Exiles Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Two

Azure Dreams

The silver-grey Mustang glided gently past the beautiful homes of Colorado Springs most elegant main line suburbs. Narrow, moon-dappled streets bordered wide expanses of velvet ivory lawns, of stately Tudor, Edwardian, and Victorian homes of the wealthy generations-old families. Old money and new mingled freely. Private driveways were almost enclosed by great trees, older than the homes they shadowed, trees that had been witness to history. Now they stood like massive sentinels, guarding the riches that lay between them.

Driving east on Worcester Pike, the Mustang left the suburbs behind and moved like an intruding phantom into the Colorado's countryside. Snow was falling on Colorado Springs, great white feather-puffs that veiled the cracks in the facade of its ruined houses, slowly softening the arduous contours of jagged roof and fallen beams. Eves were rounded with snow, overlapping, embracing, and sliding into each other capping the houses in white fluff that clustered together like a fairy tale village. The phantom Mustang trickled down the forlorn track of road, as tar gave way to gravel. Bits of pebbles dust and leaves from the previous autumn swirled up in the wake the streamline vehicle. A few miles, stretched into a narrow private drive. More leaves auburn red, and dusty brown pillowed up as the car passed.

April had swept a glory of verdant emerald and yellow newborn foliage across the meadows that were slashed with accents of slender poplars, golden crowned birch and tamarack. As the auto flashed down the byway, the gleaming surface of the car reflected hues and tints in broad watercolor strokes. Pockets of mist formed a multitude of tiny droplets on the ghost-grey mettle, refracting the luminous saturation of color like cut glass.

Janet Fraiser pulled her navy-blue woolen long coat against her lean, lithe frame, to ward off the evening chill, parts of the world maybe budding but the north winter-wind was a persistent beast. Though dressed in a winter coat, Janet was not immune to the cold. She parked the car in the garage after commanding the door to lift. Turning off the ignition, The CMO of Stargate Command pulled herself out of the car and instead of going directly into the house; she went outside, wanting to soak in the ambiance of the evening.

Ever since she as a child, Janet loved the winter nights such as this. The moisture from the day's frozen rain had crystallized on the branches of naked trees in a near magical transparent coat if ice. They creaked in the slight winter wind with ancient haunting sounds. The tiny breeze and caused miniature whirlpools of snowy dust to swirl along the tarred driveway, and across the crusted drifts of snow. The wonderland effect was exaggerated with the splash of blue shadows created by the full pregnant silver moon.

Janet's breath puffed out in vaporous little clouds, disappearing in the night. She closed her chocolate brown eyes, lifted her head and took in a great breath of frozen peppermint air. She let out a contented sigh, for the simple pleasure of peace the night and cold winter brought.

When she opened her eyes, they fell upon the snow sculpture that her beloved wife and daughters had created not a week ago. Sam was not content to simply make a snowman; she had to create a something far superior.

It was one of those rare days that the four of them were together Sam, Janet, Cassandra and their youngest Rebecca. The snowplow came and went, leaving mountainous drifts on either side of the driveway. Sam on a playful impulse had leapt at the idea of making a snowman, but it couldn't be any snowman. It was going to be special. A large shovel in hand she started to cut away chunks of snow, Cassie soon followed her lead and cut away bits and pieces of snow until they were fleshing out a large square shape.

"Um…love? You do know how to make a snowman right?" Janet mussed watching her laboring wife hoist mounds of snow away. "You know three large spheres of snow…not a square…"

"For the boring…sure that is the way to go." Sam flashed a crooked smile. "But we are far from boring."

"Mamma what are you going to make?" Becky asked in her young five-year-old voice.

"You like Snoopy right?" Sam paused and leaned on the handle of the shovel looking at her daughter's unique blue- chocolate eyes.


"Well what do you say we make his dog house and him on top?"

"Yeah!" Becky jumped up and down clapping her mittened hands. "But can we make him when he pretends to be a flying-ace and not sleeping."

"Sure thing kiddo." Sam answered. "You going to give your ol'Mamma a hand?"

"Yeah, but what do I have to do?"

"Take the spade we use for the garden and start making the hole in the doghouse."

"Can we make it big enough so that I can sit in it?"

"I don't see why not." Sam obliged.

"Well hon if we are going to make Snoopy we have to make Woodstock." Janet responded her face filled with a wide smile. "Snoopy isn't complete without him."

"Like you and me hey baby-girl?"

"Holy Hannah if you two get anymore sweet, I'm going to get cavities." Cassie sardonically played, loving to chide her parents about their strong affection, every chance she got. Still, the young woman enjoyed the fact her adopted parents were so much in love with each other. It had been twelve years since the two women had become a couple. And their love was strong and ever holding. Cassie had seen a few of her friend's parents' marriages crumble and fall apart. True, her parents were not conventional in the mainstream USA, but never had a child had a better or more wholesome home and no marriage was as real and solid as it was between the two women.

Cassie turned her attention back to the construction of the doghouse; and smiled as she saw her mothers, play with each other. Sam had taken a bit of snow and put it down the unsuspecting brunette's back by lifting the color of her coat. Janet let out a yelp as freezing cold hit her warm flesh.

"Oh you are so going to pay for that!" Janet roared as she pounced the blonde, driving them both into the bank of snow, with the smaller woman landing on top. Dark chocolate eyes glistened as she planted a full dominant kiss upon the blonde's lips; a quick deft hand and the doctor had a handful of snow down Sam's coat and shirt, the diversion of the kiss had paid off. Sam was taken by complete surprise. She whooped as the glacial moisture hit her breast, melting down her cleavage. "I may be a noncombatant, lover but don't start anything you can't finish."

Soon a full out snowball battle had ensued. Sam had taken their youngest daughter as her 2IC and pulled the youngster to one side of the bank, while Janet and Cassie took the other. More frosty missiles missed their intended targets then hit, not out of a lack of accuracy but more because the constant giggles made it nearly impossible for the four to concentrate.

"Hey you want to speak truce over there?" Sam belted out in supplication.

"It depends." Janet answered. "What are you offering?"

"Becky and I will make hot coco once Snoopy is finished."

"I don't know I'll have to consult my own second in command." Janet turned to her eldest, "What do you say we cut them a brake and call a lay of arms?"

"They make coco?" Cassy wrinkled her brow in thought. "I don't know, I mean if they are serious about a surrender, they should offer up something more don't you think?"

"Say they have to make popcorn for tonight's movie?" Janet suggested.

"Yeah, good idea." Cassie nodded her approval. Then shouted out the terms of the surrender.

There was a pause.

"We agree!" Becky chirped. "But you guys have to pour the soda."

"Deal!" Chorused the other side.

Seconds later, the whole cadre of the Carter-Fraiser family returned to their snow-sculpture intent on finishing it before the temperatures and cold drove them back inside. The house had shaped up nicely, with meticulous care of Sam and Cassie while Janet and Becky turned their collective attention to the making of Snoopy and Woodstock.

Sam had retreated into the garage and came back out carrying to what looked like bottles of spray-paint. "I thought we could add some color to it."

Janet flashed an amused expression to her beloved. "You already planed this."

"Of course, why do you think I had the plow pile so much snow here? And I got the paint last week. It's the same sort that the artists used at the ice fair we went to a few days ago. The chemical compound wont melt the snow at contact." The blonde astrophysicist explained. She shook up one of the cans of red paint and handed it too littlest of them.

"Here, honey, just spray it like this and you're good to go."

"Kay," Becky smiled pleased to be given such a responsibility to help cover Snoopy's doghouse in red spray paint.

"Hey, I got the thing to top it all off." Janet remarked then went back into the house. A few moments latter, she returned carrying a circular hatbox.

Upon seeing it, Sam knew immediately what was within the tatted cardboard box. "Isn't that your grandfather's?" Her dove-set tones carried the weight of concern.

"Yes, but you have to admit, its perfect." The brunette opened the box and lifted a leather helmet and goggles. "Grand-dad was actually a WWI flying ace." She softly explained to the girls placing the headgear onto the frozen Snoopy.

In like fashion Cassie removed her scarf and wrapped it around the neck of the snowbeagle. "Yeah, see it completes the picture."

And to mark the occasion, Sam had her family pose in front of their creation, to take a digital photo, which would become the wallpaper for Janet's desktop.

Turning away from the night and the cold, Janet retreated into the warmth of the house. It had been late upon her arrival at the house; Becky would have already been fed, bathed and put to bed by the nanny. Jenny was an elderly woman who had been a friend to Janet's family ever since she was a child herself, and both Sam and Janet trusted her emphatically with the safety and welfare of their youngest daughter.

