just those three events alone. Many worlds are populated by hostile beings, and dozens more are known worlds controlled by the System Lords. My people learned very quickly and the hard way, that for every planet that yields something positive, there are a half dozen others that turn out to be a nightmare to visit."
Nutan closed her mouth and narrowed her eyes slightly, but she held her tongue. With a slightly irritated huff, she looked back at her mother. "I will go relay your message to the others. We look forward to speaking with you and father on this matter. Healer Janet, I hope your recovery goes well and quickly. Then when you make your attempt at escape, perhaps you can give me a few pointers."
Janet tried and once again failed to smother a laugh but nodded to the brazen young woman who nodded to them both and then left before her mother had a chance to recover. By the Isis did, all she could do was sputter a bit and then sigh heavily. "That girl will be the sole reason for my host's gray hair."
Janet laughed outright. "I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't laugh and I know I am going to have a heck of a time with Cassie as she gets older. But she is a feisty one isn't she?"
"That, my dear healer, is an understatement. Her host Kismet pretends to be the mature one of the bonding, but she was just as bad. And having been trained by Kreftini and her two predecessors, she learned how to be sneaky about it too. Thankfully, she never surpassed her teachers in her skills. As it is, they have a hard enough time keeping an eye on that one."
Isis turned to look down at Janet in long suffering amusement. "But she has brought us much pride and joy over the last couple of centuries. Nutan might have a penchant for adventure and mischief, but she is also honorable. Kismet was a good match for her and their blending is closer than almost any other than I have seen before."
"How old is she?"
Nutan is just over three hundred years old. Khonsu and I waited a very long time before we felt comfortable enough to have children of our own. I he would have not minded having children sooner but it took me a long time to overcome the trauma of loosing my firstborns," she admitted quietly, a slightly haunted look filling her eyes.
"I'm sorry you had to suffer through something like that Isis. No parent should ever outlive their children," Janet answered as she rested a comforting hand on Isis own.
The Goa'uld offered her a grateful smile. "Thank you, Janet. But to answer your question fully- Nutan is three hundred and eight years old. She has a dozen siblings who are from the same brood, but she was the firstborn. Because my primta do not incubate for extended periods of time like they do in the Jaffa, it takes them longer to mature enough to blend with a host. She and Kismet were introduced to one another seventy five years ago. There were other potential matches, but Nutan and Kismet bonded before the blending."
"Wait, how is that possible if they do not incubate in a host?" Janet asked, her medical curiosity in high gear.
"My apologies for the confusion. When I said they do not incubate like the rest, I meant that my primta do not incubate for their entire childhood like the rest of the Goa'uld. They spent most of their developing years in a special incubation tank where they are allowed to grow and mature with being dependant on a host. At first it was out of necessity, but as Nutan's brood developed, Khonsu and I could see a strength in them that most other primtas do not possess.
"When they reach adolescence however, they are incubated for a short time within a volunteer Master Healer. This allows them time to prepare for a full blending. Because they were not dependant on a Jaffa, their strength grew to the point that despite only being incubated with the Healers, they have a limited ability to connect with their host and thus communicate for brief periods of time with others. It was quite a remarkable and unexpected discovery for Khonsu and I," Isis admitted.
"I can imagine. We have a Jaffa who defected from Apophis to join our fight. He had awareness of his primta, but no direct link with it."
"Ah yes, I believe we observed him fighting. You will have to tell me how your people convinced the First Prime of Apophis to turn against his Master one of theses days. But as I was saying, our primta were stronger than any others and so they could communicate and even speak through their host for limited times. Nutan was particularly sociable. We had to speak with her on more than one occasion about etiquette and appropriate times to surface within the host's mind," Isis said with a fond chuckle of remembrance.
"Kismet had just reached the age of consent, when Nutan was finally mature enough to fully blend with another. Nutan had given me some specific requirements on the type of person she wanted to blend with and Kismet made the list. Thankfully Nutan had a very gracious Healer as her host and she and Kismet were allowed to interact frequently. Within a year, Nutan and she were formally blended."
"So Kismet is just under a century old?"
Isis nodded. "The blending of course slows the aging process of a host dramatically. Kismet's body is now roughly the age of a young adult- roughly twenty of your Tau'ri years I believe. If nature is allowed to take its course, she will live for another three hundred years more give or take a few decades. I fear however, that she will not come to see the full potential of her lifespan," Isis sighed in resignation.
Janet listened to what Isis told her and studied her tone, facial expressions, and general body language. Everything told her that what the Queen was revealing was the truth, but she simply filed it all away in her mind, reserving her judgment as she had been carefully trained to do. She also filed away any little bits of intel that she was gathering no matter how small or insignificant it might seem.
"Cassie this is your daughter's name?" Isis asked, looking at the photo sitting on the table next to Janet.
Janet picked up the small and well worn photograph, and smiled fondly as she fingered the images of her girls. "Yeah. It's been a rough ride. Nirrti wiped out her entire world with some twisted experiment of hers. Then she placed a bomb in Cassie's chest that was meant to explode shortly after we rescued her and took her through the Gate. Sam figured a way to save her though and we thought everything was done and over with."
Isis grimaced. "Nirrti had a reputation even in my day. One did not wish to end up in her service because you usually ended up being a part of some horrid experiment or another. She also didn't like to leave loose ends. People that escaped found themselves dead days, weeks, months, even years later. And it was never mercifully."
"Cassie was not the only child she has experimented on in more recent years. She was trying to create a Hok'tar and so she proceeded to experiment with a number of children when they were younger and then left them alone to see if they would become the perfect host. It didn't work out and I swear, Healer's Oath aside, I will shoot that woman on sight if I ever cross paths with her again."
Janet's voice shook with barely contained fury. The memory of what she, Cassie and Sam had been put through, still pissed her off to no end.
Isis looked sympathetic, but not surprised. Then she looked infinitely sad. "At least you were able to save your child from her. I was not so fortunate centuries ago."
"She was the one who killed your children?" Janet gasped.
"She was the one who had devised the kara kesh. It was based on Ancient technology, but it was geared so that only someone who was blended could wield it. The kara kesh was still relatively new at that time, and not many were available. Osiris and I had managed to get our hands on one though. But she made sure that the System Lords were well supplied. She personally handed over a new device to Setesh when he decreed that my children were to be executed and Osiris and my hosts were to be killed."
Janet's expression grew grim. "God I should have killed that bitch when I had the chance, consequences be damned!"
Isis gave Janet a sad smile. "I appreciate your sentiment Healer Janet. But I have mourned their loss and moved on. My newest progeny wish to avenge the deaths of their older siblings and I will most likely allow this to a degree, because I am not completely immune to the desire to see justice done for the murders of countless innocents. However this war is not about revenge, it is about balance and freedom. Higher principals must guide this war, or we become no better than those we fight."
Janet blinked a bit in surprise at that. "Huh I really never thought I would hear a Goa'uld say that."
"Is this not the ideal of the Tok'ra who fight alongside you? I would think Egeria's children would carry on in her memory."
"They haven't been as sheltered as you have been Isis. They have been hunted down for centuries, living in fear of discovery and constantly on the move. Even we don't know where they are most of the time. They have become bitter and extremely hardened over the centuries and while I don't agree with their harsh policies and views on some things, I understand why they have been forced to adopt them. Besides, Egeria's children did not have the benefit of having her around to guide them and keep them on track over the last several centuries when things have really started to heat up."
Isis nodded. "I suppose that would make a tremendous difference for them." She looked down at the picture in Janet's hand and decided to change subjects. "Sam is the one with hair of gold?"
"Yeah," Janet answered as she looked down at the picture and smiled.
"And she is not your mate?" Isis asked once more, her eyebrow raised in surprise.
"No," Janet sighed wistfully. But then she smiled again. "We are the best of friends though. Sam couldn't adopt Cassie even though Cassie took to Sam first. Her job is just too demanding of her time. But she has been a part of our family since the beginning."
"She is beautiful, and she seems very happy with you both in this picture."
"With everything crazy that always happens around us, our one little bit of comfort and solace is when we hang out together."
"You miss her."
Janet knew she was potentially opening herself up to having leverage used against her. But then she recalled that they had witnessed Sam and what was apparently half of the SGC came back looking for her. According to things she'd been told or overheard, Sam had not taken her disappearance and apparent death well. She wished there was some way she could let them know she was okay. But Isis had been firm in the fact that she would not risk her people until they had made the decision of how they wanted to proceed.
"I do. Sam and Cassie must be besides themselves with grief right now. Cassie god she already lost her entire planet and her original parents to the Goa'uld." Janet broke off then, her voice choking up as the reality of what they might be going through finally hit her hard. Tears formed in her eyes, and she fought fiercely to keep them in check as she realized just how dangerous of a position she was putting herself in.
"I am sorry your reuniting is being delayed, but I promise that I will push for the Council to make a choice soon. It is unkind to both you and your family. In the meantime, let us focus on your healing so that when you do get back, perhaps you can tell your sun kissed friend just how much you truly care for her."
Janet gaped at the other woman, who merely winked at her and then left her alone. Once alone, Janet looked down at the photo in her hand and exhaled shakily. "Shit Sam what have I gotten myself into? Please don't let this be a trick. Because damnit she's right. All I want to do is come home and tell you how much I love you," she whispered.
Setting the picture aside, she laid back and stared at the ceiling until she finally dozed off.
"I heard you did extremely well in your ventures through the city today my friend."
Janet smiled a little in pride as she set her fork down and patted the corner of her mouth clean with her napkin. Isis and her husband Khonsu were joined tonight by several of their children, Nutan amongst them. Kreftini and Alak were already present and Janet had a feeling that a decision had finally been made.
"It was slow going, and I had to stop a few times. But I made sure not to push too hard and managed to walk through the whole market district and some of the educational quarter. The architecture is beautiful here."
"And the people?" Isis asked, with a teasing smirk.
Janet laughed. "Mostly friendly, but very open- and honest- in their views. Not everyone is enamored of how things are run, but then they grudgingly admit that they probably have it a lot better than many other people and that at least they are free to make their own choices. I was also able to study in your library for a few hours."
"Do you believe us now Healer?"
Janet had to admit that she had begun to trust them days ago. True to their word, she could come and go as she pleased once she was up. Isis had insisted that for safety's sake she have at least one of the healer apprentices accompany her in case she faltered or needed assistance. The apprentices were all youths of their mid teens and very unthreatening, and Janet knew the selection had been deliberate. But she didn't argue the wisdom of it and took advantage of being able to scout out the grounds around the palace. It felt good to stretch her legs finally and get outside, and it also gave her a chance to become more familiar with her surroundings.
On her first day out, Isis herself had escorted her around the ground, pointing out which direction the gate stood and all the various entrance and exit points to the city. There was no way Janet was in shape to try and make an escape if she wanted, but it had been a little comforting to have been given a bit of a road map should she choose to leave. As she had grown stronger with each day, her explorations had taken her further away from the confines of the palace and she had felt herself relax as she had managed to just blend in with the rest of the city's inhabitants. She'd spotted one of the younger apprentices tailing her for the first couple of days, but they were never intrusive and had disappeared when it became apparent that Janet was not pushing herself beyond her capabilities.
Two full weeks after her resurrection and she had finally managed to make it to the center of the city where the hub of activity was located. Along the way she stopped to talk with vendors, entertainers, and the various city guards that kept watch at the city gates. While she could tell they were vigilant after the recent arrival of both her people and the Jaffa, the rest of the city inhabitants and other travelers would come and go, a number of them stopping for a few moments to chat with the guards and trade gossip and amusing stories. There was a sense of anticipation in the air, but none of the tension or oppression that was typically associated with the ruler ship of a Goa'uld. Isis and Khonsu were revered and seen as protectors and advisors to the planet, but they seemed slightly aghast when Janet would ask if they had ever insisted upon being worshipped as deities.
When she had visited the vast library however, she'd finally been thoroughly convinced. There were literally hundreds of books and files, documenting the history of the planet and Janet set about randomly choosing a half dozen to see if they all correlated. Some where a little more animated than others, but they all told the same story. The section on government confirmed what she had been told about how things were governed by the people. There was simply no way they could have created a lie this elaborate.
On top of that, she had borne witness to several of the 'children' being trained in hand to hand exercises in the courtyard by either Tak or Kreftini. The two instructors gave no quarter, and were not afraid to give their students painful corrections in their stances or guard. No Goa'uld would stand to be treated in such a fashion. And while the trainees showed obvious signs of frustration or outright anger at their mistakes, they never threatened or spoke against their teachers.
And finally there had been the meals, in which she had been included in at her pleasure. Some nights she ate alone, but on others she had opted to join in without any notice. There was no faking the family atmosphere amongst those that were usually assembled. Sometimes it had just been Isis and her husband, but most evenings they were usually joined by any number of their children. Three nights ago had particular had been particularly fascinating and enlightening.
Janet had learned there were nearly two hundred in all. That had caused her to choke on her drink and garnered a ripple of laughter from the others. Isis had told her the size of Nutan's brood, but Janet was curious as the whole procreation process since the Tok'ra had never been very forthcoming about that kind of information and the Jaffa had not been privy to all the details involved. It was incredibly fascinating and she felt her mind boggle slightly at just how many prim'ta a single female could bring into existence with each brood. She also realized that Isis' title as Queen referred to more than just her status amongst the people of Philae.
"So you can leave your hosts safely to breed?"
