Nephalim's Gate
By Elizabeth Carter

Chapter Fourteen


The palpable air of urgency of self-preservation seemed to waft from the chambers Anise had chosen for herself. Some compelling sense of action, it made so little sense to the Council leader or her companion Arian. Even before the Tok'ra leader took a step forward into the chambers she suddenly froze.

'There is something in there.' It was Yosef the host speaking to her symbiote.

*Something?* Garshaw scoffed. *Anise is not a 'thing' despite her moral ambiguity.*

In spite of the bottomless emptiness Garshaw felt—had been feeling since she neared the chambers—she suddenly experienced a ripple of fear. Her senses on hyperalert, she turned into the chambers.

Slowly, they crossed the threshold staring at the evidence of what could not be. Arian was a little less shocked since she had previous knowledge of Anise's experiment, but she had not known to what extent the scientist had gone to.

Yosef shuddered, 'Just walk away, we'll not like what we see.' Yosef told Garshaw, 'Just move.' She closed her eyes, a shudder traveling over her body, and she knew she could not leave. She had to see.

She had too. They both did. She moved further into the crystalline chambers, stood there for a moment, her mind trying to come with grips with what she was seeing, what it could mean. Suddenly she was flooded with feelings, drowning in them.

Pain. Horror. Disgust. Remorse. Heartrending sorrow.

Arian hung back at the threshold, confused, but clearly unwilling to go further without Garshaw. Garshaw found herself staring at a room full of larger versions of Primta incubators. No. not incubators, not anymore. Preservation units. High-tech storage canopic jars.

The first unit held an organism the side of a fully developed Tau'ri fetus. It was totally deformed, barely recognizable as it floated in its preservative liquid. The next unit, was the size of a small child. It too was grossly deformed, half Tok'ra, half Tau'ri. Samantha Carter's face on that terrible, elongated head. Dorsal fins erupted from her back. Arian twitched her shoulders, had she wings they would have unfurled in agitation. She could feel the scars along her back where once they were.

The thing in the third tank had a spined tail and no face. She was about two years old.

The fourth was about four years old, had a symbiote's exoskeleton, and the rigid, quadruple mandibled mouth, emerging from a half human face that couldn't support it. It was hunchbacked because the Malakim wings had not formed correctly instead of feathers it had membrane, giving it a near bat like appearance.

The subjects in the fifth sixth and seventh chambers had nearly reached adulthood. There were twin dorsal fins, but they were clearly vestigial, as were the wings again malformed. The head was completely Tok'ra, a queen's head complete with the four ruby eyes, grotesquely grafted onto a twisted version of a female humanoid body.

Tears fell freely from Garshaw's eyes. How many hundreds, how may thousands of cells were started that never got beyond the eight-cell stage, the sixteen-cell stage? It seemed Anise only preserved her failures if they reached a certain stage of advanced development. The councilor couldn't help but think of Anise researching, working on the raw components; the cells harvested from unsuspecting donors, slaving over them, week after week, month after month. Was she now fodder for her own machinations? It didn't make either Garshaw or Arian feel any better.

They came to the eighth and ninth cells. The faces again set on a bizarre, elongated heads with extended pointed ears, the bodies nearly adult, looking so much like Samantha Carter. This time the dorsal fins were to be found but the wings...the wings were near complete with feathers this time, rather than membrane despite the fact they were moulting. The hands the same as Samantha's hands but with strange long metallic nails. Each specimen had lifeless eyes, black eyes, a dolls eyes, looking right into a soul and through it.

The tenth, eleventh and twelfth chambers held near-perfect specimens that each had Samantha Carter's features with pointed ears, almond shaped eyes. A thick mane of gold, her purple wings were feathered, along her spine the dorsal fins of a symbiote.

"Abominations! Abominations all!" Garshaw seethed, the eyes of Yosef flared white in her just anger. "Where is she? Where is Anise?"

"I doubt she is here," Arian answered, she looked at the creatures so malformed, so tortured. "Her experiments were not sanctioned, she must have taken her viable subject and fled."

"Viable subject?" Garshaw turned on the other standing close to her. "Viable subject? Look at these 'unviable subjects!' They carry Malakim genes. How did Anise acquire the Code of Life, unless you gave it to her."

