Exiles Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter 5


Armed with the Ares Predator, Colonel Sam Carter took point. She wasn't worried not with the rest of SG1 backing her up. Her only concern was the statues of the beta teams, and the plan of ambush. In the distance the distant staccato crake of gunfire sounded ever familiar. They were giving SG1 the time they needed to infiltrate the Goa'uld ships. She prayed they were not paying for the distraction with the currency of their lives.

One hand on the butt of her Predator, Sam motioned for her team to fan out, to be ready for anything. They spread out and started north, Arian and Cassie behind and to Sam's left Teal'c. Directly in front of them was a sparse stand of trees, and Sam could detect the presence of a newly abandoned base came of a Jaffa guard.

They moved quickly through the wooded area visibility dropping sharply as the mist overcame them, leaving no choice but to switch to thermal imaging. The cold scents of pine and earth were overshadowed by the burning smell of, the acidic odor growing stronger with each step. What could not first be discerned from the dense billowing fog was the of conflagration smoke.

From the dim light ahead of them, Cassie saw that there was another clearing ahead, high with brittle grasses. Only trees that kept leaf or needle through the winter had any green about them. Snarls of last year's bramble spread brown webs over stone outcrops under the trees. Nettles numbered most among the few weeds; the rest were the sorts of sharp burrs or thorns, puff mushrooms with thick spoors, or stinkweed, which left a rank smell on the unwary boot that, crushed it.

Sam scanned the area, her visor giving her a panoramic view of the site in hues of various shades of green and black. She could pick out the dim flaring blue-white light of flames. By the looks of it, the once inferno was dying. "I see something." She said.

Cassie felt her heart speed up at Sam's proclamation, and then they were all running, hurrying to catch up to their point man. They emerged from the copse of trees, Arion next to her. Sam was already at the downed, Death fighter, Teal'c scanning the area for possible threats. Smoke was still rising from the silent wreck, but it was thinning, if there had been a fire, it had died out.

Cassie and Arion reached the others and stopped, starring, no one speaking as they surveyed the scene. The long body of the Death Glider was still somewhat intact, the crash was not due to mechanical failure, but to an impact with the line of trees, obviously the Jaffa pilot had tried to navigate in the denseness of the thick fog and failed. If the scopes were down the pilot would not be able to see a thing, it wasn't a surprise that he had careened into a thicket of pine.

"Circle out people, five meters apart widen as we go, the pilot may yet be alive, be careful."

"Colonel if we find him?" Cassie questioned.

"Put him down. We are not interested in prisoners."

"Yes, Ma'am." Cassie moved over to stand between Teal'c and Arian, both warriors already scanning the ground at their feet as they slowly moved east and northeast of the Death fighter. Sam headed west.

Dry weeds crackled underfoot as they widened their circle, the only sound in the still, warm air except for the distant popping of gunfire over the ravine. Sam used her boots to each through the thick ground cover, brushing the tall grasses aside with each step. In normal scope she would have not been able to see anything, the fog was simply far too thick. Sam stopped suddenly, listing, the sighing crackling steps of the others, of the far away drone of battle---

---And there was nothing else. Not a chirp, a chatter, nothing. They were in the woods, in the middle of spring; where were the animals. The insects? The forest was unnaturally still, the only sounds human.

"I found him." Cassie said inside the helmet's microphone.

Sam turned and started jogging back; saw Teal'c and Arion do the same. In the murky light, Sam could just make out Cassie's shadowy form, crouched down in the high grass near some trees a hounded feet past the fighter. Her firearm already at the ready she double-timed, suddenly overwhelmed by a since of alarm. She was far too professional to be taken hostage by dread, but her years as a solider screamed in her gut something was not exactly right.

"Don't touch the body." She ordered.

Instantly Cassie snapped her hand back from the instant before she was to push the body over onto its back.

"Cassie I want you to move very slow with extreme caution away from the body."

Lieutenant Cassandra Fraiser knew far better to question her orders from her CO or to hesitate in obeying them. Cassie was as devoted a solider to her colonel as the Malakim warriors, never questing Sam or her judgment. The older of the women did not know if this was due to the fact she was also the girl's mother or that she had in someway still remained upon the pedestal Cassie had long ago put her on, or because of another more militant reason.

"A cleaver tiger trap." Sam said, answering the unasked question. "Even in death they are relentless to win."

"My Liege?" Arion uttered as she stepped up, her pale lilac eyes had not lifted from the prone figure of the downed fighter pilot. "How is it you know this?"

"I don't know." Sam shook her blonde head. "Something about the location if his body isn't right…those are drag mark." She pointed to the lay of the grass behind the body. "He was put here deliberately, probably by the other Jaffa in the cabin."

"This is an old ploy to immobilize an enemy," Teal'c said. "To take the life of an enemy guard patrol, the carcass of a fallen Jaffa is sometimes used as a…Trojan horse. Turning his body would have activated the small bomb within him. They system lord Baal often uses this maneuver. Very observant, Colonel Carter."

Sam shrugged. "Gut feeling, sometimes you have to go with it." She turned from the corpse of the downed pilot with little more care then someone pulling garbage can to the end of the curb for trash day. "Teal'c you know how the trap works, take his activation device for the Rings. We can't lose the window for opportunity to infiltrate the ships."

Teal'c without hesitation moved to his counterpart and gingerly slipped mettle gauntlet from the wrist without disturbing a hair on the dead man's arm. For years he had been a team member with Sam Carter, and had been exceptionally impressed at her prowess. The power of her mind was immense. As a former First Prime he saw someone who could defiantly give him a challenge as a leader. When her mind was locked on the mission parameters she became tenacious. He knew if they had a chance of getting out of this alive, and indeed back to Earth it lay with the forever-young blonde colonel. He smiled to himself never admitting it to anyone but himself, but after serving under both O'Neill and Sam Carter, he clearly knew who was the better leader, and the individual did not have a gray hair on their head.

The half dozen troops milling around the entrance of the Circle chamber were more interested in the discussing the peculiar disturbances in the outer rim of the Base they were paying attention to their present boring duty. So engrossed were they in speculation as to the gods plans to overrule the outpost that they failed to notice the wraiths behind them. They moved from shadow to shadow like night-stalking wolves, freezing when one of the Jaffa frowned inside his armor, turning to where he thought he had sensed a movement near the opening to the main passageway.

There was nothing by an indefinable something, which the ghost like SG1 warriors left behind, before moving on again as if walking on air. Acutely uncomfortable yet understandably unwilling to confess to hallucinations, the Jaffa turned back to the more prosaic conversation of his fellows.

As SG1traveled the further and deeper into the bowels of the massive pyramidal ship, they found it increasingly difficult to maintain the air of casual indifference. The further they traveled, the heavier the traffic became. Other Jaffa warriors bustled around them intent on their own assignments. None made a notice of the phantoms passing. SG1 had avoided one patrol after another, slowly working their way deeper toward the bridge.