Isis nodded. "I can. As you know, our race is by definition asexual. Technically, Khonsu had nothing to do with the birth of my children, but we have adopted the custom of referring them as both of ours because we both helped raise them from infancy. Separation from one's host is not a pleasant experience for either of us. I have had only four breeding cycles over the last three centuries, and of those I willingly separated from my host only twice. Jael passed of old age and that was when Kismet and her siblings were first bred. Then I joined with my new host Loran, who sensed my desire for more children and she encouraged me to separate from her twice to breed. Sadly, she was lost while we were separated during the second instance. She was in on another continent, helping our people there deal with the aftermath of a volcanic eruption. Loran was in a remote village when a secondary eruption caused massive landslides to bury the village. I grieved her loss and did not join with another almost a full year afterwards," she related sadly.
Then she reached out and ran her fingers through Kismet's hair and smiled fondly at the young woman. "I spent that year communing with my children and added to their numbers once more before I let Khonsu know that I was ready to blend with Kimara."
"Are any of your children Harcesis?" Janet asked suddenly.
Isis raised an eyebrow. "You are familiar with that term?"
Janet nodded and she watched as Isis and Khonsu exchanged a look. What was more interesting was that Alak and Kreftini were looking confused by the word and the rest of the children were suddenly busy with their meals. Janet's eyes widened. "Oh my god," she breathed quietly.
Isis shifted uncomfortably. "Even though I wished to wait before I began having children of my own, we have allowed our hosts the joy of creating one child together during their lifetime if they so choose to. But it is known ahead of time that any child that our hosts create, will be turned over to the loving care of the Healer's Guild by their fifth birthing day. Once the blending is complete, the hosts realize why this one strict sanction is imposed upon them, and most have chosen to forgo the choice to have children of their own. But a few have brought forth a child of their own over the centuries."
"What's a Harcesis?" Alak asked, slightly unhappy that he was finding out about something just now that could be a potential security threat.
"It is the child that two Goa'uld hosts bring forth. Our brethren were devoted to enslaving the entire galaxy and so they set forth a law that forbid two hosts from procreating. You see, as Goa'uld, we pass along our genetic memories to our children. This is also true in the case of a Harcesis child, and to the System Lords, this posed a serious threat, so they forbade it."
"Why would they be turned over to the Healer's Guild?"
"The Circle of the Masters are the only ones who know all there is to know about our race- our advantages, our strengths, and our weaknesses. They protect our greatest secrets, and we entrust them with the care of the most rare and precious of our children. The Masters take our Harcesis and help them to grow and understand all that they are gifted with. They are embraced by the highest of all callings, and taught to use their gifts for the betterment of our people. Their extended life spans allow them to accomplish a great many things, and they eventually become Master Healers so that they may guide any who might come after them."
"The Circle is made up of Harcesis?"
Khonsu shook his head. "As my love said, not all of our hosts have chosen to bring forth children of their own. Only four have been born over the centuries, and while the Harcesis experience a greatly lengthened life-span, they are only a fraction of our own. Our previous hosts declined the choice to bring forth a child of their own and Kimara and Baral are still undecided. The Circle consists of seven Master Healers, and the most Harcesis they contained at one time was two and that was for a very short period of time. The last Harcesis Ascended almost a century ago."
"Ascended, My Lord?" Kreftini asked, her mind trying to wrap around knowledge that had clearly been guarded by a very select group of people.
Surprisingly, it was Janet who explained. "It's a form of living beyond one's death. Enlightened individuals, or people who have been chosen by other Ascended, are given the opportunity to continue in a non-corporeal form. Angels, spirits, ghosts there are a number of terms throughout various societies and cultures. But you essentially become a higher form of life."
She noted that both Khonsu and Isis were looking at her with interest. Again, this was not new knowledge, so she hadn't been concerned about giving away classified information to a potential enemy. Anubis had been well aware of Daniel's previous experience as an Ascended being. That knowledge had obviously been passed along, because more than one of the System Lords had tried to target Daniel after his return. "One of my friends Ascended. He was gone for a little over a year, before he bent the rules and returned to us to help us continue in our fight against the System Lords."
Isis cocked her head to the side. "If you are aware of Ascension, I am a bit surprised that I was able to bring you back. I would think that an individual of your caliber would have moved on."
Janet offered a somewhat shaky smile and Isis realized she had just touched upon a raw subject. "Forgive me, I should not brought up something so recently painful," she said quietly.
"It's okay .I'm it's just I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that I was dead. That I almost left everyone I care about behind," Janet exhaled before she sipped some of the wine from her cup. Setting it down she toyed with her fork. "I was given the choice. It took me a few days to remember, and a few more to piece it all together. Some parts are still fuzzy. But I just kept remembering that this wasn't how things were supposed to end. Our jobs are dangerous, and that hasn't been the first time I've been treating a patient in the middle of a firefight. But I always figured I'd have more time. When an Ascended being that my people are familiar with came to me and offered me the choice, I was angry and resistant. I think I argued with her .an Ascended being and I argued with her over rules," Janet admitted with a rueful laugh.
Those gathered, who had come to know her fiery spirit in the few short days she had been there, grinned knowingly. It did not surprise them one bit that this tiny brave warrior healer would argue with a being whose powers they could not fully comprehend.
"Apparently, I argued long enough, because she suddenly tilted her head to the side, got this amused look on her face and told me that it seemed someone else was going to bend the rules for me this time. Next thing I remember is waking up in tremendous pain but I was alive."
Isis laughed. "Well I apologize if I ruined any aspirations you might have had about becoming an omnipotent being Janet Frasier. But I believe there will be a great many people who will be thankful that my meddling will return you to them."
Janet smiled. "Jack O'Neill might call me a Napoleonic Power Monger, but the only aspirations I've ever had have been to be the best damn Chief Medical Officer I could be. Besides, I have unfinished business back home."
She received knowing smiles from a few of them and she blushed slightly. The rest of their meal had passed in comfortable conversation as they discussed the upcoming plans depending on what the Council decided.
Now she was faced with a choice. Did she believe that Isis and Khonsu were genuinely interested in joining in the fight against the System Lords?
"Yes Isis, I believe," she exhaled slowly, hoping she wasn't making the biggest mistake in her life.
Khonsu smiled gently at her though. "I think that you believe, but you are still afraid of putting full trust in us," he corrected without reproach.
She sighed and closed her eyes and dropped her head in disappointment. When had she become so skeptical? So calloused? A finger beneath her chin lifted her head and she met Isis' understand gaze. "Do not be angry with yourself Janet Frasier. You have every right to fear and distrust my people and we do not fault you for that. It is what has kept your people on guard against insidious tactics that have brought other civilizations to their knees. Your caution is what has kept your people alive and strong enough to give others a hope to join in your fight against a tyranny that needs to be ended."
Janet drew in a steadying breath. "All of your people wish to join with ours then? Not just your children?" she asked, trying to keep the desperation out of her voice.
Isis nodded. "They have set conditions for us, which we are willing to comply with. Our chappa'ai will be secured, much in the same manner as yours is. Since we have our cloaking technology, we have allowed it to remain open to avoid drawing suspicion. Jaffa patrols have come and gone over the centuries, but as they find nothing of interest on this planet their patrols are merely cursory check-ups. Now that we will be taking amore active part in opposing the System Lords we will need to take more stringent methods to protect against invasion. As we speak, a barrier is being installed.
"There will be no conscription, and we will leave a considerable defense force behind to protect out people. They also wish for you to remain here another three days while they give our people time to be informed and begin preparations. It will still be some time before we are truly ready to engage the System Lords, but Khonsu and I have been consulting with our advisors and other military leaders and plans have already been set in motion. I know you have been gone a long time Janet Frasier, and I argued with them on this single point. But they worry that the revelation of my existence could spark immediate retaliation. They wish to have time to make basic preparations."
Janet sighed heavily, but nodded and looked down at her plate lost in thought. They allowed her this time, and conversation carried on around her while she picked at her food, her stomach churning with the sudden possibilities and potential risks involved here. After awhile she dropped her fork and looked up at Isis. "How? How do I know that I am not about to make the biggest mistake of my life by bringing you to my people?"
Conversation halted and they all watched quietly. Isis smiled sadly. "You don't my cautious Little Healer. Just like I have no idea if Khonsu and I are leading our own people into a losing war that they were protected from. I have no doubt that as soon as Khonsu and I make our survival known, we will become primary targets for the Goa'uld. There is as much, if not more, risk involved here for us Janet Frasier. Your people are still young yet, but they are a brave and fierce society, used to wars, violence and chaos. It has made you tough, resilient, and adaptable. Our warriors are dedicated to the protection of our planet, but we are defensive .not offensive. This war will be something new for our people and while there are many who are willing to fight despite all that we have warned them of, they have never borne witness to the horrors of war like your race has."
Janet looked over at Alak and Kreftini who looked slightly put out at the Queen's statement. And she knew it was the truth. She wasn't a master strategist and it was rare enough that she had to set aside the healer and become the soldier. But she was still trained and she HAD seen the horrors of war. She'd cared for the poisoned, the maimed, the tortured, and those beyond saving. She'd seen what humans and aliens could inflict upon each themselves and other and had been subjected to it herself on more than one occasion. She had known what it was like to be surrounded by the chaos of death- the smells, sounds, and sights all threatening to tip her over the edge of control and sanity. She knew what it was like to be prepared to take another's life despite her oath and she knew what it was like to pull that trigger and watch the light extinguish out of her foe's eyes.
These people had lived in a bubble of safety for centuries. They trained, and fought in a few small skirmishes, but their main offense was defense. Like any raw cadet, freshly graduated from the Academy, they had no idea what the realities of war were truly like. They would not weather the storm of battle well without the guidance of those with more experience. Her gaze shifted to Kismet/Nutan and those of the older children who were present. So eager to fight against the injustices done to their family and to the rest of the galaxy. They might carry the genetic memories, but knowing and being thrust into the horrible technicolor reality of it were completely different.
She looked back and Isis was standing and holding her hand out. "Come with me Janet Frasier, and I will show you something that will hopefully give you the peace of mind you need to have faith in us in this."
Khonsu stood then, concern in his eyes. "My love-,"
"No Khonsu. She needs this, and we need her trust and her people's. If our people are to survive we will need the help of the Tau'ri. This must be done. This is what we wish." Janet watched in confusion but watched as Kimara took control. "It is what we both wish," the woman added with a determined look.
There was tension at the table, and Janet had no idea what was going on. But she realized that she was being offered the chance to experience something that would answer her questions, and she wasn't about to turn them down. Khonsu was not about to be completely dissuaded however.
"If you wish to do this then you do it here, where we can monitor you both. We are family and the time has come for Alak and Kreftini to begin to learn all that we have kept hidden from them. The Harcesis and Ascension were just the beginning."
Isis looked annoyed but she nodded. "Very well. I will be back in a moment."
Janet remained standing and looked at Khonsu uncertainly. He wasn't quite glaring at her. "I am not angry with you Janet Frasier. My mate is correct in that your suspicion has kept your people alive and free. But she is also not known for her patience. Any Alliance takes time for the parties involved to learn to trust one another. Unfortunately, in a war, time usually results in loss and sacrifice. That is unacceptable for her in this case and she wishes to prove to you her intentions are pure."
"And you do not approve of this?" Janet asked warily.
"I do not approve of my love subjecting herself to a risky process just to prove to one lone Tau'ri that we have no ill will towards your people. I mean no disrespect Healer, but you are just one woman, and you yourself have said that you cannot speak for your people."
Janet nodded in understanding and was about to ask what he meant by 'risky process' when Isis returned with a box in her hand. "She may be one person, but we have seen the status she has amongst her people. They will listen to her if she speaks on our behalf."
Janet watched as she came to stand next to her and then motioned for Kreftini to change seats and arranged the chair to face Janet's own. She sat and gestured for Janet to do the same and then looked at the brunette. "You are familiar with kara kesh?"
Janet swallowed hard and nodded. "Too," she answered curtly.
"Do not be afraid when I open this box then. It has been modified from its original purposes."
Janet held her breath and couldn't help but tense when Isis opened the box and removed the device and slipped it on her hand. The center flared to life and Janet could not mask the instinctive flinch, but she stayed where she was. It was clear to everyone else in the room that she was terrified of what the device could potentially do to her.
"Our kin have obviously educated you on the many ways this can inflict pain," Isis said sadly.
"That and invade our minds. Rip our memories and thoughts from us," she answered shakily.
"And you have undergone this personally?"
She nodded jerkily. "More than once."
Isis took a deep breath. The rest of the room was deathly silent as they watched on. "The device still retains its offensive capabilities. And if need be I can access the thoughts of others. But I modified it so that I could share my own with another. The process is not painful for you and it will pose no danger to you."
"But it will to you?" Janet asked perceptively.
She smiled faintly. "I haven't quite worked out all the flaws yet," she admitted. "Instead of the energy being focused on you, it will be focused on me. If you are in contact with the device it will transfer my thoughts, memories and emotions to you. It won't be comfortable, but you will not suffer."
"How dangerous is this to you?"
"It put Kimara in a coma for a week while Isis tried to heal the damage to herself and Kimara the first time she used it," Khonsu answered grimly.
"True, but Healer Rell, who agreed to test the device with me, was fine and the second testing went considerably better."
"If you call being rendered unconscious for a day better," he muttered.
"Isis-," Janet began, but she was cut off before she could protest.
"I believe I have been able to adjust the energy levels required to avoid any losses of consciousness this time. Please Janet, this is something I need to do. The risks are acceptable and necessary."
