DISCLAIMER & NOTES: See Part One
By Elizabeth Carter
In This Present Darkness
Janet was thoroughly confused. Hell she had been so since the arrival at the Chimera system. Novalis had said that it would take a month to reach the planetary system, but they could have only been on this ship for perhaps fourteen hours possibly a little more but not by much. The astute physician knew this; she knew she had not been on the starship for an entire month.
Turel, Zaira and the Janet were between decks fifteen and twelve as they were ridding the turbolift. The petite doctor had spent the last few hours patching up wounded Malakim warriors. Now they were lading on the planet readying to deploy. Half the fleet was still in space hunting down the last Goa'uld mothership explaining to them with aggressive negotiations that attacking their allies was not entirely a healthy endeavor and more costly the System Lords. The other half of the Malakim Fleet had engaged the Jaffa warriors inside a citadel as well as the whole Calabim army and Remnant warriors. The great flagship of the Malakim Empire landed just outside the gate, for already a battle ensued. This was what had welcomed the CMO of Stargate Command.
Janet had been in the middle of the Gulf War and many skirmishes with the Goa'uld, she was a combat surgeon and thus prepared for such matters. Still she was a physician and to see suffering went against everything she believed in. She was thankful for the quick merciful way the Malakim battled. Their Sun-swords would sever limbs and heads from the body with little pain and cauterized the wound, efficient and effective and less painful then a Zat-gun or staff weapon or any human created weaponry.
In her visions as she was rushed from the docks of the ship with Turel and Zaira close at her sides, she saw SG3 and Sam's Malakim warriors rush for the interior of the Citadel. Overhead flew hundreds of obsidian winged Malakim. The sky was thick with the Wings of warriors darkening it to almost pitch black.
The resistance began. Five thousand voices all in sync were raised in a single song. It was both frightening and astounding. The staccato, was enough to cause the heart to thunder hard against the chest with each beat of the voices. This was a battle hymn; composed to raise the battle lust and more so it was created to stir the morale of the warrior's heart. Five thousand voices of angelic cacophony roared above the heads, sending chills down the spine of the mortals who were frozen in their awe.
Turel and Zaira navigated the battleground with expert prejudice trying to get the Healer away from death. They knew or at least the believed that Samantha Carter, their Liege Commander was inside and to find her they would have to leave the battle to others.
The incursion was at hand. The dark battle song had an immediate and terrifying effect on the Calabim, many stopped in their war, dropped their weapons and ran from their mortal enemies. Five thousand winged avenging warriors swooped down above the sky in perfect choreographed aerial ballet. Their voices rising louder above the weapons fire. And for a moment none but the angelics were seen to move. Then panic flooded the Calabim. Even the battle hardened SG teams for a moment felt awe, fear and trepidation.
"God I love them!" Jack whooped as he saw a thousand human born Calabim run for their lives. Even the Jaffa warriors retained a momentarily stunned stance (one could not see their faces thru the Anabas and Hoarse helmets. Fighting another human or Jaffa was one thing, fighting five thousand pissed off Malakim was quite another. Five thousand winged warriors descended from on high, many with blazing sun-swords, their voices still roaring out the beautiful and terrible battle hymn. And as a hawk swoops down on the hare, the Malakim engaged their enemy with fury.
Inside the unholy domicile and the ensuing chaos it was difficult to know who was enemy and who was ally. The only way to tell of the Malakim was the blue dragon-scale armor. The blast of C-4 had shaken the entire complex as it created a chain reaction in the electrical conduits; add that to the blast from a Goa'uld Ribbon Device it caused a catalyst of a dozen different fires. Taking a small respirator mask from her vest, Janet was able to stave off the effects of the smoke pollution and allowed protection for her eyes.
"You can feel her presence can you not?" Zaira asked her ward.
"Yes," Janet nodded, "But I can't get a fix everything is so tense."
The gloomy, empty hallway would echo footsteps, if Janet and her team had been so careless as to make any noise. Wherever the Calabim were at this moment they couldn't care less of the three beings as they slipped from shadow to shadow. What were three puny beings in comparison to thousands of warriors outside, or for that matter the numerous explosions? Janet was perfectly content to have things that way. But she was going to find somewhere to hide for a little, while she recovered her bearings and try to center on Sam's presence. She needed only a moment to concentrate for her senses were confused and disorientated.
Janet forced herself to focus on her beloved's presence, though she had no idea at the same time in another part of the compound, Razeal was performing the same feat, as he was astro-projecting his essence into the penumbra.
"I think I found her!" Janet shouted as she felt the sudden bright flash of Sam's soul quaking as if struggling to remain in the mortal plan. Bodies were fleeing down the corridor in complete panic, the fires were spreading; one whole corner of the hall was ablaze; giving Janet and the Malakim Knights more than enough light to see their exit. The three of them bullied their way through the confused and terrified humans to the door that led to the temple entrance. Janet had to reach her wife.
Suddenly a figure blocked their path, a blonde Christopher Reeve. He stood in attack position. Turel acted instinctively as she raised her energy sword, spun and struck the Calabim in the shoulder. The warrior screamed the next strike took off his head. Turel kicked him in the side as she passed; felt a crunch of broken bones beneath her heel, and ran on. The three shoved their way past the last of the Keepers, into the temple But once they were out into the corridor, which was leading to a stairwell they were met with a new tide of people, this time pushing and shoving their way into the depths of the Underground building.
From elsewhere in that same building, a corridor away: came a muffled, staccato crack of automatic weapons fire just beyond the entrance. Not time to think of why or who Janet shoved her way into the middle of the corridor just as an explosion blew the door off the hinges and deafened her.
The people at the farthest end of the tunnel were flung into the air; backlit by the fire outside; they flew at her and hit the ground, in a curious time dilation a sort of slow motion, those nearest her cowered away hiding their faces in their arms. Janet became torn to stop and help those in suffrage and to reach her wife...
"Come Liege Healer, they are the enemy, your wife needs you. They were to sacrifice her " Zaire said snapping the doctor out of her inner turmoil.
The inferno was spreading in hungry speed; soon the entire domain would be engulfed. Stumbling three lone figures made for the stairwell, hidden, for they had reached the inner sanctum. The reek of ancient putrefied blood was too powerful, too overwhelming, even for the physician to tolerate. She felt her gorge rise, wanted to vomit. Gaining the self-control she needed, Janet forced herself to move beyond the screams of pain and terror. These were the basterds that had taken her wife prisoner and were about to carve her still beating heart out of her chest.