"Not necessarily, I had my wings amputated, there would be blood in the flight feathers. As for the Tok'ra she must have used her own, and its painfully obvious whose DNA she used for the Tau'ri. But I would have no idea when she acquired it. When I asked her who her raw materials donor was for the mortal she would not say."

Garshaw turned, "You knew about this.....You knew?"

"I knew to a point. She told me 'We are fighting a war for our very existence, we do not apologize or shrink from the means '. Evidently she found away to mesh the components together."

Their eyes took in the failed experiments that had proven to be horrific mutations.

"I would think that gaining the perfect balance a dilemma. She continuously spoke to me about Harmony, and about what I knew of Samantha....the Nephalim. The Tau'ri General is literally and physically a bridge between the two species. She carries the protein marker of a symbiote, and the naquada and of course the gestalt with the queen of the Malakim changed her DNA as well. She must have found a way for the gene manipulation to work."

Garshaw still couldn't fathom the fact that Arian knew of the experiments, and had not told anyone. "What does Selmac know of this?" Garshaw demanded.

Arian tipped her purple head, when she rose it again she was Xad. "Nothing, I assure you. Jacob would have waged war against Anise long before she was able to flee with her success. If it was a success. "

"And yet you had knowledge and didn't bring it to the Council's attention."

"Shift not the blame to me, Garshaw. Anise IS on the Council. You know I find it ironic that you and the Council have given great trust to the scientist and yet you question the motives of Selmac because of her host's link to Samantha Carter, or is it just the Tau'ri? Selmac has never betrayed the Tok'ra. She is the oldest and wisest amongst us. And yet Anise has always made questionable ventures and decisions. This latest travesty is only one in a long line of questionable actions. She used the Tau'ri with the Atoniek armbands, and I find it highly suspect she has never been tested as a Za'tarc. But then she claims she has never been put in a position to be conditioned."

Garshaw said nothing. How could she? Xad was correct, Selmac's loyalties had been constantly questioned since she took Jacob as a host. She was even left out of vital conferences with the Council and yet Anise had not been and she had proven to be untrustworthy for sometime and yet she remained in place and in power.

Xad moved around the chamber , her silver eyes taking in the details of notes Freya had left behind in her leather bound notebook. Why she had left it Arian could not guess. It was evidence of her deception and depravity, but then what did it matter when she left behind twelve failed creations?

"According to her notes Anise took out the cells she had cultured from the unknowing donors, in this case it was myself and Samantha Carter. Anise had bone marrow from both Samantha Carter and me....I'm guessing she had my marrow from my wings, as well as from a symbiote...her own. Anise claims that the brain fluid from Samantha could be the catalyst to form all three together. She used cross ovum gene splicing first the Tok'ra with Tau'ri' using the knowledge she gleaned from the copious notes on the creation of the Kull Warriors, she had smuggled out."

"She would have had to pay a heavy price for the technology. Knowing Anise she would have thought it well worth it, even if a Tok'ra agent had died." Garshaw was sickened by the thought a Tok'ra had died for the abominations.

Xad read the notes, aloud. "Her private journal says that 'That even Egeria mother of all Tok'ra would approve of my desperate measures to insure the survival of a dying race. But gaining the perfect balance remains my dilemma, the failed experiments have proven to be horrific mutations. Samantha Carter is the bridge between the races, her Code of Life holds the key.'." Xad tipped her head shifting between host and symbiote. Her voice had a distant faint sound as if she were speaking in the mists and fogs of a long forgotten dream. "Even nearly deaf as I am to the Great Song, even I can tell the World Symphony has changed. I can feel it in the water. I can feel it in the earth. I can smell it in the air. Much that once was, is now lost. The Shattering is at the brink – breaking upon the shores of the aeries as typhoons of calamity. The Scion of Balance has fallen into Discord."

"You still talk like a Malakim...discord, dissidence...the world symphony..."

"The World Symphony exists." It was now Xad speaking, "as does the Discord and Dissidence that derive from it. And even I Garshaw can feel the ripples. The Tok'ra might be deaf to it, but I am not. It is a powerful feeling. It is the motive for why Anise did what she did. She wants to feel that power for herself. She wants to tap into the World Symphony through a host...one that can control the weather, the elements...the ecology of a planet. Think of what one can do if you can control the very earth. You can completely devastate any Goa'uld planet-side outpost. In space you can control the metals of a ship and debauch it to the point the ship is unflyable by mere thought alone. And that is only the power of Ecomancers and Elementalists. There are several more. Presence and Domination these are the powers of the Nephalim and Queen Novalis. There are countless others, telekinesis, telepathy, pyrokinetics, Protean where one is able to change the form of one's self into another."