Janet held her breath, looked at the tense postures of everyone else at the table, but no one moved to interfere further. "Okay," she whispered.
Isis held her gaze and smiled warmly at her as she slowly raised her hand. Janet gasped when the center of it touched her forehead and despite the coolness of the room, sweat trickled down the back of her neck. Her heart was pounding in fear and she closed her eyes realizing this was the moment of truth. Either she was about to have her brain fried, or-
Isis closed her eyes and the device flared brighter as she poured herself into Janet's mind. Janet cried out once in shock and then fell silent as she felt herself submerged into memories that were not her own. Lifetimes flew past her in the span of a few heartbeats. She felt the emotions of another and experienced first hand all that Isis and her previous hosts had been through. Love, joy, fear, elation, bitterness, anger, pride, hope, grief. Isis had experienced it all. Janet rejoiced with Isis over the birth of her first children. She smiled in understanding at the pride of the young mother. And she wept over their cruel and horrifying slaughter. She experienced the agony of Dini's torturous death before Isis was ripped from the poor woman's body and placed in the stasis jar.
She felt the relief at being reunited with her friend Khonsu and gratitude for his strength and support during her darkest hours of grief. She experienced the moment of startling clarity when Isis realized that she cared for Khonsu as more than just a dear and trusted old friend. And she blushingly bore witness to the first night they consummated that love.
Isis held nothing back.
Janet watched as the Goa'uld bared her soul to her, and saw that she was nothing like her black-hearted kin. There was warmth and love and laughter and compassion. This is what carried her through the moments of despair and grief that she occasionally suffered through even after all this time. But now her fears were back, because the galaxy was at war and she knew that she could not shield her people or her children any longer. She knew all too well the harsh realities that faced them all and it grieved her to know that many of those that she now called friend would not survive the coming battles. She knew that her people would forever be changed by this exposure and that their way of life would become harder and less peaceful. And she knew that she would be faced with the reality of mourning over the bodies of her beloved children once again.
Janet pulled away from the device, a sob escaping her chest and tears pouring down her face as she gaped at the woman in front of her. "You would risk going through that kind of pain once more just to help us?" she asked hoarsely, not understanding.
Isis, who was looking pale and drawn and equally grieved, but was still alert, nodded. "I cannot hold back the tides of this war and it is not my decision any longer to keep the oldest from choosing their own paths. Their destiny is their own now. As a mother you know that your own daughter will one day create her own. Perhaps she will follow in your footsteps, perhaps she will follow in those of your soul mate. Perhaps she will strike out completely on her own. It is for her alone to decide and nothing a mother can do will change that. All I can do is give them the best chance to succeed."
Janet's mind froze on Isis' use of the word soul-mate. And she knew then and there that no truer word could be said of Samantha Carter. She looked back up into Isis' eyes and saw the grief that was mirrored in her soul, but she also saw desperation and hope. "Your people will give them the best chance at surviving this war and that is why I would risk my own well-being to show you this."
As a mother, Janet understood the need to do whatever it took to protect one's offspring. "We have free Jaffa, Tok'ra, and our own special forces fighting against the System Lords and slowly beating them one by one. You want to have your people and your children learn from ours so they can be as effective."
"And in return, we can offer you fresh troops, advanced technology, and fresh insight."
Janet exhaled and wiped away at her tears. She looked at the rest of the group who looked a little less tense, but still remained silent. Her eyes rested on young Kismet/Nutan once more and she recalled the sense of love and pride Isis had for her eldest child. It was a bit disconcerting and she wondered if this is what Sam went through with Jolinar's memories. Looking back at Isis she nodded and offered her a genuine smile. "I'll talk to my people on your behalf, and I will make them listen," she promised.
A sigh of relief went up from the group and Isis closed her eyes as a tear of gratitude made it's way down her face. "Thank you," she breathed and Janet reached out and squeezed her hand firmly.
"Major Carter. I hadn't expected to see you back so soon," General Hammond commented as they both entered the security checkpoint at the same time.
She looked tired, withdrawn, and had definitely lost weight. But she managed a weak smile. "Couldn't sit at home doing nothing any more sir. Cassie wanted to go back to school today too. We both decided we needed to get back into a routine keep busy."
"I understand Sam," he told her kindly as they stepped onto the elevator. He pushed the hold button as the lift started and looked her over carefully. "You look like hell though Sammie. How have you been holding up?"
She cleared her throat twice before she could speak and even then it was with a shaky voice. "It's been rough Uncle George," she admitted freely. "But I needed to get out of that house. Warner won't clear me for active duty and that's fine. And I promise to stay away from anything explosive but please...please let me do some light work in my lab. I won't overdo it because I promised Cassie I would be there for her after school. I just need something to take my mind off it for awhile."
Having been there when her mother had been killed, George knew how easily and quickly a young Samantha Carter had slipped into depression. He had vowed to himself that he would not let that happen while she was under his care. If she needed to keep her hands and mind busy to help her get through this then he would support her in that. He smiled and rested a hand on her shoulder. "So long as you don't play with anything volatile, you can tinker away to your heart's content Sam. I think a little work would be good for you. Besides, I hear the commissary has a backlog of blue Jell-O they need to get rid of."
He depressed the hold button as she managed a ghost of her smile at the gentle tease. "Care to accompany an old General to lunch later? Catch up on the latest base gossip?"
"I'd like that sir."
"I'll swing by your office around 1100 hours then."
Sam nodded as he stepped off the elevator on his floor and then made her way to her lab. It was just as she had last left it, half unfinished experiments scattered across two work tables and complex formulas scribbled on the numerous pads, whiteboards, and schematics. She sank onto her stool and looked around, realizing that for the first time since she'd started her work with the Stargate Program, it no longer held the thrill that it always had.
Dropping her head into her hands she sighed heavily, a sob half escaping despite her attempt to keep it down. "Oh Jan ..how can I face this place again knowing you aren't going to be here waiting for me," she whispered to no one.
Half an hour later she finally began the tedious work of organizing her lab and catching up on her backlog of emails and the mission reports of the other teams that had gone out over the last two weeks. She may not be able to go into the field for some time to come yet, but perhaps it was for the best. Cassie would need her to have a more stable schedule in the coming weeks and months, and Area 51 was backlogged with all the tech that had been coming in to them over the last few years. Maybe it was time to think of a change in assignment .
It was the last evening before she would be returning home.
Oh how her heart ached for it. She wondered what Sam was doing right at that moment. She was deeply afraid for the blonde Major, because Janet knew that despite all she had been through and how strong Sam could be when faced with her enemies, she had a fragile heart. She only hoped that she and Cassie had been able to draw strength and comfort from each other. And she knew the boys and George would watch over them both.
A soft knock on the balcony doorway announced another's presence.
"I suspect you will not get much rest tonight," Isis teased lightly as she moved up behind Janet.
Janet chuckled. "Probably not. I am half tempted to sneak away in the night and see how far I can get on my own."
Isis laughed. "Well if you do that, at least take my daughter with you. She is always up for a good adventure, and a little trouble. At least I know you will be looked after."
Vague memories that weren't hers rose to the surface. "She has kept you on your toes hasn't she?" Janet said in amusement.
Isis quirked an eyebrow. "You are still recalling some of the memories? Interesting. I had not thought the imprint would last so long. I apologize if they have made you uncomfortable."
"No, it's okay. You asked my permission and I gave it. If anything it helps me understand a little better just what Sam has been through."
"She was taken as a host?"
"Poor Sam has had her mind invaded, scanned, uploaded, and downloaded by people, aliens, machines and computers more times than I want to say," Janet sighed.
"She has been through a great many trials during her explorations. And yet she still perseveres. No wonder you are drawn to her," Isis said with a sly glance sideways.
Janet blushed, but did not deny it. "She has an amazing spirit. Despite everything she's been through throughout her whole life, she has this innocent and insatiable curiosity about the universe that is just infectious. Every trip through the Stargate is something new and exciting. She's been through hell and back, and yes it's taken its toll on her emotionally and physically, but she's never let it beat her. Her brilliance in solving complex problems is just .nothing short of miraculous really. The System Lords really, REALLY hate her," she added with a touch of pride and a smirk.
"People used to give her a hard time because she was shy and awkward and they attributed to her rise in ranks at such a young age because of her father. She was still trying to prove herself in the SGC when I first met her. Her team had pretty much learned that Sam was the real deal. She'd pulled them through several tight spots by then and she'd held her own in every fight they'd found. But there were still comments by others behind her back. Then Hathor tried to take over and Sam rallied all the women on the base and we took control back and saved the men's collective asses. No one ever questioned her after that."
"Hathor?" Isis said in disgust. Then she muttered something under her breath that Janet did not quite understand but got the meaning of.
"If that is the Goa'uld word for slut, then you hit the nail on the head," she chuckled.
"I take it she is still trying to seduce her way into galactic power?"
"Yeah. Too bad her little pheromone trick has its limits. And I figured out how to counteract it," she added a bit smugly.
"She was annoying a millennia ago, and it appears she has not changed one bit since."
"That's kind of sad really."
"So what is the first thing you going to do when you get back?"
"What I would like to do is to walk up to Sam ,take her in my arms, kiss her senseless and tell her how much I love her and I'm sorry. Unfortunately, I won't be able to."
"Like you said, we're still young, and our societies still have some social taboos we are working through. Same sex relationships being one of them. Right now it is forbidden in our particular military. Other militaries and societies are more accepting of it just not ours at the moment," Janet answered sadly.
"And this is what has kept you both from progressing into a physical relationship?"
"One of them. I think we were afraid of everything that we could lose. Our careers, my daughter, our friendship .they were stupid fears though. And as soon as I get a chance to talk with her in private, I am still going to kiss her senseless and tell her I love her. I might just have to wait a little while. When we get back they are going to make me go through a thorough exam and they may ask for you to submit to one as well. I promise it will be nothing invasive and I will be with you the whole time to make sure you are treated with the utmost respect and dignity. But it's procedure. We've learned the hard way that you can never be too safe with anyone who comes through the gate."
"I understand and I have faith and trust in you Janet."
The smaller woman smiled at that. "After we get through the physicals and briefings though? I am going to hug my daughter and then find me the biggest cup of coffee I can get my hands on. Even if it is that scary stuff they serve up in our commissary."
"You have mentioned this beverage several times. I will be interested to try it."
Janet smirked. "We'll see how you feel after you taste it. Not everyone is as enamored of it and it is a bit of an acquired taste. Most people drink it for the caffeine stimulant effect. Every workaholic I know calls it the nectar of the gods though."
"Intriguing. It's a good thing the Goa'uld have never thought to use this coffee as a means of control."
Janet looked horrified at the thought and then a moment later she snickered. "Isis my dear, it would be their undoing. Mess with, us that's one thing. Get between a Tau'ri soldier and their coffee? That's suicide."
Isis joined her in the laughter and together they watched the sun dip below the horizon. "I have enjoyed getting to know you Janet Frasier. You are as remarkable as I thought you would be. You have also brought me much peace of mind and hope these last few days."
"I know I've been holding out because of my reservations about the sincerity of all this, but I've enjoyed my stay here as well. I miss my home terribly, and I know they must be sick with grief thinking I am dead. But we have been struggling in this war and the Goa'uld aren't the only bad guys out there. Who knows what other evils are out there that are bigger and badder. The more the people of this galaxy can band together, the better off we'll all be at protecting all of our people. Having someone like you and Khonsu and your people on our side will be the boost we need. My death and pain is a small price to have paid to have come across you."
"Are you still in pain? I thought it had faded?" Isis asked in concern.
Janet shrugged, carefully. She was still tender and certain actions were not quite comfortable yet. "My chest is still tight and aches on occasion, and if I push myself too much I have cramps along my back and tingling in my legs. But it's a reminder that I am alive."
"You are indeed. And tomorrow, you will see and hold your loved ones in your arms once again. Come, dinner should be ready soon and Nutan and Kismet wish to hear more of your adventures."
The small woman chuckled and shook her head but followed her friend inside. Her friend. Who would have thought?
"We have incoming!" Sergeant Harriman announced.
"I didn't think we had any teams due back," came the weary voice of Sam Carter a minute later as she climbed the steps into the Control Room. She had been working with Siler over the past day trying to trace a small power fluctuation in the system that had been causing the screens to fritz out every so often. They had just narrowed it down but were forced to halt as soon as the Gate started spinning up.
"We don't," General Hammond answered. "But SG-9 contacted us from the Beta Site and said they had someone who needed to come through immediately. We were advised to have medical and security stand by."
"Did they say who?"
"Major Johnson was being very cryptic, but he didn't give the code word for being held under duress."
Daniel had joined them by that point and was curiously looking down at all the activity happening in the room. SF's were on the alert and medical was standing by just outside the door. Just then the surface of the wormhole shimmered and two figures stepped through.
Stunned and absolute silence reigned throughout the entire control and gate rooms. It was finally broken by Sam's strangled "Janet?" before she passed out cold.
Daniel managed to catch her on the way down, staggering a bit as he was off balance himself. He managed to lower them both to the floor without any injury. "Sam? Sam wake up!" he said patting her cheek gently. He looked back up to see the General looking out the window, still in shock. "General?"
That seemed to snap the older man out of it and he reached for the intercom. "Dr. Fraiser?" he asked hesitantly.
She offered him a relieved smile, not flinching at the weapons still pointed her way. "In the flesh, Sir. I'm sure you have a few questions for me, but I assume you'll want medical to give me the full once over first?"
