Nephalim's Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Eleven


Threads of the World Symphony strangled the notes of the Great Song.

Sunlight through the carved shutters, creeping across the bed, woke Samantha. For a moment, she only lay there, frowning. She had not reasoned out any plan to reverse the effects of Discord before sleep had overtaken her, but neither had she given up. Too much memory still lay covered with fog, but she would not give up.

Three days......72 hours.......4,320 minutes....259,200 seconds...

"Stop." Janet commanded, her voice muffled under the blankets of the bed she shared with her wife. "If you get to nanoseconds, I'm hitting you with my pillow."

"How did you know I was counting down?" Sam asked of her wife.

Janet only gave the blonde a look that mimicked Cassie's preteen expressions 'well dugh!' What she said was, "Because I've been counting down too."

"Babe," Sam started softly, "Something is off about this whole thing."

"Blaming us for this climatic holocaust for instance?" Janet's voice still carried scorn for carrying the guilt and being made into the scapegoat for something that was well beyond their control. Only the Ecomancers and Elementalists have such power. Sam could influence individuals, Dominate them to do her will. Her Presence commanded attention. Janet could Heal and Send the Song of Comfort, that was her power.

"Um no, we are to blame."

"Sam....I don't see how. And if there is anyone to blame it's me. I'm the one...."

The blonde rolled over on her side, her weight supported by her elbow as her other hand was used to muzzle Janet's mouth. "No, don't go there, Janet. It takes two to argue. Besides, I've been thinking about that."

"Want to clarify that thought pattern?" Janet requested. Her brown eyes pinning Sam's own ice blue. For a moment they were merely lost in the gaze that had nearly vanished from their sight.

"We affected Becca to leave her home, our care because she felt it was cold. We made it cold. Emotionally. She's sensitive to us. Not just because the bond she shares with us, but because she's empathic to others around her. Babe....the Blue Wing is also empathic to us, hell anyone who cares for us, is. But the thing of it is some of those people have psionic power to manipulate the climate and ecology."

"The Ecomancers." Janet concluded, "and Elementalists. They can cause precipitation of moisture in any form. Raise or lower the temperature, humidity and air pressure. Generate storms of considerable intensity and create electrical atmospheric phenomena. Hell some of them can discharge electricity from their bodies like the electric eel, well mostly the fingertips."

"Right. They can manipulate weather patterns but they can not completely alter them, nor can they create atmospheric conditions that cannot exist naturally. They can't lower temperatures as far as to absolute zero or raise them to solar intensities. My point is the weather in the Environmentalists and Ecomancer's immediate vicinity changes with their emotions."

"I've seen it." Janet admitted, though until now she had not connected the dots. "Dark clouds gather when they are upset. There were fierce lighting storms when you were captured....the Blue Wing was beside themselves when you were taken. Razeal summoned lighting balls and discharged them....there were times when I wished I could do the same just to vent my frustrations."

Sam edged her body closer to that of her wife's gathering the tiny woman into her slender arms. It was a dark time for both of them. Sam still woke in nightmare sweats because of the memories, as she still did from haunting images of Jolinar. They had ever gone way, despite the years and vigilant control. At night dreams went rogue, generating whatever images they desired to plague their keeper. "Ecomancers try to keep their emotions under control, because of this," Sam said continuing the conversation. "They weren't successful, and we didn't make it easy on them. The further and further we drifted apart, the colder our temperament to each other and the stronger we made the drift between us. We made the dissonance."

"Butterflies indeed," Janet said, referring to the Chaos Theory, Sam had previously discredited.

Sam sheepishly shrugged, admitting silently that perhaps there was something to that after all. If one Ecomancer or Elementalist can create atmospheric effects to water plants, localized and tightly focused beam like paths radiating from their hands, and large regions to create cyclones than a hundred score Ecomancers and Elementalists could create a climatic holocaust.

For Ecomancers and Elementalists both to affect weather and cause a wide variety of meteorological phenomena, they must be able to affect air movement, humidity, particulate matter in the atmosphere, and many other factors. One tool at their constant disposal is air movement. They use it to help them fly further, deflect physical attacks and wage war.

The atmosphere is in constant motion. When air sinks, there is good clear weather and the air is stable. When the air rises, it is unstable and cloudy and there is murky weather. The air blows in response to differences in atmospheric pressure and that once air begins to move, the Coriolis force, a physical phenomenon, tends to bend it to the right of its intended path in the Northen Hemispheres and to the left of the Southern Hemispheres.