"This is what Nirrti wants." Garshaw's voice took on the tones of disgust.

"Indeed and now it is in the hands of Anise." Arian said. "But the World Symphony is in flux, something is very wrong with her creation. Something that caused Anise to flee."

"Flee, yes but where?" Garshaw asked almost rhetorically.

"Someplace where she believes she might be able to either help her creature or get help for it. Or even a place she might feel it's safe, knowing the council would order its termination." Arian said.

"This is a task I set to you Xad, you and Selmac. Bring Anise back for a hearing with the Council, as for the creature better it be terminated then come into the fullness of its power." Garshaw ordered.

"Arian!" it was the voice of Jacob Carter coming from the halls.

A look between both women shared one thought: he could not see this chamber.

Katsau-Kogoro had been destroyed by the volcano Koytotakata, tornadoes had raped the lands. The village of Kanchairyu, the Incarna Valley which gave its name to the Academy had been torn asunder by the angry winds. The Elementalists had regained a foothold on their Songs, the Ecomancers pushing back the blights that sought to consume the world. Since the conception of the child of the Nephalim, a new hope was growing. That hope manifested itself into the Songs of countless Wings.

Yet it was not the unborn alone that had given the Wings new hope. It was in fact the most unlikely of heroes. The Liege Healer: Nephalim of the Ancients had accepted her Song. A healer who had the power to turn back the power of the Malakim Nephalim. Only Janet Fraiser's voice was able to recall Samantha to herself. Only the Ancient Nephalim was able to still Carter and make her turn away from summoning the Harrowing, and causing the Sundering.

Janet had once been told via her vision: 'Seek ye well your path, Liege Healer. Guard ye well the edges of Life for lo there shall be those to seek to purloin it from those you cherish most. One will fall to death and you must allow it so; for even your compassion will decimate the greater whole. One will fall and can not pass into death, for their demise will decimate the greater whole.'

Even onto the cries of the lost, Janet had turned away death. This wasn't completely uncommon for a healer. What was most astonishing was that Janet had reversed death not by pedestrian means of equipment and drugs, but by the sheer force of her Song. Janet had no idea other than tapping into the essence of the storms how she had resurrected the dead with her will alone.

It began with the Great Song, which only the Queen and now the Nephalim could touch. In World Symphony it was the Nephalim who could disperse the essence of the song. And into this the Nephalim had not known they had passed on their verity of morality. Though Novalis could no longer touch the Great Song, all was not undone. Now through Samantha and to a degree near equal to her own, Janet took up the Song and gave it to the Malakim.

The World Symphony has a will of its own, this is why it forsook Novalis and gave its touch to the Nephalim. It betrayed Novalis to her deafness. And she was lost. The Scourge took her unheard of by all others. The Nephalim had now been given the task to keep back the shadows of the Dark.

For the time will soon come when a healer will shape the fortunes of all.

Janet still could not fully fathom what it was she had done. How she could have resurrected the dead without the means of her technology. Yes with the use of stimulants, defibulators and the like she had been able to pull death from her patients and give them life, but never with only her will; her desire.

It was long since the Empire had any hope. The faith in the Great Song was failing, it was seen in the air, the water, in the earth. Until the song was taken in and embraced. The plague of celestial avarice had been vanquished. Lament was no longer in the wings, but hymns of hope and future dreams. How quickly, how pandemic the cure was spread. As a physician Janet knew that spirits need healing as well as the body, she need not fully have to understand the aliment to heal it. This was how she was able to start the healing for Ecomancers and Elementalists who in turn healed the planets.

Not understanding was something Janet didn't do well. Understanding the dynamics of the World Symphony in medical context eased the skepticism within her. And of course she always reminded herself that Cassie for a short time had the power of telekinesis, as did the denizens of Alebran; each with their own 'Songs' within the World Symphony.

Janet was no longer a skeptic on such matters.

Rebecca tailed by her blonde mother came into the den of their home, the girl almost skipping. She was beyond thrilled that her moms no longer felt cold, the home no longer felt froze. Of course two weeks ago a frozen home was the literal truth. The cold between Sam and Janet had manifested into a true occurrence. The temperatures had plummeted so quickly that everything was in quick freeze. Only the Malakim's Song of Pyrokinetics had saved the mortals' life from dying.