Hammond swallowed hard and nodded. "It's good to have you home Doc."
"It's good to be home, Sir. When I'm done, and if she's awake by then, can I talk to Sam for a few minutes before being debriefed?"
"I think I can arrange that Doctor. Mind introducing us to your guest?"
"This is the woman who brought me back from the dead Sir. And just so no one thinks we are trying to deceive anyone, she has a symbiote, but she's not like the rest of the Goa'uld. Apparently, Egeria wasn't the only one who rebelled against the ways of the other System Lords. Perhaps we could find a Tok'ra representative to join us for the debriefing? Selmak is one of the oldest and could most likely confirm what my guest here has to say. She also has a proposal that I think you should hear and consider."
"We'll send the request out immediately. Does your guest have a name Doctor?"
Hammond's mouthed worked for several seconds before he finally found his voice. "But how?"
"It's a long story and I will be happy to tell you all about it in the debriefing sir. Right now I'd just like to get through my exam." And see Sam, she added to herself.
"Very well. But does Isis realize that she must be accompanied by an armed escort for the time being?"
Isis bowed her head in acknowledgement, but made no other moves that might be considered threatening. "I understand your concern and precaution General Hammond. My Lieutenants would do the same in your place and I commend you for your vigilance. I wish to convey that I mean your people no harm, but I am sure you have heard that many times before. I understand if you feel the need to restrain me at this time as well."
Hammond considered it, but the look he was getting from Frasier- which convinced him she really was back- made him put faith in his CMO's judgment for the time being. "I will allow you to remain free for the time being Ma'am. But if you resist any of the directions of my officers or fail to cooperate in any manner I will be forced to incarcerate you."
"Thank you for your generosity General."
She once again bowed her head in his direction and he felt himself ease up a bit. No Goa'uld would ever willingly make such a gesture of respect to a 'simple slave'. Not even when acting. He watched as they exited the Gate Room, accompanied by a full squad of SF's and chuckled to himself at the stir this was sure to cause within his mountain.
He looked down to see Sam was finally coming around in Daniel's lap. He gave her the first full smile anyone had seen in two weeks. "Welcome back Major."
She was on her feet so quickly that Daniel was toppled over onto his back in her rush. She stared down into the now empty Gate Room and blinked in confusion. Then she closed her eyes and let out a shuddering breath as she pinched the bridge of her nose. "It was just a dream," she whispered, her voice on the verge of tears.
A hand on her shoulder made her open her eyes. "It wasn't a dream Sam. I don't know how it's possible, and I worry that maybe we are getting our hopes up. But somehow she's back. She and her guest are headed to the Infirmary for a full work-up. I imagine it will take some time, but when she is done, you can have ten minutes alone with her in the conference room before I begin the debriefing. Now, go call Jack and have him report to the base. I know he is still recovering from his cold, but I want him here for this. Janet claims that the woman with her was Isis and that she has a proposal. I have a few phone calls to make myself."
"I know how badly you want to go down there right now, but I need your head on straight for this. So after you call the Colonel, take some time to focus and don't go down there. The SF's will have orders to keep you out."
"Yes Sir. Should should I call Cassie, General?"
"Let's wait to see what the tests reveal. If everything looks good you can send for her to come to the base. It's going to take a little while before we can get things straightened back out if that really is the Doc, and she's not going to be able to leave here for a few days at the least."
"Doc, the General says you can have ten minutes alone with Major Carter before the briefing."
"Thank you Sergeant."
He offered her a warm smile that the others matched. "It's good to have you back Ma'am," he said sincerely.
She felt her throat tighten. Since her arrival every person they had passed had either expressed their sincere verbal gratitude at having her back alive and well .or they had simply just grabbed her and hugged her. She didn't think she'd ever seen so many misty-eyed Marines in her life. Isis noted her slightly overwhelmed expression and chuckled quietly next to her. "It appears you are a Queen as well my dear."
"You got that right Ma'am. Not even the General can order SG-1 around like the Doc here," one of the other SF's said with a conspiratorial wink.
Isis grinned and then gently shoved Janet towards the door. "Go, speak with Samantha, and the gentlemen here will keep me happily occupied with stories about your adventures as a healer."
Janet needed no more prodding, and with shaky hands she opened the door and slowly pushed it open. She quickly stepped inside and shut the door behind her, the noise finally startling Sam out of her staring trance down into the Gate Room. For many long seconds, they just stood staring at each other, deep emotions conveying what they had both been unable to express all these years.
And then they were rushing into each other's arms and hugging one another as if their lives depended on it. "God Janet," Sam sobbed into her hair. "I can't believe you are here. They said they said there was no way you lived through your injuries."
"I didn't Sam. I remember getting hit, and then everything went dark so quickly. I didn't feel too pain- everything went numb. But I had so much regret Sam."
Janet looked up at her, her dark eyes filled with so much emotion, and cupped Sam's cheek. "Because I love you sweetheart and I never had the courage to tell you. I knew I was dying and I couldn't even say goodbye. Isis gave me a second chance and I know we have a lot to talk about once we have more time alone, but I can't go one more second without you knowing just how much I care for you."
"I love you too Jan," Sam exhaled pressing a kiss to Janet's forehead.
They stood in each other's embrace for several long moments before Janet looked back up into blue eyes that she thought she'd never see again. Their heads bent towards each other and their lips finally met in a soft kiss full of love, reassurance, and promise. Neither was sure how long the kiss lasted but the soft clearing of a throat caused both women to break apart, breathless and blushing as their base commander chuckled quietly.
"Apparently, you didn't hear me knock twice ladies."
"General Sir, I-uh- I-I," Janet began, unsure of how to handle this situation.
"At ease Majors," he said with an affectionate smile and an amused tone. He gestured for them both to sit down and he perched himself on the table next to Sam in an informal manner. "For this, I am not your CO but Sam's, Uncle George," he began. "Janet, I have known since before Jacob, about Sam's preferences in dating partners. It has obviously made not one difference to me. I've also known for some time now that she has been madly in love with you and has somehow managed to keep those feelings in check in order to preserve your friendship and because of the regs. As Uncle George I can tell you that I could care less about that damned regulation. All I've ever wanted for Sammie is for her to be happy and you made her happier than I've ever seen. The only thing that matters to me is that you never let it effect your work and it stays off base. As General Hammond, I won't ask, and you don't have to tell. But if you bring this on base and someone presses the issue- my hands will be tied. Do we have an understanding ladies?"
"Yes Sir," they both said in unison.
He smiled warmly and then stood and opened his arms up in an invitation to Janet. She stood and hugged him as tightly as her recovering injuries allowed. "Thank you, George" she whispered as she placed a chaste kiss on his cheek before stepping back.
"It is my pleasure Janet. Now, I have a hallway full of ancy people and if I let O'Neill sit out there for too much longer, he'll likely start an interplanetary incident. "
"Were you able to make contact with the Tok'ra sir?"
"I was. In fact Jacob should be arriving just about ..now," he said looking down at his watch. Sure enough the klaxon filled the room and the lights flashed as Harriman announced the income traveler. Hammond went over to let the others in, instructing for two SF's to remain inside the room, and for the other two to go escort Jacob Carter to the briefing room and then remain outside.
SG-1 approached Janet as soon as they were in the room, all three men wrapping her in tight hugs, until she winced and had to beg them to ease up since she was still tender from her injuries. They reluctantly let her go, but O'Neill's smile never wavered. "Doc, all I gotta say is you can stick me with the biggest needles in your arsenal for the rest of your life and I won't complain one bit, so long as you promise never to scare us all like that again."
Janet blushed profusely at the emotional statement. "I'm going to hold you too that Colonel," she promised with a wink.
"Does Cassie know you are back yet?" Daniel asked.
"We decided to get all the formalities out of the way first. Then I will have an Airman escort her to the base since Dr. Frasier will have to remain here for a few days while we bring her back to life on the record books."
"Aw Sir, you can't just go have some Airman pick her up. She'll think something's happened to Carter here. The guys and I can go pick here up. With the smiles we're gonna be wearing for the next year, she'll know everything will be okay."
"Very well Colonel. When we are dismissed I will leave you in charge of fetching Cassandra."
Just then Jacob was escorted into the room and he froze at the door. "Janet?" he asked staring at the small doctor sitting next to his daughter, who was wearing one of the brightest smiles he'd ever seen.
"It's good to see you Jacob," she said quietly, standing because he was already approaching with open arms to hug her as well.
He held her at arms length and looked her over carefully. "Sam said-,"
"I was. But thanks to my savior here, I'm alive and on the mend."
Jacob looked the mysterious woman over, his eyes flaring white. "You are Goa'uld," Selmak said, taking over for the moment.
Isis rose to her feet and bowed her head in acknowledgement, her own eyes flashing white as the symbiote took control. "I am. Healer Frasier has been aware of this from the beginning, as well as your allies here at the .SGC."
"Which takes us right to business and why we asked for you to come Selmak. Perhaps we could all take a seat and hear what Dr. Frasier and her guest have to say?" Once everyone settled Hammond turned to Dr. Frasier. "Doctor perhaps you could start at the beginning. Tell us what happened on P3X-666 from the time you got there."
Janet took a deep breath and began to relate everything she recalled from the moment she set foot on the planet. From being a little shaken by several near misses, but then focusing on Airman Wells, once she had reached his side. She detailed what she had remembered of his injuries and what she had planned to do to stabilize him for transport. Janet knew that the details really weren't necessary, but she felt it would help solidify in their minds that she really and truly was herself. She related Daniel pulling out his camera to film Airman Wells final wishes since he was so sure he was about to die.
" and then I remember hearing the blast before I was sent hurling back. It was like someone had mule kicked me in the chest, but everything had gone instantly numb. I suppose it was the shock I never felt much after I was hit. Things went dark quickly, and I remember being fully aware that " here her voice cracked and she looked down at the table. The room had gone extremely silent.
"Take your time, Doctor," Hammond told her gently.
She gave him a wavering smile and reached for her water with a shaky hand. She sipped from it, then folded her hands under the table to try and still them. Suddenly, Sam's hand was folding over her own, and squeezed gently. Releasing a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding in, she continued on. "I remember being fully aware that I was dying. It didn't last long, but it was long enough to have those life altering epiphanies that one regrets not having sooner," she offered with a weak smile. Under the table she squeezed Sam's hand firmly.
"Things were dark for a little while and then Oma Desala appeared. At least I think it was her. She explained that I was dead and offered me the chance to Ascend. I was pissed by that point however, and I started arguing with her about their stupid rules and restrictions. Sorry Daniel, I know you have a lot of respect for her, but I just couldn't accept it all right then. Apparently, I managed to argue long enough to buy myself some time for other possibilities to present themselves. Oma seemed amused by it and then things went dark again.
"The next thing I remember, I was waking up on a soft bed, everything hurt like hell, and the light was too bright. There was a woman, and she helped me to drink something that helped dull the worst of the pain and helped me go back to sleep. She answered the few questions I could manage, and I learned that her name was Isis." Here she grinned over at the woman sitting next to her.
"Needless to say, I was a little panicked when I next woke up. The pain was still agonizing, but I tried to escape thinking I was a Goa'uld hostage. I wasn't quite up to par though, and I made it about as far as the door before I collapsed. "
She went on to explain how they had found her a couple of hours later and offered her the choice to be healed in the sarcophagus and risk the withdrawal process or to use a hand device which would take considerably more time. She took a moment to turn and lecture both Sam and Jacob about the inherent dangers of the Healing Device and that they had both better be more careful in using it in the future. She then resumed her story of her slow recovery and her observations during her convalescence.
"I spent the last week and a half getting to know Isis, her family and their people. I was allowed to roam free once I was able to start getting around on my own. What I saw was a people who were not in fear of their King and Queen. I saw a city that revered their leaders because they would do anything for their people. Yes they are King and Queen, but the native people of the planet have a system of government all to themselves as well. Isis and her mate Khonsu have procreated, and their progeny have taken hosts, but the matching is similar to that of the Tok'ra. Hosts volunteer for the privilege, and then the match must be suitable between both parties. To provide a balance, none of the blended are in a position of political power, though many serve in the planet's military force. After two weeks, I knew she was telling me the truth. There is no way an entire city can fake what I saw for that length of time."
She paused and then looked at Isis and drew in a deep breath. "On top of that sir she used a modified kara kesh to show me her true intentions."
This caused quite a stir as Sam jerked back, her eyes flashing dangerously at Isis. O'Neill and Jacob were also exclaiming quite loudly their opinion of that action and Teal'c tensed.
"Quiet!" Hammond snapped through the noise. "Dr. Frasier would you care to explain what exactly you mean by that?"
"We all know that the kara kesh the Ribbon Device can be used to read our thoughts and strip away our minds. Isis modified one to reverse that process .it can share the wearer's thoughts memories and emotions with another, without causing that person harm. Sir, she did this at risk to herself because she needed for me for us to believe that she and her family truly mean no harm to our people and to gain my trust. There was no way for her to hide and I read everything from her. What she is willing to propose is genuine and I believe it is the alliance we have needed to help tip the scales in this war Sir."
Hammond nodded and then looked at their guest. "First of all, I would like to thank you for returning Dr. Frasier to us. Her loss hit this base hard, and I don't think some of us would have fully recovered from that blow," he admitted frankly.