She saw the battle going on upon the diesis, Sam leaping up on a severely wounded leg and attack the high-priest then dodge past the alter to a hall beyond.
"There! Sam! Sam!" It was futile. Janet's screams were lost in the hoard of other cries.
"Come." Turel gapped the small doctor into her arms and leapt up into the air. Twenty feet up the angelic was able to avoid the mass hysteria below. Zaira looked up in time to see Razeal and the mild mannered scholar Daniel Jackson rushing the stairs engaging in a battle with two other Remnants.
From the other side of the hall Cassandra and the Jaffa Teal'c engaged their own battle. Zaira knew they were in danger, but her duty was to her ward, she would not shirk her duty, even if it meant to lose her friends to the hands of the enemy. No harm must ever come to Janet Fraiser it was so ordered, and she had sworn an oath to the effect.
"I am sorry my friends." The angelic said as she flew past the battles and catching up with Turel and the small doctor. Trailing after her companions Zaire stretched out her hand and sent a pair of Calabim flinging back from the force of telekinetic willpower. An other two fell as they lost their heads to the saber.
"Zaira!" Turel called as the she and Janet spirited down the hall to take yet another flight of stairs. "Be mindful there is a Draconian near. I feel its presence."
"I'll be watchful. You have not yet located Liege Commander?"
"No." Turel shook her head. "The fire blocks our path, we must find another way."
"There!" Janet pointed for a window; you could still hear the Malakim's voices, as they never stopped their Choir. "We'll fly out."
"The danger is too grave." Turel argued almost as if it was the song itself dictating her words. You live half your life communicating in song it was no wonder she was reluctant to bring the physician in to the battle zone, until the voices changed to that of a praise of victory or a lamentation of defeat.
Janet turned, and with speed that belied her race she slammed the angelic against the stone wall of the corridor with enough power that the back of the Malakim's head cracked against the stone. "Look! I am here to find my wife. Are you are going to fly me out that god-damn window or not?" Turel was taken by extreme surprise she had no idea that this very tiny human could possess such strength. "I asked you a fucking question!"
"I will take you." The blue haired Malakim said. It was against her better judgment but if she didn't not take the Liege- Healer this most resourceful mortal might do something very rash.
Janet let go of her prisoner.
"Great Song! Look to the north!" Zaira pointed as she saw Arion scale the stairwell across the compound. It looked as though she was carrying a body. "She has the Liege Commander!"
She tried to move, but each action, each motion rewarded her with searing pain. Her body didn't want to move. Sam didn't want to argue with it. She had lost so much blood, that her mind was already spiraling in a fog. The concussion hadn't helped. The world was in a blanket of grayness.
She felt her body being picked up, cradled as if she was a babe as if she was Rebecca.
The metallic tang of battle burned her nostrils as she drew in the polluted air. She looked around her and felt it out. The battle sounds were too distant and the smoke was not thick enough...a moment ago that was entirely a different story. Her military mind calculated the distance she was from the actual war-zone for that was what it was. A bloody war. She had be to be at the very least twenty clicks from the battle Not only that but she was far above the war-zone and heading for the mountains.
Her mind argued with fatigue and was losing fast. She knew she was captive of a Remnant if it was a Malakim they would have revealed themselves, her fogged mind pointed out. They had said nothing and therefore she was a prisoner.
"Not for long." She mouthed. She moved her hand at a snail's pace so that her captor would not feel her. Close range with a Ribbon Device would neutralize her jailer with vengeance. "I am not going to be taken again."
"Liege Commander!" Arion's eyes flashed and for the first time, the winged warrior felt fear.
Sam never hesitated; she had been fooled once by the Remnant warrior it would not be so again. Sam's hand encased in the gold Ribbon Devise was directly over the warrior's heart when she activated it. All at once, Arion went into a seizure; her arms became too weak, as she lost all muscle control. They were only thirty feet above the earth; still the impact was more then painful. Sam had prepared herself as much as possible, tucked and rolled as she had locked into the pilot crash position as if her parachute was malfunctioning.
She was falling fast. Down and down and down. Stop. She hit. Heels first. Face into bushes. Rolled. Branches, leaves, dirt, dirt jamming into her mouth, fingers clawing legs kicking, looking for a level surface. The breath whooshed from her lungs; the world was grey once more and more a moment she remained utterly still. It was as if her eyes had stopped working for her, they were on their own, refusing to focus. Then they snapped. Focus.
Focus on the wall of tress spilling of the mountain ledge she was near, the tree she was leaning against. Her back felt as if it was broken. But she could move so it wasn't. Her kidneys were definitely bruised though. She could just hear Janet tsking and admonishing her for willingly taking a skydive without a parachute.
For the moment, Sam simply sat trying to catch her breath, attempting without much success, to ignore the pain coursing through her body. The dirt that had a tenacious habit of getting under her clothing and chaffing her skin raw.
"Mama you were so right. This is one of those days." Sam sucked in a great gasp of air. Yes her ribs were bruised but thanks to whomever it was out there watching over her fate perhaps they weren't broken.
Looking up she noticed that for the first time since she had been on Chimera that the air was not choked with the dense blinding fog, though it was rising steadily. The mists ever present were coiling on the ground but were not high yet. But the sky was still black. Not with smoke but bodies.
"There has to be thousands of them." She muttered to no one as she realized what the blackness was. Thousands of winged and enraged Malakim warriors, even miles away she could make out their raised voices, though not the words of the song they choired. Then she realized something more, something as terrifying as the fleet of Angelics. "Holy Hanna " She swallowed hard. "There is no way " Shielding her eyes from the dim sun, Sam saw something terrible indeed. "Dragons fucking real fire breathing dragons!"
She had heard the Malakim speak of them, seen the artwork dedicated to them both in Hy-Basil and in the aeries of the Angelics, hell that thing in the blood pool looked like a dragon / Goa'uld hybrid. But to actually see them in the air belching out napalm was still something altogether different. They flew as the Malakim did, in precision flight patterns that the pilot in Sam Carter was most impressed with, to say the least. "Well go figure Carter, of course they fly with perfection they are born with wings, it's as second nature to them as walking is to us."