It was awake up call for all of them; Nephalim, mortal and Grigori alike.

"Mommy." Rebecca pranced in, making a space for herself on her mother's lap and nestled into the embrace. It was something Janet felt she would never grow tired of. She kissed her daughter's brow. And hugged her tightly. "What'cha doing?"

"Studying actually. See now that Mommy is the CMO of the Grigori SGC I have to be able to help others heal. See the Malakim Empire hosts no fewer than seventy-three separate environment zones and thus our OR's have to be different. And treatment protocols are different too, because there others in the Empire that are different than the Malakim or to humans. People who are identical to the Nox and Asgard and the Harmonics who sing to their plants and there are many others. Then there are also silicon and halogenic based life forms in the Empire, so I have to learn how to heal them."

Rebecca looked at the large textbook her mother was reading then back to the dark eyes looking fondly down at her. "You have to learn all of that?" the girl pointed to the books.


"Oh." Rebecca commented. "What life are we?"

"What life are we?" Janet was unsure what her daughter was asking. She looked to her wife for clarification, but Sam was at a loss.

"You know you said....you heal silicon life and that hydro-guys...what life are we?"

"Oh!" Janet exclaimed, "I get it now. Well most of us, including the Malakim, the Nox, Asgard even the Tok'ra are carbon based life forms even the trees, rocks the stars and almost everything else in the universe."

"So my new sister will be carbon based life." Rebecca reasoned.

Sam met Janet's eyes, both looking to their youngest. "How did you know Mama is pregnant?"

"The air sings it," Rebecca rolled her eyes in a 'you should have known that' expression.

"The World Symphony,'" This time Sam did interpret her child's words. Rebecca nodded.

"Yeah, World Sim-phoney. I hear its music sometimes it's sweet like you Mama, when you sing to me. Sometimes it's noisy like Sassy's metal-rock stuff you know her Metallica. Sometimes it's soft like the flute music that Jahil plays for me. I like when it's sweet and soft the best. And around Mama it has a soft whispery music like a lullaby, now. The World Sim-phoney says Mama is going to have a baby."

Both mothers were astonished at Rebecca's revelation. Sam placed a protective hand over her belly as she knelt beside her wife and child. "And what do you think of it? Of becoming a big sister?"

"I think a baby sister is better than my own pumaica." Rebecca said earnestly. "I like it. I get to be the big sister this time." She smiled brightly. Looking at her Mama she gave her best mimicry of Janet, knowing it melted her Mama's heart. "And I was thinking well...since Sassy is an older sister and has her own pumaica - now I'll be an older sister...I think I should have my own pumaica." Her blue-brown eyes twinkled just right, giving her appearance more of a resemblance to her mommy.

"Samantha..."Janet warned as she saw the tell-tale signs of Sam falling for her daughter's ploys. "Don't you give in."

Rebecca turned to Janet knowing if she didn't have both mothers' approval she may never get her own pumaica. She dipped her head at just the right angle so her bangs fell over her eyes, her shoulders gave the slightest of shrugs she was a perfect impersonation of Sam when she herself wanted something that might be considered risky. It was a look that melted Janet's heart and Rebecca knew it.

"Now who's giving in?" Sam teased her beloved.

"I think I need to learn responsibility so I can help take care of my baby sister. Sassy had Boomer-Jack, before I came along. It's only fair. 'Sides Sassy has one. I think I should too."

"If ...and, I stress 'if' we can find one that is a cub so you can bond with it, then perhaps we can get one." Janet said giving in after all. "But I'm not going to allow you to fly. You can only do that with Mama, Me and Sassy and of course Jahil. No one else. Got it? Never ever by yourself or you can just forget the whole idea of a pumaica for yourself."

Sam looked up under her bangs, a smile of delight on her face in full Cheshire mode. Janet rolled her eyes, how was she expected to even try to resist the Carter-pout from both her girls?

"Woohooo!" Rebecca clapped her small hands, bouncing up and down on her mother's lap.

"Oh and by the way Little Miss. If that thing makes a mess in the house you clean it up. And you have to water and feed it, and make sure it gets its exercise and you have to groom it too, and make sure it doesn't gnaw on anything other than its chew toys and it can't scratch up the couches, only its scratching post. And you have to teach it manners and you can never ever feed it scraps from the table when we eat. Got it?" Janet said in her command voice, that got airmen to generals jumpy.