Years ago, Sam had memorized the schematics of the Goa'uld mother ships. They had not changed. She had long since downloaded the information in the GPS for the HUD in the helmets. The maps gave the others the advantage of being able to navigate the labyrinthine halls without Sam or Teal'c to guide the way.

The rest of the strike team silently crouched, forming a tiny perimeter around the entrance of the bridge. Sam stood at the threshold, checking for the Goa'uld that no doubt would be sitting upon the throne upon the diesis. She didn't know if she was disappointed that one of them wasn't there or to be relieved. With unnatural speed she spirited into bridge heading across the chamber to the alcove she knew would contain the Stargate if aboard.

"Teal'c, Fraiser, fan out start placing the C-4."

"Roger that." Cassie said into the headset and moved to comply with her CO's orders. Teal'c though Sam would not have seen him, for the cloaking device she knew he would have nodded. She didn't have to look to know her orders were being carried out.

"Arion, take point at the threshold, subdue anyone who enters."

"I heed my Liege Commander." The angelic form saluted in her fashion once again there would be none to see the gesture, but warrior gave it nonetheless. Her obedience to Sam was unwavering, not even her impending death would prohibit the Malakim from carrying her the commands.

Sam's long fingered hand danced over the control panel with a metallic, as she was wearing a ribbon device. Since Jack O'Neill had taken command over SGC, he had authorized for Carter to be armed with the Goa'uld weapon. She also carried the healing device, and both had saved individual members of the collective SG teams one time or another. Lieutenant Cassandra Frasier had discovered that because of Nurrti's tampering with her DNA, she too had the protean marker that allowed her to use the weaponry. Therefore the youngest member of SG1 was also armed with the ribbon device, and was likewise wearing it.

"Teal'c is there anyway to discern if they have a Stargate aboard?"

"If there is, Colonel then it will be in that chamber adjacent to the throne, as it was Apophis's ship."

"Yeah, I figured, but it wouldn't hurt to cut down the search with a conformation of its existence." Silently the door opened. Sam peeked inside. No sign of life. "Let's move out. Fraiser your with me, Teal'c and Arion follow behind at the count of ten."

"Yes, Ma'am." Cassie responded

"I heed."

And of course there was an unseen nod of a baldhead, confirming yet another compliance.

They entered the chamber. Teal'c and Arion close on the heels of the women in front of them. Soon they crossed a likewise empty steel and stone corridor, Arion brining up the rear watchful for the Jaffa guards. Sam pushed a series of buttons on the second panel, opening a third door in front of them. The chamber that was to hold both the Stargate and sarcophagus, held only the latter.

"It's not here." Cassie muttered disappointed. "Shit."

Sam stifled a wordless protest, of the younger woman's word usage; it had been a long time since Cassandra was a child. And the statement was more then an apt description of her own thoughts on the matter. "Alright, we have a plan to stick too. Let's move out."

Sam, Cassie, Teal'c and Arion made their way down the convoluted corridors toward the area where the main reactor room was marked on the HUD map. Burning blazers illuminated the high arched angler roof, casting long shadows at each intersection. At the first three turnings, all remained quiet; they saw no guard. Obfuscated the team continued their trek in the belly of the ship at strategic integers laying the C-4 explosives and detonators.

At the fourth cross-corridor, eight Jaffa stood wary of watch. There was no way around; the section had to be traversed. There was nothing to do but to fight. With Zat guns drawn, SG1 in practice precession took position on either side of the threshold two to each.

Cassie was crotched near the left side of the threshold; she could feel her CO's leg near her back allowing the younger woman to know she was there. Tacking one of the Jaffa with an expert eye, she waited for the command to fire.

Four to eight, if they worked quickly, they could put down the enemy guard before anyone realized anything was a miss.

"Now." Came the order inside the helmets.

With textbook precession the four troopers of SG1 fired simultaneously. A barrage of lazars followed ricocheting from metal plating of armor. Four Jaffa guards were hit immediately a third lost his staff weapon pinned behind his fallen comrades. He was unable to do much but stay low; he could not see his enemy.

A guttural metallic command slithered from one of guards from beneath his jackal head.

Teal'c's voice whispered over the headsets of the helmets. "He has ordered them to use infra-red sight."

Sam snorted, the IR components in the armor would dampen any heat signatures given off thus they were still invisible. SG1 was virtual impregnable behind their vulcanized Kahuna shielding and cloaking devices.

It was but seconds the words passed; Cassie fired; the man's head snapped back, he was dead before he hit the floor. The remaining three guards quite literally did not know what hit them as quadruple blasts of the Zat guns flared. The one crouched by the fallen bodies rushed the threshold his fear fed is rage.

"I don't want anyone knowing we are here." Sam said firing her sidearm twice more disintegrating the pile of fallen warriors. They checked themselves over, no casualties. The firefight fortunately had not been noisy; their desire to remain hidden was so far intact. But that didn't mean they could teary. The power center that controlled the main reactor was very near, and there would be no second chances.

Sam ducked into the shadows of a narrow passageway, seeming to become part if the metal itself as a large cluster of Jaffa troopers hurried past her. Pausing to make certain they had all passed, she checked the corridor ahead before starting down it. But she failed to see the dark silhouetted form, which eclipsed the light far behind her.

Cold freezing rain came lashing down hard against body, in an unyielding assault. The sky was utterly dark, thick with a stillness that would be a harbinger of what was yet to come. The white tide of the mists flowed up to walls from cliff to cliff bore a heaviness that strangled the lungs. Lighting flickered far with in the crags of the mountains' ridge.

Thunder rolled in the valley in forbiddance of its contempt for those who dare defy the storm.

There were two, who would brave the storm, the blinding white fog and the frozen rain to fulfill the wishes of their commander. It was incomprehensible to even think of disappointing Sam Carter. There was no way in hell that neither Daniel nor Razeal would allow that to happen. If there was a chance however remote that the Exiled Malakim had a Stargate, then Daniel would find a way to find a way to unlock the secretes kept custody within the temple.

There was a majesty to the Temple of the Exiled.

Daniel peered quickly around himself the place he and his winged companion had landed it made him think; least for a few magical moments there was a stillness to the storm. In the distant air there was the sweet scent of flowers and then the gentle hum of insects that lulled his scenes. The archeologist could almost forget that he was on an unknown realm far away from his own solar system. Glancing around his eyes fell on harsh rich dark brown soil, a beautiful crystal stream that reflected the sun turning parts of it a soft golden color. In front of him billowed lacy trees whose branches touched the ground as if paying homage to the harsh soil itself. It was tempting to savior the beauty that surrounded him.

The cavern was silent. A faint mist drifted on the surface of the underground water, underlite by the dull teal glow that seemed to emanate from deep within the lake. Vast walls of granite, marble and mineral deposits climbed in every side, overhead, unseen, unsensed a solid shift of rock a mile thick shut off all view of the black sky.