The gray haired older woman came out of the living room carrying her purse and bag of knitting to greet Janet as she always did every night she was to sit. "Becky is tucked in your bed, she was a bit lonesome for Samantha." Came the first words out of the nanny's mouth.

"That's fine." Janet nodded. "I know she misses her Mamma a lot."

"I don't think she is the only one." An observant comment came with twinkling knowing eyes. Not only was Jenny a friend of the family she was 'Family' she had her wife Lois had been together for fifty years. The gray-haired crone as such a help to Janet when the younger woman finally came out, that young doctor could never think to repay. Jenny had made things so much easier, especially when her father had nearly cast her out of the family. Jenny had known Jameson Fraiser since they were teens and Jenny a dominate personality would not allow the patriarch of the Fraiser clan to cast his eldest child out into the cold. Now with a family of her own Janet had included Jenny and Lois as surrogate aunts.

"I miss her too, every time Sam has to leave on a mission, I miss her."

"NORAD sure has her running around quite a bit. Ever since you two adopted Cassie, she's had to leave so often."

"Her work is very important." Janet shrugged, trying to dismiss the subject.

Sensing the need to leave the matter be, Jenny moved on to other topics. "Becky did a finger painting today it's still on the easel, and we did a little reading and writing. She also worked on the computer doing her Leap Frog programs. And she only had two hours of TV, Mazy Mouse, Blue's Clues, Between the Lions and Little Bear. And I read Cat in the Hat to her tonight."

"Great." Janet nodded her approval. "Thank you Jenny."

"You know I keep saying it but that little girl is very, very bright. Its like she's five going on thirty." Jenny said. "You two have done wonders with her."

"She's a bright center for Sam and I, we're very proud of her."

"You have every right to be." The older woman smiled. "Well I'm off. Lois and I are going to the playhouse tonight. They are playing "Steel Magnolias." Did you know that in the playbill there is a young actress that looks remarkably like Samantha? Well if she was ten years younger."

"Really?" Janet smiled.

"I'll bring it by tomorrow so you can see. Its uncanny." Jenny said picking up her belongings then headed for the door. "You have a goodnight Janet. And don't worry too much about Samantha, she'll come home to you soon."

"I know she will. And thanks."

After Jenny had left, Janet made a b-line for her bedroom. She always had a need to know her little girl was safe and sound. She was such a remarkable impossible gift. How she came to be was even more remarkable and never even dreamt of the imaginations of either Sam or Janet.

Quietly the brunette woman crept into the bedroom she shared with her beloved spouse. There in the middle of the bed in a nest of blankets and pillows was a strawberry blonde child. A rather warren purple velveteen rabbit was tucked under her arm. Tiptoeing to the bed, Janet sat down her fingers feathering back the arrant locks of red-gold that always reminded her of Sam's forelocks that were in constant disarray no matter how the tall blonde wore her hair.

She leaned over and gingerly placed a kiss to the little brow a wide smile fluttered to the brunette's face. How she loved this little joy, with all her spirit. She was a perfect blend of Sam and Janet. The color of her hair was an amalgamation of ruddy-auburn and golden-wheat. The thick mane wasn't the only thing that was a true blend of both women, her eyes were the most unique, Janet had ever seen in a human.

The irises were perfectly split in two colors, a deep chocolate brown and a horizon of ice blue, resembling heaven and earth. When Janet was a child in the first grade her best friend had one green eye and one brown eye. But Rebecca's eyes carried both colors; the doctor had only seen such a blend in a malamute and a Dutch rabbit once upon a time. Everyone who saw the child became immediately bewitched by her soulful eyes, which were doe-shaped like Janet's. The nose was a carbon copy of Sam's as was the mouth. And just like the dark haired doctor, Rebecca would always be small; indeed she was shorter than any other child her age. But she was in perfect health; her diminutive size though inconvenient in a world of tall people would not be a health concern. Janet thought it a great thing that at least one of her daughters would be of height concerning Cassie (though she did not share DNA of either woman) was as tall as Sam. Hell the girl turned sixteen and she had been taller than Janet.

Rebecca Marjorie Carter-Fraiser was pure miracle, for she did share DNA from both women. She was a gift from the Nox to Sam and Janet five years ago.

The rain had stopped and above the silent village three pale moons, thin as worn pennies, rose over the trees. The trees all stretched their branches upward, as if they were yearning to touch the moons or to draw some strength from it. But the moons ignored them and rose higher and higher still till they seemed to stop—or at least to hover—right above the stone outcrop that was a hounded yards from the village. Then the village moons, trees and sky made a sound together, like an exhalation of breath, like a great sigh.

"I don't know if I will ever get used to that." The diminutive CMO uttered softly more to the soft wind that swept across the three moons then to anyone else. But a blonde haired woman turned to her and smiled.

"Just when your brain assimilates something familiar, you see the oddest things that remind you you're not in Kansas anymore. I've been jumping for eight and a half years, and I still manage to be amazed." Sam said. "Something always manages to steal my breath or take my imagination to great heights. Its one of the reasons I love traveling through the Gate." Sam looked up to the natural satellites hanging in the firmaments, her scientific mind whirling. "Three moons, the effects on the tides have to be astronomical. I am not surprised that even the inland villages suffer tsunamis on a very regular basis. It's no wonder that the indigenous people live so far inland."

"To see them in the full phase must truly be something to see, the reflective light they cast, must brighten up the entire night." Janet whispered almost reverently. "You know it's almost magical." She knew her last comment wasn't exactly scientific but it was apt. Three moons hanging in the sky, was indeed something mystical to look upon. And it was no wonder that the tribal folk centered their entire religion upon the celestial bodies.

Planet P47711X was a world of one super continent and a series of small islands, ranging from the size of Tahiti to Hawaii. The islands had a unique shielding mechanism that protected the lands from being completely dominated by the powerful oceanic activity. It was not only this technology that SG1 had been sent to see if a trade could be established but also the medical advances on exotic diseases the Kahuna had achieved. Hence the reason why the commander and chief of SGC General O'Neill allowed his CMO to accompany Colonel Carter's team.

According to Daniel Jackson the Kahuna were the mythical lore-keepers of Hawaiian tradition. Indeed the folk of P47711X bore the appearance of many Polynesian races and their culture was the same. The planet was a land of paradise and seeming magic; of cool tropical nights on the beach and hula music, nexus of the Big Wave for surfers or the prize marlin like fish for anglers. It was a place where one can kick back and forget about the hectic schedule of modern life. It was a tropical paradise; with highest peeks of the mountains you found snow, yet the average temperature was 85'F, the water nearly always a 74'F. The grove of the great waterfalls had become a land of heaven and magic. Rich and colorful flowers, brilliant orange, yellow, red and green swathed the chamber in scintillating botanical rainbows.  Purple came in the form of Novi belgii, nerine, lisianthus, amaryllises, and irises. Lilac bushes, lavender dendrobiums, violet matsumoto and Scottish heather, little white baby's breath, and gypsophila, and orchids, magnolias, tiger lilies and yellow gerbera daisies, sunflowers, amber alstroemeria, and cushions, reds manifested in gravilia, carnations, tulips and roses, snap dragons and honey suckle.  There were ivy and ferns, clovers and purple tipped thistles in a dozen different sorts. English wild roses filled the chamber, in little nooks and crannies, blue-belles and Indian paintbrush.  Banzai and bonasial trees scattered the grounds, its red blossoms like little sprits of lava. More flowers than any one person could recognize, more than they could name. It was paradise lost.

The lush interior of the super continent stirred the imaginations of many people to the point where they thought a dinosaur might linger from the depths of the forests. Yet while the islands are a place of rest, relaxation and fun for many the islands themselves are not at rest. They were still in the process of creation. Active volcanoes still spew forth the raw makings of the earth molten lava. This reminder of untamed, primal nature often taught harsh lessons to the islanders, who have lost themselves in their visions technological advancements. The planet of P47711X is a place of contrasts; of violent, quaking earth and quiet, lush solitude, of villages teaming with inhabitants and of uninhabited rainforests. And yet there was no tension between such contrasts. The islands seem to calm the nerves of everyone living on them.

The energy shielding devices generated by the Naquaada conductors also protected the lands from volcanic fallout. Therefore if applied to MALP probes and other exploration equipment could further the advancements of SGC's goals on more environmentally hostile worlds. The NID department and the Joint Chiefs thought that the shielding might protect earth from Goa'uld firepower and were more then anxious to have the knowledge in their hands. It was up to Colonel Carter to negotiate for and collect the technology from the Kahuna.

What Sam had discovered about the shielding had completely wrapped her in scientific allure. What the blonde theorized she could do with the shielding technology was to construct shield devices that would create an exceptionally powerful artificial interdiction field gravity, which would project a field massive power into nearby space to simulate the effect of the gravitational well of the planet or even another large celestial body. Any kinetic energy hitting the shield would effectively be deflected harmlessly back into space.