Another wave of dizziness shook Sam violently as tremors of shock took her body hostage. "This is getting to be an annoying habit." She mouthed as she struggled with jello filled legs to regain her feet. It was the first time she looked around her after after what? She recalled fragments only. The alter, the blood, the dragon / Goa'uld larva hybrid thing or what ever it was the appearance of Arion 'Traitorous bitch.'
"Okay . the woman saved me why?" Sam said to the thick air she didn't have time to ponder more as she felt the world swirl around her once more. Her stomach heaved causing her to vomit or at least she would have had there been anything in her stomach to vomit with. Dry heaving she fell to her knees, an action she immediately regretted, her leg was still tender and screamed in agony.
She thought she was blacking out once more, her mind forbidding the traitorous mutiny her body clamored for. But having been on this planet for a month she knew the weather patterns it was the fog. It wasn't gone after all.
She heard the snapping of a twig behind her; Sam froze dropping to the ground, biting her lower lip to keep from crying out for the pain. Despite the cold her upper lip was beaded with sweat. She shuddered, not from fear, but from the intense pain she had to drive away, she was a warrior, there was no fear allowed on the battlefield.
A single form emerged from the woods, her single mission the recovering of Colonel Samantha Carter: Liege Commander of a Wing of seven Malakim warriors and CO of SG1. A small smile slipped her face once she saw the prone figure on the earth.
"That was unwise Liege Commander." Arion spoke her voice a rumbling purr. "You could have been severely damaged in the fall "
"Arion!" Sam hissed. Blood-fury rose clouding the blonde's eyes. She was lost in the fog, which was not birthed by the atmosphere. The narcotic hallucinogens given to her by the director still tainted her body. The more adrenaline that surged through her bloodstream the more violent the drug became on her senses. "Traitor!"
There wasn't a second thought. The only weapon in Sam's possession was the only weapon she needed. The Ribbon Devise. The pure unadulterated anger seethed in the young blonde's body as she raised her hand. A golden wave blast from her palm into the chest of her tormentor knocking the winged warrior off her feet sailing her into the air three feet before she landed hard against a thick tree trunk.
"In my world we kill traitors Sho-fa Remnant!" She slipped using one of the words in Jolinar memories, a word she heard a thousand times uttered as an insult to Teal'c. Sam limped up to the unconscious winged warrior, her blue eyes dilated with battle-lust. The drug continued to pump the aggression into her veins. Sam knelt down none to gently she ripped the coveted sun-sword from the others belt without a further thought. Sam vaguely recalled that the woman had cast it away, but how and when she recovered it she could not remember.
"As the Malakim Dragons of legend say 'you are meat to be wasted'." She tore the winged woman's belt off her waist and secured her hands to a tree limb high above the warrior's head, then used a length of torn cloth from the tabard and secured the ankles together. Then taking yet another strip of ripped cloth she tethered the wings together, Arion was effectively immobile. The tall blonde turned from her pray, leaving Arion to her fate. Sam was a warrior of honor, not a cold-blooded killer; she would not murder the unconscious figure no matter how much loathing she had for traitors, for this particular traitor.
Sam knew she had to find a way to the Temple. She was losing her grip on reality and it was only a matter of time before she slipped into a relapse of the drug-induced hallucinations.
"Janet " She mouthed. It was the only thought she clung to, the only dream she knew was real was her love for Janet. It was the driving force that kept her going, which her mind locked onto. It was the only thing that was real at all in the world of fog.
Janet was caught up into the arms of Turel as they lunched themselves out of the window, at that moment she chose to look up and she could have sworn that she saw Daniel fall then captured in the arms of one of the angelic Malakim But the fog quickly obscured everything. The only thing she could discern was the thunder of voices still raised in the battle-hymn, Malakim were winning.
Turel flew as though chased by a demon, in some respect she had felt she had been. She had felt the vile unholy presence of the dark overlord Achelous. He had been so close to the Vail of the worlds so close so ready to take the single soul that could raise him from purgatory. Achelous. The vile blending of a Remnant and a Draconian, he held the powers of both races and was truly immortal not even in battle could he die. Thus he remained trapped in the netherworld with nothing to stimulate his mind or his will. That absence had eventually made him insane. Malphas had intended to ascend by taking one of the twin hearts beating in the creature's chest, and at that moment, Imhotepe intended to take the monster as a host, complete with all it's powers and all it's knowledge.
Turel knew that had Liege Commander Samantha Carter been sacrificed the Choir would be signing not a battle hymn but a lamentation, a dirge for the World Symphony. There was no doubt in the Malakim mind that had the demon escaped his prison their world, their lives would forever be lost, never to join the Great Song in the end. It would be for the winged race their version of the Apocalypse.
Fog made visibility almost impossible yet the three pursued their quarry. They would have to land soon because the trio had reached the Ridgeback Mountains. Flying in these circumstances was more then dangerous it was foolish. The only way to avoid the terrain was to fly the stratosphere, but Janet was struggling to maintain her empathic lock on her wife. The higher they went the more difficult it seemed to trek the tall blonde. So the Malakim were forced to fly at a lower altitude of a thousand feet.
Even as they flew away from the battle, the voices of the avenging armies held ever strong. Their battle hymn pulsed with virile power as the blood flowing in the veins of Mortal and Malakim alike, driving them to their quest, driving Janet to find her beloved Samantha.
Even as the hymn rose, Janet's own voice cried out. Not in song but in pain amplified by the knowledge that this was not her own.
"Healer?" Zaira questioned concern filled the single world.
"Down there!" Janet pointed. "Somewhere!" The small doctor muttered, even the enhanced hearing of the angelic was not strong enough to hear Janet's plea. Only Turel had heard the softly spoken words. Knowing realizing that Janet was worried if she put voice to hope it would be taking away from her.
"She believes that The Liege Commander is somewhere directly below us." The blue haired Turel spoke louder.
"Did you see that?" It was Razeal that spoke loudly. "If I am not mistaken it was Arion she seemed to bearing a mortal." The tall warrior said his jade colored eyes still looking off into the distance where he saw the queen's daughter fly off.
"She has my Mama." Cassandra jumped to the correct conclusion.
"Cassie " Daniel warned, not wanting the young woman, his niece, to get her hopes up.