Both Sam and Janet knew that wind motions can have a variety of effects on the environment. Wind can makes waves in the ocean, which sounds innocent enough, but storm waves can be as tall was buildings and have the force of a bomb. Wind can move shaping sand dunes, which in itself at its most extreme, can turn farmland into a desert or generate massive sandstorms in natural deserts that obliterate everything.

"Like a virus the dissonance transferred from one Ecomancer or Elementalist to another and so on and so on. Their disheveled emotions generating more and more storms that affected other Malakim, and their discord with the events generated further negative emotions in the Ecomancers adding fuel to the fire allowing that fire to burn hotter, longer," Janet concluded.

"And because Nature must find a balance when in Discord," Sam finished the thought. "Weather affects itself. Much weather phenomena is produced at frontal boundaries between air masses. Following me?" Sam's blue eyes watched, waiting for Janet's silent encouragement to continue. When she got the slight nod, Sam's voice continued in its soft lilt. "Thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes are at the most extreme example of this. Hurricanes can cause snow storms in the northern regions, storms and earthquakes create tsunamis. Thunderstorms, hailstorms can cause cyclones, tornadoes, until Nature finds away to restore the balance. That is what is happening here. Too many localized storms generated a global response. The ocean currents changed temperatures, hell, Ecomancers even affected tectonic plate movement, we knew they could generate small earthquakes, and apparently they have. Those quakes caused volcanic disruptions."

"It's all connected." Janet said. "We're patient zero, Sammy. That's why the Malakite Archangel targeted us, she knew all of this, that we enkindled the Elementalists and Ecomancers to their discord. You, yourself distribute the World Symphony from the Great Song, it is touched through you. We tainted the lines so now we have to come up with a vaccine."

"Yeah any thoughts on that?" Sam bit the inside of her cheek as she did when very deep in thought and her mind became distracted by overwhelming deliberations of what needed to be done.

Janet shook her head. "No. The only thing that seemed thaw our home was... coming back together again."

Sam's quick sharp mind latched onto that concept. "Subconsciously, we affected the Ecomancers of the Blue Wing. Jan, I don't think the whole Empire seeing us kiss and make up is going to cut it. Not now. Besides, Novalis has affected this Discord as well."

"The uncreation of Anubis, I know," The Lilliputian physician uttered. "Not even Oma DeSala can undo what had been done. How can a paradox be healed, what… go back in time?"

"That is something we agreed never to do. It's a Song forbidden amongst the Malakim. The last to use it was Achelous the Unmaker and Malphus. They were bound to spend eternity to the Fading, they were obliterated in the end."

"And what - your death will make things better? Good gods you're the Nephalim for crying out loud! If our private little war caused all this mess, just think what the Fading of the Nephalim will create? It will be worse. Kurak can't be serious."

"If the Malakim believe the willing sacrifice of the Nephalim can save them, they will reach for that hope. Janet...."

"Oh no you don't! You WILL not tell me you believe her."

"A part of me does," the blonde admitted.

"The Nephalim and her family suffers the slings and arrows, bullshit?"

"If we are the reason they were loosed in the first place," came the answer. "Then yes I do."

Janet cupped her wife's face in her hands, "You hold such great reverence for guilt. Even if you don't deserve to carry it, you always have. Something goes wrong and you're in the vicinity you immediately assume the guilt." Janet rolled over, pushed Sam down upon her back before pinning the taller woman on the bed. "You are not going to take the fall for this one, if I have to channel the General I will: 'Carter, I don't want to hear it.'"

"God your sexy when you get pseudo-aggressive like that," Sam said out of the blue, her voice laden with a heated purring moan. Kissing Janet to distract her whilst the blonde pulled the smaller woman night shirt up, running her hands across the brunette's back, her belly, trying not to hit Janet's ticklish spots. Sam didn't want to make her lover giggle - even though it was sexy giggle. Sam ran her palms across Janet's breasts, cupping them gently as the blonde kissed her deeply.

Janet shivered under those hands, almost waiting to be tickled but feeling her warmth the tiny woman pushed herself into Sam's body. Sam lifted her prize so that she could slide her hand down between Janet's thighs, feeling her warmth, her wetness. The blonde stroked Janet gently, barely touching her.

Groaning turned to growling as Janet's body on its own slid and moved along Sam's long delicate fingers, the brunette braced her hands on Sam's shoulders supporting herself, her brown eyes half closed, her thighs quivering at Sam's ghost touch. The blonde kept the touch slow and gentle, just the way Janet liked it, the blonde's other hand stroking along Janet's ribs. Loving the finely toned body under her finger tips.