The rule of the Kahuna seemed to be that great ambition and great accomplishment without contribution means nothing. They would contribute their knowledge to balance the vast ambitious accomplishments they had achieved. What they asked for in return was the SGC must contribute to another people who where as technology starving as the Tarains themselves. In essence it was the philosophy of paying it forward.

To Sam Carter the pledge was by no means a small thing, nor was it made in haste. She had returned to SGC and told the General of the request, and he after talking with the president and Joint Chiefs had complied with the request. It was after all not unreasonable and it was practical. Another item asked for and again not unreasonable was a collection of Earth's greater literary archives. The Kahunas thrived on lore, and the ancient art of story telling. So everything from Tolstoy, Dickinson, Shakespeare, Byron, Shelly (both Mary and Percy) Frost, Hugo, Tolkien, Macaffery, Charles De Lint, Chekov, Tennyson, Homer and countless others had been downloaded into a laptop and presented to the monarchs of the planet so they might share it with their people.

"Sam how does this shield work, I mean you must have an idea." Janet asked taking her lover's hand into her own fine bonded hand and brought it up to her lips to kiss.

The one question many people had learned not to ask Sam Carter was, 'how.' Because she would tell you exactly how something worked. And she would not use laymen's terms, but those of her field.

"Well, all particles, which bear mass, can be either below or above lightspeed. The former are called bradyons and the latter are tachyons. The Kahuna have a way to detect tachyon partials, we don't, not yet. But regardless the fundamental particles of the tachyonic realm are the same as those of the bradyonic world because the only difference is the velocity of an observer's point of view. From the vantage of a tachyon it is the rest of the universe, which is moving at superluminal speed in a certain direction. However the interaction of tachyons with bradyons is in many ways unlike the familiar interactions of bradyons with other bradyons. The field generates gravitational influences creates a free but curved trajectory thus defusing the bradyons and tachyons into zero energy.

"The surface of the shield only allows superluminal objects to escape. Ordinary subluminal bodies falling into the shield become tachyonic when they pass inside the shield's event horizon. It makes a Cerenkov cone which is a backward-pointing cone around a superluminal object's trajectory. The internal angle of the cone depends on the object's speed. Greater velocity gives a wider cone; lower velocity gives a sharper cone. The lower lightspeed in a material is due to the net effect of electric and magnetic properties of the substance. The light is emitted in a forward-pointing cone is centered around the particle's trajectory. And the defensive shielding destroys solid matter by using an anti-protonic field to envelope its source. When solid matter comes in contact with the anti-protonic fields, the mater is annihilated."

Janet blinked, true she enjoyed listing to her lover ramble about astrophysics, quantum mechanics and plasma/particle physics but there were times when she became utterly lost in what the tall blonde was trying to explain. "Okay, so the shield makes a zero energy field and creates a minor event horizon like the wormhole of the Stargate and all those tachyons and bradyons are dissipated and reflected into a special cone of sublight speed and send it back into space harmlessly into a miniature blackhole used to block or absorb light waves. They use electromagnetic and ultraviolet fields to capture light and drain its power. Is that right?"

"Yeah." Sam nodded excitedly. "It's pretty amazing really."

"I'm pretty amazed I was able to follow you." Janet admitted sheepishly. She was loath to admit there more then a few times, she didn't understand her lover, but it never stopped her from wanting to listen to Sam. Of course the blonde at times became lost, when Janet dove into the heavier aspects of medicine and its applications. "And it's this same shield generation that protects the cities from natural forces?"

"Baby-girl energy is energy whether generated artificially, or by nature itself. It can all be redirected. It is only a matter of application. The felid isn't like those of the Goa'ulds because in their technology the force of kinetic energy is equivalent to the power of the shield. A thrown object has less kinetic energy then say a blast from staff weapon. However these shields protect even from ash-fall of volcanic fallout, which has negligible kinetic energy. In essence it protects against both hard matter and light partials."

"God…think about it. I mean defiance against the Goa'ulds aside, think what this shield power could do for our own natural disasters, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornados…it could save so many lives." Janet pondered all the more peaceful ramifications that the technology could benefit Earth, was utterly staggering.

"I know. I just hope that NID doesn't screw this one up and try to make it into something that destroys. The Kahuna are such a peaceful people, I'd hate to see something like this manipulated into something of destruction."

"Had the late Colonel Mayborn or Senator Kinsey still been in charge of the operation back home, I have no doubt they'd pollute the entire project. I hate to say it but…I'm almost relieved Kinsey was in the Pentagon during 9-11. That man was the perfect example of human viruses, corrupting everything he touched." The words were uttered with quite vengeance. It was not something Carter was accustomed to hear in her beloved's voice. The last time she had displayed such venomous words had been during the dire threat to Cassie before Nurrti was badgered into helping their daughter who was ailing because of the Goa'uld's tampering with human genetics.

Sam placed a comforting hand around her wife's shoulder and pulled her to her arms. "Fortunately General Ryan and Colonel Paul Davis actually listen to SCG and General O'Neill recommendations. And Sectary of Defense Senator Whitlow isn't as self-serving as Kinsey was. That and President Clinton has more gray matter in her head then the last two presidents combined."

"I'd say. Hillary was smart enough to make the emancipation bill that allows gays to be in the military unhindered by that damn old 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy…She knew that personal preference of sexual partners had no barring on performance in the of duty. And I have to say the law that states we can now nationally be recognized, as a married couple was a coupe for her as well. I knew there was a reason I voted for her."

"Despite the fact she was the first woman to run for the presidency?" Sam teased lightly.

"She had very good politics, so she was a bit Republican with military matters but I think that was one of the reason that won her the Oval Office." Janet simply said. "Hell that was the only real thing I liked about the Right Wing fanatics…though we had to fight yet another Gulf War when Bush was in administration. Clinton is going to bring a lot of good for our country. And her intelligence will bring a lot for our world, because she sees what we have to offer and put a very, very competent on our side Sectary of Defense in the Cabinet."

Sam shook her head in agreement. "I'll admit I never thought to live long enough to see this kind of…I don't know…tolerance in our society."

"Who knows, one day we may yet have the view of the Nox." Janet smiled.

"That I know will not be in our life-time."

"Still, I think collectively we are doing okay as we are. I mean we as a people, are maturating. Maybe not in our lifetime, but maybe when Cassie has grandkids or rather great grandchildren, we will have accepted a better plane of philosophy."

Once more the blonde offered only a small smile of agreement, for there seemed nothing more to say upon the matter.

"You think Kahuna mean it, the terms for the trade?" Janet shoved her hands in to the pockets of her BDU britches. "We've been fooled before by the Aschen…they were going to kill us. I just think that something too easy usually means disaster for Earth. What they are giving us…cultural relativity it could be as simple as a deadly as a two edged sword."

"We have every right to be apprehensive, its once of the reasons I ordered Daniel and Cassie to expedite a search in the ruins. If they find anything like he had with the Aschen…then we know where we stand. But so far the Kahunas have been forthright in their relations with us. According to Daniel he said that in ancient Hawaiian cutlers, misleading another was a grave crime it was as bad as murdering someone. Even in war they were nothing if not honest in their conquests, it was one of the reason Western Explorers were able to conquer them, they didn't expect an enemy to lie to them. They have a system of taboos that govern them. I don't think the Kahunas would go against them. What they are giving us is a way to passively protect ourselves, they themselves don't' even use aggressive weaponry."

Of course the sterilization plague of the Aschen wasn't necessarily aggressive either.

And looking into the dark brown orbs, Sam could see that Janet had thought the same thing. What they did know of the Kahuna weapon was that a seemingly passive probe hit what ever object and downloaded a horrific electromagnetic pulse into all electrical computer components, which destroyed the motherboards, in fact it whipped anything that had computer components within from mere radios to small computer chips, to the entire com-center aboard spacecraft, permanently damaging it. The energy grid could freeze operation of a Stargate.

Sam's mind flashed back to the orb that so long ago SG1 had discovered on a moon-like planet. It had skewered O'Neill to a wall and nearly blew up the complex. Until they discovered that what the Orb was, it wasn't a time capsule or message in a bottle but rather a unique race of people.

The Tollen were going to give Earth Ion Cannons that proved useless against the new shield capabilities of the Goa'uld ships. Travelle had made an alliance with the False Gods; by developing a new sort of bomb to send it thru the Stargate obliterate Earth, thus protecting the Tollens new homeworld. The plan had failed.