"No its gotta be her." Cassandra was determined to believe nothing else. " Arion is alive and she found my mother " The young lieutenant took out a pair of binoculars from her vest as if to catch yet another visual conformation on her missing mother and lost warrior.
Even as they spoke they saw two more angels fly off in the same direction of Arion one of them carrying another mortal.
"Mom!?" Cassie blinked as she readjusted the binoculars. "Shit what the hell is Mom doing here?"
"The doc?" Daniel blinked.
"She must have insisted in accompanying the incursion." Teal'c pointed out the very obvious.
"I am not going to lose them." Cassie turned to Razeal. "I want you to summon Mama . er the Liege Commander's Wing tell them we have a visual on her and we need their flight abilities to follow."
"As you wish sub-commander." Razeal bowed his head. Cassie smirked she knew had Sam given the order the seven foot warrior would have bowed upon one knee instead just inclining his head.
Malachi, Zephon, Rahabim, Boudicca, Turelim and Pumah had heard the summons given to them via Razeal. Jack saw the five winged Knights turn as he was close to them having recognized the quintets from being apart of Sam's lets faces it angelic fan-club. He had wanted to grill them for information regarding his missing Colonel, but the ensuing battle made that a near impossibility. Now when the host of warriors had turned from the battle he knew something was up.
"Zephon." The silver winged warrior snapped.
"Sorry um if you have an idea where my Colonel is tell me, why are you " He gestured to the sky, "flying off?"
"She was seen in the arms of Arion Liege Commander's mate was also seen flying with Zaira and Turel, we were summoned by Razeal by orders of the Sub- Commander."
"Sub-commander?" his dark eyes blinked, "You mean Cassie Lieutenant Fraiser?"
"I am going with you...and no it's not up for debate, that's my Colonel and CMO out there." Jack wanted to make sure there was no room for argument.
"As you wish General O'Neill." Zephon bowed. "Am I to assume like the Liege Commander you are familiar with flight?"
"I have my wings." The five angelics looked at him as if he had grown a second head.
"I am a pilot." He raised his hands then lowered them, he had no time to try and explain himself or the USAF to a bunch of winged beings. "Nevermind, lets just go."
Zephon took the older male into her arms and took to the air with the other trailing close behind. It was but a matter of seconds before they caught up to the rest of SG1.
"You weren't planning on taking off without me were you?" O'Neill said as he sat down.
Cassie barely stopped herself from running up to him and giving her uncle a hug, instead she snapped ramrod straight and saluted him. "Sir! No sir."
Jack smirked a flood of pride taking him as he saw the child he loved show perfect military etiquette. "Lieutenant Fraiser." He saluted back. "At ease Fraiser." He ordered. "Not just parade rest, kiddo, take it easy."
"Yes sir." Cassie relaxed a little, but her posture, as Carter's was perfect even when she was comfortable. "Sir we have a fix on Ma er Colonel Carter, but we have to leave now before we lose her trail."
"Indeed." Razeal nodded his head. "Turel and Zaira seem to be escorting the Liege Healer, Janet as well following Arion and the Liege Commander."
"Let's go." Jack gestured to the sky.
Razeal took hold of Daniel and was in the air quickly, Malachi stood in front of Teal'c he was larger then the others standing eight feet tall, and he was able to carry the large Jaffa with ease. Boudicca took Cassie into her custody and Zephon retained hold of O'Neill. It was not long before they were on the tail wind of Turel, Zaira and Janet who tracked Sam and Arion.
Sam stumbled into the vast mouth of the Remnant Temple. Her pain fogged mind was still laced with the drugs the Director and then Malphas pumped her with, which was more then disorienting and it began to overwhelm her ever valued core of logic. As she neared the Temple she could not shake the feeling she was going into a Hell Mouth, as if she was entering a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. Everything was more then surreal, more then any nightmare envisioned by Dante', Sam wanted to be anywhere but where she was no that wasn't true. She definitely did not want to be back in the Citadel having her heart ripped from her chest.
This unreal place wasn't so bad after all.
"Janet " The voice once soft and powerful voice was hoarse and only a ragged whisper for it was all the Colonel could manage. " I can almost feel you near " She allowed herself a dry laugh. "But I know it's those damn drugs they gave me I'd swear you're so close can't trust that " She stopped her muttering long enough to see that the darkness of the cave was closing in on her more and more. Soon she would not be able to see at all.
Then the blonde stopped, dead in her tracks, the jerked movement shot ribbons of pain lancing down her every nerve ending. Biting back a cry of pain, the corners of her eyes became wet with tears, even as her upper lip beaded with sweat. The thing that had made her stop so abruptly was a life size figure of a Malakim no belay that it was a life size wooden figure of a Remnant. Perhaps in their eyes he was a martyred warrior. Sam raised her right hand, meshed with the golden Goa'uld weapon. The jewel of the ribbon device glowed a bright crimson before Sam allowed the power to shoot forth and obliterate the stature in to splinters shards and sawdust. The golden wave was as a lighting strike, for bits of the statue had caught fire from the blast. Sam smiled pleased with the results.
"You know Jan my lover this thing is handy when used the right way . clearing debris catching things on fire " again a small laugh . "Who needs lighters?" Taking a longer chunk of the statue, Sam ripped a part of the sacrificial tabard she was still wearing, fortunately she had on a black long sleeved shirt on under the tabard, or the chill of the underground temple would have hit her harder then it had. She wrapped the cloth around the top of the wooden shaft then lowered it into the fire so that now she would have a torch to guide her way.
"I am coming home Janet...baby-girl then you can yell at me for all the damage you have to sew back up. And I can tell you I love you. At least Cassie made it back she had to Janet because " Sam frowned she couldn't recall why she thought her eldest daughter had made it home. Only that she had given the SG teams a direct order to return to Base. " Janet I know she is alive and she had to reach home " The drugs were coursing through her veins rapidly. The brilliant scientist was no position to realize that it was feeding upon exertion and adrenaline. The more she pushed herself the more volatile the drugs affected her reason. Swallowing hard, Sam shook her head trying to gain a since of what it was she was talking about.