Standing at the foot of the great-carved slope of rock that rose level after level climbing the caverns massive wall. Daniel felt a sense of awe at the scale in which the mineral deposits had created an edifice structures in grand slender. It was strange, of course for both he and Razeal were used to the shadows falling downward, the natural shadows of the sunlight world where as here, everything was underlite. The faint glow from the underearth river giving the whole place in an eerie feel, strange mosses and begun to grow in the crannies of the marble and mineral walls of the cave, here and there an odd lichen splashed subdued color on a rock for no sun could touch the eerie vaults. Overall it had a strange, desolate beauty.

A miniature peninsula of stone jutted out into the lake, twisted spikes of darkness jutted from the level surface of the water. And there in the far side of the cavern, one single massive rock split yet still standing like splintered trunks of a tree, its peel hidden in the darkness. 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 the two companions gently padded across the smooth stone flooring of the cave.

Stepping within the confines of the temple's halls, goosebumps went up his spine into his neck as tiny follicles of hair stood up at the base of his neck. Daniel walked carefully over while every step he took was recorded on the dust-covered floor and with each footfall, sent sprays of dust into the air, turning the stagnant air almost unbreathable. The archeologist sneezed harshly as the dust settled into his lungs. Taking out his handkerchief he blew his nose, in time to catch yet another sneeze.

The whole cavern shuddered convulsing as in the same instant, through air suddenly thick with powdery dust. With a hideous, grating pop, the brittle limestone of its tapered base 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.

The companions were galvanized into sudden action for fear they would lose their balance, slip and fall under the falling debris. The smell of rock dust hung thick and clogging in the air; along with the smell of mud and damp 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.

"We must be careful not to disturb the surrounding area." Razeal gave a dubious look to the chamber. "Or this temple will become our tomb."

"Yeah." Daniel sighed heavily. "I've lived that particular nightmare before. I'm not much for reruns." He wiped his sweaty palms on his Alice vest and kept his azure eyes peeled.

They continued down the murky passageway. The mouths of more tunnels opened to their 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. Without deciding aloud the two picked up the pace. Then detected a subtle shift in the movements of the air. "There's a space ahead," Razeal whispered excitedly. "And a faint breeze. I think there's another chamber ahead. Come, its not far."

Daniel needed little urging. They started into a jog, hurrying down the passageway. At the same moment, the aura of malice swelled behind them. They reeled, nearly overwhelmed by the vile emanations of darkness. It wasn't hatred, but it was malice. Something was following them, and it was gaining.

"Run!" Razeal yelled.

Gasping, they hurled themselves down the tunnel, the darkness following thickly on their heels. An eerie whispering sound echoed all around. Lungs burning, the two kept running. All at once the walls of the tunnel fell away, and they found themselves 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 he saw it on the far side of the hall, a faint rectangle glowing amid the gloom. A doorway.

A peculiar odor hung in the air, sharp and metallic, like the scent of their air before a storm. The smell troubled not only Daniel but Razeal as well, though neither could be certain why. The hair on the back of their necks prickled uncomfortably. However, there was nothing to do but start climbing. Daniel glimpsed two stone doors on the opposite sides of the chamber, both closed.

The two companions had gone no more than five feet when the lighting struck. Two blue-white bolts of brilliant energy rent the dankness asunder. Each sizzled hotly as it struck one of the shut doorways, and then crackled around the chamber, ricocheting widely off the stonewalls. A searing bolt passed inched from Razeal and Daniel's faces. Both immediately cringed against the scant protection of the pillar.

Only it wasn't a pillar at all, they saw now in the blazing illumination. It was a gigantic statue hewn from seamless dark blue stone that Daniel recognized immediately as one of the Malakim heroes. At the moment, each of the companions clung to the shallow ridge just above the shoulders blades, Razeal to the right, Daniel on the left. He could see the expression on the angelic being as she was grinning playfully, teasing any who would happen into this chamber. The stone hands of the statue, where outstretched in a commanding gesture. It was from these that the two bolts or energy had emanated.

After a few terrifying seconds, the lighting bolts burned themselves out in hisses of sulfur. Each of the travelers would blink, but all he could see were in purple afterimages. The lightning had temporarily blinded their vision. At last the dull grey shapes of the statue and walls came back into focus. With a sigh, Razeal would start down once more, Daniel trailing after him.

Two more lighting bolts arced from stature's hands to strike the doors and careen around the chamber. Clinging to the statue's back and wings, both Razeal and Daniel narrowly ducked a jagged arch of energy as it crackled past. This time when the lighting dissipated they remained still, staring into the darkness while they counted their heartbeats. They made it to a hundred before the blue-white bolts struck again. Daniel swallowed hard. This did not look good.

Even assuming they could make it to the statue's feet without being struck by the mechanical lightning, the interval between strikes would give them just over a minute to dash to one of the chamber's door. This would be more than enough- provided the door was not locked. However if it was, and Daniel could not pick the lock, nor Razeal brake it down in time, they would be standing directly in the path of the lightning when it leapt from stone Malakim's outstretched hands again.

As if on cue, once more searing bolts of magic bounced around the chamber before vanishing. Razeal raked his brain, but he could not see a surefire way around this trap.

"The Exiled do not wish intruders."

"You think?" Daniel said barrowed a well used quote. It was no use, Daniel's mind was a blank they had been drawn in into a booby trap so easily, and the archeologist was almost ashamed of it. With a growl of frustration, he smacked his forehead against the hard stone of the statue. He noticed two things. First, this idiotic action hurt. Second, it resulted in a hollow echo deep inside the statue.

Daniel jerked his head back, staring at the effigy of angelic being in astonishment; Razeal raised an eyebrow completely intrigued. Quickly, they would both begin running their hands across its smooth stone surface. It had to be here somewhere. Then Daniel's fingers brushed a small slightly raised circle in the torc that encircled the neck.

"That's it." Razeal whispered almost gleefully.

Daniel mashed the circle with his thumb. There was a grating noise, and they were nearly thrown off the statue as a small circular door opened between the shoulder blades and wings "Now this adds new meaning to the term back door," Daniel quipped with a satisfied grin.

They would scramble though just as lightening sizzled around the chamber again. Pulling the door shut, Razeal sealed them both safely inside the statue. After a long moment their eyes adjusted. They would stand at the top of a narrow spiral staircase. Descending the steps, he coiled deeper and deeper, soon certain that he must be far below the statue. Still the stairs plunged downward. At last they ended in an iron door. It was not locked. Tensing, in readiness, Razeal watched as Daniel pushed open the portal.

An empty corridor stretched beyond. Glancing around, they saw no sign of sharp iron spikes, trapdoors or lightning-shooting effigies of the Malakim. Both in exacting time drew in a deep breath. Maybe Fate had been kind, and they could actually relax for a second.