Indeed SGC had more reasons not to trust the offering of alien technology then they had to accept it. However imagined deceit and folly was far more detrimental, for allies could not be made if you continuously sought them out threats. On a Catch 22, you couldn't be taken by surprise either. SGC proceeded with extreme causation, but the Tarains still sought out peace, exploration and new knowledge. The rule of SGC at the edge of the universe lies a gateway to adventure.

"The Kahunas have been nothing but absolutely hospitable, the entire time we've been here, luaus every night, hula music, games… Despite the hospitality and frivolity I don't mind telling you, I really don't like poi."

This solicited laughter from the shorter woman.

"But seriously we've been here for a month, and we've managed to negotiate for the shield technology if only we pass on technology to someone else, of their choosing." Sam stretched, running a hand thru blonde hair. " I think we've done well. A couple more days and we should have the trade agreement signed according Ambassador Faber.

"What do you say we blow off tonight's party and just have an evening for ourselves? I mean it's not like they will miss us. How much pork-like beast, poi and pineapple can you eat? A month of luaus, can were you thin." Janet remarked.

Sam cast a glance over her shoulder, already the hula dances were being to be soon followed by the fire dancers, and limbo-dance. Janet was right a full month of constant partying soon lost its pull of excitement. The native peoples however never seemed to lose their zest for a good time.

"You know I don't think they will miss us. Cassie, Teal'c and Daniel and the ambassador are already there. I think we can play hooky for a little while. Besides the Kahuna don't seem, to find anything offensive in a remark of a negative response." Sam answered her.

Indeed the Kahuna don't seem to take things personally; they were not in the slightest offended by a blunt no. It's like they never read into a rejection anything more than a temporary distaste for company. There was no beating around the bush or subtle lead ups with the Kahuna, they live in the now of time, and in what was. It was the way of their life.

Sam looked up into the night sky for a second time, her blue eyes falling upon three green-sapphire orbs in the sky. It was so very different from Earth's single silver lifeless moon. As her eyes scanned the night sky looking at a whole different set of constellations, making pictures out of them, wondering what the Kahuna named their stars. The young astrophysicist felt a gasp leave her lips as a nebula ablaze of flaming color covered half the sky in an aria of colors ranging from silver-yellow through red to dark purple, deep blue merged into emeralds wafted over head in a sudden frantic pace. The aurora borealis had a defining edge like a storm front that cut a wide swath across the sky filling it with colors unnamable.

"Lover, look up... It's astonishing!" Sam pulled Janet into her arm, pointing with a long fingered hand to the heaves.

"My God, Sam, it's beautiful!" Janet whispered. Her dark pools bewitched by the spectacle. Her breath caught in her throat, for nothing she had ever seen could compare to this splendor. She turned and saw Sam gazing at the celestial wonder and took back her words, for those impossible blue eyes, that angelic face alight with awe, was more magnificent than anything the heavens could create.

Sam had wrapped possessive arms around her lover, unconsciously pulling the smaller frame into her own body. "I've never seen anything like it, never…not even in Alaska. Its magically beautiful." Her scientific mind could explain exactly what created such heavenly wonder, but the child in her called it for what it was magic. For a brief moment, Sam cut her glance from the sky to her love and was nearly shocked to find Janet's eyes upon her rather than the firmament. She slowly came in front of her; her fingers trailed up from Janet's trim waist to hold her face warmly and gently. The pads of her thumbs stroking against the silky skin of rosy cheeks simply enjoying touching Janet. She pulled a very willing lover to meet her questing lips.

Janet kissed her way from the blonde's shoulder to the length of her throat. Sam moaned, rolling her head to one side to allow the smaller woman room to move loving the presser upon her pulse point that always excited her when Janet kissed her there. Her hand weaved through Janet's brunette hair, holding her lover's face close. "You are so beautiful, Janet, my heart." Sam kissed Janet hard, running her tongue across Janet's lips and feeling her heart skip when it was eagerly accepted. They pulled back and Sam rubbed her wife's cheek once more with the pad of one thumb.

She kissed the brunette, saying, "Janet, I'm extremely good at what I do, maybe the best. And the only reason why is because for years before you came into my life that was all I had. All I can do is always give more than my best and more than my heart. I'm not like you Janet…I've always had to live inside a fortress of mental barriers, to make life livable, after Mom died, Mark left and Dad pulled into himself, effectively abandoning me too. But you've managed to break down all the barriers and let me believe again. There is more wonder in your eyes as they look upon me, then I have seen on any jump. My life had changed, and for the better the day I met you.

"You captured my heart the day I met you, you captured my soul and I give it freely, for always. Look to the heaves beloved, the nebula is the richness and purity of my love for you... if you could see it and touch it... that is one way it would look...and feel to the touch...My love, you are everything the heat of my passion, the fire of my desire, the azure blaze of my soul, the smoldering garnet pillar of my need the searing backdraft of my want you and only you my love, my Janet…My Janet. My heart. My love. My desire. My soul…my Janet…your voice cares my ears my very heart bursts into sapphire flame, the smoke of my passion rises in a pillar from with in me fed by the touch of your soul your stroke against my spirit. Janet…my sweet Janet…the breath escapes from me short and quick as I feel your touch as butterfly wings on my soul as your voices kisses softly my heart. My want is to hold your body slender and supple against my own, my arms encircling your slim waist for always. I crave to cover your rose petal lips with the softness of my own, surrounding your heart with the fires of my essence. My lover you are my always."

Janet felt hot tears stroll down her cheeks, her breath tight in her throat; her heart raced a thousand beats a minute. Her voice was taken from her, her thoughts stilled and she was in euphoria of wonder, disbelief and awe. No day could be long enough spent with Sam. If she lived forever it still would not be long enough time spent with her beloved. "Sam…Samantha…baby…" Her words became thick in her throat unable to say anything. Tears stung Janet's eyes and took the tall blond in her arms holding her tightly. With Samantha by her side Janet felt as though she could tame the fiercest winds and battle the mightiest of the Goa'uld.

Janet's lips came almost forcefully down upon the other woman's taking her with all her want and desire. Her fingers moved through locks of sandy wheat colored hair. Her lips nibbling a line across her throat, her teeth racking against the pulse point of warm flesh near Sam's collarbone and neck. Under her lips she felt her lover shiver in anticipation and want. Her voice the flutter of a butterflies wings as the soft tones drifted deeply into Sam's very soul.

"Sam you are my dream. You are my lasting breath, the course of my existence. You are my everything Samantha Carter, you will forever will be. I love you with all that I am…I love you. These last years I would not trade then for anything to have shared a home with you, a life with you is beyond any measurement of wonder and longing." Taking Sam's long fingered hands and pressing them against her chest, her soulful eyes beaming with love and light into her own. "You will always dwell within my heart."

Sam smiled; Janet was almost as skittish as a fox. If hers was a sprit animal as many Native American's believed in, hers would be such a creature. The crafty fox: beautiful, sleek and watchful. She could almost picture her as one of the kitsuen, a mythical fox-woman of Japan with lycanthropic powers. One could always find the kitsuen; it was the only woman whose hair matched that as the fox's ruby coat.

"Sam baby like I said eight years ago when you asked me to marry you… It was my dream… My dream, Sam, is you," she started, swallowing hard. "I have dreamed that someday, this amazing soul who came into my life so abruptly, and so strong at the same time, would find in her vast heart, a small piece to spare for me." She touched the lines of her exquisite face. "I dreamed of holding her, as she held me. Of being with her, as she was with me." A tear rolled down her cheek, glistening against her skin in the dim light of the night sky.

Sam reached up and carefully traced the trail of wetness it left on her face. She reached kissing each eye, ever so gently, so tenderly listening to her wife speak a heart's truth.

"I've been completely swept off my feet, swept away, since that day she came into my life. I have dreamed of making a life with her. I'm carried away by the purity of her love and her passion, her innocence and intelligence, her sweet, gentle soul. I have dreamed of being with her. Sam you have given me a taste of heaven, and I don't want to let go. And it gives me so mush wonderful joy to know I don't have to. Even when we are at our worst…quarrelsome and bickering, I never forget just how much in love with you I am, or thankful that we married." The depth of her feelings betrayed her, as the words became stuck in her throat once more.

"Janet." Her voice was choked. Sam found she could not speak, she could only pull her too her. Hoping Janet would let her mind open enough to read her thoughts. The passion and truth in her words clinched Sam's heart, swelling it, stopping it. They shared more than a deep abiding love they had shared dreams. A dream: of a future together, not just as ethereal lovers, but lovers of in the truest since of the word. Sam had dreamed of becoming truly bonded to Janet. That first night in Janet's hotel room…their minds, their bodies, their hearts had become one. To love each other's body's, as the bond would allow them to love one another's souls it was something rare, precious and to be protected.

Their testaments of their heart had not gone unnoticed.