Sam kissed her wife, biting gently at Janet's lips, then kissed down her throat. Her hand shadowed over Janet's breasts again and then round to stroke down her spine. Sam pushed her fingers against her a little deeper now, still moving slowly, feeling how slick and warm Janet was becoming.

Janet groaned, moving her body a little faster against Sam's slow gentle touch. The physician smiled loving the fact Sam knew exactly what she needed, how Janet liked it. Janet's love for her wife warmed her body, her heart. Sam's touch became fire and Janet felt the quickening of her heart in her ears, she knew she was near soaring.

Sam felt how close Janet was, as she continue to stroke her wife, angling her hand so one of her fingers just penetrated Janet's center, just enough to stimulate the sensitive skin there. Sam kissed Janet again, the blonde's other hand stroking down Janet's lower back, cupping one of her beautiful ass cheeks, the brunette's fingers tightened their grip on Sam's shoulders and the blonde knew Janet was so close. Sam kept her touch slow, her fingers slick with her wife's juices.

Janet's whole body spasmed because of the touch on her back, on her ass, it's enough to send her over.

"SAAAAAMMMMYYYYYY!" her body shivering, quaking as she came. "Oh goddess, Sammy." Unable to support herself, Janet fell onto of her wife, her breath panting, her lips kissing Sam over and over and over uttering her love.

Sam smiled softly into Janet's neck. "I'll take everything you have to give... giving you such pleasure. Your love is my greatest joy, Jan."

"I love you. I love you. I love you."

"I love you too, Sweetness," Sam purred.

For her part, Janet knew that Sam was near the edge of climax herself, Sam almost always got off just from the touch and sounds of Janet's orgasms. The brunette reached down to Sam's center and smiled as she felt a pool of wetness as she knew she would. The physician moved against Sam's center, her finger, pushing deeper against her. Janet withdrew her digits bringing them up to her lips and grinned .

"Butterscotch," Janet kissed Sam so she could taste herself on her lips. Janet dipped her fingers again this time she spread Sam's honey over the blonde's full breasts before taking one of the nipples into her mouth suckling.

Sam gasped at the sensation of Janet's lips, and tongue against her nipples. The taste of herself on her lips made the warrior want her lover even more. She held the smaller body to her as Sam's hands moved across Janet's body, squeezing and caressing her breasts.

Janet slid one hand between Sam's thighs feeling the warmth of her center even before Janet reached the treasure within. "Mine! All mine. You are mine!" Janet growled, her fingers slick with Sam's juices slid easily within the heated core. Hunting for her clit finding it nearly hidden in its protective hood, Janet tweaked and rolled it between her fingers until she heard Sam gasp. She growled once more, "Mine. And so slick for me..."

Sam pushed herself against Janet's hand, delighting in her mock aggressiveness. She loved it when her wife turned all Amazon-Klingon wench on her. The touch of Janet's fingers to her clit sent electricity through her.

For Janet it was never true aggressiveness, never pain, never humiliation. Sam was turned on by the wilfulness of her otherwise seemingly docile wife. "I know it excites you when I growl, my more passionate assertive-self.," she bit at the nipple in her mouth, pumping her hand harder knowing Sam needed more pressure. "Yes my Lover, you are mine." Janet penetrated Sam's center with two fingers, coaxing a strangled gasp from the blonde.

Sam's body started bucking against Janet, almost riding her thigh that was wedged between them. Janet fingers stroked faster knowing Sam's needs, loving that she could give it to her. "Sammy you are making me wet again," Janet growled, wanting Sam to touch her again.

Sam lifted her own thigh so Janet could move her engorged clit against it, they would come together. The blonde's back arched up as she pressed herself against Janet harder. "I'm yours. Only yours," her voice took on a near harsh smoky tone.

"That's it baby that's it. Come for me," Janet commanded.

Sam felt the tidal wave as it washed over her, making the blonde want to curl up around Janet, around her touch, hold on to her wife and never let her go. Janet wanted Sam to reach the stars, wanted to see that smile on the eloquent face, to hear the sounds of her climax. Janet moved in tandem with Sam's bucking, her own wetness coating Sam's thigh. Licking Sam's other nipple, Janet slid her hand out hearing the blonde whimper, the tiny woman looked deeply into blue eyes before bringing her fingers to her mouth cleaning every last drop of Sam's juices before she teased her clit again pushing all the harder against Sam.