Soon they would find themselves amid a maze of dark passageways and shadow-filled halls. High archways opened to the right and left. Corridors doubled back on themselves or ended abruptly in blank walls. Some stairwells led to nowhere, while others delved deeper into the oppressive dark. It was not at all difficult to believe that a mad band of Exiled warriors had constructed this place. There seemed no reason or plan to the vast labyrinth, unless it was to lead those who wandered its ways inexorably downward.

For countless centuries, the subterranean chamber had dwelled in dark and perfect silence. In all that time, no living thing had ever breathed the room's dank air, or disturbed the silken carpet of dust that covered the stone floor. Here, within this forgotten chamber, shadows had always reigned.

Until now.

A throbbing hum resonated in the air, shattering the ancient silence. A brilliant silver line appeared in the dusky air, causing shadows to flee for cover to the corners of the room and cower. Cackling, the sliver line widened into a jagged rift. Daniel had noticed that here were no doors in the room- at least, none readily apparent to the causal eye. All four walls of the chamber were of solid stone, each covered with a grotesque frieze of tortured souls, a depiction of the great Cataclysm.

A warning.

It was said that a great order of the Malakim knights had fought to drive back the alien Diabolicals, and they themselves had been granted a place in the warrior halls of Memory for their great sacrifice and bravery. They had called upon the primeval power and covered the ancient city in earth. All that remains now is legend in the annals of myth.

"Well if there is a key to the hidden gate, it's going to be in here." Daniel said taking out a worn notebook and a pen. "I only hope we find a way out that doesn't involve us being lighting rods."

"I concur." The young winged warrior nodded. "That was a most unpleasant experience." He looked about the chamber then to Daniel at his side, his wings twitching with a muscle spasm. "We have our duty to our Liege Commander. I will not fail her."

"You're not going to get an argument out of me." The archeologist said. "Sam is counting on us. And I am not about to let her down."

Lined with power cables and circuitry conduits that fell from impossible heights of the ship and vanished deep into the bowels, the service trench appeared to be hundreds of feet deep. The narrow catwalk running around one side looked stretched taffy plastered to bulkhead. It was barely wide enough for one solider to traverse.

One solider edged her way along that treacherous walkway now, Sam's gaze intent a spot upon the wall instead of the gaping void below. Two thick cables joined beneath an overlay panel. It was locked, but anther careful inspection of the side, top and bottom, Sam pressed the panel cover in a particular fashion causing it to slide open. Inside a row of powering crystals, was revealed beneath. With equal care she planted a globe of C-4 explosive and the timer. The next step would be to knock out the shield generator.

"Once the grenade blows, they'll know were here." Cassie commented.

"Not unless we do it real quite like." Sam said.

"Explosives are not quiet, Colonel Carter." Came the stoic baritone voice of the large Jaffa.

"No, they're not." The tall blonde smiled from beneath her helmet, of course cloaked, as she was none would have seen it. "But we don't have to be around for it either. C-4 on a thermal grenade, and we don't have to be here when in blows up." Even as she had been explaining Carter, wrapped the plastic around the small explosive orb, followed by the receiver for an independent detonator set to go off five seconds before the other planted explosives. She then dropped the-would be bomb down the black chasm that lead to the power core with a satisfying clunk.

Cassie smirked, thinking her mother an extremely cleaver woman, though it was Arion who put thought to voice. "How cunning."

"I have my moments."

Without warning a secondary hatch closed behind them. Hurriedly enclosing the panel cover Sam slipped deeper into the shadows, knowing her fellow teammates had done the same. A detachment of troopers had appeared in the portal, and the Jaffa in charged moved to within a couple of feet of the motionless, hidden figure.

"Jaffa, secure this area until the alert has been cancelled."

From a mental map Sam knew where Cassie had been poised near a bulkhead, Teal'c would have taken the other side of the hatch entrance and Arion several meters behind her. The patrol was perfectly ensnared in SG1's crossfire.

"Do we fire?" Teal'c waited for the answer.

"I got an idea." Sam redirected the question. "Cassie, use your ribbon device. We are going from incognito to undercover."

"Roger that." Came the younger woman's reply.

Once more Sam gave a silent praise for the deity of technology. For the small headset devices poisoned near the temple allowed the SG teams to commune without an enemy overhearing a sound or thus revealing their safe locations.

Two women raised their long fingered hands toward the dispersing Jaffa guards. Twin blinding shimmering bolts of golden energy coruscated from their palms, shot across the bay like sorceresses' lighting, and propelled the six guards hard against the bulkhead, with a sickening bone crushing thunk of mettle and tissue. None of the enemy guard moved after the blast. For none had lived. If one had, he would not survive three shots from a zat gun in a large man's hand.

SG1 moved from the shadows, surrounding the fallen Jaffa guards. "Move fast, if we want to move ship to ship, we can best do it if we look like the enemy vanguard. Arion, remain cloaked; I'm afraid the Jaffa don't have wings. "

"I understand my Liege Commander." The young warrior had admired the human colonel, since the day she had come under her command. Her pattern of counterattack against the Diabolicals was relentless and cleaver. Though coming out of cloak was not something the angelic alien would have conceived, she trusted the blonde woman and her orders.

Three bodies were removed for the fallen six; the rest followed their prior counterparts and were disintegrated.

"Dressed as the Jaffa, we may yet learn the plans of the Goa'uld."

"I still don't get it, why destroy the Stargate? Did they know of the Exiles Gate?" Cassie remarked as she removed her helmet. "I know you said they wanted to gain a strategy over us and the Asgaurd but to destroy a gate…"

"SGC has a self destruct on Taur'ri Gate, and it would destroy it if the threat was great enough." Teal'c answered. "I would surmise that the three system lords feel such a great threat is upon them to have destroyed the gate here. And they are confident, that either they know where the hidden gate is or they have one themselves aboard the ships. The loss of the gate they destroyed would be of little loss."

"But how would they know of the Exiles Gate?" Cassie pressed, gaining the steady blue-eyed stair of her CO who was almost fully dressed in the jackal headed armor of the Jaffa.

"One of the Malakim must have been captured." The giant man answered logically.

"No Malakim would allow themselves to be captured." Arion quickly deterred. "We would rather die. We do not surrender, we capture all opportunities, and we do not give ourselves over to the enemy."

"Arion he didn't mean to insult you, but you have to consider the possibility that a Malakim could have been taken prisoner. I mean if she was injured and unable to fight, the Goa'uld could have captured her, and interrogated her. Trust me I've seen their questioning methods. " Sam diplomatically offered. "It isn't something that can be easily overcome."

The winged warrior nodded consenting to her commander's logic. "The she must have been tortured severely if she yielded the knowledges of the Exiles Gate, for we are trained to withstand even the most brutal interrogations, as well as our natural abilities to withstand duress. There is nothing shameful in falling before a superior enemy, though the execution of but one Malakim brings dishonor to all."

Sam rested her soft eyes upon the Malakim, "for what it's worth, Arion if that's the case I'm sorry." She bit her lower lip, took a heavy breath then spoke her thought. "But you said the Remnants broke away, I am sorry but I can't help but think they might have given the information on the hidden gate, freely. And there is another possibility. If a Malakim was taken hostage, they might be a Goa'uld now."