A youth of perhaps sixteen perhaps older but it would be difficult to discern for his forever-young face had heard the profession of love given by the two women. Even if the women had not been so drawn into each other or the celestial ballet dancing over their heads would not have seen him.

He moved with the grace and silence of a leaf fall. His clothing at first looked like rages but upon closer inspection those seeming rags were cut to resemble foliage. In the forest, he would nearly be invisible even without his abilities to make himself Hidden. His camouflage was so perfect it made Special Forces look like children at play.

His gift to go Hidden was not a cloaking shield, a shield either left an impression of a blank wall or of an absolute nothingness, it was a condition of the brain, actually the visual synapses simply skipped over his being there, as if he did not exist at all. The youth was a Nox. His ability to remain Hidden was as natural as it was to draw breath. In fact he and his fellows all of them as young as he, all of them as impressionable as he, had remained Hidden for more than a month now watching the Kahunas and the interactions with the young Tarains.

He himself had watched two particular women, not out of some perverted entertainment, but out of fascination, of two hearts so perfectly bonded. Among the Nox such bonding was born out of soul recognition that gender played no part of. He knew that these two Tarains had such recognition of spirits.

The Nox had made a union of friendship with the peace fairing Kahuna; their philosophy that great ambition and great accomplishment without contribution means nothing had touched him. Since his first encounter with SG1 long ago, when he was but seven, Nafrayu had been completely taken by the strange ways of the Tarains. His elders always called the humans of Earth young and only had accepted the humanoid Tollen as equals for they were not young.

He thought the Tollen terribly dull though his elders had accepted them amongst them until they were able to make their own city from the Nox lands. The Tarain humans were far more adventitious of course his fascination was at the cost of disfavor to the older Nox. But the very young do not always do as they are told. And Nafrayu was the icon of this statement. And now was no exception, he was not supposed to interact with the Terren humans, but when he saw that it was the beautiful Carter, he could not help himself.

Ever since she had come with the others into the tiny outpost he had been drawn to her. No one amongst the Nox had such wonderful eyes of blue. None of the Nox had such sunshine colored hair. She was without compare. Nearing adulthood the youth knew apart of his fascination with her was whimsical childhood love, the humans called a crush. His infatuation was so strong that he remembered asking his mother Lya if he could keep Carter. She of course gave him an emphatic no he could not keep her.

Now seeing her again had resurfaced his childhood crush, but he was more then pleased to see that the woman with the hair of golden sun had found her soul's mate to share her love and life with. And he wanted to do something for them, a gift but he didn't know what or how.

He could not share the knowledge of the Nox with them for that was forbidden. Perhaps if he presented himself to them, he would be able to discern what it was he could give them. It had to be something, their government couldn't take away from them, or use as a weapon, and it had to be something for Carter and her lifemate alone, something intimate. Something that had meaning for them and no other. It would be a travesty to see that his friend for the youth had seen Carter as his friend remain trapped in the wheels of fate. He knew that he could give her something, give her beloved something that was a grander than either of them thought possible. The Elders would never see this, for the Terren ways were not Nox ways. But the world of the Kahuna had, had a profound effect upon the spirited impressionable mind of the Nox youth. There was no doubt that he had to do something for these women. His want to gift them limited was not without purpose.

As they settled against the night, soaking in the night air, the fragrant always spring of the land, Nafrayu stepped from the first, allowing for the first time in forty days his presence to be known.

"Sam, something moves over there." Janet whispered so softly the tall blonde was uncertain of the words. Regardless of words heard or not heard, Sam responded to the sudden tension in her wife. Body language spoke volumes. Muscles tensed, Slowly, as a cat in hunt of a deer watchful of moment, Sam agonizingly slow, maneuvered Janet behind her, drawing her side arm in the slow pensive movements, least she alert what ever was hunting them that she was aware of their presence.

Lest the intruder be friend, or teammate, Sam did not fully draw her weapon, but held it at the ready. She would not be taken unawares.

The forest moved.

Sam tensed slowly rising to her feet, her keen eyes scanning the horizon for possible attack. When the forest seemed to blink she took a tentative step back

Then she saw him

A boy…no a young man around the age of seventeen suddenly shimmered in front of her, his hair the color of sun bleached wheat and odd bits of forest plants, smiled at her.

"Nafrayu." He said simply as a means of greeting. After all it was the Nox way of saying hello was to say one's name. How else would a salutation be given back if the other did not know what to call you?

He saw Carter's face become a washed with awe and then that smile he had fallen in love with flutter across her delicate features.

"Nafrayu!" She moved quickly her hand leaving her side arm and gave the lad a full hug. "You've grown! Its good to see you." She was still beaming, brightly almost as if she had been reunited with her nephew.

"Good to see you too Carter." He returned her glee. "Long time. I saw you here. Wanted to greet you, before you went back thru the Doorway."

The blonde smiled, thinking it a wonderful treat to have seen the young boy again, save he was no boy now. "I didn't know that the Nox were here."

"Nox and Kahuna companions, their ways are like our ways."

"Yeah I kind of noticed that." Sam admitted. She turned then to Janet who was now standing at her side. "Janet this is the young Nox I told you about, his name is Nafrayu."

Janet was delighted to have the chance not only to meet one of the Nox, but also to thank him, for giving life back to her beloved. "Nafrayu, its good to meet you."

The young Nox smiled and touched Janet's shoulder, in the equivalent of a handshake. "Janet. You travel the Doorways with Carter." It was not a question.

"Sometimes, yes I do. I'm a doctor…a healer." Janet explained. "I came here to learn from the Kahuna' ways of healing."

"They have much knowledge to heal others. Not the Life-Ceremony…but they learn from everything like the Nox." Nafrayu said.

"The Life-Ceremony…that is when you resurrect others from the Dead."

"Yes, Janet. Bring them back."

"That's amazing. How are you able to do that?"

"Our ways." A short answer.

Sam expected nothing else. The Nox were not exactly the most open people she had encountered, though warm enough for a near xenophobic culture. But then an entire philosophy of passive resistance, encountering others who use force to answer problems would cause you to pull away. Sam understood this, after all she had, had many disagreements in the past with the ways of the late Colonel Mayborn and Senator Kinsey, their ways were certainly not her ways, and she wanted very little to do with them.

"Nox have many Ceremonies. The Life-Ceremony is but one, but I cannot tell you the Ways, cannot share the Ways. There is much to learn yet before we can teach you the Ways, Elders of Nox commanded it so." Nafrayu was grieved he could not share the Ways with the young Tarains, but he clearly wanted to give these two something. Among the soul-bonded of the Nox, they united thru the Heart; perhaps he could awaken this Heart in the two before him. It would be something that meant much to them and nothing to others. He would not be teaching the very young anything, only gifting them with the secretes of each other's Hearts.

All Nox had empathic capabilities; it was one of the many, many reasons for their pacifists' ways. How could you cause harm to another, when you could feel their pain? Understanding, and talk was a better way, then force. But it took much time to put down weapons and walk empty handed amongst your enemies. Several hundred millennia ago the first Nox had done this and she had brought the new Ways with her. Since then the Nox were a peaceful folk of the Green.

Having made the decision to awaken this ability in the woman, Nafrayu began to initialize a plan in order to cause it to happen in an almost natural way. He had to awaken the ability slowly least he send them into shock. So if he preformed the Ritual of Awaking the Heart, was they slept, they would rise with the sun and slowly realize that their bonding was far deeper then what the spoke word let know.

"We understand that." Sam said drawing the lad's attention back to her. "At any rate its good to catch up with you. How are the others?"

"As always, content with the Green. We remain Hidden, and the Goa'uld have not returned to the Green for sometime. We had buried the Doorway, but then after a revolution around the sun, we brought out of the earth again. Do not fear for us, Carter we are well. And if the Goa'ulds do return we will be Hidden again. There are many of us, if together, we summon we can hide all of the Green."

"Hide the Green?" Janet narrowed her eyes, thinking of the implications of what the young man had said. "You mean hide your entire planet?"

"Hide the Green, yes. The Goa'uld can not hunt us if they cannot find us." Very simple logic and very true, one could not hunt what one would not find. But the amount and effort it took to hid an entire planet was astronomical. The effort of one race working in a cohesive whole…it was unheard of. Was it any wonder then that the Nox considered the human race so very young? After all the planetary governments…the United Nations couldn't agree on so many issues, it would take more than even an impeding apocalypse for the entire planet's populace to work as a whole corporative unit as the Nox folk

'We do have a lot of growing up to do.' The doctor thought tragically. "And a long way to reach such a utopian philosophy.'

"So how long have you been here?" Sam asked. "I mean with the Kahuna?"

"Ten days longer then you and your sisters and brothers, Carter. But we have been here before"

"Sisters and brothers?" Brown eyes lifted questioning.