The sight of Janet licking her fingers, that sexy grin caused Sam's whole body to quiver with white lightening. "Goddess!" she groaned "Oh Janet!" the groan became a whimper.

Janet's fingers start to tease Sam again, moving her own hips against the blonde. "Jan! Jan! I can feel it........oh god!" The need building inside Sam, her muscles inside tightening around Janet's fingers before it breaks again almost explosively and Sam clutched at her wife, holding on to her tightly.

Encouragingly Janet smiled, "I've got you, I've got you." holding Sam as the blonde's body tells Janet it was flying. Flying. The tiny woman felt the thundering racing heart pound against her own chest. Janet held Sam tighter against her, kissing every available part of Sam she could find.

"I love you baby, I love you so much," Janet whispered, simply holding Sam close to her, enjoying this part of their lovemaking just as much as the orgasms.

"I love you too, my peach petal, my beautiful sexy wife."

"What we do in life echoes in Eternity. There was a dream of the coming of the Balance of the Nephalim. You could only whisper it, anything more than a whisper and it would vanish it was so fragile.....Ain't that a bitch?"

Novalis' silver eyes opened wide staring at the visage before her. "You're dead! I plucked your hearts out myself. The Nephalim called the Harrowing trapping you," the Queen's voice became shrill.

The shadows vomited out the mangled form of none other than Usiel, First of the Fallen. "Yeah. About that. I'm not 'actually' here." he made quote marks in the air with his fingers. "Not truly. But see Queeny you're losing what little grip you had on reality," he smirked. "After all you do go to your mother's portrait and talk to her as if she was real. Not exactly all there are you." he tapped her head. Hard.

"If you are imagined you can be disregarded," Novalis dismissed the phantasm.

"NOT so fast!" Usiel bellowed. "Novalis, old girl you had to go and imagine me. And, I wasn't all that easy to get rid of when I was real and oh so alive. You can't abort me from your noodle just like that," the phantom Usiel said, snapping his fingers. He tilted his head, his black wings fanning out in his confidence. "I'm going to be around for a dark of a long time. Well until you rid yourself of Dissonance. And you racked up quite a bit of Discord there, too. You stink of it ol'girl." he held his nose making a face as if he had inhaled the most rancid of smells. "I'm a product of it." His smile was a mirror of a death's head grin. "I'm going to be your constant rogue companion."

"Sod off!" Novalis growled.

The phantom Usiel only smiled. His head tilted like a crows. "Play with the Song of Uncreation and you screw yourself," the Malicious Fallen said seriously. "And ooohhhhh," his black wings pumped in excitement, "talk about your maleficent acts! Calling on the Uncreation, that's one for the songs," The creature smiled. "And I was the First of the Fallen! Oh what marvels this be, the Queen of the Malakim, a Malakite no less has Fallen! A Malakite... Fell!" Usiel dances around the queen his wings fanning in and out. "Tis no wonder your Empire is destroying itself. You went against your very nature. Now Nature is going against itself."

"You will be silent!" Novalis commanded, her anger rising. Oh how she had hated the mocking torments of Usiel in life. To be plagued with his mockeries in the punishing of the Scourge was unbearable.

When a Malakim gathered onto themselves far to much Dissonance it would devolve into Discord separating them from the Great Song and the use of the World Symphony. How it manifested was in the Scourge.

It takes a certain amount of hubris to juggle with the World Symphony; the more severe the juggling the larger the risk. The use of Songs can either help or hurt the Malakim. The Scourge is the kiss of Dark and the wraith of the Great Song. Songs themselves are neutral, but it is shaped by Malakim intentions. Those intentions - good or ill - dog the Singer and their Song. Hence the consequences of ill fortune bear the Malakim's own seal on them. That which you will 'do' will come back to you. The only uncertainties are timing and form.

Sometimes you get what you deserve; other times you get the opposite. Dame Fortune is a fickle mistress, and Malakim spend a lot of time in her bed. The purest Malakim (always assumed to be a Malakite) might feel the Scourge's sting across her back ripping at her wings, while an insufferable Fallen bears marks of favor. Some elements of Songs are uncontrollable; in the end, Dame Fortune always walks away laughing.

The Scourge always, always falls from the Great Song at unpredictable times; and in unpredictable forms. Resonance works in powerful, symbolic ways. This time Novalis' own Resonance came back to kick her in the ass. Because she had summoned the Song of the Uncreation, Novalis was now haunted by the murder of her mothers, the First of the Fallen, the Deceiver and Betrayer of the Great Song. And the most insufferable thing was that he was right about his presence and that he would not soon vanish.