"The Remnants act without honor, they are disgraced, and have no adherence to Virtue. But they have no love for the Diabolicals, though it is not past their capacity to make an allegiance if they believed they would benefit from it."

"Worst case scenario the Goa'ulds know about the Exile Gate, which means we are on a race." Sam said. "Another case they have a Gate on one of these ships. And we have twenty hours to find it." Sam took a heavy sigh. Her one problem that had been milling about her mind was how if there was a Stargate on board, would she get sixteen warriors thru the gate undetected? She prayed that Daniel discovered fact there was an Exile's Gate.

"My Liege Commander." Arion said as she stood holding the helmet Sam had taken off. "If a Malakim was taken over by Diabolical forces…they will be a great threat to us. Our natural abilities, with the World Symphony will give them great powers at their command. Telekinetics, ecomancy, hydrokinetics, pyrokinesis, telepathy, and empathy, if the Diabolical have our natural-born abilities, they will be far more formidable then they are now. We have fought them many times, for they seek such gifts, and they have tried to take our young to breed hosts, but we have managed to throat them."

"Nurrti tried to breed superior hosts before. I know." Sam nodded, her eyes resting upon her eldest daughter, with the depths of a mother's love. "Malakim hosts would be very valuable to them." The tall forever young colonel thought of the Eyrie, and the distinct possibility that it was destroyed after prisoners had been taken. With a broad beam blast of the paraplegic phaser fire of zat guns or the Goa'uld grenades, taking of immobile angielcs would not be difficult. With the mystical capabilities of the winged warriors for a moment filled Sam with dread, though none would have known to look at her.

Sam Carter had long ago leaned the value of disguising her emotions, though her eyes, so expressive often told others more than she wanted. Her eyes always spoke when she was silent revealing more then she wanted. She had a warrior's heart with the eyes of a poet. Sam was a passionate woman. Passion not only hinged upon her depths of love for her children and her wife, but passion for what she believed in. Passion for duty and honor was as strong. Her soul held multitudes of passions and like a moth drawn to a flame; her wings were forever singed because of it. Memories deeply buried, had a horrid habit of rearing their heads.

"Congratulations on the medal, I am sure you deserve it." Jacob Carter turned leaving his daughter in the conference room, mindless of the glistening blue eyes that well with unshed tears. He was angry. Angered at the cancer, angered at his daughter for defying his wishes. She was wasting her time with NORAD and what ever it was she was doing. Her cover story needed help. Not for one moment did he believe she was monitoring deep space telemetry. She could one day go into space, and she denied him. Didn't she realize that he had pulled a lot of strings so that Jacob Carter's little girl could become apart of NASA?

He pushed her since she was a child because he saw in her a rare brilliance. And he wanted her to go further then even he did. She was a woman in a man's world and had a position in a man's military. She had to be tough, strong, resourceful and smarter then the others. And Jacob Carter made sure she was. He could not afford to coddle the child after Rebecca died, not if Sam was going to go into the airforce, not if she was going to go into space. Now she had the opportunity to do so and she defied him.

The pleading of her voice as she called out to him, grated on his heart, he had failed to make her removed from her emotions. She was more like Rebecca then he wanted to admit. Her eyes were always filled with depth and passion, just like his dead wife. "Dad…don't go like this!"

He didn't turn around, didn't say anything further. He had to make her strong…it was a father's duty. He was too prideful to allow his little girl to see him weak. He was too disappointed in her for her willfulness not to comply with his dying wish she go into space. He didn't want her to fuss over him, or lower her emotional walls, to be seen as a soft woman rather then an airforce officer. If nothing else he could at lest give her this opportunity to put away the softer side of her nature, and embrace detachment he had honed over the years.


Sam turned, back to the large bay windows of the conference room, the tears falling freely now. Her father had told her he had the worst sort of cancer, he would not live, then tried to use that as a weapon to shame her by a guilt-trip into NASA. She had told him if it was her dream then shouldn't it be up to her? He tried badgering her with his own dreams. When she told him she couldn't go, he had turned his back on her. She read the deep disappointment in his dark brown eyes, read the wonder of why she deserved the Medal of Honor from the president himself and the tone of his words. He wasn't so certain that she did deserve such an honor, but would not dream of countermanding the President.

The scene played over and over in her mind as she pummeled the think canvass of the heavy bag. Anger, despair and helplessness sweated from her pours as she continued her assault on the bag. She wasn't looking at anything; too absorbed in her own pain to notice Janet had entered the gymnasium.

The doctor in her wanted to tell Sam to quit, the brutal beating on the bag, for her medical alertness, noticed the metallic scent of blood, her eyes focused on the red welling around the wrapped knuckles of the woman she loved. The lover in her wanted to pull Sam into an embrace, whatever it was that pained her they could go through it together.

"How can he do that to me!? I'm his god-damn daughter!" she hit the bag again and again, frustration oozing from her "He's always doing that!" Another hit, and another. "Nothing I do is ever good enough! 'Fathers have dreams too?' I don't have a dad I have an airforce officer for a father!" More assaults wailed. The red canvases bag swinging hard as Sam relentlessly struck it, with all the speed and force her weary body could afford.

"Sam, I have cancer…" She hit the bag, growling, "Then you leave you just walk out that frigging door! Congratulations on the medal I'm sure you deserve it?! You tell me you're dying and you leave! Just like that!? God how can you do that… heartless … unfeeling… bastered!"

Sam fell to the floor of the gym, her sweating body sagging in a hunch, her knees drawn up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them her head barred in a thatch of damp hair as she rested her forehead upon the knees. She didn't give a damn if anyone saw her.

Janet without a second thought swiftly moved to her beloved's shuddering form, and held her. "Cry. Just cry." She felt Sam hold onto her, the grip was rib crushing, but the dark haired doctor would not protest.

"It's crushing me Janet."

"Then let it crush you."

"He is going to die…and I can't do anything about it. Not even you can."

"You can do something lover, you can be there for him."

"He doesn't want me…" Sam swallowed hard. "He was always a solider, and he wont want be seen in a battle he can't win. He doesn't want me around him Janet. He…" Sam became quiet again as the tears prohibited speech. But her heart resonated like a struck bell with fury and despair.

In that moment Janet Fraiser held more distain and contempt for the man who had done this to the woman she loved. The doctor had never met Jacob Carter, but if she had she would under no uncertain terms tell the man where to go. Sam deserved far more then a father' rejection and harshness. He had forged a soul as strong as steal but in doing so he forgot the tender polish. He had not raised a daughter, but drilled a soldier.

It had been too much. Blankly standing now Sam went away somewhere within herself. She was vaguely conscious of hands on her, voices near her: of walking as she was pushed or led, without will of her own even to shut her eyes, that could still see nothing but Janet, seeing her. Still locked in that instant.