Blue eyes brightened as in a scientific breakthrough. "Janet Cassie made it home yeah that's what I wanted to say I think but you know that so no that isn't want I wanted to say " She rubbed her forehead, but the cobwebs within were not to be cleared anytime soon. "Oh easy wanted to tell you baby-girl that I love you. Wanted to...to..." She shook her head once more... "Baby-girl what is that little dimple between your upper lip and nose called?" She winced "No that wasn't what I wanted to ask, though what is that called anyway? Nevermind . Janet you you know I love you and our girls "
It was serendipity that had allowed the three to follow almost the exact same flight path that Arion had taken Sam. Zaira was shocked to see broken lips of trees, the destruction of foliage and shredded vines.
"Something dire has occurred here. Arion lost her lift." The silver haired warrior said. "The Wing Captain is one of the most talented flyers in the Empire. For her to lose her lift and to crash "
"She was victim to an unexpected attack." Turel said with a dead cold delivery.
Zaira saw Janet wince, as she knew that if Arion had been carrying her beloved then something worse no doubt happened to Sam. The silver haired gritted her teeth, her mate could at times could be less then personable. "I am so glad you're here to tell us these things. Nice to point out the obvious." She snarled chiding the blue maned warrior.
Janet held her head as she was trying to breach the white-hot pain of a migraine that suddenly assaulted her mind. "She is in so much pain " She whimpered. The bond that had once allowed the two to know the pain of childbirth together now pulled them together once more. Nufraru's gift was a two edged sword. But thanks to the young Nox lad's tampering it had allowed Janet to trail the ebbing pain that her beloved was drowning in.
The crash-landing was more evident the lower they came to the ground. Two separate paths was evident that Arion had dropped her precious cargo albeit reluctantly. The survivors had broken several tree limbs of several young trees as they fell. The other had suffered only slightly less of an impact.
"It was Sam that fell here." Zaira commented as she looked at the ground.
"How can you know?" Janet came to the sliver maned Malakim, ashamed of herself for hopping it was so. The Angelics had a stronger reliance to pain and could endure far more punishment to their bodies. Sam, the small doctor felt would never had survived the fall the other path, without becoming severely hurt if not paralyzed with a broken neck and spine.
"There are no feathers." Zaira said easily. "If A Malakim falls there is usually feather loss."
"Now who is it that points out the obvious?" Turel muttered more then speaking clearly.
"Mate, she has no wings, it would not occur to the mortal to think of feather loss."
"Look, far be it for me to step into a lover's quarrel but mine is out there somewhere." Janet seethed thru clenched teeth. She pulled on her professional mask of a physician because she knew she would need all of her skills as a doctor in order to save her beloved wife.
"Forgive us, Healer you are correct." Both angelics said in chorus. It was Turel who moved first being a better tracker of the three. She knelt down and looked at the broken leaves, and underbrush, her keen eyesight caught hold of droplets of deep red-gelled blood.
"There is blood here."
Zaira looked up from the path that the Liege Commander had to have taken to the monstrous peaks of the Ridge Back Mountains it was only six clicks away. Having known the reputation of the blonde mortal she would no doubt seek to find the Exile's Gate that was there in the Temple of the Remnants. "I believe that Liege Commander seeks to return to you through the hidden gate."
Janet felt her heart jump into her throat. "She can't feel me can she?"
"She does but knowing the Remnants and the Calabim, they no doubt induced her with mind altercating hallucinogenic narcotics and tortured her beyond all endurance."
Janet lost all color in her face.
"Great Song Turel!" Zaira snapped, "Have compassion and tact."
"Truth is my virtue, not tact."
"How how would they have tortured her?" Janet's dark eyes flashed upon the blue haired warrior.
The tall woman looked to the earth, then back to the diminutive healer. "There are many ways "
"How!" Janet roared. "How did they hurt her!?"
"Healer " Zaira started softly.
"If I am to heal her, I need to know what they did to her." She did not drop her gaze from the Turel. "You will tell me what they did to her."
"Physical abuse then if it was the Calabim who had her first, they would have put the restraining collar on her it emits intense electrical charges to every neuron in her nervous system. Much like the hand device the Diabolicals use. The pain is ten fold if she has any phyonic abilities, such as empathy. The collar has monofilament pins that directly insert into the spine and cerebral cortex. Not many can resist its powers before they die. The narcotics they would force on her will not only act as a tranquilizer, but also a potent hallucinogen, but there is more the drug is triggered by the adrenal system. So the more "
Janet stumbled upon a root and dropped to her knees as she realized just what the angelic was telling her. "Oh god " Her medical mind knew the truth. Sam was still victim to the narcotics in her blood, they would activate directly relevant to the adrenaline pumping through her veins. "Is there an antidote?"
The two angelics looked to one another then back to Janet.
"No .no you are not going to tell me that there isn't an antidote."
"Healer every attempt made in the past to find one has failed the victim went into cardiac arrest, attempting to revive the victim only activated the drug."
"Because of the adrenaline given to the patient to revive the cardiovascular system causes the narcotic to wake and the victim goes into shock let me guess. They have a seizer that acts like a stroke. Killing them."
"Oh God Sam " Janet sucked in a bitter breath of air. "What happens to someone who...isn't treated with the antidote?"
"Only three have survived, most become locked in Bedlam." Turel commented slowly, wincing as she told the physician the truth. Zaira put a hand upon her lover's shoulder.
"Turel was a victim of the drug she came out if it but not without side effects."
"What side effects?"
"She " Zaira squeezed the shoulder. "Before she was "
"Emotions." Turel commented almost tonelessly. "It is difficult for me to feel emotions more so to express them. And there are nightmares
"She has them a lot." A soft hand rubbed the silky skin of the blue haired warrior's cheek. "If the Liege Commander has indeed been injected with the narcotics and somehow survives the effects, she will have a long battle to face."
"Not alone." Janet affirmed. "I am not going to let her go mad and I sure as hell won't leave her "
Turel touched the hand that was now once again upon her shoulder. "It was my life-mate that brought me back, I wish the same for the Liege-Commander."
"Hail!" Zaira pointed to the sky. "It is a Wing."
"Remnant or Malakim?" Turel commented as she thrust the small doctor behind her and engaging her sun-sword.
Like eagles and all raptors the Malakim had telescopic vision. Zaira scanned the sky her vision focusing on a new focal point. She smiled broadly "It is the Liege Commander's own Wing! Fortune favors us." The silver maned warrior stepped forward and lifted her voice in a single long note, a high C.
Far above the sing warriors lifted their own voices and gave the same single note back.
"Okay that was loud." Jack said as he jiggled his ear with his finger.