An acknowledge nod of understanding.

"They enjoy their festivities very much." Nafrayu said. "Long celebration into the night, every night, all night."

"A little much?" Sam teased, though she meant it, a little bit of a good thing, but to delve into on constant basics, the fun factor wore thin. "Yeah we're taking a brake form the parties too."

"Carter…I seen you and Janet…you are oathed?"

"Oathed? You mean married?" Sam pressed. She looked to her beloved then back to the youth. Two years of being allowed to be fully Out in the military, was not a long enough time to fully repress the urge to deny anything and everything that would lead to the knowledge that Sam and Janet lead an alternative life. Almost instantly Sam would open her mouth to deny, but snapped it shut as the Nox had just admitted her had seen them together.

"Yes, we are married." It wasn't Carter who answered but the small doctor. "We have been for almost nine years." The brunette was positively beaming.

"I'm glad that you're not alone Carter." Nafrayu nodded his thatched tawny mane. "It's not good to be alone."

Sam placed a possessive arm around the back of neck, her bright blue eyes sparkling. "No it's not good to be alone."

"Do you have a little one?" The Nox was more then curious; he thought what a beautiful child Carter would help make, those blue eyes and the sun-touched hair. He looked to the young brunette thinking of the beauty she held. Her eyes were the shape of does eyes, large and deep brown, her body the perfect size of all Nox.

"A little one…a child?" Sam shook her head. "Not really, Cassie…well she is our daughter. But she is hardly little and really doesn't need a mother's attention anymore."

The lad looked to the glow of the luau's fires over the crest of the hills then back to the women sitting at their own smaller campfire before him. "I would think she was too old to be the child of you two."

"Oh! No we adopted her, when she was twelve." Janet explained. "We don't have a child between us…I don't know about the Nox, but … human procreation doesn't work between the same sex partnership…as it does between procreation practices between opposite sex partnerships."

"Unfortunate." Was all the Nox lad said. "If two Nox females who are Oathed, wish to have a child, they ask for the Ceremony of Birth, it merges the essence of the two together. The fabric of life, from each parent is fused together, like two different trees when you want to make a whole third that is different. A starfruit tree and a pomegranate tree make a unique tree that produces unique fruit, we can do this too, with other life."

"Gene splicing… You are talking about gene splicing." Janet thought about it. Theoretically it was very possible. In its common state a DNA polymerized is an enzyme that catalyzes the replication and repair of existing DNA in an organism by using a single stranded DNA as a template. In order for such a DNA polymerize to create the type of genetic restructuring the enzyme would need to contain both Sam's and her coding - in order for this to happen some kind of genetic splicing would need to occur to create such a strand to be created. Then it's back to the basics. After all gene splicing had created the mule, the liger, the gray rhino, of course the offspring such paring was always sterile, but the there was an offspring. Basic replication: two reproductive cells, each bearing a half compliment of the full genetic genome, fuse together to create a single full cell. This cell then rapidly undergoes mitosis (the division of the cell into identical cells). This division of cells continues as two cells become four, four cells become eight, and so on. The ultimate goal of this mitosis is the creation and development of a single embryo.

"Nafrayu, you're telling me the Nox have a way to gene-splice?"

"Our ways." The boy gave yet another simple answer. "I'm going now." He didn't wait for a response to be issued from the women as he simply vanished from sight. A mouse running across a shag carpet made more noise then a Nox who did not want to be noticed.

Nafrayu had left the encampment of Carter and her Oath-mate, his mind whirling. He thought to open the way to the Heart so that they could feel the emotions of each other, then he conceived another idea. For when he had asked if there was a child between then he felt a deep desire in the little dark haired Janet, one that could not be ignored. She had wanted another child, one of her own. One shared with Carter, but they had not the means to make this happen.

He had felt a smaller response in the Sun-gold of Carter, she too had often daydreamed of lovechild borne between them but it was impossible. The young lad had felt the woman's inner thoughts that they spoke of other means, but it wasn't the same. Though Carter would be a parent she would have no direct part in the making of the infant's life. Nafrayu had felt deeply in Carter that she regretted she could not give her Oath-mate the one thing she wanted. She was physically incapable of giving the woman she loved a child.

Nafrayu smiled, he'd remedy that too. Of course the Ceremony of Birth he would need the help of the others. And he prided himself on the thought of discovering a truly grand gift, for none of the other young Terrene warriors would see an infant as true value and it would mean everything to Carter and Janet. He also felt rather ingenious that he could give the women something without breaking the taboos of the Nox and let slip the secretes of the Ways.

Finding his companions, in their encampment, he sat them down around a bowl of fruit. There were five of them including Nafrayu: his betrothed a lass named Enderi and his close friend Loa, Rana, another young female, her twin Finarfin.

"Did you find the suntop woman?" Enderi whispered as Nafrayu sat pealing open an orange. Her dark eyes watching him, as were the others.

"I did. She is as I remember her." She flashed that still boyish grin he had when he was seven. "And I found she is Oath-mated to Janet, she had doe-eyes." He said the last bit as if it was a mere fact and not a description. "And we are going to help them, with the Ceremony of Birth."

"How do they know of this?" Always cautious always-leery Loa asked.

"I told them, when Janet said she could not become with child by Carter. I said she could. I could feel their wanting, but they said nothing of it. Carter knows we will not tell our Ways to them. But she was wishing that she could give her soulmate a child."

"They are Soulmates as well?" This was from the young lad nearest Nafrayu, Finarfin. He bit into a juicy plum; he tucked the pulp into the pocket of his cheek and spoke again. "Rare thing that."

"Yes and I want to help them in that case too. I can feel they have the capacity to learn to have the Heart open but they do not. We must help awake the gift of Heart inside them, if only to strengthen the bond between them."

"We will do this, but only if they say they want it." Enderi remarked.

"I want to gift them, something special, so we do it without saying we are."

"Nafrayu…" Rana wrinkled her nose puzzled but then she shouldn't be, she knew her friend for a very long time, their mothers were sisters. Ever since the Tarains came thru the Doorway, Nafrayu had differed in many ways from the Nox. His mind wasn't poisoned but he was always taking a different path then everyone else. And performing a Birth Ceremony and of Opening of the Heart was vastly going against the path of the Ways. However she could feel that her cousin had only wanted to do something special for his friend Carter with the suntop hair and her oath-mate, Janet who had doe-eyes.

"If we do the ceremony to Awaken the Heart, it could change them. It could awaken more then just the Heart."

"Yes, but Carter is already changed from last we met. She had, had a Goa'uld inside, but not now. She has new essence within, will be in the baby too."

"You know the change I speak of Nafrayu…"

"Don't know that. Ceremony of Life…didn't change them…much…And Carter…because of the Goa'uld essence inside she already heals faster, what difference will it make if they do not age as other Tarains?" The boy said around eating his orange. "We go Hidden, make the Ceremony work and leave them. This is good. Besides, if it awakens more, they are apt to know what to do, already their first child not of their making, the one called Cassie has telekinetics and other ways…if they are able to do more then Open the Heart, they will know what to do. "

The four had always looked up to Nafrayu for his unconventional ways, and they had to admit there was a certain amount of excitement of what they were about to do for the women. Hidden they would return to the women of Tara as they loved, and call the Ceremonies that would not only awaken the power of empathy, but also give a rise to a new chance of life.

Carefully, Sam reached down and pulled the covers up higher over Janet's left shoulder against the unusual early morning chill in the house. She nestled her head a bit more closely to her neck in response, but did not awaken. Sam rested a kiss onto her hair and closed her eyes again in peaceful, wondrous contemplation.

These moments had become her favorite time of day, the quiet, still dreamy hours before the constraints of daily life intruded ever insistently, the moments when she could bless heaven and touch to the miracles in her life. As always, Sam let the grateful wonder in her heart reach out to the sweet spirit that was her soulmate her beloved wife.

Gently, so as not to disturb her, Sam set her own hand over Janet's where it rested on her breast… holding her heart in place . . . she had told her one morning. She had smiled then, a shy and sweet girl's smile, as though she had just paid her, her first woman's compliment instead of voicing a compelling truth not to be denied. And her quiet presence in Sam's life had brought so many more truths never expected, too, so much gentle wonder, tender support, and even heart-brightening good humor: Quiet conversations long into the dark of night, sharing the day's experiences; a nurturing woman's hand to lend support and balance to a sometimes stark existence; a lively intelligence that continually was ready to challenge and enrich; and, as always, Janet's intuitive ability to feel, and understand, and bring about welcome change that seemed consistently as though to have been there in the first place.