A voice she vaguely knew to be Janet's commanded tenderly, "Sam I need you to open your hands for me." And felt as the doctor touched her inert hands. Anger and misery arched through her; but she couldn't connect with her body enough to pull away, and endured numbly the stress that tugged at her like hands and refused to let her remain in the safe, blank unfeeling.

"Sam, I going to fix your hands, you broke open the skin during your workout, its superficial, nothing to worry about. And then I'm going to drive you home."

Reluctantly Sam found herself rousing to the present moment. It felt like rising through deep, cold water as the dead were said to rise. Her azure eyes blinked, and she contemplated the newest thing that had registered in her mind. "He's going to die," she found herself responding, with the indifference of hopeless distance. It was all a blur, senseless, and except for the contact, it was comfortable to be that way. "And he wants nothing to do with me."

Had she been capable of wishing, she would have wished the contact would release her into the drifting emptiness that was almost like peace. But it was not. So she endured, with no will to do otherwise.

The voices either went away or she ceased to be aware of them, but the contact remained, tethering her to consciousness that something existed beyond the vague dimensions of her retreat. Presently, aster a time that was neither short nor long but had merely continued until a new sensation occurred, hands tugged at her and someone wanted something of her. The hands guided her when she listlessly responded to the dual pressure. She moved as long as someone wanted her to, stopped when the pressure lessened, sat passive and empty of thought while the world rushed by her. She remained as passive as her boots, and felt were removed and her sweaty tanktop was pulled free. She was tipped to lean against something she knew only as warm and alive. A larger contact gathered her in and surrounded her.

There was a voice, humming something simple and slow. Both a music and a voice. Undemanding as air. The contact seeped in like quiet. She drifted into it. After another timeless time her knees drew up and she curled into herself feeling very small. The contact approached and gathered her closer. The humming continued, as if it had always been and always would be, a condition of her existence. She didn't know when her eyes at last shut and she slept.

Janet put off waking Sam, heavily asleep across her outstretched legs, as long as she could. But as she started to hitch high against the stacked pillows of their bed propped up against her back, almost as she thought of moving, Sam's arms clamped around her waist.


No reaction; no change in her steady, slow breathing. Capturing her had been some instinct deeper than thought. But she might as well have been pinned by a beam. Then Janet began to gently stroking her rounded shoulders and the back of the blonde's neck, hoping to wake her gradually. Pushing aside the tumbled hair, Janet bent and kissed her cheek. "Sam…Sam honey, please wake up."

The tall blonde tensed; her arms contracted around Janet. Softly, against her ear, she said. "Sam. Hon just let me go…I'll be back in a moment. I have to see Cassie off for her sleep over. Sweety you have me pinned, just move a little. I promise I'll be back."

The body that had draped over Janet barely moved, the arm let up its hold ever so slightly, but it was enough for Janet to wither out of the embrace. Now free, Janet leaned over, the bed, feathering back the tangled locks of golden hair and kissed softly the pouted lips of her beloved. "I'll be back in just a moment, love."

A moment latter Janet had moved into the kitchen, her hand trailed the shoulders of her daughter in a motherly touch and tried to flash a reassuring smile to the young teen.

"How is she?" Cassie asked. For she had seen her mother lead Sam home as if the blonde was some sort of automaton. Sam had been so far removed from everything that she hadn't responded to outside stimuli. Didn't say anything when Cassie had greeted her, or asked about her buried and battered knuckles. Janet had tried to reassure the girl that Sam needed a little time to sort things through and be within herself. Most of all she needed a little sleep.

"She's surviving." Janet murmured. "Her dad," she stopped herself before she said something she regretted. "He's a real piece of work."

"Its not fair. Why is he like that?"

"I don't know sweety. Some people think that feelings are a weakness, and he doesn't know how to act. He's in pain too, he's very sick and he is going to die."

"But you can fix him mom, you can fix anyone who is sick."

Janet tried to smile, as she looked at her adopted daughter. "I wish that were true, but sometimes there are things I can't make better."

"But…" Cassie looked up. "I don't get him…he should want to be close to his daughter right? I mean you'd think …why is he so mean to her? Doesn't he love Sam?"

"Oh he loves her Cass, but sometimes people have a hard time showing it. And Sam's dad is like that, but just because he doesn't show her, doesn't mean he doesn't love his daughter."

"I still think he is mean." The teen said. "I don't like him."

"That's okay kiddo you don't have to like him." A new voice said from the hall. Both brunettes turned so see Sam standing at the threshold of the kitchen.

Cassie bolted out of her chair and hugged, the tall blonde tightly. "If you want me to stay here tonight I will, Karen will understand."

Sam found the pull of her lips curl into a smile, her long fingered hand ruffled the dark curly locks of her adopted child. "No, its okay. I don't think I'll be much fun tonight. So why don't you have fun for me?"

"Are you sure?"

"Sure I'm sure." She pressed a kiss on her forehead, "Now scoot or you'll be late for you're buddy's birthday and slumber party."

"Okay. But I'll stay…"

"I know and it means a lot to me, but I think I'll just hit the shower and veg out tonight." Sam gave the girl the illusion that she was going to be okay, but Janet saw the eyes of her beloved and knew the truth of the matter. Cassandra gave her heroic figure a tight hug then scampered to get ready to go to her friend's party.

After Cassie had left the room, Sam shuddered, wrapping her arms around herself, her eyes barely lifting from the floor when Janet approached her. She was there to hold her beloved together, and if she fell apart then she would be there to hold her. As long as Sam let her, as long as it took Janet would forever support her.

"Sam, are you going to be okay?"

Sam leaned back, so that Janet was clasping her upper arms, but not holding her up. Absently Sam wiped the tears away, two slow gestures. At last her sad eyes lifted again to meet hers and she confessed simply. "I have to be. I am Jacob Carter's daughter. It's expected of me."

"Sam, this is me…" Janet reached up and touched her lover's cheek.

"I don't know Janet…right now I don't know. It hurts…it hurts so much…I can build a computer to make alien technology work, I can stop the Goa'uld from blowing up the planet…but I can't save my father from dying. He just…god Janet he dropped the bomb he's dying then just left. It was just like after mom died, he pulled away, then. He left me with my grandparents…then the boarding school and pulled away from me…and he's doing it again. I…there is such aloneness…I don't know what to feel anymore. "

Janet suddenly cupped Sam's face between her hands. "Sam no mater what happens, no matter what comes, know I love you. You wont be alone in this." She kissed Sam's left breast as if to press a tender whisper into the other woman's heart. "And when not physically together, I'll be right here, always."

That gained a tiny faint slow smile from the blonde.

"Janet…for what is to come I want to thank you and apologize."

"Sam?" Dark eyes narrowed, "Why would you need to apologize?"

"For the bitch I might…will become…for the wreak…I'll be. For being poor company…for not fulfilling your expectations… For probably shutting you out, for braking down and crying…clinging to you… …just for everything."