"My scouts observed your people when they came back through the chappa'ai in hopes of finding your healer. They could tell that she was much loved amongst your warriors, and that their grief was great. I apologize for not being able to return her sooner General Hammond. Unfortunately, I was detained in a lengthy Council meeting at the time, trying to assure my people that the Jaffa had not been there for them and that the threat had passed. Also, while I had healed Janet Frasier enough that she would live on her own, there was much more work that needed to be done. The Healing Device is complicated and very draining the more severe the injuries. It took a number of sessions over the course of several days before I could heal Janet enough so that she could walk again."
"Y-you were paralyzed?" Sam asked in shock as she turned to meet Janet gaze. While Janet had alluded to the fact that she had been gravely wounded even after being brought back to life, no one had known just how badly until now.
"The shot took out half my heart, lung, ribcage and a good chunk of my spine. She wasn't kidding when she said there was a lot to fix. I watched as Isis and her host Kimara pushed themselves to the point of exhaustion for several days, trying to heal my injuries so that I wouldn't be in as much constant pain. I hadn't realized just how dangerous that thing was to its wearer until then. Which is why you had better not take any unnecessary risks with it in the future, Major."
Sam merely blinked and then nodded obediently at the small doctor's firm order.
Isis smiled at the exchange and then turned back to the General. "I had every intention of returning your healer as soon as possible, but there were...politics involved. You see, Khonsu and I have successfully hidden ourselves and our people away for centuries. We knew the time was coming that we would have to join sides with those who waged war against the System Lords, but we did not wish to endanger our people if that was not what they wanted. I had to give them time to decide if they wished to join my family when we took up the cause, or if they wished to remain hidden. Janet Frasier had given me her word that if my people wished to remain out of the line of fire, she would keep their existence a secret."
"They are human sir. I was allowed to examine several of the indigenous population at random choosing of my own. They have a well defense force might be a better term than military, and they have advanced technology, but from what I saw, they could use a little help in training and tactics. If the System Lords were to ever discover them, they wouldn't stand a chance," Janet told the General candidly. "They are a peaceful population, and other than a few skirmishes here and there, they've not had to face the real trials of war."
O'Neill, who had managed to remain quiet through the briefing, finally raised his hand. "I'm sorry. I missed the part where you aren't dead in that second jar next to your boyfriend Osiris."
Isis gave him a thin smile and then looked to Jacob/Selmak. "This is why we asked for one of Egeria's offspring. You carry her genetic memory and can confirm what we are about to say." Jacob/Selmak nodded and Isis continued.
"Nearly a millennia ago, there was a war that broke out amongst the Goa'uld. Most of my kin had become power hungry. Those of us that rebelled against the idea of just taking what we wanted and enslaving the entire galaxy, were targeted by those that became known as the System Lords. There was what they called 'a cleansing'. It was a massacre of those Goa'uld who wanted to co-exist with our hosts in harmony instead of the tedious work of enslaving everything in sight.
"My husband at the time- Osiris- was opposed to the System Lords. We were forced to face a few of our kin in battle, but mostly we went to ground like a number of the others did. Osiris did not take well to hiding, and although he promised me he would not try to take matters into his own hands, he did. He took matters into his own hands and contacted our brother, trying to trick him into believing that he would fall into league with them. Setesh obviously saw through the deception however, and he showed up with half his fleet." They watched as her breath seemed to catch and when she spoke next, they could hear the strain in her voice. "We were both forced to watch as our children were slaughtered before us and then our own hosts were brutally murdered before we were literally ripped from them."
She took a shaky breath, moving past the painful memory and even the Colonel had the decency to remain silent.
"One of my acolytes had managed to infiltrate Setesh's servants however, and during the trip to Earth, she was able to gain access to my stasis jar and switched me out for another symbiote that she had acquired from a Jaffa she had been forced to kill. She escaped, and smuggled me back to a planet where Khonsu had been hiding. He nursed me back to health and I blended with a new host and we both fled to a world that was far beyond the edges of the System Lords known domain at the time. It was a world that had been seeded with humans and then forgotten. We took it upon ourselves to care and protect them and over the centuries we have made them self- reliant and taught them of the dangers of those who might travel through the chappa'ai.
"Khonsu travels away from home every great now and then to try and keep tabs on the System Lords. Over the past century we have been aware of rumors that they have been meeting with resistance once again. But in the last few years there have been many whisperings about the brave Tau'ri and their allies who have delivered major blows to the System Lords."
"We have put a few kinks in some of their grand plans of galactic domination," O'Neill said proudly.
Isis chuckled. "So I have heard. Healer Janet has filled us in on some of your incredible and daring adventures. Not to worry General, she never gave up any secrets. Only information which is most likely common knowledge to anyone who is in the know of political events."
"Well that is a bit of a relief, but I have faith that Dr. Frasier would have used discretion in what facts and details she would discuss."
Janet smiled thankfully at that.
"We have known the time would come that we could not sit aside any longer. We have been slowly preparing our people as best we could, but we are not soldiers and we both detested the violence that our kin are so prone to. Before all this ever started I was devoted to the Healing arts and I still am. Which is why I was compelled to break our self imposed exile by reviving your little healer her after I witnessed her courage and compassion under fire. I saw with my own eyes that despite overwhelming odds, your people fought bravely and with honor and the only reason you were pushed back, was because they vastly outnumbered your own forces."
"Wouldn't have minded a little help," O'Neill said somewhat bitterly.
"I may not be a soldier, but even I knew that to join in a fight like that would have resulted in unnecessary casualties to both our people because of the confusion. Your people were holding their own and your healer was the only one to be struck down. I took it upon myself- at great risk to both myself and my host I might add- to bring her back to you," Isis said with a bit of steel behind her tone.
"You're right, a third unknown party would have been a distraction and without knowing for sure who you are, my people probably would have opened fire on you as well," Hammond said diplomatically.
"I can confirm that what she says about the past is true. I have memories of Egeria seeking Isis for help after a battle gone bad with Ra. She asked for your help and you refused though. She never understood why because you clearly hated their way of life as much as Egeria did."
"I feared for the lives of my children. Egeria did not have any of her own at the time and she could not understand a mother's fear. Osiris wanted to join her, but I talked him into going into seclusion. I warned Egeria that our numbers were too small at the time - that the wisest course of action was to leave and return when we had stronger numbers. Sadly, she and the others pushed ahead with their plans and I lost contact with her shortly after I last saw her. Did any of the others survive?"
"Most were killed in the cleansing. Egeria barely escaped, and there were only two others that she was unsure of their fate. She went to ground after that and began building her own army. That is how the Tok'ra came to be."
"Healer Janet told me of her fate. I am sorry."
Selmak nodded. "Thank you. So you finally wish to join in the fight against the System Lords. Why?"
"Their reach has finally begun to cross our own borders. We can not sit on the sidelines for much longer. As my eldest told me, we must make our choice now, or it may be made for us of we wait too long. You have all dealt a crippling blow to the System Lords, but the battle has taken its toll on your forces as well. My people and I can provide fresh troops, the willingness to share our technology and the combined help of my mate and many of my children."
"I have over two hundred children Colonel. Not all of them are of age to fight and several are not even blended with a host yet. There are also some who's hosts were not comfortable or suited for war amongst the stars. They compromised in agreeing to stay behind but be part of our planet's defense force. There are still over a hundred of my children who are willing to sacrifice themselves for this cause. That is over a hundred children that I may have to grieve over if this goes badly for us."
This time there was no mistaking the bite to Isis' tone and Janet glared at O'Neill. "Damnit Colonel I FELT what she went through. You of all people should understand the grief she has already been through once, so how about you cut her a little slack? She isn't doing this for any type of personal gain. She's doing this because they are faced with the same threats we are and she knows her people need to be ready. The only thing they want in return is our help in getting her soldiers and her kids into fighting shape so they don't go out there like a bunch of first year cadets and get slaughtered. I don't think that's too much to ask in return for some extra bodies, a little insight, and some badly needed tech!"
O'Neill's eyes darkened and his lips thinned. How dare she! Everyone tensed as they waited for him to explode at her reminder of his own son's death. And then the most unexpected thing happened.
He blinked and then he smirked wryly. "Welcome back Doc," he said quietly and everyone let out a breath they hadn't realized that they had been holding.
Hammond cleared his throat and took back control. "So you wish to join us as allies. I trust Dr. Frasier's testament and judgment implicitly. But what kind of reassurances can I give my government? They are more than a little skeptical when it comes to these kinds of things."
"And rightly so General. Healer Frasier warned me of this and we have been discussing alternatives the past few days and I believe we have come up with a suitable trial arrangement. This is what we propose .."
As soon as the doors to Janet's assigned base quarters had shut, the two women were once more wrapped tightly in each other's arms, tears of relief pouring down both of their faces. They knew they only had an hour together at the most before the guys would be back with Cassie, but it was the time they needed to start the healing between each other.
It took a moment before Janet realized that Sam was shaking with silent sobs as the blonde clung desperately to her. Janet's heart ached for the taller woman, not even able to imagine the emotional agony she'd been through. To Sam, Janet had been dead - or worse yet, turned into the very enemy they fought against- for the last two and a half weeks.
"It's okay Sammie," Janet whispered as she tilted her head up and pulled Sam's face down to hers. "I'm here now and I'm not leaving you again for a very long time. I promise."
Sam sniffled loudly and accepted the tender kiss. But she pulled back after a moment and blue eyes gazed down at her with a haunted look in them. "I wish I knew that you could promise that Jan I wish I could promise the same thing. But we live such dangerous lives."
Janet sighed heavily and looked away, knowing Sam was right. But maybe it was time to think about more than just her career. "I can retire."
Sam froze. "W-What?"
Janet looked up at her, eyes full of love, determination, and promise. "Sam I gave my life serving my country hell serving the entire planet. I've given the ultimate sacrifice and maybe it's time I started thinking about the people I love of the life I have let slip by me all these years."
Sam was silent for a long while, staring down at Janet as she processed the words and the smaller woman's sincerity. Then she snorted lightly and shook her head as she rested her forehead against Janet's. "As much as I would love to see you out of harm's way Jan, there's no way you could stay away from this for long sweetheart. You live for the excitement and adrenaline as much as I do. Maybe not as much on the frontline as the SG teams are, but you are still a frontline soldier. I've seen the look in your eye when you are faced with a new and alien challenge that you have just beaten. And I've seen the excitement in your eye every time you do get to step through the Gate to go help a new race."
Janet couldn't help but smile faintly. "It is a bit of a rush knowing you are defeating viruses that originate from an entirely different planet. But Sam .I was so scared when I first thought I was captured by the Goa'uld. I was in such pain and I wondered at how you go through that time and time again. I felt so weak and helpless it was terrifying."
"And yet you managed to keep your head regardless of the pain and now look. We have a potentially powerful new ally that has even the Tok'ra excited. Janet, I know you are going to need some time to recover from this, but I would never ask you to give up the SGC because it's in your blood. Cassie even told the General as much when we told her you had been KIA."
"She said you had died doing what you loved. When we talked later she said she was so proud of you. That you gave everything of yourself no matter what you did: raising her, being a friend to me and the rest of SG1, taking care of this entire base. She said that if you'd been given a choice in how you'd wanted to go out that giving your life to save another would have been at the top of your list. We cried for a long time after that, but it helped knowing that you'd at least been given an honorable death doing what you were most passionate about."
"She said that?" Janet whispered, tears streaking down her face.
Sam nodded with a shaky but proud smile.
"God Sam, our little girl is all grown up isn't she? How do you think she will take seeing me alive?"
Sam blinked. "Are you kidding? She's going to tackle you and not let go for the rest of the night probably. She loves you so much Jan."
Janet gave her a tremulous smile and then looked at the floor once more. "Another reason why I should maybe think about retiring. She's been through so much already "
"Janet, I will support whatever decision you make. But before you make any decisions, you should talk to her first. I After I came back to work this week I realized that it just didn't hold the same appeal to me any more. And I had Cassie to think about now. After my first day back to work I went home and told her that I was thinking about resigning from SG-1 and asking to be switched to the labs. It would be safer and I could give her a more stable schedule. She didn't take that very well lectured me on giving up even," she added with a rueful grin. But then her expression grew serious. "Somehow, I doubt she would stand for you resigning because of her. Did you know she's thinking of applying to the Academy?"
"I had no idea until afterwards," Sam admitted her throat tightening slightly. "We both know how far advanced she is in school. She told me that she felt the Academy would give her the challenge she needed. And it would allow her to feel closer to the woman that had been her mom and hero."
Janet's hand flew to her mouth as a tiny sob broke free. "She really said all that?"
"She did Jan."
Janet leaned into her lover's strong embrace for a bit as she absorbed that bit of information and then exhaled slowly as some of the tension in her body left. "I guess we all have a lot to talk about over the next couple of days then."
"We do. I know you've been through a lot Jan and I will be here for you no matter what .General Hammond already told me if I wanted to take some time off I would have it. I plan on making a dent in my accrued vacation time. Just please promise me that whatever you decide to do, it will be for yourself and not because it's something you feel anyone else expects."
"Good. Now shut up and kiss me, because I don't feel like being interrupted again and the guys will be here in a little bit with your daughter."
"Our daughter," Janet corrected as she leaned up and pressed her lips against Sam's in a much more heated and passionate kiss than the first one was.
Cassie eyed the guys as they all headed down into the depths of the base. "You're sure I'm going to like this surprise?" she asked warily.