"You will leave!" Novalis ordered just as the door opened to her official chambers. Briel had come with information concerning the Nephalim. She was a little more than shocked to hear the queen give such a command but she would not question it. Several sentries outside the door quickly turned their faces away, pretending not to have heard Novalis' outburst.

Saying nothing the Queen stormed past, her purple wings flared almost to their full span before settling. The guards' wings tightened against their bodies, they knew enough to leave their mistress alone if she did not speak to them first. Her anger of late became legendary, more than one pair of wings became scorched because of some impertinent remark to their queen.

Briel had no choice but to follow after Novalis' retreating form, the adjunct's news still had to be delivered. Her orange wings pressed tightly to her lean body, Golden eyes would not meet the silver of her mistress. If she did, Novalis very presence would sap whatever will Briel possessed.

"Majesty," she said, "our sentries near the Atlantis Base report Wraith disturbance. Seven Hive ships are closing into our space. Their Queen, Amaterasu, as our sentries report she has sent Sub-commander Ujimitsu to hunt the Nephalim. The Atlantians confirm this. Several years ago the Wraith attempted to strike against the Tara. They failed."

'Ohhhhhhh isn't that special? The mortals chased off the big bad Wraith. Soul sucking drop outs."

Usiel mocked as he kept in-step with Novalis.

Her silver eyes narrowed, Briel took it to mean her queen was displeased with the news she had delivered. If Novalis was displeased now, she'd be outraged soon enough.

"Senator Hashul of the GAA and Lamach assistant to Minister Nachmiel discovered facts relevant to the Terran situation - history, myths, legends and other such applicable information necessary for the Guild of Alien Affairs to prepare to hold negotiations. It was actually Lamach who harvested all cultural significant datum for study. Minister Nachmiel recommends there be no alliance between us and Terra."

'Not going to let them play in our air-space, ehe?' Usiel commented. He blew air on his knuckles as if to polish the nails. 'Don't blame the old crone, the mortals are a bit wiggy. Look what that half-mortal has done. Freezing her planet, blowing up the other half. Making such a ruckus in the World Symphony......Dark be mine, that girl summoned up the Harrowing!'

"Doesn't recommend it?" Novalis's silver eyes become glowering in ice.

With all the climatic upheavals in the World Symphony, the incitation of the Nephalim and Consort into her House, the Conclave of Archangels nearly going rogue it was little wonder that Novalis had yet to see the paperwork issued from the GAA.

"The Nephalim's former government are bringing charges of treason due to defection, against the Nephalim, and the Liege Healer as well as Lieutenant Fraiser. Apparently a male named a Junior Kinsey has pointed out that the Nephalim are traitors to the mortal government because here they are given positions of high political power," Briel murmured. "Namcheal believes that this treatment of the Nephalim is unwarranted. The GAA has looked in to Terra's history, following SOP of the Guild of Alien Affairs. Apparently the mortals habitual ignore, change or break treaties they make with other nations. The Trust broke their government's treat with the Fifth Column Jaffa, there is no reason to believe they will actually keep any treat they make with the Empire."

'A faction called the Trust and they break their word. Gotta love the irony, don't you?' Usiel couldn't resist the jibe.

"The mortals also refuse to acknowledge the link between the Nephalim and you," Briel continued. "Now that the Carter-Fraiser's are now of the House Throne, it is likely they will disapprove."

'Ya think?' Usiel snapped at the Adjunct. 'You actually appointed this hack to be your attaché? Come on..... she's obvious.....so obtrusive.'

Novalis' wings flared out, she didn't even try to hide her agitation. Again, Briel assumed it was due to the news she had passed on. Her own ginger hued wings fluffed, her emotions very apparent. The queen was making her jittery and reactive.


"Adhere to the guidelines set forth by the GAA," Novalis answered after a beat. "We will not treat with Terra."

'Well just that's cheating! What they don't like what that ...that THING that calls itself a Nephalim did, so you're just not going to play with them? What get out of our sandbox? What a copout!' The phantom of Usiel seemed to pout which actually placed a smile on the Queen's face. 'Smug bitch,' Usiel accused. 'By the Dark, I hate you.'

"Feelings mutual," Novalis said.

"Excuse me?" Briel frowned, as she could only hear one side of the conversation.

"Refuse to acknowledge the Terran claim on the Nephalim and her family. Send a transmission to the President any actions taken against the Nephalim of the Malakim Empire, will be an act of war."