Those were all gifts, too, that found their way with welcome into Sam's day-to-day existence, along with Janet's ability to turn sometimes-trying circumstances into unexpectedly breathtaking ones. One such situation, which Sam happened to be enduring at that very moment, remained in Sam's spirit with radiating warmth: She had come to quickly realize that the simple act of sharing her bed with Janet would be a contradictory delight any other might have considered a bit daunting even under the most loving of circumstances.

In her life before Janet came into it, Sam had been used to collapsing into her bed exhausted, both mentally and physically, from her spirit-crushing work, to drop into a fitful sleep flat on her stomach, most times clutching at her pillow, hugging it tight, like a reluctant anchor of security in her harrowing world. The pain found its way even into her dreams so often, robbing her of rest, subjecting her relentlessly to the shadows of madness she battled so fervently in her work. There had never been anything, or anyone; she could reach out to for support in those pulse-racing moments when she'd awakened in cold-sweat fear, feeling so totally alone, and so totally vulnerable.

But things had changed for her, now, and that reality had become as much a treasured gift for her as it had been for Janet herself, for she found, suddenly, that she had become the unexpected source of Sam's nighttime comfort. Sam smiled softly at the thought. No matter in what relatively benign position she would fall asleep in, Sam somehow always managed to find her way to Janet's body for solace in the dark, the feeling of her near, the shelter of her arms about her, her very source of consolation in the hours of the night, even if she was no longer haunted by the pain of her life before. Reassuring her thus was a cherished duty her beloved would never want to be relieved of, finding herself drawn deeply into the serenity and comfort of her nearness as well. Blessing heaven that she could allow her some measure of tranquility, grateful for Janet's own gifting in her total trust.

So often, Sam confessed with astounding honesty to herself that comfort easily evolved into heartstopping tenderness between them. Janet's burnished hair would flow over her bare skin with welcome abandon, as she would invariably come to find and rest her head on her breast. Her slender body wound be easily, gratefully, draped against and on top of her own powerful one for its entire beguiling length beneath the quilts, in a genuine, trusting shelter that was at once endearing, and more than slightly seductive -- a welcome, or tormenting gift for Sam to hold, depending how early the day's duties would come to call.

The solace and gifting trust that was ever the truth between them freed them both to pass the nights in deep, restful sleep, undaunted by terrors or pain, as well as in nights of quietly enriching tenderness that had grown more precious and confident with each touch shared, each kiss welcomed.

It was impossible for Sam to keep from carrying an awesome wonder straight to her heart at that last thought. She and Janet so easily and naturally embraced physical expressions of love. Tender moments had somehow been stolen, despite the largely casual definitions of privacy within the close confines of the underworld community of the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, capability of sharing in another's state of heart. It had been so ever since their return for the Paradise world of the Kahuna three months ago.

Still, if Sam would have even contemplated the possibility of the joy she was now carrying within her own heart at the knowledge of what those tender moments had already wrought, she would have seriously questioned her grip on reality. But, the source of that wonder truly was real, the most blessed manifestation of the power of love.

Sam lightly ran her hand over Janet's beloved body with a possessive familiarly. She drew her closer in her embrace, holding her to her heart, the angel, and her miracle.

At first, she couldn't trust herself to be certain. Now, though, Sam knew she had to be right --she had caught the unbelieving wonder she still guarded closely within Janet's heart, as she was not quite sure herself, yet, that she was correctly reading her inner perceptions. Still, her body was not so willing to hold its secret long, communicating it to Sam in subtle, but unmistakable ways.

The first evidence she had discovered had quite surprisingly contributed to that contradictory attraction she now found Janet's body bewitching her with: Janet was becoming more sensuously provocative at the very instant that she was compelled to feel most protective of her, and her cherished secret.

Sam slipped her hand along her shoulder and down to Janet's breast without a hesitation. The soft weight of it nearly filled her long slender hand now. A gentle, breathed sigh escaped Janet's lips at her loving touch, even in her sleep. She brought her tender exploration then to rest lower on the linen gown sheltering Janet's body, down to her abdomen. It was not easily noticeable, but to a hand that had memorized every breath of her beguiling flesh, Sam could tell the difference even beneath the concealing fabric: The normally well-tightened muscles of her slender body there had yielded a bit.

Keeping her hand resting lightly on Janet's cherished figure, Sam closed her eyes again and emptied her mind completely. It was not an easy task, for her sweet devotion to her wife's enchanting presence beside her had lit a welcome, distracting warmth deep inside her own more athletic body, a cherished ache that held nothing but treasured communion within its stirring depths. After a moment's centering meditation, though, she was able to touch to the sensations within her that she recognized and sought.

Janet's pulse, strong and sheltering, was what Sam focused on next; its presence in her heart no longer limited only to moments of overwhelming turmoil and need. Since the night of love on the Paradise world, that essence had become a soft, reassuring, ever-reachable strength within her, one more gifting wonder she'd never dreamed could be her. Beyond that most cherished treasure in Sam's spirit, there now was another reality that she had been astonished to recognize within her soul. It was still quite faint and distant, and she needed to concentrate all of her newborn empathic powers to it before she could even touch it. But, once it was within her spiritual reach, the new sound flooded within her with tearful amazement: It was the fluttering, quick-rhythmic heartbeat of a tiny new life.

"Holy Hannah!" She gasped in the faint pink light of dawn. "How the hell…"

Brown eyes filtered open, a hand nearly clutched the body beneath her as if Sam would cast her off. "I wasn't sure…not until I drew some blood…did a few tests…Sam…"

Sudden wetness fell upon Sam's naked flesh. "I didn't betray you Sam…but…"

"You're pregnant!"

Janet pushed herself up onto her elbows then shifted so she was sitting up. Her eyes now glossing over with burning tears could never deny Sam any truth. Their hearts were bonded, they could feel each other's emotions as surely as if they were their own. Swallowing hard, Janet tried to open her mouth to put voice to her thoughts, but she could find no sound to issue fourth so she simply nodded.


"Sam please…believe me…"


"I didn't betray you and I didn't'…I didn't. I wouldn't…I didn't go to a fertility clinic…"


"Oh God Sam please…"



Long fine boned hands reached out on either side of Janet's alabaster tear-stained face. Crystal blue eyes looked deep into incredulous dark chocolate orbs. "You've been wearing that radiance in your eyes for a while, and I don't think it just because the tenderness we share."

An almost relieved smile also brightened the mother-to-be's still fragile features. She shook her head slowly, a bit fearful of having to undergo another bout of vertigo. As sitting up the world had grayed out on her for a moment, swirled then stilled.

"Baby…I think…maybe…"Sam sucked in a breath, the only logical explanation of the sudden condition was that the Nox had to have something to do with it. Sam only believed in one miraculous conception, and Janet was in no means a virgin.

"Nafrayu must have had an hand in this, remember what he said about the Ceremony of Birth preformed for Nox…lesbians…. it is the only…plausible explanation…I can think of. But a child born of your own body, of my love for you -- that is a true gift, a mercy to us both." The quiet words were so understanding Janet was relieved.

"Yes, Sam. A mercy…but there is more…I don't know…I guess…fear?" How could Janet place into words the firestorm of emotions that had been swirling about her heart since the first moments she had actually realized what her body had been attempting to tell her in recent weeks. A child of their own, a new life born of their love – there could have been no greater treasure for her and Sam to share…and so very impossible.

She kissed Janet gently on the forehead wiping away a single tear that had slipped across her cheek and did not hesitate to take her into her arms holding her with great tightness it surprised the smaller woman.

"Don't let fear rob me of the chance to be there for you. It will strengthen us both, lover, not threaten you or me. Believe that, Janet. Don't be afraid to need me."

" I guess I'm just afraid of needing you too much, of overwhelming you even before I'm ready to believe this all myself. I'm scared, Sam." The softly truthful words held the taller woman's spirit.

"Then, Janet let me be scared with you. Let me share in the miracle from this very moment, dearheart, and the things that will keep you up nights as well as the wonders that you can marvel in we will share all together. Don't be afraid to need me, my love. Let me shelter you and protect you. Let me help you put up with morning sickness and swollen feet and an aching back. Let me dream with you and worry with you. Let me be your beloved wife in this."

The tears began to fall in earnest then, from Janet's chocolate eyes. She still hadn't been able to reconcile that reality within her own heart. Only the fear of causing her love pain, had kept Janet from sharing her own wonder with the tall blonde.

She would have melted into the sweetness of Sam's tenderness and care, feeling the wealth of radiant devotion for her she would have poured from her heart into hers at such news, days, weeks ago, indeed, at the very first moment the thought even actually formed within her mind that perhaps, just perhaps . . . She would have reveled in the astonished joy and precious awe she would have seen in Sam's angelic face . . . She would have blessed heaven for the opportunity to help Sam reinforce her own belief in the miracle that was part of her. 'I am pregnant with my life-mate's child, now, and I am going to let her share it all with me. We need to be there for each other, and I know she is ready to keep embrace this impossible miracle.'