Rebecca eagerly nodded her head and saluted. "Got it Mommy!" The solute turned into a full blown mini-bearhug. "Thanks Mama." the bear hug Sam received was just as potent until the girl recalled her mother was pregnant. "Oh sorry Baby." she patted her mother's still flat tummy. "I didn't mean to squish you." her eyes turned to her Mommy." I didn't hurt our new baby?"

Janet grinned. "No you didn't."

"Besides, I love your big hugs and if I love them so does your sister, even if she's just a few cells now." Sam said, taking Rebecca into her arms and holding her tightly, loving the baby-shampoo in the girl's golden-brown curls.

"Jacob, no!" Arian moved her seven foot frame in front of her mate to block him from entering Anise's chambers. "You don't want to see what's in there. You don't need to see it."

Patience was something Jacob Carter didn't do. "The Council wants us to hunt down and bring back Anise and her.....experiments because they fear she's gone rogue and I want to know what kind of experiments that has the entire council upset. And if you're trying to stop me from seeing then I have to believe you're somehow involved."

"I am involved but not by my own choosing. Anise took from me—from the marrow of the bones in my wings my DNA."

"It's not that simple is it." Jacob frowned. "There's more isn't there?" He pinned Arian down with an expression of ice. "If it was just you, you wouldn't try to stop me from entering." Once more the man attempted to push past the more muscularly fit obstruction in his way.

For her part Arian's instincts were to unfurl her wings as a deterrent, her back muscles spasmed twitching for the appendages that were not there. She winced at the cramps the action caused but she would not yield. The action did not go unnoticed by Jacob.

"Tell me Arian, did you give your wings up because there were nearly useless for flying or did Anise somehow connive you into surrendering them?" The question was meant rhetorically.

"I could not bear the inability to taste the wind, Jacob you know that. The wings were a constant reminder of it. Losing my wings is penance. As I said, Anise gathered raw materials and crafted a chimera."

"Raw materials? Whose raw materials. Who else, Arian! Who else?"

The woman would not answer. Shame filled her eyes, her face dropped.

"You won't let us go in there, I can only assume it is something that Jacob could not accept." the voice in the old general's body was that of Selmac. "Raw materials somehow harvested from Samantha."

Arian tipped her purple head, when she lifted it again Xad was in control. "Yes. Tissue, cranial fluid, bone marrow and blood harvested from when Samantha was imprisoned by the Keepers of the Lambent Reproach. Morpheus had ordered extensive tests, tests which Anise whilst undercover was able to recover."

"You know this how!" Jacob roared, his jaw set his brown eyes now flames of his ire.

"I was there." Arian said simply. "Anise recovered everything from the Asylum where Samantha was held. I never thought she would do what she had done with the samples, Perhaps I was naive enough to believe she would have them destroyed or at the very least returned to Samantha."

Jacob glowered.

"You do not need to see the failures in there, Jacob. You don't want to look at the beautiful face that is your daughter on something of nightmare. You don't want to see nightmare everything you look at your daughter. Please. Jacob. Don't go in there, do it not for me...but for yourself and for your child." Xad pleaded, he had come forth for the guilt and pain was too much for the Malakim.

'Xad has a point, Jacob. I see now Samantha as my own daughter, this is as much of an abomination as what happened to Egeria and I am almost grateful I did not have to see her in her last hours."

I t was a very reluctant Jacob Carter that relented at last, and not to Arian but to Selmac. His symbiote was correct he need not see the face of his beautiful daughter on a monster.

The Guild House of Alien Affairs was opulent to say the least. Jade and red coral worked into interwoven lattice work reminiscent of Celtic knotwork gave this hall its tone. The Architectural guild had outdone themselves when they sang the stone to their will. Built on a circular plan incorporating a multisected vaulted dome-like main structure and a square reception chamber. The floor like many Malakim buildings was tiled in polished flagstones of marble and lapis lazuli. The massive construction of the main hall reached some fifty feet in height and was supported by two rings of pillars one of six the other twelve. At each cardinal direction was a massive door leading out to balconies that doubled as landing platforms for the guild members.