'Ohhh,' Usiel shivered theatrically. 'Love a lady out for blood. Probably why I was willing to bang Osiris. Can you imagine! A Malakim....er ok ok a 'Remnant',' again with the quote mark gesture, 'since I was the First Fallen,' this time he rolled his black eyes, 'and a Diabolical hybrid?'

Novalis turned her head so fast that Briel thought she might have broken her neck. "What?"

"I didn't say anything," The Adjunct rebutted.

'I did. I fucked the diabolical. She wanted a little spawn, but the ol'Snaky-poo was barren. Good thing too, pale skinned snake blooded winged chimaera would make me shudder." To prove himself the phantom figures shuddered, his black wings fluffing out as a bird would shed water from its wings.

"You seem to have counter thoughts on my decision," Novalis defended her outburst. She refused to jump this time to Usiel's jibes.

"It seems a bit extreme my Queen, to wage war on the Nephalim's own people for one small male's accusations and his connection to an outlawed band of mortal remnants. Their potentate will not comply with the treason charges, and our refusal to treat with them based on their past seems to be adequate," Briel said. "And with all due respect, if you thought you 'heard' something being said, perhaps your spirit is trying to tell you something."

'Ohhhhhh she got it in one,' Usiel chuckled. 'Something is trying to tell you something,' the Fallen was now laughing hard. 'Yeah go for the big bang!' he made his hands temple before flinging his fingers out was if to display a bomb going off. 'BOOM!'

"You have your orders, Adjunct," Novalis commanded. She didn't know if her ruffled feathers were from Briel questioning her or Usiel's taunts.

"I heed and obey," Briel's voice became as chilled as the air about them. Her hand went over her chest and she bowed, her ginger wings only slightly pressed against her body as she moved down the long corridors of the palace.

'Not much fight in her, is there? Can't believe you appointed her. How undemanding you must be Novalis, in your requirements for administrators. It is no wonder you lost the majority of your power to the Nephalim,' said Usiel's ghost. 'Pathetic.'

"Go molt, you half-wit." Novalis snapped. How long suffering would she be under this Scourge?. Fading would be a comfort compared to this! If anything spurred the Queen into action it wasn't the ultimatum delivered to her by the Malakite Archangel but this thing now haunting her. The worst part of it was, it was all generated by her own Dissonance. Usiel was gone, but his vague remembrance had taken the form of her Scourge.

Kurak became indifferent to the trio of visitors that came seeking her in her bastion. As the majority of all Malakim the Archangel's home had a large outdoor balcony courtyard, perfect for take off and landings. Most if not all Malakim homes regardless of status were elevated eyries. After all it was a simple matter when you could Sing your home into creation. Limited only to one's imagination and of course the organic material on hand.

"Why have you all come here?" Kurak asked, her voice held a saw-toothed edge. She continued to watch the snow-fall in the past month snow had been falling in sheets. Now it was only light flurries. Her arms folded upon the lip of the banister, her wings flared outward as if to take flight. The simple truth she loved to feel the cool wind flutter through her wings.

The three archangels; Ofanim, Eloim and Mercurian moved as one for the Malakite.

"The Empire is a cacophony of the ultimatums you have delivered," said Sizajabep. The Ofanim Archangel was a bit concerned over the last day's events. She had sworn loyalty to the Nephalim, and trusted the Malakite Archangel, now she began to doubt the trust she had given to the Virtue.

"You surprise me, Kurak," further commented Tai the Eloim Archangel. "Previously you were against striking down the Nephalim, now you give her an ultimatum? You seem very contrary."

"Why the three days? If they can truly heal this rift, three days can not be enough." al'Hmatti Archangel of the Mercurian Choir pointed out. She straightened the folds of her feathers as she spoke. Her voice still held a suitable edge of respect.

"There are enough for my purposes," Kurak said firmly. "I act only in accordance of my Resonance. I do not conspire. I do not compromise. What I do, I do openly. It is my Resonance to do so, just as it is the Resonance of the Nephalim of the Ancients to heal, as it is so with the Nephalim of the Empire to protect and do what is called upon her to do in the name of duty," Kurak said. " They need only resolve the cataclysm and its cause, they need not in the three days fully restore the apocalypse. It takes time to heal, do not mistaken the ultimatum for anything more than what it is, a spur to make them find a resolution. I believe in the Nephalim and her Song. I will not enjoy having to deliver her to the Fading. Hymns to the Great Song may it not come to that."