"You get used to it sir." Cassie smiled as she had lived amongst the winged warriors for more then a month.
"Indeed." Teal'c said. "I find their way of communicating most pleasing to the ears."
The warriors descended quickly, the change of air-presser was so sudden that the mortals felt their ears pop and stomachs whirl, even the experienced pilots, were taken a little by surprise in the movements of their hosts.
Cassie and Boudicca barely touched down before she leapt out of the arms of the angelic and rushed her mother.
"Mom!" She swept the slightly smaller woman in her arms. "Oh god its good to see you!" Cassie hugged her mother tightly.
"Cassie " Janet felt tears swell as her heart found itself in her throat. Since the news that Goa'uld had destroyed Stargate she had worried for her beloved family. Immediately her physician's mind went into hyper gear. She started a cursory check her daughter for injuries.
" Cassie gingerly moved from her mother's inspection with a small smile. "Mama
is out there we have to find her."
Janet simply hugged her daughter tightly. "I love you Cass."
"I know." The younger woman smiled. "Thanks for coming after us." Cassie bit back her own tears. "Mom I what they did to Mama "
"I know." The dark eyes fell upon her own bodyguards "I was given an idea of what to expect. We have to find her quickly. And Cassandra we are going to have to be strong for her. She is going to need us to be very brave "
"That's us Mom." Cass grinned. "Whatever she needs, we can give her."
"How now " Rahabim herald. "I found Arion." The red haired warrior untied the captive knight. "How did you come this state? Where is the Liege Commander?"
"Interrogate her latter and keep her under watch. Sorry Arion but I recognize those knots the Liege Commander had a good reason for tying you up " Cassie said as she pointed to the charred cloth in the angelic's chest. "That is made from a Ribbon Device at close range. Rahabim take her into custody." Cassandra stood addressing SG1 and the Malakim warriors apparently forgetting that her CO was standing very close by. She certainly did not see the board smile upon his aged face.
"That's my niece." He whispered to both Teal'c and Daniel as he blew on his knuckles and rubbed them against his chest. He knew that the Malakim would not comply with his orders, though they would with Cassie's considering she was both the 2IC of SG1 and Sam's daughter. Being a CO for as many years as he was, he knew when he had to give charge to another. Hell he had done so with Teal'c on a number of occasions when dealing with the Jaffa rebels and the Jaffa kids they had once found. Now was no different than it had been then.
"Do you not mean to say our niece?" Teal'c raised an eyebrow.
"Be careful, Jack she might be going after your job." Daniel said warmly. "And she is our niece Jack."
"She takes after her mothers." Janet whispered to the trio of men, with a great broad smile of pride upon her delicate face.
"I heed Sub-Commander." Rahabim slammed her closed fist into her chest, lowering her head in acknowledgement.
"The Colonel is still out there, search the perimeters staying in a pattered sixteen feet apart, enough for wingspan movement. She's going to go into automatic military mode and she is severely wounded she's going for the Exile's Gate we have to reach her. Rahabim...as we search I want you to keep Arion out of sight for now. Go into the Pen-Umbra I don't know why the Liege Commander had her tied, I want you to interrogate her as we go. Let's move out people."
"We heed Sub-Commander." The Malakim saluted the young woman.
Only then did Cassie turn to her CO. "Forgive me sir, but I "
"Like you said Cass Lieutenant Carter is still out there you're plan is sound. Let's go find her." The gray haired General smirked.
Momentarily unsure of her footing and her balance, Sam turned aside at the head of a stair, leaning against the rock face. After a time she went on. Down and again down. The blue haze gave yield to the anxiety of a red haze. Where it came from, Sam could only theorize as fussier pockets, similar of those found on the surface in Yellowstone Park. It caused her to be on edge with her already raw nerves.
"Janet you have to help me something is wrong I can't think " Sam winced trying to concentrate but it was getting harder and harder as she went. The pain in her leg was a constant companion. More then once she had to stop only after a few feet to rest. Each step she took was a squelch of gelling liquid as blood from the now open wound was once more leaking into her boot. Fortunately the cloth of the fabric of her tattered black cargo pants had infused with the wound clotting it. With shaking hands she had even pulled her pants down around her ankles and used the tabard once more to wrap her wound, as the stitches during her fight at the altar had worked free. Once more she futilely wished for her gear inside the ALICE vest. Her mind was so clouded that Sam only knew she had to cover the wound, even the basic field dressing all soldiers was lost to her, forget anything she had learned from her wife.
" I coming home to you Janet...keeping the promise to Becky her Mama will be home Oh Jan I think they made me a a a nutcase Jan don't let them lock me up again!" She was pleading desperately with her phantom lover "They they lock you up, do things to you make you they shoot you with drugs foggy minds . painted clothes and trees and demon boxes . blood Calabim! Janet all the shrinks are Calabim want to rip my heart out can't let them you wont let them though will you!? Have to Cassie's home right? I Oh Janet Baby girl I just love you."
Eventually, after hours of journey, she came to the depths no light had reached. Where even with the torch she could discern only vague shapes and angles in the graduation of shades of grey, enough to find her way but not enough to make out the fine detail. The flame obliterated distance into utter black and its flickering light and shadows seemed a counterpoint to the shaking, the outer corresponding to the inner as though she herself were becoming the flame . . .or the darkness. As though her choice now was only between irreconcilable absolutes.
The caverns predated the Remnant temple by centuries perhaps by a millennia. The barely perceptible odor was a winter smell, dry was dusty and utterly without warmth. Reaching the bottom of the slopping stair well, Sam unconsciously drew the tattered remains of the tabard her trim though now gaunt frame. She stood shivering in the central space, holding the torch to scanned the high wall pockmarked with holes like innumerable eyes or open silent mouths. She jumped in spite of herself when the light revealed smiling teeth of a scull just above eye-level. The scull had a body, or what was left of a Malakim body. The skeleton looked as if it had met a bad end, whoever it was died having been impaled.
"Grow up, Carter! Who ever the Malakim was is dead. The dead can't hurt you! Besides Janet you have one of these things in the Medical bay...but...it isn't a Malakim." She rolled her eyes at her own foolishness, as she continued her hike. Deeper. Spiraling down to a level with unmoving chill fog, where drab moss overgrew damp walls, she came at a last to a vast grotto. Water black as pitch, reflecting the stone ceiling hundred of yards overheard. Here was the fabled Hidden Lake. She could only see two hundred yards out on to its surface, beyond that a thick veil of fog. The Exile's Gate, and her beloved Janet was somewhere beyond that.