The reception chamber was much lower ad less massively built. Windows punctuate both walls and a statue representing each of the seven choirs occupied each corner. In the reception hall visiting dignitaries would be assigned an honor guard from the Guilds own corps of Wings, as well as housing for the duration of their stay. Several state-room dormitories had been constructed below the hall for such a purpose. The hall could seat up to nine hundred guests. Generally though, there were fewer people so there was ample room for entertainers and dancing. Much of the furniture was temporary and stored in the building across the way. Some of the permanent items were massive and used only by certain exalted visitors, such as members of alien potentate.

Surrounding the exterior of the hall is a lawn and carefully tended and trimmed bed of leafy shrubs mostly azaleas and junipers. There were also larger tress of a species rare on Hy-Basil, a variety which has pale, round leaves that turn silver in autumn and drop off in drifts like snow in winter. The Malakim had named it 'snow flower' because of the snow like appearance to the leaves and its sweet smell which was not uncommon to roses.

Perhaps just as awe inspiring was the archival hall.

The archival hall is trapezoidal in shape and enclosed within lapis lazuli lattice so densely woven in panels they were almost solid---layers within layers to almost a dizzying effect when the light shone upon them. The magnificent high vaulting of the halls was nearly unbelievable, so lofty are the jade baulk pillars and spreading across stone tress which hold the rafters and roof. A passageway runs between this and the exterior jade wall of the chamber. The archival chamber is appointed with long tables and many seats for guild members, to come and peruse tomes of their choice.

Even here the lowest height of the ceiling the shelves tower twenty-five feet above the floor. The feat of organization and engineering which the Archival chamber represents is truly staggering. An individual shelf rack in the hall is perhaps thirty feet long with twenty tiers: that's over three and a half thousand books. Of course, some are larger! The archive house all the information the Guild of Alien Affairs had collected on all races they had contact with.

Those species within the empire had its one chamber and it was so with those outside the Empire but with whom the Malakim held a treaty. Species' histories, stories, legends, songs and literature, languages and governmental protocols were all documented. The GAA were so meticulous with all the data they collected that everything was logged from the seemingly unimportant records to the more historical literal treasures. Yes, the Malakim had entered everything into the data banks in the GAA computers and the Royal computer banks but the Malakim knew computers could be damaged. And thus everything the collected was in tactile format creating a library of thousands upon thousand of tomes. The chamber had been secured by the Pyrokinetics to prevent any sort of fire and smoke damage. If one wanted to learn of a species, the Malakim had ever encountered it was a sure bet it would be found with in their archives. Nothing was left undocumented.

It was here in the deepest halls of the Guild House of Alien Affairs, a secret council was called to order. Only three were in attendance: The Queen of the Malakim, Novalis of the House of Thrones, Minister of Defense, Kidumiel and Nachmiel Minister of the Guild of Alien Affairs.

"The Nephalim strength returns, they show extraordinary resistance to the madness that comes to mortals that bear the power of the Great Song. The Nephalim can not escape their fate. They may not want that power, maybe never, but it is theirs and they must answer it. It was passed to them when they saved my life. They must hold their course wherever the Great Song directs them," Novalis uttered softly. "Their Songs have not yet been fully tested. It is now well known that the Liege Healer is the only voice that can call back the rage of the Nephalim when raised. Only the compassion, softness and healing of Janet will ever still the tides of Samantha's powers. For this her power perhaps is greater than our Nephalim."

"Novalis, the enemy is moving. The Wraith are fixed upon us, once more. They are massing in Pegasus Galaxy," Kidumiel Minister of Defense said. "We can not entertain a treat with the Tau'ri who betray their own."

"This treachery goes deeper than you know. The World Symphony sings of a chimaera spirit, moving amongst the mortals, amongst the Diabolicals. This evil threatens to be greater than the Unmaker. This peril belongs to all in Malakim Empire," Nachmiel echoed the other's thoughts.

"The Tau'ri also. They have need of us," Novalis pointed out.

"Tau'ri?" Nachmiel spat the word. "Tau'ri are weak and morally ambiguous. The pride and dignity, honor and morality of the Nephalim is all but spent, a distant memory if ever they had one. They have forgotten themselves in their greed. They are a failing race. I have seen the strength of the Tau'ri fail. They allow evil to endure for greed. The line of honor is broken. They are scattered, divided, leaderless." Nachmiel stood her wings flittering in her anger. "I have read their histories. It is here now in these walls, read for yourself, and in their own words. A choir called the Lakota had a treat with the leaders of a nation in their North American continent. The Treaty of Long Meadow also called the Treaty of Fort Laramie and it was broken by the Tau'ri military over a bovine. Many innocent died for avarice," the last word was hissed. "And you expect them to uphold any treat with the Empire?"