Sizajabep's faith had been restored in the Malakite Archangel. Kurak was doing only what she had to do in accordance to the Resonance of her Song. There was no malice, no conspiracy. Indeed the woman's eyes took on a look of forlorn for her duty. A duty she would carry out non-the-less, as she said Kurak will not compromise.

"The Queen and the Nephalim did not set out to be architects of Chaos. They seek to exonerate themselves of the Discord. If they do, they will be acquitted. Free of scandal and disgrace. Vindicated in the eyes of this Archangel." Having said that Kurak insured that if there were voices in the Conclave sought to Exile the Nephalim or the Queen they would be stilled.

It would mean civil war amongst the Conclave itself if there were those that chose to ignore the acquittal. Few actively engaged the ire of a Malakite. Not even Khurdul of the Seraphim would try such a maneuver. Few could say they could play a Malakite and win. Khurdul was not one of them. Kurak's pre-emptive maneuver with ultimatum of Fading had taken the wind out of Khurdul's wingtips. Without thermals the archangel would have to work hard to keep her lift, politically speaking.

"The wind is full of rumors Kurak, it is whispered that the birth of the Ancient Nephalim and the uncreation of pure evil has wrought discordant harmony with the Great Song that even now the Queen can not hear Its notes, and the Nephalim is going deaf as well," al'Hmatti commented.

"Listen to the rumors if you will Mercurian, I shall keep my ears turned to only the cords of truth," Kurak said her voice remaining level and dangerously low. "One can not hear the notes of the Great Song if all they hear is Discord. That is simply the truth.

"There was an old saying. To unite people behind you, the quickest way, is to loose a pumaica, a rabid pumaica into the winding streets. And when panic grips the people, once it turned their bowels to water, calmly tell them you will deal with it. Then you send it to oblivion and order them to hang the carcass up where everyone can see. Before they have time to think, you give another order and it will be obeyed. And if you continue to give orders, they will be continued to be obeyed, for you will be the one who saved them, and who better to lead?" Tai spoke. "The Nephalim and the Queen have done this. They have sent Usiel into Oblivion and uncreated the abomination that was Anubis; Lord of the Underworld. Orders are given, orders are obeyed."

"Are you saying they meant for all this to happen their oblivion and this cataclysm? And they mean to take it all by finding a resolution." al'Hmatti asked astounded by Kurak's words.

"I say only the Queen and the Nephalim have the masses behind them, supporting them and fearful for and of them. After the obliteration of two such great evils; Usiel and Anubis the Empire spirals into chaos. This is why Discord is abound. The people are confused and lost in the high mists and can not fly." Kurak simplified. "Chaos feeds on chaos unto the far ends of forever."

The more Novalis thought about her Exiled daughter the more the idea Arian was the rogue ate at the queen. She couldn't shake the idea that Arian was deeply involved in something she could never come back from.

'Oh that's because your daughter is all conjoined with a Diabolical,' Usiel taunted. 'And if calling in the uncreation was bad enough you had to go spawn a traitor to the Malakim race, not even the Fallen had done that!"

"Says the male who fornicated with Osiris," Novalis shot back

'Oh not me. Usiel's dead remember? You plucked out my hearts that's not something you get over,' The phantom chided. 'Darkness, don't we have a short short-term memory problem. Must be all that residual flow of the Song of Uncreation that ate your little gray cells. I'm just your average scourge.' A full shark's grin plastered itself onto the creature's pale visage as he spread his arms and wings out in a low theatrical bow.

Novalis chose to ignore him. "How do I balance that cavity Anubis left behind? Queen, Amaterasu? The Wraith sub-commander Ujimitsu, Arian?"

'You know what bites being a scourge? Not being able to eat,' Usiel said from over the queen's shoulder. He was picking grapes off a sprig throwing them into the air to catch them with his mouth only to have the grape fall onto the floor and roll under the table. 'Food for the dust bunnies,' he smiled charmingly before dropping the rest onto the floor. He went to walk on them as it to smash them into the carpet only to have his foot phase right through the bit of fruit.

The more powerful the scourge the more they could pantomime the world around them. If Novalis were to look at the table top and the bowl of fruit she would see that the grapes were still intact and untouched. The scourge simply made her see what it had wanted. Of course it had been Novalis' own mind that had generated the entire scene.

'So why don't you go play mommy-dearest to Arian and make her the worst bad guy?' Usiel frowned in hearing his own words. 'I mean make her the best bad-guy....girl.. Bad- girl.'