Stalagmites and stalactites extruded like dragon's teeth. Stone megaliths, irregularly shaped columns jutted out random angles, rose from the ground to the ceiling of the immense cavern. Volcanic fissures bubbled; hot springs churned and boiled along side a stone walkway, clouding the air with hot sulfuric steam. Thick and sultry, the humidity burned Sam's lungs and throat, still raw from the smoke inhalation. The fog and steam was so dense, she could scarcely make out the mouth of the cave.
The inner chamber carried with it the stench of decay and rot. The stink shot through Sam, like a bullet. Too many memories. Suddenly she was back in the Pyramid. The steps, coated in layers and layers of feted blood. Her death awaiting her on the alter. She wanted to turn, and run. The stink coagulated her nose, its offensive odor, made her gag and retch, nearly losing the meager breakfast; she had eaten before the she had started the hike. Morbid curiosity urged her forward. Military instincts commanded her action.
The Wing of Malakim and their human cargo reached the mouth of the Temple with all due haste. Tracking the Colonel was not difficult with the remnants of the blood left behind and Janet's vague empathic lock on her, but the hard thickness of fog both reflected vocal communication and visual confirmation. On the ground even in the Pen-Umbra it was Rahabim and Arion who were able to trail the blood.
'Razeal Arion admitted the reason as to why she was secured to the tree.' The Tall warrior Sent to her mate. 'She said she had allowed the Liege Commander to be taken by the Calabim and Diabolicals.'
'She is Remnant?'
'Yet to be decided Razeal, however if the Liege Commander claims it is so, then she will stand trial.'
'Rahabim, even for the Queen's daughter there is but one punishment for betraying the Empire.'
'We are not the Throne we cannot prejudge her Razeal. But we will adhere to the law and keep her under custody. The Liege Commander does not lie I will not contest her word.'
'Nor I, or will the others in the Wing. The Law is the Law.'
' As it is I have placed retraining cuffs upon her wrists and nero-dampener on her wings, she will not be able to take flight unless we allow it.'
'Good. I will relay the information to the Sub-Commander.'
'I do not envy your task my mate.'
Once they touched down Rahabim following the orders of Cassandra and stayed in the umbra realm of world's shadow. Even in this other-side she could hear Cassandra' roar of disbelief.
"Your telling me Arion is a traitor?" Cassie passed back and forth in front of the cave's mouth. "That bitch!" Cassie turned to Razeal. "She let my mother be tortured and god knows what else?" Her right hand clenched as she activated the Ribbon device. The weapon was powered as much by thought as it was by emotion. Right now the jewel was glowing blood red.
Janet's eyes darkened as she looked to the woods to where she knew the remaining two winged warriors to be. The others watched, all of them looked as if they were ready to pull the wings off Arion. Through clenched teeth, Janet turned to the mouth of the cave.
"Cass Sam needs us."
"This isn't over Sho-fa "
Teal'c and the others of SG1 were surprised at Cassandra's use of the Goa'uld word for traitor.
"Fucking Remnant! I swear you will feel everything they did to my mother a hundred times over. You hear me Bitch!" Cassie roared into the air. "You hear me!"
"Sub-Commander," Malachi stepped forward, "She will stand trial, I swear "
"Oh you swear what good is your oaths Malakim? Arion swore an oath to protect my Mother and look she turned her over to she frigging snakes and the fucking Remnants to be butchered. Why in the hell should I trust any of you?"
"There is no reason but your own experience." Boudicca said. "But trust what you know only. Trust that your mother now needs assistance."
Cassie looked to the ground, only looking up as she felt her other Mother's hand upon her back. "Baby " Janet whispered to her child. "Trust me, I feel the same way about Arion, but you're mama needs us, and we need them If nothing else I trust Turel and Zaira. The Queen herself appointed them to protect me."
"Yeah well Arion is the queen's own daughter, Mom. Her recommendation doesn't hold a lot of water for me right now. " Cassie bit, stilling her thoughts, she straightened her shoulders and then looked those who had came with her the rest of the Wing. And she knew she could trust them. "I am sorry I mistrusted you."
"You are blameless Sub-Commander. It is reasonable to suspect that we would be traitors, for Arion's transgressions." Zephon pointed out. "The Queen is also blameless for Arion's crime indeed if she is found guilty . the queen must carry out the maximum punishment that all traitors face. It will not be easy for her to condemn her only child to that fate."
"My heart bleeds." Cassie sneered. "You want to prove your innocence then, then help me find the Liege Commander. Razeal I want you to tell Rahabim to tie that traitor up exactly as we found her "
"I will heed." The tall male uttered bowing his head. He closed his eyes and Sent the wishes of the young agitated Sub-Commander. "She informs me that she has already done so. In fact she has taken the um initiative to make certain that um Arion will not be going anywhere soon...she rendered her unconscious"
Cassie smiled. "Good. All right campers lets move out."
"Wonder where she got that?" Daniel turned to Jack.
Eleven in all pursued the wounded Colonel deep into temple. "Daniel Razeal since you two have been here before take point." The young lieutenant ordered.
"You know she makes a dame fine officer." Jack commented to Janet. His dark eyes softened as he witnessed an array of emotions wash over his CMO before she placed the professional mask back on. "Janet we'll find her. None of us will give up until we do."
"We have to find her soon, Jack those drugs in her system " Janet sighed. "They can cause irrefutable damage to her mind sir. Right now she's going on pure adrenalin and emotion they compromised her logic "
"Doc " Jack rubbed a hand through his gray hair. "How bad is it?"
Janet took in a great breath of air. "It's not good, sir. Even if we find her she may not be coming back as we know her."
Janet bit her lower lip and took another breath to steady her nerves, refusing to allow the tears to flow but they mutinied and fell anyway. "She will either die or go insane with only a twenty precinct chance of coming out of this intact."
Jack stopped dead in his tracks staring after the diminutive figure of Janet Fraiser.
'I am so going to kill that bitch Arion.'