"The Nephalim can unite them," Novalis insisted.

"Her path has turned from them. It is enough she is bestowed the leadership of the Empire as our Prime Minister. The Tau'ri have forsaken her."

"The Tau'ri list of allies grows thin and they ask us for aid." Novalis urged, she had to make them see, to understand.

"Their list of allies is thin because it is their own doing they have lost so much. They alienate everyone who comes to their call. Or haven't you noticed? They harbor too much on commerce and it is those few that hold the power. One tenth of the Tau'ri homeworld rule over the other nine tenths of the planet." This came from the minister of defense.

"They sanctioned a massacre on a world inhabited by their own allies a Fifth Column encampment of Jaffa. And you know why? To test a poison based on the Tok'ra choir of Diabolicals so they can kill the snakeheads. Innocents died for an illegible test of chemical warfare one they claim is morally inconceivable to use, and yet their militaries developed may a bio-weapon. Anthrax, Aids and other such devastating diseases that even the Liege Healer is taxed to keep at bay with her Song of Healing." Nachmiel did not hide her disgust. "It is better the Tau'ri choose exile."

"Great Evil moves, and you, Novalis want to play ambassador?" Kidumiel sneered. "We have a war on the very threshold of our Empire. The Wraith are not to be trifled with. The heart of the Empire----"

"Beats in the chest of the Nephalim, the Lady of Light." Nachmiel said softly. "Her continuance is radiant, she is both an attraction to the Unmaker's spawn and their deterrent. Her very presence gives power and resilience to the Wings of the Empire. They will fight in her name against the nameless evil that lurks on the edge of the Great Song. She is true, and even if her actions bring the Sundering, she is honest and laments. Her heart carries her grief and her guilt though forgiven by others, she forgives not herself until she has proven herself to herself. This is what raises her above the Choir she was born to. It is long since she was Tau'ri." Novalis' voice became wistful, an almost dream like quality to it.

"The Nephalim----so beautiful more than one Malakim had fallen in love with Samantha Carter, so breathtaking, her beauty so incandescent you wanted to turn away from it, it makes you ashamed of ones own ugliness. Make ones throats dry, in the purity of such beauty--- a beauty that is almost unbearable. She is an enchantress. Her own integrity her own purity radiates from her.

"She looks to see the honor of her people restored. We will not forsake her." Novalis said earnestly. "So, I command a probationary treaty. It ends the day the child in the womb of the Nephalim dies of natural causes. It is a short time only-- perhaps only nine decades, or a century marked in the calendar of the Tau'ri. They are frail creatures and die young. The treaty will die with the child of the Nephalim." And if that child should inherit the Nox-induced longevity of her parents then so much the better. Novalis did not know for certain that that particular trait had been passed on. But her colleagues need not know that, not yet.

"And if they prove themselves honorable? I have read their literature and it is filled with countless heroics, those who like the Nephalim have chosen a life of selflessness, bravery, honor, and justice, perseverance, and indomitable spirits. They write stories with ominous evil that is overcome with the most unlikely of heroes. It is as if the Nephalim walked from the pages of these stories." Nachmiel said. "Why then are the lives the Tau'ri choose filed with avarice rather then the heroics they scribe? This I do not know, the Tau'ri may not know. What I do know is that the Tau'ri are corruptible."

Novalis seemed almost in accord, "They have had three millennia to prove themselves, if they haven't now, it will never come to pass. The good will of those with honest hearts are numerous, yet they are impotent next to the power of their commerce in which they worship above all else. And yet when tragedy strikes them they all unite to stave off much. Countries unite to battle terrorism, starvation and they generated international amnesty. If only they can keep hold of this light they are redeemable. We will not allow them to nail the Nephalim to a tree. Nor will we allow her Grace to fall. Any movement on their part against the Nephalim is an act of war. Remind them, so they recognize it when it comes again. Lest they be tempted."

"How now my Queen will you make this happen?" Kidumiel demanded.

"You are the Minister of Defense, Kidumiel that is your decision."

"And if my decision is to protect the Nephalim from this shadow of a threat, I feel? That we all feel? This treat with the Tau'ri would seem like wisdom save for the warning is in my heart" Kidumiel said.