Touching to her hope and conviction within her own love, Janet smiled at last, softly, and with shy expectation. Sam's serious countenance also brightened at the sight of her lover's renewed hope. Stunning sapphire depths held her own eyes when she opened them again, with loving commitment. She could read that Sam asked for no more sweet repose, either, sharing in their gifted oneness in the blessed confines of their own home. Sam graced her enigmatic wife with a radiant smile that was the tiniest bit triumphant, as well, at Janet's expense. She had confounded the tiny woman again, and Janet blessed heaven for the evidence of her continued delight in the love they now could so easily, guiltlessly share, crave, and share.

Sam cuddled Janet gently into her arms and kissed her softly, she leaned easily against the taller woman's body. Pulling Janet onto her lap to let her rest against her breast, she brought her hands to rub gently over her legs. The delicious relaxation the brunette felt in her limb with her wife's firm, tender touch soon radiated itself through Janet's entire body.

"You keep that up, my love, and I will be asleep in about five minutes."

A soft smile graced her in response. "That is fine with me, Jan. Just to drift away, if that is what you wish."

With a mischievous look in her dark eyes, Janet pulled herself momentarily back from the encompassing languid surrender her body was slipping easily into. "And if I wish for something else?" A slender, long-fingered hand reached easily trailing a finger across soft naked flesh of her breasts and brushed a tremor of sheer pleasure through Sam's body. Caught momentarily off guard by the rush of heat that passed instantly between them, a sweetly confused consternation came across her angelic features that was totally endearing to the smaller woman.

"Janet, for a young woman who was brought up in a strict, moral environment, you astound me sometimes!"

Reaching a gentle kiss to her cheek, Janet smiled in questionable reassurance. "My upbringing was no more strict than yours, and look where I am – unchaperoned – in the arms of a blonde nude temptress." Janet turned her face into the beloved hand that held it as a cherished gift; it was a joy, hope-sustaining joy, between them. She gave herself over to the woman she loved as her own soul without hesitation, drawing her entwining essence to her in a hungry, searching kiss Sam took to heart instantly. Tears mixed with gratitude and relief, soft laughter with freely embraced need. Janet guided a loving hand down along the slim curves of her body to rest surely on the silkiness of her nightgown, below her waist. Her words were both filled with that joyful, cherishing hope, as well as tenderly enkindled. A soft wash of gentle color tinged her opalescent skin, and a deep, undeniably beautiful rush of emotion lit the honest depths of her eyes with wonder. She drew her wife's other arm round about her so that she was surrounded by Sam's strength, shielded, protected, and gifted by it.

"When you take me into your arms, my love, you are no longer holding me alone . . .You are holding our child…" Janet felt the tears well up into her eyes again at the sight of her beloved's own, trailing over sculpted cheekbones, falling from eyes that shimmered with breathtaking emotion. The hand that rested on her abdomen stroked gently over the fabric covering her, in a tender caress that stopped her heart. She threw her arms around Sam's neck then; speechless at the love she felt pouring into her very soul from her's.

Their tears mingling on their cheeks pressed together, Janet kissed her way across Sam's angelic features, to the full lips that were doing the same to her with such sweet, cherishing awe. They held each other close, her hands luxuriating in the dense fall of her golden hair, Sam's running softly over her back, over every beloved, memorized curve of her. There was as much wonder, gratitude, awe, tenderness, and need binding their spirit together at that instant as they could ever have imagined.

"There could have been no more marvelous reality to bring to this place and share together, my sweetest angel." Sam's face was radiating a warmth and tender hope that her wife had only dreamed of. She truly believed the bright, tender wonder on her wife's face could have stood as the ultimate example of a parent's awestruck acceptance of heaven's blessings in life. And the feeling of sweet cherished, hope that it left her with was a gift for her in itself, too. Drawing back from the tenderly possessive embrace that held her, Janet felt the radiating brightness within her turn her tears of wonder into the warmth of love.

Sam pulled herself away from the bewitching enticement that Janet's nearness always drew her into. "You held the wonder to yourself in your heart with such awesome disbelief . . . but when I felt that you'd accepted the possibility with so much joy, I wanted to hear it from you, in your own time…but I felt…her…since we've returned...I've felt you, here…" Sam touched her heart. "I didn't want to question it least it be a dream…and upon waking I'd find I could not reach for you as I do…but you must have guess I knew."

Janet let a warm glow of remembered tenderness light her heart at her wife's words. "You don't honestly believe I could easily sleep through your touch, my love?" With a guilty smile, Sam gathered Janet so close to her in powerful, sheltering arms. For a long moment, the two of them simply drifted within the comforting, awesome wonder of love embodied that now bound them to one another as never before.

Sam could never have imagined the happiness that filled her. She could hear her beloved's heart beating strongly and true beneath her ear as she rested her head on her breasts. A tangible circle of sheltering hope reached her from that reality. She felt the warmth of her breath in her hair as she kissed her gently among the beloved ember.

"Even if I was aware of what was happening, Janet, just hearing you speak the words to me, hearing you say what you did to me, that you are with child, carrying our child . . . I can't seem to gather enough of that reality within me . . . it is too . . . encompassing . . . a gift." The soft, smoky tones of her voice in her hair, the sweet, cherishing touch of Sam's hand upon her, echoed so very much that sensation she was describing to her: It was too great a joy to put to words. After all the pain, guilt, fear and hesitation they had to endure, to find themselves sharing such an awesome reality of love was like a glimpse of heaven itself. She couldn't have imagined having had any other reaction to the miracle, witnessing any other response from her beloved.

"I know what you're feeling, Sam. It took me the longest time to believe it, too. I don't think it all actually became real until I saw the lab reports."

"Do you know you have the radiance of heaven in your eyes?" Sam brushed a few stray locks of her hair back off from her face with sweet care, then drew her long fingered hand over her porcelain features with cherishing tenderness. "You have given me such a gift, Janet, here today. Let me share one with you, too. Give me your hand."

Responding with warm interest to her wife's request, Janet offered her, her hand. The tall blonde kissed its palm sweetly, and then set it carefully onto the alabaster skin, over her heart, holding it there. She let her other hand return to rest lightly across her waist where she had first set it. Janet was fascinated by the tender intensity in her mythically angelic features. "Now, empty your mind totally, my love, of everything around us. Listen only with your heart. Open it up to mine." The certainty of Sam's instruction, that she could believe Janet capable of doing what she asked, sent a wave of grateful joy through her.

Janet closed her eyes, focusing her sensitive essence to the love that was radiating over her. It was so encompassing, that shelter, that her attempt to tune her spirit into it totally was effortless. She could actually feel herself wiping away the sound of the morning noises of the neighborhood. She could only feel Sam's heart throbbing with a sustained, reassuring rhythm beneath her hand, the deep, even rise and fall of her chest that marked her breathing.

After only an instant, remarkably, those beloved sensations actually channeled themselves from outside of her own experience to flow directly within her own awareness, her own body. She could hear Sam's heart now, feel it, beating in time with her own. A wondrous sweep of enveloping shelter blanketed her spirit at the evidence of their mystically united souls.

For a long moment, Janet held to the sensation of Sam's heart beating within her own, aware of the immensity of the blonde's emotions revealed to Janet at that instant, as she had been on their wedding night. The intense tide of awe, tenderness, need, marvel and hope held her transfixed, warming her to the depths of her soul. But, there was unexpectedly even something more to the intertwined sensations she was experiencing, though Janet wasn't at first certain what it was she was picking up on, hearing, or more correctly, feeling, within her. Several shared heartbeats passed between them before she recognized the perception her awareness had settled itself upon: Another rhythm, very soft and faint, much quicker as well, that had joined their own hearts, joined, but remained, somehow, totally distinct. She opened her gentle eyes wide with wonder, then, and saw her lover looking down upon her with equal awe and tender care.

"Oh my God! It's the baby's heart, Sam, isn't it?"

"Yes, it is our child," came the soft reply.

Janet let the tiny, miraculous sound fill her own heart for several long, blessed moments. The wonder of that revelation to her brought a feeling of encompassing bliss and sweetness that overflowed her spirit. She couldn't believe what she was experiencing, yet had absolutely no doubt whatever that her wife's love had made it possible for her to touch. It was the bond between them she knew that had given this gift to them. To feel life within…to hear it…was beyond belief.

"We have much to owe the Nox my love." Janet uttered with unstable breath. "Never in a dozen lifetimes will...we …be able to thank them."

"No…we wont, my love…but one day I hope to see faeriesk little guy and try."

Part 3

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