Her heart had nearly stopped in dread when they had all shown up on her doorstep, without Sam, telling her that she needed to come with them. The only thing that had kept her upright was the fact that they were all grinning from ear to ear well Teal'c hadn't been, but the expression was as close to a grin as she'd ever seen.
They hadn't lost the grins the entire time and now she was becoming a bit suspicious. "Sam didn't touch something that made her purple or something again did she?" she asked in reference to the time Sam had had a unique skin reaction to the local fauna on one of the worlds they had been visiting. She'd been confined to base for a week while Cassie's mom had tried to figure out a way to reverse the reaction, which had something to do with the Naquadah in her blood. Not even Teal'c had been able to resist the lure of an Oompa Loompa joke.
"Nah this is way better. Trust me kid, this is going to be the best present ever. No question," her Uncle Jack told her.
Cassie somehow doubted that because there was just no way that should could ever really get what she truly wanted. But she mustered a brave smile and went along with things. The elevator doors opened and her Uncle George was waiting for the group, also wearing the first genuine smile she'd seen from him since her mother's death only a couple of weeks ago. Whatever they wanted to show her, it was definitely good.
He hugged her, asked about her well being and then gestured for them to head down the hall. "Shall we?"
"So are you gonna tell me what's going on Uncle George?" she asked as they made their way towards Sam's on base living quarters.
"Cassie, I wouldn't dream of ruining this surprise. But let me assure you, that this is the real deal. We made sure of double checking everything before we brought you here so there wouldn't be any doubt in anyone's mind," he told her with a warm smile as he reached out to knock on Sam's door.
A few seconds later, Sam herself opened the door, gave Cassie one of her true Carter smiles that Cassie thought she would never see again and then stepped slightly off to one side to reveal the small figure that had been standing behind her.
Cassie's hands flew to her mouth and tears sprang to her eyes. "Mom?! She gasped out.
Tears in her own eyes, and her voice suddenly failing her, Janet did the only thing she could think of. She opened her arms.
"MOM!" Cassie shrieked as she launched herself at her mother and hugged her tightly as sobs overtook her.
"Shhhhhh," Janet finally managed through her own tears of relief and joy. "It's okay now baby. I'm back."
"They said you were d-dead," Cassie cried into her shoulder.
"I know sweetheart. Someone brought me back though and I'm sorry it took so long to get home, but I'm not going anywhere for a long time now okay?"
The rest of the group moved to leave the two Frasier women in peace to bond and catch up, but she looked up. "Stay please," she whispered. "You're all my family too," she said, her voice catching. She extricated an arm from around Cassie and held it out in invitation.
O'Neill smiled. "Group hug," he declared gruffly as he grabbed Danny and Carter and dragged them with him towards the Frasiers. Teal'c quirked an eyebrow and Hammond chuckled and shook his head, but both men acquiesced to the request and wrapped their arms around the group.
They stood like that for several long moments, and each of them felt something slide back into place within their hearts to make them feel whole again.
For Jack O'Neill, he felt much better knowing that the fiery brunette was there to keep them all alive and healthy no matter what manner of trouble they'd get themselves into. He'd also been worried that he'd lost Carter. She was one of the best damn officers he'd ever served with, and would make one hell of a CO to SG-1 soon. She was brilliant, braver than anyone he'd ever known, caring, passionate and a hell of a soldier. When Janet died however, that spark had left her, and he'd worried that she would resign her post because, quite frankly, SG-1 just wouldn't be the flagship team it was without her. Only a few short hours after her return and Jack could already see the life and light back in Sam's eyes.
For Teal'c, it was a source of healing. He had lost comrades and close friends in battle before, but there had always been something special about the tiny healer that had demanded his attention and respect. He had come to deeply respect her brilliance in her field and her courage and ability to work tirelessly when under pressure. And despite all her duties and oath as a healer, she had managed to balance out her duties as a warrior as well, defending those under her protection and threatening with force if necessary. Her death had struck him harder than he'd thought, and his guilt at leaving her behind had weighed heavily upon him.
For Daniel, it was the return of not just one, but two sisters. With Janet's death, Sam had grown distant and almost mechanical in her interaction with everyone. Cassie had been the only one she'd expressed emotions to and with, but he knew that even that had been growing rarer and rarer recently. Having witnessed Janet's death, he'd been plagued with horrible nightmares, and for the first time in days, he felt a sense of hope that they would fade soon, now that she was back.
For Sam, it was a sense of the world righting itself and her heart being pieced back together. This was her family. These were the people that she trusted the most, felt safest with, and Janet had been firmly in the center of this family. She knew there were a great many decisions ahead for all of them, but she had faith that things would work out now.
For George Hammond, it was absolution. He'd given the order to foolishly risk the life of one of his most invaluable assets, and that of a dear friend. Janet Frasier had made it a habit to be by his side when SG-1 came home, both of them anxiously waiting to see what kind of condition they would come back in. He'd given the order that had led to her death, and yet she not only verbally told him it wasn't his fault, but she was now re-affirming her sincerity that she wanted nothing to change between them. It was humbling and awe-inspiring that someone so small could have that much compassion.
For Cassie, it was a sense of her family being whole once more. After she'd lost her entire home-world to the Goa'uld, Cassie didn't know if she would ever fit in on Earth. But Janet had taken her in and treated Cassie as if she were her own daughter and SG-1 had gone out of their way to make her a part of their own crazy and somewhat dysfunctional family as well. They stuck with her through her good times and her bad, and she'd come to appreciate their support, loyalty, and love to her and to each other. When her mom had died, Cassie had feared that that unity would forever be shattered. But with her mom back, there was a renewed sense of purpose and hope.
For Janet, all her doubts and fears were laid to rest. No matter what, these people here loved her, trusted her with their lives, and would support her no matter what. Cassie had grown into an amazing young woman who would be soon making a path for herself, but the crushing hug told Janet that their bond as a mother and daughter would never be broken.
Slowly they released their hold on each other and Hammond smiled at them, the weight of the world seemingly gone from his shoulders. "I know we still have a lot to discuss, but that can all wait until tomorrow. You ladies catch up and Sam I'll see you and Janet at the 0900 briefing with Isis. Dr Jackson, let's go check in our guest and see how she is settling in."
They left, with Teal'c in tow but the Colonel lingered. He looked the tearfully happy and reunited family over and then fixed Janet with a pained smile. "You were right back there doc. I should and do know better than anyone else. You've got a great thing here - don't either of you blow it again Got it?"
Both women looked at each other and then gave him watery smiles. "Yes sir," they grinned, wiping at stray tears.
"Good. My work here is done then. Have a good night ladies!"
And then he was gone.
Janet turned and looked at Sam a bit floored. "Did the Colonel just give us his blessing?"
"He did. He's known since the za'tarc testing."
"Does this mean you two are FINALLY getting together?" Cassie asked excitedly.
They laughed and rolled their eyes but nodded as they reached for each other. "Yeah sweetie we are. Your Uncle George made it clear he has no problems with the relationship so long as we keep it off base and in private. But you know what? To hell with the regulations. We'll be discreet out of respect for everyone else, but I'm not going to let fear rule my life and ruin chances for me any more."
Cassie just smiled at this and then leaned in to join their embrace and relish the fact that she was once again being embraced by both her moms. Uncle Jack really hadn't been kidding. Best. Present. Ever.
"MMmmpf," the blonde mumbled into her pillow.
"Sam wake up," came Cassie's hushed voice.
Sam blinked her eyes open, waking up immediately at the request of her daughter. "What's wrong?" she asked quietly.
Cassie smiled at her and shook her head. "Nothing," she whispered back
Sam exhaled and then shifted her grip from where she'd been holding both of her girls throughout the night so that she could hug Cassie reassuringly. "What's up?"
"I really want to stay here today but I know you guys are going to be in a lot of meetings all day, and I really can't miss that biology exam. You know how much I've studied for that this week."
"Alright baby. You want me to drive you to school?"
"I can ask Uncle George if one of the motor pool guys can bring me down."
"I'll make sure to come pick you up then."
But Cassie gave her a knowing smile. "It's okay Sam. I got to see mom and spend last night with you both. I'll ask Suzie if I can spend the next few nights at her place until you both come home."
"No Sam. Mom needs you as much as you need her right now. Stay here with her and I'll be waiting for you both to come home so we can finally be a real family."
Sam felt her throat close with emotions and tears come to her eyes. Instead of answering back she simply pulled Cassie to her in a tight hug and sniffled into her long locks. "Thank you Cass," she finally managed to whisper after a full minute had passed. "I love you sweetheart."
"Love you too Sam," she sniffled back, before gently extricating herself from between her parents. She headed into the bathroom to freshen up a bit and pull her clothing as straight as she could.
Sam moved into the warm space Cassie had left and wrapped an arm around Janet who mumbled slightly in her sleep before burrowing deeper into Sam's warmth. Sam dozed lightly as Cassie moved quietly around the room gathering up her backpack and putting her socks and shoes back on. Thankfully, she'd woken up early enough to hit the commissary for a quick breakfast and still have just enough time to swing by the house for a change of clothes.
She leaned down to give both her mothers a kiss goodbye, smiling softly at the sight of them wrapped in each other's embrace. Then she slipped out the door and made her way to the commissary. It was still early and so the room was fairly quiet. She spotted Teal'c sitting off to one side, waved at him and then moved to grab her breakfast before she brought her tray over to join him.
"How are you doing this morning Cassandra Frasier?"
She gave him a blinding smile. "I feel like a new person Uncle T. I still can't believe she's alive."
He nodded, a smile of his own spreading across his face. "It was indeed a pleasant shock. Having your mother back has brought much joy to this entire base."
"She said it was a little embarrassing yesterday," Cassie admitted with a chuckle.
"It is a sentiment she may have to endure for a few more days still. I have been here half an hour and already I have had over a dozen SGC personnel who are just coming onto duty, inquire as to whether the rumors of her return are true. They all seemed eager to welcome her back. I have even heard rumors of an impromptu celebration being arranged for when she returns home. I believe it is supposed to be a surprise however."
"I'll keep it on the down-low," Cassie promised. "Hey Uncle T, are you doing anything this morning?"
"I do not have any assignments that are pressing. Did you need assistance with something?"
"Can you give me a ride back home and then to school? I have a test I have been studying my a- butt off for that I really need to take today," she said, correcting her choice of words at the last second as his eyebrow began to hike up.
"I would be more than happy to drive you. Will you be needing transportation back to the base after school?"
"I told Sam to take some time to be with mom. They need each other right now. I got to see her and I know she's alive and safe. That's good enough for me for right now. Mom and Sam will be home in a couple of days and Sam said she's going to take some Leave so we can all spend some time together. Mom wants to go up to Uncle George's cabin by the lake- "
Cassie words cut off suddenly as her eyes widened and her spoon dropped. "Cassandra?" Teal'c asked in concern.
"Teal'c ..there's a Goa'uld somewhere nearby," Cassie whispered tersely, her eyes scanning the room for what she had sensed.
Teal'c scanned the room and saw nothing, nor did her feel anything. "Are you sure? I do not sense anything."
"It's faint, but I know I'm right Teal'c."
"Are you sensing Selmak? Perhaps Jacob Carter is nearby."
"No I know what grandpa and Selmak feel like. I can't explain it, but I am familiar with them."
"Then perhaps you are sensing the Isis symbiote."
Cassie nodded. "Could be," she said forcing herself to relax a bit. "So .do you really think we can trust them? Mom seems sure about it."
Teal'c nodded. "Her actions are far from any other Goa'uld I have ever encountered even within the Tok'ra. Her compassion for her people and her hesitation to have to fight appear to be genuine, and your mother has assured us that they are. Selmak was able to confirm a good deal of her background, and her proposal is a reasonable one. I believe this could be one of the most beneficial alliances for all of our people."
As he was speaking, the doors opened and a regal looking woman dressed in casual pants and a tunic slowly walked into the room. Two SF's accompanied her, but they both appeared to be relaxed and Cassie and Teal'c observed as she inquired something of them and they answered back with amused looks on their faces as she grimaced. She turned to where the food was being dispensed and seemed to shore up her resolve as she approached the selections.
"That's her?" Cassie asked, not really needing confirmation as her 'spider sense' as Sam had dubbed it, was tingling over-time.
"Be right back."
Cassie approached the Queen and smiled at her two escorts who nodded and smiled back at her. Sliding up next to the woman she looked over the selections and grimaced herself. "I always go for some fruit or cold cereal. At least you can tell what it is, and your symbiote won't have to work overtime trying to keep you alive after eating this stuff," she said with a grin as she turned to face Isis.
The taller woman turned to look down at her, surprised by her sudden advice, and then her eyes widen slightly. "You are Janet Frasier's daughter, yes?"
"I am. How'd you know?"
"She carried a picture of you and Samantha in her jacket. She looked upon it often while she was recovering on my planet. So the food is as unappetizing as it looks?"
"Worse," Cassie confided in a whisper and with a grave look and nod.
Isis laughed and clapped her hands. "Oh you really are a delightful child. Thank you for the advice. It has been many centuries since I have sampled Tau'ri food. Perhaps you might select something you think I might find palatable?"
Cassie grinned, set about making up a bowl of corn flakes with some cut up strawberries , and a few other items that Isis could sample. She also poured the Goa'uld a tall glass of juice and then offered for her to join both Teal'c and herself.
"Thank you for your intervention Cassandra," Isis said gratefully as she settled across from Teal'c.
"Least I could do for the woman who saved my mom."
"I am sorry I could not return her to you quickly, and spare you and the rest here the grief you were all suffering through."