"The Nephalim of the Malakim is a warrior. She will rebel against coddling, as any knight of a Wing. And that is worse still, the Nephalim can not be lost," Novalis said. "Too much has been foregone already. The Empire suffered the Sundering; herald by the Song of Uncreation and the Harrowing of Usiel. Now the Ancient Nephalim calls the very storms to sing her Song of Healing." Novalis answered. "Nachmiel, you have the orders of the Crown. Make it come to pass. Inform them the day the youngest child dies is the day the treaty ends. Remind them we will not tolerate any action taken against the Nephalim, dare they raise a voice against her again. Be the player and perform a drama. The Tau'ri have always responded to theatrics."

"Theatrics?" Nachmiel scoffed. "You would have us turn parlour tricks and play the entertainer?"

"Think back Minister, you used such ploys against that little human....that Kinsey fellow and you were quite successful from the missions logs. Even Thor used such dramatic entrances to gain favor of the Tau'ri ambassadors. Though phlegmatic it was effective. Tau'ri can not step across the Threshold between the Worlds, and thus doing so shocks them. And speaking of such, if I be you, I'd have Daniel Jackson present." By the flare of silver wings, Novalis knew her orders were not received well. "It better demonstrates our union with the Nephalim, he is after all one of her closest friends, even if in the Umbra dreams sent to him by Shifu were of betrayal and violation. She forgave him his trespasses against her and her House. By proxy we must." Novalis silver eyes blinked back her anguish. "I know a thing or two about the betrayal of one you love. It is easy to say exile them, it is harder for the heart to banish them."

A ripple seemed to pass over the ministers in the form of shared, recognition. Arian. The daughter of the House of Thrones who had betrayed only her then Liege Commander, but the Nephalim, her mother and the Empire. She had abdicated to the will of scientist of the Tok'ra Choir, and gave the Nephalim up to Morpheus and Usiel.

"The Tau'ri are not the only ones with an insurgence of treachery. It is known to me a Conclave of Archangels had been called, and yet not all of them were there. Not because she was unreachable or indisposed but she was uninformed. This I learned from Kurak herself. The Grigori Archangel was deliberately uninvited

"Archangel of the Malakite." Kidumiel identified the woman. Of course Kurak would make it know the Archangels had called a Conclave without the Grigori.

To partake of a dishonorable secretive meeting would have brought Dissonance. Naturally, the greatest Dissonance for a Malakite is dishonor. She would rather have her Songs ripped from her soul one by one than shirk from her duties, real or imagined. There are no Fallen Malakite, they were incapable of Falling. Other Choirs speculate that is more of a sign of how serious the Malakite are about policing themselves. They are the Oathkeepers, the Justice-Bringers. First a Malakite will never suffer an evil to live when it is her choice. They will never surrender in a fight, nor will they allow themselves to be captured by the armies of the Dark. Surrendering to the Dark would be to dishonor the Great Song. Death is preferably. Most Malakite are accustomed to corporeal death. They have lived through it a hundred times, and are unaffected by its trauma. If Faded, sent into Torpor they are the swiftest to return to the corporeal world.

Kurak would not abide by what could have only been Khurdud's decision. The Seraphim archangel had no love of the Nephalim, this was well established. Of course she never gave much credence to the prophecies of the Nephalim and when she was made real the Khurdud proclaimed trouble was not far behind. In a way she might have been correct. The Sundering came forth and wreaked havoc throughout the empire.

"Kurak was disturbed that Khurdud had thought of assassination of the Nephalim for the betterment of the Empire. Kurak had issued an ultimatum to myself and to Samantha to remedy the Sundering or she would send us into the Fading. We have both made strides in this endeavor. The Sundering is stilled. Kurak now protects the Nephalim. The Malakite, as you know are nonpartisan, their loyalty is to honor, and the balance of the World Symphony's resonance with the Great Song."

"And what of the others?" Nachamel asked almost fearful of the answer she would receive.

"They were of a split decision. Nothing has been done and those that had sided with Khurdud fear the Malakite's justice and will not move, least the Virtues turn the law on them." Novalis said. "They agreed to allow Kurak to contend the situation and would not make a move." Purple wings fanned out to their full near twenty foot span, "It was because of this exclusive conclave that the decision was made to implement the probationary treaty. It is now to you Nachamel and to our Prime Minster to make it come to pass."

Part 15

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