"You mean declare my daughter Fallen," said Novalis not quite making her comment a question. "No. Arian might be Exiled, conjoined with a Tok'ra but she is not Fallen," Novalis defended her only child.

However the seed of contemplation had been planted. The Queen's thought ran, if the Tok'ra within her daughter knew of a Diabolical that was a contemporary to Anubis ...this Ba'al perhaps then the Queen was well on her way in restoring the paradox that had been left in the wake of the battle. Even if Novalis didn't find a Diabolical replacement, Arian's rogue behavior would have to be dealt with. It behooved the Queen herself to deliver the news of Arian's permanent Exile from the Empire.

The bastion had been restored. Frozen walls, floors and furniture uncannily bore little evidence of what had happened. Thanks were of course due to the Elementalist Razeal who had wanted no remembrance of the Nephalim's guilt. He was so wrapped up in exonerating his beloved Liege that he pulled upon all reserves to restore the Carter-Fraiser lands. So much so that he had exhausted himself to where he was now laying in the infirmary recuperating with enforced bed-rest.

He had managed to hide the extent of his exhaustion from the Liege healer long enough to collapse outside their gates. He made his Wing promise not to say anything to either the Nephalim or her consort, if they only had three days they would have it in bliss.

Boudicca agreed and thus she and the rest of the Blue Wing save Cassandra dealt with any and all happenings at the Gregorian SGC. Which meant of course to the large extent they were handling the Queen Amaterasu and her sub-commander Ujimitsu, and the Wraith armada. Boudicca had said since she was the 2IC of the Wing she would take the brunt of the dishonor for not telling her commander what it was they were doing. The others, disagreed. They were in it together. A Wing flew together, battled together, died together and shared honor, glory or dishonor together.

And so it was that Sam and Janet sat upon their balcony able to take the morning, blissfully unaware of the actions of the Blue Wing. It fell to Cassandra to try and keep them occupied and distracted for at least a day.

It worked.

"Sam, I was thinking, you should carry our new daughter," said Janet. They were on the balcony enjoying the warming winds that had chased away the frigid cold that had taken their home. She handed her lover a cup of hot tea.

"Me!" Sam looked up to meet the dark eyes of her lover, astounded that Janet would even suggest such a thing. "Janet...." the blonde sighed and started again. "I want to. I want to be the one to carry her, but right now that isn't possible, you heard what Kurak said."

"What I heard was an ultimatum that if we don't find a resolution in three days you would be sent to the fading. Well we found the cause, the resolution is in that cause. Sam, Kurak will be forced to extend her timeline if she finds out you're pregnant. Malakim medicine concerning pregnancy is far more accurate with results than even our own invitro. We go into the hospital and see a specialist and you'll be pregnant by the end if the day if not tomorrow. The success is almost always guaranteed."

Sam knew that human medicine could not promise such success. It was never a guarantee. But with a race that was sustained on invitro conception because of the majority of same-sex couplings, the Malakim had perfected the method. Add to the fact there were healers with Songs of New Life, and Fertility and the guarantee was always there.

"Sam, you want this as much as I do. I want to see your belly swell with our child. I want you to know what I knew. The good and, " Janet smirked, 'the aches. Of course you do know of those considering you took most of my symptoms when I was carrying Rebecca but you didn't feel what it was like to feel her growing inside you. That's something not even our bond can relate."

Sam set the cup of tea down on the table and leaned over the balcony. "I can't help but think that this could be seen as political maneuvering. At the delivery of my sentence of Fading do I come forward pregnant."

"Then I take your place. I will anyway, Sam."

The blonde whipped around her blue eyes pinning Janet in place. "You. Will. Not." each word was punctuated in feeling, in the Song of Dominance.

For a moment, Janet wavered on the brink of giving into her wife. Sam had always been able to command a room with her presence. Every eye fixated on her, her subtle words dominating the weaker willed and even those who had command over her would yield if Sam was persistent enough. Now that she was giving training to utilize her Songs, could Dominate even the most stubborn of minds.

"Maybe I don't have to," Janet said trying to regain control over her will. "We have already started on healing the Empire, we only have to have the time to finish the healing. As many times you've been in my infirmary you know it takes time to heal. And besides if the Nephalim has a child what a better way to spread hope?"

"The Nephalim...." Sam's face soured. "That is all they will see. The child born of the Nephalim."

"So what Samantha? To us she will be the second child born we wanted. We gave birth to Cassandra in our hearts and she is our daughter. Rebecca was born under mine, doesn't our third child deserve to be born under yours?"

Part 12

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