Cassie shrugged. "It would have been nice to know that she was at least alive. But mom explained it all to me. I can't say that I blame you and your people for needing some time to decide what you wanted to do. Besides it all worked out in the end and that's what matters right?"
"And hopefully it will continue to work out between our peoples." She turned her focus to Teal'c. "You are the one called Teal'c?"
"I did not get much opportunity to speak with the rest of Janet Frasier's friends last night. I am intrigued as to how the First Prime of a System Lord let alone Apophis himself .turned on his master. There must be quite a story behind that."
"Janet Frasier did not tell you of how I came to be a part of SG-1?"
'She did. But she only gave me the basic details. I would love to hear how you were able to overcome all of your conditioning and how you have been able to free some many of your other brothers and sisters from their slavery to the System Lords."
"It has been a long and difficult process Queen Isis. And I would be happy to tell you about it, but I have promised to take Cassandra Frasier to school in a short while."
Isis nodded in understanding. "Perhaps later this evening, if time permits."
"I would be happy to make myself available. I too would like to hear more of your own battles against the System Lords."
Isis smiled faintly. "Sadly I am not the warrior that you are Teal'c. My calling has always been in the giving of life, not the taking of it. But much like your brave little healer, there were times when I was forced to set aside my preferences and focus on the immediate need to survive. I believe you might appreciate hearing about the time Osiris and I managed to slip sirish into Apophis' food and made off with his newly built ha'tak," she said with a smirk and mischief glinting in her eyes.
Teal'c lips twitched upwards in amusement. "I can imagine he was quite displeased."
"Once he came down off his high, I imagine he was."
"What's sirish?" Cassie asked as she swallowed the last of her juice.
"It is one of the few drugs that a Goa'uld symbiote cannot filter without being effected. The drug is a powerful narcotic to both human and symbiote alike. When I shared the story with your mother she said it sounded much like a medicine she uses on gravely injured or sick patients .morfen I believe she called it?"
"Oh! You mean Morphine?"
"Yes I believe that is it. She said that drug did not really affect a symbiote, but sirish will render an adult symbiote unconscious for a full day. It also leaves them feeling extremely out of sorts when they finally wake up."
"Goa'uld hangover huh? That's gotta be wicked." Cassie grinned. Tehn she looked at the clock and sighed. "If I'm gonna have time to change out of yesterday's clothes I need to go. It was nice talking to you Isis and thank you once again for saving my mom."
The teen leaned in, hugged the Queen tightly and then grabbed up her backpack and with a wave at the SF's and a couple of other familiar faces who had entered the commissary during their discussion she headed towards the door. Teal'c nodded to the Queen and then he too took his leave. Isis smiled after them, a faint smile on her lips.
Janet had slept deeply and without nightmares for the first time in two weeks. In fact her dreams had been replaced with warm memories and thoughts of her friends and family. Those happy dreams had transformed into something a whole lot more intimate as they focused on Sam and quickly became breathtakingly erotic. She woke with a gasp, only to realize that her dreams had taken the twist they had because Samantha Carter was straddling her body, a hip gently grinding against her center as her tongue and lips worked the sensitized flesh along her neck.
"Sam!" she cried out, her hands clutching at the blonde even as her own hips rocked upwards to meets Sam's gentle thrust.
"God baby .I love you so much," Sam whispered in her ear.
Janet tried to clear the cobwebs from her mind and then realized something. "Cassie?" she gasped out as Sam suckled on her earlobe.
"Off to school," Sam assured her. "Big test .been studying all week and didn't want .to miss," she answered in between hot kisses.
Assured that they were alone, Janet gave herself over to the sensations and slid her hands up the inside of Sam's tee shirt, stroking along strong back muscles. She grinned as she felt Sam groan against her neck and lifted the thigh that Sam was straddling to press more firmly against her love. She could feel the heat even through their clothing and suddenly it was not enough. Janet knew they didn't have a whole lot of time this morning, and she also knew the General had asked for them to keep this off the base. But she needed this .they needed this connection .desperately.
She grabbed a fistful of Sam's shirt and yanked it upwards, suddenly frantic to feel Sam's skin pressed against hers. Sam sat up, Janet following her as they worked to remove the short and then pulled Janet's off just as frantically. She hissed as her shoulder and chest were jostled too quickly, but she pushed the pain aside as she jerked Sam towards her for a searing kiss. Hands fumbled on the button and fly of Sam's pants, and then she rolled off to the side, yanking them off with little grace and then moved to help Janet to the same. Both their underwear were tossed into the darkest recesses of the room and then they were finally, FINALLY pressed against each other with no barriers between them.
The sensations were overwhelming as their bodies slid together in a wonderful, wet friction that built the flames of their desire even higher. Teeth scraped against sensitive skin. Tongues tasted all that the other had to offer. Hands traced tingling lines of pleasure as strong fingers delved into hot, wet, receptive places. Breaths mingled, bodies merged, and together they cried out in release and joy.
Long minutes later, Sam finally manged ot roll over from where she'd collapsed next to her lover and pulled Janet's willing body against hers in loving embrace. "I love you so much Janet Frasier," she whispered, still a bit breathless.
"I love you too Samantha Carter. And I am never going to tire of saying that."
"Me neither, baby me neither."
They lay like that for a long while, just soaking up in their love for each other and relishing the fact that they had been given a second chance to express that love to each other. Sam could have easily laid there with her lover the entire day. But unfortunately they had duties to attend to before they could both escape their duties to take some much needed time to finish their healing and strengthen the bond they had finally begun to cement.
After a little more cuddling and some quietly whispered words of tender affection they both finally rose and began to prepare for a long day of meetings and briefings. When they finally made it to the commissary, most everyone had come and gone already, and they had been forced ot rush through their meal in order to make the first briefing in time. As it was, they were both nearly late, which drew smirks from nearly everyone and a mock glare from the General.
With a blush they both quickly took their seats and the negotiations resumed.
By the end of the day, Janet was looking more and more uncomfortable, and every time she shifted a grimace would cross her features. It was Isis who finally spoke up. "General, I believe we have come to a good stopping point for the day. Besides, I have a patient still under my care and I believe she has overdone it a bit these past couple of days with all the excitement of her return. Is it possible that we could pick up tomorrow where we have left off? It will also give you a chance to inform your leaders of the progress in the negotiations."
Hammond, who had also been noting the steadily paling complexion of his CMO- because he couldn't think of her as anything else- nodded in agreement. "It has indeed been a productive day and I think the President will be very happy with how things are turning out. I'm not sure how he'll take your insistence that the Stargate Program goes public within the next year or two, but I think he'll be able to understand your reasoning. It should make things very interesting at the very least. You take care of Dr. Frasier, and I'll go make my phone calls. We'll reconvene here at 0900...sharp people," he said with a look at Sam that made it clear that tardiness would not be tolerated.
Everyone began gathering their notes up as casual conversation began buzzing around the room. Sam looked over to see Janet struggling to her feet and quickly moved to help her, worry etched into her features. "Jan?" she asked worriedly.
She gave Sam a tight smile. "I'll be fine Sam. Just a little stiff from all the running around and hugging the last couple of days. Plus I've been a little remiss in my normal PT that I should be doing," she added a bit sheepishly.
"You have indeed Little Healer," Isis reprimanded lightly. "The most important negotiations are over and there are just minor details that need to be gone over. I am going to insist that you be excused tomorrow so that you can rest properly and resume your recovery schedule."
"Isis I should be fine-,"
"Ah ah ahhh," the Goa'uld said raising her finger and cutting her off. "We already had this discussion Janet Frasier. You are still my patient and in my care until I deem you fully healed. And as such, I am insisting you be excused from any further work as your duties here have been accomplished. It is time for you to finish mending properly."
Janet sighed heavily, knowing she wasn;t going to win this argument and she noted out of the corner of her eye that Jack O'Neill was smirking in her direction, amused by the whole scene. She turned and glared daggers at him. "Not. One. Word. Colonel," she threatened.
She just grinned widely and held out his hands. "What?" he asked innocently.
Sam trying to cover a laugh with a poor imitation of a cough didn't help matters, and Janet turned on her heel and limped out of the room. As soon as she was far enough down the hall, everyone began snickering. Even Hammond looked amused. "You need to teach me how to do that Lady Isis. I can' tell you how many times I have tried to get her to go home and rest or stay in bed when she finds herself a patient in her own infirmary. I have to threaten to make it an order and she still manages to find an excuse to exempt herself from the rules!"
Isis smiled sympathetically. "Healers make the worst patients. You just have to find the right leverage to keep them in line. Now if you will excuse me gentlemen, I should go tend to my patient. Oh and General?"
"I really did mean what I said about her being released from her duties. I know Janet wishes to see this through, but I think she's fulfilled her role and she really does need her rest and to resume her therapy."
Hammond nodded. "Actually, pretty much everyone here can be excused from the rest of the negotiations I believe. Major Davis will remain and tomorrow we will be joined by several high level representatives of our government, but I believe we have a working plan of how to incorporate the training of your troops into a new military force. Do you need ot report back to your own people Lady Isis?"
"I will need access of the wormhole for a brief period of time later if it can be arranged. This way I can communicate with my family and my people to let them know that negotiations are proceed well and to check on their own progress."
"I'll have my aide check over the schedule and send word as to when the Gate will be free."
"Thank you General. Gentlemen, Major Carter," she said with a nod to the rest of the group in the room as she left to go find Janet, her escorts struggling to keep up with her.
"Major Carter, could I see you in my office for a minute?"
Sam swallowed hard, but nodded. The General left and Sam gathered up her stuff and moved towards the door. "Busted," O'Neill, smirked at her.
She narrowed her eyes at him and his grin grew. "Oh come on Carter how many times have you ever been hauled into the principal's office? Seriously I'm kinda proud of you right now. Finally learning to live life a little on the wild side."
She rolled her eyes and huffed out of the room, trying to ignore the chuckles as she left. But she couldn't help the tiny little grin that was threatening to lift the edges of her lips. It did feel good to break the rules a bit. Especially since it involved Janet. She knew she wasn't in big trouble Uncle George loved her and Janet too much for that. But Sam also knew he tried not to play favorites too much. This was going to be her only warning and she could deal with that.
Janet hissed in pain as Isis helped her to removed her shirt and tried to avoid looking down at the scarring and bruising. Isis had done a remarkable job healing her with only the Hand Device, but it had left Janet with some very visible reminders of all that she had been through. She'd been relieved that it had been fairly dark in the room this morning when she and Sam had first made love. Janet had been extremely self-conscious about Sam seeing her injuries, even though she had treated Sam's for the last seven years.
Isis tsked gently and ran cool fingers across fevered flesh. "I know you were eager to reconnect with Samantha, Little Healer, but you need to be more careful."
"I really wish you would stop calling me that," Janet muttered sullenly, trying desperately to fight off the blush that was creeping up her neck.
"I do so out of fondness Janet Frasier and you know why," she added quietly, referring to the nickname she had bestowed upon one of her first children over a millennia ago.
"I know. But it's different when you call me that versus Jack O'Neill. He'll never let me live it down."
Isis smirked. "He will if he knows what's best for him. Rumor has it he isn't fond of needles or so I'm told."
Janet managed a faint smile at that, and then gasped sharply as Isis probed a particularly tender painful spot on her back.
"Looks like I might have to have a word with the good Major about limiting any amorous activities for the next few days Healer. Your bruising has spread once more and it would wager that you've strained if not torn a few newly healed muscles around your shoulder blade. Will Healer Warner allow me access to your medical facilities and use of your Healing Device?"
"I can have Sam get the Healing Device out of lock-up but do we really have to go to the infirmary? I don't feel like enduring yet another lecture about taking care of myself Isis."
"I suppose I can make do with the Healing Device, but I have no access to any medicinals or herbs that might dull your pain and ease the tension in your muscles. You will not rest well without them and you know that."
"I can call Bill and ask for him to give Sam some medication for me."
"Very well then. Now where is your charming lover so I can make her turn a lovely shade of red and then get the Healing Device from her?"
Blushing, Janet slid off the small table she'd been sitting on and moved over to the phone. It took several calls before she finally tracked down one of the SG1 team members and then found out that Sam had been called into Hammond's office, presumably for a lecture on timeliness. She asked Daniel if he could go wait for her to escape and tell Sam to come back to her quarters as soon as she was done. The archeologist assured her he would go right up so he could catch her and send her down as soon as Sam was done.
With that settled, Janet pulled a robe on and settled into a chair to relax and wait with Isis.
Three days later .
Janet sank gratefully back into the comfort of her own sofa and exhaled in relief. Seconds later her daughter curled up next to her and Janet reached out to wrap the girl in a careful embrace. "It's good to be home," she whispered as she leaned her head against Cassie's.
"It's good to have you home mom. I though " the girl's voice caught and Janet squeezed her tighter.
"Shhhhh. I know baby. For awhile, when I first thought I might be a prisoner, I thought I might never see you again either. But I pulled through and we are together and that's all that matters now."
"I know. I love you so much mom. I know I can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but you have always been there for me even through the worst you and Sam never gave up. I'm sorry if I never said it enough, but I want you to know that I love you so much mom."
Janet sniffled as tears streaked down her face I know baby girl. I know," she breathed as she pressed a kiss to blonde hair. Over the top of Cassie's head she noticed Sam leaning against the doorframe to the kitchen, watching Janet and Cassie bond, her own eyes bright with unshed tears. Janet held out her hand and Sam moved away from the doorway and sat on the back of the couch, stroking her hands through both of their hair.