"Oh, Sam." Janet gathered her lover into her arms, holding her tightly her hand automatically stroking the wavy short locks of golden hair. "Baby, and wherever you got the notion you wont meet my expectations…or that somehow you feel you haven't…baby…get rid of it right now. Your father, made you question yourself…my love, he had always done that to you…and you've always tried to meet impossible expectations…right now love you are in pain and you're swimming around in uncertainty. Then let me be you're life preserver."

Janet led her beloved to into the living room and sat the woman down, as if she were a child. It occurred to the smaller woman that Sam was going thru the requested motions as she had before as a puppet, completely autonomous. She wasn't really here, once before Janet had seen her lover so withdrawn. When Jolinar had taken Sam's body, then died in self-sacrifice, leaving the blonde with a score of memories that were not her own. More then memories…Sam had been physically altered. At the very least she was responding…if not reacting to things around her.

The outburst of anger earlier, the crying…it was all healthy. And if she had to Janet was prepared to incite such reactions again. In her mind she cursed Jacob Carter for doing this to her beloved. How dare he!

Right now, Sam's hold on herself was precarious, as if standing well balanced upon a knife edge of word said or unsaid, a decision made or suspended….

"Sam, when I heard…" Janet paused, and then spoke again. "Lets have lunch in here, okay?" She touched Sam's hand gaining only a very small response of a head nod.

Janet busied herself for the moment, brining in a picnic style lunch she had originally bought to celebrate, but had postponed the outing for another day. Right now it seemed right. It was something to do, to bring Sam back to herself. She had set up the "picnic" on the coffee table all in silence. There wasn't silence because she wouldn't allow it to be.

Sometimes the truth had to be confronted, but there were other times she'd learned, when it must simply be lived. Enacted. Survived. Made actual in motions like opening a bottle of wine and pouring out the glasses, handing Sam's to her high enough so she couldn't be unaware of its sweet aroma, as well as the coolness. Things like carefully peeling and sectioning a large, perfect pomegranate, removing all of the bitter webbing, passing small sections to her one at a time, so Sam would notice the previous one forgotten in her hand absently eat it to accept the new one. Another scent, bright lucent color, sweetness.

Spooning lumpy port-wine and smoked gouda cheese onto a cracker, Janet touched Sam's arm and nodded to call her attention to it. She looked at it with the blonde, trying to be fully aware of it and of nothing else, past or possible to come—just the fragile, fleeting conjunction of shadows cast by the rays of sun beaming in from the window. There was a small reflection from the crystal candlesticks on the mantel of the fireplace casting, shimmering, delicate hues encompassing all the color there were or ever could be, and the two of them, together, watching it.

When the rainbow faded Janet handed Sam the cheese-domed cracker and fixed another for herself. She glanced up to find her beloved looking at the cracker as though she didn't know what it was, how she'd come to be holding it, or what to do with it. So Janet demonstrated, maneuvering her entire cracker into her mouth and then biting down—an indelicate, crunchy mouthful. A different taste, a different texture. The cheese was placid as if it had spent time thinking as it smoked.

Still holding her cracker, Sam suddenly announced. "He really pisses me off sometimes."

Janet didn't know what sort of answer that bizarre declaration expected. She couldn't even tell if it expressed satisfaction or an obscure apology. In any case, she couldn't have said anything. Not with a mouth full of half-chewed cracker. So perhaps silence would be the best answer, after all. Or as much silence, as the cracker would allow her.

Her answer in the end was to position herself behind Sam and allow the taller woman to sink further into the floor and into her arms, as she rested her blonde head upon Janet's shoulder.

"I just want be in love with you today." Sam remarked with the same unsettling suddenness as before. "I don't want to think about him…today…"

Daniel frowned trying to understand exactly what he was looking at. Before him a great stele of green marble, upon it two winged warriors battling one another, while overhead a relief of massive dragons that seemed to be locked in an aerial dogfight. A series of lines ending in small dots made up an archaic language "This is a variation of the Hebrew alphabet. Its what on earth we call Angelic Script…this is fascinating…it describes the fall of Usiel the first lieutenant of the Archangel…"

"Usiel is a traitor and he has no honor." Razeal spat. "He has defiled the Virtues, for he was the first to fall. He gave the secretes of the Great Wyrms to the Diabolicals long ago, now they hunt for them again and again, but we have turned them from our world."

Daniel traced his finger across the dragons battling overhead of the winged heroic figures. "Wyrms…you mean dragons? Dragon, dragons…with the fire-breathing, magic and gold hoard…dragons?"

"This is so. The Diabolicals wish to gain their powers, as they desire ours. They wish to taint our bodies with theirs, and corrupt our kind and the wyrms"

Daniel looked to his winged companion, "Corrupt…they want to take dragons as hosts!"

"Yes, and as their minions, to fight their battles for them. Hatchlings are very impressionable and will be easily manipulated."

"Dragons…as Jaffa?" Blue eyes widened. "This isn't good."

"They have yet to win." Razeal said with the confidence of a young warrior, yet to know defeat. His overconfidence was not exactly comforting. "They will not win."

Daniel turned his attention back to the stele, and the inscription and read it allowed. "O for a voice like thunder, and a tongue to drown out the throat of war! —When the senses are shaken, and the soul is driven to madness, who can stand?

"When the souls of the oppressed fight in the troubled air that rages, who can stand?

When the whirlwind of fury comes from the throne of Virtue, when frowns of it countenance drive the nations together, who can stand? When sin claps his broad wings over the battle, and sails rejoicing in the flood of death; when souls are torn to everlasting fire, and fiends of hell rejoice upon the slain, o who can stand? O who hath caused this? O who can answer to the throne of Virtue? The Lieges and Nobles of the land have done it! Hear if not, Heaven, they Ministers have done it!"

"It speaks of the sundering of the Malakim, when the Remnants broke away from throne of Virtue, and followed their own path of deceit and malice. The ancient ways of Ministers are not practiced for they had corrupted the word and lead the Remnants to defile all that is honorable."

"But I thought you had…some sort of priests." Daniel took off his glasses and rubbed the bridge of his nose, before replacing his spectacles.

"We have, Archangels who administer such duties, they lead the choirs of all that is scared. They are responsible for all matters scholarly and teach all that is of the mind and soul. We have the Masters who teach the way of the body, and minister the way of the warrior. Leadership, Warriors, and Spirit this is our cast system, our way of life. Honor governs us, Daniel. One need not enjoy Virtue to follow it." His wings stretched a bit feathering the dust about their feet.

The archeologist thought of what the winged warrior had said about not having to enjoy doing what was right, but nonetheless adhering to it. It was no wonder why the Malakim had such distaste for the Remnants who broke away from their way of life. To betray the way of the Virtues was to betray all that the Malakim believed in. He turned back to the stele, desperate to find evidence to the legend of the hidden Gate.