Sam was unconcerned with the caverns silence; with all the voices in her head it was a welcome respite. The faint mist drifted on the surface of the underground water, underlit by the dull turquoise glow that seemed to emanate from deep within the water. Vast walls of granite, marble and mineral deposits climbed in every side it was as if she had climbed inside an amalgamation of geodes and coral reefs
Standing at the foot of the great-carved slope of rock that rose level after level climbing the caverns massive wall. Sam felt a sense of awe at the scale in which the mineral deposits had created an edifice of structures in grand splendor. "Now I know I am mad shadows don't fall up, they fall down " The blonde winced, her body pushed beyond all reserves shuddered in agony she could no longer block. "Janet I won't lose " She voiced to the cavern, her blue eyes watching the underlit world of the chamber. She was completely memorized by the faint glow from the underground river giving the whole place in an eerie feel. Strange Spanish mosses had begun to grow in the crannies of the marble and mineral walls of the cave, here and there odd lichen and barnacles splashed subdued color on a rock for no sun could touch the supernatural vaults. It had a strange, desolate beauty. Just as the aeries of the Malakim had been the perfect marriage of steel and crystal, here it was rock and mineral deposits.
Blue eyes clouded with pain and a mind laced with drugs. Sam concentrated upon a miniature neck of land, of stone, jutting out into the lake, with its twisted spikes of darkness jutting from the level surface of the water reminding the blonde of the dragons she had seen. And there in the far side of the cavern, a single massive rock was split yet still stood as if it had been struck by a powerful blast of lighting. Beyond this, stone spires lay like a city, wreathed in stillness. The air was stale, and moved, circulating between the caverns. The mist parted briefly as Sam stumbled and gently padded across the smooth stone floor of the cave.
Stepping within the confines of the temple's halls, goosebumps went up her spine into her neck as tiny follicles of hair stood up at the base of her. Sam padded carefully over the dust covered floor noticing that two others had previously taken this same room, one set of prints larger then the other. Her mind barely registered the fact one was military issue combat boots, while the other were the boots of a Malakim warrior. It didn't seem odd to her that there were not more. The narcotics in her system, fogging her mind made logic something beyond grasp. Had she been in her right mind Sam would have noted that if Cassie and the others returned to the SGC more tracks would have been seen. Indeed the floor would have been littered with footprints upon the return of the squadrons that had to have come through the gate if the attack on the Citadel was any indication. To Sam she knew only one thing she had to reach Janet. To do that she had to go through the Exile's Gate, she had convinced herself that Cassie had obeyed her orders that she never once stopped to think that Cassie was on the raid to rescue her.
A hideous, grating pop, the brittle limestone of the tapered base of the massive pillar fluttered under its own weight and broke. A rain of chunks and dirt pelted from above as its vast top began to rip free of the ceiling, which had supported it just as it had done with the previous trespassers. Sam was galvanized into sudden action for fear she would lose her balance, slip and be trapped under the falling debris. The smell of rock dust hung thick and clogging in the air, along with the smell of mud and damp; she coughed and pain stabbed her in the ribs, leaving her breathless and sick. Yet it wasn't just the smell that spilled from the tunnel- there was malice as well, distant and faint, but chilling all the same.
"I won't die here." Sam mouthed defiantly to the cavern that was intent on burying her. She had no idea that several days earlier, that Daniel and Razeal had faced the same precarious dangers.
She single-mindedly continued down the murky passageway. The mouths of more tunnels opened to the left and right. Some were blocked by fallen rubble, and others were dry and dusty. But the same pungent reek wafted outward from several tunnels, as did the aura of madness.
Something was following her, and it was gaining. Sam's thoughts ran back to the angelic she had tied to the tree. "I should have killed her." She berated herself. "She won't live this time." Unconsciously the jewel in the Ribbon device glowed with the malice that was threatening to take over the normally noble heart of the blonde warrior. The narcotics, the pain and terror were wearing down the walls of virtues she had lived by. Sam gripped on her training to resist mind control, but her battle was losing its power.
Gasping, in her pain she hurled herself down the tunnel, the darkness following thickly on her heels whatever was hunting her was gaining. An eerie whispering sound echoed all around. Lungs burning, the blonde kept running ignoring the screaming pain in her leg.
The laws of probability raced in her mind, she knew in her condition she was no match for a hand to hand combat with a wounded Malakim warrior much less a fully healthy one or an army of Calabim. Sam knew she had to hide. She had to rest, and call up her reserves. If she could just hide she might yet keep her promise to Janet and see her once more.
All at once the walls of the tunnel fell away, and they found herself dashing across a cavernous chamber. Strange white shapes littered the floor, crunching bitterly underfoot. Dense clumps of the same strands that had filled the tunnel hung from the high ceiling like a weird kitschy inverted forest, filling the room with a ghastly green glow. Caught another wisp of fresh air, stronger now. Then she saw it on the far side of the hall, a faint rectangle glowing amid the gloom. A doorway. Freedom had to lie beyond it.
A peculiar odor hung in the air, sharp and metallic, like the scent of their air before a storm. "Ozone." Sam muttered as she recognized the scent as she glimpsed two stone doors on the opposite sides of the chamber, both closed. "Why ozone in this area electrical disappearance " She spoke as if her lover was there to debate her findings. Even now she was positive she had felt her beloved so close.
"No!" She roared. "Just more visions of the drugs " She scolded her weakness. "Baby-girl you're not here I know that but so close feel you " She shuddered, as the scent of Ozone stung her nose making her ill once more. The leg had begun to bleed again, and the grayness of the world was taking over. Sam knew that in order to keep her promise to her lover she had to stop. She didn't know what lay in the room beyond with the headless Malakim statue but her drugged mind latched to fact of science. Ozone meant electricity lighting and whatever was in that room was designed to kill. Healthy she might stand a chance. But now...blacking out was she could do, pain making her nearly immobile she had no chance in hell to evade the dangers in the room and behind her closing in fast was the enemy.
"Talk about a rock and a hard place." Sam laughed at herself. Her azure eyes glanced over the perimeter then she saw it a small crawl space. No larger then a casket, Sam lay down and scooted her crippled body into the crevasse. Effectively hiding from the encroaching enemy troops. Hell if she got lucky they would follow the trail made by Daniel and Razeal, set off the 'Electrical trap' and Sam would be free to She blinked "I'll be free to do what can't remember yes find my Janet yes Janet...find her lost her other side of Gate go home...made promise." Then she closed her eyes slipping into torpor.
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