The three women were silent for awhile, just soaking up the love and affection they had for each other and this rare moment of peace in their chaotic lives. Janet finally leaned back and looked at her daughter. "Cass .Sam and I talked and I told her I was thinking of retiring-,"
"Mom, I will support you in whatever you want to do. But please don't quit because of me. You are one of the best and the SGC needs you. Uncle George and the others were lost without you mom. It scared me to think that Sam and Uncle's Jack Daniel and Teal'c were going to go out there and not have you to come home to. I know you've been through a lot, and if this is what you need to do for yourself then I understand, but please please don't think I want you to quit. I know how much you love it and and one day I hope to be just like you."
Janet blinked and then looked up at Sam who was grinning. "You really weren't kidding were you?"
Janet looked back at Cassie, who was picking at her jeans and blushing slightly at her outburst. Janet shifted her arm so that she could take Cassie's hand in her own. "It's okay Cassie. Thank you for being honest with me. I have to admit that part of me has been tempted to retire. I have, after all, more than earned it. But you are right, I do love my work at the SGC and more importantly, I don't think I could stand having the lives of my family in anyone else's hands. And the SGC has become my extended family. I never really knew just how much they meant to me or how much I meant to them until no one thought I was coming back. It's a little overwhelming," she admitted, a lump forming in her throat as she thought about all the emotional and heartfelt reunions she had this week. Airman Wells had just about fallen to her feet crying in relief that she was alive.
Pushing that all aside though she continued on. "I plan to go back to work in a few weeks, but I've asked the General for some time to be with my family so all of us can recover from this," she told Cassie as she squeezed her hand once more and then leaned into Sam's hand as it raked gently through her hair once more.
"I'd like that mom. Sam said we were going to maybe go up to Uncle George's cabin for a little while?"
"If you'd like sweetheart."
"I think we could all use some time away and besides I think it would be good for you and Sam to have the time where you don't have to worry about someone seeing you together."
"Are you okay with this Cass?" Janet asked hesitantly.
"Are you kidding me?!" Cassie laughed. "Hello! I have been hinting for years now that you two should be together. I just think that it sucks that you two can't be open about it. I mean I know that almost everyone knows you guys love each other and they couldn't care one lick about it. But it sucks you can't show it like other couples because of the stupid military regulations."
Sam sighed. "It does suck Cass. But if we want to keep things the way they are right now, we have to play by their rules. Uncle George told us so long as we keep it off base he doesn't care. So amongst friends, your mom and I decided we aren't going to hide our feelings for each other any more. And if someone has a problem with it .well we'll deal with it if that time comes. We aren't going to let fear rule our choices in life anymore," Sam told her decisively as she threaded her fingers into Janet's.
Cassie nodded in approval. "Good. Just so we are clear on one thing though. I am totally happy for you and think it's cute to see you all mushy around each other. But I reserve the teenage right to tell you to get a room if I walk in on you guys making out."
This earned her double indignant glares and a simultaneous "Cassie!", along with matching blushes. She smirked and then leaned in to give them both a kiss on the cheek before standing. "I give it twenty four hours," she told them smugly.
"Hey you brat!" Sam laughed as she leaned over to swat at Cass who laughed and dodged out of the way. "You know it's the truth! All right, I am beat. I'll see you both in the morning. Love you mom, love you Sam."
With a wave Cass disappeared upstairs and Sam and Janet looked at each other shaking their heads and chuckling quietly. Sam reached down to help Janet to her feet and together they secured the house, turned off the lights and then headed to Janet's to their bedroom. Once inside Sam turned to Janet and pulled her into a tender embrace. They stood, simply holding each other for a long time, drinking in this long awaited moment.
When Janet looked up, dark eyes silently imploring for more, Sam leaned in for a slow and depp kiss that left them both breathless several minutes later. Sam had taken Isis' reprimand to heart after she had finally seen with her own eyes just how extensive the damage to Janet's body had been. Despite Janet's attempts to seduce her, Sam had been firm in her resolve to let Janet have a few more days to heal properly. It had been sweet torture, and she'd had to endure a somewhat moody Janet the last two days. But it had been worth it. Janet had begun making progress once more, and she had moved about today without the painful stiffness she'd been showing before. Sam knew she wouldn't be able to deny Janet tonight, nor did Sam have any desire too. But gone was the frantic and desperate need for connection and assurance.
As Sam guided them towards the bed in between more sweet and tender kisses, her hands gently freeing her lover of her clothes, and then her own, fingers ghosting over pale skin in loving promise of things to come. When she stepped back, she noted that Janet seemed suddenly self-conscious as the brunette looked away when Sam's gaze began roaming across her body.
"Hey," Sam said softly as she wrapped her arms around Janet in comfort. "What's wrong baby. Talk to me."
"I I'm I'm ugly now," Janet exhaled shakily, still unable to meet Sam's gaze.
"Janet sweetheart, look at me," Sam asked of her lover. When Janet hesitated she put one finger under the smaller woman's trembling chin and lifted it until pained brown eyes met her own. She leaned in and pressed a kiss full of love reassurance and desire against Janet's lips.
When she pulled away, she was pleased to note that it took her lover a few moments to gather herself. "Janet, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever met. And it wasn't just your looks that caught my eye sweetheart. It was the fact that you let me ramble on when I got in full techno-geek mode. That you threatened anyone who dared to cross you with big needles but only because you cared for us. It was the compassion that you showed every patient that ever came into your infirmary even Apophis. And it was because you took a scared young girl from another planet and brought her into your home and heart. Janet you are an amazing person on the inside and it made you that much more beautiful.
"This?" she continued placing her hand gently over the mass of scarring that now marred Janet's chest over her left breast. "This is just character. This just says that you are as badass as any other Marine on base. This is a testament to your dedication to your calling that you were willing to give up your life, saving another's. This is the proof that love really does conquer all even death. Isis might have brought you back, but it was your love and determination that kept you around long enough to give her the chance to act. Every time I see this, it is a reminder of your bravery, your determination and your sacrifice. It's a reminder of all that you overcame to come back home .to come back to me. It's a reminder of just how lucky I am to have such an amazing and incredible woman to love and love me back in return. It is a part of you baby, and I wouldn't have it any other way."
By now Janet had buried her face in Sam's shoulder and was crying softly. She knew she was being silly and perhaps a bit vain about the marring of her looks. But it had also been a reminder of all that she had almost lost. A reminder of pain, suffering and regret. Sam's words however, changed all that. It was amazing what a different perspective could do for one.
"Thank you," she whispered after a few minutes. "I know it's ridiculous-,"
"No Jan .you have every right to be upset and feel these things. How do you think I've felt every time I end up with a fresh scar? Some days I look at myself, see the roadmap that has become my body and I wonder how anyone could think I'm attractive. I know how you feel about this Jan. It will take time, but I promise to be there for you, just as you have always been there for me."
And Sam was right. Janet traced one such scar that ran the length of Sam's ribcage. One of many knife wounds she'd sustained over the years. Sam had dozens of scars across her body. And Janet could name the incident that caused nearly every single one of them- had sewn a good many of them up herself. She knew Sam struggled with self-confidence over her appearance. A good deal of that came because of the amount of scarring she'd accumulated over the last seven years of traveling through the Gate. But Janet's reassurances had done much to help Sam cope and now Sam was returning the favor.
"Guess we can be ugly together then huh?" she finally said with a trembling smile.
Sam chuckled quietly and hugged her gently. "I guess we can. Together we can beat any other SG team if they start trying to out-scar people."
Janet released a shaky laugh and returned the hug. "Thank you," she whispered once more.
"Mmmmm," Sam mumbled as she leaned in for another kiss. "How about we take this to the bed?" she suggested.
When Janet pushed her down onto the bed and then followed after, straddling her, Sam was all to happy to show her lover just how beautiful she thought she really was. Their lovemaking was slow and oh so achingly tender. By the time they delved and tasted of each other, only a few strokes were needed before sweet, sweet bliss washed over them in a tidal wave. It left them in awe, tears escaping their eyes, at the beauty of what they'd just shared.
"I love you Janet Frasier," Sam whispered fervently as she wrapped her smaller lover in a strong embrace.
"And I will always you love you Samantha Carter," Janet promised back to her.
It was a promise they were both intent on keeping for the rest of their lives.
Jack O'Neill looked over the group assembled in front of SG-1. They were all young and very eager looking. Off to one side stood a few other soldiers who looked a little older and more wise, but even they didn't have the hardness in their eyes that spoke of battles hard fought and both won and lost. It was going to be an interesting few months ahead- that was for damn sure. His eyes glanced upwards, and he saw Isis looking down at them from her spot on the balcony of her home which overlooked the courtyard they were gathered in.
As a parent he immediately noted the fear there. But he also sensed pride, and hope. She had entrusted him with the training of her children- her most precious and valued asset. He nodded once at her in a promise. He would do everything he could to make sure she didn't regret her choice. Losses were inevitable in war. But none of his students would die due to lack of experience or careless mistakes. He'd put these kids and their mentors through hell and then he'd ride their asses to the next galaxy.
When he was done with them however? The System Lords wouldn't know what hit them. A slow grin spread across his face at that thought. He wasn't happy about having to set aside SG-1's normal duties for the next few months to train these kids and get them field-ready. It would all be worth it though, to see the looks on a few of the System Lord's faces when they found out just who the new player that had entered the game was. He was particularly looking forward to seeing what Osiris thought. Maybe they'd take a little field trip at some point .
"Alrighty campers, listen up! Some of you are accomplished fighters in your own right, and I commend you for that. However, the game has changed ladies and gentlemen, and your Queen and King have seen fit to bring us in to make sure you are all fully ready for what you are about to face. So here's how it's gonna go: You are now part of the New Alliance Military. As such you will begin specialized training in the warfare tactics and a combat readiness program that has been implemented. It is going to be rigorous and taxing- mentally, physically and emotionally. The war with the System Lords is brutal and not something to be taken lightly. This training has been geared specifically to make you the best and most efficient soldiers you can possibly be. It will also familiarize and expose you to the conditions you will be expected to face upon completion of the program. Oh and let me be clear on one thing. Not all of you will pass this training course. Those who don't will return to the Defense Force and are welcome to try again next year. For those of you who do, you will be assigned to an Alliance Special Operations Team or the Alliance Fleet once it becomes fully operational."
He paused for effect and looked the group over from behind his dark sunglasses. "Your lives are now mine ladies and gentlemen. You will eat, sleep, and breath your training. The next three months are going to be the hardest weeks of your lives and the next week is meant to break you, to push you to limits you did not know you had, and you will know pain and suffering like you've never known before." He gestured to the members of SG-1 along with Dr. Frasier and one of her top field medics who would be carefully monitoring the recruits.
"These men and women before you will do everything in their power to break you down before they help mold you into an elite warrior that the System Lords will be afraid of. You will curse us and you will hate us, but just remember one thing. How well you succeed here, means how long you will live out there. Your lives are in our hands and if we don't do our job right, your failures will ultimately be on our heads. So if any one of you are having second thoughts about this, now's the time take your leave."
He waited for a full minute, his eyes scanning the crowd for anyone that looked hesitant. He saw only grim determination and nodded. "Very well. Major Carter!"
"Yes Colonel O'Neill!" she responded crisply as she stepped forward and assumed a perfect attention pose.
"Let's see what they got Major."
O'Neill walked over to the line of SGC personnel, smiling a bit as he watched Sam begin running the new recruits through the basics of drilling. He paused between Daniel and Janet, and they all watched with smirks on their faces. "She's really in her element," O'Neill commented.
"She's always been very by the book when it comes to the regs well most of them anyway," Janet added with a bit of a blush.
O'Neill chuckled. "True that. And I saw how she was with those kids when Hailey and her group came through training. She's got a knack for this kind of thing. Knows when to push, and when to back off a bit."
"I still don't understand why you wanted me as a part of this Jack. I'm a civilian, what good am I going to be?"
"You sell yourself short Danny. Whether you wanted to or not, you've learned to fight, shoot, and think on your feet under pressure just as good as the rest of us. Teal'c, Carter and I are here to break these kids down physically, but you are the one who can show them that they don't have to be some kind of super-soldier to succeed. Hell, some of them have already witnessed what the Doc and her teams do. You are just going to reinforce the fact that to survive out there, it's not always about being the strongest, or the best shot. You'll do fine Danny," he reassured.
They watched another minute longer and then Jack moved closer to Janet. "You really feeling up for this Doc?" he muttered quietly. He had noted the tension in her small frame as she'd walked up to the wormhole earlier.
She exhaled slowly and then nodded. "I'm good to go Colonel. It was a little tough fighting past the memories, but I needed to do this."
He nodded to himself. "Good. Staff blast all healed up?"
"Aches a little with the cold," she admitted with a rueful grin. "But it will be nice to get back into some regular exercise these next few weeks."
"Feel like you are in boot camp all over again Major?" O'Neill teased.
"A bit. Seems we medics don't catch a break even once we do graduate from Basic. At least I get out of the monkey suits, stockings and pumps for a few weeks."
"Gotta admit Doc, you look pretty good in fatigues and kitted out. It's a wonder Carter didn't drag you off to her tent every time you came off world with us."
"Colonel!" she gasped, drawing looks from the others, and blushing brightly.
He simply grinned. "It's good to have you back with us Doc. Alrighty kids, let's go see who is going to be our first wash-out."
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