"This…" Daniel pointed to a section of the stone tablet, "speaks of ritual to summon, Achelous, by the Cult of the Keepers of the Lambent Reproach, mortals who call themselves the Calabim. Long ago it was overseen by the archpriest Malphas…the tyrant and a despot of discord great follower of Usiel. "

"Yes. He created the Lambent Reproach to call Achelous from the void."

"Achelous was…a river god who turned himself into a speckled serpent, with horns protruding from his forehead, which Hercules was supposed to have snapped off in a wrestling match. There is a great river named after him in Greece."

"Achelous is…was a Wyrm who was a defiled as the Remnants, who spirit is trapped in the primordial umbra. His spirit bound forever. Usiel was the first to fall, for his grave crimes his wings were cut, now he can never reach the Heavens again." There seemed to be a self-satisfactory smile upon the youth. "Unable to fly, he has no spirit. This is a greater punishment then death."

"He still lives…?"

"Of course, for the greater part we are immortal. In battle we can die. If our hearts are broken we perish, but we do not fall easily." Razeal said simply.

"You said he has followers and a cult?"

"Yes, Malphas is a Calabim is one of the exiled mortals that worship Usiel and the dragon, but they have not been able to summon Achelous. Daniel, Malphas is now impotent, and a feeble old wretch. And his followers are failures."

"How do you know they failed?"

"Achelous had not risen." A simple logical answer. "And in three thousand years they have not found the sacrifice necessary to call him."


"A mortal soul with the heart of a Malakim knight. A spirit of Virtue and Honor that is unquestionable. None has yet met the criteria needed to summon the loathsome being of Achelous. Though no doubt Malphas has tried but he has failed on every turn. A mortal has yet to be born who has such a soul, in the end they have all fallen short of essence. No mortal soul has ever been pure enough, vitreous or as honorable or noble as a Malakim Knight. Not all Malakim are knights, Daniel, but we are all warriors. As I said his following is small and he is toothless and powerless."

"In my experience, Razeal the bad guys you think are pretty much powerless or gone have a very bad habit of coming around when you least expect it, believe me. I don't know how many times we had to kill Apophis before we finally got rid of him."

The winged being kept his tongue as he considered the words spoken by the mortal beside him, though his exuberance thought perhaps he champion was a bit paranoid.

"Perhaps, but Malphas is no concern of ours, we are sent by the Liege to find the Gate."

Daniel sucked in a breath, feeling as if he was talking to a brick wall, but the Malakim was right, the Gate took precedence over some zealot's fanatical religion. He thought of the Malakim knights, he had met only one, and that was the Queen herself. The others were but warriors. So what then was required of a knight of the angelic beginnings? Hell from what he had seen of the Malakim warriors they were as the romantic human knights. These guys could give Lancelot a run for his money. He could not even begin to fathom what the winged beings demanded of their knights. It was no wonder that this Malphas couldn't find a mortal with such highly impossible standards to meet.

Daniel continued his concentration upon the stele. He noted the style of writing had changed as if the author of the text had changed from one hand to another.

"To dwell in the past is to die in the present. To hide the Ancient Lore and call it forbidden is folly. In the time before light and dark there was the Knowledge, but the First One forbade its learning. And with the Darkness was lifted line a veil and the only light was the First One's bright eyes. Looking her Consort Usiel knew she had Awakened. The energies first surged through Usiel and he discovered how to move like lightning, how to borrow the strength of the earth how to be as stone. There were like breathing once was to her. The First then showed Usiel how he hides himself from the Diabolicals how he commands obedience and those he demands respect. Then, Awaking himself further, Usiel found the way to alter forms, the way to have dominion over the beasts, the way to make eyes see past the sight. Then the First One commanded that Her Consort Usiel stop, saying he had over-reached his bounds that he had gone to far. That he threatened his very essence.

"She used her power and commanded Usiel to stop. Because of her power, he heeded her, but deep within him a seed was planted a seed of rebellion and when she turned her face from him, he opened himself up once more to the serpent, to Achelous and saw the infinite possibilities in the stars and knew that a path of power, a path of blood was his for the taking. And so he awakened in him this Final Path, from which all other paths would grow. The path of fear, the path of inferno, the path of spirit, the path of vengeance, the path of blood, the ways of Dementation which is the path of madness, Necromancy the path of the dead, Obtenebration the path of darkness and shadow, Sanguinus path of unwholesome vicissitude. He took from the Dragon lords the darkest of rituals and here he did master them.

"From these newest of powers, he broke the bounds to the First One put on him, he left the Queen of the Firmaments that evening, cloaked himself in shadows, and fled the greatest Eyries and came at last to a place where not even her knights could find him. Here he gleaned the knowledges from the Dark Dragons, and Usiel taught his Fallen Thaumaturgy. He taught them the paths. He had found the Door to the Stars and lo he would flee further away from the sacred lands. The Gate of Stars lay hidden far beneath the mountains Forever Dark, in that place he called Achelous to him and they knew the Diabolicals and did lay with them. The Diabolicals hungered for the Usiel's masteries.

"Usiel called Gehenna and would bring asunder the war of the firmaments, but the knights of the Queen of the firmaments cast out Usiel and his followers to the land of Unmaking. And so they would come to the Mountains of Forever Dark. For his crimes Usiel would never reach the heavens for his wings were torn from him. Achelous was bound forever until that time a mortal champion spirit born of a Malakim knight's heart, life given as sacrifice will resurrect the defiled serpent. And the Keepers of the Lambent Reproach with the Calabim mortal born will cast themselves to the coils of the illusions of the serpent kings.

"See the colossus of Gate of Stars astride the world beheld the Diabolical worms in his heart, as the giant totters, the Diabolical worms rejoice, for there will be souls aplenty when the giant falls. See the broken chamber of three thousand years and the shattered crystal upon the floor. For the second Gate of Stars is not put a sunder, and those of Usiel will be free. See the stones weeping blood and Achelous is free. Hear the howls in the night and the souls of mortals cast themselves into the Dragon's coils. Then Falls the second war of the firmaments, it is the queen that shall know the pain of the shattering of life. The great Eyries shall be wiped off the face of the earth. Diabolicals and Remnants will know each other and will come the age of the seventh race."

Daniel turned to Razeal, his face paled, "This isn't good…I mean if the Goa'uld and Usiel's people….um…well… 'know each other' and create a new race…" He rubbed his forehead and blinked, "But this is just a prophecy right?"

"If so then why have the Diabolicals destroyed the Stargate upon the surface of the world, if not to incite the coming of this prophecy?"

"I wouldn't put it past the Goa'uld to play out this story, they are already playing out the Book of the Dead." Daniel traced his fingers across the pictograms of the stele, "This is the key isn't it, the map to find the Exiles' Stargate."

"It is. But Daniel with what we have already encountered in only the threshold of this temple the way to the Exile's gate will be wrote with great peril."

"As opposed to what we are facing now?" Daniel touched his headset; at last he had something hopeful to report. "Sam? We found a way to the second Stargate. But it isn't going to be easy getting there."

Part 6

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